Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 31

Revelation 19-22

“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty, I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (21:6-7)

John’s description of heaven in 21:11-21 is something, isn’t it? Jeweled foundations, a city of pure gold, twelve gates made of twelve single pearls. It sounds pretty amazing. But you know what thrills me more than all that glitters? Jesus will be there!!

Revelation 21:1 says there will be NO MORE SEA. Remember when Solomon built the temple in the Old Testament, the ark was surrounded by a trough filled with thousands of gallons of water? That was so no one could get to where God lived. 

But John tells us that in heaven there will no longer be that separation. God will be as accessible as a husband to a wife. I will be able to touch Jesus’ side, put my fingers in the holes left by the nails that hung him on the cross. When he wraps his arms around me I will feel his warmth. God will be my father and I will be his child. 

No more sea! No more separation! I will finally be in the presence of the One who loved me and gave himself for me. I will know him as I am know. Now that’s truly amazing!

I want to thank you for stopping by my blog in 2013. And if you went on this journey with me to read through the Bible this year, I trust your walk with the Lord has matured. I don’t feel God would have me continue this daily blog in 2014. I’m going to begin again tomorrow with Genesis 1 with the goal of reading the end of Revelation one year from today. And I will continue to journal what God is teaching me each day, but I won’t be posting every one.

I am going to keep this blog active, however, and if I feel led to share something I’ll add it to what is already here. And I will continue reading so many of your blogs, ones I look forward to and learn so much from.

My prayer is the same prayer I’ve said every day this year. And that is that you, dear ones, will make reading the Bible a priority every day. That you would open these precious pages with open hearts and minds and allow God to encourage or convict. I pray that you will find yourself eager to share your Savior with lost souls around you. As you read God’s Word, I pray that you will allow it to penetrate, to strengthen, to draw you closer to the Lord.

God bless you in 2014. I’m praying for you.

December 30

Revelation 15-18

I have shared that I spent 37 as a public school educator. When I got my first job in the 70’s we could demand obedience of our students. A call home, a swat on the bottom, or worse… being sent to the principal’s office accomplished two things. One, it taught the disobedient student that there were consequences for disobedience and those consequences weren’t fun. Secondly, it taught the other students in the class that obedience was probably a better choice.  Then some genius decided that kind of punishment ruined self-esteem and the government stepped in and told schools they could no longer teach that lesson. Today we see bullies who mistreat their classmates without fear of consequences. We read about young people who have so little fear of discipline they bring guns to school with the intent of killing others.

When I first started teaching it was a rarity for the parents of our students to be divorced. Children almost always shared the last name of their moms and dads. And it was unheard of that a student’s parents had never married. Eventually, that became less and less true. So we were told never to address a mom as “Mrs.” for fear of offending her. “Ms” became the norm. Today, a nuclear family, married parents is the rarity.

It was rare that a student got pregnant. But when a teenager did get pregnant, she was given the opportunity to continue her education at home and she certainly did not bring her new-born to school with her. But, again, we worried about her sense of self, and eventually protruding bellies became commonplace in the classrooms. Some schools even opened day care for the babies to make it convenient for the teenage mothers. Today the number of teen pregnancies is astronomical, even down into the middle school ages.

I thought about these things when I read about the prostitute in John’s vision. She said, “I sit as a queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.” She has no conscience. But she’s not hurting in the self-esteem category, is she?

Are we raising kids to think like this? Entitled? Above the rest? In the attempt to protect self-esteem (which is not a biblical concept) have we neglected to teach our children to recognize sin and repent of it? Paul described himself as a wretched man when faced with the reality of his sin. Doesn’t sound like he was feeling too good about himself at that point. Shouldn’t our children learn to describe themselves in the same way in light of sin in their lives?

Recently a young mom expressed to me concern that by swatting her child on the bottom she was damaging her child’s self-esteem. She felt guilty for spanking her disobedient child. The thing is, she is a good mom. She’s a mom who is determined to raise children who love and serve God. And her young children already have a sense of God’s love and presence in their young lives. 

God spanks, doesn’t he? And it doesn’t feel good when we are disciplined by our loving Heavenly Father. But it’s necessary for our relationship with him. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it says we should strengthen our sense of self. Quite the opposite. Because unless we see ourselves as wretched sinners, we won’t recognize our need of a Savior.

Here’s a thought. Self-esteem is not the same as confidence. We can encourage our children’s confidence in their talents and abilities and at the same time give God the glory. It’s important for our children to have the confidence to tackle new things, refine a talent. But teaching those children that they are self-centered, worthy, better than others without consideration of consequences for doing wrong, is teaching them to think like Satan did before the fall.

Holy God, I thank you once again for prompting John to write down his vision. As I look at the prostitute he saw, I wonder if she doesn’t represent our world in 2013. Father, I pray for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and baby sitters. May we who love little ones not be afraid to lovingly discipline when needed. Help us to raise children with consciences and a sense of self that causes them to run to the Savior. Give wisdom, give courage, and may we love our little ones enough to discipline them like you discipline us.

December 29

Revelation 11-14

Reading the description of the dragon and the beast is frightening. Multiple heads and horns, a powerful tail, spewing water and eating babies. Feet like a bear and the mouth of a lion. And people bowing down to worship them. This is the stuff horror movies are made of.

I am reminded that Satan is serious about taking me to hell with him. He is not sitting around a campfire, pitchfork in hand, laughing it up with the demons. He is actively pursuing me. He and his legions are attacking me every day. Their weapons might include false teaching, what I watch on TV, disease, loss of job, envy, or any number of subtle and not so subtle tactics. But all are intended to shake my faith, to cause me to doubt, and to render me useless in sharing the gospel.

I’m not sure I’ve given Satan enough credit. He is a powerful enemy. That’s why Scripture tells us to guard our hearts, to put on the full armor of God. We are at war with a monster and I wonder how many of us give that a thought.

I want to be counted as one who is actively engaged in this war for my soul. I want to be one who will sing the new song, blameless because I’ve allowed Jesus’ blood to wash me. I want to stand with the saints before the throne of God because I have fought the good fight.

Satan should terrify us. The thought of him should drive us to our knees and cause us to run to the Savior for protection. Satan is serious about my soul. Am I?

Dear God, protect me. Help me to be aware of Satan’s attacks on my soul. And may he find me a formable opponent because I have put on your armor, I have guarded my heart and my mind, and I stand with you ready to fight. May I not underestimate his hatred for me. Defeat Satan in my life and in the lives of those reading this blog today. Keep us armed and ready to meet the enemy.

December 28

Revelation 6-10

As I read further into the book of Revelation I am encouraged. True, people kill people, mistreat and cheat each other. People have disease and struggles and it looks like Satan is winning. The encouraging thing is what the angel revealed to John. “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (7:10) And about we who are washed in the blood of the Lamb:

they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (7:15-17)

God doesn’t promise that things will go smoothly here in this lifetime on this planet. There will be hardships and suffering. People will continue to die for the Name. But our hope is in heaven, our Savior is on the throne!

Let’s hold on to him no matter what Satan throws our way. Let’s, with the angels and elders, worship God by saying:

Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen! (7:12)

“For ever and ever” isn’t just about some far off time. It’s today. It’s 2014. God has power and strength, wisdom and honor, to see us through whatever circumstances we face. May we give him our problems because he can handle them. May we trust him because he an be trusted.

Father, I know that this life is full of blessings and hardships. Some reading this today are carrying heavy burdens. And sometimes, Lord, if seems as if Satan is winning as we watch the news and see the acceptance of sin in our society. We could despair. But I thank you for John’s vision and the reminder that you are on the throne, that you are all powerful, that nothing happens in this life that surprises you. May we trust you. May we worship you. May Satan be defeated in each of us as we look forward to a new year.

December 27

Revelation 2-5

As we jump into the book of Revelation, I am not going to even try to interpret John’s vision. I’m not going to try to convince you to believe that a Great Tribulation will occur before… or after… the Rapture. I’m not going to try to identify an antichrist or talk about lamp stands, bowls, and four living creatures. 

I know there are a lot of dear Christians who spend a lot of time and energy trying to uncover the mystery behind the words written in this last book of the Bible. But instead, I am going to do what I’ve done every day this year. And that is to ask God what he would have me learn from his Word about my relationship with him, about my service to him, and my response to his grace.

As I read the letters to the seven churches I noticed that with each one God pointed out what appeared to be true, then told them what WAS true.

Like the church in Ephesus. They didn’t tolerate wickedness, but when it got right down to it, they had no love.

In Smyrna God saw their poverty yet told them they were rich because of their faithfulness.

Pergamum were true to God, yet they tolerated false teachers among them. God told them to repent.

Sardis talked the talk, they had a great reputation but they were dead.

Philadelphia was struggling but God commended them for keeping his word and not denying him.

Laodicea was indifferent about their faith. They had everything they needed materially and didn’t even realize how poor they really were.

God is saying to me that it’s not enough just to look like a Christian. There is so much more to this than just going to church and saying grace before a meal or reading my Bible and blogging. God is much more interested in my heart’s condition.

Each of the seven churches will receive exactly what they need. And that’s what God wants me to realize today. If I’ve lost the love, if I am indifferent, if I am too comfortable or have tolerated sin in my life, I have only to go to my Savior and confess, knowing he will give me exactly what I need to be the person he intends for me to be.

And one day, I’ll join that amazing worship service John tells about in his vision. I will sing with every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever.

Amen!

God I thank you for John’s vision. My prayer is that you will reveal to us who are reading it here at the end of 2013 the things that will encourage us or convict us, excite us or break our hearts. Then, Father, may we use what you are teaching us to lead others to your saving grace. Thank you for letting us have a glimpse of heaven. I can only imagine!

December 26

I John 4-5; 2 John; 3 John, Revelation 1

In his letters, John is emphatic about the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh. This is a fitting subject one day after Christmas, isn’t it? John says in 1 John 4:2&3 that if you believe Jesus has come in the flesh, the Spirit within you is from God. And he says, if you don’t believe Jesus is God with us, the spirit within you is the antichrist. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

As you read John’s letters you can’t help but notice a repeated theme. Love. Love of God toward man. Love for Jesus. Love for the Father. Love for one another. 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16b)

We love because he first loved us. (verse 19)

This is love of God; to obey his commands. (1 John 5:3)

Is your life defined by love? Is your love for God evident in the way you live, set apart, holy, obedient? Do you love others? And do they recognize your love by the way you treat them with kindness and respect?

If God is love and if he lives in us who have accepted his grace, love will be a natural outpouring of his Spirit within us. God demonstrated his love for us when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, when he went to the cross and shed his blood so each of us could be forgiven, and when he rose again. We demonstrate our love for him by our obedience.

Dear God, thank you for Jesus who is God in the flesh. Thank you for the privilege of celebrating his birth. But may we not forget why he came. May we remember the cross. And may each of us accept the forgiveness your death purchased. I pray that you will find us demonstrating our love for you by the things we do, the places we go, the words we say, even the thoughts we think. How can we help but love you when you loved us so!

December 25

Hebrews 13; I John 1-3

Jesus is born! God became flesh and blood. He didn’t come as an adult, or even to a family with prestige. God humbled himself and started life as an infant, just like we did. He was helpless, totally dependent on others. His mom fed him when he was hungry and changed his diaper when it was wet and messy. Mary and Joseph heard Jesus’ first words. Did he say, “Mama”, or “Dada”? They watched Jesus take his first steps on chubby, wobbly little legs and held his hand when they crossed the street. They kissed his boo-boos and read him bed time stories. God himself became one of us!

John reminds us that this same Jesus, who we know as Christ, who died so we might have life, who rose again and ascended into heaven, is coming again. John wants us to be able to face him on that day confident and unashamed.

Today we celebrate the birth of the Savior. Do you know him? How has Jesus’ birth effected you in 2013? Have you accepted his grace? Have you invited him into your life? And do you represent him well by your actions, your words, your love for one another?

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are! (I John 3:1)

Provided by the One whose birth we celebrate today.

Dearest Jesus, I am glad we set apart this day to remember your birth into our world. At least for one day a year, the entire world stops and honors you, even if many don’t get it. May we who do get it, who are your children because of your love and your sacrifice, not get caught up in the presents and the parties. May we recognize what it cost you to be born that day. May we not forget that the baby we celebrate grew up and 33 years later suffered and died because of our sin. And may we live our lives in such a way that when you return… and you will return… we will be able to meet you with confidence. I  pray that in this season of remembering, many will come to you and accept you into their lives, repent of sin, and follow you. That’s why you came in the first place. Happy Birthday, Jesus.