Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Beginnings


Daily Bible Reading – Revelation 19-22

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 21:1-27

 

Just as God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis, in the end God will create a new heaven and a new earth.  This new place will be the eternal home of His children.  They will live with Him every day, and there will be no evil, no sin, no pain, and no tears.  The New Jerusalem will be a new beginning for all of His people.

Today, we look back over the past year and give thanks to God for everything He has given us and for all He has done in our lives.  We also look forward into the new year for all that it will hold.  If you have not yet begun a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – if you have been holding back or waiting, or if you have any doubts in your mind that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life – let today be the day of your new beginning with Him.  If you have found yourself growing further and further away from God in the past year, let today be your new beginning as you draw closer to Him.  No matter what part of the journey you are on, today can be a new beginning for you.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)

I pray that all of you have a happy and blessed new year.

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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The Fall of Babylon


Daily Bible Reading – Revelation 15-18

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 18:11-17

 

In Revelation, John refers to the evil world and all of God’s enemies as Babylon.  The people of Babylon lived in luxury.  Material possessions, money, and power were the norm, and the people of Babylon refused to repent of their greed before God.  In Revelation 18:7, the city of Babylon boasted, “I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn”.  Chapter 18 of Revelation shows us the fall of Babylon.  It depicts the collapse of the world’s economic system, and the effect this has on the people living in the world.  For the inhabitants of Babylon who spent their entire lives building up wealth, power, and possessions, the end of it all will be severe.  These people will lose everything when Babylon collapses.  God will destroy everything they have worked for their entire lives in less than an hour.

The fall of Babylon illustrates the temporary nature of earthly treasures.  A large savings account or 401K may seem important to some people right now, but in less than an hour, it will all be destroyed in the end.  In today’s key passage, the voice from heaven was prophesying against the greedy merchants of Babylon.  The voice lists merchandise that illustrates the materialism of the society – luxury items that were not essential that the people of Babylon attempted to store up for themselves.  The list includes “cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages”. If we take a careful look at this list, many of us will see some similarities to items we have in our own homes.  As followers of Christ, we must all be on guard against greed and the power of money.  God wants us to work and provide for our families, but He does not want us to become so enslaved to wealth that money and material possessions become more important than people, or even worse, more important than God.  Use your riches to advance God’s kingdom.  Everything we possess belongs to God anyway, so why not use our time, money, and talents for His purposes?  The things we can buy and store up – the luxury items that we do not truly need – will all be destroyed in the end.  When we help others with our treasures, we do not have to fear the fall of Babylon, because treasures in Heaven can never be destroyed.

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.

Singing a New Song Before the Throne


Daily Bible Reading – Revelation 10-14

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 14:1-5

 

In chapters 12 and 13 of Revelation, we are told a lot about the battle between good and evil.  In chapter 12 we find out about Satan being cast down to earth, and in chapter 13 we are introduced to the unholy trinity – Satan, the beast of the sea, and the beast of the earth.  Both chapters are very dark and tell about Satan’s time in power on the earth.  Fortunately, even though Satan has been given some authority over the earth in these two chapters, it is clear that God is still ultimately in control.  At the beginning of chapter 14, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We see the lamb (Jesus) standing with 144,000 people.  The 144,000 represent the believers who have persevered the reign of Satan on the earth.  They have Jesus name as well as God’s name written on their foreheads – they have been marked as God’s people.  These 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  Scripture also says that these 144,000 were purchased by the blood of Christ, and they are blameless in the sight of God.

Then 144,000 endured great hardship and persecution on the earth during Satan’s reign, but they are now ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Though they faced terrible things, they remained faithful to God and are now receiving their ultimate reward – eternity with the Father.  Like the 144,000, each of us has been purchased at a price.  Our eternal freedom was bought and paid for by Christ’s defeat over death at the cross.  We still face hardships.  We still face strife.  We may be ridiculed or even persecuted for our faith, but just like the 144,000, each of us has a choice.  We can succumb to the pressures of the world and go along with Satan and his evil plans, or we can remain faithful to God.  We can follow Jesus wherever He goes.  Each time temptation strikes, we can remember the price God paid for us.  We can remember the cross of Christ.  If we remain faithful to God, even during the darkest of hours, we know that our reward will be waiting for us.  We know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.  We know that Jesus will welcome us into heaven, where we too can learn a new song of praise for 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

The Scroll and the Lamb


Daily Bible Reading – Revelation 5-9

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 5:1-14

 

In today’s key passage, the apostle John sees a scroll that contains God’s plan for the end of the world.  At first, no one can be found in heaven or earth or under the earth who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll.  John “wept and wept” when no one could be found to open the scroll, as the circumstances seemed to be so bleak.  Eventually, he received good news from one of the elders.  The elder explained to John that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David could open the scroll.  This Lion was Jesus.  Only Jesus had the power to open the scroll because only Jesus lived a perfect, blameless life.  Only Jesus has the power to hold the future in His hands, and He alone has the ability to set the events of the future into motion.

No matter how bleak or desperate our circumstances may appear, there is always One who can solve our problems and make everything work out.  Jesus can solve our problems.  Jesus is the only One with answers to all of our issues.  Even in difficult times when all you can think to do is cry, do not worry or be afraid because Jesus is there with you.  He holds your future in His hands, and will help you guide and direct your life.  My prayer is that we will all remember not to worry or stress out during difficult times, but will instead surrender everything over to Jesus.  I pray that we will all have constant faith in His help and His protection.

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 Lukewarm Christian


Daily Bible Reading – Revelation 1-4

Today’s Key Passage – Revelation 3:14-22

 

Each year in the week before Christmas, my family and I go out to look at Christmas lights.  Once we stopped at Starbucks to get some coffee for the drive.  While we were sitting in the drive-through looking at the menu, I noticed a couple of things.  The first thing I noticed was the irony that we now need a menu to order something as simple as coffee.  Secondly, and more importantly, I noticed that while Starbucks offers many different types of drinks, they can all be categorized as either hot drinks or cold drinks.  Nowhere on the menu could I find a nice lukewarm cup of coffee.  Some people, myself included, love a hot cup of coffee.  Other people prefer their coffee ice cold.  Most people, though, will agree that lukewarm coffee – that coffee that is somewhere between hot and cold – is just plain terrible.

In Jesus words to the church in Laodicea, He says they are lukewarm.  The believers in this church had gotten to a point where they did not take a stand for anything, and they were basically indifferent to Christ.  Being a lukewarm Christian is not what Christ has in mind for us.  For most of us, when we first hear the gospel and surrender our lives to Christ, we are immediately on fire for Him.  We start praying more, we start reading the Bible more, and we start to change because the Holy Spirit has begun living inside of us.  Somewhere along the way, though, it is easy to lose that fire and become lukewarm.  When we become lukewarm, we stop serving others as frequently.  We stop praying as frequently.  We stop reading the Bible as frequently.  Being a lukewarm Christian is a dangerous place to be, as we are only halfway to being ice cold.

If you have found yourself becoming a lukewarm Christian, take action.  Pray for God to renew your heart and your spirit.  Dive into prayer and the Scriptures.  Start serving more either in the church or in your community.  Do everything you can to avoid being lukewarm, knowing that Jesus wants so much more for you.  Rekindle the flame you have for the Lord, and make sure that your heart is always open for Him.  Remember the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:21 – “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

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.

Loving the Word of God


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 117, 119:81-176; 2 John; 3 John

Today’s Key Passage – Psalm 119:97-104

Upon reading Psalm 119, one thing becomes strikingly clear – the Psalmist loved the Word of God.  Throughout the Psalm, he mentions repeatedly how much he loves God’s Word.  Here are just a few examples:

Psalm 119:113 – I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.

Psalm 119:163 – I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.

Psalm 119:165 – Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:47 – And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

Psalm 119:48 – My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

Psalm 119:97 – O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

It is easy to get into a pattern of merely reading the Bible, but if we truly want to go deeper into His Word, we need to love it the way the Psalmist does.  After all, the Bible is God’s written revelation to man.  The very fact that a righteous, loving, all-powerful God would communicate to us, is one good reason to love the Word of God.  In addition, it is God’s Word that shows us the way of salvation through faith in Christ.  Without God’s Word, we would be lost.

Another good reason to love God’s Word is that we know the author personally.  Imagine that your best friend in the world wrote a book.  When you got a copy of the book, would you read it all the way through?  Would you take notes about the writing?  Would you attempt to read it as deeply as possible, or would you just skim a few pages of it and then set it down.  Most likely, because of your love for your friend, you would want to go deep into his book.  It is the same with God’s Word.  Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are all friends of God.  He IS our best friend.  We know that His Word is important to Him – after all, He wrote it.  Why, then, would we not want to go deep into His Word?

If you have had trouble in the past getting into the Word daily and sticking with a Bible reading plan, remember that your goal is to love His Word.  Love the Word for what it is.  Love the Word for what it does.  Love the Word because you know the author personally.  Love the Word because you know it is important to Him.

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.

God’s Love and Ours


Daily Bible Reading – 1 John 1-5

Today’s Key Passage – 1 John 4:7-21

 

On this day, let us not forget the reason for all of the celebration.  Let us not forget that today is a day of joy.  On this day, we celebrate God’s perfect love for us.  We celebrate what He did for us.  We celebrate the fact that he gave us his only Son to take away our sins.  As we bask in that love, I hope we will all try a little bit harder today.  I pray that on this day, we will all attempt to show a little bit more love to others.  I pray that when a potential frustration arises today, we will have the strength not to react in anger, but to react in love.  I pray that we remember today that everyone we talk to, everyone we see again, and everyone we meet for the first time are all God’s creations and treat each of them with the respect and love they deserve.  I pray that we never lose sight of the love of Christ and that we never forget to put Him first in our lives.  Finally, I pray that you and your families have a very Merry Christmas today, and that we all give Jesus the one birthday present He really wants – our worship.

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 Carpenter’s Cloth


Daily Bible Reading – John 19-21

Today’s Key Passage – John 20:1-8

 

In his book The Carpenter’s Cloth, Sigmund Brouwer discusses the significance of today’s key passage.  When I first read the explanation Mr. Brouwer has in his book, I was immediately moved, so I want to share with you an excerpt from his book:

During Jesus’ time there was one way a carpenter let the contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.

Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final—and welcome—drink of cool water from a leather bag.

Then standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before his journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.

Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message. The work is finished.

Christ’s disciples, of course, knew this carpenter’s tradition. On a Sunday of sorrow, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter will crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens that the risen Lord has left behind.

A smile will cross Peter’s face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb.

Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message.

It is finished.

Copyright(c) 1997. Published by Word Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee.
Excerpted from The Carpenter’s Cloth by Sigmund Brouwer.
Copyright(c) 1997 by Sigmund Brouwer. Page 125. Used by permission of J. Countryman.

The folded cloth described in John’s Gospel sent a compelling message of hope to the disciples and sends a compelling message of hope to all of us.  So many times, we all wonder if we are doing enough.  We wonder if we are good enough.  We wonder if we really deserve the salvation offered to us by Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.  The fact is that Christ’s message to us is a simple one – it is finished.  His work is done.  We are saved by grace.  Thank you Jesus for saving us.   Thank you for finishing your work here.  Thank you for your grace, mercy, and love.

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.

Taking Matters into Our Own Hands


Daily Bible Reading – John 15-18

Today’s Key Passage – John 18:1-14

 

Imagine for a second that you are Peter.  You have spent quite a while following Jesus.  You are friends, and you love Him dearly.  All of a sudden, men have come to arrest your friend and take him off to an almost certain death.  What do you do?  Do you simply stand by and allow this to happen, or do you try to take matters into your own hands and stop this atrocity?  Peter did the only thing he could think of to try to stop Jesus from being arrested and killed – he drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus.  Peter was ready to do battle right there in the garden to save Jesus’ life.  While this may sound courageous or even heroic, there is a problem.  His actions were not in line with God’s will.  God’s will was for Jesus to be arrested, crucified, and resurrected to save the entire world.  Jesus knew the plan, and immediately stopped Peter.  In addition, we see in Luke’s account that Jesus also healed Malchus’ ear, thus undoing the damage Peter had done by stepping in.

There are many times when we feel tempted to try to step in and help God.  It can be tempting to take matters into our own hands and try to force the issue, especially if we perceive that God is not taking any action on His own.  Of course, just like in Peter’s case, most of the time trying to step in for God leads to sin.  We must trust God to work out His plan in His own way.  As I have said in the past, God does not need our help.  He knows what He is doing, even when we are unable to figure it all out.  When we try to step in and force the issue, we only make things worse, and often we simply create more work for God to have to clean up.  Trust that He knows what He is doing.  Trust that His plan is working in your life.  Instead of trying to lead, when it comes to God’s will our best course of action is to follow Him.

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.

Preparing a Place for You


Daily Bible Reading – John 12-14

Today’s Key Passage – John 14:1-14

 

Sometimes I get bogged down in the day-to-day activities of my life.  Stresses from work or other activities start to build and eventually I find myself starting to worry.  Mostly I worry about stupid things.  I worry that this might happen or that something else will not happen, and before I know it I realize that I am worrying so much about the “what if’s” in life that I am forgetting to praise God for the things that have actually occurred.  Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled.  He follows that up with a statement that brings us immeasurable joy and hope – He says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (14:2-3)  How beautiful is that statement?  How awesome is that?

When I find myself getting stressed out and my heart is feeling troubled, I remind myself of this verse.  I remind myself that no matter what happens, Jesus is preparing a place for me in Heaven right now.  He is not preparing a tent or anything temporary for me – He is preparing a permanent home for me where I can live with Him forever.  One day I will get to see His face.  One day I will get to talk to Him in all of His glory.  Ever since I first started my relationship with Him, I have begun to feel more and more joy and peace that comes from being close to Him, but one day that joy and peace will be multiplied when I get to be close to Him in Heaven.  What a great day that will be.

He is also preparing a place for you.  Do not let your stresses or fears overcome you today.  Right now, I know many people are running around making last minute preparations for Christmas day and many people are feeling stressed.  When you start to feel overwhelmed, remember this verse.  Remember His promise to you.  Think about the day when you will get to stand with Him in Heaven.  Bask in His peace, and do not let your heart be troubled.

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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