Monday, August 16, 2010

Starting Something New

After I finished writing my devotional on reading the Bible in 1 year, I honestly was a little bit worried because I wasn't sure I could think of anything else to do to keep myself in the Word. Of course, God is always faithful and when we put our faith and trust in Him, he does a good job taking care of things for us. God gave me a very excited plan to go through the entire Bible once more only this time, I'll be reading through it in 9 months rather than 12, and every sunday evening, I'll be preaching about the previous weeks reading at Ellipsis Youth ministries. I'm really excited about this new prospect because I think it will really give all of our youth kids the opportunity to read through the Bible if they can, and even if they miss some days or just abandon it altogether, they will still be able to learn the Bible in order through the sermons I will preach. I've put together what I think is I really good reading plan for the next 9 months and I've been working it into a few different formats in case others would like to be a part of it. Currently, I have a list of all of the passages that I can email to anyone who wants it, and I will be posting the passages every day on Twitter (EllipsisLBK) and facebook (Ellipsis Youth Ministries). I'm also working on importing the entire reading plan into Ellipsis's Google Calendar and sharing it with anyone and everyone who would like to be a part of this exciting new venture. Hosea 4:6 tells us that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," and the only way that any of us will ever gain more knowledge about what God's will is for our lives is to dig into His Word and see for ourselves. In addition to the reading plan, I will also be posting all of my sermons online in podcast form. For iTunes users, you can click here, otherwise everyone else can just click here. If you have any questions or would like more information on the reading plan and how you can team up with us, send me an email or leave me a message on Facebook or Twitter. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has walked through this with me and who has been faithful to read all of my ramblings and comment and critique all that I've said, and I hope that you will all stick with us as we walk through the next part of this journey together!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 365: Rev 20:1 - 22:21

Wow, I have to say that I could not imagine a more beautiful and inspiring way to end the book of all books. It's exciting to realize that by this point you have read through the entire Bible and know just a little bit more about what God is trying to say to His people. I recall how the first few entries made at the beginning of this great journey were very focused on redemption. How fitting that this last passage that we've read be focussed on the very subject. From the first book of the Bible until the last, we still see God's main theme of redemption. Whether this is the first time you've ever read through the Bible or the hundredth time you've read through it, I guarantee there's something new that you learned through this journey. God speaks to His children in many different ways and His written Word is one of the ways that we can see beyond a shadow of a doubt God's will for our lives. We learned in Romans 10:17 that "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God," and we can be encouraged knowing that if we will continue not only reading in our minds, but reading out loud and hearing the Word of God spoken that our faith will be strengthened and we will be more equipped to carry out the plan that God has placed on our lives. I would encourage you to take everything that you have learned throughout this last year of reading and continue to apply it every single day as you go forward with God. God didn't simply give us His Word for our own benefit, but He spoke it to us so that we can take it into the world and speak it to every living creature. You have been given a light - the light of the Word, and if you keep it hidden, it will eventually go out. Thank You so much for reading through the Bible with me this year and I pray that you will continue on, whether with the same reading plan or something more complicated, beginning tomorrow.

- Lord, thank You so much for sending Your Word down to Your people. We see throughout these Scriptures that You could not possibly be anything but a loving and merciful God. Thank You for all that You've done and the love that You've shown to Your people and for Your willingness to put into writing all of the things that are necessary for life and living. Give me the strength to go out into all the world and preach the Gospel to every living creature and show me how to love them with a love that could only come from You. Thank You for the redemption that You freely offer anyone who is willing to accept it. Thank You for sending Your one and only Son to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind and for the opportunity that You have given each and every one of us to accept that. Bless everyone who has read this book along with me and help us all to never ever lose this passion that You have placed in our hearts to dig farther and deeper into Your Word. Thank You again for this incredible book and for all of the blessings that You so freely give, in Jesus Name Amen. -

Day 364: Rev 17:1 - 19:21

There are alot of people out there who read the book of Revelation and then find themselves devoting hours and days and sometimes entire lifetimes trying to unravel the secrets of the end-times. They do their research and they cross reference and they do everything they can possibly do to figure out exactly when Jesus is coming back for His bride and they try to figure out the exact circumstances surrounding that event. Sadly, I don't believe that this was God's intention at all when He told John to write these things down. The book of Revelation is not so that smart Bible scholars can devote everything they have to solving the puzzle, it's a book warning us of things to come so that we can wake up and do the one thing that we are all specifically created to do - reach this world. This book was written so that we would be just a little bit more motivated to go into the world and preach the Gospel. If we truly love the world and if we truly want to see them brought to Jesus and rescued from sin and death, understanding what will happen to them if they're not reached should be more than enough motivation for us. I would encourage you as you get ready to finish the book of Revelation to consider those who could possibly be caught up in all of this punishment and torment and make a decision right now to take responsibility and not let that happen. God has given us instruction, He's given us encouragement, and now He's even shown us what will happen to those who aren't reached because we didn't tell them. From this point on if we don't share our faith, it's not because we were ignorant of the importance of sharing, it's out of disobedience to what we know is God's will.

- Lord God, help me to take what I've seen in the book and use it as a huge motivation to go out and reach this world and this generation. I don't want to see anybody go through the torture and torment that awaits them if their name isn't written in the Book of Life and I will do everything I can to bring as many people out of that future as possible. -

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 363: Rev 13:1 - 16:21

My goodness, the severity and scope of the wrath of God in these passages is simply mind-boggling. I can see how someone unfamiliar with God and how He works could possibly look at these verses and think, "How could a loving God do all of this to people?" The first time I was presented with this question, I have to admit that I wasn't really sure how to answer it. But after getting to know my Father a little bit more, I've come to realize that none of these things were done because God was mean or wanted to do them to people. All of this will happen as a result of the human race choosing rebellion over obedience. The simple fact that God is warning us about all of this is a pretty big indication of the fact that He is more merciful than any of us would ever be. This book is a warning of what God will be forced to do to those who refuse to accept Him and chose to follow the sin and selfishness that plagues our world. God is a just God and justice will be served. It's up to us whether or not we will be a part of it.

- Father, thank You for being merciful on us and letting us know what terrible things will happen if we don't choose to follow You. Help us to keep our eyes on You not only so that we can escape Your wrath, but so that we can rescue others as well. -

Day 362: Rev 7:1 - 12:17

As I mentioned yesterday, reading and then writing a commentary on the book of Revelation is not an easy task. After reading this group of Scriptures, I realize even more the fact that I'm not nearly "educated" enough in end-times prophecy to be able to say anything coherent about what the trumpets are, and the angel and the little scroll, and the 2 witnesses, and the lady and the dragon. I'm not at all saying that those things aren't important, but what I am saying is that I, unfortunately, don't even know where to begin to discuss such a subject. What I can talk about is the fact that This entire book of the Bible is such great evidence of the fact that we serve a God Who is truly concerned about His children and what happens to them. It would have been easy for God to just let the human race continue on its own without any knowledge of what was to come, but our Father in Heaven is so in love with His children that He has issued us this prophecy showing us exactly what He plans to do. We would be fools not to take this book seriously and read and know it because whether we like it or not, the end is near and we all have to be ready for what God is planning to do.

- Lord, thank You for loving Your children enough to issue us this warning and let us know exactly what You plan to do. Help us to stay faithful to You and keep this book of prophecy always in our hearts so that we will be ready when the time comes for You to take Your bride back to Heaven with You. -

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 361: Rev 1:1 - 6:17

I have to be completely honest and admit that the book of Revelation was the one book that I was most nervous about writing a commentary for. I mean seriously, I've read this book more times than I can remember and I still have such a hard time understanding any of it. But while I was reading the first part of this book, God brought my attention not to all of the doom and gloom and scary stuff but rather He brought my attention to the fact that He was willing to do all of this and reveal everything to a fragile, imperfect human being. Oftentimes we read this book and we take into consideration all of the end times prophecy and doom and gloom but fail to think about the fact that God was willing to get that close to a human and reveal that much to him simply because He wanted to. And the amazing thing is that God wants to have that sort of open communication and relationship with each and every one of us. I don't necessarily think that John was somehow a super special person that was created better than all of the rest just so he could be shown this incredible awe-inspiring spectacle. I think God was simply looking for someone to speak to about this and John was there ready to listen. I encourage you to open up your heart and really find a way to listen to what God has to say because you never know what He may reveal to you.

- Lord, show me how to get my heart in the right condition so that I can hear Your voice like John did. I want to make myself available to You to hear and see everything You want me to hear and see so that I, like John, can bring it to the rest of the world and help reveal Who You really are to them! -

Day 360: II John 1:1 - Jude 1:24

In the book of Jude, the church is reminded to keep a watchful eye out for those who would sneak into the body of believers with the sole purpose of corruption. It's sad that this is even a problem, but it's no secret that while many churches and ministries are out there trying to take care of others and make changes in their world, there are people trying to sneak in through the back door to gain anything and everything that they can from those ministries. God knows that one of the quickest and easiest ways for the devil to keep his grasp on our society is by polluting the very thing that has been called and commissioned to save this world - the church. We as believers and ministers need to learn how to always be prepared and always be armed and ready for attack from all fronts. Just like the men of Gideon who went to the brook and took a drink while constantly looking around ready for action, we too should be ready to defend the work of God at any moment from any side.

- Father, help us all to be watchful of those who would try to attack the work that You have called us to do from the inside. Help us to know how to deal with them in love and give them the help that they need to join with us rather than work against us. Also help me to keep my heart right and pure so that I am always working out of love and so that I never find myself working against the very thing that You have created me for. -