Archive for December, 2013

Finally (II Chronicles 35: Revelation 21)

December 30, 2013

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more,”  Revelation 21:1

It seemed as if we had been stuck in the same place for hours.  The traffic before us was not moving.  We were blocked in on all sides.  All we could do was to sit and wait.  Finally after a long period of time the traffic started to move slowly.  As we moved slowly along the highway I was able to see the problem.  Two vehicles had collided and were blocking the traffic from flowing.  Now the obstruction had been removed and we were finally on our way.

In Genesis 3 all of humanity collided with God.  We rebelled against God!  This rebellion led to a stoppage of our intimacy with God.  For the last 6 to 8 thousand years humanity has been dealing with the results of the fall.

Finally in Revelation 21 we see this blockage removed.  Revelation 20 concludes with the judgment of Satan and all of humanity.  Those who have rejected Jesus are sentenced to hell for eternity.  But for those who followed Jesus, there is a “finally” before them.

Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of what will be finally ours:

Think it through:

1.  Finally the curse will be removed (A new heaven and a new earth)

2.  Finally the pain of sin removed (God will wipe away all our tears)

3.  Finally the corruption will be removed (Those who conqueror enter the joy of heaven)

4.  Finally the Lord will dwell with us (no more obstruction)

Our take away:

You and I can endure the tough moments of each day knowing that the finally is coming.  The greatest joy of all of this is, “It could be today!!!”

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Babylon in our midst (II Chronicles 32; Revelation 18)

December 27, 2013

“The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again,” Revelation 18:14

As we come to the end of 2013 I find myself in a battle with Babylon.  Yes, Babylon!  I have discovered I am not alone in this battle.  Untold millions of followers of Christ face this same battle.

For example, the Robinson family (Made famous by the TV reality show, Duck Dynasty) are facing Babylon in their stand for God’s viewpoint on marriage.  As of now, it seems that Babylon is winning.

In Revelation 18 we see the nations of this world in weeping and brokenness over the fall of Babylon.  We see the city itself destroyed.

At this point, one must ask, “What is Babylon?” Is it an ancient city (Yes).  Is this representing something else? (Yes)

Think it through:

In the scripture Babylon has always represented the evil world system in rebellion against God.  In Revelation 18 we see the nations of the world attracted to all that Babylon provides.

In this passage we clearly understand the words of Jesus: “Those who gain this world and lose their soul have prospered nothing,” Matt. 16:28.  In this passage we clearly understand the words of James, “Those who are friends with the world are enemies of God,” James 4:4

This world is clearly on a collision course.  Notice two things from the text:

1.  The world system will fall, Vs: 1-3; 5-19

We see the result of the fall, Vs: 1-3

We see the reason for the fall, Vs: 5-9

We see the devastation of the fall, Vs: 9-19

2.  The world system must be forsaken, Vs: 4; 20-24

We see the reason in Vs: 5

We see the result in Vs: 20-24

Brothers and sisters, we must resist the Babylon in our midst.  The end will be tragic for those who go the way of the world.  Praise be to God for the cast of Duck Dynasty who are standing firm for the Word of God!!!  May you and I be found standing firm against the Babylon in our midst.

An Unexpected Gift (Revelation 16)

December 25, 2013

“Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be exposed!”  Revelation 16:15

This morning I arose to the blessing of experiencing another family Christmas.  Our youngest still has the excitement to get up early to discover the gifts he did not expect to receive.  Our two oldest would rather sleep later and then enjoy the gifts.  But they get up and find themselves enjoying the gifts God has provided.  This year is extra special for me because I truly have been touched by God to be thankful for all we have.

My recent trip to Africa set everything in perspective for the blessings of God.  I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas!!!  I pray you receive the same unexpected gift I have received, “The gift of understanding what is really valuable.”

This mornings More For Christ readings come from Revelation 16.  In this chapter we see the pouring out of the Bowl Judgments which are the last judgments in which the wrath of God is completed.

Think it through:

1.  We see the true heart of men being revealed.

Three times the Lord shows us the heart of man in repeating the following, “They did not repent of their deeds.”  Humanity will do anything to hold onto the things they think are really valuable.  In this chapter we see all out war between man and God.

2.  We see the true heard of God being revealed.

Men have been rebelling since the beginning of time.  God has been extending grace since the beginning of time. But now there is no more recourse than for God to judge men.  They will not repent.  “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

Takeaway:

On this Christmas day I find myself rejoicing in knowing that the Christ who came has freed me from my rebellious life and has given me true reason to live my life.  I pray you surrender yourself to seeking and receiving the gift that is unexpected, The gift of understanding what is really valuable.

It Did Not Help (II Chronicles 27-28; Revelation 14)

December 23, 2013

“For Ahaz took a portion from the house of the Lord and the house of the king and of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria, but it did not help him.”  II Chronicles 28:21

Someone once said, “The true definition of insane is simply continuing to the do the same things that never have any hope of a different result.” In my life there have been those moments of insanity because of my desire to make something work when I knew it was not going to work.  However there are those things, that I know will work (Help).

Consider our More for Christ readings in II Chronicles.  Before us in chapter 28 is the life of King Ahaz.  One could say, “His life is lived in insanity.”  Maybe you would respond, “How can you say this from reading one chapter in the Bible?”

Think it through:

1.  We see Ahaz record, Vs: 1-4

Here is a king who followed the path of wicked leader.  Here is a king who sacrificed even his own son to Baal.  He is a man who opened the door to the evil that God had driven out.

2.  We see Ahaz responsibility, Vs: 5-21

This king led his people to face the judgment of God and he led his people to face the mistreatment of his own countrymen.  Finally he led his people to form unholy alliances.

At this point we see God’s footnote, “But it did not help him.”

Surely you see the insanity in all of this?  But if not, note one last thing.

3.  We see Ahaz resolve, Vs: 22-27

Instead of turning to God, the Bible records the following, “In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord-this same King Ahaz.”  

Yes, this man was insane.  But so are many other people who live their lives without submitting themselves to God.

Our resolves:

Our resolve should be to look to another King.  This King is Jesus.  As one follows the record of His life, we see one who is sinless and faithful to the Father, I Peter 1:18-19.  As one follows the responsibility of His life, we see one who purchased our redemption, Romans 4:25.  As one follows the resolve of His life, we see one who was faithful to the end, John 17:10-19.

The person who follows Christ follows the one person that truly gives help in this life.

A Change is Coming (II Chronicles 24; Revelation 11)

December 20, 2013

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”  Revelation 11:15

In just a few days (11 to be exact) we will complete the year 2013.  For many of us, this has been a year of much trial, tough times, and many terrific moments as we have been following the Lord.  However, there are many who are saying, “I hope a new year brings about change for me.”  

Question, “Do you feel this way?”  Are there changes you are praying about or are there changes in which the Lord is burdening you about?  If so, consider this fact:  Soon our Lord could return!!!  When He returns, you and I will give an account for all we have done.

In Revelation 11 we find ourselves looking at a scene from a time (still in the future) here on the earth.  John is given a vision of this time.  The overriding theme is simply, “There is a change coming.”

Think it through:

1.  Life under our current administration is very difficult, Vs: 1-13

In this present life we as the people of God face persecution.  But our Lord protects us as He protects the temple in this chapter.

In this present life we are to proclaim the gospel to this present administration.  Just like the two-witnesses will do in the Tribulation Period.

In this present life we could face being martyred.  Just like the two witnesses

But we know that we will be raised to life when the administration changes as will be these two witnesses.

2.  Life under the coming administration will be delightful, Vs: 14-19

Our Lord will subdue all our enemies.

Our Lord will rule over all the earth.

Our Lord will reward those who are his followers.

Our Lord will judge those who have rejected Him.  

The Lesson for us:

I can honestly say, I came away with this New Years Prayer, “Come Lord Jesus!!!” This prayer brings me confidence and clarity in my present life.  This prayer gives me compassion to share Jesus with everyone because He is coming again!!!

A Sad Legacy (II Chronicles 21; Revelation 9)

December 18, 2013

“He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.  And he departed with no ones regret  They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the king.”  II Chronicles 21:20

As I read the previous verse, I stopped and thought, “Could this be possible?”  Could it really be possible that no one regretted seeing this king (Jehoram) dead?  Certainly there are those wicked people in whom the world does not regret in seeing die.  But usually there are people who loved them and regretted seeing them die.  

However, when it came to the King of Judah, the people were glad when he died.  Question, “What causes people to feel this way?”  There are several answers:

1.  The person caused much harm. They are glad the person is gone.

2.  The person was wicked to be around.  Their very presence was heartbreaking.

3.  The person was out of control.  No one saw any value in the person.

All of these thinks characterized Jehoram.  Now some would say, “It was not his fault.  God made him this way.”  Brothers and sisters, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Think it through:

1.  The King chose to walk in the path of other rebellious leaders, 21:1-11

He married the daughter of King Ahab.  He adopted his wicked ways and he led the people of Judah to do the same.  God had a different path for him to walk. He placed his father in his path to be the example.  He made the decision to walk in a different path.

2.  The King was confronted for walking in the path of rebellious leaders, 21:12-19

He received a letter from the prophet Elijah.  He was told of the coming judgment of God.  But he would not turn from his rebellion.  He and his nation would now suffer for their sin.

3.  The king would not repent from his rebellious life, 21:20

The end result:  “a life wasted and a life with a legacy that was of zero value.”

Our response:

We must decide to look to another king (Jesus) who was according to Hebrews 10:5-8 “Faithful to His Father’s will.” We must decide to follow this king in order to walk in right paths so that people can say of us, “We were surrounded by so great a cloud of witness (Heb. 12:1).

The Blessing of Silence (II Chronicles 18-19; Revelation 8)

December 17, 2013

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

Throughout my life I have and continue to cherish, “The Blessing of Silence!”  Those who know me best know I do not like to be in places where decisions have to be made during times of great confusion.  I always prefer getting alone with God to hear from Him before a decision is made.

Here before us in Revelation 8 is one of those moments when we read of a period of 30 minutes of silence.  Consider this fact.  Our Lord and Savior Jesus is now opening the scroll.  The scroll that contains God’s plans for the end of the age and ushering in of the eternal age.  6 seals have been opened and God’s wrath is being poured out.  Chapter 8 begins with our Lord opening the last seal which is the segway for the next round of judgments.

In these judgments the following happens:

1/3 of the land on the earth is destroyed

1/3 of the sea and its wealth is destroyed

1/3 of the fresh water is destroyed

1/3 of the light is destroyed

In this moment I stop and reflect on the global destruction that awaits the people of our world.  In this moment, I have silence as I reflect.  In this moment I cry out to God, “What should I be doing?”

Think it through:

During these 30 minutes we see two things in clear focus:  1.  There are constant prayers being offered.  2.  There is clear preparations being made for the judgments to come.  Seven angels are given trumpets.

Our actions:

1.  We should be offering constant prayer to God during this time of silence before the wrath of God begins.

This moment of silence is clearly the age of grace.  We must become passionate about the grace that is being given to our world.  We need to be offering prayers of wisdom and prayers of petition for power to do His will.

2.  We must proclaim the gospel with an urgency that is focused on the shortness of the silence before us.

Our Lord could return at any moment.  The day of wrath could begin now.  I want to encourage you to cease your opportunity to not be silent while there is time!!!

Some say, “A Random Shot,” II Chronicles 18; Revelation 9

December 16, 2013

“But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.  Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”  II Chronicles 18:33

Question, “Do things happen in life by chance or is there really a divine order?”  This question has occupied the minds of many people throughout the history of mankind.  This very day there are people trying to determine such things as, “How did I end up being born in a particular place, a particular people, and a particular economic position.”  There are people who are wondering, “What is my purpose in life.”

Brothers and sisters, the truth is this, “You and I are alive because of the divine order of God.” Revelation 4:11 reminds us that God created all things and that all these things exist for His glory.

However there are those who foolishly think they can stand against God’s divine order.  Case in point: “Ahab, the wicked king of Israel.”

God has repeatedly told Ahab that he would be judged for his rebellion.  Ahab has continued to stand against the divine order.  Here in II Chronicles 18 we see Ahab trying to protect himself from the divine order of God.

Think it through:

1.  This king aligns himself with worthless advisors

400 prophets give their thumbs up to what this king desires.  Brothers and sisters, we must be careful in following only the wisdom of those whose lives are submitted to the divine order of God.

2.  This kings disguises himself with worthless rags.

Here we see the king thinking he can escape the hand of God.  But there is never a place where we can hide from the divine hand of God.  In this scene, Ahab finds it useless to fight God’s plan.

Our response:

1. This day, I want to submit myself to God’s plan.

This could include repentance for following my own plan.  This could include extended time of prayer seeking the plan of God.  Finally this will demand a complete effort of giving ourselves to Heavens plan.

A Needed Viewpoint (II Chronicles 16; Revelation 4)

December 13, 2013

“At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.”  Revelation 4:1

There he stood, looking in the face of an insurmountable obstacle.  He was just a freshman.  He had only been kicking a football for 3 months.  He had never kicked a field-goal longer than 35 yards.  But now he was being asked to kick a field-goal over 50 yards.  He was defeated before he ever kicked.  But thankfully there was another person there for him.  His coach had a different viewpoint.  If he would give his best effort, the Lord would do what would bring glory to Himself.  To the shock of all there, the kick was good.

Those of you familiar with the movie, “Facing the Giants,” recognize the precious scene from the movie.  The point of the movie was simply this, “We can trust all of our giants to God because He is bigger than all our giants.”

Before us in Revelation 4 is the same needed reminder.  The giant before Gods people (Chapters 2-3) is the world which is under the sway of the enemy (I John 5:18).  The questions bearing on the minds of the original readers had to be as follows:  1.  How can we bear up under persecution?  2.  How can we share the gospel?  3.  How can we be prepared for His return?

Each of these questions were answered as they were given a needed view-point.  Here was the viewpoint:  God the Father was on the throne!

Think in through:

1.  God is on His throne, Vs: 1-2

2.  God is ruling from His throne, Vs: 3-6

3.  God is being worshipped on His throne, Vs: 7-10

4.  God will accomplish His will from the throne, Vs: 11

Brothers and sisters I have so often found the viewpoint I needed as I read this chapter.  Here is the viewpoint we need:  Our God is enthroned in heaven.  He is to be enthroned in our lives.  This day we should both bow to worship and to do His will.  Some day we will stand before His throne!!!”  

An Overlooked Gift (Revelation 3)

December 12, 2013

“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth,”  Rev. 3:10

“Just 12 more shopping days until Christmas.”  This is the slogan of all the retailers in America.  Each morning I dread looking at my email account because I know there are going to be several emails that made it through my email filter.  These email contain any number of gift ideals that promise to make the receiver of a gift very happy.

However there was one email that I received this morning that spoke of a gift that is often overlooked.  The sender of the email was God, the email came (Not from a computer) but from God’s Word.  The email was entitled, “Revelation 3.”

As you know Revelation 2 and 3 contain Jesus personal words to 7 churches in Asia but also to all churches in every age.  These personal words contain both commendations for faithfulness and rebuke for areas of unfaithfulness.  In each of these letters Jesus gives grace in calling the churches that were rebuked to repent.  In each of these letters Jesus gives grace in calling churches that were faithful to keep on being faithful.

As I read chapter 3 I came away with this thought:  “The church even with her flaws is the best gift a Christian could receive, other than salvation.”  This morning I want to challenge you to think through the following:

1.  List the ways you have been blessed by the church.

2.  List the last 10 people you invited to church.

3.  List the things you are giving back to the church.

4.  List people in your church that need prayer.

5.  List the places where a church needs to be planted.

Carry it through:

1.  Spend time praising God for the blessings you have received.

2.  Pray for the 10 people you invited to church.

3.  Ask God to help you give more time, talent, and treasure to your church.

4.  Pray for the members of your church and for the missionaries from your church.

5.  Ask God to open the eyes of your church to its need to plant other churches.