Coronation

It’s Christmas time and that’s the time of year when we frequently get to hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. It’s such an amazing work of art that even unreligious people are struck by the divine nature of this music.

A few years ago, Michael Christie, musical director of the Phoenix symphony said to the Arizona Republic that although he is not a particularly religious person, “I come out of ‘The Messiah’ and think, ‘Wow. I feel devout in this moment.’ It’s like I’m converted for those couple of hours whilst it’s happening. And I’ve felt that way every time.”

While it’s a familiar piece of music, many may not recognize that the words of the chorus are quoted directly from the book of Revelation. These words are sung at the “coronation” of Christ as the eternal King. The old world of sin, death, and decay is passing, making way for a new world of everlasting purity, peace and joy.

When the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation from the isle of Patmos, he was writing to people undergoing extreme persecution for their Christian faith. Their property was being confiscated. Their loved ones were being arrested and tortured. Their movements and actions were under constant scrutiny and suspicion. They had no power or clout. Their freedom was severely curtailed.

Through John, God gives these people a prophetic vision of a future kingdom where their freedom will be perfect. Their power will be restored, their peace will be eternal, and their joy will exceed all boundaries.

All of this will be brought about by the coronation of their eternal King, Jesus. Because of him, they have hope and a future. Because of him, they have an eternal kingdom waiting for them.

For any Christian of two thousand years ago or today, no matter what troubles we are facing in life we are confident. Because of Jesus, we may be hard pressed, but we are not crushed. We may be perplexed, but we’re not in despair. We may be persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We may be struck down, but we’re not destroyed.

Because of Jesus, we are more than conquerors and our reward awaits.

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

‘The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.’

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
    and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth'” (Revelation 11:15-18, NIV).

Jesus, you are my hope and future. Thank you for making me more than a conqueror, despite my sins and guilt. Thank you for rescuing me from my troubles, giving me strength to endure, and an eternal place in your kingdom, under your everlasting rule.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, December 19, is Ezra 4:6 – 5:17, Revelation 11:1-19 and Psalm 145:1-7.

Header image based on "Hallelujah Chorus - it's Handel Messiah season." by brownpau, CC By 2.0

Battles

Let’s face it. It’s war out there. And the battlefields multiply. They are everywhere you turn.

There are battles in our schools, battles in our workplaces, battles on our roadways, and battles in our own homes.

There are battles with our parents, battles with our spouse, battles with our children, and battles with our boss.

There are battles with our health, battles with our finances, battles with our careers, and battles with our relationships.

And most deadly of all, we have battles with the devil, battles with the world, and battles with our own sinful flesh.

But we also have a God — a Savior, Jesus — who gives us a solid place to plant our feet for all these battles. He trains us for life’s battles through the teaching of his word. He provides us a safe fortress to run to, a stronghold in which to hide. He is our shield, our refuge and our deliverer.

He is our confidence, our courage, our hope and our ultimate victory.

No matter what the current battle might be.

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me” (Psalm 144:1-2, NIV).

Lord Jesus, I have many battles going on in my life. But with you at my side, I am confident of victory. You train my hands. You provide me a place of refuge. You are my shield and my deliverer. Thank you for all your love, mercy and forgiveness. Grant me especially to obtain victory over the devil, the world and my own sinful flesh.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, December 16, is Malachi 2:17 – 4:6, Revelation 7:1-17 and Psalm 144:1-8.

Header image based on "Think He Got The Point" by Paul Kitchener, CC By 2.0

Live Boldly!

Most of us would love to possess more confidence and live with greater boldness. It would feel great to finally overcome the timidity and the fear that too frequently hold us back.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul urges him to conquer any timidity he might have. More importantly, he shows Timothy how to do this and live with boldness and confidence.

Timothy does not have to manufacture this confidence, Paul says. He doesn’t have to dig deep within himself to find the boldness. Nor does he have to “fake it till he makes it.”

Because, as Paul reminds him, Timothy has been given the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, he has real power, love and self-discipline to give us. When we realize that we have God’s power, love and self-discipline as our own, this generates all the boldness and confidence we need.

So, would you like to be a more confident person? Would you like to enjoy living life more boldly? This is not as difficult as it might appear.

It begins with doing the things that allow us to tap into the presence of the Holy Spirit. Through these activities we can access the power, love and self-discipline that the Holy Spirit wants to give us:

  • Have a daily time for meditation on the Bible and prayer
  • Attend church regularly — weekly, if possible
  • Join a growth group or Bible study so that you can hear from God in a group setting
  • Make a regular practice of attending Holy Communion

As you do these things, ask yourself, “Where do I see God’s power and love here? How am I encouraged to respond with thanksgiving and love for God by exercising more self-discipline?”

And most of all, remember who you are. You are a dearly loved child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. You are a disciple of the Savior who boldly and confidently went to the cross on your behalf — to win eternal victory for you. So you have every reason in the world to live with boldness and confidence.

By faith in Christ, you have the Spirit dwelling within you. Check out these gifts that the Spirit wants you to have! And live boldly, my friend!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).

Lord, take my timidity away. Give me your Spirit so that I may have the Spirit’s power, love and self-discipline in my life.

Our Bible reading for Thursday, October 22, is Jeremiah 48:1 – 49:6, 2 Timothy 1:1-18 and Psalm 119:81-88.

Header image based on "43: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse" by Tito and Eva Marie Balangue, CC By 2.0

Powerless or Powerhouse?

Asa was a good king. He did things the right way. He cleaned house in Judah and got rid of the idols and places of worship that foreign guests had built in the country.

He directed the hearts of the people back to the LORD, and led them to center their minds on the eternal God. He also encouraged them to be obedient to the commandments and follow God’s gracious will for their lives.

For a long time, God blessed Asa’s leadership by keeping the enemies of Judah at bay. And the land of Judah enjoyed a solid season of peace and prosperity.

Of course, peace doesn’t last forever. So Asa — being the wise king that he was — made use of this opportunity to build up a solid defense system. He fortified the walls, towers and gates of the cities of Judah. He also built up his army, until there were almost 600,000 skillful and courageous warriors ready for battle — should a battle come to them.

And come it did. An Ethiopian (Cushite) general named Zerah brought one million troops to the Valley of Zephathah, just one valley over from the Valley of Elah, where Asa’s great-great-grandfather, David, had slain the Philistine giant Goliath.

And where did Asa’s eyes turn when it came time for him to lead his men into battle against a significantly superior force?

Did he find confidence in the many courageous troops standing ready to go to battle before him?

Did he take refuge in the fact that backing him up were the fortified walls and gates of the cities that he had built up (and could run to, if needed)?

Did he pat himself on the back for how obedient to God he had been, and how brilliant his defensive chess moves had been?

No, Asa’s eyes looked up. He prayed and he said, in essence, “Lord, you aren’t impressed by Zerah’s million soldiers. You’re not intimidated by their show of force. Lord, we know you, and we know no mere mortals can stand against you. Without you, we are powerless. But we also know you love to help the powerless. With you on our side, we’re the powerhouse.”

Where do you look when you feel powerless and in trouble? Do you trust that God loves to help the powerless, and that he wants to deliver you from trouble? Do you have the same confidence that if you look up — to the LORD — you will no longer be powerless, but a powerhouse?

I hope so. Because it’s all true!

“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you” (2 Chronicles 14:11, NIV).

Lord, when I feel powerless and in trouble, I am tempted to look to other places than you for my strength and comfort. I repent of that, and ask for you Holy Spirit’s help to imitate Asa and look only to you. You love to help the powerless, and you have the ability to turn me into a powerhouse. Help me to always look up to you as my help and my refuge.

Our Bible reading for Friday, August 21, is 2 Chronicles 13:1 – 15:19, 1 Corinthians 14:20-40 and Psalm 104:1-8.

Header image based on "power" by Bronson ABbott, CC By-SA 2.0