A Most Encouraging, Comforting and Exciting Passage

Rev 21 4

We are excited about beginning our New Testament Bible Reading plan this coming Sunday.  The rest of this week we will be hearing from various writers on what God’s Word means to them.  Today, we are pleased to hear from Seth Ross, the Executive Director of the Church of God General Conference and Atlanta Bible College President.

 

Over the years, I have found certain portions of Scripture have come back to encourage me over and over. Revelation 21 is one of those chapters that encourages me when I’m down, it comforts me when I’m in pain, and it excites me when… well, all the time. When I’ve lost people close to me (grandparent, parent, etc) the particular verses below have given me comfort in what God has in store for us. On days when I’m not sad, this same passage excites me about what is coming and it gives me strength to make spiritual decisions that might not make sense to most people. In this special chapter, in this special section, there’s one special verse that gives me a sense of how much God loves for each of us individually and how much he really cares. This is what can encourage you to read the rest of the Bible through the year to see what else God has in store for you.

REVELATION 21:1-4
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

TO MEMORIZE
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4

 

-Seth Ross

 

 

A New Thing for the New Year

Jer 29 13

I thank God for you – the readers who are reading today.

I thank God for those who have written devotions for us for the past two and a half years – and for those who will commit to writing a week in the New Year ahead.

I thank God for what He has done and what He will do!  For me.  For my family.  For the Church of God.  For God’s World and for His Plan for the Ages.  He is always at work!

I thank God for revealing himself through His Word!  How incredible that He has chosen to share Himself with me – and you – there in each and every page, chapter and verse of His Inspired Word.

God can choose to reveal himself in an earthquake, fire or thunder from heaven.  And, sometimes He has and He does and He will.  But more often – each and every day – He is ready to reveal Himself – His love, His faithfulness, His majesty, His holiness, His righteousness, His wisdom, His commands, His Son, His plan of salvation, His light, His life, His Coming Kingdom.  God reveals himself to those who seek Him in His Holy Word.

I am excited about a New Year starting this week and I would love to encourage you to join with us at grow16Biblereading.wordpress.com in reading through the New Testament (as well as Proverbs and various theme weeks).  We will be reading one chapter from the Bible every day and you can sign up to receive daily devotions based on the chapter assigned for that day.  Each week we will get to hear the thoughts of another Church of God writer to guide us in seeking Him in His Word.  If you wish to sign up for the daily emails visit https://grow16biblereading.wordpress.com/.  On your computer – click on the follow button in the right hand column.  On your phone – click Menu, About and then the follow button.

The rest of this week we will be looking at the importance and benefits of God’s Word, and then on Sunday, January 6 we will jump into Matthew chapter 1, reading one chapter each day.  We chose a Bible reading plan that would not be too challenging or daunting for any age or experience level, and could still be combined with another plan for those already committed to a different Bible reading plan.  So grab a friend or family member, youth group or small group to help motivate and build accountability to together spend 2019 seeking Him in His Word.

Praying for Your Faith Walk,

Marcia Railton

A New Kind of Love

1 John 4 7 a (1)

 

Once we are walking in the light, a new commandment and responsibility are given to us.  From the beginning God gave us a commandment that we should love God and love our brothers.  John tells us that if we hate our brother we are still in darkness, and that we are walking in the darkness (I John 2:9-11).  But now that we are abiding and walking in the light of Jesus, a new commandment of love is given to us.  This new kind of love is much deeper and demands much more from us—it is not a love that simply demands that we love one another, but takes us to a deeper level of commitment to one another.  Once we are truly walking in the light of Jesus, we can do no less.

John further explains this new commandment of love that we are to follow, in I John 4:7-11.  In these verses, John explains to us that love is from God, and that this deep love was shown to us when God sent His son into our dark world, and gave him to be a sacrifice for our sins.  We did not deserve his sacrifice, and will never deserve it, yet God loved us so much that He was willing to freely give His son and allowed Jesus to die for us.  John concludes his thoughts with this statement:  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4: 11).  What John is telling us here, is that we are to go way beyond simply loving everyone.  He was not talking about a nice warm feeling for others, or a desire we might have for others to experience happiness.  What he was talking about is the willingness to allow that love to be a sacrificial love for others. It is the kind of love that is given even when people do not seem to deserve our love.

With the crucifixion very near, Jesus spoke to his disciples.  He explained many things to his friends as they ate that last supper together.  One of those things was a new commandment that he gave to them.  He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” John 13:34.  It would only be a few hours until they would begin to understand the extent of his love for them and what he was meaning when He spoke these words to them.  A little while later he again spoke about this new commandment, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you” John 15:12-14.

Putting our brothers first, above ourselves; putting the needs of our brothers before our own needs or wants—these are ways to express the love that John talked about and the way that Jesus said we should love one another.  And as we walk in love we are an example to the world.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35.

 

-Luke Elwell

Showing your Light through what you Say

Matt 12 33

 

The last few days I have been talking about following the Light which is Jesus, and yesterday I gave an example of how to show our light through forgiving others. I will continue along with another way we can show our light to others. I truly believe that one of the simplest ways people show who they are is through what they say. It can be one of the most obvious ways to show your light in the world and for the world to notice that there is something different about you.

 

Whether it be foul language or gossiping, people will see who we truly are by the things that we say. We have the ability to be a hindering block or a light to those around us. The way we speak can either confirm to people that we are different or that we, as Christians, are just like the world. Jesus makes it clear we are to be different in how we speak.

 

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” – Matthew 12:33-35

 

Theses verses warn us that if we put bad things into our hearts and minds they will eventually come out through what we say or what we say about others. We often fall for the lie that what we say and how we talk doesn’t matter that much, but in the book of James we can see just how important it is to watch what we say.

 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”- James 1:26

 

We want to make sure we are being the light by what we say. We need to make people wonder what it is that make us different from the rest of the world, and I promise you that people will notice!

 

-Luke Elwell

Showing your Light through Forgiveness

 

matt 6 14 15

Yesterday I talked about being the light to the world around us, and how we are to point people to Jesus and to the glory of God. Today I will be talking about a simple way that we can be the light to others and to just be different from what the world and our natural desires tell us to be.

 

Forgiveness: this one can be really tough for a lot of people, myself included at times. But the Bible makes it clear for us, as Christians, as to what we are supposed to do at those times when we feel like we have been mistreated or cheated by someone. The world tells us that when someone does something to us we need to get them back. But when we choose to follow Jesus we need a new way of thinking. Jesus calls us to forgive, but Jesus doesn’t just call us to forgive once, but to forgive over and over again.

 

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Matthew 18:21-22

 

Forgiving others shows the world the light we have inside us, and if we forgive others the world will notice. Forgiving others shows that we have accepted and embraced the forgiveness that God has showed us. I can speak for myself that God’s forgiveness is a lot more than seven, seventy-seven, or seventy times seven times. Paul reminds the Gentiles of this very thing in Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It’s also a great reminder verse for us today. So show your light today by forgiving someone who you have been holding a grudge against, and acknowledge and accept the forgiveness that God has shown to you through Christ.

 

Matthew chapter 6 —- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

-Luke Elwell

Being the Light

Matt 5 14

 

Yesterday I talked about the entrance of Jesus to the earth. I talked about him being the Light and how the darkness will never be able to overcome the light that Jesus brought to the world.

Now it our responsibility as believers to walk in the light and to be the light.

 

I was reading awhile back about John the Baptist, and I came upon John 5:35 where Jesus talked about John the Baptist. In this verse Jesus said, “He was a burning lamp and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light”.  I believe that that is now to be our goal—we are to be a lamp to show people to the true Light, Jesus.

 

Jesus even calls us the light of the world. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”         Matthew 5:14-16.

 

These verses are clearly stating that in order to show your light you must have works, and those works are showing others that you are walking in the Light. We are supposed to be that light to the people and the world around us. Just as John was a burning lamp that showed the people to the true Light Jesus, we are to do the same, and be a lamp that guides the way until the true Light comes back to this earth. We do this not for our own glory, but to show people to their Savior Jesus, and for the glory of God.

 

As John the Baptist wisely said “He must increase, but I must decrease” –John 3:30.

 

-Luke Elwell

New Beginnings

 

the Light has come!

On this Christmas morning I think back to the beginning of the world when God said, “Let there be light”, revealing that light was in the plan of God since the beginning of time. Shortly following the beginning, sin and darkness slowly crept into the picture when Adam and Eve decided to turn their backs on God and His commands. But darkness would not win because God wasn’t done with us yet.

 

New Beginnings:

 

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,a and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

 

The birth of Jesus marked the start of the new beginning that God had planned for since the beginning of creation. And it showed that God wasn’t going to leave us in the dark, even though we deserved it. God sent his Son to save us and to be a Light for all men. If we choose to walk in his ways and commands and make him the Lord of our lives we can walk in the Light.  When you walk in the Light of Jesus the darkness will never be able to overcome you. So no matter what you received for Christmas this year, just remember that we were given the ultimate Christmas gift a little over 2000 years ago in our Emmanuel, “God with us”. God gave his son to the world to restore the Light, and to make sure we would never have to unwillingly walk in the darkness ever again. Thank God for His son and new beginnings!

 

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

-Luke Elwell