In The Beginning

This is a subject that I have wanted to write about for some time – I just couldn’t figure out how to write about it without causing controversy or misunderstanding. Well… the time to write about it is now, and I hope that readers will consider my thoughts on the subject without labeling me a heretic.

There is a debate that has lasted for ages, especially since the rise of scientific thought, evidence-based reasoning and the discovery of dating methods. The debate is over the age of the earth and the universe at large. The debate primarily hinges around Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and how to interpret those passages of scripture. On one side of the argument are the Young Earth Creationists. They take Genesis 1 & 2 to be a literal description of the creation of earth and mankind; and believe the earth to be about 6,000 years old. When challenged by the scientific evidence supporting a much older earth, they suggest that dating methodologies are flawed and are interpreted by Darwinian-biased scientists. On the other side of the argument are those that believe the earth and the universe at large to be billions of years old. Christians that hold to the old earth theory (Old Earth Creationists) will then claim that Genesis 1 & 2 are not to be taken literally – that the account of creation and the origins of mankind in the Bible are mostly symbolic, or in the least, are to be interpreted loosely. Typically, Christians that hold to the earth being very old, still believe that God created everything – but that the six days of creation are not literal 24-hour days, and that the genealogies recorded later in Genesis are not complete – possibly containing gaps.

When reading the Bible, we must remember that the Bible does not tell every true thing, but everything that it does say is true. The Bible is not primarily a play-by-play account of history, but where it does deal with historical content, the content is true. With that understanding, I believe, if we take a close look at Genesis 1:1-2, we will discover that there is room in the creation account for an old earth without having to stretch the scriptures.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (CSB)

I believe Genesis 1:1 to be the account of creation. In the beginning of all things, God was already there. He is eternal, meaning that He has no beginning nor end. He has always existed and He always will. The heavens and the earth, however, had a beginning – and according to the Bible, will have an end. The beginning of the universe was initiated by God. He created the heavens (the universe); and within the universe, He created the earth. This statement in Genesis 1:1 is true, but it does not say every true thing. It doesn’t say how God created, nor does it describe everything that He created. The important truth here is that in the beginning of all things, God was already there, and He created all things. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.” By faith, I believe this to be true. God is the God of all creation.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Genesis 1:2 (CSB)

The description of the earth here is pretty bleak. The Hebrew words in the passage describe a dark, chaotic and confusing wasteland. To dig into the Hebrew a little: the earth was tohu (empty, chaotic, and confusing), bohu (a waste, in ruin), and choshek (utter darkness, misery and destruction) covered the surface. Based on what I know of God, that description of earth sounds very uncharacteristic of something He would create. God is not darkness – He is light. God does not bring confusion – He brings clarity. Everything that God does is good, so why would He create such a horrible place? I personally do not believe that God created the earth as a dark, chaotic wasteland. Let me explain… The text says, “The earth was formless…” The Hebrew word translated here as ‘was’ is the Hebrew word hayah. That word actually means to become or to come to pass. With that in mind, it is very reasonable to interpret Genesis 1:2 to say, “Now the earth became formless and empty…” That one word actually suggests that there is a history of the earth that precedes Genesis 1:3. It would seem that there is an unknown period of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. God created the heavens and the earth, and at some point, something happened to the earth that caused it to become an empty, chaotic and confusing wasteland full of darkness and ruin. Without having to force scientific evidence into the Genesis 1:3-31 6-day timeline, there is room in the scriptures for a very old earth and for creatures (like dinosaurs) that once roamed prehistoric earth.

That then begs the question, “what could have happened to the earth to cause it to become such a dark and empty place?” My thoughts on that question are for another time. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

It has been a year since my last post on this site. After two years of writing and posting daily devotionals as I made my way through the Bible cover-to-cover, I decided to take a break from the self-imposed pressure of writing and posting every day. I say self-imposed, for the pressure came from my own striving – not from the Lord’s calling. What started out as a journey in the grace of God, over time, became a slog of self-will and effort. Lesson learned, hopefully. I do have things on my heart to write, so I will endeavor to write what the Lord has put on my heart to write as His grace allows, in the timing that He dictates, and not fall into those self-imposed pressures again.

Each year, as I begin a new journey through the scriptures, the New Year’s Day reading always includes Psalm 1 – which is a very fitting start to any year. I love Psalm 1, and every time I read it, I receive new insight and encouragement for the year ahead.

“How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.”

Psalms 1:1-6 CSB

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) titles this psalm “The Two Ways.”The psalmist juxtaposes the way of the righteous with the way of the wicked. The Hebrew word translated here as ‘happy’ means blessed. It is also in a plural form, which would be the same as adding an exclamation point… as in Oh how blessed! Who is this blessed many-times-over person? It is the person who does not follow the advice of, or walk in the ways of, or keep company with the wicked and worldly; but instead, delights in the Lord’s instructions, walks in the Lord’s ways, and sits in the Lord’s presence. The Hebrew word translated here as ‘delights’ is chephets – a word that I have written about before. Chephets is a desire… a longing… a pursuit of something precious. As I meditate on the word chephets, I am reminded me of some of the parables that Jesus told. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven being like a treasure buried in a field that is later found by a farmer. In Matthew 13:45, Jesus continued by telling a parable about a merchant in search of a priceless pearl. In both parables, the finder of the precious item sold all that he had to obtain the treasure. Jesus was talking about the idea of chephets – where the word, will and ways of God and His kingdom are so precious that we drop everything in our lives to pursue and obtain the treasure.

What is the treasure that we obtain by delighting in the word, will and ways of the Lord? We will be full of everlasting light and life – bearing fruit in every season and not withering away when troubles come. I have heard it said that the tree mentioned in this psalm – the tree planted besides flowing streams that bears fruit in its season – is likely an Acacia tree. Acacia trees are known as the gift of the desert. In the arid environment of Israel, acacia trees can stand dormant for many many years, but as soon as it receives water, it springs to life and produces fruit and a rich sap that has many medicinal benefits. As I picture the acacia tree and consider its healing properties, I am reminded of the river of God described in Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Revelation 22:1-2. Along the river grow trees that continually produce fruit and have leaves used for the healing of the nations. Acacia trees are a gift, not to the tree itself, but to those who can sit in its shade, eat its fruit and benefit from its healing properties. When we chephets the word, will and ways of God – not allowing ourselves to be distracted by the words and ways of the worldly and wicked – we become fully alive acacia trees… gifts to those who are walking in the dry and barren wilderness. Out of our lives will flow the rivers of living water that Jesus spoke about in John 7:37-38. This life… this light… this ability to feed and heal… this ability to be a blessing to others makes us blessed many times over.

The righteous that the psalmist writes about are those who maintain what is right and dispense justice. In western culture, we often think of justice as punitive, which would cause us to think that dispensing justice would involve doling out punishment to those who have wronged others. However, the concept of justice in the Bible has to do with restorative justice… fixing what has been broken and righting wrongs. Are there times when wrongs are punished? Yes, there are – but we must remember that the act of vengeance belongs to the Lord. The righteous are those who establish restorative justice, while trusting the Lord to bring vengeance when it is time. The wicked, on the other hand, would be those who are doing the wrongs that need to be righted… stepping on other people’s backs to benefit their own causes… holding other people down in order to lift themselves up. It says here, that the Lord watches over [yada] the way of the righteous. Yada is an intimate experiential knowing. The Lord is very familiar with and intimately involved in the course of the lives of the righteous – those who make it their pursuit to meditate on, honor and obey God’s word, will and ways, while also bringing God’s rightness to the earth through His grace and guidance. Those who pursue their own ways, especially if they pursue their own ways at the expense of others, will ultimately waste away and come to ruin.

As we stand at the beginning of a new year, let us set our hearts to chephets the word, will and ways of the Lord by meditating on them day and night, and lovingly obeying them by grace that comes through faith. Let us be among those who are truly blessed many times over, that we may then be a blessing to others. May we be about the Father’s business: bringing His restorative justice and righteousness to the world as we see souls saved through the preaching of the gospel, and disciples made as we teach others the word, will and ways of Christ. In the sense that this psalm describes, may this truly be a Happy New Year!

12/31/F – Coming Soon

Malachi 4:1-6; Revelation 22:8-21; Psalms 150:6; Proverbs 31:25-31

OT: ““For look, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the Lord of Armies, “not leaving them root or branches. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall. You will trample the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day I am preparing,” says the Lord of Armies. “Remember the instruction of Moses my servant, the statutes and ordinances I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”” (‭‭Malachi‬ ‭4:1-6‬ ‭CSB)

Malachi the prophet ended his prophecy, and the Old Testament, with a warning and a promise. The day of the Lord would surely come. That day would mean disaster for the arrogant and wicked. It would also be a time of healing, victory and celebration for the righteous. A sign would be given that would mark the imminent arrival of that day of reckoning: “Elijah” would come before the day of the Lord and turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Malachi actually mentioned both Moses and Elijah. He called the people to remember the law of Moses or experience the fire of Elijah.

Before the Sun of Righteousness (Jesus) rose on the earth by beginning His ministry, God sent John the Baptist – a type of Elijah – to call people to repent, turn their hearts to their Heavenly Father, and prepare the way for their coming King. When Jesus was transfigured at the top of the mountain, both Moses (the representation of the Law) and Elijah (the representation of the prophets) were there. Ever since the first advent of the Sun of Righteousness – when He came with healing in His wings for the souls of mankind – the day of His second return has been imminent. All God is waiting for is the fulfillment of Christ’s great commission. In John’s vision of the end times recorded in Revelation 11, he saw at some point in the great tribulation – before the sounding of the last trumpet – two witnesses would arise and through their ministry many would return to faith in the Lord. Many believe those two witnesses to be Moses and Elijah.

Elijah has come and will come. The day of the Lord has come in part, and will surely come in full. The message that Malachi gave at the end of the Old Testament, before 400 years of prophetic silence – still rings true at the end of 2021. Remember and return to the Lord’s word, will and ways. Repent and place your faith in the Sun of Righteousness while you have the opportunity, that you won’t be subjected to the curse to come.

NT: “Then he said to me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; let the holy still be holy. Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:10-17‬ ‭CSB)

When God gave a vision of end times to Daniel, He told Daniel to keep the words secret and seal up the book, for the time of their fulfillment was far off (Daniel 12:4). However, after John was given a vision of the end times, he was told to keep the words open because the time of their fulfillment was near. The Greek word for ‘near’ means ready, at hand, and imminent. Christ is ready to return. He is waiting for us. He is waiting for His disciples to finish the work He gave us. Jesus then said, “Look, I am coming soon…” The word ‘look’ means to behold… to pay close attention… to fully observe and consider. Why does He want us to pay attention? Because when He comes, He is coming soon. That word ‘soon’ means quickly, suddenly and speedily. When the time arrives for Christ to return, He isn’t going to waste His time… there will be no more delay. It will happen suddenly – so we need to be ready. Those who have been washed through faith in Him will be welcomed into His life forever more. Those who rejected His gift of salvation will be cast out and eternally separated from His life to exist in eternal death.

The call to repent is still active. The invitation to share in the life of Christ is still open. Hear the Spirit and the voices of the redeemed say, “Come!” If you are thirsty for abundant life… for peace that passes all understanding… for joy that never ends, Come! Repent from your sins, place Your faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, be washed and made new in Christ, and take freely of the water of life forever more.

Psalms: “Hallelujah! Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise him in his mighty expanse. Praise him for his powerful acts; praise him for his abundant greatness. Praise him with the blast of a ram’s horn; praise him with harp and lyre. Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and flute. Praise him with resounding cymbals; praise him with clashing cymbals. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭150:1-6‬ ‭CSB)

What a fitting end to the book of Psalms – and a fitting way to end this year and begin the next. God is faithful to His word. He is faithful to His covenant people. He is worthy of our worship and worthy of our praise. Therefore, Hallelujah! Praise Him throughout creation for His powerful acts and His abundant greatness. Lift up the loud and raucous praise that He deserves. Let everything living that has breath to breathe praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are gracious and full of compassion. You are patient and not wanting anyone to perish. I thank You that You gave me an opportunity to repent from my sin and enter into the glorious life to come. Help me, as I end this year and begin the next, to ever be a voice of praise lifting up Your works and Your glorious gospel, that others may take advantage of the time and take freely of the waters of life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

End of Year Announcement

The church that I am a member of produces a resource called the Daily Life Journal. In that book is a short six-lesson study that teaches the reader how to begin and cultivate a meaningful and impactful daily relationship with the Lord. Also included in that resource is a two-year reading plan, that when followed, will take the reader through the entire Bible – once through the old and new testaments and twice through the psalms and proverbs.

That resource was first published two years ago – and two years ago on January 1, 2020, I began a new journey through the scriptures. At that time, I really sensed that the Lord was calling me to not just go on that journey myself, but to bring others along by publicly posting my daily journal entries as an online daily devotional. This blog site was a product of that assignment that I had from the Lord.

My daily devotional posts, beyond an act of obedience to the Lord, were to hopefully serve a couple of purposes. Many people that I know struggle with having a consistent and meaningful time with the Lord through His word. I hoped that my journey through the word would encourage other believers that a meaningful and consistent time in the word of God is possible. I am not a professional minister. I did not go to Bible School or Seminary. I do not have a theology degree. I am simply a person who loves the Lord – and by loving the Lord, desires to know as much as I can through studying His word. If I can read through the Bible with insight, understanding and application, then anyone who loves the Lord can do the same.

Many people, if not most people, who claim to follow Jesus and believe the Bible are Biblically illiterate. Even some professional full-time pastors and church leaders have not read through the word from cover to cover. Those who do not read the Bible, sadly, do not know what it says, nor do they know how to apply its truths to their lives. By journaling and publicly posting the insights I received through my cover-to-cover journey through the Bible, I hoped to expose what the Bible actually says to those who would otherwise not know or attempt to find out.

Tomorrow will mark the end of 2021, and the end of my two-year journey through the word. As I sought to be faithful to the assignment that God gave me, He was faithful to open my eyes each day to truth from His word that was worthy of writing about. As of tomorrow, this site will contain 731 (2020 was a leap year) daily devotional posts with commentary from my cover-to-cover journey. Tomorrow will also mark the end of the specific assignment that the Lord gave me two years ago. That being the case, tomorrow will be my last daily devotional post.

As has been my habit for over a decade, I will continue reading through the Bible, as I begin the two-year reading plan again on January 1st. I will also continue journaling the things that the Lord shows me as I journey with Him through the word. I just won’t be posting those journal entries to my site. I plan to keep the site up and will continue posting to it from time to time. I haven’t determined what that will look like yet, but I trust that the Lord will show me in His time.

Thank you to all of you who have subscribed or followed my posts, and taken this journey with me. I hope that they benefited you as they benefited me. Please continue to study God’s word, and feel free to check back from time to time to see what God is showing me. God bless!

12/30/Th – The River of Life

Malachi 3:1-18; Revelation 22:1-7; Psalms 150:1-5; Proverbs 31:10-24

OT: ““See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in — see, he is coming,” says the Lord of Armies. But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s bleach. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by… “Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies. Yet you ask, “How can we return?” “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. You are suffering under a curse, yet you — the whole nation — are still robbing me. Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Armies.” (‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:1-4, 7-11‬ ‭CSB)

As Malachi continued rebuking the priesthood of his day – saying that they were dishonoring the Lord with their lackluster offerings and not serving as the messengers of the Lord they were called to be – Malachi declared that God was going to send a messenger to prepare the way, and then send the Messenger of the covenant to minister in His temple. The first messenger that Malachi spoke of was John the Baptist. The Messenger of the covenant that Malachi spoke of was the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Malachi declared that when Christ came, He would be like a refiner’s fire and a launderer’s bleach. He would refine and purify God’s priesthood, wash them clean and make them white as snow. Then those who were refined and redeemed by Christ would offer sacrifices and offerings that were truly pleasing to the Lord.

In response to that word, Malachi called the priests of his day to return to the Lord. If they truly returned to the Lord, then the Lord would return to them. When the priests asked, “How can we return?” The Lord’s response was, “To start with, stop robbing from Me… stop withholding the tithe that I commanded, and bring the tithe into the storehouse of the temple so that there may be food in My house… both spiritual and physical food.” During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he taught that where your treasure is, there your heart is also (Matthew 6:21). By withholding the tithe and keeping the resources for their own use, the priests were demonstrating that their heart was far from God… that they didn’t feel it necessary to honor God for his faithfulness, nor did they trust Him to provide for their needs. By paying the tithe, they would take their prosperity and well-being out of their own hands and place it in God’s hands. As long as the priests and the people of Israel withheld the tithe – which was the first 10% of their earnings – they would keep themselves removed from God’s provision and protection. But as soon as they demonstrated their trust in God by releasing that first 10%, they would come under His hand of provision and protection. With God being their provision and protection, their barns would not be empty and their fields would always be fruitful.

There are many people who claim to be followers of Christ. They do all the right things outwardly to appear like their heart belongs to the Lord, but they don’t fully trust the Lord with their finances. When things get tough, instead of trusting the Lord through the lean times, they stop trusting, retract their faith and withhold that minor 10% from God’s use. Do we truly trust the Lord? Do we truly believe His word? God doesn’t call us to give frivolously. He doesn’t call us to give foolishly. What He calls us to do is dedicate that first 10% of our increase to Him, and then give generously with the abundance that He provides on the other side of the tithe. God is faithful to His word. Test Him in this and see if it doesn’t come true.

NT: “Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:1-5‬ ‭CSB)

At the end of Malachi 3, Malachi said that the priests were actually saying that it was useless to serve God… that they hadn’t gained anything by being faithful to God’s word, will and ways, and that the wicked were prospering instead. The sentiment expressed by the priests, though perceivably factual at the moment, was actually quite short-sighted and faithless. They no longer placed their faith in the Lord, therefore they were blind to the Lord’s faithfulness and the sure hope they had in Him. How many times have I heard someone say to me, “Well… I tried that whole Christianity thing for a while, but it didn’t work for me, so I gave up.” Trying Christianity is not the same as placing complete saving faith in the Lord. The way of God works by grace through faith. As we keep our faith fully rooted in Christ, there is sufficient grace for all the trials and tribulations of our journey, with many joys and payoffs. And then, at the end of this present age, comes the fullness of all that we have hoped for, provided we endure until the end.

John wrote this letter to Christians in Asia who were undergoing enormous tribulation for their faith. I’m sure it looked to them like their faith was pointless and that the wicked around them were prospering. So the Lord gave John a peek into the sure future that lay ahead for all who endure in faith. Revelation 22:1-5 described that glorious payoff that was sure to encourage the believers of the first century – and should encourage us as well.

John’s vision paralleled the vision that Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 47:1-12. There in the New Jerusalem, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, is that same river of life. The everlasting river of life provided water for the ever-fruitful tree of Life. The tree that Adam lost access to was now freely and fully available to all who were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. There in the New Jerusalem, all the saints of God will have full and abiding access to the presence of the Lord, the fullness of life, the fullness of light, and the fulfillment of promises and purpose as we rule and reign with Christ forever and ever. When we give ourselves fully to the Lord in faith, this is our sure future as God makes good on all of His promises.

Prayer: Lord, You are the ever-faithful one. You are always faithful to Your promises. Even if I don’t see fulfillment right now, I know through faith in Your word that all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ, and in Him, “Amen.” I can, without hesitation, place my faith in You and trust that You will always provide, You will always protect, You will always supply sufficient grace, and in the end, will bless me with everlasting light and life. Help me to see through eyes of faith and keep my eyes on eternity, despite what things may look like now. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

12/29/W – The New Jerusalem

Malachi 2:1-17; Revelation 21:15-27; Psalms 149:2-9; Proverbs 31:8-9

OT: ““My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies. “You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Armies… This is another thing you do. You are covering the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because he no longer respects your offerings or receives them gladly from your hands. And you ask, “Why?” Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. Didn’t God make them one and give them a portion of spirit? What is the one seeking? Godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, so that no one acts treacherously against the wife of his youth. “If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the Lord of Armies. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously. You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?”” (‭‭Malachi‬ ‭2:5-8, 13-17‬ ‭CSB)

The covenant that the Lord spoke of through Malachi was God’s covenant with the tribe of Levi – His covenant with them to serve as His holy priesthood. Serving as a priest of the Lord God was a high honor and privilege that came with its own benefits. It also came with a great set of responsibilities. As the Lord said, the priest was the messenger of the Lord – His representative on earth – a mediator between a holy God and the people He loved. The honor of a priest was to bridge the gap between humanity and God and to communicate the word, will and ways of God to those who sought Him.

The priests in Malachi’s day were doing the exact opposite.  They turned from integrity before the Lord, they were causing people to stumble by leading them astray, and they were violating the covenant that God had made with Levi. Not only that, the priests were divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying pagan women. The way that verse 16 is translated in the CSB is a little off. The way most translations put it – and I believe the Hebrew bears this out – is that The Lord hates divorce. The reason why the Lord didn’t want His people to marry pagan women was not because God was against interracial marriages. It was because He desired spiritual holiness among His people… He desired to maintain a lineage of faith… He desired His people to raise Godly offspring. Yet, in their contempt for the word, will and ways of God, the priests were violating the strict instructions of the Lord, they were committing emotional and spiritual violence against the wives that God had joined them with, and were throwing away their heritage by marrying into pagan families. Then, to top it all off, the priests (in their position of spiritual authority) were telling those who were committing sin against the Lord, that they were still in good standing with God… that the Lord was delighted in them no matter what they did. Sound familiar to the words that come from some in the church today?

All who are in Christ by faith have been made a part of His royal priest hood. With that honor and privilege comes great responsibility and a commitment to the covenant that Christ made with us through His blood. We should revere the Lord and stand in awe of His name. From our mouths should come true instruction on God’s word, will and ways, with nothing wrong found on our lips. We should walk in peace and integrity and turn many from iniquity. We should guard the knowledge of the glory of God, and people should desire to hear our words of life, because we are the messengers of the Lord.

NT: “I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:22-27‬ ‭CSB)

The New Jerusalem, as John measured it out in his vision, was shown to be perfect in every way: 12 gates representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 foundations representing the 12 apostles of Christ. It was laid out in a perfect square: 12,000 furlongs long by 12,000 furlongs wide (1,400 miles x 1,400 miles = 1,960,00 square miles). It’s walls were 144 (12 x 12) cubits, or 216 feet high. The city was perfectly designed to perfectly house all of the righteous and redeemed throughout history.

Beyond the New Jerusalem’s massive size were other characteristics that made it the perfect place – the most important being that the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb made the city their home. There was no longer any need for a temple for the Lord God and the Lamb were ever present. There was no longer a need for the sun because the glory of God and the Lamb were its light. There was no longer a need for the moon because there was never night – darkness was eradicated for good. People from every nation, tribe, language and people group, who were written in the Lamb’s book of life, made up its citizenry and filled the city with a kaleidoscope of glory and honor. The New Jerusalem will be a city full of royal priests… a city full of people who walked on earth with peace and integrity, and honored the Lord God fully. Therefore, the city will forever be a place of peace and integrity – full of the knowledge and glory of God.

Psalms: “Let Israel celebrate its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the faithful celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. Let the exaltation of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, inflicting vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, binding their kings with chains and their dignitaries with iron shackles, carrying out the judgment decreed against them. This honor is for all his faithful people. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭149:2-9‬ ‭CSB)

While it is true, that the saints of God will one day inhabit the New Jerusalem and rule and reign with Christ as His royal priesthood, there is a call and responsibility on our lives… a privilege and honor given to us now as we walk on this earth. We are to lift up praise and exaltation to the Lord with our mouths, and allow those words of praise and exultation to be a spiritual double-edged sword in our hands to bring about God’s word, will and ways on the earth. When we lift up the praises of God and declare His Lordship on the earth, it binds the hands of our spiritual enemies and makes place for God’s kingdom to be established and for His righteousness and justice to reign. So many people call out to God for revival in the Land. God desires to bring revival – but He is not waiting to be begged. He is waiting to be Lord. When His people truly walk in the privilege they have been given – when they truly humble themselves and make Him Lord of their lives, God’s kingdom will come spiritually and set people free… and then one day, He will fully come physically.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the privilege and honor of being named one of Your royal priests. I thank You for the opportunity to serve You and to serve others with the truth of Your word, to share in and share of the life You have given me, and to provide light for those who walk in darkness. Help me to not shirk my responsibilities, but to ever treat my calling and privilege with the utmost respect. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

12/28/T – Everything New

Malachi 1:1-14; Revelation 21:1-14; Psalms 149:1; Proverbs 31:1-7

OT: ““A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of me? says the Lord of Armies to you priests, who despise my name.” Yet you ask, “How have we despised your name?” “By presenting defiled food on my altar.” “How have we defiled you?” you ask. When you say, “The Lord’s table is contemptible.” “When you present a blind animal for sacrifice, is it not wrong? And when you present a lame or sick animal, is it not wrong? Bring it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show you favor?” asks the Lord of Armies. “And now plead for God’s favor. Will he be gracious to us? Since this has come from your hands, will he show any of you favor?” asks the Lord of Armies. “I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would no longer kindle a useless fire on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Armies, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in my name in every place because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord of Armies. “But you are profaning it when you say, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘Look, what a nuisance! ’ And you scorn it,” says the Lord of Armies. “You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?” asks the Lord. “The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says the Lord of Armies, “and my name will be feared among the nations.” (‭‭Malachi‬ ‭1:6-14‬ ‭CSB)

After returning from their exile in Babylon and rebuilding the temple of God in Jerusalem, the people of Israel drifted away from devotion to God’s word, will and ways. Instead of learning from the mistakes of their ancestors, they allowed themselves to become immoral and careless in their worship of the Lord. Soon after, Ezra the priest arrived in Israel, and he led a spiritual reform that was later picked up by Nehemiah the Governor. It is highly probable that Malachi prophesied during Nehemiah’s reforms as Governor. Together, Malachi and Nehemiah brought the nation of Israel back to a healthy fear of the Lord that would last hundreds of years and pave the way for the advent of the Messiah.

In chapter 1 of Malachi, the Lord took issue with the priests’ lack of respect for the Lord and their contempt for His prescribed way of worship. Instead of bringing unblemished lambs and goats for sacrifice offerings, they were bringing the lame, blind, sick and weak lambs and goats that would have been killed anyway. Instead of bringing a costly sacrifice, they were bringing God rubbish. The issue was not that God is unaccepting of the weak, vulnerable and outcasts of life. The issue was that the priests were cutting corners in worship. They were “mailing it in” and not bringing their best. They were keeping the best for themselves and offering God the leftover scraps. They were attempting to deceive God, but were deceiving themselves instead. If we view the worship of God as drudgery and only care to offer Him the worthless scraps of our lives, then we do not truly honor Him as our Lord… and we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are devoted to His service. Half-hearted worship is not acceptable, and half-hearted worshippers are not the people that God is seeking to be called His own.

NT: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son. But the cowards, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars  — their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:1-8‬ ‭CSB)

After all has been said and done… after Satan and his hoards are eternally destroyed… after death and hell are cast into the lake of fire… after all that is unrighteous and evil is banished and burned on the rubbish heap for eternity, God will make everything new. No longer will heaven and earth be separated by a vast sea. The new heaven and the new earth will be united in glorious splendor and God will live forevermore with His people – the people who lived their lives in whole-hearted faith and devotion to Him… the people who were redeemed from their sin and cleansed from their filth through faith in the Lamb of God. The Lord God, the one ever and always seated on the throne, will make everything new. The ones who conquered the world, the flesh and the devil through faith in God and the Lamb will inherit all things and eternally become children of God. Those who refused God’s gift and rejected The Lamb’s sacrifice will burn eternally separated from the life of God with the rubbish of history in the lake of fire.

We don’t have to wait until the end of the age to experience the hope that we have in Christ. We don’t have to wait until then to experience God’s newness. We don’t have to wait until then to experience His rivers of life. We don’t have to wait until then to be named children of God. When we come to saving faith in Christ and wholeheartedly offer our lives to Him, though we are still contained in our mortal bodies, we spiritually step into eternity in Christ and begin experiencing the yet-to-come in the here-and-now. Our lives are made new, and we begin the sanctifying process of being made new in the image of Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit of God, which bubbles up from within us as a river of living water. We are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, grafted into the prophetic family tree of God, and adopted as His beloved sons and daughters. All of that is available here and now, and in the life to come, to all who will place their faith in the Lamb and worship Him wholeheartedly as they offer all of their lives – not just the scraps – to be used in His service.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You did not withhold Your best from me. You did not give me the scraps of heaven, but gave Your dearly beloved and unblemished Son as a sacrifice for my sin. Therefore, You are forever worthy of my best and my all lifted up and presented as a sacrifice of worship to You. Help me to not take Your gift to me for granted. Help me to not see worship and service as drudgery. Make me new, keep me ever-renewed and help me to stay wholeheartedly devoted to You as I keep my faith firmly rooted in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

12/27/M – Every Knee will Bow… Every Tongue will Confess

Zechariah 14:12-21; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalms 148:5-14; Proverbs 30:33

NT: “Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭20:11-15‬ ‭CSB)

The millennial reign of Christ and history itself will come to an end before the great white throne. Everything in the book of revelation is centered around an occupied throne. John’s heavenly vision began in the throne-room of God where God’s throne sat at the center of all of heaven’s activities. History itself culminates and comes to a final end before the great white throne of judgement. The righteous dead and righteous living already faced their judgement before the judgement seat of Christ. There, before Christ, they were judged for their fruitfulness while alive and were rewarded accordingly. The judgement before the great white throne is reserved for all the unrighteous dead throughout the course of human history.

Great and small alike will all stand before the great white throne to account for their works and pay for their sin. All the cruel dictators of the world will stand side-by-side with even the most insignificant of unredeemed people. If they did not accept Christ’s payment of their sin by faith while alive, then they must pay for their sin in full. The wages of sin… any sin and all sin… is death. The Lamb’s book of life will be opened, not to see if any names are written in it, but to show that their names are not written in it – and that their debt must be paid in full.

At the conclusion of the great white throne judgement, Death itself and Hades (the abode of the unrighteous dead) will be throne into the lake of fire along with Satan, the beast and the false prophet. The lake of fire is not synonymous with what we think of as hell or hades, as hades itself is thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is also known as Gehenna. Several times during His sermon on the mount, Jesus referred to Gehenna – and that anyone who committed even the smallest of sins was destined to end up there. Gehenna referred to an actual place – the valley of Hinnom. The valley of Hinnom was considered a God-forsaken place. The valley of Hinnom was a valley outside of the walls of Jerusalem where, in times past, evil kings sacrificed their children to the pagan god Molech. Because of the cursed nature of the valley, it became the place where all of the trash, filth and dead animals of the city were taken to be burned. Spiritually speaking, Gehenna is the place – eternally separated and outside of the presence, blessing and life of God – where the filth of history will be taken to burn for eternity. It was not a place intended for humanity. It was a place intended for Satan and all the filth that he created. However, those who did not give their lives to the Lamb and have their names written in His book of life, were never cleansed of their filth and will be eternally associated with Satan – sentenced to eternally burn in Gehenna.

Psalms: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they were created. He set them in position forever and ever; he gave an order that will never pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, all sea monsters and ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and cloud, stormy wind that executes his command, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, creatures that crawl and flying birds, kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all judges of the earth, young men as well as young women, old and young together. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted. His majesty covers heaven and earth. He has raised up a horn for his people, resulting in praise to all his faithful ones, to the Israelites, the people close to him. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭148:5-14‬ ‭CSB)

In Philippians 2:9-11, Paul declared that God has given Jesus Christ the name that is above every name – and that ultimately every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. Those who, in faith, bow the knee to Christ in this life will not suffer the second death – but will rule and reign with Him for eternity. According to Revelation 20, those who did not bow to Christ in this life will indeed bow before Christ as they stand in front of the great white throne at the close of history. Make no mistake – every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord. We can place our faith in Him, be cleansed of our filth and sin, and bow before Him now – or we will be have no other option but to bow, as a defeated foe, before Him on judgement day. Therefore, I say – like the psalmist of Psalm 148 declared – let all creation… kings of the earth, princes, judges, young men and women, old and young together, and all peoples praise the name of the Lord now. His name alone is exalted. His majesty covers heaven and earth. Praise the Lord!

Prayer: Lord, Your name is the name that is above every name. You are the Son of God, and You came to earth as Jesus the Christ to live the life that I should have lived, and die the death that I should have died in my place. You did that so that I, through faith in Your name, would be cleansed of my sin, filth and shame, and live abundantly with You now and for eternity. Because of that, You have been given the title of King of kings and Lord of lords forever. Thank You for rescuing me from the second death. May my life now be lifted up in eternal praise to You – and may my testimony rescue others from the fires of Gehenna. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

12/26/Su – The Millennial Kingdom

Zechariah 14:1-11; Revelation 20:1-10; Psalms 148:1-4; Proverbs 30:32

OT: “Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light; the sunlight and moonlight will diminish. It will be a unique day known only to the Lord, without day or night, but there will be light at evening. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea, in summer and winter alike. On that day the Lord will become King over the whole earth  — the Lord alone, and his name alone.” (‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭14:3-9‬ ‭CSB)

At the close of Revelation 19, John described the return of Christ to the earth, followed by His army of angels and righteous and redeemed saints. Hundreds of years before that, God gave Zechariah a vision of the same event, but from an earthly perspective. Zechariah, who lived hundreds of years before Jesus, had a vision of Christ coming to earth and landing on the Mount of Olives – the very mountain Christ would ascend from into heaven hundreds of years later. The force of Christ’s landing caused a massive earthquake, which split the Mount of Olives in two, and caused the hilly region around Jerusalem to be flattened into a plain and Jerusalem itself to be lifted up on a mountain. On that day, when the exalted Christ makes Jerusalem His dwelling place, a river of living water will flow out of Jerusalem to the East and West, healing the Dead Sea and bringing life to an otherwise barren land. The Lord will become King over all the earth and He alone will reign.

NT: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭20:1-10‬ ‭CSB)

Upon Christ’s return, Satan will be bound in chains and cast from the earth, into an abyss, for 1,000 years. During that 1,000 years, the Lord Christ will rule from Jerusalem over the earth unopposed. The saints in Christ will be given positions of authority under the rule of the Lord, and together with Christ will usher in the Millennial Kingdom – the kingdom of God fully come to earth, where God’s will is done on earth just as it is done in heaven.

After the 1,000 year reign of Christ comes to an end, Satan will be released from his imprisonment and allowed to deceive the unredeemed of the world once again. It is surprising, that after 1,000 years of peace on earth under the rule of Christ, that people would still be willing to rebel against the Lord. That goes to show how poisonous and insatiable lust and pride can be. After all, Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace under the rulership of God, yet were deceived into lust and pride by the serpent. After 1,000 years of peace under Christ, there will be people who will also fall under the serpent’s deception again, and rise up for one final rebellion. At that final uprising, fire will fall from heaven and consume the last enemies of God, and Satan himself will be cast once and for all into the lake of fire – with his beast and false prophet – to suffer for eternity.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You, that as I remain in You, I will be among those who experience the first resurrection, and will not be subjected to the second death. I will be given the honor and privilege of serving under You as a priest of God and Christ – not only for the 1,000 years on this earth, but in the new heaven and earth for eternity. Help me keep that perspective in focus and allow it to encourage and exhort me to faith and righteousness as the day of the Lord draws more and more near. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

12/25/S – The Second Advent

Zechariah 13:1-9; Revelation 19:11-21; Psalms 147:12-20; Proverbs 30:29-31

NT: “Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and with justice he judges and makes war. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he called out in a loud voice, saying to all the birds flying high overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of military commanders, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great.” Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against his army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with it the false prophet, who had performed the signs in its presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds ate their fill of their flesh.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭19:11-21‬ ‭CSB)

Today is Christmas Day. It is the day that Christians around the globe celebrate the advent of our Savior, the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Word of God made flesh. The Son of God, who was at the beginning with God – the very Word of God that spoke creation into existence, stepped out of eternity into time… stepped out of spirit into flesh… stepped out of unlimited immortality into the helpless mortality of a new-born baby. Born into a dirty and smelly stall in an insignificant village of a forsaken land was Emmanuel, God with us.

The little baby Jesus lying in a manger did not stay that way. He grew into man who, out of His great love for His Heavenly Father and a great love for all of humanity, willingly laid down His life to pay the ransom price for our sins. He lived the life that we should have lived – completely sinless and completely devoted to God. He then died the death that we should have died in our place. On the third day, He rose from the dead, proving that He was indeed the Son of God and offered the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins to anyone who repents and believes in Him. He then ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. From there He sent forth His Holy Spirit to fill all His faithful and believing followers, and from there He continues to intercede for His Church until the day comes for Him to claim His bride.

As John continued his vision, He saw what would happen after Christ and His bride, the Church, were reunited in a glorious wedding. Christ, with His church, will return to the earth again to not only defeat the enemies of God – but to destroy them. In this second advent, Christ will not come as a helpless baby. He will come in the fullness of who He is: Faithful and True, the Word of God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The beast will marshal all that is at his disposal to wage war against the Lord Christ and His redeemed and righteous church, but the beast and his forces won’t stand a chance. The beast and the false prophet will be quickly captured and thrown into the lake of fire – and with but a word from His mouth, the armies of the beast will be destroyed and left as food for the birds to feast on. The Word that set creation in motion, will be the Word that brings the enemies of all that is good and righteous to an end.

In 1529, in the midst of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther wrote these words as part of the hymn A Mighty Fortress:

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,we will not fail for God as willed His truth to triumph through us. The price of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers no thanks to them abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever!

Psalms: “He sends his command throughout the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes; he throws his hailstones like crumbs. Who can withstand his cold? He sends his word and melts them; he unleashes his winds, and the water flows. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments to Israel. He has not done this for every nation; they do not know his judgments. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:15-20‬ ‭CSB)

For those of us who have placed our faith and hope fully on the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t serve a second-rate, garden variety god. We serve the one true and living God of all creation. We serve the God who spoke the cosmos into existence and maintains it with the power and authority of His laws. Through the words of Jeremiah, God said, “Is not my word like a fire… and like a hammer that pulverizes rock (Jeremiah 23:29)?” The writer of Hebrews wrote this about the word of God: “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than ay double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)”

The Lord God has given His powerful word to His people – those who love, honor and obey His word, will and ways. Psalm 149 goes on to say that when we, God’s people, exalt Him with the words from our mouths, our words become a double-edged sword on our hands to bring about God’s justice on the nations. This is the honor that God has given all His people – to bring His word to bear on the earth… to see His kingdom come and His will be done on the earth in the same way it is done in heaven. One day, those who remain faithful to Christ will return with the Lord and join with Him in sending His command throughout the earth. Until then, may we live according to that powerful word and allow that living and effective word to abide in us.

Prayer: Lord, I am eternally thankful for Your first advent. Thank You for giving Yourself as a gift to me, that I may be clothed with Your righteousness, filled with Your life and made a joint-heir of Your inheritance. I look forward with hope and expectation to Your second advent. Until then, empower me and equip me to represent Your kingdom and carry Your word here on earth. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.