Tag Archives: devotional

27. Jesus the Servant

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So the last time we left Jesus, the Pharisees were plotting to kill him because he had healed, once again, on the Sabbath. Because of this Jesus was quick to get out of Dodge. Not because he didn’t want to die, but because it wasn’t time for him to die yet. After he left he was followed by a large crowd and Jesus healed everyone who was ill. Not just some, the text actually says all. This account is also found in Mark but we will be reading the account found in Matthew because it includes a bit of Messianic prophesy that is worth checking out:

Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”

(Matthew 12:15-21)

I specifically want to look at the bit of prophesy that is given to us. It comes from Isaiah 42:1-4. This particular passage is about someone God calls, “my servant”. This title, “my servant” is a special title of honor that was used to describe the likes of Moses, Joshua and David. It was also used in Isaiah 42:1-9, 49:1-7;50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12. Now Israelites always assumed that they were the servant described but because of their wayward actions and blatant refusal to follow God and instead turn towards idols, they lost this honor of being God’s servants. Instead, these verses describe one person in whom God would find no fault- a perfect prototype of what a follower of God should look like. They are describing the Messiah, himself! The reason that Matthew, whose readership was mostly Jewish, often includes prophesy about the Messiah is to show them how Jesus is the 100% fulfillment of these prophesies. In other words, they didn’t have to keep looking for the promised Messiah because he was here as evidenced by their own Scriptures.

There are three times when Jesus is described by God as, “the one I love, in whom I delight.” The two other times occurred at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17) and at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).

Here’s a little rabbit trail for us to go down. No where in the Bible does it explicitly say that God is triune, or 3-in-1. This is a concept that was presented by early church fathers. One of the verses they use to support this idea (which for the record, I believe in) is verse 18 from our passage today, ” I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.” Here we see the Father conferring the Holy Spirit on the Son. 3-in-1. Three persons of God, in one deity; somehow each unique, yet joined together.

Verse 18, and also 21, is interesting because God is clearly concerned about “the nations”. He is concerned about all peoples, not just the nation of Israel. He came to them first because he wanted them to be his people of promise but because they rejected him time and time again, he opened salvation to the world. This was a foreign idea to the Jews even though it was right there in Scripture. It’s like they picked and chose which descriptions of the Messiah they liked and conveniently forgot about the parts they didn’t. God clearly cares for Gentiles, or non-Jews… which is very good news for me!

The next part, “He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets,” refers to his silence during his trial before the crucifixion. Jesus remained silent despite his accusers and their false accusations, despite the fact that he could have said one word and thousands of angels would have been there in an instant to rescue him. He was silent except for a few answers to questions.

Verse 20 is one of great mercy and grace,

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

One of the things the Pharisees never got was Jesus’ unending grace toward sinners. We can learn a lot from Jesus here. His job until he returns is to be gentle and love the sinner. I think here of the Westboro Baptist church. These people are not doing God’s work. God’s work, until Jesus returns, is to love on people. That doesn’t mean we overlook the sin. What Jesus did was look beyond the sin and saw the hurting person underneath. Hurting people are like a reed that is already bent from life’s windstorms or a candle struggling to stay lit. In mercy Jesus sat with these people, took the time to hear and really understand these people. And when I say “these people” what I really mean is you and me. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It doesn’t matter if we’ve wrongly gotten angry or if we’ve killed someone. We deserve a traitor’s death. We are no better or worse than anyone else and to assume otherwise is to fall into the trap of self-righteousness. Thank God, for his mercy and love! Thank God, for his patience with us! This is how he deals with us and this is how we are to deal with each other. Now there is a time when Jesus will come again and reign victorious over Satan and Evil. At that point it will be Jesus’ job to dole out justice to non-belivers and believers alike. It is never our job. It is never our responsibility to judge others. Period.

I’ll step down off my soap box for now. Until next time when we look at the commissioning of the the twelve apostles…

The End.

26. Stretch out your hand

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Sorry there was a break between postings. My laptop power cord was fried in a thunderstorm and we were without a computer for a few days. Fortunately it was just the power supply and not the whole laptop. Praise God! As a reminder, last time we found the disciples picking and eating grain on the Sabbath. Those pesky Pharisees were there to give them a hard time about “working” on the Sabbath and Jesus promptly rebukes them. This time we will learn about another healing on the Sabbath. I have to tell you that I knew Jesus did this stuff on the Sabbath but I didn’t realize how often he did it before this study. I think almost every time we read about Jesus healing, he is doing so on the Sabbath. Think maybe he is trying to drive home a point with the Pharisees? Too bad they never get it! This time we find Jesus in a synagogue on the Sabbath. Matthew makes it sound like it is later the same day as they were in the grain fields while Mark and Luke both say it occurred on a different day. To me it’s one of those details that don’t really matter if they all agree or not; it’s the story that follows that is important. Let’s read:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:9-14)

Last time we saw the focus was on the disciples breaking the law. This time we see Jesus as the “law-breaker”. They are in the synagogue and there is a man there with a bad hand. If you read the Gospel of Hebrews, an apocryphal book, the man is described as being a mason and it being his right hand that was injured. Whether that is true or not is up in the air although the way the original language is written it implies that the man’s hand was not an injury from birth. Being a mason it is quite possible that he hurt himself on the job.

Regardless, the guy had a bum hand. And the Pharisees saw this as a perfect trap for Jesus. They ask him a loaded question intended to trip up Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Their laws said that healing was only allowed in life or death situations, otherwise the patient needed to wait until Sunday for help (Jewish Sabbath was Saturday). Instead of answering their question. Jesus asks his own question about their own laws, “If any of you has a sheep that falls in a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?” His question is just as loaded as the Pharisees. Even though the sheep was in no danger in the pit, just stuck, they all would have rescued the sheep. Jesus’ point is this: If God would overlook you breaking the Sabbath to save a sheep, how much more so is would he accept healing a person, a child of God, on the Sabbath? Jesus uses their own laws against them.

I’m not sure if we’ve covered this before or not so I’ll take a minute to explain something here. You may be wondering what was the big deal about the Sabbath? Exodus 31:13-17 says,

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

Anyone who doesn’t keep the Sabbath was worthy of death. The big problem is what does “keeping the Sabbath holy” mean. God clearly says not to do any work on the Sabbath but he doesn’t make stipulations as to what that includes. The Pharisees had comprised an oral tradition called The Talmud that had a bunch of things that they considered work. Things like healing on the Sabbath except under life or death situations was against the law. The Pharisees considered that breaking the Sabbath law, but God never said that. He just says not to do work. Right before our Matthew passage from today we see Jesus quoting Hosea 6:6 which says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” This clearly captures the heart of God. Yes, he wants the Sabbath kept holy but if there is a chance for a man to be restored to health then, for the love of mercy, heal him!

So for the love of mercy, Jesus heals him. He tells the man to stretch out his hand and when he did it was completely restored. This was pretty much the last straw for the Pharisees. If you notice it says they went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. From now on Jesus is a marked man.

Legalism is more than just keeping the law, although that is a big part of it. Legalism occurs when the keeping of the law causes an attitude of self-righteousness. If you think that keeping God’s laws or even just being a good person is enough to get you into heaven you are going to be in for a rude awakening at judgement day. It’s not that law keeping is bad. It’s actually a good thing but when you depend on that as a means of salvation then you are missing the boat! Salvation comes through faith alone.  Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is no other way to God than through faith in Jesus Christ. We keep the laws because we love him, not because it is a requirement for salvation.

The End.

25. The Lord of the Sabbath

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Those pesky Pharisees are at it again- trailing Jesus and causing problems. Once again, we see Jesus confront them:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)

This account is found in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. You can read the other versions by clicking on the links but today we will be read from Matthew. Once again we find Jesus on the Sabbath doing things that the Pharisees think he shouldn’t be doing. What was going on this time? Well, the disciples were hungry and as they passed through a grain field, they picked some heads of grain. Upon first glance it may appear that the disciples are stealing grain and that is why the Pharisees are mad… again. But according to Deuteronomy 23:25, hungry people could hand pick grain from their neighbor’s fields. They were just not allowed to use a sickle to harvest. The Pharisees were not angry because they were picking someone else’s grain… They were angry because they were doing on the Sabbath day. Remember, God said not to do any work on the Sabbath but the Pharisees had made so many rules about what “work” was that it was difficult to keep their Sabbath laws. And what were some of these ridiculous laws? The oral tradition, called The Talmud, states that any journey over 2000 steps was considered work and was not permitted. You also could not carry anything over a prescribed number of steps or that was considered work. Modern Jews who wish to keep strict Sabbath laws may squeeze lemon on fish but may not squeeze lemon into tea. For some reason one is considered work and the other is not. The Talmud also said that there was to be no harvesting, threshing, winnowing or processing of grain on the Sabbath. But this is exactly what the disciples were doing by picking the grain and separating the kernel from the chaff. So, naturally, when the Pharisees saw this they were quick to point it out.

Jesus, in classic Jesus fashion, uses Scripture to answer his critics. He reminds them of the time when David was on the run from King Saul. He and his men were hungry from fleeing the King and came to Nob and met with Ahimelech, the priest. There he asked if Ahimelech if he had any bread he could spare. Unfortunately, all the priest had was the Bread of the Presence. The Bread of the Presence were twelve loaves of unleavened bread that were consecrated and placed on a table in the tabernacle before God. There was one loaf to represent each of the tribes of Israel. Each loaf weighed between six and twelve pounds. This bread was placed on the table on the Sabbath and was left there for a week. At the end of the week, the loaves would be removed and fresh loaves would be presented. The old loaves were given to the priests as part of their benefits package but because the bread was holy, only priests were supposed to eat it. But David was famished! So the priest, showing mercy to David, gave the holy bread to him and overlooked the letter of the law.

The other example Jesus gives is that the priests who serve in the Temple to work on the Sabbath and God is pleased with them. God shows mercy on them because they are doing God’s work.  The Pharisees are so caught up with memorizing Scripture and keeping rules and keeping the Temple in tip top shape that they forget that God’s heart beats with mercy! For the second time we see Jesus quoting Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” In other words it would have been a different story if the disciples had been in the field with sickles and bags for reaping but because they were simply hungry and picking just enough to satisfy their hunger, God finds them innocent of wrong doing. His mercy toward their hunger is greater than the law itself.

Then Jesus drops a doozy into the laps of the Pharisees: “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” (verse 8). This would have pushed the them over the edge. By calling himself, “Lord over the Sabbath,” Jesus overrides any man-made laws, especially those made by the law-stickler Pharisees. He is also declaring himself greater than David, greater than the priests, and greater than the law. He of course can make those claims but it would’ve angered the Pharisees immensely. Mark adds this line in his account, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” (2:27). The Pharisees had made so many laws about keeping Sabbath that keeping Sabbath became impossible. But God’s purpose for Sabbath was for physical, emotional, and spiritual restoration. The people were not resting if they had to worry all day about not breaking laws! One scholar puts it like this- man became the servant of the Sabbath instead of the served.

All this makes me wonder… Am I like the Pharisees in any way in my life? Is there anything in my life that I am so concerned about rules and regulations with that I am unwilling to surrender it to God. Or in other words, is there something in my life that I hold higher than God and am willing to protect at all cost, like the Pharisees did with the Sabbath? If I am honest, I would have to say my children are the thing I have to be most concerned about becoming idols in my life. Yet, God asks me to surrender even them to him to do as he wills. If I love them so much that I am unwilling to turn them over to God, then I am no better than the Pharisees. What are you holding on to? What is your idol?

The End.

Revelation Song- Devo 4

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Filled with wonder, 
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery

When was the last time you experienced something so awe-inspiring that it took your breath away? Did it have anything to do with Jesus? Did it have anything to do with the glory of God or with his perfect love for us? If not, what are you giving the honor to that you should be giving to God?

I am reading a book called “Desiring God- Meditations of a Christian Hedonist,” by John Piper. I don’t agree with everything he says but he does get this right: Most Christians are missing out on experiencing true joy that is found in Christ because we fail to worship Christ for who he is instead of just what he does for us or because we feel like enjoying God somehow lessens our worship of him. (That’s my 15 second summary of the 4 chapters I have read so far). So what do we find joy in? Our families, our material possessions, our friends? These are dangerously close to becoming idols if we allow ourselves to find more joy in them than we do God. These are good things, mind you and we should find a kind of  joy in these things because they are given to us by God but we need to have ultimate joy in Christ and if we are not, then we are missing a huge part of what it means to be in Christ! I admit that though I have at times experienced this kind of unadulterated joy in Christ that I sometimes lose my way and allow myself to find joy in other things alone. This is sin! It is idolatry! It is finding more joy in created things than in the Creator. I am, at times, an idolator. How about you?

There is no doubt that many of the things we believe involves an element of mystery. For example, how is Christ fully God and fully human at the same time? How is God 3 distinct persons yet inseparable? I won’t even pretend to have answers to these questions. It is true that we have to rely upon faith for some of our beliefs. But what marvelous mysteries they are! Even though we don’t understand them, we can delight in them. We can find joy and even comfort in that God is bigger and more complex than what our limited brains can handle. Only God can fully understand God. We can try to look at the evidences of our interactions with him and of his nature in the Bible. We can think about God until we are all thunk out but we will never fully understand God this side of heaven. That’s ok. There are lots of things we don’t fully understand but accept as fact like gravity, quantum physics, pregnancy, black holes, the human brain, etc. Why is it that people have such a hard time accepting things about God that we don’t fully understand?

I encourage you to start reading some of the Psalms this week (I got that from Piper, too). He encourages reading the Psalms as a way of getting our brain trained to praise God and to enjoy him in a fuller sense. I would love to hear some of your thoughts after you read a couple. Please feel free to comment below on what Psalm you read and your thoughts on it.

The End.

Revelation Song- Devo 2

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Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings! 
You are my everything, 
And I will adore You! 

We already talked about what holy means in Revelation Song – Devo. Let’s take a look at the phrase “Who was and is and is to come.” This phrase is used to describe God four times throughout Revelation (Rev. 1:4; 1:8; 4:8; 11:17). In Revelation 4:8 the 4 crazy looking creatures I talked about yesterday constantly repeat this phrase over and over while the 24 elders fall down before the throne of God. It is a constant act of worship! It means that God was before anything or anyone existed, God still is existing in the same capacity today and he will continue to be forever. He is outside of time (if you can imagine what that is like). It also speaks to the unchanging nature of God. God is always Good, Perfect, Love, Just, etc. I don’t know about you but I am so glad that God is faithful even when I am not. This alone is reason enough to worship God! Think about how awesome it is that even in this human, changing world that God is the same; that even though we don’t always act like we love God (via sin) that God always loves us and always lovingly acts towards us despite us. To me, this thought is amazing!

One of the best pieces of descriptive literature is found in Revelation 19:11-21:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen,white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Goosebumps, I tell you! I included a lot here just because I wanted you to get a picture of the whole passage but what I want to focus on is the “king of kings and lord of lord” line. It simply means that Jesus, is coming back again and this time he is not coming as a slain and broken lamb. No, sir! This time he will return as the powerful King over all the kings of the earth and mighty Lord over all the lords. There is no one greater and he will come riding in on his white horse, his eyes blazing like fire and dressed in his kingly clothes. He will come back to judge us according to whether or not we accept him as Lord and Savior.

My question is this: How will you be judged? Will he welcome you into his kingdom? Or will he toss you into hell with with beast and his prophet. Harsh? Yes, it sounds harsh but it is justly deserved because of our sin. One of these two things will happen to you and I don’t know when. What is holding you back from asking Jesus for forgiveness for your sins? What is worth going to hell over? I pray that if you are not a Christian that this will serve not as a mere warning but as a call to repent, to turn away from your sins and embrace Jesus. I pray that if you are a Christian that you will use this not as a comforting story about how we win in the end but as a call to not waste time in telling your friends about what Jesus has done for you! Tell your story, it is yours to share and your story is powerful! No one can argue about the validity of your story because it is your story. God has written it for you. Be a life changing story teller!

The End.

Revelation Song- Devo

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Worthy is the, 
Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on
Heaven’s Mercy Seat

Every time I hear this song, I get goosebumps. The language is so vivid and captures glimpses of the story of Revelation. For those of you who don’t know, Revelation is the last book of the Bible and rightly so, as it is the story of the end of the world as we know it. Now before you drop everything and rush to read it, know that it is shrouded in imagery and many Christian scholars do not agree among each other as to what exactly this imagery means. Having said that, let me warn you that I will do my best to explain some of the stuff that Revelation talks about in light of this song.

The author of the book of  Revelation is traditionally known as John, the apostle. He was one of the original 12 disciples that walked, talked and lived with Jesus. More modern Bible scholars think it was a different guy named John. Regardless, this guy named John was exiled to an island called Patmos for his Christian faith under Emperor Domition around 95AD. The whole book is a description of a vision of heaven he had while in exile. Imagine trying to explain the unexplainable to your friends. This is what John is tasked with doing! He is trying to explain modern Hollywood-like effects and scenes with 95AD language. So if his descriptions seem a little vague it’s probably because things are going so fast and he is doing his best to explain this awesome scene with limited language. Think about a time you just didn’t have the words to describe something and magnify that by a thousand.

Let’s look at the first verse of the song. Jesus is the Lamb. Back in the days of Jesus and before, lambs were often used for sacrificial sin offerings. When someone sinned, they would take a lamb without any defects to the priest. He would say a prayer and do some rituals and the sin of the person was transferred to the perfect lamb. Then the priest would kill the lamb who bore the sin and the person would be counted as sinless or righteous. Jesus became our sacrificial lamb when he died on the cross. Our sins were transferred to him and we are counted as sinless or righteous if we are Christians. The song doesn’t make reference to this but in the book of Revelation, John sees a scroll with 7 seals on it and he desperately wants to know what is in this scroll “but no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it,” (Rev. 5:3). John weeps and weeps because there is no one worthy enough to open this scroll! Then he sees the Lamb, but not the cute, cuddly lamb we think of in spring. This lamb is bloody and bruised because it has been slaughtered! (Rev. 5:6) It was dead but now it is alive, despite it’s wounds (this Lamb is Jesus!). It stands in the middle of 4 very strange looking creatures and 24 elders and the creatures sing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased men for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God

and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

Jesus is worthy because he was slain and bought us with his blood! This is why the crucifixion was so important!

Revelation Song continues, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, Holy, holy is he!” Holy means set  apart for something special. God’s holiness means that he is perfect, set apart from all that is imperfect. Imagine a giant chasm with no bottom- God and his Perfectness are set apart on one side and everything that is sin is on the other side. This is why we need Jesus- because we have no way to cross the chasm to get to God and his Holiness! Jesus bridges this giant chasm and we now have access to this holy God and therefore we become holy, or set apart, too if we accept his gift of grace. We are set apart to be “a kingdom [of God] and priests to serve our God,” (Rev 5:10). I could spend a whole post just on this Bible verse alone! We are set apart to be God’s and to serve God. That is what we are created for!

“Sing a new song.” This concept of singing a new song is rooted in the Old Testament. It is often associated with deliverance from enemies or hardships.I think here it may mean deliverance from Satan and sin. After all, that is the story of Revelation- God’s ultimate victory over Satan and sin. There are two times in Revelation where a “new song” is sung; one time, the 4 creatures sing about the Lamb being worthy to open the scroll and the other time is when the 144,000 (presumably martyrs) sing a new song before God (Rev. 14:1-5). When was the last time you sang a new song? I’m not talking about making up something on your own, although you could. I’m talking about praising God not for everything he’s done for us, but praising him just because he deserves praise! I love Revelation Song because it does that. It praises God because he alone is worthy of our praise. It’s not because he saved us, it’s not because of what he’s done for us, though these are good reasons to praise God. It simply praises him because he is God and he alone is worthy of our praise!

Revelation can be hard to read and even scary at times. This is not by far an in depth look at Revelation, just a mere glimpse of a glimpse of history yet to be. I hope that at some time you read the entire book of Revelation on your own. It is a fantastic book! Until tomorrow, this is …

The end.

Blessed Be Your Name – Devo

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Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

It can be hard to praise God when things aren’t going the way we think they should go. When we or someone we love gets sick and/or dies, or even when we lose our keys when we are already running late , it’s normal and even reasonable to ask, “Where is God in the yuck of life?” To be honest, sometimes I used to scream at him wondering how he could let certain things happen or even not happen. We tried for 7 years to have a child. And I gotta tell ya, I was angry with God. I still loved him but I was furious. How could he let drug addicts and the like have kids but not me? Why was so and so having her third kid when I couldn’t even have one. I felt alone and abandoned by God, especially when we had our first two miscarriages. I forgot that he always does what’s best for me even if I don’t like it. Kinda like my mom giving me nasty tasting medicine when I was sick as a kid. I didn’t like it and I didn’t have to but my mom still needed me to take it because it was for my best.

God is like my mom in this regard. There are often times when I don’t like what I am going through but I have learned over the years that even if I don’t know what’s going on, God does. He never changes and if he loves me when I like what’s going on then he loves me when I don’t. This is why I have learned to praise him through the crappy stuff of life. This is why Paul can say in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Rejoice always? Even in sickness and death? Even in a lost job? Even in broken relationships? Yes, rejoice always, pray always and give thanks in all circumstances. I don’t give thanks that my step-mom has cancer, but I can give thanks despite the cancer. I certainly am not happy about it either but I can rejoice that God is working through the situation, even if I can’t see it. Pray continually? I certainly do, and not only that God cures her medically incurable cancer but that even if he doesn’t that his will is accomplished through her death and that his glory is revealed through it!

He gives and takes away, he gives and takes away. My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed by your name! This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned through our struggle with infertility. It’s one thing to not be pregnant it’s another to lose not one pregnancy but four. The first two times was during my angry phase. I just couldn’t understand how a loving God could do that. But I was able to see at least part of why he allowed me to experience that pain when a friend lost her baby and I was able to help her get through it. It was at that point I could honestly say (because I love her that much) that I would do it all over again if it meant that it would benefit her. These last two times are fairly recent history and I know God still loves me despite the pain he allows me to feel. He gave and took away and still I choose to say, “Lord, blessed be your name.”

Faith like that isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s what God calls us to. I’m not tooting my own horn because I still fail… a lot. But I strive to praise God even when it’s difficult. I do it because my eyes, like God’s, are not on what is here and now, it’s on the prize:

For here [on earth] we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:14-16)

I can look past the pain of right here and now because I have the promise of a future in a place that is coming. It is place where God, “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,” (Rev. 21:4). What a glorious thought that God, himself, will dry every one of my tears and I will do nothing but praise him forever and ever.

What if we stopped focusing on all that is wrong in our lives and started to ask God to glorify himself through our circumstances? Would non-Christians begin to ask questions that might lead them to our Savior? What if (and this is dangerous) we started asking God to use us in whatever way he wanted in order to bring him glory, even if we don’t like it? How would our hearts be transformed and what kind of impact would that have on those around us? How will you respond the next time life doesn’t go according to your plan?

The End.