dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Revelation 1:9-20 ~ In All His Glory!

Verses 9-11.  Because of being “in Jesus,” John faced tribulation, learned patient endurance, and was part of His kingdom.  Sometimes it’s easy for us to focus on the tribulation and not on the blessings of being “in Jesus.”  John was persecuted because He spoke the truth about Christ and clung to the truths of God’s Word, BUT HE NEVER GAVE UP ON CHRIST! He was faithful even in exile.  God rewarded his faithfulness with a revelation of the ruling and reigning, Jesus Christ–John’s dear friend and mentor who became His Savior.

Verses 12-16.  What John saw; he could hardly put it into words.  He did the best describing the glorified Christ as his vocabulary and earthly words would allow.

  • Like the son of man… He looked a lot like the Jesus he walked with over 60 years prior, but different somehow.
  • In the midst of the lampstands…Jesus is walking among His church.  His presence is with His people.  And we are to be His lights in this world.
  • Long robe with golden sash…the clothing of a high priest.  Jesus is our High Priest–our Mediator.
  • White hair…Jesus is infinitely wise!
  • Eyes like fire…eyes that see everything.
  • Bronze feet…a foundation of holiness and strength.
  • Voice like the roar of many waters…that drowns out all other voices (think Niagara Falls!) Read Psalm 29 to learn more about the mighty voice of the Lord!
  • Holds 7 stars in right hand…huge and strong and capable hands
  • Double-edged sword in mouth…defender of truth
  • Face like the sun in full strength…inescapable, powerful, gives light and life and direction.

Verse 17-20.  When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead. BUT HE LAID HIS RIGHT HAND ON ME, saying, “FEAR NOT, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning RIGHT NOW!  He has authority over death and hell and our lives–forever.  Seeing this, John fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead.  Awe and reverence ought to be the normal response to the holiness and glory of Jesus.  When is the last time we were overwhelmed by the glory of God?  The last time we realized who we were blaspheming when we used the name of Jesus flippantly?  The last time we realized to whom we are praying and singing?

BUT JESUS–gracious, merciful and loving–laid His RIGHT HAND on John.  The same hand that is big enough to hold seven stars is small enough to reach down and touch us!!  With a touch from Him, all fear is cast out!  If we know Jesus; we are to fear (respect) Him, but we don’t have to be afraid of Him.

Lord, I want a vision of our glory that stops me in my tracks and leads me to worship, but also a merciful touch that reminds me of your love for me personally and the wonderful closeness we share.

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Revelation 1:1-8 ~ It’s All About Jesus!

Revelation was written by the Apostle John while he was in exile on the island of Patmos near the end of the first century.  It is filled with wonder, warnings, wrath and winning victory!  This book used to scare me because of all the speculation about the unknown in it.  However my pastor has been going through it and has taught me that Revelation is not about speculation, but about adoration and anticipation.  It is a picture of my ruling and reigning Savior, Jesus Christ.  Revelation unveils His glory!

We would do well to remember these three things as we study the book of Revelation:

  1. Revelation is all about Jesus. (vs. 1)
  2. Revelation is a gift from God to His people. (vs. 1)
  3. Revelation is the only book that carries a blessing to anyone who reads it aloud, hears it and keeps it. (vs. 3)

Jesus is described as:

  • The faithful witness.  He testifies to the truth always and forever.  His story never changes or varies. (vs. 5)
  • The firstborn of the dead.  He receives the highest honor and blessing.  He goes before us and makes the way. (vs. 5)
  • Ruler of kings on earth.  All authority and power is His.  Nothings happens in the whole world apart from His plans.  Kings and kingdoms rise and fall at His command! (vs. 5)

This great and mighty ruler LOVES (present tense) us and set us free from sin by shedding His own blood. (vs. 5) We have been absolved and our King paid the penalty on our behalf.  If I were on trial and the judge took the lethal injection on my behalf so I could walk free, I would be overflowing with gratitude and overwhelmed by grace and mercy.  So it is for Jesus–He alone deserves glory and power forever and ever!!! (vs. 6)

Jesus is coming again, and we will worship Him.  Will He receive willing worship or wailing worship?  Those who have been set free by Him will worship Him willingly.  “You are my God, my King, my Savior!  Everything I believed about You is true!”  Those who don’t believe will worship Him with wailing.  “Everything I heard about You is true.  I’m so sorry I didn’t believe.” (vs. 7)

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega…the beginning and the end…the first and the last…from A-Z He is totally complete, missing nothing.  Every word is formed in Him; He is the Creator of all things!  He always has been; He always will be!  He is Almighty! (vs. 8)

Spend some time worshiping Him today!

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2 John 1:1-3 ~ Truth and Love (Part 1)

This letter is from John, the elder.  I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children (a particular church), whom I love in the TRUTH–as does everyone else who know the TRUTH–because the TRUTH lives in us and will be with us forever. (v. 1-2)

There are four interrelated things identified as truth in the Bible that can be “in us and will be with us forever.”

  1. Jesus Christ-“I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
  2. God’s Word-“Sanctify them by your TRUTH; Your Word is TRUTH.”(John 17:17) and “The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
  3. The gospel (Good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection to atone for our sin and give us power over Satan, sin, and death!)-“And now you Gentiles have also heard the TRUTH, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.” (Ephesians 1:13)
  4. The Holy Spirit-“When the Spirit of TRUTH comes, He will guide you into all TRUTH.” (John 16:13) “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

These things are the foundation of the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.  They are truths that unite us with each other, and can never be compromised.

Grace, mercy and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ–the Son of the Father–will continue to be with us who live in TRUTH AND LOVE. (v. 3)

When we allow for God’s truth to dictate how we live, and we walk in His command to love Him and others; we receive the rewarding gifts of grace, mercy and peace from God.  Do we need anything more than that from Him???  His grace is defined as abounding and wonderful!  His mercy is new every morning; it is very great and abundant! The peace from God is powerful and surpasses all our understanding–we can’t fathom it!  Clinging to truth and love–even when it is hard–is worth it!  The reward is too great to pass up!

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1 John 5:1 ~ SURPRISE! More About Love <3

EVERYONE who believes that Jesus is THE Christ has been born of God, 1 John 5:1a

EVERYONE who believes becomes a child of God!  That’s equality–founded by God Himself!  But, believes what???  One must believe that Jesus is THE CHRIST–the Messiah, the Savior–the ONLY ONE!  Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in NO ONE ELSE, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!”  Jesus and Jesus alone is sufficient to save EVERYONE!  God’s plan for salvation is plain and simple, but in pride many complicate or reject it all together.  To those who believe, we are given the privilege of being called a son or daughter of God!

and EVERYONE who loves the Father loves WHOEVER has been born of Him. 1 John 5:1b

Love is the numero uno qualifier for a Christian!  Because it is impossible to love like Christ and sin at the same time (Matt. 22:40, Galatians 5:14); love leads to holiness–which is to be another great attribute of the Christian’s life (1 Peter 1:15-16).  As a sidenote, we must be careful not to confuse holy living with righteousness.  Righteousness cannot be earned by behavior, but only given by Jesus when we believe in Him as our Savior (Jeremiah 23:6, Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 2:8-9).

What keeps us from loving others is not understanding our salvation.  Pride and self-righteousness are two of the greatest hindrances to love! When we came to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness it was in humility and repentance over the weight of our sins.  When we move forward from that point, it is in the grace of God.  It is only by His mercy and grace that we can stand.  When we forget that, it changes the way we view ourselves and others.  We forget that we are equals in God’s kingdom, and our ability to love others is road-blocked.

Look around your church or Bible study group, your family, your neighborhood, your school, your workplace–there is not one believer in attendance who is not also your brother/sister in Christ, who you are not required to love.  And since it is impossible to know the hearts of people and judge their salvation–go ahead and love them all!  You might have a mansion next to them for eternity!

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1 John 2:1-6 ~ “I Know Him!”

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. BUT if anyone does sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.  He is the propitiation (the “sacrifice that takes God’s wrath and turns it to favor” ESV Study Bible) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD!  And by this we KNOW that we have come to KNOW him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says, “I KNOW HIM,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may KNOW that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

At the risk of exposing my cheesiness–when I saw the phrase, “I know him!” all I could think of was Buddy the Elf talking about Santa Clause in Gimbel’s department store. http://youtu.be/9jyCfRHumHU No one believed that Santa was real, but Buddy actually “knew” him.  And by living out the Code of Elves in his daily life, others started to believe in the existence of Santa too.

When we “KNOW” Christ, it changes how we live, how we experience joy and love.  People often won’t believe in a God they cannot see, until they see Him in us!  He uses our lives to display His grace, love, and transforming power.

When we “KNOW” Christ, we are called to walk like Him.  The ESV Study Bible says, “walk the way that led to the cross.”  Jesus walked in power, boldness, humility, compassion, grace, truth, generosity, peace, self-sacrifice, hating evil, overcoming temptation, fellowship with the Father, with no attachment to earthly things, and in full submission to the Father’s will.

Do I desire to do what is right in God’s eyes?  Do I look like Jesus in how I live and how I treat others?  Does the way I live my life prove that I know Jesus–the Righteous One, my Advocate, my Savior who paid the penalty for my sins with His own blood?

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2 Peter 1:16-21 Credibility

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  And we have something more sure, the prophetic word,to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was every produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

At first I thought this section of verses lent credibility to Peter’s letter, but now I realize that the words above give credibility to Jesus as the Son of God and the Bible as the inerrant word of God.

Peter opens this section by saying basically, “I know this might all sound made up, but it’s not! We never sat around devising schemes to put Christ’s power and glory on display.”  We don’t have to use any man-made technology, schemes or programs/processes to put Jesus Christ’s power and glory on display!  Jesus Christ is more than a man; He is the King!  He stands alone in authority and power!

Jesus’ lordship, glory and honor were on display to those who walked closely with Him.  James, John and Peter experienced it first hand at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).  We ourselves can ascend the holy mountain if our hearts are pure and our hands are clean and our souls are lifted up to Christ alone! Yes!  We can experience firsthand His majesty and glory! (Psalm 24)

Not only can we have close fellowship with Christ and the testimony of ones who walked with Him on earth, but we have His perfect Word.  Peter said it is even more sure than being on the mountain with Christ and hearing the voice of God from heaven.  What a treasure!!!  What a light in a dark world!  To have such supreme, verified, validated truth in a world of shifting, fading, decaying “truths.”  The Word of God is how we know Christ–it is how He takes root in our hearts.

We don’t need anything cleverly devised, JUST JESUS AND THE WORD OF GOD! The God-dictated, Spirit-inspired, man-transcribed precious, perfect, prophetic Word!

The Word of God is essential to spiritual growth!  It is life-altering and the stepping stones of change in the qualities in which we should be growing.  It is where we experience God’s divine power for godly living and learn of His precious and very great promises.

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1 Peter 4:12-19 Fiery Trials

As Christians we will suffer persecution and insults just like our Lord Jesus.  In America, those who stand firm in their faith on God’s promises and truths may be insulted, but there is little real persecution.  In other countries, however, followers of Jesus Christ are being killed every day for their unashamed faith.   In fact, I got a prayer email last week about an elder of a church in India who was praying for healing for a man.  The man quietly left the room and came back with a machete-like weapon and slit the church leaders throat while he prayed.  Along with the prayer request for this martyr’s family was a request to pray for his killer to know the forgiveness and grace of Jesus.  Wow!

Although this passage says to not be surprised by the fiery trials WHEN they come, surprisingly we are told to rejoice in those trials.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are told that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”  We can embrace suffering for Jesus with joy, when we know that someday we will see Him face-to-face, and He will reach out His nail-scarred hands and welcome us home to eternal rest in His presence.  Suffering here on earth is momentary in light of eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

There are different kinds of suffering.  Suffering for the name of Jesus and suffering because of sin.  Most of the suffering in my life is a result of sin not because of my Savior.   There are no promises of God’s power resting on sinful suffering, no promises of joy and rejoicing, no promises of experiencing the faithfulness of God.  There are four specific sins listed in verse 15: murder, stealing, evil-doing and meddling.  The first three seem obvious, but the fourth one doesn’t even seem like a sin, does it?  Meddling–getting in other people’s business–is something many of us do on a daily basis!  And a lot of the conflict in our lives is because we have meddled in someone else’s!  This kind of suffering does not lead to joy, but is meant to lead us to brokenness so that we can repent and experience joy.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

God is faithful.  He allows suffering for a time for His purposes and ways.  He promises that when we suffer for His name that His glory and power rests on us and that we will receive blessing (vs. 14).  Psalm 139:16 tells us that God saw our unformed body while it was still in our mother’s womb, and that he had written every day of our lives in a book before one of them came to be.  God knows us, He sees us, He loves us, He has a plan for us, and He is not surprised by our suffering.  We can trust Him with our circumstances.  We can rejoice in our suffering because He is the Redeemer and Restorer of suffering.  We can continue to do good for His glory in the midst of suffering–it doesn’t have to paralyze us and steal our purpose.

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1 Peter 4:1-11 Purity and Purpose

Purity

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2

Jesus suffered on behalf of sinners, so that we can have victory over the sins that enslave us.  His suffering made our way for salvation.  When we “arm ourselves” with that way of thinking, it gives us another reason to embrace the suffering that we go through.  Suffering is a tool that God can use to purge us of our selfishness and pride.  Enduring suffering and overcoming sin are battles that start in the mind.  The way we think is a weapon that we can take up to make war against our unholy passions and desires.

So why does it even matter if we do battle against sin in our lives or continue in it after we have embraced the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation by grace through faith?  Because we will stand before the Lord someday and give an account for our lives and actions.  There are only two ways that we can live: for our own human passions or for the will of God.  Living for ourselves does not demonstrate the change that takes place in our heart when we submit to the Lordship of Jesus.  When we let Him change us, and our lives don’t look like they did before, people may malign us and our old friends abandon us, but we will have the Spirit of God to carry us through until eternity.

Purpose

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, whoever speaks, as one who speaks the words of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11

Jesus is coming back to take those who believe in Him by faith home to heaven!  We don’t know when that day will be…it could be today!  That begs two questions: 1) Are you ready?  If Jesus came today, would you go with Him to heaven?  2) What should we do with our time while we wait for Him to come? What do we hope to be doing when He comes?

God graciously gives us great ways to fill our time on earth…ways that are according to His will, not serving our own passions.  We are called to pray; to love others earnestly; show hospitality; and use our God-given gifts to serve one another; and generously share God’s grace with others.  Can you imagine what our lives would look like, the joy and fulfillment, the productivity/fruitfulness we would experience if we approached our daily lives with this “to-do” list?  We would be achieving the purpose of man–that God would be glorified through Jesus in our lives.

The thing that gets in the way of our loving, serving, and caring for others is our own selfish desires.  Until they are put to death, we are of no use to others.  That is why we need to do battle against our flesh.

For any John Piper or Tedashaii fans, here is a great song about making war on the flesh:

http://youtu.be/a4mbn1u0wBs

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1 Peter 2:13-25 True Humility

Christians are called to submit to government officials and employers whether or not they are worthy in our eyes, for the Lord’s sake and in reverence to the example set by Jesus–our Humble King!

Verse 15 says it is God’s will for us to humbly do good and in so doing silence fools.  God’s will is not for us to use our mouths to defend ourselves or destroy others, but to live our lives in a way that displays the character of Christ to a watching world.

We are to serve God and others, show honor to everyone, love others and fear the Lord.  Following these commands is only possible if our hearts are rooted in humility.  We are to be like Jesus, who according to Luke 6:35-36, is kind and merciful to the ungrateful and evil.

In this world people will cause us sorrow unjustly.  Because we are made in the image of God, we hate injustice and long to see it righted.  However, God is the only Judge!  He sees and knows all–nothing is hidden from Him.  Therefore, we are free to respond to injustice like Jesus, trusting the unjust to God the Father.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered FOR YOU.  He is your example, and you MUST follow in His steps.  He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.  He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.  He left His case in the hands of God, who ALWAYS judges fairly.  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By his wounds you are healed.  Once you were like sheep who wandered away.  But now you have turned to your Shepherd and the Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

Remembering that Jesus was treated unjustly on account of our sins ushers in the humility God requires of us toward others.  When we are grounded in grace, it becomes our natural response to those who offend us.

Have you been insulted, afflicted, or wounded by others?  Jesus was, yet He did not retaliate or threaten revenge.  He forgave, made righteous, and healed.  He offered mercy and grace.   Amazingly, God can use our humility also to heal and restore others spiritually.

Since Jesus put sinners’ needs first by making himself nothing and taking the on the role of servant, even humbling himself to death (Philippians 2:5-8); I ought even more to put others before myself and humbly submit to authority for the sake of their souls, offering others the same grace that was afforded to me.

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1 Peter 2:4-12 Holiness and the Church

“As you come to Jesus…you are being built up as a spiritual house…”

Jesus is the foundation of the church.  As we come to Him in belief and for salvation, our lives are not only built on that Foundation, but also interlocking with other believers all over the world and throughout all time.  This gives lofty purpose to our lives.  We are to strengthen and hold each other up.  We are to interact with one another.  We are to serve and worship together.  Verse 9 says, “That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  And Verse 12 says, “That they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”  A church that is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ keeps Him central in everything.  In this we may face rejection by men, but we will be precious to God!  And God alone will get the glory!

Since we are built up together, how we live affects the church and lives of others and the reputation of the Lord.  Be holy!

Being holy is different from being good.  A lot of people are trying to build “good” lives.  Being good can be managed in our own strength, and qualified by our own definition.  It builds on a foundation of self.  Being good makes me feel and look good.  Holiness is the result of Christ’s work in our hearts.  Being holy reflects on His goodness and gives Him the glory.  Being holy is integral to the structure that God is building.  Being good is building our own building, one block at a time.  This is why Jesus is prophesied as a “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”  People who want to do life on their own get tripped up over the fact that their lives were meant to be built on Jesus Christ, and offended that He and His truth is the only foundation that is secure and eternal.

How can I proclaim the excellencies of God today?  How am I serving God with my life?  Am I allowing God to make me holy for His glory?  Am I abstaining from my own passions to pursue an honorable life that points others to God?  How are my relationships with other believers that are being built into God’s spiritual house together with me?

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