The Earth Breathes a Sigh

The Earth Breathes a Sigh

The earth breathes a sigh of relief

Drinking in the cool of night

Far removed from the scorch of the sun

Shall we too linger in the night?

Drinking from its bounty

 

 

Each deep breath is like the first breath of life

To see with new eyes an ancient mystery

The gentle breeze crisp to the skin

Bare feet trod on dew fallen grass

Darkened silhouettes of leafless trees

Exposed and unashamed before the pale moon.

 

 

The hoot of a distant owl

Darkness falls heavy and thick, nestling me in its cover

While also allowing me to be free

You are not judging my actions or appearance

Instead bringing a comforting presence

Like an old forgotten friend

Now suddenly before me.

Book of Revelation: Background and Chapter 1 notes-August 6, 2014

The Book of Revelation

Outline

Some Things to Know

Revelation– word that is a translation of the Greek word that actually comes out “Apocalypse.”

  • It is in the genre of “apocalyptic literature.” What is this?
    • A story of intense struggle between good and evil.
    • Concern for final days/end times
    • Symbols of animals representing people and numbers having great meaning.
    • Overwhelming, cataclysmic events
    • Visions
    • Angels and demons
  • Revelation is also called a book of prophecy meaning it has to do with God’s message being told.
  • Are the events past or future or both?
  • Does the book talk about our day?
  • Join us as we travel through this book!
  • Last book written in the Bible- 90s AD.
  • Used to inspire and encourage early Christians.
  • John, the author. Disciple or other Church leader?

3 Reasons for Rome’s Fall

  1. Natural Disasters
  2. War and invasions
  3. Inner rot and decay

Think about it! In the Roman Empire the ancient city of Antioch itself suffered 1 natural and social disasters during Romans rule- that’s one every 15 years!
Plaques claimed 30-40 percent of any given city’s citizens.

Some Strange End of the World Facts

Some who believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture warn that the rapture is imminent, saying that all of the prophecies concerning the latter days have been fulfilled to the extent that the rapture could take place at any moment. Others suggest that certain requirements must first be met before a rapture can occur, such as these:

  1. The nations of the world must unify their currency onto a universal standard.
  2. There will be peace in Israel (Ezekiel 38).
  3. There will be a one-world government, to correspond to the 7th beast of Revelation, prior to the Antichrist’s 8th beast government.
  4. The Jewish temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt in its original place.
  5. Observance of Old Testament commandments concerning animal sacrifices must be reinstated.
  6. There will be a great falling away and the Anti-Christ will be revealed. Thessalonians 2

Date Setting!

  • 1792Shakers calculated this date
  • 1844William Miller, founder of the Millerites, predicted the return of Christ to occur on October 22, 1844 revised after an initial prediction for the 1843/1844 Hebrew Year. The failure of Jesus to appear on this date after his followers had sold all their possessions was referred to as The Great Disappointment.
  • 1981Chuck Smith undogmatically predicted that Jesus would likely return by 1981.
  • 1988 – Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant.
  • 1989 – Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant. More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
  • 1992 – Korean group “Mission for the Coming Days” predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture.[24]
  • 1993 – Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
  • 1994 – Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 27, 1994.[25]
  • 1997 – Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club predicted September 12, 1997.
  • 1998 – Marilyn Agee, in The End of the Age, predicted May 31, 1998.
  • 2060Sir Isaac Newton undogmatically proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the book of Daniel, that the rapture could happen no earlier than 2060.[26][27]

*Many have said ‘the days are worse now than ever before!”

-Billy Graham in the 1950s, “We may have another year, maybe two years to work for Jesus Christ.   And then Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it is all going to be over.”

-The United States has deaparted awhoring after strange God. The greed of the labor unions, the lust of Hollywood, the debauchery of the masses cry to high Heaven for judgment.” Donald Grey Barnhouse, immediately after WW2.

-“Godless, Bibless, Christless” “Clearing the path for the Anti Christ” -1949.

-the end is coming because “women leaving their homes and children to enter factories and shops and offices”- The Days of Noah, 1963.

*The end has been decried every generation!

The Danger is all this!

*Hal Lindsey—“The Late Great Planet Earth” written in 1970

            -20 million copies and a best selling author in the 1970s

            -Paved way for “LEFT BEHIND”

            -Predicted the Rapture would happen in 1981.

            -Rewrote his work changed the date.

            -Wrote “The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (1980) but when the USSR fell and the end didn’t come as he thought (he felt the USSR and China were a part of it) he changed and wrote “Planet Earth: 2000 AD (1994) and now saw Islamic Fundamentalism as the new enemy and yet still believes Communism is not dead and the fall of USSR was a trick by Mickhail Gorbachev and the Soviet KGB.

There has also been as recent as the last could of years people who were predicting the end of the world.

 

Overview of Revelation

A little background:

The kingdom of Judea was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and most of the Jewish people were taken into exile in Babylonia. The Temple was destroyed, and the land destroyed. The prophets started talking about a return to the homeland, and a re-establishment of their kingdom. Persia conquered Babylonia in 539 BC and let the Jewish people return to Judea, but wasn’t about to let them have their own independent state.

Hebrew theology (called “Deuteronomic” theology) said that is someone kept God’s laws, they were rewarded. If not, then evil would take over the person and the community. So, if people were being punished, then they must have sinned against God. The people had sinned against God, Israel and Judah had been destroyed. After the Hebrews returned, they were behaving, so why was there still suffering?

The people needed an answer, and two movements developed to deal with the question the Wisdom movement and the Apocalyptic movement. The Wisdom movement was like the book of JOB, a good man who suffered. The Apocalyptic movement was influenced by the Persians, who were in control for about 200 years.

Apocalyptic movement:

Persian beliefs-2 cosmic forces-good and evil- locked in a battle to the death for control of the universe. Everyone has to choose which side they will fight for, there was no middle ground. At any given time, either Good or Evil will have the upper hand. When evil prevails, good will suffer. The battles keep happening until the final conflict at the End, when the cosmos will be destroyed, and good will triumph. Good fighters will go to their reward, evil fighters will go to their “reward.” When Good has the upper hand, the good are protected and do well. When Good and Evil are even, the good do ok, evil are punished. But, when Evil prevails, the good will suffer, because they are good.

Hebrew adaptations-God created the world, and worked through history to relate to creation. There was no real idea of an End of the created order. “Forever”, and “everlasting” didn’t have the same meaning that they do today, but meant for a really long time or a certain period of time. So, instead of the End, the Hebrews came up with a concept of two ages: the present age of suffering, ruled by the forces of Evil, who got humans to do their dirty work; and a new age when the persecution and suffering was removed. When Evil had run its course, God or God’s agent would step in, destroy the Evil persecutor, and start the new age, as the next part of history. Later in time, Evil may again gain control, and the cycle would start again.

Apocalyptic literature characteristics:

In apocalyptic literature, the seer sees a vision, but doesn’t know what it means. God sends someone to interpret the vision. The vision is full of exaggerated symbolic images-beasts with horns or heads, numbers, colors, etc. Apocalyptic writings are a call for faithfulness in the middle of persecution.

A little background and context for the book of Revelation:

The book of Revelation is written as apocalyptic literature, which made sense to the people of the time (200BC- AD 100). Apocalyptic Literature is best understood by the people and culture for which it was written.

History:

Revelation was most likely written in A.D. 90-95, to the Christian churches in Asia Minor (Turkey), which were being persecuted by the Roman emperor, Domition. We do know that someone named John wrote the book, there is much speculation over which John it was, many believe it to be John the apostle, we only know for sure that he identifies himself as John and has some authority or knowledge of the churches receiving these messages. The authorship may not be as important as his circumstance and the message revealed during that time. He was in exile on the island of Patmos. John, the author, considered himself a prophet. Not someone who foretells the future, but someone who is call by God to deliver God’s message and word to God’s people in a particular time and place.

CODE SHEET

Numbers, and multiples of Numbers:

3=Spirit World (either good or bad)

4=the Created World (the one we live in)

7=completeness-grown to the point of maturity or fulfillment

10=completeness-including inclusiveness

12=people of God

(144,000=12*12*10*10*10=people of God, inclusive,

inclusive=all the people of God)

3 ½= length of time God allows evil to run its course before God will intervene and stop the persecution

Animals:

hideous beasts=nations

heads and horns=rulers of that nation

Colors:

white=symbol of victory (not necessarily good)

red=strife, war, conflict

black=lack of something (food, health, etc.)

Greenish-gray (pale)=death (color of corpse)

Other symbols (more on these later):

angels=guardians of the churches

antithetical images (things that look the same, but are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is a caricature of the other. Ex. Lamb in Ch. 5 vs. Ch 13)

Gematria= a way to count by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Definitions

Apocalypse-is a Greek word meaning- a vision that reveals things normally hidden and unveils the future or deals with the present world order and the coming of the heavenly kingdom.

Eschatology– a Greek word meaning last discourse. Doctrine of the last things and end times, covering not only the destiny of the individual, but also creation, and is usually related to the second coming.

Prophecy-A message conveyed by a prophet acting on behalf of God in any given situation. Word or a message from God could be about the future but doesn’t have to be.

 

Introduction:   Revelation 1:1-11

The prophet sometimes did predict the future, but it was the immediate future arising directly out of the present situation. The apocalyptic message was always a call for endurance in a period of persecution and promise that the persecution would end soon. This is in verse 3 “for the time is near.”

He also invokes the blessing from “the one who is and who was and is coming.”

John mentions the “seven spirits who are before [God’s] throne.”

Lastly he mentions “Jesus Christ the faithful witness.”

In spite of the very worst that the power and forces of evil could do, Jesus triumphed over them by the power of the resurrection, which exalted him to the right hand of God and thus as ruler over the kings of the earth.

In apocalyptic literature, the intervention of God or God’s agent to destroy the persecutor is usually depicted by someone “coming with the clouds,” a symbolic designation that when the persecution is ended God (or God’s agent) is the One who will judge and remove the agent (or agents) causing the people of God to suffer.

God is “Alpha and Omega.” The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, to point out that all created history is under God’s control.

He receives the vision on the “Lord’s Day” and the destination for this revelation was “the seven churches,” designated Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyratira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Why are the churches mentioned in this order? Ephesus would be the place where someone arriving by ship would land. It was also the capital for the Roman province of Asia Minor. From Ephesus the Romans had built a road connecting other cities of the area, and this road was used by travelers and as a postal route.

Son of Man Vision (1:12-20)

Seven golden lampstands with “one like the Son of Man” in the middle

Seven-pronged candelabra (menorah) represents Jewish people. Seven individual lampstands for seven churches. But not only just seven, but to all churches. Son of man in middle to show that the persecuted were not alone.

Vision of Son of Man-details to add brilliance, weight, and authority. IS A SYMBOLIC IMAGE, to be seen with spiritual eye, not physical. Intended to impress the spiritual dimension

17-20-explanation of what was seen. Is Christ, beginning and end, not held by death. Christ determines who lives or dies, not Caesar. Christ conquered evil and death.

Angels of the seven churches-guardian angel for nation, group of people, individuals.

Meaning=Christian communities in Asia Minor should remain faithful, b/c Christ is in their midst. Christ has true power, and has won battle of death vs. life, so don’t need to fear even the worst of what the powers and forces of evil have to offer.

 

F.R.O.G.-August 3, 2014

F.R.O.G.-August 3, 2014

Most of us have heard of F.R.O.G. this week. It means Fully Rely On God. This morning I would like to share with you another F.R.O.G. from a few different places in God’s Word.

F-Follow Him, it is what the disciples are asked to do and what we as His disciples are asked to do.

Stories like Luke 5:27-28; and the Rich Young Ruler Two very different examples

R-Repeat what He did-Jesus was a disciples maker and we should be too

Matthew 28:16-20

O-Obey His Commands-this is also what we are to do and to teach to new disciples.

Matthew 28:16-20; Deuteronomy 6:1-3

G-Grow in His Word-We are reminded of the power of God’s Word for daily living, and it is the power of that Word that always bears fruit.

John 15:7-8; Deuteronomy 8:3; Isaiah 55:11

The Weight of the Ordinary

The Weight of the Ordinary

In recent years it seems that people are not so burdened with the demands of success or the shame of failure but rather are crippled under the weight of the ordinary. This weight is different from the demands of success, or the shame of failing, instead it is the gravity of irrelevancy. It is a feeling that whatever we do, it is of little or no significance and then assuming then that we ourselves are of little or no significance. The weight of this feeling upon daily life leaves us uninspired or unable to act differently and see ourselves as different. It is the burden of the status quo, “this is all there is so you better get used to it life.” It is a cumbersome life that can leave us worn down, run over, and depressed. We are constantly reminded through advertising that something is wrong with us and this new pill, program, or gadget can fix us. The weight of the ordinary pushes for quick fixes to problems rather than a permanent solution.

The call then goes out against the ordinary so we can see life differently, as hopeful, and as better. We do not need to look to the next pill, program, or gadget to offer its quick fix, but we need to look to the one who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us in daily living. SO let me do a little advertising from his word:

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)

God considers and looks out for us (Psalm 8)

He loves us and gave his life for us (John 15:13, I John 4:10)

God shows his continuing love for us through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5-8)

In all things God works for the good & we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:28, 37)

Because of our life in him, our life is different (Galatians 2:20)

We do not go it alone (Ephesians 4:4-6)

We have a purpose and mission (Acts 1:8)

Don’t look for the quick fixes found in false advertising of pills, programs, and gadgets. Trust the whole truth of the word of God and the good news of the extraordinary, Jesus Christ, is breaking in to ordinary life. He is Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. We were created by the extraordinary hand of God to be like him, redeemed to worship him, and sustained daily to live for him. We were created to be in relationship with God and others, redeemed so that those relationships would be filled by grace, and sustained every day by the presence of his Spirit and the promise of his return. Do not be caught under the weight of the ordinary the God of the universe created you, loves you, desires a relationship with you, has given you hope, has given you a purpose and mission, and continues along the journey to sustain you day by day. Be encouraged to live the extraordinary into the ordinary of life.

God Bless each of you as you live extraordinarily for Christ.

Love Lifted Me-July 27, 2014

Love Lifted Me-July 27, 2014

Romans 8:24-25; 28-29

It is in this hope that we are saved in Christ Jesus. Our lives can and should be hopeful because of Jesus Christ. No one hopes for what they have, if we hope for what we do not have, we wait patiently. 1 Corinthians reminds us, “love is patient and love is kind” and love is worth waiting for.

We have hope not because all is right in our present circumstances, but that God is working all things towards the eventual good for those that love God and have been called for his purposes. How many of us want to wait for an eventual or ultimate good? How many of us in our instant world of 24 hour news and the internet want to really wait for things.

God foreknew and he also had a plan for us to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, so that Christ would be the first-born among many brothers. And those he had a plan for, he also called; those he called he justified (he made right); those he justified, he also glorified, my friend God has always had a plan and no work of Satan can keep it from coming true. We should be encouraged that whatever schemes of man or plots of Satan there is only one author and finisher of our faith and the God of creation can do anything but fail at his plans. Put your trust in him, for he is certain and he is the only sure thing.

This is precisely where Paul goes next, is there anything that God is incapable of? What can we really say, “If God is for us, who can be against us? If the creator of the universe is on your side is there anyone or anything that can oppose him? If there is no one who can oppose God and we are his, then who can be against us? Therefore we should feel encouraged by the fact that God is for us.

How gracious and giving is our God? He did not even hold back his Son from us, but gave him up for us all that we might all live. It is because he is great and loving and cares so deeply for us. If he has already given so great a gift why would we think that God would withhold or give any less that then best. Much like the foreshadowing of the first miracle of turning the water to wine. The best was given first and then the good just keep giving. We have the gift of his Son but he still continues to give generously.

He is God. Who can bring an accusation against those the he has chosen and redeemed with the blood of his Son. It is because God has justified them that no charge can be brought against them. When God in his great love, has wiped our slate clean and has justified us, who can bring a charge against us? What joy we should celebrate everyday because we are his. It is Christ who died for us, but the news gets better because Christ was also raised to life and is now at the right hand of God on our behalf. The one who loved us enough to die for us is talking to the creator of the universe on our behalf. We should have full confidence in the love of God for us.

Considering the hope we have, the love he has demonstrated, the lengths God has gone to redeem us, and it was his plan all along… Paul asks the question. Who shall or can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Can you honestly think of anything that can keep us from him? Paul mentions his list of troubles, hardships, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword? Nope. So how about our list, bad day…nope, lost job…nope, family hates me…nope, feeling lonely…nope, children are gone…nope, there is no place position or struggle that is too grand, too low, too far away, too despicable, there is nothing “too” anything for God that his love cannot reach down into the ordinary, the mess, the struggle, the pain of life and lift us up into his presence. Love lifted me.

In all things in life we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Love is the great equalizer, love is a game changer, love lifted us from where we are to his presence, love lifted us from where we are to his presence, love makes life different because it is not about what has happened that brings fear or trouble it is about the hope we have because of the love of God in Christ Jesus. There is nothing in creation greater that the love of the Creator. The Creator is greater than creation and there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Life can deal us a rotten hand but we can have hope in the love of Christ that settles all, and lift us up today, each day, and at the end of days into his loving arms. Do you know the love of Jesus Christ?