Friday, June 30, 2017

Day 1~Starting the New Testament!!!

Day 1~ Matthew 1-3 
Welcome to reading the NT with me!!!! Let's get started!

As I read today's genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, I am reminded of what I just read yesterday in Revelation. The last words of Jesus in Revelation were, "I am the Root and the Off-spring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Rev 22:16)

We learn of the "Root" title in Isaiah 11:10 "In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious."
And now today we read Matthew giving a detailed list of who Jesus came from to prove his lineage from Abraham to Jesse to David to Joseph. 

The "star" title was given to Israel's future Deliver in Numbers 24:17, "A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel." (Matthew, by going all the way back to Jacob, is showing his readers that prophesy was fulfilled initially with David and ultimately with Jesus.) 

God is such a good storyteller!! He introduces the "theme" in the Old Testament, carries it through to the New Testament and sums it up in the last words of Jesus in Revelation; so poetic!!!  I love it!  
A good storyteller knows where he is going with the story and how it ends. God knew exactly how he was going to write this story before he even formed the universe! (Eph. 1:4) Very cool! 😎

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We finished the 90 days!!!

Revelation 19-22

What an ending!  After reading about the seals, the trumpets, the bowls of wrath, the battle that gets the beast and false prophet thrown into the fiery lake (19:20), and then the battle that ends with Satan getting thrown into the same lake of burning sulfur (20: 10)…… was SO refreshing and peaceful to read, “Now the dwelling of God is with men…He 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.”
 (21:3-4)  Ahhh…..😌

That sounds so calming after reading all the turmoil we have read the past couple of days!!  My body physically relaxed as I read that….Ahhhhhh…

But then…..I tensed up a little bit again when I read, “He who overcomes will inherit all this…..But the cowardly, the unbelieving….will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (21:8)
It is good that we, as Christians, are reminded of this fact!  It’s a good motivator (out of love for our fellow man) to share Jesus with others.  We don’t want our fellow man (family member, friend, neighbor) to suffer the consequences of unbelief.  I am sure Revelation has helped motivate missionaries in the past to venture into the jungles of Africa, the mountains of the Andes or the plains of America  to share the good news.  They obeyed when they read Jesus saying, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15)
After reading Revelation, we get a better idea what is entailed by being condemned!

I pray that this is motivation enough for me to be bold in sharing Jesus with others as well!

Thanks for reading with me these past three months!!!  You can start again in Matthew tomorrow if you want!!!  That’s where I will be!! 😄

Day 89~ Rev. 16-18

God’s Wrath!!!! (16:1) 
I am reminded of that verse in Malachi that says, “I, the Lord, do not change.” (3:6)  

When you read the Old Testament, you see that God warns of his coming wrath or shows his wrath.  It is very clear that, in order to be just and true, there must be punishment (wrath) for wrong doing.  I think that people today forget that point.  They get caught thinking that Jesus is all cozy, loving and good, therefore he did away with the wrath side of God.  Nothing can be farther from the truth! For those who have their names written in the book of life (Rev. 17:8), there will be no wrath. Our names are written there because of our faith in accepting what Christ did for us.  But for those who don’t have that faith and accept Christ’s free gift……….God’s wrath still exists.  He has not changed. 😱

Today’s reading can be a bit confusing if you are thinking chronologically. I want to purpose that chapters 17 &18 could have been placed prior (or concurrently) to chapter 16.  I say this because of 18:4, “ Come out of her, my people,…so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”  We read about the last of the plagues (the 7 bowels of God’s wrath) in chapter 16.  And with the last bowel came, “a loud voice from the throne saying, It is done!” (Sounds familiar, right? That’s what Jesus said on the cross too).

So, the woman…the prostitute.. is a great city (Babylon) that rules over the kings of the earth (17:18).  She has 7 kings (heads,17:18) and 10 future kings (10 horns, 17:10).  Those horn kings….they hate her! (17:16).
I found 17:17 fascinating!!! God put it into the hearts of these horn kings (bad guys) to go against and destroy the prostitute (bad guys).  Evil destroying evil…..this happens to accomplish His purpose!  Isn’t that fascinating?!!!!

I can actually see an illustration of this concept today.  
Notice that materialism, in todays, world is rampant!! In fact most are guilty of putting their materialistic desires before their desire for God, which would be idolatry, right? Or we can call it adultery in our relationship to Jesus (our bride groom).  So, now read about the fall of Babylon. First, “The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” (18:3), then, “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more-“ (18:11)

What evil force do you see today, that would love to see materialism destroyed; a growing force in todays world that would like to put an end to the capitalist culture of the western world?….Hum….do you see where I’m going with this?…..I find this fascinating!!  Evil fighting evil to accomplish God’s purpose (17:17)?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Only two days to go!!~ Day 88

Rev 13-15
Yesterday we read that the dragon (Satan) was hurled to earth.  He went off to “make war against those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus”😳Woe!!

So, regardless if you are of the mindset of “pre-trib.”, or “post-trib.”, regarding the rapture, we can see in our reading today that there will be believers on earth during this turbulent time when we read John saying, “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (13:10)😨

In today’s reading we are introduced to “a beast coming out of the sea” (13:1) who gets his power from Satan.  He is in authority for nearly 4 years.  He will “conquer” saints during his time of power. (13:7)💀 Then, another beast rises up (this time out of the earth); able to deceive people w/his miraculous signs (13:13).  My foot note says that this may be the false prophet noted in 16:13.  When it mentions his “horns like a lamb” (13:11) it suggests a gentleness in his approach. Yet, he spoke like the dragon; wicked! 

It is interesting to note how much Satan is trying to copy God.  He is setting himself up in a trinity of sorts, just like God has done.  God, The Holy Spirit and Jesus= the Holy Trinity.  Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet= the evil trinity.  Sadly, many people will fall for this evil trinity (13:8). 😞

The verse that really struck me in todays reading was 14:10.  I always picture Jesus being the loving part of the trinity and God being the one with wrath.  So, it really struck me to read, 
“He will be tormented (the ones who take the mark of the beast) with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” 😳

man, oh man!!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 87~ Rev.10-12

So to keep my mind straight, I needed to do a review of everything I have read so far in this book.  I thought I would share my summary with you.
7 churches (representative of believers today) have been warned and exhorted. (1-3)
Then the angel says. “I will show you what will happen after this.” (4:1) John finishes writing what is now and then he starts on what will take place later (1:19).
We read how Jesus opened each of the 7 seals.
Seal 1 ~ Conquest (6:1)
Seal 2 ~ Peace taken from the earth (6:4)
Seal 3 ~ A limited drought causes famine(6:6)
Seal 4 ~ 1/4 of the earth killed by sword, famine, plague & wild beasts (6:8)
Seal 5 ~ More “fellow servants” will be killed (6:11)
Seal 6 ~ A great earthquake flattens mountains and removes islands (6:14)

So, it seems that the six events were called the “great tribulation” (7:14). and a lot of people come out of that time period who “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (7:14)
The seventh seal being opened was delayed so that the 144,000 could get their forehead seals (7:3).
Then, we read about that seventh seal being opened. (I think it gets a whole lot worse now!) All the following devastation is for those who are still unrepentant (9:20). 

Seal 7~ Includes angels sounding 7 trumpets. 
1st trumpet ~ Hail and Fire mixed with blood destroys a 1/3 of the earth. (8:7)
2nd trumpet ~ 1/3 of sea life and ships are destroyed by some huge fire ball ) A meteor?-                       who knows?!) (8:9)
3rd trumpet ~ 1/3 of the earths fresh water sources go bitter (from another meteor?)            (8:11)
4th trumpet ~ 1/3 of the day goes without light (8:12)
*Note there are still believers on earth at this time because the angel was told not to harm those with the seal of God on their foreheads. (144,000).  The next 3 trumpets were “Woe, Woe, Woe” (8:13)
5th trumpet ~ Woe! Locusts torture nonbelievers w/agony like that of the sting of a            scorpion for 5 months (9:5)
6th trumpet ~ Woe! 1/3 of mankind is killed by fire, smoke and sulfur (9:18)
And still people did not repent (9:20)😟

Now we get to todays reading……
Not only are people being killed throughout the word by the plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur with this 6th trumpet blast, but in Jerusalem there are also two “witnesses” (11:8) who had power to cause no rain to fall, turn water to blood and strike the earth with plagues (11:6).

7th trumpet~ God’s temple is heaven was opened (11:19). Here we get to see another scene in the angelic realm (12:7).  Michael and his angels fight Satan and his angels! (Movie worthy, right?!) Satan loses and is thrown out of heaven.

Side note, it’s hard to imagine Satan being in heaven at all!  We think that no evil can be in God’s presence, however, remember that Satan is our accuser (12:10).  He has been trying to bring our sins before God day and night!!  So here we see he is finally hurled down to earth- and he is mad!!!! ( 12:12) Watch out people!!!  This is a “Woe!!”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 86~ Rev. 7-9

Quite a few years ago (maybe 20, but I remember the day well!), 2 Jehovah Witnesses came to my door.  I knew the Good News well enough to feel I could engage in a conversation with them.  We got to talking and they pointed out, using my Bible, that only 144,000 people were going to be sealed as servants of the Lord and get to go to heaven.  I got so confused because I was reading that out of my own Bible!  Obviously, I wasnt too familiar with the book of Revelation! 
They stumped me!  It didnt sound right that such a small number would make it into heaven! Well, off they went and I sat down to launch into finding out what that number meant.  

I find I can get easily stumped when I read scripture outside of its context.  Apparently Jehovah Witnesses have been stumped as well!  I found that the 144,000 are Jewish people!! 12,000 from each tribe.  And these 144,000 were those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure (14:4), during the tribulation (7:14). And then they were redeemed from the earth” (14:3).  I was so relieved to read Rev. 7:9, where it says a great multitude (in white robes) that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, were standing before the throne.
Whew!  Thats a whole lot more than 144,000!!  😄

It pays to stay current on your Bible reading!  I wish I had been so when those two had come to my door way back then. 😞  O-well! Im not going to beat myself up over it, but I learned a valuable lesson.  If something doesnt sound right, trust your gut (its probably the Holy Spirit speaking to you; Jeremiah 31:33) and read scripture in its full context!!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 85~ Only 5 days to go!

Revelation 4-6

I can’t help think about what we have learned already in our reading the N.T. about angels.
Remember Day 72 when we read the author of Hebrews describing Jesus as being greater than angels?  I made the comment that there is a “whole other world (realm), with rulers and authorities operating, yet it still has all to do with Jesus!”  (I got that idea from Ephesians 3:9)
Well, here we get another peek into the heavenly/angel world (realm) through John’s vision when he was “in the Spirit” (4:2).

There are a couple theories as to who the 24 elders are.  One says they can be “representative of the whole company of believers in heaven”. Another theory is that they are an exalted angelic order worshipping and serving God there.  It is more likely the latter of the two theories because of what we read in 5:10.  The elders, along with the creatures were singing, “You have made them to be a kingdom…and they will reign on earth.”  Because they sang “they” instead of “we” it is thought that these 24 did not include themselves, therefore they would not be believers like the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 disciples.

So, with that in mind, Chapter 4 is a scene of angelic beings worshiping the Lord.  WOW!  What a glorious scene that must have been!  Yet, again, it’s all about Jesus!! We get to read all about how worthy He is of all praise in chapter 5! 🙌😊

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 84~ Revelation 1-3

We are on our last book! Guess what?!  I am starting again in Matthew right after I’m done with this book!  Wanna join me June 29th??

So…these first three chapters of Revelation address the condition of seven churches at the time of John (the apostle) being imprisoned for his faith.

I love what my introduction said to this book!  “The fundamental truths of Revelation do not depend on adopting a particular point of view (and believe me, there are many varying view points!). They are available to anyone who will read the book for its overall message and resist the temptation to become overly enamored with the details.”

So, what was your overall view of these first three chapters?

What I noticed was what was said right before or after each statement of, “He who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life,..” (2:7)
“He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death” (2:11)
“I will also give him a white stone with a name written on it, known only to him who receives it.“ (an entrance ticket to heaven~2:17).
“I will give authority over nations just as I have received authority from my father” (2:27)
“He who has overcome will be like them, dressed in white…” ( 3:5)
“I will also write on him my new name.” ( 3:12)
“I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,.” (3:21)

My overall view is that, if we follow the advise of Jesus Christ who is addressing the angles of these churches to take note of certain things, then we have the guarantee of receiving eternal life with Him.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 83~ 2 John - 3 John, Jude

Did you know that it’s thought that Jude was a younger brother of Jesus?  Matt. 13:55 lists the boys Mary had after Jesus: James (became a leader in the church), Joseph Jr. ,Simon and Judas (AKA Jude).

It sounds like Jude was needing to address the same issues that John was addressing in his letter we read yesterday.  Men, in the church, were distorting the truth that was first preached by eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection.

Boy, Jude rails on these leaders in the church (shepherds who feed only themselves- vs.12)!!  After pointing out and telling what will happen to them (judgement -vs.15), I love how Jude shifts, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”
That’s what we are doing by reading the Bible everyday!  We are building ourselves up in our most holy faith!! 😊

The verse that stuck out the most to me in today’s reading was, “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear- hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 22) 
This verse is like an instruction manual on how to deal with people who do not have a “saving faith”:  
Share the gospel- snatch them from the fire if you can, “Show mercy”- but there is a warning here! *Warning*warning*warning*….“mixed with fear”.  My footnote says, “Even in showing mercy one may be trapped by all the allurement of sin.” 😳  Don’t get so close that  their clothing can touch you!  “..hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Another analogy I think of  (since we don't see corrupted flesh staining clothes too often- gross!) is someone who sits close to a campfire. Their clothes reek of smoke.  Don’t get so close to the fire, or them, that your clothing starts smelling like smoke!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 82~ 1 John 4-5

Yesterday, I mentioned that John is refuting Gnostic teachings in this letter.  One of those teachings is that Jesus was born only as a man.  The Christ descended on the man at his baptism and left him before his suffering on the cross.  So, today we read John refuting that by explaining that Jesus Christ was God coming into the world (5:1), was baptized (water) and died (blood) (5:6).

Another teaching of Gnostics is that they claimed to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few.  The Greek word “gnosis” means “to know”.  This teaching completely contradicts Christianity because it is by faith we are saved, not by knowledge (Eph. 2:8-9), and Christ’s offer for salvation is for everyone, not just a select few. (John 3:16). Therefore, John refutes this teaching as well by saying “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (5:13). 

An English teacher would be proud of how John summed up his three refutes in the closing paragraph of his letter.

Remember the three Gnostic teachings:
1.) “Anything goes when in the sinful body” (yesterdays reading)- refute= “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin,..” (5:18)
2.) Jesus wasn’t fully God- refute= “ He is the true God and eternal life” ( 5:20)

3.) A “higher knowledge” known to a certain few- refute= “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 81~ 1 John 1-3

Did you know John and Jesus were cousins?  Yeah, their moms were sisters!

So here we are, about 50 years after Jesus had died on the cross.  The 12 disciples, Paul & his friends have spent the past 50 years preaching the Good News.  But, at the same time, the devil was busy twisting scripture and creating new thoughts to confuse believers.  John uses this letter to address these wrong thoughts that today we call Gnostic teaching. 
One of the teachings of Gnosticism is: matter is inherently evil (man’s body is matter, therefore it is evil) and spirit is good.  As a result of this belief, anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only.  In other words they gave themselves free license to live a sin filled life!
Therefore, John uses ch.1-3 to set them straight on that point. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (2:6) and “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God..” (3:10)

Did you notice that John, just like Paul and Peter, used an “if” sentence?! 😯

“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.  If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” (2:24)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 80~ 2 Peter 1-3

Only 10 more days!  You are in the home stretch of finishing the 90 day reading plan!!

This second letter from Peter seems like it was written for today’s church!  He wrote this letter to warn these believers (& us) and to refresh their memory that this will happen: 
“….watch out for false teachers (2:1) and scoffers (3:3) that are in the church.” 😦

“Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” (2:2)😨  That means people who confess to be Christians will live openly, immoral lives (not held in check by any sense of shame- according to my footnote), causing all Christians to have a bad reputation.

I had a gal come into the center last week who claimed to be a Cristian.  She volunteers in a leadership role at her church, has had a sexual relationship with her boyfriend for years and is now contemplating an abortion if her unborn child isn’t healthy.
There is something dreadfully wrong here!!! 
This girl seemed to have no shame for her relationship with her boyfriend, she is in a leadership role, and now she is considering an abortion? No wonder Christians have a bad wrap and are called hypocritical.  This gal is acting no different than the secular world!  Sadly, I have seen this same story in other clients who come to the center.  

There is some kind of false teaching happening in the church or an absence of teaching, to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (3:14)

To me, Peter’s concluding warning is very, very heavy!  “…be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.” (3:17)😳

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 79~ 1 Peter 2-5

I love how Peter uses the Old Testament as a source for teaching!  

Peter quotes  Psalm 34:12-16 (3:10-12).  He refers to Noah “while the ark was being built”, which is in Genesis 8 (3:20), and he quotes Isaiah a couple times (2:6 & 22) as well as Proverbs (4:18 & 5:5).

It reminds me of when Paul said to Timothy in his second letter, “All Scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching…” (3:16-17).

I actually had a Christian man say to me, not too long ago, Old Testament writings don’t apply to today’s Christian.  They were written for that time and society.  It doesn’t apply to us now that we are under the grace of Christ.
Well….. Paul didn’t believe that and either did Peter, as we can seeing in our reading today!

What stood out to you?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Day 78~ James 4- 1Peter 1

No doubt, James and Peter knew each other well, and worked together preaching Jesus to the Jews.  So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they spoke of the same thing in these two letters we read today.  None the less, I was surprised to pick up on a theme they both wrote about. (I don’t think I would have have picked up on it if I wasn’t reading straight through the end of one book and starting the next book in the same sitting.)

Both wrote about the prophets of old.  Did you notice that? 
James says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” (5:10)
Peter spoke of the prophets and their faith in the future coming of Christ. (1:10). 
Jewish Christians at this time were experiencing persecution for their faith and they were probably wondering, “Where is Jesus?? I thought he was going to come back and save us from this!!!!
Both writers were doing what I said in the day before yesterday’s blog that I do.  Go back to the basics; go back to what you know.  What these people knew from their study of Old Testament writings, was that the prophets of old were commended for their faith they had in something that they never saw fulfilled in their lifetime, the first coming of Christ.  Now, these Jewish Christians did get to see the fulfillment of “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1:11).  Now it was their turn to have that same type of faith to wait for Christ’s second coming. 

Both also wrote about the testing of your faith.

James writes in 1:3, “..the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  and “stand firm” (5:8) (We’ve heard that before!! ) And, “as you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” (vs.11)

Meanwhile Peter writes, “These (trials) have come so that your faith- may be proved genuine…” (vs.1:7)

To me, it seems, these two men are stressing the same thing - It’s all about faith in Jesus!!! Have it!  Keep it!! And because of it, “you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).