In The End….

Today’s reading is Revelation 6-8.

What are your thoughts when you read the book of Revelation? As you read some the events which will occur, it likely brings up more questions as to what exactly is occurring and why. And even though you know the outcome in the end, it may bring up feelings of anxiety at the events which will occur and concern if you or your kids or grandkids will be around when it happens and the challenges you or they will face as believers. At a minimum it likely brings up wonder of when exactly this will happen.

It seems like all the time you read something about someone who claims they know when the world will end. Strangely enough, often times the person who is claiming it is good, Bible believing and Christ following Christian. In fact, I have a close friend who was in a Bible study with someone he knew well for years who was a good Christian who studied the Bible and all of the sudden he claimed he knew when this was going to happen. every other person..he was wrong. Jesus says in Matthew 24:26, “But concerning that day and hour no one know, not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” So why do some Christians think they have uncovered this secret and other Christians listen and believe them when Jesus clearly says no one knows..not even Him? I wish I could say for sure, but I would guess it’s because it’s something that many want to know so bad that they can be susceptible to looking in the wrong places and believing false prophets.

We must remember that the Bible is the one and only source for the truth. We must remember that God is God and we are not. My previous sentence may sound silly but so many times we must remember there are certain things only God knows, and is supposed to know, and we have to just trust in Him and be ok with that.

If you become anxious thinking about end times, I encourage you to read Revelation and focus on the victory we have through Jesus. Underline those verses in your Bible.

Revelation 7:14 reads..

“I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

The last part of Revelation 7:17 says…

“…God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

As we celebrate Christmas in 2 days, let’s rejoice in the birth of the One who gives us victory in the end! Joy to the World!

Autumn Blessing

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? -Psalm 116:12

In the pale light of an October evening, I sat on my patio — under the yellow rain of the locust trees, crows cawing back and forth. The cool air was filled with the smell of distant smoke as I sat wondering: How could I be so blessed?

In this tranquil place I had broken bread with my family and friends, sharing stories of our lives that intertwined like vines in a vineyard, planted and grafted, pruned and picked. Not all bore the best fruit, but the ones that did were special.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.John 15:1-2

Vineyards At Sunset

Why was I so fortunate? Honestly I couldn’t think of anything that I had done to deserve all that I had been given. A strong and healthy family. A beautiful, patient, loyal and loving wife. Three amazing boys, all so different. My businesses had been prosperous in ways that made it hard for me to take the credit.

It had also been a life that revealed the hand of God in the splendor of creation.

Scenery Of High Mountain With Lake And High Peak On A Clear Day

A litany of people offering hope and direction to a scrawny freckled faced boy, and then to an arrogant young man. People investing time in me along the way, wanting nothing in return. Now I worked with trusted partners in collaborations reaching farther than I ever could have imagined. Still, I had this feeling there was more to my life.

The feeling I had on this crisp Autumn day was more than abundant gratitude, recognizing God’s incredible grace. It was a sense of responsibility, but not burdensome — more like the anticipation of greater opportunities around the next bend. Yes I had been given much and there was a reason for this, a reason I wanted to understand.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5

Nothing that was given to me was really mine. I had been entrusted with knowledge and treasures beyond my wildest dreams; perhaps even wisdom. I had been the unworthy recipient of unconditional love; this was the greatest gift of all. Yet when I finally realized that I was only the steward of these gifts, now I had to decide how better to use them.

In the brightness of Autumn it became clear, by surrendering all to God, the fulfillment of my purpose was possible. This was now my greatest opportunity.

Today’s reading: 2 Kings 4; 1 Timothy 1; Daniel 8; Psalm 116

Conquering the Beast

Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 18, Psalm 105, Isaiah 45, Revelation 15

Like a little fool I’m going to write to you today about the book of Revelation. I’ve been a little hesitant about the book of Revelation from the beginning. Ok, if I’m being honest, it’s more like I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. It seems like all the seasoned Christians I know have very distinct and specific beliefs about the meaning and implications of its teachings. Usually, I don’t put much effort into researching and learning about the Revelation passages because I know I’m just not going to get it in that broader contextual this is the meaning of life sort of way. Today though, I couldn’t get away from it. I took some great notes on other ideas for the journal but there’s something in Revelation today for all of us.

“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire-and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…” Revelation 15:2-3

Those who had conquered the beast. The beast. What is the beast? Is it Satan himself, or is it the empty promises he sells? I can’t begin to tell you and neither can my three study bibles. But what’s alive in this passage today is the image of me standing on the banks of a sea that is on fire. And in my hand is my beast, the image of my beast and the number of its name. Isn’t that a powerful image? If just for a moment we put down our Starbucks and iPhone and imagine ourselves there, on the shore, next to the sea, on the day that all evil in this place is abolished. You have conquered the beast forever more, and now you stand as the fire burns out with the harp of God in your hand singing the song that Moses and the Israelites sang when they were delivered out of Egypt.

If you are anything like me, you woke up this Sunday morning to learn that yet another 50 people had been gunned down at the hands of terrorists and instead of crying you started to feel a little bit numb. Our day-to-day life is now permeated with the reality of hatred and violence. It’s getting harder and harder to take these stories in, to see the photographs and absorb the real time video. If you are anything like me, it’s because you realize that it’s not just happening in a place far away anymore. It’s not just happening to people in another country that are awake when we sleep. It’s happening to people that aren’t so different from us, that live not so far away from us. If you are anything like me, you may look at your children and wonder whether they will be called to stand firm in their convictions for Jesus in the face of real danger.

It’s all very scary stuff. Until you read the word of God. Until your realize that the song of Moses that we hear from the Israelites in Exodus 15 is repeated by the apostle John in Revelation 15. Revelation was originally written to the seven churches of Asia but it was meant for believers everywhere. As modern Christians it reminds us that the world we live in today is a reflection of the world Moses lived in and the world that John lived in after the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. We hear the angels singing:

“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 3-4.

Remember that today. His righteous acts have been revealed. He has already revealed himself to us. Although there are plagues there is also redemption. He alone is holy and all nations will come to worship Him. We need not be afraid. The beast wants us to stand, frozen in fear, to deny what we know is true. But we know we’ll be among those that conquer him, we’ve got his number.

Stand on the shore this Monday morning and light your fire of passion for Jesus Christ.