Monday, 31 August 2009
I started this journey through the Bible on the 1st of May 2005. This is the 1.590th entry in my journal. Fifty-two months have passed. A lot has happened since then. We have added a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and three more grandchildren. I started this partly because I was a relatively new grampy and I wanted to leave a legacy for my family. For my family I call these devotions Grampy’s Gleanings.
Well Grampy’s Gleanings I has come to a close. It is time to get them proof read, corrected, printed, and bound. Grampy’s Gleanings II start tomorrow.
What can I say in conclusion of this first volume? I can’t think of a more fitting word that John’s Holy Spirit inspired word at the very end of Revelation. That simple word is ‘amen.’ Amen is a ancient word that crosses cultures and religions. Whether sung in a classical aria or modern song, shouted in agreement, or printed in a book it means the same thing. Whether pronounced a-men, ah-men, or aaaaa-MEN it means the same thing. Amen means ‘so be it.’
So what better way to wrap it up? God says, so what more can we say than ‘so be it?’ Any other response is futile. I used to see a bumper sticker that read ‘God said it, I believe, and that settles is for me.’ That’s a nice thought and a simple statement of faith. I think however that to be more accurate we might say – “God says it; that settles it, so I believe it.’
Amen and amen!
Sunday, 30 August 2009
I try to imagine what it was like for John when he wrote these words. He was an old man now, probably in his 90s. It had been more that fifty years since the angels had told him and the others that Jesus was coming back. Jesus had promised to be with them no matter what happened.
A lot had happened since then. History, admittedly with some tradition, tells us that he had at some point been dipped in boiling oil as persecution for his faith. He had been exiled to Patmos for being a Christian. He had seen the intense persecution of the church. Thousands of believers had died at the hands of Rome. By the year 100 things were pretty much a mess for the Church.
And where was Jesus? Why wasn’t He coming back? Here Jesus tells John, ‘I am coming quickly.’ If that was the case, where was here? Almost two thousand years later we might be tempted to wonder where He is now.
I was doing some reading on St Patrick who came to Ireland in the 5th century to preach the gospel. In his Confession he gives something of his spiritual background and beliefs. At one point he writes, ‘We look for the soon advent of our Saviour.’ John wrote 70 years after Jesus left, Patrick wrote another 400 years later, and all through time Christians have waited for His return and looked for His coming.
Well, where is He? Our problem is that we think and operate in a different realm than He does. He works out time. He is coming, and it will be in His perfect time. In the sense to eternity what is two thousand years? There is no such thing as ‘too long’ in the scope of eternity.
No matter what we can still echo John’s words. Few reading these words will have it as bad as John did, but life is tough at times. My physical life is not bad. I have a nice place to live; I have clothes to wear and food to eat. I have far more than I need when it comes to ‘stuff.’
Still though, I can relate to John’s words. It is not that my living is that bad. The worst thing about my living is that I have to live with me. My wicked flesh still cries out and demands attention. I can blame the world all I want. I can blame Satan all I want, but I can’t to anything about them. I can only deal with my own flesh, and I am tired of living with it and fighting it.
Who can deliver me from my flesh? Only Jesus.
Even so, please come Lord Jesus.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
I don’t think I have ever truly been thirsty. I have probably said before, ‘I am dying of thirst,’ but I doubt that I have ever truly been really thirsty. When you read about being truly thirsty it is a terrible thing, After the dry, cottony mouth that we have all experienced comes fatigue and fevers or chills. The lips and tongues swell and crack. Our bodies depend on water so they begin to rob it wherever it can be found in our systems causing severe pain. Thirst kills quickly. After only 3-4 days with no water, we die.
Now wonder that the Bible so often speaks of water, thirst, and quenching that thirst. Most of us in the modern western world have no concept of how important water was to the people in Bible times. We go to the tap, turn on the cold water, and there it is. Some folks go to the door of their fridge and stick the glass and it fills up with water and ice. In some places we don’t even have to pay for water. In the last few years it has become the in thing for everyone to carry their bottle of water with them wherever they go, even into church. We just don’t get this thirst thing.
I remember a day years ago when I was working in heating and air conditioning in Alabama. It was August and it was hot! I was working in an attack where the temperature was about 60C (140F). We knew to work in 10 minute shifts in that heat, but I only had a little more to do, so I told the guy I was working with to go ahead and work on something else and I would be right out. Right after that I stopped sweating. My body was thirsty and needed that water. My own internal ‘air conditioner’ shut down. I was dizzy and disorientated. My head and my stomach ached. Somehow I made my way to the ladder going into the attic and stumbled down. There was a bathroom down the hall so I literally crawled there. I could not stand to the sink, and all they had were tiny little children’s paper cups. I filled and drank and filled ands drank and filled and drank. Finally I made my way outside and rested under a shade tree until my body could recover.
I had a taste that day of what it meant to be thirsty, but thankfully I had a solution. I can’t imagine being thirsty and having no water, or even being rationed to one of those tiny kiddie paper cups of water.
Thirst was a part of life for most people in Jesus’ day. A good part of their lives was spent in a struggle similar to mine for those few moments, but theirs went on day after day after day. They saw the picture that we can miss.
Saying that, there are times in our lives when we experience a spiritual thirst. A crisis comes along that shakes us and our confidence. We can’t seem to get an answer from God. We are dry and parched and we craving something from God to refresh us. Finally, the answer comes and we are able to move on.
On the new heaven and new earth there will be no more spiritual thirst. Every day we will be vibrant, renewed, and refreshed. The water will flow freely and we will indeed never thirst again.
Friday, 28 August 2009
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. – Revelation 22v17
All the way to the very end the invitation continues. Here we are only a few verses from the close of the Bible and still Jesus is saying the simple, single, salvific word - 'come.'
My thoughts this morning when I read this verse were from the original Disney animated film ‘Cinderella.’ The whole kingdom was aflutter waiting to see who would be invited to the Royal Ball. When the courier arrived the stepsisters tore into the note to see if they were invited. There was great excitement when they saw that they were. The bad thing is that the wicked stepmother told Cinderella she had to stay home.
But she was invited – all the single women in the house we invited. The price was saying to all of them, including Cinderella, ‘Come to the Royal Ball’ and despite the difficulties even Cinderella was able to go.
Jesus is offering an open invitation to the ultimate Royal Ball. Everyone is invited, even the ‘Cinderellas’ of this world.
Jesus is offering an open invitation to the ultimate Royal Ball. Everyone is invited, even the ‘Cinderellas’ of this world.
‘Come’ is a wonderful word. In the American South you might hear the phrase ‘Y’all come.’ Here when someone is at the door we say, ‘Come in, I’ll put the kettle on.’ My house growing up was an open house – people just came on in. Our house is the same. We might as well have a ‘Come on in’ sign on our front door.
Greater than all this is to hear Jesus saw ‘come.’ Notice that the Bride also says ‘come.’ Are we doing our part to invite others?
Thursday, 27 August 2009
The term ‘bright and morning star’ is not one that is exclusive to Jesus. From what I have read it can refer to anyone who offers hope of a new day. The ‘morning star’ refers to Venus which in certain seasons and certain places rises in the east to herald in a new day. When Venus rise she may do so beautifully, but that is no indication of what the day may actually bring. In the same manner the title ‘Morning Star’ does not always mean that it is going to be a good day.
Here though Jesus says, ‘I am the Bright and Morning Star;’ We can’t see it in print, but I do not think we do it injustice to say ‘I am THE Bright and Morning Star.’ Even the Great Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliff, cannot compare to THE Bright and Morning Star. Eosphorus, the dawn-bearer of Greek mythology, and even Lucifer (Latin for day-star) have also been called by this same title.
What makes Jesus different? Simple enough, all of the others may seem like the harbinger of light for a great new day, but only Jesus delivers on the promise of a bright new day.
The day that He heralds will outshine them all. There will be no more darkness or death or sorrow or weeping. Venus rising gives us just a hint of the brightness of a new day. At the moment all we see in Jesus is the glimmer of hope for the eternal new day. It reminds me of Paul’s point about seeing things today ‘through a glass darkly,’ but one day face to face.
If all we have of Christ today is just the morning star promise, can you imagine what it will be like when we have it all?
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Why is this little phrase about the ‘Root and Offspring of David’ thrown in here? This is the question that crossed my mind when I first read it. Then I started thinking about another similar passage.
Paul quotes Isaiah in Romans 15v12 when he wrote, ‘And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.’
The Root of David and the Root of Jesse are one and the same because Jesse is David’s dad. Isaiah made it clear that the Root of Jesse is the reason that we as Gentiles have hope for eternity. In Ephesians 2 we read that Jesus broke down the ‘wall of partition’ between Jews and Gentiles so that all now have access to Him.
Without the Root of David we would have no hope. God’s people would include only the Jews.
Jesus says. ‘I am the Root and Offspring of David’ and with Paul’s words he is saying, ‘I am the hope of the Gentiles.’ Praise God for our Only Hope!
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
I am not to sure all that is involved in the tree of life. I suspect from putting two and two together in my head that the tree of life is the tree of eternal life. It was in fact in the Garden of Eden. I conjecture that if Adam and Eve had only eaten from that tree instead of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would still be alive today. I suspect that is why God sent an angel who ‘guarded the way to the tree of life’ so that they could no longer eat from it and they would indeed die.
Eternal life is quite a thought. One of my favourite episodes of the old Twilight Zone is ‘Long Live Walter Jameson.’ Walter is a college history professor who is about to marry a colleague’s daughter. In the course of the story we discover that Walter is, in fact, over 2000 years old and received an eternal life potion from one of the Greek scholars. Poor Walter has lived through all of history. He fought in the American Civil War. He has had many wives who he marries and watched them grow old and die. The key line, when his colleague talks about how wonderful it would be to live forever is simply, ‘I am tired.’
In all of the eternal life stories the same truth comes out. Eternal life in this sin cursed world is not all that it is cracked up to be. It would be horrible to watch your friends and people you love grow old and die time after time after time. I don’t think I have any interest in living forever here.
In the new heaven and new earth things will be different. Remember, there is no death there. No sorrow, no crying, and no tears. The way to the tree of life will be unblocked and we will eat freely of it. The right to eat from that tree, taken away in the Garden will be restored. Matt mentioned this morning that a preacher said that things come full circle from Genesis to Revelation. I like that wording. It is indeed a new heaven, a new earth, and a new blessing of eternal life.
I like fruit. I was at a market Saturday and the owner of one of the fruit stands let me sample kinds of fresh sweet fruits. I loved it, but I know that one day I will really love eating from the fruit of the tree of life!
Monday, 24 August 2009
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. – Revelation 22v12
The speaker switches from the angel who has presented most of Revelation back to Jesus. This final section is Jesus last plea and call to come to him.
The love of Christ is clear to the very end. His plea carries on even after the final pictures of the future have been seen. It is obvious that His desire is for everyone to come to Him. What amazing love this is. Jesus pleas for the world to turn to Him even though there has been nothing but animosity and rejection for thousands of years.
This is an interesting statement. Jesus says, ‘I am coming quickly.’ No real problem with that, His return will come without warning or notice. ‘I have my reward with me to give every one according to his work.’ Let me cover the last part of that sentence first. The phrase ‘according to his works’ might seem troublesome, but I think that is because of our definition of ‘works.’ Works is not just what we physically do; works are all that is manifest in us. They are our emotions, our feelings, our attitudes, our responses and so on. The truth is that our works are a reflection of what we really are and what we really are is ultimately based on our relationship with Christ. Faith works and it is the works produced by faith or lack of it that will bring rewards.
I like the fact though that Jesus says, ‘I am bringing my reward with me.’ When parents go away on a trip and they come home their children will often ask them, ‘Did you bring me anything?’ Here Jesus tells us before we even ask that He is bringing rewards with Him. When we have put our faith in and follow Him was can be assured that rewards are coming.
I might not see many rewards here, but I have to say I am looking for to what Jesus is bringing me!
Sunday, 23 August 2009
He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." - Revelation 22v11
'I'll get around to it,' is that attitude that a lot of us take when it comes to dealing with anything serious. I was talking to my son just the other day about this and how much I hate dealing with anything 'official.'
The problem is that sometimes we have to deal with this stuff before it is too late. We have deadlines that we just have to meet. If we don’t meet those deadlines we have to pay the consequences. As much as I might not want to do, eventually I must do the things I don’t want to do. The bad thing is that most of the time they are nothing to fear, I just don’t want the hassle of doing it.
Sadly, there is an eternal deadline. The rest of the book here tells the world what to do before this deadline gets here, but right hear the angel explains the finality of it all. The unjust will remain unjust. The filthy will remain filthy. The righteous will remain righteous and the holy will be holy. If it has not been dealt with by now it is too late. The second, third, fourth, fifth chances are over. It is eternally too late.
This is a deadline that people can’t afford to mess with. Christ of going to give one more explanation of the gospel in the last few verses. We will see that in the next few days.
As much as I hate deadlines and dealing with things it is always a great feeling when I get it done early. We would do well to deal with this deadline in plenty of time.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
I like this little section here. First, it is good to know that even guys like John don’t always get it right the first time. Second, despite that – he had the right heart even though we got it wrong.
Imagine being there in John’s sandals. He has just seen and heard all the prophecies of the book that we know call Revelation. He was overwhelmed and when he ‘saw and heard these things’ he ‘fell down to worship before the feet of the angel’ Some might be tempted to roundly criticise him for doing so – ‘Bless God John oughta know better! He must be getting senile! How sad to see the man of God acting like that!’ And, to be honest, the critics would have a point. John should have known better than to worship an angel. The angle corrected him and told him simply ‘Don’t do that. I am a fellow servant. Worship God.’ Still though, John had the right heart when he was exposed to God’s word – he knew that he should worship.
I think the lesson for us is clear. Our response to God’s word should always be one of worship. After all God allows us to see to His very heart when He allows us have His word. Anytime a person writes you see a part of that person. With God’s word we see all of Him.
Our daily time in His word should always be our time of day to worship Him for all that He tells and shows us.
Friday, 21 August 2009
I am starting to enjoy the 'no mores' of New Jerusalem. Today's is another goodie.
If we look back to Genesis we come we remember what we generally call 'The Curse' which came as a result of Adam and Eve's sin. Among other things man was forced to live by the sweat of his brow, there would be pain in childbirth, there would be a constant battle of submission, agriculture would be difficult, and Satan would be a constant bother, and man would no longer have joy in the precense of God. In general living would be much tougher in the sin cursed world.
Ever since that day we have had to live under the curse of sin. Things don't go well. Work is hard. It is a troublesome world and the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute (than you Dr. Suess). Life can be a bit challenging and sometimes those curse caused challenges can overcome us.
One day all the results of the curse will be gone. Sin will no longer reign. We will be able to serve the Lamb instead of sin. Until then though we might as well get used to it. Life is just going to be tough.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
I just finished reading Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. The book is an account of growing up in Brooklyn and Limerick. As I read this verse this morning a word stuck out that I think summarises the book. What could that one word be? Defilement.
Everything about McCourt’s life involved defilement. He was defiled by poverty. He was defiled by his father’s drunkenness. He was defiled by the literal filth of his world. He was defiled by the death of his brothers and sisters. He was defiled by fear and hopelessness. He was defiled by cruel family members, classmates, neighbours, schoolmasters, and employers. He was defiled by disease. He was defiled by his church. He was defiled by rampant immorality. To be frank reading the book leaves one feeling defiled.
Young Frank’s worst defilement, the one that really dominates the book and runs throughout every page, is the defilement that comes from within. He blames the defilement on his church and neighbours and the ‘guilt’ they impose, but it goes much deeper. He battles with the desire to do right and the fleshly defilement that leads him to do wrong.
As I read the book I am grateful that I could not really personally identify with the abject filth and poverty he grew up with. Though we have had plenty of times of ‘doing without’ we never did without food, clothes, and heat.
I have to admit though that I can identify with the defilement of the world and flesh. Part of the feeling of defilement in reading is the realisation that my own flesh has dealt with, and even now deals with, some of the same or similar battles.
McCourt’s desire in the book is to go back to America. He finally makes it, but even there the sense of defilement continues. He still can’t escape the sense that he is doing wrong. Some may blame what is here called ‘Catholic guilt’ but it goes much deeper. I contend that he had a real sense of his own sin nature and battled to deal with that.
Defilement is part of life. Sadly we get used to it. Of all that I have read in Revelation the last few days the promise of ‘nothing that defile’ has a real appeal to me. I long for the days of clean hands, a clean heart, and a clean mind. I long for the day when the defilement of the world and flesh is finally gone.
Praise God for the promise of ‘nothing that defiles.’
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, a for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. - Revelation 21v23
Ever since the very beginning of time we have been dependant on the sun and moon. The sun to rule by day and the moon and stars to rule the night. Every morning the sun rises in theveast and every night it sets in the west. Once about every four weeks the moon goes around the earth. A lot changes, but the sun and moon keep on keeping on.
Why? The sun and moon have continued on because we need the light. Without them we would be totally lost.
In New Jerusalem though we will no longer need the sun and the moon. There are not part of the new creation.
The reason is that we will have perfect Light. God is light and in Him there is darkness, at all. Today light is not perfect. There are shadows and dark corners where the light cannot penetrate. In the darkness it is easy for sins and wrongs to go unchecked.
One day, when The Lamb is The Light we will no longer have to fear the perils of darkness.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Temple worship must have been really something, especially in Solomon’s temple. It was a marvellous building complex. Gold was everywhere. If the artist conceptions I have seen are accurate this massive structure dominated everything. It would have been truly awe inspiring and, I suppose rightly so, since it was God’s dwelling place.
The next temple was not nearly as extravagant. The people wept when it was built because it does not match up to the temple the old people remembered.
In 70 AD even that temple was destroyed.
There will be another temple built in the last days, but in New Jerusalem there will be no temple. Why is that? Why will the New Jerusalem be missing a feature that was such a part of the earthly Jerusalem?
Because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple. God’s glory will make any earthly temple pale in comparison. No temple worship where only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies once a year to meet with God we will all have free access to Him. God with us, us with God; He as our God and we as His children. We will have all things as our inheritance.
We simply won’t need a temple, because we will always and everywhere be with Him.
Monday, 17 August 2009
I am still waiting to hear about my supposed earthly inheritance. My mom’s first cousin died a few years ago. We have been getting sporadic updates from the attorney handling the estate. I think my portion of ‘Uncle Carl’s’ estate is 1/102, in other words, about 1% of his estate after the attorney’s and the state get their cut. I have no idea what 1% of Uncle Carl’s estate is. I have no idea if or when I will see my share. It is really not a very hopeful inheritance.
But I have another inheritance to look forward to. My share of this inheritance is 100%. What makes this inheritance special is that not only is my share 100%, but all those who overcome will also receive 100% of the inheritance.
‘Overcoming’ can be a bit intimidating though, can’t it? What happens if I slip up and don’t overcome? Good question, but the answer if as clear as it can be in 1 John 5v4 – ‘For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.’
So overcoming is not dependent on us once we have put our faith in Christ. The overcoming has already been accomplished. I became an overcomer when I became a child of God. I became a part of Uncle Carl’s estate when I was born into that family. While I am only going to get 1% of that estate, all of us who were born in God’s family are each going to receive 100% of His inheritance.
Praise God that the overcoming is accomplished. I am looking forward to my 100% inheritance!
Sunday, 16 August 2009
I have recently become interested in the water pumps that dot virtually every village and town in Ireland. Some of them are fascinating and even beautiful. When I was up North with Matt a couple of weeks ago we found a geocache hidden in one of them. That was fun and it further stirred my interest in them. Before in home water people would go to these pumps and get their water for drinking, washing, and cooking. The water was there, it was free, it was refreshing, but they had to go get it.
Slowly but surely the water lines we laid and now water flows freely in Irish homes. Instead of going down to the pump, all you have to do now is turn on the tap. The same water, it is still free, but now it is right at your fingertips.
Of course, no earthly analogy is perfect, but I think this is something like our access to the water of life. Before we were saved there was a constant thirst for that ‘something.’ When we were saved, like the woman at the well, we had full access to the water of life, but we have to go to the well and get it. It is our job to pray, go to church, read the word of God, and meditate on Him. As we do that, we enjoy all the benefits of the water of life.
The day is coming though when the water is going to come right into the house. The water will always be there. The access to it will be free and easy. The water of life will be a constant part of our lives!
It is going to be a great day when the water of life gushes forth for us constantly. For now let’s keep trekking to the water pump – it is well worth the trip.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. – Revelation 21v6
A few years ago an Irish radio host closed his daily programme with the words ‘sin sin (pronounced shin shin).” The phrase means ‘that’s that’ and is a shortened version of ‘Sin sin! Tá sé déanta’ (taw shay daynta) meaning ‘that’s that, it is done.’
I have loved the phrase ‘sin sin’ ever since and often, when I get done with a job or a task I will brush my hands together and say ‘Well, sin sin.’ I love the feeling of ‘The job is done, that’s all, it is finished.’
Here at the close of Revelation we read the words ‘It is done.’ I think there is only one other time when God says these words is when Jesus said ‘it is finished’ from the cross.
At that time He was saying that all the work of redemption was done. Here He is more conclusive. Now there is finality to it all. The work that began ‘In the beginning’ has come to a conclusion and God says ‘It is done.’
From now on evil is finished, sin is conquered, and Satan is defeated. For all eternity there will now be perfect union and peace with God. All the junk we are dealing with today will be gone.
Sin sin, it is done. Time for a whole new programme!
Sin sin, it is done. Time for a whole new programme!
Friday, 14 August 2009
A few years ago Johnson’s Baby Shampoo ran an ad where the slogan was ‘no more tears.’ It had a lot of appeal because one of the worst things about washing a baby’s hair is the crying when the shampoo gets in their eyes. The impact of the ad was fantastic and it really hit home to parents.
Here is Revelation 21v4 we have our own 100% guaranteed ‘no more tears’ promise and I have to tell you that it has great appeal. I am far from old yet, but am beginning to see the reality of life and death. My mom and dad are both gone several years now as they died quite young, but now I am beginning to see my friend’s parents die in a pretty regular basis. Just last week I got word that a dear older friend had passed away. He was a man I worked for and I became very close to him and his family. It kind of caught me off guard. I was quite moved and tears came to my eyes. I received an email from his wife this morning and I was once again moved to tears. I know that as the years go by, should the Lord tarry and I live on, this is only going to get worse.
Death and sorrow and crying and pain are sadly a part of our lives. I still sorrow at times when I think of my own mom and dad and little sister. To my mind they left far too soon and I miss them. Even now as I type tears are coming to my eyes again.
People talk about ‘getting over’ the death of a loved one. I don’t think we ever do ‘get over it.;’ at least not while we are here. But the day is coming when we will no longer have to bear those tears and hurts and pains.
One day God is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes. All the ‘former things’ will be done away with and we will not have to deal with our tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain. I have to say that I am really looking forward to that aspect of eternity.
“No more tears’ is an appealing promise.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. – Revelation 21v3
We often use the phrase ‘I’ll be with you in spirit’ when we cannot physically be with someone for a big event. What we mean is that we will be thinking about them and hopefully praying for them. That can really be special at times. We have all sensed times when we knew people were praying for us and it ‘felt like’ they were tight with us.
Being the ‘in spirit’ is not quite the same is it? Even when it comes to God we find something of the same feelings. It is true of course that He is well and truly literally with us in a different way than just ‘in spirit.’ But lets be honest, it does know always ‘feel’ like He is here does it? Or maybe it is just me, but sometimes He can feel very far away. When then happens, of course it is my fault because He is right there.
One the other hand, isn’t it nice when that friend is not just there in spirit, but in the flesh? When there are here in the flesh I can see them, sense them, and touch them. It is far more real than when they are only with me in spirit.
I know the analogy is not perfect, but what is it going to be like when God is with us ‘in the flesh,’ right there in our presence? When that day, to our minds finally, gets here there will no more ‘through a glass darkly,’ but then face to face.
I know the analogy is not perfect, but what is it going to be like when God is with us ‘in the flesh,’ right there in our presence? When that day, to our minds finally, gets here there will no more ‘through a glass darkly,’ but then face to face.
These words from a favourite old hymn really sum it up:
Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
This is one of those thoughts where I really don’t know what to make of it all, but did not feel like I could just skip over it either. So bear with me today as I mull this one over.
To be honest I sort of have mixed feelings. I like familiarity. I don’t like change even when I am pretty sure that it is going to be a change for the better. Something could always go wrong, after all.
On the other hand this is different. This change is in God’s hand and is according to His plan so it cannot go wrong. We are talking here about a total redo, free from the curse of sin.
Even now there are times and places when I marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. There are moments when I literally have to stop the car and gaze at the intense glimpses of His glory. I was driving to work a few weeks ago through the Wicklow and Dublin mountains. I came to a turn and there was an expanse of sunlight in the midst of a cloudy and drizzle day. Right where the sun shone was a group of trees and the sunlight on the wet leaves made them explode into a brilliance that was almost blinding.
As beautiful as this scene was, an as amazing as so many things that we see today, I can’t even imagine a heaven and earth where there is no curse of sin.
New heaven and new earth? Sounds pretty good to me!
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
I am afraid that today’s thought is not a pleasant one. Yesterday we saw the joy and comfort that comes from the knowledge that, for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, our names are written in the Book of Life. No matter what else might happen, we are okay because our eternity is sealed.
But what about the people that we see everyday? What about our friends and neighbours and loved ones and co-workers and others that we come in contact with whose names are not written in the Book of Life? What is going to happen to all those people who make our life what it is who have never accepted Christ as their own Saviour?
In the previous verses we read that after Satan’s captivity, release, and ill fated rebellion he is going to be cast into the Lake of Fire where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Certainly no one could question that he deserves it.
Tragically Satan is not the only one who is going to be there. Anyone whose names are not written in the Book of Life is going to join him. From the other occurrences of the ‘Book of Life’ in the Bible it is obvious that the names written there are all those who are saved, who have put their faith in him accepted His free gift of salvation.
This is hard to grasp, and I for one don’t like to think about it. What it means is that all those people we care so much about; that neighbour who we can always count on, that co-worker who we have struggled with in task after task, that mechanic who we have been friends with for years, that quirky, loveable uncle, and that precious family member who has never been saved will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire along with the Devil.
The sad thing is that we have the message that they need. Sure, they must accept it and all we can do is share and life the gospel, but how often do we neglect to do even that?
This is certainly not intended to out anyone on a guilt trip. However, as we go through today may God give us a vision and remind us of the eternal fate of all those who are not written in that precious book. May we be willing and open to share the gospel. And just as importantly, may we show them Christ in us day after day after day.
Monday, 10 August 2009
I love books. I always have. Though my library is small, only about 700 volumes, I really do like it. My favourite book is ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and I think I have 4, maybe 5, copies of it.
Books are important to God. He gave us His word in a book. Even if we read it now on a computer screen or a portable device of some sort, it is still a book in a different form. Praise God His word is in a book, that way we can read and use it any time we want.
But there is another set of books. As we look into heaven here is Revelation we see the Book of Life, and ‘other books.’ I don’t know what those other books are, and I am not going to speculate on them. I guess that the most important book of all alongside the Bible is this Book of Life. Folks have speculated if the book starts out blank and names are added as people get saved or whether everyone born is entered there and names are wiped out if the person does not get saved. I have my own point of view, but that is not the issue here.
The issue for the Book of Life is that anyone whose name is not written down there will be cast into the Lake of Fire to face eternal suffering. Folks on earth are always trying to make a name for themselves here, but most forget that there is only one place where it is important that our names are written down. Most of our names are never going to be recorded in books. Most of us will never even be in newspapers or magazines. That doesn’t really matter though does it? The only thing that really matters is if our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That only happens when we accept Him as saviour and seek His forgiveness of our sins.
I am grateful that my name is recorded in the one Book that really counts!
Sunday, 9 August 2009
One of the first characters we meet when we start to read through the Bible shows in Genesis 3, right after the creation account. ‘Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"’
Ever since then, all through the word of God, that old serpent has been causing trouble. He is referred to as a dragon, a snake, a roaring lion, the deluder, the deceiver, the father of lies, and so on and so on.
Sometimes it seems that he is winning. Sometimes it seems that he has won. 1,184 chapters after we first met the serpent we now see the beginning of his demise. Yes, he will pop up again after 1,000 years, but that will be a fruitless effort.
He hissed and slithered and wove his way throughout human history. We still must deal with it for a while. We can however take encouragement from the fact that his doom is sealed.
Saturday, 8 August 2009
Third name is given here, fourth if we count the one that only He knows. This one is different in that it is written on both His robes and His thigh.
For almost two thousand years now the world leaders have imagined that they are in control. Kings and masters have carried on like there is no one who will hold them accountable.
They should have had a hint when Jesus replied to Pilate who was bragging that he had the power to say a word and decide Jesus’ life. Jesus replied that Pilate had no power that He did not give him.
Human leaders have their power because Jesus permits it. But on the day when He mounts up on the white horse He will, finally in our minds, establish and accept His place as King over all the kings and Lord over all the lords. He will be the President over all presidents and Prime Minister over all prime ministers.
It is going to be tough in the meantime. But we can look forward to the day when our King and Lord will take His place on His throne.
Friday, 7 August 2009
Just before this verse we read that Jesus has a name that ‘no one knows but Himself.’ While that may be intriguing, it would only be conjecture to try and guess what that name might be so we move on to the next name.
His name is called the Word of God. That is an interesting one because the word ‘word’ is interesting in itself. The word is logos in Greek. When we think of the word ‘word’ on the surface we may think of something printed on a page or spoken by our lips. That aspect of word is only a part of it.
There is an old saying that, frankly, more people need to understand – words have meaning. To put is roughly when we say that we read the word of God we really mean that we read the ‘meaning of God.’ When we read that Jesus is called the Word of God what we are saying is that He is the very Meaning of God himself.
When we read that one of the names of Jesus in ‘the Word of God’ we can be assured that He is everything about God. He is all of God in every single aspect.
One day we will see the Word of God in the flesh. In the meantime we can still read and study the ‘Meaning of God’ in His written word. What a privilege. What an honour. What an opportunity.
It is a shame that we don’t take more advantage of it.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
We get a glimpse into heaven here where Jesus has mounted a great white horse for His long awaited triumphal return to earth. Before that return we read a description of His based on a few names or titles. The first of this mentioned is the name ‘Faithful and True.’
No matter how hard we try or how good our intentions we are all going to fail in faithfulness at some time or another because we are not always in total control of every situation and all the circumstances. Try as we might sometimes we all let people down.
There is only One that we can always count on, no matter what. Jesus is called Faithful and True because that is part of His very essence. He is always able to carry out what He says first of all because He is incapable of lying. He can’t make a false promise. Secondly, He can carry it out because He is all powerful – no circumstances or situations can keep Him from doing what He says He will do.
Praise God for the One, and only One, who is truly Faithful and True.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
A wedding is nearly always something of a celebration. For the Jews this was especially true. Weddings were a massive celebration. Not only husband and wife, but families celebrated their unity. There would be music, dancing, and feasting in celebration of the great event. These were, and from I understand, still are times of great joy.
This is the picture that we are looking forward to as the bride of Christ. Right now we are waiting in anticipation of the great event. Like the bride we are, or should be, primping and grooming. We should be getting ourselves ready for the great event. Whereas the human bride is concerned about her dress and shoes and all that, our concern should be of a different kind of attire.
Our instruction throughout the New Testament is to prepare and adorn ourselves in holiness so that when the great day comes we are ready and not ashamed. The amazing thing is that Jesus has already prepared us by making us holy, but if we are not careful our daily living does not match up to it.
The illustration is not perfect but bear with me. It is something like a bride being presented with the perfect makeover for her wedding. Everything is done, the dress, the shoes, the hair, and the nails. Instead of keeping herself for the wedding she decides to go bog snorkelling. She grabs her goggle and jumps in the bog water to try and win the race. When she is come she is of course filthy. She still has the dress, shoes, hair, nails, and make-up, but they are all filthy. Is that any way to present herself to her groom?
As the bride of Christ how do we want to show up at our wedding feast?
Monday, 3 August 2009
Revelation chapters 16-18 are discouraging words. They are not pretty and they are not seemingly edifying. They are full of blood and gore and death and destruction and rebellion and violence. They are hard to read.
The problem is that in those verses we read of the total destruction of the world system and man’s response to that destruction. From an earthly perspective it certainly is a time of doom and gloom.
But when we get to chapter nineteen the scene changes. If we were watching a sporting event on the telly the camera would pan from the dejected losing side to the winning side. Instead of showing despondent fans with the heads held low or glaring in anger we would see the cheering fans on the victorious side jumping up and down and shouting in jubilation. Scenes of defeat are replaced by total victory. An extra time goal changes the whole scene. Victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.
In chapters sixteen through eighteen we see the end time events from a human earthly perspective. In chapter nineteen we see them from a heavenly perspective. Instead of the crushing judgements on the earth and its people we see the Lord God Omnipotent reigning in all of His power and glory.
We have a lot to look forward to. The match may seem hopeless and we may look like our defeat is sure, but the victory is already assured – the Lord God Omnipotent reigns and one day we will reign with Him!
No one can deny that this world is a political mess. Very few countries can lay claim to having a godly leader who places an emphasis on the word of God and governs according to godly principles. Godly political leadership is surely an oxymoron.
Christians all over the world, but especially in the US, seem to be infatuated with human politics. If you visit any number of Christian internet discussion forums you will find politics on the hot list. You go to church and, especially in election years, politics is at the forefront of the discussions. In many churches the gospel must share pulpit time with politics. Christian friendship and fellowship can be determined by political stands.
It is a sad state of affairs when the body of Christ is divided over politics. It is tragic when brothers and sisters in Christ fight who they voted for and why. My mind starts wondering when I think of wars like the American Civil War where members of the body of Christ killed each other on the battlefield over political differences.
I think we have a key to why this happens in this section of scripture. Sometimes we can forget who our King is. I was recently reminded of a portion of a message preached by S.M. Lockeridge. This section has been converted into a video clip readily available on You Tube. It is called. “That’s My King!’ and he preached the message in 1976. I am not going to reproduce it here, but I would encourage you to look it up.
Bro. Lockeridge reminds us of who our King really is. While we are enjoined to submit to, honour, and pray for our political leaders we must remember that they are only our leaders because of where we live geographically. Yes, we must obey the laws and respect our leaders to be a good testimony amongst others, but our King reigns on a whole different level.
Jesus is the King of the Saints. We are unified as His subjects. While we must live in two realms, let us be careful that we don’t let the earthly kingdoms and our views on that divide us who are united under the King of the Saints!
Sunday, 2 August 2009
God’s way is always right. It has a nice ring to it, but why is it that sometimes it doesn’t seem that way? How do we answer people when they ask us why God does this or that or allow horrible things to happen?
There is a lot to consider here. Sometimes the answer is that horror and tragedy are just nature taking its course. Sometimes God gets the blame for what wicked men do. Sometimes these things are just the result of mistakes and human error.
To be honest we are not always have the answers. It is important though that by faith we trust a certain truth – God’s ways are always just and always based on truth. Our human knowledge and ken can sometimes fall short of comprehending the whys and wherefores.
Once again we have an opportunity to exercise faith and trust. We can trust our own understanding, limited and sin cursed as it is. Or we can trust the perfect word of God as it describes the ways of an infinitely loving and holy God.
Which makes more sense?
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested." – Revelation 15v4
This is one of those messages that when I first read it my response can almost be one of scepticism. “All the nations shall come and worship? All of them?’
That hardly seems feasible in the light of what we are facing today. In my relatively short 54 years on this earth the world seems destined to do the opposite. At one stage of my life a healthy worship of God was not only acceptable, but almost expected. Even the worse of men would hardly mock God or His people. For most of the world, at least my part of the world, God was a part of society. People prayed in school and at sporting events. Political leaders quoted the Bible regularly and speeches were filled with scriptural references.
But now all of that is gone. Some try to say that we in the west have outgrown God. We have evolved past our need for Him. He has been turned out of every aspect of our society.
One day however every nation will come and worship before Him. Those nations who have always kept God out and those who have only recently begun to do so alike will come before Him in worship and praise.
So where does that leave us? Do we join them now in their exclusion of God from our everyday lives? I trow not! (Sorry – I love that word :) - it means ‘think’ )
Instead, why don’t we go ahead and get a head start on them? Lets go ahead and make worship a part of our lives every day and every waking moment so that we can lead the way when the whole world starts to do so!