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I answered, “You know, sir.” And the elder said to me, “These are the people who have come out of the great distress. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14 (NCV)

A commercial going around on TV lately shows a man named ‘mayhem’ that causes all sorts of destruction and pain to people. Property is damaged. Cars are destroyed. Lives are changed. While the commercials are humorous, the reality it, mayhem is coming. A mayhem that has never before been seen in our world.

We see the rumblings on the horizon. Nations once thought strong and invincible have crumbled through political unrest. Natural disasters are happening in places once thought paradise. Secure economies are no longer secure. Careers that once seemed safe are gone. The family, as we once knew it and God ordained it, is under huge attack. Sounds like mayhem to me.

There are many theories about how the end times will shake out. I’m not going to go there. But it’s what happens after the mayhem, the tribulation, the time of distress, which excites me.

In the book of revelation John sees a vision of that happens afterwards. Those of us that have gone through the mayhem will one day wear robes of white. White, the symbol of purity. White, by definition is free of color. Pure. Nothing there. That’s the description of our robes. Once we were filthy rags (Paul’s writing to the Ephesians), but now we are made new, white pure. All because of the blood of Jesus.

I love the word picture from Zechariah 3, “Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the Lord said to Satan, “I, the Lord, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” Zechariah 3:1-3 (NLT)

So it will be for us. We are washed in the blood. When we get to heaven our clothes will be spotless, cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We will be without fault. The accusations of the enemy will have no basis. New clothes. New life. Grace!

There, in the midst of all of us one will stand with clothes stained with blood. Revelation 19:13 says Jesus will be among us with clothes stained with blood. The stains Jesus wears are the stains of my sin and yours. Stains we should be wearing because of our guilt, stains he took on himself to declare our innocence.

PRAYER: Jesus, Son of the Living God. My Lord. My Savior. In the midst of the trials I face help me to remember that because of you I am free to live in the grace given through your blood. Amen.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17 (NLT)

“What’s your name?”

It’s usually the first question you get asked when meeting someone new, or the first thing you tell someone about yourself. Even though your name is the root beginning of any relationship, they don’t mean as much today as they did back in Old Testament times. Names were given because there was a particular meaning to them. That’s one of the reasons that reading the Old Testament can be so difficult to read. We struggle with the names.

Today names are given to a child because the parents have read countless name books, or have loved ones that they want to honor, or they heard the name and they like it. Little girls at play will often name their dolls certain names because ‘they like the way they sound’.

Someday we’ll each be given a new name. It will be a name that God will give you and it will be designed and pronounced just for you. Imagine that. God loves you so much that when you get to heaven he’s going to give you a new name! I’m guessing it won’t be a common name like we have here. My wife and I rarely call each other by our given names, rather we call each other by intimate, special little names we have come up with to show our love for each other. That’s what your heavenly Father will do when you finally move into the place he has for you. Give you a ‘love name’ to remind you of how passionately in love with you he is.

How do you get the new name? The Bible tells us you get the new name by being victorious. Paul tells us how we can be victorious. The key to victory is Jesus. The door the key unlocks is grace.

In athletic competition victory is gained by defeating your opponent. It is hard work, discipline and determination not to be defeated. Getting your new name is gained by simply accepting the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Religion will tell you all sort of other things. Some will say we are all victorious in the end and just try to live a good life. Other religions will give you a long list of do’s and don’ts required to attain victory (and your new name).

Jesus tells us to call upon us in our weakness; to ask forgiveness of our sins; to allow him to give us the strength we need to live for him. Does that mean there won’t be struggles and disappointments? No. Does that mean we won’t falter in our walk at times? Certainly not. We still need to run the race, faith in Jesus just assures our victory. Trust him now so you can hear the Father say your new name.

PRAYER: Father God, I’ve never thought of your love as being so deep you’d have a ‘love name’ for me. I get so caught up on the battle I forget I’ve already gained the victory through your son. Help me to live out that victory while I’m here on earth so I can see my new name when I join you in Heaven. In Jesus name, Amen

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Sometimes it’s important to read between the lines when we read the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should add to what is being said, or take away from the directives taught. When we read God’s letter to us it’s important to remember that the events of the Bible are real-life events in the lives of real-life people. The people, places and events of the Bible aren’t removed from the reality of life itself.

Such is the case with Matthew 18: 21-22. Jesus has just finished teaching on the importance of dealing with situations in which we have been openly wronged by someone else. That got Peter thinking. Perhaps he was hoping to justify some feelings of resentment or bitterness. Maybe he was about to get the revenge he was hoping for. For whatever the reason he goes to Jesus, I think for vindication of feelings of judgment.

‘So, Jesus,” He starts out, “How many times should I forgive? Up to seven times?” Street logic of the day said three times and you are out. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me a third time and look out! So Peter, knowing who he was talking to, doubled that and threw one in for good measure. Seven times oughta do it.

Jesus’ response isn’t so surprising. If we forgive as God forgives there are no limitations. Fair? No! Grace and forgiveness are never built on the premise of justice or rights. But it’s what Jesus doesn’t say that catches my mind.

Jesus didn’t ask Peter if the person in question asked for forgiveness. He didn’t ask if this was a one-time sin or one that had been done repeatedly. He didn’t ask if the person actually deserved forgiveness, or if the person was of the same denomination or sexual persuasion, or political party. He didn’t question Peter as to whether the person was pro-life or pro-choice. He simply said forgive.

We won’t always agree with those who wrong us. We won’t always approve of their actions. We won’t appreciate the pain they cause to us emotionally, physically or spiritually. We may dislike their body piercings, shudder at their dress or be disappointed with their worship style and music.

Do we choose our family? If my father accepts the doctrine of my adversary shouldn’t I? If my Father accepts people and loves people and forgives people who are drastically different than I am, shouldn’t I?

When Peter came to Jesus he learned a valuable lesson each of us needs to remember. When we came to Christ we came with various amounts of baggage. Some of our loads were piled high. Others not so much. No matter what baggage we carried we were forgiven. Should we not forgive those who are different than us as well?

PRAYER: Father forgiveness has always been hard for me. So many times I’m afraid to forgive because I’m not about to let myself get hurt again. Yet you have forgiven me countless times for recurring sin in my life. Empower me with your Spirit to forgive those who have wronged me and accept those who are different than I. In Jesus name, Amen.

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