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2-A-DAY Reflections | Week of December 1

December 4 2014 at 12:16 pm 0 Comments

More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 4 | Revelation 1
Reflections on Revelation 1
By Vincenzo Russillo

Today’s passage contains detailed description of the securities that were given to the Lord Jesus (vv. 5-6) and are just 7 (the sacred number in the Bible):

1. He is the faithful witness. Jesus is the only reliable source that testifies to the facts of this book. In fact He testifies of Himself and of the facts which concern Him. We can easily believe the Lord Jesus.

2. The firstborn from the dead. He is the first rose from the dead never to return to die and He is the only one who came back from the dead in a glorified body and those who have faith in Jesus will do the same experience and this will happen at rapture of the church 1 Th. 4:14:
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus”.

3. The ruler of the kings of the earth. This quality presents us His future role in the millennium here on Earth. As we can read from the letter that the apostle Paul sent to the Philippians 2 vv. 9 -11:
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

4. To him who loves us. This expression has a sense of actuality. Jesus loves us as we are and want to accept him as our Savior. He loves us and continue to love in the eternity.

5. He has freed us from our sins by his blood. The Blood of Christ is very important, because it’s not just a symbol. In Old Testament God taught that the life of every living thing is in the flesh and blood (Leviticus 17 v. 11). When Jesus gave His life on the cross, gave it to the last drop of his blood for the atonement of our sins. So that through faith in Him we might be reconciled to God.  The apostle Peter wrote these words, 1 Peter 1: 18-19:
knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Jesus has freed us from our sins by His blood.

6. He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. Believers are descendants of priests who will reign with the Lord, 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
The Lord will come as King on earth and will abolish all injustice but first will be in the air to meet the believers, He will as Spouse to take His bride the church and for which He gave himself.

7. The one who is given the glory and power. He is the Amen. This is an expression that emphasizes His eternity. Jesus is the Amen of whom we read in the book of Isaiah, and it is a title of which only Jesus is both the subject and the object of Revelation. He governs all events and these revolve around Him. He is the eternal purpose and remote everything. Everything was done not only by him but everything is done for Him. This universe exists for Him.
Lord, thank you because you have revealed the immense glory of Jesus. Through His precious blood can be washed from all sin, and You have given us the privilege of being co-heirs with Christ to reign. Thanks for your unconditional love that you give us and remind us to give you the glory in everything we do.


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Chip Grange and Doug Duberstein Honored

November 14 2014 at 9:29 am 1 Comments


Photo courtesy of Good Samaritan Advocates

Chip Grange and Doug Duberstein, both attorneys and long-time members of Covenant Life, were recently honored for their work providing legal services to low-income neighbors through Good Samaritan Advocates (GSA).

Chip serves as a co-director of the GSA clinic held monthly at Covenant Life, and Doug Duberstein volunteers his time for those clinics as well.

Chip received the 2014 John Robb Christian Legal Aid Award, given each year at The Christian Legal Society’s National Conference in recognition of excellent service and longstanding commitment to Christian legal aid.

Doug was honored by GSA as Volunteer of the Year. The GSA ministry offers legal-aid clinics and other resources at two locations in Northern Virginia as well as at Covenant Life.

Chip is the co-founder of Gammon & Grange, a law firm based in McLean, Va., and one of the founders of GSA. Doug is a senior counsel with IBM Corporation.

When you see Chip or Doug, please thank and encourage them for their service to the glory of God.


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Nations Nearby | Part 3

November 9 2014 at 9:00 am 0 Comments

The Light Shines in Darkness
Question: What holiday is nearly eclipsed by Halloween every year? If you said “Thanksgiving” you get credit because costumes and candy are more heavily marketed than turkeys. But your credit is only partial because that’s not the answer I was looking for!

For Hindus in the U.S., the holiday Diwali (commonly known as “the festival of lights”) often falls in October and, predictably, receives little attention compared to Halloween, a holiday of darkness if there ever was one.

Sometimes called Dipawali, this five-day holiday can mean various things to the diverse groups (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and others) who observe it. Many see this as a celebration of the Hindu deity Krishna defeating the demon Narakasura. Others emphasize the defeat of Ravana (another demon) by the god-man Rama.

Differing interpretations notwithstanding, most at least see Diwali as a time to celebrate good’s triumph over evil or light’s victory over darkness. I think this is where we can humbly bring something to the conversation.

A Bridge
Do you have friends who might have recently celebrated Diwali? (This year it fell roughly between October 19 - 25). If so, consider asking them about it. Ask, “Do you celebrate Diwali? How was it this year?” Honestly listen and learn. Humbly ask for them to explain the holiday’s significance to you. If they don’t mention it, ask for them to explain what role “light” plays in the holiday.

After engaging them about the “festival of lights”, let them know you too believe that “...the light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). But tell them Jesus identified Himself as this light saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Tell them that Jesus made another bold claim when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me”(John 14:6).

Later in this or another conversation, you may wish to ask more questions as to what they believe happens to a person when they die and what role karma plays. (Karma means action or deeds). Responses frequently lean towards good karma outweighing bad for a favorable post-death outcome. Consider asking how much good karma is enough? Humbly share with them Jesus’ affirmation of good deeds, but that he taught what was most important was believing in Him (John 6:29). Let them know that Jesus had nothing but good karma and that He is both willing and powerful enough to remove your bad karma and give you his good.

More more could be said than can fit in a small article like this, but the above hopefully will get you started. Remember to be a genuine friend and frequently share what the Lord is doing in your life. Pray for your friend. They’ve been blinded by the god of this world, just as you once were. Pray that the Light of the World will shine in their dark prison to deliver them.

In closing, remember this: The self-identified Light of the World called you the light of the world, too (Matt. 5:13-16). Shine your light amongst the nations, brothers and sisters.

Additional resources:
“Jesus Among Other Gods” by Ravi Zacharias
“Sharing Your Faith with a Hindu” by Madasamy Thirumalai


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2-A-Day Reflections | Week of September 29

October 3 2014 at 1:31 pm 0 Comments

More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 | 1 Samuel 4 and 1 Timothy 2

by Tim Harvey

“Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.” – 1 Samuel 4:3

For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. – 1 Tim. 2:5

The Israelites in 1 Samuel 4 were wrestling with an age-old question: How do we bring God’s power and presence to bear on our situation? How can we make sure He is really with us? Their answer was stunningly simplistic: just grab the ark of the covenant – the object upon which God’s glory had rested and that carried the stone tablets of the covenant with Moses – and take it into battle with them. They mistakenly invested the ark with a supernatural, magical power of its own. They failed to remember that this object that God had told them to make was intended to direct them to Him – not just as their Deliverer in times of crisis but as the One who was worthy of their daily worship and obedience according to the covenant made with Moses.

I often find in reading the Old Testament that I’m more like the rebellious (and seemingly clueless) ancient Israelites than I would like to admit. Like them, I wish I had a shortcut to bring the guaranteed power of God into my life when needed. I wish there were something that I myself could do to bring God’s power and presence into my life. And I wish there were some tangible sign that God is really with me.

That’s why I need to hear the truth that Paul gives us in 1 Timothy 2. This chapter is a call to prayer, and prayer requires fundamentally an attitude of trust – trust that God will really hear us, that He cares enough to answer us, and that He will answer us according to His good will. But Paul doesn’t leave us there with just an exhortation to pray and hope for the best. He goes on to make clear the reason why we can trust God in these ways: because we have a mediator between us and God, the perfect man Christ Jesus (v. 5). Because of Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice, we can be confident that the prayers from our sinful lips do in fact reach the ears of our holy God. Christ’s death on our behalf is irrefutable proof that God loves and cares for us more than we can imagine. And because of God’s love demonstrated in Christ, we know that God will always respond in love to His children. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
And that’s better than carrying an ark around on my back any day.


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2-A-DAY Reflections | Week of September 15

September 17 2014 at 11:58 am 0 Comments

More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 | Joshua 21 and Colossians 4

By Tim Harvey

“Today we know that the LORD is in our midst…” – Joshua 22:31

…fellow-workers for the kingdom of God…and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. – Col. 4:11

These disparate chapters from the Old and New Testaments provide some great lessons and examples for my own interactions with my brothers and sisters in the faith. Consider the situation in Joshua 22, where the rest of the Israelites went to confront the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh over an altar that the three tribes had built by the border of their land at the Jordan River. The altar appeared, to the other Israelites, to be a substitute worship location other than the Tabernacle where God had commanded that sacrifices be offered – a fundamental misunderstanding that could have easily turned into war (v. 12). But look at how it was handled by both sides:

• The Israelites, although their opening dialog was quite accusatory and based on wrong assumptions (v. 16-20), were nonetheless willing to listen to and consider the answer that the three tribes gave them. In the end they were willing to revise their initial assumptions about the three tribes’ motives.
• The Israelites also graciously offered a “way out” of the apostasy they thought their brothers had fallen into, offering to share their own land if necessary (v. 19).
• The three tribes were willing to enter into dialog and provide an explanation for their actions.
• Both sides, in fact, were motivated by zeal to obey God and honor His word.
• The peaceful resolution of this tense situation was recognized as evidence that God was present and at work among them.

How many of these characterize my interactions with my family, with my fellow believers, or with the world? Although this chapter is far from a perfect example of brotherly love, I wish I could model more of the above traits.

I also wish I could better follow Paul’s example in the relationships he depicts in Colossians 4. Consider:

• He remembers his friends and fellow-workers by name.
• He offers specific encouragements and commendations.
• He passes along greetings to affirm and build up long-standing relationships; most of those named in this chapter are mentioned elsewhere in Acts or other epistles.
• His commendations, greetings, and instructions are neither inconsequential fluff nor boring administrative details, but all reflect the deep partnership he had with these fellow-workers in the work of spreading the gospel.

I wish that my communications were more characterized by these kinds of things as well. In short (and I’ll cheat here to bring in Colossians 3), I want my interactions especially with brothers and sisters in the faith to be characterized by love: “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” – Col. 3:14

 


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2-A-Day Reflections | Week of September 1

September 9 2014 at 10:15 am 0 Comments

More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 | Joshua 12 and Ephesians 4

By Tim Harvey

“Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated and whose land they possessed…” – Joshua 12:1

“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…” – Eph. 4:1-2

My commentary devotes barely any space to Joshua 12, referring to it as simply an appendix to the history of Canaan’s conquest that is recounted in the preceding chapters. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of spiritual insight to be gained from the long list of defeated kings and their city-states, all of whom are long forgotten except for their final ignoble mention here as having been defeated by the Israelites. But maybe that’s exactly the point – God’s kingdom and His purposes go irresistibly forward, while His enemies are swept aside and remembered only because of their defeat.

However, God’s enemies seem to be faring pretty well these days, if my daily newspaper is any indication. Look close to home or across the world and everywhere we see the ascendancy of those who “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) and who do “what [is] right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). What’s happened to the irresistible march of God’s kingdom that Joshua 12 so clearly displays?

Ephesians 4, I believe, points us toward the answer. God’s kingdom is marching forward, but no longer by means of national conquest. Rather, it is moving forward with the “weapons” of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love. These weapons don’t bring down walls or cities; they break through to hard hearts and blind eyes. They don’t display the greatness of a nation or its army; they display God’s power to transform individual lives. Just as there was no earthly way the Israelites could have defeated all those kings in their own strength, there is no way that we can “walk worthy” in the ways Paul outlines apart from the indwelling power of God. As we walk in these things we demonstrate the power and presence of God as decisively as any list of defeated kings.

And our calling to “walk worthy” is not just an individual calling, but one we are to walk out in unity with our brothers and sisters – “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” as Paul puts it in verse 3. The tribes of Israel were united (unfortunately only temporarily) as they fought the Canaanite kings. God’s call to His church in our day is that we would be similarly united for His purposes and His kingdom, as we “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (v. 15).


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 | Joshua 11 and Ephesians 3

Hope for the Pagans
by Jose Troche

Joshua 11 is one of those chapters in the Old Testament where we read about many battles, deaths, and destruction, as the Israelites take over the land that God had promised to them. Many kings had joined forces to fight against Israel (v.5). They had come out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand on the seashore (v.4). This alliance may have seemed intimidating, but the Lord was with Joshua and had commanded him, once again, not to be afraid, for He was going to give over all of them to Israel (v.6). And Joshua and all his warriors fell upon them and struck them until he left none remaining (v. 7-8). And Joshua’s army continued capturing cities, striking with the sword all who were in them, devoting them to destruction, not leaving any who breathed (v. 11, 12, 14, 17, 21).

We can picture smoke coming out from burned cities, corpses infesting the landscape, utterly defeated armies, ubiquitous devastation… For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed (v. 20). What a sobering and horrifying passage!  Many find these events perplexing and disturbing.

The pagans that heard about the breathtaking wonders that the God of Israel was performing responded with consternation, their hearts melted and no spirit was left in any of them (Joshua 2:10-11). The Bible openly paints a terrifying image for those who are against the Lord. His judgement is unbearable. It is certainly a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

As I try to fit myself into this story, an extremely troubling reality dawns in my mind. I am not an Israelite by birth, I am a pagan! If all I have is the Old Testament, I am left in a hopeless condition. If I do not belong to ethnic Israel, I am destined to be devoted to destruction, just like the heathen of Joshua 11.

Praise be to God for Ephesians 3, for the amazing mystery that was hidden for ages but revealed to Paul and the apostles (Eph. 3:5), that we, the Gentiles, the pagans, are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (v.6). Praise be to God for extending undeserved mercy to helpless pagan sinners like me, so we can comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (v.18-19), who shed his blood for the forgiveness of our traspasses (Eph. 1:7), so we can be members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).

To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:21)


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