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Submission

I’m sure that John was not just a little overwhelmed. He compares what he sees with what’s familiar to him. He constantly describes what he sees as “It was like ….” and “It had the appearance of ….”

I’m grateful for John’s descriptions. But it’s difficult to imagine creatures that John describes in today’s Bible reading. I’ve never seen creatures that look like that. Ever. I guess the closest I’ve seen is the characters portrayed in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. Of course, those characters are fictional.

But just because I’ve never seen the creatures John describes, or just because I can’t imagine them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m sure there are lots of creatures that exist that I’ve never seen before. Occasionally, we’ll see pictures in the news of a newly-discovered creature found in some remote jungle or ocean trench.

Today’s reading is another reminder that God is immensely creative. And I’m not.

Application

Whereas we (I) tend to get caught up with trying to visualize John’s description, John just gives the description and says that the creature worshipped its Creator. Regardless of what a creature looks like, a day will come when that creature — every creature — will bow to worship its Creator.

Every one of us will bow before our Creator. We can choose to bow and worship Him now — and get to know Him and enjoy Him now! — or we will bow reluctantly later. But we will all bow before Him and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10–11)

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kickboxing

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen Paul and Peter warn against false teachers. In today’s Bible reading, Jude takes his turn. Who was Jude? There are a couple of possibilities. Jude could have been the Apostle Judas who was sent to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, and Silas in Acts 15:22. Another, and more likely was the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus; he refers to himself as James’ brother in Jude 1.

Like Paul and Peter, Jude is concerned about false teachers who are leading God’s people astray. Jude says, “Dear friends … I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” (Jude 3 CSB)

I think that most Believers in the Twenty-First Century don’t understand the struggles that First Century Christians were forced to deal with. In addition to the Romans and the Judaizers, Believers had rogue believers to deal with. These were people who may have claimed to have come to faith in Christ and departed, turning to false doctrine, or to extra-biblical myths. They were bad news to the young church. Thus, we find several New Testament writers addressing the problems of these false teachers and telling their readers to be on their guard. Jude says that Believers should fight for their faith. And that’s exactly what they had to do.

Application

But fighting for one’s faith isn’t limited to First Century believers. Even now, we must fight for our faith which is constantly under attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Peter says that our faith is more precious than gold. (1 Peter 1:7) If that is so, it is worth fighting for.

If you’re going to fight for your faith, it’s not only important to know that your faith is worth fighting for, but you have to know your enemy. Again, your faith is under constant assault from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Attacks can — and will — come from all sides. And 1960s comedian Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine was wrong. The devil can’t make you do anything. You will fail the test of faith because you choose to fail the test. That’s why Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) The more you work at it, the better you get!

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Several years ago, one of my favorite videos that made the rounds on Facebook was the one of the little girl who told her daddy to worry about himself. As she struggled to free herself from her carseat, her daddy offered to help her, but she kept saying, “Worry about yourself!” It seemed that she would never be able to press the button and gain her freedom. But she was not going to let her daddy help. She was at the precious stage of life where she thought she could do everything herself without help from anyone else. Some of us never grow out of that stage.

Today’s Bible reading includes a little story of a conversation between Jesus and Peter. Peter asks what would become of John the Beloved Disciple. Jesus replies, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” (John 21:22) In other words, Jesus tells Peter, “Worry about yourself. Don’t concern yourself with the fate of others. Make sure that you follow me.”

Why is it that we are always concerned about other people when Jesus starts “getting up in our business”? Just when He begins to answer our prayer to, “Search me, O God” (Psalm 139:23), we shift the attention off ourselves and onto someone else. Why do we do that?

I think it has to do with the fact that we know deep down that our God is a consuming fire. (Deuteronomy 4:24) As much as we want to claim that we love God with all that we are, deep inside, I think we’re afraid of God. Some of that fear can be good. We must always be on guard, lest we become too familiar with God and forget that He is to be respected. He is to be feared. He is awe-inspiring. I recently began reading a book, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God. It’s important to remember that although God is kind, He is not tame.[1]

Application

How comfortable are you with God? It’s important to see Him as a Friend. But He is so much more than a friend. And we must always remember that God is not like us, though we are like Him. We can never be buddy-buddy with God because He is so beyond us and so beyond our comprehension.

Spend some time today praising God for His greatness and awesomeness. Read through Bible passages like Psalm 8, reflecting on how the infinite God has revealed Himself to finite humanity.

If you’d like to read more about having a healthy respect, a healthy awe for God, take a look at the book I mentioned above. Admittedly, that book is a very deep read. A couple of books that are a little more approachable are Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying by Drew Dyck and Awe: Why it Matters in All We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp.

[1] Hat tip to CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Tumnus, the Fawn tells Lucy that Aslan is a very good lion, but he is not tame.

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Jesus appears before Pontius Pilate
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus points out that His Kingdom is not of this world. In fact, he demonstrates the point with, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36 CSB)

A short time earlier on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prophesied to His Disciples, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ ” Matthew 26:31 (CSB)

The Jewish leaders who expected the Disciples to run away if Jesus were to be arrested were very happy that night. Everything worked according to their plans. But they didn’t consider what might happen if Jesus was actually Who He claimed to be.

Everyone else ran. But John the Beloved Disciple and Peter secretly hung around to see what would happen to Jesus. And when pressed if he knew Jesus, Peter lied and called down curses on himself.

But Jesus’ Kingdom wasn’t like any other kingdom anyone had ever seen. If you look at Jesus’ “Kingdom” parables, it’s clear that God’s Kingdom doesn’t look anything like what someone would expect it to look. Those who are first are last; those who are last are first. And the greatest of all is a servant. So when the King was taken, the Disciples ran. His Kingdom is not of this world.

Application

Jesus told His Disciples to seek His Kingdom and righteousness first. Not first as in before going to the next thing. But first as the only thing of importance. Rather than concerning themselves with the things of this world, Jesus tells His Disciples to concern themselves with the things of a different world. A world where He is King.

The Kingdom of God had already come. (Matthew 12:28) And yet, it hadn’t. Even today, we still live in a constant tension of God’s Kingdom as “already, but not yet.” And we await the Day of the Lord, when Jesus comes in all of His glory to make all things right.

Are you a citizen of God’s Kingdom? Have you submitted to His Kingship and to His rule? I urge you do that today!

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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Diagram of the relationships in the Trinity
Image source: The Gospel Coalition

Never let anyone tell you that the Trinity isn’t biblical. And never be unapologetic in your belief in the Trinity. Granted, the word “Trinity” isn’t used in the Bible, but the doctrine is clearly presented consistently throughout the Bible. In today’s Bible reading, John presents the Trinity in its beauty.

Believers believe in a triune God, that is, One God revealed simultaneously in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall for the heresy that says the Father became the Son Who became the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that all three have co-existed simultaneously through eternity past and will continue to co-exist simutaneously through eternity future.

Look at John 16:5 and John 16:7. Look at Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1. Also, look at Jesus’ baptism in all of the Synoptic Gospels. (Matthew 3:16–17; Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:21–22) All of these passages speak of the ever-present Trinity as separate persons. Neither is another, but all are fully God, as is illustrated in the diagram above. If you’d like to read more about the Trinity, check out this article from the Gospel Coalition.

Application

One of the beauties of the Trinity is that it models perfect submission. And if there is submission in the perfect Godhead, submission is a good thing! John 16:13–15 and John 16:26-28 show that the Spirit submits to and glorifies the Son and the Son submits to and glorifies the Father.

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