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August 2

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Control. It’s a matter of control.

For the past 6 Sundays- (this coming Sunday will be #7)- I have been preaching on 7 Cancers, or as they are commonly called, the Seven Deadly Sins. As I reflect on all of them, they come down to one word:

C. O. N. T. R. O. L.

Who controls me? Or what controls me? Whether talking about anger or jealousy, gluttony or lust, pride or greed, or sloth, it all comes down to control.

That came to my mind this morning as I read Isaiah 31:1- “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!” 

That then brought to mind Psalm 20:7- “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” 

That drew me to Ephesians 5:18 where I am told to not allow any outside influence to control me or I could grieve/quench the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life.  The only influence who should have control is the Holy Spirit.

Again, it is a matter of control. Will I allow a substance, a priority, a circumstance, or some outside influence to have control over me?

“Father, may You be who I let control me. May I push away every imposter for the throne of my heart and exalt You and You only as my King.”

July 6

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Have you ever given much thought to names? For example, my name means “Conqueror” or “Determined Guardian.” But to be honest, I don’t think my parents gave much thought to the meaning of my name. I was named after my dad (but not a Junior). I can truthfully say our daughter’s name, Tamra (Tami), was not chosen because it means “palm tree.” I liked the name and the spelling of her name was mine. After 47 years she has not complained about it. 🙂

At Christmas we talk a lot about the names of Jesus.

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Emmanuel (which means “God with us.”)

How about these names?

  • King of kings
  • Lord of lords
  • God of gods
  • Bright MorningStar

Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End.

Here are 2 more significant ones:

LordRuler. In charge. Boss.

MasterHead over me.

It is important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus as Lord. It is equally important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus is my Master. For that to happen it is more than mere words. It is action. Submission. Awareness of my inferiority and His superiority. A need to acknowledge his greatness and my lowliness.

Jesus is both Lord and Master. He is the Ruler over all creation. He is also the Master over my life. Therefore, all honor and glory goes to Him.

What better name could there be for me than Servant of the Master?

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 6

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Have you ever been to the grocery store to buy one thing and then been overwhelmed by the options before you? Take, for example, cereal (which one can barely afford these days). I have certain ones I like and they all begin with chocolate. 🙂 Chocolate LIFE is one of them. But there are also multiple varieties of LIFE.  Or how about ketchup or mustard? Generic. Store brand. Organic. Jalapeno. Hot. Spicy brown mustard. Yellow. There is even Catsup! You get the picture. And don’t get me started on the different types of bread or cheese. Sheesh!

Many people think or take that same approach toward God. We live in a pluralistic society where there is a god for everyone. Every religion has its god. “Take your pick!” “Pick one which best suits your fancy!” Hindu. Buddhist. Islam. Animist. And so on. Even God.

Many Christ-followers fail to see God is not one of many gods. He is the ONLY God. The rest are just cheap knock-offs. They couldn’t h0ld a candle to Him even if they could (which they can’t since they are just stone or metal). The prophets of Baal once tried that. They even cut themselves begging Baal to set fire to the altar. No go. But Elijah’s God-the one and only true God-displayed His power by consuming the altar and water surrounding it and the sacrifice. What a display of power!

Jesus once said He was the only way. Not “a” way. Not “one of” the ways. But the way. The supremacy of Christ is one of the core teachings in the Bible. Colossians 1 is devoted to that, as are several chapters in Hebrews.

Jesus above all. That’s a vital truth we must grasp and hold on to.

“Father, may Jesus reign supreme over all things, especially in me and my world.”

I have a couple of prayer requests to add to your prayers:

First: my friend, Ryan, and his wife, Amanda, left for Mayo Clinic Sunday (yesterday) and will arrive today for a series of appointments. I believe it is 3 in three days. Pray for their safety and also for answers to Amanda’s pain (besides Ryan). 🙂  Love you Ryan!  Jo & I have known them almost 15 years and they have become dear friends of ours. Their move to another town about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away allows us to get together upon occasion. 

Second: Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving today for a short jaunt to Ohio. Braden plays a game tomorrow (unless it gets rained out). We will be returning home Wednesday, Lord willing.  That also means I will not be posting here unless I sense God saying something and I can put up with my phone. 🙂

Third: I have back surgery scheduled for June 14. Please pray that all goes well with the prep I have to do and that I stay healthy for the surgery. Part of my daily regimen is vitamins. I have to stop taking them tomorrow (Tuesday)…one week before surgery. I’ll let you know next Monday what the surgery is all about.

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.’ ”

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 24

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Once again I come acknowledging my ineptness and ask your forgiveness for my lack of “Revelation knowledge.”

This chapter (chapter 17) brings several ugly pictures, the main one being a great prostitute who sits on many waters (we are later told in verse 15 the waters represents people and multitudes, and nations and languages). Verse 2 says the kings of earth committed acts of immorality with this prostitute and actually became drunk with the wine of her immorality (could that be a reference to becoming drunk with power?). It is quite a description of her given in verses 3-4 with an inscription on her forehead in verse 5: “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Even after describing her and then saying what it means (verses 9-13) doesn’t help me any.

Down through the years several ideas have been floated who this pictures. Some say the Roman Empire. Some have said the Roman Catholic Church. That is only two of them; there are more. I have no opinion.

My focus for this morning is on verse 14: “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” It sounds to me that in the verses which follow that the losers will turn against the losers, especially the ruler. The key verse is the Lamb will be victorious. He is call the Lord of lords and King of kings.

That Lamb is, of course, Jesus. The great prostitute, whoever that is, has lost, will continue to lose, and will ultimately lose. The Lamb is and will be victorious. He conquered death, hell and the grave and thereby sealed the fate of my enemy. That won’t change.

“Father, all hail to the Lamb, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Conqueror!”

May 19

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Do I call Revelation 15 the song of the saints or the calm before the storm? For this devotion, let’s go with both for that is what it is. Chapter 16 unleashes the bowls of wrath and Armageddon (I looked at the headings preceding the paragraphs. I have yet to read it).  🙂 But rather than try to put my stamp of interpretation of chapter 15, let’s just meditate on the song in verses 3-4. I wish I was a musician who could sit down and put this into song. What a powerful praise song it would be. But since I’m not…

Just a couple thoughts/highlights of chapter 15:

1. God’s works are great and marvelous.

2. His ways are righteous and true.

3. We will fear (adore, honor, worship) the Lord and glorify His Name.

4. God’s righteousness will bring worship from all people.

The consummation of this worship was the majesty and glory and power which filled the temple (not earthly but heavenly). The angels were being prepared for what was to come.

“Father, may my praise fill the temple. May my praise be that which flows from my heart of adoration to You, the One worthy of it.”

May 12

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

I begin this devotion with a picture, an emoji of sorts that I can’t insert here. Ready for it?  If you have seen Home Alone do you remember the scene where Kevin shaves for the first time and then he uses his dad’s After Shave? In one of the most iconic pictures/scenes-ever-the After Shave burns his face, he lifts his hands to each side of his face and screams. That would be me right now.

I have waded into deep water and feel like crying out, “Aaaaah!” *picture of screen just described*

Revelation 11 actually has two scenes in it. One is of 2 witnesses who prophecy for a certain period of time…1260 days to be exact. I don’t know what that means. I know what some say but that is not my purpose here. At the end of those days a beast comes out of the abyss and kills them. They are mocked, rejoiced over because they are dead, and refused burial. After 3 1/2 years, they are raised to life and brought into heaven.

Enter Trumpet #7. We last heard Trumpet #6 in chapter 9.  This angel and his trumpet celebrates God. It celebrates that God reigns. The praise from the lips of the 24 elders (perhaps the ones mentioned in 4:11?) is powerful and pointed.

  • It declares who God is (verse 17): “the Almighty, the One who is and who was.”
  • It declares the judgment of God (verse 18), both good and bad.

My takeaway (besides I’m in over my head 🙂 ): There appears to be a time coming when my faith will be tested. Whether or not this is the case-depending, I guess, on your interpretation of Revelation-God ultimately has the last word. Judgment will take place-both reward and consequences.

“Father, I’m not sure what all this means but it tells me I need to be faithful because You are.”

May 9

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Mother’s Day is over. Well, at least the “official” MD. Can I write about that? ‘Cuz that’s much easier to write about than Revelation 8!! 🙂 No? Ok…well here goes.

I didn’t understand Revelation 8 and its significance with the trumpets. So I “checked” and glanced at a couple of commentaries. Guess what? I still don’t understand, but here is what I gleaned from reading Rev. 8.

But first my soapbox. We hear a lot these days about the New Green Deal. In my mind it is simply repackaged Environmentalism. Extreme environmentalism. We used to call them “tree huggers.” I remember the old MacGyver (probably my all time favorite show) would delve a little bit into that subject. But not hyper. Maybe it was heading that way. I don’t know.

I’m all for taking care of the environment and I try to do my part. But no way is it the “end all.” No way is a tree or a plant or a species of animal more important than a person. It seems the height of inconsistency to see the emphasis placed on protecting an eagle’s egg or a plant or whatever, but not see the value of protecting a baby in the womb.

Rant over…now to this chapter.

The whole chapter seems to deal with the destruction of the planet. A third of the earth burned up, a third of the trees, and all the green grass in the first trumpet (v.7). A great mountain was hurled into the sea and the water turned to blood with the second trumpet (v. 8)

There is more than what I wrote. Each trumpet sounded by each angel carried with it the destruction of part of the planet. You can read the rest of them on your own.  (We still have 3 more trumpets to go after this chapter).

I guess my question is why do we worship the planet, and in some cases give it god-like status, when it will ultimately be burned up and dissolved? I simply cannot do that.

There is ONE who is to be worshiped, only ONE worthy of it. I will stake my claim with Him and not creation.

“Father, help me to care about the environment but not to worship it. It will all be destroyed in the end.”