Archive for August, 2012

Small and Not So Small (Revelation 10-11:7)

August 17, 2012

“And he had a little scroll in his hand…” Rev. 10:2

Last week I watched a young lady who was very small in stature stand up and perform with brilliance in gymnastics.  To everyone’s shock she won gold in her team event and in her individual event.  Here was a girl who was small but not so small.

In our More For Christ readings we come to a point in the book of Revelation where John receives a little scroll. As we read we discover this scroll has written the continuing prophecy of what is to come in this world.  Two things stand out about the scroll:

1.  The scroll reveals, “there will be no more delay once judgment begins.”

God’s word is clear, judgment is sudden and judgment is severe.  God’s word seems small but it is not small.

2.  The scroll reveals, “The truth of this judgment will be bitter.”

John is blessed to hear the word (sweet to the taste).  But John is broken when he understands the judgment that is ahead.  We too must daily take in God’s Word.  Yes, there are days when it seems bitter.  But one thing is true, “When sin is bitter, repentance will be sweet.”

Revelation 11 begins with the prophecy of the two witnesses who stand against the massive forces of hell.  Yes they are small, but they will go great things because it is the power of the Word of God that makes the difference.

This very day, I do not know what you are facing.  It may seem big to you, but be assured the Word is even bigger.  Get in the Word and get ready for God to work in ways you could never imagine.

Also, I challenge you, be in church this Sunday and watch the Word work in you and in all around you.

A Preview Of What Is To Come (Revelation 9)

August 16, 2012

“The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come,” Rev. 9:12

Last evening I came home after a very long day and just crashed (Not literally) on our downstairs couch.  I reached for the Tv remote and turned on the Tv.  Without even really thinking, I hit the channel guide button.  There before me on the screen were all the present options and all the upcoming options of the programing for the evening.  Also there was a DVR button that allows me to record programs and watch them later.  So my options were many.

This morning, I found myself reading through Revelation 9 in our More For Christ readings.  Here we see a preview of what is to come.  Here is and outline of the text:

1.  Destruction awaits the wicked, Vs: 1-6

The wicked will be tormented (in the Tribulation) for 5 months.  The destruction will be so severe that people will seek to die but they will be unable.  Sadly, they do not realize death will not end the struggle.  Death only is the cross over to eternal punishment.

2.  Description of the wrath of God, Vs: 7-11

We see the creatures God uses for judgment of the nations.  Again this preview is devastating.

3.  The depravity of the wicked, Vs: 12-21

1/3 of all humanity will be destroyed.  But still those who remained would not turn from their wickedness.  They continued to worship false God’s and they continued to carry out their wickedness on the earth.

This very day, I weep as I see the preview of what is to come.  The saddest part for me is in the fact that I cannot change the channel on the future and I cannot alter people’s hearts.  However there is something I can do.  I can praise the Lord that I have been delivered from the wrath to come and I can proclaim the gospel to all I meet.

Brothers and sisters you and I know the preview and we know God’s plan for the future.  We have this day!  Let us make the most of this day.  Do not change the channel in your mind and heart.  Do not put out of your mind the preview you just read.  Do something about it.  Arm yourself with the gospel and go for this is the only moment you and I have.

PS:

Let us pray for our missionaries who are on the field.  I encourage each who read this to make plans to spend one week in the next year with a missionary on a foreign field.   We have already placed on our calendars (July 22-31, 2013) for our next Romania trip.

“Get Set” (Revelation 8)

August 15, 2012

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Rev. 8:1

For the last couple of weeks, the Olympics have dominated the scene in many people’s homes.  Our family has spent many anxious moments watching as the USA team have competed in every sport.  This past week I watched some of the track and field competitions. As I did I found myself glued to the TV at the moment the starter would cry out, “Get set.”  As I watched it was easy to see that the runners became intense when they heard those words, “Get set.”  The race that was to come dominated there thoughts.

In a great way, the words recorded by John in Revelation eight remind me of the race of life.  When the last seal was opened, there was silence in heaven for 30 minutes.  Many have asked, “Why such silence?” Here are two suggested answers:

1.  The awe of God’s presence causes all of heaven to stand in silence.

2. The Awfulness of God’s judgment to come causes silence.

For me, I believe both these answers are happening at the same time.  In heaven and someday on the earth everyone will stand in awe of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.   Someday everyone will bow in fear, fatigue, and fright to the judgments that are coming.

I can honestly say, “I struggled to even write down the judgments that are ahead.”  I challenge you to read Revelation 8.  As you read, write down what is ahead.  This exercise drove me to deep prayer.  Here was my prayer:

Lord, I thank you for your salvation.  I have been delivered from the wrath to come.  This day I know what awaits all who have rejected you.  This day I am driven to share the gospel with the world around me.  Lord help all who read this bog, to shine as lights in this dark world.  Please delay your coming so that more and more people will have another day to come to your Son Jesus Christ.”

Brothers and sisters, “Get set, Jesus is coming again.”  Train yourself in Godliness and train yourself in the gospel.  As you do these things give testimony to the gospel before a world that is not set for his return.”

Is There More? (Revelation 7)

August 14, 2012

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

While in Romania I often got a laugh out of the comments made by the first timers during meal times.  Our cook would prepare food and our team would partake. Then when the team though they were through the cook would come with another selection of food.  Often I would hear the question, “Is there more.”

In a much more of a serious matter, people who face tribulation will often ask, “Is there more?”  The answer from Revelation 7 is in the affirmative.

Revelation seven comes on the heels of the six seal (Great Day) of God’s judgment being opened.   In this moment the reader would have to be asking, “Is there more.”  Certainly I know there are those who are reading this blog who are facing great trials.  You have been under them for some time and you are wondering, is there more.

This day I offer you great news.  You and I serve a great God who is seen at work in the midst of tribulation.  He has been at work in previous believers lives (Past generations).  He is at work in this present generation and He will be at work during the tribulation.  This is all encapsulated in Revelation 7:14.

So the question that comes to mind in this: “How should the Christian approach tribulation now and in the future?”  I think we find the answer in Revelation 7:

1.  Trust in the protection of our Great God, 7:1-8

2.  Spend time every day Praising our Great God, 7:9-12

Praise him for what he has done, what he is doing and what he will do.  Praise eases the pain and removes the doubt in our lives.

3.  Expect suffering and experience suffering with the understanding of God’s purpose, 7:13-17

We serve a great God who will see us through this present trial.  He is bringing honor to himself and he is teaching us much about himself in this hour of trial.  The last verses of chapter 7 speak powerfully about what awaits the child of God:

“Our sorrow will end, we will be sheltered in his presence, we will serve him day and night, and we will be secure knowing that he is on the throne.”

I join with saints of old singing, “Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.”

The Great Day (Revelation 6)

August 13, 2012

Calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,’ for The Great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”  Revelation 6:16-17

In my life there have been, by His grace, many great days.  For example; “my wedding day, the birth of our three children, the calling to full-time ministry, and so many others.”  However there is one day that stands out above all others, “The day the Lord opened my heart to the gospel.”  This was a great day!!!

February 1974, the Lord opened my heart to the reality of what John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world.”  This is the story of the gospel.  Oh what a great day it was when Jesus came and when Jesus won our victory on the cross!!!

Maybe you are asking, “What does this have to do with our More For Christ readings, Revelation 6?”  Revelation 6 begins to unpack for us the last days for our world as we know it.  Here is the outline of chapter 6:

1.  The Judgment of the Lamb is released by the lamb of God, vs: 1-2

Jesus opens the seals and Jesus is the One on the white horse.

2.  The Judgment of the Lamb is recorded by the Apostle John, Vs: 3-12

We see both destruction and deliverance.  Notice the destruction in Vs: 3-9.  We see genocide, famine, war, disease, and destruction by beasts.  Notice the deliverance in Vs: 10-11, The souls of Godly men will be delivered.

3.  The Judgment of the Lamb reveals the depravity of humanity, Vs: 12-17

We see both man’s fear and man’s failure to surrender his life to the Lamb of God.

Brothers and sisters, all of humanity bow’s at his Second Coming.  The Lamb who was slain will now be the Lamb who stands on His throne.  The one who offered humanity forgiveness (II Peter 3:9) will judge humanity for rejecting him (John 12:47-48).

For the child of God this will be a great day.  But for those without Christ this will be a sad day that will begin the saddest of days for the rest of eternity.

As I read chapter six I could not help but come away with the following:

1.  I must praise Him for being the Lamb of God who took away my sin.

This day I encourage you to praise Him.  I encourage you to be thankful for what awaits you.  You can endure great hardship in this day because of the Lamb of God (Psalm 20).

2.  I must proclaim the Gospel to the nations.

The world we live in is headed on a collision course to meet God.  They will meet the God of Revelation six, unless they surrender their lives to Him now (Hebrews 2:1-4).  This day we must join with others who desire to get the word out!!!

3.  I must be pure so that the light of the gospel is shinning through me.

Oh how I desire to be salt and light to the world.  This is also my prayer for you.

 

Really? (Revelation 3:7-22)

August 10, 2012

“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing …” Revelation 3:17

One of the buzz words of this generation is the word , “really.”  At our house I often hear John responding to someone’s comments about any number of things with the word, “really.”  For example, “The rabbit needs water.”  “Really, will be his response.”  In those moments I sense and arrogant spirit that needs to be eradicated from his heart.  So I apply correction to his life.

This mornings More For Christ readings, Rev. 3:7-22, complete Jesus messages to the last two of seven churches in Revelation.  Except for the church in Philadelphia all the churches had issues of sin that needed to be corrected.  I challenge you to think about your own life and the life of your church as you review these letters.

For our time, I want us to consider the last church, “The church at Laodicea.”  Here is a church that often finds itself in the spiritual news.  Pastors often quote from Vs: 20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”  Pastors often make the connection between man’s heart and God’s longing to enter a man’s heart.

Both these things are true, however these are not the main point of the passage.  The main point of the passage is the “Really.”  Here we find a church that really thought they were without need of God.  Here was a dead church that thought they were a delightful church.

There are several crucial things that stand out in the text:

1.  Jesus description is clear

As with all the churches, our Lord and Savior is clear in his description of their true state.  Jesus knows the inner chambers of our heart.  In his love he always makes us aware of what he already knows.

2.  The churches deception is clear

Man always has a different viewpoint than God (It began in the Garden of Eden).  We see how man thinks he is self-sufficient without God.  However he is really blind, miserable, and without ability to be right with God.

3.  The churches decision is crucial

When God makes clear our sin, we have a choice, either we submit or we stand in opposition.  This is where the “really” comes in.

I was refreshed by Jesus words, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door.”  Allow those words to sink in.  Our hearing is crucial to our decision to either follow or reject Christ.

Question, “Can people really hear on their own?”  The fact is, no one can hear without the aid of God’s call.  It is God who calls, it is God who cleanses, and it is God who creates a new heart that is receptive to his voice.

If you find yourself or someone you love in the position where you or they cannot hear, cry out to God for his understanding.  When you do, you will really hear and obey!!!

The One Who Judges (Revelation 2:17-3:6)

August 9, 2012

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” Rev. 2:17

Last week I read the story of 4 teams in the olympics that were disqualified for purposefully trying to throw their doubles matches in Bad-mitten.  Each proclaimed their shame to themselves, their country, and to the olympic committee.  What was the reason for their decision to throw their games?  Each had a desire to get in a better bracket so that they would not have to play the best teams until close to the finals.  In the end, the teams that did this were actually the best teams, but no more.

This morning I found myself focusing in on the One who judges the seven churches in the book of Revelation (2:17-3:6).  Just as these men had to face and olympic judge, so to will each of us have to face a judge, but one with much more authority.

In these 7 letters to seven pastors of seven literal churches we discover the particular judgments rendered to each church based upon their works.  Tomorrow we will focus on the particular judgments on these churches.  But this morning I want to focus your attention toward the one who judges.

The one who Judges is Christ:

1.  He is the Son of God with the Word of God

This is not the opinion of a man who makes up the rules as he goes.  This is the decreed Word of God to a world that is in rebellion.  His words are correct, compassionate, and challenging.

2.  He is the God who has eyes as a flame of fire

Our Lord and Savior sees everything in our lives as it really is.  He penetrates the inner chambers of our hearts and tests our hearts.  There is nothing hidden from the one who loves us and gave himself for us.

3.  He is the God who has feet of bronze

Our Lord and Savior is the conqueror of all those who stand in opposition to him.  All who rebel against his authority will be crushed.  He stands on a solid foundation and will rule forever and ever.

This day, I find myself rejoicing and praising the One Who Judges.  I trust his judgment and I seek to abide by his judgments.

For further reading I challenge you to spend time reading Psalm 19.  Here is how David concludes the Psalm, ” Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and redeemer.”  

And Open Letter to your church (Rev. 2:1-17)

August 8, 2012

I know your works…” Rev. 2:2

Yes the scripture above is short but is it ever filled with implications.  Consider this fact, the Apostle John is instructed by the Lord to send 7 letters to 7 individual churches in the first century at the beginning of God’s unveiling of things that were to come.

Each church is commended for the faithful things they did and each church except for one is confronted for the unfaithful things they did.  In this way we find and open letter to the churches.

Question, “If the Lord sent and open letter to your church at what was right and what was wrong, what would be in the letter?”  I truly made this a matter of great prayer as I went before the Lord this day.

Now for some who read this, you are saying, “It’s my church that is struggling, not me.”  I would respond, “You are what makes up the church.”  The church is not a building but it is people.  The church is both universal and local.  All who know Christ are in the universal church and each in the universal church have a calling to submit to a local church for both accountability and action.

So the fact is, “As you go so goes your church.”  This day I want to encourage you with the following:

1.  Pray for your church every day

2.  Make sure you are pure in your daily life

3.  Seek to be a problem solver and not a problem

4.  Serve in your local church for the glory of the Lord

5.  Serve as a family

6.  Always remember your church will not be perfect because both you and I are members 🙂

I praise our Lord for the church.  I pray that the open letter will read that we were faithful to his call on our lives.

The Blessing Of Reading (Revelation 1:1-19)

August 7, 2012

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near,”  Revelation 1:3

Recently I encountered a person who said, “I do not like to read.”  This is a common statement that is made by many people, especially by men.  This morning I found myself praising God for the blessing I received from our More For Christ readings, Revelation 1:1-19.

I am so thankful that we as the church can know of what is ahead in our world.  I am so thankful that I can know about the one who is our redeemer (1:4-8).  I am so thankful that I can know about the purity and brilliance of our God (1:12-16).  I am so thankful that I can know about the one who holds the keys of death, hell, and the grave.

Brothers and sisters, “Without God’s word, we would never know.”  So the question arises in my heart, “How could anyone not have a desire to read God’s word?”

As I thought about my answer I wrote down several reason’s people do not read the word:

1. They do not see the value in the Word Of God  2.  They do not set aside time to read  3.  They allow the things of the world to push out their time in the word.  4.  Other passions are greater.  5.  They do not know the author of the book

Any one of these reasons will keep you from reading.  But also any two will sink you.  I want to challenge you to renounce the hidden things of your heart and embrace the Word of God.  You will find yourself coming to the place where God’s Word is significant for your life.

For further study: Consider Matthew 5:3-11.  

Spiritual Parenting (II Corinthians 12:11-13:140

August 6, 2012

“Here for the third time I am ready to come to you.  And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you.  For children are not obligated to save up for the parents, but parents for their children.  I will most gladly be spent and be spent for your souls.”  12:14-15a

The life of a parent is certainly not and easy life.  It begins for the mother at the moment of conception and for the father at the moment of birth.  There are the many days of restless nights as you seek to care for your infant.  Then there are the cluttered days when your toddler is seeking to destroy the earth.  Finally there is the joy of potty training and the struggle of keeping up with your child’s ever-expanding desire as of and Indiana Jones.  Certainly we could go on and on, but you get the point.

This morning I was captivated by Paul’s metaphorical use of “parenting.”  Paul considered himself as a spiritual parent to the members at the church in Corinth.  These children had many problems, but Paul was committed to their coming to the place of spiritual maturity.  Here is the outline of the text:

1.  Paul faces head-on this task of spiritual parenting, 12:11-21

Paul had been humiliated by their lack of support (Vs: 11-13).  He had been heart-broken by their lack of love (Vs: 14-15).  He was now fearful that he would be humbled by their lifestyle of sin (Vs:16-21).  But these negative things did not deter him because he had the goal firmly before him.

2.  Paul is facing hard truth as a spiritual parent, 13:1-14

Paul would return to this church and exercise spiritual discipline (Vs: 1-4).  Also there was needed spiritual discernment (Vs: 5-12).  The fact is not everyone who claimed to be in the family was really in the family.  Paul placed this truth before them and was dedicated to completing what he started.  Again the goal was still before him.

At this point we ask, “what is the goal of spiritual parenting?”  Verses 11-12 give us the answer: “There would be joy, restoration, humility, unity, and peace in the family of God.” Worthy goals worth fighting for!

Now the question that comes to my mind is this, “Are you willing to stay the course as either a physical or spiritual parent?”  In both cases there are many days of humiliation, heartbreak, and deep humbling.  But in both cases there are great dividends at the end of the journey.

This day I encourage you to stay the course of spiritual parenting.  Take joy in knowing that restoration, unity, humility, and peace are just down the road.  I am praying for you.