Tag Archives: revelation

My Delight is the Lord, December 29

Not Lukewarm

December 29, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:14-22

Extremists make us nervous. We prefer people to possess at least a modicum of balance. We would rather their “boat” stay an even keel. Well, that’s not always true. It was not true when Jesus spoke to the Laodiceans. He chided them for their lack of extreme, for their even temperament; or maybe we should say, temperature. Jesus could not stand their tepid spirituality. As a matter of fact He says it makes Him sick. Spirituality hot or cold either one is better than lukewarm! Think about that. As far as Jesus is concerned (and there is no other viewpoint that actually matters) only two valid possibilities exist, spiritually speaking. One ought never to console their conscience for not being on fire by saying, “Well, at least I’m not ice cold.” According to Jesus, as bad as it sounds, you’re better off saying, “At least I’m not lukewarm.”

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 14)
  • Upon basis did Jesus determine this church was lukewarm? (vv. 15-16)
  • How did these Christians see themselves? (v. 17)
  • What does Jesus do for those He loves? (v. 19)

My Delight is the Lord, December 22

Our Opportunities

December 22, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:7-13

Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done (Matt. 6:10). That’s not a petition for God to get busy, it’s about us and what we do. In other words, we’re not asking that God be able to accomplish what he wants–he can and he will. Instead, it’s a prayer that our own will be bent to conform to His; that we’ll become instruments for use in His hands. So Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia about an open door he’s set before them (v. 8). It’s their responsibility to see and seize this opportunity, whatever it was. For God’s will to be done in Philadelphia–or wherever we may be–means, among other things, taking hold of the opportunities God gives us. God’s will being done demands our getting busy, as well as keeping our eyes wide open.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 7)
  • For what two things is this church commended? (v. 8)
  • Compare what is said about trials in v. 10 and in 2:10.
  • What kind of crown is this in v. 11.

My Delight is the Lord, December 15

Asleep

December 15, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

Is it possible for a church (or an individual for that matter) to think their spiritual condition is fine, when it is not? Obviously, yes, it is possible and Sardis was just such a church. The fact that Jesus calls on them to wake up (v. 2) makes sense only if they are in a state of spiritual sleep; unaware of the reality of their condition. Of course, the problem is the power of self-deception. They perceived themselves to be alive, but it was not true. They were dead and did not know it. Was Jesus telling them so enough to break the spell of the lie they believed? We don’t know. Are we even willing to consider the possibility that we are self-deceived? How can we know? Well, we cannot ask ourselves. If we are deceived all we’ll hear is the lie. Since we can’t ask Jesus, what if, in humility and deference, we were to ask a respected outside party? Think about that.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 1)
  • How did Jesus know this church’s condition? (v. 1)
  • Was it too late for the church at Sardis? (v. 2)
  • What was Jesus going to do if they did not wake up? (v. 3)

My Delight is the Lord, December 8

Sin and the Response

December 8, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:18-29

The church at Thyatira was an admirable one with a big problem. Jesus commends their work, love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Not only that, but they were growing–nothing is said about numerical growth, but their works of late exceed earlier efforts (v. 19). Good job, Thyatira! “But, I have this against you,” notes marked change in the tone. They were tolerating someone in the church that they should not. Yes, this “Jezebel” woman was a real problem with her decidedly negative impact, even leading Christians into sexual immorality. Notice that Jesus’ issue with the church was not her influence of wickedness (He takes that up with her directly), rather it was how they dealt with her (actually, their failure to do so). Here we’re reminded that not only is sin the issue, but also how we respond to the sin of others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 18)
  • Upon what basis does Jesus analyze a church? (v. 19)
  • What is Jesus threat to the Jezebel woman? (vv. 22-23)
  • What are the faithful Christians at Thyatira to do?

My Delight is the Lord, December 1

The Lord Knows

December 1, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

What an encouragement to be assured that the Lord knows.  He knows the hardships and struggles we face, as He did of the Pergamum church (v. 13). Their faithfulness to Him in the midst of serious persecution (even death) was not unnoticed (v. 13). That helps. But there’s another side to this as well. God not only knows the good things, He knows the bad as well. Our weaknesses and failings do not escape His notice. We cannot expect that what we’ve done well to make up for where we have failed . These Christians–the ones whom Jesus had just commended–were now called upon to repent or suffer the consequences (v. 17). If we’ve done good for God, that’s great. But we shouldn’t pretend that there’s not another side to this coin. In what ways do I need to address my own failures and wrongs?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is the author of this letter identified? (v. 12)
  • What is “Satan’s throne”? (v. 13)
  • What insight is here provided about the story of Balaam? (v. 14)
  • To whom is the promise made? (v. 17)

My Delight is the Lord, November 24

Faithful To Death

November 24, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

Let’s be sure that we understand this; Jesus knew that the church in Smyrna was about to undergo persecution. Some of them would even be thrown into prison. No indication is given that this was to happen in response to any sin on their part. As a matter of fact, this is one of only two churches receiving these seven letters about which nothing negative is said. Now, notice Jesus’ instruction in view of the impending tribulation. Or, first, notice what is not said. Jesus does not encourage them to escape. Neither does He promise to protect them from it. Instead He says, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer” (v. 10). He then encourages them to faithfulness, even to death (v. 10). That’s a statement not of duration, but intensity. This letter is as insightful as it is brief.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is Jesus identified? (v. 8)
  • What three strikes did the Smyrna church have working against them? (v. 9)
  • Who will be responsible for their imprisonment? (v. 10)
  • What does it mean to be faithful unto death? (v. 10)

My Delight is the Lord, November 17

Lost Love

November 17, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

Ephesus was an admirable church. Jesus identifies their work, toil, and patient endurance as impressive qualities. Further it’s a church where evil isn’t tolerated, hardship is endured, and commitment abounds. Still, they are a church in danger of being rejected by Jesus. So, whatever Jesus’ complaint is, it outweighs all the good and admirable qualities of this church. What a great opportunity for us to understand Jesus’ own priorities. The Ephesus church’s failing was their lack of love. It’s not that they never had it, but they have abandoned what was once theirs. As Paul said, no matter what other good we may do, without love, it’s worthless (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Should not love then become a primary evaluation for any church?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What were the seven golden lampstands? (v. 1)
  • What was the church at Ephesus called to do? (v. 5)
  • Did Jesus hate the Nicolaitans? (v. 6)
  • To whom is the promise addressed? (v. 7)

The Joy of God’s Presence, December 31

December 31, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Revelation 22:6-21

There are no sweeter words in all of the Bible, really. There may be some that are as sweet, but none more so. “The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (v. 17). God invites us. It’s not just an oh-by-the-way kind of invitation, either. He’s prepared and sacrificed and labored patiently and long to make it available, at great cost to Himself. To be able to invite us is what He’s been up to all along. And if that weren’t enough, it’s an invitation to participate in and enjoy what we need most–desperately so. What is more, no one is excluded from this opportunity. And even more remarkable is that He offers it without cost.  Talk about your strong finish! The Bible ends on the highest possible note. Praise God!

Questions to Ponder:

  • What blessing is pronounced in v. 7?
  • How did the angel respond to John’s effort to worship him? (vv. 8-9)
  • What is the significance of John being told to not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book? (v. 10)
  • What warning is given in vv. 18-19?

The Joy of God’s Presence, December 30

December 30, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Revelation 3

There’s a familiar adage that encourages “Go with what you’ve got.” John Wooden, famous basketball and, as it turns out, life coach said it this way, “Don’t let what you don’t have keep you from using what you do have” (or something like that). Jesus told the church at Sardis to “strengthen what remains” (v. 2). They were a church in trouble, no doubt. What they needed to do was to focus on their assets (spiritually speaking) and build from there. It would require their waking up–that is, to recognize their peril and identify from where they could begin. The consequence of failure would be death (spiritual). Excellent instruction for any Christian and any church.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What did the church of Sardis have? (v. 1)
  • What is absent from the letter to the church at Philadelphia? (vv. 7-13)
  • What was Laodicea’s problem? (vv. 15-16)
  • What is the significance of the promises being made to “the one who conquers”? (vv. 5, 12, 21)

The Joy of God’s Presence, December 23

December 23, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Revelation 2

It really is a wondrous thing that we have these letters sent by Jesus, through John, to seven churches (Rev. 2-3). Think about it! Incredible access to first hand communication from Jesus to His churches. How insightful, how encouraging, how instructive!  The shortest of these letters we might think should have been the longest. The church at Smyrna is informed that not only is the Lord aware of the persecution, poverty, and slander they’re suffering, but there is more to come. Greater tribulation is on it’s way, even with the threat of death. So, what does Jesus tell them to do? Probably not what we would do. He simply told them to be faithful; even to the point of dying for the faith. The reward, the crown of life, awaits the faithful. The Lord’s greatest concern for us in our trials and troubles isn’t our relief, avoidance, or protection; it is our faithfulness. Does our greatest concern match the Lord’s?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What kind of church was Ephesus? (vv. 2-3)
  • What does it mean that Jesus would “remove your lampstand from its place”? (v. 5)
  • What does it mean to be “faithful unto death”? (v. 10)
  • To whom are the promises of the letters addressed? (vv. 7, 11, 17, 26)