Sunday, May 8, 2022

SARDIS

Today’s Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Backed onto one wall of the synagogue in ancient Sardis is a row of Byzantine-era (4th century AD) shops along the main road of the city (below). The road once formed the westernmost stretch of the Royal Road. Some of the shops can still be identified from inscriptions, such as: “shop of Jacob, elder of the synagogue,” “hardware shop,” “office,” “Jacob’s paint shop” and “restaurant.”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 3:5

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

 

Let’s understand that Jesus said, “I will NOT blot out his name from the book of life.” Some will immediately assume that He does blot out some names. That’s not what this means. Jesus does not do that! John tells us that not only does He not blot out names, but He confesses the names of the persons in the Book of Life before His Father. The other three writers of the Gospels all refer to this (Matthew 10:32, Mark 8:32, Luke 9:26) Read Matthew 10:28-33. The Jewish synagogue in Sardis was huge and it occupied the very centre of the city. Let us remember that until the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Christians worshipped with their fellow Jews in the Temple. It was the same for the synagogues throughout the world. Those believers in Jesus who were Jews continued singing the Psalms and sitting under the teaching of the Rabbis. On what became known as “The Lord’s Day” (the day of Jesus’ resurrection and the day of the birthday of the Church) those who were Christians gathered in each other’s homes where they were taught all about Jesus through the writings of the Apostles, and those of the lead Christian Pastor in the city. In these home churches, John’s “Revelation” would have been read. There may have been only one handwritten scroll of each of the Gospels, of the letters of Paul, and of the book of Revelation. They passed the scrolls around. To bring their Bibles to church they would’ve needed a cart to hold all the scrolls! Thank God for the invention of the printing press, and now the Bible is all over the World Wide Web (e.g. www.100words.ca). We have no excuse for not reading every Word of God’s Message to us over and over throughout our lives.

According to Jesus, the Sardis church was dead (3:1b). Yes, they said they believed in Jesus. Yes, they gathered together with other believers. Yes, they had a reputation of life. But where was the life which Jesus gives by the Holy Spirit? A few of the believers had genuine life in Christ, but the majority did not. Do we have ears, not just for decoration, but to hear God speak through His Word?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, as I read and hear Your message to the believers of Sardis, I am moved to pray fervently that I will “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die” (3:2a). I ask for grace daily that I may “remember” why I have “received and heard.” May I “hold fast and repent!” (3:3a). Grant me consistency in daily overcoming sin and living in the purity which will enable me to accept Your invitation, “Walk with Me in white!” (3:4b). Amen! Amen! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m aware of a Pastor (Bishop) called Melito of Sardis. Some of his written sermons have been passed on to us by Eusebius, Pastor/Bishop of Caesarea, who wrote the first church history book. Melito would probably have been a young man in the church in Sardis when “Revelation” was read to the believers. No doubt he was one of whom Jesus said, “walked with Me in white.” I’m going to include below in my “P.S.” just the conclusion of three of Melito’s sermons written around 160 A.D. (take a moment to read them now…). Based on this powerful preaching, I think that the “Dead” church of Sardis had experienced a revival and had come fully ALIVE! Of course, I am an incurable optimist! Jesus talked to dead people. There was the little girl in Capernaum. Jesus said to her, “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, arise!” Jesus said to Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, “Come forth!” He specializes in resurrection!!! It is said that when a person is dying, hearing is the last sense still active, perhaps right up until rigor mortis sets in. Let’s never give up!

Yours for being faithful like Melito of Sardis,

David

P.S. Below is the last paragraph from three of Melito’s sermons, written in Sardis around 160 A.D.

1. From “The Easter Praise of Christ”:

Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.

2. From “The Lamb That Was Slain”: 

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.

3. From “On The Passover”: 

This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end–an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the general. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

One of the shops in ancient Sardis appears to have served as a Christian baptistery, with a rectangular basin (below) made of reused marble slabs with crosses superimposed over pagan inscriptions and decorations.

Among the ruins of ancient Sardis are the remains of the celebrated Temple of Artemis. It was built on the site of a former temple dedicated to the cult of the Anatolian goddess Cybele (burned down by the Athenians). Construction began about 334 BC, soon after Sardis was liberated from Alexander the Great. Artemis was the main goddess of the city and the Sardis temple was one of the seven largest Greek temples (more than double the size of the Parthenon in Athens). Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and fertility.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

THYATIRA

Today’s Reading: Revelation 2:18-29

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Some of the ruins of ancient Thyatira, located in the modern Turkish town of Akhisar.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 2:28-29

…and I will give him the morning star.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

Jesus describes Himself as “The Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). He is, Himself, the most precious Gift. He gives Himself to those who overcome and those who keep His works until the end (2:26). As we have noted throughout this entire two-year journey through the Bible, God uses repetition for strong emphasis! He says, “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches!” “Listen!” “Pay close attention!” All who are consistent in reading God’s Word daily, and who have spiritual ears, are indeed hearing “what the Spirit says.”

Jesus is described (2:18) as having “eyes like a flaming fire” (He sees into our innermost hearts and knows our thoughts), and “Feet like fine brass” (we walk with Him and together we crush Satan under our feet…Romans 16:17-20).

Jezebel (2:20-23), probably not her real name, is the big problem in the Thyatira church. Jesus chose to name her by the name of the most wicked woman in the Old Testament. She manipulated some of the believers by her domineering personality and her claims to be a prophetess (nothing wrong with being a prophetess as were the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist – Acts 21:8-9). Satan beguiled this woman and she gave out false and destructive teachings. Jesus said that she would “teach and beguile my people to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (2:20b). The Angel (messenger or pastor) was not charged with any of Jezebel’s evil teachings and deeds, but for tolerating her and for failure to exercise his God-given authority. To be fair, Jezebel may not have been a member of the congregation which Jesus addressed. She may have been someone from the outside trying to draw the believers out of the church and into an independent group. The Apostle wrote to a young pastor some excellent teaching concerning all who are called of God to lead Jesus’ Church. This may be a good time to read again 1 Timothy chapters 3 & 4.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for grace to “hold fast” (as in fastened securely), and as You said, Jesus, “Keep my works until the end.” I pray most earnestly for the gift of “discerning of Spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). I believe that if this gift had been operating in the church in Thyatira, Jezebel could not have beguiled some believers, and the Pastor would not have tolerated her. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS

In the course of doing my best to help Canada retain the traditional meaning of the word “marriage,” I met a Bishop at a conference on marriage in Toronto. With tears in his eyes he told me that he had written letters to all the priests in his diocese, which they were to read, but most of them refused to read his letter to their parishioners. We wept together and I found myself praying in the Name of the One who said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” I put my arm around his shoulders and prayed for authority to be restored to the God-called leaders in Jesus’ Church. I think that if I had met the Pastor of the Thyatira church, I may have done the same. I believe that most congregations want pastors that are strong, wise, and who do not tolerate manipulative personalities who would try to draw people after themselves. I’ve not been a local church pastor since November, 1971. Since that time I’ve had the privilege of ministering in a great many churches of various denominations, and I have an observation I’d like to share. Church members thrive and feel safe when they are convinced that they have a pastor who genuinely cares about them, who exercises gentle authority, and who, himself, submits to the authorities God has placed in senior leadership.

Yours for the protection and guidance of a thorough study of God’s Word day after day, and with the wise guidance and knowledge of a pastor that God has called into ministry,

David

Remains of a portico (a covered walkway or porch) which once stood on the west side of a column-lined street in ancient Thyatira. I wonder if the one Jesus called a “Jezebel” walked here. Her mission from “Apollyon,” meaning Satan the destroyer, is illustrated in these “ruins.” Jesus’ mission is the opposite. He said, “I will build My Church and the gates (rulership) of Hades (Hell) shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

Intricate designs can be found amongst the ruins of Thyatira. In today’s reading we are encouraged to have a life designed by the great Creator for His glory.

 

Friday, May 6, 2022

PERGAMOS

Today’s Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

You can see on the slopes of the hill ruins of the theatre in Pergamos. My son, David Reynold, says that acoustics were so good that a whisper on stage could be heard all the way to the top row. In the middle of the photo, the long plateau path was once a building which led to the pagan temple (its ruins can be seen at the bottom of the photo). Today’s reading speaks of “Satan’s throne.” Satan occupied these temples in order to receive the worship which he had coveted in Heaven before he was cast down to the earth. In Luke 10:18 we read the words of Jesus, “I beheld Satan fall like lightening from Heaven.” Did Satan make this city the centre of his activities here on earth?

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 2:17

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

 

Some believers in this church were being swept into the vortex of compromise with pagan practises. The “Doctrine of Balaam” was one of prostituting the prophetic gift for financial gain (Numbers 22:1-8). There are two temptations which Satan used then and now…1) coveting money, and 2) sex outside of a one-man, one-woman relationship of holy matrimony. The “Doctrine of the Nicolaitans” was that one could worship the true God and also participate in pagan temple rituals (offering sacrifices to idols and engaging sexually with the temple prostitutes). It is believed that most of the followers of Jesus Christ in Pergamos were not Jews, but Gentiles, former Pagans. The published decision of the Jerusalem church leaders for non-Jewish believers in Jesus is found in Acts 15:22-29. They did not insist that non-Jewish believers become converts to Judaism, nor did they put doctrines such as Sabbath (Saturday) keeping, etc., on them. They wrote of what they considered “necessary things.” “Abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality”… period. We must not let the legalists bring those of us who are non-Jews under bondage. This decision by the Jewish mother church in Jerusalem may have been directed specifically to Pergamos. Of course it was applicable to all the churches, but at that time most believers in Jesus were Jews, and the Apostles and almost all the Christian Pastors all over the world were Jewish.

What a great promise Jesus made to the ones who “overcome!” In the games played in the great stadia of the Greek and Roman world, a “white stone” was given to those who excelled in their sport. Their names were inscribed on the stone, and it could be used for free access to the stadia for all events. According to our key verse, we who overcome have special access to all God’s  blessings! The “hidden manna” is God’s special treat for His people; just what we need and want for spiritual nutrition.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, as I read twice in today’s reading, Your Word is as a sharp sword. May Your Word cut away from me anything displeasing to You. I pray daily for the grace of a repentant heart and mind. Deliver me from the evil doctrines of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans. In the Name of my Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Again today I’m reminded of the importance of encountering that sharp two-edged Sword, which is the “Word of God,” every day without fail (Hebrews 4:12-16). I understand that the pagan temple in Pergamos had at its centre an image of Asklepios, the so-called god of healing. Unthinkable things took place there with temple prostitutes, and those seeking healing would spend a night on the floor of the temple where non-poisonous snakes would be released by the priests to crawl over them, believing that this would cure them. The medical symbol of today may relate to this, but I prefer to believe it comes from the time when God told Moses to put a brass serpent image on a pole, and those who had been bitten by poisonous snakes would be healed. Satan, that snake in the Garden of Eden, was rendered powerless through the suffering of the Cross of Christ.  Isaiah wrote, “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-6). The Apostle Matthew referred to Isaiah in (Matthew 8:14-17). Peter referred also to Isaiah’s prophecy of healing in Christ (1 Peter 2:21-25). It was Peter’s mother-in-law’s healing by Jesus which Matthew recorded.

Yours for the blessings promised “to him that overcomes”,

David

P.S. I must not let this go without mentioning the martyr of Pergamos, Antipas. He is surely worthy of honour. I plan, God willing, to meet Antipas some day and find out more about his testimony, which resulted in his death at the hands of the Roman authorities.

The Altar of Zeus was built by Eumenes II to commemorate a great victory over the Gauls (Galatians) in Pontus and Bithynia in 229-228 BC. The open-air altar (not a temple) was about 100 feet long and 35 feet high, and it was decorated with life-sized figures depicting a battle between gods and giants. The great altar, which was included on some lists of the world’s wonders, was destroyed during the Byzantine era and the remains were used to repair the acropolis defense walls. In the 19th century these fragments were removed to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, and used in a full-scale reconstruction of the temple. It’s very possible that “Satan’s throne” moved to Berlin during the Nazi era. Satan hates Jews, for through the Jewish people we have received the Word of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus, and the Apostles and true Prophets of God, hence anti-semitism.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

SMYRNA & POLYCARP

Today’s Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Smyrna was the second city to be addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Acts 19:8-10 suggests that the church there was founded during Paul’s third missionary journey. Due to the fact that the port city of Izmir (ancient Syrmna) houses the second largest population in Turkey today, the site of ancient Smyrna has been little excavated. Except the agora (market place), theatre, and sections of the Roman aqueduct, little remains of the ancient city..

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 2:10b-11

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

 

Each of these seven city churches is given a special promise conditional on living a life which “overcomes” the temptation to give in. In the case of the Smyrna church, the temptation was to give in to the threat of persecution by Rome and the opposition of “the synagogue of Satan.” Just as Saul of Tarsus persecuted his fellow Jews before his conversion to Jesus, so John, who was Jewish, and almost all the followers of Jesus who were also Jewish, were still persecuted by some of their fellow Jews. As Ephesus was the centre of the worship of the goddess Diana (Artemis), so Syrmna was the centre of the worship of the Roman Emperor. A great temple was there, and there are records showing that a Smyrna synagogue had abandoned Judaism and compromised to the extent of burning incense to the Emperor. A certificate was given to all who burned incense to the Emperor, without which business could not be conducted, and without which a sentence of death could be pronounced on all who could not show such a document.

Just imagine the encouragement to hold steady given to the believers by the words of Jesus, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” They will only die once, but those who deny Jesus will die twice. “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for strength, courage, stamina, and boldness in my testimony for Jesus. I know that I don’t face death for my testimony, but as I type this there are those who are being killed for their faith in Jesus Christ and their refusal to deny Him. Strengthen them, I pray, in their resolve. And for me, I pray that I will be an overcomer in the struggle against more subtle temptations here in the free world to compromise with the world, the flesh, and the devil. In the Name of the complete Overcomer, Jesus Christ (Messiah). Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I spent some time researching “Smyrna.” Apparently it was named after one of its ancient products, myrrh. Probably the believers in Jesus in that city knew this and may have meditated on the fact that myrrh was one of the gifts of the wise men to the Baby Jesus, and that Nicodemus, who came to Jesus as a secret believer, came into the open at Jesus’ burial with a mixture of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus’ Body (read John 19:38-42).

A hero of mine is the Pastor of Smyrna. His name was Polycarp. As a young man, perhaps 30, he may have been the one to read “Revelation” to the Syrmna church. History records this statement by Polycarp in the Roman arena just before his execution: “For 86 years I have served Christ. How can I now blaspheme my King Who saved me!” The Roman Pro-counsel had given Polycarp the choice to curse Christ and sacrifice to Ceasar, or die by fire. Polycarp should be a hero to all followers of Christ. He chose death. They were about to bind him to a stake, but he refused binding and voluntarily stood in the fire where he died. Polycarp preached to all in the vast stadium, “You threaten me with fire. You do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in judgment to come and in everlasting punishment.”

Yours, from one whose eyes are filled with tears so that I can hardly see the keys to type this,

David

Modern day Izmir, Turkey, is on the Mediterranean and is a major port on the Aegean Sea. The remains of Ancient Smyrna can still be visited here. The ruins can be seen in the middle of this photo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

EPHESUS! 

Today’s Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This theatre is the most magnificent structure in the ancient city of Ephesus. The Great Theatre is located on the slope of Panayir Hill, opposite the Harbor Street, and easily seen when entering from the south entrance to Ephesus. It was first constructed in the Hellenistic Period, in the third century BC, but then during the Roman Period it was enlarged and formed its current style, with a seating capacity of 25,000. It is believed that here the near riot took place as a result of the preaching of Paul (Acts 19:23-41).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 2:7

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

 

God willing, we’ll have one day in our reading schedule for each of the seven churches. They are short readings, so we may want to increase our understanding by reading the entire book of Ephesians (click here). If that’s too much for time available, how about just reading Ephesians, chapter four (click here). Also, we could revisit June 1, 2015, when Ephesians 4 was our focus (click here). Why revisit the Apostle Paul’s letter (62 A.D.) to the members of the Ephesian church? It’s because we can check up as we read today’s reading as to how the Ephesian church progressed or regressed over a 30-year period.  Also we may want to read the story of the founding of the church in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-20).

The word “Angel” used here can also be translated “Messenger.” This is probably addressed to the Pastor of the Ephesian church. The Pastor is answerable to God for the spiritual and moral health of those he cares for as an under-shepherd to the Great Shepherd, Jesus! Jesus’ assessment is (1) they have perseverance, (2) they have patience, (3) they have not become weary, (4) they have left their first love, (5) they are to remember (read Ephesians), (6) repent and experience revival, (7) they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans (professing Christians who continued to practise black magic and participate in pagan worship of other gods), (8) Those who responded in repentance and renewed their first love received from Jesus a marvellous promise. Amen!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Dear Lord Jesus, I pray for grace to learn the same lessons in my personal life which You taught the Ephesian believers. I repent! I pray fervently for revival of my first Love! I dare not live as the Nicolaitans, with one foot in a pagan culture and another foot in the church. By Your grace, I desire with all my heart to be one who overcomes and who will eat of the Tree of Life in Paradise. In Your Name! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m constantly reading ahead of the current reading. The day after tomorrow, God willing, I want to write more about the compromising theological liberals known as the Nicolaitans. Throughout 60 years of public ministry as a pastor/teacher, evangelist and a Christian who needs God’s grace daily, I have had to deal with several powerful personalities who sought to manipulate others in a way that was contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. A strong stand for the historical understanding of the Christian faith is absolutely essential. This was taught by the Apostles and in the writings of their immediate successors, who established the creeds, which I believe to be accurate statements of Christian doctrine and practice. For example, here are the Nicene and Apostles Creed (click here). These statements are foundational to our Christian faith. They were agreed to by the leaders of the universal Church (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelicals) during the early centuries in order to stand for the truth and to stand against the very false doctrines against which Jesus warned the church at Ephesus.

Yours in the “saved by grace” expectation of someday eating “from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God”!!!

David

P.S. I’ve asked David Reynold for an extra photo of what’s left of ancient Ephesus. I understand that this city was partially destroyed by a disastrous earthquake in 614 A.D.

Off the beaten path in Ephesus you can walk down some of the main roads from ancient times.

This is an artists rendering of what the ancient Temple of Diana (or Artemis in Greek) may have looked like. It was located in Ephesus and known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

REVELATION!!!

Today’s Reading: Revelation 1

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Greek Island of Patmos is located in the Aegean Sea. Its u-shaped geography creates a perfect harbour. This is where the Apostle John was exiled by the Roman government and where he received The Revelation. “I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Revelation 1:8, 17-19

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

…And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

 

The full title given to this book comes from the first five words in today’s reading. This is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” It is written in the Greek language, and Jesus is described by the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; He is “The ALPHA and the OMEGA!” Jesus is called by the Apostle John in the fourth book in the New Testament, “The WORD!” “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD” (John 1:1)! Read John 1:1-18 along with Revelation chapter one for a full understanding of John’s sure knowledge as to the Person of Jesus. John wrote his Gospel to set the record straight, because false cults were seeking to diminish Jesus to the status of angels or a secondary god. Approximately 70 years before the writing of “Revelation”, John, along with his brother James, had been recruited by Jesus (Matthew 4:21-22 and Mark 1:19-20). Jesus had nicknamed these brothers, “Sons of Thunder”! (Mark 3:17). Just imagine their personalities and the boldness of John. No wonder that, as an old man of at least 90, he was considered a threat to the political and religious authorities, hence his exile to the Island of Patmos.

John had spent over three years in the company of Jesus. He knew Him very well as “The Son of Man.” He was a witness to the teaching, preaching, and healing-the-sick ministry of Jesus. He helped distribute the bread and fish to feed 5,000. He watched from the boat as Jesus walked on the water. He was the first of the Apostles at the empty tomb. He saw Jesus in His glorified, resurrected Body, again and again, over a 40-day period. He saw Jesus ascend into Heaven, and now John sees a glimpse of Jesus as the Eternal Son of God, One with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It was necessary for Jesus to say to John, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and BEHOLD I AM ALIVE FOREVERMORE. AMEN!!!” (1:17).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

O, Lord Jesus, like John, I feel as if I should fall at Your feet as dead. I pray that while I read through the Book of Revelation, You will reveal Yourself to me over this next month as I bow in Your presence, meditating on Your Person, preparing to share this blog with as many of Your loved ones who will read it. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

John and his brother James had earned their nickname “Sons of Thunder,” I’m sure. No doubt there was serious rivalry in the fish catching and selling business between them and the other two brothers from a different family who became apostles, Peter and Andrew. I can almost hear these competing brothers bragging about their catches. True to form, John and James believed they were the best to occupy the places next to Jesus soon, when, as they believed, He would establish His earthly kingdom. What a disappointment for them when Jesus announced immediately after this request to Jesus that He was going to the Cross. These “thunder” brothers did not want to hear that! Perhaps when the women announced the empty tomb and that Jesus was resurrected, John thought there was still hope for those positions. John bragged that he had arrived first at the mouth of the tomb. He was still in competition with Peter and possibly he still hoped for an earthly kingdom then and there! It seems important to me to establish that these people, to whom Jesus gave leadership of the Church, were so very human. But then the power of the Holy Spirit came on them at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21)! From then on it was, as my daughter-in-love Ann has often said on the Full Circle telecast, “Keep your eyes on Jesus; it’s all about Him!!!” I’m so glad that Jesus calls very ordinary people, like me, into His service!

Yours because it’s all about Jesus!!!

David

P.S. There are two other brothers I know very well. One is my oldest son David Reynold, (World Embrace missionary in Uganda) who has visited the cities where all seven of the churches of Revelation were located, and whose photographs will, God willing, be featured over the seven days when we visit the Words of Jesus to each of those churches. My other son, Ronald Wesley (President of Heart to Heart Marriage & Family Ministries) has led Crossroads tour groups to the Island of Patmos where John was incarcerated. Today I’m featuring two of Ron’s photos. The first one seen above is a view of the harbour at Patmos, and the one below was taken by the cave where it is believed John saw the visions recorded in Revelation and where he wrote it all down. It’s amazing what God can do with brothers, James & John, Peter & Andrew in the first century, and Reynold & Ron in the 21st century. Zebedee, father of James and John, and David, father of Reynold and Ron are 2,000 years apart, but both of us (I think I can speak for Zebedee) are proud of our sons!!!

On the Island of Patmos, this mosaic is above the entrance to the “Monastery of Saint John the Theologian” (which is written in Greek letters). This monastery is built over the cave believed to be where John received his Revelation.

Monday, May 2, 2022

BEHOLD

Today’s Reading: Malachi 3-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Just east of Jericho, beside the Jordan River, is a church that commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. The first verse of today’s reading was fulfilled by John 400 years after it was written. This is also the area where the Children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua following 40 years of wilderness wanderings.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Malachi 3:8, 16

Will a man rob God?

Yet you have robbed Me!

But you say,

“In what way have we robbed You?”

In tithes and offerings.

…Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,

And the Lord listened and heard them;

So a book of remembrance was written before Him

For those who fear the Lord

And who meditate on His name.

 

In yesterday’s blog we considered Malachi 3:8 concerning tithes and offerings. The paragraph (3:6-12) begins with God saying through the prophet, “I am the Lord, I do not change.” We can, therefore, assume that God has not changed His laws on financial matters with the establishment of the New Covenant, nor had He changed in His challenge, “‘Prove Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour you out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” (3:10).

Malachi 4, the final Words of the Old Testament, refer to the coming of one who, in God’s eyes, is a prophet like Elijah. That prophet is John the Baptist. Matthew 17:10-13 states this fact. John the Baptist, as the one who prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, God with us, prophesies of a new relationship between parents and children, and most importantly, between the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and us, His children. Today’s reading begins with the word, “BEHOLD.” It’s obvious that God wants us to pay close attention to what He has to say to us here!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, change me, I pray. According to 2 Corinthians, I am being “transformed.” I am being changed “by the Spirit of the Lord.” I ask that, as I continue faithfully reading Your Word and praying each day, I will become more like You. In Your Name, Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m excited to know that in this blog exercise I am being recorded in a special book of remembrance being written as I type these words. I’ve just read again Malachi 3:16-18. You and I who are reading this qualify to have the Lord listen to us. According to Malachi’s words, we are the Lord’s jewels. I find myself singing a song from my childhood, “When He cometh, When He cometh, to make up His jewels, all His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own. Like the stars of the morning, His brightness adorning. They shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown.”  Perhaps I can find this on Google… Here it is with the Gaithers and group singing (click here).

Tomorrow, God willing, we will move into the final book in our two-year journey, Revelation! I plan to do the first three chapters with a one-day stop at each one of seven the churches. Then I want to invite some special friends to help me. Back in the mid-1990’s, Crossroads published a series of eight books called, Day Unto Day. Jim and Kathy Cantelon wrote the New Testament commentaries in that two-year journey through the Bible. Recently I read through their words on the last 19 chapters of Revelation. They have done well! I’ve asked their permission to place their teachings here. They said “Yes!”

Revelation is a very challenging book! I remember my Doctor of Theology father telling me that he visited a library in London, England, which had over 1,000 different books which commented on the book of Revelation. He was told by the librarian that none of these books agreed on every point of interpretation. I don’t suppose the keeper of the books had read every one. Nevertheless, the statement may be true. However, God, through the Apostle John, promises a special blessing on all who take the time to read it (Revelation 1:3). Let’s be blessed!

Yours for the actual completion of the reading of every Word in the Bible. God willing, we’ll start all over again with refreshed readings in Matthew and Genesis in June,

David

A father and son work in a wood-shop in Nazareth Village…a first century re-enactment attraction for tourists. Today’s reading speaks to us of a special relationship between fathers and children.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

THE GREAT KING

Today’s Reading: Malachi 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This is St. Lazarus Church built at the location where Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. The depiction behind the altar is of Jesus, the resurrection and life. The village in which the church is located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives is called to this day by the local people, El Lazaria. After 400 years of prophetic silence, the people recognized that in Jesus a mighty prophet, and more than a prophet, Immanuel (“God with us”) had come to them (John 11).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Malachi 1:14b, 2:10b

“For I am a GREAT KING,”

Says the Lord of hosts,

“And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

…Why do we deal treacherously with one another

By profaning the covenant of the fathers?

 

Almost 100 years had passed since the Temple was rebuilt and since the people had heard the powerful preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. Malachi tells us that the priests had grown tired of the daily routine and that corruption was evident. This was manifested in the failure to pay their tithes and give their offerings (reading for tomorrow), as well as their marriages to wives who were not followers of the true God. Some had divorced their Jewish wives and married foreign women.The leaders in the Temple were going through the motions of worship, even showing strong emotions (Malachi 2:13). Covering “the altar of the Lord with tears” was not acceptable to God when at the same time they were living in sin as shown by their unfaithfulness in their marriages. The last four verses in today’s reading point this out. As shown in our key verses, the people no longer feared God as they once did. They were profaning, showing disrespect and irreverence for the Covenant (the most solemn and binding commitment possible between two parties), which their fathers had made with God. The evidence of this was in their disobedience to God, going through the motions of worship, even showing strong emotions, but living in sin continually.

The “love” and “hate” spoken of in Malachi 1:2 refers to Jacob (Israel) and the neighbouring nation of Edomites, descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. We know from many Scriptures that God loves the individual person but hates the sin represented by the persistent evil practised by nations in their culture and deeds. Yes, Israel sinned too, but the difference was that Israel repented of her sins on a regular basis and reversed corrupt practises, lining up with God’s Word every three or four generations. May God grant us another wave of repentance and obedience to His unchanging Word!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I confess You as my “Great King!” I recognize Your absolute authority over my life. My tears do not prove repentance; obedience does! I pray that the grace to repent, to turn away from living in sin, will be manifested 24/7 in my life. I ask this in the Name of the One who never sinned and, therefore, had no need of repentance, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

The “wife of my youth” (Malachi 2:14-15) was 19 and I was 22 when we entered what I regard as an unbreakable covenant, our marriage. She is sleeping as I write this in the early morning. We’ll be married 58 years this coming September 19th. She spends much time in prayer before she sleeps.  I’m too sleepy then, so I have my prayer time when I awake refreshed most mornings  (at my age, 79, an afternoon sleep is essential!). Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, summed it up in a humorous way when she was asked if she ever considered divorce from Billy. She said, “Murder sometimes, but divorce never!” When Norma-Jean and I gave our word (our most sacred possession) “until death do us part,” it meant just that. Obedience to our covenant with God means working through the problems and never giving up!

The other evidence of withdrawing from obedience to God is in the area of tithing…that 10% off the top of our entire income. Malachi points out that failure to PAY our tithes is actually stealing from God, as it is His, not ours. I’m jumping ahead here to Malachi 3 because of its extremely important message. These are almost the final words of the Bible which Jesus and His Apostles read and believed. We begin to GIVE back to God only when we give offerings over and above the tithe (alms for needy people, as well as for soul-winning ministries such as Crossroads, etc.). Obedience to God is a must, both in our marriages and in our tithes and offerings. Jesus and His disciples would have read Malachi and put into practice the teaching on tithes and offerings. I make no apologies for believing that these two areas of human behaviour represent the minimum level of commitment to God so that, as my father prayed in my hearing every day when I was a child, “O God, may the smile of Your approval be on my life this day.”

Yours for a revival of faith and obedience in every generation, not just every 100 years,

David

Saturday, April 30, 2022

THE LIVING WATERS (Zechariah 14:8)

Today’s Reading: Zechariah 13-14

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

As you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulcher you can climb a set of stone stairs on the right. This stairway, according to tradition, leads to Calvary and contains a huge rock which is believed to have been split when Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished!” The rock can be seen under glass on both sides of the altar, and beneath the altar there is a hole said to be the place where the foot of the cross was lodged. Due to the significance of this, it is the most visited site in the Holy Sepulchre church. A friend of my son Ron is Greek, and he says the words on the front of the communion table say, “I SEE YOUR GARMENTS ARE EMPTY, ALMIGHTY CHRIST,” referring to His burial clothes which remained in the tomb after HIS RESURRECTION!!!

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Zechariah 13:1, 6

In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness... And one will say to him, “What are these wounds in your hands?” Then he will answer, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

 

Zechariah 12:10 tells us that the Messiah will be pierced, and those who look on Him shall grieve deeply. In today’s reading we learn that this piercing is the source of a fountain for cleansing, “For sin and for uncleanness.” The redemptive work of Jesus on the Cross gave rise to a new and purified people of God, a spiritual Israel wherein there is no idolatry and no false worship. These are difficult words to understand in this chapter: “The sword against My Shepherd.” Read Isaiah 53:10-12 for another statement as to why the sword was turned against the Messiah Shepherd. What love!!! “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” How can our limited human minds grasp this?

The final chapter of Zechariah appears to describe the terrible atrocities that will happen just prior to the coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory. He will cut short those days of terror. Zechariah 14:12, “…flesh dissolving while they stand on their feet,” is as close as one can come to describing what happens to the human body within the detonation area of a nuclear bomb. The animals present will suffer the same fate (14:15). The Lord will put the final period to the book of human history. In three more days, our readings move into the Revelation, the Apocalypse. The final victory over evil, and the eternal establishment of good is coming!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Keep me faithful, Lord God, I pray! Give me the clarity of thought to be able to understand as much of these challenging Scriptures as my mind and Your Spirit can enable me to grasp. I rejoice in the promise of Your first coming when You opened a fountain for cleansing from sin. I also rejoice in the promise that reveals that You are coming again to rule and reign. In the Name of Jesus I approach You with “HOLINESS TO THE LORD!!!” Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

When Jesus, resurrected out from among the dead, made His second appearance to the disciples in Jerusalem, Thomas, who doubted Jesus’ resurrection, was present. Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side” (John 20:27). Immediately, Thomas believed and testified to the fact that Jesus is 100% God. He said, “My Lord and my God!” The Scripture found in Luke 24:33-43 expands on Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection. Jesus says, “‘Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I, Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet!” There were many appearances of Jesus, one time to over 500 people. I find it remarkable that the “Mishna,” the recorded minutes of the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious council for Judaism appointed by the Romans, did not in any way record a refutation of the claims of Jesus’ appearances. It was politically impossible, as thousands had seen the resurrected Christ (Messiah). Approximately 5,000 Jewish men, including many priests, believed in Jesus after Peter’s message in the Temple court. Read Peter’s preaching…Acts 3:12 to Acts 4:4. In Acts 6:7 we read, “And the Word of the Lord spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” These Jewish priests, now followers of Jesus, continued to function in the Temple for almost 40 more years. The tradition of priests in the Church evolved directly from these priests who had experienced, through Jesus, the Fountain opened in the house of David “for sin and for uncleanness.”

Yours, looking forward to that day when “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” once again (Zechariah 14:4). Jesus changes everything!!!

David

Friday, April 29, 2022

MOURN AND GRIEVE

Today’s Reading: Zechariah 11-12

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Altar area inside Saint Anne’s Church, next to the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda, Jerusalem. The message is that God’s altar is the Cross of Christ. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:14,15).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Zechariah 12:10

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

 

God is speaking through Zechariah. The words, “I WILL” make it clear that God is committed to the time when the people of Jerusalem will look on Him (GOD) “whom they have pierced.” This was written 500 years before Jesus was crucified, and while the people looked on Him as He hung on the Cross, it refers to a yet future time when Jesus will come again. They will see Jesus in His resurrected Body, in which the wounds of His crucifixion are visible. Other prophets wrote of the One Who was “wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5-6), and “They pierced My hands and feet” (only in crucifixion, and written centuries before any historical record of this method of execution). Read King David’s prophecy found in Psalm 22:16-18. To read one of the records of the crucifixion of Jesus, read John 19:34-37 and then read John 20:26-31 (prophesied in Zechariah 12:10 and 13:6). Make no mistake about it! Nobody other than Jesus fulfills these prophesies. Dr. Mark Hitchcock, a former attorney and now a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, appeared on the 100 Huntley Street telecast with a message called, “The Shadow of the Cross.” He documents the impossibility of the words of the prophets, including Zechariah, coming to pass as they did by accident (click here for Dr. Hitchcock).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, my heart is so very sad as I think of how You must have grieved “as One mourns for His only Son.” As Jesus is there, one with You at Your throne, You can see the marks on His hands, His feet, and His side. You gave Your “only begotten Son, that whosoever [me included] believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). I pray that the scenes of Your Cross would continuously be before me. I believe “In Him” because You have shown me the One Who is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6a) through the words of the prophets, the Apostles, and Your Holy Spirit’s revelation to me. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You, Jesus!!! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I first saw the gruesome picture (below) when Dr. Paul Maier was my guest on the 100 Huntley Street telecast. Dr. Maier has a Ph.D. in semitic languages from Harvard and is professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. The photo shows a nail which was embedded in the ankle bone of a crucified man, according to the archeologists. There must have been a knot in the wood into which it was driven that bent the point of the nail. Of course, the Romans crucified others, including the two thieves who died on the crosses on either side of Jesus. Dr. Maier’s book, Skeleton in God’s Closet, is based on the facts of Jesus’ crucifixion, and then a fictional story evolves when it is claimed that the bones of Jesus have been discovered. This book, in my opinion, is most captivating, stimulating, and well researched. I guarantee that readers will find it very difficult to put it down having begun to read (click here to purchase Skeleton in God’s Closet).

Yours to focus on the most important event in human history, prophesied by the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and fulfilled by Jesus only!!! (read with me 1 Peter 1:18-25),

David

In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this heel bone with a nail pierced through it is on display, giving evidence for the ancient Roman practice of execution on a cross. Oh Jesus, how I grieve over my sins. You suffered crucifixion so that I, and all who believe in You, could be forgiven, saved from eternal death, and given as a free gift, eternal life. The Cross of Jesus was God’s altar where His sacrificial Lamb was sacrificed in human time, but in reality was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).