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Archive for November, 2008

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. Revelation 1:12-13Let’s Start at the Bottom…

At the bottom of this Bible verse, that is. Why the ‘Son of Man’ allusion, because Jesus used the term regularly and it speaks to His relate-ability. Inspired by the Son of Man, John makes the reference here because of this prophecy in Daniel.

“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Why is that important? Because many folks do not realize that this Book of Revelation is not new. Everything written in this volume has been previously recorded in other areas of both the Old and the New Testaments. Revelation is in a very real sense a divine funnel that brings all these earlier prophesies and allusions into focus, or at the very least into one place.

Godly Girdles

Will Jesus actually be adorned in this manner? Perhaps, but I sense Jesus has revealed to John something about His character, rather than His clothing. The described ‘outfit’ is a priestly garment, however, in Old Testament times the waist was girded, not the chest. Here we envision Jesus wearing a golden sash around His heart and His whole body being covered head to toe. If we are the body of Christ (and we are), than that image confirms for us that we are ‘bound’ (as a girdle binds) in Christ’s heart and that we are completely covered. It reminds me of our Lord’s lamentation (recorded in Matthew 23:37) for those who would reject His provision…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Lampstands?

Will there be lampstands in Heaven? Possibly, but again I am reminded that the Lord’s earthly Tabernacle with all its paraphernalia were merely symbolic of all things God and His Glory. When I visualize the lampstand spoken of in Exodus 25:31-33…

“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work…one piece…Six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side…(The) bowls shall be made like almond blossoms…with an ornamental knob and a flower…”

I first see Jesus: pure gold, hammered (beaten), and stretched out for our sake. I then see us; His body the church and note that while we are in fact fruit-bearing branches connected to the vine, we are one solid piece. And as my eyes take it all in, I hear my Lords voice telling me clearly, lovingly, and truthfully…

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world…You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…(and) I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 9:5, Matthew 5:14, John 15:5)

Jubilee!

Let’s do the math. The passage I chosen today speaks not of a single lampstand, but seven of them, with Jesus standing in the midst of them all. Jesus will go on to reveal to John that these seven lampstands are symbolic of the seven churches of Asia (Turkey). But of what else does this speak?

7 x 7 = 49 + 1 = 50

Seven lampstands, multiplied by seven is forty-nine. Add ‘One’ and we have fifty. My friends, that number speaks of jubilation the likes of which we have never known. Remember, all the ‘stuff’ and all the ordinances are merely pictures of God’s great things to come.

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you… in it you shall neither sow nor reap …For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you…Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. Leviticus 25:10-12, + 19

God only knows if these things (lampstands, girdles, etc) will appear as Revelation describes, but we may know with certainty the love, truth, and faithfulness of our Lord will have eternal prominence.

Happy Thanksgiving

When I read these things, the flame that burns beneath my desire to serve Him is torqued-up full. My hope and prayer is that the same is true for you. As we gather around a common table this Thanksgiving Day, we are mindful of what He has done (in our lives) and what He will continue to do. We are reminded that John (like Abraham) was given revelation because of their faithfulness to disseminate that which He had previously provided. When we chose to share the spiritual wealth, so to speak, we receive more of the same. To the degree we give, is the degree we receive.


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Full DisclosureThe Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants–things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Revelation 1:1-2

Ciphered For Your Protection

Have you ever wondered why the Revelation of Jesus Christ is supposedly encrypted? Well there are (at least) three reasons as to why this divine message had been coded; the very first of which is that by so doing, it afforded security to the saints.

In the days the Revelation was first shared, the persecution of the church was at an all-time high. Caesar Nero in fact was responsible for the deaths of over three million Christians! Writing and sharing in code offered a degree of protection. It would be improbable that a protagonist, who having gotten hands upon an early manuscript, would understand the four-hundred (plus) allusions and illustrations relating to the Old Testament. Much of the writing would appear [to them] as nonsensical and capricious.

Secondly, the use of signs, pictures, and symbols has the competency of transcending time, culture, and generation. As language, custom, and expression continue to change, symbolism and signage endure. An example might be your own home town…The place has likely changed several times through the years, while the sign outside the city limits has not.

Thirdly, the ciphered-style stimulates our passion and zeal. Consider Revelation’s text and we discover that it is one thing to proclaim, ‘A world leader is coming, ’ and quite another to refer to this person as ‘The Beast.’ It is one thing to denounce the ‘worldly commercial system’ and quite another to say ‘Babylon…the mother of all harlots…the whore!’ Does not the ‘Bride of Christ’ sound much more intriguing than the ‘Christian’ designate; is not the ‘Lion of Judea’ a noble title for our Lord? These codes are both vivid and powerful for the believer.

Why John

Perhaps you have never wondered why this Revelation of Jesus was given to John, but suffice it to say, you should be acquainted with the reason as it will be helpful to you in your daily walk with Christ–God knew John. That is to say John’s record preceded him—he (previously) bore witness to the Word of God in his Gospel and in his three epistles, demonstrating that he had embraced Christ and shared all he had received. We see a similar occurrence in Genesis 18:17-19 when God opts to reveal his plan to Abraham regarding Sodom and Gomorrah…

And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Take Heed to What You Hear

That is the lesson for us. Why do we go to church; why do we read His Word? Are we merely seeking to become smarter sinners? Is our desire to gain biblical knowledge and insight selfish in nature, or is it our mission (like John) to share that which we have freely received. The truth of the matter is that consistent revelation comes to those who come with the attitude that they will give away what it is they have received. In so doing, swiftly the words of the Gospel Author make perfect sense.

Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38


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Are You In LoveBut you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 20 & 21

What does it mean to stay in the love of God? Is this somehow a suggestion from Jude that there is something we can do to make God love us more? And if that is the case, is there then something we can do, or perhaps ‘not do’ that will make God love us less? The answer is no–Romans 5:8 proclaims that He (God) demonstrated His love toward us while> we were still sinners. In other words, God’s love is a done-deal; all that is left for us to do is to receive it.

Either is our Father in Heaven is akin to some store-front Santa Claus. Nowhere in the Bible does it declare that we might bring God a wish-list and He will then check a list to see if in fact we have been naughty or nice. Having said that, do not be deceived—there is a list (of some sort), but Colossians 2:14 thankfully reminds us that for those who are in Christ, the list has been blotted-out and wiped clean. I am very comforted by that truth.

Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

A Dry Well

So what has come about when we are not feeling God’s love; what is it that has occurred when His blessings have seemingly dried up? Could it be that we were naughty or is it because we lack faith? It is neither of those things for God’s love for us is absolutely unconditional.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

I love that verse! There is nothing I can do (or not do) to keep God from loving me. God is not operating some huge love-spigot, turning it on and off according to my behavior—that baby is on full-bore all the time. The problem is more likely (as my pastor likes to put it) that we have moved from, ‘under the spout where the blessings come out.’

It is much like the conversation between husband and wife as they drive along in the old pick-up truck with the bench seat. With forehead planted against the passenger-side window; unfocused eyes staring beyond the landscape she laments, “How come we never sit close anymore…you know, with your arm around my shoulder as you drive?”

His response from behind the wheel is simple and direct, “I haven’t gone anywhere.”

Either Has God

This very same verse (from Jude 20 & 21) provides the solution for bless-less-ness, or how to get back beneath the spout where these blessings continually flow. First, Jude tells us, we are to build up our faith. We know what this looks like–Romans 10:17 declares, “That faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It stands to reason the more we hear the stronger the faith.

We then learn that praying in the Holy Spirit keeps us in the surge We may pray in solitude, but we should never pray alone. Invite the Holy Spirit into your prayers to both inspire the direction of your prayer and also to interpret to the Father what it is your heart is really trying to say. We Christians have a nasty habit of praying for what we want rather than what we need—all the more reason to embrace God’s Spirit to filter our petitions

Finally, our focus needs to be on Jesus and our eternal home. We truly must live as if Christ’s return is imminent or that our last breath is but moments away. If you knew Jesus was about to ring your doorbell, would you be rushing to open the door or to change the TV channel?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27


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I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. 3 John 9 + 12
LegacyThe third book of John tells us about three people, two of which I want to discuss today: Diotrephes and Demetrius. Both considered themselves to be followers of Jesus, but yet Diotrephes emulated that which was evil. It would help us to know a little bit about what was going on when John penned this letter.

In these days there were itinerant preachers that would go from town to town sharing the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inns were not a common sight, so these folks were often put-up by other Christians (at no cost) which aided these preacher/teachers immensely. John tells us that Diotrephes was one of these traveling teachers. However, Diotrephes was a prideful man–he thought himself to be the preeminent teacher of the day and therefore would not support any other Christian in their effort.

The truth may be that Diotrephes was an awesome teacher of God’s word, but because his pride prevented him from expressing godly love towards others, he will be forever remembered as the evil one we should not imitate (3 John, verse 11).

Good is Good

 

Then there is Demetrius. What does the Bible have to say about him? No very much, only that everyone who knew him only had good things to say about him. The truth is we have no clue who this man is or what this man did. However, in his humility, Demetrius will travel through eternity being known as the guy who was a good example and a good witness for the faith.Sufficiency

Would that legacy be sufficient for you? The lesson here is that if we want our preeminence now, God will surely let us have it. Though, if we hang-back and walk as Jesus would have us walk, a much greater reward awaits us. It would serve us all well to remember this the next time we find ourselves envious of those shine in the spotlight. Oh, I am not suggesting that they (or Diotrephes for that matter) will not make it to Heaven, only that those who serve with humility and in anonymity will receive the greater reward.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered

 

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For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. 1 John 5:7-8Bingo!

If anyone comes a knocking upon your door with any other false doctrine, just show them this passage from God’s Word the Bible. There is no doubt, God the Father, Jesus the Word, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. There is no need to explain it (I have yet to find anyone who could); this Biblical truth stands alone—no explanation is necessary. Jesus is God and not a created being; period.

Part two

“But what about the second sentence of this passage; what is it all about?”

John is declaring that there are three things on earth that bear witness to a Christian’s faith and that they are made known to us by the Spirit, the water, and the blood. These three elements combined are proof-positive for the believer that the first remark made by John is true ~and~ that our faith is real. But what are those three things referring to?

The Spirit

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God Romans 8:16

By God’s miraculous implanting of His Spirit within us, we intuitively know what is right and what is wrong. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, ‘we might not always be able to express it in words, ’ but that reality does not negate the fact that we ‘know’. As we grow in faith and leap into His word, He will continue to impart to us words to express this discerned truth, but until that time ‘knowing’ is sufficient to continue in our faith walk. I am often reminded of the formerly blind man who had a similar understanding—we recall his assertion when ‘cornered’ about his faith…

One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25

The Water

The water of course is a reference to our baptism; that outward declaration we made of what we inwardly believe. I should say however that it is an outward declaration that we ‘continue to make’ (or express in some manner) every single day of our lives. Certainly our initial baptism was a statement to the world that we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but if our outward display ceases as we exit the Jordan, there is a problem. I know without any doubt [that] when the Christian daily dives into the water (outwardly expressing his or her faith), there will be a renewing of this our spiritual recognition everyday.

The Blood

It may sound kind of creepy initially, but all this is referring to it the communion of the saints—the gathering around a common table to remember what Christ Jesus has done for us and for mankind. Like the outward expression of baptism, I believe this should be done as the Bible says (and for most of us, that would be three times a day).

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

The Message

These three things are our witness on earth that Jesus is Lord, is Savior, and we (by His grace) are apart of His family. These are also the very things that Jesus commanded us to share in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. What does that look like practically?

Simply put, Jerusalem is our home (and similar areas), Judea are those friendly places we have contact with, and Samaria are those not-so-friendly places we tend to not visit often. “How, ” we might ask, “do we reach the ends of the earth with this Good News?”

Well for certain, there are many ways–pray about it.

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Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:15-16We Know

The born-again Christian knows intuitively—we might not always be able to verbally express it, but we know. And when you think about it, much of our spiritual-walk revolves around the concept of knowing Jesus better. Amazingly, as we grow spiritually, we recognize that we do not ‘have to’ do much of things associated with our faith, but rather that we ‘get to’ do them. Somehow the Lord plants a seed of desire [for us] to be in His Word, to be in fellowship, and to be in communion with Him. In so doing we learn more about ourselves as God reveals our true hearts to us.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus taught us that we can kill with our words as well as our actions. Have you ever stopped to think what actually occurs when we mockingly roll our eyes when someone else speaks? In a very real sense it operates the same as an evil word or gossip—whether it is true or not, that other person becomes whatever it is we say (or gesture) about them. Jesus tells us we are committing murder and Proverbs 18:21 serves to remind us that…

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

Someone’s Gotta Die

As we grow in the Word we gain a deeper understanding of what Christ did for us, and in so doing, we gain ability (and a desire) to do similarly for others. Again, all the more reason to be in the Word, in fellowship, and in prayer. However, with all this knowledge we soon learn that there is an obstacle that lies in the path of actually applying it—our flesh. With Jesus as our example we discover someone is going to have to die.

What?

I am not talking salvation here (Jesus died once for all men—this deed does not have to be repeated), but we are talking about reconciliation. In order for there to be peace (for God’s love to flow freely), the Christian needs to die to self; the selfish needs of the Christian need to be willingly (not grudgingly) put aside. In order for love to gush forth, our agendas need to be pushed off the stove, not merely shoved to a back burner. While it sounds difficult, in reality we know it is not.

Nothing to Lose

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17

In a very real sense, the Christian has it all, or at least we should understand we have all that we need. When we have a dispute with another person, what is it we are really holding on to and truly, what is it we are afraid to give away. It is in these times we need to ask the Lord to examine our hearts so that we might see the silly, prideful thing we selfishly cling to. We can say we love folks all we want, but if we are unable to express this love by letting go of something that is near and dear to us (like our pride), how true is our love? Does Jesus ‘really’ abide in such a person?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

 

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