The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Final Lent Devotional: Revelation 19:11-21

*This will be the final Lenten devotional of 2020. I want to thank all our devotional authors who have helped me keep these going during this difficult season: Brad Brown, John Kegley  Allison Davis, Emily Knight, and Dallas Knight. To Shades, I encourage you to keep on reading Scripture daily that you may find ever-increasing joy in the glory of God. Grace and Peace, Pastor Jonathan

Today’s devotional is authored by Jonathan Haefs

Revelation 19:11-21 (click here to read the entire passage)
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Reflection
I love Lord of the Rings… books and films. That is no secret. In fact, if you know me, you are probably already rolling your eyes. Yeah… I talk about it a little too much.

However, bear with me for a just a moment.

One of my favorite moments in the films comes near the end of the second movie, The Two Towers.

A combined army of men and elves face overwhelming hordes of orcs at the fortress of Helm’s Deep. Led by Aragorn, they find themselves nearing despair and defeat when suddenly the dawn breaks… and with its light it brings back to Aragorn’s mind a promise made to him by Gandalf the wizard.

“Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the East.”

And there, from the East comes the rider in white on his white steed… leading an army of reinforcements that vanquish the hordes of evil and bring about a seemingly impossible victory.

At the darkest moment… dawn.

Today is Holy Saturday. The darkest of days in the church calendar. Good Friday has passed. Christ has died… but he has yet to rise. For Jesus’ original disciples, there had never been a darker day than that first Holy Saturday. Yet, the dawn of the third day was on its way… and with its light it would bring back to their minds a promise…

“…the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

At the darkest moment… dawn.

We live in a world that feels like it is stuck in Holy Saturday… the darkest of days. All around us it seems as though evil has won, and on top of it all we currently face a global pandemic. Perhaps you find yourself nearing despair and defeat…

Yet, Holy Saturday is here to remind you that tomorrow’s dawn will come! We have a promise!

Revelation 19 says that our own rider in white is on his way! He rides a white steed and is crowned King of kings! He comes to vanquish the hordes of evil and bring about a seemingly impossible victory!

Yes, things may seem to be at their darkest… but we have the promise of a coming dawn… and this promise empowers us to press on!

Oh Shades! Lift your eyes and look to Christ… your King keeps his promises… behold he comes!

At the darkest moment… dawn!


*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Jude 24-25

Today’s devotional is authored by John Kegley

Revelation 5:1-14
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Reflection
On Good Friday, we behold the Lamb who was slain…

The Lamb who was slain… this is the leitmotif of redemption which reoccurs again and again throughout the drama of Scripture from the first pages of Genesis until the last pages of Revelation.

Abel was a shepherd, and the Lord looked favorably upon the offering of the firstborn lamb of his flock. On Good Friday, we behold the Father who has received the offering of his only Son, the Lamb who was slain for our sins.

The people of Israel were slaves in the land of Egypt, and in the culminating act of God’s judgment upon Pharaoh and redemption of Israel, he commands the people of Israel to spread the blood of a slain lamb around their doors so that their firstborn would not be struck dead by the angel. On Good Friday, we remember that we were once enslaved to the power of sin, yet instead of receiving the judgment we deserve, the  Father has punished the slain Lamb, Christ, in our place.

God instructed the newly formed people of Israel to offer sin offerings whenever they sinned unintentionally or whenever they violated his commands in order that their sins would be forgiven and atoned for. On Good Friday, we behold the slain Lamb who the author of Hebrews tells us is a better sin offering because his blood is able to atone for our sins once and for all.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as a sheep led to the slaughter, the one whom the Lord’s wrath is poured out upon so that we, the wandering sheep, might have life and peace. The Lamb who was slain was made sin, though he knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

In the Old Testament, the identity of the slain Lamb is somewhat hidden, but his identity is immediately and clearly revealed in the opening pages of the New Testament. Seeing Jesus approach him for the first time, John the Baptist exclaims “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” On Good Friday, we behold the Lamb who was slain for our sins, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity who assumed human flesh, the God-man.

In the Lamb who was slain, we see the leitmotif of redemption which runs through narrative of Scripture and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In the Lamb who was slain, we find the heart of God’s eternal plan of salvation for his people. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold the unfathomable love of God for the world. In the Lamb who was slain, we see God’s glory and character clearly revealed. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold God confounding the wisdom and power of the world. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold God as he is and not as we imagined him to be.  In the Lamb who was slain, we see God suffering for the sins of humanity. In the Lamb who was slain, we behold the One who is worthy to open the scroll as he alone has purchased us by his blood.

Brothers and sisters, today, let our minds not rush too quickly to resurrection Sunday, even though we know that the slain Lamb is victorious and currently sits on the throne. Instead, on this Good Friday, let us recall the depth of our sin which nailed the slain Lamb to the cross. Let us remember our godlessness which crucified the Lord of glory. Let us sit anew at the feet of the cross and behold the terrible beauty of the Lamb who was slain for our wickedness. Let us feel the weight of the reality that on Good Friday, God appears to be dead and Satan appears to triumph.

Let us end our devotional by reflecting upon the words of the Isaac Watts’ hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid me Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and Sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

 

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Jude 24-25

Today’s devotional is authored by Brad Brown

Jude 24-25
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. 

Reflection
Charles Taylor in his book “Our secular age” helpfully gives words to realities that we experience in our culture but can’t always find the words to name. He notes that in our time it’s not so much that people are anti-religion (although we do see that). Rather, religion is just seen as a private affair that is reserved for some. A religion like Christianity is seen as just one product to purchase among others that can make your life meaningful.

I think we can all agree that in our modern society the church is not the center of the town square, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  Christianity is not the default belief in our country. It is seen as simply one option among many others in the marketplace of ideas. 

Some go to church, some do yoga, some trust in science, or philosophy, some hold to a vague spirituality, some have been disillusioned by the church and for others…they just don’t know.

Taylor says with so many viable options “Faith is fraught, confession is haunted by an inescapable sense of contestability…We don’t believe; we believe while doubting. We’re all Thomas now…”

The first part of Jude’s doxology offers hope to a church that can often feel hopeless. It is a confident prayer that God will preserve the church from false teaching and bring them into the glorious future with him. 

Isn’t this just wishful thinking at the end of the letter? It is a naive optimism? Is it just unaware of the many options presented to the church? Does it not know that there are seemingly reasonable and attractive  competitors all after the churches affections? 

Throughout my years in youth ministry there will be times when I think, “It will take a miracle for this kid continue in the faith after he leaves home…” 

While I imagine you understand what I’m getting at…I do think I need to be reminded that it’s always a miracle that anybody remains a disciple of Jesus Christ and that this is good news…

The Reformer John Calvin wrote that “It pleases the Lord fully to restore whomsoever he adopts into the inheritance of life. And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out…the corruption of the flesh”

When Calvin read the Scriptures he saw that Salvation was so much more than just forgiveness of sins…It is certainly not less than forgiveness but it is so much more. Calvin said that to receive salvation is to receive the gift of Union with Christ. 

To receive the gift of Christ is to receive the gifts of Justification (declared righteous) and sanctification (being made holy). Calvin says that to receive one gift without the other would be to “Tear Christ in two”. His point: these gifts come together. You cannot receive one without the other. 

This is big deal…The Christian life is not simply a response to our salvation…It is part of our salvation…It is part of something that God is doing. It is something that God is doing to save us from ourselves and to save us from the evil of this world. If its ultimately something that God does then the Church can have hope that she will persevere despite the circumstances…despite how bad or hopeless things look…

Romans 8:28-30 beautifully articulates this, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

It’s hard to believe…The God who says your sins are forgiven is also the God that says that he is going to make you more like Jesus. He’ going to transform you. He’s going to preserve you…He’s going to bring you into his presence. All for his Glory.

To ponder “What salvation is this? What assurance is this? What hope is this?” will lead you to ask “What God is this?”

That’s where Jude ends. It ends with an acknowledgement of the greatness of God. It ends in worship.

Despite the options made available to us, when we reflect on the goodness and power of God in our salvation we are lead to the place of Praise. This is the place by the power of God we will be forever. 

One might be tempted to say…Its a miracle.

 

*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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