God may cause our circumstances to suddenly fall apart, which may bring the realization of our unfaithfulness to Him for not recognizing that He had ordained the situation. (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest”)
Come on, let’s renew our loyalty to the Eternal One!
He tore us like a lion, but He’ll heal us;
He wounded us, but He’ll bandage us.
He’ll bring us back to life after two days;
He’ll raise us up on the third day, and we’ll live with Him.
While not clearly a reference to the Anointed One, this is a remarkable prefiguring of the time and consequence of His death and resurrection.
So let’s know Him; let’s strive to know the Eternal.
As surely as the sun rises, He’ll come out from His lair.
As surely as the rains come each year—
those spring rains that drench the earth—He’ll come back to us.
For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels,
and then He will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:27)
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Never Betray My Trust—
Get over “it” and keep walking in My will.
This is the victory that overcomes the world–even our faith.
Remember, it takes BOTH faith and patience to inherit God’s promises. Everything changes but the Truth.
Praise the Lord for His love never fails and His truth endures forever.
Now God has saved from the punishment of sin! God’s power as King has come! God’s holy nation has come!
God’s Christ is here with power!
The one who spoke against our Christian brothers has been thrown down to earth.
He stood before God speaking against them day and night.
They had power over him and won because of the blood of the Lamb and by telling what He had done for them.
They did not love their lives but were willing to die.
For this reason, O heavens and you who are there, be full of joy.
It is bad for you, O earth and sea. For the devil has come down to you.
He is very angry because he knows he has only a short time. (Revelation 12:10-12)
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matthew 11:25) But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. (Psalm 29:1)
You have taught children and infants to tell of Your strength, silencing Your enemies and all who oppose You.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)
And that you put on the new man which was CREATED according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
Jesus left the temple. As He was walking away, His disciples came up to Him and asked what He thought about the temple buildings.
Jesus: Look around you. All of it will become rubble. I tell you this: not one stone will be left standing.
Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately.
Disciples: We don’t understand Your predictions. Tell us, when will these things happen: When will the temple be destroyed?
What will be the sign that You are returning? How will we know that the end of the age is upon us?
In this, the last of the five major sermons, Jesus focuses on prophetic and apocalyptic themes of judgment and the end times. The disciples have been listening to the prophetic judgment Jesus has issued on the religious leaders. They have images of collapsing temple buildings, of prophets pursued from town to town, of floggings, and of blood-soaked garments. They can imagine themselves blood-soaked. When will this all happen, and what does it mean?
Jesus: Take care that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name claiming they are the Anointed One, and many poor souls will be taken in. You will hear of wars, and you will hear rumors of wars, but you should not panic.
It is inevitable, this violent breaking apart of the sinful world, but remember, the wars are not the end.
The end is still unfolding.
Nations will do battle with nations, and kingdoms will fight neighboring kingdoms, and there will be famines and earthquakes. But these are not the end. These are the birth pangs, the beginning. The end is still unfolding.
They will hand you over to your enemies, who will torture you and then kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. And many who have followed Me and claimed to love Me and sought God’s kingdom will turn away
—they will abandon the faith and betray and hate one another.
The love that they had for one another will grow cold because few will obey the law.
False prophets will appear, many will be taken in by them, and the only thing that will grow is wickedness.
There will be no end to the increase of wickedness.
But those who do not waver from our path and do not follow those false prophets—those among you will be saved.
And this good news of God’s kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, a testimony to all people and all nations. Then, beloved, the end, the consummation of all things, will come.
You will remember that the prophet Daniel predicted this—predicted the abomination that causes desolation—when you see the prophesied desolation of the holy place. (Reader, take notice; it is important that you understand this.)
When you see this, let those in Judea flee to the mountains. If you are relaxing on your rooftop one evening and the signs of the temple’s destructions come, don’t return to your house to rescue a book or a pet or a scrap of clothing.
If you are in the field when the great destruction begins, don’t return home for a cloak.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers will have the worst of it.
And as for you, pray that your flight to the hills will not come on the Sabbath or in the cold of winter.
For the tribulation will be unparalleled—hardships of a magnitude that has not been seen since creation and that will not be seen again.
Indeed the Lord God your merciful judge will cut this time of trial short, and this will be done for the benefit of the elect that some might indeed be saved—for no one could survive the depravity for very long.
I cannot say this clearly enough: during this time, someone will say to you, “Look, here is the Anointed One!” or “Aren’t you relieved? Haven’t you seen the Savior down there, around the bend, over the hill and dale?” Do not believe them.
False liberators and false prophets will appear, and they will know a few tricks—they will perform great miracles, and they will make great promises. If it were possible, they would even deceive God’s elect. But I am warning you ahead of time: remember—do not fall for their lies or lines or promises.
If someone says, “He’s out there in the desert”—do not go.
And if someone says, “He’s here at our house, at our table”—do not believe him.
When the Son of Man comes, He will be as visible as lightning in the East is visible even in the West.
And where the carcass is, there will always be vultures.
And as the prophets have foretold it: after the distress of those days,
The sun will grow dark,
and the moon will be hidden.
The stars will fall from the sky,
and all the powers in the heavens will be dislodged and shaken from their places.
That is when the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. All the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming; they will see Him powerful and glorious, riding on chariots of clouds in the sky.
With a loud trumpet call, He will send out battalions of heavenly messengers; and they will gather His beloved faithful elect from the four corners of creation, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now think of the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and greenish, as soon as it begins to sprout leaves, you know to expect summer.
In the same way, when you see the wars and the suffering and the false liberators and the desolations, you will know the Son of Man is near—right at the door. I tell you this: this generation will see all these things take place before it passes away.
My words are always true and always here with you. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
No one knows the hour or the day, not even the messengers in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
As it was at the time of Noah, so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man.
In the days before the flood, people were busy making lives for themselves: they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, making plans and having children and growing old, until the day Noah entered the ark.
Those people had no idea what was coming; they knew nothing about the floods until the floods were upon them, sweeping them all away. That is how it will be with the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be plowing a field: one will be taken, and the other will be left in the field.
Two women will be somewhere grinding at a mill: one will be taken, and the other will be left at the mill.
So keep watch. You don’t know when your Lord will come.
But you should know this: If the owner of a house had known his house was about to be broken into, he would have stayed up all night, vigilantly. He would have kept watch, and he would have thwarted the thief. So you must be ready because you know the Son of Man will come, but you can’t know precisely when.
The trustworthy servant is the one whom the master puts in charge of all the servants of his household; it is the trustworthy servant who not only oversees all the work, but also ensures the servants are properly fed and cared for.
And it is, of course, crucial that a servant who is given such responsibility performs his responsibility to his master’s standards—so when the master returns he finds his trust has been rewarded.
For then the master will put that good servant in charge of all his possessions.
But imagine that the master’s trust was misplaced, that the supposedly responsible servant is actually a thief who says to himself, “My master has been gone so long, he is not possibly coming back.”
Then he beats his fellow servants and dines and drinks with drunkards.
Well, when the master returns—as certainly he will—the servant will be caught unawares.
The master will return on a day and at an hour when he isn’t expected.
And he will cut his worthless servant into pieces and throw him out into darkness with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and grinding of teeth. (Matthew 24)
Jesus provides a picture of the coming reality of the kingdom of heaven. As they approach the time of His sacrifice, Jesus makes sure the disciples know that soon it will be too late; the door of opportunity will close, and for many the door will remain shut. He gives them another image of the same reality to bring the picture into focus. Once they were bridesmaids waiting for their bridegroom; now they are slaves waiting for their Master. This time they are given responsibilities that will be rewarded.
The blessings of the Kingdom bring risks along with the benefits.
He told them a parable, urging them to keep praying and never grow discouraged. The parable went like this:
Jesus: There was a judge living in a certain city. He showed no respect for God or humanity. In that same city there was a widow. Again and again she kept coming to him seeking justice: “Clear my name from my adversary’s false accusations!” He paid no attention to her request for a while, but then he said to himself, “I don’t care about what God thinks of me, much less what any mere human thinks. But this widow is driving me crazy. She’s never going to quit coming to see me unless I hear her case and provide her legal protection.”
Did you catch what this self-assured judge said? If he can be moved to act justly, won’t God bring justice for His chosen people when they cry to Him day and night? Will He be slow to bring them justice? Mark My words: God will intervene fast with vindication. But here’s the question: when the Son of Man comes, will He find anyone who still has faith?
The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us.
God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son. (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest”)
Relax and let the life-changing, power of God flow through you! Remember the electrical cord is not the power but the electricity that flows through it when it is plugged into the source.
Remember that Jesus is the Potter and we are the clay; our times are in His hands.
See yourself as a clay serving vessel standing ready, willing and en-abled to be used by the master as He wills.
Consider those 6 clay water vessels at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Their primary purpose was for ritual purification
for those coming to the wedding feast. To be filled so that they could be emptied out and in the outpouring, that others
might be cleansed so that they can partake of the blessings of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said that even if we offer just a cup of cold water in His name, we do not lose out; there is a reward for our
drink offering. Our purpose for living is to be poured out as drink offerings to those who are hungry and thirsty
for really true right living. His covenant of grace is marked by salt. Salt shows us our true condition that we need
His outpouring or we are a dry, barren land. Taste and see that the Lord is good; no good thing does He withhold from
those who walk uprightly with Him!
Jesus emphasizes that the kingdom of God will not come through valiant efforts but as people pray, “may Your kingdom come,” with persistence and with humility.
He told another parable—this one addressed to people who were confident in their self-righteousness and looked down on other people with disgust.
Jesus: Imagine two men walking up a road, going to the temple to pray. One of them is a Pharisee and the other is a despised tax collector. Once inside the temple, the Pharisee stands up and prays this prayer in honor of himself:
“God, how I thank You that I am not on the same level as other people—crooks, cheaters, the sexually immoral—like this tax collector over here. Just look at me! I fast not once but twice a week, and I faithfully pay my tithes on every penny of income.”
Over in the corner, the tax collector begins to pray, but he won’t even lift his eyes to heaven. He pounds on his chest in sorrow and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes.
Listen, it’s the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up.
Some people brought infants to Jesus, hoping He would touch them in blessing. The disciples rebuked them for doing so, but Jesus called to the people.
Jesus: Let the little children come to Me. Never hinder them! Don’t you realize—the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children? You can depend on this: if you don’t receive the Kingdom as a child would, you won’t enter it at all.
Public Official: Good Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit the life of the age to come?
Jesus: Why did you just call Me good? No one is good but God—only God. You know what the Hebrew Scriptures command: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”
Public Official: I’ve already been doing these things—since I came of age.
Jesus: One thing you still lack—one thing; sell all your possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me.
The man heard these words and sadness came over his face, for his wealth was considerable.
Jesus: What a hard thing it is for those with much wealth to enter the kingdom of God! In fact, it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!
Listeners: Then who can be liberated?
Jesus: Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God.
Peter: We have left our homes and followed You.
Jesus: I’m telling you the truth: there is nobody who leaves his house or wife or siblings or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive more than he has given up—much more—in this age and in the age to come.
He will receive eternal life. (Luke 18: -30)
The Eternal One bless and keep you.
May He make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
The Eternal lift up His countenance
to look upon you and give you peace.
John 1 The Voice
This Gospel begins not with Jesus’ birth or John’s baptism but with a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis. It takes us back before time began to the moment when God interrupts the silence and speaks the cosmos into existence.
Only John’s Gospel names Jesus as the Logos and declares that He existed long before time was measured.
This Greek word carries a variety of meanings, all relating to the act of speaking. It could be translated “word,” a thought that comes to expression, message, declaration, reason, or the content of preaching; most are found in various translations.
It is clear that John means that logos is declared to all creation.
John’s use of logos is unique and has often been rendered as “Word.” While this is a useful translation, even a casual understanding demonstrates that “Word” reflects only part of its meaning. Most readers will interpret “word” as a unit of language—a combination of sounds generally spoken but also written—that carries meaning.
To understand what John means, readers need something more than their cultural understanding of “word”; they need a new way of thinking about it. This is why we have chosen to offer another rendering, an interpretive, poetic translation, of what may be one of the most theologically loaded words in Scripture. Since logos essentially refers to the act of speaking or bringing thoughts to expression, we have decided to use the word “voice” to capture that reality. John declares that truth has culminated in the person of Jesus. No single word captures the complete meaning of logos, but “voice” has a number of advantages.
First, “voice” manifests the act of speaking. Voice is that which is spoken and that which is heard; it comes on both sides of any communication event, bridging the gap between sender and receiver.
John intends that in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world.
Second, a voice is distinct and personal. We can distinguish people from one another simply by their voices. In John 10 Jesus describes the fact that the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd when he calls and they follow, but they refuse to follow a stranger because they do not know his voice (John 10:1-5). John desires that we know Jesus as the Son of God and believe in Him personally as the Good Shepherd.
Third, “voice” is dynamic in that it reflects the robust and powerful activity of a living God. It is historical in that any act of speaking comes to expression and takes place in the real world as a “voice” calling, demanding a response.
It challenges any notion that the Christian faith can be reduced to rules, propositions, or doctrines that can be merely believed or dismissed and not lived out in our lives. Since in Jesus God is speaking and revealing Himself to the world, and since in Jesus we hear the Voice of God, then this new reality changes everything so we, too, must change.
In the beginning
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
A man named John, who was sent by God, was the first to clearly articulate the source of this Light. This baptizer put in plain words the elusive mystery of the Divine Light so all might believe through him. Some wondered whether he might be the Light, but John was not the Light. He merely pointed to the Light. The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos.
Jesus as the Light does not call out from a distant place but draws near by coming into the world.
He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.
The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor—the one true Son of the Father—evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, “This is the one I’ve been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me.” Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart.
Salvation comes only from our God, who sits upon the throne, and from the Lamb.
John hears that 144,000 people out of Israel are destined to be sealed, but then he turns to see an innumerable multitude from every people group in the world. What he sees reveals the truth of what he hears: the number “144,000” is not an exact count of who will be saved but is a symbolic number (12 x 12 x 1000).
“Twelve” is a number that signifies all the people of God, from both the Old and New Testaments.
In reality, between the sixth and seventh seal, there is an interlude, an opportunity for people from every nation to enter into the people of God, to receive God’s mark, and to take their places among the redeemed.
When the Lamb cracked open the seventh and final seal, a great silence filled all heaven penetrating everything for about half an hour. Then I saw seven heavenly messengers, the ones who stand before God, receive seven trumpets.
An eighth messenger came and stood before the altar carrying a golden censer. He received a large portion of incense to complement the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that sits in front of the throne. From the hand of the eighth messenger, the smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s people and billowed up before God. The messenger filled the censer with fiery coals from the altar and cast it upon the earth, causing a great commotion of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Throughout the ages God’s people have been asking Him for justice in their prayers and laments. Now, in response to these, God pours out His judgment.
The seven heavenly messengers raised the seven trumpets and prepared to sound them.
If we will just learn to worship God even during the difficult circumstances, He will change them for the better very quickly if He so chooses. (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest)
These are coming from the time of great suffering and affliction. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, cleansing them pure white.
Responding out of a heart filled with praise, they congregate before the throne of God
and constantly worship Him day and night in His temple.
The One seated on the throne will always live among them.
They will never be hungry or thirsty again.
The sun or blazing heat will never scorch them,
Because the Lamb who stands at the center of the throne is their shepherd and they are His sheep,
and He will lead them to the water of life.
And God will dry every tear from their eyes.