Showing Mon Sep 30 - Sun Oct 20, 2019

2017 Series

Monday, September 30, 2019: Revelation 6

Reading Revelation, the final book of the Bible, can pose challenges. Revelation shows in complex and symbolic language the consummation of God’s plans for everything in and through Jesus Christ. Praying through Revelation, like running a grueling race, can be downright daunting. In our reading and praying through this intricate book about endings, stay focused on Jesus, who makes all things new, who is our beginning and our end, and the one who makes what is obscure clear by his illuminating grace (Revelation 22:13). Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, who has finished his course of salvation and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Connect what you read in Revelation to Jesus through prayer in the Holy Spirit. For in Christ all things, including our lives from birth to death to everlasting life, hold together in heaven and earth (Colossians 1:17). Realize that this is Jesus’s vision of victory over sin, death and the devil (Revelation 1:1). His final victory is our enduring hope even as together with Christ we persevere yet in faith and fight against all that is evil.

In Revelation chapter six, we see the famous four horses of the apocalypse. Apocalypse means unveiling or uncovering, and here Jesus Christ, the Word of God, is lifting the curtain of heaven and showing us how we will face tribulations as we approach the end of all things and the final judgment to come. Note with confidence verse one where Jesus, the Lamb of God, opens the seven seals. Jesus is in control. Seven in the Bible is the number of completion and here we see how sin will rage, but that Jesus is the final victor over sin, death and the devil. Reflect on how much suffering, injustice, we see all around us. Confess our own sins, our own indifference to seeing Jesus as ultimate Lord of all things in heaven and on earth. And then, with firm faith, see how Jesus promises us his white robe of forgiveness, life and salvation (Revelation 6:11).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Tuesday, October 1, 2019: Revelation 7

In this beautiful chapter we catch a wondrous glimpse of heaven. Let this vision radiate and renew your life today. Verses nine right through the end of this chapter are often read at Christian funerals. What comfort and joy this chapter gives even in the midst of death and grief. Take a look at heaven: a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the Lamb, clothed in white robes. What a sight. Way beyond words. This is our multicultural future in Christ: his gathered believers from around the world all praising God, saying in triumph: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ Praise be to God our Father, and Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in the Holy Spirit who promises to wipe every tear from our eyes. To him be the glory now and forever. Amen.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Wednesday, October 2, 2019: Revelation 8

We have encountered seven seals, now seven trumpets. Remember that seven in the Bible – going back to creation in the first book of the Scriptures, Genesis – signifies completion. From first to last, beginning and end, our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is firmly in control of all things. He is our creator and preserver. And even when the trumpet blasts symbolic signs that depict frightful occurrences of things past and things yet to come, we know without a doubt that Jesus is the victor. He is Lord and he will never leave or forsake us, not today, and not even when heaven and earth pass away.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Thursday, October 3, 2019: Revelation 9

In this chapter, we continue to hear dissonant blasts of trumpets heralding the end. There are strange portents and wild locusts looking like horses. What to make of all this? Repent. Give up putting our trust in anyone or anything other than God. Here in this chapter we also see in dramatic signs that our God will indeed punish sin and evil, immorality and selfishness. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Don’t put off today being made right with God and with others, especially those from whom we are estranged. Take our sin and need for Jesus seriously. And cling with endurance to Jesus Christ, his blood and righteousness.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Friday, October 4, 2019: Revelation 10

Talk about a stomachache! God gives John the scroll to eat. At first it tastes sweet, then turns bitter. The scroll signifies God’s Word, which speaks Law and Gospel. The Law shows us our sin. Temptations and sin at first taste sweet, then turn bitter unto despair. The Law shows us what we must do, and how we fail then to do what God commands. The Gospel shows us what God does, how he creates, redeems and sanctifies us. How Jesus dies and rises and will come again for our salvation. Being God’s messenger, John must record his visions of Law and Gospel for us. The Law shows us our own sin, which turns our stomachs with fear and loathing. Taste and see again today that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Be filled anew with Jesus Christ, the living Bread of Life. For whoever eats of this bread will live forever (John 6:51).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Saturday, October 5, 2019: Revelation 11

Here we see a hostile and fallen world, and our just and merciful God. There are many Biblical allusions in this chapter showing that while evil and sin may have their due, God will punish all wrongdoing and have the last word. Just browse the news and see how nations still rage, and there are wars and rumors of war (Matthew 24:6). Even in the midst of sin, evil and injustice, trust in our mighty God: for he has taken great power and begun to reign (Revelation 11:17). Be invigorated in this power of God today: how he governs and directs our lives from beginning to end.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Monday, October 7, 2019: Revelation 12

There be dragons! Supposedly in old maps, cartographers would draw dragons on unchartered areas and on the edges of the known world. Maps of our modern world are all filled in, and we know where everything is and how it all fits together. The dragon in this chapter is Satan. The Virgin Mary is the woman who also represents the church, the mother of all believers, God’s people of the Old and New Testament and today. The child born is Jesus. Unlike those old maps, which depicted fear of dragons and the unknown, we know the whole story from our beginning to end. In Jesus we see the big picture: everything is filled in for us and for our salvation. Although Satan wars against Jesus and his followers, we know that Jesus is victorious. Satan’s time is limited. By the power of Jesus, he is doomed. We should not fear Satan who wants us to stress and worry about the future. Therefore rejoice, our future is mapped out in Jesus, in his birth, death and resurrection, and safe and secure through faith in our living Lord: for we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Tuesday, October 8, 2019: Revelation 13

Satan goes by many names in the Bible: the Beast, Dragon, Beelzebub, Father of Lies, the Devil. He has many ways of enticing us: pride, vanity, power, lust, lying, gossip, envy, overindulgence, uncertainty, the list of temptations to sin and fall go on and on. In this chapter, we see Satan at work along with his number 666, or just short of 7, which is God’s number of completion. There’s nothing complete or perfect about Satan. He’s just a pathetic imitation of God’s flawless love. If you turn in the Lutheran Service Book to page 666 you find the hymn: ‘O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe.’ Let this hymn echo in your reflecting over and praying through this chapter as together with Jesus we confront and overcome Satan and his lies: ‘O little flock, fear not the foe, who madly seeks your overthrow; dread not his rage and power. And though your courage sometimes faints, his seeming triumph over God’s saints lasts but a little hour. Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer, Great Captain now thine arm make bare, fight for us once again! So shall thy saints and martyrs raise a mighty chorus to thy praise forevermore. Amen.’

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Wednesday, October 9, 2019: Revelation 14

‘Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12). As we read this chapter, may our prayer today be for endurance, that we persevere in trusting Jesus and in following the commandments of God. Although we will face tribulations and this life will often be far from easy, let us take heart in Jesus who has overcome the world through his death and resurrection and who will come again to judge the living and the dead. We pray that we would endure in faith in Christ and love for God and for our neighbors until our end. For as God’s Word boldly promises us: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them’ (Revelation 14:13).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Thursday, October 10, 2019: Revelation 15

Focus on the prayer of praise at the center of this chapter. Pray and live it out in your walk of faith today. Although our lives can often be tough, and things seem to go from bad to worse, remember the enduring Word of God: ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed’ (Revelation 15:3-4). For God our Father has revealed his salvation in the person and work of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our strength.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Friday, October 11, 2019: Revelation 16

In this chapter, we see God directing angels, his messengers, to pour out bowls of wrath upon the earth. All those who practice idolatry and who refuse to repent are afflicted with gruesome plagues. As the Psalmist prays: ‘For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away’ (Psalm 32:3). Our strength is dried up until we acknowledge our sin to God, when ‘we confess our transgressions unto the Lord’ (Psalm 32:5). Start this day with the strength of God which comes from confessing our sins to God our Father, and receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ, who sends us the Holy Spirit, who keeps us awake, alert and ready in love for Christ’s sudden return (Revelation 16:15). ‘Let us not become weary in doing good’ (Galatians 6:9).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Saturday, October 12, 2019: Revelation 17

In The City of God, the famous Christian theologian and pastor, Saint Augustine, describes two cities: the city of humanity and the city of God. The city of humanity dates back to Babel and includes Babylon and Rome and on and on. The city of God is from heaven and the abode of God and his followers (Revelation 21:2). This eternal house of God in heaven is not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1). Many scholars have identified the prostitute in this chapter and Babylon in the following chapter as the city of ancient Rome where many of the early Christians were persecuted for their faith and martyred. The city of humanity is fallen due to sin and twisted because of pride. Cities and empires like ancient Rome come and go. Eventually even our skyscrapers and stadiums will return to dust. ‘For at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:10-11). Be encouraged today for our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Through faith in Jesus, through his blood and righteousness, we freely receive the passport to the city of God, our ultimate heavenly home.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Monday, October 14, 2019: Revelation 18

Reading this chapter about the sins of Babylon and ancient Rome sounds a lot like the sins of New York City or our great cities today: injustice, immorality, overindulgence, drunk with passion, intoxicated with material things, lust for power and fickle fame. We reflect and confess how we too are part of this madness. Yet God in his justice and mercy overthrows this sin and violence. Evil will not go unpunished by God. Revelation shows us that in the end God is victorious through Jesus Christ. As we begin this new week, may this chapter remind us of who is really in charge of our cities, our world, our lives: God our heavenly Father who directs and governs all things for good according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Tuesday, October 15, 2019: Revelation 19

This chapter sings the song of the heavenly chorus, which beckons all those who endure in faith in Christ until the end. ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’ (Revelation 19:1). ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory’ (Revelation 19:6-7). Through our baptism into Christ, into his death, we have been raised to new and everlasting life, clothed with the fine linen of his righteousness now made ours (Romans 6:3-4; Revelation 19:8). Heaven is here described as the great marriage feast of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. When Jesus returns like a thief in the night, may we be found ready for his never-ending party (Revelation 16:15). Lord, grant us courage, give us fortitude in faith, persistence in love, to you alone be the glory now and forever. Amen.

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Wednesday, October 16, 2019: Revelation 20

As we near the end of the Bible, we near the end of all things when Christ will return and the dead will be raised. On Sundays in church we confess that Jesus Christ will come again to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end (Nicene Creed). This chapter concludes with the vision of the final judgment. Here we see everyone, all of the dead both great and small, standing before the throne of God. Those whose names are found written in the book of life will enter into God’s eternal presence and dwell in the new heaven and new earth, where there will be no more crying or pain or death, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4). Jesus is the author and perfecter of the faith (Hebrews 12:2). Through faith in Jesus, our names are written in his blood in his book of life. May we endure in this faith that Christ’s promise of everlasting life ever encourage us to love others and to make a difference for Jesus in the lives of those around us. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)


Thursday, October 17, 2019: Revelation 21

Here we have the final joy awaiting all those who endure in faith in Jesus until the end. This is Jesus Christ’s concluding revelation of love to us, his victory over sin, death and the devil for our salvation and everlasting welfare. Our Triune God makes all things new and gives to all those who persevere in faith in Christ the new beginning of the new heaven and new earth and the new city of God. This is our glorious future through faith in Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. In Jesus there is always more life ahead of us than behind us. Let this final amazing vision and promise of Jesus inspire us in hope and happiness. Rejoice and be glad that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

—Joshua Hollmann (Christ, Woodside)