Sunday, November 30, 2014

2nd day of advent- I am the light

12/1- When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Thoughts: Jesus repeated this claim according to John’s eyewitness testimony.  John 9:5 He says, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the World” (see also John 12:46).  This is a bit different from His saying recorded in Matthew 5:14 which Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount discourse.  The saying that “You are the light of the world” is indicating that we are to be witnesses to the true Light- as the moon reflects the sun’s light.  But in John, Jesus is the light- to be followed.  He is the One who is the guiding light- leading us out of the chaos and hopelessness of darkness into light and hope. 
      Getting in the Christmas spirit means lighting up.  Put lights on a Christmas tree, or an electronic candle in your window.  This is a testimony that you are a follower of the light.  December is the darkest month of the year. It is also a time when more people see counselors and more people are depressed.  We can have hope because of Christ.  He is the light at the end of the tunnel.  He gives us meaning and direction.  We can point to His light by simply putting Christmas lights out- as a sign that we still celebrate the coming of the light of the world into our dark lives.

Prayer: Lord, you are worthy of my trust and hope- for you are my light.  Help me to reflect your hope in how I speak and act this advent season.  Let your light shine through me.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent Day 1- The Coming from a Pre-Existent State

INTRODUCTION: I hear many saying something like: “I just can’t get into the spirit of Christmas.  I am not really sure what is wrong.  How can I get that spirit back?”  Perhaps what they are saying is they want the symptom of experiencing the true meaning of Christmas back: they want the love, the energy to want to help the needy, or see the family.  Such feelings of philanthropy and “good will toward men” comes from a deeper place.  The true Spirit of Christmas comes from and is identified with the Holy Spirit who testifies that Jesus has come in the flesh.  God the Spirit inspires us, motivates us, energizes us to appreciate and to have more than a shallow- surface-like experience of the season.  The shallowness of materialism will dry up our spirit turning us into Scrooges (either during the time or when the first credit card bills come).  But the Holy Spirit can bring to us anew the deep joy of realizing that God loves us- and has shown it by sending His Son.  The Holy Spirit helps our spirit to “acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:3).  It is that acknowledgement that means God cares enough to intersect our lives.  It is this care that brings meaning to our days.  It is his coming in the flesh that brings meaning to our flesh- our earthly existence. 
         This faith is not something we can generate within ourselves.  But I am convinced we can (by God’s grace) put ourselves in a place to appreciate Him and The Reason for the season.  When we appreciate God’s love, it inspires us to go beyond ourselves to love others and to bless Him.    I hope this Advent devotional written by your church’s pastors: Richard Burnett, Tracie Stewart, and Ben Sloan, will help you find that Spirit that inspires and lifts us up. 

Scripture: “I tell you the truth”, Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was, I am!” At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the Temple grounds.  (John 8:58,59).
Thoughts: Jesus was In the Temple- the house of God- when He made this death defying claim.  He was linking himself to the father of the faith- Abraham.  Abraham was the hero of faith.  He set the example of leaving the comfort of his home in Ur (Ur was one of the richest cities in the world with running water and plenteous food), to go to an unseen land.  He believed God wanted him to go.  Jesus also left the comforts of heaven (even more comfortable than Ur!), to come to be born in a manger and rejected by his people- because it was the Father’s will.  Jesus was not just saying he preceded Abraham in time, he was also preceding him in the quality of faith.  The willingness to risk everything in order to fill God’s will is the spirit of the incarnation that is seen in Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s call.   Abraham did not just believe God and stay in Ur.  He acted on his belief.  Jesus did not just love us and stay in heaven.  He acted on His love. Perhaps the spirit of Christmas is found in both believing that Jesus has come in the flesh and then acting on that belief by leaving our comfort to go out of our way: to worship; to look for the hurting around us and comfort them;  to listen to the still small voice of God directing us in the busyness of the world around us. 
Prayer: Lord, today help me to want your will more than my own comfort.  Give me grace to show your love to someone else today.

Application: Think of someone in your neighborhood who is hurting and do something nice for them (send them a card or an email, or bake something for them).    

Friday, November 28, 2014

11/29/14- Thanks beyond thinking

23He remembered us in our low estate  His love endures forever.
24and freed us from our enemies.His love endures forever.
25He gives food to every creature.His love endures forever.
26Give thanks to the God of heaven.His love endures forever.

Thoughts; We give thanks to God for the things that we know, but we also give thanks for the things that we do not know.  Faith allows us to believe God has our good in mind even when we do not know about it.  Much like a child rests comfortably and trusting in their good father's care- so we are called to trust that God's love endures forever.  So even when we are unaware of God's protection, deliverance, and blessing- we can still thank Him.  Just as confession does not depend on knowing all our sins- but on God's grace; so thanksgiving does not depend on being totally aware of our blessings.  In fact, God likes to bless us anonymously.  
     Sometimes when we are around other people we see what we are thankful for.  Someone who has a disability may remind us of our health.  Someone who is ill or wounded remind us of our health and our escaping injury.  Sometimes rubbing elbows with the poor remind those in the middle class of what we have.  Sometimes when we get back what we have lost- food, housing, clothes- we are reminded of what we have.  

     In this part of Psalm 136 we give thanks to God as our Savior- the One who rescues. us.  He remembers us in our low estate.  These are almost the exact words of Mary when the angel told her she would have the Messiah.  God remembers us when we cannot help ourselves.  He delivers us from those who would harm us- our enemies.  Revenge is His.  He delivers us from famine- because of His great love.  God is the God of all- even of heaven.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

11/28/14- Sixth Seal continued

12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide usf from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of theirg wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation)

Thoughts: The sixth seal, seems to be some kind of devastating war.  A war that makes the earth shake violently, sun and moon turn dark and red, and the sky fly away and the heavens recede like a scroll.  In reaction the kings and generals hide under the mountains in something like fall out shelters.  A nuclear disaster would seem to fit this bill rather well.  It is terrifying to think of such a nuclear-like catastrophe actually happening on the earth . Later it speaks of a third of the world's vegetation and water being burned up or made unusable.  A nuclear-like catastrophe could do this.  So could something like a chernoble disaster or an asteroid hitting the earth.  But it appears this is made in the context of war- with generals.  For the members of the seven persecuted churches, such a scene would draw both fear and a sense of relief that even kings and generals must answer to the Almighty. 

Prayer: Lord, keep me in your care in the tough times and good times of life.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11/27/14- Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His love endures forever.  (Psalm 136:1-3)

Amen!  Praise and glory and wisdom and THANKS and honor and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever Amen! (Rev, 7:12- the song of the angels to God).

Thoughts:  Thanksgiving does mean taking stock.  But it is more than just counting our money in the counting house- like Scrooge.  Thanksgiving implies that there is a giver to whom we should give thanks.  Otherwise, the blessings we get are not blessings at all- only an accumulation from random chances from the universe- that really don't mean much in the face of infinity.  Our talents- our brains and our abilities and being born in a place of blessing mean little and are nothing if we do not have one who has actually created us with a purpose and a call- then blessing us with what we have.
     Thanksgiving also implies contentment.  If we are not able to appreciate what we have, how can we find peace with what we have and stop the never- ending temptation to greed and simple accumulation of stuff?  John Calvin spoke a lot of the need to be satisfied with what we have as a part of the Christian life.  The balance of this is that we should try to do the best we can with the talents and gifts God has given us as a good steward.  Calvin said, "All desire peace of mind,, but because they rob God of the praise due to His power, their own ingratitude keeps them from realizing the blessing of His remains to us that we should offer to God our thanksgiving through Christ who sanctifies us by His own immaculate offering.  Giving thanks helps to not miss the promises and the hope of receiving sure and immediate assistance from His hand."   (Calvin Commentary on Ps. 118).
     God is the giver.  In gratitude to God we give thanks and seek to pass the blessing on.  God gives blessing through us, His people.  It is the blessing of a positive attitude, a helping hand, simply living a life of gratitude, helping someone in need with time- or ability- or a donation.  God is the giver- He gives us gifts and watches how we respond to the gifts he gives.  We praise Him when we live a life of generosity, contentment, and thanksgiving.

Prayer: May my life be one of gratitude to you this day, O lord.

Sermon on Thanksgiving with quotes of studies on the secondary benefits of gratitude:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

11/26/14- terrible desturcion

12I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Rev. 6) 

The sixth seal's opening is a terrible war.  Perhaps if you lived in the first century a nuclear war could be conceived in these words.  In a nuclear war, the earth rumbles, the sky turns black and red, and it appears the stars flee from the sky. This is an illustration- even if we do not believe it is nuclear war- of terrible destruction.  Such destruction could only be imagined in the first century but it is a reality today.  These verses remind us that even the worst kind of destruction in human history is not out of the Lord's hands.  

Here is a short video of Tsar nuclear bomb going off- illustrating the sky receding like a scroll and land being removed from its place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

11/25/14- Reconciliation as a Possibility

18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)

Thoughts: God wants people to be reconciled to each other, and God wants us to be reconciled to Him.  As I write this, Ferguson Missouri has erupted in violence in reaction to a police officer not being indicted in the death of Michael Brown.   Injustice is a part of human life.  If we focus on fairness and injustice, we will never have peace with each other not peace with God.
     Last night, our area had a joint worship service of Thanksgiving- black and white churches.  We worshiped together and ate together and friendships were established and deepened.  On Thanksgiving Day about 200 volunteers from 17 churches-- both black and white, rich and poor, male and female will come together to prepare meals for 550+ people who are hungry on Thanksgiving, and deliver them.   In Christ, unity and peace and justice is possible.  We should not forget this, and we should work for the reconciliation of the world.  

Prayer; Lord, where there is enmity, bring reconciliation and peace.  We pray for Ferguson and for our community that you would bring peace. 

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.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Every Creature's Song in Heaven

13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5)

Thoughts: Every creature will sing in heaven.  The good news is that those who didn't think they could sing will really sing- and the song will be more beautiful than any song they have ever heard.
     This is every creature every where- heaven, earth, and sea.  Heaven or hell- it doesn't matter- we will all acknowledge that God is God and true.  There is no one anywhere who will not praise God.  Philippians 2 says "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord."
     The song is inspired by the Holy Spirit who enables us to have breath to sing- who gives music in heaven itself.  The Spirit inspires us to sing to the Father (who sits on the throne), and to the Lamb (who purchased all of us who will sing).
      The content of the song is a doxology.  We sing in awe and admiration- praise, honor, glory and power.  All energy, all songs are due Him.  All attention should be directed at the One who died so much for us.  In the end, in heaven, all the distractions will be removed.  

Prayer: Let me see you, O Lord.  Help me to find you - and then help me- to praise and honor you with all that i am.    

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Angel Song in Heaven

11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5) 

Thoughts:  Perhaps we remember, "Hark the Herald Angels sing, Glory to the Newborn King."  In heaven the angels are still glorying in the Son- bringing Him attention and glory. They are reminding everyone in heaven here that Jesus is worthy of worthyship/worship.  He is worthy to receive power (dunamis)- for without Him, none of us would be alive and have energy/life for eternity. He is worthy of wealth.  The one who had nothing- born in a manger and stripped of his possessions at his death- should be honored with the wealth we own.  He deserves, more than any other, our gifts and our best.  He is worthy of wisdom.  He has made a wise way for us to get to heaven.  He has outwitted evil and sin with His grace and love.  He is worthy of strength- for without Him we are paralyzed with weakness and inability to move beyond the grave.  Jesus was amazingly strong in the face of persecution and derision and he inspires and elicits strength to stand up for what is right among His followers.  He is worthy of honor.  He has done nothing dishonorable or shameful, but has found a way to erase dishonor and shame with His own sacrifice.  There is no one so worthy of honor as the Mighty God who was born in a manger and humiliated in his death on the cross.   
He is worthy of glory.  We are called to reflect His glory and make His glory bigger (the meaning of glorify) because without Him there would be no heaven for humans at all.  We should spread the fame of His honor.  He is worthy of our praise- for in Himself He has done great things.  The mighty beings of heaven- the messengers- the angels tell of the worthiness of Christ.  We should follow their advice. 

Prayer: May my crown, my gifts honor you.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Doxology to the Son

8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reignb on the earth.”

Thoughts: The leaders in heaven- the twelve patriarchs of hte twelve tribes, and the twelve disciples along with the four Cherubim sing this song to the Lamb- the Son of God.  Perhaps you remember John the Baptist said (pointing to Jesus) "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1).
    The song is that He is worthy in many different ways: 
He is worthy to open the future- (symbolized by a sealed scroll) to bring about the redemption of the saints and world.
He is worthy because of his sacrifice on the cross- His blood purchased those who  believe. He has ransomed us from evil into heaven. 
He is worthy because he knit the believers into a kingdom- a kingdom of priests who intercede and offer forgiveness.  This kingdom is as diverse as any- it is made up of every tribe, language and nation.
It is this phrase that is oft repeated in Revelation "every tribe, language and nation" that makes one think that John is not just writing about the first century but of a future time.  It was only 1984 that the last countries (Nepal and Tibet) had Christian believers in them. Christianity is the only religion that is truly in every country.  We are still working on every language group- but that is falling shortly.  There were 17,000 languages unreached in 1990, but now estiates are only 2,000.
Jesus forms a church that is truly non-prejudiced and world-wide.  Whosoever will may come to Jesus. 

Prayer: You are worthy, Lord.  You are worthy of my song of my life.  You have redeemed me from my sin.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Doxology of the Creator 11-15-14

11“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” (Revelation 4) 

Thoughts: This is a song of "honor and thanksgiving" before the One who sits on the throne.  So this is a Thanksgiving song.  It is thanksgiving for life itself.  God should receive all honor for we would not be here without God.  We are here because God willed us here.  As The Message translation says "it was created because you wanted it."  Honor (timen) and Power (dunamen) are reminders that we would not be here to honor ourselves or anyone without God.  We would have no power, energy, strength without the Ground of All Being giving us life.
     As we get near the American holiday of Thanksgiving, this is a great verse to remember.  God is worth our time to give thanks.  God is worth our energy to give thanks.  For those who think church is not worth it- they may be right.  But God is worth it.  Worship comes from the word "worthy-ship."  He is worthy of our attention- our honor and our time and energy because without Him we have and are nothing.  

Prayer: May my soul praise you with honor and energy for you made me, all I love, all I am.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

11/14/14- Vision of Heaven- Rev. 4

1After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.4Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spiritsa of God. 6Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. (Revelation 4) 

Thoughts: Heaven was opened to John.  He saw the rare sight (to us) of God on the throne.  Even Moses, who asked to see this, didn't get to see this.
     What John saw was beyond beautiful.  It is a similar vision as commonly described by those who have had near death experiences.  There is color, beauty.  John uses the prettiest things he has seen- precious gems, rare jewels, colorful rainbows to describe what he saw in heaven.  But such words while perhaps a true approximation are just an approximation.  Heaven is beautiul, and is described as such.  God is not only awesome in beauty but He is also awesome in power.  The pagan god-king, Zeus (Jupiter) held thunderbolts in his hands.  Thunder and lightning are great images of power.  God is on the throne.  He sees all and is powerful enough to help.  By faith we can put our trust in the One who is on the throne. 

Prayer: Lord, may I trust in your awesome power.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jesus at the door- 11-13-14

19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3) 

Thoughts: Often this verse is individualized.  There is some reason to individualize it as the words are "anyone" and a third person singular.  Yet, this message is in the context of the individual church as a person.  He calls the lukewarm church to repent.  They have left Jesus nearby but at the door.
     We would like to have a little bit of Jesus- have Him close in case we need Him. But for many, we do not want Him to fully come in and take control.  Jesus wants to come in to us and eat with us- a sign of an intimate friendship and relationship.  A church establishes a relationship with Christ when it is purposefully all in for Christ- and not just trying to be lukewarm, sociable, and culturally acceptable.  For Jesus to be outside of His own church's door is a sad thing.  But for Jesus to still be there waiting to come in is a gracious thing. 

Prayer: Lord, come into my heart and the heart of the Church. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11/12/14 Neither Hot nor Cold- Lukewarm toward God

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3) 

Thoughts: There were hot springs that brought relaxation to muscles and healing in Laodicea.  There were cold springs that brought refreshment and nourishment.  But Lukewarm water was not good for anything.  I like cold tea - iced tea.  I like hot tea.  But tea that has been left out for a long time isn't very good.  The people of Laodicea were not refreshing or on fire.  They were apathetic- disinterested.  They yawned at the One who gave His life for them on the cross.  They were indifferent to the One who gave them life and offers them hope.  They acted as if God didn't matter. Many people who go to church today do the same.  They are afraid of getting zealous in their faith.  They are afraid to walk by faith instead of sight.  For them the faith is an extra to their life- not the main ingredient.  

Prayer: Lord, keep me from being apathetic toward you.  Instead, help me to be all in for you. 

Hot springs terrace 6 miles north of Laodicea