Fall in Love With Jesus All Over Again
LHC: Message Forty-Nine (980927AM)
Week 49: Fall in Love With Jesus All Over Again
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you fall in love with Jesus all over again!
SUNDAY: Jesus Is Extravagant “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” —John 12:32, emphasis added When the Bible opens in Genesis, we find ourselves transported into the Garden of Eden, a paradise of perfection and beauty. When the Bible closes in Revelation 22, we are transported forward to the fringes of eternity to step out into the Garden of God, that final Paradise which far exceeds anything man could ever envision. And its perfection is absolutely breathtaking! To realize how glorious heaven will be, we need to go back and meet the first two humans on earth. We need to once again listen to the inspired, accurate, and divine recounting of their experience in the Garden of Eden. Imagine what it was like in the dawn of Creation. Think about life as a perfect human: Your first memory is that of waking up in God’s garden, Eden. You are in a comfortable world with no extremes of hot and cold, no storms, no disasters to fear. It is a secure home with no pestering bugs, no poisonous snakes, and no deadly spiders. You are surrounded with the continual beauty of fragrant and color-filled flowering orchids on the verdant green trees. Blooms never fall off, yellow, or wilt. Full, juicy fruit hangs ripe on the branches, but none falls off and rots. Even more, you have a body that never aches, a digestive system that never rebels, eyesight that never needs correction, and your ears can hear the sweet sounds of life all around. There are no pains, never a sorrow, not even a fear. There is no weariness—only peace-filled living. In God’s perfect Garden of Eden, it is paradise living. Every day is an adventure of new colors, new fragrances, and new symmetry in flowers, butterflies, and all the wonders of a perfect animal world. There are no predators, no scavengers, and no carnivores. There are only placid and magnificent creatures reflecting the majesty of God. Around every corner of towering and graceful trees, which were each perfectly planted by God, are flocks, herds, and gatherings of exquisite animals. Best of all is the sweet sound of the voice of the Lord. About suppertime each day, a gentle breeze whispers by, and then you hear the voice of God. The Gardener and Planner of the Universe is walking among His creatures in the cool of the day. He
desires fellowship with you, His best friends, whom He made to look just like Himself. Your ears, that He created, hear the sweetest sound of all—the voice of Jesus who created them. And then enters the bad guy to Paradise—the dragon serpent, Satan! And all of Creation is turned upside down . . . By Revelation 22, however, Satan will no longer be a threat. God will seal him in the Lake of Fire along with those who have refused to stop following him. But we who have listened to Jesus and followed Him will be in the new Garden of God—our eternal and glorious Paradise. All of God’s children, those who have placed their faith in the Lamb’s shed blood on the cross, will be dwelling in the city He has prepared for us. And it is described beautifully in Revelation 22: the Celestial City is comforting (vv. 1–5), and the Celestial City is calling us to come home (vv. 6–21). As you experience the extravagance of Jesus, who saved and washed you from your sins, you will understand just how much He is going to lavish on you in the future Garden of God! My Prayer for You This Week: We worship You, oh mighty King, for there is none like You! It is truly extravagant of You to have taken us from the pit, out of the miry clay, to wash and robe us with Your righteousness; to set our feet upon the Rock; to give us a new name, and a personal intimate relationship with You—and to promise to us all the rights of being a joint heir with You, oh Jesus! We are overwhelmed with unspeakable gratitude! At the conclusion of Your Revelation, we pray that we will understand how You are truly pouring out Your grace, mercy, and love in abundance—our inheritance in Christ. And we thank You in advance for that! Bless us as we study this week; fill our hearts with the wonders of who You are, Lord Jesus. Then help us to choose to live in such a way that we, too, will reflect Your wonders. In Your precious name we pray, Amen.
MONDAY: All Things New “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ ” —Revelation 21:5, emphasis added As we come to the twenty-second chapter of Revelation, consider how unlike the first Adam is to this last Adam: Satan challenged the first man, Adam. The Last Adam, Jesus, challenged Satan by resisting him with God’s Word. Satan ruined the first Adam. The Last Adam crushed Satan. The First Adam involved the human race in his defeat. The Last Adam included the human race in His victory. The First Adam stood as the head of the race, and falling, dragged the whole race down with him. The Last Adam stood as the Head of the new race, and being victorious, lifted that race with Him. The Celestial City is comforting. In Revelation 22:1–5, we discover that our heavenly home, the Celestial City, is like a beautiful garden. As we saw a few moments ago, the Garden of God seems much like the Garden of Eden. However, there are also
some differences. There were four rivers in Eden (Genesis 2:10–14), but God has only one river in His Celestial City. When Ezekiel saw a river for cleansing and life, it was flowing from under the altar of the millennial temple (Ezekiel 47), but this river of life flows from God’s throne because the Lord God Almighty is the source of all true purity. In Eden humans were prohibited from eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and of “the tree of life” (Genesis 2:15–17; 3:22–24). But in the Garden of God we will have unhindered access to the Tree of Life. As we ponder this heavenly scene, we realize that the river and the tree are not only literal but also symbolic of the abundant life we inherit in this glorious Celestial City. When John wrote in Revelation in 22:3 that there is “no more curse,” he was reminding us of the dark days of Genesis 3:14–19, when the curse began. It is also remarkable that even the Old Testament closes with the warning: “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). But with Jesus came hope, life, and liberation from the Curse. Because of Calvary, God can announce: “There shall be no more curse!” For the Prince of Death, Satan, will be consigned to hell; the Prince of Life, our Lord Jesus, has liberated all of creation, and made it new; and in heaven we will see that the curse of sin will be gone forever.1 Note the contrasts between the old and the new in the chart below.2
PROBATIONARY WORLD (Genesis) ETERNAL WORLD Revelation)
Division of light and darkness (1:4) No night there (21:25) Division of land and sea (1:10) No more sea (21:1) Rule of sun and moon (1:6) No need of sun or moon (21:23) First heavens and earth finished (2:1–3) New heaven and earth forever (21:1) Man in a prepared Garden (2:8, 9) Man in a prepared city (21:2) River flowing out of Eden (2:10) River flowing from God’s throne (22:1) Tree of life in the midst of the Garden (2:9) Tree of Life throughout the city (22:2) Gold in the land (2:12) Gold in the city (21:21) God walking in the Garden (3:8) God dwelling with His people (21:3), no longer coming in the cool of the day as in Genesis; we are with Him forever. The Spirit is energizing (1:2) The Spirit is inviting (22:17) Garden accessible to the liar, Satan (3:1– 5) City closed to all liars (21:27) Man in God’s image (1:27) Man in God’s presence (21:3) Man the probationer (2:17) Man the heir (21:7) CURSED WORLD (Genesis) REDEEMED WORLD (Revelation)
Cursed ground (3:17) No more curse (22:3) Daily sorrow (3:17) No more sorrow (21:4) Sweat on the face (3:19) No more tears (21:4) Thorns and thistles (3:18) No more pain (21:4) Eating herbs of the field (3:18) Twelve manner of fruits (22:2)
Death and returning to the dust (3:19) No more death (21:4) Coats of skins (3:21) Fine linen, white and clean (19:14) Satan opposing (3:15) Satan banished (20:10) Driven from the Garden; kept from the tree of life (3:24) Eternal access to the Tree of Life (22:14) Banished from the Garden (3:23) Free entry to the Garden of God (22:14) Redeemer promised (3:15) Redemption accomplished (5:9–10) Evil continually (6:5) Nothing that defiles (21:27) Seed of the woman (3:15) Root and offspring of David (22:16) Cherubim guarding (3:24) Angels inviting (21:9)
So then, the end of history and the beginning of history belong together. The last leaf of the Bible corresponds with the first. Holy Scripture begins with Paradise (Genesis 1:2), and with Paradise it ends (Revelation 22).
TUESDAY: The Celestial City Is Calling — Come! “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ . . . And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” —Revelation 22:17, emphasis added The conclusion is greater than the beginning! The future Paradise is not only that which was lost and regained, but also, above all, it is the heavenly and eternally glorified Paradise. In the lost Paradise there was danger: “On the day in which you eat thereof you will die the death” (Genesis 2:17); in the glorified Paradise full security reigns, and “there shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3). In the lost Paradise, the serpent said: “You will become as God” (Genesis 3:5); in the glorified Paradise Scripture says: “His name [His nature] shall be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). In the lost Paradise stood a tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:9); in the glorified Paradise it is no longer required (Revelation 22:1–5)—for we behold with direct vision the face of God (Revelation 22:4) and thus have the true and personal knowledge of Him forever as our heritage. The lost Paradise had an end through the defeat of man (Genesis 3:24); the glorified Paradise abides eternally for the overcomers (Revelation 2:7), and “they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Thoughts of the Celestial City are comforting and glorious as we await that day, but the city is also calling to us. I believe that the message of Chapter 22 starts in verse 6: “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ ” The saints of old lived their lives looking for, longing for, and seeking a heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13). And that heavenly city is likewise calling each of us to come—to long to be there. Revelation 22:6–21 provides these practical applications for us even in today’s age: Keep the Word—God’s Word is to be our priority (vv. 6–11, 18–19).
Serve God—God’s work is to be our focus (vv. 12–14). Stay pure—godly purity is to be our goal (vv. 15–16). Watch for Jesus—Christ’s return is to be our hope (vv. 17, 20–21). Heaven is more than a destination; it is God’s deeply moving call to action to us who are on earth. Our heavenly destiny ought to make a difference in our present lives. When the Old Testament saints learned that they had a heavenly city, it challenged them to walk with God, and to serve Him better. When Jesus needed encouragement in the Garden of Gethsemane as He faced death on the cross, it was the hope of returning to His Father in heaven that strengthened Him (Hebrews 12:2). Our heavenly home should be the anchor of our soul that pulls us upward, heavenward, homeward, and Godward. What is the first call from heaven? We need to keep His Word: “These words are faithful and true. . . . ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’ ” (Revelation 22:6–7). This is the sixth of the seven beatitudes in which God promises a blessing. What does “keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” mean? Jesus told us that if you obey His Word, you love Him. To love Him entails hungering for His Word, interacting diligently with His Truth, and yielding to His Holy Spirit that you may be increasingly conformed to the image of Christ. Have you presented your body to Christ as a living sacrifice? Are you being continually transformed by “the renewing of your mind to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (see Romans 12:1–2)? I pray so!
WEDNESDAY: The Revelation Beatitudes “Blessed is he who reads.” —Revelation 1:3a, emphasis added Do you recall that there are seven beatitudes—seven blessings in Revelation? Because these have application for how to prepare for heaven even now, we will go over these blessings today and tomorrow. The First Beatitude—Christ’s Word: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). Those who read, hear, and keep His Word are blessed! The Second Beatitude—Christ’s Gift of Eternal Life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Revelation 14:13). This speaks of the happiness of those who die in the Lord, emphasizing that eternal life is a blessing. What we were, what we did, what through God’s power we accomplished in Jesus’ name while on earth, will go with us. Unbelievers must leave everything behind; but God’s children are blessed because works done in the energy of the Holy Spirit will follow us. Christ’s gift of eternal life is a blessing because we get to enjoy Jesus and offer Him our service forever. The Third Beatitude—Christ’s Coming: “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15). This is an emphasis on the Lord’s return. Of course, this is for Tribulation saints because Jesus will not come for us as a thief in the night, but as our blessed and loving
Bridegroom. However, His coming will be a blessing for us as well as those in the Tribulation. We should therefore all be watching for Him—keeping our garments clean, lest they become soiled with the filth of this world. For the Christian, Christ’s coming is not something to be dreaded, but a glorious blessing! The Fourth Beatitude—Christ’s Presence: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9). To be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is a blessed delight because Christ will be there! The Fifth Beatitude—Christ’s Assurance: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6). This verse emphasizes deliverance from death. It is an assurance to those who are not raptured, those awaiting the resurrection (sleeping in the dust, as Daniel puts it), that there is a great blessing in that they, too, will reign with Christ during the Millennium. If we have believed Christ’s Word, received His gift of eternal life, and have looked for Christ’s coming and longed for His presence, then we have the blessed assurance of Jesus Christ.
THURSDAY: More of Revelation’s Beatitudes “Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” —Revelation 22:7, emphasis added Yesterday, we looked at the first five of seven beatitudes—the blessings in Revelation. Today, we will see the remaining two. The Sixth Beatitude—Christ’s Service: “Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7). There is great blessing and joy for those who heed God’s Word because obedience to Him is what Jesus longs for: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Never forget this point: you will find joy as you not only read and hear God’s Word but also keep it! As we keep His Word by the energy and power of the Holy Spirit, to the grace of Jesus Christ, we will have the blessing of Christ’s service. Serving Christ by obeying Him is both a joy and a blessing! This truth is well expressed by the lyrics of this song. There Is Joy in Serving Jesus There is joy in serving Jesus, as I journey on my way; Joy that fills the heart with praises ev’ry hour and ev’ry day. There is joy in serving Jesus, joy that triumphs over pain; Fills my soul with heaven’s music, till I join the glad refrain. There is joy in serving Jesus, as I walk alone with God; ‘Tis the joy of Christ, my Savior, Who the path of suff’ring trod. There is joy in serving Jesus, joy amid the darkest night; For I’ve learned the wondrous secret, and I’m walking in the light. Chorus: There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus; Joy that throbs within my heart
Ev’ry moment, ev’ry hour, as I draw upon His pow’r; There is joy, joy, joy that never shall depart. — Oswald J. Smith (1889–1986) The Seventh Beatitude—Christ’s Home: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). This verse emphasizes the fact that He will eternally sustain us. The home He has prepared for us is the happy result of getting that clean robe and having eternal access to the Tree of Life. Now look at 22:11: “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Some people struggle with this verse because they think it means: “If you are a sinner, stay a sinner.” But God is actually saying that in the eternal state there is no possibility of change. Consider Warren Wiersbe’s comments on this verse: Does Revelation 22:11 suggest that God does not want men to repent and change their ways? No, because that would be contrary to the message of Revelation and of the gospel itself. The angel’s words must be understood in light of the repeated statement, ‘Behold, I come quickly’ (Rev. 22:7, 12), as well as His statement, ‘For the time is at hand’ (Rev. 22:10). Jesus Christ’s coming will occur so quickly that men will not have time to change their characters. Revelation 22:11, therefore, is a solemn warning that decision determines character, and character determines destiny. Suffering believers might ask, ‘Is it worth it to live a godly life?’ John’s reply is, ‘Yes! Jesus is returning, and He will reward you!’ It is worth it to be righteous, [and] it is worth it to be holy but you won’t be able to wait till the last minute. When you see the Lord coming, it will be too late to say yes. You must choose Him now.3
FRIDAY: Worthy Is the Lamb! “ ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ ” —Revelation 5:12, emphasis added Today, I exhort you to step into the worship center of the universe! Through the eyes of the Apostle John, picture yourself standing in the vestibule and peering through the door into the chambers of the Most High. Gaze at the One who is seated on the eternal throne. As you watch, exalt God in your spirit as the endless praise ascends around His throne. Be still and know who it is before whom you stand. And then fall in love with Jesus all over again as He is at the center and focus of your worship! Through the Apostle John’s descriptions, listen to the choirs of angels in numberless circles about the glassy sea and heaven’s throne as they say His worthy praise. By faith’s eyes and ears, listen to those eternal creatures chant, “holy, holy, holy.” For “the four living creatures . . . do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).
Listen to the twenty-four elders as they fall down before He who sits on the throne, and cast their crowns before Him, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). Now see that band which no man can number singing their songs of adoration and praise: “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ Then the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 5:9–14). To worship the Lord God Almighty—who is worthy of all worship and praise—is your duty and purpose of existence. The Father seeks only one thing, and that is that you might worship Him. To truly worship Him is to acknowledge His “worthship” by ascribing to Him the honor, praise, glory, and majesty of which He is worthy. Do you really know Him, this Christ the Lord, who alone merits such praise? Oh, may God enable you to see Him, the Lamb that was slain, who alone is worthy to be praised by us who owe Him our all! In quiet reverence of this moment, I encourage you to worshipfully sing this song to our worthy Lamb. Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive Power and riches and wisdom and strength, Honor and glory and blessing! Worthy is the Lamb! Worthy is the Lamb! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! Worthy is the Lamb. —Don Wyrtzen (b. 1942)
SATURDAY: Experiencing Jesus “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” —John 17:3, emphasis added The mission that flows out of our loving fellowship, our spiritual growth, and our praise is that of being God’s faithful and obedient instruments in His divine plan to
redeem the world. That plan began in eternity past, before the foundation of the world. But it did not go into effect until Adam chose to sin, fell from fellowship with God, and was spiritually separated from Him. Since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, fallen, natural man has been trying to hide from God, and God has been redeeming men back to Himself. From that first time of sin, it has always been God who, solely out of His own gracious love, has taken the initiative to restore men to righteousness. God has always taken the initiative for man’s salvation and restoration, from His first call to Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9), to His last call in Revelation: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the Water of Life without cost” (Revelation 22:17).4 Revelation 22 ends the Word of God with the same themes of practical Christian living that have wound their way across most of God’s Holy Scriptures: keep the Word (vv. 6–11); serve God (vv. 12–14); avoid sin (vv. 15- 16); and watch for Jesus (vv. 17–21). The same Jesus that bids us come calls us to keep on the same path He starts us on, the path of grace through faith: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6). Make a Choice to Live in Hope: If you have not yet partaken of the Water of Life, choose to live in hope by drinking of Him, and you will find the first true satisfaction you have ever known in your life. I pray that if your garments are soiled with sins not atoned for that you would turn to the Savior today and say, “Your blood avails for me! Save me Jesus, and forgive me!” If you already have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus the Lord, may you keep His Word, and serve Him faithfully from now throughout all eternity. Be careful to turn from any sin that weighs you down so that you may live watching for Christ’s return. Ask God to continually fill your mind and heart with the wonders of who He is and to choose to live in such a way that you reflect His wonders in your life. When all is said and done, may He enable you to say, with all your heart, “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!” It is my deep prayer that you will fall in love with Jesus all over again as you reflect upon what He has in store for you—both in this age, and in the age to come. If we learn to live in hope by falling in love with Jesus over and over again we will be able to go through all the hardships, pains, and trials that life will bring. One of my favorite songs is “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” The author of this hymn once described the inspiration for these precious words. Her account reminds us of how much earthly good comes from being heavenly minded. When Civilla Martin, the author of this hymn, was visiting at a rest home she happened upon an elderly couple who shared that they were all alone on earth with no children, no family, and had outlived all their friends. But they had such radiance Civilla asked how they managed without despairing through such bleak days with no visitors and no events to ever plan for. They simply said, “How could we ever be discouraged when we know that if God’s eye is on a sparrow—He certainly will care for us!” That became the basis for this sweet song of living hope! May the message of its lyrics bring as much comfort and joy to your heart as it has to mine.
His Eye Is On the Sparrow Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Refrain: I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. —Civilla D. Martin (1866–1948) 1 Adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1997), Revelation 22.
2 Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record (Tyndale House, 1983), electronic edition, in loc.
3 Wiersbe, emphasis added.
4 John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), electronic edition, in loc.