Be An Overcomer

Revelation 1 3

The Old Testament has 17 books of prophecy (5 Major Prophets and 12 Minor Prophets).  It is here that God’s messengers gave many warnings of what troubles and destruction would come to those who didn’t repent and live a life pleasing to God.  Many (though not all) of the prophecies recorded in these books have already taken place: destruction of ancient Israel and Judah, restoration for a remnant and the coming of the Messiah.

Similarly, the New Testament ends with one book of New Testament prophecy –  the book of Revelation.  And in it we read many warnings to those who don’t repent, accept Jesus and live a life pleasing to God.  Most of the prophecies recorded in this book have yet to come: destruction of the ungodly, the 2nd Coming of the Messiah, and restoration for the godly in the Coming Kingdom.

God sends this series of revelations to John (by way of Jesus and an angel).  He writes of what must soon take place and says, “Blessed is the one who reads 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.” (1:3).

In chapters 2 & 3 the seven churches in Asia are individually commended for what they were doing right (hard work, perseverance, not tolerating wicked men, etc…).  And, they were then challenged to work on other issues which required repentance and renewed commitment to truth and purity (not allowing false teachers and immorality, etc…).  These words are very applicable to us today.  We would be wise to consider what we as a church are doing well, as well as what we need to repent of and change.  Each church is challenged to listen well to what the Spirit has to say to the church, and promised that overcomers would be rewarded.

Then the vision turns to the throne room of God where a lamb, looking “as it had been slain” (5:6) breaks 7 seals from a scroll unleashing war, famine, and other disasters on the earth.  A dragon and two beasts, allied against God, arise to demand the worship of earth’s people who have not been killed in the earlier catastrophes.  Seven bowls of the wrath of God (reminiscent of the plagues on Egypt) bring disasters such as darkness, the most severe earthquake ever and huge hailstones.  The upheaval destroys Babylon the Great.  Next, the heavens open and the Savior, Messiah, King Jesus, also called the Word of God, appears on a white horse ready to lead heaven’s armies in destroying evil.  For 1000 years Christ reigns on earth while Satan, “that old serpent” (20:2) is bound and kept from deceiving more.  At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released briefly to instigate a worldwide war, but never fear – it says as they surround the camp of God’s people fire from heaven will devour the enemy and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.  God unveils a new heaven and a new earth.  The new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and God will dwell with men.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (21:4).  There are so many more beautiful descriptions of the coming Kingdom on earth found in the last 2 chapters of Revelation.  It is truly something you don’t want to miss.  But, we know that many will, because of the decisions they are making today.

Just as Moses laid out for the people blessings and curses depending on what the people did, so too, John’s Revelation includes good news and bad news.  What will you do today to prepare for a Coming Kingdom?

Be an Overcomer

Marcia Railton

 

 

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Peace in Our Time

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Daniel 10-12

I am no expert on Biblical Prophecy, or on anything for that matter. So I’m not going to try to explain the prophecies in Daniel 10-12. Instead I want to share three things we can learn about God from Biblical Prophecy and three implications of those things for our own lives.

(1) Biblical Prophecy illustrates that God is not in time. This means that God is not bound by the same time constraints as we are. You and I can only deal with the present. We may have memories of the past and fantasies of the future, but we can see what is really happening only while it is actually taking place. God is not like this. He can see all of history at a glance; this is how He could reveal to people like Daniel the goings-on of the future.

(2) Because God is not in time He is the greatest of planners. The people we think of as planners (people like my wife) tend to have a focus on the future. This is why they plan—to be prepared for what is coming in the future. Since God can see the future He is able to plan things out in such a way as to generate best possible result. And because God loves us, those plans promote our welfare.

(3) Not only does God make plans, but those plans happen just as He promises. There are hundreds of prophecies throughout the Bible, some of which have already been fulfilled. Many of the prophecies in the Old Testament predicted that a Messiah would come. They foretold of the place of his birth, the characteristics that would define him, and the ultimate sacrifice he would have to make. When Jesus came, he was the embodiment of these promises—although many didn’t recognize this. When God makes a promise, you can bet your bottom dollar that He will come through.

(4) Because of God’s track record in promises department, we can trust that the prophecies in the Bible that haven’t yet happened will eventually happen. While it is very easy to lose trust in the empty promises of politicians, we can rest assured that God won’t let us down.

(5) Our trust in the promises of God should give us hope for the future. While the Bible does prophesy that in “the end” difficult and trying times will come, after that there will be no more pain, no more tears, and we will be with our God in His perfect Kingdom.

(6) What all this really means is that right now, in the time we are constrained to, we can live at peace. Despite the craziness of the world around us, however terrible and unbearable it may become, our hope can anchor us so that we can stand firm and live in serenity. So look at the promises God has made, see that He keeps them and that they are good, and live in peace, with hopeful expectation for the culmination of all the prophecies in the Bible.

– Joel Fletcher

From Dry Bones to Streets of Gold

Ezekiel 37-39

Ezekiel 37 amber 

Friday, March 31

What a powerful passage.  If you would like a visual of the valley of dry bones, I recommend checking out this minute and a half Youtube clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dafYxu8cQQ).

 

While we can pull out hundreds of things to say about this passage, I am going to stick to two simple ideas.  Ezekiel 37 acts as a double prophecy.  In other words, we can expect two different things to happen:

  1. God will restore Israel and make a nation again from the scattered people. He will bring his chosen people back to the promised land.
  2. God will establish His kingdom on Earth. We know that Jesus is coming back to Earth again to reign until God Himself reigns above all men.

 

We see in Ezra and Nehemiah that prophecy number one is fulfilled as the temple is rebuilt.  In the New Testament we also get a glimpse at prophecy number two.  When Jesus died on the cross we know that the curtain was torn and we have hope in the future Kingdom! After all, Jesus did preach most about the kingdom of God during his time on earth.

 

As my dad says, he has two major goals in life: 1. To be sure he maintains a strong relationship with God, and 2. To get as many people into the Kingdom as possible.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to live forever on the streets of gold glorifying God and Jesus all day long! How are you furthering the Kingdom cause through your everyday actions?

 

Revelation 21:1-4: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!” God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or morning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

-Amber McClain 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Christmas Story

Psalms 1-7

second-coming

Saturday, December 24

In our reading today, we enter into the book of Psalms.  To use an analogy, Psalms is probably like the collection of worship music that your worship team is using at church.  They were written to be set to music, have a variety of authors, covers a wide variety of themes and topics, and even have instructions to the “worship leader” as how (tempo, instruments, mood) many of these psalms should be played.  You will notice as you read throughout the book of Psalms there are lines, stanzas, and chapters that have found their way into the Christian worship (and even some secular music) of today.

One recurring topic, laced throughout the book of Psalms that fits our reading and the season, is the prophetic telling of a promised Messiah: his jubilant arrival, the long awaited Word of God becoming flesh.  The angels, the earth, the heavens, and every man had been created with a longing for this event and had waited its fulfillment (Colossians 1:15-20).  Sadly, much of the focus of this season has turned away from the telling of this story, and turned to other ones.  In many of the Christmas movies I know,  someone asks, “Who wants to hear the story of Christmas?”  The family patriarch takes a seat by the fire.  Children gather around at his feet.  Everyone quietly listens as the story begins.  “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…”  I sigh.  This is not the LIFE-ALTERING, SALVATION-BRINGING, PROPHECY-FULFILLING, HISTORY-CHANGING Christmas story I know, BUT there is a rivaling Christmas story that is equal, or even greater than the one we currently know about the humble beginnings of a baby in a manger. This story is made mention of in the Psalm 2:

“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.  I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” – Psalm 2:6-9

The first advent of Jesus Christ is the fulfilling of prophecy, but it is not complete; there is more to come.  There is a second advent of Christ.  He will come to earth not quietly in a manger, but as the King empowered by God Almighty.  EVERYONE will know of his arrival. To those who know Jesus, it will harken a time of great joy, restoration, and peace; however, the fulfillment is still not complete.

“Therefore, you kings, be wise;be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.  Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” – Psalm 2:10-12

 There is no justice in telling part of this.  For these wonderful things to occur sin, evil, and death must be destroyed, including those who do not give their lives to the King of Kings.  When all this has happened, the story is complete, and a new age and life begin.  If there is another story we tell at Christmas, let it be this one; the one that has power to bring everlasting joy, peace, salvation to all men.

-Aaron Winner