October 1 - 31, 2017

October 1: The Real Reality

Ezekiel 1:1–3:15; Revelation 1:1–20; Job 32:1–10


John and Ezekiel open their prophetic books in a similar fashion—to prepare us for an unexpected view: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his slaves the things which must take place in a short time, and communicated it by sending it through his angel to his slave John, who testified about the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who hear the words of the prophecy and observe the things written in it, because the time is near!” (Rev 1:1–3). “And it was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, and I was in the midst of the exiles by the Kebar River. The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of the king Jehoiachin—the word of Yahweh came clearly to Ezekiel the son of Buzi, the priest, in the land of the Chaldeans at the Kebar River, and the hand of Yahweh was on him there” (Ezek 1:1–3). Both authors open with heavenly visions—God testifying to His people. Both place their prophecies in a particular setting, and both articulate their ideas during tragic, despairing times. We meet John on the island of Patmos, and we meet Ezekiel on a riverbank. But more important than where the visions start is where they take us: to a scenic overlook of reality, not as it appears, but as it is. God is about to reveal what’s really going on. Prophets speak truth about what others cannot see and urge them to heed that truth. John and Ezekiel call us to something greater, something unknown. They urge us to act as if time were running out—because it is. It’s only a matter of time until Jesus comes again. The visions of both these prophets declare that God wants to use us here and now for a grand purpose—one that we may not yet comprehend but that we must nonetheless embrace. Their message is clear: Our call may be difficult, but real reality demonstrates God working through the pain. He is bringing goodness into the world and into our lives. All we have to do is respond. What reality is God revealing to you today?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 2: When Love Is Lost, Labor Is in Vain

Ezekiel 3:16–5:17; Revelation 2:1–11; Job 32:11–22


When zeal lacks love, faith is rendered useless. Love is the crux of faith. We can study the Bible like a scholar, pray like a warrior, evangelize like the world is ending tomorrow, but we still might miss the mark of faith. God desires our love. The church in Ephesus, one of the most influential communities in the first century ad, patiently endured persecution and held on to their faith. But Ephesus is the first church that Jesus holds accountable in His revelation to John—and not for their lack of zeal: “And you have patient endurance, and have endured many things because of my name, and have not become weary. But I have this against you: that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the works you did at first. But if you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:3–5). Although the Ephesian church had remained outwardly faithful in formidable circumstances, Jesus still threatened to remove His favor. The community was doing everything right—maintaining orthodox standards, testing apostles, refusing to tolerate evil—but they no longer delighted in the grace that they first knew. They weren’t motivated by the same love. We hear the same reprimand when Paul writes to the church in Corinth: Even if we “speak with the tongues of men and angels” or “have the gift of prophecy” or have faith that “can remove mountains,” we are nothing without love (1 Cor 13:1–2). Paul continues with the poetry that speaks a hard but necessary truth: Even if we “parcel out all [our] possessions” and “hand over [our bodies] in order that [we] will be burned”—all without love—it doesn’t benefit us or earn us favor with God (1 Cor 13:3–4). These passages should shake us. If we are relying on our correct doctrines for approval, we need to take our cue from Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus. If we think our evangelizing efforts, our church involvement, or our Bible reading merit God’s favor, we are mistaken. Even our suffering profits us nothing without love. The grace God has shown us should break our hearts, drive us to Him, deepen our love—and motivate all of our labors. We must continually return to that grace. It’s His love that initially motivated our love. And it’s His love that sustains it. Have your labors lost their love? How can you dwell in His grace and love so that all your actions are infused with meaning?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 3: It Will Eat You Alive

Ezekiel 6:1–8:18; Revelation 2:12–29; Job 33:1–7


Idolatry eats at our souls. And God puts up with it for only so long. “And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face to the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them, and you must say, “Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Yahweh, thus says the Lord Yahweh to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys: ‘Look, I am bringing upon you the sword, and I will destroy your high places, and your altars will be desolate, and your incense altars will be broken, and I will throw down your slain ones before your idols, and I will place the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars’ ” (Ezek 6:1–6). Ezekiel portrays God’s view of the true nature of idolatry and the ramifications of living an idolatrous life. When people put wood and stone, or gadgets and entertainment, before their relationship with Yahweh, they are giving up the most valuable part of themselves. Today, most people place entertainment above God. We value celebrity more than Jesus. We may deny this, but if we closely examine how we spend our time and money, we find that we love our idols as much as the ancients did. How can we as Christians be instruments for the changes God wants to bring to the world if we conform ourselves to the expectations of our culture? Where we invest our time, assets, and attention reveals what we care about most. If we give ourselves over to worldly priorities instead of God’s, we deserve the same fate that Yahweh prophesied for the children of Israel in Ezek 6:1–6. But our good and gracious God wants to redeem us, and we should commit ourselves to seeking His blessing instead of His judgment (John 3:16–17; Rom 8). If we follow Him with our entire being—setting aside all that stands between us and Him—the world will look different. Idolatry will be revealed for what it is: a thief and a glutton, stealing the very lives God has in store for us. If we seek God with all our being, idolatry will hold no power over us. It will die from neglect while our lives take on new vitality as we boldly proclaim the glory of our life-giving God. What idols stand between you and the life God has for you?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 4: Defibrillators for Sardis

Ezekiel 9:1–11:25; Revelation 3:1–13; Job 33:8–18


We cover up the dead places in ourselves with all sorts of regalia. We fill the emptiness with fine clothing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, or relationships in which the other is set up as god. Underneath the trappings, though, we’re decaying. Of all the churches addressed in Revelation, the church in Sardis receives the most intense critique. Sardis was a wealthy city and a military stronghold. And the church, like the city, seemed to be alive and well. But Christ, speaking truth through John’s revelation, uncovers and names the decaying parts: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead. Be on the alert and strengthen the remaining things that are about to die, for I have not found your works completed before my God” (Rev 3:1–2). The community in Sardis needed more than a stern scolding. They needed immediate resuscitation. They had so compromised their faith that many among them were spiritually dead. Those parts not already dead were dying. And the façade only perpetuated continued decay. What was the answer? Was there hope for Sardis? Is there hope for us? Sardis could be brought back from the edge of death, but only through repentance: “Therefore remember how you have received and heard, and observe it, and repent” (Rev 3:3). Urgency is paramount: “Be on the alert,” Christ tells them. “I will come like a thief.” We have received the same instructions. Like Sardis, we might—if we try hard enough—meet others’ expectations. But we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. God sees our outward works, but He also knows our hidden hearts. Name your need, repent, and find hope in Christ, the only one who can fill the emptiness. In what areas of your life do you feel empty? How can you name your sin?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 5: Words and Actions

Ezekiel 12:1–13:23; Revelation 3:14–4:11; Job 33:19–28


Leading by example is a simple principle to understand, but it’s a very difficult one to live. The prophets were often called to lead by example, though doing so usually meant enduring suffering for others. “And the word of Yahweh came to me [Ezekiel], saying, ‘Son of man, you are dwelling in the midst of the house of rebellion who has eyes to see and they do not see; they have ears to hear, and they do not hear, for they are a house of rebellion. And you, son of man, prepare for yourself the baggage of an exile, and go into exile by day before their eyes. And you must go into exile from your place to another place before their eyes; perhaps they will see that they are a house of rebellion’ ” (Ezek 12:1–3). By witnessing God’s servant suffering, the people would be reminded of their rebellion and understand the gravity of God’s displeasure. In this situation, God prescribes exile as their punishment for rebelling against His requirements and forfeiting His calling for their lives. God’s prophet, Ezekiel, “pronounces” God’s punishment through actions. In doing so, he becomes a type of sufferer for the people. He does not deserve their punishment, and he does not pay it for them, but he demonstrates the price of sin as he leads by example. There is a time for words and a time for action. We all would do well to heed the words before the actions become necessary. We must also understand that, in our desire to emulate Christ, there are times we must go beyond warnings or advice and commit to bearing the burden for others—even suffering undeservedly on their behalf. We must show others what it means to follow Christ by acting as Christ would—giving unmerited grace even when it is costly. What actions must you take today? In what areas must you move words to deeds? Who can you sacrifice for today?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 6: We Want Out

Ezekiel 14:1–15:8; Revelation 5:1–14; Job 33:29–33


We’ve all had those moments when we just want out, when the chaos of life seems overwhelming. We want an end to the struggle with sin. We want relief from the things that are part of living in a broken world. We know Christ reigns, but we want what is “after these things” (Rev 4:1) right now. Living in the midst of persecution, the early believers must have experienced these emotions daily. In his revelation, John himself expresses the need for hope in chaos. When he sees a scroll in the hand of “the one who is seated on the throne” (Rev 5:1)—the Father—the apostle weeps because no one has been found worthy to open it. The scroll contains the things that will happen—the judgments that will remove evil and sin and set things right. Without someone worthy enough to open the scrolls, the chaos in the world will continue forever. But then the Lamb appears. In John’s revelation the 24 elders worship the Lamb for His work of redemption: “And they were singing a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and bought people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation, and made them a kingdom and priests to our God’ ” (Rev 5:9–10). It is Christ’s work that gives Him the authority to open the seals. As the Lamb who was slaughtered, He reversed death and the fate of those who believe in Him. He is responsible for setting all things right. This knowledge is incredibly comforting for us. God is the great chaos-fighter. Jesus has drawn us out of our own chaos with His sacrifice. He will help us live in the now—in a world that is often chaotic but will, in time, be set right. In the meantime, we can respond to His work of ordering our lives and the lives of those around us. And when we feel helpless and out of control, we can rely on the great chaos-fighter. Are you frustrated with your life circumstances? How can you approach difficult areas of your life knowing God will set all things right? How can you rest knowing Christ is at work, right now, in your life?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 7: Courage and the Truth

Ezekiel 16:1–63; Revelation 6:1–7:8; Job 34:1–15


Few people are brave enough to speak the truth when it could cost them their reputation. Even fewer have the courage to speak the truth when it could cost them everything. The prophets, however, set a different example. “And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, make known to Jerusalem its detestable things’ ” (Ezek 16:1–2). Yahweh commands Ezekiel to confront His people about their evil behavior and demand they repent. Most people aren’t happy to be criticized; many respond with open hostility. Charged with speaking on God’s behalf, the prophet must be courageous in the face of anger. Ezekiel declares, “Thus says the Lord Yahweh to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were from the land of the Canaanites, your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were not thoroughly washed clean with water, and you were not thoroughly rubbed with salt, and you were not carefully wrapped in strips of cloth. No eye took pity on you to do to you one of these things to show compassion for you, and you were thrown into the open field in their despising of you on the day you were born” (Ezek 16:3–5). Yahweh acknowledges the painful times His people have endured, but His description hints of disdain. The Israelites should have acted on their own to break from the Canaanites, the Amorites, and the Hittites—as they were commanded in an earlier era (e.g., Deut 1; Josh 1; compare Josh 10; Josh 24; Judg 1–2; Num 34–36). The people from these nations were leading the Israelites to follow other gods and to commit evil acts. But the children of Israel allowed the others to live among them. Instead of strengthening their borders and adhering to their worship of Yahweh, they allowed the outsiders to compromise their borders, and they adopted the religious practices of other nations time and time again (e.g., 1 Sam 10–11; 1 Kgs 13). The same could be said of many Christians today. God commands us to walk away from temptation, yet we wander back, looking for gaps in the border between right and wrong. Such situations are even sadder when other believers excuse the sin, leading many to live lives of perpetual disobedience. God not only wants us to separate ourselves from sin, He wants us to be victorious over it. He calls us to speak against the evil of our generation rather than excuse it. Through the power of God’s Spirit in us, we can fight sin inwardly, openly and courageously—despite what it may cost us. What perpetual sin is God asking you to break from? What should you have courage to speak up against?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 8: Absence of Pain, Presence of God

Ezekiel 17:1–18:32; Revelation 7:9–8:13; Job 34:16–30


When life is difficult, we often take refuge in knowing there’s a life to come—one in which we’ll be free from pain and the worries of this world. The thought brings us comfort. During the difficult times, the life to come might even be more appealing than the present. Revelation shows us a picture of what new life for those redeemed by Christ will look like: “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Because of this, they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will not be hungry any longer or be thirsty any longer, nor will the sun ever beat down on them, nor any heat” (Rev 7:14–16). In Revelation the life to come appears as a shelter from all the traumatic and stressful things afflicting the first-century church—hunger, thirst, and heat. Yet we shouldn’t simply define this new life as a time when we’ll be free from the stress and pain of this world. This new life is defined by God’s presence. The sacrifice of the Lamb has made life with God possible again. If we are clothed in His righteousness, we can stand before the throne of God. Revelation illustrates what our relationship with God is and is destined to be. We will serve Him day and night—as we were created to do—and He will shelter us. The Lamb will shelter and shepherd us, leading us to “springs of living waters” (Rev 7:17). When we long for relief, we might be yearning for a renewed sense of God’s presence among us. We long for His presence because it is free from difficulty and filled with His incredible love. What are you truly longing for?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 9: Judgment: It’s Tricky

Ezekiel 19:1–20:49; Revelation 9:1–21; Job 34:31–37


Judgment is both a curse and a blessing. If you judge others, you might be judged yourself—especially if you judge them incorrectly. Yet if you know how to judge right from wrong, you can discern truth from fiction. Although judgment can be a wretched thing, there is a time for it: When God has confirmed something in your heart, and the Bible verifies your view, you must stand up for it. When Jesus tells us not to judge, He is not declaring that we should be passive (see Matt 7:1–6; see also Matt 7:15–23, where He condemns false prophets and false followers). Instead, Jesus is saying that we should be careful about what we say and do, for we could be the one at fault. Ezekiel also deals with the very fine line of judgment. Yahweh says to him, “Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man?” (Ezek 20:4). This question implies the very point Jesus makes: Is Ezekiel capable of dealing out judgment? Certainly not, but with the power of Yahweh, he can speak the truth. Yahweh goes on, “Make known to them the detestable things of their ancestors” (Ezek 20:4). He follows this with a commentary on “the detestable things” accompanied by a comparison to how Yahweh has treated His people despite their disobedience (Ezek 20:5–8). Judgment is tricky, but fear of “getting it wrong” should not keep us quiet in the midst of misdeeds and misconduct. Instead, we must speak up—let’s just be sure that we first pray and examine our thoughts in light of the Bible. What have you previously been quiet about that you should speak up against?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 10: The Power behind the Drama

Ezekiel 21:1–22:31; Revelation 10:1–11; Job 35:1–8


The concerns that make up our mini-narratives can sometimes distract us from the great drama in which we have been cast. When a mighty angel appears with a scroll in John’s revelation, the apostle’s part in God’s great redemptive drama suddenly becomes very clear. He swaps his role of scribe for that of actor, speaking God’s very words:“And I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll, and he said to me, ‘Take and eat it up, and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.’ And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it up, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth, and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, ‘It is necessary for you to prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings’ ” (Rev 10:9–11). John’s new task parallels the prophet Ezekiel’s call to speak God’s words. The prophet eats a scroll to internalize and speak the words of Yahweh, which turn sweet in his mouth (Ezek 2:8–36; see Psa 119:103; Jer 15:16). The words of God are also sweet for John, but the bitterness that follows reveals that a two-fold judgment is coming. God’s words are sweet and comforting for the believers, but they also bring judgment. John has seen what lies behind the curtain, and he is charged with making this drama known to all—even to those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the Author. John was charged with bringing the things he had learned to the people and nations of the earth. Today we are all cast in this drama of God’s redemptive work. Our individual narratives should be informed by His greater drama—they should be seamlessly intertwined so that we display His creative and redemptive work. We should, together with John, profess this truth to all those we encounter. How are you testifying about the God who brings both comfort and judgment?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 11: Greener Grasses

Ezekiel 23:1–49; Revelation 11:1–14; Job 35:9–16


When God’s people turn from Him, the biblical story becomes solemn, sad, and explicit. “Now as for their names, the older was Oholah, and Oholibah was her sister. And they became mine, and they bore sons and daughters, and their names are Samaria for Oholah, and Jerusalem for Oholibah. And Oholah prostituted herself while she was still mine [being Yahweh’s], and she lusted for her lovers, for Assyria who was nearby.… Therefore I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians after whom she lusted” (Ezek 23:4–5, 9). There is a firm rebuke in Yahweh’s words spoken through Ezekiel—the sin becomes the punishment. But this sad picture also reveals Yahweh’s perspective and the pain that He feels when we walk away from Him. Ezekiel’s words should prompt us to ask questions. How often have we been blinded by our lust for “greener grasses”? How often have we sacrificed God’s plan and potential for our lives at the altar of selfish desires? How often has “want” controlled us to the point of betraying the God who created us? Our remorse should guide us into making better choices. We can walk away from the pursuit of our own desires and walk into the life that Yahweh offers us. The “two witnesses” in Rev 11:1–14 make this very decision. Appalled by the horrifying scene of their generation (e.g., Rev 9:13–21), they find hope and power in seeking Yahweh. Rather than allowing the evil of their generation to control or change them, they seek Yahweh. For doing so, they inherit power to do His work (Rev 11:2–6). Each sad moment in history—indeed every single moment—is an opportunity to do the will of God. Today we have an opportunity to deny the narrative of our generation (and previous ones) in favor of God. What selfish desires is God overturning in your life?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 12: Kingdom Politics

Ezekiel 24:1–25:17; Revelation 11:15–12:17; Job 36:1–12


We sometimes jump on the bandwagon with politics. Yet if we put our full trust in political candidates, or believe their rise to power is an indication of our future—a common campaign platform—we’re putting our hope in something transitory. No earthly person or kingdom has absolute rule. The book of Revelation portrays this in a surprising way. In the last book of the Bible, God’s judgment is loosed, and it can be overwhelming to read and interpret. Six trumpets, blown consecutively by angels, unleash God’s judgment. When the seventh trumpet blows, we expect judgment to be set in motion yet again. Instead, a loud voice from heaven announces a different, glorious event: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15). This seems like a strange turn of events, but it’s the culmination of plans and actions that have been happening all along. The initiation of God’s kingdom is prophesied throughout the Bible, and it is presented in John’s vision to bring hope. All of God’s judgments have a purpose. They terminate an old way of life to usher in a new one—a life guided by the eternal reign of God. In some ways, the arrival of God’s kingdom is a judgment—it’s a judgment on all other kingdoms. John’s vision would have been a comforting reminder to the early church that the kingdoms of this age are transitory. Their flawed, corrupt rule is not forever. And while the kingdoms of the world come and go, God’s kingdom will never end. We can be hopeful, then, in hopeless situations. We need not feel morose or hopeless when the factions and kingdoms of the world struggle and disappoint. God’s eternal kingdom—His exclusive, righteous rule—is our hope. How are you living like a member of God’s kingdom, not the kingdom of this world?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 13: The Last Person You Would Expect

Ezekiel 26:1–27:36; Revelation 13:1–10; Job 36:13–23


Yahweh is capable of doing anything and everything He pleases. If He were not a good God, this would be deeply frightening, but considering His wonderful character, this is comforting. In Ezekiel 26:1–6, Yahweh describes the sins of Tyre and His plans against the powerful Phoenician city-state. The people of Tyre are arrogant. They do as they please, usually to the detriment of other people. Yahweh refuses to put up with this any longer. When He finally destroys Tyre, He does it through unexpected means: Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 605–562 bc. Despite Nebuchadnezzar’s cruel and ruthless nature, Yahweh uses him to enact punishment on Tyre (Ezek 26:7). Stories like this make me wonder how written prophecy would look today. How often would we see God use people without their realizing it? How many evil-hearted people have been used for a larger and better purpose? We’re never really certain how God is acting. We learn bits of information through prayer and the Bible, but only He knows what outcome He will produce. We know the trajectory—Christ’s full reign on earth and the admonishment of evil (e.g., the destruction of the beast in Rev 13:1–10)—but we don’t know precisely how that will play out. There is no easy answer to this perplexing question, but what is certain is that Yahweh will ultimately carry out His will in the world. And His will might come in unexpected ways. No one can know the mind of God but God Himself. So when we pray, let’s pray for the miracle, not for the means. How do you perceive God acting in your life and the lives of others? What miracle should you be praying for?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 14: Persist, Don’t Just Exist

Ezekiel 28:1–29:21; Revelation 13:11–14:13; Job 36:24–33


The phrase “patient endurance” brings to mind the pasted-on smile of a parent regarding a misbehaving child—a parent clinging to the hope that someday this stage will pass. In Revelation the term is used in a much different way. “Here is the patient endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12). The statement is set in the context of judgment. Here the phrase requires more than simply sitting still and enduring persecution. It’s intended to encourage first-century believers to actively abandon the sins of the day: idolatry, pride, oppression. Encouraging patient endurance was a call for early Christians to persevere by pursuing righteousness—to follow Christ faithfully even while enduring a period of suffering (Rev 14:12). Patient endurance is active persistence, loyalty, and discernment. We get this sense as John continues: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!” ’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘in order that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow after them’ ” (Rev 14:13). Rest comes later. Right now, when we suffer trials, God asks us to live lives that reflect our loyalty to Him. This loyalty and these deeds are motivated by hope that He provides—especially through the death of Christ. When you think about patiently enduring trials to your faith, you don’t have to regard yourself as a victim. Persist because of the hope you’ve been given and in which God continues to uphold you. Faith doesn’t sit still. How are you patiently enduring?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 15: Picturing God

Ezekiel 30:1–31:18; Revelation 14:14–15:8; Job 37:1–8


If you were to ask five people at random, “How do you picture God?” you would receive five very different answers. A social network prompt to “describe God in one word” confirms this idea: It resulted in more than 50 answers. For John, that one word was logos or “Word.” Ultimately, God is far too complex to fit into human language. His personality is too diverse to capture in a painting. His intricacy of character far surpasses ours. God is able to feel the full spectrum of emotion and able to articulate who He is using the full spectrum of vocabulary. He is able to encounter us in any way He sees fit. Where we may be able to change only our hair color, glasses, or general way of speaking, He can change anything. Throughout the books of Ezekiel and Revelation, we see diverse descriptions of God. They are so different that they could, by analogy, range from a mannerist painting of Jesus to a surrealist or modern one. Ezekiel 30:1–8 depicts Yahweh as a warrior, whereas in Rev 14:14–20, we see God using messengers to glean a crop and bring fire. The images vary even more when we peek into the next chapter, where a warring God sends His angels to bring plagues (Rev 15:1–8). There is not one depiction of God in the Bible, and any attempt to create one is an ill-conceived effort. We know much about Him, but we’re not capable of understanding Him fully. As we attempt to picture God, we should be aware that our words about Him and visions of Him are shortsighted compared to who He actually is. Yet one thing we do know for certain is that He, our indescribable creator, desires to enter into relationship with His creation (e.g., John 15–17). How do you picture God? How do you describe Him?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 16: Mercy and Judgment

Ezekiel 32:1–33:33; Revelation 16:1–21; Job 37:9–15


“God is judge,” we like to say—especially when someone is struggling with injustice. When we get to the book of Revelation, though, we might struggle to understand God’s judgment. Yet even as John describes God dispensing judgment, he emphasizes God’s righteousness and loving nature. He tells us we should not forget that God is a righteous judge. The Bible is unapologetic and straightforward when speaking about God’s judgment. This is especially true in Revelation. Here the judgment God exacts echoes the plagues that He sent on Pharaoh and Egypt in the book of Exodus—blood, darkness, fiery hail, and locusts. Although Pharaoh was given multiple opportunities to obey God’s request, he still chose his own way. By turning the bodies of water into blood, God spoke what Pharaoh should have realized: “By this you will know that I am Yahweh” (Exod 7:17). Revelation 16 pronounces God righteous not in spite of His judgment, but because of it (Rev 16:5). We might be tempted to question God’s judgment, but Revelation shows us that His judgment displays His righteousness. Revelation also shows God’s love for and protection of the saints—that His judgment is vengeance for their blood (Rev 16:6). Those who receive judgment in Revelation express fierce opposition to God in their blasphemy. They rebel even to the end: “And people were burned up by the great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has the authority over these plagues, and they did not repent to give him glory” (Rev 16:9). When other judgments come, the responses are the same (see also Rev 16:11, 21). Nothing hints at repentance. God’s judgment is not arbitrary, and His willingness to show mercy is great. Throughout the Bible, we hear about His longsuffering nature and His mercy that extends to a thousand generations. When we speak of His judgment, we should not diminish His mercy. We should speak carefully about God as a righteous judge, but we should balance and outweigh these statements by speaking of His longsuffering nature and incredible love. How do you carefully weigh words about God’s judgment?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 17: Shepherding Is a Tough Business

Ezekiel 34:1–35:15; Revelation 17:1–18; Job 37:16–24


Leadership requires accountability, yet many leaders of the past considered themselves above rebuke. Even when their deeds failed to catch up to them in their own lifetimes, history judged them clearly. History often remembers and records people as they really are. And if history doesn’t recall the truth, God does. Ezekiel was firm in his rebuke of the leaders of his time—Yahweh commanded him to be: “And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, “Thus says the Lord Yahweh: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who were feeding themselves! Must not the shepherds feed the flock? The fat you eat, and you clothe yourself with the wool; the well-nourished animals you slaughter, but you do not feed the flock’ ” (Ezek 34:1–3). During Ezekiel’s lifetime, the leaders of God’s people were not being leaders at all. They were looking out for themselves rather than the good of the people. The same is true of leaders in our own time. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, as John Dalberg-Acton remarked, than surely we are all at risk of losing our way. Rather than responding with dismay, we should determine to take right action and speak the truth. We must be people who seek God above ourselves. We must be people who put the needs of others before our own. We must want the glory of God among all people, above all things. We are all leading in one way or another, and others are watching us. That gives each of us an opportunity to lead by example. And any leader who is led by something other than God’s will ends up corrupt. Ezekiel’s criticism presents us an opportunity to change—to accept our rebuke and choose to live above reproach. Will we take it? How should you change your approach to leading others in light of Ezekiel’s rebuke? What needs to change for you to live above reproach?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 18: A New Way of Being

Ezekiel 36:1–37:28; Revelation 18:1–24; Job 38:1–11


God calls us to live lives that are distinguished by His light, clearly separate from our old way of being. He wants to make us a new creation by separating the light from the darkness within our own hearts. In Revelation, John describes God calling His people out of Babylon: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out from her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins, and so that you will not receive her plagues, because her sins have reached up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes’ ” (Rev 18:4–5). Sometimes we can be separated from our former ways of living in the literal sense, but the light has not yet pierced our hearts. We still live in “Babylon” because it exists right where we are. While we have inflated our position, we’ve failed to let God’s light pierce our lives. We’ve failed to live lives that respond to His work. Becoming separate involves putting off the old ways of thinking, acting, and being. It involves clinging to Christ, who brings light and renewal to our lives. Christ’s sacrifice has reversed death and punishment so that He can bring us new life. We are called to be separate not for our own sake and our own reputation, but so we can proclaim Christ’s work in our lives. Ultimately, it’s about pointing others toward Him: “For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, ‘Light will shine out of darkness,’ is the one who has shined in our hearts for the enlightenment of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:5). How is your life reflecting the work of Christ?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 19: Big Picture Hope

Ezekiel 38:1–39:24; Revelation 19:1–10; Job 38:12–24


Some Bible passages are so perplexing that we’re not really sure what to make of them. Such is the case with Ezek 38:1–39:24. As we closely examine this text, we can easily lose sight of its message. We can find ourselves so lost in the details that the big picture becomes fuzzy. So what is the big picture presented in this passage? God is on the side of His people; He will fight for them. This message is comforting. We all experience times when we feel like an ancient Israelite, lost and wandering in the desert. We go through times when we’re not sure what’s next or how it will all end up. But when we realize that God is there to war on our behalf—even in the midst of supreme chaos and paradise interrupted (compare Ezek 37)—our viewpoint quickly shifts. When we feel as though we’re blindly grasping for answers in the smoke that is the future, startling realizations like the type Ezekiel envisions can provide us with the hope we need (compare Heb 11:1). The book of Revelation casts similar visions. After the lament over Babylon and all the “woes,” John the Apostle experiences rejoicing in heaven—salvation has arrived: “After these things I heard something like the loud sound of a great crowd in heaven saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous, because he has passed judgment on the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his slaves shed by her hand!’ ” (Rev 19:1–2). The big picture of the confusing passages of the Bible is indeed big. God is bringing judgment against the evil in the world and ushering in His great and glorious salvation. He will war on our behalf against all we fear. He has, and will, fight for us. He is a glorious and powerful God, worthy of praise. What is the big picture of the current situation you’re dealing with? How does it give you hope?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 20: It Has Been Granted to You

Ezekiel 39:25–40:49; Revelation 19:11–20:6; Job 38:25–33


“It has been granted to her that she be dressed in bright, clean fine linen” (Rev 19:8), announces a voice from heaven in John’s revelation. The voice describes the bride who waits in anticipation—representing the believers who wait in expectation of being reunited with Christ. The text contrasts the fine linen of the bride with the purple and scarlet cloth of the harlot, Babylon, who represents all that oppose God’s reign (Rev 18:16). The harlot receives criticism for her infidelity: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.… For all the nations have drunk from the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich from the power of her sensuality” (Rev 18:2–3). But the cry goes out in and among Babylon: “Come out from her, my people” (Rev 18:4). The bride, who is preparing herself for the wedding celebration of the Lamb (Rev 19:7), responds to the call to remain pure—to avoid the temptations of the age. She is given the opportunity to dress herself in bright, clean fine linen, representing “the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev 19:8). These deeds do not earn the bride her righteous standing before the Lamb, but they speak of a life that is transformed. In Revelation, John uses this imagery to entreat the early believers to live righteously while awaiting the hope promised them. Christ has won the victory for us—the final conquering of sin and evil is imminent. We are empowered to live for Him now, to prepare ourselves for the day when we will have our reward: His presence. How does your expectation of Christ’s coming help you live for Him now?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 21: Visions of Grandeur

Ezekiel 41:1–42:20; Revelation 20:7–21:8; Job 38:34–41


In times of struggle, a vision of grander glory is often enough to move us beyond our current circumstances. We find encouragement in glimpsing the vastness and power of God’s plan. When Ezekiel and God’s people are weary and desperate for hope, God gives His prophet an unusual vision: He shows Ezekiel the temple—not as it is, but as it should be. The temple symbolizes Yahweh’s presence among His people. It points them toward proper worship and life. It reminds them not only of who He is, but who they are meant to be. As we tour the temple with Ezekiel, we see that God intends to restore not only the temple, but also proper worship (Ezek 40:1–42:20). John the apostle’s vision recorded in Revelation echoes Ezekiel’s: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea did not exist any longer. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:1–2). This new Jerusalem, this new hope, promises restoration, revitalization, and reconciliation. It’s more than just a structure—it is a way of being. When Yahweh casts visions of this life restored, He shows His people that He cares deeply about His relationship with them. He will make it right. He will enact His plan through Jesus, the bridge and the reason why God can proclaim, “Behold, I am making all things new!” (Rev 21:5). This is our hope, now and always. How do Ezekiel’s and John’s visions of the future give you hope? How should your relationship with God change in light of this?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 22: The New Jerusalem

Ezekiel 43:1–44:31; Revelation 21:9–27; Job 39:1–10


We are being made new. God is working in us now, and He will one day complete His work. Scripture speaks of the ultimate hope of this renewal: our reunion with God. For the first-century Jews, the new Jerusalem signified God once again dwelling with His people. In his revelation, John describes the relationship between God and His people when He completes His work in us: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with humanity, and he will take up residence with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them. And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any longer, and mourning or wailing or pain will not exist any longer. The former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3–4). The Lamb of God has achieved this picture of new creation and dwelling in God’s presence. His light is present throughout the imagery: “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon, that they shine on it, for the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev 21:23). Because of the Lamb’s sacrifice, the former things have passed away. God will make you completely new—free from sin, suffering, and pain. You are in transformation right now; He is shining His light in your life, exposing the darkness and separating it from the light. And someday you will stand before Him without fear of sin or pain or death or sorrow—a work of new creation. How are you, like the recipients of John’s revelation, living in expectation of being made new? How is God making you new today? What area of your life needs to reflect His work in you?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 23: The Time, Space, and Money Continuum

Ezekiel 45:1–46:24; Revelation 22:1–21; Job 39:11–23


When we think of setting things apart for God, we usually think of money first. But what about our time or even a place? Ezekiel 45:1 speaks of setting aside land for God: “And when you allocate the land as an inheritance, you shall provide a contribution for Yahweh as a holy portion from the land, its length being twenty-five thousand cubits and its width ten thousand cubits; it is holy in all its territory, all around” (Ezek 45:1). We’re comfortable with the idea of donating money; we recognize that others need our help and our churches need our support. But there are other reasons for giving. Giving itself is a righteous and perhaps sacred act. It forces us to acknowledge that all we have belongs to God—He is the provider. Giving puts us in right standing before God in a powerful way. Similarly, allocating time and space to God helps us understand our place before Him. When we designate a particular time for God, or a particular place for meeting Him—such as a prayer room or a particular chair to sit in when we pray—we acknowledge that He deserves a special place in our lives. Like giving, setting aside these times and places can help us glimpse what our relationship with God is meant to be. It gives us an opportunity to envision a better future fueled by a relationship with God. It gives us the energy (and the reminder) we need to follow God’s will. Giving helps us see how things can and will be (e.g., Rev 22:1–3). What should you set apart for God?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 24: Constantly in Prayer

Ezekiel 47:1–48:35; 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10; Job 39:24–40:2


Desperate circumstances often dictate our prayers. We pray for others when they’re in need, or we thank God for others when they fill our needs. But how often do we thank God for the faith of those around us? When Paul writes to the believers in Thessalonica, he opens by saying, “We give thanks to God always concerning all of you, making mention constantly in our prayers” (1 Thess 1:2). Paul and his disciples thank God for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (1 Thess 1:3). Those who appear to be moving along well by our standards may be struggling in their faith. Other believers, just like us, go through ebbs and flows in their journey. It shouldn’t take a catastrophe for us to recognize their need for prayer. We can learn something from Paul, a church planter and disciple maker who was no doubt keenly aware of the growth and struggles of the believers he mentored. For those of us who are less observant, these struggles may simmer underneath our radar. We should stop and take notice of the faith journeys of the people around us—people in our churches, our schools, and our workplaces. For whom can you thank God today? Who needs your observant prayers today?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 25: Good Opportunities and Difficult Decisions

Daniel 1:1–2:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:1–3:5; Job 40:3–12


When Daniel is invited to dine at the king’s table—a great honor reserved for the favored (Dan 1:1–4)—he turns down the offer. Instead of eating food and wine fit for a king, Daniel and the other Israelites settle on a diet of vegetables and water (Dan 1:12). Daniel’s decision seems to contradict human nature. When a good situation comes along (like being invited to eat at the royal table), we often jump at the chance. Yet in doing so, we may fail to consider the ramifications. Daniel knows that eating at the king’s table means compromising Yahweh’s commands against eating certain foods. So when he’s offered a great opportunity, he is bold enough to say no and to offer an alternative (Dan 1:10–14). Daniel knows that God will provide for those who love Him. He also knows that being in God’s will is more important than anything else, even if it means facing opposition. Paul’s statement in 1 Thess 2:2 demonstrates that he understood this as well: “But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi … we had the courage in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.” Opposition did not deter Paul from doing what was right in God’s eyes, just as it didn’t prevent Daniel from keeping God’s commands. When we’re faced with the promises of this world, how do we react? Do we boldly pursue money, fame, or power? Or do we deny these things for the sake of following God’s will? The purpose to which we’ve been called is too important to be set aside for things that will fade over time. We must be willing to face opposition boldly instead of pursuing what the world has to offer. Even when we have to depend on a miracle—as Daniel depended on God to keep him healthy when others were eating better food—we must make God’s will the priority. No matter how difficult it becomes, we have to seek God’s will. When we consider that our relationship with God is eternal, what matters is not the opinion of one king, but the opinion of the King of the universe. What opportunities do you have that are not God’s will?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 26: Red Ropes and Restricted Access

Daniel 2:17–3:30; 1 Thessalonians 3:6–4:12; Job 40:13–24


I often want to keep certain areas of my life roped off. God can reign over some of my relationships, but not to the extent that I need to make gut-wrenching decisions to fall in line with His will. God can move in my Bible study, but I keep the chaos of my work life outside the bounds of His sovereignty. I am in charge, I think, and I allow only restricted access. We might not readily admit it, but subconsciously we often operate with this mindset. Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about the nature of faith. He spent time with the believers in Thessalonica, instructing them about God and life. He now sends word to encourage them to move along in faith. “We ask you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus that, just as you have received from us how it is necessary for you to live and to please God, just as indeed you are living, that you progress even more” (1 Thess 4:1). He continues to instruct them in sanctification—the work of becoming holy by serving God, loving God, and loving others. Even though he is grateful for the Thessalonian believers’ faith, Paul doesn’t want them to remain at a standstill. He doesn’t want his example to be their measuring rod. He turns the believers over to Christ, entreating them to pursue Him. God doesn’t expect us to meet a faith quota. He wants to claim all areas of our lives fully for Himself. This is not an option; it is “necessary for you to live and to please God” (1 Thess 4:1). Nothing escapes His notice or His attention. But He doesn’t expect us to go about this work on our own—that would only result in disaster. He gives us His Spirit, through whom He continues to form and shape us. Whether it’s our relationships, our work life, or our time spent studying and pondering His Word, God expects our total allegiance. Do you want to allow God only restricted access to your life? Pray today about an area of your life that needs to be transformed.

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 27: Dreams of Redemption

Daniel 4:1–37; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11; Job 41:1–9


I’ve known people who seemed beyond saving—who seemed to have gone too far down the wrong path to ever turn to the right one. But in the Bible we see that this is not the case. God is capable of turning anyone’s heart. One of the most shocking examples is Nebuchadnezzar. In a decree to all the nations he rules (and perhaps other nations as well), Nebuchadnezzar remarks: “It is pleasing to me to recount the signs and wonders that the Most High God worked for me. How great are his signs and wonders, how strong is his kingdom, an everlasting kingdom; and his sovereignty is from generation to generation” (Dan 4:2–3). He then goes on to recount a dream that Yahweh planted in his mind. Before Nebuchadnezzar experiences redemption, he tastes humiliation and endures great trials (Dan 4:28–33). But Yahweh does not intend to merely humble the king—He intends to make him a righteous man who can be used for His good purposes. We don’t know whether Nebuchadnezzar ever fully accepts Yahweh as his God and turns from his evil practices, but it does seem that he experiences repentance: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and then my reason returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and the one who lives forever I praised and I honored” (Dan 4:34). In return, God restores him. We can never predict how God will use people, and at times we may be shocked by whom He uses. Some people we think are lost may end up being found after all. Let’s dream of redemption for those who need it most. What people in your life need redemption? For whom are you praying? Have you lost hope about anyone God may still redeem?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 28: Respect

Daniel 5:1–6:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28; Job 41:10–20


Instead of easing the burdens of our church leaders, we often add to them. The sometimes thankless job of ministry is weighed down with our taking and not giving, our complaining, and our squirming under authority. We can see from Paul’s letters that church communities haven’t changed much since the first century. In his letter to the believers in Thessalonica, Paul requests: “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and rule over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them beyond all measure in love, because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess 5:12). A passage like this might convict us for our bad attitude or lack of service. We might make a greater effort to love and respect those who are in positions of authority. Or we might try to ease the load of our leaders by serving in our communities. But unless we address the disorder within our hearts, our efforts won’t lead to the peace that Paul commands. In Thessalonica, members of the community seem to have had a problem with authority. After Paul urges them to “be at peace” (1 Thess 5:12), he tells them to “admonish the disorderly” (1 Thess 5:14). He demonstrates that the problem is deeper—it rests within the natural chaos of our own hearts. It’s easy to find creative ways to be disorderly and compound this chaos—passive-aggressive behavior, defensiveness, or cynicism. Yet Paul says, “see to it that no one pays back evil for evil” (1 Thess 5:15). The disorder of our hearts and minds needs to be transformed. Only when we are presented with a true picture of ourselves and a true picture of what God has done for us can we begin to understand the chaos in our hearts. Only when God rules our chaos can we be an agent of peace in our communities. How can you relieve the burdens of leaders in your community? What needs to change about your attitude toward them?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 29: Apocalyptic at Its Best

Daniel 7:1–8:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:1–12; Job 41:21–34


Daniel is full of spooky scenes. If Daniel doesn’t scare you a bit, you’ve probably watched too many horror movies. Apocalyptic literature in the Bible has a way of playing tricks on us. It’s full of vivid imagery that can be haunting—and that’s intentional. The pictures it paints are meant to stay with us. We’re meant to remember what these passages are teaching. Of course, the same can be said of the entire Bible, but apocalyptic literature is especially vivid because its message requires us to choose: to follow or to turn away from God at the most important time—the end. The dreams Daniel has, including those recorded in Dan 7:3–14, are images of what is and is to come. The beasts in Daniel were evocative symbols for his audience. When they heard of the lion with eagles, they envisioned Babylon (Dan 7:4). When the bear appeared, they thought of Media (Dan 7:5). Likewise, the leopard with four wings and heads symbolized Persia (Dan 7:6). And the ten-horned beast with iron teeth represented Greece (see Dan 7:7; see also Dan 2). These beasts would become memory devices for Daniel’s audience. Later, when Greece entered the scene, the people could say, “I won’t follow the empire, for they are evil. Like a ten-horned beast with iron teeth, the empire will maul us and eat us alive.” When we misread large sections of the Bible, such as apocalyptic literature, we lose sight of what matters most about it: remembering the truth. Daniel wanted us to call it like it is. If we see evil, we need to remember that it will destroy us. We need to remember the vividness of Daniel’s descriptions. Evil can, and will, capture us if we compromise. But our good God is here as our guide—let’s lean on Him. Where are you currently compromising?

JOHN D. BARRY


October 30: An Obstructed View

Daniel 9:1–10:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–17; Job 42:1–9


We need to see ourselves as we truly are, but we can’t do that on our own. Our communities can help us glimpse a more accurate reflection, but we truly know ourselves only when we know God. His light brings us understanding. After suffering incredible loss, Job tries to understand his pain. He speaks some truth, but he often misunderstands God’s motives and minimizes His love. As his friends try to help him grapple with his grief, they sometimes point out truth, but more often they cause even more pain and confusion. It’s only when God arrives to enlighten Job’s understanding that everything changes. First God questions Job’s knowledge (Job 38:19–21), power (Job 38:25–38), and ideas about justice (Job 40:10–12). Then He shows Job that He is all of these things. The realization exposes Job’s heart. “Then Job answered Yahweh and said, ‘I know that you can do all things, and any scheme from you will not be thwarted. “Who is this darkening counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I uttered, but I did not understand; things too wonderful for me, but I did not know. “Hear and I will speak; I will question you, then inform me.” By the ear’s hearing I heard of you, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes’ ” (Job 42:1–6). We might struggle to understand our frailty before a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful. We might be blinded by pride and self-righteousness, which can hinder us from seeing our need for God. But it is only then that we discover how we can be redeemed from our needy state. Although God had never stopped loving Job, He further demonstrated His love by blessing Job once again. We can be convinced of God’s love for us because He sent His only Son to die for our sins. Although He is great and we are small, He was willing to die for our sins. We can be assured of His love for us. What area of your life is filled with pride? How can you humbly allow God to expose who you truly are?

REBECCA VAN NOORD


October 31: Speaking the Truth

Daniel 11:1–12:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1–18; Job 42:10–17


“And now I will reveal the truth to you” (Dan 11:2). How much better would our world be if more of us were willing to take this kind of stand—to make these kinds of statements? The truth Daniel refers to are the prophecies foretelling what will happen in the Persian Empire. Great power and wealth are coming, and with them comes the fear of how that power and wealth may be used. If we read between the lines of the prophet’s statements in Dan 11, we can feel the trepidation. He is concerned that wickedness will once again sweep over the land. Such was the case for Paul: “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may progress and be honored … and that we may be delivered from evil and wicked people, for not all have the faith” (2 Thess 3:1–2). Paul was aware that unbelievers would seek his life. He wasn’t sure what the future would look like. We can imagine the fear that he must have felt, wondering, “What is next? What is coming? Who is my friend? Who is my enemy?” If you have ever been in a situation where it seems you have more enemies than friends, you know that speaking the truth becomes increasingly difficult over time. The prophecies in Dan 11 suggest a time like this, and Paul’s words tell us that life for the early Christians was uncertain. Many Christians today lead relatively safe and easy lives. For Christians in some parts of the world, though, Paul’s situation is far too familiar. But no matter our present situation, we must boldly speak the truth. What is God asking you to say?

JOHN D. BARRY


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