03.5 Revelation – Thought Word Deed

Thought Word Deed

I grew up in a church with a more traditional liturgy and book of prayer.  The public confession in our worship service, on communion Sundays, began with the statement: “Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”

This came to my mind as I thought about John and the way he is witnessing his faith.  I see him witnessing in thought, word and deed as and example to us all.  On the Lord’s day, he is in the spirit.  He hears the voice like a trumpet and he sees the one he loves.  This is his very best friend, Jesus.  This is the one to whom he has dedicated his entire life.  And, in response to seeing him, John models for us the one and only appropriate response: he feel to his face in submission to the holy Lord, King of Kings.

It makes me think of how I should respond to Jesus each and every day.  He is no longer the babe in the manger (although that is part of who he will always be).  He is the victorious one.  The firstborn of the dead.  The glorified person of the God-Head.  He is our savior, Lord, and King.

I can be tempted to think of Jesus only as that babe.  I can be tempted to think of Him only as the preacher and healer.  I can be tempted to think of Him only on the cross or risen from the tomb.  Those are all accurate, but they can also be a temptation to put Jesus in a little box.  Jesus is bigger.  Instead of trying to compartmentalize Jesus to a viewpoint or to a certain time of the day or week, I need to change my perspective to match that of John.  The most direct way to change my perspective is to change my posture.  Maybe I need to spend less time trying to stand up in defense of my thoughts, words and deeds, and more time face down on the ground in front of my Maker and Lord.  If I truly do want to make a personal connection with Jesus, maybe I should spend less time trying to reach to Him and more time in submission to Him so that He will lay His hand on me as He did on John.

My Answers:

12.
the seven churches

13.
Jesus.  He is the exalted promised Messiah, who died, but through grace, saves those who caused His death.

14.
He fell face down at His feet.  He knew Jesus and knew who He was.  He witnessed to us through his actions.  This is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.

03.4 Revelation – Don’t Be Silenced

Don’t Be Silenced

Many believers through the ages have faced resistance and persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ.  John, and the apostles, were no exception.  This persecution continues to this day and there are areas of the world where people are dying for their faith.

But, what is the appropriate response for those of us who are not facing great persecution or hardship for our faith.  Should we feel bad?  Should we feel guilty? I don’t think so.

Instead, I think we should see through the opposition and persecution that happens in the world, beyond the action itself and view the goal of the evil forces that are behind the persecution.  Their goal is not simply to make life difficult or kill that believer.  Life is difficult and every believer (until the rapture) will die.  Their goal, I believe, is bigger.  Their goal is to silence others.  The bigger picture is not the one person or even group of being being attacked but the deterrence of others who would be witnesses.

So, what can and should we do?  Do not be silent!  Do not be deterred.  Do not be intimidated.  Do not fear the persecution (God is bigger and stronger).

Our call in the commission that Jesus gave through the apostles is “to be my witnesses”.  It is not a competition about who has the best persecution story.  (I don’t know if it happens in the ladies’ groups, but guys are notorious for following up from a previous answer from another guy with the statement “I can’t top that…”).  It is a call to not let any persecution story – your own or someone else’s – silence your witness.  Be bold.  Stand strong.  Be a witness.

My Answers:

10.
a.
On the Island of Patmos, suffering in patient endurance because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus

b.
stoned, run through with sword, hung on cross, tortured, killed.  Tradition says John was placed in a vat of boiling oil prior to being sent to the Island of Patmos

11.
a.
They are minor – but every conflict or issue happens on BSF Mondays.

b.
through standing strong – continued witness is thought, word and action to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Stand boldly!

 

03.3 Revelation – A View of God

A View of God

Have you every viewed the stars through a telescope?  The greater the magnification and the deeper you look, also, the narrower your focus.  You see beauty.  You see magnificence.  You see any number of other attributes and characteristics.  However, it would be easy to extrapolate and think the entire universe is exactly like the small slice that you are observing, when actually, each perspective is as unique as the last.  It can be so much bigger and grander than we can even imagine and that is even from the singular perspective of earth-bound views.  Imagine, even more so, if you consider all the perspectives from all the planets in the universe.

Yet, God is even bigger than the Universe.  In each generation of man, since creation and throughout time we have had the opportunity to observe and get to know God.  But, like the view through the telescope, God is so big that to take a deep view of God is to limit our focus to only on a small slice of the true majesty of God.

In the beginning, we see a slice or view of God as creator.  Through the Old Testament we see a focus on God as provider, but also of God who provides the law and expects compliance with the law.  With the New Testament, we see the love of God through the gift of His son, Jesus.  In Revelation we see the wrath of God unleashed and we will see God on the great white throne of judgment.

All of these views and perspectives of God are true and accurate, but they are each just a single perspective of the unfathomably great God.  However, John, in his gospel, letters and book of prophecy, helps present the overarching story of the bible, when seen from beginning to end.  That perspective, or focus on God, is the view that God gave us as THE view-piece through which we are to see and be in a relationship with God.  That focus/view is none other than Jesus Christ.

As John writes, Jesus, the Word, was in the beginning, everything created was created through Him.  He was promised at the point that sin entered the garden.  He was present with the grace shown in the law, which was nothing more than a foreshadowing of the insufficiency of these sacrifices, in anticipation of the all sufficient and complete price paid through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  He is love.  He is the one who walked on earth and cared for the forgotten and sinners.  He was the one who healed the sick and fed the people.  He also is the judge, the redeemer, the victor.  He is the one shining in glory, striking the decisive blow to sin and death.  He is the firstborn into the new heaven and new earth that is to come.

There is an old story about blind men trying to describe an elephant.  Each bases his description on the part of the elephant he experiences.  A leather ear.  A leg.  The tail.  Each presents a true, but very different viewpoint of the elephant.  As we study the book of Revelation as the climax and conclusion of the bible, we need to see the elephant in the room: Jesus.

My Answers:

6.
a.
He is the creator, the one is is was and is to come, Jesus Christ was present at all, the faithful witness, firstborn of the dead (more to come), the ruler of kings

b.
It provides a perspective by which any argument of any other reason than love for His people is removed.  In an eternity, mankind has nothing to give to God.

7.
John: He was given to the world by God, in love, to save the world1Cor: He died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures
1Cor: He is raised from the dead, the firstfruits
Phil: He is exalted in heaven,  name above all names, every knee will bow & tongue: He is glory of God

8.
I am saved.  He gives the greatest gift – Love, His Son.  He is risen and in control of everything.

9.
a.
i. All the peoples of the Earth
ii. All who have sinned – we condemned Him to the cross
iii. All, we will be humbled and mourn our own inadequacy in light of His glory.  We as believers (if we are still on the Earth at that time) will also be mournful because the hope for those we have been praying and hoping for that they would turn and accept Jesus, will be at an end.

b.
We haven’t missed it.  Even though we all have sinned – we are forgiven, our debt is cancelled: nailed to the cross

03.2 Revelation – Blessed

Blessed

We sometimes get a bit too casual with blessings.  Bless you, bless you, oh, you sneezed, bless you, too.  But blessings from God are big deals.

I know there are more authoritative definitions, but I think of a blessing as receiving undue and unearned favor.  Blessings can be conditional, and have requirements or qualifications in place to receive them, but they are not wages or payment, they are a gift.  Blessings can be something that the receiver immediately sees as a positive, but not always.  Sometimes the biggest blessings in our lives can be hardships and challenges that helped us grow stronger, change path and walk closer to the Lord.

Since creation, God has blessed His people.  He gave a special blessing to Abraham, which he passed to his son Isaac who then passed it to Jacob who became Israel.  We see in the story of Jacob and Esau that a blessing is something of great value worth desiring.  From Jacob/Israel we see it is even something worth fighting for as he wrestled with the angel of the Lord.

Jesus was serious about blessings.  His first recorded sermon is filled with blessings from Matthew 5:

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

So, when we read Revelation 1:3, we need to not take it lightly.  A blessing from God is something we should long for and desire with our whole heart.  This one is a conditional blessing offered freely when these conditions are met:

  1. Read aloud the words of the prophecy
  2. Hear it
  3. Take to heart what is written in it

By doing these things, we are offered a double blessing from the Lord.  And this particular blessing is an everlasting blessing, one that promises to the family of believers, everlasting life.  Not only is this something we should desire, but it is something that should cause a change in our lives.  It is impossible to “take it to heart” and not have a transformed heart in the process.

My Answers:

3.
a. Jesus Christ

b. God to Jesus to the angel to John.  Blessings

4. To receive undue favor.  An eternal blessing.  Increased faith leading to a better ability to witness

5. Not just knowledge but an emotional, physical and spiritual change. My love for God and others should change for the better.  My faith and the witnessing of that faith should become more bold.