Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Revelation’

It All Comes Down To This

August 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Could God have created a better ending?  I don’t think so.  In the beginning of this collection of books we have the words, “In the beginning God created…”  At the end we read the invitation, “Come!”  And in between we have tons of history, wisdom, explanation, direction, evidence, and instruction.  We see a story, His story, about His plan for His people.  Not all will choose to be His people…but the invitation is still given.  “Come!”

At many points in our lives we have those ‘Ah Ha!’ moments when we realize something is true.  John here, in Revelation 22, is coming to the end of the vision given to Him from above.  He is about to give this book, this letter if you will, to the churches that he was instructed to give it to (see chapters 2 & 3).  Something is near.  Something is coming soon.  The angel and the Spirit and Jesus say these phrases too many times for these readers to think this letter isn’t really for them but for believers way off in the future.  The time for them is now.  Ah Ha!

Jesus has given them constructive criticism.  He’s given them instruction.  He’s given them a road map about what’s going to happen soon, and then He ends with an invitation.  He’s not saying that they will be kept from the bad things pointed out in the book…but those things are earthly…persecution coming from the rulers at hand.  They are not of this world…John 15:19, Romans 12:2.  We’re not either.  We’re of another way and life if we’ve chosen Jesus.

So who is this invitation for in 22:17?  Well, I think this sentence contains two invitations.  What’s interesting here is that in the first half of 22:17, it states that the Spirit, the Bride (Jesus’ church) and those who hear all say “Come!”  I think this is the invitation for Jesus to come back and do what He says will be done in the first part of this letter.  In the timeline of the church at the point this vision is being given, the city of Jerusalem and the temple have not yet been destroyed.  If you think through what we’ve read in this letter so far, we’ve seen the holy city of Jerusalem move to become a description of Jesus’ bride, the church.  We’ve also seen the temple, where the Spirit dwells, move to a description of Jesus’ church as well.  And the church at that point in time, in John’s vision from Christ, is calling for Jesus to “Come!” and finish the work of the old covenant and to bring in the new one where God’s words will be written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31), where the church won’t be a place but a people (1 Corinthians 6), and when Jesus is the High priest and we are the priests beneath Him (1 Peter 2:5…notice the phrase ‘being built’).  John’s vision saw all this as though it had come to pass.  The destruction of the man made things had to take place so that the spirit made things could become evident.

This invitation is also for all those who wish to be a part of this new covenant…this new way of having a relationship with God.  The second half of 22:17 says that any who want to have this living water can have it….”Let all those who are thirsty come…”  This part of the invitation is for anyone this side of Heaven.  At one point in time though, we will no longer have the time to respond.

The next logical move for God is to bring those who have responded to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.  So our invitation to believe and follow ends with our last breath…and we don’t know when that will be.  It could also end if God chooses to move to the next big change tomorrow.

Here’s what it comes down to.  Have you responded?  This might sound harsh, but as I read it, waiting to answer is really a “no” answer.  Yes is the only way.  Do I understand how all of this will fall out?  Not a bit.  But I know what I read…and there is an end.

I made a decision when I was younger.  There’s been a few times when I’ve revisited that commitment and reaffirmed it.  But the point at which I crossed over the bold line in the sand, I entered eternity.  I started drinking the water of life at that point.  Death to my body won’t be to me…only to my skin, bones and bald head.  So what is your response?

If you’re reading this, you probably have some knowledge of God and Jesus.  Now you know a little bit more.  Maybe enough to make a decision…maybe enough to ask some more questions.  Either way…I hope that you move toward that water (v. 17).  I know many people are thirsty because they know there’s something more to life.  Well I’m here to tell you there is.  The lie is that this life on this planet is the end all.  But it’s not.  I can’t make the decision for you.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 that we only plant a seed.  God grows the seed in your life.  I hope I planted something…let it grow.  J

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Here’s a great video.  Take the next 15 minutes and relax with God.

Make Your Move

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Part of the Titus Arch – depicting Romans returning with their spoils after destroying Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

I’m sure you’ve said the phrase, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”  It’s usually after you’re laying on the floor beside the ladder with the sticker on the second to last step that states DO NOT CLIMB ABOVE THIS STEP.  Or maybe it’s after that argument with a family member or coworker…just after those words flew out of your mouth while in your head you’re thinking ‘why am I saying this?’  Maybe it’s while you’re sitting on the side of the road with a car behind you…bright lights flashing…enough said.  Maybe you’ve said, “I knew I should have done that!” instead.  Like when you went to bed thinking I should go to the computer and pay that one bill … midnight passed and the creditor tacked on a late fee.  Or you find out that one of your friends needed some help … and for some reason you didn’t call them when they were seriously on your mind the day before.

Present day situation.  Did you hear of the man in Alabama who just before he drove off a cliff, texted this to a friend: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.”  Now the man is alive, but with a crushed face, broken neck and a fractured skull.  He knew.  He knew ….but still went ahead.

Revelation is an uplifting book to those who know they are in the hand of God.  Yes, we may see tough times and persecution and there may be people against us…but in the end…we win!  It’s already determined who the trophy goes to.  Jesus.  However, throughout the book Christ continues to tell the churches and individuals who have an ear to hear, to start following and obeying or to start again.  They are without excuse.  These readers, who are soon going to experience a situation where their very lives are a stake, are encouraged to not worry about their lives if they are following Christ.

In Revelation 22:10-16, we get the picture that John is kneeling before two figures.  One – the angel who just told John not to bow to him (vs. 9).  And Jesus, who is now going to speak…almost as in wrapping up the whole vision John’s been privileged to see.  But, the point isn’t that John was just invited up to “see” what’s going on.  The point is to have John see…and record…and deliver this message to a group of people.  The message is simple too all of us and the readers in that age.  Jesus wins.  The message for those readers specifically was, there is trouble in the near future, but don’t worry.

But between the messages to those receiving churches and us today, we see a slightly bigger theme.  Remember the man in Alabama?  Knew he was in the danger zone when texting and driving.  The message the angel and Jesus gives here is…you now know what you need to do.  At the end, there is no second chance.  For many in that time…the end was very near as Rome’s plans to annihilate Jerusalem, and the Christians with it in 70AD, were well underway.  If they were killed then, and were a believer and follower of Jesus, they were safe even though they face physical death.  They still would overcome this world.  Today, when our last breath has been taken, it’s over.  The man in the truck had the chance to stop texting because he knew the present dangers it presented.  You know what you need to do with your relationship with Jesus.  Make your move towards Jesus before there’s no more moves to be made.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

The Church…God’s Dwelling Place


Presermon Notes
ed Barnes … June 21, 2012
Revelation 21:1-7

FYI…I’m writing these notes while sitting among 20,000 Christian brothers and sisters enjoying great and uplifting music at the Alive music festival…on a cell phone keypad to boot so there may be spelling errors galore.  Seeing this many people together, youth groups and families and church families alike, worshiping the same God through the Creator’s given art of music, reminds me of images in the book of Revelation.  Many times John gives us word pictures of the Kingdom worshipping their King.  

Revelation is challenging.  The mind images spoken to the New Testament church we’re privileged to see through the writings of John sometimes leave us dumbfounded.  However, this small section is repeating promises spoken in other sections of the Bible.  John 3:29 and Ephesians 5:25-27, and Ezekiel 37:23,27 strip away all things that we have created to try to explain or market the church.  We are something very special to Jesus, and sometimes I believe we try to do and create things to make ourselves noticeable to those around us…while forgetting who we really are. 

In the verse for the week we read the combination and repeat of the verses mentioned above.  We are one with Christ…which means we live with God and He with us.  We, the church, are his bride.  There is no physical city or temple that is Holy anymore.  We are chosen to be His dwelling place.  Through the Holy Spirit He is with us nearly as close as the Garden of Eden.  His spirit lives side by side with us.  We are the Kingdom.  It’s not.a place or a building.  The king lives in His people…the Kingdom.  This is what has been made new.  Before it wasn’t like this.  The temple had an address.  God had a room in that temple.  But now, through Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins that kept us from God, the Creator lives with His people.  And at some point in time this new way will be made perfect and we will see God and be with Him as it was in the beginning.

This is the church.  But so often we miss who we really are.  We talk.as though we go to church.  We attend church.  Our church has an address and phone number and maybe a website and email and a schedule of office hours when the church is either open or closed.  Many times a church has a name that is trendy and a stage with a light set and large screen video projection.

Our ministries might use these tools…but our church doesn’t ‘have them.’. Jesus’ body, His bride, is a people group connected spiritually to their God.  We already have a name.  We already have a purpose and marching orders and an end goal that defines our success.  And to those that join and overcome, the reward of living eternally with the One who made all things is given.  We are being made into that perfect city, the dwelling place of the Most High, the New Jerusalem.  It’s us.

If we truly understood that, how would that change how we daily live?  How would we make choices?  How would we raise our kids?  How would we spend our money?  What arguments would become ‘not worth it?’

The question is, do u simply attend this church?  Or are you His church?…the new and perfect city created as His dwelling place so all others will know about Him through us.

How will this description of the church in Revelation 21 change how you live this next week and on foward?  Because this verse is really God’s description of you if you choose it as your own.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,
ed

Beginning With the End in Mind

April 20, 2012 1 comment

Ok…here we go.  Diving into the book of Revelation.  This is not an easy thing to do, but as we read this letter of apocalypse, or revealing, that was sent to churches in John’s time, we get the sense that something big was soon to happen.

In Revelation 19:11-20, a picture is given that shows a battle to end all battles.   The King is out front on His white horse.  His armies are behind him.  John writes, just before this battle scene that doesn’t last long, that a wedding celebration has been prepared.  You see, before this wedding celebration can be completed, an enemy has to be taken care of.  Then and only then is the way for a true ‘coming together’ of bride (church) and groom (Jesus) possible.

If you know a little bit about the Bible you’ll probably recognize the concept of the church being called the ‘bride’ of Jesus.  Ephesians 5:22-32 shows this pretty simply.  Here in this section of Revelation, we see this wedding coming together.  As the wedding is coming together, we see this final battle being staged.  Lines are drawn.  The Beast…you can guess who this is…brings together his armies and readies himself for battle.  Then, as though the battle didn’t even start, the Beast is captured and thrown out and all his armies killed.  Tada!  The armies of the King didn’t even lift a sword!

So how many of you enjoy a good battle scene in an epic movie?  I can recall the battles of Braveheart, The Patriot, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Red Cliff and they are all really “guy” type movie scenes.  This is no different in 11-21.  We have our ‘good’ army!  Oh yeah!  They’re riding white horses like the King.  The army is wearing white clothes….and get this, the king’s robe has been dipped in blood!  The enemy’s leader is thrown into a lake of fire.  And then, to beat it all, birds devour the flesh of our King’s enemies after they’ve been killed.  Could you possibly fit any more testosterone into a battle scene?

I’m not sure why this picture was given like this…but remember, the readers were very familiar with all of these images.  This was the time of Roman conquest.  Leaders riding in on white horses with swords were common.  If you lived in an occupied city, you saw these images daily.  Many of the men reading this letter from John, ultimately a letter from God Himself, had possibly seen hand to hand battle themselves as well as the “clean up” afterwards.  If they hadn’t seen it personally, they’d heard stories from family and ancestors.  But here, there is a battle about to take place the likes they had never seen before, and Jesus simply wants Christians everywhere to know that He wins…in essence…we win.

Here’s the concept.  We are joined to Christ.  We are part of Him.  We are His bride, the church.  Sure, there was an epic battle the original readers of Revelation witnessed and that Rome thought it won when it destroyed Jerusalem (70 AD).  But even today, as Christians, we battle the enemy every day.  We battle for ourselves and we battle for our family and friends.  We even battle for those that we do not know.  We don’t do it on a battlefield of rolling hills and grass.  We do it in our homes, our schools, our workplaces.  We don’t use swords made of steal.  Our words and actions are used by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The battle has already been won.  We simply are continuing to take as many as we can from the enemy while possible.  This world is not our home.  So this world’s death is not our end.  When we can come to that realization, we will live in full peace and love and power.


For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  

2 Timothy 1:7  King James 2000 Bible (©2003)


For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.   

Ephesians 6:12  New International Version (©1984)

 

I looked down, and I saw the beast I had seen earlier and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered together to wage war against the One riding the white horse and His heavenly army.

Revelation19:19  The Voice New Testament

Some questions for growth:

  • Do you consider yourself already recruited, dressed and outfitted for a battle that’s already been won?  If yes, how so?
  • Who around you can you see is falling prey to the enemy?  We know that the enemy is against us every minute of every day, but we’re also in the army to lead people to Christ.
  • What will you do this week to battle for yourself and someone else?

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

PS – I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Here is an epic battle when one who was thought lost returns in a white robe to save his friends in battle.  Click here to see it.

LOTR Helms Deep

April 20, 2012 1 comment

This video clip is tied to the article titled “Beginning with the End in Mind.”  Every time I see this part of the movie, I’m reminded of Revelation 19.  The people of Helms Deep surely had their hero in this clip.  He was thought to have been lost, but he returns in a white robe with power to defeat all enemies.  Simply very cool.

%d bloggers like this: