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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Hebrews 10:19-39 ~ No Wavering

With Good Friday and Easter behind us, it could be easy to lose sight of what we just celebrated.  We rejoiced in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, His victory over sin and death, but Monday we return to “normal” life. I’m thankful that I find myself in Hebrews this morning reading anew these truths.

There is only one way into the presence of God, one way to experience His glory and that is through the torn flesh and shed blood of Jesus Christ–He alone opens the way and gives us confidence before the Father.  We must be unwavering in this belief and also strengthening each other in regard to the faithfulness of God and the purpose He set for us of loving and doing good to others through unity and community.

Many people may have gone to church yesterday and heard the truth of Jesus Christ, and sadly many may have walked away deliberately continuing in the sin of unbelief!  Anyone who daily rejects the truth of Jesus Christ as the only Savior forfeits the mercy of God.  They die to experience His judgment, fury and vengeance.  This is truth!  God in His mercy gives us day after day to chose to believe; but our lives will end, we will face God, and give an account for how we handled the truth.  There is only One way to the Father (belief) and there is only one way away from the Father (rejection). Rejection in essence is trampling the truth of Jesus, treating the shedding of His blood with contempt, and insulting/outraging the Holy Spirit.  Verse 31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of THE LIVING GOD!”  Oh how my heart breaks over those who refuse to believe the truth.  

Even on Good Friday as I was driving around, I was moved to tears by the sheer volume of people who were out and about and how few were probably considering the truth that Jesus shed His holy blood, taking the punishment for our sins–substituting His life for ours on that cross.

If I stopped reading this chapter at verse 31, it would leave my spirit crushed, but thankfully the next paragraph starts with the word, “BUT!”  Those who hear the truth and believe in Jesus are changed!  They are given endurance in suffering, compassion towards others and joy in unfair circumstances.  They have a great hope and confidence in God’s mercy and His abiding promise to live with Him forever in fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).  They are not “repaid” (30) with judgment, fury, and vengeance, BUT are”rewarded” (35) with salvation and eternal life!  All this is possible through unwavering faith!  Faith makes all the difference–it is the bedrock of endurance and perseverance.  It is the one thing that pleases the Lord. While unbelief leads to destruction, the path of faith leads to life.

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1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Unworthy Manner

Taking communion (the Lord’s supper, the eucharist, the bread and cup) together as a body of believers is supposed to be a symbol that unifies the body and points it to Christ.  In Corinth, the times of communion were dividing people into social classes–the rich were humiliating the poor by basing their sharing on outward appearances.  Paul said they were despising the church!  Taking communion together should remind us that there is common ground at the cross; that freedom and forgiveness is for all without favoritism.  When someone truly understands grace, mistreating others is not an option.  

Another way the church was taking the bread and cup in an unworthy manner was by putting self first.  It is called the “Lord’s supper,” not “my supper!”  The Lord’s supper is about receiving not taking.  Verse 23 says, “On the night he was betrayed took bread.”  Think about that!  He was about to be betrayed and handed over to people who would beat Him, mock Him, spit on Him, tear out His beard, and nail Him to a cross.  Yet, Jesus gave thanks and gave the bread and cup as a symbol of Him giving His life.  That’s my Jesus–give, give, give!  By fixing our eyes on Jesus, we take self out of the equation and can receive in a worthy manner.

There are consequences to taking the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner.  It results in guilt, judgment, and discipline from the Lord.  And Paul also says that physical discipline is probable–weakness, illness and death.

So, how can we take communion in a worthy manner?  Humbly examine and truthfully discern our hearts in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, and put others first.  Eating and drinking goes to the inside of our body and nurtures it.  Christ’s sacrifice was not to make us look good on the outside but to purify and cleanse us within!

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Mark 14:12-31-Jesus-Friend of Sinners

It still blows my mind that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him, yet, they ate a meal together.  Jesus, directly after confronting Judas, offered him the bread and the cup. Not only did Jesus know who His betrayer was, but He also knew that His closest companions would fall away. What an amazing Savior!  Then they sang a song together and departed the upper room.  The traditional song the Jewish people sang to close the Passover meal was called the Hallel.  If you have time, read Psalm 118 specifically and think about Jesus singing this song with His disciples including the betrayer as He begins His walk that would lead Him to Calvary.

It is possible to partake of the elements of communion and sing praises and have the heart of Judas toward Christ…isn’t that a scary thought?  It is possible to feel super close to Jesus and then fall away when overwhelming events take place.  Lord, strengthen my heart to never fall away.  Jesus, thank You for giving me a renewed enthusiasm for Your sacrifice and compassion to serve sinners like me and to die for sinners like me.  Thank You that You set Your mind on the cross and didn’t shy away or shrink back.  You are my Hero–my Champion!  I love you, Jesus!

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