How is Revelation Applicable?

While attending Point Loma College in 1983, I remember my New Testament Professor, Dr. Reuben Welch, asking the class consisting of mostly Freshmen students, “How many of you believe Jesus will be returning in your lifetime?” At least ¾ of those in attendance raised their hands. He then said, “I don’t.” I remember thinking, “That’s because you are a lot older than us. We have a better chance of being raptured out.” At that time, my only interpretation was seeing the Book of Revelation through the lens of a Pre-Tribulation conviction, awaiting and proclaiming the return of Christ as imminent, holding to a belief that the prophecy of Revelation is yet to come. The Left Behind Series helped solidify my conviction.

However, I am now enrolled in a Revelation class for Seminary. We were assigned to read a novel called “The Lost Letters of Pergamum” by Bruce Longenecker. The novel is based on a fictional relationship between a nobleman named Antipas who is a Roman unbeliever and Luke (the writer of the Gospel according to Luke and the Book of Acts). Through letter writing, Luke is patient and respectful to answer Antipas’ questions about Jesus and His anti-Roman message. I didn’t understand the severity of Jesus’ message to the Romans until seen through the eyes of an unbelieving Roman (Antipas).

Roman Emperors expected those under their rule to revere them in worship and honor as equal to their gods. In the Roman Empire, an atheist was defined as a person who did not believe the emperor was god. As Christians today, we understand that the Jewish religious leaders could not embrace Jesus proclaiming His equality with their God. However, do we realize that the Roman Emperors held the position of “god” as well? Jesus’ presence and message threatened both the Roman and the Jewish rule. To believe in Jesus Christ was to completely go against the pattern of all establishment at that time. Many Christians died as atheists. We have clearly come a long way in definitions.

The Book of Revelation gives the people hope to continue to believe despite what they see and hear. That is applicable! The Book of Revelation was for its present time as much as it is for us today. From chapter 1, John (the author of Revelation) writes that he is a “companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.” (v. 9) John has been exiled to Patmos because of his belief in Jesus Christ and understood the horrid suffering and persecution of those who shared in his belief. When understanding the extent of torture by the Romans, it is understandable why the New Testament writers continually preach, “the time is near.” (1:3) Why near? To provide hope that God sees the cruelty of man, God will judge the wicked who are blinded to the truth and Jesus will return to set things right. I believe that is why each of the seven churches is told that God sees their areas of strengths, weakness, loyalties and compromises. He wants them to live fully and completely committed to His will regardless of the culture, the persecution or the presence of Satan. That message is the same today.

By Revelation 6:9-11, John describes “the altar [of] the souls of those who had been slain because” of their testimony and they were calling out to God “how long” until this is over? This period of time definitely represents the prayers of the first century Christians of John’s day. They wanted God to intervene and put an end to the blame game (i.e. crazy Nero’s fires) and the horrific murders but the answer was “to wait a little longer” until more were killed. Because of the hardness of the unbelieving hearts, the penalty of disagreeing with the Roman rule was ruthless and tortuous. Innocent blood was shed with an audience approval as an arena filled with observers enjoyed the entertainment of it. No wonder the Book of Revelation is written graphically with a sense of intensity and urgency.

I didn’t realize how much the Book of Revelation has a message of comfort and counsel for the reader; some day, the Beasts will be destroyed, Babylon will fall and God will have the final authority and rule. Some day, heaven will descend to earth and there will be streets of gold and trees of life in its midst. Some day, God’s light and peace will reign and there will be no more tears. Regardless of the timing of its fulfillment, this message brings comfort to the suffering, counsel to the persecuted, hope to the hopeless and strength for us all to endure until the end.

The book of Revelation was written for every generation, starting with the first century church. Through the gift of interpretation to understand and comprehend the Scriptures with the wisdom and knowledge of the Holy Spirit, we are able to apply the prophecy throughout the years.

In addition, I hate to admit it but I am now at the age of Dr. Reuben Welch when he asked the class if Jesus was returning in our lifetime. Maybe the change of my convictions has something to do with being a lot older now too!

 

 

 

…the God of Hope…

Because the Power of Hope Women’s Conference is approaching, I have been praying a lot about Hope. What is our definition of hope? What is God’s definition of hope? Hope is not a fruit or a gift of the Spirit. So how do we have it, keep it, get it? Can we “hope” that our prayer will be answered? Does our hope waver when we discover God did not answer our prayer?

President Obama ran his campaign using the word “hope,” which makes hope seem subjective as we can make it be whatever we want. But the Apostle Paul obviously believed hope was objective as he states that there are three components for life and godliness, “Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest of these is Love.” Love is tangible to those who love; faith is definitive by acknowledging God through prayer, but hope is more evasive even though it makes the top three.

John the Baptist had hope in Jesus the Messiah who baptized with fire, which was greater than his water baptisms. However, when John the Baptist found himself in jail for speaking the truth, his hope of who he wanted Jesus to be and what he wanted Jesus to do for him wavered. He suddenly lost his hope because the circumstances did not pan out as he had hoped.

And what about us? What is our definition of hope? Do we maintain hope when all seems hopeless? Hope in what? Hope for what?

It is time to define “hope.” It is time to embrace hope as an attribute every person needs to breathe. It is time to be hopeful…not in something but in Someone. We have a future and a hope because Jesus Christ moves mountains in our lives even if He helps us to shovel the mountain away one pile of dirt at a time. Our hope is not in the changing of circumstances but in the unchanging, ever-loving God of all creation who can change us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Hope is an attribute of God. The more we seek God, the more we find Hope. If we stop believing in a loving God because of our circumstances, then we will become hopeless. Job became hopeless for a season but seasons change. It is best to Hope in God and seek the God of Hope who will fill you with joy and peace.

The Power of Hope Women’s Conference is being held in San Diego California on Saturday, January 30 from 9-4. Tickets are only $25, including lunch. Do you need hope? Do you know of someone who needs to hear about the message of hope? We not only hope so, we know it! For more information, go to www.dailydisciples.org

Nearby hotel reservations are available at a discounted rate. We HOPE to see you there!PowerofHopeLogo

Is there is a Right Position to Pray?

What is the position of our prayer life?

The position of prayer can be physical like on our knees or face down but let’s consider our spiritual position in prayer. Spiritually speaking, where are we positioned in Christ when we pray? Colossians 3 tells us we are seated in the “heavenlies”. Paul states that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father and we are now seated with Him. Then we are instructed to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.

If we took the mental position of setting our minds with Jesus seated in the heaven-lies and then look down on our lives from His perspective, what would we see? How would it impact our prayer life if we prayed for things from Jesus’s point of view? We would see things differently as a result of pulling ourselves out of ourselves to see:

  • how we are acting?
  • how we are communicating?
  • what buttons are being pushed that keep us troubled?
  • where are we getting stuck?

If we really understood our position in Christ, our prayers would change. We would not be so reactive but would be proactive to pray without the emotional pulls.

In prayer, we need to learn to see our circumstances from God’s perspective. We might then consider to stop praying about all the moving, distracting, emotionally draining things, and start praying for what Jesus wants for us and from us in any given situation. We might just see that the Lord does not want to change the situation but to actually change us.

The Difference between Men & Women in Broken Relationships

Bobbye and I asked a friend of ours to be interviewed on our daily radio show. Her name is Donna Scott and she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Today she came to our office for the recordings. Even though we know Donna, her kindness and sensitivity to share in her clients’ pain and then to wisely and calmly provide counsel to those in broken relationships amaze us. God is using her and mightily moving through her to repair broken hearts and mend broken relationships.

On a side bar conversation, I asked her what the biggest difference is between men and women when struggling in their relationship? Her answer may surprise you…

“When people come in to get healing help for relationship wounds, I notice a difference between the types of injuries found in men versus women in their moments of brokenness. As I counsel men, they generally tend to intellectualize their pain through interpreting life events. They typically sense that no matter what they do, it is not ‘good enough.‘ These feelings frequently create a sense of helplessness and futility. Unfortunately, it is usually manifested as anger or indifference to their partner. Women, on the other hand, are likely to experience their emotional hurt as ‘I’m not worth fighting for.’ This hurt results in lowering her sense of worth and security in the relationship. Her pain is sometimes displayed as anger or nagging. Neither understand that they actually have the same need in common; It is the longing to love and be loved by the one who matters most.”

We all want to be loved. We may not be very good at communicating how we want to be loved and we might not be very good at explaining why we are acting out or withdrawing but the bottom answer is the same.. to be loved. “For God so loved…” and because “God first loved us” we can love. I am certainly thankful our relationship with God is based on His love.

Donna Scott’s contact information is http://www.DonnaScottTherapist.com or (619) 500-4653. Calling her may be your first step in learning how to express love and how to receive love from God, others and yourself.

Thank you Donna for sharing your heart with us today and loving others through God’s gift of counseling.

Section from our Summer Newsletter

We all know that there are four seasons in this life and each season brings different life experiences. There are also seasons within each life. Sometimes we plant new activities and cultivate new relationships and sometimes we stop engaging with organizations or groups of people. We find ourselves in constant states of transition and seasons of life. Although change is good, it takes time to embrace the change.

A great example is smoking. Yes, it is a good change to stop smoking, but the season of breaking the habit is not good or easy. What will you do to replace the time and the activities associated with the habit? In time, the benefits far outweigh the habit but the season of stopping and quitting is difficult.

Why are we addressing transition in this summer newsletter? Primarily because we are about to transition from the season of summer to fall. Bobbye and I have heard many people say things like…”Maybe it will be better in the fall when Bible study starts up again” and “Maybe my life will be more organized in the fall.” We tend to look for the help to change as a result of the new season instead of realizing we are in continual seasons of change and need to look to the Lord daily for help.

I really believe the Lord is NOT as hard on us as we are on ourselves. Our expectations for ourselves are so unrealistic of what we want to accomplish or how great we want something to be that we set ourselves up for disappointment. Then, we do not realize that we project our expectations on to others and become angry and disillusioned when life is not what we expected.

This past year, Bobbye and I have been on national tour preaching and teaching the Gospel. The response has been the same at every city regardless of culture, denomination, age or background. But we have also noticed that the women’s struggles are the same too. We are expecting more from God than what He has already done for us. God has not placed a burden on us that we cannot handle and yet we expect God to perform miracles for us as if He is a genie wishing to grant our every prayer request.

At some point, prayer needs to bring us peace. We receive the peace of God that surpasses understanding when we pray. If we are not receiving His peace in prayer, we need to change our prayers. He is on the Throne. God is God and God will do what God does best despite our opinions of His timing and His ways. Our prayers will not turn a dog into a cat. We will not experience His peace in prayer if we expect God to submit to our ways and our timing.

Jesus knew His mission on earth. He was called to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world through His death. He was still praying immediately prior to his arrest for the Father to make another way. His prayer was not answered but He found the peace through prayer to walk out God’s will. There have been many things in mine and Bobbye’s lives we have begged God to change. Honestly, when I realized He was not going to intervene like I asked (even expected), I went through a season of anger, anxiety and living daily with a troubled heart. At some point, I realized God knows we will experience all these emotions but He wants us to know what to do with them..continue to talk it out with Him. He can handle our anger, our confusion and our disappointment. He is God and there is no other. No one else can give you answers or heal your inner soul. No parent, child, friend or counselor can repair your broken heart. And we need to remember…in life, we go through seasons.

There are seasons of questions and then seasons of answers. After wrestling for many months, God opened my mind and taught me a huge lesson, which brought His inner peace. I realized that Jesus is now in heaven interceding for us at the right hand of the Father; He is not in heaven today still complaining to the Father about the unanswered prayer on earth. The choice is ours: We can choose to be angry and bitter that God did not intervene the way we expected or asked. And those feelings can imprint on every changing season. We then can die in hopes to complain face to face to God (sounds ridiculous, but that is how we act). Or we can submit to God, like Jesus, and continue to love God, walk with God and bless others, through every seasons in life.

We, at Daily Disciples Ministries, say “THANK YOU!” for your continued prayers and support as we are continuing to grow and change through the seasons of life. Our true desire is to proclaiming the Gospel globally.That prayer is being answered but it’s not easy! And we cannot do it alone.

We know that God has called us as a body of believers to work together to accomplish the visions and tasks beyond ourselves. None of us can give something we do not have. We cannot continue to give without your support. Please prayerfully consider a donation of any amount today. God will multiply the fish and loaves but we have to be willing to give them to Him first.

We hope to see you soon!

Bobbye & Tonilee

P.S…if you would like to read the entire newsletter, please sign up at http://www.dailydisciples.org