Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Revelation 22 -- Jesus is Coming

That is it. Every chapter of the New Testament. We get to the end and what do we find? Jesus is coming. If we had been paying attention all along we already knew that information. Jesus is returning to set right all things. All of creation is waiting for that glorious day. There will no longer be any night, and the River of Life will flow freely from the throne out into all creation.

Another thing has been evident all along, the question are you ready? It is going to happen, Jesus is going to return, but will you be ready for that day? Will the city gates be open to you, or will you have to remain outside looking in. That is my definition of hell, realizing that it is all about Jesus, and that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but not being able to do anything about it.

So I end this journey with a short entry to ask a few simple questions. Do you believe the words of Scripture to be true? Do you believe Jesus to be sent of God, for the purpose of making the way for humanity to have a perfect relationship with God? Are you ready for his return?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Revelation 21 -- The Holy City

Finally, Satan is defeated for good and the full reign of God can begin. As we look at chapter 21 it is important to have words from Matthew 6 fresh in our minds. These words are a part of what we call the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Week in and week out people offer these words, and some even in sincere prayer. Do we think about these words, we are asking the Kingdom of God to come and be on earth as it is in heaven. As we near the end of Revelation that is exactly what we see happening.

The common thought is that heaven is someplace else. That when all things come together and the end arrives we will go somewhere other than here. Now I have not made the journey so i do not know exactly what happens, however the Scriptures seem to paint another picture. The new Jerusalem comes down on a cloud from heaven to the earth. The cornerstone of the new kingdom is set up here on earth. Not just earth as we know it, rather earth as God originally called it to be. In other words we live in heaven right now, only if has not been totally fulfilled. That is the longing of the Lord's Prayer. Bring the fullness of your Kingdom God, to this earth. Restore and renew your creation.

In the restored and renewed creation God is the light and the life of all creation. Once again this is already true, yet our human will taints the light and life God offers to us. When the glorious day comes, the earth will not cease to exist, nor will the people, rather it will be the perfection God has been calling us to all along.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Revelation 20 -- The Thousand Years

Out of this one chapter of Revelation much debate and division has occurred. The discussion of the thousand years has generated different groups of beliefs which have often wasted time warring against each other. There are those who are called pre-millenialists, who say the 1000 years is yet to come. There are the amillenialists who say we are in the midst of it. The smallest group are the people who think we are post millennial. I fall into yet another camp that doesn't think it is worth the energy and effort trying to figure it out. Not to be confused with thinking it is unimportant, I simply do not think we can figure this one out, and I do not think it changes anything.

We can know a time exists, past, present or future when Satan will be allowed to have rule of the earth. We also know there will come a time when Satan will no longer be allowed to do that and will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, along with those who followed him. Once that happens the final judgment happens and the stage is set for the New Jerusalem. Anything more than that is simply not supported by the Scriptural text which we have been given.

However, unchanged is the question which must run through out the book of Revelation, are you ready? If the time has passed, are you ready for final judgment? If we are in the midst, are you keeping yourself ready for the day of Judgment? If it is yet to come, still we must ask are you ready? It might be safer to spend time trying to pin point the timeline, but it is misguided. We do not control the timeline, what we control is if we are ready for that day.

This is the perfect time of year to ask the question. Are we ready? If not what must be done in the next year to make ourselves ready?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Revelation 19 -- The Last Battle

I cannot image what it would be like to hear the sound of all heaven rejoicing. That is what begins chapter 19, the great multitude shouting praise to God in Heaven. All out party is breaking out as the final victory is nearly here. The moment souls have been waiting for is upon them the defeat of the beast and all who would follow the beast. The rider of the white horse comes in with the army of heaven behind him, ready to render final judgment.

As we ready to celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby to our world it is more than a child we celebrate. As we celebrate Christmas we are joining in the celebration of heaven as we read it in Revelation 19. The moment the first cry pierced the air in the countryside of Judea, the victory was won. Many battles still lie ahead, but the victory was won in that moment. This is worth the party on earth as it is in heaven. The celebration and battle we read about in Revelation is not simply a future event. It is an event that is happening now, it is just not fully realized now as the fullness of God's time has not come.

I confess that I all too often live as a defeated person. I readily see all that is not what it should be and allow that to drag me down. For those who are followers of Jesus, we are to remember the victory which is already ours. Christmas morning is a victory party, and every year as we celebrate, is another victory lap. The victory is won, Satan is defeated, so it is time to stop living as defeated people and embrace our victory.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revelation 18 -- The Fall of Civilization

In Revelation it is called Babylon. Over the centuries many have identified it with other cities or countries. For John's first readers they most likely thought about the Roman Empire. There are some today who would point to the United States. No matter, the point is not the actual city, rather it is the work of what we would called the civilized world which is defeated in that day.

Described in these verses we find the description of humanity thinking it has it all made to the point of desecrating and destroying that which is of God. It is bad enough to be found living independent of God, even worse when you have the ability to entice others into that life. Babylon represents all that is human driven, and how it will all fall short. When the judgment of God is handed out, human effort will account only for destruction.

Greatness in human eyes may have immediate gratification, but long term it will pass away. All that matters is honoring God, anything else falls under the category of Babylon. John tells about the Day when all that comes to an end and the great and powerful Babylon is no more. Still the question echos through my mind, are we ready for such a day? This is more a personal question than a corporate one. When individuals begin to fashion lives where God is at the center of their entire being, we begin to take power away from Babylon, and place it where it belongs, with God. The day of judgment will come, we do not know the hour. The day of Babylons fall will come. It could come today, so let us make sure we are ready today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revelation 17 -- The Woman

As we quickly move toward the end of John's vision the images take the opportunity to get a little more strange. This time they are so strange John is astonished. This is kind of comical to me when you take into account all he has seen and encountered. The woman he sees is not given the best or nicest titles given to a woman, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The mother of prostitutes, and of the Abominations of the earth. Wow, those are not exactly things to put on your business card. I think we get the picture this is not a good woman. Just in case we are not sure we are told she is drunk on the blood of the saints.

We know this image is more figurative than literal, not because we are really smart but because we are told what these things mean. Basically we are told the woman and all the heads and horns represent earthly kingdoms who will come and go before the final day. Additionally it is clear the last two are directly tied to Satan. In the last days all these kings, the woman and the beast will war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome. Before it is all said and done the beast and the kings will turn on the woman and destroy her. This is the image of what will happen on earth before the final reckoning.

So what does that have to do with you and I today? Honestly, I am not sure, but it does not change the question we have asked all through Revelation, are you ready? I do not know if we will be witness to such visions, nor do I think we are to know that now. It seems obvious to me that I want to be on the side of the Lamb and not the side of the beast. This is a decision I get to make now, today. I once again commit my life to following after Jesus Christ. He is more than Savior, he is Lord, leader of my life. Provider of hope. Deliverer of Peace. Source of all Love. My everything. Perhaps you can offer the prayer of your life as well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Revelation 16 -- Judgment Delivered

The seven bowls of God's wrath are poured poured out in this chapter and it is bad news for those left on earth. The seas and rivers all become toxic. The sun burns people to a crisp, and there is an earth quake to end all earthquakes. To finish off the wrath there is a hailstorm with 100 pound hailstones falling from the sky. Destruction is upon the face of the earth, yet the people do not repent. In fact they get mad at God for causing all this to happen.

It would be easy to read this and think, those foolish people. All around them is the work and power of God in full display and they do not turn their hearts to God. I wonder how we would respond, or better yet how we do respond. The coming judgment is real, and will happen when God determines the time has come, but we do not need to wait until then to fall hopelessly in love with God through Jesus Christ. Honestly if we are not willing to do it now, we won't be willing to do it then.

I have no idea if the scenes painted for us in Revelation 16 are literal or figurative, some will argue this, but I do not think it matters. What matters is the day is coming when God is going to settle accounts with all creation. In that day there will only be two types of people, those who are devoted to God, and those who are not. For those who are not, they might not be out and out evil, they might even be church attenders, but it will be a bad day nonetheless. The book of Revelation writes about things yet to come, but we must be ready today.

In a few short days we will celebrate Jesus arrival on earth. The God of eternity breaking through into creation that we might be ready when that day comes. Still we fritter away the days in meaningless pursuits, and we are not constantly ready for that day. The time of preparation is now, Jesus is coming, are you ready?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Revelation 15 -- The End is Near

In this brief chapter we find the final judgment of God in the preparation phase. seven angels with seven plagues, with seven bowls of God's wrath. Once all the wrath and destruction is handed out, the doors of the Tabernacle are flung open and the angels proceed with their work. I love the note that the temple, tabernacle, is filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power. The Old Testament prophets talk about such things happening.

As we are getting ready for Christmas I wonder if we are expecting to see the temple filled with the glory of God. Sure many will go to church, and some will even go there seeking God. How many though, are going with not the hope, not the dream, but the expectation of God's glory filling the church? When we read passages such as Revelation 15 we might think those things only happen in heaven or during the end times. This means we do not expect it to happen now.

AS you might guess I think the filling of the temple is not something reserved for the end times, or the the Old Testament prophets. It can happen today! I do not mean in our time I mean today, this very day we have been given. I will be the first to claim my doubts in this subject. Also, I will be the first to tell you that not all doubting is sin. In this case my doubt does lead to sin because I doubt whether it is possible for the glory of the Lord to fill the church.

Today I lay this down at the cross. In a few short moments worship will begin for us. I will enter worship with expectation and anticipation of what the Lord is going to do. I am going with a heart seeking to see the glory of the Lord fill the temple so thick all we can do is worship and bow down. May the glory of the Lord fill this temple today!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Revelation 14 -- Judgment Begins

The whole book of Revelation is filled with images which are difficult to get our heads around. Some of these images are figurative while others are actual. Knowing which ones are which would create a great amount of clarity. I am always hesitant to offer which ones are figurative and which are real because I just don't know. Here in chapter 14 we are given images which could fall into both situations. I could spend hours, and perhaps sometime I will, trying to sort it out, however, I am not convinced that is the point of the vision John gives to us. There is a sick quest by those in the Western world to figure it all out, what about mystery?

In this chapter we have the Lamb gathering the 144,000 who have the name of the Lord written on their foreheads. We also have the angels announcing and starting the judgment. I am not sure if the angels thing will really happen or not, this is not mine to figure out. What I do know is there will come a day when the Judgment of God will begin. In that day it will be clear who is who, those who follow the beast will receive what their choice has given them, those who follow the Lord will receive what their choice has given them.

It is fascinating the judgment is in terms of a harvest. This is an important image throughout the Biblical text and makes some special appearances in Jesus teaching. God's wrath is being prepared for pouring out on all creation. Once again we are back to an image which seems to be figurative, but we cannot rule out what the Lord might do. Grapes in the wine press which produce blood four feet high for about 180 miles. If this is literal, there will be no question as to the Judgment time of God.

With all the images and questions around those images it is easy to lose sight of the most important message of Revelation. The events and images are outside of the control of humans. All we need to be concerned with is being ready. We cannot stop or start the events unfolding in the book of Revelation. We do not even have to figure them all out. We simply must have our lives in such a state that we are ready for the Judgment of God. Are you ready?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Revelation 13 -- The Great Deception

As we journey further through John's vision we find the events being described becoming more troubling. Chapter 13 is on where it is easy to allow the images used to confuse what is being taught. We have established through the previous chapters the dragon is Satan and these beasts are given power by Satan to work against God on earth. What the vision tells us is that it works. the people on earth are deceived and begin to follow the beast, and do what the second beast commands. There is also reference to the saints in this chapter, those who are following Christ. It seems as though not all the faithful have been removed from the struggle.

Here in chapter 13 is where we also find the marking of people with the number of the beast. All those who do not take on the number are closed out of the commerce centers. It was not possible for a person free of the mark to buy or sell. Those who have been deceived by the beasts will take the mark and those who have not will have to find alternative means of gaining the goods and services needed.

In a lot of ways it will be like the great depression of the 1930's in America. People will struggle to get by. The big difference this time around is some people will do just fine while those who follow Christ will struggle. Instead of a Great Depression, it will be a Great Deception. Before we think it will only people weak, or nominal Christ Followers who will be deceived we should be careful. It could be any of us. How do we protect ourselves from deception? Connection. In the Gospel of John chapter 15 we are told to Abide in Christ. This means our primary connection and relationship is with Christ. That we receive our life and breath from him. That our primary source of everything is Jesus. When we look other places for fulfillment, we can more easily be deceived.

I am not sure there is someone waiting in the wings right now ready to place the mark on people. There might be. Either way the question remains, are you ready? How is it with you and Christ? Are you abiding? Are you looking in other places for fulfillment?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Revelation 12 -- It Just Got Weird

Up to this point some of the images have been strange, and some of the concepts of Revelation have stretched us, but this chapter puts a new art to the weirdness. The woman giving birth to a male child and the serpent, the devil, waiting to devour the child. There is a torrent river, the earth opening up, and torment of all the other children of the woman. Closed with an encouragement to hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Strange I can do, I do not even mind weird, it simply takes some time to process. The great temptation is to declare with certainty that the woman is Mary, and the child is Jesus. That certainly is a possibility which can be supported by the study of scripture. Another possibility is the woman is a God figure, and the child is Adam. Many are not comfortable with God as a female, but God is genderless, and since the days of creation Satan has been attempting to devour the children of creation.

No matter who is represented by the woman and the child, I do not think we are suppose to always know, what we can know is there is a battle. Satan is working to stop all the works of God. Not only to stop it, but to completely devour all the things of God. This means until the final victory is seen as reality, we on earth are the object of the enemies attack. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of our victor, Jesus, we can expect the enemy to be active. If humanity were to focus on the true celebration this Christmas, the enemy might lose some ground, so the battle is on.

The final encouragement of the chapter are words for all of us to hold on to, hold on to the testimony of Jesus. Many things will tug at you this Christmas time. It might be easy to lose sight of Christ in this time. We must fight the good fight and do all we can to resist the pull of the enemy. This might mean changing the patters of what we do, so we are ready.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Revelation 11 -- The Two Witnesses

This has to be one of, if not my favorite part of the book of Revelation. By the way this is one of the few parts the popular Left Behind series got right on the button. Two witnesses are sent by God to prophesy about the Lord. They are much like John the Baptist in the Gospels. They stand out from the normal crowd by their appearance, and by their message. It seems as though they were given nearly unlimited power from God to communicate their message. Bringing plagues when they wanted, fire from their mouths at those who would come against them.

However, even these prophets when the time was right were done in by the beast of the Abyss. Yet, that is not where their witness ends, after three and a half days, that sounds familiar, they are given the breath of Life. The people are amazed, and begin to worship God as the two prophets are raised up on a cloud. Then something amazing happens that is easy to miss. Victory is proclaimed. "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.". That is a victory claim. What millions have prayed in the Lord's prayer will come true, May your kingdom come!

With these fantastic scenes which stretch our thinking and imagination we find the victory we are told about coming into reality. Now the battle is not finished for a few more chapters, but victory has been proclaimed. We are left with the question, do we claim the victory that has been given? Most of us, not the us, walking around acting defeated more often than not. Things do not work out as we have planned them, our hopes and dreams seem to be on hold, or delayed indefinitely, so we feel defeated. We have the victory! When we allow Christ to lead our lives, when we realize it is him who has won, we gain that victory. While we wait for the days which unfold in the book of Revelation, we know what will happen. Therefore we are called to be people who live the victory today. That victory was won the moment Christ arrived in the manger years ago. Are you ready to be a victorious person?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Revelation 10 -- No Delay

Okay so now things get real serious in the heavenly vision. There is a declaration that there will be no more delay, the full mystery of God was about to be unveiled. The time prophets talked about and others instructed was upon the people. This proclamation is followed by the eating of a scroll, which many presume to represent the word of God, that was sweet to the taste but soured the stomach. The Word of God is sweet like honey, but can cause men to stumble at its truth. After the souring meal, John the recipient of the vision, is sent to prophesy to the people. Can you imagine that job?

So if a third of the earth being consumed, the mutant locusts, and the C.S. Lewis style army, did not awaken the people to what was happening, John is given the task of telling them was is going on and about how bad it is going to be. There are times when I am not thrilled about the tasks God gives me, but this one takes the cake. The audience John is facing might be the definition of a hostile audience. Still in all of the destruction we find God hoping more and more will be saved. I cannot begin to imagine the pain God is enduring as the events of the end unfold. It is as if God were trying everything possible to get people to turn their hearts and enter in into relationship. Alas, they do not listen and the judgment falls.

All things are not completed yet at this point in the story. It is still the time of preparation, and the question still remains, are you ready?

Revelation 9 -- Paging C.S. Lewis

Now I like a good Sci-Fi movie as much as the next person. It might be hard to find a movie that is both Sci-Fi and good, but you would not expect to find the script in the Bible. The creatures described in this chapter are like something you would find in a C.S. Lewis novel. Locusts with human faces, the teeth of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion. And the two hundred million member army. This cannot be good. Well for those who have not received the mark of God, or who have not prepared for that day by having a growing, thriving, ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a very bad day.

The locusts do not have the power to kill, only torture for five months. Can you imagine wanting to die, but not being able to. The two million member army will wipe out a third of the earths population. This army has connections back to creation and the fall of humanity as they are headed by the angels bound at the great Euphrates river, one of the four rivers of Eden. They kill a third and the rest suffer in many forms. Still this is before the glorious return of Christ, this is still in preparation.

Interestingly enough these events are not enough to get the people of the earth to turn to God. They continue to deny God and embrace all sorts of evils. It might seem easy to criticism them and even call them foolish for their arrogance, however it could be anyone of us, so be careful.

Still the theme runs through, are you ready. If you have done your preparation now while there is still time to prepare, you will merely be a heavenly observer to all these things, not an active participant. Are you prepared?

Revelation 8 -- Judgment Enacted

In this chapter something new happens in the throne room, silence. To this point there has been singing and proclamation, but no mention of silence. I can only imagine it to be one of those disturbing silences that you know carries something bad. In the silence trumpets and a censer for incense are handed out and put to use. Remember this is before the return of Christ to the earth, this is all part of the preparation.

First we find the censer being used to lift prayers before God, then it is used to initiate the judgment of the earth. Filled with fire from the heavenly altar, it is flung to the earth with thunder, lightening and an earthquake. I am certain at this point the inhabitants of earth might have noticed something was about to happen. Then the trumpets start. First, hail mixed with blood fell from the sky burning up a third of the earth, a third of the trees and all the green grass. The second trumpet sounds and the seas are upset by a huge mountain like object. This caused a third of the seas to turn into blood, along with the death of a third of the creatures in the sea and a third of the ships destroyed.

As the third trumpet is sounded and the star Wormwood falls to into the rivers and a third of them turn bitter, bitter enough to kill people. The fourth trumpet blasts and a third of the sun is struck along with a third of the moon and the stars. A third of the day was without light as well as a third of the night. All of this seems to be the beginning of a recreation on earth. Think for a moment about the first creation, chaos covered the earth, and God spoke bringing it to order. Here God has spoken and chaos is being brought on creation. To me it is God setting the stage for the renewal of all things one earth as they were intended to be at creation.

By the end of the chapter a pretty grim picture is painted. The challenging news is given from an eagle who warns of the next three trumpet blasts. In essence telling us we have not seen anything yet. Keep reading the story is just getting good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Revelation 7 -- The Sealed Ones

As we enter into chapter 7 we start to find a greater distinction of those who follow God and those who do not. Before the four horsemen of chapter 6 are allowed to do their work, God puts them on hold while the 144,000 get there seal showing they are with God. These are the representatives from the 12 tribes of Israel. There is an assumption that these 144,000 will not be harmed by the work of the angels, but that is never clearly stated in the word. It is stated they will have the seal of God, meaning they belong to God, however their safety is never mentioned. One might think by them having the seal of God they would be excluded from harm, however we evidence to the contrary in the scriptures. What we know is they are being claimed as belonging to God, that they are in fact Israel, the chosen of God.

We also now deal with the multitude who were given white robes. The elder tells that these are the people who have come out of the great tribulation, and have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. This is one of the classic passages used to support the rapture, that people came out of the tribulation. Again the support of the rest of the text is not there for that conclusion. What we can see in this passage is the multitude are the people who have been faithful from the fall of creation, to the return of Christ, or shall we call it the in between times. Classically this has been thought to be the time between the resurrection of Christ and the return of Christ. I cannot help to think we must go back further to the faithful of the generations. Those who followed after God even before the inbreaking of Christ to creation. They together with all the company of heaven sing praise to God who is above all things.

It would be easy to play numbers games to see who gets in and who is on the outside. There is a strange satisfaction found in judging others, especially when eternity hangs in the balance. Still when it comes to that day, we do not choose for anyone except ourselves what path we will walk. The question still remains the same, are you ready for that day?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Revelation 6 -- The Seals

From the scene of the throne room worship we next turn to the unfolding of the end of things. A great number of people have written a great number of words regarding the end of this age. Often missed is who and what initiates the end of things. People point to the Middle East, others to the economic markets. While later in Revelation those things are discussed in detail, the real beginning is found here in chapter 6.

As the Lamb opens the seals, the ones no one else in heaven could open, we find the signs of the end of this age. The first four seals being the four horses and horsemen. Notice this takes place in the throne room, not in the incarnation. The four are sent out to do what they have been summoned to do, that is begin the judgment. The fifth seal is still has action focused on the throne room and deals with the faithful saints of the centuries who have died in the faith. They are waiting for their justification. They are told not yet, but given white robes in preparation.

Then we get to the sixth seal. This is when events begin to unfold on earth. Again notice the events are not initiated by anything on earth, but the opening of the seal in the throne room. This means we will only know the end is beginning once it begins. All of a sudden stars will fall, the sun will be gone, and the moon will be like blood. Is this a literal image? We do not know, and again I do not think it really matters. What matters is are we ready because all these events come without warning from the throne room of God. We have no way of predicting them. The only thing we can do is be ready.

I am sure there will still be pages consumed about the end of this age. I am sure there will continue to be predictions about what things will look like. The reality all the predictions are just best guess. The real question to be wrestled with which is often ignored is, are people ready for the events once they come. Are you prepared for what is to come.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Revelation 5 -- Power Of The Lamb

We continue in the obscure as we read through chapter 5. Still in the throne room there is a break in the worship and the scroll appears. No one was able to open the scroll in all of heaven. To show the importance of the scroll we find John weeping because no one can open it. Enter the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The images of Jesus as the mighty lion emerge, and we await this figure like Aslan from CS Lewis fame to appear. Next on the scene, the Lamb, and it looks like it has been slain. That is a far cry form the Lion image just two lines earlier. The Lion of Judah is a slain Lamb, and that is our hope for opening the scroll? Yup.

The power of the Lamb lie not in its strength like the lion, though we should not doubt that strength. The strength comes in the willingness to be the sacrifice for all of creation so that all may enter in. The Lamb has the power to open the scroll which no one else can open. Power purchased by blood. When the Lamb enters the room the worship kicks into another gear. The angels come in by the thousands and give glory to the Lamb that was slain. By the end of the chapter we see the Lamb and the One who sits on the throne being given equal footing. As all of creation, in heaven, on earth and under the earth, worship them both.

The power which unlocks that which no one else can, is found in Jesus, the Lamb. The key to salvation is in the Lamb, the key to true worship is found in the Lamb. The key to life and breath is found in the Lamb. So perhaps it is time to stop striving to find that with in ourselves and let the Lamb do His job.

Revelation 4 -- Worship At The Throne

Here is where the images start to get a little more disturbing. We find creatures who are described to be some of the strangest beings we can think of. For those who might have read through the Old Testament prophets, you might find these beings to be similar to those described by the prophet Ezekiel. Revelation is certainly not the first time we have come across beings which are strange to say the least. Here we find them in the throne room of heaven. Also in the room are the twenty four elders. The scene is one of worship.

Seated on the throne is the King, presumably God, and all the activity of the room, the Heavens and the earth are directed at this being on the throne. Can you imagine what John is going through as this gift is given to him? Now some can waste time arguing whether John was actually in these places or if they were simply visions. That does not really matter. Actual placement of vision, John would have been deeply impacted by what he saw. In a day and age when we ask often what is it to worship, we find a profound answer here in Revelation.

Worship is to fully, totally without regard to self and our won desire, offer praise to God. There are not a lot of fancy words thrown in, simply praise of the One who is, who was and is to come. Pure, unadulterated praise lifted to God who sits on the throne. Do we have to wait until that day to experience this? I hope not! This is not reserved for some future date, it is to be experienced now. The primary reason we do not is ourselves. We allow too much of ourselves to be at work in our worship. This is not about a style issue, this is about a human control issue. It is time to give up control, so that we may witness the glorious worship of the One who sits on the throne now. That way when the day comes, we will be prepared and join in.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Revelation 3 -- Endurance

I wish when I opened the pages of my Bible it would assure me not only that everything was going to be alright, but that it would be easy and comfortable. It would be a great dream to find the Bible letting me know I will not have to struggle and suffer for my faith, and that I will always feel head over heals in love with God. There is no doubt some people would tell you that is how they experience life, for the rest of us who prefer authenticity to the dream know that life is hard, there is struggle and we waiver in our love and commitment for God.

In the final three letters to the churches, Jesus tells the churches to hand in there, have endurance. The struggles of the people are going unseen by the One who can actually make a difference. Jesus can see the struggle, and can see the faithfulness of the people. He offers hope. Notice he does not take away the struggle. Jesus doesn't just step in and remove the challenges, he encourages people to be strong.

In the final letter we find the famous lukewarm dialogue. We have all been there. Our passion for God has not and is not always red hot. Rarely is it stone cold either. It is easy to fall into the place where our relationship with God becomes pedestrian. Taking God for granted, and not seeing God as our source of life and breath. To us Jesus encourages us to light the fire again to burn with passion for the Lord.

All of this is in preparation of the coming king. This season of Advent we are in is a season to examine our journey. Are we discouraged, lukewarm, just going along? Are we ready for an in breaking of the King of Kings. I sometimes think we do not experience the fullness of God because we do not make ourselves truly ready for it. Let us us this advent to get ready to experience all God has for us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Revelation 2 -- To The Churches Part 1

In chapter two we find the letters to the seven churches beginning. There are four in this chapter and three in the next. Each has a similar format of celebrating what they are doing well, then looking at the growth area. The common area of mistake is when we try to figure out which of the churches out current church is. These churches are not offered as a checklist for us to determine which one is us. We are all of these churches.

Any church fits into any of the celebrations and growth edges offered here in Revelation. We could all use to walk more closely with our first love, we must all be ready to persevere in persecution, we all have people teaching things contrary to God, and we all have people who we know to be leading people astray, yet we allow them to do it. So why include the letters?

The first reason is the writer was told to include them as a part of the vision given by God. This by itself is a good enough reason, but there is more. In these letters we find ourselves. In finding ourselves we find that the struggles of the church have not really changed over the centuries. Our modes of functioning have changed, and different times have highlighted different challenges, but overall, the church is still the church, people are still people, and God is still God.

Once again, and we will see this several times in Revelation, the details are not to be the tripping point. We focus on details because we have been trained most of our lives to look at details. The original audience would not have been looking for details, rather they would look for the overarching message. So what is it? Jesus is telling us to pay attention. Those who have ears to hear... that means those who are willing to really take a look. Those who are preparing themselves for the coming days. Often people say God is not speaking, what that often translates to is I do not like what God is saying. In other words, many people do not have the ears to hear.

Are we paying attention? Do we have ears to hear? Or are we caught in the details that really do not matter?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Revelation 1 -- The End, Now?

As we begin the final month of 2009, we reach the end of the New Testament. Up to this point we have journeyed through the Gospels, the works of Paul, and the many letters. We have read about the beginnings of this thing called the church, and seen the many warnings for the people of the church. Now we reach the end of the Biblical record. It seems like a strange time to dig into Revelation. We have now stepped both feet into Advent, the season of preparation, and it seems as though focusing on the birth of Christ might be more in order. This is the perfect time to wrestle with this challenging book, as we are in the season of preparation.

The birth of Christ has taken place, and that is cause to celebrate. While we celebrate memory is given to the fact of the cross hanging over the manger. Our Savior was born to die, only to be raised from the dead so we too might be raised. Ever since Jesus was taken back to the throne room we have been in the Waiting. Better yet to say, we have been in a season of anticipation and preparation. Humanity was given a promise, that Christ would return and set right all of creation in final victory over the enemy. While we hold the promise, it has not yet been realized.

Over the next month we will journey together through some additional warnings for the church, as well as begin to look at what it might be like when that day comes, and all is settled in creation. It will be a strange trip as some points, other times it will be a challenging trip, yet in the end it is all to prepare us for the return of the One.

So prepare your hearts. Prepare your mind. Get ready for what God is ready to do in this time of waiting and anticipation. I pray that we may find the end to be exactly where the beginning starts.