Jesus Lord of All – As God’s Wrath is Poured Out

September 18, 2018
 
Revelation 15-16  What do you think of when you hear the term “wrath” or when we speak of God’s wrath? We must not think of the capricious wrath of mythological gods or the sinful, short-tempered anger of fallen humans. In these chapters, we see God’s righteous wrath poured out.  
 
God’s Wrath is Poured Out Against a Background of Praise (15:1-4) – This praise is coming from those who have made it through the trials as faithful, obedient overcomers, and they celebrate God’s mighty acts of salvation, provision, and deliverance.  
 
God’s Wrath is Poured Out From God’s Presence (15:5-8) – God’s wrath relates to salvation’s plan, for God has, in many ways, extended patience, mercy, and grace in drawing people to Himself, but He will pour out wrath on those who have refused to enter covenant with Him through Jesus. God’s wrath also relates to His glory as it shows His power and holiness and vindicates His Name, His Word, and His people’s faithfulness.
 
God’s Wrath is Poured Out on the Earth (16:1-21) – We do not need to know every detail or decipher the points that are unclear to understand the horror of these manifestations of God’s wrath and the dreadful results and everything turns against those who are not incovenant with God and they, instead of coming to Him, harden against Him.
 
Some Observations About God’s Wrath
* If God’s wrath will be poured out, I certainly don’t want to be under it, nor do I want to be on the losing side (world’s system and Satan’s ways) that will suffer that wrath.
* If God’s wrath will be poured out, it should stir a concern for those heading toward it.
* Some will not let themselves be drawn to God either by His love nor by His wrath.
* Our call is to be faithful, obedient overcomers in Christ Jesus.


Jesus Lord of All: Godly Perspective in the Struggle

September 11, 2018

Revelation 14:1-20  Have you ever needed the hope and encouragement of a Godly perspective in the midst of struggle, difficulty, or discouragement? Chapter 14 provides this.

Seeing God’s Redeemed and Their Redeemer (1-5) – Perspective is found in this picture. For those in Christ, our citizenship is in heaven, regardless of where we find ourselves. We bear God’s name as His property, live like citizens of the Kingdom, and overcome through walking faithfully in Jesus that we may sing the song of those who are born again and overcomers.

Listening to God’s Messages (6-13) – Perspective is found in hearing the call to worship God through recognizing His place, people’s need, and coming judgment that people might repent. It is found in understanding judgment is coming on Satan’s allies and those who follow his evil ways. It is found in remembering the promised rest coming to those who overcome Satan’s pressures in faithfulness to Jesus.

Stay Aware of What’s Coming (14-20) – Perspective is found in remembering that, with God’s coming judgment, there is coming and end to the age of grace in which people may repent, and end to the suffering of God’s people, and an end to the stench of sin that dishonors God and destroys people.

We need a God’s perspective when the temptation to compromise is strong and Satan seems to have the upper hand. We need God’s perspective when our burden for the lost to be saved and the saved to grow in Christ decreases. Remember the culmination of God’s overarching plan. Remember, Jesus is Lord of all, and let God’s perspective be your perspective so you live as an obedient, faithful overcomer.

 



Jesus Lord of All: In the Midst of Escalating Conflict

September 04, 2018

Revelation 12:1-13:18  Sometimes, we might wonder what is going on around us, what our role is, and if there is a Godly perspective that might help us walk through it. We find this in Chapters 12-14.

The Conflict of Redemption (12:1-6) – In symbolic language, John conveys the earthly ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and this can help us as Christians. There is something larger going on (God’s redemptive plan and Satan’s work against it).

The War in Heaven (12:7-12) – Here, we see the heavenly counterpart of the victory of the cross. Satan wants to condemn you before God, but, Jesus broke his power. The way we get in on that victory of justification before God is the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony that Jesus is Lord.

The Struggle on Earth (12:13-17) – The enemy is engaging in intentional efforts against God’s plan and people. This helps us understand some of the difficulties around us and calls us to draw up into Jesus to be faithful.

Satan Finds an Ally (13:1-10) – It is suggested that, in John’s day, the first beast was the Roman empire, and in ensuing eras, I believe this is a person, institution, individual, etc. that raises itself in opposition to God in Christ to take His rightful place, blaspheme God, and oppose God’s people in the power of Satan. I also suspect there will be a final, ultimate expression of this beast.

Things go From Bad to Worse (13:11-18) – Scholars suggest this second beast may have been the imperial system for promoting and enforcing emperor worship during John’s day. As we move forward, this is some force insisting on worship and allegiance to the first “beast” and imposing persecution to enforce it.

We are called to refuse to be impressed and intimidated by Satan’s ways and efforts and, instead, to remain faithful to Jesus, overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

 



Jesus Lord of All – Word, Witness, and Victory

 August 28, 2018

Revelation 10:1-11:19  As we move into Chapters 10-11, it has been suggested that the  material in 10:1-11:14 does not come chronologically after the 6th trumpet but is gives us insight into something affecting the church during the trumpets.

 

John and the Little Scroll (10:1-11) – The scroll and John’s experience here has to do with God’s message regarding His plan, purpose, and people. It is a message of powerful participation and sweeping declaring, and we see that some aspects of His plan are open, while others remain a mystery. We also discover that it is both sweet and bitter.

 

God’s Promise of Protection (11:1-2) – Scholars agree that measuring, in this instance, indicates protection, and there is some disagreement over the nature of the temple and what the exclusion of the outer courts means. Some believe the temple refers to saved Christians, and the distinction between the protected and the trampled is either indicative of true Christians versus false ones or spiritual protection with physical and circumstantial suffering.

 

God’s Promise of Powerful Witness (11:3-14) – Without going into the diverse interpretations of time and the witnesses, let me make some general points.

  • The witness of God’s salvation and judgment will go forth until He allows it to stop
  • There will be a time when evil seems to overcome and silence the Gospel and witness of righteousness
  • There will be suffering in connection with that witness and rejoicing when it is silenced
  • God’s power is available to demonstrate the validity of the witness and protect it
  • God will vindicate the truth of the message and people will realize it.

 

God’s Promise of Victory (15-19) – Here, we see the ultimate victory of God in Christ. It is victory in the fullness of God’s timing for the glory of God and   extended to those in covenant with God through Jesus. Let’s get ready for that 7th trumpet.

 



Jesus Lord of All – As the Trumpets of Judgment Sound

August 21, 2018

Revelation 8:1-9:21  These images in these two chapters may be even more difficult to walk through than those in the preceding ones. The point is not to assign explanations and meanings to every detail to glean the principles and allowing the pictures to impact us. Think about it like a movie – the technical details are important to the director, but when we sit in the theater, the point is the experience and its impact on us.

 

Postlude and Prelude to the Trumpets (vv. 1-5) – Some suggest the seventh seal and the silence marks the end, and dramatically, it sets up to expect the next wave of revelation. Notice the prayers of the saints and the connection with God’s judgment. I believe we need to pray for God to deal with evil and try to bring people to repentance.

 

First Movement: The First Four Trumpets (vv. 6-12) – Most commentators I have read see these as natural disasters of epic proportions. If so, I think we see God destroying out from under people the things that they worship, serve, and depend upon in place of Him. As we listen to these trumpets we find the burning destruction of both vegetation and the seas, the bitter destruction of the water, and the darkening destruction of the light.

 

Interlude: Eagle’s Proclamation (v 13) – This is an ominous assurance that God will deal with sin in ways that are devastating to those who refuse Him.

 

The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets: Hellish Devastation and Death (vv. 1-12) – Commentators seem to agree that this judgment and the next are supernatural and demonic, although there is more disagreement on the sixth trumpet and its events. Don’t get caught up in the details but understand the frightening reality of demonic torment and demonic death upon those who choose rebellion against God. We see God’s ability and choice to use evil against evil and as evil’s own punishment and effort to turn people to repentance.

Hellish Decisions (vv. 20-21) – As things come out from under people and hardship unfolds, there is the possibility of repentance. Why do people not  recognize something is wrong and turn to God instead of going farther in the wrong direction?

 

Our Call – Our call is to be faithful and obedient, pray for God’s to deal with evil and for people to repent, be sure we are born again, and walk well in Christ.

 



Lord of All – Who Can Stand?

August 14, 2018

Revelation 6-7  As we transition into the remainder of the Revelation, interpretation becomes much cloudier, so we need to exercise caution. We need to be careful with extra-Biblical information about it. We need to look for overarching principles rather than arguable details, particularly answers we may want that Scripture simply does not give. Remember the point of the book – reminding Christians that Jesus is Lord and calling us to obedience, faithfulness, and endurance through the difficulties until Jesus returns.

 

Chapter 6 – The unfolding judgments of God in this chapter, in my estimation, point both to general forces of devastation and chaos, as well as escalating judgment and that which ushers in final judgment. I believe they call Christians to stay faithful to Jesus instead of placing our trust in things that come apart, and I believe they can call lost people to let go of worldly priorities and come to Christ. I do not think the four horsemen are necessarily specific events or individuals but rather conquest, war, famine, plague, etc. Also, look at the encouragement in the fifth seal – the assurance that martyrdom will be answered by God. All of this sets up the question as to who can stand.

 

Chapter 7 – Jesus has called the seven churches (and us) to be over comers, and I believe we find in this chapter a picture of the over comers. They are those who are sealed in Jesus with God’s mark of   possession in preparation for the tribulation, and there are many. They are those who are saved in Jesus alone for God’s glory and in order to bear witness to His greatness and saving work. They are those who forever enjoy Jesus as they are in God’s presence, protection, and provision for eternity with the foretaste now.

 



Choosing Life and Godliness in Jesus

August 07, 2018 
 
2 Peter 1:1-11  Over the past couple of months, (through the first part of    Revelation), we have heard Jesus’ call and correction as we were encouraged to faithfulness, obedience, and overcoming. This passage helps us understand how to be faithful, obedient overcomers in Jesus.

 

Power for Life and Godliness (3-4)

  • The Assurance of God’s Provision – Notice the implication that God wants our faith in Jesus to change us and also the assurance that we already have been given what is needed for that change. God’s purpose is that we be Godly and that we escape worldly corruption.
  • The Means of Our Growth – This power operating for our change happens through an experiential knowledge of or walk with Jesus.
  • The Question of our Desire – Do we want life and Godliness and want to escape corruption?

 

Our Work in God’s Power (vv. 5-9)

  • For This Reason – The rationale for the instructions to grow in Jesus through Godly virtues is contained in the previous verses.
  • Intentional Partnership With God – Initial salvation is by grace through faith, and Paul tells us that is “not of ourselves.” However, sanctification or growth involves our intentional, God-empowered work to let Him change us.
  • A Productive Walk With Christ vs. Spiritual Detour – Jesus tells us in John 15 that bearing fruit glorifies God, and Peter tells us that cultivation of virtues keeps us from being unfruitful in our walk with  Jesus.

 

Our Passion and Its Reward (10-11)

  • God wants us to demonstrate we are new creatures in Jesus by being conformed to His image and escaping corruption.
  • Our desire on this point should match God’s so we grow in Jesus.
  • In Revelation, we heard Jesus call us obedience, faithfulness, overcoming. What Peter describes here sounds obedient, faithful overcoming.

 



Jesus Lord of All – Worthy is the Lamb

July 31, 2018

Revelation 5:1-14  As the scene of Ch 4-5 continues, we hear, “Worthy is the Lamb!” as we see the person and work of Jesus and the response of all heaven and earth.

 

The Uniqueness of His Person – The question arises as to whether God on His throne has a plan and purpose? We see in God’s right hand, the hand of power and action, His purpose written down and sealed, and we discover that, in all the universe, only Jesus is worthy to unfold God’s purpose. For the seven churches and for us, this picture is:

  • A reminder of the primacy of God’s purpose above any other competing purpose
  • A reminder of Messiah’s reign in the face of other apparent powers
  • The singularity among all faith systems
  • The exclusive role of Jesus in achieving God’s purpose in time and eternity

 

The Centrality of His Purchase – We hear reference to the purchase of our salvation. It was a purchase necessitated by our sin and motivated by God’s love, central to all God’s plan and purpose, and extensive in scope and transforming in nature. The implications for us include:

  • Jesus has the prerogative to further God’s purpose relative to us and the whole world.
  • Jesus has the right to expect and call for the love, loyalty, improvements, purity, renewal, repentance, and allowing Him into the central place He has called for in the seven letters.
  • We exist in Christ for God and His glory more than for any other thing.

 

The Scope of His Praise – We discover the scope of His praise’s content includes recognition, acclamation, adoration, and those characteristics befitting a King. We find the extend of His praise include every creature in heaven and earth.

  • Are you engaged in His praise?
  • Do you recognize, confess, and afford Him His place?
  • Will you remain faithful to Him as He unfolds God’s purpose?
  • When will you join the chorus of worship?

 



Jesus, Lord of All – A Call to Worship

July 31, 2018
 
Revelation 4:1-11  The seven churches mentioned in the Revelation got more than the letters. They also received this picture of heaven’s throne room and the rest of the Revelation. So, we might find application in understanding how these scenes would have functioned for the seven churches. We begin by discovering some things about worship.

 

When we Enter the Presence of God

  • It is at Christ’s invitation, under His blood, and as God’s guests and children
  • We are in the presence of Almighty God; all attention is centered on Him; and worship feeds or calls forth more worship
  • It is a place of God’s revelation. In this imagery, we find reminders of God’s work in the Old and New Testaments, the worship of God by all creation and the redeemed, God’s holiness, grandeur, judgment, mercy, and more.
  • True worship is experiential, confessional, and continual.
  • True worship gives glory, honor, thanks, recognition, adoration, and surrender to God.
  • In the heavenly worship, we find sources of God’s worthiness include His timelessness, His supremacy over all creation, and His sovereignty.

 

A Heavenly Perspective on Today’s Call

  • What might it do for faith in God to have this image when tempted or pressured to confess other gods or follow other religions?
  • What might it do for purity to have in mind this image of God’s glory?
  • What might it do to the love and passion for God to have this picture in mind?
  • What might it do to a life or church of lifeless and empty actions to center our attention on the power of God?
  • What might it do to materialistic focus and values to see the relative place of Creator and creation?
  • How might it help us hear and respond to Jesus’ call to faithfulness and obedience when we have this picture in mind?
  • Would obedience and surrender not be owed this God who is above all as the center of heaven’s praise and the sovereign over all creation?
  • Should life and worship here not be a reflection of that above?

 

The picture of heavenly worship undergirds what Jesus has said in the previous chapters and prepares the way for what unfolds. It also can help us live in God-honoring ways today, and it invites the lost to join the company of those praising God.

 



The Difference in a Christian

July 24, 2018
 
1 Thessalonians 5:21-24 & 1 John 2:15-17  What do you think about people who are different? What kind of difference should characterize Christians? The Bible calls for a difference in Christians, and that is both encouragement and challenge.

 

Looking not only at our key verses, but at John 17:14-17, Acts 26:17b-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and 1 Corinthians 6:11,   we find sanctification (being set apart for righteousness and thus different) is God’s will for our lives and is a matter of God’s work in our lives. It is a matter of a new identity, status, and position. It is the work of Jesus, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and it has two parts – when we get saved and as we grow in Christ. Sanctification is not only God’s work, but it is our call and decision also (Ephesians 4:22-24 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). So, it is a fundamental difference in thinking, living, being, and associations that involves God’s work and our choices. There are, however, some challenges to and complications with sanctification:

  • As we get sanctified, we may become self-righteous instead of remaining humble.
  • We may slip into legalism, trying to earn God’s favor.
  • We may begin trying to live sanctified lives in our own strength.
  • We may get frustrated in the effort toward sanctification and stop trying.
  • We may forget there are disputable matters that Christians will disagree about when it comes to choices and actions.
  • We may forget we are called to help each other with holiness or slip into judgmentalism in that process.

 

Some need to celebrate our growth in sanctification, humbly thanking the Lord for His work of grace and maturation in our lives.  Some of us have fallen into being overly critical, self-righteous, etc. (see above complications). How will you grow in being Biblically different in the days ahead?