Monthly Archives: December 2013

December 31

Today’s reading: Revelation 19:6 – Chapter 22.

Highlights: Yesterday we read about the fall of Babylon, the harlot. Today we pick up in 19:6 where praise breaks out at the announcement that “the marriage of the Lamb has come” (7).

Jesus comes riding on a white horse and captures the beast and false prophet and they are cast into the lake of fire.  In chapter 20 Satan is bound for 1000 years and the martyrs who had been beheaded live and reign with Jesus.  Satan is released, makes another attempt to deceive mankind, he fails, and “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (20:10).

The end of chapter 20 describes the judgment of mankind.  Any not found written in the Lamb’s book of life are also assigned to the Lake of fire.

For the saved, chapters 21 and 22 describe the new heavens and new earth and the holy city.  In addition to the gold and pearls and precious stones, we read about the water of life and tree of life which are ours if we are in God’s book of life.

So fitting that what was lost in Eden (we read this Jan 1, 2013) is now regained in heaven. The Bible story then is the story of all God has done to redeem man from the consequences of his sin.

So, our journey ends. “Come, come, come” (22:17) is one of the final admonitions. God wants us all to come to him. “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”.

 

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December 30

Today’s Text: Revelation 14:1 – 19:5.

Highlights: Yesterday we read about the dragon and his allies and their goal to deceive mankind. Today we read about the fall of those who fought against God.

Note how today’s reading ends: “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” (19:1-3).

In chapter 14 the Lamb is pictured as victorious and angels begin announcing the fall of Babylon and those who worship the beast.  The time for judgment has arrived. This story unfolds with 7 angels pouring out 7 bowls of God’s wrath.  In 17 and 18 the great Babylon is described like a harlot, appropriate for the immoralities being practiced, but it is really talking about a city (see 17:18).

Consider 17:14.  It appears the outcome of these battles was never really in doubt. Whether men will trust God may be in doubt but we know God will win. Why does 17:14 tells us God will win?  Why does it say we will win with Him?

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December 29

Today’s Reading: Revelation 8:7 – Chapter 13.

Highlights: Today we read about more tribulations with the sounding of the first 6 trumpets. The trumpets are similar to the seals but more the tribulations are more intense and more urgent. A third of the natural world is destroyed and then a third of all mankind are killed by locusts and armies on horses.  There were also 7 thunders but John was not allowed to share what he saw.

More fascinating accounts follow. In chapter 11  two witnesses who are killed then raised causing many to believe. Later in chapter 12 we read about a woman giving birth to a male child and a war between the dragon and Michael the archangel. The dragon is defeated and cast down to earth.   In chapter 13 we read about the allies of the dragon: the beast from the sea and beast from the earth,

Try to make application of the different characters in Chapter 12. Is this not talking about the first coming of Jesus?  Having failed to defeat Jesus what is the dragon (Satan) determined to do? (Revelation 12:17).

Given that context consider the possibility that the book could talking about the persecution that the early Christians faced  from the Romans following the death and resurrection of Jesus.   This would also make sense considering it was written to 7 first century churches about “things which must shortly take place” (1:1).

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December 28

Text: Revelation 4 – 8:6

Highlights: John sees a door open in heaven and what he sees is truly awe inspiring. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on God on His Throne and Jesus, the Lamb and all the creatures of heaven worshiping them.

There was a scroll with 7 seals next the throne and the story unfolds with the opening of the 7 seals. The opening of the seals (chapter 6) clearly pictures a time of tribulation. Death and bloodshed and famine are coming. The 5th seal reveals the souls of martyrs – those who had been slain – “How long O God…” –  crying out to God for vengeance – which God says is coming.  A horrible earthquake and other apocalyptic phenomenon come with the 6th seal. In chapter 7 we see that 144,ooo of God’s people are sealed – protected from coming tribulation, and after that we read of an innumerable number  from every nation who came out of the great tribulation around the throne worshiping God. In chapter 8 there is a period of silence after which prayers are offered and then fire is poured out on the earth.  This leads to the opening of the 7th seal which contains 7 trumpets.

What does the worship in heaven, described especially in chapter 4 and 5 teach you about the praise God truly deserves? How can we praise Him like that today? What else impresses you about today’s reading?

 

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December 27

Today’s Text: Revelation 1-3.

Highlights – This is the last book in the Bible. It is written by John as revealed to him by an angel and sent to 7 churches in Asia Minor. Chapter 1 concludes with an awe inspiring vision of Jesus. He is living and powerful and in control of all things.

Chapters 2 and 3 contain 7 brief letters 1 addressed to each of the 7 churches telling them what they are doing good (being faithful in the face of persecution) or bad (various false teachings and immoralities and lukewarmness) and warning them of the need to remain faithful.  Each of the 7 little letters closes with the admonition to HEAR what the Spirit says to the 7 churches.

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”.  God wants all men to repent. In particular 3:20 was written to Christians who need to change lest they fall away completely and permanently.    What do these first 3 chapters say that should cause us all to sit up and carefully take notice of what Jesus wants of His churches?

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December 26

Today’s Reading: 1, 2, 3 John.

Highlights:  1 John begins with a wonderful declaration of the diety of Jesus and comes back to this subject several times in the letter.   This theme is picked up again in 2 John – 2 John verse 7 says “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.”

John also emphasizes how imperative it is that we live godly lives: 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”.

A third, prominent topic is that we love one another: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” (2:9, 10). As you read you will see these three topics repeated over and over.

3rd John was written to a man named Gaius. After expressing some brotherly love John addresses the matter of a trouble maker named Diotrophes.  He then says “do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (11).

Question: “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray” (2:26). There were many false teachings and teachers that threatened the faith of the Christians then as well as now.  What can we do to be sure we remain true to God?  Consider in your answer 1 John 4:1.

One more book to go! Tomorrow we begin 5 days in the book of Revelation.

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December 26

Today’s Reading: 1, 2, 3 John.

Highlights:  1 John begins with a wonderful declaration of the diety of Jesus and comes back to this subject several times in the letter.   This theme is picked up again in 2 John – 2 John verse 7 says “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.”

John also emphasizes how imperitive it is that we live godly lives: 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”.

A third, prominent topic is that we love one another: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” (2:9, 10). As you read you will see these three topics repeated over and over.

3rd John was written to a man named Gaius. After expressing some brotherly love John addresses the matter of a trouble maker named Diotrophes.  He then says “do not imitate what is good but what is evil” (11).

Question: “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray” (2:26). There were many false teachings and teachers that threatened the faith of the Christians then as well as now.  What can we do to be sure we remain true to God?  Consider in your answer 1 John 4:1.

One more book to go! Tomorrow we begin 5 days in the book of Revelation.

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December 25

Today’s Reading: Hebrews 10:19 – Hebrews 13

Highlights: Think of today’s reading as the practical application of the book of Hebrews. It begins by saying since we have these wonderful provisions through Jesus (such as access to God, a perfect High Priest, a better covenant and perfect sacrifice) we should draw near to God (10:22) and hold fast to our confession.  He also says we should consider others – how we can stir up love and good works (10:24).

Next, in 10:26, the writer warns about failure to do these things – “if we deliberately go on sinning” – and tells of the rejection we will suffer.  Rather than turn back we should remain faithful.  This leads us in to chapter 11 with all its examples of faith.  In chapter 12:2-3, our greatest example is Jesus who joyfully suffered for us.

Several practical applications are made as the book closes, including how we need to understand the value of chastening, marriage, covetousness, and brotherly love, and more.

In Hebrews 13:8 the writer says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  How does that statement encourage you? What might be the significance of it in the context of the book of Hebrews?

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December 24

Today’s Text: Hebrews 6:13- 10:18

Today’s Reading: Hebrews 6:13 – 10:18.

Highlights:  Yesterday’s reading stated that with Christ we have a better messenger (Jesus is greater than angels) and lawgiver (Jesus is better than Moses). Today’s reading says that we have a better high priest, covenant, and sacrifice. Note how this reading ends:  “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”  That is the greatest benefit of the gospel and the greatest difference when compared to what the Law of Moses offered. The blood of animal sacrifices offered under the law could not take away sins. The blood of Jesus can!

We have spent almost a year reading through the Bible. Everything we have read is a part of God’s word  but it doesn’t all apply to us in the same way.  So much of the Old Testament is about the nation of Israel and their life under the Law of Moses. What does Hebrews 8:8-13 tell us about the old law?   What did Galatians 3:24 say about the law?

 

 

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December 23

Today’s reading: Hebrews 1 – 5:12

Highlights: We will spend the next 3 days in the book of Hebrews.  The book seems to be addressed to Christians with a Hebrew or Judaistic backgroup who, perhaps out of fear of persecution,  are being tempted to turn away from the gospel of Christ and back to the Law of Moses.

The letter begins by telling us that Jesus is “so much better than the angels” (1:4)  and next,  that he is “worthy of greater honor than Moses” (3:3).  Then the writer tells us what a great High Priest He is.  Jesus was called by God to be High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:6).  We have a better Messenger, Lawgiver, and now, High Priest.

At this point the author must pause for the readers are not Biblically proficient enough to understand the Christ / Melchizedek comparison.  A rebuke is therefore in order (5:11-12). After this he will return to the topic and show the priesthood of Jesus is far superior to the priesthood of Aaron under the Law of Moses.

It is a common notion that under the covenant of Jesus God is more lenient and there is less need to be concerned about careful obedience.  Read 2:1-4 carefully. What does it say about this question?

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