In yesterday’s reading, a chorus of heavenly voices proclaimed, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” (See page 438.)

In today’s reading – the last in our journey through the New Testament – that vision becomes reality.

Today, we’ll read pages 444-453 from Revelation.

In the closing scenes of Revelation, John describes the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending from heaven to earth. God makes His dwelling place with us, forever restoring the relationship that was fractured back in the garden of Eden.

He will make all things new and do away with death. Now there’s something to look forward to!

TODAY’S READING
Pages 444 – 453 from Revelation

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Today, we’ll read pages 431-444 from Revelation.

Revelation is mysterious. No other book of Scripture is as hotly debated.

Whatever your take on the powerful imagery in Revelation, they key to this book can be found in a statement from today’s reading: “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.” (See page 441.)

Revelation depicts God setting things right, ridding the world of evil, and vindicating those who remain faithful to him. As the prophet John reminds us, deliverance is coming.

In the meantime, hang in there.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 431 – 444 from Revelation

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with some one sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

By the end of the first century, Rome’s power was virtually uncontested. Wealthy cities across the empire competed for Caesar’s patronage. They even proclaimed the emperor to be the Son of God on earth.

Any resistance – any refusal to worship Caesar – jeopardized an entire city’s standing with Rome. Which meant that Christians in places like Ephesus, Sardis, Pergamum, and Laodicea were vulnerable to persecution.

Around this time, a prophet named John received a vision, which he shared with seven churches in Asia Minor. It became known as the book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament.

Today, we’ll read pages 425-431 from Revelation.

This book contains some of the most vivid (and cryptic) imagery in the Bible, but the key message is this: Stand firm. Because in the end, God wins. Those who remain faithful will be vindicated, and God will dwell once more with his people, as he did in the beginning.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 425 – 431 from Revelation

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Today, we’ll read pages 409-423 from the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John.

These three letters share a common theme: how to stay true to God in the face of some false teachings that were circulating among the early church.

1 John, for example, was written because some believers were beginning to question the idea that God came to earth in a human body.  Why was this such a hard pill for them to swallow?  Because of a popular Greek belief that all flesh is evil and only spirit is good.

But this was more than just a theological problem.  If the body doesn’t matter, some reasoned, then we can do whatever we want.  We can live as we please and stop worrying about the needs of others.

Not so fast, John wrote.  He reminded his readers that God had “come in the flesh,” that He sent His Son “into the world that we might live through Him.” (See page 414.)

God did so, John explained, because of His great love for us. And as His children, we are to love others just as God loves us.

Because everything matters.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 409 – 423 from 1, 2 & 3 John

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Day 35 // Book of Glory

March 22, 2013

John’s first section offered a sweeping view of Jesus’ three-year ministry.  The second section, otherwise known as the “Book of Glory,” covers the last days of Jesus’ life.

Today, we’ll read pages 395-408 from John.

John slows the pace considerably in this section. It’s not hard to see why.  This is the part of the story where Jesus gives his life for the world.

But there’s more going on beneath the surface.  Jesus’ crucifixion takes place on the sixth day of of the week, Friday.  He’s buried on the seventh day – the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest.

And of course, Jesus’ resurrection takes place on the first day of a brand new week.  But this is a week unlike any other.

John began his book with an echo of Genesis: “In the beginning…” Now, Jesus’ resurrection signals a whole new beginning.  History will never be the same.  We will never be the same.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 395 – 408 from John

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

John’s book is divided into two main sections, not counting the prologue and epilogue.  First, there’s the “Book of Signs,” followed by the “Book of Glory.”  We started the Book of Signs yesterday and will wrap it up with today’s reading.

Today, we’ll read pages 382-395 from John.

So why is this section called the Book of Signs?  Because in it, John records seven miraculous signs. (John had a thing for the number seven.)  Each miracle reveals something important about Jesus’ identity.

Jesus turns water in to wine and walks on water.  He multiplies bread for a hungry crowd.  He restores a blind man’s sight, allowing light to shine where none had shone before.  He restores health to two different people and restores life itself to Lazarus.

So it’s no coincidence that in this very same section, Jesus refers to himself as…

  • Living water
  • The bread of life
  • The light of the world
  • The resurrection and the life

For John, these were more than just nice stories.  The seven signs prove that Jesus is all of the above and then some.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 382 – 395 from John

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

So far, we’ve read three different accounts of Jesus’ life.  Now it’s time for the fourth.

Today, we’ll read pages 369-382 from John.

John makes no secret of his reason for writing: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (See page 407.)

Throughout his gospel, John keeps pressing the point of who Jesus is.  Not once but seven times he quotes Jesus identifying himself with the phrase “I am” – a subtle but unmistakable reference to one of the most important names for God in the Old Testament.

May your faith in Christ – in who he is and all he’s done – be strengthened as you read John’s gospel.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 369 – 382 from John

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all man kind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Day 32 // Hey Jude

March 19, 2013

Question: What do 2 Peter and Jude have in common?

Answer: A lot.

Today, we’ll read pages 369-382 from 2 Peter and Jude.

We’re reading these letters together because they share a common theme: the importance of resisting false teaching. It’s even possible that Peter and Jude were addressing the same issue.

Apparently, this teaching had something to do with Christ’s return. Some were saying that if he hadn’t bothered to show up by now (“now” being approximately 30 years after his resurrection), there was no point expecting him to come back at all.

Peter and Jude don’t mince words. Peter describes such people as “scoffers” who follow “their own evil desires.” Jude calls them “blemishes” and “twice dead.”

These two letters remind us that we must “contend for the faith” that God entrusted to us. But note how both letters also urge patience toward those who doubt, even as God is patient with us.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 359 – 368 from 2 Peter & Jude

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Pretend you’re one of the original recipients of today’s reading.  Speaking of…

Today, we’ll read pages 351-358 from 1 Peter.

So you get this letter from the apostle Peter.  Keep in mind that you, like Peter, are suffering intense persecution.  Peter calls it a “fiery ordeal” and says it’s somehow connected to Christ’s own suffering. (See page 357.)

But get this: Peter tells you to “submit yourselves” to the authorities – to the very people who are persecuting you. (See page 355.)  That includes the emperor, who happens to be a guy named Nero, who was famous for using Christians as torches.

Peter actually says to honor Nero.

Why make such a seemingly unreasonable demand? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Peter calls us a “royal priesthood.” (See page 355.)  After all, what is a priest but a person who points the way to God?

In other words, we don’t submit for the sake of being bullied.  According to Peter, we submit “for the Lord’s sake.”  We “repay evil with blessing” so that others have no choice but to recognize God’s work in us.

It’s kind of like when Paul admonished the Romans to “overcome evil with good.” (See page 183.)

As you read 1 Peter, ask yourself:  What does it look like to overcome evil with good in my life today?

TODAY’S READING
Pages 351 – 358 from 1 Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the fore knowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast

Day 30 // Five questions

March 15, 2013

Today, we’ll read pages 334-350 from Mark.

Now that we’ve been at this for several weeks, you probably have a few small group sessions under your belt.  And you may be wondering… “What’s with these discussion questions?”

In case you haven’t been wondering this, here are the 5 questions we’re encouraging groups to discuss each week:

  • What’s something you noticed for the first time?
  • What questions did you have?
  • Was there anything that bothered you?
  • What did you learn about loving God?
  • What did you learn about loving others?

These questions are meant to help you think differently about Scripture.  They’re meant to encourage you to wrestle with the text.  After all, wrestling is part of what it means to engage the Bible.

So go ahead. Wrestle away. Think about what the text says and what implications it has for your life. Ask questions you may have never thought of before – or never thought you were allowed to ask.

TODAY’S READING
Pages 334 – 350 from Mark

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Get Today’s Resources
  PDF
  Audio   Podcast   Kindle   ePub
  Kid’s PDF   Kid’s Audio   Kid’s Podcast