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Showing posts from 2020

"What Have We Just Read?" - An Epilogue

 Thursday, December 31 – You have come to the end of our readings thru the New Testament in a Year.   First of all, I want to congratulate you for persevering in reading both the scriptures and these meager attempts of mine to give some devotional commentary.   I have one reading that I’d like you to do first, and then come back here to get a big picture view of “what have we just read this year?”   Please read Luke 1:5 – 37. Open to the front of your bible to the table of contents.   You’ll notice immediately that the Bible is a story in two “testaments” – we call them the Old Testament and the New Testament.   Testament relates the word “covenant”, which is an agreement made between two parties.   It can sometimes be “conditional” in that one party agrees to do something “IF” the other party agrees to do something (think of a bank loan).   Covenants can also be “unconditional”, where the one party says “I will do” for the other party (think of a last will and testament).   God m

Amen, Come Lord Jesus - Revelation 22:6 - 21

 Wednesday, December 30 – We have come to the next to last day in our reading thru the New Testament in a year.   Today’s reading is from Revelation 22:6 – 21.   Please read the passage and come back to take a second look at it together. John has been on a marvelous, wondrous journey.   I wonder what he felt like as he came towards the end? As John stands in the New Heaven, the New Earth, he sees the beauty of the re-creation in heavenly form.   Rivers of water that are full of life, trees bearing twelves different kinds of fruit every month of the year.   The leaves are for healing the people who are redeemed and have come out of the great tribulation.   Most of all, he sees and realizes we will all see the throne of God and the Lamb – Jesus, whose glory shone bright. (22:1-5).   “And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”  “And behold, I am c

The Heavenly City of God's Presence - Revelation 21:9 - 22:5

 Tuesday, December 29 – We are very near the end of our reading thru the New Testament in a Year.   Today’s reading is from Revelation 21:9 – 22:5. Please read the passage first and then we’ll walk through it together, and thank you. The book of Revelation is full of symbols and imagery that create difficulty for our ability to grasp some of its pictures.   I have a friend of mine in England who is a professional photographer and he uses aerial drones to do part of his work.   I’m always amazed at the pictures because they give us a vision from high above the landscape and everything in the picture is both expansive and framed perfectly. That is a helpful metaphor for reading Revelation.   Keep the big picture in mind – God is redeeming mankind through His Son, and eternity is when we get to live in the presence of God the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. “Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I

The New Heaven and New Earth = Revelation 20:11 - 21:8

 Monday, December 28 – We are near the end of our readings – three more to go.   The book of Revelation is how we are finishing our reading thru the New Testament in a year, and this morning we continue in Revelation 20:11 – 21:8.   Please read the passage first, and then come back that we might look at it again. Hell is not a topic we often think about, nor want to.   There are some who teach that the lost who are thrown into the lake of fire, hell, will be annihilated, burnt up – that certainly is possible.   Others teach that only Satan, the Beast, and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire.   What John now saw is the resurrection of all who had not put their faith in Christ.   “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And th

The Kingdom Come, His Will Is Done - Revelation 20:4 - 15

 The Weekend, December 26 – Welcome back.   I hope your Christmas was full of joyful celebration.   Once again, we are reading one time for both weekend days.   Today’s reading is from Revelation 20:4 – 15.   Please read the passage first and then come back as we look at it some more. Since it’s been a couple of days, let’s get the context back into our minds.   At the end of Revelation 19, the Lord Jesus returns as conqueror over Satan’s army.   Satan’s leaders – the Beast and the false prophet were defeated and thrown in the lake of fire, and Satan’s army was defeated – without firing a shot – it was Christ’s word that prevailed.   As the chapter turns, the context doesn’t change.   John had introduced us with the words “Then I saw” three times in the verses we read (20:1, 4, 11).   First, John saw an angel imprisoning Satan in a bottomless pit (abyss) for a thousand years (20:1 – 3).   He hears that it is not permanent and he will be released when the thousand years are ended.

Christmas Eve Remembering

 A part of today’s reading in my book “An Advent Sojourn” on Christmas Eve: “One Christmas Eve, many years ago, I was pastoring a small rural church in a Wisconsin. Our church building was an old white clapboard with beautiful old stained glass windows that reflected brilliantly at night when the lights were on. The organ was an old wind-driven, bellowed organ that filled up the room with a sound that made everyone want to sing.  I came to our Christmas Eve service with great expectations. By this time I had fallen in love with Advent and Christmas Eve was the penultimate of our celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas Day. It came time for the service and all fifty or so of us were gathered.  Then just before the service was to begin, the power went out. I stood there in disbelief, “No. Lord, do something.” But nothing happened…now what? The power stayed off. It was time to begin our service, so I made a quick decision: “Get the candles out, pass them around, and we’ll do the servic

The End Begins, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:11 - 20:3

 Wednesday, December 23 – It is mid-week, but the last reading before the weekend.   Let me say in advance, Merry Christmas to you.   Our readings are almost finished.   Today we finish reading Revelation 19:11 – 20:3. Please read the passage and come back to walk through it again. I don’t how you feel, but as we left Revelation 18 and the final judgments, the burden of this all feels lifted.   The drama of the end times is written by John in imagery that at times is horrific and hard to grasp in reality.   As we near the end of this Revelation John has received, we realize that the overall picture John is writing about is that Christ Jesus ultimately prevails over evil as one who “was, is, and is to come” (Revelation 1:8; 4:8).   There are many interpretations of how these events in Revelation unfold, and this short devotional cannot do justice to the many ways to view this.   I am in favor of a more literal view, which does not mean I don’t see symbols, imagery, and descriptions

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:1 - 10

 Tuesday, December 22 – We move towards the end of the book of Revelation.   I want to remind you we will have readings today, tomorrow, and the weekend, but not on Thursday or Friday – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.   Today’s reading is from Revelation 19:1 – 10.   Please read this short section first before returning here. Bible scholars refer to the second coming of Christ as the Parousia , which in Greek means “coming”.   The second coming of Christ isn’t introduced first in the book of Revelation.   Jesus talked about his return, and at his ascension to heaven, the angels came to the disciples – “ And while they were gazing into heaven as he [Jesus]went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11). Revelation 19 gives us two contrasting pictures of the end-time.   On the one hand it cl