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:

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

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

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.

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


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:


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.

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:

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.

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.

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

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!

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

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:


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

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

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

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

attackers drew back and fell to the ground

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

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:

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

“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

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

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

God will honor that which honors Him.

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


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.

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

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

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


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.

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

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?

BSF Genesis: Week 30, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures


Hand on neck of enemies, brothers praise you, relatives bow down, Lion, scepter will not depart, ruler’s staff…until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, whom all nations will honor

all bow to him, victorious against his prey, holds the scepter and ruler’s staff for they belong to him, from the line of Judah,  the one whom all nations will honor

1 Cr 15:54, Death has been swallowed up in victory; Rom 6:9 Death no longer has mastery over him; Luke 22:69 The Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God; Heb 1:2 by His Son whom he appointed heir of all things; Heb 1:8 about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter…, Matt 27:18 Christ was dressed in a crimson robe (crimson would be the color of a robe died in the blood of grapes, it was also the color representing sin, e.g., the crimson sash hung outside the window by Rahab.)

He is victorious over death so I need not fear the grave.  He is at the right hand of God and holds the scepter of heaven, so I can trust in His rule.

His region was beside the sea of Galilee and included Capernaum.  Many gentiles (ships) lived there and were saved (safe harbor)

The tribe of Issachar were to be farmers.  We know from the time of Adam that farming would be hard work and toil, but we know also from Eccles 3:12-13 that toil is a gift from God.  God encourages us to work and do good hard work which yields benefits to us now and eternally

Samson – Judges 13-18 – killed many Philistines who ruled over Israel at the time

My Daily Journal:

Many of us know the story of Samson and his incredible strength when the spirit would come upon him in strength.  But as I reread the story I was struck by his parents.

Manoah, who was from the tribe of Dan, lived in the land unjustly ruled by the Philistines.  The Israelites had been turned over to the Philistines because of their sin.  Manoah was married to a woman who was childless.  The angel of the Lord came to her and told her she would give birth to a son who would be a Nazirite and he will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

The part that came next is what really struck me in relation to our lesson this week.  In Judges 13:18, “Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.””

In our scripture this week Jacob has assembled and is speaking truth about the future to his sons, including many things they either don’t understand or, in some instances, things they don’t want to hear.  This made me think about what I should do if God delivered news about my future to me.  What if he told me something about my health, my finances, my children, my church?  Should I worry about it?  Should I jump into action? Should I just take the news and do nothing? Should I use my own intellect to “figure things out”?

But, the example we learn from Manoah is the right response.  Given revelation about the future, my first step should be to drop to my knees and humbly pray to God to come into my life and teach me how to do what He wants with this revelation.  To teach me how to honor Him and be true in my work in the future to His calling for my life.

BSF Genesis: Week 29, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures


66, plus his family = 70

God’s covenant was with them too, the promise to take them there and bring them back – the entire house of Israel

Name written in heaven in the book , in the book of life that will be opened on judgment day

So they could survive the famine.  So they could be one nation and one people.  So they could be reconciled and restored as a family.

Goshen was the best part of the land of Egypt for raising livestock.  It was the area for livestock and their shepherds.  The Egyptians found this a detestable occupation and so did not cross-marry with them (preserving them as a unique people)

Not constrained by current societal custom. Egyptians would not eat with Hebrews, yet Pharaoh put one in charge of all food supply.  Welcomed Joseph’s family and gave them his herds to tend.  Despite them working in an occupation Egyptians detested, Pharaoh accepted blessing from Jacob

My Daily Journal:

The list of names in Genesis 46 in light of the passage in Revelation 20 has some interesting depth.  First, is the question of is this an all inclusive list of names.  Second is why, if they were so good with counting sheep, is their math so bad.  Third, and most importantly, is, why is this here and who cares.

We know from verse 26 that this is not everyone because it does not count the sons’ wives.

In terms of the count – I can’t make it exact.  Dinah might be the missing person in the list to get to 66, since Er and Onan were dead.  I’ve included the list below – if anyone has a better idea, let me know.  Some things we just might not know.   Like, what was going on that Jacob had all these boys and only Dinah and Serah listed as daughters?  Exodus 1:5 says he had 70 children in total, replacing Joseph with Ephraim and Manasseh and including Dinah in the list does equal 70.

But the really important question is the final one.  Why is this here?  There are many reasons.  Genealogy creates relevance.  This is a real account of real people.  But I think it is deeper than that and helps clear up something from the Revelation passage.  Rev 20:12 says, The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  That can be troubling to people.  Is it faith or works?  How does this fit?

This is where the Genesis 46 passage becomes a key.  What do all these names in print have in common?  Not what they did (although we have written accounts of some of that throughout Genesis).  They are listed here because of the family to which they belong.  In the same way, we can have confidence in the book of life not because of what we do or don’t do but because we have been adopted to be brothers with Christ.  I picture a cross reference (no pun intended) index for all believers’ names in the book of life – an asterisks that says simply, “see Jesus”.  In the same way that we discussed last week Joseph giving all the glory to God, Christ paid the price in full for all of the “good works” that we are incapable of doing to be perfect in judgment.


1 Reuben 1 1
2 Hanok 2 2
3 Pallu 3 3
4 Hezron 4 4
5 Karmi 5 5
6 Simeon 6 6
7 Jemuel 7 7
8 Jamin 8 8
9 Ohad 9 9
10 Jakin 10 10
11 Zohar 11 11
12 Shaul 12 12
13 Levi 13 13
14 Gershon 14 14
15 Kohath 15 15
16 Merari 16 16
17 Judah 17 17
18 Er Dead 18
19 Onan Dead 19
20 Shelah 18 20
21 Perez 19 21
22 Zerah 20 22
23 Hezron 21 23
24 Hamul 22 24
25 Issachar 23 25
26 Tola 24 26
27 Puah 25 27
28 Jashub 26 28
29 Shimron 27 29
30 Zebulun 28 30
31 Sered 29 31
32 Elon 30 32
33 Jahleel 33 in all 31 33
1 Gad 32 34
2 Zephon 33 35
3 Haggi 34 36
4 Shuni 35 37
5 Ezbon 36 38
6 Eri 37 39
7 Arodi 38 40
8 Areli 39 41
9 Asher 40 42
10 Imnah 41 43
11 Ishvah 42 44
12 Ishvi 43 45
13 Beriah 44 46
14 Serah sister 45 47
15 Heber 46 48
16 Malkiel 16 in all 47 49
1 Joseph In Egypt 50
2 Manasseh In Egypt 51
3 Ephraim In Egypt 52
4 Benjamin 48 53
5 Bela 49 54
6 Beker 50 55
7 Ashbel 51 56
8 Gera 52 57
9 Naaman 53 58
10 Ehi 54 59
11 Rosh 55 60
12 Muppim 56 61
13 Huppim 57 62
14 Ard 14 58 63
1 Dan 59 64
2 Hushim 60 65
3 Naphtali 61 66
4 Jahziel 62 67
5 Guni 63 68
6 Jezer 64 69
7 Shillem 7 65 70

BSF Genesis: Week 29, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures


Plan had changed.  Was not supposed to go to Egypt before, now it was OK

It is current/timely.  based on time and situation

Trust wholeheartedly, not leaning on own understanding.  submit and things will be straight

Ask for wisdom, believe and not doubt – trust!

1. I will make you a great nation in Egypt, 2. I will go down to Egypt with you, 3. I will surely bring you back again.  4. Joseph’s hand will close your eyes.

1. Ex 1:7 the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them 2. Ex 6:2-5 I have heard the groaning of the Israelites 3.Ex 12:31 Leave my people and go 4. Gen 49:33 Jacob dies, 50:1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept and kissed him

My Daily Journal:

These first few verses of Genesis 46 are such a powerful reminder of a present God.  We can easily fall into an impression of God as being distant both in time and space.  So many of our depictions of God are cast in images of people walking around in robes and sandals.  We can fall into a trap of thinking of God as divine and loving but with a message that is set in stone for us to follow.

What we see in these verses is a different God.  He is present.  He is timely.  At an earlier time Jacob was not supposed to go to Egypt, but now he is.  God gives him new direction.  God is the author of the book (and of the universe) but it is an interactive story that includes us today.

What an encouragement to prayer and what a powerful image of a personal and present God.  We are encouraged to get into a proper state to talk with God, taking on a sacrificial attitude as Jacob did and then honor God’s direction in our life for who He is.  This means trust in what we hear from Him wholeheartedly, without doubt, and begin walking the path he lays out for us to go.