Enjoy these entries - we hope they make you think.

Lord's Day

Grace in Ritual

Sunday, April 28, 2024

I wonder if my generation hasn’t underemphasized ritual and overemphasized spontaneity.

Consider the husband who brings his wife flowers every Friday. He replaces the old flowers in the vase and kisses his sweetheart.

Consider, also, the husband who brings his wife flowers once or twice a year when he gets that special urge. His wife wonders what the occasion is.

Some think the second husband is more romantic and his gift would be more heartfelt. But why should it be that way? Could not the first husband’s flower ritual be more heartfelt than the second husband’s haphazard way of showing his love?

Neither necessarily shows what is in the husband’s heart, but I would guess the first husband thinks of his wife more than the second. He certainly puts more effort into his marriage, at least from a flower-gift perspective.

Think about your daily prayers. And, yes, dear Christian, you should have a daily prayer habit! Daniel prayed three times a day, and his enemies knew exactly where and when he would hit his knees. Daniel had a prayer ritual in place. Just because you pray at the same time every day doesn’t mean it’s not heartfelt. In truth, some days will be more heartfelt than others, but the ritual does not determine this. The ritual makes sure you pray.

Think about times of spiritual devotion with your family. Do you think you are more spiritual if these times are unscheduled? Dad randomly yells, “Okay, kids, let’s have some family worship!” If your kids are like mine, at least a few of them will come grumbling because you interrupted something they were doing. But if you have it scheduled, the kids tend to set aside that time and gather with a more focused mind.

What about meeting with the saints? We meet on a regular schedule, and our organized fellowship and worship looks very similar from week to week. We have rituals established. Does that mean they are not heartfelt? Not at all! The rituals give us a framework to our activities. We don’t have to think through the entire schedule every Lord’s Day, and we can focus on the important matters. We sing together, pray together, share the word of God together, and eat the Lord’s Supper together every week. Are we less than genuine? Not at all!

God gives grace through the excellent daily and weekly habits we build. The ritual helps us continue exercising what needs to be exercised. This week’s fellowship may not be outstanding or mind blowing as a single event, but our times of fellowship build momentum and we experience growth and feelings of solidarity, peace, and joy in what our Lord is doing.

Don’t fall for the lie that our worship and expressions of love must always be spontaneous to be genuine. It’s not so. In fact, we will wear ourselves out if we try to live life this way! Another grace God gives through ritual is that it prevents burnout. The husband who tries to think of something new every day to show his wife how much he loves her will eventually run out of ideas. The husband who knows a few things his wife loves and continues to give her and do those things week after week will find a steady rhythm to life.

This does not mean that spontaneity does not profit. Everyone likes changing things up once in a while! But spontaneity should be the exception, not the rule.

God gives grace through ritual. Don’t wait for the muse to hit, for lightning to strike, for inspiration to fall. Just plan to be where you need to be every day and every week and keep those commitments faithfully. Remember the tortoise and the hare and keep faithfully plodding.

Is John’s Revelation for Christians Today?

Monday, August 21, 2023

In the teen class, we are studying the Apocalypse (Revelation) of John. We noticed in the book’s introduction some helpful pointers as to how we should interpret the contents.

A map of the worldDescription automatically generatedThe Time Is Near

Christ showed John “things that must soon take place” (1.1) and that “the time is near” (1.3). The original recipients of the letter were seven churches in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (1.4, 11). John was to send Jesus’ messages to each church. How do you think they heard “things that must soon take place”? Do you think they thought, “Well, to God one day is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years is like a day, so when God said ‘soon’ and ‘the time is near,’ He probably means a couple of thousand years in the future”? No, God does not confuse His people. The first century Christians would have naturally understood that their generation would see the things revealed in the book.

Jesus used similar language in Matthew 24.34, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

It is funny how every successive generation seems to think they are the target time in which the prophecies of Revelation will be finally realized. Perhaps it speaks to our narcissism.

Revealed in Visions

John bore witness to “what he saw” (1.2). What follows is a series of visions Christ gave to John. The beloved apostle was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” when he heard a loud voice behind him saying, “Write what you see in a book” (1.10–11).

Anyone familiar with Old Testament prophecy (such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, etc.) understands visions can be pretty weird, and they often demand explanation. For instance, Daniel saw a series of beasts in Daniel 7. The fourth beast had 10 horns, and another little horn popped up and uprooted three other horns. Daniel didn’t know what to make of it, so God explained what the beasts and the horns represented. They were not to be taken literally, but each detail was a sign or symbol of something real. The beasts represented kingdoms, and the horns represented individual kings.

To rightly interpret the visions of Revelation, you should study Old Testament visions. Listen closely to God’s explanations in the texts, and it will greatly aid you in understanding the signs and symbols of John’s Revelation.

Meant to Be Practical

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it” (1.3).

The Christians were not to hide this book or keep it a secret. They were to read it aloud so all their people could hear it and keep what it commanded.

Many today overlook the practical nature of Revelation, as they misinterpret the visions to fit various historical periods, and they bog themselves down with theories on what political power or person is the beast and what the mark of the beast is going to look like.

But Jesus intended Christians to hear the things in these visions and repent and be faithful!

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do thing works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (2.5)

“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, I and I will give you a crown of life.” (2.10)

“I have a few things against you…therefore, repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of My mouth.” (2.14, 16)

“Hold fast what you have until I come.” (2.25)

“Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (3.3)

“Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” (3.10–11)

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (3.19)

Is It for Us Today?

Is it practical for modern readers? If most of what was prophesied has already taken place, why should we worry about it?

  1. We study Old Testament prophecies even though they have mostly been fulfilled. We study them because they build our faith and teach us of God’s unwavering faithfulness and about how He thinks and works.
  2. John’s visions have mostly been fulfilled, but the principles endure. Revelation concerned a specific judgment upon Jerusalem, but the lasting principle is that God judges individuals and nations. The call to repentance is just as important to hear today as it was to the early Christians.
  3. We might ask why those Christians in Asia should have been worried about God judging Jerusalem. What did it matter to them? The Jewish nation serves as an object lesson to all of God’s people—if Israel failed to receive God’s blessing because of their faithlessness, how much more shall we expect judgment for our unbelief and rejection of the Lord Jesus?
  4. Christians still wait expectantly for the visions in Revelation 20–22 to be fulfilled. There is still the final judgment of Satan and his forces and all who are on his side (not written in the Book of Life). There is still the New Heaven and New Earth in which God will make all things new.

So, yes, God’s people should continually read aloud, hear, and obey this great book!

Today Is Passover

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Today—Thursday, April 6, 2023—marks Passover, which, for the Jews, began last night as the sun went down. This day commemorates the freedom God created for the Israelite people through the Ten Plagues. Specifically, that last plague—the death of the firstborn in Egypt—was the occasion for the first Passover feast.

God told the Israelites to eat with their travel clothes on, belts around their waist, sandals on their feet, and staves in hand—as if they were about to embark on a long journey…which was exactly what they were about to do.

They were to kill a year-old lamb at twilight on the 14th day of their 1st month (Abib), and they were to roast and eat the whole thing as a family. If any part of the lamb was not eaten, it was to be burned before morning so that nothing remained to the next day. They were not to break any of its bones, and they were to paint the doorposts and lintels of their houses with the lamb’s blood.

The blood would be a sign to God that in this house were His faithful people, so He would pass over that house with His terrible tenth plague.

That night, God entered every Egyptian house and killed all their firstborn sons, including the firstborn animals. The firstborn belong to God, and if they are not freely given, God will take them. This was both a judgment on Egypt as well as a teaching moment for Israel (and all the earth). God gets the first fruit.

Following Passover evening, the Jews were to celebrate an entire week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which represents affliction (Deut. 16.3). On the first and seventh days of this feast they were to have a holy convocation and do no ordinary work (a special Sabbath).  

Once God brought Israel into the promised land and they had an established place for the Tabernacle (and later the Temple), the Jews were only allowed to celebrate the Passover at the Temple, which is why the Jews streamed to Jerusalem every year for this grand event. What an awesome time that must have been for those who celebrated it according to the Lord’s direction!

But all of that pointed to something God had planned in the future. Jesus Christ ate the Passover with His disciples the evening of Abib the 14th, and later that evening was captured by group of Jews, mocked all night long in a Jewish monkey court, convicted of crimes He had never done, and presented to Pilate early the next morning on the 15th day of Abib.

He was crucified that very day. The blood of the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5.7) dripped onto the ground below His cross, and He died and was quickly buried before evening. We commemorate the crucifixion day by calling it “Good Friday.” God had taken His own firstborn Son.

Jesus was in the grave Friday…Saturday (the Sabbath day of rest)…and rose on Sunday, the first day of the week.

Passover was an awesome memorial time each year for the Jews, but it foreshadowed a greater liberation than even the Exodus. It pointed to the great salvation of the Lord to all nations through Jesus Christ! It is no accident that Jesus was killed on Passover Day. It was God’s plan before the foundation of the earth (Acts 2.22–24).

Christians are not called to celebrate the yearly Passover any more, but we celebrate our great Passover Lamb. We don’t know the exact day of the year that Jesus was born, but we do know Easter Sunday is the exact anniversary of the day Jesus came out of the tomb—the central event which drives our faith:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10.8–9)


  1. Exodus 12
  2. Leviticus 23.4–8
  3. Deuteronomy 16.1–8

Starting a New Week

Monday, February 06, 2023

Here we are at a new beginning, the Lord’s Day rightly being the fountainhead from which flows the rest of life. Worshipers bowed low and paid homage to the Creator of all things. From their mouths gushed praise and confession. Preachers exposited the word of God to assemblies of saints, who had come to drink deeply from the well of the Holy Spirit. Brothers and sisters encouraged one another in the Lord, ate together, prayed together, and made plans for the week’s work.

What shall we do with this week? What shall we do to honor and glorify God? How shall we work? What shall be our priorities?

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3.17)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10.31)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength which God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 4.10–11)