Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Devotional Thought From Revelation

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.    
Revelation 20:15

The book of life or the lake of fire, if you are not in one you are in the other.

Being listed in the book of life comes from being rightly related to the Savior, Jesus, who saves those who cast themselves upon Him by faith. It means, of course, that all who trust Jesus for salvation are given eternal life to be with Jesus eternally. This is the good half of this verse, especially if you realize we all live with eternity and view.

The negative side of the verse is that through lack of faith those not listed in the book of life are consigned to the lake of fire, or hell. Yes, according to the Bible’s teaching, hell is real. It was prepared as a terrifying, painful, punishment for the devil (Rev. 20:10) and the wicked angels that followed him in rebelling against the God of the Bible, Who is the one and only living God of the universe. Sadly, for those who will not believe the gospel of salvation, thus rejecting God, because unbelief is rejecting, the lake of fire also will receive them.

The lake of fire is real. Eternal separation from God is real. The torment of hell is real. No human mind is big enough in intellect to imagine how beyond awful this is.

Not everybody is in the book of life, and not everybody goes to hell. Your destination is determined about your faith.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Devotional Thought From Revelation

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.     Rev. 10:11

          Fantastic things are happening in the book of Revelation. No matter what theological point of view and interpretation a reader is coming from the pictures given in John's vision are earth shaking, mind blowing, and heart rending. Here in one of the great periods described by the book, John is told that despite all that has happened he must prophesy, or preach again, and that his message is for every people group, every nation even those where Christian faith is a minority faith, a message that should be shared in every language, and ought to be shared before kings and governments. In other words, it is a message that should go into all the world, still a great commission. John, I think, can be thought to represent the church, the witness(es) to the truth of Christ's gospel, and as such this statement in Rev. 10:11 is a clear indication that the church, the believers who make up the church, are called upon to the setting forth of the message of the cross and resurrection, which is God's message of salvation, before the world.

          All people groups no matter ethnicity, or skin color, location in the world, or any other qualifying characteristics need to know that God sent His Son into the world to save them, and there is no other name under heaven by which they must be saved. "Must" because there is no other way but through receiving Jesus into one's heart as savior. That is true for every nation no matter it's religious background, and for their governments as well, which God declares are to be executors of judgement on behalf of God and His righteousness (cf. Rom. 13:1-5). It is a message that should be spoken to all people no matter the language those people may speak.

          Summing up: the truth of the One God of the Universe, the God of the Bible, is for all persons everywhere. There are not many ways to God, there is Jesus. There are not many doors to heaven, there is Jesus. There are not many saviors, so take your pick, there is Jesus. That's the Bible's message. That's John's message. That's the Christian church's message, in all the church's various forms and styles of worship and evangelism. That's my message as a Christian believer, and witness, and preacher.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Greater Than The Storm

And when he was entered into a ship , his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. and his disciples came to him, and woke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.     Matthew 8:23-26

Prayer: O Lord, when the storms of life are blowing, give us increasing faith so we can be calm, while You calm the storm. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The title, scripture reading and prayer above are from a daily devotional in Rev. Kisenwether's book, A Year In The Life: Ministry and Memories now available on Amazon.com. Each daily devotional includes a theological reflection sandwiched between the scripture and prayer.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Year Verse For 2017

Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.     John 12:28

                Each year, while I do not make New Year’s resolutions in the popular sense that has come and gone as a major national exercise (which as TV street interviews with random folk show, many no longer see value in making resolutions or in making disciplined efforts to fulfill them), I continue a practice I began as a teenager. I choose “A Year Verse.” I select a verse that I hope will be a theme, or a growth process, in my life during the year ahead. For 2017 I have chosen the verse quoted above, John 12:28.

                In this passage Jesus says, “Father, glorify thy name.” As a follower of Jesus, I too want God, the Father, to get the glory in and through my life. I want to follow the Lord Jesus’ example in that way.

                When God, the Father, responded in this verse He said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” I apply that to my own life joyfully also, as I can look back on my life I am grateful to be able to see that God has glorified Himself through me, and I have the hope that He will glorify Himself through me in the future as well. A hope all Christians have.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Luke’s Gospel

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.      Luke 15:1, 2

                One of the great criticisms of Jesus was this one: This man receiveth sinners.

                The religious legalists could not get their heads around the fact that God did not feel the way about sinners that they did. They looked down on others who did not meticulously keep the laws set forth by the scribes as well as they, the legalists, did. They looked down on those who did not dress as well as they, the legalists, did every day. These were ordinary people who, if they were judged by ordinary civic standards, would come out being considered, for the most part, decent human beings. But they were not up to the “really religious” standards of those who saw themselves as the righteous ones, so the “righteous ones” considered them the low down dirt of the earth. Of course, some of them were: Roman tax collectors and collaborators, others, perhaps, liars, cheats, harlots, whatever, AND/SO  even you, dear readers, think they deserved to not be received by Jesus, or at least his church, yet he received them. Aaaaghh!

                Think back to the manger. Around Jesus was a mother who was self-proclaimed as one who needed a savior; an earthly father who had to be convinced that the sordid thought he had about his bride was wrong; shepherds who certainly were sinners of some sort at least by Pharisaical standards; wise men, or kings, if the tradition is true, who very likely were throughout their life time involved in the academic, or political, or occultic intrigue that would surround their occupations. In other words, the savior in the manger had sinners all around him even then!

                The Pharisees missed the glory of Jesus, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Sinners! BTW, they, the Pharisees, and us, we’re sinners. Thank God Jesus receives us!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Luke’s Gospel

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.     Luke 11:31

                Speaking of himself in comparison with arguably the greatest king of ancient Israel, at least regarding wealth and extension of the kingdom, and reputation in the world, Jesus says, a greater than Solomon is here.

                The Magi inquired where is he that is born King of the Jews, and to have made the life interrupting, life changing, journey that they made makes it obvious they thought this King of the Jews they sought was someone special, probably greater than any King the Jews had ever had before, which would include both Solomon, and the present ruler Herod, the Great.

                                A beloved Christmas Carol focuses our thoughts of Christmas on this part of the story with the phrase, “Born is the King of Israel.”

                Solomon’s wisdom was sought by other kingdoms in the world, rulers who came from the utmost parts of the earth; Jesus is greater than Solomon. His wisdom is greater, and he offers salvation, and a daily relationship to God. The national leaders of the countries of this world today should be seeking out Jesus because he can make marvelous changes in their understanding about how to make their nations prosper and be at peace (in addition to individual salvation). If they do not seek him and his ways they will continue on the tragic paths they often follow to their nation’s hurt and the world’s.

                And, if individuals are not wise enough to seek him and the greater wisdom and salvation he offers they will eventually fall into eternal condemnation.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Luke

And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered everyone at all things which Jesus did, …     Luke 9:43

                So what happened was, the crowd of people around Jesus were amazed at the power of God when Jesus cast out the demon afflicting one man’s son, and they wondered, they thought about what this and other miracles Jesus did could mean. They thought about, and hopefully thought it through, and came to an accurate realization of what his work said about him. They pondered, as it were, these things in their hearts.

                At this season of the year, Christmas time, such an idea takes us back to Bethlehem in Judea where shepherds who saw the realization of the angel message that they would find a baby in a manger who is literally the Savior, Messiah, and Lord of the people of God, proclaimed it throughout the town, and we are told those who heard that reporting wondered ( I wonder if this announcement could really be true, and if it is, I wonder what this all means for me, my people and nation, the world.) At the same time the young mother of that newborn, who had already heard many amazing things about the child she was given to bear, listened to the shepherds’ story and saw them shouting it into town, and she pondered it  in her heart (How does this fit in with what I already know? Will I ever understand my baby?).

                Decades after they wondered at Bethlehem they were still wondering about this Jesus who had come from the Father.  If the Christmas message declared by churches worldwide can get people to wonder about Jesus, and ponder his identity and purpose in coming to earth, lives around the globe, and the world system itself, can change, and, in many ways, be made new.

                Go tell it in the churches and in their ministries everywhere that Jesus the savior and king is born.