Revelation 22:7 – Behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.
Eight times in the first three chapters of Revelation Jesus speaks of events which will quickly take place. In the last chapter of Revelation, Jesus declares these events “must soon take place” (22:6), I am coming quickly” (22:7), “the time is near” (22:10), and “I am coming quickly) 22:12. Is it possible there might be a clue for John and the churches of that day that something apocalyptic was about to take place?
Today, many hold to a popular view about the Book of Revelation that all the symbolism in the book is about future events that are still yet to take place. In this brief devotional, we do not have time to explore the entire book of Revelation, but consider the ten times Jesus strongly implies, “soon to take place.” This great prophetic book establishes the absolute victory of Christ over His enemies. There are three enemies which are symbolized. They are the false religious leaders among the Jews, Jerusalem with its governmental structure which had killed the prophets, where Jesus was crucified, directed the persecution of believers, and the world systems and philosophies represented in the Roman Empire.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). Jesus states that this writing is for the seven churches mentioned in chapter 2 and 3. He was preparing them for the soon-coming events symbolized in Revelation when He would come and judge all His enemies. What hope and blessing is ours as we look back on history and see the fulfillment of all that Jesus declared. We look forward with great hope and expectation of His physical return after finishing His Great Commission, “Go into the entire world and preach the good news.” The devil does not win, we do!
The sign of the Kingdom was seen in the first century church as Christ judged His enemies in 70 AD. The present day outpouring of the Holy Spirit being experienced around the world is preparing believers for the harvest of the nations. Jesus’ literal return is the next great event on God’s calendar when time will be no more.
Let us devote ourselves fully to the Lord and His agenda. There are many books that help to define God’s purposes in clear terms. The most important book is the Bible. The enemy tries to keep us from immersing ourselves in the Scriptures. He tries to confuse our minds with natural reasoning. He has always tried to divide Christ’s body in order to suppress the power of heaven manifested in a united redeemed community filled with the Holy Spirit. Remind yourself of what our Lord accomplished through first century believers and His judgments upon His enemies. Remember saints that the final victory lies before us and the Holy Spirit is our Helper who will never leave us. AMEN!
John 11:24 – Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”.
The eleventh chapter of John gives us one of the greatest messages of hope. Mary and Martha had expected Jesus to immediately come when hearing of their brother’s sickness. He did not, and Lazarus died. He was buried before the Lord arrived. Their hopes were dashed and they were only left with the hope of the future resurrection. Life is filled with dashed hopes and expectations for many. Some people experience more than others.
When Jesus arrived, Martha appealed to Him by saying, “Even now, I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:22). Jesus assured Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded that she knew he would rise again in the resurrection on the last day. This is an important statement that helps us to understand the next great event. Martha’s statement is consistent with both Old and New Testament Scriptures that indicate the resurrection is the final event of human history, happening on the “last day,” as Paul said, “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Jesus then gave Martha the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26). “Never die,” is the greatest guarantee we possess. That promise contains all the promises of God. “They are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). For the believer, life is settled in the “I am.” Our life is hidden in Christ, who is in God.
Martha was contending with human emotions in the passing of this good man, Lazarus. She was confused and broken, yet abiding in her was faith concerning the future resurrection. As you prepare for the New Year set your eyes on Jesus, the resurrection and the life. He alone provides hope and stability as we weather difficult seasons in life. There is no promise made of an easy life void of hurt and difficulty. But there is the promise of both His presence and His physical return. Jesus’ presence made the difference in Lazarus’ case. The resurrection of Christ sealed the future for all those who put their trust in Him.
As the early church faced Great Tribulation and the future destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus instructed John to write down what he saw and send it to the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, which is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Christ Jesus rules the nations, directing events for His purposes. He revealed to John how He was about to direct the events at the end of that generation who first heard the Good News of His Gospel, events of judgment against His enemies. Beloved, be encouraged, regardless of what may happen in your life or in the nations, Jesus is Lord! He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Coming King who will judge all those who have rejected His Covenant. Hope in God! Trust in Christ! Be filled again and again with the Holy Spirit. Enjoy your life in God.
Father, I thank You for Your promise given to Martha, “he will rise again”. I thank You that Your promises are Yes and Amen to Your glory. Help me bring glory to Your name throughout the coming year.
Hebrews 1:1-2 – God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
These words were written to Hebrew believers who were being persecuted and had become discouraged. The author wrote, “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:2). And again he wrote, “How will we escape if we neglect so great salvation? After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:3-4).
The Gospel was preached and confirmed in the generation of the disciples. Part of the message was a coming judgment on the Jewish nation that rejected two things. They did not accept the New Covenant in the blood of Christ and the presence of the kingdom in the person of the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews identified the last days as beginning in the ministry of Jesus. For that generation, it was the end of the Jewish religious system as they knew it. The city of Jerusalem along with the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, just as Jesus had warned throughout His earthly ministry. The Apostles gave the same message of warning throughout their ministry.
Just before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus entered the temple and judged the religious leaders with very harsh words (Matthew 23). He went on to share with His disciples in Matthew 24 concerning the events which would transpire in their generation before His return when He would finish the apocalyptic judgment on the Jewish religious system which had rejected His Messianic message and the gift of His Holy Spirit. Once we understand the “Gospels” and the message of the apostles to their generation, we can inquire of the Lord of our generation. We can look forward to His bodily return for His church and the eventual judgment of the Gentile nations who reject His Lordship in the earth.
The early church was created at the beginning of the last days, as represented by Peter in his first sermon recorded in Acts 2. Our generation exists at the end of those last days when we are to be looking for the literal and physical return of our Lord. The message of His return is a vital message needing to be preached in our times. Unfortunately, men have scrambled the message of Christ’s return with their own ideas, making it difficult for people to receive. The message is clear and not as complicated as it has been made out to be. In the very same way Christ fulfilled all His words to His disciples when He came in judgment of the Christ-rejecting Jewish system. This time, He will come to judge the whole world, but this time His saints will be with Him.
Paul described the “mystery of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” Just as Mary’s boy was born and brought redemptive hope to all of Israel and eventually the entire world, hope continues as we wait for His victorious return.
Father, I thank You that You sent Your Son to speak in these last days. I put my faith in all He has spoken and wait for Your promises to be fulfilled in my Lord’s return. Help me speak clearly and plainly of Your return in the hopes of many coming to Christ.
SOVEREIGN OR PROVIDENTIAL
“God’s Providence is my Inheritance”
Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Gog, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
God rules my life providentially. He rules my life as a Father not as a King: “Our Father who art in heaven.”
God’s providential care for each of us can be spoken of in numerous ways: opportune, advantageous, favorable, auspicious,
propitious, heaven-sent, welcome, timely, or expedient
A King is “sovereign” he rules out of his sovereignty. His right to dictate.
God does not want to rule us out of His Sovereignty, but as a Father providentially.
This is what Grace is about. His gift to us is that He has become our Father. My inheritance is His Providence. All He has for me, All He desires for me, and All He plans for me.
A STRONGHOLD is something I believe that has hindered me from growing up.
Bob Mumford says: “God changed His address and does not want to make deals anymore. He wants to relate to us as a Father.”
In 2018 pray to your Father in Heaven and receive of His providential care. He is sovereign and reigns over heaven and earth, but always remember that He wants to relate to you providentially as a Father who loves you and has your best interests in mind.
Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus is the prize!
Joseph kept his eye on Mary and then Mary and Jesus after the Lord’s birth. He knew His responsibility in serving the God of Israel. While God, who is in heaven, was the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit, Joseph provided earthly fathering for Jesus. Jesus was known as “the carpenter” (Matthew 6:3), one could surmise that He worked with Joseph in the carpenter shop.
John the Baptist looked for the “Lamb of God.” His eyes were looking for the one who would take away the sins of the world. With the information we have about John, we know he was filled with the Holy Spirit while in his mother’s womb. We know he separated himself from society and spent time in the wilderness, no doubt, seeking God concerning his assignment.
All of the disciples of our Lord were engaged in the society and culture of that day. They had jobs, they were integrated with family and their immediate culture. The twelve saw Jesus and followed Him at His invitational call. Eleven kept their eyes on Christ and fulfilled their calling. One turned out to be a “traitor,” selling out to the Lord’s enemies for a few pieces of silver.
Down through history the story is told of multitudes whose spiritual eyes were drawn to Jesus and followed Him. Some followed Christ to martyrdom. Many others have stories that will not be told until eternity. All those who followed the Lord in this life found fulfillment in their obedience to His leading.
Along with these saints, we are looking for the glorious return of our Lord and Savior in bodily form. The Scriptures tell us that when He comes “His reward is with Him” (Revelation 22:12). The prize is Christ, but He is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We are called to keep our eyes “fixed upon Jesus” (1 John 3:3). All our hope, our absolute certainty, is rooted in the promise of His return for His own. It is important day by day to remind ourselves, He is coming again and His reward is with Him. Keep your eyes fixed upon the Savior. The things of this life will soon fade away, but He is our steadfast hope.
Father, I thank You for all those who have demonstrated that their eyes were fixed on Jesus. Help me to keep my eyes on the prize. Protect me from the distractions of the world and the challenges in life that can cause me to take my eyes off the Lord and His reward.
Titus 2:13-14 – Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Isn’t our God good? He prepared the entire world for the advent of our Savior, who is King of kings and Lord of lords. As we celebrate His first advent of 2,000 years ago, let us not forget His Second Advent is before us. The Lord is even now preparing the modern world for the greatest event in all history, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in bodily form to receive His redeemed people and judge all who have rejected His gracious offer of salvation and eternal life.
Every believer should be looking for the blessed hope. The world does not have such hope. The world only possesses ideas of trying to produce utopia, peace among men, and a better world system. The problem is deeply rooted in man, mainly his heart that is filled with selfishness and pride. Even in democracies, it is observable how corrupt the heart of man has become. Political campaigns are filled with ego and pride. It is a proven fact that negative campaigning is effective.
The answer to man’s dilemma is rooted in our scripture for today. Christ Jesus gave Himself to redeem us from every lawless deed. Humans cannot help themselves when it comes to being lawless before God. We just can’t keep His laws, no matter how hard we try. We can discipline ourselves to be as good as possible, but there is no hope of attaining God-like righteousness without Christ. The Holy Spirit redeems us and imparts a right standing before God because of what Christ has done. The Holy Spirit is always at work in our lives to purify and set us apart to be zealous for every good deed. Christ’s work in us is not only for today, but that He might present us to God His Father in eternity. He is coming back for a spotless bride, not resulting from our efforts, but rather His cleansing blood.
As we leave this Christmas season and walk toward a New Year, let us move our eyes from the babe in a manger to the ascended Lord who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. He is the one who is preparing to return for His blood-washed people and judge all those who refused His Gospel of Peace. This year, allow the Holy Spirit to work deeper in your heart. Embrace His plan and purpose of producing more of Jesus in all you do and say.
Father, I thank You for the redemption that has freed me from lawlessness unto good deeds. I pray for daily infillings of Your Holy Spirit to help me grow into Jesus’ image and likeness. I pray for Your church to be prepared for Your glorious return to take place, in Your perfect timing.