Devotional

It Doesn’t Matter

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Revelation 9-10

The preacher actually said those words “It Doesn’t Matter”. To what was he referring? His passionate message was serious, actually about – and I quote – “life and death”. Reviewing recent studies in Revelation, he was pointing out the dangers of trying to attach significance to dates, times and places, causing us to lose the thrust of the entire book.

Revelation is not written in chronological order. It is like a picture, giving us different perspectives on the same story. It is the tale of completion – in God’s perfection His seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls present us with God’s judgment. In the midst of it all, God still warns people, calling them to repent, yet they refuse His mercy (Revelation 9:20-21). Revelation is not just about a seven-year period, but rather it is all about the battle between good and evil which has coloured the existence of mankind from the very beginning, when God created all things, and called them good (Genesis 1).

Interwoven into this picture is God’s amazing grace. The end of the story is glorious! We who know Him, whom to know is life eternal (1 John 5:13), will witness the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ who will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15). The Alpha and Omega will sign His painting with a great flourish! “Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). The timing doesn’t matter. Jesus told His followers to be ready – it might happen any day (Matthew 25:13).

Our focus is to be on Him….watching for His return. “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…..It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when He comes…..even if He comes in the second or third watch of the night!” (Luke 12:35-38). This is what does matter…”The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” Surprise! Will you and I be watching? (Luke 12:40).

The danger for all people is that our hearts may become hardened to the Word of God. God’s children are not immune. Impacted by cultural norms we may stray away from the Truth, from the path (Way) Jesus laid down as He modelled purity of vision and purpose and practise. Someone said to me the other day “Lots of young people walking with God are living together (outside of marriage). Is this a reality that Christians today accept? Are we alive in Him, who came to give us Life? (John 14:16). We need that relationship to prepare us for the push-back Satan will bring against those who declare their faith. After we taste that the Lord is good, life may turn sour (Revelation 10:9). Our responsibility is to share the truth. Ezekiel was warned that it may not be received well (Ezekiel 3:1-7). Nothing has changed thousands of years later.

The blood of martyrs cries out: “When will the end come?” (Revelation 6:10). God is waiting for every tribe to enjoy the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, because He is not willing that any should perish. He also must be true to His covenant with Abraham, promising to bless every nation through his descendants (Genesis 12:3). However, the time will come when “there is no more delay” (Revelation 10:6).

Reflection:

Sadly, the pastor noted, the Gospel has become soft, inoffensive, non-confrontational as we try to make it “seeker friendly”. When we read about the need for repentance, do we believe that God means business? Do we doom others to a lost eternity by sharing their terms guided by cultural sensitivity? In an age when “if it feels good, do it” is a norm, are we ready to talk about the lengths to which God has gone to make salvation possible? Sacrifice? Am I prepared to die for my faith? And in the midst of it all we misplace our energy by trying to figure out the symbols God has given to us as hints of things beyond the scope of our imagination. What is it that truly matters?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

Doing Battle

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Hebrews 4

In both Old and New Testaments God makes reference to a battle of words. In a Messianic prophecy, speaking about the servant-Messiah, He revealed to Isaiah “He made My mouth like a sharpened sword”. Jesus Himself describes a battle over which He will be victor: “Repent! Otherwise I will soon come to you and fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Revelation 2:16).

Most humans at some time or another have been wounded by words, whether intentioned or not. Some have referred to this as the pain of the soul, a problem that lasts far longer than physical scars. James describes the tongue as a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It is capable of corrupting the whole person, of setting the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell (3:6). Have you ever been burned by someone’s words?

If the power of the human tongue can do that much damage, then consider what the judgment of Christ’s tongue might look like! Jesus describes it as a two-edged sword (Revelation 2:12). In our scripture reading, the writer of Hebrews is talking about the consequences of unbelief, warning “Today, if you hear His voice [the words of the Gospel] do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). God’s intention is to give His children peace and rest – the whole of this chapter is devoted to that.

However, Satan is very actively engaged in negating the words of God. From the very beginning, as we have noted many times before, he questioned whether or not God really did say certain things. Is God the Creator of peace and justice? Do His laws, decrees, words of wisdom and guidance mean anything to us today? Do we believe He is a perfect and just God, one who knows everything – our motives, our thoughts and deeds?

Why would He not be fair to His children? The greatest battle between good and evil was won at the cross, followed by the miraculous resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cost of God’s perfect gift of salvation has been fully paid, but Satan still wants you to believe it can be earned. We have been given a full description of this event in words of Holy Scripture. How then is it possible for the wisdom of Satan, or of man to question what God has revealed? Isn’t this the battle of the ages?

Reflection:

Down through time we see the sword of truth “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The question becomes personal when we ask ourselves, what does God see in our hearts? Do we long for purity and truth, for justice and spiritual integrity? Does the church, or indeed do I bring glory to God by following in the steps of Jesus my Lord? Will I do battle against compromise and overt evil? Has my passion for God grown lukewarm?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional

The Lion of Judah

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Genesis 49

Jacob lay dying. He called for his sons in order to prophecy what would happen to them in days to come. They were a nation displaced from their land. Now the last of Israel’s three great patriarchs would speak to the future!

One by one the sons came to be blessed by their father, Israel. Israel was the name given to Jacob after he wrestled with the angel (Genesis 32:28); it became the corporate name of Jacob’s descendants. Beginning with his firstborn Reuben, Jacob did not hesitate to call those out who had sinned against him. Only two were singled out for significant blessing. Joseph, his long-time favourite, born of his beloved Rachel, used of God to save his family through a raging famine of seven years, Israel recognized had been blessed and used by God Almighty (Genesis 49:24-25). Jacob called Joseph a Prince among his brothers. Given their turbulent family history that must have hurt the others.

But then there was Judah. Fourth son of Leah, Judah meant “praise” and as Jacob predicted, would become a leader among the tribes formed later by each son (:10). We might feel impatient with God’s timing on occasion, but imagine that this prediction did not come true until the time of King David, 640 years later. In actual fact it was not completely fulfilled until the time of Christ.

Jacob predicts Judah, like a lion (:9), will be praised by his brothers. How far reaching was that? Could Jacob possibly have known he was predicting millennial prosperity in verses 11-12? – a time when all nations would fall down in worship before the Lion of Judah! (Revelation 5:5). How thrilling it is to see consistency from beginning to end within the scriptures! It is Jesus to whom John refers when he wrote in Revelation: 

“And one of the elders said unto me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals’ ” (5:5).

“KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). The title proclaimed at the end of time, indicates one with absolute power over all His realm. When Jesus is proclaimed “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” it will signify the fulfilment of prophecy, the end of all other rulers and the final acknowledgement of His supremacy.

He, Jesus is the Lion of Judah!

In these days of Lent, preparing our hearts for the events of crucifixion, death, and resurrection, let us not forget it is this Lion of Judah whom we worship as the One who rose victorious over the grave to bring us into eternal life! Halleluah!

Reflection:

Do you feel any emotional response when you hear the title “Lion of Judah”? Why or why not?

How would you describe the Lion of Judah using Bible references and then in your own words?

What promise excites you most about the Lion of Judah?

by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)

Devotional · Uncategorized

Eschatology

birds flying over body of water during golden hour
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Revelation 20:2-15, 22:7 & 12

What a big word! Often thrown around in academic circles, what does it mean? Defined by theologians themselves, eschatology is the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul, and of humankind. It is a branch of theology designed to reassure the saints, but unfortunately an emphasis on end time events has often served to confuse them.

Discussion began when Jesus tenderly prepared His disciples for His death. He reassured them there was a purpose in His going away…. He would be preparing a place for them, so that He could return to take them to live with Him forever (John 14:2-3). Between then and now there has been a lot of debate about when and how this will come to pass. Schools of thought within Eschatology question whether Jesus will return before the tribulation or in the middle of it, or even afterwards. That information is veiled, but let us look at what we do know.

  1. Jesus will return (Matthew 16:27, Acts 1:11, Revelation 22:7 & 12).

  2. The dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive at His coming will be gathered up to meet them with Jesus, in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

  3. At the end of the tribulation those who did not bow down to worship the beast will reign with Jesus for 1000 years, after Satan and his angels have been locked up and sealed in the Abyss (Revelation 20:2-3).

  4. At the end of the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, the rest of the dead – those who did not believe, will be raised to face judgment (Revelation 20:5, 11-15).

Jesus repeatedly told his disciples they would not know the day nor the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). His concern was that they/we be watching, that they/we be ready (Matthew 25:13), waiting for our heavenly bridegroom to come.

God must be understood by individuals, and by nations, as the God with a perfect strategy for the end times. Satan has another game plan. If he can deter mankind from spreading the gospel, from reclaiming lives for Jesus’ sake, he will have more followers when the end does come. There is nothing wrong with the study of end times; however when it comes to spending time and energy, one might ask if those would be better expended on winning the lost, before it is too late? Eschatology must demonstrate that the plan of God is relevant to the very end of human history.

Reflection:

Why do you suppose so many people are caught up in the theology of the ends times?

How does this win an argument for Satan’s purposes?