Posts Tagged ‘ God ’

December 31, 2017

December 31, 2017


Focus Verse: I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Revelation 21:22-23


There are no needs in the New Jerusalem. And not necessarily because God gives us everything we need. It’s because in heaven, for the first time, we will see, face to face, that HE is everything that we need. We will find out firsthand that He is sufficient; that He is more than enough.


There doesn’t have to be a temple in the New Jerusalem. God and Jesus are the temple. There doesn’t have to be any external source of light in the New Jerusalem. God and Jesus will radiate plenty of light…so much so that there won’t ever be any darkness, no shadows, no room for anything but the radiance of His glory.


I can only imagine that this also rings true for any other need you could come up with. I’m sure there may even be some of our needs that we will simply realize we never needed in the first place. But for everything else, we will realize, again, not that He provides those needs, but He IS those needs.


And we don’t have to wait until the New Jerusalem to discover this. Yes, while we are on this earth in these mortal bodies, we have physical needs that will have to be met. We need food, we need water, we need shelter. So for the time being, God will provide those needs. But there is coming a day when HE will be those needs. He will be enough. He will be your all in all.


And He is more than willing to pull back the veil and give you a glimpse of His all-sufficiency. All you have to do is ask!


December 30, 2017

December 30, 2017


Focus Verse: Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Revelation 19:6-8


This is the day that we are all waiting for! This is the climax of a story that started from “In the beginning…”. The marriage of the Lamb and His bride is the moment that you have been walking toward since the day you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, whether you knew it or not.


Since the day Jesus Christ came into your life, He has been making you into His image. It hasn’t always been pretty. There are times, most times in fact, when the change is painfully slow, nearly unperceivable. But there is one thing for certain in the Christian walk, once you surrender you will and step in to His, you can’t possibly stay the same; change is inevitable.


And that change is how you are being made ready for your groom, Jesus Christ.


So shout “Hallelujah!” Start up the trumpets. If trumpets aren’t your thing, then hire a DJ. But whatever you do, get ready to CELEBRATE! Even if you are in the middle of the hardest trial you’ve ever walked through in your life, you can rejoice because this day IS COMING. And this trial that you are walking through right now is something God will use to clothe you in fine linen for the day He completes this work in you and makes you His bride!

December 29, 2017

December 29, 2017


Focus Verse: If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
Revelation 13:10


Anyone can trust in God when He calls you to conquer. Just think about it. What are everyone’s favorite Bible verses? The ones that promise us greatness, right? How many people circle Job 13:15 as their favorite Bible verse? “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him…” doesn’t exactly crack the top ten of people’s favorites. But it’s in these verses that the “perseverance and the faith of the saints” takes its place and shows itself.


What if God calls you to suffer? What if you are “destined for captivity” or to die by the sword? Will you still be able to have the faith to believe in the God who has called you? It is so important that we resign ourselves to faithfulness to God no matter what He calls us to. If He calls us to greatness, then we walk in obedience to greatness. But if He calls us to nothing but suffering, we must walk with just as much confidence in that as we would were God to call us to greatness.


I’ve said this before, but God called Jesus Christ to a life of perfect obedience to Him, and His reward for doing so? Jesus was crushed and sent to hell. And Jesus obeyed Him anyway. He showed His faith in His Father and His perseverance by being obedient, even though there was nothing glorious about the task that He was called to. The glory would come afterwards.


Can you do the same?


Spoiler alert: you can’t. But Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in you! All you have to do is surrender to Him.

December 28, 2017

December 28, 2017


Focus Verse: And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Revelation 12:11


Add today’s verse to the “oft quoted but rarely quoted all the way through” list. I hear this passage referenced quite often, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone read past the word testimony. But it’s a vital part of the equation here…if it weren’t, why would God put it in there in the first place?


First and foremost, we overcome because of what Jesus Christ did for us. The precious blood shed by the Son of God on the cross at Calvary paved the way for our victory. Without it, we are still lost in our transgressions and there is no hope of overcoming anything. The blood of the Lamb is non-negotiable. It is the first and most important piece of this puzzle.


Second, we overcome because of the word of our testimony. If we jump back to Paul’s letter to the Romans, he gives us a formula for salvation that is often referred to when leading someone to Christ. This comes from Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Confessing Jesus as the Lord of your life is a vital part of the salvation process. It’s making public our belief in Him. That’s why we are commanded by Jesus to be baptized in water, a public confession of our faith.


Likewise, part of our overcoming the enemy comes when we tell our story to others. When we tell others publicly about the grace we have received from Christ and how He has changed our lives, the enemy is forced to tuck tail and run. It still centers around the blood of Jesus, it’s just showing others how that blood has completely altered the course of our life. But let’s not pretend we can be closet Christians and still overcome the schemes of the enemy. He absolutely wants you to stay in the closet. He knows God’s Word and He knows the power that happens if you put that Word into action. That’s the last thing he wants…so stop hiding your faith. Overcome by the word of your testimony of the power of Christ’s blood!


And finally, the oft overlooked part of this, most likely because it’s the most uncomfortable for us to come to terms with, we overcome when we keep things in proper perspective. Christian, the moment you start living for something on this earth, the enemy wins. The moment something or someone creeps into the place of rivalry with Jesus for number one in your life, you have forfeited all possible overcoming you could do by the power of His blood.


I’ve written about this a lot, but God will not have any rivals in your life. And if you want to overcome by HIS blood, He has to be number one. “Well that seems like a bit much to ask for.” One might find himself thinking. But really, give that one a good thought. This is God laying down His life for you so that you can overcome every attack this enemy has planned against you. EVERY SINGLE ONE! And you want to act like He DOESN’T deserve to be number one in your life? You’d rather put a man or woman who buys you subpar gifts on your birthday over someone like that?


This life holds nothing on Jesus Christ! The moment you catch the slightest hint of His glory, you realize this. We all innately know this deep within our souls. Inside all of us, whether we claim Jesus as Lord or now, we know that there has to be more to this life than what we can sense. We find ourselves longing for things that nothing in this world can satisfy. We just keep grasping at more and more to fill this ever growing void.


Until we find Him.


Then we realize that this life has nothing to offer us. We realize that we too can lay down our lives, even when faced with death, and fall into this incredible love of a Savior who has promised to make us beautiful.


This is the Gospel that the enemy simply cannot overcome. And when you put all three of these things together, you step into the victory that Jesus Christ won for you on the hill of Calvary.

December 27, 2017

December 27, 2017


Focus Verse: Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:13-17


I have a pretty hilarious past for a worship pastor. I used to hate worship. When I first became a serious Christian, I was all about the preaching and really didn’t care much about what was going on during the praise and worship portion of a church service. My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) was a worshiper, so she liked to go to churches that had authentic, expressive, heartfelt worship. I was just as happy skipping past all of the songs and getting straight to the dissection of the Word.


I used to get mad at the person up on stage telling me to lift my hands during songs. “No thanks boss. Nobody is going to tell me what to do during church. Especially not some guy with gelled hair and a hearty stock of flannel shirts” (Just kidding…actually, back then flannel had yet to be introduced to worship leaders).


Probably the funniest part was that I used to read the book of Revelation, specifically portions like today’s focus verses, and get really scared. I can vividly recall thinking to myself multiple times while reading the book of Revelation, “If this is what heaven is going to be like…I’m going to be really bored. There’s no way that ALL we are going to do is worship!”


Fast-forward ten years and I have a new hair cut (complete with Suavacito Firme Hold to keep every hair in place), a new wardrobe that would make any lumberjack envious, and a DEEP PASSION for worship. It still amazes me how God can sweep through a person and change them into a completely different individual, but I’m living proof that there’s no telling who you actually are until God gets His hands on you.


I honestly can’t imagine a day going by in my life without worship now. And I’m not just talking about “Christian music”. I don’t think I fully understood worship when I was first starting my walk with Jesus, but the more I grow with Him, the more I’ve realized that worship isn’t a part of a weekly service. Worship is a way of life. Worship is an attitude. Worship is a privilege.


I used to read passages like these and get scared that I would get bored if this was all heaven had to offer for me. Now I read passages like these and get scared that heaven would hold anything else. I’ve had this conversation with God and asked Him if I can put in my application for this job. I don’t want a mansion. I want to be in the group of people who never leave His presence. I want to be one of the multitude laying my crown at His feet, singing His praises, and serving my Lord and Savior.


So if you are like the old me, don’t worry. It’s ok. And like any other aspect of your faith that you struggle with, be honest with God. He already knows that’s how you feel, so there’s no point in faking it. I remember a lot of my friends would tell me that I just needed to “worship through it”, that I needed to “fake it till I make it” and I’d eventually learn to worship. Just do it, even though I don’t feel like it, and eventually I’d feel like it. But that never worked for me. I just felt fake.


What it took for me was a more intimate knowledge of God. And I have to say, this wasn’t just an experiential knowledge of God. This is kind of a hot issue in the church today. We need to “get away from religion and find God through relationship”. I get it; especially if we are talking about religion as in stuff rituals and customs that don’t hold any spiritual meaning anymore. But the problem is that most people now associate Theology and Doctrine with religion, and we cannot throw those things out.


I learned to worship God through a balance of sound, Biblical doctrine and Theology, mixed with the experience of a relationship with a very real and living Savior. And now I never want to leave my Savior’s side. You can’t force this. But once you learn who He really is, through knowledge and experience, you’ll find your heart going places you never thought possible.


And it’s the most wonderful thing you’ll ever experience!

December 26, 2017

December 26, 2017


Focus Verse: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
Revelation 2:1-7


I’m going to go about today’s devotional a little different. I want to look at the form of this passage and not really get into the content. The content is your homework for tonight. Use the form we talk about here and go back through the content of Revelation 2 and 3. You’ll find some really cool stuff…I did anyway.


So, through the apostle John, Jesus writes seven letters to seven different churches. I’ve read through these letter quite a few times, but today was the first time that God drew my attention to the form that Jesus used when He addressed each of these churches. It’s the same every time, and I believe there is some significance that we can draw from that.


Each letter starts with a description of who Jesus is. It then goes on to tell the church what they are doing right, and the things that they need to correct. Each letter then ends with a promise for those who hear this instruction and allow it to correct them.


First of all, I think that this gives us enormous insight into how we should go about any conflict we find ourselves in the midst of. Start with who Jesus is, then affirm and correct, then end with who Jesus will be for us. The goal in any conflict, as Christ-followers, is to start and end with Jesus. This is a pretty big theme in these first three chapters of Revelation; come to think of it, this is a pretty big theme throughout the entire Bible.


Revelation 1:8 says, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Why is it so important that our conflict start and end with Jesus? Because all of our life should start and end with Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.


Jesus is our starting point. He is the foundation on which we are to base everything in our lives. Jesus is our end point. He is the finish line that we are aiming for. And when Christ is both of these things to us, He also fills in everything in between.


This is what our life in Christ should be. So this is also what our conflict should be. When we have conflict with others, and we should be having conflict with others, it must always be from the foundation of who Christ is and with the goal of helping everyone involved in the conflict move closer towards the finish line of Christ’s promises.


So the first question: is Jesus your Alpha point and your Omega point? You cannot possibly have healthy, Christ-like confrontation, or healthy Christ-like anything for that matter, if He isn’t first you Alpha and Omega point. Once He is your first and your last, your foundation and your finish line, then you can filter everything else through Christ as your Alpha and Omega.


The next logical question: are you filtering everything else in your life through Jesus as your Alpha and Omega? Is your conflict based on who Christ is, and is it pointing everyone involved toward who He has promised to be…who He has promised to make us? Is your marriage, your family, your career…are all of these things reflecting Christ as your Alpha and Omega? Is He the foundation of them all? Is He the ultimate goal of them all?


It’s never too late to start. Make Jesus your Alpha and Omega. Then run everything through that filter.

December 25, 2017

December 25, 2017


Focus Verse: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25


Who? Who is able to keep you from stumbling? Who is able to make you stand in the presence of God blameless and with great joy? Jesus. Only Jesus.


This means that no one else can possibly fill this role. No pastor, no matter how powerfully they preach, can keep you from stumbling or make you blameless. No husband or wife, present or future, no matter how much they love you, can keep you from stumbling or make you blameless. And if you’re current spouse isn’t getting the job done, stop looking at the grass on the other side, because they aren’t going to be able do it either.


Nothing in this world will ever be able to do what Jesus can. He planned it that way. No success in your family, no success in your career, NOTHING in this world is going to be able to present you before God so that He will accept you.


Cue Jesus Christ. He is the only One who can present you before God blameless. Why? Because He’s the only One who had what it took to take on the tab that you owed. So when you try to put someone else in that position, you end up crushing yourself and the person or thing on which you’re putting your hope. Jesus Christ is the only One strong enough to take that pressure. He took it all upon Himself on the cross and carried it out to its bitter end…only to be raised to glorious life for all of eternity!


His death ensured that you would never have to try to present yourself blameless or put that crushing expectation on anyone else. BUT HIS LIFE AFTER DEATH! That’s where the real power lies! Because Jesus didn’t die just to forgive you of your sins. That’s a really fantastic part of the Gospel, but it’s only part of it! Jesus died and rose again to KEEP YOU FROM STUMBLING!


Through the Holy Spirit living in you, you now have the power to walk as Jesus did. You aren’t just given the ability to stand before God blameless because of what Jesus did; you are now able to walk through this life in perfect obedience just as Jesus did. All you have to do is surrender to the Holy Spirit. To the degree by which you are surrendered to Him, that is the degree by which you can walk in perfect obedience to God.


It all comes back to this little phrase: you can’t, but Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in you. All you have to do it let Him!