Reach the Lost, Nurture Faith, Meet Family Needs

I recently heard an audio version of a book which was talking about Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous, “I have a dream” speech. It started out boring, people were even falling asleep. People had been outside for hours and they were hot and tired.[1] Then I recently read the following.

However, I have learned something additional lately—thanks in part to Mahalia Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr. On August 28, 1963, King began his speech to 250,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. However, Mahalia recognized the potential power of the moment and need for a course correction in Dr. King’s speech. At that moment, she began to call out repeatedly from her spot behind him on the platform, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” And the rest is history!

We need to dream and let those dreams lead our vision. Over the last year, our church and our leaders have talked a lot about our vision for the future. We have narrowed it down to Reach the Lost, Nurture Faith, Meet Family Needs. That is our vision statement, but I believe that flows out of our dreams.

Our Mission Statement comes from Matthew 28:19-20:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our vision comes from the mission. We must think, “How do we achieve the Great Commission?”

So, we have the Vision Statement: Reach the Lost, Nurture Faith, Meet Family Needs

  1. We, as a church, are called to “reach the lost.” This means that we are called to evangelism. We read the great commission up top.
  2. We, as a church, are called to “nurture faith.” Once we reach people with the Gospel we cannot just drop them. No, they are then brought into our fellowship. We are to minister to them and alongside them, we want to “make disciples.” We want to worship the Lord together.
  • We, as a church, are called to “meet family needs.” I wrestle with this because not everyone is a part of a biological family. Some are single young adults, some are single seniors, some are widows, or widowers; however, we are a family. When we say that we are meeting family needs this means that we are need meeting. This is “service” or another word would be “ministry.”
  1. What can you do? To do this we must break down the “vision statement” into the “vision path.” We are starting with the big picture of the great commission and then we bring it more specific with the vision statement and now we are going even more specific to the vision path. Let’s get more specific as a church and then let’s see how you fit. The following come from the five (5) purposes of the church which are: evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. We as a church will:
    1. Promote a culture  of fellowship: in fellowship we will “bear one another’s burdens,” “rejoice together,” and work together for the other four (4) purposes of the church recognizing that we sharpen each other and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Key Scriptures for fellowship:

Eccl. 4:12

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

Prov. 27:17

As iron sharpens iron,

so one man sharpens another.

  1. Where do you fit: You fit everywhere in fellowship. You are part of the church by attending. But fellowship goes deeper. We are in fellowship when we are taking communion together and supporting each other in baptism. We are in fellowship when we share prayer requests together and when we pray for one another. We are in fellowship when we help each other.
  2. You are helping in fellowship by attending, by praying, by supporting.
  • You are helping fellowship when you participate in discipleship, evangelism, ministry and worship.
  1. [We will] Nurture a culture of Discipleship- we will have opportunities of Christian Connections for spiritual growth in study, prayer, accountability. This allows our members to hold a Biblical Worldview. Discipleship must lead to evangelism, worship, ministry and include fellowship.

Key Scripture for Discpleship:

2 Tim. 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  1. We are helping in discipleship when we take part in Christian Connections, when we engage on Sunday mornings during the sermon.
  2. If you are here and you like music but not preaching and so you just “get through the sermon” then you are inhibiting discipleship in your own life.
  • We are helping in discipleship when we allow ourselves to be teachable and open to reading, studying, and listening to God’s word recognizing that we never stop learning all that God wants us to learn and that we always have a need for God to speak into our lives.
  1. We are helping discipleship when we are disciples in our lives. When we are imitating Christ in our life we are helping the church in discipleship.
  2. We are all helping in discipleship when we are about fellowship, ministry, evangelism and worship
  1. [We will] Cultivate a culture of Evangelism- Disciples make disciples and we will have training in evangelism, encouraging evangelism and in corporate evangelism, relational evangelism, lifestyle evangelism, servant evangelism, invitational evangelism as well as direct evangelism. This will include encouraging the body of Christ to know why they believe, what they believe and the correct understanding of the Gospel.

Key verse for evangelism:

Matt 28:19-20:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

  1. We are helping the church in evangelism when we are lifestyle witnesses and relational witnesses. This means our lives reflect Jesus and we build relationships and share the Gospel. We can also help with the evangelism movements of the church and directly share the Gospel.
  2. My prayer, my dream, is that we have an evangelical mindset. I hope we think about the reality of the Gospel in all we do.
  • Now, for our shut ins, our saints in their homes, they can still help. Please pray. Prayer is not the least that we can do, it is the greatest we can do. James 5:16: The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

No one comes to know Christ as Savior without someone praying for them.

  1. I desire, I dream, that we would have a group meet here every week to pray for the lost. We need to pray for this giant spiritual need.
  1. [We will] Celebrate a culture of vertical worship- we will have corporate opportunities to worship the Lord. We will have special opportunities of worship; we will train the body of Christ in what worship is.

Key verse for Worship:

Rev 4:10-11

The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.”

  1. We are part of the church’s vision in worship when we try our best to worship God in all we do. We all help in the worship on Sunday mornings or special services. Please take worship seriously.
  2. We inhibit worship when we make it about us and not God.
  • By the way, prayer helps worship. Prayer is always powerful.
  1. [We will] Uphold a culture of Serving Others : In service we love God and love people, recognizing that even our enemy is our neighbor. We want to be full of grace and truth to everyone as Jesus is grace and truth (John 1:14). We will minister in mission opportunities and encourage smaller ministries.

Key verse for Serving others:

Matthew 22:37-38:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

  1. We are helping with this part of our vision when we help with Mission Encounter, or serve at the food pantry, or somewhere else.
  2. If you are serving your neighbor, or coworker, you are helping in this.
  3. Don’t trivialize what you can or can’t do:
  4. Do you bake meals to help the caring committing? You are serving.
  5. Do you pray for our activities? That is helping in serving.
  6. Do you visit the sick or the shut-in? That is serving.
  7. Can you read to children in the childcare?
  8. Can you help with our Altercare Ministry by simply showing up?
  9. Do you help count money at events? Do you help with Carnation Days? Do you help with the facilities?

Close:

I want to give an opportunity for commitment. We are going to dismiss to the fellowship hall for lunch, but I hope our discussion will go on.

We will spend time in prayer and discussion with questions about how you fit into this vision statement and path. This way we can all help: Reach the Lost, Nurture Faith, Meet Family Needs.

Prayer

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Audio version of the book Killing Kennedy

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A few great articles

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/271702-spirituality-without-on-going-repentance-is-not-christian-spirituality.html?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRoguqjOZKXonjHpfsX94%2BgsWa%2B3hYkz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMSsZmMK%2BTFAwTG5toziV8R7DEJM1u2dkQXhXh&bt_alias=eyJ1c2VySWQiOiI1Y2Q0ZWU4Ni0yNzEzLTQxMGQtYmNmYS05Zjk5OTY4MzI5NDUifQ%3D%3D

 

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/272031-hope-in-eternal-purity-aim-at-daily-purity.html?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRoguqjOZKXonjHpfsX94%2BgsWa%2B3hYkz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMSsZmMK%2BTFAwTG5toziV8R7DEJM1u2dkQXhXh

Rev. 1:9-20: The Real Christ

Introduction:

Christmas is about a month away. Actually one month ago we celebrated Christmas Eve. Let’s flashback to Christmas season.

Begin with a video clip from the Movie Elf where Buddy the Elf finds out that Santa is an imposter.

How much confidence do we have in an imposter?

I would think none. We want the real deal. We want the real Santa or… the real Jesus, the real God.

As we look at the rest of Revelation chapter 1 we see that Revelation 1 shows Jesus as God. We see Jesus as the Judge. We see Jesus as the eternal One. We see Jesus as outside of time. We see Jesus as pure, wise and the conqueror.

Theme:

As we look at this passage my Theme is that John sees the glorified Christ and He is commanded to write.

Application:

My burning application is that Jesus is amazing, you’ll see.

Please turn with me to Revelation 1:9-20:

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

  1. I want to briefly summarize the passage.
    1. In verses 9-11 John is identified as the messenger.
    2. John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.
    3. The Lord’s Day may be Sunday, or it may mean that He was “in the Spirit” when the Day of the Lord came. The Day of the Lord is a time when God makes everything right. So, in this case it means when the Lord showed him this vision.
    4. What does it mean to be “In the Spirit”? This could mean that He was spending time in his devotions and I like to think that way but I don’t think it is likely. It is more likely that John was taken up by the Spirit.
    5. The Holy Spirit got ahold of him and he was in a state for God to speak to him.
    6. Are we in a place for God to speak to us? Think about that.

Jonathon Edwards in the Spirit:

The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, I Tim. i:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen. As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before Never any words of scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever! I kept saying, and as it were singing over these words of scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy him, and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection. But it never came into my thought, that there was any thing spiritual, or of a saving nature in this.[1]

Not long after I first began to experience these things, I gave an account to my father of some things that had passed in my mind. I was pretty much affected by the discourse we had together; and when the discourse was ended, I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my father’s pasture, for contemplation. And as I was walking there, and looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together; it was a sweet, and gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness.

  1. John was on an island called Patmos for preaching the Gospel. I like what the Life Application Study Bible says:
  2. John was exiled to Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Good News. We may not face persecution for our faith as the early Christians did, but even with our freedom few of us have the courage to share God’s Word with others. If we hesitate to share our faith during easy times, how will we do during times of persecution?[2]
  3. John hears a voice and the voice comes from behind him and the voice was like a trumpet and He told John to write to the seven churches. We will come back to the seven churches in a couple of weeks. I want to move on to the description of Jesus.
  4. Let’s walk through the descriptions of King Jesus and gain insight.[3]
    1. In 1717, King Louis XIV of France died. Preferring to be called “Louis the Great,” he was the monarch who declared, “I am the State!” His court was the most magnificent in Europe, and his funeral was the most spectacular. In the church where the ceremony was performed, his body lay in a golden coffin. To dramatize his greatness, orders had been given that the cathedral would be very dimly lit with only one special candle that was to be set above the coffin. The thousands of people in attendance waited in silence. Then Bishop Massillon began to speak. Slowly reaching down, he snuffed out the candle and said, “Only God is great.”[4]
    2. In the following verses we see Jesus as God. We see Him as the Great and Awesome God.
    3. Do you ever struggle in your faith?
    4. I’m serious, please honestly answer, I do [raise your hand]. There are times when the devil tries to work on me (Eph. 6:10-12) and I start to doubt this book [hold up the Bible]. I start to doubt the Bible. You know the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. I heard about a sermon from David Jeremiah where he says whenever God is doing something good, God is planting seed, imagine the devil trying to pluck those seeds up. The devil is the crows. (Matthew 13:4 and 19) Sometimes the devil likes to get at me.
    5. However, when I get into this book God speaks. God brings me back to my senses. In verse 9 the text says, “The Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Verse 2 says “The Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.” I think I see a theme laid out already. I heard it said:
    6. This book will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from this book.
    7. The cool think about Revelation is the cross reference. As I was studying these descriptions of Jesus I saw cross references in Daniel 7:1-14, but also in Isaiah, Ezekiel, the rest of Revelation and the Bible. The cross references prove this is from God. This is God’s Word. You see no one, let alone forty people over 1200 plus year, could write all 66 of these books and make this connect. This is God’s Word.
    8. All throughout Revelation we see that John uses an Old Testament pool of images. His audience would have known these.
    9. In verse 12 John turns to see who was speaking to him and he sees 7 Golden Lampstands.
    10. Lampstands: this comes from Temple imagery
    11. You would come in the sanctuary and see the curtain between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. There you would see the alter of incense. To your right would be the table of show bread, to the left was the seven branched candelabra.
    12. This is the first example of John using temple imagery.
    13. John sees us to be priests (verse 6) and that is another example of the Temple imagery. But as we go throughout this chapter we see Jesus as the High Priest and the King. Hebrews 9:11 shows Jesus as our High Priest.
    14. We see this Temple, Old Testament, imagery all throughout Revelation.
    15. John says that he sees one like a Son of Man in verse 13. This is the beginning of the cross references and connection with Daniel 7:1-14. This is the beginning of showing Jesus as God.
    16. Notice how John says, “like” a “Son of Man.” All the way through John’s vision we see “like” and “as”
    17. This is a signal to us that even though he uses this imagery it cannot fully convey the reality of the vision he is having.
    18. He is indicating this image I am explaining doesn’t fully contain the reality but it points to it.
    19. How do you describe the indescribable?
    20. One “like” a Son of Man. Clothed with a long robe and a golden sach.
    21. Clothing: the attire of the High Priest
    22. The attire of a King
    23. Jesus is the High Priest and the King
    24. Head and hair white as white wool, white as snow. This has the idea of purity.
    25. This image comes from Daniel 7 and the Ancient of Days.
    26. “Ancient of Days” was God in Daniel 7. John is saying that Jesus is God!
    27. John is using the Jewish pool of imagery to show that Jesus is God.
    28. Dan 7:9-10: As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
    29. The thing is Daniel 7 is a major cross reference but only one among many. This passage is littered with connecting points throughout the Bible.
    30. Actually, I want to give you a homework assignment go home and use your study Bible, or if you don’t have one let me know and I will get you one. Walk through this passage this week and look at the cross reference and let God speak to you. You can easily do this on Biblegateway.com.
    31. The Ancient of Days is connecting Jesus as Lord. Is Jesus our Lord?
    32. His eyes like a flame of fire, His feet like burnished bronze refined as in a furnace.
    33. Images of light and fire in a Jewish pool of imagery are images for God.
    34. John is utilizing imagery to describe his encounter with Jesus to show that Jesus is God.
    35. His voice is “like the sound of many waters.”
    36. Verse 10: John had said that the voice is like a loud voice “like a trumpet.”
      1. Our logical left brain wants to know which it is.
      2. John would say both, it is both. These are images that transcend reality.
  • John changes his description frequently. He modulates his imagery often.
  1. He is showing to his readers that no images are sufficient to contain our reality.
  2. We cannot substitute the image for the reality.
  3. John is describing Jesus as overwhelming
  4. Hebrews 12:29: Our God is a consuming fire
  5. Verse 16: in His right hand… Sharp two edged sword: The Word is the unchangeable reality in which all that is unreal crumbles.
  6. All that is false finds its demise when it encounters the WORD
  • Let’s apply: We see in verse 17: When John sees him he falls at his feet as though dead.
    1. This was common in the Jewish pool of images when one encounters God. They fall down and worship.
    2. How do we respond to this passage?
    3. How do we respond with the image of Jesus as God?
    4. How do we respond with the double-edged sword? That represents the Word of God. You know how Jesus responded to the devil in Matthew 4, anyone can answer… with the Word.
    5. This passage encourages and convicts me. I am encouraged by the validity and importance of the Scripture. I am challenged and convicted to take the Word seriously. (2 Timothy 2:15 and 3:16-17)
    6. Just like the Jewish pool of imagery Jesus says “don’t be afraid”
    7. Jesus is the Living One: amplified: I was dead before, but I am alive forevermore.
    8. Jesus has the keys to death and hades, who? Only Jesus.
    9. Jesus is in charge.
    10. Jesus tells John to write the things that he has seen, that he is seeing and that will take place after this.
    11. Greek preposition translated “with” There is a standard Greek word for this preposition, but this never occurs in Revelation, nor in the LXX. So, how do you say “with?” So, he uses another preposition. The NASB and most all translations, translates it “after” as in “’after’ these things.” It could be that it really is “with” and “after” as in both. John could be playing off both.
    12. We use “after” in this context to get the idea that Revelation is to be translated in a futurist way.

Close:

Theme:

John sees the glorified Christ and He is commanded to write.

Application:

My burning application is that Jesus is amazing, I hope you have seen that. I hope you are encouraged and challenged by who Jesus Is as well as the Word of God is His Word.

I like what the Life Application Study Bible says:

Revelation will challenge your mental picture of Jesus Christ. What forms your impression of him right now— famous paintings, movies, Sunday school art? Do you ever picture Jesus with a gold sash and snow white, woolly hair? Do his eyes flash fire and his feet glow like bronze? When you imagine Jesus speaking to you, does his voice thunder like mighty ocean waves? Reevaluate the way you think of Jesus as you read and study Revelation. Allow his powerful presence to transform your life.[5]

The Real Jesus Christ

The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

There’s the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

There’s Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

There’s Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

There’s Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

There’s Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

There’s Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

There’s Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

There’s Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

There’s Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that “all you need is love.”

There’s Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There’s Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding “the god within” while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

There’s Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

There’s Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on “the system.”

There’s Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

There’s Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

There’s Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

And then there’s Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God’s reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father’s Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.[6]

Prayer                                                                     

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] http://mith.umd.edu/eada/html/display.php?docs=edwards_personalnarrative.xml

[2] Tyndale House Publishers (2011-08-01). Life Application Study Bible NLT (Kindle Locations 161629-161631). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3] I benefitted from Dr. Mulholland’s lectures on Revelation at Asbury Theological Seminary. I was not able to take his class while there but listened on Itunes U.

[4] Jeff Arthurs, “Laying the Foundation for Peace,”PreachingToday.com

 

[5] Tyndale House Publishers (2011-08-01). Life Application Study Bible NLT (Kindle Locations 161625-161631). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[6] Kevin DeYoung, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)

Be Encouraged Jesus is Coming Again

Introduction to the message:
Another time and another place Meagan and I lived in the Great Plains. We didn’t live in the real Great Plains, no; we lived in the Great Plains of Western, OH. Now, if you have been to both places, they certainly aren’t the same, but compared to here they are the Great Plains. One thing I love about this area is if you drive out of town there are rolling hills. But one thing I love about Western, Ohio is when you drive out of town you can see forever.
Well, we lived in a farmhouse in the country. We were just outside Pleasant Hill.
Do any of you know where Pleasant Hill is? Don’t be surprised, I would bargain only about 1000 people in Ohio know where Pleasant Hill is. Well, we were west of Troy, Ohio and 40 minutes or so northwest of Dayton, Ohio. There is a large church in the country that we were a part of. One summer evening, we were driving back home from the country church, down the country road, in the Great Plains of Western, OH. On this particular night a storm was brewing. So, as we drove home from the country church, on the country road, in the Great Plains of Western, Ohio we could see forever, and what we saw was, not a Tornado, not a Hurricane, not an earthquake, not Santa’s sleigh, but we saw lightning and it was cool. In that environment it was as if we were looking out at a lightning storm over the ocean.
How do you describe the indescribable?
The answer is that we do the best we can. Have you ever heard a child tell a story? Babysit sometime, I’ll give you the chance. We will be sitting around the dinner table and Mercedes will say, “You know what Paul did at school today? He, ha, ha, He he, he, he walked this way and it was so funny, ha, ha, he he, and then milk came out of his nose!!!!” She will tell the story about something and she uses the vocabulary she knows and she’ll laugh in between her words, but sometimes we are wondering what really happened. It is cute and funny all the same.
In Revelation, John does the best he can to describe the indescribable. Interesting thing is that the language is formed or John seems to be bending the language for visionary experience. Verse 4: “grace to you and peace from the One who is, the One who was and the One who is to come.” There is kindergarten grammatical error in the sentence. Later we see that John knows how to use his prepositions, so why would he make a kindergarten error grammatically. In chapter 16 it changes: “the One who Is and Who Was…” but the coming disappears. One of my Asbury professors, Dr. Mulholland, thinks that John is alerting his readers to watch this phrase. To the Hellenistic world writing meant a lot and John would not mess up this phrase if not intentional.
John is describing the indescribable.

My theme:
Be encouraged, Jesus is coming again and He will make all things right.
We’ll read the passage as we talk about it.
I. As I study this passage I am encouraged that Jesus will make things right.
a. This is the theme of Revelation. Look at verse 7. “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
b. Jesus is coming again. If you remember the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 1:10 we have the disciples look to the sky as Jesus ascends and then we have an angel say: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
c. He is coming back and He will make things right. He will come again. We will see more of that idea in Revelation. Right now, it can be discouraging to turn on the news and see a million candidates running for the President of the United States and they all claim to have the solution, but there is really only one solution. There is really only One who will make things right and He is not a Republican or a Democrat, nor any other party. He is the Rock of Ages (Psalm 18:2).
d. GOD WILL MAKE THINGS RIGHTS. He is the future Leader.
e. Jesus is partially making things right now.
f. Every time a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior Jesus is making things right. Every time someone lives for Him and surrenders to Him, He is making things right. When we surrender to Jesus, He is stomping on the devil.
g. I struggle, I am frustrated and I am a worrier. Seriously, I have news alerts come to my phone. I read the headlines. I hear about another shooting and another one and another one. I hear about boys getting into girls locker rooms, I hear about the culture going to literal hell. We, as a culture, are a mess. We are a mess in morality, we are a mess in real violence and we are a mess spiritually. I look at my innocence four year old and I think, “What is going to happen?”
h. In this book, [hold up the Bible] in Revelation, Jesus tells me what is going to happen. Things are going to be okay.
i. It is as if Jesus is saying, “Here is some encouragement, I am coming.”
j. Jesus says that He is coming in the clouds and every eye will see Him. We used to wonder about that. Well, Jesus can work that out anyway He wishes. He may be on all the cable channels or whatever.
k. All the people will wail. This is possible because He is coming and He will judge.
II. As I study this passage I am encouraged that Jesus is outside of time.
a. Look at verse 8:  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
b. We talked about this last week, but let me emphasize again: Nothing happens without God knowing it. God is not taken by surprise.
III. I am also encouraged that Jesus is almighty.
a. Look at verse 6 and then we’ll look at verse 8.
b. Verse 6: and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.
c. I mainly want to emphasize that God is to be glorified forever and ever and His is the power. God is almighty. Look at verse 8 again: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
d. Notice that final noun, “almighty.”
e. God is almighty. When you are trusting God, He is the almighty.
IV. I am encouraged with the Gospel: God loved us and set us free with Jesus’ blood.
a. Look at verse 5:  and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…
b. Notice the end of the verse: we are freed from our sins by His blood.
c. We know that we needed a sacrifice. In Genesis chapter 22 we have Abraham take Isaac up to be sacrificed and Isaac asks his father, “Where is the lamb.” (Genesis 22:7)
d. For human history we have needed a Lamb for our sacrifice. God provided Jesus. We are set free.
Let’s apply this:
1. Jesus will come as judge. We all must surrender to Him now. If we can’t surrender now, how can we surrender later?
2. God is Awesome, what we get right here, what we begin to see right here is this amazing picture of our amazing God. Seven Spirits before the Throne, wow! He has all dominion (verse 6), He is outside of time (verse 8). I know that Cher might want to turn back time, but only God can go anywhere at any time. We have all seen amazing images. But God is bigger than a lightning storm. Actually, I think the lightning and thunder happens in God’s presence because when God is present the surrounding area recognizes it and responds with splendor.
3. Do we, can we, love the Gospel? I am not only talking about surrendering and recognizing Jesus as Lord. I am saying can we be satisfied in the Gospel? Please, think on this.
a. This is a real struggle for me because we have temptations. I have an example:
i. [example, take out a Steelers hat with candy hanging from it, a hot wheel hanging from it, some other things.]
ii. See these: they are all trying to give me satisfaction. But it doesn’t work. The worst of it all is many times they hang right in front of my face. Look the chocolate is hanging here, but I can’t get it in my mouth.
iii. I have this struggle like you do, I would think you do. Here, up here, I have marathon medals, you think they bring satisfaction? They don’t. There is always someone faster than you. Then afterwards, there is a letdown. You know the worst part, you lose weight running and you get faster and everything is going well. That was me three years ago. But then… your body gets used to running and you no longer lose weight. You can no longer reward yourself with that milk shake.
iv. I think God has set up everything as if to say, “be satisfied in me.” To me, the world says, “That new car will give me satisfaction.” God says, “Only for a while, then the bill will come, then the rust will come, then the damage will come.” To me, the world says, “That Chipotle across the street, oh yea, it will give satisfaction.” God says, “Yes, you need to eat and you can enjoy food (Psalm 104), but only so much.” God continues, “I am the Lord and there is no other, rejoice in Me. I can fill your deepest void. You need Me. I want to help.” (Ecc. 3:11) To me, the world says, “You will be satisfied if the Steelers get to the super bowl, that Mac Book, that iphone, that book, that tool, those will all add to satisfaction, that big TV, Oh yea, that is satisfaction, that electronic, you name it, I feel like that will be satisfaction, that vacation destination it will satisfy, that house, that man-cave, they will bring satisfaction.” I want them to fill a void within me. I want it all. But God says, “Are you kidding Me? Are you really, actually, seriously kidding Me? I am God and there is no other (Isa. 46:9), you are in the richest country in the world, if that does not prove that you need Me, what will. Turn to Me, be satisfied in Me.” God says , I love you.”
v. Do you get that? The Gospel is right here in verse 5: this letter is from the One, Jesus, Who has freed us from our sins, by His blood.
vi. God says, “I love you, be satisfied in me.”
Mercedes will often say, “I love you.” We will say, “I love you too.” She will say, “I love you more.” Abigail will chime in “I wove u.”
God loves you and He loves you more.
Revelation is God showing us the future. Be encouraged He will make things right. Be encouraged you are loved. Be satisfied in Jesus, in the Gospel. The Gospel is Amazing.
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Pray

Revelation 1:1-3: God Tells us the Rest of the Story

Intro:

We need the whole Bible, watch this:

https://www.russellmoore.com/2015/11/18/you-need-the-whole-bible-even-if-you-dont-know-why/

Back in the eighties there was a show called Quantum Leap. In this show the main character would leap between different time periods. A thought to think about is that God is outside of time and so He can leap between any time period He wants to. God is the keeper of the timeline. He is in charge.

As I do this, take the rope down the center aisle.

I have a rope up here, I have many feet of rope and I am going to pull it out and just watch as it falls to the floor. Now, suppose that this first end of the rope is Genesis 1:1. This is creation. Now, as I move, look at this rope and imagine all of this rope is time. So, we would have Abraham somewhere close to the same end and then Moses and then David and then Ezekiel and then Isaiah and then we would get to Ezra and that would be, oh, about 3500 years of history and then we go another 400 years and we have Jesus’ birth and then we have 2000 years until now and then we keep going until Jesus comes again and makes thing right. Now, as we look at this rope type of time line we are on the rope around, I don’t know, maybe here [point towards the opposite end of the beginning]. We are bound by our little time. We are stuck in the rope. Oh, but God, He created the rope. God created the time and He is powerful and in control. Take this thought a little bit further and understand that God put you in your spot for a reason, wow!

Be encouraged, seriously be encouraged. We can easily look at this rope and be discouraged about all of time and all of existence, but, no, be encouraged because God, Who is not bound by time, chose to put you on this earth at this time. God can go anywhere He wants on our rope timeline. God can, “quantum leap.” But let’s go a step further: God is to time as we are to this rope. He looks down on the time all at once. He is not limited by it, for He created it.

As we look at Revelation 1:1 we are going to “Quantum Leap” back in time to, around, 96 A.D. But not only us, notice that Jesus is also entering John’s realm of existence through an angel and even Himself later on.

My theme today is:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, God Tells Us The Rest of the Story, An Intro to Revelation (Revelation 1:1-3)

Our Two Applications:

      1. Be encouraged, God is in control of everything [everyone say everything], even time.
      2. Take this book seriously.

Let’s read Revelation 1:1-3:

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

  1. This letter is revelation from Jesus Christ. This is all in verse 1.
    1. It is from the Father to the Son.
    2. It is from the Son, Jesus, to the angel.
    3. It is from the angel to John.
    4. It is from John to us.
    5. Look the verse says that God gave this to His servants to show His servants what soon must take place.
    6. Be encouraged that God is not limited. There is nothing limiting God. God wanted to show us and all Christians through the ages things that must take place.
    7. I must pause here because you are likely looking at this and thinking, “But it says must ‘soon take place.’” Let’s handle some of the background to this letter.
    8. First notice that it is titled the “’Revelation’ to John.” It is not “Revelation’s.’” This work, which is a letter, in the New Testament format, is one gynormous Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John.
    9. Remember that to God, He is outside of time. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:8, when talking about the end times: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. So, when this passage says, “soon” we can know that it could be soon in our thinking or God’s thinking and God is outside of time.
    10. There are four primary ways of interpreting Revelation.
      1. One of these is the Historicism method:
        1. This method interprets chapters 1-3 taking place in the first century, chapters 4-20:6 taking place between the second century and the end times and then chapters 20:7-22 being when Jesus makes things right.
      2. Second, is Futurism: This method most of Revelation is in the future, chapter 4 and throughout chapter 22.
      3. Then there is the Preterist. The preterist which is a past fulfillment or contemporary to John’s readers. Those would believe that it had to do with the Roman Empire and the fall of the Roman Empire. Fulfillment is entirely in the past by the fall of Constantine and Rome in 476 AD. Some see it as the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD but this is a very narrow view. This seemed to start in the late 1500’s or early 1600’s. This would be the earliest understanding of Revelation in the period following its dissemination
      4. Then there is the idealist: Sees Revelation operating at two levels.
        1. General spiritual principles operating at all ages.
        2. There was an immediate meaning for John and his readers but there is a profound spiritual reality for all ages.
        3. Idea that there is a clash between good and evil
      5. There are variations on each of those interpretations especially when we get to the Millennial reign and the tribulation period and we are not getting into that today.
      6. Next, let’s look at dating. It appears that John is exiled to the island Patmos and this was under persecution. He might have been there forced to work the mines. This could have been the great persecution under Caesar Nero in the 60’s AD or in the 90’s AD under Domitian which many believe.
    11. John witnessed for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ with all that he saw. This is verse 2.
      1. We may wonder what he saw. This gets into the type of literature Revelation is. It is a letter with apocalyptic literature and prophesy. Think of the idea of pulling back a curtain and revealing something. That is the idea of apocalyptic literature. It means that God is showing us the spiritual realm. God is pulling back the curtain and showing us the end.
      2. John uses a pool of images that are very familiar to him and to his readers, but not familiar to us.
      3. John uses a Jewish pool of images.
      4. He uses a few from Hellenistic culture.
      5. Most of the imagery is from the Old Testament and intertestamental period. They are plain to his audience.
      6. We must understand this. If we divorce Revelation from its original context and meaning we can have multiple understandings and make it say whatever we want it to.
      7. There was an early 80’s Reader’s Digest article titled the Motel of the Mysteries. It was written as if it was an archaeological report. It was about the late twentieth century America that is now buried under dirt. An Archaeologist comes across a motel, but with the description they say that this was a late twentieth century burial site. The toilet seat was something you wear around your head. The bath tab was a sacred tower and the shower was a musical instrument. The article goes on and on, but we know better. If we don’t know better it makes perfect sense.
      8. Time Magazine in 1992 when the Republicans took over congress shows a Donkey under the Republican Elephant. We understand the image because it is part of our time, but in hundreds of years they may not know that.
      9. John’s audience understands the image.
      10. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah are primary examples of John’s Old Testament imagery.
      11. Also imagery from Baruch, Song of Songs and some other intertestamental imagery.
      12. There is no single quotation in Revelation. John is steeped in his Jewish context that these images just flow out of him.
      13. John was a witness of what God was showing him.
  • Verse 3 tells us we are blessed when we read this letter.
    1. This is the only Bible book which says this.
    2. But we may not feel blessed. We may feel cursed as we try to get through.
    3. I remember sitting with my older brother on his bed, and I was probably in grade school, as he read the whole book of Revelation to me. I was confused. Yet, we are interested, aren’t we?
    4. The great Martin Luther mistrusted Revelation because of its obscurity. “A revelation should be revealing” he said.
    5. One wrote (Dr. Constable): “The symbolism is drawn from many previous Bible books. Revelation is similar to an airport, or a railway terminal, where materials from many other sources come together.” I like that description.
    6. We must read the letter. We must study the letter.
    7. Revelation 22:10: And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

Close:

      1. Be encouraged, God is in control of everything [everyone say everything], even time.
      2. Take this book seriously.

I don’t know about you but I can get discouraged when I hear the news. But isn’t it encouraging to know that God is in control. Look at this rope. [have someone in the back row pick up the other end] God is in control of time. God placed each of us here for a reason. God entered John’s time and told Him of the things to come.

Revelation is part of the Bible, the Word of God.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

Herod Missed Christmas while the wise men worshipped (Matthew 2:1-12)

Opening:
Video clip of the Elf Code from the movie Elf— “Treat every day like Christmas”
Christmas is not over and that is good because some have missed Christmas. Let me tell you about some of the Bible characters who missed Christmas and exhort you that it is not too late. You can celebrate Jesus’ life death and resurrection any day of the year.
Read with me Matthew 2:1-12:
The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I. Herod missed Jesus (Matthew 2:1ff).
a. Herod was afraid of another king. Herod was the local king of Jerusalem. Herod was not even Jewish as he was an Edomite which means he was a descendant of Esau. Jewish kings were to be descendants of David.
b. Herod not only missed Christmas, Matt 2:16 tells us that Herod killed children 2 and under. Herod was so afraid of another king that he slaughtered the children of that age range.
i. Now, what about you? Have you missed Christmas
ii. Instead of simply taking stuff out like sin management, let’s make our Christian life a passion pursuit. Let’s follow Jesus so adamantly that we are so focused on Jesus and His greatness that we can’t miss Him.
iii. As the magi followed the star, let’s follow Jesus.
iv. It is not too late. We should worship Jesus as Lord every day of the year. We should celebrate His birth, life and resurrection every day of the year.
II. The teachers of the law and priests missed Christmas. In Matthew 2:3-4 Herod called them together and asked them where the Messiah was to be born and they responded, “In Bethlehem of Judea…”
a. They knew this. They had to have known why Herod asked. Why did they not go and look for the Messiah?
i. I think they were obviously indifferent. They were happy as religious scholars.
ii. We have the Messiah, we have the Gospel and His Word.
b. Please don’t be indifferent. Acknowledge Christmas. Don’t let the busyness of this time of year rob you of the joy of this time of year.
Something More at Christmas
What is supposed to be a time of peace and good will becomes, for some, a time when the reality of human greed and folly and cruelty mocks the lovely sentiments of the season. But I’m not sure anyone can experience what Christmas really means without confronting that sense of lost innocence and the potential for disillusionment the holiday can bring. Only after we truly face up to Christmas without Santa can we as adults begin to grapple with what Christmas is all about … God’s gift of ultimate hope that our human destiny is something more than a brief doomed moment in “the benign indifference of the universe.”
c. A few weeks ago I decided to put the Christmas tree up. It was prior to thanksgiving and Mercedes was very excited. She literally jumped up and down as she saw me bring the decorations up. Abigail watched with big eyes as I pulled the tree out of the box. She exclaimed “wow!” She really did. She was an amazement, real, true amazement. They were overjoyed. They watched intently as I was running our antique Lionel train.
d. I find myself missing the significance of Christmas. I am no longer like a child mesmerized. I wonder if I could be as excited as Mercedes and Abigail. Could I think with fresh eyes, “God became a man!”
e. It is not too late. Every day it is important to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
III. I bet that is not all. It appears from Scripture that the people living in the immediate vicinity of the birth of Jesus missed Christmas. He was born in a stable. I know, I know, they didn’t know any better. No one knew the importance of this baby.
a. You now know. You know the importance of Christmas.
IV. Let’s be like the wise men who worshipped Jesus.
a. They recognized who Jesus Is and worshipped.
V. In verse 11, while Herod missed Christmas, in humility, the wise men worship Jesus.
a. They bowed down.
b. The N.E.T. Bible has a note that reads: “they fell down.” BDAG 815 s.v. πίπτω 1.b.α.ב has “fall down, throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion, before high-ranking persons or divine beings.”
c. Are we here to worshipping God in reverence?
d. Listen, I also have no problem with hand raising in worship but know what that means. What does that mean? It means surrender. We are surrender to Jesus and we raise our hands surrendering and exalting Jesus.
e. These wise men, or magi were wealthy, very wealthy and very wise and they surrendered and bowed down to a toddler.
f. My toddler wants me to surrender to her, but Jesus was and is worthy.
g. Whether we bow down or not, are we surrendering?
h. Are we metaphorically bowing down when we sing songs to God? What about when we pray to God?

Linus didn’t miss Christmas. Listen:
Play clip from the Peanuts.
This dog didn’t miss Christmas:

John 3:16 for God so loved you that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Do you believe that? It is something amazing! This is something to worship about every day.
Pray

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)