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

17.2 Revelation – But everyone is doing it

But everyone is doing it

How often do we base our decisions and direction on “conventional wisdom”.  We look at trends of what is hot in fashion.  We pay attention to polls for the direction of the populous.  We pay attention to ratings and reviews of what others think about vacation sites, restaurants and shops.  We have never lost the argument we used as kids that everyone else is doing something.  And, we continue to ignore our mom’s argument that if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it as well.

The fact is, we live in a fallen, broken, sinful world.  If the majority is doing something, odds are it is wrong or sinful.  As followers of Christ we are promised trials and difficulties, not majorities and power.  If Jesus was hated and unfairly condemned, why should we expect more.

That does not mean we just throw up our hands and say, “oh well.”  It doesn’t mean we give up and go along with what everyone else is doing.  We are foreigners on this earth and our home and kingdom is in another place, in the heavenly realms.

Our direction should come not from what everyone else is doing, but what the bible commands and what Jesus gave.  We follow the spirit of the Holy Ghost, not popular opinion or polls.  We take definitions of truth from what God commands in His Holy Word, not by what is trending in popularity.

When the beast emerges from the waters everyone follows him, everyone worships him.  There is a remnant that does not and for 42 months they suffer and endure.  Right is right, now and then, but it is seldom what is popular.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
10 horns, 7 heads, 10 crown on its horns and on each a blasphemous name.  resembled a leopard but had feet like  of a bear and a mouth like a lion.  one of the heads had a fatal wound had been healed.  dragon gave power, throne, authority, people worshiped

b.
that people were so accepting and worshiped the beast – this is weird and strange.  Why would this be worshiped (right now people reject worship of anything but themselves)

4.
Jesus spoke with authority (Mar 1:27), authority he received from God (authority to forgive sins Luk 5:24, drive out demons cure disease Luk 9:1, The Father living in me who is doing his work Jhn 14:10).  But Jesus used his authority to teach and help and cure and support, not as a means of power or control over people.  He was worthy of worship, but chose to submit to persecution

5.
a.
By testing it against scripture, by counsel with other believers, through prayer

b.
I have gotten myself back on track of being detoured by sinful thinking and enticed by things such as greed or self-worth by being confronted by the truth of the scriptures and the words of Godly people.

17.2 Revelation – But everyone is doing it

09.2 Revelation – A Great Gift

A Great Gift

Do you remember a time of giving someone a really great gift?  Maybe it was when you were younger and giving a gift to your mom or dad.  Maybe it was a special birthday present for a friend or loved one.

For me, the thought goes back to May Day flowers for my mom.  I would have been about 6 or 7 years old and we made flowers in school for our moms.  They were simple pieces of paper, cut and curled and colored in a simple construction paper cone with a construction paper handle stapled on the top.

I remember the care in making them and getting them home in my backpack.  I remember that year the 1st of May was on a Saturday, so I kept them hid and stayed quiet about them.  I remember the anticipation and giggling as I sneaked out the back door and around to the front of the house, carefully hanging the “bouquet of flowers” from the doorknob.  The moment I rang the bell and then raced back around the house, flying back in, closing the door and diving on to the couch, to nonchalantly yell out, “Mom, there is a delivery at the door.”  I remember the way my mom went to the door and the joy I felt when her faced lit up at the gift.  The way she displayed them throughout the day.

I also remember years later seeing them in a storage box, where she had held on to the memory of that day.

I did not have the money or means to get a fancy gift.  I could only craft something out of materials that were given to me.  But the joy we both shared in the giving was the the true gift.

This is, to me, the meaning behind the robes and crowns of the elders.  They are/were human beings who lived a life of faith to God.  They had no ability to earn a white robe or a crown.  These were materials given to them.  But throughout their life they crafted them into something of joy.  The joy is not in the pride.  The joy is not in the possession.  The joy is in the giving of the gift itself.

We have nothing God lacks.  We have nothing God needs.  But God has given us materials: bodies, time, talents, materials, a voice, a mind, a heart and soul, relationships, eyes to see, His holy word, a Spirit alive within us.  Like a great parent, He loves the moment of seeing our gift of what we craft out of those materials and sharing in that joy with us, not once, but over and over and over again throughout eternity.

My Answers:

3.
God, the appearance of jasper and ruby, a rainbow shone like an emerald encircled the throne, from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, sitting behind a sea of glass, clear as crystal.  Demonstrates God’s majesty

4.
a.
24 elders, the saints who had died for faith in God

b.
A crown that will last forever, a crown of righteousness awarded by the Lord the righteous judge, a crown of glory that will never fade away from the Chief Shepherd, the crown of life that the Lord has promised to the blessed one who perseveres under trial and stands the test

09.2 Revelation – A Great Gift

07.5 Revelation – Holy Whole not Holey

Holy Whole not Holey

When God calls us, we are broken.  The reading we did from Acts 2 said the people were “cut to the heart” by Peter’s words.  We are broken, cracked, empty, a sieve.

God does not wait for us to create a perfect vessel for His spirit to abide within.  He waits for us to recognize that we are truly broken in pieces beyond our own repair to even hold things together.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit isn’t something that we hold in our hearts, it is something that holds our hearts together.

But God doesn’t leave us broken.  The song of Amazing Grace is not celebrating what wretches we are, but that God would take us while we were wretches and transform us into something different.

Unfortunately, that transformation is not a “one and done” event.  The Holy Spirit as at work daily in our lives.  And, like any other repair job, He first must dig and scrape out the rotten, rusted, weak and infected parts of our lives to then lay a foundation of something new.  This part isn’t fun.  It hurts.  It cuts to the heart.  But, would we want less?  Would we want a builder to construct on a weak foundation?  Would we want a paint job on top of wood rot?  Would we want a band-aid covering up a cancerous growth?

Ephesians 4 gives instruction for living a Christian life.  But it is an order that we cannot fulfill on our own.  I can be humble some of the time.  I may be humble most of the time, but am I truly humble in thought, word and action all the time.  I can forgive others, but do I forgive them as God forgave me.  Always?  All it takes is one instance and it isn’t always!

But, God can.  God with us can.  God in us definitely can.  God is gracious and good.  He is strong and mighty.  He is love and compassion and peace.

Ephesians 4 is not a rubric by which to grade your performance.  If it were, we all have failed.  It is an explanation of the ways the Holy Spirit will, from the inside, be transforming your (and my) life.  How He will be cleaning out and patching the holes in your heart, mind and soul.

When D.L. Moody was asked why he had to be filled with the Spirit so often he said simply, “Because I leak.”

 

My Answers:

11.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bear with one another in love; keep the bond of peace; keep faith in one body and one Spirit and one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God over all

12.
Am I a body with a soul or soul with a body?  Which defines you?  The now of the everlasting?
As Christ sacrificed His life for mine, He has given me eternal life and my calling is to serve Him (not myself) with this body at this time.

13.
With great struggle – magnification of my own sins in light of others around me whom I am called to care for.  The preparing of the foundation to build upon is painful, but through God all is possible – even holiness.

07.5 Revelation – Holy Whole not Holey

02.2 Revelation – Remember, Redeemed, Removed, Renewed

Remember, Redeemed, Removed, Renewed
Revelation Themes

As the conclusion to the amazing story of the bible, the book of Revelation is filled with victory.  It is a victory that can be shared by anyone who chooses the gift of being on the team.

The fact that the book opens with letters of warning to the churches shows the mercy and grace of our God.  That even in this final book, where John outlines the end times of God’s wrath and judgment, God tells him to extend an invitation again to put on the jersey of Christ and be clothed in His sacrifice.  John, in particular, calls the church to remember.  If you have ears – then listen.  This is important.  This is important enough that believers for ages have been willing to be afflicted, persecuted and subjected to suffering for the honor of staying true to the team colors.  Remember and repent.  You want to be on the winning team.

A game-winning, grand-slam, home run happens at the moment that the ball connects with the bat.  Yes, it has to fly through the air out of the park.  Yes, the players have to run the bases and touch home plate.  But, from the very moment of impact, the work is done.  In the same way, Jesus’ work of paying the price for sin and defeating death is done.  When He resurrected from the dead, He connected with a strike ball that has been on a victory trajectory ever since. We are redeemed. It is done.  But Jesus is not done, yet.  One of the central themes of Revelation is this run of redemption.  The best is yet to come as He rounds the bases and returns back to home plate on Earth, gathering every one of His team to rejoice in victory.

When He returns, it will not be a partial victory, but a final one.  Satan and sin will not, as the saying goes, “live to fight another day.”  Christ’s return is a time when Satan and evil are just defeated, but completely removed.  Those who have made the choice of evil, who have rejected the gift of Jesus and rejected God, are judged and will be found to be incapable of paying the price of their own sins.  They and all enemies of God and good will be removed, forever.

And, finally, the book of Revelation closes with the most amazing gift of all.  God does not leave us to clean up the mess of this broken world.  We are not left in a war savaged place, with the need to tear out and rebuild on top of the weak foundations of the past.  But, instead, God takes us to a new place.  A place of beauty and peace of joy and happiness.  We have nothing to contribute to it, it is a wedding feast and the one true happily ever after ending.

My Answers:

3.
a.
1. greetings from him who is, who was and who is to come. Jesus the ruler of the kings of the earth.  Look his is coming with the clouds, every eye will see him – Look, I am coming soon, blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy
2. Be faithful, Jesus knows about affliction, persecution, suffering.  He will give you life as a victor’s crown. captivity and death will continue, but be patient, endure and faithful
12. Dragon removed from heaven, triumphed over by blood of the lamb.  The woman who gave birth to the child was protected, dragon went off to wage war with her offspring.  Beast was given… (note: it did not take, it was given – it is not in control)
19. For the wedding of the lamb has come – blessed are those who are invited – white horse, rider was faithful and true, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
21. New heaven and new earth, God’s dwelling place is now among His people – new heaven forever, river of water of life, tree of life, see the face of God in the city.  no more night, reign for ever and ever

b. God dwelling with His people for ever and ever – the new Heaven

 

02.2 Revelation – Remember, Redeemed, Removed, Renewed

01.5 Revelation – Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy

Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy*
*(see bonus video at the end of this post)

God had no issue with pulling out the stops to deliver the prophetic messages he had for His people, especially when those messages were a call to repentance.  He placed prophets in camel hair eating locusts and honey.  He had them walk around naked.  He had them speak an act so boldly in opposition to human authority that they were thrown in with lions or dumped in blazing furnaces.  The message, not the messenger, was the critical thing and these servants did what was required of them by God for the message to be heard (and hopefully heeded).

With the eccentricities of the old testament prophets in mind, it can be tempting to dismiss prophecy as strange, odd, radical and even crazy.  We may be tempted to have these thoughts as we read about multi-headed, multi-horned creatures and flying mutant animals, massive death and destruction and plagues and the dead rising.

However, we need to keep one key fact in mind.  Jesus Christ not only fulfilled prophecy, but He acknowledged Himself as a prophet.  Jesus made no hesitance to explain that He was sent by God to deliver God’s message to His people.  He did this not only through words, but also through His life, death and resurrection.

Think, too, about how strange some of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled seemed before His coming.  A virgin will be with child?  God with us?  He will lead Israel to greatness and rejected by Israel?  He will be the ultimate conqueror and pierced and killed, despised and rejected?

But, with the word of the bible and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can clearly see how these prophecies were and will be fulfilled.  We can see that the prophecy of God’s plan for salvation through Jesus, first arriving on a colt and then, at His return, arriving on a cloud are not contradictory, but simply point to two different times.  We can also see that all of this is not random, disconnected information, but all prophecy is ultimately about the one key thing that has always been God’s plan for mankind – to be fully reunited with Him in glory for all eternity, free of sin and suffering and death, for His glory as God.

My Answers:

11. Jesus – predicted His coming through prophecy from God

12.
a.
That the plan (the original plan) was for Christ to come, die, rise again, to prepare a place and time and to come again to bring those in His flock home

b.

That it is the climax of the story of God, the conclusion of the redemption but the beginning of the only true “happily ever after.”

Bonus

This video is an interesting presentation showing how Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy is evidence on which to build faith.

01.5 Revelation – Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy

29.2 Moses 29, Day 2

Praising on the right side of the Income Statement

It wasn’t difficult to think of people I would consider to be a “man or woman of God”.  But, it took a few minutes of reflection to identify what they had in common.

I mean, they have lots in common.  The love the Lord.  They study the bible.  The are extremely generous with time and talent.  But they were also unique different.  Men and women, family, friends, younger and older.

I finally realized the unique attitude each of them have is their attitude toward time with God.  Many people either talk about or do spend time with God.  Often there can be more talking about it than doing it in some circles.  But, in accounting lingo, “spending” is on the expense side of the Income Statement, and that is not how they view time with God.

It isn’t that some how their time is multiplied or changed.  They have the same number of hours in their days that everyone else has.  They have the same pressures, the same challenges and the same very lengthy to-do’s.  Often, their to-do’s can be even longer than most because of the commitments to charity, teaching and those in need.  An hour with God is one less hour in day.  They don’t somehow get that hour back.

The difference is that because they first and foremost have a relationship with the Lord, the time with Him is time with a friend.  Because their friend is the all powerful, everlasting, Creator, He is a friend that cares for them and provides beyond their needs.  Time in the relationship keeps them connected with the one in charge and the more time with Him deepens the relationship, understanding, love, grace and power.

It is like we have seen in the Life of Moses.  When major challenges came along, Moses got down on his knees.  When Moses had complaints, he went to God.  He walked with Him and he talked with Him, he worshiped Him and obeyed Him.  He led and taught and judged and gave, not of his own strength, but of His Lord God’s.

I also thought it was interesting that Moses’ first words in these verses about God is also the first step to be on the path with God.  He starts by saying “God came”.  God always shows up.  God is ever present.  Wherever people gather in His name, God is there.  But do we?  Do we show up?  Do you intentionally put time each day with God?  Do you have a plan for study and time with the Lord this summer?  Do you think of your time with Him as a time of obligation or a time of deep interaction and relationship?  Is your devotional time something you look forward to checking off of your list or something you simply look forward to?

My Answers:

3.
Of currently living people that I have a personal relationship with: My wife, son and daughters and future daughter in law.  Fellow children’s leaders.  Friends: KH, DF, KR.  These people are absolute prayer warriors.  I desire to be considered in this lot as well!  Of others, biblical characters, apostles, pastors, missionaries, some authors

4.
a.
came, dawned, shone forth, with holy ones, love, worthy of praise, instructor, giver of the law, king

b.
You love the people, King of the upright, you are the dawn, your shine forth over all the holy places

29.2 Moses 29, Day 2