Monthly Archives: December 2018
Revelation 22:1 & 17
Then he showed me the river of the water of life. It was sparkling like crystal, and flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb…
The spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let anyone who hears say, “Come!”Let the thirsty come; let anyone who wants the water of life take it freely.
How awesome it must’ve been to actually see the river of the water of life flowing from God and the lamb, showing the eternal fellowship of God and Christ.
It was sparkling like crystal, showing that it is pure and purifying for all who drink of it, so that you may enter into the Presence of the Holy One. Anyone may drink of it, but you must come to Jesus to do so. Jesus doesn’t waterboard you with the water of life. It’s up to you to accept His beautiful invitation to come and have a drink of true life which flows only from God.
We drink of so many things, flowing from varying sources, that just do not satiate.
And let anyone who hears say, “Come!”
Once we have heard the invitation, and responded positively by drinking it in, we invite others to do so as well, because we want this goodness for all, especially for those with whom we are close and love dearly; for we have tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed truly good.
A friend once said that Jesus works with our desire.
Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.
Let anyone who wants the water of life take it freely.
Those are some of the most beautiful and comforting words in all of Scripture if you ask me.
The water of life flowing directly from God is graciously and sacrificially provided for all of us simply for the taking. The only reason we do not partake seems to be ourselves getting in the way, for there is nothing that can keep us away from it. Nothing.
Come to Jesus. And drink freely.
In Christ alone the longing of the soul can be satisfied.
O Christ, in thee my soul hath found,
And found in thee alone,
The peace, the joy, I sought so long,
The bliss til now unknown.
Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other Name for me!
There’s love, and life, and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus found in thee.
Revelation 21 :1,5
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…
The one who sat on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new.”
Some day God is going to renew the cosmos, and we will no longer have the obstacles of evil and barriers to God’s presence to worry about.
Until then, we need to enjoy the smaller scale renewals which prepare us for life on new earth. Scripture tells us that even though our physical bodies wear down, our spirits are being renewed day by day.
We do get a foretaste of life on new earth, as long as we allow our spirits to be renewed, and our lives and minds to be purged of all that is unfit for our future home. Yes, this can hurt, but may we keep hopeful with the picture in Revelation of where it is all heading. We have a short time here on old earth where sin has much sway, though God’s kingdom grows. But we will have an incomparably longer time on new earth where sin is no more and God Himself will dwell with us. As one person humorously noted, “We’re dead a lot longer than we’re alive.” Of course we know that “dead” for us means newly alive.
We’re approaching a new calendar year, so may we live out some of our pre-cosmic renewal by living out that daily renewal of our spirit to bring us closer to new earth shape.
One way I’ve been thinking of this for 2019 is this:
3 “Tions” to Shun
Here’s a short unfolding of these three:
Shedding distractions from God’s presence by decluttering our mind and life, perhaps by having time away from screens and practicing Sabbath.
Stop trying to live to others’ expectations, which is one of the top 5 regrets of dying people, as you may remember.
Do not feel the need to live according to others’ limitations, because their life is not your life. Sometimes we’re made to feel guilty for having what others do not, be it the ability to walk or read, or electricity, or a family intact… We need to live well the life God has given us and instead of apologizing for it, use it to bring attention to Jesus, and help others as we are able.
13 Then I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged on the basis of what was written in the books, in accordance with what they had done.
15 And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, they were thrown into the lake of fire.
I have 9 detailed commentaries on the book of Revelation. I read them all concerning this section of five verses.
Let me just say that I am humbled…blown away…both comforted and a bit nervous…unsure of what to even write after two days of reflection.
So I will just share one thing that stood out to me.
It’s interesting to me that John does not seem concerned to resolve the tension he witnessed between works and grace. It’s we, centuries later, who feel the need to make everything neat and tidy, comprehensible for our mental and emotional well-being, even though it is God who gives us mental, emotional, and spiritual peace, not our air-tight theology and prediction of exactly what the future will look like.
It looks as if we all will stand before God and be judged on our works done while here on earth. Everyone is at this final judgment scene, except for the martyrs. No one escapes it. And everything we do matters—one of the reasons we named this ministry The Ripple Effect. It seems we will be judged on all our deeds as written in these books of account. We are responsible for our deeds, and in a sense, we write our own judgment due to our free will and choices. It does seem that our bad deeds committed here are only counted against us if we have failed to repent of them and seek forgiveness.
At the same time, God alone is responsible for our salvation. It is God’s book of life. It is God who provides salvation through Christ via our faith. Our genuine faith and trust in Christ will inevitably manifest itself in works and a way of life that is godly.
Sorry if this is a jumbled mess, but by way of application I will simply say that what I take from this is that I cannot rest on being saved when I was five years old, and then do whatever the hell I want to do all the time, thinking there will be no eternal consequences.
I realize that I will be judged according to how I’ve lived this life—whatever that judgment means, and simultaneously, I will be judged worthy by whether my name is in this book of life, according to Christ’s work.
So I am judged, in the end, by my own works, and ultimately by Christ’s work.
All I know is that I place my faith and hope in Christ alone, in His redemptive work on the cross, and that everything I do in this life does matter eternally.
Maybe that’s all I needed to say….
Jesus is WOW
I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “Look! Don’t do that! I am a fellow-servant with you, and with your brothers and sisters who hold on to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!”
To worship is to bow down, celebrate, acknowledge the rightful place of someone.
Everyday we need to acknowledge the rightful place of water, as our body is about 70% water, and we need to ingest it very regularly to keep alive and function well.
Everyday we need to acknowledge the rightful place of God, as 100% responsible for our existence, and we need to ingest God very regularly to keep spiritually alive and functioning properly.
Today we celebrate Jesus, bowing down before Him, as is appropriate because of His rightful place in the universe and in our hearts—as Master.
Jesus is WOW, which conveniently stands for Worthy Of Worship.
Jesus is WHOA—Worthy of Having Our Attention, or our ALL.
No one else is WOW.
The love of God for us manifesting in becoming one of us, is beyond words.
“I am going to enjoin myself to you, so that we may be one, together in the most intimate way, and forever. Because I love you”
We worship only One, Yahweh, simply because of who He is and what He has done. It’s incredible and incomprehensible if you sit with it for any length of time.
A couple of Psalms have been singing themselves to me this week:
O, come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! ~Psalm 95:6-7
Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. ~Psalm 100:3
I’d love to leave you with what our Ripple Reader, Kenzie, shared with me this morning from the Christmas Eve service she attended at Gobin Methodist Church in Greencastle last night:
We spend so much of Christmas doing FOR ,
Trying to buy the right gift FOR
Trying to accommodate FOR
making plans FOR
We donate our Money FOR charity
But instead we need to be WITH
Being WITH others having that connection, those conversations that we never get to because we are so busy running around doing FOR
Just being WITH people. Spend time with Jesus. Spend time with loved ones, share ourselves with the less fortunate.
Jesus is God With us. He calls us to do the same. Being With….
Shiny Things Are No More
All the fruit for which you longed has gone from you; all your luxuries and sparkling objects have been destroyed; you won’t find them anymore.
Eternal life is more descriptively translated as “The Life of God’s Coming Age”.
It’s more than simply living forever. If it’s only the aspect of never-ending living, then I’m thinking there’s quite a few of us who’d say, “Maybe I’ll pass on that.” Because the more you think about it, the less attractive it becomes. There’s the obvious thoughts of boredom, even if everything’s going just how you like. In fact, it might just seem super boring because of that!** That is, if we imagine eternity with the minds and lives we have right now.
But if we have received God’s Life, and are cultivating the growth of that very Life in us, allowing and fostering it to take over us in mind, body and spirit, then forever—as long as it’s thought of while possessing God’s age-to-come Life within us—sounds more and more appealing, more and more like home, our true home.
Jesus inaugurated God’s coming age. This is the age Revelation speaks of—when God’s kingdom is realized in full. Until then, we are privileged to help usher it in all over the world. And this has been happening for 2,000 years. Don’t let the media fool you, there’s more good happening on earth now than ever before. God’s kingdom spreads and expands, like a mustard seed infiltrating the cosmos, and germinating exponentially over time.
When we entrust our lives to Jesus, we are given the Life of God’s coming age. But much is up to us as far as how much of that Life we “use” or live on. The more we chase and hold on to the things this world offers us, the more energy and potential from God’s Life in us that is drained and wasted.
You can’t fully grab on to God’s world with both hands if you still have a grip on any of the things of this world which you think satisfy, or will be the fulfillment of your deepest longings.
Living in God’s domain (the King’s Domain—”Kingdom”), means necessarily forsaking the world’s domain as the object of your longings.
We are not merely living to get to some future, faraway, foreign place after we die, and that starts later. We’re living for/in God’s coming age which has already started with Jesus’s earthly life, and which we as active participants are gloriously tasked with bringing more and more into reality even before we die! And this, via God’s actual Life and energy in us, animating us as we bring God’s kingdom to fruition—God’s desires for how he’d like to see his world run.
We use the optimal energy of grace and Holy Spirit, for that is the only way it can really be done, and it is being done right now in our world.
Are you a part of this?
Are you feeding on God and actively bringing God’s coming age into reality in this age now?
**For an excellent commentary on this idea, watch The Twilight Zone episode 28, “A Nice Place to Visit” [pictured below].
She is the one with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication; she is the one whose fornication has been the wine that has made all the earth-dwellers drunk.
Sin is intoxicating.
As in, it impairs your judgment.
Holding on to something that is spiritually unhealthy is like walking around drunk all the time.
Your awareness is diminished to the point that you cannot see situations accurately or clearly. You’re in a fog due to the nurtured sickness in your everyday life.
And like we said yesterday, the more you indulge something, the harder it becomes to turn back around.
For instance, if you are always focused on self–what you need, what you want–then you become drunk with self-centeredness which impairs your vision for others. You see others with less and less accuracy, less compassion, and, therefore, are more and more unable to see others’ needs. You’re so drunk on your self, that you’re in a fog that thickens to the point of inability to see through it. Your awareness takes on a tunnel vision that closes you in your own little world where you see reality only through your inebriated mind.
I believe we are meant to live in peace, freedom, victory, and even an expanded consciousness—but we can only live this way when living according to the design by Yahweh.
When I am focused on God more than myself and more than what others think of me, I then see others with more clarity, compassion, and accuracy. My awareness is expanded so that my field of view is enlarged, and I am able to tend to a situation rightly, because I am not drunk on the wine of defending myself, living up to other’s expectations, obsessing about getting my way….
They did not repent or give him glory.
They did not repent of what they had been doing.
It does not go well for those who refuse to turn from their ways which go against the Creator of the universe.
The more acts you commit in a certain direction, the more locked onto a path for which eventually there may be no return—like driving on a road going up a mountain in which the road gets narrower and narrower, sheet of rock straight up on one side of the car, cliffs straight down on the other. The higher you go, the narrower the road, and at some point it will become impossible to turn around.
There are the big and obvious sins that most of us know to stay away from, but what about the more subtle and more easily justifiable wrongs?
Like maybe bitterness towards someone.
The more you nurture those ill thoughts of someone whenever you think of them, the harder it gets to turn it around and think purely of them.
The single best thing you can do in that situation is pray for that person. Not only is that just good (and commanded of us), but it really does change your heart towards someone, making it possible to love them, even if it’s that “impossible family member” with whom you absolutely disagree. You will be able to have a spirit of forgiveness towards them.
Now remember, forgiveness does not always mean there is reconciliation. There are situations in which you may not be able to ever have a healthy relationship with someone for various reasons. But you can always pray for them, and cultivate a soft heart towards them.
Be careful and check yourself to see if there are any habits you’ve formed–of thought, of action—that are locking you in to a place from which it is getting more and more difficult to turn around.
And they sing the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the suckling lamb, saying,
“Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God the Almighty, just and true are your ways, the King of the gentiles! Who, Lord, would not revere—and will not glorify—your name? Because you alone are hallowed, because all the gentiles will come and make obeisance before you, because your acts of justice have been made manifest.”
~Translation by Eastern Orthodox Scholar David Bentley Hart
It is good to sing to and about our Lord.
Singing regularly has the effect of massaging truth into the fabric of your being in a unique way.
Singing of the character of God will work those truths down into your sub-conscience, so that they can be recalled in moments of need without strenuous effort.
It is good to sing with others at gatherings of worship, but it is also of high value to sing on your own, by yourself, from your heart to God.
I have put little phrases or prayers to a melody so as to sing them over and over as a mantra to myself of God. And believe me, these stay with you, always ready for recall. Singing liturgies, or even simply reciting them daily/weekly, will become part of you, and assist in the fight against the lies of the evil one and this world.
I can hardly express the joy of hearing our daughters break out in song from something they’ve learned and sung in repetition at their school chapel. I rejoice that Jesus is there, in the form of music in their hearts.
Think about singing to God throughout your day today, and making it a habit, trusting that this practice will deepen the truth of God in your very soul.
Someone Made This!
Then I saw another angel….He spoke with a loud voice, and this is what he said: “Fear God! Give him glory! The time has come for his judgment! Worship the one who made heaven and earth and the sea and the springs of water!”
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine shared her story of when she was saved, or “born from above”.
She was out west and on her way home from a concert, in the passenger seat. Looking at the mountains and the beauty of the landscape, she took keen notice in a new and enlightening way.
“Someone did this!” she exclaimed.
It dawned on her at the deepest level that Someone was responsible for all of this beauty around us.
Her life was never the same from that moment, as she committed her life to Christ after being overwhelmed with his handiwork.