Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

John sends his greetings...(Revelation 1:4)

Now we find who the book of Revelation was written to, and what the substance of the book will be:
"John to the seven churches in Asia..."
"Grace and peace from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven Spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the firstborn from the dead..."
and finally,
"To Him who loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood..." (words of praise to Jesus Christ);
So the book comes from God, and John is an amanuensis, which means that he wrote what he was told to write.
Most of the other books of the Bible are compiled like a storybook, or they consist of teachings, Psalms and sermons.
Revelation is unusual (though not unique) in that it is a series of connected visions, which God gave John through Jesus Christ His Son.
The Greeters in the book are also the Authors of the book--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Which all leads me to an observation and a question:
John received this book as a fresh contact from God--from all three Persons of the Trinity.
When was the last time God actually spoke to you?  Many people I know say that God has never spoken to them (I'm talking about Christians, now); however, I believe God speaks if we shut up and listen.
God put John on a (mostly) deserted island.  John had nothing else to do. No pastoral duties, no counseling, no evangelism, no friendships to maintain.
Sometimes, the quietness of a special place and time is what we need, like John, to really hear from God.
I believe that God desires to speak to you.  However, it's not so easy to listen.  So perhaps it's time for you to follow the "John principle," and get to a quiet place where you have some real time, and listen. John had no choice.  The message God gave him was extensive and complex.  You and I usually can choose to listen, and move ourselves to a place of quiet, with sufficient time to hear from Him.
I'm convinced that when you want to listen, God will speak.  To you.  To me. To whoever seeks Him.
Isn't it time for you to take yourself away to a place, with time, where you can hear from Him, and give Him the time He deserves?
A great deal of the time it takes to hear from God comes from the necessity of releasing all the competing things that prevent us hearing Him when He does speak. Why not start releasing those things today, and listen for His voice? He wants to speak to you. You have to want to hear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

John and the book of Revelation:

John tells us that he was on an island called Patmos, "for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." Patmos was well-known in the Roman world as a prison island, where Rome exiled offenders that they never wanted to see again.  It's here that he pens the remarkable book of Revelation.
John is called (in various King James Versions), "St. John the Divine;" when I first became a Christian, I thought that meant he was "godlike;" if you have one of those KJV's, you may wonder as well.  However, the word "divine" was an old word (1600's and shortly thereafter) for a man who studied divine things--a theologian.  He's someone who speaks about God, who He is, what He's like. In fact, that was John's nickname in the early church: "O Theologos," "The Theologian." He's called this because he spoke about God, about who He is, His character, and man's relation to it.  Many folks think that Paul should have been called "The Theologian," because of his tremendous influence on the teachings about salvation and the Christian life, but the early church recognized something very powerful in John--a special connection with the character of God, so that it became the basis and substance of his writing.  This is especially true in the book of Revelation, where the entire book is an "unveiling" of Jesus Christ--where He's revealed for who He is, not as the humble carpenter who came to minister in 30 AD or so--but as the mighty King of Kings, who will set up a kingdom that will last forever, As Daniel says, (Dan. 2:44),
"the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all [other] kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever."
The book of Revelation is about the days in which the God of Heaven sets up HIS kingdom, over which Jesus Christ is the King.
What does it all mean to you?
Lots.
Firstly, if you are Christian, you'll participate. That's worth everything.
Secondly, if you're not Christian now, you'll have multiple opportunities to make your decision to follow Christ, in the midst of the most difficult days the world has seen.
Thirdly, John's experiences are a parallel to what yours will be.  The world has never been kind to Christians, except for the last couple centuries, and then only in limited locations and at limited times. Today, persecution rages everywhere but a few countries in the world, even though Christians make up the largest religious identifying group. It's not good, nor is it easy, to be Christian in a Muslim country, for example.  Your life is at stake.
John experienced long life, but all of his colleagues and fellow apostles were murdered by governments or incensed people.
Christians have decisions to make.  You have decisions to make, and the outcome of those decisions involves not only your own faith, but what happens to the people around you. Your decisions will determine the course of your life, and its final end.
The most important decision relates to the question, "What's most important? The temporary, or the eternal?"  If the temporary is most important, then your decision will be to NOT follow Christ.  If the most important thing is your eternal destiny, then your decision is already made.  You'll follow Christ, even if it means exile (like John), or death (like his fellow apostles).
The reason?  Today is temporary.  As Paul said, "The fashion of this world (what makes it up) is passing away." Eternity is really the only game in town.  Be a part of forever.  You can.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Revelation of Jesus Christ...

Revelation.  Unveiling.  Apocalypse.  What does it have to do with you?  Literally everything.  If you're not a Christian, and these events begin to happen, they are a gigantic warning of what's about to take place much sooner than you thought.  If you are a Christian, and these things begin to happen, the warning is that a time of unprecedented trouble and martyrdom is here, but that the "end of days" has arrived, which will issue in the winding up of this present age, and a completely new kingdom--the Kingdom of God.
All Christians look forward to the final result.
Almost everyone on earth is looking for "something to happen."  There are upheavals everywhere.  Problems in the Middle East (the focal point of the "end times"); economic problems so severe that it's tough to understand how to deal with them; moral and personal problems abound, and it's almost as if the ground is shifting under our feet.
The book of Revelation doesn't really provide a "guide to the end times." It does say what GOD is about to do to restore the world, and the world order to a place where ordinary people have a good life.  It's not an easy time, because the devil, who has had the kingdoms of the earth under his control for so long will not give them up easily.  In fact, he has one final play, one desperate effort, left to him, and he will make every effort to see that people follow his plan and not God's.  There will be mass murder of Christians and Jews.  There will be horrible things happen to ordinary people. There will be a huge dictatorship formed with a loose association of kings and kingdoms, which will reign with unprecedented cruelty.  While we have broad outlines (Matthew 24, Daniel 2-12, Revelation), we have few specifics, except dark intimations of terrible times.  People have speculated as to what these events will be like for generations. We don't know a great deal, but there are a couple of things we do know:

  1. There will be an end to the "end times," which will be much different than many expect.
  2. The days that lead up to that end will be terrible beyond our imagination.
  3. After the "end of the end," God will bring a true utopia, which will never end.
Many people have wondered why the book of Revelation even exists because of the difficulty of interpreting it accurately, but John tells us the reason in the first verse: It's about "things which must shortly take place;" these events will affect us. Even if they do not occur in our lifetimes, the reverberations from these future events can now be felt in the difficulties that we experience in our daily lives.  
The events will happen to us, if we're here.  The book of Revelation is about YOU, whoever you are, because however they happen, the events will shape your life for decades to come, whether they are future to you or present.