Re:Verse reading–Revelation 1 (day three)
“In his right hand he held seven stars.” The degenerating analytical ability of the sin-compromised human mind has offered two hypotheticals: The universe is devoid of a good person at its center, or, we cannot know whether there is a good person at the universe’s center. Various forms of despair arise from these two postulates, and so we’ve got the world that we’ve got. Only when you live from the reality that “in him all things hold together” will your life–and communities and civilizations built on that revelation–take on the resilience that resists decay. How can you start living in such a way? You can trust Christ in the stuff of life: You won’t die if you forgive; your boss is not the arbiter of your future; and so on. You are at God’s mercy, not the universe’s.
Re:Verse reading–Revelation 1 (day two)
“…and His voice was like the sound of many waters.” vs. 15b
We have a sound machine that is located near baby Jessica’s crib. Every time we put her down for a nap or bedtime we turn it on. Perhaps you have used one of these devices before. They even have apps that you can get on your phone. They contain a variety of different sounds, but the one we use sounds like ocean waves crashing on a beach. We use this because that “white noise” tends to drown out everything else that might interfere with Jessica’s rest.
If you have ever stood on the beach you know that sound. It is at once both powerful and soothing. By it everything else is made small. This is how John describes the voice of the Lord. If you long for his voice, for his guidance, for his path forward you must stand before that sound. What that means is that you will have to let go of whatever other sounds are competing for your attention. Your sin, your self-doubt, your anxieties, all of these pale to the great voice of the Lord. If you want to hear him, you cannot listen to the others. Then, only then, can you find your rest.
Re:Verse reading–Revelation 1 (day one)
“When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as a dead man.”–v 17
The supernatural world is not tame. The invisible realities that created the visible world are huge and high and fearful. People who see Angels or any appearance of God all have the same reaction. Conviction of sin. Overwhelming fear.
Isaiah “saw the Lord, high and lifted up”. Ultimately encouraging, the immediate impact of the vision was to make Isaiah acutely aware of his own sinfulness–particularly the use of his lips (i e I have talked about for such foolish, silly things).
When John saw the resurrected and glorified Christ, he fainted. Full system shut down!
People often say, “I want to talk to God, I want to ask Him a question!” Usually I think to myself, “No, my brother, I don’t think you really do.” People who have actually seen the Lord tell a different story.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day seven)
“When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them)”–v 21.
Os Guinness has a new book out. It is called Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization. The title comes from an eleventh century Benedictine reformer, Peter Damian. Despite intense opposition, he spoke out against sexual immorality in the priesthood, against the selling of church offices. He was unbending and unstoppable and unbribable. He was impossible!
I think the Sanhedrin would have said the same of Peter and the first followers of Christ. They arrested them, beat them, threatened them, but they couldn’t make them stop speaking the things they had seen and heard (and believed) in Christ.
We are called to be these people in an age of spiritual darkness and denial. We are to speak of Christ, even when it is unpopular. We are to be impossible.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day six)
Can we change? I mean really change; not just cosmetic, superficial changes, but deep-down-to-the-core change. That’s the kind of change that happened in Peter. What a difference between that night in the courtyard where he denied Jesus three times, and his confrontation with the Jewish council, the same ones who had condemned Jesus! Peter was a new man, not in his personality, he was still the same bold Peter; he was a new man because now he was losing his life for the sake of Jesus’ name, that he might find it.
That’s the kind of change that the Gospel promises. Repentance and belief in Jesus, his work, and his promises, not only frees us from sin, but frees us to live a new life in the power of the Spirit of God. Like Jesus (and later Peter) we begin to live out the Kingdom of God by laying down our life for others. The truth is, although hard, it’s the best possible life we can live, and it holds the greatest reward.
Can you change?
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day five)
“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Matthew 10:19-20
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… , Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. Acts 4:8, 13
How often are we aware that God’s promises are being kept and displayed in our lives? Moments of sadness and grief are accompanied by His promised peace and presence. Moments of fear or weakness are accompanied by His promised courage. Moments of confusion are accompanied by His promised wisdom. Moments of uncertainty are accompanied by His guidance and direction. (And the list goes on and on).
Maybe today we should all do a promise inventory (of times we have been witnesses and benefactors of God’s Promises). Maybe a prayer of thanksgiving should be spoken. “God I thank You because you have kept (demonstrated) Your promise of _____________________ to me”
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day four)
Politics have always been the same, I guess. It makes little difference what the truth is…only what the desired outcome of the power brokers happens to be. The rulers and elders recognized that a miracle had taken place…they knew the truth! But…their question was…how do we keep the truth from spreading, so we can squelch the truth? The truth did not accomplish their goals. Even when the truth is blatantly obvious to everyone…the childish adherence to a lie is repeated over and over again.
Have you ever done that? Do we ignore God’s truth and develop lame excuses for not obeying His Word? Israel did. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” God does not adhere to truth, He is Truth! Check your heart and follow truth!
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day three)
“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When Jesus would instruct people to say nothing about the healing they received from him, he did so because he knew how such things could be misunderstood, or how the healed persons could be exploited. He taught them to speak with words that would illuminate, not manipulate. The disciples learned this lesson well. There is not a hint of ambition in their words or deeds. The truly courageous and transformative social movements in history—those that have spoken truth to power and have freed the captive—have been spiritual in nature. They have arisen as people bend to the mission of God among us to expose and set right and to announce forgiveness and grace. May our words come from that same place.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day two) “For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” vs. 20
“But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33
Peter and John had so many reasons to keep their mouths shut. By performing a miracle and proclaiming Jesus’ authority they had stirred quite a commotion. They knew what the consequences could be, they both were witnesses to Jesus trial, torture, and death. But Peter had also walked this road before. He had been cross-examined in the streets and had denied knowing Jesus. That bitter pill was still fresh in his mouth. He would not make that mistake again.
The truth is, they knew what could happen, but they also knew what did happen. Jesus rose from that grave, and gave voice to their new ministry. No matter the cost, they would proclaim that truth until the end.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 4:1-22 (day one)
“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”–v 13
You are amazing! At least, you can be. Hang around Jesus! Let him shape how you think about God or self or the future, and people will certainly begin to notice something “different” about you. Something that they can’t quite explain or describe.
Maybe it will be your confidence. “Free speaking” is the best translation of the word in v 13. The disciples weren’t afraid. They were uninhibited–and without the normal “confidence credentials”. No seminary degree or letters in front of their names. Just boldness. It was amazing!
Maybe hanging with Jesus will make you uncommonly tender, or surprisingly wise or shockingly unselfish. One way or another, His plan is to have people look at your life and be amazed.