Truth Telling

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May 23

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

I’m back…with more confusion! 🙂  Revelation 16 has me bewildered. But rather than focus on the bowls of wrath and their meaning, let me take another road.

Several times throughout this chapter we are told the people blasphemed God.

  • In verse 9 it says they blasphemed God because He had power over the plagues but evidently didn’t exercise it.
  • In verse 11 they blasphemed because of their pain and sores.
  • In verse 21 they blasphemed God because of the plague of hail.

Let me just say that this chapter sounds a little like the plagues God put upon Egypt in Exodus. (Short side note there).

It has always been interesting to me how God gets the blame when tough times come. It is never because of our own stupidity, of course. It’s always God’s fault. Both followers of Christ and those who aren’t followers are too quick to blame Him for all the bad stuff that hits them. It’s as though we think that we “deserve” not to have this trouble. You know…we “deserve” better treatment. Ironically, in this chapter it is those who despise Him and His people who are doing the blaspheming. In verse 1 I think it is summed up well: “they blasphemed God because of …” It’s all His fault.

One last thought before I go: Verse 15 seems out of place but it is a true statement of hope: “Behold, I am coming like a thief.”

God is in control. There will come a day of reckoning. When that day will be no one knows.

“Father, help me to be ready. Keep my eyes focused on You not on events. And certainly help me not to blame and blaspheme Your Name.”

May 18

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

This is getting hard. Revelation 14 this morning. I counted six angels pronouncing judgment. No clue what the significance of that is. But to “de-prophecy” this, here is what I gleaned:

1. We will stand with the Lamb and sing a new song. (1-5). I have no clue what the 144,000 means. I know what the JWs say and I totally disagree with that. Simple math says  12 tribes x 12,000 = 144,000. Significance? I don’t know. It gets me no closer to the meaning. So I’ll focus on the new song we will sing.

2. The words or pronouncements of the angels were of the destruction of the enemy. Verse 6 is of the angel pronouncing judgment. Verse 7 is an angel saying Babylon will fall. Verses 9-11 tell them getting the mark of the beast was a terrible thing to do.

3. Saints need to persevere (12-13). There is blessing in dying in the Lord.

4. Three more angels come bringing the judgment (15-20)  I confess to replaying the scene from Tombstone where Kurt Russell, playing Wyatt Earp, yells, “I’m coming to get you and hell’s coming withe me!”  This angel is no longer just talk. Judgment is coming.

WOW!! It is at this point I’m saying, “What in the world?” I’ll look more closely what the prophecy gurus say, but let’s just say this:  it often looks like those of us who follow Jesus (the Lamb) are the losers. We are persecuted. Mistreated. Maligned. Criticized. And so on. But some day we will sing a new song. What the words are to that song no one knows. Does it really matter as long as we are singing it? I think not.

And I’m willing to wager that it will be sung on key.

“Father, the song of the Lamb will be one of triumph. That will be my song for and through the ages.”

May 17

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Revelation 13 today…spells trouble. For me at least. 🙂 I’m sure there are prophecy buffs who will make much of this chapter. And I suspect they would have an adequate explanation. But since my idea is to “de-prophecy” this, I’m going to focus on two other things.

The first is the beast which comes out of the sea. In verse 2 it says, “and on his head were written blasphemous names.” What could those names be? My take is that blasphemy is anything that denigrates the holy God or depicts Him as who He isn’t. In verse 5 it says he was given authority to speak arrogant words and blasphemies against God-to blaspheme His name and those who dwell in heaven. He waged war and the only ones he couldn’t defeat were those whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world.  (v.8)

The other beast reminds me of what we have today-false teachers who perform parlor tricks to deceive. Todd White. Paula White. Shawn Boles. Bill Johnson. Kenneth Copeland. Joyce Meyer. Benny Hinn. You get the picture. False teachers who deceive with false promises and false “healings.” (i.e. parlor tricks). This beast had a number: 666. The most imperfect number of all.

My take on all of this: Be aware. False teachers abound. They say things that tickle our ears. People misrepresenting God and His Word (blasphemy). Its all there and it is calling each of us to follow. Don’t! Stand on the truth.

“Father, the siren song of false teachers beckons. Help me to resist through the power of Your Word and the presence of Your Spirit within.  Help me to proclaim Your truth.”

May 11

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

I’m dealing with Revelation 10 today. Again, I admit my inability to grasp the meaning of the vision John shares with us.

Several things stand out to me in today’s reading:

  1. I mentioned this in yesterday’s devotion. Maybe we aren’t supposed to understand. According to John in 10:4 some things were sealed and he was not to write them. I wonder if there are some things which are to remain a mystery…like totally understanding Revelation. 🙂
  2. The status of Jesus is seen in verse 6. That’s a pretty powerful description. Sort of like a description in a nutshell. Those words remind me of Paul’s words in Colossians 1: 15-17
  3. And this is admittedly, a puzzling one. What is he saying when he tells John to eat the scroll and it will taste sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach?

Does it refer to the future events which are to come? Does he refer to how some things look enticing but when experienced leave a bad taste in one’s mouth? That latter thought makes sense to me so let’s probe it for a few moments. Looks good -> tastes bad. I confess to thinking as I eyed something, “WOW! That looks inviting” only to realize it would leave a trail of bitterness in its wake if indulged. The aftertaste is nasty. I have a blogging friend, Sherry, who is a recovering alcoholic but hasn’t had a drink in…I’m thinking…seven years (I’m not at the office as I write this to double check). She blogs about her journey here. I’m guaranteeing she, nor any other addict, ever saw the bitterness of her “sweet” choice until it bit her. Do you think the adulterer did? Do you think the liar or spreader of juicy gossip did?

You get the point. Actions have an aftertaste. Sometimes those actions have terrible consequences. They look sweet but often leave a trail of bitterness.

Choose wisely. Meanwhile, for some help check out Psalm 119: 1-2, 9, 11, and 16. You’ll thank me. 🙂

“Father, may I realize every choice has a result and often those which look sweet end up being bitter. Help me to choose wisely.”

April 28

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Everyone who knows me knows I like to ride a bike, as in, I provide the power. B-i-c-y-c-l-e. 🙂 It is absolutely essential the bike be in good working condition to enjoy my riding-chain lubed, tires inflated, brakes working properly, appropriate cycling clothing (bib shorts with a chamois), gloves, and helmet (never without it).

I forgot one other essential-water bottles. I have 2 24oz Polar or Camelback water bottles. They are insulated to keep liquid colder, longer. I freeze my drinks ahead of time, usually the night before-one with water and one with an electrolyte mixture. I fill the bottles about 3/4 full then freeze them. Before I head out for my ride, I top them off. This generally guarantees me cold, sometimes very cold, drinks for about 2 hours. There have been times when I took the bottles out of the freezer too soon, or my ride went longer than planned or it was hotter than I thought and my cold drink became…

LUKEWARM. Ugh! Looking forward to that cold, refreshing drink running down my throat and all I get is bland, lukewarm liquid is a downer. Disgusting might be a good word. But I drink it anyway since it is better than dehydrating.

The church at Laodicea had a similar problem. No other meaning can come from Rev. 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Just as a lukewarm drink of water while riding on a hot, sticky day is unfulfilling, so Jesus says that about the church.

Furthermore, He says that He wishes that they were either hot or cold and, tragically, they didn’t even know they were in such dire straits!! Read verse 17. Talk about seeing right through a person…or a church!

I could write more, but you can add your own thoughts. I’m arrested in my thinking by verse 19: “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.” A loving Savior offering a way out of the yukky, lukewarm state.

“Father, may I not become lukewarm in my faith but find myself on fire for You. If I get lukewarm, rebuke and restore me to life.”

Here is a blast from the past for you to listen to. Maybe more relevant today than when we wrote it back in the ’80s.

April 26

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

I suppose most, if not all of us, have heard or used the phrase, “Your reputation precedes you.” That can be a good thing or a bad thing.

Take the good thing and let’s talk about the church. Your church has a good reputation. Local businesses are appreciative of your efforts. The local school can count on you to help. The community sees you working to help or fix up residences or paying bills if needed. You are known as a church who can be counted on.

It can also be a bad thing. Your church’s reputation is one of selfishness. One that keeps to itself.  One more interested in growing in numbers than helping the community. It is involved in “sheep stealing” (recruiting others from other churches).  It sees itself as the only beacon of truth in a community of lying churches and organizations. “We are right and you are wrong. Us four; no more; shut the door” type of thinking.

What about a church that has a good reputation but inside it is much different? Enter the church at Sardis (Revelation 3: 1-6). They had a name (a good reputation) in the community but were dead inside. This reputation said, “Look at us! We are active and caring” but according to Jesus they were dead inside. It seems to others they were alive, but to the One who knew and cared, not so. I’m not exactly sure what He means by “I have not found your deeds complete,” but it certainly wasn’t a good omen.

What I do know is Jesus was unhappy with the half-baked church. They were to repent or He would come when they least expected it.

Thank God for those few who remained faithful and refused to indulge in the fake pat-on-the-back and the self-aggrandizement of promoting themself “doing” but not “being.”

“Father, help me to be inside who I pretend to be on the outside. May the church I love and serve at be more interested in “being” than “doing.” And when we do, may it match who we are. ”

April 25

Monday, April 25th, 2022

One of the game-changer words in the English language is a 3-letter word- “But.” I think we have all experienced the power of “but.”

“I like you but…”

“You really do good work and you are conscientious but…”

“I love you and I know we have a lot of years together but…”

“We know you have a family and we really appreciate the years you have given us but…”

The power of “but.”

Here you go: “I know your deeds, and your love and faith, and service and perseverance and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But…”  (Rev. 2: 13-20)  Oh, how that had to hurt! I think it hurt worse because of two things”

  • Their track record was solid and was recently getting better

BUT…

  • They tolerated evil. Sin. Jezebel. I don’t think this is necessarily the name of a real woman in the church (who would name their daughter Jezebel?), but a throwback reference to the Jezebel of the OT. Ahab’s wife. Evil to the core. The same Jezebel Elijah scuffled with.  The same Jezebel who led Israel (via Ahab) into sin. The same Jezebel who had Naboth killed over a vineyard that Ahab wanted. The same Jezebel who died and the dogs left nothing of her.

Pretty strong word: “but.” But a word designed to stop them in their tracks and realize her influence and what they have allowed in the church.

God’s plan: Get rid of her. Get rid of her children and that includes those in the church who have embraced her sin.

BUT…for those who haven’t good things are awaiting. I love that “but” there! (v.24)

“Father, may I not allow the power of sin to overwhelm me. Help me to say No to the influence of Jezebel.”

April 21

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

In Jesus’ message to the church at Pergamum (Rev.2: 12-17) several things stand out:

First, is the description of Jesus: “The One who has the two-edged sword.” Several verses flashed through my mind as I read that. One is “the Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword.”  (Heb.4:12).  I also flashed to the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6 which talked about the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (v.17b). Jesus will yield His sword (pictured elsewhere in Revelation).

Second, we live in Satan’s realm. We are told that he is the prince of this world…for now. One day his rule will come to an end…as will he. But I like what it says about some of the saints in Pergamum: they held firmly to their faith. They refused to compromise the Name of Jesus!

Third, even though they had some who held to their faith, they also had some who embraced false teaching.  And it was ugly. Compromise central. They allowed sexual immorality (teaching of Balaam) and the teaching of the Nicolaitans (similar to Balaam and also included sexual orgies).

Fourth, God did not then, nor will He now tolerate compromise.  “Repent” were His words.  False teaching is so insidious, so sneaky, so creeping, and so sinister. Look up and its there (and one often doesn’t even realize it).

That’s a warning…for me…for you…for the church. Be aware. Be on guard. Keep the sword handy. I/you may have to do some hacking away.

“Father, Your truth stands. It cannot be compromised. You won’t stand for it. Help me to be true to Your Word.”

Lord willing, I will be back Monday with the next installment/devotion based around the letters to the 7 churches.

April 20

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

Two things ran through my head this morning as I read the Scripture about the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).

One, around here we have a saying, “It’s all good.” Very seldom do you read or meet someone who either has nothing negative to say about another person or whom nothing negative is said about him/her. We tend to think there has to be a flaw somewhere. The church at Smyrna is one of those churches where there is nothing negative to speak of. Perfect church? There’s no such animal. But in matters which really count? Nothing. “It’s all good.”

The second item is a stab at the current idea that a follower of Jesus does not suffer.  There are certain religious teachers, i.e shysters, hucksters, false teachers who teach that a follower of Christ should not suffer. To suffer is to show a lack of faith. Hmmmm. I wonder what they might say about this passage in Rev. 2:8-11- “Do not fear what you are about to suffer…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” In fact, previously in verse 9 Jesus says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…” Those both slam the door on the heretical health/wealth un-gospel (as I call it) of Copeland, Hinn, Osteen, et al. Tribulation (suffering) and poverty: both things they teach against.

As follower of Christ, we can and should expect suffering. The difference is when we are faithful unto death it will be well worth it. AND IT’S ALL GOOD!

“Father, Your Word says to expect suffering.* Give me the strength I need to hold up under the pressure and be faithful.”

April 19

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Have you ever received an anonymous letter? I’m not talking about the one which included a note of appreciation and maybe even a monetary gift. I like those kind! 🙂  I’m talking about one that was vindictive, accusatory, and just downright mean. I have, but I was too naive, to feisty, and to quick to react to respond correctly. What I should have done was throw it in the trash…immediately…and forgotten about it. But instead, I chose to keep it and try to figure out who sent it. An anonymous letter is a coward’s way of spewing hate.

By contrast, there was no doubt who wrote the letters to the 7 churches…and it wasn’t John.  The author signed them. He also didn’t mince any words. Take Revelation 2: 1-7 for example, the letter to the church at Ephesus.

Commendable:

  • their deeds, labor and perseverance
  • their lack of tolerance for evil
  • their discernment of false teachers
  • their dislike (hatred) for the Nicolaitans

One bad thing:

  • they had left their first love

What does that mean? I’ve actually heard several different possibilities:

  1. Their love for Jesus had cooled.
  2. Their love for truth had waned.
  3. Their desire for truth and love had been skewed. There was an inbalance.

Does it really matter in the long run? Probably not. The words are harsh, condemning, and not easily forgotten. How do I know that? Because of verse 5: Remember from where you have fallen and Repent.

I have this sneaking suspicion that the Ephesian church got one part of the equation right but not the other. They got the love right but forgot the truth. Or perhaps they allowed false teachers to come in unhindered and spread lies and pull their affection from Jesus.

I’m wondering if this is a fulfillment of Paul’s words to the elders in Acts 20: 28-31a. (Click the link for the Scripture )

What are your thoughts?

“Father, may You always be first in my heart and thoughts. Protect me from false teachers who come in like wolves dressed as sheep.”