Revelation 22

Vs. 7, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”  Crystal Lewis sang that wonderful song People Get Ready that reminds us Jesus is coming soon.  A climatic and fitting end, not only the book of Revelation but the whole Bible!  Notice, that Jesus is coming soon but there is an addition; He is coming to judge us according to our deeds.  Certainly, this doesn’t mean that if we are saved our lack of good deeds will negate salvation.  Bear in mind, we will be accountable for our deeds good or otherwise.  But the more striking fact is that Jesus is the one who will judge.  This puts him on par with God and is again John’s way of reminding us the deity of Christ.  John ensures to remind us that the testimony of Jesus (vs. 16), himself (vs. 8) and the Spirit and the bride (vs. 17) are all witnesses to the testimony of God’s word to us.  Our part is to be ready and not live impure lives (vs. 12-15).

Regarding application…Open Call.  Vs. 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  Our Father in heaven has given us an open call and encouragement to come.  Jesus calls us to Himself, but the Holy Spirit and the bride (which is the church) are all included in this open call to a world that is lost.  When we love and share our lives to a world that is lost, we are beckoning a world to Jesus.  I exhorted the members of Roots Ministry today to “Share Your Life” with others.  Question: What can you do this week to herald the Good News?

Hebrews 8

Vs. 1, “Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.”  Like any good presentation, we see the author of Hebrews give us a summary of the main point and central focus of the letter.  Jesus is the high priest that continues to serve in our lives today!  Jesus is not in some man-made tabernacle, but Jesus is at the right hand of the Father.   Jesus is ministering in the heavenly tabernacle not the copy of it that was on earth (vs. 3-6).  It served a temporal purpose, but Jesus serves eternally.  The old covenant was fulfilled and made perfect (due to man’s sinfulness) through the new covenant (vs. 7-13).  Moses was the old covenant mediator, but Jesus is the perfect mediator.  The fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 31:31-34) came to pass.

Regarding application…Is the Old Covenant Bad?  Vs. 13, “By calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”  Question: Who gave us the Old Covenant?  God had His purpose for His promises given to His people at that time.  Both the old and new covenants were given for the good of God’s people.  Both covenants offered blessings.  Jesus did not come to abolish God’s law (Matthew 5:17), but He came to fulfill God’s ultimate promise to love His people and be a blessing to His nations.  God has written His law in our hearts and our minds, we are without excuse!  Let us therefore make every effort to honor Him in all that we do!  Question: What can you honor him with today?

Genesis 49

Vs. 1, “Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.”  After 147 years, it was time for Jacob/Israel to have the opportunity to share some lasting words (vs. 2-28) about the future for his sons and their descendants.  There was good news and some bad news as each son pondered their future.  Reuben, should have been the chosen, but his lustful ways hurt his future.  Levi and Simeon’s violence would be noted, yet God would be gracious to both of them as Simeon’s tribe would join Judah and Levi’s tribe would become the priestly tribe.  Out of Judah’s tribe would come Jesus (vs. 8-12) the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).  The listing of the rest of the brothers ensues and through this, we see Jacob’s words of prophecy fulfilled.  In the latter half of our chapter, Jacob would die peacefully (vs. 29-33).

Regarding application…Consequences to Follow.  Vs. 4, “Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.”  For Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Dan, they would have bad consequences.  For the others, their actions would have good consequences.  Brothers and sisters, we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).  I think there is a tendency for us to believe that it is our actions (works) that determine what consequences we have.  Yet, most importantly, it is our faith or lack thereof.  There are two consequences that transpire after this life: Heaven or Hell.  We are called to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).   We live in a time where we are so blessed to see the outcome of consequences of the history of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments.  We have the gift of the church to grow and guide us.  We are without excuse!  Let us live a life that realizes our faith and action can determine not only our own consequences, but can also help point others to going down the right road!

Malachi 4

Vs. 1, “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”  The “day” that is coming is in reference to the often referenced Day of the Lord.  This day in the Old Testament was often used as a warning to sinners.  In the New Testament, it used to point towards Jesus’ final victory and judgment before the new heavens and earth.  Fortunately, the outlook for believers in the faith is one of healing (vs. 2).  Just as John the Baptist was a type of Elijah, so another type of Elijah will come to prepare the way for Jesus’ second return (vs. 5-6).  Question: Why Elijah?  Because Elijah was a figure that is most associated with prophesy.  Of course, remember, Elijah was only one of two recorded in the Bible (Enoch) who did not experience a physical death.

Regarding application…Why Remember?  Vs. 4, “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.”  Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, we are reminded how important it is to remember.  Jesus told us to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).  We remember that Jesus did come and that He will come again.  Remembering God’s promises can actually improve our relationship with the Lord.  When John recorded Jesus’ words in the book of Revelations, Jesus’ exhortation to the church in Ephesus was that they needed to remember their first love (Revelation 2:4-5).  The other day at church, someone was looking at my wedding photo I had on my desk.  When they pointed it out, thoughts and feelings came racing through my mind and I remembered how much I love my wife.  Likewise, when we remember God’s word in our lives, it sparks our love for Him!

I Corinthians 14

Vs. 5, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.”  Question: Why was Paul making such an emphasis on this topic of tongues?  Because the Corinthians were elevating the gift of tongues to a very unhealthy way.  They were speaking in tongues publicly and without an interpretation (vs. 5, 13).  If a church body is unable to know what a person is saying, then there is no edification happening (vs. 5, 17).  Paul doesn’t pull any punches when he tells them they are acting childish (vs. 20).  He then quotes the prophet Isaiah to illustrate the purpose of tongues.  Isaiah prophecied that Israel would hear God’s message by different tongues, but they would not believe.  Tongues then are a sign.  Question: A sign to who?  A sign to the unbelieving Jews.  Back in Isaiah’s time, the northern nation of Israel had already been taken captive by the Assyrians who spoke a different tongue.  Isaiah proceeded to warn the southern nation Judah of similar fate by the Babylonians (another foreign tongue).  Now, at Pentecost in Acts 2, the Jews from all over other regions came literally speaking different tongues (languages and dialects) then the Jews who resided in Jerusalem.  Consequently, this speaking in tongues cut at the heart of unbelievers and many at Pentecost came to salvation.  Of course, there are those that interpret this reference to tongues as some unknown utterance (vs. 2).  I have known and respected believers who side on these two major different interpretations.  Some believe that these sign gifts have ceased in today’s time (I Cor. 13).  But no matter how we interpret, the bottom line is, Paul is trying to remind the Corinthians Christians to have a far bigger appreciation for the gift of words that can be understood (prophecy)!  Prophecy here in the New Testament refers more to the spoken word like encouragement, preaching, teaching, although future prophecy can also exist.  I will say, I’ve seen a few state they have the future prophecy gift, but none of those prophecies have come true (Jeremiah 28:9).   And in the last half of our chapter, Paul devotes this section to address orderly worship (vs. 26-40) in the Corinthian church.  I state “Corinthian” church specifically, because in this passage lies a controversial statement about women being silent in the church (vs. 34-35).  As one of my seminarian professors state, the few unclear passages often are made clear by the plethora of clear passages.  So in other words, this reference was a very specific issue addressed to the women due to some cultural aspect we are not privy of understanding.

Regarding application…Building the Church.  Vs. 12, “So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.”  Question: Who doesn’t want gifts from God?  Any person who wants to follow the Lord should desire gifts that can help them not only in their life, but in the life of others.  The Corinthians to their credit were eager for gifts, but the mistake was that they were selfish in the process.  Each gift played it’s important part in the body of the church.  We are to excel in gifts that edify each other.  Question: Who are we to dictate, demand or even pray for any specific gift?  My personal thought is that God in His infinite wisdom gives us gift(s) when He needs us to use them.  We are to be agents that use them wisely for the time we have.  It’s a bit insulting to think that God has given you this gift of encouragement, but you look over at your brother who has the gift of preaching and sulk about it.  Let us be people who wisely and with love desire that God would give us the greater gifts that help build His church!

Micah 5

Vs. 2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  In the midst of the Assyrians at the doorsteps of Judah, Micah breaks out a prophecy of hope (vs. 1-5).  A ruler over Israel is none other than Jesus, the Messiah!  The small town of Bethlehem (House of bread) would be the birthplace of King David and later the King of Kings, Jesus.  Though there will still be tough times (vs. 3), God ensures His people realize that not all hope is lost.  Though the enemy will scatter God’s people, He will bless the remnant (small amount of people remaining faithful to God) who will be taken into exile (vs. 5-9).  In the last section of our chapter, we see Micah list some of the things (horses, chariots, strongholds, witchcraft, carved images, Asherah poles) that the people were putting their trust in rather than God (vs. 10-15).

Regarding application…Are you trusting God?  Vs. 10, “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots.”  We just read in the last six verses the things that Judah had been putting their trust in.  I wonder what kind of list we would have in our lives today (reputation, security, insurance, horoscopes, media, wealth)?  As Micah reminded us of Jesus today, that also reminds me of what Jesus would tell us about the time we live in.  We are told we will live in a time like the days of Noah (Matthew 24), where evil will exist and many will put their trust in the things of this world.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too have a hope of the Messiah coming for a second time!  Let us be people who are ready and putting our trust in His promises!  After Jesus’ warnings of the end times, He gave them the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) as a reminder to always be ready and ensure we are trusting in the Lord in all things!

Hosea 1

Vs. 2, “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”  Question: So what is the deal with Gomer (vs. 3)?  Hosea’s wife is mentioned to be an adulterous wife.  While biblical scholars debate whether or not she was a prostitute before marriage or became one after, we must remember the original intent.  Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to be a living illustration of how God’s people were treating their relationship with Him.  Gomer would leave Hosea and commit adultery.  Just like Israel would turn their attention to the world.  It’s also surprising that their three children would have such ominous names to represent the condition of Israel (vs. 4-9).  Yet, in spite of the prophecies of judgment, we see Hosea give them a message/prophecy of amazing hope (vs. 10-11).  God will one day bring His people to be united again and ultimately the one leader (vs. 11) points to the Messiah!

Regarding application…A Faithful God.  Vs. 11, “The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”  Question: How does God show His faithfulness?  Recently on Facebook, I’ve noticed a few of my good friends having children and proudly posting their beautiful babies!  That reminds me what joy a child can bring to a family.  I want you to imagine you will have a baby, but before you even have that baby you are given the knowledge that child will grow to despise and hate you!  Would you still go through the process of wanting that child?  That’s kind of a small example of what is going on here with God’s relationship with Israel.  We could also use the example of finding the love of your life and getting ready to marry them only to have the knowledge that they will cheat on you and leave you.  Will you still marry them?  Despite, the knowledge of sadness and tough times ahead, God’s promises and faithfulness shine brightly for a people who are living in sin.  God is faithful even when we are not.  Let that be a huge reminder that this truth is not taken for granted.

Ezekiel 37

Vs. 1, The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.”  About 1 ½ ago, I preached on this very passage!  Question: When will this vision come to fruition?  Many biblical scholars point to this vision as the restoration of the physical and spiritual Israel.  In the past century, Israel has become an official nation again.  And, according to your biblical doctrine, God will one day restore Israel and Jesus will reign with them for 1000 years.  But going back to the vision: It must have been quite a scene to see a valley of skeleton bones all over.  God restores the dry bones and gives them life.  We also see the illustration of the two sticks becoming one to unite God’s people.

Regarding application…Make Us One.  Vs. 22, “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.”  While the verse is a prophecy to Israel, the application is useful for all of us.  Many of us are dead in our transgressions and don’t realize we are like the dry bones.  As He breathes life into us, we will one day be restored as one body in Christ!  When I think about the heartache of broken families, broken churches, broken nations…it grieves so many.  This hope for a better future is something that not only brings comfort now, but should inspire us to do our part in hastening that day.  What can we do now to help bring about God’s will of restoring that which is broken?