Whoever Has Ears, Should Listen

Monday December 11, 2017 – Whoever Has Ears, Should Listen
Hosea 5-8 Revelation 2

The book of Revelation is not an easy one to understand since there are many metaphors and images that are not part of our normal language, but it is clear that John was given this message to warn us all about things to come.   Revelation 2 foretells some of what is going to happen in the future, but also provides words of hope.   8 These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

The great news is that when Christ comes again there will be great celebration and rejoicing for those who are faithful to Christ.   The victor’s crown awaits!

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The Time is Near!

Sunday December 10, 2017 – The Time is Near!
Hosea 1-4 Revelation 1

There is much going on in our world that would suggest the return of the Lord is near.   I believe there is a time that is imminent, but when I consider how man has longed and looked for Christ’s return for centuries I realize that there is timing that is perfect in God’s eyes and I have no idea what that is.   As I start to read Revelation I know what this portion of scripture is about, but I love the preface that John provides to this book of the Bible.  Here is how he starts Revelations 1: 1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

About two thousand years ago there were many who believed that Jesus would return almost immediately.  I am sure that even John anticipated that Christ would return during his lifetime, but there is a plan for the world that God is working that has a perfect time for Christ’s triumphant return.   I have no idea when that day may come, but I know that I will be part of that forever celebration.   Will you?

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The End is Coming . . . Sometime!

Saturday December 9, 2017 – The End is Coming . . .  Sometime!
Daniel 11-12 Jude 1

Both the reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament today had similar content.  The topic of the end times was at least a partial focus in both books of the Bible so there are lessons about the end times that God must want me to pay attention today. The first passage that I found remarkable was in Daniel 11.  1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

The second passage also contains reference to the angel Michael, but I am going to focus on the last few verses of Jude 1 that contains the following; 17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

The instructions by both Daniel and Jude include things to watch out for and encouragements to believers.  There will be difficult times coming ahead and both Jude and Daniel not only provide warning, but encouragement for those who believe to remain strong and not stumble when evil people and circumstances are upon us.  We don’t know when, but there are plenty of encouragements for believers to remain vigilant because as the end draws near the rise of evil will also increase.

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Prophetic Words That Describe Today

Friday December 8, 2017 – Prophetic Words That Describe Today
Daniel 8-10 3 John 1

Daniel has many good teachings and it also contains some of Daniel’s visions that were relevant to the nation of Israel at this time, but also looked to the future and God’s plan for his people.  The following descriptions is as relevant today as it was back in Daniel’s time.   4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.

The truth is that we are still not obeying the Lord our God, but fortunately God is merciful and forgiving despite our rebellion.   God still calls for reconciliation because a day of reckoning will still come for us all!

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Even The Lions Can’t Touch Him

Thursday December 7, 2017 – Even The Lions Can’t Touch Him
Daniel 5-7 2 John 1  

The power and preeminence of God is something that I think we often take for granted, but the reality is that the God of the universe cares deeply for each of us.   What does God want in return?  Only one thing.  He wants a personal relationship with us!  Daniel demonstrated how his commitment to God above all else was rewarded by God.  26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

The story of Daniel is one of my favorites for several reasons.  The easiest is because my first name is Daniel because my parents felt that Daniel was a strong biblical name.   Secondly, Daniel becomes an important man in a nation where Israel is in captivity due to his honor and character.   Finally, Daniel was not afraid to stand for God regardless of the circumstances.   These are all characteristics that I pray that I may be able to emulate.

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Ask Anything With Confidence and Believe It’s Done!

Wednesday December 6, 2017 – Ask Anything With Confidence and Believe It’s Done!
Daniel 3-4 1 John 5

There has been a lot going on in my life during the past few months that have caused me to wonder what God really has in store for me.   I know that God holds the future and I am completely confident in my eternal security, but admittedly there are times that I worry about what is going to happen next month.   Today as I was reading in 1 John 5 I was encouraged by the following scripture written by John.   13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

The confidence to know that God hears, but also provides is difficult to grasp when our timing is not always Gods.  Today I pray that I may have the confidence and the patience to know that God has heard and He will provide!

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All You Need is Love

Tuesday December 5, 2017 – All You Need is Love
Daniel 1-2 1 John 4

I finally reached the end of Ezekiel yesterday and I know that God has inspired the WHOLE Bible, but at times I struggle while Ezekiel recounts the measurements to the temple that God gave to him in a vision.   I know that this will be one of the things I will be interested to understand completely some day, but until that day there are portions of scripture like 1 John 4 that are so eloquent and clear that nothing else is really required to illuminate the teaching.   7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

So even though the Beatles may not fully understand why there really was great truth in their phrase, “all you need is love.”

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What Love Really Is

Monday December 4, 2017 – What Love Really Is            
Ezekiel 47-48 1 John 3

Much is said, published and promoted about love, but the picture of love that God gave to us is much more extreme.  Love as demonstrated by Jesus Christ meant laying down his life for ours.  John says it well in 1 John 3, 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

I love the comment that this is not about what you say versus what you actually do.   Love requires action and the action that we are commanded here is to love others as Christ loved us.

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Simple and Timeless Truth

Sunday December 3, 2017 – Simple and Timeless Truth
Ezekiel 45-46 1 John 2

There is no option on how we are to respond and treat other people.  The Bible is crystal clear when it comes to describing how we are to live.   7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.  There aren’t any options to this behavior and the Bible doesn’t include specific conditions that provide exemptions to have we are to treat our fellow brothers and sisters.  It is an all or nothing, we should love our brothers and sisters period, no exceptions.   Wouldn’t our world be a better place if we all could live to that standard?

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Relationships in the Light

Saturday December 2, 2017 – Relationships in the Light
Ezekiel 42-44 1 John 1

Being able to see someone clearly is a critical element to establish trust and really get to know someone else.  Not being able to see someone puts a significant limitation on how well you really know someone and understand how they respond to you.   I know that blind people find ways to touch peoples’ faces so they can learn the emotions and expressions of another person.

The same value to being in the light is available in our relationship with God.   1 John 1 captures the importance of light and the danger in darkness.  5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Living in the darkness includes living with deception and lies and it is important for our relationship with Christ that we continue to walk in the light and confess our sins so our relationship can be strong.

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