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, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Thoughts on Easter--We were the Reason...

There's a song from the '70's or '80's, part of which goes "We were the reason He suffered and died..." but before I go any further, let me just say, He [Jesus] chose to do this.
The point of the song is that YOU were sufficient reason for the Son of God to come, live, give Himself up for you on the Cross, and rise again so that you might have everlasting life. It's true, you know. YOU are the "why" of the Cross and the resurrection, and Jesus chose this so that you could have His Life in you.
That's the main message of Easter.
Oh, yes, it's built around the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the reason was YOU. Jesus didn't die just for "the sins of the world," in some general way, but for YOU. You, personally. You. This is what you (and I) need to focus on during Easter--that you were the aim and focus of His life, His death, His resurrection.
I have this theory, that at some point in His life (at His death), Jesus saw what He would accomplish when He died and rose, and that what He saw was each of us. You. Me. Individuals who would realize that He died for them personally, and that the Christian life is a personal, individual life that belongs to Him and [you].
I take this from a passage in John 10, where Jesus tells His disciples that the "Good Shepherd" "calls His own sheep by name," and leads them out. YOU are the one. YOU are the person Jesus is calling. YOU are His focus. He's thinking about YOU.
This is why, if you are hearing His call to you, don't turn it down. Don't think that it's "for everyone," in the same sense that you go to some restaurant, and know that dinners are prepared for whoever shows up. It's not. It's for you. Personally.  It's as if the restaurant is open, and they are waiting to prepare YOUR meal. To take care of  YOU.

Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are burdened and weary. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and you shall find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

And: "I have come that they (each of His people) might have life, and that they might have it abundantly.
You can go on being empty, or you can know and understand that Jesus has prepared a life full of blessing for you, and know that you have a special place at the dinner table, so to speak, prepared just for you, and take your place where you belong.
Come. Be a part of the Kingdom of God. It's been prepared just for you.
You are the reason...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Chronology of Revelation.

It's both simple and complicated.
There's the clear statement in the beginning of the book that Revelation is divided up into 3 unequal "pieces:" "The things you've (i. e., John) seen, "The things which are," and "The things which shall be after these things" (Rev. 1:19).

However, after that, the book dissolves into scenes in heaven and earth, huge events that have never occurred before, unprecedented judgments, events never before seen in the sky, monsters galore, and weird beasts--all that before the "end."

These are pretty difficult to understand and interpret, precisely because we've never before seen them.

Add to that the issue of chronology: When, exactly, does all this stuff actually happen?

Well, we know some things:
First, we know that the vision John had of Jesus occurred in roughly 95 AD, so nearly 2,000 years ago as I write this in 2016.

Second, we know that the churches to which John wrote in Revelation 2-3 existed when he wrote his book--so the "Letters to the seven churches" were letters to the actual churches of the day.  It's kind of discouraging to realize how messed up some of them were, just 65 years after Jesus' crucifixion, but history has told us time and again that the church goes through periods of revival and decline. Many of these churches were in the "decline" phase, while others were just exactly what they were supposed to be. Jesus' warnings to the declining churches still apply, although some of them are pretty cryptic.

Third, we know that the letters to the churches end suddenly, and the next thing we see is John being called up into heaven (in a vision? Don't know), where he witnesses all the events that follow the churches.

It seems like these are the natural divisions of the book, outlined for us in Revelation 1:19.

So the visions in chapter 1 are "What you've seen," the letters to the churches are 'The things which are," and when  John sees the door opened in heaven (4:1) and hears the voice calling him up, that's "The things which shall be after these things."

So the book goes:
1. The vision John saw (chapter 1)
2. The letters to the churches (chapters 2-3).
3. "The things which come after these things, starting at chapter 4, continuing till the end.

The most difficult question regarding the book of Revelation is, "WHEN do the events in Revelation 4 and following start, and how long do they last?" Related to that question is, "Are there breaks in the events?" "Can we identify any historical events that coincide with what happens in these chapters?" And finally, "Does Revelation itself give us any time-clues to help us understand when these things happen, and in what order, and how long do they take?"

More next time...