Monthly Archives: March 2009

Congrats!

We made it through our 31 day Quest. Cover to cover of the New Testament. Let me wrap up some thoughts on the last half of The Revelation.

Chapter 12 of the Revelation contains some unusual imagery regarding events during the Great Tribulation and setting the scene for the introduction of the beast and the false prophet. Ch. 13 details these events. Needless to say, this will be one of the most frightening times in history. Revelation 13:10 says it well: This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. In fact, this phrase is repeated a few times over the next couple of chapters. Chapters 15 and 16 contain the seven bowls of God’s wrath that are poured out by His angels. The seven are: painful sores on their bodies, seas turn to blood, rivers and springs turn to blood, the sun scorches people with fire, total darkness, the Euphrates River dries up, and incredible earthquakes, huge hail and natural disasters that destroy the people of the earth. Sounds like a picnic huh?

Chapters 17 and 18 include prophetic details of “Babylon”, those who are the enemies of God. She is completely destroyed by God and His armies. 19 Begins to transition into the time of complete victory by God. The war concludes. Chapter 20 contains details of the millennium period. The last part of that chapter gives details of the judgment of God upon people. Be sure your name is in His book. Revelation concludes with a beautiful description of heaven, the new earth and New Jerusalem. The entire sense of the book transitions and the focus goes to God and worship of Him.

Once again, you may wish to go over to Maranathachurch.org and listen to the message from yesterday’s service. I summarized the book and was a little more thorough in what I covered.

I want to thank you for reading the New Testament along with me. I hope your time was a beneficial as mine was.

I will add some concluding thoughts tomorrow.

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one more day!

Today, let’s read the first half of the Book of the Revelation (chapters 1-11)

As I am again reading through the book, I am struck again by the worship that takes place in heaven. Seems to me that this is the dominant preoccupation of heaven’s inhabitants.

The first chapter sets up the scene in heaven as John describes his experience. A very cool description of Jesus follows.
Chapters two and three are the characteristics and judgments of the seven churches. They are:
Ephesus: forsook their first love.
Smyrna: they were poverty stricken, yet really rich.
Pergamum: they remained true to God but did, however, allow false teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitians.
Thyatira: they were sexually immoral.
Sardis: purported to be alive but were really dead.
Philadelphia: a door was opened to them that no one could close.
Laodicea: lukewarm and therefore despicable to God.

Chapter 4 is all about the throne of God and the worship of the Elders and living beings.
The next chapter features worship of the Lamb of God by every creature in all of creation.

Chapter six really begins the experience of the great tribulation. 7 seals were about to be opened and then seven trumpets were to blow. These are all judgments that will be poured out during seven years of tribulation. This continues through chapter 10 and in chapter 11, the two witnesses are killed and raised to life after three and one half days.

If you were not in our worship service on Sunday, you may want to take a listen to the message I preached on Revelation.

Tomorrow, the last day, we will conclude Revelation and the New Testament Quest.


4 books in one day!

Don’t panic, the books are brief.
Today we are reading the epistles written by John, as well as the little book written by Jude. These books are very practical and easy to apply. No need for lots of interpretation.

The book of I John deals over and over with the idea of our life as it relates to sin. He says that if we love God, we will not sin. Now that is a mouthful! The core of this message is that, if we do sin, we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ who speaks to the Father on our behalf (2:1). One of the more challenging verses on this topic is: 1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. We are also told in this book that God is love and it is impossible to grasp love without connecting to God. One of the greatest examples is given in 1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! On a very relevant topic, John tells us in chapter three that our love for God will cause us to help people who are in need. In other words, the expression of love for God is loving people. Love God, love others.

II John is a very brief book. He is telling us that it is possible to lose what we have been given, that we need to contend for our faith. He launches into the idea that people will come along to try to tell you that Jesus is not the Son of God. Don’t be fooled! We are not even supposed to hang out with these people, they are destructive and deceptive.

III John is also short. The purpose of this book is to be sure that we are walking in the truth. He discusses two guys, Diotrephes and Demetrius. The first guy was a hypocrite and was concerned only with his own selfish ambition. Demetrius was a good man and served as an example for others to follow.

Jude is a little more complicated book. It s basically a call to build up our faith so that we will not be destroyed by those who attempt to divide us. The key verses are: Jude 20-21 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. The book ends with a beautiful doxology in verses 24 and 25.

Tomorrow, Monday, we will read Revelation 1-11.


I and II Peter

Today’s reading includes two letters written by the church father and Apostle, Peter.

The first letter seems to focus on the idea that, as followers of Jesus, we may have to endure quite a few trials. In three different places (2:19-20, 3:17 and 4:12), he connects the idea of going through some suffering for the sake of Christ. In a nutshell, he is saying, expect it and be strong through it. A theme of I Peter is spiritual strength and stamina. He makes his applications in very practical ways, dealing with marriage and political/legal situations.

A few of my favorite verses from this book are:

1 Peter 1:13-14 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

And one of my favorites as a pastor….
1 Peter 5:2-4 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

II Peter has a different focus. In this letter, he is concentrating on the idea of growing our faith. The directing verse is found in the end of the book: 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The necessity of this growth is because of the evil that will lurk among us. There will be people who will try to change things up, switch around what we know to be true. Peter says that we should be aware of these guys and keep an eye out for them. If we are strong in our faith, we will not be fooled, and we will not be punished like they are going to be.

I really like his reminder/encouragement: 2 Peter 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

Good stuff from The Apostle.

Tomorrow, we hit it big, covering four books. Hang in there, just a few days left to complete the Quest!


James

Because of the nature of the book of James, I can’t bring myself to tell you guys how you should be living. It just seems to fly in the face of the essence of the book.

I’ll just speak to myself for a bit:

James basically says, “put up or shut up”.

If I need wisdom, which I do, I should ask God. He just may allow me to go through enough tests that I actually develop some patience. Once I have enough perseverance, wisdom will result. No shortcuts.

If I am poor, I am blessed, if I am rich, I am cursed.

I should be in a hurry to hear what others are saying. I should close my mouth. I should not get angry.

If I think I am holy but do not control what I say, I am fooling myself, but on one else and certainly not God.

If I think I am holy but don’t take care of orphans and widows in need, I am a phony.

If I like hanging around rich people because they are rich, I am a phony.

If I do not have mercy on others, God will judge me, withholding His mercy.

If actions do not reveal my faith, I have no faith.

If I call myself a teacher (leader), the bar is raised, more is expected of me by God.

My words can destroy people.

If there is bitterness and selfish ambition in my heart, I am being controlled by the devil.

I get to choose: friend of God or friend of the world, I can’t have it both ways.

If I come close to God and humble myself before Him, He will come close to me and lift me up.

My life will last only moments.

I should preface every plan with, “if it is the Lord’s will…”

If I am rich, I should plan on misery.

God is full of mercy and compassion.

If we pray for each other and confess our sins to one another, we will be healed.

If I turn a sinner toward the Lord, he will be saved from his sins.

That’s my application of James.

On Saturday, we will enjoy reading the letters written by Simon Peter.


six left

There are six days left in our Quest, six blog posts on reading the New Testament.
Today’s reading is Hebrews 8-13. I will follow the pattern I set yesterday for the beginning of the book. The words you see are either underlined in my old study Bible or they are highlighted in yellow or orange.

8:6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

10:11-14 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Tomorrow, the awesome book of James!


This is Wednesday, March 25. Our reading today is Hebrews 1-7

Rather than trying to summarize some complicated chapters, I would like to just mention a few of my favorite verses in Hebrews. These are the verses that are underlined or highlighted in my Bible. Reading them is not a substitute for reading the entire book. And they are by no means considered a summary of the book. Honestly, I am tired and I figure, what can I possibly add to the verses that they can’t say for themselves? (all verses NIV)

Hebrew 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

5:12-14 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

7:24-27 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Tomorrow, we will do the same with the remainder of Hebrews. Join me, won’t you?