Revelation Chapter 7-September 17, 2014

Revelation Chapter 7 Interlude

Chapter 7:1-8 earth:

Faithful of God marked with a seal on their foreheads to protect them. “144, 000 sealed to God from every tribe of Israel” (except the tribe of listed first. None from Dan b/c a writing of the time said one would come who opposed the Messiah from the tribe of Dan. (No indication of evil from the people of God). 2) order of tribes doesn’t mean anything, just that all the people of God will be protected and defended by God so will survive the persecution.

Chapter 7:9-17 heaven:

all the faithful of God’s people robed in white, praising God and the Lamb.

  1. 13 Who are these people in white?
  2. 14 answer to question
  3. 15-17 reward earned by the faithful of God’s people

 

meaning: Those who have given their lives in this present persecution take their place before God and learn what their faithfulness has secured for them.

Our Great God-September 14, 2014

Our Great God

Psalm 103

Praise God for he is worthy and while doing so don’t forget his benefits. Those benefits are forgiving sins, healing diseases, redeems life from the pit, and crowns (tops is off) with love and compassion. God satisfies desires with his good, so that every day youth is renewed like the eagles.

The Lord works in the Lord’s way revealed in the Lord’s deeds. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all oppressed. The Lord’s ways he made known to Moses and to all people of faith. The Lord’s deeds are to his people.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious because it is God’s character. It is because of God’s gracious and compassionate character the God will not always accuse, or harbor anger forever. In other words God is just and has a right to be angry or disappointed about sin, but once the Lord has forgiven he does not hold a grudge. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us like we have sinned against him. If we think we can be good enough without God’s grace then we are accepting that sin is good enough and the wages of which is death.

Think of the greatest distance you can imagine and then some and that is the greatness of our distance from God in our sin, but even greater is God’s love for those that fear him and call upon him. This is also the greatness of the distance of the removal of our sin as far as the east is from the west.

A loving parent once they have forgiven their child doesn’t want them burdened by the wrongdoing. That is what forgiveness is, if we have to hold the wrongdoing over them have we really forgiven them. Love doesn’t make lists or keep no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13) to hold over us. What if God did that to his children?

God knows how we are made (formed), and remembers that our bodies were not meant to last. Our days are but few and fleeting, beautiful and fruitful, but for a moment compared to eternity…so what will you do with your moment (life)? From everlasting to everlasting (eternity) the Lord’s love is with those who fear and love the Lord and his righteousness extends through the generations. God is great enough for us and all those coming after, he does not lack of resource, provision, grace, love, forgiveness, or mercy.

We should follow his commands and decrees because they are for our good and his glory. The Lord’s throne is in heaven, and his kingdom rules all. When Pontius Pilate interviewed Jesus he asked Jesus if he was a king. During the conversation Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. At this point Pilate either believes Jesus to be crazy or at least no threat to either Rome or Herod. That was flawed thinking in Jesus’ time and now. The Psalmist reminds us that the one who rules on high rules all the same is true today. The kingdoms of this earth think they are in charge, but they are not. The one who rules on high rules all.

Praise the Lord, angels do his bedding and obey his word. Praise the Lord, for all his works his power is everywhere which means we are not subject to the sin that so easily entangles but he has the power to set us free. Every fiber in our being and our very soul should praise the Lord.

Praise God for he is worthy.

He forgives sins

He heals diseases

He redeems life

He is loving and compassionate

He satisfies with good

He renews strength

 

His works are righteousness and justice

His ways are limitless yet he makes them known

He is compassionate and gracious (it is his character)

He is righteous and just but doesn’t hold a grudge

He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve but as his love demands

He doesn’t repay but he prepaid

He filled the distance of the great void with his greater love

He then took the personal transgression and made it to have no power, because it had no purpose

 

He is a compassionate father because he knows we are made fragile

We will only be children but a short while

He loves and keeps his promises now and always

His agreements are worth keeping, (because he will even if we don’t)

His words are worth remembering

His through is in heaven and his rule covers all below

Angels do his bidding, his servants do his will

Won’t you praise the Lord’s works and his rules?

My body and soul long to praise because he is our great God.

 

Revelation Chapter 6-September 10, 2014

Revelation Chapter 6 Vision of the Seven Seals and Interlude

 

Background: three different cycles of seven: 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls. Theories-1) each are three separate scenes, that happen in that order in history. 2) each are self-contained, and are a re-telling of the same thing. 3) each is a self-contained scene intended to teach something to the people about their situation. (Teach about the nature of evil and God’s judgement against it).

 

History: If Revelation was written A.D. 90-95 (which is most likely) Christians were undergoing persecution by the Roman emperor Domition, who is believed to have required everyone to worship at the Roman temples and required worship of himself, calling himself “Dominus and Deus” (Lord and God). There’s no definite proof of this, but is likely from other known sources and evidence. Stories say that the temple worshipers were “marked” to show they were loyal to the empire. If someone did not have “The Mark,” (anyone who didn’t worship in the Roman temples-many Christians) they were not allowed to buy or sell in the marketplaces, and were charged outrageous prices. Ex. v.6: 1 quart of wheat for a day’s pay- the amount of wheat it took to stay alive for a day, paid for with the amount of money earned in a day.

 

Chapter 6:1-8

First 4 seals-4 horsemen

White horseman: a conqueror (not necessarily a good guy). Someone who is going to make sure everyone does what he wants…Could be an example of the Roman emperor. (Also referred to as the False Christ)

Red horseman: symbol of War and strife. If the conqueror doesn’t get his way, war will break out.

Black horseman: lack of something (food) famine. When war happens, tough times usually result. (See the above note about wheat and barley). “Oil and wine” probably meant that only the people who opposed the conqueror didn’t have what they needed.

Pale green horseman: color of death. (Often happens during a famine).

Meaning: the one who “came out conquering” will set off a chain of events>>>war>>famine>>death.

 

Fifth seal (Ch. 6:9-11) heaven:

Souls slaughtered for the word of God=martyrs in heaven. Are the martyrs calling out for God to take revenge in verse 10? Or are they looking for God’s justice and will to be done, to prevent the forces of evil from winning? (These are our Martyrs)

 

Sixth seal (Ch. 6:12-17) earth:

Odd occurrences in nature-earthquake, black sun, falling stars, sky vanished, etc. A dramatic change in nature usually was a sign of God’s intervention (think about what happened at the crucifixion) In this case, intervention is a judgement on those who allied with the forces of evil. (Can’t hide from God!!) (Sometimes referred to as terror)

 

Which One?-September 7, 2014

Which One?

Matthew 18:21-35

What is the value of forgiveness? What is greater our sin against God or someone’s sin against me? When is enough, enough? When do we claim our rights over grace? How should we demonstrate grace and forgiveness in light of the great forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ?

I need to begin by saying that forgiveness always comes at a personal cost. The one offering forgiveness will have to find something of greater value than that cost. In our culture we are told that we are number one, we are independent, and we are entitled (have rights). To offer true forgiveness this sense of entitlement is what is sacrificed, so what is of greater value? We most often will truly forgive when we see the value of restoring a relationship over personal pride and entitlement to hold on to the hurts and the wrong doings. Holding on to these things will put us in a prison of its own kind. We too should forgive as we have been forgiven. We forgive as an act of grace and mercy, we forgive to restore, we forgive because we too have received mercy and grace from others, and we forgive because the King has forgiven us.

The story actually begins before today’s scripture. In the previous verses there is talk about steps to take in dealing with one who has hurt or offended us. We are told that if you are the offended person the other may not know, so you go to them privately first. If that doesn’t work go with one or two other trusted leaders, if there is still no resolution we are to take the matter to the church. After following all these steps if there is not resolution then treat them as like unbeliever and try to restore them.

Often this has been used by folks to look at this and this is what I should do so the other person will know I am right. The issue is not who is right, but how does this bring about restoration of a relationship within the body? The question then becomes are you ready as the offended party to accept an apology and restore the relationship. If “sorry” is not good enough for you, then first we need to talk to God about ourselves and our hearts first, then we need to talk to God about the other person, and then take the opportunity to confront them. In this sense it is not about who was right and wrong, but what will we do to restore this relationship and it will require sacrifice to bring restoration.

Peter understands that he should forgive, but how many times should we forgive? What a brave question. Basically at what point am I allowed to not forgive them, or hold this over their heads? Jesus responds to Peter’s question with a story that demonstrates there is more going on than just human relationships but also the relationship with the king. This story is about a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like this and in doing so reminds Peter that forgiveness is not just about us, but is about the kingdom of heaven and how we deal with forgiveness and our relationship with one another is significant.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. The king begins the settlement and a man who owed the king close to a million dollars in today’s money is brought before the king. What options do you think you would have if you were in debt like this?

The king decides how and when the debts are settled. Since the debt was too great and the man was unable to pay, the master ordered that the man, his wife, his children, and all that he had should be sold to pay the debt. What would you do? He did the only thing he could do. He fell on his knees and begged for mercy, for more time, he said that with more time I will pay it all back. How does one get in this type of debt, and who really believes he can pay it back? This is a clear indication that it could a million dollars or whatever it is, it is clearly impossible that he cannot repay the debt on his own.

We cannot repay the debt of our sin either. It would be like the average person trying to repay a debt of a million dollars. Sin puts us at such a distance that we cannot without the help of the King overcome it. We have been given a great gift of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is this forgiveness that brings the expectation that we should forgive others because of the great forgiveness we have been offered.

This servant went out and tried to hold someone else’s small debt although he had been given forgiveness of a great debt. When the king found out, he called him wicked and put him away. Which servant will you be? Will you be the one that recognizes the gift of forgiveness and offers it to others or will you be liked the wicked servant not offering forgiveness? Which one will you be?

 

Revelation Chapters 4-5-September 3, 2014

Chapters 4 and 5, Vision of God and the Lamb

apocalyptic, indicates a particular style or genre or writing

 

there are shared images from the Old Testament, such as from Daniel, and several new images presented in Revelation

Throne room of God-crystal and precious stone to refract light-create a rainbow, Old Testament imagery of God’s promise

24 smaller thrones for the 24 elders 2*12, 12 from the Old Testament, 12 from the New-representative of all the faithful of God’s people

Sea of glass-many throne rooms of time period had thrones on raised platform, with are in front of the throne of reflective material to add splendor

 

4 living creatures+all of created order:

lion-wild beasts

ox-domestic beasts

human-humans

eagle-birds

 

Scroll with seven seals

meaning of the scroll has been debated, but likely to be the unfolding of God’s judgement on those who were persecuting God’s people

only one worthy to open the scroll is slaughtered lamb (sacrificed) and which has over come death.

7 horns-complete power

7 eyes complete wisdom

7 spirits Holy Spirit

 

Main theme, unceasing praise to the Lord of all creation, 7 types of praise assigned to Messiah that emphasizes the Messiah’s sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays and Blessings-September 1, 2014

Birthdays and Blessings

We are no down to only a month till the birth of our second child. When I was thinking about it, it reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a well-intentioned young man. The conversation was about his birthday. His birthday fell on a day of the week that he had to work. Although he did not advertise that it was his birthday some of his coworkers knew that it was his birthday. They worked hard trying to hide the fact that they were planning to do something special for him on his birthday. From the beginning he insisted that it was “no big deal” and they “should not waste their time.”

No doubt the young man was trying to be humble, he didn’t want to put others through any trouble or feel like he was inviting undo attention to himself. The day of his birthday came, and it did not take him long to discover that something was in the works. He perhaps felt a little embarrassed about the attention that could be coming his way, he told the others, and “you thought you were going to surprise me, but I figured it out.” “I really do not need or want anything special for my birthday,” he said. In that moment he hurt the feelings of his friends and coworkers who were trying to bless him, because he was such a blessing to them.

The young man thought he was being humble, he thought that they were not listening to him, he thought…too much. In this young man’s attempt to remain humble he instead hurt others feelings and deprived them the opportunity to bless him. In life we too forget sometimes that God has placed people in our lives to demonstrate His love to us. Many of them find pleasure in being able to bless others, it is what God wants us to do, and if we do not allow others to bless us we are depriving them of the joy of doing so and keeping them from obeying God.

If a few days had passed since his birthday and someone apologized and wished him a happy birthday, it would have been a humble and gracious thing to tell them “it is not big deal.” Humility is demonstrated best when you are in the position to bless, honor, encourage, or grace someone else. As a Pastor it has been hard for me to allow others to bless me, “shouldn’t I be the one doing that?” I am reminded through these acts of compassion that God loves me too, and that God may choose to use others to bless me for my benefit and their joy.

Not allowing others to bless you is not an act of humility. It is a humble thing to stand in that moment of blessing and be thankful for the blessing of grace that was freely given out of love. It is also an act of humility to stand in not so good moments as an agent of grace not seeking entitlement but to be a blessing to others through grace. My young friend later demonstrated great grace and humility beyond his years in asking his friends and coworkers for forgiveness, thanking them for their blessing upon his life, and reminding him how much God loved him to put so many wonderful people in his life.

I think about the upcoming birth of my daughter. I want to thank each of you for your prayers, cards, gifts, and showers. It has been an overwhelming blessing to my family. I typically shy away from allowing others to bless me but I need to look at a bigger picture. I too want to echo the words of my young friend when I thank you for your blessing upon my life as my family of faith and as the body of Christ. It is in these moments that I am truly reminded of how much God loves me and my family by allowing my family to share the blessing of life together in Him.

 

 

 

Who Am I?-August 31, 2014

Who Am I?

Exodus 3:1-15

Moses was doing his job tending the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro who was a priest of Midian. That’s the way God seems to do things. We think we are going about our lives doing what we please and living in the mundane. From time to time we are thankful for what we have the opportunity to do, but mostly we just go do what we have to for a job. Some may feel more rewarded or settle in their jobs but just when we think we can get comfortable with our job and unexpected and sometimes uninvited guest shows up. It may not we should have known really, I mean after all is there really any place to far that this special guest cannot arrive there?

Moses, he was on the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Exactly how far away is the far side of the desert? Moses was a long way from home and meets an unexpected guest, in an unsuspecting place, in an extraordinary way. Maybe Moses knew or maybe he didn’t that he was very near the mountain of the Lord. When God shows up extraordinary things do happen. Moses looks and seems something way out of the ordinary even for the desert, a bush that was on fire but did not burn up. Moses may have thought he had been at this too long, or the sun had baked his brain but anything that burns gets crispy. Moses not having anyone else to ask if he is seeing things but the sheep decides to go over and investigate this “strange sight.” God can and often does use the out of the ordinary things to get our attention so that we may experience God. Has God ever used a “strange sight” to get your attention or to speak to you?

When the Lord noticed that He had Moses’ attention then God begins to speak to Moses directly by name. Moses had gone over to investigate an out-of-the-way, odd occurrence, then arriving there to find that this had all happened so that God could speak directly to him by name. Now if I am honest I am not so sure this would make me too comfortable. Think about it, you are out here alone, something happens that is completely unnatural (bush on fire, not burning) and then only to find out that it was a supernatural event and that God wanted our undivided attention. Hello God! You have my attention. God has a way of doing just that. When the Lord calls Moses’ name he responds “Here I am.”

Moses is told to keep his distance and take off his shoes. It is God’s invitation much like a guest in our home we invite them in but not to live there, they are guests and out of respect take off their shoes. Taking off the shoes or sandals is also a way of being able to feel and connect better. Things like sandals can cause us to not be as sensitive to what is around us. Now Moses is feeling every stick, twig, rock, and blade of grass. Also just because the bush was on fire but did not burn up did not mean that the fire was not hot. If Moses takes of his sandals then the ground would have likely been too hot for Moses to go much closer to the Lord. The ground is not holy in and of itself but the ground is holy because the Lord being there makes it so.

The Lord identifies Himself, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” God is personal and He lets Moses know who He is that He is the mighty God of his ancestors. This also demonstrates God’s great power, and at learning who God is Moses is no longer worried about his feet but his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Do we have that kind of respect for God today? Do we look over God, or past God, or worse do we look right at God and then say, “no big deal?” Moses knew who he was in the presence of God and would not even look upon God. As the years pass in Moses’ story he has several of these types of encounters with God. Amazingly Moses always honors God but also speaks to God in a very familial way. It would be the people of Israel who look right at God and God’s wonders and then after some time seem to say “no big deal” or “what have you done for me lately?”

Sometimes God causes or uses things to get our attention and help us to see. Things like burning bushes that are not consumed. God tells Moses that God has indeed has been watching, seen, and heard what is going on for the Hebrews. God tells Moses some great news, God is going to act on behalf of the people. That is truly great news, then Moses finds out the real plan is that God has heard, but is choosing to work by and through Moses. God’s action is to send Moses on God’s behalf.

Moses tries to back away from the situation. He asks, “Who Am I?” God tells Moses that he will be with him. Who is Moses, the one that God wants to use to demonstrate his power, might, glory, and to free his people. Who is Moses, he is the Lord’s. Who are we? We are ones that God wants to use to demonstrate God’s power, might, glory, and to set the people free from their sin through the sacrifice of his Son. Who are we, we are his and we are deeply loved.

What if they ask God who are you, can I give them a name? I am that I am. You don’t need to tell them my name, I am the God of your fathers and that is how I will be remembered forever. As important as Moses felt like God’s name was what God would do to demonstrate that he alone is God would be significant. God reminds Moses that he has always been their God, the God of their ancestors. Egypt used to understand and respect God in the time of Joseph but only a few generations later the Hebrews were slaves. The Egyptians would soon be reminded that there is a God and he is powerfully enough to set the captives free.

Will we see the things in our lives as opportunities to seek God, find our identity in him, be willing to be his agents in the world, and help set the captives free? Remember who you are. You are a deeply loved child of God, saved by his grace, and called to go to those who still remain in bondage. Will you go?