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!

 

 

 

Spiritual Warfare Bible Sudy “LIVE”

Click this link to watch tonight’ Bible Study “https://new.livestream.com/accounts/5288767/events/2460756/feed_embed?

Just click the highlighted area and you will be on our Livestream broadcast page. All participants and followers can join for free.

Let me know if you have any questions at 800-992-0369

The Power of Friendship Conference-Phoenix February 8th

If you live in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler areas, grab your friends and join us on Saturday, February 8th for a day of fun, fellowship and friends. Learn what it means to be a friend of God and friends with each other. Tickets are on sale now. REGISTER HERE  Give us a call at 800-992-0369 and visit www.FriendshipConference.com for all of the details.

 

Would You Like to Volunteer?

In your anger, do not sin. Ephesians 4:26

What in the world does that mean? Where does “anger” fit in the
list of the fruit of the Spirit?

We could say that getting that angry quenches the Spirit and
takes away your peace so it must be bad. But what kind of anger doesn’t do
that? Today, I got so angry that I saw red and started shaking. Anger is one
thing but does the Lord call “seeing red and shaking with anger” sin?

If I think about the many verses that deal with God’s anger,
we could say that He saw red too as the mountain in Exodus burned with fire.
Moses was definitely furious when the people grew impatient and they started
worshiping the golden calf. Personally, if you remain with the Lord and keep
His perspective through the circumstance as you continue to represent Him,
anger is not sin.

If the anger causes you to run off at the mouth, lose self
control and only represent the things you want to say and do, we have crossed
over to being angry and sinning. Yes, this definition is definitely simplistic.  When it comes right down to it, there are a
few things to remember when (not if) anger happens:

  1. Ask God to help you maintain self control right
    at the time your anger flares.
  2. Remove yourself
    to honestly pray for His perspective on the situation.
  3. Go to the Word of God for wisdom.
  4. Lose the emotion before you try to communicate
    your point of view.
  5. Ask the Lord to help you communicate His heart
    on the matter
  6. Pray to not keep records of wrong regardless if
    there is an apology or not.

We are responsible for our behavior, not others. We are
accountable before the Lord on how we handle the situation and then how we
decide to resolve it.

As for me, I need a few days to get appropriate perspective
on this issue. I have to say that it would have been much easier to go from a
business to be called into ministry. Why did the Lord desire for us to do
ministry and then be called into business?

A club or a church?

Yesterday, I was talking with a woman who was explaining to me why she left a certain church. She basically felt like she could not bring others to her church because they would be judged for their appearance and lifestyle. She felt like her church was more like a club than a church. If she did not feel comfortable bringing a seeker to that church, then she felt she needed to change churches.

I hear this kind of complaint a lot. It is as if people are asking for their church to represent the Love of Christ but not the Laws of Christianity. Are some churches more like clubs today? Clubs attract likeminded people: people to be a certain way, live a certain way, act a certain way and pay their bill.

I used to frequently go to a tennis club during my high school years. I was not a member but a guest. However, I do remember that one of my peers was a member who broke his foot. After a while, he felt uncomfortable hanging out at the club because his injury prevented him from doing club events. It is funny to think that a nonmember would be more comfortable than a paying member. Christians sometimes feel the same way. If you are hurting, struggling, actively sinning or sense a lack of victory, you might feel like you do not belong for a season.

Just know that we are saved not because of our righteousness but because of Christ extending His righteousness to us. Jesus welcomed failures and those who were honest about their shortcomings. Jesus accepted all types, at all places. Who did He reject?

Even if you are in that season right now, remember that the Lord never leaves you or forsakes you. Just because people might disappoint you, the Lord knows and understands. Continue to turn to Him. Get your eyes off of others and on to Him. Only He can heal you and save you from yourself.

As for the church club thing, it is nice to sense the feeling of belonging. There is nothing wrong with being with likeminded people. If you do not feel welcomed at a certain church, the issues might not be the church but that it is time for you to make a change. God is not limited to places, times or events. Go where He leads and brings others with you…

Do Not Judge!

My children have attended a Christian school from preschool until present. My oldest is now in a secular college and doing just fine. When I think back to my high school years, I used to say that I would not send my children to a Christian school because I basically did not like the attitudes of my peers who attended the Christian school. In general, they seemed to be content with the culture of Christianity instead of having a real relationship with the Lord. They seemed to look to each other for their convictions instead of looking and asking the Lord. They acted a lot like my children and their friends today who attend Christian school.
I have had plenty of years to think about this…especially during reenrollment each year. I think the cultural thing does have more to do with being a second generation Christian. While reading Deuteronomy 11:2, Moses said, “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…” First generation Christians experience a different revelation from the Lord as they know the difference between their life of bondage and God’s outstretch arm to save them personally from it. The first generation Christian has habits, thoughts and patterns to still overcome as they are too familiar with the ways of the world and now changed by the Lord. The second generation Christian tends to be more refined in behavior and seems to act more in line with good Christian behavior.
From God’s point of view, He looks at the heart. We tend to judge by mere appearance and attitudes and lifestyle choices. We have to remember that God honors the man who cannot lift his head to heaven because of the guilt and shame over the self-made religious man who is thankful that he is not the other man. It all comes down to humility in heart. The Lord does not ask us to humble ourselves before man but before Him. That humility starts with salvation and continues through the sanctification process. Repentance remains for the rest of our lives. Repentance is not a one-time thing. I really believe that we will be surprised when we see who God allowed into heaven and I am very thankful that I am not in a position to judge!

Spiritual Warfare Study

Spiritual Warfare Bible Study - CLICK to Learn MORE!
Spiritual Warfare Bible Study - CLICK to Learn MORE!

During this spiritual warfare study, we have heard many women ask, “Can Satan read your mind? Does Satan put thoughts in your head? Should I pray out loud?”

The Bible does not clearly address all that Satan can and cannot do to instruct us specifically on these questions. However, we do know that Satan is a created being and is not equal with God. We also know that all authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18) If we know the Lord, His Spirit lives within us and we too have the ability to stand firm against evil.

Our troubles do not necessarily have to do with Satan directly as much as living in the world. Ephesians 2 says that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, (“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…”) so obviously his influence is all around us. However, Jesus prayed that we would be kept from the evil one in John 17. I do believe that God the Father heard the Lord and answered His prayer. So what’s the problem?

We have had the world in our minds for a long time. We live in the world and we have learned to think like it. God works from the inside and fills our hearts but we have allowed the ways of the world to be inside too. The only way to have the mind of Christ is by changing the way we think, renewing our minds through the word of God. It is an active process, not passive. Studying and reading the Bible is so important to counteract the ways of the world. That is the problem with living in the world; we become more like it because we adapt without effort.

As for praying out-loud, there are many amazing prayers that were prayed out-loud in the Bible: Ezra, Solomon, David, Jesus… God hears your prayers in whatever means you pray. I do think that when we pray out-loud, we are more focused and more specific and more serious.  Personally, I have seen God move through my “out-loud” prayers in amazing ways, maybe because I am also more desperate.

Reciting a Verse or Receiving a Promise

“God made promises to Abraham and He made many promises to many people in the Bible. How is it that we (me, you, or anyone in modern times) can claim a promise, if it was said to another person in a specific circumstance in the Bible? I often do this and even insert my name into a scripture, but why do I do this? How does it become my promise?”

A friend of ours sent this question to us after reading one of our online Daily Disciples Devotionals. I love this question because I do believe many of us today become confused between reciting Bible verses and receiving Bible verses. When we recite a Bible verse, it is for our strength and focus and encouragement. So, when I am feeling weak, I might have read that morning, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. But God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…” 1 Corinthians 10:13. We can recite this over and over to get us through difficult times. We also find that other people may quote (or recite) these kind of verses to us. Not necessarily because they were given by God specifically but the verses are general encouragements. Obviously, the Holy Spirit does what He wants but I find that the verses we are reciting over and over to ourselves are more of the immediate relief and not necessarily a personal, long term promise.

Promises are different. A promise is something that we receive from the Lord. These promises are given to strengthen our faith and the promise usually has to do with a long term vision or goal that God has placed on your heart.  When reading about God’s promise to Abraham, it took 25 years for Isaac to be born. The promise was very tangible but associated with a very long wait. God loves faith and for faith to be developed, it needs to be tested. Faith takes patience, perseverance, endurance, long suffering and plants a deep seed inner joy. I have found that God has given promises to me when the road was going to be the hardest. He speaks louder when it takes more trials and time to accomplish the promise.

How can we claim Abraham’s promise for us today? The Bible is written for us to understand the ways of God.  As we see how God worked in Abraham’s life, we start learning how He will work in our lives too. God has given promises since the beginning of time and He does not change. He is a promise-giving God. He does speak to His people and He does place desires on their hearts and He does lead His people and He does keep His word (John 10).

Pray for discernment in knowing the difference between receiving a promise or reciting a promise. There is a difference and many Christians have become stumbled by their interpretation of what they wanted God to say instead of what God was saying.

It is His game. Look, Learn, Listen and Let Him the God who gives the promise as well as fulfill the promise. We just need to be obedient and Faith-full.

me, me, me

I got an email asking me to address a common problem women face, as evidenced even in Church. She wrote:

“Just curious do have do any teaching on “it’s not about you, its about God”…. I so just want women to not boast about self or what they do for others or God for that matter….I would like it all to be about Him, the One we serve.  I don’t mean to give a poor impression of the women of our church, I see this in a lot in women in general.  To me it seems we could do so much more for the Lord, if we used that extra time we now may spend on me, me, me.”

I loved her question especially as we are getting ready to teach on My Identity in Christ. For years and years, my walk with the Lord was all about me and Him. Oh I loved being used by the Lord and I was more than willing to talk about it openly. During that time, I know that I must have offended many of my Christian peers which is very funny because I spoke this way to my nonChristian friends too. They were not offended. Matter of fact, as a result of my openness, many of my unbelieving friends became believers because they appreciated the passion and the conviction I had in knowing and believing God loved me.

Many Christians however didn’t appreciate it. Tell you the truth, I didn’t notice. They seemed so unhappy that I didn’t want to be like them any way. It definitely was about me, me, me and doing all these things with God and because of God. I believed that God clearly told us in the Bible that He is in us and wants to move through us that I didn’t see it as a problem to share that truth.

When did I change? Through a very difficult time of testing. I grew out of my 10 year honeymoon period with the Lord when I became stumbled by God’s ways. I didn’t see Him working things out like I thought He should. I put my eyes on the things of earth instead of maintaining a faith and trust in sovereignty. I was stupid. I was wrong.

I think I have more trouble with Christians who try to proclaim some false humility. I hear more women say things like, “Oh, I just want to be humble. I am just going to wait for God because I don’t want it to be about me. Oh, if God wants this to happen, then He will let me know.” This kind of thinking has become a way of apathy and complacency when God has already given us all things and told us to “Go and preach…” I do appreciate the Christian who is really trying to be used by God and desires to see God in all things even if they do not communicate it in a socially acceptable manner.

Now, let’s examine the other side. What if the person is really hyperfocused and their heart/words clearly are about “me, me, me?” Let me tell you, God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart and in His time, He has a way of humbling us for our good.  We do not need to do it for Him and we don’t need to judge those who haven’t been humbled yet! But the person who is trying to seek, trying to learn, trying to trust and boasts about it…well, more power to you! Jeremiah 9 says it this way, “23This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

More Christians need to get acquainted with the power of the Lord. More Christians need to understand who they are in Christ. Why? Because testing times will come. When it’s all said and done, we might find ourselves doubting, having great sorrow and embarrassed by our lack of faith, but God will bring to mind all those prior years of His faithfulness to get us back up and speaking back out about His goodness. I regret ever turning from the Lord and I pray that I may continue to teach others about how much God loves them so that the knowledge of their identity in Christ keeps them grounded until they meet Him face to face.

Thanks for the email…I get what you were asking but yes…we are going to be teaching the book of Ephesians, My Identity in Christ, which could be summarized by the saying, “it’s not about me but about YOU–GOD who loves me, me, me through it all.”

Ephesians study starts Monday, March 8 in person in Carlsbad and Tuesday, March 9 via webcast. Sign up now through our website at www.dailydisciples.org or calling 888-727-7206.  You will change when you find your identity in Christ.