Posted in 2018/19 Devos

The Last Devo

“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.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:1-4).”

Well friends, we’ve come to the end.  Nearly 200 star studded passages later, we’ve reached the end of the Bible, the end of the school year and thus, the end of this blog.  I’m sure there’s a handful of verses about the sun or moon or stars that we missed but in general I hope we all have a better understanding for just how clearly the heavens are declaring the glory of God and how not just the firmament, but every element of creation plays a part in the great redemptive drama writ and wrought by our Creator and King. 

From the epic beginnings of Genesis to the last Amen of Revelation these cosmic beacons gloriously fulfill their divinely appointed purpose to separate day and night, to be signs, to mark time and seasons and to give light on the earth.  Jesus Himself warned us in Luke 21:25-28 that there will be a time when the signs in the heavens will bring terror on earth.  But those who look for and long for His coming needn’t be filled with the same “fear and foreboding” when they see these things take place.  No, Jesus tells us to instead, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

The book of Revelation describes many of those foreboding heavenly signs but opens with this amazing image of Jesus standing in the middle of the churches and holding the angels of those churches as stars in His hand.  He’s in our midst and holds our  destinies in His hand!  No matter the circumstances befalling the world around us we can stand up straight and say with confidence, “Our redemption draws near.”  The Redeemer Himself says, in the last chapter of Revelation, 

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each on for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, beginning and the end… I Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.  I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Did you catch that part about the churches?  Revelation doesn’t just open with Jesus standing in the midst of the churches, it ends with Jesus stating that the testimony John was given was specifically FOR the churches!  Oh how I need that testimony when I’m feeling discouraged about the messiness of church life.  Tonight, especially, as I’ve heard the pain of what brothers and sisters are experiencing in their churches, and seen the tears, and witnessed the bitter ramification of corporate wounds, and worried over the wayward path of The Bride, tonight I needed that testimony of John.  I needed to see Christ standing in her midst (Revelation 1:20).  I needed to feel the thunderous roar of the great multitude crying out,

“Hallelujah!  For the lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready;  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure (Revelation 19:6-8).”

I needed to hear “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’” And I needed to straighten up and say with them, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:17-20).”

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.”

Posted in 2018/19 Devos

Devo 30

“The night is far gone; the day is at hand.  So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Oh Paul, Paul, Paul.  What can you possibly mean by telling us to put on the armor of light?  What kind of armor is that?  Doesn’t seem like it would protect us from much.  But I have to trust Paul knew what he was talking about.  After all, according to his own testimony in Acts 9, 22 and 26, light had proven to be a pretty powerful weapon against him.

I grew up without a TV and had seen very few movies, so when we were first married Tom felt quite responsible to bring me up to speed on pop culture.  Some kids in his youth group wanted to go see a Star Trek movie so we used our date night to take them along.  The movie was stupid and I was telling the kids how disappointed I was that they didn’t even show a single “light saver battle.”  Real cool, right?  Here I was being all pop-cultured and right away I fall flat on my face by getting Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up and proving my ignorance of both.  Not to mention the fact that I didn’t even know that a lightsaber is a lightsaber, not saver.  I still have never seen a Star Wars movie but I have to say, the concept of a sword of light is a fascinating one to me.  

My husband tells me, and my friend Rachel confirms, that in the Star Wars series there exists what’s called the “dark side” and sometimes you don’t know which side people are on.  Rachel says anyone who knows Star Wars will understand the following picture as an example.

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That is not the way it’s supposed to be in the church.  When you, like Paul, are literally slain by The Light of the world and given new life in Him, there should be no more confusion as to which side you’re on.  People should not be surprised to find out in season 3 of your life that you’ve actually been a Christian all along.  When Paul tells us to put on the armor of light, I think he might be talking less about a combative or defensive piece of weaponry or warfare, and more of an identifying uniform.  

Kind of like my boys’ hockey jerseys.  When the Hartland Yeti ordered jerseys, players got two versions: white and dark navy.  When they play a game, each team is either in a light uniform or a dark uniform so that in this fast-paced game it’s easy to tell whose team a player is on when they skate by you in a blur.  There should be no confusion as to who the opponent is when you’re in the battle.  

Take Paul’s other reference to the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20.  He encourages Christians to be strong in the strength of the Lord’s might so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil, the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil over this present darkness. In fact, Paul describes our battle four times in this passage as simply standing.  Put on all this armor, he says, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness with the gospel, the shield fo faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, and then stand firm.  

What kind of tactic is that?  And is it a successful one?  Think about it!  Where is Paul writing this battle plan from?  Verse 20 tells us that he’s in chains!  He’s a prisoner!  In the end, he and every single one of the disciples die wearing this armor of God.  So was it effective?  Well, yes if it was designed to designate the wearer as one of Christ’s own!  When you put on the armor of light, you are identifying yourself as being on God’s side.  You are on the Light Team.  And that my friends, makes you Target #1 to the Dark Team.  

You don’t put on the armor of light so that you won’t be attacked by the enemy.  You put on the armor of light so that the enemy and everyone else will know whose side you are on.  And that just might mean chains, imprisonment and death like it did for Paul, the other apostles and hundreds of thousands of other Christians since then.   When you put on the uniform of the Light Team and take a stand as one of God’s own, you are automatically defeating the devil’s schemes.  How?  Because you are bringing glory to God and that is a tactic that always wins. 

So what does that kind of stand look like practically?  Paul gives us some great examples in Ephesians 4:17-5:21 when he calls believers to walk as children of light.  “The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.”  It looks like a renewed mind, “a new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” speaking the truth, being angry and not sinning or letting the sun go down on it, giving no opportunity to the devil, honest work, sharing with those in need, redeemed, talk that builds up and gives grace, kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, love, sacrifice,  thankfulness, wise, understanding God’s will, filled with the Spirit, singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with one another to the Lord, always thankful for everything, submitting to one another and reverent.  That’s the jersey of the Light Team.

Here’s Paul’s description of the Dark Team:  futility of mind, darkened understanding, alienated from the life of God, ignorant, hard of heart, callous, sensual, greedy, impure, “corrupt through deceitful desires,” bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slanderous, malicious, sexually immoral, impure, covetous, filthy, foolish talk, crude joking, covetous,  idolatrous, unwise, foolish, drunkenness and debauchery.  

Now unlike, my boys’ hockey jerseys, you can’t just switch the armor of light back and forth with the kingdom of darkness.  You are either standing on God’s side or you are with the enemy.  If you can’t tell if someone’s on God’s team or not, they’re probably not.  Which jersey are you wearing?  Do you have Christ’s colors emblazoned on your soul?  Are you willing to stand there, come what may?  It might mean chains, imprisonment or death, but that my friends, is victory.

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Posted in 2018/19 Devos

Devo 29

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;  but the Lord will Arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” —Isaiah 60:1-3

I just had to throw that passage in one more time since it precedes this week’s memory verse.  AND because it puts a lump in my throat every time I read it.  The Light has come, friend, and HE IS RISEN!  But where did the Light go?  In John 8:12-20, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Three of His followers actually witnessed the manifestation of that glory in the transfiguration of Christ which we read about in Matthew 17:12-20.  In this passage Jesus articulates what was about to happen to the Light.  He was going to die and rise again. Later in John 8, Jesus says that He is going somewhere that those who are dead in their sins cannot come, somewhere not of this world.  That somewhere is exactly what Isaiah is describing in Isaiah 60:19,20:

“The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.  Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself;  for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.”

Our final week of study is going to focus a lot more on the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy, so this devo is actually just a teaser for week 31 when we’ll be diving into the book of Revelation 🙂  But I want to leave you with this quote from the same Apostle John who was one of the witnesses to the transfiguration of Jesus Christ and who was later given the vision of the city to come where that same Lord whom he saw crucified, risen and ascended into glory will reign as our everlasting light.  

“This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.   If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-9).”

That’s a lot of ifs, so lets break them down.

IF we say we’re Christians but are walking in darkness, 

THEN we’re lying.

IF we are truly walking with Christ in the light, 

THEN we will be in fellowship with other Christians

AND the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all our sins!

IF we say that we’re not sinners,

THEN we’re lying.

IF we confess our sins,

THEN He’ll forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness!

That’s the Gospel folks.   There’s darkness and there’s light.  There’s fellowship with Christ and His church and there’s not. 

There’s confession and forgiveness and the righteousness that comes from being cleansed from your sins and there’s living a lie.  There are no grey areas when it comes to salvation.

Oh friend, has that light shone on you?  Have you come to the brightness of His rising?  It’s there in black and white.  If you confess to Christ that you are a sinner in need of His forgiveness, He who is faithful and just will cleanse you from all your unrighteousness.