The Promise of God . . . is to be God

25 Jun

This past National Day of Prayer I was blessed with the opportunity to worship with a group of believers in Carson City, Michigan. The message was followed by local pastors and representatives from various church bodies leading those present to lift up the community, those who protect and serve, and our nation as a whole. It was beautiful to watch the Body come together with one voice to offer praises and petitions before the Throne.

The message focused primarily on the promise of God to be exactly who He says He will be and the assurance, the complete joy we have, when we rest in Him being Him. Clicking on the heading “National Day of Prayer” will let you listen to the thoughts I shared that evening. I’ve included the Scripture highlighted because that’s where the power is and a written summary of the final moments of the message right beneath the audio link.

⇓To listen to the message click the heading below⇓

National Day of Prayer Message

I pray that the promise of God to be God will encourage your heart today.

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‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:3

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” 12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:6-16

Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 1 Kings 8:28

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. FOR IF YOU REMAIN SILENT at this time relief, and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  Esther 4:14

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.   Jeremiah 32:17

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Acts 17:26

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

The promise of prayer is . . . that God will be God.

And Friends make no mistake that God being God is . . .

  • Always more than we can imagine.
  • God being God is always more than we have the unction to comprehend.
  • God being God – is always More than . . . and you can fill in the blank.

God will do and be more than we can think or imagine because that’s WHO GOD is – He is the God of More –He does more because He is more.

  • He is the More who hovered over the waters when the land and the sea were commanded to appear
  • He is the More who called out the stars one by one
  • He is the More who parted the Red Sea and held the water at bay to the left and to the right
  • He is the More who led them to the Promised Land
  • He is the More who took on Flesh to walk among us
  • He is the More who became sin on the Cross
  • He is the More who defeated death and arose from the Tomb
  • And He is the More who leans from heaven to hear your every prayer

When we rejoice in our homes and our praises reach His ears . . .

17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet YOU in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17

  •  Shouts of joy! The God of More will not be silenced where you are concerned!

When we struggle against the prowling lion who seeks to devour our communities the Voice of Victory speaks and the Lion of Judah roars through our hearts declaring that we are more than a conquerors!

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31

  •  Our Jesus cannot be defeated! The God of More will not surrender!

And when we weep, rather for our nation, our neighbor, or ourselves we know that our Advocate sits on High and the One who has called us His own, Job assures us . . . weeps with us.

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. Job 16:19-21

The Spirit Himself will plead our case. The God of More will hear the 1 Kings 8:28 cry of His servant in His presence!

And His heart will be moved . . . to be God.

So for our nation tonight we summon the courage to accept that we have come to our royal position for such a time as this . . .

  • We exercise our privilege and enter the Throne Room,
  • We carry out our purpose, Asking and Receiving
  • And We rejoice in the promise of complete joy

Not in the promise of the yes, not the promise of doing it our way, but the Promise of God to always be who He says He is . . The God of More.

The God of More

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Many thanks to BibleGateway for making Scripture so accessible!

The Evermore of Glory . . . the Nevermore of Tears

16 Jun

Life is such a funny thing. Periods of great joy and deep grief run parallel with one another. Elation and loss side-by-side, each one demanding your full attention – neither receiving it because you find yourself incapable of fully committing to the experience of either. Instead, you find yourself vacillating between the two. Moments of great happiness followed by times of overwhelming melancholy . . . and the life events that lead us there are as different as the feelings themselves.

I have Sisters walking through such grief as they come to terms with doing a portion of this temporal life without their Mommas. . . without their children . . .they simultaneously ache with the reality of their daily absence and rejoice that the ones they loved so well are now free of pain and worry, standing hand-in-hand with Jesus. They delight that their faith has become sight but the apartness of it all is so heavy sometimes. So they find themselves living in a place of both joy and emptiness, hearts etched by separation and spirits anticipating sweet reunions . . .knowing the reality of the Apostle Paul’s statement that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

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I have Sweet Friends in soul combat as their “adult-children” begin navigating life on this decaying planet in a new way. They beam with pride at the accomplishments of their babies as their high school days are left behind and they pray with ferocity for their futures. They put together picture boards in commemoration of milestones and try to imagine the new images that will be part of their children’s monumental moments in the days to come. They are standing between the mountain-top of triumph and the fresh climb into the unknown that looms just ahead for their young people. Young people who head toward new destinations on their life journeys and take with them very real and very large chunks of their Momma’s hearts. Hearts that at once celebrate what lies ahead and remember the sweetness of what is behind. Hearts that hear the Voice of Love whisper . . . “train a child up” . . . and cling to it with everything they are.

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God opened my eyes to this strange linking of emotional arms this morning as I set about the business of continuing to sort and pack away my daughter’s things. I pack a little and I cry a little. I do heavy sighs as if my heart can’t get enough air as I look from thing to thing and the memories flood through my mind and onto my cheeks. The wedding is over. The new life in a new state has begun for her. My emotions flow back and forth between great happiness over her new experiences and powerful waves of what I can only describe as heart blues.

And I’m sure she is encountering some version of that same ebb and flow as she makes her new home. Unpacking boxes that speak to the security of a time now passed and choosing new things to create a sense of belonging in this place of fresh beginning. New wife, new life . . . joy and anticipation colliding head on with a peculiar mixture of mourning and melancholy.

No matter where you are reading from, you have a similar experience. A time when it seemed that your heart argued with itself about what you should be feeling. A dear friend reminded me years ago when my Sweet Girl left for college on the opposite end of the country and I walked through the same dichotomy of emotions that we were never meant to experience painful separation from one another. Might that be why it is so difficult to nail down the way we feel about being apart?

I confess that this upheaval in my emotions, while unpleasant at times, has served a beautiful purpose. It has opened my eyes and allowed me a glimpse of the eternity I will spend in Glory. It has made me marvel at what Jesus was willing to endure when He experienced the ultimate separation on the Cross so we could spend eternity in glorious togetherness.

There will be no farewells in heaven. Glory wasn’t designed for clashing emotions. Loss will have no place in eternity and its fraternal twin loneliness will never draw a breath.   Mourning and melancholy simply won’t be part of the equation. Sadness and sorrow will never make their way past the Gate called Beautiful.

The ransomed of God will delight in the absence of mixed emotion and savor the full presence of one another . . .not a tear will be shed and everlasting joy will crown the head of the redeemed. Gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing—the kind we do when we feel like our hearts can’t get enough air—they will flee away.

Beloved, that’s our reality – our certain outcome – because He is our reality and He will not change His mind concerning us. We won’t be visited by loss and the pain of grief will not find a home. There will be no more life transitions or waiting for blessed reunions. No more intermingling of elation and melancholy. Never again will we utter the goodbye. Sweet Sister, if you find yourself with a fractured spirit—part of you celebrating while the other part grieves—you take heart Precious Believer . . .our complete joy is guaranteed and the Nevermore of separation will be ours when our feet are firmly planted in the Evermore of Glory.

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The Corner of the Familiar and the Future . . . Written by the Mother of the Bride

16 May

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I am at an intersection – a unique place of ending and beginning. . . the corner of the familiar and the future.  Days of being a much needed Mommy are coming to a close. They have been ebbing away for quite a while but it seems that my Sweet Girl becoming a wife closes the door with a bit more of a hushed goodbye than her exiting for another year of college.babydo

It’s an end to an era of cuddles on the couch, brushing her hair out of her face when she doesn’t feel good, and keeping her room exactly like it is for the next time she comes home. It’s the beginning of preparing for visits from the newlyweds and Brett and I finding our footing in this last stage of empty nesting.

I’m thrilled for the new life that awaits her but I simultaneously ache for the warmth of the life that has already passed. All too quickly she has grown from a delightful, sweet child into a wonderful, vibrant woman. I’m going to be sad not to have a ringside seat for all the changes that are coming her way and the idea of peeking at her life as it is displayed on facebook and Instagram makes the melancholy run down my face.

We’re at an intersection – leaving behind and moving forward. She’s leaving behind rural living to move to the city, a place far more suited to her eclectic little life palette. She loves the busyness of it all—the people, the sounds. She even likes too much light shining in her bedroom window now but I know that in that urban setting . . .her heart will remember a sky filled with too many stars to count. I’m hoping she’ll remember the fireflies that lit up the trees across the road like Christmas lights and the ones she trapped in mason jars before they became symbols of shabby chic and kitschy drinking glasses.

I’m hoping that when she’s navigating the traffic, lanes filled with cars and activity, there will be a part of her that will have a small urge for the quietness of Biddinger Boulevard. The place that deer would walk up to the back deck and I would convince her Santa had sent them to check on her. santadayThe place where Barbie shopping centers grew into empires and the American Girls lived. The home where her love for the magic of following A Rabbit in the Garden changed over the years to a love of following the White Rabbit and the magic of Wonderland.

I’m at an intersection—voices of the past echoing and new songs forming for the future. Celebrating that her soon to be husband knows her so well that he bought her a record player for a wedding gift while tilting my head to eavesdrop on the past and hearing the creepiness of Little Mary Fagan move from Nanny’s lips through my heart to meet her ears. And somewhere along the way, my mind swallows up those eerie notes and they are replaced by the theme song from Gilmore Girls and then quickly segue’ –appropriately I might add—into the voice of Taylor Swift as I crack open my favorite old card from years ago and hear . . . all my best days are with you.

Straining my ear backward to listen in one more time as Sleeping Beauty thuds to the kitchen floordaddysgirl and the Handsome Prince rolls his wheelchair to her rescue while simultaneously hearing the Bride-to-be make honeymoon plans with the red-haired Boy on the other end of the phone. Leaning into the past to hear her giggle as Uncle Scar and Don Karnage make an appearance through her Daddy’s voice and listening to one song after another play on the computer as they try to pick the perfect one for the Father-Daughter dance that is coming so quickly.

We’re at an intersection . . . beautiful memories in the rearview mirror and new scenery just ahead. Remembering so vividly the big vocabulary of the tiny blond-haired toddler of the past and seeing the brilliance of the young writer who speaks with such insight in the here and now—wondering what the future will hold. Reminiscing about the little one who rode on the power chair’s battery pack with her Daddy manning the controls and having my eyes fall on the wedding dress she will wear as she walks beside his power chair down the aisle. Looking back in delight at the little girl she was and gazing with wonder at the young woman she is –so beautiful, so breathtaking.

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I’m at an intersection . . .and no matter which way I look –behind me or before me—I see Jesus. I see a heritage of life . . . redemption then and freedom now. I see Love . . .mercy yesterday and grace today.   Rather I gaze forward or backward . . . I see Him. My God whose blessing cannot be contained and whose promises for joy and life abundant know no time constraints. I see Him and my heart rejoices that His love toward me reaches beyond me and His grace is bigger than my mistakes. I see Him and my heart cries out in praise that He has changed her faith heritage –redeemed our family line—and His love extends to a thousand generations of those who love Him.   – And I smile at the blessing in the distance—knowing that when little red-haired grandchildren arrive someday they will be the first generation to be born into a family of full throttle Christ followers. Oh Lord, I stand at the crossroads, the intersection . . . the corner of the familiar and the future . . . and I am utterly amazed by Your goodness.

She Loves Me More: An Open Letter to my Mom

10 May

Marilyn (Bunny) Biddinger:

In honor of Mother’s Day I’d like to sing my Momma’s praises again! I am so grateful that she will always love me more! Love you Mom!

Originally posted on glimpsedglory:

I feel God is prompting me to write a book and in response to that I have begun the process of sifting through all the spiral notebooks I have written in over the years. It’s a little bit like the process of revisiting the memories and the people when you’re sorting pictures. You can’t just drop it onto the top of a pile until you’ve looked it over, fingered the edges of it, smiled at it or cried with it, and let the “all of it” wash over your heart one more time. I realize as I am reading over that description that I am very much dating myself chatting about the mounds of unsorted pictures I have tucked away in totes, so for the younger sisters that I pray are reading and will be spurred toward love and good deeds as a result of being here—replace the words that…

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Let the Jar be Broken! Go Forth Mighty Warrior!!!

6 May

Oh how I love God’s timing and His desire to encourage our hearts. He is the One who created spurring one and another on toward love and good deeds . . . why does it is surprise me so that He practices it so well?

Just a short thought for this day . . . We are drawing near to the National Day of Prayer and as I asked God this morning to prepare my heart for sharing His word at a local gathering I prayed – “Lord, move this cracked pot out of the way so that only Your Light shines.”

See, I feel too nervous. I feel too small. And I feel too weak to speak about the Mighty God we serve with the reverence and the awe He so deserves. I want so badly to communicate in such a way that people are roused to follow hard after Him knowing that He will be found.  It’s my desire that hearts will be awakened and that we will join arms in the faith to influence our communities and our nation. But I know all of that is beyond me – and there’s the root of my prayer – “Move this cracked pot out of the way – let your light shine.”

And His answer to me was immediate . . .Gideon. The runt of the litter in the smallest tribe. Called to stand with only a few in the Name of the Lord to defeat the enemy. The weapons God placed in their hands?

16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. Judges 7:16

A Trumpet

A Jar

A Torch

Oh Lord you are the delight of my soul! He has given you and I the same weapons each and every day –

  • The Trumpet . . .The message of God and the announcement of the good news. Let those God has placed in our sphere of influences KNOW that God is in the house! Let us announce that He lives within us by word and by deed all for His glory.
  • The Jar . . . Lord, break this jar of clay—bust away our insecurities, take the idols we’ve surrounded ourselves with, strip us of our penchants to be self-absorbed and remove any ounce of pride that may rear its ugly head – smash our broken pots to reveal the treasure that we hold on the inside of us .
  • The Light . . .Shine Jesus Shine! Let Your Light shine through us and radiate Love to everyone we come in contact with! Lord, You cannot be contained and the darkness flees in Your Presence. The Light has dawned, defeated death and lives inside of every believer!

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The trumpet, the jar and the torch are all we need to stand firm and He will scatter the enemy . . .

Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. Judge 7:19-21

How beautiful is He Sister? How can our hearts be anymore encouraged than to have the whole thing be shown to us in vivid color through Gideon and then walk into the New Testament to see it in our applied to own lives?

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”a]”>[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”b]”>[b] Since we have that same spirit ofc]”>[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4

He never leaves us guessing about His Presence in our lives or His Presence in our battles. And hear me when I say, He does not simply provide the victory . . . . HE IS THE VICTORY! To have the God of the Angel Armies, the Creator of the Universe, the Messiah who died and rose again, The Spirit who is the Lord – Shine forth from us. What other kind of prize could compare? What greater reward or spoils from the war would we possess? What other plunder might we desire?

Girlfriend, we have it all!  Do not lose heart! Go forth Mighty Warrior your God is with you . . .

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We will Resemble what we Pursue

1 May

The words of God through the pen of the Prophet Jeremiah echo in my ears this morning . . . “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Bunny paraphrase – you will resemble what you pursue.

That is not new to you Dear One. You know it to be true. Whatever you or I choose to fix our eyes on will direct our footsteps. But we can’t fool ourselves for one moment into thinking we’re simply grabbed by the nose and dragged down the primrose path. No, in most—if not every—instance we travel that road all too willingly.

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We may not begin the journey with determined steps toward whatever shiny bauble has averted our gaze but it doesn’t take long until we’re making deliberate strides toward the thing.  And I know it may sound harsh and it may sting our hearts but the truth of the matter is that if we had been intentional, if we had made the conscious choice, to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith . . . if we had chosen to keep in lockstep with the Spirit . . . we’d never find ourselves hot on the heels of the worthless thing and becoming worthless ourselves.

See Sister, that’s just not our destiny. Our destiny as believers and full-throttle followers of Jesus Christ is to keep our thoughts fixed on our Messiah and our eyes hard-and-fast on Him so that as we behold His glory we are transformed and little by little reflect the same image as the One who is absolutely Worthy.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Sweet One, we serve no one well when we settle for less than God created us to be . . . when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the fading sparkle of this world. He has reserved far too much for us for us to dissuade so easily!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

He calls us to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Him not because He’s on an ego trip. God does not need our attention to be secure in being God. He invites us to look upon Him, to walk with Him, to be resolute in pursuing the holy life for our benefit.

Within the boundary of holy living lies the blessing.

Again, this is not news to you. Even if you’ve not read the Scriptures that flat out tell us the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places or that we are hemmed in before and behind by the Hand of Glory, you know it by experience, I know it by experience.

And yet, you and I can look back over our lives and see the times we willfully walked outside His borders and ignored the Voice of Love asking us to keep our feet firmly planted and our eyes steadfastly focused. The outcome wasn’t good. The result was certainly not blessing. . . and might it be that when we pursued the things of this world the aftermath of the chase left us feeling empty and worn-out? Because we had not chosen, had not predetermined, to stand firm had we indeed chosen to move ever closer to becoming worthless?

Beloved, I will never practice life within the holy boundaries by accident. My pursuit, and may I be so bold Sister as to say yours as well, must be deliberate. The distance between temptation and participation is far too narrow for us to leave it to chance. We must be determined to live with our eyes fixed on our Savior and our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit . . . aware of our boundaries and resolved to live inside the blessing.

The next shiny object is just around the corner. The next opportunity to be distracted is never far off and another chance to follow and therefore become what is worthless looms in the distance.

Girlfriend, I may not know the specifics of your struggle or the identity of the thing that competes for your attention, but this I do know . . . if you will fix your eyes firmly on Him it will be Grace that you see looking back.  Gaze upon Him and you will be face-to-face with the Worthy One who has stooped from His Throne to lavish you with His attention and affection.  Lean in close and your heart will hear the Voice of Love spurring you on in your pursuit, assuring you that no daughter of the King is destined for a worthless life, whispering to your soul that you are of infinite value to Him and declaring from the Cross  . . . “She is worth it!”

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Reality: the state of things as they actually exist . . .

24 Apr

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Christ dwelled here on earth as a part of God’s plan

To save and to rescue the sinner I am

He offered Himself, the Lamb made the way

His Blood flows eternal, He still saves today

The life He lived for me was brought to an end

But the Tomb could not hold Him and He lives again!

creation swap rescued chalkboard 26493_Chalkboard 1Yes, the Lamb of Perfection descended in love

The cup of redemption was filled with His blood

My Kinsman-Redeemer was hung on the Tree

He gave His Life freely as ransom for me

But the Tomb could not hold Him, the stone rolled away,

My Rock, My Strong Fortress is living today!

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Christ became sin and then conquered the grave

He said, “My sweet child, you’re no longer a slave!”

He purchased me back, Oh, God’s Christ came for me

I’m filled with the Spirit, forgiven and free

For the Tomb could not hold Him, death where is your sting?

The Messiah has risen and reigns as the King!

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Reality:  the state of things as they actually exist

Marilyn Biddinger

 

40 Days Receiving Joy

17 Apr

At the beginning of the 40 days of Lent I shared openly that my spirit was feeling sluggish and the enemy was whispering in my ear all manner of lies about the Holy One leaving me behind. I shared just as openly that I wasn’t going to give in to the voice of deception or surrender my God-given joy without a fight and I gave my battle plan a name . . . Lessons from Lent.

Lessons from Lent was the challenge to read through the New Testament in those 40 days leading to Resurrection Sunday and blog each day about whatever lesson God pointed out. Now we’re on the other side of that season and I can tell you that God met me in ways I had never dreamed. Every single day as I read through the Scriptures He spoke to me through His Word and unveiled a treasure I’d not previously seen. I never found myself grasping for something to share or apply in my daily life—the struggle was usually narrowing it down to just one thing. Imagine that . . . I had a lot to say!

It was so wonderful to have the exclamation point of praise put on the first verse I remember totally capturing my heart: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know” and for the shouts and accolades to reach the ears of what I would say is my life verse in Malachi . . . “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Is there anything quite as beautiful as Scripture colliding head on with Scripture?

The same God, the One who does not change, who filled my heart with His truth in those first days of faith and thrilled me to no end with Jeremiah 33:3 revelations of His goodness and personal applications to my life was still with me. He still peeled back the curtain to display the riches of His word and He still enthralled me with every syllable. And just like in the early days of running my fingers over the pages and asking Him to let me know Him . . . He showed Himself to be absolute Love to me. And just the same as way back then, I heard myself whisper . . .”Why?—Why do You let me see the Much of You?” It’s the closest I come to joining heart-to-heart with the Psalmist who asked “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and in my imagination, he whispers that phrase with a catch in his voice just like I do.

And I fully believe God has used this trek across the calendar pages to introduce me to the Biblical truth of John 16:24 in a way I could not ignore or pass over quickly. It’s a concept I think He’s had me practicing but hadn’t begun to define for me or given me the unction to begin comprehending until this particular Kairos moment in life. His timing is always perfect . . .

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

God-given joy—complete, filled to individual capacity, secure . . . joy in the Name of Jesus—wasn’t that what I was fighting to keep a hold of? Wasn’t it the joy of my faith, the joy of being in His Presence, the joy of an attentive soul all to the glory of my Covenant Partner that I was considering when I posted the introductory paragraphs that preceded every Lenten blog entry . .

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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I don’t know about you but when I read those lines that introduced the Scripture for the each post as we marched toward the Empty Tomb, they sound a lot like asking . . . Asking God to do the new thing, to rouse my heart, to draw me near . . . no matter what my circumstances might be. So unbeknownst to me, the entire journey was aimed at teaching me the word that lingers in the middle of the verse. The word that lives between the invitation to ask and the gift of joy to the full . . . receive.

Help Word Studies 2983 defines receive this way— lambánō (from the primitive root, lab-, meaning “actively lay hold of to take or receive,” see NAS dictionary) – properly, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available (offered). 2983 /lambánō (“accept with initiative“) emphasizes the volition (assertiveness) of the receiver.

So to receive as God intended it to be understood in this verse is to aggressively and actively lay hold to that which is offered. To make the volitional choice to accept what is available.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

The “receiving” we find here is far from a passive activity.  There’s some work to be done to really possess it—to live in it.  Much different I think than the gift of salvation we believe on Christ for and receive in His Name.

I’ve been as candid as will serve you well about the depth of my sin and I hope I have made it clear –in a no-holds-barred, full out, give Him all the Glory every time kind of way—that my salvation and my rescue was . . . my righteousness and my life are—all because of Him. He swooped down from heaven and pulled me from the depths. He brought me up out of the pit and planted my feet firmly in His freedom. He and He alone lifted me to the spacious place of Grace. The place where Light and Life are abundant.

And with a grateful heart I testify that He has increased my territory just as He has increased my faith and He has shown me the beauty of the land He has given me—the place where boundary and blessing meet. He lifted me up and brought me again to the spacious place, but praise to the Hope of Glory– the scenery on the way out of the cavern I found myself in was so much different. See my God is still God and my unchanging Messiah was ever present as the steadfast Spirit spurred me on but unlike the work of my salvation, this time . . . my participation was required.

I’m praying for God to give me the exact right words as I try to explain this and I remind you before your eyes land on a single syllable, I am not a theologian, a pastor or any kind of formal scholar. I’m a woman who sits at the foot of the Cross and asks to know her Savior better— who enters the Throne room of God and stands in awe that she is welcome there.

The pit I found myself in when I began the Lent journey wasn’t the same one God pulled me from when I began my faith walk. At the time of my salvation the Lion of Judah roared to my rescue and gave me the gift of eternal reconciliation with my Father in heaven. He scaled those smooth walls and carried me out of darkness into the Light. I could add nothing to His grace nor take a thing away from it. I could only repent and admit my need of the perfect salvation He had purchased for me.   He did it all. He never swerved to the left or to the right. He kept His eyes fixed firmly on the will of the Father . . . His Love poured out on the Cross, His Mercy buried in the Tomb, and His Victory secured in His Risen Life – Jesus did it all! He met me in the pit and He carried me to new life . . . life abundant.

The place I found myself in this time didn’t have walls smoothed by premeditated sin and unholy actions. No, this one had walls jagged with circumstance and life issues that pressed in from every side.   And unlike that first pit, this cavern had pieces of Rock jutting out all around me and He had prepared me to follow Him out—to keep in step with the Spirit, to do all things through Christ who strengthens me—and emerge victoriously into the Light.

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He had given me toeholds and lifelines in His Word so that even though the enemy was actively hissing in my ear I could shout the praise of Jesus and silence my foe. I could put my combat boots on and go about the business of working out my salvation with fear and trembling. At His prompting I could put one foot firmly on the foundation of my Eternal Rock, grab hold of the Scripture with my right hand, and strain my eyes toward the Face of my Messiah. By His grace, I could wrap my fingers tightly around the Word, find the foothold of His truth, and move forward by faith, believing that He rewards those who seek Him.

Was God faithful in bringing me up out of the pit – He absolutely was but this was not the salvation swoop from heaven the work-is-done liberation – it was much more a build your faith muscles, stretch your heart, dig in and climb type of a rescue.

And right in the middle of it all, between the asking and the blessing was aggressive, active, volitional receiving.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

If I, if you, desire to hold tight to, to cling to, to live, move, and find our being in joy to the full, then you and I must be willing to go after the thing—to actively and aggressively grab hold of what our Father rescued us to possess.

A passive faith serves no one well.

We must be intentional in laying hold of the holy opportunities to fight the good fight, to train for the race, so that when the day of Christ Jesus comes we will get the prize for which we have been called heavenward. We have to be willing to put our feet in the toeholds of the temporal cavern walls we may find ourselves surrounded by and wrap our fingers around the lifelines of Truth He so graciously provides if we want the spacious place of freedom to be our daily reality.

Our days here on planet earth are all about developing the muscles we’re going to need to hold our heads high when the Good Shepherd places that jewel-laden, faith encrusted crown of glory on our heads. The active process of transformation from one degree of glory to another requires our active participation in combat drills—trials, tough stuff, messy life. Muscles unused never develop. Faith unexercised atrophies. Receiving His All is not for the faint of spirit and aggressive cardio work will be required because Girlfriend, He loves us to much to let us arrive in Glory with a heart that’s out of shape!

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Lessons from Lent: Day 40

4 Apr

 

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (you’ve made it Sweet Sister — 39 days are under your belt and this is the final day!), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Forty

April 3, 2015 ~~ Revelation 8-16

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Revelation 17

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls then came and spoke to me, saying, Come with me! I will show you the doom (sentence, judgment) of the great harlot (idolatress) who is seated on many waters,

[She] with whom the rulers of the earth have joined in prostitution (idolatry) and with the wine of whose immorality (idolatry) the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated.

And [the angel] bore me away [rapt] in the Spirit into a desert (wilderness), and I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was all covered with blasphemous titles (names), and he had seven heads and ten horns.

The woman was robed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, [and she was] holding in her hand a golden cup full of the accursed offenses and the filth of her lewdness and vice.

And on her forehead there was inscribed a name of mystery [with a secret symbolic meaning]: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes (idolatresses) and of the filth and atrocities and abominations of the earth.

I also saw that the woman was drunk, [drunk] with the blood of the saints (God’s people) and the blood of the martyrs [who witnessed] for Jesus. And when I saw her, I was utterly amazed and wondered greatly.

But the angel said to me, Why do you wonder? I will explain to you the [secret symbolic meaning of the] mystery of the woman, as well as of the beast having the seven heads and ten horns that carries her.

The beast that you saw [once] was, but [now] is no more, and he is going to come up out of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and proceed to go to perdition. And the inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been recorded in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they look at the beast, because he [once] was, but [now] is no more, and he is [yet] to come.

This calls for a mind [to consider that is packed] with wisdom and intelligence [it is something for a particular mode of thinking and judging of thoughts, feelings, and purposes]. The seven heads are seven hills upon which the woman is sitting;

10 And they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one still exists [and is reigning]; the other [the seventh] has not yet appeared, and when he does arrive, he must stay [but] a brief time.

11 And as for the beast that [once] was, but now is no more, he [himself] is an eighth ruler (king, head), but he is of the seven and belongs to them, and he goes to perdition.

12 Also the ten horns that you observed are ten rulers (kings) who have as yet received no royal dominion, but together they are to receive power and authority as rulers for a single hour, along with the beast.

13 These have one common policy (opinion, purpose), and they deliver their power and authority to the beast.

14 They will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will triumph over them; for He is Lord of lords and King of kings—and those with Him and on His side are chosen and called [elected] and loyal and faithful followers.

15 And [the angel further] said to me, The waters that you observed, where the harlot is seated, are races and multitudes and nations and dialects (languages).

16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will [be the very ones to] hate the harlot (the idolatrous woman); they will make her cheerless (bereaved, desolate), and they will strip her and eat up her flesh and utterly consume her with fire.

17 For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His own purpose by acting in harmony in surrendering their royal power and authority to the beast, until the prophetic words (intentions and promises) of God shall be fulfilled.

18 And the woman that you saw is herself the great city which dominates and controls the rulers and the leaders of the earth.

Revelation 18

Then I saw another angel descending from heaven, possessing great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his radiance and splendor.

And he shouted with a mighty voice, She is fallen! Mighty Babylon is fallen! She has become a resort and dwelling place for demons, a dungeon haunted by every loathsome spirit, an abode for every filthy and detestable bird.

For all nations have drunk the wine of her passionate unchastity, and the rulers and leaders of the earth have joined with her in committing fornication (idolatry), and the businessmen of the earth have become rich with the wealth of her excessive luxury and wantonness.

I then heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out from her, my people, so that you may not share in her sins, neither participate in her plagues.

For her iniquities (her crimes and transgressions) are piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her wickedness and [her] crimes [and calls them up for settlement].

Repay to her what she herself has paid [to others] and double [her doom] in accordance with what she has done. Mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed [for others].

To the degree that she glorified herself and reveled in her wantonness [living deliciously and luxuriously], to that measure impose on her torment and anguish and tears and mourning. Since in her heart she boasts, I am not a widow; as a queen [on a throne] I sit, and I shall never see suffering or experience sorrow—

So shall her plagues (afflictions, calamities) come thick upon her in a single day, pestilence and anguish and sorrow and famine; and she shall be utterly consumed (burned up with fire), for mighty is the Lord God Who judges her.

And the rulers and leaders of the earth who joined her in her immorality (idolatry) and luxuriated with her will weep and beat their breasts and lament over her when they see the smoke of her conflagration.

10 They will stand a long way off, in terror of her torment, and they will cry, Woe and alas, the great city, the mighty city, Babylon! In one single hour how your doom (judgment) has overtaken you!

11 And earth’s businessmen will weep and grieve over her because no one buys their freight (cargo) any more.

12 Their merchandise is of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; of fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet [stuffs]; all kinds of scented wood, all sorts of articles of ivory, all varieties of objects of costly woods, bronze, iron, and marble;

13 Of cinnamon, spices, incense, ointment and perfume, and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, fine flour and wheat; of cattle and sheep, horses and conveyances; and of slaves (the bodies) and souls of men!

14 The ripe fruits and delicacies for which your soul longed have gone from you, and all your luxuries and dainties, your elegance and splendor are lost to you, never again to be recovered or experienced!

15 The dealers who handled these articles, who grew wealthy through their business with her, will stand a long way off, in terror of her doom and torment, weeping and grieving aloud, and saying,

16 Alas, alas for the great city that was robed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, bedecked and glittering with gold, with precious stones, and with pearls!

17 Because in one [single] hour all the vast wealth has been destroyed (wiped out). And all ship captains and pilots, navigators and all who live by seafaring, the crews and all who ply their trade on the sea, stood a long way off,

18 And exclaimed as they watched the smoke of her burning, What city could be compared to the great city!

19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and grieved, exclaiming, Woe and alas, for the great city, where all who had ships on the sea grew rich [through her extravagance] from her great wealth! In one single hour she has been destroyed and has become a desert!

20 Rejoice (celebrate) over her, O heaven! O saints (people of God) and apostles and prophets, because God has executed vengeance for you upon her!

21 Then a single powerful angel took up a boulder like a great millstone and flung it into the sea, crying, With such violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down to destruction and shall never again be found.

22 And the sound of harpists and minstrels and flute players and trumpeters shall never again be heard in you, and no skilled artisan of any craft shall ever again be found in you, and the sound of the millstone shall never again be heard in you.

23 And never again shall the light of a lamp shine in you, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall never be heard in you again; for your businessmen were the great and prominent men of the earth, and by your magic spells and poisonous charm all nations were led astray (seduced and deluded).

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all those who have been slain (slaughtered) on earth.

Revelation 19

After this I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! Salvation and glory (splendor and majesty) and power (dominion and authority) [belong] to our God!

Because His judgments (His condemnation and punishment, His sentences of doom) are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged (convicted, pronounced sentence, and doomed) the great and notorious harlot (idolatress) who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth with her lewdness and adultery (idolatry). And He has avenged (visited on her the penalty for) the blood of His servants at her hand.

And again they shouted, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! The smoke of her [burning] shall continue to ascend forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities).

Then the twenty-four elders [of [a]the heavenly Sanhedrin] and the four living creatures fell prostrate and worshiped [paying divine honors to] God, Who sits on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah (praise the Lord)!

Then from the throne there came a voice, saying, Praise our God, all you servants of His, you who reverence Him, both small and great!

After that I heard what sounded like the shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves, and like the roar of terrific and mighty peals of thunder, exclaiming, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! For now the Lord our God the Omnipotent (the All-Ruler) reigns!

Let us rejoice and shout for joy [exulting and triumphant]! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb [at last] has come, and His bride has prepared herself.

She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).

Then [the angel] said to me, Write this down: Blessed (happy, [b]to be envied) are those who are summoned (invited, called) to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me [further], These are the true words (the genuine and exact declarations) of God.

10 Then I fell prostrate at his feet to worship (to pay divine honors) to him, but he [restrained me] and said, Refrain! [You must not do that!] I am [only] another servant with you and your brethren who have [accepted and hold] the testimony borne by Jesus. Worship God! For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy [the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours].

11 After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness).

12 His eyes [blaze] like a flame of fire, and on His head are many kingly crowns (diadems); and He has a title (name) inscribed which He alone knows or can understand.

13 He is dressed in a robe dyed by [c]dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God.

14 And the troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, dazzling and clean, followed Him on white horses.

15 From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite (afflict, strike) the nations; and He will shepherd and control them with a staff (scepter, rod) of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath and indignation of God the All-Ruler (the Almighty, the Omnipotent).

16 And on His garment (robe) and on His thigh He has a name (title) inscribed, king of kings and lord of lords.

17 Then I saw a single angel stationed in the sun’s [d]light, and with a mighty voice he shouted to all the birds that fly across the sky, Come, gather yourselves together for the great supper of God,

18 That you may feast on the flesh of rulers, the flesh of generals and captains, the flesh of powerful and mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all humanity, both free and slave, both small and great!

19 Then I saw the beast and the rulers and leaders of the earth with their troops mustered to go into battle and make war against Him Who is mounted on the horse and against His troops.

20 And the beast was seized and overpowered, and with him the false prophet who in his presence had worked wonders and performed miracles by which he led astray those who had accepted or permitted to be placed upon them the stamp (mark) of the beast and those who paid homage and gave divine honors to his statue. Both of them were hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword that issues from the mouth of Him Who is mounted on the horse, and all the birds fed ravenously and glutted themselves with their flesh.

Revelation 20

Then I saw an angel descending from heaven; he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand.

And he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that old serpent [of primeval times], who is the devil and Satan, and [securely] bound him for a thousand years.

Then he hurled him into the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and closed it and sealed it above him, so that he should no longer lead astray and deceive and seduce the nations until the thousand years were at an end. After that he must be liberated for a short time.

Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority to act as judges and to pass sentence was entrusted. Also I saw the souls of those who had been slain with axes [beheaded] for their witnessing to Jesus and [for preaching and testifying] for the Word of God, and who had refused to pay homage to the beast or his statue and had not accepted his mark or permitted it to be stamped on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived again and ruled with Christ (the Messiah) a thousand years.

The remainder of the dead were not restored to life again until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) and holy (spiritually whole, of unimpaired innocence and proved virtue) is the person who takes part (shares) in the first resurrection! Over them the second death exerts no power or authority, but they shall be ministers of God and of Christ (the Messiah), and they shall rule along with Him a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his place of confinement,

And he will go forth to deceive and seduce and lead astray the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth—Gog and Magog—to muster them for war; their number is like the sand of the sea.

And they swarmed up over the broad plain of the earth and encircled the fortress (camp) of God’s people (the saints) and the beloved city; but fire descended from heaven and consumed them.

10 Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).

11 Then I saw a great white throne and the One Who was seated upon it, from Whose presence and from the sight of Whose face earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

12 I [also] saw the dead, great and small; they stood before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done [[b]their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors] in accordance with what was recorded in the books.

13 And the sea delivered up the dead who were in it, death and Hades ([c]the state of death or disembodied existence) surrendered the dead in them, and all were tried and their cases determined by what they had done [according to their motives, aims, and works].

14 Then death and Hades ([d]the state of death or disembodied existence) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15 And if anyone’s [name] was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new [a]sky (heaven) and a new earth, for the former [b]sky and the former earth had passed away (vanished), and there no longer existed any sea.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband;

Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.

And He Who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. Also He said, Record this, for these sayings are faithful (accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy) and true (genuine).

And He [further] said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the water of Life.

He who is victorious shall inherit all these things, and I will be God to him and he shall be My son.

But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive, and as for the unbelieving and faithless, and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations, and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters (those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars (those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed)—[all of these shall have] their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven final plagues (afflictions, calamities) came and spoke to me. He said, Come with me! I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

10 Then in the Spirit He conveyed me away to a vast and lofty mountain and exhibited to me the holy (hallowed, consecrated) city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God,

11 Clothed in God’s glory [in all its splendor and radiance]. The luster of it resembled a rare and most precious jewel, like jasper, shining clear as crystal.

12 It had a massive and high wall with twelve [large] gates, and at the gates [there were stationed] twelve angels, and [on the gates] the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were written:

13 On the east side three gates, on the north side three gates, on the south side three gates, and on the west side three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation [stones], and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And he who spoke to me had a golden measuring reed (rod) to measure the city and its gates and its wall.

16 The city lies in a square, its length being the same as its width. And he measured the city with his reed—12,000 stadia (about 1,500 miles); its length and width and height are the same.

17 He measured its wall also—144 cubits (about 72 yards) by a man’s measure [[c]of a cubit from his elbow to his third fingertip], which is [the measure] of the angel.

18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city [itself was of] pure gold, clear and transparent like glass.

19 The foundation [stones] of the wall of the city were ornamented with all of the precious stones. The first foundation [stone] was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (or white agate), the fourth emerald,

20 The fifth onyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each separate gate being built of one solid pearl. And the main street (the broadway) of the city was of gold as pure and translucent as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Omnipotent [Himself] and the Lamb [Himself] are its temple.

23 And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp.

24 The nations shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory.

25 And its gates shall never be closed by day, and there shall be no night there.

26 They shall bring the glory (the splendor and majesty) and the honor of the nations into it.

27 But nothing that defiles or profanes or is [d]unwashed shall ever enter it, nor anyone who commits abominations (unclean, detestable, morally repugnant things) or practices falsehood, but only those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 22

Then he showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb

Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the tree of life with its twelve varieties of fruit, yielding each month its fresh crop; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing and the restoration of the nations.

There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed (detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, or horrible). But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall worship Him [pay divine honors to Him and do Him holy service].

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

And there shall be no more night; they have no need for lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will illuminate them and be their light, and they shall reign [as kings] forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities).

And he [of the seven angels further] said to me, These statements are reliable (worthy of confidence) and genuine (true). And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His messenger (angel) to make known and exhibit to His servants what must soon come to pass.

And behold, I am coming speedily. Blessed (happy and [a]to be envied) is he who observes and lays to heart and keeps the truths of the prophecy (the predictions, consolations, and warnings) contained in this [little] book.

And I, John, am he who heard and witnessed these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell prostrate before the feet of the messenger (angel) who showed them to me, to worship him.

But he said to me, Refrain! [You must not do that!] I am [only] a fellow servant along with yourself and with your brethren the prophets and with those who are mindful of and practice [the truths contained in] the messages of this book. Worship God!

10 And he [further] told me, Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book and make no secret of them, for the time [b]when things are brought to a crisis and the period of their fulfillment is near.

11 He who is unrighteous (unjust, wicked), let him be unrighteous still; and he who is filthy (vile, impure), let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous (just, upright, in right standing with God), let him do right still; and he who is holy, let him be holy still.

12 Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (the Before all and the End of all).

14 Blessed (happy and [c]to be envied) are those who cleanse their garments, that they may have the authority and right to [approach] the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the city.

15 [But] without are the dogs and those who practice sorceries (magic arts) and impurity [the lewd, adulterers] and the murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and deals in falsehood (untruth, error, deception, cheating).

16 I, Jesus, have sent My messenger (angel) to you to witness and to give you assurance of these things for the churches (assemblies). I am the Root (the Source) and the Offspring of David, the radiant and brilliant Morning Star.

17 The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need [d]of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.

18 I [personally solemnly] warn everyone who listens to the statements of the prophecy [the [e]predictions and the consolations and admonitions pertaining to them] in this book: If anyone shall add anything to them, God will add and lay upon him the plagues (the afflictions and the calamities) that are recorded and described in this book.

19 And if anyone cancels or takes away from the statements of the book of this prophecy [these [f]predictions relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions or warnings pertaining to them], God will cancel and take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city of holiness (purity and hallowedness), which are described and promised in this book.

20 He Who gives this warning and affirms and testifies to these things says, Yes (it is true). [Surely] I am coming quickly (swiftly, speedily). Amen (so let it be)! Yes, come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be [g]with all the saints (God’s holy people, [h]those set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His). Amen (so let it be).

And the Amen rises to Glory

#lessonsfromlent

How appropriate to me that we would receive these final exhortations on this particular day . . .poised between the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Figuratively speaking, yesterday morning none of us would have “inherited all this” but tomorrow morning, we will rise to possess life forever with the Lamb.

We read the descriptions of those who will not be allowed to enter the gates of the New Jerusalem –the “detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, and the horrible”–and we know that apart from Jesus . . . we are them. We, left to our own flesh, would be the lovers of falsehood, the deceivers, the lewd, the adulterers, the unrighteous . . . the hopeless.

The heart knowledge that we have been saved from the punishment we deserve drives me to my knees and the words that are such a source of joy to me ring through my ears . . .

But God.

How much more can He declare His love for us. In these chapters, so filled with symbolism and allegory, the reversal of our destiny could not be more clear. Had we not been given the Living Water at no cost to ourselves, the lake of fire would have been our eternal destination. But God . . .saved us from His wrath and ushered us to safety through the blood of our Sweet Messiah.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) 10 Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life. 1 Thessaloniahs 5:9-10

We deserved punishment, unrelenting agony, destruction, and worst of all separation from God. And yet it was Jesus who suffered it all and covered us with His Love. Our Messiah bled and Grace flowed.

We deserved punishment . . . But God protected.

We deserved destruction . . . But God delivered.

We deserved wrath . . . But God reconciled.

Unmerited favor was placed squarely on your shoulders, squarely on my shoulders, because the Messiah chose to place the Beam across His.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . . But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified ([a]acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. Romans 5:8-9

We read description after description in Revelation 17-22 of the final descent of the children of wrath and no matter what pictures our mind’s eye conjured, I don’t think we can begin to grasp the horror of it all. Does it not push you to a state of reverent worship to get even a small glimpse of what we have been rescued from? We are by nature children of wrath, heirs of God’s indignation . . . But God has made us co-heirs with Jesus Christ.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .17 And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. Romans 8:17

Is His compassion not breathtaking?  His love for us beyond measure? What so great a rescue is this that the Son would wear our death so that we might be dressed in life? We’ve earned eternal destruction . . . . But God, who so loved us, blesses with life.

Between the Cross and the Tomb we need to remember . . .But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). Ephesians 2:4-5

We who merit existing in the dominion of darkness are brought before the Throne to live forever in the Presence of He who is Light. The entrance of Grace, the arrival of Love lifts us as gifts to heaven when the eternal dwelling we’ve earned is the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone. But God has made the way home.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . . 22 Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence. Colossians 1:22

I don’t know what the mental picture of Jesus Christ, the Beautiful One, presenting you holy and faultless to the Father does for you, but it overwhelms my heart. The reality of it is beyond me but the feeling of the Messiah stooping down from heaven to lift me before the Throne of God . . . does that not imply He finds me worth it?

Sister, He found you worth it. Drink in those words as you let your mind roll back over the torment of the crucifixion. The pain. The humiliation. The separation between the Father and the Son. If our reading over the last 40 days has revealed anything, it has revealed how utterly unworthy we are . . . But God found us worth it.

Between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember . . .16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16

Oh Beloved, we shall not perish but shall have everlasting life in the Home God Himself has created for His children. The Hope of Glory  has given His all to usher us Home. Grace has made the way. Mercy has pierced the world timeline so that at the end of the age you and I will enter safely in. Favor, Sweet One, has rested upon the unworthy and the gates of heaven have been opened to those who have cleansed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.

Girlfriend, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last has done it all to bring us Home and between the Cross and the Empty Tomb we need to remember.

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I need to remember . . . #lessonsfromlent

Lessons from Lent: Day 39

3 Apr

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (2 now because you have already accomplished thirty-eight), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

creation swap love me one flower 206081_Flower_Background

That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Thirty-nine

April 3, 2015 ~~ Revelation 8-16

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Revelation 8

When He [the Lamb] broke open the seventh seal, there was silence for about half an hour in heaven.

Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

And another angel came and stood over the altar. He had a golden censer, and he was given very much incense (fragrant spices and gums which exhale perfume when burned), that he might mingle it with the prayers of all the people of God (the saints) upon the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense (the perfume) arose in the presence of God, with the prayers of the people of God (the saints), from the hand of the angel. So the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and cast it upon the earth. Then there followed peals of thunder and loud rumblings and blasts and noises, and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

The first angel blew [his] trumpet, and there was a storm of hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon the earth. And a third part of the earth was burned up and a third of the trees was burned up and all the green grass was burned up.

The second angel blew [his] trumpet, and something resembling a great mountain, blazing with fire, was hurled into the sea.

And a third of the sea was turned to blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea perished, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10 The third angel blew [his] trumpet, and a huge star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it dropped on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 And the name of the star is Wormwood. A third part of the waters was changed into wormwood, and many people died from using the water, because it had become bitter.

12 Then the fourth angel blew [his] trumpet, and a third of the sun was smitten, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that [the light of] a third of them was darkened, and a third of the daylight [itself] was withdrawn, and likewise a third [of the light] of the night was kept from shining.

13 Then I [looked and I] saw a solitary eagle flying in midheaven, and as it flew I heard it crying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the rest of the trumpet blasts which the three angels are about to sound!

Revelation 9

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft. Then out of the smoke locusts came forth on the earth, and such power was granted them as the power the earth’s scorpions have. They were told not to injure the herbage of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree, but only [to attack] such human beings as do not have the seal (mark) of God on their foreheads. They were not permitted to kill them, but to torment (distress, vex) them for five months; and the pain caused them was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings a person. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it; and they will yearn to die, but death evades and flees from them.

The locusts resembled horses equipped for battle. On their heads was something like golden crowns. Their faces resembled the faces of people. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. Their breastplates (scales) resembled breastplates made of iron, and the [whirring] noise made by their wings was like the roar of a vast number of horse-drawn chariots going at full speed into battle. 10 They have tails like scorpions, and they have stings, and in their tails lies their ability to hurt men for [the] five months. 11 Over them as king they have the angel of the Abyss (of the bottomless pit). In Hebrew his name is Abaddon [destruction], but in Greek he is called Apollyon [destroyer].

12 The first woe (calamity) has passed; behold, two others are yet to follow.

13 Then the sixth angel blew [his] trumpet, and from the four horns of the golden altar which stands before God I heard a solitary voice, 14 Saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, Liberate the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. 15 So the four angels who had been in readiness for that hour in the appointed day, month, and year were liberated to destroy a third of mankind. 16 The number of their troops of cavalry was twice ten thousand times ten thousand (200,000,000); I heard what their number was.

17 And in [my] vision the horses and their riders appeared to me like this: the riders wore breastplates the color of fiery red and sapphire blue and sulphur (brimstone) yellow. The heads of the horses looked like lions’ heads, and from their mouths there poured fire and smoke and sulphur (brimstone). 18 A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues—by the fire and the smoke and the sulphur (brimstone) that poured from the mouths of the horses. 19 For the power of the horses to do harm is in their mouths and also in their tails. Their tails are like serpents, for they have heads, and it is by means of them that they wound people.

20 And the rest of humanity who were not killed by these plagues even then did not repent of [the worship of] the works of their [own] hands, so as to cease paying homage to the demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor move. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their practice of magic (sorceries) or their sexual vice or their thefts.

Revelation 10

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, robed in a cloud, with a [halo like a] rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his feet (legs) were like columns of fire. He had a little book (scroll) open in his hand. He set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, And he shouted with a loud voice like the roaring of a lion; and when he had shouted, the seven thunders gave voice and uttered their message in distinct words. And when the seven thunders had spoken (sounded), I was going to write [it down], but I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up what the seven thunders have said! Do not write it down!

Then the [mighty] angel whom I had seen stationed on sea and land raised his right hand to heaven (the [a]sky), And swore in the name of (by) Him Who lives forever and ever, Who created the heavens ([b]sky) and all they contain, and the earth and all that it contains, and the sea and all that it contains. [He swore] that no more time should intervene and there should be no more waiting or delay, But that when the days come when the trumpet call of the seventh angel is about to be sounded, then God’s mystery (His secret design, His hidden purpose), as He had announced the glad tidings to His servants the prophets, should be fulfilled (accomplished, completed).

Then the voice that I heard from heaven spoke again to me, saying, Go and take the little book (scroll) which is open on the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.

So I went up to the angel and asked him to give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it and eat it. It will embitter your stomach, though in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey. 10 So I took the little book from the angel’s hand and ate and swallowed it; it was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but once I had swallowed it, my stomach was embittered. 11 Then they said to me, You are to make a fresh prophecy concerning many peoples and races and nations and languages and kings.

Revelation 11

A reed [as a measuring rod] was then given to me, [shaped] like a staff, and I was told: Rise up and measure the sanctuary of God and the altar [of incense], and [number] those who worship there. But leave out of your measuring the court outside the sanctuary of God; omit that, for it is given over to the Gentiles (the nations), and they will trample the holy city underfoot for 42 months (three and one-half years). And I will grant the power of prophecy to My two witnesses for 1,260 (42 months; three and one-half years), dressed in sackcloth. These [witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone attempts to injure them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their enemies; if anyone should attempt to harm them, thus he is doomed to be slain. These [two witnesses] have power to shut up the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying (their [a]prediction of events relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph); and they also have power to turn the waters into blood and to smite and scourge the earth with all manner of plagues as often as they choose.

But when they have finished their testimony and their evidence is all in, the beast (monster) that comes up out of the Abyss (bottomless pit) will wage war on them, and conquer them and kill them. And their dead bodies [will lie exposed] in the open street ([b]a public square) of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called [by the mystical and allegorical names of] Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from the races and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and will not allow them to be put in a tomb. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will gloat and exult over them and rejoice exceedingly, taking their ease and sending presents [in congratulation] to one another, because these two prophets had been such a vexation and trouble and torment to all the dwellers on the earth.

11 But after three and a half days, by God’s gift the breath of life again entered into them, and they rose up on their feet, and great dread and terror fell on those who watched them. 12 Then [the two witnesses] heard a strong voice from heaven calling to them, Come up here! And before the very eyes of their enemies they ascended into heaven in a cloud.

13 And at that [very] hour there was a tremendous earthquake and one tenth of the city was destroyed (fell); seven thousand people perished in the earthquake, and those who remained were filled with dread and terror and were awe-struck, and they glorified the God of heaven.

14 The second woe (calamity) has passed; now the third woe is speedily to come.

15 The seventh angel then blew [his] trumpet, and there were mighty voices in heaven, shouting, The dominion (kingdom, sovereignty, rule) of the world has now come into the possession and become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the Messiah), and He shall reign forever and ever (for the eternities of the eternities)!

16 Then the twenty-four elders [of [c]the heavenly Sanhedrin], who sit on their thrones before God, prostrated themselves before Him and worshiped,

17 Exclaiming, To You we give thanks, Lord God Omnipotent, [the One] Who is and [ever] was, for assuming the high sovereignty and the great power that are Yours and for beginning to reign.

18 And the heathen (the nations) raged, but Your wrath (retribution, indignation) came, the time when the dead will be judged and Your servants the prophets and saints rewarded—and those who revere (fear) Your name, both low and high and small and great—and [the time] for destroying the corrupters of the earth.

19 Then the sanctuary of God in heaven was thrown open, and the ark of His covenant was seen standing inside in His sanctuary; and there were flashes of lightning, loud rumblings (blasts, mutterings), peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a terrific hailstorm.

Revelation 12

And a great sign (wonder)—[warning of future events of ominous significance] appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and with a crownlike garland (tiara) of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and she cried out in her birth pangs, in the anguish of her delivery. Then another ominous sign (wonder) was seen in heaven: Behold, a huge, fiery-red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven kingly crowns (diadems) upon his heads. His tail swept [across the sky] and dragged down a third of the stars and flung them to the earth. And the dragon stationed himself in front of the woman who was about to be delivered, so that he might devour her child as soon as she brought it forth. And she brought forth a male Child, One Who is destined to shepherd (rule) all the nations with an iron staff (scepter), and her Child was caught up to God and to His throne. And the woman [herself] fled into the desert (wilderness), where she has a retreat prepared [for her] by God, in which she is to be fed and kept safe for 1,260 days (42 months; three and one-half years).

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels went forth to battle with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought. But they were defeated, and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer. And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him. 10 Then I heard a strong (loud) voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come—the salvation and the power and the kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God, and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ (the Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against them day and night, has been cast out! 11 And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]. +12 Therefore be glad (exult), O heavens and you that dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left]!

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he went in pursuit of the woman who had given birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was supplied with the two wings of a giant eagle, so that she might fly from the presence of the serpent into the desert (wilderness), to the retreat where she is to be kept safe and fed for a time, and times, and half a time (three and one-half years, or 1,260 days). 15 Then out of his mouth the serpent spouted forth water like a flood after the woman, that she might be carried off with the torrent. 16 But the earth came to the rescue of the woman, and the ground opened its mouth and swallowed up the stream of water which the dragon had spouted from his mouth. 17 So then the dragon was furious (enraged) at the woman, and he went away to wage war on the remainder of her descendants—[on those] who obey God’s commandments and who have the testimony of Jesus Christ [and adhere to it and [a]bear witness to Him].

Revelation 13

[As] [a]I stood on the sandy beach, I saw a beast coming up out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads. On his horns he had ten royal crowns (diadems) and blasphemous titles (names) on his heads. And the beast that I saw resembled a leopard, but his feet were like those of a bear and his mouth was like that of a lion. And to him the dragon gave his [own] might and power and his [own] throne and great dominion. And one of his heads seemed to have a deadly wound. But his death stroke was healed; and the whole earth went after the beast in amazement and admiration. They fell down and paid homage to the dragon, because he had bestowed on the beast all his dominion and authority; they also praised and worshiped the beast, exclaiming, Who is a match for the beast, and, Who can make war against him?

And the beast was given the power of speech, uttering boastful and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom to exert his authority and to exercise his will during forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak slanders against God, blaspheming His name and His abode, [even vilifying] those who live in heaven. He was further permitted to wage war on God’s holy people (the saints) and to overcome them. And power was given him to extend his authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, And all the inhabitants of the earth will fall down in adoration and pay him homage, everyone whose name has not been recorded in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice] [b]from the foundation of the world.

If anyone is able to hear, let him listen:

10 Whoever leads into captivity will himself go into captivity; if anyone slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Herein is [the call for] the patience and the faith and fidelity of the saints (God’s people).

11 Then I saw another beast rising up out of the land [itself]; he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke (roared) like a dragon. 12 He exerts all the power and right of control of the former beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell upon it to exalt and deify the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed, and to worship him. 13 He performs great signs (startling miracles), even making fire fall from the sky to the earth in men’s sight. 14 And because of the signs (miracles) which he is allowed to perform in the presence of the [first] beast, he deceives those who inhabit the earth, commanding them to erect a statue (an image) in the likeness of the beast who was wounded by the [small] sword and still lived. 15 And he is permitted [also] to impart the breath of life into the beast’s image, so that the statue of the beast could actually talk and cause to be put to death those who would not bow down and worship the image of the beast. 16 Also he compels all [alike], both small and great, both the rich and the poor, both free and slave, to be marked with an inscription [[c]stamped] on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 So that no one will have power to buy or sell unless he bears the stamp (mark, inscription), [that is] the name of the beast or the number of his name.

18 Here is [room for] discernment [a call for the wisdom [d]of interpretation]. Let anyone who has intelligence (penetration and insight enough) calculate the number of the beast, for it is a human number [the number of a certain man]; his number is 666.

Revelation 14

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 [men] who had His name and His Father’s name inscribed on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of great waters and like the rumbling of mighty thunder; the voice I heard [seemed like the music] of harpists [a]accompanying themselves on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne [of God] and before the four living creatures and before the elders [of [b]the heavenly Sanhedrin]. No one could learn [to sing] that song except the 144,000 who had been ransomed (purchased, redeemed) from the earth. These are they who have not defiled themselves by relations with women, for they are [[c]pure as] virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are they who have been ransomed (purchased, redeemed) from among men as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb. No lie was found to be upon their lips, for they are blameless (spotless, untainted, without blemish) before the throne of God.

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, with an eternal Gospel (good news) to tell to the inhabitants of the earth, to every race and tribe and language and people. And he cried with a mighty voice, Revere God and give Him glory (honor and praise in worship), for the hour of His judgment has arrived. Fall down before Him; pay Him homage and adoration and worship Him Who created heaven and earth, the sea and the springs (fountains) of water.

Then another angel, a second, followed, declaring, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She who made all nations drink of the [maddening] wine of her passionate unchastity [[d]idolatry].

Then another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a mighty voice, Whoever pays homage to the beast and his statue and permits the [beast’s] stamp (mark, inscription) to be put on his forehead or on his hand, 10 He too shall [have to] drink of the wine of God’s indignation and wrath, poured undiluted into the cup of His anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace) day or night—these who pay homage to the beast and to his image and whoever receives the stamp of his name upon him. 12 Here [comes in a call for] the steadfastness of the saints [the patience, the endurance of the people of God], those who [habitually] keep God’s commandments and [their] faith in Jesus.

13 Then I heard further [[e]perceiving the distinct words of] a voice from heaven, saying, Write this: Blessed (happy, [f]to be envied) are the dead from now on who die in the Lord! Yes, blessed (happy, [g]to be envied indeed), says the Spirit, [in] that they may rest from their labors, for their works (deeds) do follow (attend, accompany) them!

14 Again I looked, and behold, [I saw] a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud [h]One resembling a Son of Man, with a crown of gold on His head and a sharp scythe (sickle) in His hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple sanctuary, calling with a mighty voice to Him Who was sitting upon the cloud, Put in Your scythe and reap, for the hour has arrived to gather the harvest, for the earth’s crop is fully ripened. 16 So He Who was sitting upon the cloud swung His scythe (sickle) on the earth, and the earth’s crop was harvested.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple [sanctuary] in heaven, and he also carried a sharp scythe (sickle). 18 And another angel came forth from the altar, [the angel] who has authority and power over fire, and he called with a loud cry to him who had the sharp scythe (sickle), Put forth your scythe and reap the fruitage of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are entirely ripe. 19 So the angel swung his scythe on the earth and stripped the grapes and gathered the vintage from the vines of the earth and cast it into the huge winepress of God’s indignation and wrath. 20 And [the grapes in] the winepress were trodden outside the city, and blood poured from the winepress, [reaching] as high as horses’ bridles, for a distance of 1,600 stadia (about 200 miles).

Revelation 15

Then I saw another wonder (sign, token, symbol) in heaven, great and marvelous [warning of events of ominous significance]: There were seven angels bringing seven plagues (afflictions, calamities), which are the last, for with them God’s wrath (indignation) is completely expressed [reaches its climax and is ended]. Then I saw what seemed to be a glassy sea blended with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his statue and from the number corresponding to his name were standing beside the glassy sea, with harps of God in their hands. And they sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, Mighty and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God the Omnipotent! Righteous (just) and true are Your ways, O Sovereign of the ages (King of the [a]nations)! Who shall not reverence and glorify Your name, O Lord [giving You honor and praise in worship]? For You only are holy. All the nations shall come and pay homage and adoration to You, for Your just judgments (Your righteous sentences and deeds) have been made known and displayed.

After this I looked and the sanctuary of the tent of the testimony in heaven was thrown open, And there came out of the temple sanctuary the seven angels bringing the seven plagues (afflictions, calamities). They were arrayed in pure gleaming linen, and around their breasts they wore golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures [then] gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath and indignation of God, Who lives forever and ever (in the eternities of the eternities). And the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory (the radiance, the splendor) of God and from His might and power, and no one was able to go into the sanctuary until the seven plagues (afflictions, calamities) of the seven angels were ended.

Revelation 16

Then I heard a mighty voice from the temple sanctuary saying to the seven angels, Go and empty out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s wrath and indignation.

So the first [angel] went and emptied his bowl on the earth, and foul and painful ulcers (sores) came on the people who were marked with the stamp of the beast and who did homage to his image.

The second [angel] emptied his bowl into the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a corpse [thick, corrupt, ill-smelling, and disgusting], and every living thing that was in the sea perished.

Then the third [angel] emptied out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they turned into (became) blood.

And I also heard the angel of the waters say, Righteous (just) are You in these Your decisions and judgments, You Who are and were, O Holy One! Because they have poured out the blood of Your people (the saints) and the prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. Such is their due [they deserve it]!

And [from] the altar I heard [the] cry, Yes, Lord God the Omnipotent, Your judgments (sentences, decisions) are true and just and righteous!

Then the fourth [angel] emptied out his bowl upon the sun, and it was permitted to burn (scorch) humanity with [fierce, glowing] heat (fire). People were severely burned (scorched) by the fiery heat, and they reviled and blasphemed the name of God, Who has control of these plagues, and they did not repent of their sins [felt no regret, contrition, and compunction for their waywardness, refusing to amend their ways] to give Him glory.

10 Then the fifth [angel] emptied his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was [plunged] in darkness; and people gnawed their tongues for the torment [of their excruciating distress and severe pain] 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their anguish and their ulcers (sores), and they did not deplore their wicked deeds or repent [for what they had done].

12 Then the sixth [angel] emptied his bowl on the mighty river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to make ready a road for [the coming of] the kings of the east (from the rising sun). 13 And I saw three loathsome spirits like frogs, [leaping] from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For really they are the spirits of demons that perform signs (wonders, miracles). And they go forth to the rulers and leaders all over the world, to gather them together for war on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 Behold, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) is he who stays awake (alert) and who guards his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed! 16 And they gathered them together at the place which in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 Then the seventh [angel] emptied out his bowl into the air, and a mighty voice came out of the sanctuary of heaven from the throne [of God], saying, It is done! [It is all over, it is all accomplished, it has come!] 18 And there followed lightning flashes, loud rumblings, peals of thunder, and a tremendous earthquake; nothing like it has ever occurred since men dwelt on the earth, so severe and far-reaching was that earthquake. 19 The mighty city was broken into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And God kept in mind mighty Babylon, to make her drain the cup of His furious wrath and indignation. 20 And every island fled and no mountains could be found. 21 And great (excessively oppressive) hailstones, as heavy as a talent [between fifty and sixty pounds], of immense size, fell from the sky on the people; and men blasphemed God for the plague of the hail, so very great was [the torture] of that plague.

And the Amen rises to the Throne

#lessonsfromlent

Here’s what I am hoping for you . . .you did not come here looking for a symbolic interpretation or a definitive word on the events described in Revelation. Scholars debate the perspective of the Book—is it historicist, is it idealist, is it preterist, is it futurist—and we’re going to leave all that debating to them.

More than anything else what the Book of Revelation resonates with in my brain is that God always finishes what He starts. We see so many parallels between these chapters that describe the final deliverance of God’s people and the first time He ushered them out of the hands of their oppressors in the Book of Exodus. We see the elements of the tabernacle in our mind’s eye as we peek inside the Throne Room and God’s Glory fills the temple. I’m left in awe that we’re given a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant . . .the Law on the bottom, covered by the Mercy Seat, leading straight to the Presence of God . . . just as He introduced it in the wilderness.  See God being God?  Remaining Himself?  Creating a platform for the future that features that same Holy One present since before time began.

We see the dragon waiting for the woman to give birth so he can devour her child here in Revelation and the very first announcement of the Messiah coming forth in Genesis 3:15 rings in our ears. Adam and Eve weren’t the only ones who heard the curse as it came from God’s mouth . . .the serpent heard every word.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her [a]Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.  Genesis 3:15 AMP

This first prophecy of Jesus could not have more clearly stated that the Savior would be a “He” and from that moment forward the serpent’s agenda had to include trying to destroy the “Offspring.” We see the evidence of it in the opening chapters of the Book of Exodus as Pharaoh is killing the Hebrew baby boys. It just seems to me that that had to be the work of the enemy, who even then, knew his time was short. And just like the woman Revelation records being cared for in the desert, God cared for His chosen people as they wandered for 40 years.

We see the Ancient Serpent, the Devil, still trying to destroy the Child through Herod at the birth of Christ and we travel with Joseph and Mary as they flee to Egypt in response to the angel’s warning.  And how will the final fulfillment of the Revelation come to pass at the end of the age? I have no idea but I do know, and so do you Sister, that in every age God faithfully preserves His people.

I know it’s a very simplistic view but the idea of Revelation being our final deliverance, our final emergence from the constraints of this world . . .our final Exodus, well, that fits for me no matter where the scholars come down on the thing. Doesn’t it seem an exercise in futility to try and define the activity of God and make Him fit neatly into a box our finite minds have created?  Our Infinite God, our Elohim, has been planning to deliver His children home since before time began and it seems that Revelation speaks a combination of flashbacks and flash forwards that concludes with God being God.   The final Book, the conclusion of the redemption story where we see God be who He says He is and do what He says He will do is the culmination of it all.

The culmination of a God who does not change. The culmination of a God whose purposes cannot be thwarted. The culmination of a God who is, who was, and who is to come. There are many things left open to interpretation in the Book of Revelation but the constancy, the commitment, and the consistency of God is not one of them.

From the opening verse in Genesis to the concluding discourse in Revelation. . . . God remains God. The same God who cultivated the beauty of creation and spoke life into existence has authored life in you. The same God who met His people in their captivity and led them out under the banner of freedom has met us in our bondage, unshackled our hearts, and set us free. The same God who was faithful when His children were faithless is faithful to this very day.

We can’t get so immersed in looking behind the Holy Writ for the “what’s really being said” that we miss the clear message . . . He has saved us. He has delivered us. He has set us free. And Girlfriend, He will make certain that we make it home.

creation swap headed home 1554_Road ribbet

The way home has not changed . . . #lessonsfromlent

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