Archives

Chronological Bible: December 29, Just because it was allowed…

Read:

  • Revelation 13:1-16:21

“And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” –Revelation 13:5, ESV

Be careful with God’s sovereignty. Everything that God allows is not also approved by Him as holy. He allowed the beast freedom to exercise authority. He allowed the beast to utter haughty and blasphemous words. He allowed the people to make their own choices. If God allows you to make a decision, don’t assume that He approves it as holy. If you experience someone else’s unholy behavior, you cannot determine that God said that behavior was holy. The sovereignty of God can be confusing. But know this: what He allows is not always blessed. Seek His blessing, not His allowance.

Chronological Bible: December 28, It’s not the work, but repentance…

Read:

  • Revelation 9:1-12:17

“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” –Revelation 9:20-21, ESV

The final sin that condemns men in Revelation is the same sin that condemns us today: lack of repentance. Re-read the above verses. Men weren’t condemned for their evil actions. They were condemned because they did not repent of their evil actions. It is not the work that condemns a man, but the state of his heart.

The same is true today. While we are busy splitting hairs over which sins are worse than others, which sins will ruin our society, we miss the point. The sin that will ruin a man is lacking repentance. Don’t focus your energy on changing your behaviors. Change your heart and your behavior will follow.

Chronological Bible: November 13, Addressing betrayal with mercy…

Read:

  • Matthew 26:17-29
  • Mark 14:12-25
  • Luke 22:7-30
  • John 13:18-30
  • John 13:1-17
  • John 13:31-35

“And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I, Lord?’…Judas, who would betray him, answered, ‘Is it I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, ‘You have said so.'” –Matthew 26:22,25, ESV

 

“So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after He had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ Now no one at the table knew why He said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we needfor the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor.” –John 13:25-29, ESV

It seems that Judas knew, or learned, that he would be the one to betray Jesus. Imbedded with all the other disciples asking Jesus if it was them, Judas asked the same, but received a different answer. What stands out to me today is this: Jesus did not make the information public. Judas knew. Jesus knew. But though the disciples were all there for the feast, only Judas and Jesus knew the specifics of the betrayal.

Though Jesus would be betrayed to death, He showed mercy in keeping Judas’ coming sin between the two of them alone. Maybe it was to give Judas the chance to make a different choice, though it was necessary for the fulfillment of prophecy. Maybe it was to keep the other disciples in the dark, to prevent them from intervening. We know Peter had an explosive emotional state; who knows what he would have done had he known of Judas’ plan.

Regardless of reason, Jesus kept Judas’ coming sin just between them. We would be wise to do the same when we face a betrayer.

Chronological Bible: October 2, In the desolation, we need a Stronghold…

Read:

  • Joel 1:1-3:21

“The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.” –Joel 3:16, ESV

It would be easy to take these chapters in Joel and pick out the happy verses, the flowing-with-milk verses, the verses that show the “after” of the judgment to come. We could skim right past the passage describing the locusts and draught Israel experienced because of her sin. We could fade out over that part, sing “la-la-la-la” until those verses pass, and then be skipping and cheerful about the verses we like better.

Here’s the thing: to fully appreciate how much of a refuge God truly is, we must look at the desolation and judgment to come. We cannot know the greatness of His mercy unless we understand the wretchedness of our own self and those around us. To understand the Stronghold that is our God, we must first understand why we need one.

Read these chapters again. And then pick out the happy verses. For those verses will shine all the more brightly when properly placed in the context of desolation.

Chronological Bible: October 1, Revival on repeat…

Read:

  • Nehemiah 13:1-22
  • Psalm 92
  • Nehemiah 13:23-31

Oh, the people of Israel. Over and over again they fell into the same sins. Over and over again, a leader or prophet was raised up to call them to repentance. It had to be frustrating for those who continued to follow the Lord even as their countrymen fell into spiritual peril. You can nearly hear the frustration in Nehemiah’s voice as he works to reestablish the Levites in the temple, as he cleanses the temple, and as he takes the people to task for disobeying again.

A truth about mankind is this: the temptation to fall back into old ways can override any good intention one may have. Just look at new year’s resolutions, and one can clearly see how the inertia of the old ways can overtake the shallow-seeded motivation of a new resolution. The same is true in spiritual lives. Years of sinful living, years of looking at the world from one perspective, creates momentum in a direction that is different than where your new resolution may need you to go. But take heart. Just as the Israelites were called back again and again, you can come back again and again. Take heart that the God of all mercy has mercy enough for you too.