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.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Jesus Christ and the Churches of Revelation, part 2

Every time I think of Jesus' words to the churches in the book of Revelation (that is, the seven at the beginning of the book), I think of how He looked to John--Majestic. The King of Kings. The Lord of Lords. The Alpha and the Omega. The Judge. The Almighty. The Lord of the Churches.
This is, of course, a huge contrast with His first appearance as a tiny baby, a child, a man, a corpse, and finally a resurrected Man.
What struck me this morning was the simple question, "Why did He appear this way to John, who knew Him familiarly, respected Him as Lord, and followed Him nearly His whole life?" The answer is found in the rest of the book of Revelation.
Once Jesus entered heaven, His true character was unveiled, and the book of Revelation is just that--it's a revealing of Jesus Christ--first to John, then to the churches, and finally to all the world, including those who reject(ed) Him. He wanted the churches to know who He is now, not what He was like in his humiliation. This vision is calculated, too.  Jesus Christ's appearance changes significantly over the course of the book of Revelation.  In the opening chapters, He's the magnificent Lord.  In Revelation 5, He's the slain Lamb.  In Revelation 19, He's the Rider on the white horse, who conquers all the armies of the earth with a word. The point is, He's ALL these.  He's still the Man who came to earth.  He's the Bright and Morning Star. He's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He's the Lamb.  He's the Judge.
He intentionally varies His appearance to communicate Himself to us, so that we can see Him in ALL His glory, in ALL His power, in ALL His greatness.  It's almost like a skilled jeweler showing us every facet of a diamond, with the light glinting off it in different ways, yet with the one stone a beautiful, unified whole.
Look for Jesus in the book of Revelation.  That's what the book is about, and the judgments, the plagues, the seals, and the trumpets are ways of bringing Him into full view at the end, so that we may understand Him properly, and to prepare us to spend eternity with this Mighty King, this Glorious Lord, this Mighty One, who sits at the right hand of the Father, and that we may rest secure in the fact that He is indeed the final Ruler of the Universe.
As one of the final few verses of the book of Revelation says:

Rev. 22:14 (NASB)  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

Live forever. With Him. Live undisturbed in the light of His glory for all the days of eternity.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jesus Christ and the Churches of Revelation

Churches involved in Immorality. Drugs. Sorcery. Troubles. Persecutions. Legalism. Weakness. Overbearing priesthood. Total deadness. False teachings.

Sounds like today, right?  Actually, it's not.  It's the churches of Asia Minor at the end of the first century. Human problems always play out in the church, because Christians, after all, are human, and sometimes people who are not Christians get involved in leadership. If your church is full of problems, it's like every other church that's ever existed on the planet.  People bring problems, because people have problems.
Jesus has lots to say to these folks, but it interests me more today that it only took a few years for all this trouble to develop. We are about 60 years away from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus in these chapters, and here is all this trouble. In addition, these issues developed in a supercharged religious atmosphere, because all seven of these churches were influenced (if not pastored) by the Apostle John, and the other great leaders of the early church.
This one fact--all the troubles in the early church--tells us several things that we must consider in our own life with the Lord:

  1.  It's very hard to stay "on course." There's always someone or something pulling us away.  All but two of these churches had that sort of problem. Satan is always ready to derail our lives, or to sidetrack them into something useless.
  2. It doesn't matter how great your Pastor is.  It's about you, and your own personal life with God. Your minister can help some, but your spiritual life is up to you. Each of the people in these churches was responsible to the Lord, not to their ministers.
  3. It's very easy to consider secondary issues as the main thing when you're living and working in church. Jesus ends each of His admonitions to the churches with the little phrase, "To him who overcomes..." and, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." The single most important matter in your life right now is what's not right now. In other words, the future. God is preparing you for life with Him forever.  Be sure that YOU "overcome," so that you are ready to meet Him and give account of yourself to God. You will give account. You can be certain of that. Listen when He speaks.  What He says is always important, and He has your best interests at heart.
  4. Staying on track involves a number of different things, depending on your situation:
    1. Focus on Jesus, and love Him more than any other thing. Rev. 2:4. When duty becomes your main focus, Jesus is out of focus.  Don't get sidetracked from Him.
    2. Stay true to Jesus' teachings, and don't believe teachings He hates Rev. 2;6, "Nicolaitans".
    3. Expect trouble sometimes, and if you really get into trouble, look to the future, where you'll live forever 2:9-10
    4. Don't get involved with false prophets who want your money 2:14-15.
    5. There are lots of false prophets around (and prophetesses). Stay true to Jesus' words. Don't worship other gods, don't give in to evil.
    6. Don't die.  Dying spiritually is a choice. Some people have only "a name that they are alive;" don't be one of them. 3:1-6.
    7. Even if you're weak, Jesus has your back--and your front.  He'll strengthen you and stabilize you. He'll also protect you from the troubles He's bringing on the earth if you've kept His Word. 3:7-13
    8. Lukewarm people are in trouble with the Lord--but invite Him into your life, and you'll have the best of Him, and the best He has to offer. 3:8-22.
As you can easily see, people had problems "way back then," and the problems are very much like we see today.
Don't despair if you have problems, issues, and sins. You're just like everyone else.  The only failure is the one who gives up.
"The righteous man falls seven times and gets up again..."
So get up, don't give up.