The End Of The Beginning… gnidaerR sdrawkcaB

Not to long ago while reading read one of my morning devotionals with a rather catchy title…Reading Backwards and preparing for today’s blog I ran across the word Advent…here it is Friday and my publish date is this Saturday, funny how God will show will us the way if we just pay attention. I have a study group on Tuesday mornings and we are in the book of Revelations, pair that with another morning devotional and then put Advent with Revelations and you are ready to go. You see even at this late hour I had no real subject to share with you.

So….What is the point here? How do these two and reading backwards go together? Glad you asked that question. 

We will start with Advent… the Latin word meaning “coming, or arrival”. For Christians it is a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus and in a theological twist the beginning of the end. It is at this point, the arrival of Jesus that God begins the restoration and salvation of his people. The book of Revelations prepares God’s people for the end times and through John’s vision he reveals those things that must take place before the end. Both the Old Testament and the New contain writings of the prophecies, events and stories of Jesus and of the time of Judgement to come…the Lord’s Day. Let’s start at the end. Reading Backwards

Revelations Has a total of 22 chapters and 21:1 through 22:21 deals with the New Jerusalem and the epilogue and benediction. For our purposes today we will look at 21:1-8. There will be an end to this wicked earth as we know it, this present earth will be no more. There will be a New Jerusalem, it will become the capital city of heaven. Here is where the saints will live. (John 14:1–3). I will try to highlight some points of interest here without getting to involved. The term bride is symbolically pointing to the saints who have come to this new city to meet the groom…Christ. This is his Fathers’s House. As written in verse 3 the Tabernacle is God’s house, this is where he lives. There will be no sadness here, no need for tears. We are reminded in verse 5 that God always speaks the truth. Verse 6 refers to the lasting spiritual water Jesus spoke of. In verse 7 those who persevere, remain true to the faith and accept the saving grace of Jesus Christ, will inherit the wonder of the new creation. In verse 8 we encounter the caveat that lists some of the traits of the unbelievers and their fate. Here is the list of traits from a biblical perspective:

Revelations 21:8

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (NKJV)

As we read backwards we will encounter all the events of biblical history that got us to the end as recorded by the saints in moving toward the salvation God has ordained for his people.You may correct me if you wish but to me the beginning starts with the birth of Christ and Advent, which prepares us for the birth of Jesus and our journey to salvation…the end of another beginning. This one is forever.

Life is Good

jk

Back To Psalms…Giving Thanks

Short time back we shared with you the power of Psalms and today we are back to underline, so to speak, the power of prayer and the power of Psalms to be part of our prayer life. Thursday many a prayer will be lifted up around the family table and among friends and associates. There will be Churches, groups and organizations that do their part in sharing the bounty of God’s table with those who are less fortunate than others.In preparation for this blog I was blessed to find that Psalms is a rich source of thankful prayers to God for the blessings and abundance of life itself and calling us to acknowledge the Goodness of our God through word and song.

As we gather and join hands to say a prayer of thankfulness for the food and blessings may we be reminded of the  Psalms of Thanksgiving to recall God’s blessings on us. You might say for us Christians it is a family tradition and means of expressing our trust in God… prayer in a way is our Ebenezer Stone. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “No matter what happens, always be thankful for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” These are but a few of many. So I pray that you and yours will have a great Thanksgivings and use these Psalms of Thanksgiving in a prayer of gratitude before eating together or for greeting cards to loved ones. Give gratitude from the heart for the blessings of God!

Psalm 69:30 ~ I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 100:1-5 ~ A Psalm for giving thanks. 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 69:30 ~ 

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 111 ~ 

Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever- holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Life is Good

jk

Resource: 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Beautiful Psalms of Thanksgiving and Scripture Quotes to Inspire Gratitude

Compiled & Edited by BST & Crosswalk Staff

Yesterday…Is Gone

 

Jeremiah 29 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

 

The Beatles wrote many songs but my favorite has always been “Yesterday.” Remember….Yesterday

All my troubles seemed so far away

Now it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly

I’m not half the man I used to be

There’s a shadow hanging over me

Oh, yesterday came suddenly

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/Beatles-Yesterday-lyrics.html

All of us have some yesterdays to be remembered and for the most part are referred to as the ‘good ole days’. Suddenly, it seems with little or no warning we are no longer who we used to be. Age and time leave their marks while past and current events change and mold us into who we are. This is not a ‘blame game’ it is about a selective silence, a faith of convenience and what makes people uncomfortable, the accumulation of life’s every day events. The world and the country are changing and in the minds of those of the faith not for the better. I have readers from around the world… a gift of the internet and Bill Gates. It would be a case of bad manners to be judgmental of other countries when here in the USA we can’t manage our own house…so to speak. Now back to ‘Yesterday’… Yes the world has changed and Yesterday is Gone…  In a book by Dan Boone, “A Charitable Discourse” Mr Boone in the preface lists about 12 things that bother most people but they are not comfortable talking about them, much less confronting them. Some of these items minimize or eliminate meaningful conversations. No doubt the pressure that surrounds societal changes, the evolving culture changes they bring, such as, this new thing that has come to be known as cancel culture. What is that? My definition is a bit harsh I suppose. I view it as a social phenomenon of refined hate by the social elite. Below is a more rational definition.

Cancel culture or call-out culture is a phrase contemporary to the late 2010s and early 2020s used to refer to a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been “cancelled”. Wikipedia

Biblically speaking it undermines and shatters the very message of Jesus Christ. It strikes at the very heart of God’s Commandments to his people. In his article Dan Boone has a list of things and I will not list those here…buy the book…It’s a good and insightful read. The point of this blog is to answer a question. So in a world that is hostile to Christian thought or precepts what do we do, where do we go? In times of trouble and distress there can be found a universal desire… Most folks just want to find a source of comfort, inner peace and a place or time that takes them there. God has provided for his people a means that does just that. In the Book of Psalms we can experience the power of prayer, which I believe is simply a conversation with our creator… the creator of all things and the place where He who will sustain us in our time of uncertainty dwells and listens for our voice. 

But first do this…

Philippians 4:5-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalms offers a way to bypass the negative feelings that life sometimes puts on us. Psalms focuses on prayers, poems, and hymns that bring us closer to God in praise and adoration. Many of these were used as a hymnal in the worship services of ancient Israel. God hears our prayers…Turn to the Psalms in time of distress.

We are never alone in times of…

Trouble:

Psalm 25:16-18

16 

Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 

Relieve the troubles of my heart

and free me from my anguish.18 Look on my affliction and

my distressand take away all my sins.

He hears our voices:

Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

    he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 121:1-2

1

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from? My help comes

from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 116:1-2

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned

his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

The Confidence and Assurance, that is ours through our God:

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil,

for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Life is Good

jk

 

Resource:  Boone, Dan. A Charitable Discourse, Volume 2: Uncomfortable Conversations 

 Kindle Edition. 

Psalms… God’s Will For God’s People

Sweden’s Dag Hammarskjold, who traveled the world as Secretary -General of the United Nations always took these three items with him as he traveled. A copy of the New Testament, a copy of the Psalms and a copy of The United Nations Charter. Psalms presents to us God’s claim upon the whole world and speaks to God’s will that there be justice, righteousness and peace for all peoples and nations. In the twentieth century the predominant approach to Psalms has been historical but we are reminded by the writings of J Clinton McCann JR. that there is also a theological side to the Psalms. It is not my intent at this time to delve into a study of Psalms but some background information is always good. Sometime in future blogs I will return to this rich source of God’s will for his people.

The above is an excerpt from a past post, in July of 2020. I wrote a blog in which there was a reference to the Book of Psalms. Today I return to that book…a promise made a promise kept. Consider this…sometimes we can have to much religion ! What exactly is religion?

Religion is a set of organized beliefs, practices, and systems that most often relate to the belief and worship of a controlling force, such as a personal god or another supernatural being.Jul 21, 2022

 verywellmind.com

The web address above is not normally where I go for a definition, I came across it and decided I kinda like it. To be on the safe side I have not researched it so I don’t endorse it. It was the definition I liked even if it is one of a secular mode. Tired of religion…try God…let God’s words be your guide to a better life. I have come to believe that salvation is not a denominational thing, group thing or a list of do’s and don’ts. I believe it to be, or yet better said,“a personal relationship of communication and obedience to God the creator of all things. Psalms…the meat of prayer and yes I may have gone overboard a bit but you prayer life is your direct line to God in this world of confusing values. What exactly are the Psalms also referred to as the Psalter and where did they come from? They are from the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT), where they originally referred to stringed instruments (such as harp, lyre and lute), then to songs sung with their accompaniment. I believe that prayer is and should be an essential of living a Godly Life. There are times that the words don’t come easily or the situation is such that there are no words for it. As a simple layman theological knowledge is often overwhelming. We know that when we go to God in prayer even when we can’t find the words…He hears and understands our groaning and knows our needs. 

Romans 8:26-27

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (NKJV)

How do we approach Psalms in today’s world? The same way the people of God have done in past times. In Psalms we find instruction for living a Godly life. Within the Psalms there are songs to be sung and words to be spoken, all which will help us understand our deepest fears and strongest emotions and how they fit into our relationship with God. My preparation for this blog led me to a thought I found interesting, one I had never considered. All churches have

certain standards or what I call judgement points…as to how well you fit in with their doctrine and precepts. Consider this… Anything less than a demeanor of peace and contentment becomes a concern to others as to why, when and how. In many cases you are expected to lessen or eliminate any display of anger, fear and of all things grief. In America that would be a “straight face” for our English brothers and sisters that would be a “stiff upper lip”. I am open to being questioned about this opinion but even a little of this type of attitude of suppression keeps us away from meaningful prayer. Interesting to note that The psalmists experienced the full spectrum of human emotion and poured it all out to God with no restraint—words to flesh out the invisible and overwhelming. In today’s world …sometimes you just got to let it go. I wish to be on record as having said, I’m all for that with one caveat…Let it go to God!

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Surely your goodness and  love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:4,6

Please join me next week as we search a little more into this Platform to prayer…God hears you, remember to raise your praise, thanksgiving and concerns to him in prayer.

Life is Good 

jk 

Wisdom To Live By, Enjoy and Use…The 20th Book of The Old Testament … Proverbs

Unusual in a couple of simple ways, first of all there are no biblical stories or theology  as many of the books of the old Testament have, just simple tips to enjoy and live a full life.  The book emphasizes how important it is to listen to the folks who came before us and to have a sincere sense of humility. 

There is no dispute as to who wrote the major parts of this book from either the Jewish or Christian church. The prevalent thought is it was written by Solomon and is a work of Divine inspiration. What is inspiring is that these writings provide a guide by which all people can regulate their lives and are worthy enough that over the years they have they have been spread throughout the civilized world. What exactly is a Proverb? To a layman such as myself the simple truth is ‘its presents more than meets the eye.’ A short discourse that says a lot in a few words, built on wisdom of a Divine nature…. It is Divine revelation for the human soul. The purpose of Proverbs is best said by its author: 

Proverbs 1: 2-3

for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair…

It is counted as one of the books of Wisdom Literature and there are other books of the Bible that are designated as such.   First it should be noted that it is hard to define wisdom in a single brief description… It is a practical thought as to how the world works and the  behavior that allows one to enjoy life fully. Knowledge can be attained but wisdom is a Divine gift of God and is acquired through experience and obedience to God.

We as Christians in this world today are not much different from those in early biblical times. We are all seeking ways to live fully in a world we don’t completely understand. We might not admit it but we are constantly looking at ways to cope with this life by watching what works well for others, especially as to remaining faithful to Christ and his commands to us. Proverbs provides us with some short concise directions, or if you will some Godly wisdom as to the direction of our life actions. There were many gods during Solomon’s time and he like us , all humanity, has the task of observing life, recording their observations and then decide which path works best for them…another way of saying it would be that God gave us free will.  These people were in a hard place. The Jews believed there was only one God…Yahweh…there was no demons to blame their troubles or hard times on…There was only Yahweh who was all-wise and all-just. Enter Proverbs no biblical stories or theology  as many of the books of the old Testament have, just simple tips to enjoy and live a full life.  Proverbs are a part of a book that is still being written and they remind us also that life is both a gift and a task.

It has been my observation that people are not much at being told what to do. Do yourself a favor and read the book…. enjoy and live a full life. 

Life is Good

jk 

The Road Trip Continues… Deuteronomy

I have wanted to share parts of this book with you. It is actually a collection of sermons of Moses prior to the crossing over Jordan. It is believed that someone else wrote the last chapter, some record that person being Joshua. Now time lines can be confusing but the best guess is that the year was 1406 B.C. . Sometimes we have to be reminded of the greatness of God and this book does just that and might even be a refresher course in the convent and Laws God gave to Moses to give to the people. If it were a school course it could be named Behavior 101. We have here a whole new generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land. The point here is that these folks were in reality a whole new group of had nots. They had not experienced the miracle of the Red Sea, or heard the law given at Sinai. Where they were going there were many dangers and temptations and the book of Deuteronomy was to first remind them of God’s law and the power of God.

We are so blessed to have those Saints before us that have left us a written account of times past in the beginning of God’s covenant with his chosen people and the eventual establishment of His Church through His Son Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 4:2

2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…

Deuteronomy 32:46-47

46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long

In the opening verses Moses reminds all the people that their tedious wanderings was the result of their own bad behavior. Hopefully they have reached an understanding of the value of obedience. When God brings us into trouble and all kinds of afflictions He knows when we have been tried enough, it was now time to move forward. Canaan lies just before them for their encouragement. How can we be not strengthened by the power and goodness of our God? Why or how could we ever believe that our fate rests only within our own person and goodness? The Israelites received God’s good laws and were given in turn good men to execute them and all were with the obedience and love of those God given instructions to Moses. The people at one time stood on solid ground. Why was there this distrust of God? What about faith…where had it gone and was there any cause to distrust this God, was an unbelieving heart at the bottom of all this?

The most likely culprit of this disobedience of God’s laws, and distrust of his power and goodness was disbelief of his Word and Power. We must remember obedience is faith driven. The people needed to come together, give thanks to God for the mercies we have received and to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember. Exercise of a strong faith will allow the people of God to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings. 

 Quick recap of this book. Verses 1-3 are a recap of their journey from Egypt to their current location, Moab. Chapter 4 is a call to obedience. God has been faithful to them…they must be faithful to Him in return. Chapters 5-26 are a repetition of the law, Ten Commandments, sacrifices and special days. Good will come to those who obey, but those who break the law will be judged and punished. That theme is continued in verses 27-30. In the final chapters Moses at 120 years of age is still a strong presence as God’s chosen leader. Chapter 34 relates to the death of Moses. It is a remarkable feat for a man of his age but he is able to climb MT Pisgah and before he climbs Moses encourages the people and commissions his replacement. God shows him the promised land but Moses is not allowed to enter it. He dies  there in God’s presence. The book of Deuteronomy ends with a short obituary on this great prophet. 

This is a book of great import because it also shows the continually of God’s plans for His people. We today live in a time of distress as the faith is attacked and the greatness of God in the lives of His people is marginalized. Today’s blog cries out to all….have faith, our God has a plan…

God is Good

jk

The Road Trip Continues… Deuteronomy

I have wanted to share parts of this book with you. It is actually a collection of sermons of Moses prior to the crossing over Jordan. It is believed that someone else wrote the last chapter, some record that person being Joshua. Now time lines can be confusing but the best guess is that the year was 1406 B.C. . Sometimes we have to be reminded of the greatness of God and this book does just that and might even be a refresher course in the convent and Laws God gave to Moses to give to the people. If it were a school course it could be named Behavior 101. We have here a whole new generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land. The point here is that these folks were in reality a whole new group of had nots. They had not experienced the miracle of the Red Sea, or heard the law given at Sinai. Where they were going there were many dangers and temptations and the book of Deuteronomy was to first remind them of God’s law and the power of God.

We are so blessed to have those Saints before us that have left us a written account of times past in the beginning of God’s covenant with his chosen people and the eventual establishment of His Church through His Son Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 4:2

2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…

Deuteronomy 32:46-47

46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long

In the opening verses Moses reminds all the people that their tedious wanderings was the result of their own bad behavior. Hopefully they have reached an understanding of the value of obedience. When God brings us into trouble and all kinds of afflictions He knows when we have been tried enough, it was now time to move forward. Canaan lies just before them for their encouragement. How can we be not strengthened by the power and goodness of our God? Why or how could we ever believe that our fate rests only within our own person and goodness? The Israelites received God’s good laws and were given in turn good men to execute them and all were with the obedience and love of those God given instructions to Moses. The people at one time stood on solid ground. Why was there this distrust of God? What about faith…where had it gone and was there any cause to distrust this God, was an unbelieving heart at the bottom of all this?

The most likely culprit of this disobedience of God’s laws, and distrust of his power and goodness was disbelief of his Word and Power. We must remember obedience is faith driven. The people needed to come together, give thanks to God for the mercies we have received and to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember. Exercise of a strong faith will allow the people of God to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings. 

 Quick recap of this book. Verses 1-3 are a recap of their journey from Egypt to their current location, Moab. Chapter 4 is a call to obedience. God has been faithful to them…they must be faithful to Him in return. Chapters 5-26 are a repetition of the law, Ten Commandments, sacrifices and special days. Good will come to those who obey, but those who break the law will be judged and punished. That theme is continued in verses 27-30. In the final chapters Moses at 120 years of age is still a strong presence as God’s chosen leader. Chapter 34 relates to the death of Moses. It is a remarkable feat for a man of his age but he is able to climb MT Pisgah and before he climbs Moses encourages the people and commissions his replacement. God shows him the promised land but Moses is not allowed to enter it. He dies  there in God’s presence. The book of Deuteronomy ends with a short obituary on this great prophet. 

This is a book of great import because it also shows the continually of God’s plans for His people. We today live in a time of distress as the faith is attacked and the greatness of God in the lives of His people is marginalized. Today’s blog cries out to all….have faith, our God has a plan…

God is Good

jk

The Laodicean Factor…Revelation 3: 14-22

Chapter 3 continues on with the letters to the seven churches and today we focus on the Church at Laodicea. Last week I said that these last verses (14-22) in chapter 3 made a lasting impression on me. They do so because they so mirror many of the churches today. Indifference is an attitude that Christ utterly detests. There was a place near Laodicea famous for its hot mineral springs. Often, hot mineral springs are nauseating in their taste and make the person who drinks them want to be physically sick. This is a good practical example, one the people of that day would have understood, about how the indifference of the church at Laodicea

affected the risen Christ. The biggest stumbling block to anything we do in life is indifference, neither cold or hot is not as bad as being tepid, which feeds the very soul of indifference. Christianity has the power to make our lives strong and productive. The church has lost its relevance in the world today. A more graphic picture might be painted by saying… we, the church have lost our place at the table. Of course there are pockets of resistance, some over the last few years have become violent in their actions against Christianity but for the most part there is a neutrality …better said… total indifference. I have always believed that Salvation is not a group activity. It is a one on one thing, a God thing which only occurs when a person seeks Christ and asks for salvation. Jesus Christ works through individuals. There is always an underlying passive resistance to the doctrine of Christianity. People like to do their own thing and people who will not submit to Christ have therefore resisted him. 

Romans 12:11-13… not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

The people of this church had become lazy and indifferent to keeping the fire in their hearts burning for Christ. 

The People at Laodicea had become distracted and at the same time comfortable in their own and their cities wealth. 

Revelation 3: 14-17

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither [k]cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…

Speaking from a secular perspective It was a very prosperous town in Asia Minor but from a spirituality perspective it was  bankrupt. Laodicea prided itself on the magnificent garments it produces; but spiritually it is naked, and nakedness means shame. They were blind, even though they excelled in the manufacture of an eye salves. Laodicea had no wish to see itself as it was. I would add they were deaf to the sound of truth being spoken and they did not understand that the rebuke of God is not so much punishment as illumination. They remained blind by choice of an indifferent attitude. In verse 20 is a picture of Christ that has become a picture of great familiarity. 

Revelation 3:20 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

A picture of Christ searching for sinful men and women, what greater love has any man, as great as Christ’s love for his creation?

No need to add a whole lot more, the simple truth is Laodicea valued the things of this world more than a relationship with the Living Christ. What about your church, what about you? Do you practice a religion that is deep in orthodoxy, devoid of passion that has only an ember of a once burning fire and find yourself slipping away from your call to serve Christ? A funny way to end this blog but a reminder to us all… Indifference… The Living Christ detests such behavior.

Life is Good 

jk 

Seven Churches…Seven Messages…Revelations Chapters 2 & 3

This week we return to Revelations. Revelations is not read that much, the complexity and symbolism is often confusing to many readers. Yet because of its difficulty it is the starting point of many “End Time” theories. From my pew its direction is clear but sometimes we get the wrong end of the stick first. So…from my seat I see it as a record of what must happen first before the end time the final judgement. John is on the Island of Patmos, that is where his vision takes place. I will take a little literary liberty here and doing so I am open to any correction or opinion you might have from this point on. John is the author of the book of Revelation and as John writes “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, I heard a voice like a trumpet, saying to me….write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches.”

To set the scene John is having a vision and has been lifted up to heaven and finds himself in the throne room…the point here is…  not to miss that his guide and the voice he hears is that of the risen Christ. It is Christ that instructs him to “write this down” and in chapters two and three we are privy to the message God has for each of these seven churches. These are seven actual functional churches that John has connections to. These are by no means the only churches around at this time but they do fall within John’s ministry. As we go through this, focus on the message God is giving us through the seven churches. Let’s start with a list of the seven churches and scriptural references.

  1. Ephesus Revelation 2:1-7
  2. Smyrna  Revelation 2:8-11
  3. Pergamum Revelation 2:12-17
  4. Thyatira Revelation 2:18-29
  5. Sardis Revelation 3:1-6
  6. Philadelphia Revelation 3:7-13
  7. Laodicea Revelation 3:14-22 

We will start in chapter two with the church at Ephesus.

Revelation 2:4… Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. There is the acknowledgement of some good  but there is also the charge stated in verse 4. The church in verses 2 and 3 is commended for its labour patience and intolerance of evil also for not growing weary…for perseverance in the faith. But that early passion for Christ has fallen to a mindset of cold orthodoxy. Even though they still have their zeal for moral standards, truth and faithful service, they had not yet learned that is no substitute for the love of Christ. 

Next we move to the church at Smyrna and we seek out these verses in chapter 2….Revelations 2:8-11…‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a [e]synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’

A little history,  Smyrna was intensely loyal to Rome and a large Jewish community in the city was hostile to the early church. God speaks to knowing their works, tribulations and poverty but chides them for having riches they do not acknowledge. Some had become allies of other pagan’s that put Christians to death attempting to stamp out the Christian faith. God tells them there will be a judgement but not to fear. They will be tested and will know ten days of tribulation but those who remain faithful will receive the crown of life. It is not an actual crown but one of a good life, lived well.

On to Pergamos…We can save a lot of space and use less words by simply saying that it was a church that needed to repent who over time had become the capital of Caesar worship. God also saw it as the place of Satan’s throne. Revelation 2:12-17…12 “And to the  angel of the church in Pergamos write,‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,  which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Simply put Pergamos had become a

Compromising Church.

In chapter two we are introduced to the church at Thyatira. Interesting to note the number of verses that the words of God require to describe this one. Of course we can just keep it simple and note that the church at Thyatira was just corrupt but then that led to all kinds of speculation. Revelation 2:18-29…‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love,  service, faith, and your [j]patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have  a few things against you…” When we pick up here toward the end of verse 20, things start down hill, the specifics do great harm to the cause of Christianity. There is a women among you, calls herself a prophetess and is allowed to seduce those of your number to commit sexual immorality, eat things sacrificed to idols, all this God considers to be disruptive. God tells them he will deal with this and those that have not followed this woman and have repented of their sins will be judged and rewarded according to their works. 

The Dead Church

Revelation 3:1-2

 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

God instructs them to be watchful and to remember those things they have been taught, ‘hold fast till I come’. God tells them some of you have done well, their names will be in the book,Christ will walk with them and confess their names before the father.

 Here is a powerful promise and a moment of celebration for those who overcome. This is a letter to the faithful church at Philadelphia… Revelation 3:10 “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

The suggested read here would be verses 7-13. God recognizes they are a faithful church and has seen and welcomed their works of faith…then in verse 9… “ Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”  So much,  so much the love of God overwhelms. In verse 12 we read the words that every Christian and Church would do well to hear… 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”

Quite a list up to this point, the very last one. The church at Laodicea, there are no good words for this church and as I pondered over this I thought it best to simply turn to the scripture as written… I start with the very last verse.22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” In this case let your eyes read and your mind and heart absorb these verses.

The Lukewarm Church

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

This has been a long read for a blog, I am grateful for those of you who stayed with it. Did you read anything among these churches that spoke to you of your church? I consider those last verses from Chapter 3 to be of great importance. So much so that next weeks blog will be about verses 14-22.

Join me in the Pew next week…

Life is Good

jk

Hidden Stories….Roman 16: 1-16

“Without Paul there might have been no ministry to the Gentiles and without these people Paul’s call to go and tell the story for the risen Christ would have been even more difficult to achieve.” 

Who will go, who will tell the story? I chose this chapter and these verses because it tells us how important the Family of God is and the immense value of the Faith Community. Now more than ever those of the faith need to tell the story. To cover all those mentioned here in these 16 or so verses would be a bit much for a blog but stay here in the Pew a bit as we look into some of these saints of the faith in Paul’s day. 

The first name on our list will be one that we don’t hear about but this once. That would be Rufus. The New Testament makes the connection between Him, his mother and her knowing Paul. Rufus was a saintly man well respected in the Roman church. Don’t want to go down to many rabbit holes here and confuse readers. 

Mark 15:21

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. The story of this man Simon is an interesting one also but for now we will just concentrate on Rufus and his Mother.

I have chosen this Excerpt from the Christian Courier, “Paul’s Mother” written by Wayne Jackson:

“It is widely believed, due to certain circumstantial evidence, that this “Rufus” was one of the sons of Simon of Cyrene, who assisted in carrying the Lord’s cross en route to Golgotha. In the Gospel account recorded by Mark, we find these words: “And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross” (15:21). While each of the synoptic writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention this incident regarding Simon, only Mark names his sons, one of whom was Rufus.”

If we take a bit of liberty here it would not be too far out of reason to think that Paul’s relationship with the church in Rome brought him into contact with Rufus and his mother because they were the first to welcome Paul to Rome.

Philippians 4:22

All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.

Of the twenty-four names, thirteen occur in inscriptions or documents which have to do with the emperor’s palace in Rome. Consider that this would infer that there were saints in Caesar’s household. They would mostly be slaves but the possibility of such is amazing that at this early a stage of the development of Christianity they have penetrated into the imperial palace. It is important that I make note of the fact some of the information I share with you today has been found in old records of that time by biblical archeologists and scholars. It is through their study and interpretation of the things that we have this extraordinary window into those early days of the church. So…is it fair to say in some things we may be dealing with speculation and possibilities? My answer would be yes but with a warning…over and over through the years such research has proven to be right. Now with that said let’s move on to Andronicus and Junias. Scholars believe that Junias is a female name. Was it possible that in the early church a woman could be classed as an apostle? At that time apostles were considered to be those who went out to tell the story of Jesus. Paul also said that they were Christians before he was. This suggestive time clue could mean that they were a direct link to the earliest church at Jerusalem. They would go back as far as Stephen who was martyred because of his faith by the Jews. In Rome a household would include not only family and relatives but also servants and slaves. So I hope you do read these verses and in some way see the power of the word and pick up on the family thing. There are a lot of if’s to some of these stories but they do allow us to see the tremendous growth of the church at all levels of life. 

I could continue on with the names we have in these verses but that would overwhelm the point I wish to make. It seems that there were very few if any social barriers in the early church. Faith and a desire to tell the story were the measures of value. Chapter 16 leaves me with these thoughts. We are family, we are a community, we are children of God. Our history is one of hope,  perseverance  of faith and salvation through our savior Jesus Christ. 

Life is Good

jk