dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Revelation 14:14-20 ~ Grain and Grapes

We read in Revelation 8 that the prayers of the saints were mixed with the incense that continually rises before God’s throne.  The specific prayers mentioned were petitions to God to exact vengeance on His adversaries.  God always answers prayers, and He always answers them in His timing.  The angels that come bearing the command to “harvest” the earth do so straight from His presence.  God knows the appointed time for judgment–when there is no one left on earth who will turn to Him.

There are two “reapings” mentioned in these verses.  In verse 16 it says,” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.”  This is a reference to wheat or grains. Verse 19 says, “So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

When I read about the grain and grape harvest, it reminded me of communion.  Bread is the physical representation of Jesus’ body being broken for us, and wine is the symbol of Jesus’ blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus was taken outside the city and nailed to a cross where He bore the full wrath of His Father on behalf of sinners.

When we trust in Jesus and believe His sacrifice is sufficient to purify our hearts and lives, then we don’t have to face God’s wrath and judgment.  “It is finished!”  But for those who don’t surrender their hearts and wills; who don’t believe and trust in Jesus; they will face God the Father’s wrath.  And it is not unfair of Him.  What is unfair is that He chose to send His perfect, divine Son to bear the wrath over sin in our place.  In His steadfast love and unfailing mercy, He gave us a way to escape His coming wrath.  He didn’t have to–He did it for love!

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Revelation 14:1-13 ~ Three Messages

Verses 1-5. At the end of Revelation 12, we see Satan–the Dragon–standing on the sand of the sea.  When chapter 14 opens, we see the Lamb standing on Mount Zion!  Who do you think is going to be victorious–the one on sand or the One on the mountain???

Verses 6-7.  The first angel brings a message of mercy, a gospel of grace.  It is an unchanging, eternal message –the one Jesus taught, the apostle Paul proclaimed, and my husband preaches today!  It is all-inclusive for every nation, tribe, language and people.  The angel calls people to fear God (stand in awe, revere and respect, acknowledge His power and authority), to give Him glory (humbly declare His greatness, power and brilliance), and to worship the Creator (adore, praise, exult, thank and honor).

Verse 8.  Everything we believe in, hope in, love and worship that is not Jesus Christ WILL fall and be destroyed.  The things that seduce our affections from the One who loved us enough to die for us will be decimated.

Verses 9-13.  In the end, like now, people will worship and align with Satan or worship and align with God.  Physical evidence will prove the hearts of man–in this case a literal tattoo will affirm allegiance to the Beast.  Who we align with has two very different outcomes.  One will experience the wrath of God, eternal burning and no rest.  The other will experience eternal rest!  (Can you imagine an eternity without rest…I value rest, so I think the promise of having it eternally in the presence of God is awesome!)

It is the grace of God that gives us these warnings of future events.  He doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance and faith in Him.  We can choose today who we will worship and align our lives with!

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Revelation 13 ~ Unholy Trinity

In the end, the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet will come on  the scene and deceive the world with their temporary power and counterfeit authority.  The “world” will be easily swayed by them and lured in to marvel and worship this false representation of the truly, divine Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

We are made to worship!  We can worship the One who is holy, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness; who sent His only Son to earth to live a selfless, humble life of serving all the way until He sacrificed His own life for the sins of mankind; who by the power of the Holy Spirit was raised back to life, ascended to heaven and now sends His own Spirit to dwell with and in His followers.  Or we can worship things that are blasphemous, haughty, and deceitful.

Why is it that most people love being under the authority of “false prophets,” but hate to submit to God’s authority?  Why is it that people will find themselves worshiping a dragon and beast and spitting on the Lamb?

These are going to be polarizing times.  It is only going to get harder to be a Christ-follower–captivity, martyrdom, starvation, nakedness, homelessness, etc…IS CHRIST ENOUGH?  WOULD MY FAITH BE STRONG ENOUGH TO ENDURE?

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his hame and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in Heaven.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (5-8)

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Revelation 12 ~ Satan Is…

Recently I was harsh and snarky with my sons.  I wasn’t really mad at them but at some other situation. They were just closest ones on whom to take out my anger.  It is like that with Satan.  He is really angry at God, but he takes it out on us.  He is an enraged enemy! (vs. 13)

Satan is a deceiver.  (vs. 9) There is not one place in the world where his deception is not heard, believed and acted on.  All evil in the world is a result of being deceived.  All pain in the world is a repercussion of people believing his lies.

Satan is an accuser.  (vs. 10) Day and night he is before the Lord throwing mankind under the bus!  He is a diabolical tattle-tale!  “Did you see what she did?”  But Jesus is an awesome absolver!  If our sins are washed away by Jesus, there is nothing that he can accuse us of that holds water.

Satan is a warrior. (vs. 17) Anyone who obeys God and trusts in Jesus, Satan is making war against.  His chief aim is to keep people from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to destroy anyone who already believes.  He can’t destroy the Lord, so he tries to demolish His followers.

SATAN IS DEFEATED!  (vs. 8, 12) He knows his time is short and that Jesus already claimed victory over him when He died on the cross and rose again.

Satan’s power is limited. (vs. 13-16) The Lord still controls everything.  Protection comes from the Lord.  He is our powerful, victorious ally!  Jesus and the armies of Heaven are fighting for us.

Satan is unstable. (vs. 17) When this chapter finishes, Satan is standing on the sand of the sea.  Sand is a false foundation!  There is no real stability or longevity for anything that puts its stakes down in sand!

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Revelation 11:15-19 ~ Your Kingdom Come

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. (vs. 15b)

God is sovereign over this world, yet it is in the hands of men who dishonor, oppose and even hate Him. This world is sin-sick, rebel-ridden, and destruction-destined because of the hearts of man.

In the Lord’s prayer we are taught to say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”  A time is coming when evil will be eradicated for all time and God will set up an earthly kingdom where He alone will reign.  He will judge those who ignore and oppose Him in wrath and will reward all who serve Him, speak His truths, believe in Him, fear, honor and respect Him–great and small.

When His Kingdom comes–it will be in unavoidable power and fullness of glory.

We give thanks to you, LORD God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.  The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth. (vs. 17-18)

Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

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Revelation 11:1-14: Truth-Torment or Treasure?

“You can’t handle the truth!”  is a famous movie quote by Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men.  And he is correct; the truth is often very difficult to hear.  Truth–real, absolute truth–never changes or varies.  It cannot be twisted to fit our lifestyle or personal beliefs.  If truth steps on our toes, we are inclined to rebel, fight, and create our own “truths.”

Biblical prophets are truth-tellers.  So it is no wonder they are generally despised and mocked and many were often murdered.  In the end times there will be two God-ordained truth-tellers that will prophesy for 1,260 days straight.  But, they will be killed and the people will rejoice because they don’t have to hear hard truth and face conviction over the false “truths” by which they have been living.  Here is what it says in verses 8-10:  And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt (corrupt and oppressive), where their Lord was crucified.  For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a TORMENT to those who dwell on the earth.

BUT!!!  Truth never dies!  In verses 11-13 it says, “But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell.  Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and GAVE GLORY TO THE GOD OF HEAVEN.

When we hear the truth, do we: 1) get angry and fight against it or 2) do we fear the Lord, receive it and give Him glory?  Does truth torment us, or is it a treasure to us?

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Revelation 8:6-10:11 ~ There is One God

These chapters are a description of the judgment that is going to be poured out on earth from the Lord.  They involve destruction and death in abundance.  It is easy to read it and think, “How can God be good and do so much damage?” or “Those poor people, they don’t deserve that.”  It is helpful to take our eyes off of the earth and man and put them on God!  He is the all-powerful creator of all things.  Everything we see and know is created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-17).  Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”  God is holy, perfect, and righteous.  However, even our best works can’t hold a candle to His purity.  We are fallen, imperfect, sinful people.  Just last week, as I was studying Psalm 28, I learned a new description of a wicked person–one who does not regard the Lord or His works.  That includes every person at some point in our lives.  It is a sin to ignore or not acknowledge God’s power, glory, sovereignty, and authority; and the penalty of sin is death.  Even in the midst of divine judgment and wrath, God was merciful to give people more chances to repent.  But we read in Revelation 9:20, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

The problem with most of us is that we don’t see our sin as bad or even see the things we are pursuing as idols.  So we just keep moving forward to this time of judgment without even realizing that is WILL happen and only those who have turned from their sin and received Jesus’ forgiveness through the shedding of His blood on the cross and who believe in the resurrection will be rescued from this coming judgment.  The message of repentance is hard to proclaim.  Like Revelation 10:10 says, it is like honey on the tongue but bitter in the stomach.  Repentance is sweet, refreshing, life-giving, freeing, yet it is bitter because it requires us to humble ourselves, admit we are wrong, and submit our hearts to the Lord. And even the message of judgment is difficult. The fact that we can escape judgment is sweet.  When we hear about facing judgment, it is bitter.

My husband gave the best illustration to help me understand the justice of God’s judgment.  If someone owns a Ferrari and they let me drive it and I drive it like I stole it.  When I return it trashed and disrespected, they have every right to take me to trial and make me pay for what I did.  It is so with God.  This world belongs to Him, and we belong to Him.  He put us here, yet we live our lives like they belong to us instead of just being on loan.  He has every right to exact judgment on us when don’t live like we are His. We will have to give an account for how we’ve trashed what He has given us and disrespected His “ownership” of us.

In summary, judgment is coming from the Righteous Judge, and He provided the only way of escape by humble repentance!  He is just and He is merciful!

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Revelation 8:1-6 ~ God Hears Prayer

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.  I can’t imagine how that felt after the deafening sound of peals of thunder around the throne and the throngs of people and angels worshiping God in loud voices.  Only One with supreme authority can command such quiet.  I wonder if when the seal was opened there was so much anticipation and expectation that people/angels couldn’t speak but only wait to see what the Lord would do.

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 

In Hebrews we learn that the Israelite tabernacle was an earthly copy or shadow of the heavenly throne room of God.  Yesterday I studied Exodus 30 to find out about the incense altar.  The incense altar was directly in front of the mercy seat where God’s presence would dwell and where He said, “I will meet with you” (Exodus 30:6).  Only there was a veil between the two because His holiness required separation from the people’s–even the priests’–sinfulness.  However, when Jesus died on the cross, the veil was torn in two signifying full access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 27:51)  In fact, Hebrews 4:16 says we can draw near to God with confidence to receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.

The incense before the presence of the Lord had to be burning continually, just like we are called to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  The incense was a special recipe that was only to be used before the Lord.  It was set apart as holy to the Lord, therefore, no one was allowed to keep it for common use in their homes or as perfume.  This reminded me that our prayers are to be set apart for the Lord’s will and purposes and not for our selfish gain or satisfaction.  Thankfully, we have the Spirit of God inside of us who intercepts our prayers and makes them align with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).

Our prayers mix with the incense and burn continually before the throne of God.  Isn’t that awesome!  They are a beautiful and fragrant offering to Him, and they permeate the air in His presence.  The smell of them probably lingers on His clothes!  He made it so they would be inescapable from His power and presence.  Wow!

Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

In this case, the prayers were for God to exact righteous judgment on the earth. Prayers about unjust suffering (and all prayers) will be answered in God’s timing.  Wait in heightened expectation to see what He will do!

But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habakkuk 2:21. I encourage you today to pray, and sit silently before the Lord.  Undistracted and expectant!

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Psalm 30 ~ Beautiful Contrast

For His anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning…You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:5,11-12)

Life is filled with highs and lows.  Although we don’t like the lows, they are necessary.  It is through the lows that the highs shine more brightly and are experienced more fully.  Unfortunately in the lows sometimes we forget that God is in control and faithful through them.  Instead of extolling Him (vs. 1), we criticize and blame Him.  Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other…”

So how can we approach the lows more effectively?  Humility!

  • RECOGNIZE that God is our only help and hope!  Verse 10 says, “Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
  • REMEMBER that favor follows anger, joy follows weeping, dancing follows mourning, and gladness follows sorrow.  They surely and faithfully come in pairs.
  • REJOICE!  Praise and thank Him through the highs and lows.

Hope this song by David Crowder helps you praise Him!!! “Glory of It All”

http://youtu.be/5eg-AlKyz3E

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Psalm 30:1-4 ~ A Reason to Praise

 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.  O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.  Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.

When we cry out to the LORD for help, He heals, rescues, and restores.  Satan is our biggest “foe.”  He is always trying to drag us down, but the Lord draws us up!  God acts in response to our humble cries.  If we don’t realize that He can save us, we won’t ask Him to.  When we recognize the power He has over our lives, and we turn to Him for help; He swoops in and rescues!  Even when our circumstances are less than pleasant and seem to be going unchanged, if God has rescued our souls from death–eternal separation from Him–then we have plenty of reasons to praise Him.

Too many times I find myself blaming or criticizing God instead of extolling, singing praises and thanking Him.

In case you are wondering what it means to extol like I was–hear you go!  To extol means to applaud, celebrate, glorify, magnify, make much of…

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