A Spurgeon Snapshot: “Come Lord Jesus” and “Come Ye Sinners” (Revelation 22:17-21)

I am using the Spurgeon Study Bible for my Bible Read Through in 2023. All of the study notes are quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writing. For more on Charles Spurgeon, click here. The Spurgeon Study Bible is available from Lifeway, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

In the last chapter of Revelation, the verb “come” is used multiple times. In verse 17 alone, the Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ (that is, the church) say “Come.” Anyone who hears (which goes back to the refrain used for all seven churches at the beginning of Revelation–“He who has an ear let him hear”) says “Come.” There is an invitation to all who are thirsty to come, and drink freely of the water of life (verse 17). Then in verse 20, Jesus assures us that He is coming soon, to which we respond, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Spurgeon wrote, “Here is a twofold ministry… We say to Jesus ‘Come,’ and we say to the sinner, ‘Come’.” There’s the ministry of prayer for the return of Christ, but there is also the ministry of evangelism, where we beg lost people to come to Christ.

It is a sad calamity when any church ceases from its mission work. Such a church is clearly out of fellowship with the Spirit of God and has ceased to work with him… [It is] for this purpose there is a church left on the earth.

Charles H Spurgeon

If we read the book of Revelation with an inward focus; that is, only with an eye as to whether or not we ourselves are ready for the second coming of Jesus, we’ve lost the plot. The purpose of the book was never about becoming so familiar with the timeline of dispensational premillenialism that we will be able to spot the antichrist and brace for the tribulation (or the Rapture, if you aren’t mid-Trib). It is about praying for the Lord to come, and preparing the world for His coming.

Let the two parts be evenly balanced. Let there be prayer to our Lord–“Come quickly!”–and an equal measure of entreaty to sinners–“Come to Christ!” Let us blend the two in wise proportion and set both on fire. Let us tell of Christ’s coming for judgment and then invite people to come to Christ’s for mercy. Let us warn them that he is on the way but tell them that he waits to be gracious. While he lingers, they have time for repentance. Thus, we will both drive and draw, both convince and comfort.

Charles H Spurgeon

The Game Changer for My Prayer Life This Year

Lots of people are posting about their favorite books of 2022. I’ll share the one I’ve read 12 times this year. This is the Illuminated Scripture Journal of the book of Psalms. Between each page of biblical text, there is a blank page for note taking, journaling, and writing out prayers. You can order it by tapping on the link above.

I’ve been reading through the Psalms every month for about 15 years now. Five Psalms a day for 30 days gets you through the whole book. Some days I will listen to them on YouVersion while I am on my way to work. There is an excellent plan called Psalms and Proverbs in 30 Days that I’ve now completed 60 times.

However, ever since reading Donald Whitney’s Praying the Bible earlier this year, I’ve selected one Psalm to pray through each day. It has changed my prayer life.

If you are looking for a way to deepen your prayer life in 2023, start with the Bible’s own prayer book— the Psalms. But don’t just read them. Pray them. Dialogue with them. Wrestle them, hold them down, pin them to the mat of your soul and say “I will not let you go until you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).

I promise you, they will.

Day 364: Is And Was (Revelation 16:5)

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”Revelation 11:17 ESV

And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,“ Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. Revelation 16:5

Through the Bible: Revelation 12-18

When I got to Revelation 11:17 yesterday morning, my first thought was “Wait a minute— there’s something missing. When Kari Jobe sings “Revelation Song,” the lyric is “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and IS TO COME.” But this verse just says, “who is, and who was.” Did Kari Jobe get it wrong?

Then I saw it again in Revelation 16:5 in today’s reading. When the seven bowls of God’s wrath– indicating the ultimate, final judgement of creation– are poured out on the earth, the angel in charge of the waters says, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.”

So when I saw it for the second time, I started to wonder if I had been saying (and singing) the wrong thing all this time. So I did a concordance search of “was and is and is to come.” And sure enough, Revelation 1:4 and 1:8 both have the formula we are used to:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

And one more time, in Revelation 4:8: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Rest easy, Kari. You got it right.

So what changed? Why was “who is to come” dropped?

Simple. Christ came.

From Revelation 11:15 on, there’s no more need for the “is to come” part, because “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

Think about the euphoria you felt the day you graduated from college. When you held that diploma and turned the tassel, from that day on, you have said “I went to college. I am a college graduate.” Never again is your speech qualified with “I hope to” or “I’m planning on.” You have transitioned from aspirational to actual.

And in the second half of Revelation, so has Jesus. Today, we still sing “who was and is and is to come.” Today, we still sing “I Can Only Imagine.” But one day, all the songs will change.

Oh praise His name! However weird and scary the second half of Revelation gets, Christ has come, and He has begun to reign! Hallelujah!

A Spurgeon Snapshot: How the Holy Spirit Adds to My Prayers (Revelation 8:3)

I am using the Spurgeon Study Bible for my Bible Read Through in 2023. All of the study notes are quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writing. For more on Charles Spurgeon, click here. The Spurgeon Study Bible is available from Lifeway, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.

“Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭8‬:‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Many Christians think their prayers are not heard because they are such poor things. But it is certain that every true prayer gets into the golden censer before the eternal throne of God. God has made provision for ensuring the acceptance of his people’s prayers. The incense offered with the prayers of all the saints makes our poor prayers acceptable to God—not the merit of our prayers but the power of Christ’s prevailing intercession. Jesus Christ has been appointed to the office of high priest so that he may take our supplications and present them before the throne of the Most High. No true prayer from the heart of a true child of God will miss its mark; all will reach the heavenly target.

What an incredible picture of Jesus, who “lives to make intercession” for believers (Hebrews 7:25)! I am so thankful that my little prayers are mixed with incense mixed by the hand of Christ Himself. Because of this, they will always be heard!

Day 363: Tamil, Too (Revelation 7:9-10)

Mark 1:1, in Tamil.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Through the Bible: Revelation 6-11

Just before the pandemic, I spent a week in South Asia, working alongside missionaries to the Muslims and Hindus in a mega city in India. The newest missionary on the field was still in language school, struggling to learn Tamil, the main language spoken by the people group they were serving. “I’ve been here almost a year,” he said, “And I’m still trying to learn the alphabet. There are 246 characters in the Tamil alphabet. I don’t know if I will ever get them all.” Why is he trying to learn Tamil in the first place? Because, if there are truly going to be people from every tribe and tongue and nation around the throne, that means there must be Tamil speakers.

I wrote this poem on the last night I was with these precious missionaries. Blessings.

Tamil, Too 

Oh Lord, all praise is due Your Name, and English can’t begin to sing it all.
Something about you can only be said with an ¨.
Spanish has the ˜; you must need that as well.
The tenses of the Hebrew verbs; the voice and mood of Greek;
All will be pressed into service before Your throne, yet still fall short of what You’re due. Lord! You are worthy of every Swahili Bwana Asafiwe
Of every Imana Ishimwe from Rwanda.
And You say, “That’s a start. But I want more.
“I want the twenty-two Korean characters.
I want all thirty-five letters of the Russian alphabet.
Throw them in the song. They will be required.”
So, then, Lord, let me give You Tamil, too. All 246 letters.
And Urdu! Farsi! Hindu! Zulu! Pidgin! Polish! Arabic! Inuit!
Canuck! Cajun! Creole! Cantonese!
And the fifty thousand characters of Mandarin Chinese.
And it still won’t be enough.
A thousand thousand tongues will sing, and You are worthy of them all.
So, we must go and get them. We must bring them in.
And when they all are here, gathered before Your throne—
All black and brown and white and red; All blond and gingered and bald and dreadlocked;
All freckled and henna’d and tattooed and pierced;
All east and west and north and south marked ‘present,’
Then the song can truly begin.
Then we can give You the praise You are due.
And maybe, when we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Maybe we’ll know Tamil, too.

Day 362: How to Read Revelation (Revelation 1:1)

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,” Revelation‬ ‭1‬:‭1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It was the day after Christmas. We were snowed in at my in-laws house in Kentucky, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was a perfect afternoon, and we found a football game on TV. Louisville versus Wake Forest.

In the first quarter, things were not looking good for the Cardinals, playing at home in their stadium, which is just about an hour down the road. It seemed like every penalty was going against them, and Wake Forest went into the locker room leading by a touchdown.

However, my brother in law was not worried. For one thing, he’s not a Louisville fan. But more than that, he wasn’t worried because he already knew the outcome.

That’s when I noticed that even though we were snowed in and the temperature was 21 degrees outside, the people in Louiville (a hundred miles away) were in their shirt sleeves, watching the game beneath a cloudless sky. And I finally realized we were watching the replay of a game that was played two months ago. A game the Cardinals won 48-21 after scoring 35 unanswered in the third quarter.

Even a hardcore Louisville fan could sit back and relax, knowing that at the end of the day, their team would be victorious.

And that’s how to read the book of Revelation. There are strange, scary things in this book. And for those who are on the earth when the events foretold take place, things are going to look really bad at the half. (If you believe that there will be a literal seven year tribulation, pay attention to what happens at the midpoint!)

But whatever else can be said about this book, however you understand or interpret it, and whatever will still have you scratching your head at the end of it, understand this:

God wins at the end. In fact, if you look closely at the much-feared battle of Armageddon (see Revelation 16), there’s not even that much of a battle. God shows up, and it’s game over.

So if you are a Christian reading this epic, mysterious book, watch it unfold the way you would the replay of a home team victory.

But if you are not a Christian, roll the tape, and watch what happens to the forces of darkness arrayed against the Lord.

And then, enter the transfer portal.

Day 361: No Greater Joy (3 John 4)

The Spurgeon Study Bible contains pull quotes, reproduced in Spurgeon’s own handwriting

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 4)

Through the Bible: 2 John, 3 John

My pick for “favorite Christmas present” this year goes to the Spurgeon Study Bible my wife got me. I’m not generally a fan of study Bibles in which all the notes and commentary come from just one person, and as with any study Bible, it’s crucial to differentiate the text “above the line” (God’s Word) from the text “below the line” (man’s commentary). That being said, if you are going to get all your commentary from one source, you could do a lot worse than Charles Spurgeon.

Here are Spurgeon’s notes on 3 John 4. Even though they were written over a hundred years ago (Spurgeon died in 1892), they are as timely for today’s parents as they were in Spurgeon’s generation:

It is grievous to see how some professing Christian parents are satisfied as long as their children display cleverness in learning or sharpness in business, though they show no signs of a renewed nature…Many who ought to know better think themselves superlatively blessed if their children become rich, marry well, strike out into profitable enterprises, or attain eminence in their profession.

On this day, while many of us have yet to take out the trash from Christmas morning—the wrapping paper, the gift boxes, the ribbons and bows that may still litter the floor, take time to reflect on what you are giving your children. What will last? What will they remember next year? What is preparing them for eternity?

I hope you have already committed to reading through the Bible again next year. And whether you are doing it for the second, or tenth, or twentieth time, I would encourage you to make the commitment not just because of what you can learn, but because of what you can pass on to your children. Again, quoting from Spurgeon’s notes:

I hope no parent will allow their children to grow up and leave their roof without knowing the doctrines of the gospel, the life of Christ, and the great precepts of Scripture—without having as clear an understanding as possible of the great principles and plan of salvation… Happy as a marriage day is that day when a parent sees his child surrendered to the people of God, having first given his heart to Christ.

Revering the Irrelevant (Matthew 1:18-25)

Christmas Day sermon, December 25, 2022 Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, Alabama

Grateful appreciation to Steven Ferber, a Lutheran pastor in Minnesota, whose sermon, “Mr Irrelevant” was the inspiration for this sermon.

Good morning! Please open your Bibles to Matthew 1.

Well, this is the beginning of the last week of 2022, which means, of course, that every time you turn the TV on you’re going to get a “Best of 2022” list. I was scrolling through ESPN.com this week, looking at their top ten of 2022 list. There were all the ones you would expect—Argentina winning the World Cup, Serena Williams retiring from tennis, Lebron James becoming the first NBA player to reach 10,000 career points, rebounds, and assists, and so forth. But one item on the list took me down a rabbit hole where I learned about something I had never heard about before.

December 11: Mr Irrelevant Beats the GOAT.

Now, most of you probably know what the GOAT is. Greatest of All Time. And in the NFL, most people consider Tom Brady to be the greatest of all time. Seven Super Bowl rings. 330 career starts.

But I had never heard of Mr Irrelevant. Mr Irrelevant is the title given to the last player chosen in the annual draft of the National Football League. The award was created in by a former NFL player-turned-millionaire businessman Paul Salata, who died in 2021 at the age of 94. In 1976, Salata got together with some of his friends in the Los Angeles area and raised money to fly the last man picked and his family to southern California, where they would be treated to a day at Disneyland, be the Grand Marshal of the Irrelevant Parade in Newport Beach, the guest of honor at the Mr Irrelevant banquet, where they would be presented with the Lowsman trophy, which is like the Heisman Trophy, only instead of a running back stiff-arming the competition, it’s a wide receiver fumbling a football. Over the years, Irrelevant Day in Newport Beach has morphed into an entire week that includes a sailing regatta, a golf tournament, and a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

So here is a short clip from the 2022 NFL draft. This is what you miss if you turn off the draft after the first round, when all the Alabama players get drafted:

[show clip]

Brock Purdy. Iowa State. Who up to two weeks ago had not started an NFL game. But on December 11, not only did he get the start, he also became the first rookie in NFL history with at least two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown, and a passer rating of 134 in his first career start.

And he beat Tom Brady, had never lost to an opposing quarterback in his first start. And he didn’t just lose. The Niners beat the Bucs 35-7. Mr. Irrelevant put on a clinic! In the post-game interview, Brock Purdy said:

“I mean honestly, for me, I just kept telling myself, dude, this thing ain’t over with that guy on the other side of the field,”

He’d seen Brady make crazy comebacks throughout his career, and he was determined to put the GOAT down for the count.

Tom Brady was a senior at the University of Michigan the year Brock Purdy was born. And just when you thought the story couldn’t get any better, Brock Purdy was born at Christmastime.  December 27, 1999.

2,000 years ago, another baby boy was born, one that the world might have written off as Mr Irrelevant. Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary. 

Matthew 1:18-25 tells us that

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

A backwater town. Dirt-poor parents. Scandalous circumstances. A people who had been enslaved and exiled and scattered throughout history, who at the time were living in a police state under an oppressive regime.

Powerful, relevant people don’t come from circumstances like these.  In the eyes of the world, this Jewish nobody would be the last person you would expect to alter the course of world history. People would expect him to do what all poor Jewish boys would do: follow his father’s footsteps, learn carpentry, live poor, bow to the Empire, and die forgotten.

He certainly didn’t look like He would be anything special. The prophet Isaiah said that

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him. 

Years ago, in 1926, a pastor named James Allan Francis preached a sermon to a convention of the Baptist Young People’s Union in Los Angeles. You’ve probably heard this portion of it before, but if not, listen to these powerful words:

There was a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book, but more books have been written about Him than about any other subject.

He never held an office, but politicians everywhere place their hand on a copy of His words when they take their oath of office.

He never owned a home, but he is the cornerstone of many homes.

He never had a family, but he is the centerpiece of many families, and the best foundation you can build a family upon.

He never went to college, but the most prestigious institutions of higher learning around the world were founded in His name.

He never put his foot inside a big city, but cities everywhere, from the largest to the smallest, hold revivals each year to tell people about this man’s love.  

He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born, but His followers have gone to the ends of the earth with His message.

He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

But While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. Another betrayed him.

He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.

His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he wasdying, and that was his coat.

When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries (twenty now!) have come and gone and today he is the most influential figure in the history of the world, and the leader of the column of progress.

I am underestimating when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.

There are two names given to this baby boy in Matthew’s gospel.

The first is in verse 21: You will call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. God told Joseph to give his son the name Jesus—Yeshua– meaning the Lord Saves, because it defined His purpose for being born: to save us from our sins. Jesus died, He rose, He ascended to Heaven so that we, who were enemies with God, could be reconciled to Him.

And if all Jesus had done was save us from our sins, He would still be worthy of all praise. He would still be the most important person who ever lived. He could have defeated sin, crushed Satan, ascended back into heaven, looked at us and said, “Good luck! See ya when you get here!” And that would have been enough.

But there is another name given, and this one changes everything:

Verse 22:

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).

Jesus didn’t just die for us. He lived for us. He lived with us! He set an example for us to follow in His steps. And he promised to be with us always, even to the end of the world. We don’t just have a two thousand year old book of his teachings. We have His presence.

God did it all because He loves you.  You are not irrelevant.  You are not alone; life is not a game of chance. Your life has purpose. Think of it – 8 billion people in the world, God knows you personally; He knows your name.

The night before Thanksgiving, James Michael Grimes from Lafayette, Alabama fell off a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. He had been on the ship with eighteen of his family members, yet they didn’t realize he was missing until 12 hours later. For 20 hours, he treaded water, with no flotation device, alone in the dark.

As night began to fall on the second day, Grimes spotted the lights of a passing oil tanker, and he took off his socks and started to wave them. Incredibly, he was seen, and a short time after that, he was rescued by a coast guard helicopter. The rescue diver that got him in the sling said later that he believed Grimes was only minutes, maybe seconds, from going under. He had nothing left.

I wonder if any of you have felt that way this year. Maybe you are drifting this morning, wondering if anyone even sees you. Maybe you feel alone after a loss this year. Maybe, in the midst of all the celebrations and Facebook photos of families gathered together, you are wondering if anyone would miss you if you weren’t here.

I have to wonder if, at some point while he was treading water in the Gulf of Mexico, James Michael Grimes thought to himself, “I was on that boat with eighteen of my family members. Didn’t any of them notice when I didn’t come back from the bathroom?

And so maybe you are wondering if God is the same way. Does He see you? Does he know where you are? if He does, does He care? Will He help?

Hear these words from the prophet Isaiah:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.

Good News – God does see you, even in the darkness.  He does love you.  He sent His son Jesus to pull off your rescue.

Don’t be afraid, don’t give up. Call on your Redeemer, the one who named you His child, through His Son Jesus.  Repent of your sins, turn to the Savior, trust in Him alone, the only path to salvation.  God is with us, in the waters, through the rivers, in the fire.

Immanuel! God with us.  You are not irrelevant.  You are loved. And if you have been rescued, you now have a part to play in God’s rescue mission for the world.

1 Timothy 2:4 says that “God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  God doesn’t want your neighbor just to be fed and clothed, but to live forever in Heaven, in God’s presence, by putting their faith in Jesus, the Son of God. Many of God’s people all over the world are taking the Great Commission seriously, by sharing the Gospel, even in dangerous places.  We’ve been sharing stories of missionaries each week this month as we have talked about the Lottie Moon offering for International Missions. And if you haven’t yet contributed to that offering, I urge you to be a part of God’s rescue mission. There are so many people who are lost at sea right now. You have a part to play in rescuing the perishing.

[Play missions video]

You are not irrelevant; you have new life in Christ, God born in the manger.  And because you are part of the body of Christ, you are now part of God’s Plan A to reach the nations. There is no Plan B. You have great purpose, a great calling. God may or may not call you to cross an ocean with the gospel, but he is certainly calling you to cross the street with it. See your neighbor as one for whom Christ died, to be a brave witness by inviting them to see Jesus, born in the manger, for them, so they know they are not irrelevant; they are loved, just like you. 

Merry Christmas!  Amen.

Day 360: It is the Lord’s Command (1 John 4:7-8)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Through the Bible: 1 John 1-5

John Stott, in his commentary on the letters of John, recounts this story from St. Jerome, who died in 420 AD. Jerome, who first translated Scripture into Latin from Hebrew and Greek tells how the apostle John, in extreme old age at Ephesus, used to be carried into the congregation in the arms of his disciples. As he was being carried to the front of the gathering, he would simply mutter, over and over, “Little children, love one another. Little children, love one another”

John’s followers became weary of hearing this one sentence over and over. Finally, they said to him, “Master, you are the only one left alive of our Lord’s disciples. Surely He said other things that you can teach us. Why do you always say only this?”

“Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

While we can’t know for sure if this account is true (the source Jerome quotes has been lost to history), it certainly is consistent with John’s gospel and letters. The gospel of John uses the word “love” or one of its derivatives thirty-three times, more than the other three gospels combined. And the five short chapters of 1 John use the word “love” more than any other book in the New Testament.

How different would next year be if you decided that, no matter what, you were going to love? That regardless of anyone else’s annoying quirks, political persuasions, or personal slights, you would choose love? John quoted Jesus as saying, “By this will all people know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).

Not church attendance. Not orthodox theology. Not an advanced degree from seminary. Not a five-figure tax write-off for charitable contributions. Love.  

What will you be known for in the new year? How will other people know you are a follower of Jesus?

Love is the Lord’s command. And if this only is done, it is enough.

Day 359: Integrity at The End of the World (2 Peter 3:10-12)

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:10-12)

Through the Bible: 2 Peter 1-3, Jude 1

Bummer of a blog post for Christmas Day, huh? The birth of Jesus is the beginning of hope, not the end of the world. What are we doing here?

Well, we are doing what we’ve been doing all year long as we have gone through this journey together: we are going where God’s Word takes us. And today, God’s Word takes us to the end of the world.

Much of today’s reading sounds frankly terrifying. There will come a day when the heavens will pass away with a great noise. The heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved. The very stars and planets will melt as they burn (v. 12, ESV). I read this, and I expect Bruce Willis to show up at any moment, ready to fly a desperate mission to save the world from Armageddon.

In the midst of all this, Peter asks a rhetorical question: “What sort of people ought you to be?” (v. 11). I can think of a lot of answers, from a human perspective: we ought to be a terrified sort of people. We ought to be fearful sorts of people who build concrete bunkers deep underground, right?

Wrong. That isn’t at all Peter’s answer. In verse 14, Peter says, knowing all these things, we ought to be at peace:

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

How is that possible? Well, here’s where the perfect timing of God’s Word comes into play:

We can be at peace because of Christmas Day. Because when Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed “on earth, peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). It is possible because, by the blood of Jesus I can be found by God to be without spot or blemish. I am so thankful that I don’t have to rely on my own righteousness when I stand before God. If I did, I would probably start digging the bunker now! 

Instead, I stand in the righteousness of Jesus, who became sin for me in order that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). I stand in righteousness because the Prince of Peace has come into this world. And for that reason, and that reason only, I have peace. 

Merry Christmas!

Father, thank you for your perfect peace, which will sustain me even in the coming judgment.

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