No earthly good

On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the Lord knows how this could happen!

Zechariah 16:6-7a (NLT)

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshipped.

Zechariah 14:9 (NLT)

And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.

Revelation 21:23 (NLT)

He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

As Christians, we should all long for the day when the Lord returns and evil is banished from this world forever. We will live in the glorious eternal light of the Lamb and can be confident in this if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our names have been written in his Book of Life. But, as wonderful as that day will be, it cannot be our only focus.

There is a saying of those whose focus is not on this world: they are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. These people spend all of their time looking at the end and have lost touch with the present.

I can’t wait for the day when all of us saints will join with the angels around the throne singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” But that day is not today and, until that day comes, I have a job to do. We all have a job to do and it may not—and probably won’t be—all sunshine and roses.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘There are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’

Zechariah 13:9 (NLT)

The days of glory will not come before the days of fire and refinement. Things are going to get a lot more uncomfortable before we are able to walk through the pearl gates and onto the streets of gold. If our only focus is the end, we will miss out entirely on the process. If you’re still here, God is not done with you. And if God is not done with you, your main focus should be the job at hand so that you can earn your reward at the end.

It’s okay to be heavenly minded, but you still have to be good for something while you’re still on earth.

Daily Bible reading: Zechariah 13-14, Revelation 21

Hail the conquering hero

Though in the picture since before the dawn of creation, our hero made a pretty unremarkable entrance into this world. Born under circumstances that would have brought him scorn, he grew up as any other Jewish child and didn’t start to push the boundaries (much) until he was fully grown.

Rejoice greatly. O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey’s colt.

Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)

Believing he would overthrow the stifling Roman rule, Jews welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with open arms and shouts of hosanna! Yet only days later, they called for his crucifixion. He died the death of a convict between two thieves. Many thought that was the last they’d see of him. But, in a remarkable turn of events, he showed up again several days later. He spoke with many people in the 40 days he remained and they watched him ascend into the clouds and then began the wait for his return.

In his first appearance on earth, Jesus made a quiet entry. But when he comes again, there will be nothing calm about it.

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. And the one sitting on the horse was named Faithful and True. For he judges fairly and then goes to war.

Revelation 19:11 (NLT)

From a donkey’s colt to a white horse. From an infant to a warrior. Jesus’ next entrance is depicted as a hero returning from battle. His clothes are stained in blood—either from his enemies or his own sacrifice, or both (verse 13). From his mouth comes a sword with which he struck down the nations (verse 15).

On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:16 (NLT)

It is thought that this title was written in two places for a reason: on Jesus’ robes so that it can be read while he remains stationary, and on his thigh because once he begins to move, his robes will billow out behind him, revealing his thigh. No one will be able to question his title and the authority that goes with it.

In all the talk of beasts and monsters and blood and fire, we tend to skip over the final book in the Bible. And as a result, we never see this glorious depiction of our Savior. In artwork, we see him in a manger. We see him as a boy, challenging the priests in the temple. We see him as a carpenter. We see him as a teacher. We see him on the cross. And we see his ascension into heaven. But rarely to we see this great and mighty warrior, Faithful and True, The Word of God, King of kings and Lord of lords. No one and no thing can stand against the sword from his mouth and the iron rod in his hand.

Our Jesus isn’t merely the baby in a stable or the youth in the workshop. He is not just the teacher nor is he merely the man who gave his life for a fallen world. He is also the conquering hero. Our hero.

Daily Bible reading: Zechariah 7-9, Revelation 19

The wait

Do you ever wonder what this world would be like if Adam had never sinned? If no one had ever fallen prey to the enemy’s lies? Would we even have four seasons? Would leaves ever fall off trees? Would fruit ever spoil? And what about us? Would we still be wandering in paradise blissfully unaware of our nakedness? Taking strolls through the forest with God?

I wonder, like humanity, how much the rest of creation is aware of its fallen state. Romans 8:19 says that all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. It’s not only humans who wait for Jesus’ glorious return, but all of creation. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Romans 8:20-21).

In Revelation 5, we see a progression of praise. First it’s just the elders around the throne. Then they are joined by thousands and millions of angels. And, finally, the rest of the chorus joins in a culmination of the entirety of God’s creation.

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever”

Revelation 5:13 (NLT)

I love the sound of a large choir, but can you imaging the entire universe singing God’s praise? For millennia, creation has been waiting, anticipating the time when we can all sing out. Like a bubble waiting to burst or a bud waiting to bloom, but only infinitely more powerful, beautiful, and wonderful. All of creation—animate and inanimate—longs for the day when we can all bow before the throne and join with the elders and the angels to sing:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—
the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.

Revelation 4:8b (NLT)

Just the thought of that kind of praise and worship stirs my heart. An eternal, universally worship service will surely be worth the wait.

Daily Bible reading: Amos 1-3, Revelation 5

Continually

There are few things in life anyone does continually. We all breathe. That’s a given. Most will work continually until retirement. Some talk continually. Some sleep continually. But all of these things can, and most often do, required breaks of some sort or another. There is one thing, though, that the Bible tells us to do continually.

Pray.

Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

Many in the western church probably couldn’t tell you the last time they started praying let alone the last time they prayed without stopping.

One of the greatest needs of the present day is men and women who will not only start out to pray for things but pray on and on and on until they obtain that which they seek from the Lord.

R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)

We all want to see God move in church on Sunday, but who is really willing to pray on Monday? For most of us, the Great Awakenings of the last century are so far gone (and often forgotten), that we don’t realise how effective prayer can really be. I make a point (though not often enough) to go back and read of the great revivals that brought North America to its knees. You cannot learn about a great move of God without being stirred to see one yourself.

But who is willing to pray for a move of God? Who even knows what that kind of prayer looks like?

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God. True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that—it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Acts 1:14 says that they all met together continually for prayer. Do you think the Holy Spirit would have shown up with tongues of fire if the group hadn’t waited? If they hadn’t been praying while they waited?

It is time that the Church look again toward prayer. Not just programs and growth strategies. I believe those things will come as the result of effective prayer.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

James 5:16b (NLT)

We all have a decision to make regarding prayer. We can go on with our daily lives and offer up a prayer every once in a while when we feel like it or need heavenly help out of a jam—but what’s the point of our faith at all if that’s the case? Or we can pray continually. Continual prayer will require sacrifice on our part, but the reward is great power and wonderful results.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10, Acts 1

Light

The first chapter of the Gospel of John may well be my favourite in all the Bible. I can read it over and over again and still be greatly humbled by those few words.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. the light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

We’ve looked at the parallels between these verses and those in Genesis 1 before, but it never hurts to go back. Both books start with the same three words, in the beginning. The beginning as we know it to be. we know that God is timeless. John said that the Word already existed. So when God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus—the Word—was there. We also know from Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit was there, hovering over the surface of the void.

Then there was light. Not the sun, mind you, but Light. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. The sun doesn’t appear until verse 14.

Jesus is Light. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke His Word over the void earth, He spoke Jesus. Jesus went out and accomplished all that God spoke. In my head, Jesus is always the man with the well-coiffed hair, white robes, and a lamb draped around his shoulders. But he is so much more than that.

He is the Good Shepherd, but he is also the Word that created the earth. He is the friend of sinners, but he is also the Light that pushes back the darkness. He is the healer, but he is also in the seed that produces after their own kind.

If we only ever see the Jesus of the Gospels, we will never understand the Jesus that existed prior to his short stint on earth. He was there in the beginning. He literally was the Word that went out when God the Father spoke. He created everything there is. Jesus did that. The same Jesus that went to the cross and gave up his life for us is life itself. He is light.

Science lesson: The only reason we see anything at all is because of light. Of course! Our eyes receive signals of light reflecting off surfaces and our brains translate that into objects. What we perceive as colour is certain wavelengths of light. Light is a type of energy.

Now swap out light for Jesus.

I’m not going to explain that any further. Just think about it for a while.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 14-15, John 1:1-28

The joy of salvation

Lately, we’ve been talking about eternity—the things that last forever. Our spirits last forever. Whether we chose Christ or not, we’re all in this for the long haul. God lasts forever. He’s been around forever, too. Jesus’ words last forever.

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.

Luke 21:33 (NLT)

There aren’t many things that last forever, but how much of our focus is set on those things rather than the things that will disappear? Have you set your priorities as such that your focus is on the things that you can take with you when you pass from this world, or are you hoarding all you can here, only to have to leave it behind when Jesus comes again?

Watch out! Don’t let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth.

Luke 21:34-35 (NLT)

When I was a kid, my parents were involved in serving at church every Sunday. That meant we had to leave earlier than most. We took one car. When it was time to leave, we all had to be in that car. There were no exceptions. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We didn’t have the option of taking another vehicle (none of us kids were old enough to drive). Mom and Dad both had to be at church early, so it wasn’t as though one of them could come later with another vehicle. House rules stated that we go to church on Sunday. Again, no exceptions. Ready or not, we all leave at the same time.

Jesus drives the car (this is not a Jesus take the wheel kind of story). When Jesus pulls up to get us all, He’s only coming once. We can be sitting on the front step all dressed up and waiting for him or we can be rushing through our routine trying to make it out the door, toothbrush in hand. There is no second ride.

We can spend our lives dawdling around thinking we can rush through our preparations when the time comes or we can get ready now.

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

We can make the temporary things of this world our priority, or we can turn our eyes toward the eternal and make the decision to say:

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

Psalm 51:12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 19-20, Luke 21:20-38

With you always

As a single person who lives alone, I find it difficult (and sometimes even unappealing) to imagine never being alone. But that is exactly what Jesus promised when he appeared to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:20b

This statement immediately followed what we now refer to as The Great Commission.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

Matthew 28:18-20a

When we take our roles as disciples of Christ seriously. When we do his work. He is with us always. And not only is he with us, his power is to. That complete authority in heaven and on earth follows us around giving us the power we need to complete the Commission. Always.

Daily Bible reading: Leviticus 20-21, Matthew 28:1-20