dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Revelation 20 ~ Hard Truth

This chapter feels like a mystery/action movie with one too many twists or battle sequences.  Or like a “good” horror movie: when it feels like the movie is over and evil is defeated, the villain reaches out and grabs the leg of its victim one last time.  The comeback is short-lived as “good” delivers a final blow!

Satan is referred to as the dragon, the ancient serpent, and the devil, but his goal is always the same: to deceive!  At the beginning of this chapter, Satan is bound and sealed in a bottomless pit.  Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth and reigns for 1,000 years.  Can you imagine life on earth without the devil prowling around deceiving all of mankind and with Jesus tangibly at the center of all things?!  The problem is that humans have free will!  Our hearts are desperately wicked!  Even in a perfect environment, being ruled by a perfect King–people will choose to rebel against Jesus and try to make their own way.  At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released from captivity and start deceiving again.  Revealing the rebelliousness of hearts, he will raise up an army of unbelievers who would rather follow Him than side with a Savior.  But just like the villain making one last run at his victim in a movie, Satan will be crushed.  He will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur and “be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (vs. 10)

I wish that was the end of the story, but there is one more event–one that gives a lot of company to Satan in the lake of fire–one that sentences many to eternal torment and total separation from God–the great white throne judgment.  This is where all the dead from all time will stand before God’s throne and be judged “according to what they HAD done.”  No more chances–the past will finally catch up with them.  Those who spent their whole lives refusing God’s grace and salvation will have to give an account before the Lord, and it will be too late to change their minds. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (vs. 15)  

So what does any of this mean for me:

  1. Satan was defeated at the cross, but not bound!  Therefore, he is roaming, prowling, deceiving, destroying, devouring, killing, stealing all day long (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10).  I need to be alert, on guard, sober and watchful!
  2. I know my name is written in the Lord’s Book of Life.  I have received Christ as my Savior and surrendered my life to Him.  My sins are forgiven because of His sacrifice, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  I need to walk out my life in accordance with this miracle!  I must be diligent to love God and others, to disciple and teach people to obey God, to aim for holiness in my thoughts and actions, to “do” God’s Word.  I only have so much time and I need to be faithful!  “Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
  3. Many, many people will choose to reject the good news of salvation through Jesus–thinking they don’t need saving and that there is nothing to be saved from.  But in order to reject something, it must be heard. And how will they hear if no one proclaims (Romans 10:14-15). I have a responsibility to “each day proclaim the good news that He saves,” (Psalm 96:2b) to “rescue those who are being taken away to death,” (Proverbs 24:11a), and to “save others by snatching them out of the fire.” (Jude 1:23a)
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Revelation 19:1-10 ~ Worship God

Hallelujah ~ An expression (often spontaneous) of joy, thanks and praise to God; hallal (praise) Yah (Jehovah)

Revelation 17-18 foretells the destruction of this world system–labelled as a prostitute–and the vengeance poured out on those who trample the blood of Jesus and oppress His followers.  Revelation 19 is all of heaven’s response to this swift vindication and display of power.  They cry out, “Hallelujah!”

Worship and praise is the only proper response when we see God’s character and authority on display through His actions.  They worship Him for His salvation.  Those who follow Christ–who love and fear God–will be rescued/saved from judgment and destruction (vs. 1-2).  That is reason enough to worship!  In God’s judgment, His character is evident; He is just and true (vs. 1-2).  What He promises to do, He fulfills.  He is generous; He gives righteousness freely to all who come to Him (vs. 8) and then invites them in for a wondrous wedding reception in Heaven.  (No Macarena line dances there–just our own Personal Jesus!)

Based on John’s response to seeing the worship in Heaven, we see that we are made to worship but sometimes it can be misdirected.  We need a reminder to: “Worship God!”  He alone is worthy of our praise, joy and thanks.

So what can we learn about worship even now:

  1. Focus on God–keep Him central.  Fix our mind on His truth, His character, His power and authority.  He is seated on the throne–in the middle of heaven and our hearts!
  2. Join together!  John witnessed a “great multitude” worshipping God.  Sure, we can worship in our cars or at our kitchen sink, but the joy and power that is experienced in corporate worship can’t be beat!  Recently I attended a Jesus Culture concert and the unified worship of God was powerful!
  3. Be loud! Several references to the volume of worship in heaven are mentioned along with the praise being “cried out.”  God likes loud worship!
  4. It’s acceptable to “fall down” and worship.  Worship should make us feel small and bowing down is a tangible expression of our smallness in light of His greatness, our unworthiness in light of His holiness; our weakness in light of His strength; our humility in light of His honor.
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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 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 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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Revelation 6 ~ No More Hiding

I’ve been working on 1 John curriculum for a new ladies’ study at our church, so it has been a while since I’ve read in Revelation.  Here’s a recap of chapters 1-5:

John was in exile on the Island of Patmos and was given a revelation–an unveiling–of the ruling, reign Christ.  Jesus gave John letters filled with appreciation, encouragement, warnings and rewards to send to seven churches.  Next John saw the throne room of God–where He is glorified and worshiped without end. All of this lays the foundation and gives justification for the future wrath and judgment that the Lord reveals to John.

In chapter 6, Jesus begins to open the seven seals from the scroll in the hand of God the Father.

  1. War
  2. Violence–no peace
  3. Famine
  4. Death of 1/4 of mankind
  5. Death of Christians by persecution
  6. Destruction of the earth

All of these are permitted and commanded by the Lord as judgment on the earth.  Only one is committed at the hands of earthly men–the persecution of Christians.  However, it is important to note that this is also held in God’s hand and part of His perfect plan.

The people tried to “hide themselves” (15) from God during this time.  They acknowledge God and Jesus, but they do not call on Him for salvation from their sin and its effects.  They call on “things” to save them from facing God.  Mountains and rocks cannot save, but Jesus can!  And He wants to! That is why this revelation was given to John.  It states that there is a sovereign, living, holy God–the Creator of all things and worthy of all worship.  It reminds us that there is a perfect, spotless Lamb that was sacrificed for the sins of all mankind–Christ the Lord.  It also warns that ignoring Him, living apart from Him, and loving ourselves and our sin makes us His enemies.  Each day that He gives us to come out of hiding and embrace Him as Lord is grace!  His judgment and wrath are sure–come out from hiding and ask Him to save you before it is too late.

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, HID THEMSELVES in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand? Revelation 6:15-17

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Hey Jude! Them ~ You ~ Him!

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are CALLED, BELOVED in God the Father and KEPT by Jesus Christ:  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (vs. 1-2)

  • Jude was a 1/2 brother of Jesus, yet refers to himself as His servant.  Jesus was more than a brother to Jude; He was His Savior and Lord.
  • This salutation goes on to say that those who have been called by God are loved by Him and kept safe by Jesus.  It is only the power of God that calls us and keeps us until we see Him face-to-face.
  • Jude speaks a blessing of mercy, peace and love to be multiplied in the lives of his readers.  What a wonderful blessing!  Is there anything better that we should want for each other?

THEM

Jude goes on to warn of ungodly people who slip quietly into churches and start perverting God’s grace by promoting selfish living.  God’s wrath and judgment result in punishment for ungodly people.  Jude reminds his readers of these examples of the sins of ungodly people:

  • UNBELIEF:  The Israelites who were delivered out of slavery in Egypt but then didn’t believe that God was going to see them through to the Promised Land ended up wandering in the desert until their whole generation passed away. (vs. 5)
  • PRIDE and BOASTING: The angels that wanted to usurp God’s authority were cast down from Heaven and are held in eternal chains. (vs. 6, 16)
  • SELF-INDULGENCE:  Sodom and Gomorrah were completely wiped out with fire from Heaven for their sexual immorality. (vs. 7)
  • SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, JEALOUSY and HATE:  Cain gave a different offering than what the Lord required and became jealous when God accepted his brother’s offering but not his.  He ended up killing His brother over it. (vs. 11)
  • GREED and FAVORITISM:  Balaam loved getting paid for wrongdoing. (vs. 11, 16 and 2 Peter 2:15)
  • REBELLION:  Korah’s family wanted to take over the authority of the Israelite people from Moses–thinking their plans were better than God’s plans. (vs. 11 and Numbers 16)
  • GRUMBLING AND COMPLAINING: Speaks poorly of God’s provision and plans. (vs. 16)

YOU

Verse 19 ends by saying, “It is these (ungodly people) who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”  The next verse starts, “BUT YOU, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

Those who have been called by God are set apart as different–different passions, desires and motives.  We are the godly ones; not because of anything we have done, but because of God’s call and keeping, because of the God-given gift of faith, and because of the indwelling Spirit of God.  There is no room for unbelief, pride, self-righteousness, jealousy, hate, grumbling, complaining, boasting or showing favoritism if we are focused on these three things:  building our faith, praying, and showing mercy.

HIM

Now to HIM who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. (vs. 24)

Jesus keeps me from stumbling.  He presents me blameless before His Father’s throne.  He takes joy in taking away my sins, so He can show me off to His Father.  Not just me, but every person who believes that His death on the cross atones for their sins and that His resurrection gives them power over sin and death!

To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time AND now AND forever. Amen. (vs. 25)

Everything we are prone to want for ourselves–glory, power, authority, etc…–all belongs to Him!  It has ALWAYS belonged to Him!  When people steal it for themselves, He will punish them for it.  And He has every right to.  If I stole something that belonged to someone else, my conviction and punishment would be expected.  How much more so for those who steal glory and power from a Holy God!

Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on ALL and to convict ALL the ungodly of ALL their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of ALL the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (vs. 14b-15)

If you hear His voice calling you today, it is not too late to have your sins like pride, selfishness, greed, grumbling, rebelliousness, jealousy, hate, and self-indulgence forgiven by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Ask His forgiveness and receive new life–Jesus takes great joy in making you blameless!

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James 2:1-13 Know Mercy

Showing partiality and favoritism is an evil sin! (4,9) Not even one judgmental thought is acceptable! (1)  These actions disgrace the Lord who died for ALL people, who’s blood is able to cover ANYONE’S sins.

In James 2:10 we learn that breaking one commandment is the same as breaking all ten commandments, therefore we all come to the cross of Jesus on level ground–all sinners.  All who are redeemed are equally redeemed only by the mercy and grace of God.  When we realize that truth, it leaves no room for self-righteousness and judging others.

MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT.  James 2:13b

Mercy is showing compassion and/or forgiveness to whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  Mercy triumphs–conquers, prevails, takes first place, subdues–judgment.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful for they WILL receive mercy.”  Isn’t that what I want from God and others??!! Mercy instead of judgment!  Then I must freely offer mercy (compassion and forgiveness) to ALL others.  The truth is, I don’t have the power to punish anyone.  That’s God job!  If he shows mercy to all He has made, then I need to as well.

Is there anyone from whom I’m withholding mercy?

THE LORD IS GOOD TO ALL, AND HIS MERCY IS OVER ALL THAT HE HAS MADE! PSALM 145:9

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Hebrews 11:7 By Faith, Noah…

Our ladies’ Bible study finished our study through Proverbs on Wednesday, June 26, and I have been super excited to return to Hebrews and finish my journey through the New Testament that was started in January of 2012. And what an encouraging, challenging chapter in which to come back!

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.  By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:7

Our actions demonstrate our level of faith!  Noah believed God’s warning, believed in things unseen, and out of reverence for God in obedience built a giant boat!  His obedient faith condemned the world because it exposed their lack of faith and lack of reverence for God!  That was the problem with mankind then, and that is still the issue today!

This morning I studied through the Genesis account of Noah, the ark and the flood.  In it (Genesis 6-9), we see an Old Testament picture of the good news of salvation through Jesus that was to come.

Genesis 6:5-6, 11.  The condition of mankind was continually evil, violent and corrupt.  That’s sin–evil hearts are hearts in rebellion or opposition to God.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Genesis 6:7.  The Lord decided to blot out mankind because of their hearts.  Sin always has consequences–primarily death.  In Romans 6:23 it says, “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  All unrepentant sinners are under God’s judgment, and He can withdrawal His grace and mercy at any time.

Genesis 6:8.  But Noah received grace from God. (By grace…)

Genesis 6:9a.  God made Noah righteous and blameless among mankind. (You have been saved…)

Genesis 6:9b.  Noah walked with God.  As mentioned in the blog on April 13, 2013, to walk with God we have to draw near to God and the only way to draw near to God is by faith!  (Through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9)

Genesis 6:22, 7:5.  Noah did all God commanded.  Faith equals active obedience to God’s plan for our lives.  (For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10)  God doesn’t just save people, He also gives us purpose!

Genesis 7:16.  Once all the people and animals were on board, the Lord shut them in!  There is only one way to be saved–one door–and only the Lord is capable of saving.  They were obedient, but the Lord was the rescuer!  All credit only and always goes to God!

When I was warned that my earthly faith in Christ would result in eternal reward and my decision to not put faith in Jesus would result in eternal separation from Him and suffering, I believed the warning of events unseen and placed my faith in Jesus, becoming righteous through Him only by faith.  But if God warned me a giant, earth-destroying flood was coming, I wonder if my faith would be big enough to take on the overwhelming, all-consuming task of building a boat in the face of ridicule, scorn and loneliness???  Am I drawing near to God? Walking with God in a way that any purpose He sets before me, I am listening, ready, and courageous to follow?

The truth is, a day is coming when the Lord will destroy the earth again (2 Peter 3:4-10), and our only hope for rescue and new life is hiding our lives in the “ark” of Jesus Christ.  He is the door, the only way (John 10:9, 14:6).  Will you be found in Christ when the Lord’s judgment comes again on mankind?  I’m so thankful that in God’s mercy, He made a way for our salvation and rescue!

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