18.5 Revelation – Call to Action

Call to Action

Faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not a checkbox on our tally card of life.  It is not a “yeah, when I was in middle school I said that prayer so I’m covered.”  Accepting the gift of salvation is both bigger than that and smaller than that at the same time.

It is bigger because, truly accepting the fact that we deserve nothing but eternal death and damnation for our imperfection (sin), but instead Jesus adopted us, while we were sinners, into His family by fully paying the penalty for our sins, is huge.  It screams for a transformed life.  If this is true…  If this is truly the truth… It changes everything.  How can we live the same broken way we used to with this reality?  How can we continue to dive in and wallow in the filth of our prior sinful life?  How can we walk in darkness and hide?  How can we waste the hours, minutes and seconds we are given in this life pursuing things that pass instead of things that last forever?

It is smaller because, in reality, we don’t check off the box on our own anyway.  Faith itself is a gift.  We don’t have the power to raise our hand to accept the gift.  We are blind and deaf to the message of salvation.  We are a grain of sand, dust.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the power to accept Jesus as our Lord.  He breathes spiritual life into us, eternal life, that doesn’t start when we die, that doesn’t start when He returns and we are called out of the grave, but that starts the moment we receive the gift.

Faith is a call to action.  It requires transformation, a transformed heart, a transformed mind, transformed desire.  It is not earned, but it is also not to be ignored or devalued.  What are you being called to do is, in my opion, better worded as who are you being called to become?

My Answers:

10.
Psa: security – the ability to dine in the den of our enemies without fear of evil
Matt: rest – take up yoke and learn for Jesus is gentle and humble in heart and provides rest
1Cor: There are no new temptations – only old tricks – all of which have been defeated before
2Cor: God’s grace is sufficient – we need nothing more, suffering humbles us to His will
Heb: Jesus is the great High Priest, advocating for us, and allowing us to confidently approach God
Rev: Every tear will be wiped away, no more death, crying pain – all the old order will pass away

11.
Love, submit, rejoice, have hope, be strong, live righteously, be in the spirit, pray, turn over our pain and worries, trust, praise God in all things, be comforted, lay down worry and distress to trust in God, be bound in perfect unity with our God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

18.5 Revelation – Call to Action

18.4 Revelation – Awful Parents

Awful Parents

When you were a child…

Did you learn how to ride a bicycle?  Did you ever fall and skin your knees or elbows?

Did you ever play sports?  Did you get hurt, scraped up, bruised, broken bone?

Did you ever go to other places and have friends?  Did they ever say anything that hurt you or caused you worry, angst or sorrow?

If any of these things happened, you must have had horrible parents, right?  I mean, wasn’t it there job to keep you safe?  Wasn’t it their job to protect you and love you?  Wasn’t it their job to keep you from pain and hurt, either physical or emotional?

Other than some people who are either in denial or came from a very broken household, we know this is ridiculous.  Normal, loving parents want their children to be safe and secure and protected.  Parents hurt when their kids hurt.  Parents cry when their kids cry (maybe later, but all the same).  But normal loving parents also want their kids to grow and mature.  They want their kids to be strong physically and emotionally.  They want the best for their children.

To do this, they have to allow their kids to enter into calculated risks.  The parents still go first, scope things out, do all they can to limit the scope of the risk, but they don’t eliminate it.  Eliminating the risk is to live in a bubble.  Eliminating the risk is to limit growth.

God loves us enough to do the same.  Jesus came to earth and experienced absolutely every temptation and hardship ever known to man – and overcame them all.  Not so that He could prove He was perfect – He was perfect and was not subject to judgment by anyone else.  No, He did it as a gift to us.  There is no temptation that cannot be defeated, with Jesus.  There is no hurt or pain that, with Jesus, cannot be overcome.

Because of this, if we accept Jesus as our loving parent, He gives this gift to us.  He doesn’t hold us back from temptation and hardship – He doesn’t lock us into a bubble.  Instead, He goes first.  He scopes out the situation eliminating all unnecessary risks.  He stands by us.  He guides us through the difficulty so that we can grow and become more Holy and more like Him.

That is and Awesome Parent!

My Answers:

8.
Psa – failing heart but strength in God – physical strength is insufficient in comparison to God’s might
Prov – Discipline and rebuke are acts of a loving father who delights in His son
Rom5 – Suffering->perseverance->character ->hope … builds strength
Rom8 – as co-heir of Christ => sharing in suffering -> sharing in glory
Rom8 – All things (suffering included) are used by God to transform His beloved to be justified & glorified
Phil – In light of the worth of Jesus, all worldly possessions and prizes are but junk
Heb – suffering is a means to distill perfection (refinement), Jesus underwent it for eternal salvation

9.
Not to question or doubt the existence of God, but to question or doubt my thinking about who I thought He was and how I thought He should act – there have been times of question of why those who seek good suffer while those practicing evil flourish and prosper, there have been times when I was angry with God and more when I was impatient with Him, “how long, Lord…?”

18.4 Revelation – Awful Parents

18.3 Revelation – Not a Lucky Charm

Not a Lucky Charm

Our God is different than all the false idols and other things that mankind worships and puts its faith in.  One of the primary ways He is different is that we are called to follow Him, not the other way around.  I know that to most christians that statement doesn’t seem very deep, but let’s think about it in contrast for a moment.

Behavioral science and every salesmanship class tells us that people make decisions based on WII-FM:  What’s in it for me?  What do I get out of the deal?  What do I gain from the relationship?  How do I prosper?  Many people follow this same mindset into their relationship with God or a god.  Many of the world religions and all the idols we put faith in stem from this mindset.  If I do this then I will get that.  If I carry this charm.  If I bow down to this statue.  If I make this pilgrimage. If I give this donation.  If I live good enough.  If I clean my toilet (in case you think I’m joking about that last one, read this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_god).  It is the classic WII-FM.  They want a god, whether it be luck or prosperity or health or happiness or whatever, that will follow them.  Put a coin in the slot and out pops a reward.

But, we know WII-FM does not rule everything we do.  If it did, there would be no organ donors.  If it did, there would be no food kitchens or homeless shelters.  If it did, there would be no mothers.  Let’s face it, the fact that we survived infancy, when we did absolutely nothing to benefit our parents except give sleep deprevation, dirty diapers, gas, vomit and screaming, proves our parents decision making was not driven by WII-FM.

Neither is our relationship with God.  God does not promise to be our lucky charm.  God does not make deals with us that if we do X He will do Y.  Actually, it is the opposite.  God says follow me.  period.  Not because of what is in it for us, but because it is the only right thing to do.  Not because of what we can give to or get from God, but, because, God is our Father and He loves us like only a parent can.

To make the point painfully clear, the things Jesus promised to His followers would not have rated high on the WII-FM scale.  He promised persecution.  He promised a cross.  He promised hatred from the world.  He promised increased pain from the world.  But He also promised some things in the midst and to follow those.  He promised peace.  He promised adoption.  He promised love and comfort.  He promised a room in His Father’s house.  He promised eternity without the things sin brought into this world.

So, how do you decide about the most important relationship you will ever make in your life, your relationship with God?  Do you decide based on what you get out of the deal?  Or do you decide based on what is true and right?  Do you decide based on tempory emotion or eternal fact?  The fact that we get to have this choice at all proves that God is the God of Love – no other spiritual being would care enough about us and love us enough to give us the choice to choose or reject Him.

 

My Answers:

6.
through deliberate plan and foreknowledge to full experience the worst of humanity and, even in such, not stray from a life honoring of God and free of sin, yet, being subjected until death for the payment of the sin of all mankind.

Thanking Him in prayer and turning my life over to Him.

7.
As followers, why would we expect better circumstance than Jesus.  We are hated because the world hates Him.  Also, to truly follow Jesus is to commit to the fact that we are a soul in a body and the more important (long term) of the two is the soul.  We must be willing to forgo worldly comfort and pleasure in exchange for eternal sanctification.

18.3 Revelation – Not a Lucky Charm

18.2 Revelation – Because of Sin

Because of Sin

Why would God…?  What kind of God…?  We’ve all heard the statements made by non-believers as they judge God and His actions as an argument for why they don’t believe.

But, let’s face it.  Sin and pain and suffering were not God’s desire for the world.  His desire in creation, especially in the creation of mankind, was to invite another being to join the Trinity in love and holiness and fellowship and unity.  Things were good.  God even said those exact words as he completed the days of creation.

But for true love to occur, it cannot be forced and for it not to be forced there must be a choice.  Unfortunately, mankind chose to break the one rule in the garden and we have subsequently chosen to break every other rule and commandments ever since.  In pure love, God allows us to turn from Him and defy Him time and time again.  He allows us to follow the path of disobedience, a path that always leads to death, eternal death and eternal separation from Him.

Mercifully, God also gives us pain and sorrow and suffering.  Mercifully, because can you imagin the depravity of a world without those warning signs and hinderances to disuade mankind from fully following the path of sin?  Just as pain is a warning sign to prevent fatal injury, these things also serve as warning signs of turning from God.

But, we now live in a time when sin who so saturated creation, that pain and sorrow and suffering surround us.  It threatens to swallow our lives and draw us into darkness.  But, God is bigger than the effects of sin.  God is bigger than any pull of darkness.  God is big enough that no matter how far we try to run and hide from Him, He is only a whisper away.  God is big enough that when we see the error in trying to make ourselves the judge of God and instead recognize our own horrible sin, He does not use the same criteria we were using to judge us, but, instead, forgives us because of the saving gift of His son.

My Answers:

3.
Because of sin – all have sinned and all live in a broken world filled with the sin of man over the ages.  We are people who chose to rebel against God and have continued that pattern continuously ever since.

4.
physical suffering with medical condition and surgery.  It brought me closer to God.  It renewed my spirit and the hope and acceptance that my family showed through it was a witness to others of the peace of God.

5.
God is greater and never fails.  His purpose is to save and bring all back into unity with Him, but He honors choice.  Through any challenge and suffering He is always present and does not forget.

18.2 Revelation – Because of Sin

17.5 Revelation – Not just Counterfeit, Not just Tricked

Not just Counterfeit – Not just Tricked

I used to think that the warnings Jesus gave about false prophets and false messiahs referred to the end times and the role that the dragon and beasts would play.  But in our reading this week it became clear to me that this isn’t the case.

I know there have been false prophets and false messiahs.  I know it is important to know scripture so as not to be confused and to test their prophecies and signs against what actually happens, what is true, what is the word of God.

But the beast, while deceiving people, is not masquerading as Jesus.  He/It does not desire to be like God or like Jesus, he doesn’t want people to think he is those things.  He wants to replace God and Jesus.  He doesn’t want confusion.  He blasphemes God and wants to be worshiped in His place.  The people who bow down to the beast know he is the beast – they don’t think he is Jesus.

I understand where BSF is coming from with their discussion of the false trinity and false messiah and false lamb, but I don’t see that to be the desire of Satan.  I don’t think he wants to be a conterfeit God, where people think they are actually worshiping God, but in fact are worshiping him instead.  I think he wants to replace God.

We see this even in our times.  God is ridiculed and denegrated, while evil is positioned as fun and hip and attractive.  To quote an old Billy Joel song, there is still a belief that ‘I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.’

But that is a lie, perpetrated by the father of lies.  Hell is not more fun – it is hell.  An eternal life apart from God is not a party, it is agony and hatred.  Evil does not ever love – it only lies and hates and decieves.

I do not think believers will be tricked by the beast to believe it is the messiah returned.  I think those who read, hear and heed the word of scripture will know the beast is the beast.  The biggest challenge is not head knowledge, it is an adequate faith and hope and confidence to endure 42 months of persecution and agony.  But what Satan and the world can dish out, the elect can transform into honor for God:

Acts 5:40-41 – They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

Rev 3:10 – Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

In the end, Jesus Wins and Satan is left with nothing.

 

My Answers:

12.
a.
Dragon, Beast, Second Beast

b.
To take on the appearance of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – this one brings the world to sin

c.
the trinity of God is one of unity (between the elements of God and mankind), for peace, teaching, wisdom, gratitude.  The trinity of evil is to deceive, conquer, contrive war and cause mankind to fall and be denied peace and love

13.
a.
Test by the truth, by prophecy occurring, by consistency with the scriptures and prophets, will never draw you from God, good bears good fruit, evil does not – look at the fruit of the words.  Stay on guard – Revelation tells what will happen, don’t be amazed

b.
By studying the word, wonderful signs are seen only as fulfillment of what God has promised and confirmation of the truth of God and wickedness of those who bring about the signs.  The signs, instead of demonstrating their authority and power, confirm their identity.

17.5 Revelation – Not just Counterfeit, Not just Tricked

17.4 Revelation – No Agnostics

No Agnostics

The beast and second beast come into the world to deceive.  But, in particular, I think the second beast is allowed to force a choice.

Jesus has paid the price of sin for all.  The gift of the spirit and of eternal salvation is free and available to any human.  But, many sit on the fence.  They don’t openly oppose God, nor do they side with Him.  By not accepting the gift, they, have in essence, rejected it, but this leaves an element of doubt, of possibility.

Satan does not desire to leave things to the grace and mercy of God.  God is the judge.  He is just and jealous.  But Satan wants no doubt and God desires to allow each individual to choose (not simply to choose not to choose as many try to do today).

The mark of the beast eliminates this.  Unlike the inward mark of the Holy Spirit, this is an outward and visible sign of a decision.  Those with the mark, chose it.  Those without, chose Jesus.  Those without chose hardship, starvation, poverty, being subjected to war and oppression and hatred.  It would not be an easy decision to choose this for yourself, let alone for your family, but the everlasting pay-off is beyond huge.

And, let’s face it, no one would have the strength to choose this path on their own.  It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen, to guide and to feed faith, that someone would have the strength to make this choice.  But, Jesus promises exactly this provision.  His promise is firm and true.  The power of God is absolute.

So for those you know (yourself?) who have not yet committed your life to Jesus Christ, who are trying to keep one foot in both light and darkness, there is urgency.  Now is the time.  IMHO it would be impossible for anyone to make the decision not to receive the mark of the beast without the presence of Jesus in his or her life.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit how could anyone make the choice to starve their family, enter poverty and face daily and constant hatred?

My Answers:

9.
all authority of the 1st beast on its behalf, made the earth worship the beast, performed great signs (fire from heaven), to deceive

10.
a.
To deceive, to force a choice

b.
Moses: To speak truth as commanded, so that the egyptians will know that I (God) am Lord
Elijah: let it be known You are Godin Israel and I am your servant, done as commanded
Jesus: They may believe, receive life, call on name of Lordfor salvation

11.
a.
a mark (the name of the beast and number of its name) on right hand and forehead, could not buy or sell unless had the mark, the number of a man (humanity’s number), 666

b.
The Holy Spirit, gifts of the spirit, knowledge of God, ability to accept the gift of faith, eternal life, written in the book of Life

c.
Scriptures speak the truth – Revelation is a gift to those who hear it, read it aloud and heed its words and warnings.

17.4 Revelation – No Agnostics

17.3 Revelation – Prayer Journal

Prayer Journal

Reading about the names written in the book of life made me think about what books my name is written in.  I’ve signed my own name in a few different books over the years, assignment books, note books, year books, books that were gifts to others.  But, these are different than someone else writing your name in a book.

I am blessed with a prayer warrior as a wife.  Not only does she diligently spend time in prayer with God every day, but she also journals her prayers and records praises for answered prayer and the protection and provision God has provided far beyond what she had asked or known to seek.  As I sat on the side of the bed one morning this week, glancing at the chair where she sits and spends quiet time with God, I realized that her prayer journal is probably the main book in the world where my name appears repeatedly over the years.

It then made me think, what if the Book of Life is not an invitee list, but Jesus’ own prayer journal.  We know from scripture that He is our main advocate for us to the Father consistently through time.  We know Jesus prays, as He modeled prayer to us in the gospels.  What if the reason our names appear in the book is because, having accepted the gift of faith, we have become part of Jesus’ family, and, like my wife, He is chronicling the wondrous work of the Father and Spirit in our lives?

 

My Answers:

6.
to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them, authority over every TPLN, All inhabitants of earth worshiped the beast (except those whose name had been written in the Lamb’s book of life)

7.
Those who have been saved.  Yes.  Through Faith, a gift of the Father received through the power of the Holy Spirit

8.
a.
John: worlds hates you, first hated christ – hates you because you are not “of the world”
Roman: everything written was to teach, hope comes from endurance and encouragement of word
2 Cor: As servants of God we are commended by the hardships bestowed on us
Col: Prayerfully be strengthened and will and understanding of spirit, bear fruit, grow, strength
1Tim: flee from evil, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness

b.
by always being present, by being constant and true,  by calling me to repent and return during times of sin

17.3 Revelation – Prayer Journal