I have read through the Bible numerous times, usually starting in Genesis and reading through Revelation over the course of the calendar year. In 2015, I took a different approach and used the ESV Study Bible plan. It has helped me to see the Bible fit together from a new perspective. I don’t know if you have a Bible reading plan, but I encourage you to be intentional about how you read and study God’s Word. You can find some plans here
This morning, the Lord impressed upon me that I have been handling His Word a little too casually. Maybe some of that healthy fear of God has diminished in my life, and my personal time with Jesus isn’t what it used to be. Well, God is ever faithful, and He directed me to a passage about someone who was in the very presence of the glorified Savior Jesus. Please click here to read Revelation Chapter 1. It will take you about 3 minutes to read. I wanted to share some things that stood out to me from this passage. What follows isn’t a sermon or Bible study. They are just some devotional thoughts and applications.
The Blessing of the Revealed Word (Verses 1-3): Jesus is both the Revealed and the Revealer. It is an act of love that Jesus gives His servants a look into the glorious future through this revelation to John. As followers of Christ, we, like John, are to bear witness to the Word of God and to Jesus Christ. Jesus even goes so far as to bless those who a) read the words of this prophecy out loud, b) hear the words that are read out loud, and c) keep the words that are read out loud. Here’s something I noticed about myself: I don’t read out loud to myself. If I’m reading out loud, it is usually to someone else. The Book of Revelation, in it’s original form, would have been read aloud in front of entire churches. God’s Word is worth sharing with others, and it sounds like Jesus Himself wants to bless others through this reading or proclamation of His Word. Also, notice at the end of Verse 3 that “the time is near.” It is God’s design for Jesus followers to have a sense of urgency. Lord Jesus, help me have a deeper respect for You and the Word. Give me a sincere desire to seek after You and to know more about You through the Word.
The Love, Faithfulness, and Glory of Jesus Are Beyond Comparison (Verses 4-8): You’ll never meet anyone quite like Jesus. He redefines and personifies what it means to be faithful. He is faithful to the Father, and He is faithful to His sheep. He is faithful to fulfill His promise to crush the head of sin and lead the way into eternal life as the firstborn of the dead. It is Jesus alone who shed His blood to free us from our sins. It is Him alone that we worship as the Savior. Because of His proven faithfulness, we can be confident that He will come with the clouds, and every eye shall see him. You won’t need a front row seat for that event. When Jesus returns to earth, there will be no doubt that it is Him, and His own glory will speak for itself. Faith will be no more. The Alpha will confirm that He is the Omega. And all will see. We say “Come Lord Jesus.” This prompts me to ask myself, Am I living my own life in eager anticipation of this great event to come? Am I praising the Name of the One who shed His perfect sacrificial blood on my behalf? Lord Jesus, never let me forget my salvation and the perfection of your love, faithfulness, and glory!
The Glory of Jesus Christ Humbles Us and Comforts Us (Verses 9-18): The Apostle John gives accounts of several events here, and it is worth noting how little John speaks of his own tribulation and endurance for the sake of Jesus and His Word. Why is that, John? Historical accounts recorded by first-century church historian Tertullian (The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 36) hold that Roman Emperor Domition hated Christians so much that he had John brought to Rome and boiled publicly in oil. When John didn’t die, Emperor Domition had to go to Plan B. John was exiled to hard labor on the island of Patmos. In this day and age, the exile story alone would make a great “based on a true story” book and movie. And that’s pretty tame when compared to the oil boiling story. I bring it up only to make the point that many times we Christians make more of our own trials and testimonies than we make of the God who brings us through those trials and gives us a testimony. You see, John was humbled in the presence of the glorified God Man, Jesus. He realized that his own story paled in comparison to The Story. John spent over three years traveling and ministering with Jesus. The disciple “whom Jesus loved” knew the Savior up close and personally. But John did not, could not recognize Jesus with His eyes of fire, feet of burnished bronze, white hair, face of sunshine, and mouth with a two-edged sword. John was awestruck, and his own past and everything around him paled in comparison to the glorified Son of Man who stood in front of him. Then comes what may be the most mind-blowing part of the story. When John fell like a dead man at Jesus’ feet, Jesus laid His right hand on John and said “Fear not.” It’s a great picture of that sweet balance between fearing the only One that we should fear, and hearing Him say “fear not.” Jesus comforts John with a reminder as to why he should not fear. Jesus is alive forevermore, and He has the keys to Death and Hades. He is allowing all of creation and history to move towards the consummation of His will, for His glory. So, Christians, take comfort knowing in Whom your faith and trust has been placed. Thank you Lord Jesus for reminding me how worthy of my fear that you really are. I ask that you forgive me when I make light of your holiness and might. Holy Spirit, thank You for the loving guidance that You provide.