Reversed Thunder, Revelation chapters 8 and 9

Reversed Thunder, Revelation Chapters 8 and 9

Too many Christians feel they are failures because they fall short of the ideal of faith.

They lose a job and feel anxious; they go through health trouble and are afraid.  They are betrayed and they feel angry; a relationship fails and they feel depressed.

Christians often think that faith should keep them from all anxiety, fear, anger and depression.

Isn’t that what the Bible teaches?  We aren’t to worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:25

We know that love destroys fear. I John 4:18

Faithful people are never depresses (except for Elijah in I Kings 19) right?

Of course, faith is not a stoicism that accepts whatever comes without complaint or concern.  No, sometimes faith is tying a knot in the rope at the end of hope and just hanging on!

Faith is never easy and it is usually not neat; in fact, faith can get very messy! Just ask the Christians who lived under the Domitian holocaust at the end of the 1st century.

They believed in a God who reigns and in a Christ who died on a cross to save them.  That was their story, and they were sticking to it… and it was killing them.

They struggled for their faith in the midst of a messy world.  Hear the Martyrs in Revelation 6:10 “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

These early Christians were holding onto faith by their fingernails while they waited for their God to act.

Today we are in Revelation 8 and 9.  The seventh seal is opened which means the blowing of the 7 trumpets.

How we are going to work this is to look at the trumpets of chapter 8 and 9 first, and then move back into chapter 8 to understand what God wanted them to know, and for us to know from these symbols.

  1.  The Seven Trumpets: What John Saw

The imagery of trumpets makes us think of other trumpets in the Bible.  Remember Jericho in Joshua 6?  There were seven priests who blew seven trumpets, and the pagan city fell before the people of God.

Trumpets are found other places in the Bible.

The trumpets called Israel to war and to remind them of God’s deliverance.  Numbers 10:9

The trumpets were blown to begin the Year of Jubilee and to announce freedom to captives.  Leviticus 25:8.

The “Trumpet call of God” will announce the second coming of Christ. I Thess. 4:16

The trumpets of wrath from heaven here in Revelation pronounce woes upon the earth.

First: hail mixed with fire and blood that burns a third of the earth.

Second: a burning mountain that turns a third of the sea to blood.

Third: a star falls into fresh water and turns a third of the water bitter and deadly.

Fourth: the sun, moon and stars are struck and a third of the earth is darkened.

Fifth: a star falls and opens the Abyss to release a darkening smoke.

Sixth: the sound releases 4 angels that had been restrained at the Euphrates river.  They gather up others and kill a third of all mankind.

Seventh: we won’t hear it until chapter 11, but when it blows it is too late to repent.

What does all of this mean?

First, this is symbolic language depicting God’s judgment on the wicked.

Second, only a third of the earth is affected; this suggests that this is all God’s warning, not literal devastation.  The partial destruction here indicates God’s warning and a call to repentance.

Third, God’s call to repentance is ignored—Rome does not repent. Read Revelation 9:20-21. **

Do you know of people who refuse to take warnings seriously?  Rome did not take these warnings seriously and perished.

A little over 30 years ago Mt. Saint Helens belched gray plumes hundreds of feet into the sky.  It was obvious from scientific evidence that the volcano would soon explode. Warnings went out and people began to leave.

Harry though refused to budge.  Harry was the caretaker of the Spirit Lake recreation lodge, just five miles north of Mount Saint Helen.  The rangers warned him, neighbors begged him to leave with them. Harry’s sister called to try to talk some sense into his head.  Harry ignored them all.

On May 18, 1980, as the boiling gases beneath the mountain’s surface bulged and buckled the earth, Harry cooked his eggs and bacon, fed his sixteen cats the scraps, and began to plant petunias around the border of his freshly-mowed lawn.  At 8:31 am, the mountain blew up.

The volcano erupted with a force five hundred times greater than the nuclear bomb that leveled Hiroshima.  Millions of tons of rock disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud reaching ten miles into the sky.  Shock waves flattened everything for 150 square miles.  A wall of mud and ash fifty feet high flowed down the mountain side.

In the corner of Washington where he once lived, balladeers now sing about Harry, the stubborn old man who refused to heed the warnings.

  1. The Seven Trumpets: What We Missed

Let’s backup to get the rest of the story.

In Chapters 4 and 5 we witnessed the dramatic throne room scene where the hosts of heaven were worshipping God. This worship reaches a crescendo when the Lamb takes the scroll to open it.

Read 5:8 “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

Before the throne of God are bowls of incense that represent Christian prayers. Why is that important?

Look at the rest of the story, or the first of the story in Revelation 8:1-6.  (Read)

The importance of preparation is a keynote of Revelation 8:1-6.  God uses this section to prepare our minds for the blowing of the seven trumpets; in the same way, we need to prepare for every worthwhile task.

A powerful message on prayer is also imbedded in the passage. This text teaches that when Christians pray, not only does heaven listen, not only is heaven pleased, but heaven responds.

God answers our prayers.  Jesus said “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7).  James wrote “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”.  (James 5:16.

Revelation 8:1-6 prompted these comments on prayer by a variety of writers:

(Prayer is the Christian’s) one form of direct participation in the rule of God. (D. T. Niles)

The most powerful influence on earth is that of prayer; and there are no significant events of earth that do not sustain some relationship to Christian prayers, whether observable by men or not.” (Coffman)

(In the battle with evil,) the Christian’s secret weapon (is) the diving response to the prayer of faith. (Hailey)

(When trouble comes,) prayer…is the most practical thing anyone can do. (Peterson)

King David: from Psalm 55:2-6 “Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;”

 

Have you ever felt like David, completely overwhelmed by life?  What was David’s conclusion later in the Psalm?  “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

 

David understood the basic truths of our text: When God’s people pray, heaven listens, heaven is pleased, and heaven responds.

 

Accepting these truths will affect our lives.  One result will be that we will pray more.  Another result should be that we will examine our lives to make sure our relationship with God is right.

 

This is exactly what they needed to know.  This is exactly what we need to know.

 

Imagine how this war between Caesar and Christ looked to first century historians.  It seemed one-sided; Domitian made all the rules and the Christians did all of the dying.

 

But unseen by human eyes, the prayer of the saints went up to God as sweet incense.

 

Ok, but what good is prayer against the sword of a gladiator or the fangs of a lion?  We don’t read of any miraculous arena rescues; but what we do read about is how calmly Christians faced death!

 

Prayer was the power to face death.  One day, the thunder that was coming down on the saints reversed itself and began to fall on Rome.  God mixed the incense of prayer with His fire and poured His thunder upon the earth and Rome was destroyed.  .

 

Summary:

Revelation is a drama played out in two acts—one is seen by those on earth and the other is seen by those in heaven.

 

Much of the book contrasts what appears to be true on earth and what is really true in heaven.

 

These ragged Christians who faced death in the Coliseum looked weak and feeble.  But day after day the arena crowds were puzzled over two things even as they cheered the Christians to death.

 

First, why did Christians face death with not just courage, but peace and joy?

Second, why did these Christians go to their deaths on their knees in prayer?

 

What looked to the world like a futile and final act was in reality an act of power.  Their prayers would mix with God’s power to pour back upon Rome. The Ruins of Rome remind us not to underestimate the power of righteous prayer!

 

Our lives are also played out in two acts—one seen by earth and the other seen by heaven.

 

When the world sees our faith, we seem to be puny and powerless.  We don’t really have any political power, nor are we necessarily prominent.  Our values are devalued; our faith is said to be too narrow and intolerant.

 

But the rest of the story is still the best of the story.  We live and die on our knees.

 

The prayers of the saints still rise before God to be mixed with His grace, justice and power.  And those prayers are hurled back to earth to change things and make things better.

 

No, God doesn’t do all that we ask—just as He didn’t free the martyrs.  But just as He worked through them to change the world, so He can work in us.

 

Let us not despair that we are not making any difference in the world at all.  Maybe we don’t have all of the material resources available to us, maybe we don’t have all the power here on earth.

 

But when we go down on our knees and humble prayers go up to God, something happens.

 

God mixes our pleas and our petitions with power, and returns them with reversed thunder.

 

 

 

 

When Life Isn’t Fair: Joseph, Genesis 37

When Life Isn’t Fair: Joseph, Genesis 37

 

Read Genesis 37:3-11

Why did the older sons of Jacob come to hate Joseph?

First, Joseph gave a bad report of his brothers job as shepherds (37:2)

Second, Joseph was the favorite child (37:3-4)

Third, Joseph’s dreams that elevated him above his brothers. (37:5-9)

“The Story Unfolds”
Read Genesis 37:19-20

Problem: the younger is favored.

Solution: remove the threat.

When Genesis 37 ends, Joseph has been betrayed by his own brothers who actually threaten to kill him.  He is then sold to  slave-traders and taken in chains to a distant country where he knows neither the language nor a single person there.  He is totally alone and ignored.

“Life can be Unfair”

The child who is physically, sexually or emotionally abused.

The wife who is physically beaten and emotionally beaten down.

The husband who learns that his wedding vows mean to his wife “until I find someone better.”

An employee who gives years to the company only to be laid off near retirement.

“People who are Betrayed are Hurt”

Distress.  Betrayal compromises your way of understanding the world, and the pain that you feel is combined with bewilderment and isolation.

Loss of Trust. It’s not just hard to trust those who hurt you, it’s hard to trust anyone.

Need for Justice. Sometimes those hurt are obsessed with thoughts of revenge.

“Overcoming Betrayal”

We must remember that God is always with you.  Joseph was betrayed and sold as a slave, but the very next sentence is his story is, “The Lord was with Joseph.” Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but God was still God.  Every day he woke up as a slave was a reminder of how unfair life had become, but God still ruled over his life. Joseph was able to overcome his circumstance because he was able to understand that God still ruled over all circumstances.

Joseph no longer had his father, but God was still working in his life.

Paul assures us that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Not everything that happens to us is good.  But God can work to bless us in anything that does happen to us.

We must give up our fairness fixation and our desire for justice.  God is the God of justice, and eventually He will settle all accounts with an eternal finality.

Paul cautions us in Romans 12:19 “never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

“Justice verses Grace”

Does everyone receive the justice they deserve, or do some receive grace.

Psalm 130:3-4 “If you, O Lord, would mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”

Aren’t we glad that we can receive grace instead of what we deserve?

God’s work is to move you beyond the betrayal so that you can enjoy His presence and grace in your life today.

Summary

Read Jeremiah 31:12-14

How do we overcome the pain of betrayal? God has turned our mourning into dancing, and he did so through the greatest act of betrayal and injustice the world has ever known.

At the cross, God acted to turn our mourning into dancing.  We point to the cross and proclaim, “This is how we overcome!”

 

The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Revelation chapter 6 and 7.

RevelationThe Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Revelation Chapter 6-7  (To get a better understanding of what has been written here, it would be best if you stop and read over these two chapters)

Introduction: Martin Rinkhart was a Luteran pastor in Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War.  The town of Eilenburg was walled, and refugees fled there during the fightings.  Many died from the war, and many more of the disease that ravaged cities like Eilenburg.

In 1637, Rinkhart conducted some 4,480 funerals, 40 to 50 a day, including that of his wife.  By the end of the year refugees were buried in mass graves, basically long trenches.  But in 1636 he wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God.”  This is the first verse…

Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done
In whom this world rejoices;

Who, from our mother’s arms,
Has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

In the darkest of times for both himself and for his people, he writes a song of praise.  When many would give into complaint and bitterness, he is driven to give worship.  Rinkhart’s faith led him to sing about the sovereignty of God.  Even in the midst of war, sickness and death, it is God who still reigns over all.

The book of Revelation was written to people who were living through their own dark and difficult times. They weren’t just facing the storms of life, but the gale winds of disaster that was blowing their world apart.

The church of John’s Apocalypse was asking the questions, “What’s going on here?”

We like they need to remember the phrase in Revelation 17:14 “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

This proclaims the absolute sovereign reign of Christ and His victory over all.  It also promises that Satan will continually fight against Christ and His people.

Today we are in Revelation chapters 6 and 7.  Here the sealed scroll is opened, followed by 7 trumpets and 7 bowls.

The first four seals unleash Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Fifth seal shows martyrs under an alter asking “What is going on?”

The Sixth seal shakes the world, darkens the sun and there’s a bad moon on the rise.

This is dramatic and apocalyptic imagery for the worst of times.  And as the people of God were going through the worst of times, they needed to know some things about their God and their Savior Jesus Christ.

 The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse-Chapter 6 Read verses 1-8

As the first four seals are opened, each of the four living creatures says, “Come!” And in response to this command, four riders on four strange horses ride into the drama.

One rider is on a white horse; he has a bow and crown-he is a conqueror set on conquest.

One rider is on a red horse and carries a sword; he has the power to take peace from the earth.

One rider is on a black horse and uses scales to measure grain that is sold for an excessive price.

One rider is on a pale horse; this is Death and Hades follows.  He has the power to kill.

The four riders represent a natural progression—from conqueror to war to famine to death.  This is what has happened throughout history when man gives into his lust for power.

This is not so much a picture of what will take place.  Nor is this what did take place.  This is a description of what always takes place. (Mark Moore, How to Dodge a Dragon)

There are always conquerors that bring war; and that war always brings famine and death.  And so a question arises—one that surely arose in John’s day as well “Why does God allow them to ride?”  God does nothing without a purpose.  What was the Lord trying to communicate in the vision of the four riders?

  1.  One truth God wants us to know is that, as far as this world is concerned, the future will always be filled with tragedy.  The first four seals emphatically proclaim that a golden age will never occur.  The troubles surrounding us are evidence that we live in a sinful world.  The first sin (Genesis 3:16-19) brought the curse of thorns and thistles, sweat and suffering.  Man’s persistent sinfulness has continued to plague the earth.
  2. God also wants us to understand that, even if we are faithful, we will still have to face trials.  Turmoil, trials, and tribulations are the lot of all men, but Christians receive a double portion: Not only are followers of Jesus subject to the normal hardships of life, but they are also misunderstood and often persecuted for their faith.  The vision of the four horsemen is added proof that it is not easy to be a follower of Jesus.
  3. The main truth God wants Christians to learn from the first four seals is that He will always favor His troubled children.  Most of us already know that this world is filled with problems and that some of those problems are bound to spill over into our own lives.  What we need to remember is that God does not abandon us when problems come.

If we are not careful, when serious troubles come our way, we can become so absorbed in them that we lose sight of everything else: We can lose sight of the good in life, of other people who also have needs, and even of our God who loves us.

The language of 6:1-8 stresses that God is in control and is carrying out His plans and purposes.  At the heart of His plans and purposes is the desire to bless His people.  God loves us; He is on our side.

Long ago, God said to Moses, “I have certainly seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them” Acts 7:34.  God had that same sentiment in the first century, and He still has it today.

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse Today

There is a powerful message here for the church of today that we should not miss.  We need to be reminded of how powerful God is.

We must never think that God somehow retired from active involvement today.  God still rules over the four horsemen, and sometimes He rules through them.  He was God during Domitian’s holocaust; He was God during war and terrorist threats in our day.  God is still God even if our economy continues to fail and we fail as a country.

The Apocalypse tells the church then and now, “What a mighty God we serve.”

We look at the world like the first century Christians and say, “What is going on here?”

The persecutions of Rome were caused by an evil man who was following Satan; wars and rumors of war today are caused by human rebellion against God. And at times, God’s people will become the target of the four horseman’s attacks.

Read 1 Peter 4:12-13.  Here Peter warns the church not to be surprised when difficulties come. We should not be surprised when the four horsemen attack today.

The Rest of the Story Revelation Chapter 7

The events in Chapter 7 may or may not be in chronological order following chapter 6.

But here is what I want you to get from chapter 7.  After the tragedy portrayed in chapter 6—especially the graphic (symbolic) destruction of the universe—a natural response of John’s readers would be “But what about Christians?  What will happen to us when these things take place?”

God has promised to intervene personally and actively in behalf of His people.  He has promised us added inner strength (Eph. 3:20).  He has promised that our trials will never be more than we are able to handle (I Cor. 10:13).  He has promised to govern everything that happens so that it works together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  The difference between being lifted up and being let down by the problems of life is often a matter of attitude.  The Christian who believes the promises just listed can survive the storms of life; the man who does not believe them can be swallowed by the same storms.

Here is the bottom line. “If we stay on God’s side, we win!”

As a Christian you are special to God.  As a child of the King, you are never overlooked; you have been sealed.  God knows you inside and out.  He knows your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows your needs before you ask. (Matthew 6:8).  He knows you so intimately that He even knows how many hairs you have on your head.

Again, chapter 7 summarized, “If we stay on God’s side, we win!”  “You are special to the Lord.”

Summary:

The galloping of the Four Horseman of Apocalypse always circle and threaten us.

Conquest:  This world is filled with people who seek control, power and rule.

 War: There will be a spiritual war going on all the time.

Disease: Satan uses disease as a weapon against us.

Death: We struggle as we look at a freshly turned grave, and we wonder how we can go forth.

And so we kneel.  We kneel to a God who has sealed us, a God who knows our strengths and weaknesses.  The cross reminds us of a central truth: God is working today through His people to give victory and justice.  Ultimately, He will return to destroy his enemies and reign with his people forever.

And so we hold up the cross and proclaim to the world “What a mighty God we serve!”

Lord’s Supper, Who, What, When and How?

“In Remembrance of Me”

Read I Corinthians 15:1-4.

The death, burial and resurrection of Christ form the central theme of the gospel message.

Old Testament Roots

God commanded the Israelites to observe the Passover feast every year, to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. (Exodus 12:1-13:10)

Read Matthew 26:26-28

Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb of Messianic deliverance.  He gave His own body and blood as payment for our sin debt to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death.  The simple elements He chose appropriately represent His sacrifice.

A Feast for a King

Jesus said that He would eat and drink a new fest with them when the kingdom came.

Jesus had promised that the kingdom would come in their lifetime (Mark 9:1).  He had promised Peter the privilege of opening the doors of the kingdom, which He also called His church (Matthew 16:18, 19).  Peter used the keys of the kingdom on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection.  He preached the first gospel sermon, which resulted in the first converts to Christianity (Acts 2:14-40).

The Lord’s Supper is a feast fit for a Messianic King and His subjects. This feast binds us together as one with each other and with the King.  The feast around the Table of the Lord is “sharing in the blood of Christ” and “sharing in the body of Christ” (I Cor. 10:16).

We are invited (Christians) to this banquet for one purpose—to participate with Him and with each other in the event that brought about our victory over sin.

A Lord’s Day Supper

From their earliest beginnings, Christians assembled on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 2:42, 20:7).   “Break bread” was a term often used for the practice of taking the Lord’s Supper.  When Paul spoke of “the bread which we break” in I Corinthians 10:16, he was referring to part of the Lord’s Supper.

No evidence exists, in either Scripture or early church history, challenging the practice of Christians meeting together on the first day of the week to observe this sacred meal.

When are we to Eat and Drink?

The only Bible reference to the day that the Lord’s Supper was kept indicates that it was observed on Sunday—the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7)

The church’s universal practice, following the period immediately after the apostles, was to observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, the first day of the week. This would indicate that Sunday was a day established by the apostles, whom the Spirit guided into all truth.  Being helped by the Spirit, they were able to instruct the converts to observe all things Jesus had commanded them to teach.

Christians met on Sunday each week.  The purpose for their gatherings was to take the Lord’s Supper.  Weekly observance must have been a pattern established by the apostles.  Those today who want to continue in the apostles’ teaching should meet each Sunday in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus.

Yes they met at other times, but the day they partook of the Lord’s Supper was Sunday, for on that day Jesus conquered death on behalf of mankind.

A Remembrance

At the table, Christians experience both sorrow and joy.

Jesus wants us to remember not only what He has already done for us on the cross, but also what He is doing for us now as our King, High Priest, and Mediator.  He also wants us to remember what He has promised in the future.  2 Timothy 2:11b, 12 “if we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

We are somber and reflective, we are joyful. Jesus paid our sin debt to set us free!

How?

We participate when we take of the fruit of the vine (grape juice) and bread (bread with no yeast) with other Christians.  We follow what Jesus did.  He took the bread, broke it and partook it with others of faith.  He then took the fruit of the vine, partook of it and shared it with the others. When we follow what Jesus did, then will take of it the same way that He desires. We are not taking this to satisfy a physical hunger, but a spiritual hunger.

The bread and the fruit of the vine remind us of His sacrificed body and blood.  He is our sacrificial Lamb.  We participate together by giving thanks, as He gave thanks for the bread and the wine.  We celebrate our deliverance.  As we commune with Him and with each other, as members of one body, we reaffirm our unity and our support of one another.

Celebrate—but recognize that God is holy and pure, while we are sinful and frail.  He is not like us, but He wants us to be like Him.  The Lord’s Supper provides a perfect setting for us to exercise both reverence and joy.


This is what binds us together and holds us together as one body.  The Lord’s Supper is not just a ritual to be performed, but a meal to bring us together and enable us to commune with God and with each other.

 

Revelation 2:18 through 3:6 Thyatira and Sardis


Being a faithful Christian in an unfaithful church
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Revelation (3) Revelation 2:8-3:6

The New Testament definitely portrays the church as God’s spiritual family.  We have been adopted (Ephesians 1:5) and therefore we are now children of God (I John 3:1).

Because we have the same Father, we have a family relationship with each other.

Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Hebrews 13:1 “Let brotherly love continue.”

I Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”

I John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

We should view the church as a group of brothers and sisters with one Father, our Lord God.

Our culture though looks at the church and takes a very self-centered view.  To many, church is nothing more than a theater, or nothing more than a cafeteria.

In a theater you sit down to watch and listen, not to interact with others. You focus on what others are doing up front.

In a cafeteria, you pick what you want; you don’t much care about what others are choosing.

But the imagery that we are to have is that of a family, or maybe even a family meal.  At a family meal we partake of everything, even if you don’t like it (or you might hurt feelings).  Being a part of a family is most important…and that’s our model for the church. (Original idea by Jeff Walling)

We continue to look today at Revelation chapter 2 and 3.  This week we are focusing on two churches, the one at Thyatira and the other is Sardis.  Both churches have problems; both groups have a few who are faithful to Christ.  However even though there are just a few faithful, Jesus never tells them to leave the church because of the problems.  He gives them reasons to stay and do what is right in the sight of God.

Church Problems: Thyatira and Sardis

THYATIRA:  This was not a large city, but they were a center of commerce and trade.  In the book of Acts we read of “a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.” Acts 16:14  The city was known for its wool industry and for its purple dye. The more costly purple dye was extracted drop by drop from an obscure variety of shell fish.

The church in this city was thriving—“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.” Revelation 2:19

They also had problems, seen in false teaching and living of Jezebel. Read Revelation 2:20-22.

We believe that the name Jezebel was simply a symbol for the error taught or stood for a segment of the congregation that taught the error.

The Jezebel in Thyatira was apparently an ambitious and persuasive woman who claimed to be a prophetess.  This false prophetess claimed acces to “deep things,” profound insights available only through her.  Jesus branded her teachings as “the deep things of Satan.” Verse 24

Whatever she said and however she taught, the doctrine she spread caused Christians to commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

It has ever been true that some… “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3, 4

Jesus was not merely unhappy with Jezebel and her followers.  He was particularly unhappy with the church for following her to continue her seditious seduction: “you tolerate the woman.”

Jesus challenge to “hold fast until I come” was not easy for the Christians in Thyatira.  It is discouraging to be surrounded by an ungodly world, unfaithful members, and irresponsible leaders. For this reason, Jesus gave special promises to encourage any who find themselves in such a situation.

Read verses 26-29.  Jesus wanted to give them something to look forward to.  Even though it looked dark, a new day filled with hope would break on the horizon of their lives.

SARDIS:  was a busy little town.  After being destroyed in A.D. 17 by and earthquake it was rebuilt but never regained its former status.  By the time Revelation 3:1-6 were written, Sardis was a third-rate town living in the past.

The congregation had a name for being alive—a reputation in the brotherhood for spiritual vitality.  Someone has said that reputation is what people think you are, while character is what you really are.  The congregation in Sardis probably had impressive ways and from the outside they looked like a church alive for Christ.  God, however, does not see as man sees.  The Lord pronounced the church dead-dead spiritually.  Because its relationship with the Lord was not right, the church in Sardis had a reputation but not reality, form but not force.

As Chapter 3 begins we see four specific symptoms that caused Jesus to say the church in Sardis had a terminal illness:

  1. Drowsiness. The church was inattentive to its responsibilities.  Jesus counseled its members to “wake up.”
  2. Lethargy.  At one time the Christians in Sardis had been enthusiastic, but Jesus said, “I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of God.”
  3. Apathy.  Many of the Christians in Sardis “had come to live lives indistinguishable from their pagan neighbors.”
  4. Susceptibility.   They lived and worshipped in such a way so as to coexist with their pagan neighbors.  They had a nonaggression pact with sin—so the devil left them alone.

Thyatira and Sardis are different, but each had real and systemic ills.  Thyatira’s false doctrine and Sardis’ spiritual lethargy threatened their survival.

Yet, a remnant remained faithful; they were told to continue what they were doing. They were not unfaithful just because their church members were doing unfaithful things.  There were a few Christians in these churches who were spiritual.  Christ didn’t tell the faithful to leave their congregation, they were needed and their faithfulness was needed.  In fact Jesus tells them in 2:25 “hold fast what you have until I come.”

POINT: When the standards of this world deteriorate and “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13), many throw up their hands and quit—but the faithful few always keep going.

When, in some places, the institution of marriage is crumbling and sexual sin is becoming commonplace, many reason, “Why should I even try?”—but the faithful few always answer, “Because I am a Christian; that’s why.”

When indifference and complacency fill the land, many find it easy to travel the broad way, the popular way—but the faithful few are always committed to the narrow way, the lonely way.

READ: Matthew 7:13, 14. Thank God for the faithful few!

Jesus could have told the faithful Christians in Thyatira and Sardis to do as many do.  He could have told them to find another church, one that was faithful.  He could have said to start a new church.

But what does Jesus say to faithful people who are in unfaithful churches?  Remain faithful! 

While we live in a community of faith, God judges our faithfulness individually.  Both the church in Thyatira and Sardis received stern warnings.  And to both churches Jesus lauded those faithful members who kept going.  Again verse 25 “Only hold fast what you have until I come.”

For them to leave would remove their holy influence their church needed.

Within individual congregations of the Lord’s church there are the faithful few: those who are present for worship and activity, those who give liberally of their means, and those who do the most work.

Instead of getting discouraged with those who “do not” we need to be encouraged by those who do, who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt. 5:6).  Thank God for the faithful few.

People leave churches for several of reasons. (1) They feel as if their spiritual needs are not being met. (2) They leave because they have allowed differences to become wedges that end up destroying relationships.

But when people leave to be with others who have no differences, we/they are often left with two weak churches.  Diversity is strength for as Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

I know that when I am not challenged, I tend to get lazy.  If I never have to defend what I believe, I many never really know why I believe what I believe.  Diversity gives us strength and with diversity comes differing ideas, and holy influence.

 

Summary:

Have you ever heard the old expression, “Blood is thicker than water.”

That emphasizes that family ties go very deep, but there is a tie that is deeper.

In Christ Jesus, water (in baptism) becomes thicker than blood (family ties). Becoming brothers and sisters in Christ transcends differences.

Galatians 3:26-28 “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

When clothed with Christ, things like the color of our skin, social standing and gender don’t matter.  Unity is never found in our stand on issues that aren’t at the heart of the gospel.  Unity is found only in Christ; He makes us one family together with Him.

If we are committed to God and each other, then issues and practice won’t derail us.

Now we won’t always agree with what the elders decide or what the church does. What another member will say in Bible class.

You won’t agree with everything I preach.

But we must commit to God and to each other as His family under the cross.  We will never insure peace by simply not doing anything that offends anyone.

Pease is never the absence of conflict; Peace is a loving management of conflict.

God in the Flesh: The Call of Jesus

God in the Flesh: The Call of Jesus

Bashing Holes in Roofs

Read Mark 2:1-12 then 1:32-34

They were determined to get to Jesus!  And so they come up with an idea to tear off the roof and to lower their friend down.

We can’t really dismiss this story as a bunch of over aggressive men.  They were like us, drawn to the power of Jesus.  Their aggressiveness and insistence are a testimony to just how powerful Jesus was.  His touch changed people. 

Bringing All the Sick to Jesus

Shouldn’t we bring our every need to Jesus?

Knowing the power of Jesus, it should make us want to grab the spiritually sick and bring them to Jesus. 

Instead, we grow accustomed to the fact that not everyone is going to make it.  We are comfortable with the fact that many will never know Jesus and be touched by Him.

Oh for a faith that leans on Jesus!

They Left Their Nets

The Gospels tell us these stories to make it clear that these people left it all for Jesus. When Jesus was in the room, treasure and lives and careers were flung away.  Social customs and etiquette and decorum dissolved. 

What was it in Jesus that elicited such epic abandonment?  His holiness, His brilliant teaching, His authority all were a part.  Jesus had an effect on people.  And He still does today. 

Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

Mark 8:35-36 “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his live for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Breakfast With Jesus

According to the book of John, after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter goes back to fishing.  This is where we find him, and so Jesus calls Peter over for breakfast. Jesus asks him the question: Peter, do you love me?

We too have been called to love Jesus.  To each and every one of us Jesus calls out over the centuries in John 21 and asks us if we love Him.

Summary:

It’s about seeing Jesus and being changed by Him.  And regardless of what century we are in, we are talking about becoming a changed people.  We are talking about following the call of Jesus to its logical conclusion.

When we encounter God in the Flesh we too have some decisions to make. We too have a life that needs changing.  We too have some nets that need leaving.  There are still the sick that need healing.

 

Outline based upon the book “God in the Flesh” by Don Everets

God in the Flesh, The Compasion of Jesus

God in the Flesh

The Compassion of Jesus

Jesus’ Hands

Throughout the gospels we are shown Jesus’ hands as He hold’s someone’s hand gently.  This God, this Creator of all, this incarnate Word who spoke everything into existence, held the hand of a blind man.  Touched the ears of the deaf.  Touched wasting skin of lepers.  Felt the sick eyes of the blind with His fingers. 

Why did the Gospel writers record these details?  And what do the actions of His hands tell us about Jesus?

His Gentle and Humble Heart

Read Matthew 9:27-31 Jesus could have just turned to them and healed them, but He stops and touches their eyes. 

Read Matthew 20:29-34 Jesus hears and stops.  He looks at them.  He asks them what they want from Him.  And they request for their eyes to be opened. 

It changes everything to look at the flesh of God and see such mercy and tenderness and compassion. 

Collapse Upon Him

What do we do with this Jesus?  How are we to respond to His call?

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive and find grace to help in time of need.

They Struck His Head

Not everyone reacted to the compassion of Jesus in the same way.  Some were astonished at His teaching.  Others bowed to His authority.  But there were some who were different, very angry with their response.

What are we to take from these angry verses?  Perhaps looking at these verses of hate and disdain will tell us quite a bit about Jesus.

A Solid Man

Jesus was not a people pleaser.  He did not morph into a new person with each and every audience. 

His words reveal integrity.  He was so far above reproach that His powerful enemies flung themselves about in a desperate attempt to capture Him.  They, the keepers of the status quo, the holders of high positions, could not get Him. 

The only way to convict was to lie about Him.

A Steady, Sure March

In His three years of ministry Jesus walked headlong toward death.  At each point of conflict Jesus did not deviate to soften the blow to Himself.

During His flogging, He could have stopped everything.  He had the power to unleash creation upon the attackers but He did not.

He walked headlong into the slaps and pain ad torture and unfathomable penalty for human sin. Jesus made a steady and sure march to the cross.

Thank Him

Thank Him for His resolve.

Thank Him for not stooping to please.

Thank Him because without that purpose each of us would be facing an eternity of death and pain and unfathomable, searing judgment.

Summary

His hands touched mankind with compassion. Some cried out for mercy, others cried for blood.

Help us Lord to let go of our self-centered grip on reality.

Help us understand that Jesus did all of this for us.

Help us stand before God and know that we belong to Jesus.  Help us, touch us, have mercy on us.

 

Outline based upon the book “God in the Flesh” by Don Everets

 

God in the Flesh, The Authority of Jesus

God in the Flesh, #3, The Authority of Jesus

They Became Silent

What does it say to us if whole crowds were amazed by the words of Jesus?  What does it mean if folks were willing to run around a lake and go without food just to hear Him tell some stories?  What’s the significance of a man’s enemies finding themselves mute before His simple teaching?

Why were people so astounded at his words?  What does all of this astonishment teach us about Jesus?

A Last Trip to Jerusalem

As Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time and begins to teach, He is met by a tag team of debaters and lawyers and they try to trip Him up.

Read Luke 20:19-20, then 21-26, then 39-40.

Those who wanted to trip up Jesus are silenced.  Embarrassed. This is no plain carpenter.  These responses to Jesus tell us with utter clarity and surety that when Jesus taught, something amazing was taking place.  Every time He opened His mouth, His brilliance and genius came out, simply and easily.

Jesus is the Word become flesh

John 12:49-50 “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Every teaching that Jesus ever spoke is the Word of God.  And it is sharp and alive even today.  (Hebrews 4:12) 

Let us Study Him

What do we do with this brilliant Jesus?  With a Jesus who sows seeds of reality?  Not just good ideas or suggestions or clever concepts, but reality.  Ultimate truth and reason and clarity and brilliance all bound together. What do we do with Jesus? 

The words of Jesus weren’t meant to be nodded at.  They were meant to shock us with their exponential growth and their taste of reality.

Elusive Wisdom

Something happens to us when we submit ourselves to the teaching of Jesus.  We become wise. 

We need to take this upside down teaching and understand it.  We need to take these words and obey them. 

Enough with the sampling and onto the main course.  Listening and learning from the Master who will give us the morsels of life. 

They fell down before Him

Not only did the people become silent when Jesus spoke, but many of them ended up on the ground. 

I don’t know about you, but most of the time I don’t sit on the ground. I don’t even sit on the floor at the house.  It is just easier to use a chair or rock of something when I need to sit. 

When we read about meeting Jesus, God in the flesh, we read about people kneeling or falling down before Him. 

Jesus’ Dirty Feet up Close

Read Mark 4:35-41 “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

Read Mark 5:1-20 This man, this tight ball of sinews and muscles and bruises and pain and demonic energy, runs straight at Jesus as He is getting out of the boat.

A woman is healed and kneels before Jesus.  (Mark 5:24-34)

Jairus’ daughter is healed.  “And they were immediately overcome with amazement”

We have no indication that Jesus ever asked anyone to kneel before Him.  It was just the natural reaction to seeing Jesus for Whom He was. 

To kneel before someone is embarrassing, humbling.  To kneel is to acknowledge another’s rightful place above themselves.  It makes us vulnerable. 

Jesus is Lord over everything.  His authority knows no bounds.  It extends into every corner to our lives, every moment of our day, every decision we make.

Fear Him

Perhaps we need to relearn how to kneel before Jesus.  We need to relearn how to shut our mouths and simply be before Jesus.  To humble submit to His authority.

Read Job 38:1-11. 

There are times when we talk with God that we complain, or express our needs.  But there also needs to be a time when we are silent and submissive to God. 

Have We Forgotten What it is to Kneel before God?

Is it possible that the observation in Psalm 36:1 “there is no fear of God before his eyes” is relevant today?

When Jesus walked this earth, did He have all the authority of Yahweh—mighty, jealous, roaring, Creator?  And does He still have all that authority today? 

The more we see Jesus clearly in all His authority, the more we relearn how to kneel. 

Summary

Oh for a church that acknowledges the Lord’s authority.

Oh, that we would find real, tangible humility growing within us. 

Oh, for a day when we finally understand with all our beings, that the poor in spirit are truly blessed, for the kingdom is theirs. 

They were silent, they fell before Him, and they feared Him. 

 Outline based upon the book, God in the Flesh by Don Everets.

Revelation chapter 4 and 5, To Him Who Sits on the Throne


To Him Who Sits on the Throne

Revelation Chapters 4 and 5

Introduction: Who is on the throne?  Try to imagine that throne room of Titus Flavius Domitianus Augustus, Caesar Domition.  Before his stand the Praetorian Guard, elite tropps who protect him and do his bidding.  Beside him are Flaviales, the priests of the emperor cult who enforce his worship. This was the most powerful force on earth; at his word, heads rolled and nations fell.

The question that the 1st Century Christians had in mind was this.  “If God reigns, why is Domitian so powerful?”

They were stuck by a contradiction between what they believed and what they saw.  What they believe was that God ruled the universe and that Jesus was Lord and King.  But what they saw was the power of Rome and Domitian’s blasphemous claims.

But then, this contradiction between faith and sight does not end in the first century. What we believe today is that God is in control and that Jesus is Lord over all.  But what we see is a world out of control and a world which…

Airplanes become guided missiles that kill thousands in the name of God.

Perpetual unrest in the place that we call the “Holy Land” as Iran now has nuclear weapons and has vowed to destroy Israel.  We live in a world where in the not too distant future Israel may strike at their enemies before they are truly destroyed.

A world where city streets and public schools become shooting galleries and kids kill kids.

A world where the loudest and most influential voices are the ones calling evil good and good evil.

How can we believe that God rules when we see a world out of control?

That was the question being asked by the first century church, and we find our answer in the same place.

The Book of Revelation was never intended to be a blueprint for a distant end time.  No, it was meant to tell the church who was in control in an out of control world.

This book is the clearest and most dramatic in scripture in its presentation of the glory and majesty of God.

As we look inside the throne room of God this morning, we see a Lamb who was slain but who lives again.  No message was needed more in the 1st century.  No message is needed more today in the 21st century.

The Throne Room of God-Chapter 4

Read verses 1-11.  John records God’s glory, and he writes about this glory is the language of symbols.

There is a rainbow: this reminds us of the promise made to Noah.  We know that when deal with God, we are dealing with a God who keeps His promises.

There is a lightning and thunder.  This reminds us the light show around Mt. Sinai that shook that mountain as God delivered the Law to the Israelites.

There is only One on the Throne.  Verse 8 calls Him the “Lord God Almighty.”  There is no doubt who rules here.

There are seven Lamps: Seven is a perfect number; this is the Spirit’s perfect illumination of truth.

And before the throne are four celestial beings in the form of a terrestrial one.  To give us somewhat of an understanding of what these creatures look like John describes them with words like lion, ox, man and eagle.

They are covered with eyes, having 6 wings and they never stop praising the One who is on the Throne.  These composite creatures represent the totality of creaton that gives praise to God.

And surrounding the throne are 24 thrones and 24 elders wearing 24 crowns.  And when the four celestial beings praise God, the 24 elders worship, laying down their crowns before the “Lord God Almighty”, the “Holy, holy, holy one!”

John shifted his eyes from this world to heaven. He was empowered by the Spirit to see beyond his exile on desolate Patmos into the majestic throne room of God

Just as John saw beyond the physical surroundings we also need to lift our eyes to heaven.

Suppose a box comes in the mail.  The paper is torn and dirty.  The package looks as if it could not possible contain anything worthwhile and should be thrown away—but when it is opened, a treasure is revealed.  When our eyes are on this world, we see only the damaged wrappings of life. When our eyes shift to heaven, we see what life is all about and the heavenly treasure that can be ours.

This a drama written to our hearts as much as it is to our minds; if we miss the drama, we miss the message.

The message of this drama was unmistakable to the persecuted church—God is on The Throne!

John assures the church that it is God who is reigning in all His radiant splendor. The Spirit in His brilliant perfect self illuminates true truth before the throne.  Angelic hosts praise continually with all-seeing eyes and all-encompassing wings.

The 24 elders on their 24 thrones and wearing their 24 crowns are there to worship.  They come off their thrones to bow down and throw their crowns before the throne.  When God reigns, no one sits on a throne; when God rules, no one wears a crown.

Visually John is pointing to the One on the throne and saying, “Tell me again about the majesty of Caesar.”  Jesus points to the throne room of Caesar Domitian and says, “You call that a throne?”  Pulling back the veil of heaven Jesus declares, “Now that’s a throne!”

Burton Coffman wrote, “The most important thing that anyone can know about the universe is that there is a control center.”  (Coffman 100)  Regardless of how much confusion exists on the earth, there is order in heaven. Regardless of how much things change around us, God remains the same.  Regardless of how lonely we may feel, God has not abandoned us. The message of Revelation 4 is that God has not abdicated His throne.

The message is clear: Whether or not we understand what is happening and why, we can be assured that God is still in command and will make everything come out all right.  That is His guarantee for us.

Well, just as the church begins to get the message of the visions, it changes; the central character in this cosmic drama makes His grand appearance…

Worthy is the Lamb, Chapter 5

Read Revelation 5

First, notice where the lamb appears.  He is at the center of the throne; the glory and the majesty of the One who is on the throne is applied to the Lamb as well.

Second, the Lamb has been slain.  However, the lamb in this scene is very much alive, it was dead, but is now alive.

Third, the Lamb has seven horns and seven eyes.  This Lamb, Jesus, has perfect watchfulness (eyes) and perfect power (horn).

Only the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll, so all in the presence of the throne begin singing “Worthy is the Lamb.” The One who died and who now lives again is the centerpiece of all worship and praise.

The Redeemer is sought (1-4).  The Redeemer is described (5-7) The Redeemer is praised (8-14).

Worthy Art Thou (Sing Chorus)

Worthy of praise is Christ our Redeemer; Worthy of glory, honor and pow’r!

Worthy of all our soul’s adoration, Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou!

Worthy of riches, blessing and honor, Worthy of wisdom, glory and pow’r!

Worthy of earth and heaven’s thanksgiving, Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou!

Summary: Who Sits on Your Throne?

This message would have been unmistakable to the original readers of this book.  It changed the way they viewed their lives and they saw the future.

Domitian Caesar was not god, and he did not hold the future in his hand.  No, it was Jehovah El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne!  And it is the Lamb of God who was worthy to have dominion over the future.

This vision meant everything to those Christians suffering persecution so long ago.  They were not dying in vain but giving their lives to the One who had died for them.  Just as the Lamb had been victorious over death, so too would they be victorious.

So despite the persecution of an evil world, they did not have to be afraid—

  • The might and majesty of Imperial Rome and Domitian Caesar was real.
  • But it paled into insignificance before the One on the throne and risen Lamb.

Let us return to the throne room again today.

We see a world opposed to faith.

We see a thousand false kings vying for allegiance.

We see a thousand false prophets who want to enforce their own reality on us.

Let us return to the throne room again today.

We need to see the glory of God and be reminded once again that He still reigns.

We need the Sevenfold Spirit to illuminate for us what is true..and Who is true.

We need to see again the glory of the Lamb and sing His song with heavenly hosts.

Who sits on the throne of your life?  Yourself?  God?  The invitation is to come off your throne and to worship the One God Almighty and the Lamb, Jesus the Christ.

 

God in the Flesh: The Presence of Jesus

God in the Flesh: The Presence of Jesus

They Were Seized by Amazement

One thing that we notice as we look at the folks standing around Jesus is the number of people with their mouths open.  Some stand amazed, others stand shocked and still others stand intrigued.

Mouth open, amazed look on their faces.

Everywhere Jesus went, folks were surprised.  Given how dulled our senses are to anything new and exciting, it’s significant that Jesus caused shock everywhere He went.

What does this teach us about Jesus?

Luke 5:26 “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” 

If these verses tell us anything they tell us that being in the same room with Jesus was an intense experience.

According to Luke, everyone in the crowd that day was afraid and respectful. That tells us something about the presence of God.  HOLY.

What do we do with Holy?
We stare at Him. 

Go ahead and stare.  Gaze upon His life and be enthralled.

Our culture gags on Jesus.  Our neighbors seem allergic to Him.  It’s often times difficult to really focus on Him.  Jesus suggested that in His day people had trouble focusing on Him because of their unhealthy eyes. 

Read Luke 11:29-36

Let us again and again find ourselves drawn to stare at Holy Jesus.  Mom’s its ok to stare. 

Elusive Unity

Something happens when we focus on Jesus.  We become more unified.  We start to feel a unity with others who are also standing, amazed at Jesus. 

Acts 4:32 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was own, but they had everything in common.

May we all say, “we have seen strange things today.”

They Worshiped Him

Some folks just found worship gushing from their mouths and hands and toes and lips and tongues when they were with Jesus.

Some of these folks had just gotten healed.  That could explain some of their responses. But others were just responding to Jesus Himself. Being near Him moved them to praise Him.

What does all of this spontaneous worship teach us about Jesus?

Read Luke 19:37  “As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,”

Perhaps it was the sight of Jerusalem that loosened their tongues.  Perhaps it was the proximity to the temple during a festival time that aroused such feelings and joy.  But Luke says it plainly that they started to loudly and joyfully worship Jesus.  His works, His divinity were being praised. 

Read Luke 19:38 “saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”   Now notice verse 40. “He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”  

His presence calls forth worship.

Praise Him

What do we do with Jesus?  We worship.  God’s presence in Jesus calls forth worship from us.  We can’t help but give Him glory, sing of His fame, chant about how great He is.

Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water?  (Matthew 14:22-33)  What happens when Jesus gets into the boat and the winds cease?  The disciples worship God and say “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Clarity combined with close presence sparked worship from them that night.

Elusive Worship

The disciples “began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice from all the mighty works that they had seen”  It was more than volume for the disciples. It was joy. 

The worship that we all crave and want to see is one that is not programmed but one that flows from within.  It comes only from seeing Jesus more clearly, from smelling the scent of divinity up close.

Summary

Of that we would be more open to the mystery of God’s presence that we would contemplate the divine that is at hand in Jesus.  Oh, may we find ourselves, like so many people in Jesus’ own day, taken by the divine in His presence. 

Oh for a day when we open our eyes wide enough to see God in Jesus.

Oh for a time when seeing Jesus makes our inhibitions fade away and we find ourselves joyfully singing with the choir of all creation.

Oh for a church that is loud and joyful for Jesus. 

 Outline based upon the book God in the Flesh, by Don Everets.

Where Faith Becomes Family