Psalm 147:16 “He sends the snow that is white like wool; he spreads the frost that is white like ashes.”
Both cover the rooftops and the barren ground that is asleep from its work in summer and lie dormant. Ah, the winter scene! The first snowfall is beautiful but many snowfalls later it becomes drudgery. It is cold, wet and the snow has picked up the colors of the landscape of a barren ground that is asleep as well as the roadside dirt. How like us when we first meet Jesus and our sins are covered but then the snowplows come and seek to cover our new relationship. We find ourselves slipping and sliding in our daily sins and temptations. Rather than repenting we just allow the snowplows to cover our sin with our works that never will cleanse. “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness” [1John 1:9] Confessing is agreeing with God about the dirty snowbanks sins in our lives. Forgiveness is new and refreshing like the new blankets of snow he sends our way. Cleansing is every trace of the gray and dirty snow has been removed just as the psalmist said: “he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us” [Ps 103:12] It is as if He sends a new blanket of snow to cover over what He has forgiven.
The winter scene is a picture of our relationship with God and each newly fallen snow is a reminder that with confession comes the covering of our sin.
Revelation 10 The Mighty Angelic Being and the Mysterious Scroll
Scrolls held private messages from one to another. In chapter 5 John is found weeping but assured that the Lamb of God is worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll. With each seal broken John witnesses more and more of God’s merciful judgments being poured out. They are merciful because men have not yet seen His full wrath and the truth of Peter’s words are true: God is not willing any should perish but come to repentance.
The mystery of that scroll’s contents will be revealed but for now, John is not to share what Paul said are the “things too sacred to be put into words.”
John, Daniel, and Ezekiel were given scrolls to read and to ponder of the wonder and majesty of God as well as the impending things to come. Daniel was told to seal his up, Ezekiel was told to share what he had eaten and John is told that he was to eat. The message will be sweet as honey in his mouth but bitter in his stomach and then he is to prophesy again.
Why doesn’t God reveal the mystery? The secret things belong to the Lord our God but those that are revealed belong to us…” [Deut 29:29]For now, God has revealed all that we need to know at this point but one day God will reveal its contents. Until then we must be about the Master’s business of seeking those who need repentance.
Revelation 6 and Gal 4:4 The Sovereignty of God
Through the centuries the world has sought to find peace and so in God’s sovereign will He chose to send prophets and teachers and then His very own Son that they may know how to have what the angels proclaimed: peace on earth. Until His perfect time, He revealed his eternal power and divine nature in all of His handiwork in the sunrise, the clouds as they rush across the sky, and then at His perfect time the birth of the Christ child.
God has permitted men to have free will to choose His love or not. Think of the drama of the Christmas story as it unfolds to show us the various characters that brought the drama to life. We read of the hatred of Herod and the contrasting love of the Magi. We read of the angels singing while the shepherds cared for the sleeping sheep. Today we rehearse the prophets of old and hear their words: As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past. [Mic 5:2 ]
It is only through Christ that men will have perfect peace!
Do you know Him?
Revelation 4 When Jesus walked and talked with the Apostle John and the other 11 disciples he remarked:
“I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep.”
The other disciples have been martyred but John has been spared so that he might write in a book what he sees as commanded by the risen Christ.
And so in some miraculous way, John is transported from the craggy sterile windswept isle of Patmos to the entrance of heaven. Just as John had stood and then entered the empty tomb, he now stands before heaven’s open door. At the tomb, he entered and believed. Because he believed, Christ opens his eyes to see inside a majestic throne room. With senses heightened, John sees flashes of lightning and hears roaring and crashes of thunder. The beauty is just as the prophets had said and immediately the words of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel came rushing back to him and he exclaims:
It is just as they said!
John says I saw the sovereign master, the Ancient of Days seated on a high, elevated throne! Above the blazing throne was a form that appeared to be a man with hair as white and soft like lamb’s wool. The throne had flaming wheels and sitting on the throne was one who gleamed as jasper and carnelian. Encircling the throne was a rainbow like an emerald and around the throne were elders and creatures who worshiped. The elders had white clothes and golden crowns about their heads and there were four living creatures that never rested day or night saying:
“Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful,
Who was and who is, and who is still to come!”
One day, if you, like John, have made the decision to accept Jesus as Savior, you will see what the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and then the Apostle John saw. You too will worship day and night.
The question is, will you see it? Is Jesus your Savior?
Psalm 141:2 & Luke 1
Advent is the “in-between” season as we wait to celebrate the Christ child’s birth. Thus it was in God’s “in-between” time Zechariah was chosen by lot to offer the prayers for the saints waiting outside the Temple. Like Zechariah, we all must learn to wait on God’s perfect time. Zechariah had often prayed but it seemed like those prayers were falling on fallow ground. Would God ever hear and answer? Yet God’s answers come without an age restriction. God had a specially chosen assignment for him and his barren wife Elizabeth. As Zechariah stood ministering God was not only listening but had a message of hope for Zechariah. He would have a son; John the Baptist, to be the forerunner of Jesus.
Do you sometimes think that you are too old to do God’s work?
Perhaps Zechariah felt that way but he also saw faithful waiting was honored even in his advanced age. As was the custom, the lots were cast and Zechariah’s name emerged. He had waited a lifetime for this! In great excitement, he left the Judean hillside where he and his barren wife, Elizabeth resided and walked to Jerusalem.
Now in the courtyard near the brazen altar, Zechariah slowly and meticulously chose the censer to carry the burning coals to reignite the smoldering coals of the incense altar. He then carefully, ever so carefully with his aged palm, reached down to take two handfuls of the incense which would bring a sweet aroma heavenward. In the Holy Place Zechariah quietly stood and then began his work. “Yahweh, hear and accept my prayer.”[Ps 141:2] As the smoke from the burning incense wafted upwards he wondered; did my prayer fill God’s nostrils with a sweet aroma? God not only heard but chose to answer Zechariah. Swiftly Yahweh dispatched Gabriel to earth and to Zechariah. Go and tell Zechariah I have heard and am answering —-Yet the aged priest said to the angel: How can this be?
How often does God send His answer and we say how can this be?
Are you waiting for a prayer to be answered? How do you respond?
Revelation 3 For several weeks now I have led a wonderful group through the book of Acts in our online Bible Study. In doing so we have seen where Paul has left his footprint. Now the Apostle John, spared from martyrdom, picks up the torch and writes to those churches where Paul preached. He is writing to remind them of Paul’s message:
Christ lived, was crucified and was raised from the dead.
Christ has tasked John to write letters to each church to encourage them to overcome and be conquerors. Each church would be a lesson in itself but for today let’s peer over John’s shoulder to see his message to the church in Philadelphia.
Beloved Philadelphian believers, Jesus knows your deeds. He knows that there are some of the Asian Jealous Jews that have infiltrated your midst. Just as they fought against Paul as he preached, they are seeking to fight against you. Just as they followed Paul from place to place seeking to undermine his work, they are doing it now with you. They deny the Lord and his penalty for their sin. Yet through it all the Holy Spirit put his hedge of protection around Paul and He is now protecting you. Know this; one day these antagonists will acknowledge that Jesus has loved them.
Beloved, today as we read these words we know this truth: one day they will look on him whom they have pierced. [John 10:37]
Pray for them! Pray for revival of their hearts.
Beloved, today we need a revival! Pray for not just the jealous Jews BUT for all who have not heard or who have denied His Name. Jesus is coming soon!
Rev 2 Paul wandered through what we know today as Turkey, planting churches. As he was preparing to return to Jerusalem for the feast he prayed over the Ephesian elders on the seashore of Miletus because he knew that in the future fierce wolves would seek to turn their faith away. The Apostle John has been given witness to that very happening some years after Paul’s death. Although steadfastly persisting it was through manmade efforts not the true love of God. We too get caught up in the works of today and fail to return to our first love of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. But not all is lost. Listen to what John writes from the lips of Jesus:
“To the one who conquers, I will permit him to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.” [Rev 2:7]
He is holding you in his grasp so you may not fail. He has engraved you upon his palm. Your ‘job’ is to remain faithful and do not give up but hold on. He is walking with you just as he did with those two on the Emmaus road long ago. Do not be not slow of heart to believe, but remain steadfast. His blessing and his magnificent and precious promises are ahead. He has overcome death’s sting so you could walk victoriously today. Therefore, be ye steadfast, immovable; your labor will not be in vain.
Gal 1 to 3 As Paul traveled and taught he came across the Galatians who believed and began a small congregation. So it was with some dismay that he was astonished to learn that in his absence they had started deserting the faith and returning to the works of the Law. He asked them bluntly, did you receive Christ by doing the works of the Law or by believing? Why do you think that you need to return to that bond of legalism? What has been the purpose of your suffering? For what purpose did God give you the Spirit and allow you to have the gift of miracles?
These are questions we all need to stop and ask because today many want to return to the bondage of the Law rather than stepping out into freedom. Remember that Abraham didn’t have the Law! He was and we are justified by faith not by the works of the Law.
Ask yourself, what was the purpose of Christ’s death? Was it not so that they who believe as Abraham might receive the promise of the Spirit? Again, why was the Law given? It was given to show us what our sin really was. Now that this the Law has been fulfilled through Christ we all belong to Christ and have the promise of the Spirit as His gift. Christ paid the penalty of our sin so we could be and would be free of our sin’s penalty.
So I ask you again: for what reason have you so soon deserted the gospel? Return to your first love and live by the Spirit
Prov 28 “A poor person who walks in his integrity is better than one who is perverse in his ways even though he is rich.”
Today we hear it said and see it before us; get it while you can by any means you can. Is it really better to be materially rich? What does that reflect in our mind’s eye? Do we trust in God’s provision for our daily needs or do we choose to store up riches for an unknown future?
In a recent publication, an author commented that men strive to attain material possessions while forgetting the principle of Luke 12:20 ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” We might all take a moment and check our checkbook to see what entries are placed there. What will we plan to do with any abundance that God has given to us? Will we choose to bless others or be like Scrooge who hoarded his wealth? And if our checkbook is lacking in dollar signs why not consider offering our services to a homeless shelter this season or providing a simple meal to a lonely person in your church?
Jim Elliott was told he could do anything he wanted to, could have obtained houses lands accolades applauds and treasures but instead he felt a call to Ecuador to the Auca Indians. He had written in his journal: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
John 21: It is as if John wanted us to know that life goes on even after seeing the resurrected Lord. We want to know what to do and where to go but still haven’t a clue. So we return to what we know best even if it is isn’t what Jesus wants us to do. And then horror of horrors we find that we aren’t that successful at what we had been doing but don’t know what we should be doing. The draining moment comes when we, like Peter, come face to face with the Lord and hear: Do you love me more than these do? Do you love me? Do you love me?
After each Jesus says: Feed my lambs; those who are the young and need attention. Shepherd my sheep for they are in need of attention; don’t let them get away. Meet their needs in prayer and feeding them in the world in which they live. Feed my sheep, those who are mature but still need a fresh look at Jesus; a fresh feeding of His Word.
How much do we love Him? Enough to grab our cloak, wrap it around us and leave what is comfortable? Enough to come alongside those we disciple and shepherd them? Enough to find a fresh green thought to feed on for today and tomorrow until we meet again?
Why is this needed? Because one day we will be too old to do any of these things; others will have to come alongside us to feed us as if a baby. We will need someone to shepherd us when we can’t or don’t know the next step to take, when we are down and distressed and need a fresh word from God.
Beloved, Do you love Jesus?