The 4th Sunday of Easter
The Lamb is Our Shepherd
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
It’s dark, isn’t it? The valley. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and it is so dark. The darkness is so thick, sometimes I feel like there is no light in my life at all. The path is rough, rugged, and runs every which way. With with darkness surrounding me, I hardly know where I’m going. I stumble and fall a lot. Even worse, I know as I’m walking through this dark valley that I’m a sitting duck, or a sitting sheep I suppose. I’m an easy target. I’m weak. I’m vulnerable prey. There are dangers all around me. There is darkness all around me. I’m lost. I’m alone. I’m afraid.
Ever feel that way? There’s a reason why Psalm 23 has some of the most popular Bible verses in the world. Even people who don’t believe in the Bible will quote it. Perhaps the most striking picture that people know is in verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” That verse is so popular because all people can relate to it. Read the rest of this entry
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
The Lamb of God
1. Look to the Lamb
2. Point to the Lamb
Text: John 1:29-41
“Where are my keys?” I yell as I frantically storm through the house. “I don’t have time for this!” Where did I put them last? How am I supposed to remember that? “Are you sure you didn’t put them somewhere?” No matter what they say, I probably won’t believe the kids. They must have hidden them somewhere. “Unbelievable! Where are th . . . Oh. They’re right here in my hands.”
How many times have you done that before? You look all around. You search high and low. But you can’t see it. Then there’s frustration. Or anger. Or disappointment. Then more frustration and anger.
“It’s right there,” someone tells us. “It’s right in front of your face.” Not only with finding things, but in solving problems this happens too. “The answer is right under your nose. Look! It’s right there.”
These are the kinds of situations that make our children pout and shout, “Where? I can’t see it!” Well, sometimes adults want to pout and shout over our problems, too. “Why can’t I find the answer? Where? I can’t see it!” Read the rest of this entry
Text: 1 John 1:1-2:2
If you were to die today, what lasting message would you want left behind? How would you want people to remember you? What would have been the purpose of your life?
Deep questions for a Tuesday morning, I know, but I can’t help but think them as I read this section from 1 John. John was writing to “make his joy complete.” John didn’t know when he would die, but before he did he wanted to make sure that the legacy he left was the right one.
This is the legacy of John: John saw Jesus Christ with his own eyes. All the miracles recorded in the Bible… he witnessed them. John watched the miracle of redemption take place before his very eyes. He stood at the foot of the cross and watched Jesus die… three days later he saw Jesus in the flesh, he heard him speak, he touched his warm, living flesh.
John heard from the mouth of God what all of this meant for the world. Though all of us have been contaminated with sin the blood of Jesus purifies us from this sin. When we sin we have forgiveness because of what Jesus did.
This was the legacy John wanted left behind. If his early readers remembered nothing else, John wanted them to remember this: Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. Knowing that others knew this would make John’s joy complete. Knowing that Jesus was being preached made John ready for death whenever it came.
This fact, that Jesus died for our sins, is the single most important thing in the world. The most important thing we Christians can do is to make sure that the next generation knows this truth. This is the Christian legacy; this is the purpose for our lives on this earth. This is the message we have heard from John, who heard it from Christ. This is the message we declare to the world that we may all enjoy fellowship with each other and with God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that your Word will endure until the end of days. We also know that you have chosen to use us as your ambassadors to this world. Give us the strength to keep our eyes focused on Christ our sacrificial Lamb as we live out our time on this side of eternity. Open our eyes to the world so that we can see all the people who need to hear about Jesus. In your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
3rd Sunday of End Times: Saints Triumphant Sunday
How Blessed We Are!
1. To be invited to the feast
2. To be dressed for the feast
3. To attend the feast
Text: Revelation 19:1-9
Seventy-two days. Seventy-two days and it was over. On August 20, 2011 celebrity fashionista Kim Kardashian and NBA basketball player Kris Humphries were joined together in marriage. The wedding was said to have cost around $20 million. With endorsements and exclusive photo and video rights given, it is reported that the couple profited around $10 million. If this is something that you hadn’t heard about, and if you don’t know who Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are, well, then your life is probably better off anyways! After all, the marriage only lasted 72 days!
Not unusual for celebrity marriages, though. In fact, 72 days is rather long when it comes to celebrity marriages. And sadly, it’s not uncommon for the rest of America, either. In a country where you can have a drive-through wedding in Las Vegas and where more marriages end in divorce then in success—we’ve become used to these kinds of shenanigans in the headlines.
If only we didn’t have marriage problems! If only marriages were perfect! If only our spouse were perfect! If only the joy of the wedding day remained and lasted forever!
Well, guess what! The fairytale wedding of our dreams and a perfect marriage is ours to enjoy forever! Whether you are young or old, married or single, male or female—you have a perfect spouse and a perfect marriage to enjoy forever. How Blessed We Are! Read the rest of this entry
Text: Revelation 19:1-9
The tables are set. The food is prepared. The decor is magnificent. The occasion is splendid and joyous.
The groom is perfectly glorious. He’s been waiting. He’s been waiting for his bride for quite some time. But now, finally, the time has come!
So the bride is presented to her groom. She is beautiful. She is radiant. She, too, is glorious. And she . . . is you!
From the creation of the world Jesus has known that you would be his own. And from the creation of the world Jesus knew how he would make that happen. He would lay down his life as the sacrificial Lamb of God. He would shed his blood to wash away every stain and blemish and sin that you have. And through his life and death in your place he would dress you in his righteousness and purity.
(Note: Here in Revelation 19 it would be better to translate verse 9 like this: Fine linen stands for the righteous declaration of/for the saints. The point is that we are dressed in Christ’s righteousness and salvation, not our own!)
Thus all the preparations have been made. The great wedding feast of the Lamb is ready. And you have been invited! For you are Christ’s bride–washed, cleaned, and prepared through your faith in his work.
Oh how blessed you are! Indeed, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the heavenly bridegroom. In your gracious love, you laid down your life and shed your blood to wash me clean of sin. Now you have made me to be your bride for all eternity. Give me peace and joy each and every day as I await the feast which you have prepared for me in your heavenly kingdom. Amen.