Scripture reading for December 28th: Revelation 10-13
When we look at the world we live in and the formidable troubles that face all mankind, it is easy to become fearful and worry. Demonic forces are everywhere and it appears that they are winning. Pornography is prevalent everywhere. Terrorism and bloodshed are daily news for those who anxiously watch. Economic troubles, famines, and earthquakes are regular fare. Nations are uneasy with wars, rumors of war, nuclear weapons, rockets, and armies in readiness. Into this setting Christ, the Lamb slain, leads His followers and calls them to be overcomers!
John sees a repeat of the nativity story with a cosmic setting. This sign appearing in heaven showed a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. This woman was pregnant and and in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:1-2) John then saw another sign. There appeared a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on the heads. The dragon’s tail had swept a third of the stars from the sky and flung them to earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman to devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:3-4)
The woman gave birth to a male child, who will rule all the nations! The child was snatched up to God and His throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place God prepared for them. Then there was war in heaven between Michael the Archangel and his forces and the dragon and his angels. The dragon was hurled down to earth with his angels with him. The identity of the dragon was the “ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan”. (Revelation 12:7-9)
A loud voice from heaven announced the coming of the kingdom of God and the hurling down of the accuser of the brothers. The brothers “overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Revelation 12:11) The heavens were rejoicing! All who dwelt there were encouraged to rejoice! Those on the earth, however, would have woe because the devil was enraged. He knew his time was short! (Revelation 12:12)
As believers, we are seated in the heavens in Christ. Heaven is our home. We can rejoice because we have overcome. The blood of Jesus speaks peace, joy, and pardon for all who will repent and trust the Lord! We are overcomers with the forces of heaven! The devil is cast down and we are snatched up along with the Man-child who was born to the woman! No matter what might happen to us on earth, the best is yet to come! Rejoice today and tell someone the good news! The devil’s time is short!
Scripture Reading for January 13: Genesis 32-36
Have you ever felt that God has told you to do something that you knew had the potential for trouble? You know you heard the Lord but needed reassurance that it was going to work out in spite of the very real potential. Our first move away from home to pastor a church in Washington was like that. We were used to being around family and familiar surrounding. The church we took had had some problems too. We were not sure they would like us or love us when the going got tough. We wrestled some concerning our move of 2000 miles with our daughter just ready for her senior year in a good Christian high school. We had told God we would go anywhere, but not necessarily this far!
Jacob faced just such a challenge in his move back from Paddan Aram to his homeland. God commanded him to go back but he was concerned about the brother he had left behind nearly 20 years ago who was plotting to kill him. (Genesis 31:3, 13) Jacob had taken this brother’s birthright and stolen his father’s blessing. He had also just left his father-in-law upset by leaving and losing his family and herds to Jacob’s shrewdness. Jacob sent his family across the Jabok, a tributary of the Jordan River. He divided them in groups and sent gifts for Esau but was in great fear and trembling when he heard Esau was coming with 400 men to meet him. He stayed behind to pray.
That night he was alone and Scripture says “a man wrestled with him until daybreak”. (Genesis 32:22-31) This “man” touched Jacobs hip socket and put it out of joint. Jacob would not let him go until this “man” blessed him. The man asked Jacob his name–“Jacob” (cheat, supplanter). The man changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” (wrestled with God and men and have overcome.) The man wouldn’t give Israel his name, but did bless him and left. Israel named the place “Peniel”. This name states that he believed he had seen God face to face and was spared! Thus the nation of “Israel” was born out of this amazing wrestling match! God wins again!
Wrestling with God isn’t a bad thing if we are desparate for His blessing! God loves it when we lay hold of Him as our only hope! It’s a sure way to true blessing, but we may walk with a limp! It’s a humbling thing to be touched by the Lord! We will never walk the same way again! Thankfully, ways of cheating, lying and manipulating to get our way are left behind. Our past is gone! We have a “new Name” written down in Glory!
And God said to him, “I am God Almighty, be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and community of nations will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Genesis 36:11-12
“He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17