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June 28

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

After I finished Revelation and my analysis of it (It started with the April 18th post), I did what I always do. I started reading the NT again, beginning with Matthew 1. It will be a challenge to finish it on or close to December 31. I am now in Matthew 23. This will be my first of two posts from that chapter.

Matthew 23: 1-12

My first inclination was to comment on the “do as I say not as I do” scenario we find ourselves in as Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their hypocritical double standards. But as I read further with that thought in mind, I came to these words in verses 10-12: “And do not be called leaders, for only One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus is the Leader. My leader. The logical conclusion to that statement might look like this:

  • Jesus is the Leader.
  • Jesus is Greater than me.
  • Therefore, I am to be His servant.

Being a servant sounds simple, but it isn’t. It requires a dose of humility (for some of us more than a small one). It requires the willingness to raise others up and put myself down (not in false humility). My purpose is to make His Name great.

The Pharisees didn’t do that. They couldn’t! They were too busy promoting themselves and their own self-righteousness. That’s the whole gist of verses 4-7. Self-promotion can never promote the great Name of Jesus. Self-promotion can never honor, exalt, magnify, glorify and make great the Name of Jesus.

We are to live for the fame of His Name. I/we cannot do that when we are clamoring for the microphone.

MAKE GREAT HIS NAME!!

June 23

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

This a statement I really don’t have to back up with facts or Google. Ever since I did my recent posts on Revelation, and since I am currently reading one with a focus toward January of 2023, I am acutely aware of the cults that have started because of an inordinate belief in the coming of Christ. Not that I don’t believe in His imminent return. I do. But I’m speaking of those “leaders” who pull people around them, somehow convince them of the hype, and then get them to sell everything and “run to the hills” waiting for Jesus’ return (which is usually on a certain date). Hucksters all of them; blind sheep the rest of them. They wait and wait and wait, walk away dejected, in disbelief, and a whole lot poorer than before (except the leader). They were conned by a con.

No matter how sincere, you can be sincerely wrong.

Jesus is returning, of that I am sure. My view of how, why, when, etc may differ from others, but He is returning.   I know three things about Jesus’ return which we must all remember:

1. Jesus made it clear there will be an end. All things will end. Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away.”

2. Jesus made it clear the “when” is a mystery. It never ceases to amaze me how religious leaders say, “This is the date” (can anyone say Jehovah’s Witness?) and people will blindly follow, but Jesus Himself did not even know!

3. The Book of Revelation continually reminds us that when (not if) it happens, we must be ready. Mt. 24:42-25:13 backs that up. Life will be going on as normal when it happens. The Parable of the Ten Virgins show this in graphic detail how some will be ready and others won’t.

The ultimate question is not when or if He will come. The main question is Will you be ready when He does?

“Father, help me not to a ‘sign-seeker’ but to be one who keeps his eyes to the sky waiting and expecting Jesus to come.”

June 22

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Down through time, there has always been hot button issues. Slavery. Child labor. Corporate greed. Fundamentalism. Segregation. Abortion. Sex outside marriage. Drugs. Rock ‘n Roll. Same sex relationships. I’m sure you can name a number of others, even more important to you than the above. But all the hot button issues usually come down to one word:

SIN

Invariably, when a hot button takes front and center, the others take a back seat or are simply glossed over for a time. “Let’s focus on this one” we say, and as we do another steps aside or is simply put on the back burner. Take today, for example. Because of appalling breech in the privacy of the Supreme Court by the leak of a draft about Roe v. Wade, people protest, fire-bomb, hang in effigy, and even try to assassinate one of a justices. Meanwhile, the real moral issue-not social issue-moral issue of abortion is laid aside. “Who cares what the Bible says about life and dignity.” Come to think of it the whole same sex discussion is the same.

When we do those things we forget sin is sin, and it is all an affront to God. Abortion. Same sex relationships. Anger. Lust. Gluttony. Blasphemy.

All sin. And all sin we are to abhor, or “detest” as the NASB2020 translates Romans 12:9. “Abhor/detest what is evil. None of us can look in the mirror on any given day and say, “You did not sin today.” If you can, please tell me your secret!

Read again Romans 12:9: “Love must be free from hypocrisy (Love must be genuine in some translations). Detest (abhor) what is evil; cling to what is good.”  (NASB)

Let’s just start hating sin. Period. In all its sizes, shapes, and colors.

June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

June 13

Monday, June 13th, 2022

As I write this today, I am keenly aware of what tomorrow will bring. Well, at least on the surface. As I understand it, tomorrow’s surgery will require drilling through 3 vertebrae to free up space for the nerves. (Simplified version). Like any surgery, things can go awry.

But I’m at peace.

I trust my doctor, who I found out during my consult is a Christ-follower. More: I trust the One who will guide His hands.

As I saw down to read for my Encounter Time this morning, God lead me to Psalm 31 due to reading something which piqued my interest. I decided to read the whole psalm. I’ve read it before-countless times-even underlined verses, but I paid closer attention this time. This chapter is filled with good stuff. Before I highlight a few things, please take a moment to read the chapter.

Okay…here are a couple of nuggets:

  • David is in distress. I think verse 1 shows that.
  • In his distress, David knows where to go, Whom to trust. (Verses 1c-5). I particularly like verse 5. Sounds strangely like words Someone else used (on a cross).
  • David trusted in God’s faithfulness. He knew he was weak. He even says he was in misery and had troubles (verse 7), but God set Him in a large place (v.8b). That sounds like a somewhat strange idea, but I take that to mean God took him out of the vice or squeeze he was in.
  • David trusted and knew who controlled His life (verses 14-15). His times were in God’s hands.
  • His last words in verse 24 are words worth remembering: “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”

Good words for me, for you. We all go through times of doubt, fear, hesitancy, uncertainty, and (fill-in-the-blank). But God can be trusted through the those times. I choose that truth to rely on.

“Father, You are all you said You are. I know my times are in Your hands. I trust You to be in the operating room, to be with the doctor and nurses, and with me.”

I’m not really sure what the surgery will bring so I can’t say I will be back here tomorrow…or even when. I don’t anticipate any setbacks but I’m not in control of that. I do know I would appreciate your prayers and will try to keep you posted.

June 2

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Revelation 22. I ought to have a sense of relief. It is finally over! But I don’t. I began this venture on April 18th and every “Shadow” post since then has been on my reading through Revelation.  I have been writing about 4 devotions a week on Revelation.  Never, in all my college days or in the almost 50 years of being a pastor, have I ever spent this much time in Revelation. While I’m still not too sure about the interpretation of it with all its twists and turns, I have enjoyed- and actually learned 🙂 – from my daily foray. Today, I come to the end…Revelation 22.

My original intent was to tell you, “Just read it,” but I can’t. There is more here than I thought. So here is my attempt to draw your attention to some of the meaningful lessons in this chapter.

1. Eternity (new heaven and new earth) will be s-o-o-o-o different.  Our forever home will be unlike anything we have experienced or can imagine. I’m going to capsulize verses 3-5 by saying Jesus will be all we need. Being in His presence will be beyond the pale.

2. John’s reaction was to fall on his face at the feet of the angel who has been his guide, the messenger who showed him all things. John was immediately told to get up and worship only God. No man-cult leader, religious teacher, huckster, or dare I say Pope- is to be bowed down to and revered. Only ONE deserves that. (Verses 8-9)

3. Jesus, as the Alpha and Omega, the first the Last will return to reward His followers. He will also judge those who are not. (Verses 12-13)

4. Special privileges (entering the city by the gates) will be granted to those whose robes have been washed white. Only the holy can enter the city. (Verse 14)

5. Another name Jesus gives Himself: “I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  (Verse 16)

6. And finally, the words which should be on the lips of every Christ-follower: “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Maranatha. (Verse 20)

“Father, I am ready to see Your face in all its glory, up close and personal.  I echo John’s words: ‘Amen. Come Lord Jesus.’ ”

June 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

Revelation 21. So much good stuff here I could only touch the hem of the garment as I write. but I’d like to bring out several items that struck me as I read.

First, please stop right now and read verses 3-4. Every time I read or hear this I see the scene from Titanic where the priest is quoting this while hanging on and others are desperately seeking last minute help.  But it is far more than a movie clip; it is a promise. There will come a day when there will be no more tears, no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.  There will be no more of any of the earthly pain we experience as we go “further up and further in” to quote a saying from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Second, there will be some who will not be welcome, the door will be shut forever (verse 8).  That list is devastating in its content. Throw in verse 27 and it gets even tighter. Heaven will not be fore those who reject God’s truth, grace and forgiveness.

Third, all things will be made new. In that newness, God will be enough. Verse 23 says He is all we need.

The culmination will be chapter 22. That’s tomorrow. But for today, I echo the Unicorn from The Last Battle: “This is the land! This is what I have been looking for all my life!”

“Father, there is both good and bad in this chapter. For those whose robes have been washed white, there is heaven. For all those who refuse, rejection forever. I have mixed emotions. Joy and sadness. Joy for me; sadness for all those who have and continue to say, ‘Get away’ to You. Thank You for saving me.”

May 31

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

In all of my college days, and years after, I have seen Revelation 20 as the capstone, so to speak, of the Pre-Mill/Dispensational view of Revelation.  My college days came from an A-millennial view of Revelation. This chapter is taken as the bedrock of the 1000 year Millennial reign, Armageddon, and the end of civilization as we know it.

Let’s divert from that shall we and focus on several others items?

My first point of focus is verse 6a: “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power…”  It seems to me the first resurrection would be my resurrection from the old life to the new life in Christ. Death has no power over me.

The second item of interest is the punishment of the great Deceiver, where along with the beast and the false prophet, he will be tormented day and night.

The third item is the biggest. Judgment will come. Everyone will stand before God’s throne and be judged on whether his/her name is in the Book of Life. There will be no switching teams in mid-stream; no second chance; no “Oh-woe-is-me-have-mercy-on-me” opportunity; no save me from what is to come.  That time has passed. If one’s name is not written in the Book of Life it is over. All the rejection of the Truth, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of salvation, now has its sad and ultimate ending.

“Father, thank You for saving me. Thank You that my name is written in Your Book. I pray for all those who still have a chance. May they know Your salvation.”

May 26

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

I confess my imagination ran wild this morning. Revelation 19 is filled with such vivid imagery and such glorious truth! No interpretation here, just some observations:

1. A loud voice cries out “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God!”  (verse 1)

2. Why? Because His judgments are true and righteous (verse 2). Notice what follows: “He has judged” and “He has avenged.” It is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is easy to feel mistreated. It is easy to feel as though we are treated unfairly. Notice again: He has judged and He has avenged.

3. He returns to the worship again: “Give praise” (verse 5)  and “For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” (verse 6)

4. We are invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. In this same sequence is John’s reaction to an angel’s pronouncement of the Feast.  He fell at the angel’s feet and the angel told him “No. I am a fellow servant.”

5. Then comes the most vivid and exciting passage: the appearance of Jesus on a white horse!  He is Faithful and True. A few verses later we see He has on His thigh the words “King of kings and Lord of lords.” What a fantastic description given here which will allow our imagination to fly!

  • eyes are a flame of fire.
  • on His head are many crowns (Reminds me of an old hymn: “Crown Him with Many Crowns”).
  • a name written on Himself which only He knows.
  • clothed in a robe dipped in blood.
  • He is called the Word of God.
  • His army is coming with Him and they are all on white horses.

6. He throws the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire and brimstone.

What else can be said? My “hero mind” and my “fantasy-laden outlook” draws out such a magnificent picture from this chapter. No battle is lost, no fight is so overwhelming that I need to give into despair. The conquering King is coming!! He will win!

“Father, YOU. WIN!! That means I. WIN!! Nothing is so overwhelming or so heavy that I have to give in to despair. Remind me of that as I go through my day today.”

 

May 25

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Has something ever had its grip on you and to get rid of it was like ripping teeth out? Alcohol. Drugs. Porn. Tobacco. Food. Job. Busyness.  The list seems endless doesn’t it? These things, these addictions, these nuisances have such a grip on one’s life that it is hard to give them up. We call them addictions because they seem to grab us by the throat and won’t let go.

Revelation 18 pictures that for me. The whole “here is what it means” aside, a unique picture is given.  First, I think it is only correct to say this is a continuation, a sequel and fulfillment of the story started in chapter 17 when it speaks about the doom of Babylon. I even mentioned that event in yesterday’s devotion. Babylon will fall…guaranteed. What Babylon is does not apply here. IT. WILL. FALL.

Chapter 18 is its fall. Verse 2 tells us the inevitability of that. The Lamb will overcome. The description of Babylon and its fall is vivid. All who commit sin with her will fall. He does call out His people so they will not be part of the judgment (verse 4).

Verse 8 says judgment is coming. Without question. The rest of the chapter describes that judgment which ends in complete obliteration.

A stronghold is defeated. We all have them. Jesus calls us to Himself and tells us “My grace is sufficient for You. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Living for the enemy is a losing cause. All will be burned up. Strongholds will be defeated. Babylon will fall.

“Father, may I relinquish to You all the strongholds of my life. Please give me victory of my “Babylon” as I watch those enemies fall.”