Digging in Deeper: Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend three weeks in Higashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan. It was an absolutely fantastic trip. It was made even better that I made the trip with a group of some of my closest friends at the time. Rather than staying in hotels, though, we all were assigned to a different family with whom we spent the bulk of our time. The total cultural immersion was a transformative experience. Our hosts were gracious far beyond what we could have imagined. They went out of their way to both make us comfortable, but also introduce us to the best their culture had to offer so that we could appreciate it more fully. It worked wonderfully. Traditional Japanese culture is beautiful. I got back home even more convinced of that than I was before I left. But during our time there, it was really nice to get together with our group members. There’s just something about relaxing in a culture with which you are familiar when you’ve been immersed in one with which you aren’t. I was reminded of this by a recent episode of Mixed-ish. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 13:29, 32

“In the same way, when you see these things happening, recognize that he is near–at the door. . .Now concerning that day or hour no one knows–neither the angels in heaven nor the Son–but only the Father.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Something a little different for you this morning and we’ll get back to Habakkuk early next week. With all the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world there is a growing question on the minds of many folks with even the slightest amount of spiritual sensitivity: Are we in the end times? Personally I’ve been asked this twice this week. So then, are we? Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Joel 2:28-29

“After this I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. I will even pour out my Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

So, yesterday we talked about the fact that much of the Old Testament does not apply to us as followers of Jesus. If you stuck with me for most of Monday’s full sermon I explained the concept there in a little more detail but with the Ten Commandments in view rather than the proclamations of the prophets. Context shift aside, the point is the same: Most of the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us. It details the old covenant God made with Israel which was fulfilled in Christ and replaced with the new covenant to which we are liable in Him. That’s the rule. This verse is one of the exceptions.

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Digging in Deeper: Joel 2:12, 14

“Even now — this is the Lord’s declaration — turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning…Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind him, so you can offer grain and wine to the Lord your God.”
— ‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12, 14‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

On occasion our youngest will do something ornery. He’s only five and a pretty sweet kid, so it’s not like he ever does but so much to get into trouble. But every now and then he’ll get out of line. Often on these occasions, we are more amused by what he’s done than upset and so we really aren’t looking to punish him. When he knows this he’ll grin really big at us with a little light in his eyes. He does this because he knows what’s coming. We smile back at him and say, “It’s a good thing you’re cute.” That’s a little like what we see here.

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Morning Musing: Joel 2:1-2, 11

“Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is near — a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and total darkness, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people appears, such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come…The Lord makes his voice heard in the presence of his army. His camp is very large; those who carry out his command are powerful. Indeed, the day of the Lord is terrible and dreadful — who can endure it?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever had a day whose coming you dreaded? A few years ago I got a speeding ticket—the only one I’ve ever gotten and even it was accidental because I missed a sign in a stretch of road where the limit kept changing from 55 to 45 and back. And, like any ticket, mine came with a court date. Boy, did I not want that day to come. The walk of shame to the judge’s bench to learn the punishment for my crime was not something I was looking forward to experiencing. What Joel says here suggests that the day of the Lord is one whose coming should fill us with a similar sense of dread…only worse. Why?

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