27.5 Revelation – Patiently Restored

I’ll confess, I struggle with God’s timing.  I pray and I patiently wait for God to answer prayer, through guidance, through direction, through provision, through an open or closed door.  And, I wait very patiently for about 20 minutes.  Sometimes I can stay patient for a day, sometimes even a couple of days. Waiting is hard.

Yet, as I confess and whine about how hard it is to wait on God’s timing, I’m struck by God’s patience revealed in Revelation 21.

At the fall of mankind, at the first sin of Adam and Eve, and actually before Adam and Eve were even created because of God’s omniscience, God knew exactly how He would restore the relationship.

God had created mankind in His image to live in harmony and communion with Him.  Through sin and disobedience we rejected God.  If Adam and Eve, or any descendants, had been allowed to earth from the tree of life, they would not have died, meaning they would have lived in a state of eternal separation.  Without death, there could be no repayment of the original gift of God (life), which Adam and Eve had rejected.  Without repayment, there could be no fairness or justice.  Without fairness and justice, God would not be God.

But keep in mind that God is totally in control.  He could have prevented the sin in the first place.  He could have immediately sent Jesus, died, resurrected, defeated death, banished satan and  produced Creation 2.0.  But He waited.

God has waited patiently for thousands of years.  God’s waiting has allowed you and I to have life.  God’s waiting has multiplied and magnified the body of faithful followers.  God continues to wait until every last human who would ever be born who would have chosen to accept the gift of grace and faith and mercy would be born and make that choice.

And that time of waiting, those thousands of years of the history of mankind and of all creation, in the timeline of eternity, is less than the blink of God’s eye.  The next time I’m impatient and whining about waiting on God’s timing, I need to remember this and blink and take to heart the admonishment of Jesus in Matthew 28:6 to the apostles on the boat in a storm (a good description of what my life feels like sometimes), “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

My Answers:

12.
the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal.  John 7:27-28, rev 21:6 To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

13.
a.
Because of Sin, separated from God, but if  ate of the tree of life then wouldn’t die and no restorative payment by death

b.
perfect communion with God in perfect peace and without sin – paradise

14.
Heaven

26.4 Revelation – Permeated with sin but Present in Peace

In Genesis 1, again and again we read that God’s creation was good.  But, then sin entered and, like a virus, it spread into every part of creation.  Every part of creation.  It spread into man’s DNA, our very existence, our nature.  But it also spread into the soil (blood), into the plants (weeds), into the rocks and streams and waters and air.  It spread into space, into the universe.  It spread into everything animate and inanimate.  It spread into the spiritual realm with the serpent and demons and fallen angels.  It is so invasive and so corrosive that the ultimate proper response is not to control or manage it, but simply to remove it.

In Revelation 21, we read that is what God does.  Every part of creation dies.  The living and the inanimate.  The mortal and the spiritual.  The earth and the cosmos.  All of it simply goes away and exists no more.  And, God starts a-new.

A new heaven and a new earth.  A new existence that in which God is fully present, where there is no more hurt or pain or sadness or separation.

We get fleeting glimpses of this in our present day.  The joy and innocence in a child’s eyes.  The shiver of the spirit when we feel God move in our life.  The peace that comes in the midst of prayer in a dire situation.  While we long for these flickers to light into raging fires, they are too quickly gone, smothered in the sin of the world.

But these glimpses are not mirages, they are real.  They are embers of the fire that burns in our God’s heart that He wants to place in ours for eternity.  It is the warmth and peace and joy that surpasses all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds on the truth, on the Word, on Jesus Christ.

The challenge for us, as believers, is not in finding the words to say to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is not in finding the spirit and conviction to talk to others.  It is not in our prayer lives.  The challenge is in our witness for Christ.  All of those others things impact it, but our loudest witness is in living a life noticeably different than the rest of the world.  A life that, despite the trials and tribulations, the pain and persecution, still shines with joy and assurance and peace.  Too often the witness that people see is one of hypocrisy of lip-service and compartmentalization of our faith to an hour on Sunday morning.  We are sinners and do not have the ability to shine this living witness on our own, but through prayer, reading the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the reflection of God’s holiness can shine through us.

My Answers:

7.
Our current existence – because it has been corrupted by sin –  all of creation, not redeemed directly by the saving power of Jesus Christ, must suffer death and destruction

8.
During the time in the garden God walked and talked with man daily.  In isolated instances after He did the same (Enoch, Moses).  He spoke to and through the prophets.  He revealed himself in visions and direct signs and through angels (Lot, Daniel).  He became man and dwelt among us (Jesus).  He is coming again to reign for 1000 years after which time all creation will be purged and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth and only those who have committed their lives to Him will live for eternity in peace.

9.
a.
God’s answered prayer – Also that God has revealed Himself through circumstances that simply cannot be described in any other way than divine intervention.

b.
Because of the peace of the presence of the Holy Spirit – it is a feeling, but also a comfort and consolation and contentment that can be described in no other way than “from God”

25.3 Revelation – Summary Judgment

In legal proceedings there is a motion known as a summary judgment.  It is basically an request made to a judge that says, assuming that everything the other part is arguing or presenting is valid, even if the best or worst things they claim are held as the truth, it still would not matter and we request that the court find for our position.

This is the situation we discover in the first resurrection.  Even if these martyrs and those chosen to help lead during the 1000 year reign of Christ were to be judged, and even if every sin, lie, wrongdoing, etc, etc, were held as accepted evidence, they still would be found not guilty.  Their stance, to lay down their life instead of recant their faith is prima-facie evidence.

But, here we must make a very important distinction.  It is not the act of being martyred that provides this evidence.  We need to be very, very clear on this point.  It is not the willingness to die for something you believe in that is somehow noble or worthy or causes the scales to tip in one direction in terms of eternal life or heavenly rewards.

Unfortunately, this misconception and lie is one the dragon uses.  This is how we have suicide bombers and terrorists and others deceived by lies.  These are not noble or honorable people, they are wicked, evil, lost souls who bought into a lie so thoroughly that they love it more than their own life.

The evidence is not in the act, no more that we are saved or lost by any single act.  The evidence is in the fact that they Holy Spirit was completely present in the lives of these Christian martyrs at the time they were killed for their faith.

Their deaths do not earn this this special resurrection or favor.  The life of the one in them at the moment of their death is the evidence and the proof – not of their own goodness or something deserved, but that they were cloaked in the redeeming blood of the lamb.

We should honor and learn from the Christian martyrs, but the teaching is not how to die, but how to live.

My Answers:

6.
a.
because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God.  Had not worshiped beast or image and no mark – They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years

b.
Standing strong leads to denigration and possible death by Satan, but to honor and life with Jesus –

7.
a.
The bringing back to life the martyrs – prior to 1000 year reign of Jesus

b.
the second death – damnation, judgment day – they have been found saved and holy – risen to live, a spiritual awakening and a new body

8.
Priests of God and of Christ, reign with Him for 1000 years – not just sitting around being bored – we are productive members of God’s society.

24.5 – Scavenging

Our scripture for today gets a little gory, a little gruesome, but in a glorious way.  We are repulsed by the idea of these scavenging birds being filled with the flesh of those fallen soldiers who stood in opposition to Jesus when He returns.

But lets step back and really look at this.  The only thing of value from these individuals is their flesh.  They lived by the flesh.  They cherished flesh and bone over spirit.  They not only denied Jesus Christ but they took up arms against Him.

Who forms an army to fight against the eternal God?  What hope did they have?  Yet, in their delusion, they saw themselves as equals to Christ and His army.

But, as the facts show, they were truly deluded.  It did not take Christ’s army to defeat them.  Everyone fell by the sword of His mouth.

But even out of their hatred, out of their death, God still did not waste.  He prepared the scavenging birds to consume the only valuable part of these men.

The beast and false prophet did not even have this as a redeeming quality.  They were so fully corrupt that nothing was of value even to the scavenging birds.  Instead they were captured and thrown alive into the burning fiery lake of sulfur.

We hear of fire and brimstone warnings.  This is the source.  This is the lake of burning metal and noxious fumes.

The sword cuts and the flame purifies.  But for these standing against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is nothing pure in them.

Do not be deluded by the wicked ways of the world.  Because they are common, because they are acceptable, because the provide worldly riches or fame, because they feel good – Does Not Make Them Right or True.

 

My Answers:

12.
captivity for the beast and false prophet – thrown alive into the burning sulfur of the fiery lake.  Rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse – birds gorged themselves on flesh

13.
Where they put their treasure, where they put their trust, the lack of attention to the things of God, the ridicule of believers, the denigration of God to an “also ran”, the contempt for anything holy

14.
Worship boldly – Do not hide, do not be hindered by wickedness (even that from those within the church), who speak in hurtful ways.

21.5 Revelation – God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

Yesterday we talked about how sin broke our perfect holy relationship with God, the same way a child breaks a window.  We discussed that while justice and mercy were consistent in the old testament as well as in the new, since there is only one God and He is unchanging, the “fix” under the old testament was insufficient.  A patch was put in place, but it wasn’t a fix.  We simply did not have the means to pay the price of the fix.

You see, the price of the repair was one perfect life, lived, and laid down in perfect, full, and holy obedience.  Only one man has ever lived such a life, and He is who starts the New Testament and the New Covenant.

By Jesus’ work, through His entire life, to deny temptation, to resist sin, culminating first in His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus fully paid the price to restore the perfect holy relationship between God and mankind.

By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as the offering made for you, and agreeing to come under Him as your savior, you are not held responsible for the broken relationship, no payment is required and the relationship is restored.  Jesus perfectly repairs the broken glass on both sides of the window (God’s side and Man’s side).

Standing firm in resolve to not accept Jesus is to be, as my grandmother would have said, “way too big for your britches” and “your mouth is writing checks you cannot cash”.  If we deny to accept Jesus, then we tell God, we think the mud we flung up in the window is sufficient repair.  It is not only wrong, but it is insulting.  God, in mercy, holds back wrath even on these people, but only for a time.

In the final days, when Jesus comes again, He will come again to set things right.  He will wash the window of our spiritual relationship clean with the full power of God’s wrath.  All the mud and dirt will be removed and the window will once again sparkle as new.  But those who want to be judged by the dirt they produced, will no longer receive mercy and payment for sin will be required.  It is a payment that can never be fulfilled without Jesus, so they agonize forever in the debtor’s prison of Hell.

While this sounds horrible, it is what they want and choose, because the offer to accept Jesus’ payment was never rescinded.  Also, the removal of sin from the world, something that only makes sense to do along with a restriction on new sin entering, is something we who have accepted Jesus’ gift long for.

Don’t you want to see the beauty in the perfectly restored window of the perfectly restored relationship with God?  When John talks about the entire sea of glass before the throne alight with fire, this is what I think of.  No dings, not cracks, no smudges, no blurs, no imperfection of any kind, no dirt, no mud, no dust – a perfect shining brilliantly, like it is on fire, reflection of the perfectly restored relationship.

My Answers:

10.
a.
While we were sinners (i.e., did nothing to earn it), Christ died for us.  We are justified by His blood (found not-guilty) and saved from wrath through Him and reconciled to God.  On our own merits we deserve death but instead we are made alive in Christ, given a new life, a new body, a new spirit for eternity

b.
Christ bore our sins.  He, who was perfect, was not compelled to die – it was not a just sentence for Him since He was free of all transgression.  So, He did not suffer and die for His own sins, but for ours.  The fact that He paid the price is a ticket that He need not use but gives as a gift to each of us if only we accept it.

11.
humility, love, sacrifice, not conforming to the pattern of the world but being transformed to become holy, to be honest with God and ourselves, to confess our sins and truly repent (which includes change)

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)

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.

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

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.

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