Posts Tagged With: Revelation

Job: Cursed Work or Blessed Service

A job is a source of great travail and trouble;
“J.ust O.ver B.roke,” by some accounts,
yet near enough to feel the pangs of hunger.
Driven on by some invisible quest for significance
or trying to work the wa up the trickster’s ladder to God’s throne room
or slaving to please the closest Eve who insists
that the land east of Eden not be left to thorns and thistles.
So the sod buster, dandelion hunter, tree trimmer
putters around his personal paradise
muttering about the myopic vision of yard maintenance.

Then the sun begins to set, evening fades, and he realizes
he has been in the presence of God.
Not quite walking in the cool of the eve as man once did,
But unashamed, he lays down his tools, washes his hands,
as he pursues some just desserts.
Quietly, he gratefully tastes ice cream
and is glad that his wishes are heard.
He whispers petitions for precipitation, prosperity, and planetary peace.
He wanders calmly home in comfortable weather,
The clouds draped over the starry portals
Yet the veil is torn.
Love is celebrated in a simple meal and evening nap.

Dreams return, age accumulates,
and all the routines must be recycled,
seasons sprinkled with grace,
and love beheld face to face.
The curse is lifted as the cross is embraced
No longer serving self
But blessed as the book of life is dusted off the shelf.
(A revelation praise song erupts that I am not permitted to record here.)

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No God But One: Book Review

(Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of this book for review.)

One thing that struck me as I read this book was the compassion and profound insight simply stated. The whole discussion of the book is framed as one would expect to occur between friends who care deeply about each other. Since much of the book reflects the conclusion of faith that Nabeel Qureshi came to as a result of an ongoing dialogue with his debate partner, it should not surprise the reader that the format is somewhat similar to a debate where a question and counter question is posed in each of the dialogues on various topics related to Islam, such as the difference between Islamic law (Sharia) and the grace of God found in the Gospel of Christ.

While this may sound old hat to someone who grew up in the church, when a person discovers that the reality that God is love and all of the diverse implications of this, whether in the arena of theology proper (including the meaning of the trinity and how the doctrine of the trinity is the way of describing God that most honors the Creator) or in the area of an understanding of violence in the history of Islam and the Christian Church (When did Christians start fighting wars? years after they were first called Christians and the empire was converted en masse.)

It becomes very clear through the reading of this book that not only does Nabeel have a clear knowledge of the basic issues related to Islam and Christianity, their similarities and differences, but he also loves both Muslims and Christians. Even though some Muslims may misunderstand the motives for why a truth seeker would embrace Jesus and the church and even though some who grew up with Christian traditions may question whether this is truly possible, Nabeel manifests an irenic spirit throughout, and confesses that he has not always behaved as the best example of Christianity after having chosen to identify with the Lord Jesus.

People need to hear these sorts of questions: questions that are centered not so much on the historic truths of the Gospel, and the verifiable & life transforming factual truths of the crucifixion, the resurrection and Jesus’ claim to deity; rather Questions that are centered on the sincerity and depth of our understanding & obedience to those truths.

Are we willing to seek to truly understand the truth?
Are we willing to suffer for what is true?
How much are we willing to suffer?

The good news is a life and death issue. The Gospel cost Jesus’ His life and frees us from our deadness. When we see the extreme love of God, we will be awakened to delight in our Creator, as a maiden delights in her groom when she realizes that not only is He a noble person, but that he truly does delight in her.

May you be awakened to the First, the Ultimate, the Supreme Love of the Author of Life.


Categories: Book Review, Good News, Islam, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God unveils Himself through creation

Read Genesis 1-2 here:

Throughout we will look at who God is, but notice He reveals, or unveils, himself through creation. The purpose of creation was not for God to hide Himself and be unspoken of in regard to what exists, but so that He might be more fully known & seen.

Our purpose for learning is not just to learn and know what is right and wrong, what is good for us and what is bad for us by experience and experiment. The goal of science is to know God. Creation exists because God existed first. So, let us step back a moment and consider: our goal is not just to know ourselves, but the God who is intimately concerned with out wellbeing. The God who made us the way we are is a little bit of what we will look at this week, with the hope that we will learn a little more about how to live well in His light.

1. God is. God was. God will be. He is not a what, but a holy Who.

2. Who is this God exactly? He has a voice and His Word creates. God is reasonable and logical. The Word, the Express Image of God was there in the beginning. The Word interacted with creation, bringing light and life and love into where and who and why we are.

3. The breath of God, or the Spirit of God, brooded over the earth. The Wind of God blew over the earth. God is spirit. The Spirit is needed for a new work of God to start.

4. God gives light at the start of a new work. Indeed, whenever a new advance of the Kingdom has been given, it started with light shining in a chaotic culture. God brings truth to bear in our abode.

5. God is wise. He knows how to differentiate the diversity of life and inorganic forms. He does all things well. When he is finished, it is very good.

6. God is good. Everything that God made was good, therefore, we can know that God is good. It requires a good person to make something good.

7. God is persons, and not just a singular person. He said, Let US make man in our image. for God to say US and our (singular) image, implies that God is one God, one character, but a plurality of persons: God Himself, the Voice & Expressed Thoughts of God, the Breath of God.

8. God is not ashamed. We should not be ashamed of God. We never need to doubt God. God never doubted Himself. After all, there is no reason to doubt life or doubt goodness or doubt love.

9. God is alive and wanted life to flourish. God had thoughts and opinions and a voice and breath and gave life to the man and woman and gave gifts to the human race. God created and formed and fashioned and spent time with man in the garden. God made beauty and is therefore beautiful and majestic. Allah al-Majd.

10. God is love. How do we know God is love? The word love is not even mentioned? It is clear: God gave. To love is to give. God gave His life to the mankind. We are made in the image of God and are meant to bear His life within us. We are not meant to be a dead image, but to be a living image, walking with God, working with God, worshipping God.

Do you worship God? Do you ever step back from life and rest and reflect on the character and nature of God? Do you ever consider all that God has done and give thanks? Oh, what a loving Father we have! He sent His Son Jesus to die for you so you could live. HE died so that you could live. How loving is that? HE made the sacrifice. Stop trying to sacrifice yourself for God. Let Him give himself to you. God is a self-sacrificing God. The Lord is a self-expressing God. We reflect His glory.

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8 Blessings of the Revelation of Jesus

Does this picture of judgments scare you or compel you to cling to Christ?

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, you will find a lot of judgment, but the real purpose of the book is to bless.

Like a surgeon doing open heart surgery, Jesus in Revelation opens your heart to see how willing you are to be changed by His message. If you submit to His work, you get a new heart and the nations are purified in God’s presence.

So let’s march through these blessings to see how we can be blessed (Holman Christian Standard Bible used throughout):

1. Revelation 1:3 “The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep by obeying what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near!”

This verse actually has 2 blessings, a double blessing, for the readers/hearers/obeyers of the Prophecy of Jesus. Jesus could come at any time he wants.  Right in the intro, Jesus wants his people to realize that.  Sure, he’s been gone a while, but he is working on a big city as the Architect and Builder and Carpenter from Nazareth who is God.  Whenever God gives a double blessing, it means that that person is a leader in the house and a special heir. Do you want to inherit a blessing from the Lord? Do you want to bless others? Then you need to pay attention to the Bible, and Revelation especially. To understand Revelation requires that you read through the Whole Bible and grasp the message of the Holy Faith. It is not for simpletons, but for those who come as obedient children, ready to do the will of the Father in the world.

2. Revelation 14:13 I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

The context of this is that some serious judgment has already passed. The Lord’s work has built up some momentum. A harvest is coming in the next few verses.  Some think the Harvest is of judgment, some think the Harvest speaks only of evangelism.  The reality is that God’s evangelical Harvest  often best takes place in times of severe judgement. 
When people are distraught over Hurricane Sandy, the real work is not the re-installation of heat and electricity, but the reconnecting of people to the grace of the Lord Jesus. Plug into the Lord and you will be warm within. Even if you die, your work will carry on. How does that happen? Replication and multiplication. When we seek first the Kingdom of God & His Righteousness and lay down our lives for it, the storms of the world are nothing. Hell holds no terror for the saint who is safe in the Savior. We can rest at night if we rest in the Lord.

3. Revelation 16:15 “Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.”

Laodiceans were naked and unalert. Much of the church today is unalert and unprepared for the Lord’s return. Do you want the Lord to come while you are having an adulterous affair or sodomizing or fornicating with someone? I sure hope not. The thought should be putrid to your thoughts. I think of the paparazzi. Do you want the eyes of the world to glare at your sins on the last day? Then guard your robe of righteousness by repenting of & confessing your sin immediately. Actually, while we are on the topic, flee from sin! Avoid tempting situations. Guard yourself. Take precautions. Be accountable. Don’t ruin your life. Be pure. It is interesting: Jesus who was anointed by a sinful woman and spent time with single and sinful women often, even alone at times in the record of Scripture, NEVER SINNED. There are #NoShortcuts. Don’t compromise. Don’t be paranoid and isolationist, but be honest with yourself and don’t think you are somehow immune to temptation. Be humble & pure and you will be safe as a new penny in a vault with one Banker.

4. Revelation 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are blessed!”* He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” [*literal Greek rendering]

So there will be a marriage between the Lord Jesus & His people one day. We will celebrate the most profound, intimate union ever. To clarify any misconceptions, this is not going to be like a Chinese Buffet, where everybody loads their platees up with all the finest meat dishes to get the most out of their price paid. No, Jesus paid the price. He clothes the attendees with His own Righteousness. He satisfies our longings. There will not be 72 virgins for every valiant martyr! There will be one Lord for all: Jesus. And He is for all as well as over all. You can take it as a 100% verified fact that you will be happy when you realize you have been invited to celebrate with Jesus. Imagine: seeing God, touching God, tasting His goodness, smelling the aroma of His favor!  God is good all the time, and there will be a time when we will always be aware of God’s goodness.

5. Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

This is a specific blessing, hence the word “one.” This is for those who not only believe, but also keep the word. This is the theme throughout Revelation. Not just input into the person, but an output of love and life from the person. When Light begins to shine from a person’s life, then death is defeated in them.  They will one day worship and govern with Christ Jesus, Messiah and Lord.  This will last for 1,000 years. Now some will debate whether or not that is a literal period of time.  More important than that is that this is the first resurrection. If you are a doubter and don’t want any share in the first resurrection, then you can be part of the second (and last) resurrection. – The first is to life. The second is to death. Personally, God is in charge of making people live 1,000 years if that is His will. However, I want life, so I would like to be part of the holy resurrection of the faithful that will happen first. I want to be a leader, not a loser. You lead by following Jesus closely. You don’t lead by reading books and blogs on leadership and making strategic plans and executing goals and making lots of money and being persuasive. There are not seven habits of leaders nor is there a new book you can compose or compare to make you an effective leader before God. You must simply make it your habit to worship God now and govern your life according to the Word of God. You may never be popular now. You may be a secret saint known only by those who despise you. But if you are faithful, if you follow Jesus, you will lead.

Here, we must make a clarification. Many christians today are old covenant christians. They want all the blessings now. They want to be the head now (not the tail). They want to prosper now (not face debt and poverty). They pray only for temporal blessings.  They love money, health, wealth, prosperity and comfort.  They avoid persecution at all costs. They never speak up for Jesus, but for blessings.  They claim to be blessed. And if you looked at their situations, you would see why.  But the Bible is clear: the wicked prosper now. The wicked are comfortable now. The wicked are in power now. The saints are waiting for a more distant day. Oh, I fear for many leaders who impose old covenant elementary principles upon their people but do not point to the Principal of Peace. They will be disturbed on this last day. They lead now and will lose later. They love high places. They love to be prominent. They love positions of power. Woe to them!! They lead others into sin and go headlong into hell.  The make deals with the devil and will have no place in God’s court. May God be gracious to me and keep me from being puffed up in pride, but walk low in love at all times. May we inherit this blessing. The Bride of Christ is rejected by the world and betrothed to the Heavenly King. The Beloved of the Lord is hated by the world. May I find my place with her so that with her I may be glorified as one of God’s chosen people.

6. Revelation 22:7 “Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.”

I will give you a picture. I never know when I need access to the Bible, so I try to keep a small copy of the Word with me at all times. I try to hide God’s word in my heart, because I may need a verse to encourage a struggling soul. We cannot predict when we will need the prophetic word. BUT, if we guard the words of prophecy with our life, our life will overflow with prophetic words. Our lips will not tell lies, rather our hearts will be a library of love and devotion to the Lord. This is not just for preachers and professionals, this is for all saints. This is for you. God is speaking to you! This is your job. This is the 6th or 7th blessing, depending on how you count. It is man’s task to guard the Word and it is a perfect aim in life: to obey the prophecy of Scripture. This completes our work: to obey the Word of God with faith. Period.

7. Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

Ah, so here we rest: clean and complete. Right at the throne of God. This is where the first Sabbath fell short: they did not eat of the tree of life. They chose knowledge. The Word of God is not about Knowledge, it is about obedience. It is life. The Lord speaks … We live. Jesus died on the tree. We live by participating in that cross, that rugged tree. Denying self and entering into the community of the redeemed, from every nation, tribe, language, people, and kingdom. People will stream from every direction. But they will head to Jesus. People will have labored in many different fields, but there is One who is our Rest, our Cleansing, our Hope. Come however you may, but when you approach the presence of God and the people of God, clean up your life. Do it now. Do it today! Don’t waste years on drink and drugs, lusts and pride, greed and your own needs. Jesus will meet your needs if you bring them to Him. He will satisfy you. Come. Come! COME!!

8. Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen

While this does not literally have the word blessing in it, it is actually the substance of all the other blessings: The aim of the revelation is for Jesus Himself to be with the saints, the holy ones, those who are set apart for God’s purposes. So the question is: are you set aside for God’s purposes? Are you a saint? What is your core identity? Will you endure the endearing Word of God long enough to realize that the “harsh” words are there so you can truly receive the good Word with a sincere heart? I have focused on the “sweet” words in Revelation here. Let me encourage you to read through the whole book soon.

As we approach the end of the calendar, try reading through the end of the Bible (Revelation/the Apocalypse) and hang in there. Try seeing what the end of the world holds. History will come to a close one day, it would be a good idea to read ahead to the end. Claim your blessing by reading and applying to yourself the Word of God. I’ve done this at least once a year now for quite a few years. I’ve never been disappointed by the Lord.

I hope you find comfort in the words of Life.

Categories: Good News, Humility, Rest | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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