Rejected!

Todays readings come from 1 Samuel 10 & 11 and Revelation 3:1-6.

Rejection hurts. Even when it’s not a big deal, rejection hurts.

Reading 1 Samuel 10, I am struck by the rejection theme.  The Lord God says:

I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ (1 Sam 10:18-19)

What a tragedy that unfolds before us. The beginning of the Kingship of Israel is born out of the rejection of God!

He was their King, the one who had rescued them out of Egypt.

He was their King, who did not forsake them in the desert, but wandered with them for 40 years!

He was their King who had led them into the promised land, winning battle after battle for the Israelites.

He was their King who had shown himself faithful to the promise to Abraham.

He was their King who desired to bless them.

What more could they want?  How could they do such a thing as reject their King? When you have a more powerful, just and loving King then any of your neighbouring countries… why would you want a King like your neighbours?

It’s easy to look back and shake my head at the actions of the Israelites. Such disbelief. Such unfaithfulness. Yet it doesn’t take much reflection to find myself empathising rather than criticising the Israelites. As I reflect on thoughts, words, actions and attitudes I can quickly find ways in which I am rejecting God as King and asking for a King like my neighbours – i.e.. myself. It makes no sense, but there’s something in me that wants to reject God’s rightful Kingship and substitute my own.

The words of the angel to the church in Sardis, though stern and solemn, are nonetheless encouraging for moments like these:

 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev 3:2-3)

When I find myself slipping onto the throne as I reject my good and rightful King, I am reminded that in his goodness and mercy, he does not abandon me, but just ask me to remember and repent.

May we remember who is King, and repent when he is not our King!

 

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Eternity past, present and future

Revelation 1:4-8

John commences his letter to the seven churches in the province of Asia with this hymn of praise – a doxology (you may see a theme developing here at FDR!).

What richness flows from the words of scripture today! The reading is bookended by the repeated phrase

who is, and who was, and who is to come‘ (v4, v8)

A wonderful reminder that God is before all, after all and IS all. He stands before and after our lives as well as in the midst of them. More than that, he stands before and after all of time – his majesty stretches beyond than our comprehension. Yet, he is not removed from us. This same ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ is echoed in John’s doxology (v5-7),

PRESENT: to him who loves us

PAST: and has freed us from our sins by his blood  

FUTURE: and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father

John reminds us of who we are – loved, forgiven, eternal – and then points us to the hope of Jesus return where ‘every eye will see him‘ (v7). What great hope we have that the Father who loves us and who has forgiven us will one day return. Our great hope is also a great warning for those who do not know him as king – ‘even those who pierced him‘.

As we close out this year, I pray that we will grasp the enormity of great wonder and hope that John provides in these scriptures and that we will reach out to those around us so that they too can receive the assurance of salvation found only in Jesus ‘the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth‘ (v5)

Jesus is Coming!

Today’s readings are from Revelation 22:6-21 and 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

As I read this final passage from Revelation I was moved by its intensity. I read about these verses in MacLaren’s Exposition where he wrote: “The last verses of the book of Revelation are like the final movement of some great concerto, in which we hear all the instruments of the orchestra swelling the flood of triumph.” A very appropriate description!

That analogy resonates with me as I love listening to a piano or violin concerto. The coda of a concerto traditionally has a final flourish with spectacular effects written for the soloist, interspersed with contrasting voices of the orchestra, which leaves everyone breathless as the beautiful tones enfold the listener before dissipating.

These verses of Revelation have a number of voices – sometimes John, sometimes an angel, and sometimes a deeper tone from the Throne, that of Christ himself.

Christ’s voice rings out with the words, “Behold, I am coming soon.” I wonder when that will be. There have been so many generations since Jesus’ death and resurrection so I muse, “How long Lord, how long?” The words of Peter, the apostle, remind me, “Beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Pet 3:8. Even though John is ordered by the angel, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near,” the end will be in God’s perfect timing.

The angel’s pleading voice rings out a dire warning in verse 11. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. These words suggest there is an unchangeable state in God’s people, either one of righteousness or wickedness. Jesus’ cry in verse 12 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done suggests that this is so.

In an encouraging way, Christ’s ringing tones also remind us, multiple times, that he is offering the free gift of eternal life, wanting his people to be saved. Verse 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

At the Gospel for the Gong seminar a couple of weeks ago, the speaker, Di Warren, encouraged us that “while the world is spinning means the gospel will be accepted.” We all have a part to play in our own small circle of family and friends to unashamedly talk about this free gift, the water of life, without diluting it or making it more “palatable” to our selfish world. We need to be praying for them, and for others we don’t know who need to hear about this amazing offer so they can decide whether to accept his free gift or not. We need to be ready to give an answer when we are asked about our faith and why we are different.

May the final strains of this beautiful, and ominous, passage continue to resonate in our hearts and minds today, and always. The final chords sound the joyous reassurance that Jesus will come again. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.

Amen.

A Vision of Heaven

image

2 Chronicles 7:1-10

Revelation 21-22:5

Today’s readings are a powerful reminder of what the Christian looks forward to and a testament to God’s mighty hand as he brings his purpose to its conclusion. Pray today that he will open your heart and mind to his transforming message and truth.

The Chronicles reading describes Solomon’s inauguration of the temple. The appearing of God’s glory is confirmation that Solomon’s plans had been carried out as God intended them to be. The fire is something more, the temple was now being used as God himself intended, ie an encounter between himself and his people by way of Solomon’s prayer. It is a public sign for all Israel to experience and remember in contrast to the private answer God was about to give Solomon himself (v12-22). Verse 3 indicates that He was now above as well as in the temple so that everyone could see.

Note also in verse 10 that David and his son Solomon are bracketed as equal partners in God’s plan.

In the Revelation excerpt we read of God’s dealings with humanity reaching a climax in this passage. God and his people dwell together in perfect fellowship. The purpose is to strengthen the faith, hope and resolution of the church as it faces it’s ultimate trial.

The new creation, begun in Christ’s resurrection is to be experienced by all believers in the present (2 Cor 5:17). Heaven has come to earth in the kingdom of God!

From now on the dwelling of God is to be with men. They (we) will live in his presence. All things will find fulfilment in Him because he is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. None shall be thirsty either because the eternal spring will refresh.

The reminder that those who are immoral will find themselves consigned to a fiery lake of burning sulphur comes as a powerful stop in the midst of the surrounding verses.

The description of the city, shining like a brilliant jewel is breathtaking. The dimensions etc should be read not so much an exact description but more an infinite multiple of twelve. John may be saying that the city reaches from earth to heaven and so unites them.

The fact that there is no temple is a vivid reminder that The Lord and the Lamb will be in our midst.

The curse pronounced upon the original paradise is reversed. The goal of redeemed humanity is stated, ‘They will see his face’. Such a vision will involve the transformation into the same likeness.

These are wondrous words that ought to give us such encouragement and comfort. Pray that as you read them He will allow them to dwell in your heart.

Amen.

1,000 possibilities, a single answer

Today’s faithful daily read is Revelation 20 and 2 Chronicles 6:1-11

When I was a young university student I had the privilege of living in a typical university student group house. I saw many housemates come and go over the years. However, one particular housemate made an indelible impression on me. The day that he moved in I thought it might be good to get to know him so I suggested that a short walk to the local football field to kick a ball around might be a good way to break the ice. As we walked, having known each other for the best part of 7 minutes, he turned to me and asked

‘do you think the 1,000 years in revelation 20 was a literal thousand years or a symbolic thousand years’?

I could tell by the tone of this seemingly innocent question that this was a test – the very essence of my young Christian beliefs were at stake and an incorrect answer at this point may well put a question mark about my salvation in my new housemate’s mind. You see, my new friend had an particular interpretation of Revelation that not only shaped his world view but also shaped how and who he would be friends with… and so I was confronted in that moment to decide between concepts commonly referred to as premillennial, post millennial, amillenial… shortly followed by questions clarifying my mid, post or pre-tribulation views.

To be sure, there are many fascinating tangents that this blog could take at this point, however I intend to take none of them. For those that are interested in the millennial understandings of Revelation 20 I would recommend that an excellent overview/starting point can be found in the ESV study bible, which includes some graphs that helpfully illustrate the Revelation timeline and various viewpoints. My purpose in today’s reading is not to engage in extensive explanations nor defence of my particular view – which incidentally must have been incorrect as my new housemate moved out after only a few weeks – but to point to the point. The point is this:

The risen king, Jesus, has authority and dominion to judge all creation… and he will

Revelation 20 outlines only two possible outcomes. Eternal life or eternal torment. Those who have been faithful to Christ receive life, those who are not are condemned to torment. We see that even Satan himself, the great deceiver and accuser of Christians, is ultimately overthrown and ‘devoured’ by fire.

In the end, Revelation gives us a single answer

Christ

Is

Victorious

Regardless of how we interpret the 1,000 years, it is clear that Jesus has the final say and will exercise his right to judge all people! For me this has a twofold effect,

  • I am filled with thankfulness for Jesus’ mercy to me, having called me into his kingdom
  • I am filled with desire to tell others that salvation is found in Christ alone. Without Christ the only alternative is destruction

Please pray with me that we would know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the father except through him. Pray for those that do not yet know Him. Pray that we would be a light to the world and a living example of his saving grace.

The presence of God—an opening and a closing

Our readings today are 2 Chronicles 5, and Revelation 19:11-21.

In our old testament reading, Solomon has completed the Temple and it’s time to move in and celebrate. What’s an opening celebration without lots of musicians and singers? And their song rings out

“He is good; his love endures for ever.”

And in response, the Glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. Continue reading

Creating a place for us

Today’s (Sa 23/08/2014) FDR is 2 Chronicles 4 and Revelation 19:6-10

When the Israelites where fleeing from Egypt and wandering in the desert God specified a distinctive and carefully laid out tent for the Tabernacle.  The worship place for His people and in which from time to time God would reside.

2 Chronicles 4 takes us into some of the detail of parts of items to be used in the Temple for worship.  Intricate carefully made tools and furnishings to equip the people of God for their worship of Him in His earthly home. As Karen wrote in part yesterday a place constructed with the generosity of many.

The Revelation readings in the last few days have uncovered for us terrible scenes of destruction and despair as both those who know Jesus and those who don’t are dealt with under the judgement of God.  Scenes of battles between good and evil for the final time.  Scenes of the destruction of the earth.

Yet here in today’s Revelation reading is the climax painted of a different sort.  A wedding.  The final betrothal of Jesus to His bride the church, or God’s holy people..  A celebration of untold proportions.

Yet despite this glorious expectation that we will be invited to the wedding our minds linger on the destruction and horrendous death that is described for many,  Both unfaithful and faithful.

So what do we do in these times.

Placed neatly between the accounts of the Old Testament and the Gospels and epistles but before Revelation lies the last few verses of Jude which guides us as to our tasks and promises a faithful Lord God with these words:

Jude 1:20-25

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Doxology

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.

 May these words find life in our lives as we seek to live for and serve God in our community and rest on the God who is capable of presenting us as faultless.

Glenn Murray