New Testament In a Year: December 10 – Revelation 2

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Revelation 2
(1-7) To the Church in Ephesus
Christ told John specific messages to write to seven churches in Asia. He could trust that John would write exactly what he was told, nothing more and nothing less. This is how we can know for certain that when we read the Bible we are reading the Holy Word of God because it was written by men who were moved by the Holy Ghost. They put God’s thoughts and words down on paper and not their own.

The church in Ephesus was commended for their work and patient endurance and how they could not stand those who were evil. They did not foolishly follow false teachers, but first tested those who claimed to be of God and found them to be false. However, the church is rebuked for abandoning their first love. Instead of working and patiently enduring because they love Jesus the Christ, they work and patiently endure out of a sense of duty to Him. God wants the church to repent and love Him again with their whole hearts.

(8-11) To the Church in Smyrna
Christ knows that the church in Smyrna has undergone much tribulation. Materially speaking, they are poor, but He wants them to know that they are rich in Him. Christ knows that the church is about to go through even more tribulation, and He encourages them not to fear. They are to remain faithful, even unto death, so that Christ can give them the crown of life. The who conquer in this world by believing in Christ and remaining faithful to Him, will not be crushed by the second death – that is, eternal punishment which comes after the first and natural death.

(12-17) To the Church in Pergamum
It appears that the church in Pergamum existed in a place that was rife with Satanic influence; however, they are commended for remaining faithful to the name of Jesus and not denying the Christian faith, even in days of persecution when one believer was killed. But the church of Pergamum is also rebuked because some there followed the teaching of Balaam and others followed the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Neither Balaam nor the Nicolaitans pleased God. The church is urged to repent before Christ has to make war against them.

(18-29) To the Church in Thyatira
The church in Thyatira is praised for their love, faith, service and patient endurance. However, they are also rebuked because some of them learned the deep things of Satan and were engaged in sexual immorality and other sin. They are urged to repent so they will not be judged by God. Those who have not learned the things of Satan, are encouraged to hold fast to Christ and their faith until Christ comes.

Favorite verse: (18) “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

New Testament In a Year: December 9 – Revelation 1

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Revelation 1
(1-3) Prologue
God revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Bible. The entire Bible can be referred to as the revelation or the revealing of Jesus the Christ, but this book is specifically titled Revelation because it reveals to us hidden matters and tells of events that have happened and will happen many years after it was written. God chose John to see and record the things written in the book of Revelation so that we could not only hear (read) it, but also believe and keep it.

(4-8) Greeting to the Seven Churches
Jesus the Christ (was) in existence in the beginning, in the past; He (is) in existence now, in the present; and He (is to come) will be in existence in the future, in the end and for all of eternity. Jesus the Christ is called “the faithful witness” because we can trust in Him and in His Word. He is the Truth and He is faithful. We can depend on Him. Jesus the Christ is called “the firstborn of the dead,” not because He was the first to be raised from the dead. In the Old Testament: Elijah resurrected a widow’s son, Elisha resurrected the son of the Shunammite woman, and Elisha’s bones resurrected a dead man who was being buried. In the New Testament: Jesus resurrected a widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus; Peter resurrected Tabitha and Paul resurrected Eutychus. But Jesus is called “the firstborn of the dead” because He was the first to be resurrected and the first to remain resurrected. The widows’ sons, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus and all the others who were raised from the dead eventually died again, but Jesus remained alive and is in Heaven today. Jesus the Christ is called “the ruler of kings on earth” because He is the King of kings and has all power and authority over people.

Because of the love Jesus has for us, He freed us from our sins and from death by shedding His blood on the cross. He has made us princes and princesses of an eternal kingdom and priests to His (and our) Father, God. They deserve all glory and dominion forever. One day, Jesus will return to earth. Those who believe in Him, will rejoice. Those who don’t, will wail.

(9-20) Vision of the Son of Man
John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos when he received a vision from Heaven of Jesus the Christ who told him to write the things that he would see. Jesus called Himself “the first and the last” or “the Alpha and the Omega” because He was saying that He was the beginning and the end of all things. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and were often used by Jewish rabbis to refer to the whole of something or the eternality of something. Jesus the Christ is the whole of Creation. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He died, but now He is alive and is alive forever.

Favorite verse: (8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

New Testament In a Year: December 8 – Jude 1

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Jude 1
(3-16) Judgment on False Teachers
Jude wanted to write about the salvation that he had in common with other believers, but he found it necessary to warn about false teachers instead. Apparently, this was a serious problem back then. People were constantly trying to take the Christian faith and undermine it by promoting their own thoughts and theology. This is still happening today and we must be on guard against those who sensualize the grace of God and deny that Jesus is the Christ.

Those who promote a false Gospel will be judged, just as rebel angels, unbelieving Israelites, Sodom and Gomorrah and many others were judged by God for their ungodly ways. False teachers are described by Jude as shepherds feeding themselves instead of their sheep (compare that to the Good Shepherd, Jesus the Christ, who feeds His sheep living water and the bread of life). False teachers are also frauds, described as clouds that promise rain but contain no water and trees that give the appearance of being fruitful but carry no fruit. They do not care about the things of God. They only follow their own sinful desires.

(17-23) A Call to Persevere
Regardless of false teachers, true believers are called to persevere even in the face of scoffing. We are to build ourselves up in faith, remain prayed up, and abide in the love of God while we patiently wait to be united with Jesus the Christ in eternal life. To those who doubt, we are to have mercy. To those who are lost, we are to try to save.

(24-25) Doxology
Jesus the Christ is the only one able to keep us safely in His hands, free from stumbling into sin. In the end, He will present those who believe in Him before God with great joy – blameless and righteous – not because of our goodness, but because of His. For this and for so much more, He deserves all glory, majesty, dominion and authority, both now and forever.

Favorite verse: (13) Wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

New Testament In a Year: December 7 – 3 John 1

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3 John 1
(1-4) Greeting
Just as John rejoices when he sees fellow believers walking in the truth, God’s greatest joy also comes when a sinner repents, turns to Christ, and begins walking in the truth that is Christ.

(5-12) Support and Opposition
John recalls Diotrephes, who was an opposition in ministry, and Demetrius, who was a support in ministry. Diotrephes put himself first, refused to respect authority, talked wicked nonsense against other Christians, and refused to welcome other believers. He was so unwelcoming that he put those who were welcoming out of the church. On the other hand, Demetrius was the opposite of Diotrephes, and people had only good things to say about him.

Throughout our lives, we should imitate good and not evil. In imitating good, we are imitating God. Let’s live and work and love in such a way that others will remember us in a positive light.

(13-14) Final Greetings
Even though John didn’t have this in mind when he wrote this letter, I think it is important for us to remember the value of face-to-face interaction with people because of the digital times in which we live. It’s nice to talk on the phone or write someone a letter (although, letter writing has sort of gone out of style). It’s great to tweet someone or send a Facebook message. It’s even better to Skype with someone or do a video chat. But nothing beats actually seeing a beloved family member or friend in person, physically touching them, and talking with them face-to-face.

Favorite verse: (11) Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Women of the Word: Micah’s Mother

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Judges 17:1-6 records an incident that took place in the hill country of Ephraim when Israel had no king and everyone did as they saw fit. This incident involves a young man named Micah and his mother who is not named. Micah’s mother had eleven hundred shekels of silver stolen from her, and when she found out that her silver was gone, she pronounced a curse on the thief who had taken it. Well, it just so happened that her son was the one who stole the silver. When he heard the curse that she spoke, he must have felt guilty, and promptly told her, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”

Micah’s mother did not get angry at him. She only said, “The Lord bless you, my son!” And she promised to consecrate all of the silver to the Lord.

But after Micah returned the silver to his mother, she only consecrated two hundred shekels of silver and kept the other nine hundred shekels of silver for herself. And instead of giving the consecrated shekels to the Lord as she had promised to do, she gave it to a silversmith who used the shekels to make an idol. Micah took this idol and put it in a shrine in his house, alongside some other cult objects. He then made one of his sons priest over his household shrine.

From this incident, we see that Micah and his mother were both aware of the one true God, but they mixed their belief in Him with other idolatrous worship – some thing which we as Christians should not do. Micah’s mother gives us two things that we can learn from her. Continue reading

New Testament In a Year: December 6 – 2 John 1

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2 John 1
(4-11) Walking in Truth and Love
Jesus the Christ called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” When we walk in truth, it is not our truth or someone else’s truth that we walk in. It is the Truth of Christ. When we walk in truth, we walk in Christ.

John acknowledges that the command to love one another is nothing new. The command to love is something that God has wanted us to do from the beginning. And when we obey His commands, we walk in His love.

Once again, we are warned to watch out for deceivers and antichrists who refuse to confess Jesus as Christ. We are not even to receive these types into our house, give them any greeting, or encourage them in their false teaching in any way.

Favorite verse: (3) Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

New Testament In a Year: December 5 – 1 John 5

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1 John 5
(1-5) Overcoming the World
Everyone who believes in Jesus the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Jesus the Christ also loves God. One cannot know, love or believe in the true God without first knowing, loving and believing in His Son, Jesus. We show our love for God by obeying His commandments. His commandments are not burdensome; neither is His burden heavy.

The faith that we receive when we are born of God is the victory that helps us overcome the world. We are unable to overcome the world and all its darkness, troubles and problems on our own. Only belief in Jesus the Christ makes this possible.

(6-12) Testimony Concerning the Son of God
If we refuse to believe in Jesus the Christ, we are also refusing to believe in God; thus making God a liar because we are basically saying that we do not believe the testimony that He has given us in the form of His Son. Unbelief shows that we do not believe God loved the world and as a result of that lack of love, He did not send His Son to save us as John 3:16 says. However, unbelief does not change the fact of what God did do. God provided a way for all people to have eternal life through His Son. And whoever has the Son has life.

(13-21) That You May Know
John wrote these things to those who already believe in Jesus the Christ so that we can know that we have eternal life through Him. John wants us to have confidence that if we ask anything through prayer according to God’s will, He hears us. And since He hears us, He will give us what we have asked of Him. We do not have to come before God with uncertainty or doubt because we can fully rely on Him and be certain about His truth and His promises.

Favorite verse: (14) And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Memorize a Scripture a Month: December 2016

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And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Revelation 21:1-7
King James Version (KJV)