John designates three types of Christians, according to their maturity levels. His first exhortation is to the “dear children” whose entire experience and excitement revolves around the knowledge that their sins have been forgiven. Every new Christian needs to be taught and discipled in this simple truth. Unfortunately, most believers never fully enjoy the one basic fact that their sins have been forgiven on account of Jesus.
The second level of Christian maturity is the “young” (1 John 2:13). These Christians have moved into the level of spiritual warfare. They are strong in God’s Word and have overcome the devil (v. 14). They have allowed God to tear down the strongholds of Satan over their minds, bodies, and past struggles. They understand the truths of spiritual freedom from bondage and live in that freedom.
The last group is the “mature,” who know Christ (v. 13). These people, walking in close relationship with God, know Him as more than just Forgiver and Deliverer. They know God as Father in spiritual worship and intimacy.
Grow up, little one. Your Father has more of His goodness for you to enjoy.
History is replete with stories of the rise and fall of persecutors of the Church, but the worst persecutor of all time could arrive in our generation. We may or may not be around when the actual Antichrist arrives on the scene, but the “spirit of the Antichrist” (1 John 4:3) has been working for thousands of years. It is a deceptive spirit, seeking to deny that Jesus is the Christ and thus denying the Father and the Son (2:22).
Daniel received the greatest Old Testament revelation of the Antichrist. He foresaw the covenant the Antichrist will make with the Jewish people in the seven years known as the Tribulation. The Antichrist will suddenly turn on the Jewish nation and “set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration” (Daniel 9:27). It will be an image of the Antichrist himself in the midst of the Jews’ rebuilt temple.
We are not deceived, however, because we have the truth of the Holy Spirit living in us (1 John 2:20). Let us fear neither the literal Antichrist nor the spirit of Antichrist. The greater One is living inside us!
Certain signs indicate to us that someone has truly been born again. The first sign is victory over areas of habitual sin: “Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:9). True conversion does not mean sinless perfection. Rather, it means that a person has forsaken the habitual sins that once enslaved him.
The second sign of true conversion is love for one’s brothers: “If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who has no love is still dead” (v. 14). When we come to Christ, gone are all attitudes of hatred and prejudice.
The third sign of genuine conversion is generosity. Giving is directly connected to love, because love always manifests itself in giving. First John 3:17 tells us, “But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help—how can God’s love be in that person?” A hilarious, cheerful, sharing spirit is physical evidence of the new birth.
A final sign of the new birth is confidence before God for the things requested in prayer (vv. 21-22). The believer does not display a shy, hesitant faith, but a bold, confident position in grace.
Follow these four signs—they are sure to lead you to true believers!
There is truth in the saying “All that glitters is not gold.” First John 4:1 warns us not to believe every spirit. Just as Satan can masquerade as an angel of light, so a person living for Satan can say the right words but live the wrong way.
Some false prophets speak very glibly and eloquently but oppose the very truth of God. Rejecting the fact that Jesus has come in the flesh, these prophets often refer to Him as a wonderful leader or a great teacher. In fact, most world religions recognize Christ as a great person.
The Holy Spirit will give you discernment and wisdom to spot indicators that are contrary to the Spirit of Jesus. Daniel said, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever” (Daniel 12:3). We must depend on the Holy Spirit, the One of whom John said, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world”
(1 John 4:4).
Follow the Holy Spirit and godly pastoral authority. Be wise and discerning. Satan can’t hide forever, and the Lord knows how to keep you out of the enemy’s deceptive web.
Satan is a master at setting traps for believers. He is called the “fowler” in Psalm 124:7 (KJV), that is, a person who traps birds. Perhaps as a child you watched someone take bread crumbs and make a trail that led inside a box. The box was propped up on a stick, and a string was tied to the stick. The fowler waited behind a fence or a building while an unsuspecting bird followed the bread crumbs into the box. Then, at just the right moment, the fowler pulled the string, and the bird was caught.
Do you know someone who is following “bread crumbs” right now? Little enticements toward money, sex, addictions, or positions come at just the right time to keep the person moving toward the “box.” Satan knows that if he can get someone who has no accountability to others to move down a sinful path, he can ultimately “pull the string,” and the unsuspecting person will be trapped.
Public embarrassment, loss of influence, and ultimately eternal death are Satan’s intentions as the fowler. By God’s grace, however, “we escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!” (Psalm 124:7).
A story was once told of a couple who had won a free trip on a cruise ship. They never appeared with the others for the magnificent meals of steak and lobster. Instead, they ate every meal in their room, rationing out cheese and crackers they had brought with them. Someone asked them why they had not gone to the sumptuous feasts that were prepared for them daily. The man and his wife were utterly shocked to learn that the meals had been included in the price of the cruise!
How many Christians are living on spiritual “cheese and crackers” when they could be enjoying “steak and ice cream”? They simply lack the knowledge of what belongs to them in Christ. God, however, delights to see His children gain knowledge of their inheritance and then walk in that light. John said, “How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father” (2 John 1:4).
The other side, unfortunately, is represented by those who reject knowledge, as described in Hosea 4:6. They have been taught the truth and have rejected it in unbelief. Their lack of knowledge of God and His ways destroys them.
Come on down to the galley. The banquet table is spread for you!
Restoration is such a biblical idea. The Bible is full of stories of broken lives, wrecked dreams, and dashed hopes. But in these stories, the power of faith brings such a dramatic turnaround in each situation that the people involved cannot contain their emotions.
There may have been a situation you practically gave up on, but then God reversed it miraculously. Perhaps Psalm 126:2 describes how you and your loved ones felt as you laughed and joyfully sang aloud of the Lord’s deliverance.
Hosea 6:2 (NIV) describes a scene of two days of death and a third day of resurrection: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” This is a direct prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. His disciples had lost all hope, when suddenly He walked out of the grave!
Maybe today your hopes are lying dead inside the grave with Satan’s guards at the door. Take courage—the third day is coming! “Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (Psalm 126:4-6).
Major storms and hurricanes have what are called steering currents. These currents keep the storms moving in a certain direction. Without the steering currents, the storms would be far more dangerous than they are.
Your life also gets out of control if you lack spiritual steering currents. Jude reveals that the first steering current is praying in the Holy Spirit. This kind of praying builds up your inner man and keeps your faith strong.
The second spiritual guideline is living in God’s love. Jude says to
“live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you” (v. 21). If you can continually stay in the center of the love of God, you will be able to wait patiently for God’s mercy to bring you to eternal life.
The third steering current is reaching out to others by obeying the command to “rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment” (v. 23). To focus continually on soul winning will keep you off the reefs and rocks of life. All your energy will be directed toward what God loves: souls!
Prayer, love, and outreach will steer you well, even when the ship of your life seems to be off course. If you let these “steering currents” guide your life, one day you will stand before God “innocent of sin and with great joy” (v. 24).
Natural reasoning always leads us off track. The more we think and reason about standards, morality, and righteousness, the more we excuse wrong behavior. What we need is revelation—God’s opinion and verdict about our actions. God did not give us the “Ten Suggestions.” He gave us the Ten Commandments!
The book of Revelation begins with this sentence: “This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him concerning the events that will happen soon” (1:1). Each of the seven churches heard a direct word from Christ concerning putting their spiritual houses in order.
Joel saw a revelation of the end of time: “I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon will turn bloodred before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives” (Joel 2:30-31). This awesome revelation and wonder will have an incredible effect, and “anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 32).
Live by revelation, not reasoning. One day you will be glad you did!
In this verse God shows His desire to reveal His plans to His servants before events take place. God does not just spring events on nations. He gradually warns them of coming disaster, as He did in the case of Jonah and Nineveh.
The book of Revelation was written to seven different “angels” of the seven churches of Asia. Most commentators believe that these angels were the pastors of those churches. The local pastors received revelation from the Holy Spirit of God’s intention toward their churches.
In our churches today, if the pastor needs to repent, the Holy Spirit will convict the leader or use circumstances to force him to face an issue. This leading by the Holy Spirit protects the flock, since the local church will follow the leader in either the right or wrong direction.
If you are concerned about the direction of your church, pray for your pastor. God has obligated Himself to speak to him, so pray, asking the Lord to give your pastor the courage to obey as he hears God speaking.
The church in Sardis suffered from spiritual slumber. It’s easy for us to walk around and look spiritually correct when, in fact, our vital relationship with God is dead. The Lord said to the Sardis church, “Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God” (Revelation 3:2).
If we are not careful, sleep can sneak up on us, even at the wheel of a car. The psalmist said, “I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn” (Psalm 130:6). The watchman’s entire occupation is based upon staying awake, intently gazing at the darkness for any sign of the enemy. If he falls asleep, disastrous consequences can result for the entire city.
Instead of sleeping, the watchman eagerly looks to the eastern sky for signs of the morning sun. In the same way, our souls should have an eager expectation for God, a quickened excitement every time we spend time alone with Him.
Amos said, “How terrible it will be for you who lounge in luxury and think you are secure. . . .” (Amos 6:1). Stir yourself up, for the Lord “will come upon you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief” (Revelation 3:3).
Pride is undoubtedly the deadliest of sins. It caused the downfall of Satan, and for centuries he has deceived countless men and women.
David, the greatest king of Israel, would not allow pride in his life. He declared, “Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me” (Psalm 131:1). Associating with the wealthy, the intellectual, or political “movers and shakers” causes some to consider themselves exalted, as did Haman in the book of Esther.
David, however, was willing to associate with anyone and still remained secure in who he was. He reminded himself that his soul was as quiet as a “weaned child with its mother” (v. 2, NIV). Weaned children do not struggle for position and nourishment, but rather are relaxed and content to lie on their mothers’ laps. Prideful people, on the other hand, are always fidgety. They push for position and notoriety and work all the angles.
As though we were babies on God’s lap, let us relax and allow Him to exalt us. We will live longer and go further as well!
The fourth chapter of Revelation portrays an awesome scene. In this passage we get our first glimpse of heaven’s glorious landscape and beauty. Even though we know in our hearts that heaven is real, to have it described is breathtaking: “I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones— jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow” (vv. 2-3).
Rainbow colors of precious jewels were all around the throne of God. Before the throne were the twenty-four elders, the seven lamps of the Spirit of God, and the sea of glass. Four awesome creatures surrounded the throne, and day and night, they cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (v. 8).
The earthly ark of the covenant was just a little gold-plated box that symbolized this awesome throne. David’s heart’s desire was to build a place for that ark in Zion, for God had said, “This is my home where I will live forever. . . . I will live here, for this is the place I desired” (Psalm 132:14).
Make spending time in God’s presence the greatest desire of your life. One day your eyes will see Him face-to-face upon the throne of His glory.
Harmony is a state that many try to achieve, but few can maintain. A man without God will find himself continually disagreeing, fighting, and pushing for position. The psalmist, however, beautifully expressed the wonder of people working and walking together in one accord.
Harmony is not uniformity, as we all possess different outlooks, backgrounds, and gifts. Harmony is a choice to sacrifice one’s personal agenda for the greater good of the “team,” whether that team is a family, ministry, or organization. Harmony generates the same precious fragrance as the oil that ran from Aaron’s head onto his robe. It is as refreshing as the crystal waters that flowed from snowcapped Mount Hermon to the valley below (Psalm 133:3).
Whenever the leaders come into harmony, or unity, the followers who are under them will unify as well. Let us accept the great challenge of Christ’s prayer in John 17 and lay aside our personal king-dom-building in order that we may promote and help the whole Body. One day we will join the hundreds of millions around the throne, as we all sing in harmony, “The Lamb is worthy” (Revelation 5:12).
The beauty of the opening scenes of Revelation gives way to the awful scenes of judgment upon the earth. God is merciful and long-suffering, but He will not be mocked. Earth is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode with God’s fury and judgment upon the centuries-old wickedness in the nations of the world.
Step by step, plague by plague, the judgment of God will be poured out upon the earth. The fear of God’s wrath will fall upon all human beings to the point where mountains and rocks falling upon them will seem like a welcome relief!
The writer of Proverbs questioned, “Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in his fists? Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak? Who has created the whole wide world? What is his name—and his son’s name? Tell me if you know!” (30:4).
Fear the One who sits on the throne and His Son, the Lamb. Fear the Lord now while you may still receive His grace and forgiveness!
Sometimes it seems as though you wait forever for a breakthrough. Satan laughs and mocks your faith, insisting that you are waiting in vain. Micah’s response to Satan’s jabs was a strong confession of faith. Confident that the Lord would save him, Micah declared that although he might be down, he was not out!
When going through periods of waiting for God, hours turn into days, weeks, and months. Satan’s taunts and jeers ring in your ears. Through it all, however, remember that one day the tables will turn. You may have fallen, but you must boldly declare, “I will arise.” You may be sitting in darkness now, but one day the Lord will light all the darkness around you!
The elders around the throne of God reminded John, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white” (Revelation 7:14). Are you going through a period of tribulation and waiting for God to act? Stand forever, if necessary, for Satan knows that one day “God will wipe away all [your] tears” (v. 17).
The twenty-six letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to begin the twenty-six verses of Psalm 136. Twenty-six times the Holy Spirit wants us to know that “His faithful loves endures forever.” This fact should be branded upon our minds and hearts both now and always.
In stark contrast to this message is the incredible judgment of the seventh seal (Revelation 8). Death, darkness, and despair consume the earth with fiery hail, falling stars, and bitter waters. How does this judgment show a God whose love endures forever? Nahum provides the answer: “The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet” (Nahum 1:3). God shows His love by waiting so long to impose judgment!
Centuries have gone by with God’s long-suffering, restraining judgment being withheld, just as He withheld in the days of Noah. God also waited patiently for Pharaoh, though He “killed the firstborn of Egypt” (Psalm 136:10). The old idea that a God of love cannot show wrath is wrong. His love is shown by the fact that He waits so long to display His wrath!
Joy is the biggest prize Satan could ever steal from a Christian. Someone once said, “If he can steal your joy, he can spoil your goods.” The prophet Habakkuk knew how important it was to keep his joy, and he was determined to hold on to it tightly, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Joy is the one precious commodity Satan cannot take from you unless you give it to him. When you have your joy, you will say with Habakkuk, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as sure-footed as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains” (Habakkuk 3:19). The little deer’s feet are so nimble that even when he is knocked from a towering precipice, he still lands on his feet. With joy in your heart, you will always land on your feet, no matter the trial.
Perhaps you can rejoice when everything is going perfectly, but what about when the bank balance is zero and all your efforts seem to be unfruitful? Purpose today to “always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
Trials and troubles tend to make us fearful. Instead of feeling stout and bold, we feel stooped and cold! However, Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us, “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song.” This is your first secret to recovery: God is with you! Having Him on your side is like having the United States Army on your side in a skirmish with a Boy Scout troop!
Next, He will rejoice over you with gladness. All His attention and loving affection is directed toward you in the same way a father directs his attention toward his son.
Then, He will calm all your fears. Your fearful, timid whining is for nothing, because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). You can rest contented and safe in His arms.
Finally, He exults over you by singing a happy song. This picture is like that of a parent holding a child and singing to him in his darkest hour. Can you imagine God singing songs of deliverance over you? What enemy has a chance against such odds?
Be bold and strong, for your Father is on the scene.
Some people are perpetual takers and not givers. Their attitude is that anyone and everyone owe them something, and their sour, stingy snarls are flashed at those who don’t oblige them.
Often the selfishness of such people leads to God’s rebuke. The prophet Haggai addressed those who pursued only the building of their own houses and not God’s house. He said, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” (Haggai 1:5-6). God had to withhold His blessing from His people in order to teach them that His kingdom came first.
Giving to a “leech” who is opposed to God’s kingdom and who is only a “taker” is a hopeless cause. Such a person will never prosper. Someone once said, “If it rubs you the wrong way, turn the cat around!” Become a giver and watch God seal up the holes in your pockets.
The dragon spoken of in Revelation 12 is ever on the prowl. Though there may be disagreement over the identities of the woman and the child, Satan’s identity as the dragon is clear. Cast from the heavenly realms with his angels, He will inhabit only the earth and the sea, and in fury he will seek all God-fearing people for “he knows that he has little time” (Revelation 12:12).
The psalmist saw this dragon also. He pleaded, “O Lord, rescue me from evil people. Preserve me from those who are violent, those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long. Their tongues sting like a snake; the poison of a viper drips from their lips” (Psalm 140:1-3).
Revelation 12:10-11 reveals that we have three weapons in our arsenal with which to fight the dragon. First, “the Accuser has been thrown down to earth” (v. 10). We are no longer under guilt and condemnation, and we do not have to listen to the devil’s accusations against us.
Second, they “defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony” (v. 11). In the precious blood of Jesus and with the testimony of His saving grace, we have a mighty weapon to wield against the dragon.
Finally, “they were not afraid to die” (v. 11). You cannot truly kill someone who has already been crucified with Christ.
“Rejoice, O heavens! ” (Revelation 12:12). Our enemy is destined for defeat!
Many of David’s prayers were encompassed in two words: Keep me!
The role of Protector is one of God’s most glorious attributes. He promised Zechariah two forms of protection. First, He promised to be “a wall of fire around Jerusalem” (Zechariah 2:5). Even wild animals fear fire, and God said that He would erect around us a wall of flaming fire that no enemy could penetrate.
God also promised Zechariah that “he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of [my] eye” (v. 8 KJV). The apple may be interpreted as the “pupil” of the eye. It is the gate, the very center of the eyeball, through which all light must pass. The eyeball is fiercely protected by the eyelid, which instinctively closes the moment anything threatening comes near the eye. In effect, the Lord is saying, “I am not only watching over you, but you are in my eye!”
If you walk closely to the Lord, you will never stray outside His “wall of fire,” and you will always be protected as the “pupil of His eye.” Fear not, citizen of Zion. Your God has awesome keeping power!
How easy it is to despise our efforts in the Lord! Of course, Satan is always there to point out that what we are doing is insignificant. We react by trying harder to bring our plans to perfection. Ultimately, however, our energy will lag, and we will have to admit that we can do nothing in our own strength. It takes the Spirit of the Lord to accomplish anything of value.
Why should we labor alone in our own strength when God’s Spirit will work alongside us? We must learn to rely on the supernatural. “Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will flatten out before him! Then Zerubbabel will set the final stone of the Temple in place, and the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’ ” (Zechariah 4:7).
Who would have thought that a mountain could come down just by shouting at it? The walls of Jericho, like Zerubbabel’s mountain, did not come down by man’s reasoning, but by God’s power. Satan may belittle our praises, but he knows that praise is our mightiest weapon in the arsenal of faith. Keep shouting at your mountain—the Holy Spirit will bring it down!
The writer of Proverbs describes four creatures that are tiny, but smart. These creatures can be understood in the context of the four aspects of evangelism.
The ant has tremendous drive to gather food during the harvest season. In the same way, we must have an urgency, or purpose, as we sense the shortness of time left for reaping the souls of humanity.
The rock badger finds its strength in the rocks in which it lives. We also will find greater evangelistic productivity when we are in partnership with other stronger believers.
Net fishing with others is better than hook fishing alone! The locust flies together with other locusts, ruling the air and even blacking out the sun. No evangelism would be fruitful without concerted prayer with others that takes control of the heavenlies.
Finally, the lizard has a real knack of penetration. It can make its way into all kinds of places, even a king’s palace. We must be unafraid to go through any open door and prepared to crawl through any evangelism “crack” the Lord opens before us.
Proverbs 11:30 (KJV) says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” Rescuing eternal souls requires great wisdom, and that wisdom involves purpose, partnership, prayer, and penetration. Ask the Lord today for this wisdom, and start fulfilling your eternal destiny!
We are, indeed, happy and blessed! On this Christmas Day in which our Lord’s birth is traditionally celebrated, we should take time to remember our blessings.
First, we can thank God for His blessings upon our children. How grateful we are that “our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. . . . Our daughters [are] like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace” (Psalm 144:12). To have well-mannered, God-fearing children is such a great blessing.
Because of the blessing of provision, “our farms [are] filled with crops of every kind,” and “the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands” (v. 13). God’s material blessings to His people are bounteous!
Because of our God, we are privileged to live in a land of peace. There are “no breached walls, no forced exile, no cries of distress in our squares” (v.14). We should never take for granted the peace in our families, on our streets, in our churches, and in our government. In spite of all our problems in America, we are still privileged to “live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).
“Yes, happy are those who have it like this! Happy indeed are those whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). I trust this can be said of you and of me!
With amazing accuracy, Zechariah looked down the corridor of time and described Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Without the Holy Spirit, how could Zechariah have possibly known that one day Christ would indeed be riding on a little donkey, with thousands of adoring worshipers shouting and laying palm branches in the road? Matthew was an eyewitness of this exact scene and quoted Zechariah, the prophet who had predicted it (Matthew 21:5).
There are sixty-one direct prophecies such as this one, which had to be fulfilled in perfect sequence for Jesus to fulfill all the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah. According to renowned mathematician and scientist Peter Stoner, if the prophets had concocted in their own wisdom only eight prophecies, the odds of having all eight come true in any one person would be the same as the odds of someone who is blindfolded finding—on his first try—a marked silver dollar in the state of Texas, with the entire state buried two feet deep in silver dollars!
Let’s bow today, not before the babe in the manger, but before the mighty King who “will bring peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10)!
Another amazing prophecy of Zechariah had to do with Christ’s betrayal. Judas fulfilled this prophecy immediately after his betrayal of Jesus. “Then Judas threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself. . . . After some discussion [the priests] finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood” (Matthew 27:5, 7-8).
Money is so tempting, yet so unfulfilling. Those thirty pieces of silver seemed worth the entire world to Judas until they were actually in his hand. Then they became like garbage to him. How Satan had twisted Judas’s mind to value something that would cost him his life!
The great city of Babylon is the symbol of the materialistic god of this world, and it will be smashed to pieces in just one moment of time (Revelation 18:10). Christ is the “pearl of great value” (Matthew 13:46), and nothing else in this world really matters.
Let us hold Him dear and exchange nothing for His love.
Jesus shines through the ends of both the Old and New Testaments. John saw Him in His glorious, visible return. Zechariah prophesied of the reaction of the Jewish people at the Lord’s return:
“They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died” (Zechariah 12:10).
Zechariah saw the Jewish nation returning to God through the covenant blood that was shed for all humankind. “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement”
(13:1). He saw the spirit of repentance poured out on Israel as they asked the Lord Jesus, “Then what are those scars on your chest?” (v. 6). He will reply, “I was wounded at the home of friends!” (v. 6).
Christ, the marvelous Redeemer, will return one day, and every eye will see Him. Are you ready for that return?
The final battle at Jerusalem will be ended by the visible return of Christ. He will descend to the same spot on earth from which He ascended: the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the earth, the mountain will split, and a river will be opened between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
Jesus’ coming will usher in the Millennium, a thousand-year reign of peace on earth administrated by Christ Jesus Himself. Satan will be bound for a thousand years and will not be allowed to “deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years [are] finished” (Revelation 20:3). The Tribulation martyrs will be raised from the dead to join believers in reigning with Christ.
In your darkest hour, remember: The Prince of Peace is on His way!
The bride spoken of in Revelation 21:2 provides us with an appropriate description of the city of the New Jerusalem, filled with the faithful believers in Christ. All history closes with a description of the marriage of Christ to His Church, an eternal romance in which believers will be in covenant with Him forever.
This description of the Bride of Christ is, in fact, a picture of a godly marriage. It symbolizes a covenant of faithfulness and commitment so that all the world may see how Christ will care for His Church. For this reason, God declared his hatred of divorce (Malachi 2:16), as it destroys the beautiful picture of covenant faithfulness.
Proverbs 31:10-24 describes “a virtuous and capable wife.” Her beauty, grace, wisdom, and faithfulness, as well as her relationship with her offspring and husband, all portray the qualities of the Bride of Christ. All that God is working in your life is designed to prepare you to be married to Christ forever. One day, the Holy Spirit will usher the Church to the gate of heaven and then march her down the main street of the New Jerusalem to be married to Christ.
Get ready, Bride of Christ. Your greatest day is approaching!
As we end this year and begin the new, we remember the promises of God concerning tithes and offerings. The tithe, or tenth, was instituted by God to remind us that we are just passing through this world on our way to an eternal city. The tithe of our income is holy money, and withholding it from the Lord actually means we are robbing Him (Malachi 3:8). How significant is a tenth of the tiny income we receive on earth when compared to the glories to come?
Some of these future glories include “a pure river with the water of life . . . a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month,” and a city where “there will be no night . . . for the Lord God will shine on them” (Revelation 22:1-2, 5).
As you begin a new year, put your priorities in order. Give God His holy tenth. Remember: You are getting ready for eternal, heavenly blessings that are so great you will never be able to contain them all!