Thank you for journeying through the Bible with us in 2019.
We’ll be back here tomorrow, ready to start again.
Will you join us?
Thank you for journeying through the Bible with us in 2019.
We’ll be back here tomorrow, ready to start again.
Will you join us?
“Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever. Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever. The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong. O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you. But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord. Take them away with those who do evil. May Israel have peace!” Psalms 125 NLT
Where is my trust? Trust has been hard for me this year. It seems like God is building into it, in situations I can’t control. It has made me question if I am operating out of fear or faith. There have been times when I have been battle weary and tempted to lose hope. But, in simple obedience I have seen the Holy Spirit move in miraculous ways. He has given me strength that I didn’t know I had. And has used me in spite of my weakness. When I look for how He is working, it takes the focus off of me and puts it back on Him.
When I reflect on His goodness, I see beyond the struggle to the things that matter…Bravery. Vulnerability. Old patterns being torn down. Child like faith. Purpose. Persistence. Hope restored.
Dear Father, I praise you for who you are. I want my heart to be in tune with you. I want to live expectant in the new year. Amen.
How many times have you read Psalm 119? I read it again, but this time in a different translation. The meaning didn’t change but it felt different. The familiar became new.
Take a minute and read it again, or at least your favorite part, in a different translation.
“O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised.
Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised.
Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees.”Psalms 119:169-171; NLT
These verses speak of desperation and praise. This past year I have been learning more and more about how seemingly opposites can be present at the same time. Happy and sad; joy and jealousy; longing and contentment.
Like many of the Psalms, Psalm 119 brings together opposites. The author seeks salvation and praises God for His provision at the same time. I can long for more and be content with what I have. I can long for relief from suffering and be filled with joy because of who my God is. I love the example the author sets for us.
Dear God, thank you for this gift of life. As we continue to walk with hurt and pain and confusion may we also be filled with your peace and your joy and your contentment. We pray for relief…for healing…for restoration. And we praise you for your presence. Amen.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adored for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2 ESV
While much of Revelation can be confusing, the ending of the book leaves no uncertainty: God will triumph, sin and Satan will be defeated, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. After all the struggles and tribulations described in the book, John receives the complete and final end of the story, where everything is finally set right and the effects of sin are no longer felt.
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:6-8 ESV
Once again, God clearly promises that if sinners turn from their sin to Jesus, he will save them and welcome them into his family. Those who follow Jesus lay claim to this heritage and Jesus’ righteousness covers them and washes away all their sins. This is a truth that I need to dwell on. It is too easy to just brush off Jesus’ sacrifice as just another part of His story without fully grasping the weight of it and how He saved me from an eternity of permanent torment. While I am a sinner, through Christ I can conquer and claim my heritage, despite deserving an eternity forever separated from God.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Revelation 22:12-14 ESV
Dear God, Thank You for sending Jesus so that I can spend eternity with You. Please help me tell others the Good News so that they may be with You for eternity too. Thank You for Your promises. I will faithful wait for Your return. In Your Holy Name, Amen.
What does Christmas feel like? Our regular radio station played Christmas music almost every day in December. We drove down streets with houses festooned in colorful, blinking lights and displays. Our house had its tree decorated and lit; shimmering red ribbons curled and placed across a mantel; snowflakes and ornaments dripped from light fixtures and windows. I tried to recreate my favorite childhood memories of the season–purchasing boxes of chocolate covered cherries, baking a Christmas morning warm cinnamon pastry, playing music throughout the house to signal the celebration of the new day.
Despite the outward display, though, sometimes it doesn’t feel like Christmas. So, what does Christmas feel like?
In Revelation, End Times approach and there’s no escaping it. From my vantage point, I read of what will happen, and wonder: then and there, would it feel like End Times?
2 So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. (Revelation 16:2, NLT)
The first of the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. I noted by the fourth bowl, a first mention: They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. (Revelation 16:9b, NLT)
What will End Times feel like? And would one know when the time is upon him?
15 “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15, NLT)
So much in the Bible requires further explanation by the speaker. Revelation describes a future yet to take place, people yet to be born, and items yet to be made.
7 “Why are you so amazed?” the angel asked. “I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits …” (Revelation 17:7, NLT, emphasis added)
Back-to-school morphs into packages of candy in October, sharing shelf space with Thanksgiving and Christmas–a blending blur of season. Christmas seems out of place in October, and yet, its date is fixed and arrival certain–whether it feels like it or not.
Revelation can be a terrifying book to read and a difficult thing to understand.
However, the one thing I’m always drawn to, fascinated with, and encouraged by is the great and mighty throng that worship God in Heaven. All throughout this book, we see a common thread of worship described in the most beautiful terms.
And even in this passage, in the midst of the suffering and judgement being poured out onto the earth below, those in Heaven are worshiping and praising God Almighty for His power, love, goodness, and justice.
Revelation 11:15 (NIV)
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”
This passage makes me so excited for Heaven.
I can’t wait for the salvation that we’ve been promised to finally be fully realized.
I can’t wait for the moment when Jesus finally has complete victory and rule over the earth.
I can’t wait for pain, suffering, and death to be gone.
I can’t wait for the joy of His presence.
And I can’t wait to worship God with millions of others who have been set free by Jesus and are overcome by the love of God.
Oh the love of God. It’s beyond comprehension.
Christmas is but a glimpse.
Easter a glimmer.
Heaven is where we will finally see in full the beautiful masterpiece God has been creating for thousands of years.
And it will be beautiful.
And we will worship.
And He shall reign forevermore.
Father, thank You for your great love in sending Jesus to live in our world, take on our sin, and die our death so that we could one day soon enter into Your Kingdom and live with You forever. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your power. Thank You for Your justice. I can’t wait to worship You in Your home, as You sit on upon Your throne in victory, but in the meantime, I will worship You here and now as You give me glimpses of the great joy that awaits me in Heaven with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.” (Rev 5:11-13) NLT
In these chapters, John continues to give us a vivid description of Jesus and all that leads up to the second coming of Christ as revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. All of creation sings praises to God the Father and Jesus.
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:13-17)
I can persevere in this life because of these promises–the hope of knowing that one day Jesus will make all things right, that he will take away all the pain and suffering, and I will be in His presence through all eternity. I believe this and hold fast to them. Everything in this book I’ve been reading all year is true. I stake my eternal life on the Word.
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. (Rev 8:1)
All the praising stopped! It was silent for 30 minutes. I think all of heaven prepared for what was about to come. The consequence of sin and those who chose not to believe in Jesus for salvation was about to begin. I think even in those 30 minutes God was giving people a chance, one last chance, to accept his son.
20 But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their immorality or their thefts. (Rev 9:20-21) NLT
After all the terrors (the NIV calls them woes) set upon the earth in chapters 8 and 9, there were still those who were unwilling to repent and accept Jesus. Their hearts were so hardened, nothing could get through to them. Woe to them is really what comes to mind. My heart breaks for these people and tears well up in my eyes at the possibility of any of my loved ones being in this group. It is why I must continually and fervently pray for those who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior.
Lord Jesus, I know that one day I will be in your presence and I, too, will sing praises and worship you. You are my Shepherd. There are many in my family that have not yet accepted you and I pray for their salvation. Please work in their hearts, reveal yourself to them, let them know you as Savior. I pray this not only for my loved ones, but for all who have not believed. Use me to tell my story of you, your love, your kindness, and your forgiveness. May they see all you have done to change me and seek you to do the same in their own lives. As we celebrate your birth on this Christmas Eve, may many come to understand the sacrifice you made for all of us, so none would be lost. Thank you for coming from heaven to this earth as a baby. You alone are worthy of worship. In your precious name I pray. Amen