Eating the Little Scroll


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 25-28; Revelation 10

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 10:1-11

 

In today’s key passage, the prophecy of God’s final judgment continues through the apostle John.  A mighty angel comes down from Heaven carrying a little scroll. (Vss. 1-2)  While we are not told exactly what the scroll contained because John was told not to provide details (Vs. 4), we do know that it had to do with God’s judgment on unbelievers. (Vss. 6-7)  John was told to take the scroll from the angel (Vs. 8), and when he did, the angel told John to eat it. (Vs. 9)  When he did, just as the angel predicted, the scroll tasted as sweet as honey in John’s mouth, but quickly soured his stomach. (Vs. 10)

When we first read passages like these in the book of Revelation, we might feel a little confused.  We may not immediately understand what the passage means to us today or how we can apply it to our lives.  Fortunately, the more we study God’s Word and prayerfully consider His passages, God tends to provide us with understanding and show us an application.  When we read about God’s final judgments against this world, as followers of Christ the words are as sweet as honey.  We long for Christ’s victorious return and we long for the new earth.  Unfortunately, there is another side to that coin.  While we rejoice in what the end times will mean for us as believers, our stomachs quickly sour as we think about the fate of unbelievers.  There are so many people in this world that will be lost, and that simple fact hurts our hearts and makes us feel ill.  This sickening feeling is what drives us to continue to spread the Gospel each day, and to keep trying to reach the lost.  As God changes our hearts, we begin to grieve for the things that grieve Him, and nothing grieves Him more than the thought of a lost soul.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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A Hardened Heart


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 22-24; Revelation 9

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 9:20-21

 

For the last few days, we have been reading about God’s judgments during the end times in the book of Revelation.  At this point in our reading, the people of earth have already experienced the seven seal judgments and most of the seven trumpet judgments.  So far, they have seen many things including a great earthquake, hail and fire mixed with blood, a mountain thrown into the sea, and the darkening of a third of the sun and the moon.  In today’s reading, they faced a plague of locusts and the release of the four fallen angels.  Up to this point in the prophecy, over one-half of the world’s population will have been killed by God’s judgments.  Amazingly, even after seeing all of these things, there will still be people who will refuse to repent of their sins and turn to God. (Vss. 20-21)

When we read today’s key passage, most of us will probably think that the people who refuse to repent must be some sort of super-villains.  The truth is that each of these people will start their lives as innocent babies just like the rest of us.  The reason they will be unable to repent is that their hearts will be so hardened toward God following years of sin.  This is the way sin works.  These people will not wake up one day and just decide to be evil.  Their hearts will become hardened over time until eventually they will be unable to recognize God at all.  This is why sin is so dangerous, and why we must be careful not to rationalize sin in our lives.  One sin leads to two, which leads to dozens, which ultimately leads to a hardened heart.  Fortunately, when we confess our sins as soon as we recognize them, and completely turn away from them, we can save our hearts from becoming hardened toward God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Dealing with Discouragement


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 20, 21; Psalm 111; Revelation 8

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 20:45 – 21:5

 

Can you imagine living as a prophet in Old Testament times?  What an awesome job that must have been, filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  The upside, of course, was the ability to walk and talk with God daily, but these prophets must have also faced discouragement when their own people refused to listen to their warnings.  In today’s key passage, we see a little of this discouragement from the prophet Ezekiel.  After proclaiming God’s message to His people, he voiced his own discouragement to God when he said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! They are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?” (Vs. 49)

In the beginning of chapter 21, we see God’s answer to Ezekiel’s complaint, but His solution might surprise us.  God did not choose to try to calm Ezekiel’s aggravation or give him a break from his ministry, nor did He force the people to listen to Ezekiel.  Instead, God simply gave Ezekiel his next assignment.  God knew that most of the time, the best way to deal with discouragement is to keep moving forward.

As we walk out our Christian lives of service, most of us will probably face discouragement from time to time.  We might face times when we do not feel like we are making a difference or we might think no one is listening.  When we turn to God with our frustrations, we might expect Him to respond in a certain way, but His solution might surprise us.  He might help us deal with our discouragement by giving us additional assignments, or showing us a new way to serve Him and others.  Be open to God’s plans and His solutions, because they are always more effective than anything we can imagine on our own.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Making Excuses


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 17-19; Revelation 7

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 18:1-32

 

It was not my fault.  I did not know I was supposed to do that.  I was waiting for approval.  I was just trying to keep up with the flow of traffic.  Over the course of our lives, we have all made excuses.  When we miss a deadline at work, forget to do our homework, or get pulled over for speeding, we might try to make an excuse.  Sometimes we might even try to excuse our own sin.

This is what the people of Judah were trying to do in our key passage today.  They believed God was punishing them for the sins of their ancestors, and not their own.  This led many of the people to wrongly believe that they might as well sin because they were already doomed.  Others believed that if their ancestors were good and followed God’s commands, they would be saved simply through their lineage and could do whatever they pleased.  All of this wrong thinking was leading the people further away from God and keeping them from repenting of their sins, so God set the record straight through the prophet Ezekiel.  He said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Vs. 4)

We are all responsible for our own actions.  When we choose to sin, we can try to make excuses or blame someone else, but at the end of the day, we are all accountable to God.  If God’s message stopped there, it would be bad news for all of us who have fallen short of His standards.  Fortunately, there is much more to His story.  God told the people of Judah, “if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.” (Vs. 21)  Though we have sinned, we are saved by His overwhelming grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  So what are we left to do?  “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.” (Vss. 30-31)

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Urgent Prayer


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 15, 16; Psalm 70; Revelation 6

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 70

 

If you are anything like me, you probably have a few different types of prayers in your arsenal.  While the words of the prayers differ depending on the day, you probably have certain times of the day in which you talk with God.  For example, I usually spend time with Him in prayer when I first wake up, before going to bed, before each meal, before reading His Word, and before writing one of these messages.  For me, these are the times in which I always pray, and it would feel strange for me to ever miss one of these.  Aside from these prayers, though, there is another type of prayer that is probably familiar to everyone.  We pray these prayers when we get bad news.  We pray these prayers when we start to feel panic.  These are the urgent prayers.

In today’s key passage, we see one of these urgent prayers.  While it is not a long prayer, it is one that cuts to the heart of the matter and expresses David’s need for God’s quick intervention. (Vs. 1)  David asks God to be saved from his enemies (Vs. 2) and from those who might mock him (Vs. 3), referring to God as his help and deliverer. (Vs. 5)  Most of us can probably relate to David’s prayer.  Most of us have probably had those times when we needed God’s immediate help.  Most of us have probably felt that level of panic and fear that David was likely feeling, and have reached out to God to feel His peace.  What is so amazing about David’s prayer is that even in the midst of his distress, he does not forget to give God praise.  Even in the course of begging God for help to save him in a desperate situation, David stops to take the time to worship God for His goodness and His salvation. (Vs. 4)  In our moments of panic, let us all learn from David’s example.  Let us not go to God with our immediate needs, and forget to honor Him with our worship and praise.  Even in the direst of circumstances, we can still find a reason to praise God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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More Time


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 12-14; Revelation 5

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 12:21-28

 

I am not a morning person.  Each morning, I typically have to set two alarms – one for the time I actually want to get up, and one for fifteen to thirty minutes beforehand to give myself a warning that it is almost time to get up.  No matter what time I set my alarms for at night, when they go off in the morning I always have the same thought as I say to myself, “I thought I had more time.”

The Israelites in today’s key passage also thought they had more time.  The listened to all of the prophets telling them about God’s judgment, and they wrongly assumed that the prophets were talking about events that would happen in the distant future. (Vs. 27)  They even had their own proverb that was popular at the time – “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.” (Vs. 22)  What they did not realize was that God’s judgment was closer than they thought.  In fact, in less than six years, Jerusalem would be completely destroyed.  They failed to listen to the warnings because they all thought they had more time.

Many people today still react to God’s warnings in the same way as the Israelites.  They know the message of the Bible.  They know that they need to repent of their sins and follow God.  They know they need to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.  The problem is that they believe they have more time.  They think God’s final judgment will happen sometime in the distant future.  In fact, they may be right.  They may live a long life and they may still have plenty of time to turn to Him.  On the other hand, they might be wrong.  We will never know when our time on this earth will be done.  Jesus may come back or He may call us home tomorrow, or we may be here for another 100 years.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have more time.  If you have unconfessed sin in your life, repent today.  If you have been waiting to start a personal relationship with Christ, turn to Him today.  If you have been waiting for the right time to reach out to that unbelieving friend in love, do it today.  When the alarm clock of life finally goes off, we do not want to be caught off guard thinking we had more time.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

A Glimpse of Heaven


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 8-11; Revelation 4

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 4:2-11

 

Recently I was browsing through an airport bookstore while waiting for a flight, when I noticed a large number of books about Heaven.  The spirituality section was littered with books on this topic, including several books from authors claiming to have seen Heaven during a near death experience.  Typically, books like these do really well, often ending up on the New York Times’ bestseller list, because most people are interested in finding out more about the afterlife.  Christians and non-Christians alike buy these books hoping to get a small glimpse into what Heaven might be like.  Fortunately, we do not have to go to these lengths to find out about Heaven, and we do not have to worry about the legitimacy or motives behind the author’s account.  If we truly want a glimpse of Heaven, we need to look no further than today’s key passage.

The apostle John was shown a vision of Heaven, which he relays to us in our reading today.  In his vision, he is taken to the throne room of God where he describes God (Vs. 3), elders (Vs. 4), and living creatures covered with eyes and wings. (Vs. 6)  The living creatures spend day and night continually praising God (Vs.  8), and when they do, the twenty-four elders fall down before the throne of God in worship to Him. (Vss. 9-11)  If you are looking for a glimpse of what Heaven is like, this is it!  It is a place where everyone and everything spends all of their time praising God.  Most of the promises of our new home, like our new bodies that never feel pain or sorrow, are things we will have to wait to receive, but we can begin living today as if we were already there.  We can live every day in the presence of God, and we can continually give, “glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever”. (Vs. 9)

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Defiling the Temple


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 4-7; Revelation 3

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 5:8-17

 

One of the great things about the Bible is that we are able to see the mistakes people have made throughout history.  Hopefully, we are able to learn from these mistakes and avoid repeating them.  For the last several weeks, we have been reading through the prophecy sections of the Old Testament.  It seems like every day, a prophet is denouncing the Jewish people for their sins against God, and today is no different.  In today’s key passage, Ezekiel is speaking out against the people of Jerusalem for their sins, and he focuses on one sin in particular.  The people of Judah were defiling God’s temple by using it to worship other gods.

Before I move on, please understand that God does not really categorize sins.  In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a “bad” sin or an “acceptable” sin.  In his eyes, all sin is despicable.  With that in mind, I think we can all agree that defiling God’s temple is a pretty bad sin, at least in human terms.  At first glance, it would be like one of us walking into a church today, burning a Bible or a cross, and worshiping some other god.  For most of us, that sounds unthinkable, so our initial impression might be that this particular sin is one that does not really apply to us.  Unfortunately, if we believe that, we are wrong.

The truth is that all of us have defiled God’s temple.  Jerusalem’s sin, which seems so bad to us today, is one that each one of us has committed.  In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, we read, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Every time one of us has sin in our hearts, we are in essence defiling God’s temple.  Sadly, most of us commit this atrocity against God daily.  Of course, this is why the Gospel is such good news to us.  Even though we defile God’s temple when we sin, He still loves us.  Even though we commit what sounds like an unthinkable sin, He still forgives us.  He does this not because of anything we have done, but because of His grace if we have faith in His Son Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for our sins on the cross.  The next time you feel the temptation to sin, think about that sacrifice and think about the fact that giving into that temptation will defile the temple of God.  Then ask God to give you the strength to overcome your temptation.  With His help and His mercy, we can keep His temple pure.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Location, Location, Location


Daily Bible Reading – Ezekiel 1-3; Revelation 2

Today’s Key Passage – Ezekiel 1:1-2:8

 

In 2010, my wife passed her real estate exam and has been working as a Realtor ever since.  Along the way, I have picked up a little bit about her business through talking with her and listening to her stories.  While I am far from being an expert, I have learned that the number one rule in real estate is location, location, location.  All things being equal, two identical homes can have an amazing difference in value based solely on their locations.  While location is important in real estate, the same is not true for serving God.

Today we begin reading the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, and both of them were prophets of God who spoke out against the sins of God’s people.  The biggest difference between the two was location.  Jeremiah preached to the people still in Judah, while Ezekiel preached to the people already exiled to Babylon.  Even though Ezekiel was over 500 miles away from Jerusalem, the center of worship for the early Israelites, he did not let his location stop him from serving God.  Instead, he stepped out in faith right where he was.

Many of us can believe the lie that we have to be in the right “location” to serve God.  For example, we might think we cannot serve Him at work unless we work in the ministry, or that we cannot share the message of the Gospel in some situations because it might be uncomfortable.  The fact is that our “location” has nothing to do with our ability to serve God.  Whether we are rich or poor, young or old, introverted or extroverted; we can serve Him.  Just as the number one rule of real estate is location, the number one rule of serving God is obedience.  As long as we have a heart for obedience to Him, we will always be able to faithfully serve Him, wherever we happen to be in our lives.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

The Simplest Defintion


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 52; Revelation 1; Psalms 143, 144

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 1:12-18

 

During my career as an investigator, I have interrogated thousands of people.  While the purpose and the ultimate course of each interrogation were different, I began each one in exactly the same way.  After a brief introduction, I would ask each of the people I was interrogating to tell me a little about themselves.  I was always fascinated by the way some people chose to define themselves.  Some people would talk about their childhood.  Others would talk about their spouse or their children.  Some people simply were not able to tell me anything about themselves, either because they were nervous or because they had never really thought about how they would sum up their lives in a few short minutes.

Many people throughout the ages have spent a lot of time trying to define Jesus.  Some people literally spend years of their lives trying to come up with a definition for Him.  There are entire books written with the singular goal of trying to define this man who lived over 2000 years ago.  The simplest definition for Jesus, at least in my opinion, can be found in today’s key passage, and it comes from the greatest possible source.  As the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, Jesus appeared to him.  When John saw Jesus in all of his glory, he immediately fell at His feet.  Jesus told John not to be afraid, and then He defined Himself by saying, “I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Vss. 17-18)  In these three simple sentences, Jesus tells us everything we need to know about Him.  He is God, He was dead, but was raised and He now lives forever, and He holds the keys to eternal salvation.  As followers of Christ, each of us will spend our lives building on that definition as we learn more about Him and get to know Him better, but at the most basic level, this simple definition is the best place to start.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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