16.4 Revelation – They = Us

They = Us

Revelation 12:11 states, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

The question is, who is “they.”

At first blush, it would be easy to interpret the they as the angels.  This verse comes from a loud voice in heaven directly after Michael and his angels defeat the dragon and his angels and cast satan out of heaven to earth.

But, I’m going to offer an alternative for consideration.  The sentence immediately prior to 11 states, “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”  What if, instead of the angels, the “they” in verse 11 instead refers to the brothers and sisters?

If this is the interpretation, then we, as believers defeated satan even as the angels taking up arms and waging battle against him.  He was defeated not by our power or goodness or strength, but by the blood of the lamb and by the word (God’s word) brought to the world through our testimony (that is changed lives).

Our triumph, through the saving grace of the blood of Christ, over the accuser would be the root of his demise.  If we were simply un-redeemed sinners, then his accusations before God would be the truth and that truth would have a place in heaven.  But, because of the blood of the lamb, we are redeemed and the price of our sins has been paid-in-full.  The dragon then is spewing forth false accusations and false testimony against those who now stand as witnesses, through their testimony, to the power of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son of God.

As humans, we will die, but as saved souls we do not shrink from death.  We don’t look forward to dying and we mourn for those who have died, but we recognize it is not the end, but simply a portal to cross to an eternal life.  And, unlike the dragon and his angels, our eternal life will be spent in heaven rejoicing with the angels.

My Answers:

9.
He was thrown out of heaven (out of God’s presence) – God has forgiven them and wiped the slate clean – no one is there rehashing old wounds and bringing the up again and again

10.
a. As co-heirs with Christ, they shared in the glory and victory, through obedience and submission  under christ to reject Satan
b. We are reconciled through the blood (saved) – he died while we were unbelievers, now are in unity to all heaven under Christ
c. Eternal life is only through Jesus, Blessedd. God is first – whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives his life over to Jesus, lives forever, christ died for us

11.
a.
It has emphasized the disparity between God and Satan.  We sometimes elevate satan to an undue level.  He is just an angel – not God, not a son of God, not the Holy Spirit.

b.
Lo! he comes, with clouds descending, once for our salvation slain; thousand thousand saints attending swell the triumph of his train: Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!

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10.4 Moses 10, Day 4

Priests, Present, Prayer, Patience, Passing the Torch

Are you called to be an active part of the ministry of your church? Yes.

1. Priests: When you become a Christian you are clothed in Christ.  Just as the priests of the tabernacle wore special clothing to designate them as part of a unique group, set apart for special work before God, we wear Christ inside and out.  All Christians are priests, with an expectation of being part of the ministry of the church.  That ministry can take on many forms, such as teaching, counseling, caring, feeding, praying, supporting, etc.  When the priests put on their clothing, it was like a uniform.  In the same way, when we ask for Christ to be the center of our life, we take on the uniform of that faith.  There are no spectators, no one sitting on the sidelines, if you are a Christian you’re place is in the field.

2. Present: The priests were present at the tabernacle every day.  They had days of rest, but a big part of what they did was show up every day.  The incense was lit twice a day, the candle wicks were mended, the bread was placed on the table, the sacrifices were made, the cleansing took place.  In the same way, we are called to show up and do kingdom work every day.  Every day we are called to cleanse our soul.  Every day we are called to break bread with God.  Every day we are tend the light to the world that our candle shines to those to whom we influence.

3. Prayer: When we decide we need to become more active in church, we often start with an assessment of what we are good at or what we are comfortable doing.  But, that is wrong.  Our approach should begin with prayer.  If we trust God and know that He has a plan and calling for our work in His church, we need to also begin by asking Him to reveal that plan to us.

4. Patience: After we pray, we need to wait patiently and continue to pray.  A few years back I read Tony Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength.  He said, “I needed to do my current job well, keep preparing, and wait on God’s timing. I needed to trust His leadership rather than try to force an outcome I wanted.”  He explained that every time he jumped ahead of God in his career, things did not go well.  We need to have the same patience in our work and our job in God’s church.

5. Pass the torch: God did not only appoint Aaron, He also appointed his sons.  I was visiting with a lady recently who asked about the church we attended.  She and her family had attended a church for the past 2 years, but she explained that it was an older, established church and they had not found a place to plug in and serve in the church.  Each time they had attempted, they found themselves trespassing on someone’s established turf.  People serving in roles in the church are often heard to complain that they have to do too much themselves because others aren’t stepping up.  Could it possibly be that we are not actively developing the future leaders to step in?  Could God have something else in mind for you that you can’t step up to because you won’t let go of your current position?

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
God

b.
If try to take an easy, comfortable job, it is blocked or not successful – called to serve in area that would not have been my initial preference, such as working with kids instead of adults.

8.
Titus: We are washed in the saving blood of Jesus and rewed by the Holy Spirit

Galations: those baptized into Christ have clothed themselves with Christ

2Cor: Anointed us, seal of ownership, put spirit in our hearts

Rom: Christ as a sacrifice of atonement – righteousness

1 Peter: the church is a chosen people, Kingdom of priests, holy nation, God’s possession

06 Moses 6, Day 4

The Biggest Gun

There is a famous scene of the Cairo Swordsman in the first Indiana Jones movie.  After a chase scene in a crowded market, Dr. Jones is faced with a trained assassin, a skilled swordsman prepared to meet this outsider.  In the scene, Indiana Jones watches the moves of the assassin for a few seconds then takes out his gun and shoots him.

The Israelite people left Egypt fully armed for battle (13:18) or at least battle as they knew it from their time in Egypt.  But God had something bigger and more powerful than they could even imagine, if they would put their trust in Him.

He couldn’t just tell them about it.  It was a power they would not have been able to fathom and believe.  Let’s face it, thousands of years later many still have a hard time understanding and believing it. No, the only way was to show them – and what better way to demonstrate it than against the most powerful army of the most powerful nation they could imagine: Egypt.

He placed them into a position that was contrary to any military logic.  He had them wander about to feign a message to the Egyptian army that they lacked direction and leadership and a mission.  Then he positions them in an indefensible camp with their backs to an impassible body of water.  At which point He demonstrates that not only is His power greater than all the gods of Egypt, but it is even more powerful than something the Egyptians put even more trust into than their 8700 gods.  God is more powerful than the entire Egyptian army, chariots and all.

He parts the water and the Israelite people cross over walking on dry land with walls of water on each side of them.  When they have all safely passed, he allows the Egyptians to pursue, but then confuses them so they run in circles and get stuck and break down in the midst of the parted sea, then He simply closes the sea around them, destroying and defeating everything about the army.

Now, that is a bigger gun!

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
God recognized the weakness of their faith and did not lead them through Philistine country.  They went up out of Egypt ready for battle.  He led them by day and night and was teaching them to trust fully in Him.

b.
He put them into a position, by wandering around and then camping with no avenue of retreat, that their own power and strength was futile, but through His mighty hand He provided a safe passage and defeat of their enemies.

c.
Pharaoh and all his army and all the Egyptians know that “I am the LORD.” when he freed the Israelites and destroyed the entire army

d.
I am totally unequipped to minister to those in foreign lands, I am not equipped, I do not speak any other languages, I do not know the culture – I am a man with faltering lips in this area.  But less than a week ago, with 3 days notice, God placed the main leaders of the house church movement in a closed communist nation in my house along with 40 people from that country who are here on student and work visas and God allowed me to be a small part of demonstrating His compassion and hospitality so that He could do His work through the connections of these people.  Buses were showing up full of noted Christian authors, pastors and house church leaders along with non-believers and seekers.  If this occurred in their home country they would have been persecuted and imprisoned for even being in the same room.  Many of the leaders in our home had spent years in prison and suffered brutality and torture in the name of Jesus.  But on this day, dozens of people were on their knees being prayed over in their native tongue and hearing the word of God spoken.  The hardest thing I had to do was the dishes!

9.
a.
the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant

b.
He is truly mighty and wonderful.  He does not need me, but has allowed me to have a part and to see how He is moving in the lives of others, especially the children.

27.2 BSF Matthew Week 27, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

A large crowd had made its way to Jerusalem for celebration of the passover.  They had begun arriving the week before.  5 days before Jesus had been all the buzz and a large crowd had gone out to find him at the dinner at Lazarus’ house.  This was when Mary had anointed Jesus with the perfume.  4 days before Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd.  Hosanna!  Blessed is the King of Israel.  Tonight they show up as an armed mob with torches and clubs and betrayal and hatred on their lips. Tomorrow they will be screaming for his execution in the most brutal and demeaning manner possible.

What did Jesus do in less than 4 days time that went from triumphant and joyful arrival to rejection and hatred of him?  It isn’t what He did that was the problem.  It is what He didn’t do.  He didn’t change who He was to become who they wanted him to be.

God is immutable.  Unlike the crowd and popular opinion, He doesn’t change; never has, never will, and we humans get frustrated by that.  Why doesn’t God…?  How can God….?  That… may have been true back then but we know….

Our challenge today is the same challenge of that day.  All too often the basis of our perception of God is in what we think or what we have been told rather than what the bible actually says.  According to a 2013 research study by the Barna Group, more Americans had read Twilight, the Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey than had read the bible cover to cover.  Of those who do read the bible only 26% read it regularly with 57% touching it less than 4 times per year.  Yet, we have no limit to our opinions about who God is and how He should behave and what He would or should say!

Beware of crowds.  Beware of the “wisdom of our age”.  Beware of popular opinion.  Beware of your own strength and your own opinion.  There is only one place in which to place your trust, one source that will last beyond both earth and heaven because it is true and unchanging: the word of our Lord.

We are quickly approaching the end of our study of Matthew – what will you do this summer to not fall into temptation?

My Answers:

3.
a.
Peter

b.
battle between the large crowd with sword and clubs and the handful of apostles

c.
Jesus had outlined what would happen – He was in control, but Peter was in denial of that control over the situation

d.
mostly in the form of worry and stress. They don’t yield results but submitting to God does

4.
a.
betrayed with a kiss, captured with swords and clubs, deserted by apostles

b.
attackers drew back and fell to the ground

c.
let these men go, I have not lost one of those you gave me, healed the man’s ear

d.
shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

06.5 BSF Matthew Week 6, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I don’t think Christians are called to be ignorant pansies that are constantly taken advantage of, bullied and abused.  We are not called to be a doormat for others to simply wipe their feet on.

We are called to follow our mission.  If we are following it fully, if we are truly committed to that mission then it and it alone is critical in everything we do and every decision we make.  When you are a soldier in battle you don’t decide to ignore the mission because you don’t want to get your uniform dirty.  When you are a surgeon with a patient on the table you don’t decide to operate of some other part because it is easier and quicker.  You stick with the mission – it is what it is all about.

Our mission is simple.  We heard it last week.  Be salt and light to the world.  Take the strength and word and light of God and use it to witness, heal, baptize and save.  Period.  That is the mission.

If walking a mile accomplishes that – walk the mile.  If giving up a shirt accomplishes that, give up the shirt.  But, in all of it, stay true to the mission.  If giving someone your shirt does not bring them closer to God, then the mission is not to give shirts – it is to figure out what brings them closer to God.

One of my friends talked about an interaction with a homeless person this week at a coffee shop.  The man asked my friend, “can you help me?” and he gave him a few dollars.  But that weighed heavy on his heart.  There is nothing wrong with giving the money, and God can use that, but what if he had, instead, invited the man to sit down with him and bought him food that they shared together.  How much more could the investment of 10 minutes meant in the mission my brother carried?

I can get so focused on “what is rightfully mine” that I fall back into the trap of justice = revenge or getting even.  But this is based on a mindset of finite resources.  For me to get even I have to take it back from the person who wronged me.  But I am the child of an infinite God and creator.  There is so much more.  God honors that which honors Him!

My Answers:

12.
a.
If your yes is yes and your no is no, then there is no “qualification” to speaking the truth, you just always do.  There is no provision for falsehood

b.
“To be honest with you…”  These words imply that at other times you are not honest or don’t mean it.  Hard to tell when is when and what is what

c.
Know the truth and stick to it.  No “white lies”.

13.
a.
Fear and Concern over being a doormat keeps me out of ministry opportunities and witnessing to others.  I need to keep in mind what is truly important (bringing others to Christ).  If being slapped or giving a shirt or walking a mile helps with that, then, by all means, that is what I should be doing

b.
God will honor that which honors Him.

14.
Gal: walk with the spirt not gratify the desires of the fleshEph: Put off old self and deceitful desires, new in attitude, righteousness and holiness like God
Phil: Obey, work out with God and allow Him to act in my to fulfill His good purpose
Phil: think about: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy

BSF Genesis: Week 31, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

6.
Pharaoh honored him by the entourage he sent to his graveside.  Dignitaries of his court, all the dignitaries of Egypt, Chariots and horsemen, a very large company, so great the the Canaanites renamed the place to mourning of the Egyptians. Only Hebrew children and livestock left behind.

7.
a.
The size and scale and the mourning that occurred at the threshing floor of Atad

b.
v12. Did as he commanded them, carried him, buried him.

c.
We are aliens here – our citizenship is in heaven.  We have been saved through Christ.

My Daily Journal:

Jacob was a mirror who reflected God.  When the bible says God is the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it does not mean these men owned God.  It means that they reflected God for others to see.

Jacob reflected God in his prayer life.  He reflected God in His trust of God’s word.  He reflected God in his willingness to speak truth (especially in his later years).  He reflected God in his blessings (which were actually God’s blessings).  He reflected God in and through his children and especially through Joseph.

When pharoah send a very large company, chariots, horsemen; when he sent all the riches of Egypt; when he provided the royal embalmers; when the Egyptians mourned at the threshing floor; when the Egyptians stayed with the Israelite children and flocks so their parents could all go back to Canaan (even though they found shepherds detestable)… When all of these things occurred they reflected directly through Jacob back to God, His God, The God of Israel.

When we go to a funeral and participate in eulogies today it is the same thing.  When a christian has spent their life reflecting the glory of God, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time reflecting on that reflection!  The glory is not going to the individual, it is going to the source of the light that they helped shine.

BSF Genesis: Week 30, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.
fruitful vine near a spring: his actions in Egypt, by the Nile, saved nations from starvation. branches climb over a wall: moved from Canaan to Egypt received Egyptian name and honors, Archer attach: Brothers, Potiphars wife, forgotten in prison – he faced many attacks; Bow remained steady, strong arms limber: despite hardship he stayed true and honorable to God; because of hand of Mighty One, Shepherd, Rock: All was because of God and for His glory.

11.
blessings from skies above waters below, sun and moon; gifts from ancient mountains and hills; let all these rest on the head of Joseph the prince among his brothers

12.
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.  He may be a ravenous wolf to the world, but he carries the lamb upon his shoulders

My Daily Journal:

We are wisely encouraged in life to save and set funds aside for our old age and for an inheritance to our children.  While the bible warns against placing our faith in this accumulation, it is also clearly taught to set funds aside in the years of plenty for the lean years that often follow.

We can see a parallel in these spiritual blessings that Jacob has accumulated for his sons.  Do these things belong to Jacob, no, they belong to God.  But through a life devoted to God and setting aside treasures of faith in his heart, Jacob can bestow these blessings onto his sons and the sons of Joseph.  Blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Blessings greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills.

What am I, through faith, receiving as a spiritual blessing that I, through the almighty hand of God, will be able to bestow upon my children and grandchildren?  Is my inheritance to them measured in dollars or measured in blessings and grace and truth?  What words do I need to say to my children?  Shouldn’t I say them now until waiting until my deathbed?