Sunday, November 23, 2014

5th Seal- Wait Til the Number is Up

9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,e were killed just as they had been. (Rev. 6). 

Thoughts:  Many have asked, "If God is so good, why doesn't He do something about evil?"  The answer is that He will.  But it is in His timing- He is much more patient than we are.  Some similarly say, "When will God do something about evil?"  This passage was written to a persecuted church, to tell them that their persecution will not last forever, and evil will not last.
      It is interesting that the fifth seal is God telling His martyrs to wait.  The other breaking of the seals invited a horseman to come on.  God's timing is perfect and gracious.  He is waiting until the full number of people to repent and the full number of His martyrs- who will be honored forever- is complete. Part of our task on earth is also to wait on the Lord.  As we prepare for the season of advent- the season of waiting, this is an important thought.  God hears the prayers of us to hurry up and bring the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven- but this involves not just reward but judgment and God is only going to move when it is His time.  

Prayer:  Help me, Lord, to wait on you. Help me to trust in your timing, wisdom, and grace.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ultimate Thanksgiving

9Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne (Rev. 4) 

Thoughts: In heaven we will be giving God the ultimate thanks for He is our creator and our savior.  He is worthy of our thanks and gratitude.  Many times we let our circumstances take our eyes off of where we are going, and who is worthy of our worship. 

{rayer: Thank you Lord, for who you are and all you do for me and others.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fourth Horseman- Rev. 6

7When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6)

Thoughts: God's plan is to put an end to the plagues of the four horsemen.  One day death, famine, war, and the lust for power/conquest will stop.  One fourth of the world is destroyed by this horseman.  Even death only comes at the release of the angels before the throne of God.  Some believe the illusion that death is the final end.  But this is not so.  Death is limited by God in space (1/4 of the world) and in time.  God overcomes death.  Death is terrible and frightening.  But the Grim Reaper and the 4th Horseman, though frightening, is not the end.  We all die, but here death comes at once.  

Prayer: Let me understand in life and in death we belong to you, O Lord.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Third horseman- Famine

5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two poundsa of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Rev. 6:5-6). 

Thoughts:  The desire for conquest brings war, and war brings famine.  This third horseman brings the plague of famine upon the earth.  The price of bread/wheat has gone up because it is scarce.  The oil and wine are precious because they are at a premium too.
     Today one in nine in our world (805 million) do not have enough food to live a healthy life.  3.1 million children die each year of malnutrition and its related symptoms.  Every three seconds someone dies of hunger.  In the United States one our of three children goes to bed hungry.
     It is a Christian duty to care for the hungry.  Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat... as much as you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me."
Hunger is a plague that we may not eliminate but we can help alleviate.  The church does not exist solely to help the hungry, but helping the hungry is a part of our mission.  More Christians give to charity than their non-Christian neighbors (Christian are 66% more likely to give of time and money). We are called to give to the needy- not to stave off the Second Coming- but to stave off pain for our neighbor.  

Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see the hungry and hands to do something about it.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

second horseman- war 11-20-14

3When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword. (Rev. 6)

Thoughts: It is interesting that the living creatures around the throne say, "Come" and the horseman responds.  The cherubim says "come" only when the Lamb (Jesus) opens the seals.  The horsemen do not come out of the gate on their own.  Just as God is in a sense in control of the cross, God is not out of control even in this terrible situation of war.  God is working His purpose out.  Meanwhile on earth the generals think they are the only factor involved, and that they are totally in control of going to or abstaining from war.  The rider (vs. 4 says) was "given power" to take peace from the earth.  The ability to make war was endowed.  But God does not fight Himself.  He gives the freedom to fight to the horseman who stirs up war and "makes people kill each other."
     Why would God possibly bring war about?  It is the same reason God brought the plagues about in Exodus.  It was so that the oppressors of God's people have the chance to repent, and so that salvation for God's people (from oppression) would come about.  Over and over again in this book the cry is given to repent, and over and over people refuse.  When we cannot repent anymore- even of war that causes famine and death- then the end should come.  God needs to put an end to those who would destroy humanity and the earth.
     Jesus said that hearing of wars and rumors of war were the beginning of the "birth pangs."  This implies that pain has to happen before the joy comes.  War is part of that pain.  Revelation mentions war many times- Armageddon, 200 million crossing Euphrates, generals in fallout shelters (Rev. 6), and the beast warring against the Lamb.  Wars must cease- and the prayer is "Lord, when will you bring peace- since you are the Prince of Peace? "  He comes and puts an end to war.  But war must happen at the end of time in order for him to extinguish it forever.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to see that evil is not out of your help.  Help me to be strong for you.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The first horesman- Conquest 11-19-14

1I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Revelation 6)

Thoughts: The scroll talked about here is the plan of the future that ushers in the kingdom of God and heaven.  The scroll is sealed up with seven seals- seven locks that the Lamb unlocks.  By doing this, he  shows He is King of history.  As each seal is opened, a terror falls on the earth.  It is as if something ad has to happen before the end will come.  What happens in Revelation 6 is repeated at least three other times in part in Revelation 7-20.  
    The first horse is a horse bent on conquest.   Some say this is Christ- the King of kings.  Others say it is a horseman of wrath, so it is more likely to be an imitator of Christ- the Anti-Christ.  The horseman who brings conquest ushers in close by the other horsemen of war, famine, and death.  Conquest always brings with it war, and war keeps people from planting crops.  But it is in this effort of conquest of this false conqueror that the seal is broken and the King of kings conquers all the earth.  

Prayer: Come Lord Jesus.  May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  

11/5/14- Revelation 1

3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Rev, 1:3)

9I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” (Rev. 1:9-11)

Thoughts: Revelation is a book that many people avoid like a plague.  While some scholars pretend it is only talking about the Roman Empire and the first century, this is clearly a short sighted and skeptical way of trying to interpret an optimistic and faith-filled book.  John wrote this book to give hope, and was written in the context that the persecution of earthly rulers will not win in the end.  The hope of Christ to some was forlorn.  But the time is clearly much more ripe than it was.  The blessing of Revelation is a blessing of hope.  As long as we are alive and Christ has not come back at the end of history-  closing the books and ending the reign of the unrighteous- there is hope. Christ wins- that is a blessing to know, believe, and hope. No matter who wins the elections- God wins in the end.
      John was writing on Patmos- a beautiful island in the Aegean Sea.  He was in exile.  John says he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day.  What is the Lord's Day?  It is the first day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead at dawn-claiming the day.  Sunday is His Day.  The Spirit often comes to us when we are in worship on His Day,  Every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Christ  

Prayer: Lord, may I be inspired to be a blessing and to worship you.