Christianity 201

December 20, 2014

Patterns in the Revelation Church Letters

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Rev. 1:4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Today’s reading is from the website Blogos which features a variety of writers. Today we’re presenting a post by Laurel J. Davis:

(Click the title to read at source)

Hearing God's Voice at Matt Glover dot comAre You Listening?

What does the word of the Lord mean to you? Are you hearing the Lord? Are you listening? Are you allowing His Word to minister in your life? To lead you? To uplift you? To correct you? To guide you into all truth?

In the Book of Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, John records the Lord Jesus’ individual messages to seven churches — Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Four key statements appear in all seven messages that should make us in the Christian church today stop and really listen to the voice of God:

1. These are the words of Him who…: Every message to the seven churches starts with this phrase, and then goes on to attest to Jesus’ status as Almighty God — His power, His authority, His infinite nature, His marvelous glory, etc.

The message to today’s church is: Remember who and what God is. When He speaks, remember His power and authority over all of creation – including you. Meditate on His awesomeness. Rest in His faithfulness and truth, remembering that it is impossible for Him to lie. When God speaks to you — to your heart and mind in compatibility with His Word — remember that He holds your very life and breath in His hands.

2. I know your works [or, deeds]… : That’s the next thing Jesus says to every church. As the One with all power, authority, glory, faithfulness and truth, Jesus is omniscient. He knows all things. There is nothing hidden from His sight — not what you do, and also not why you do it. He is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart just as much as He sees all of your actions, both good and bad.

So, when Jesus speaks to you, be encouraged to know your good deeds have not gone unnoticed. You will be rewarded in due time. Know too that He wants to bring your bad deeds to your attention so that you can seek His forgiveness, repent, grow and ultimately overcome.

3. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear: After telling each church what their works, good and/or bad, have been, Jesus punctuates it with an exhortation to really get what He is saying. Do you have an ear to hear what God is saying to you? Enough to get it and do it? Are you a doer of what He’s saying, or just a hearer only?

Almighty God, who holds all power, authority and truth, and whose glory is unmatched, and who knows all things – does He have your ear? Are you willing to listen and then be accountable to follow through? We all get tempted to turn a deaf ear to the Lord sometimes, especially with the tough stuff. But think about those people who don’t have an ear to hear? What is it about them that let’s you know they don’t? Don’t be like them.

4. He who overcomes…: Jesus closes His individual messages to the churches with a promise for those who do have an ear to hear and who correct their deeds accordingly. Blessing comes with staying the course God has set before you and accepting His correction if you get off track along the way. Sometimes that blessing may not come right away, or even in this lifetime, but it is a promise nonetheless and will come to pass because it comes from the One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, deserving of all glory, and most faithful and true.

 

The words to the four churches of Revelation should make Christians stop and listen.tweet

So, stick with Jesus. Hunger for His authority in your life. Receive His Word in your heart and endeavor to live honestly by it. Be assured of your reward. Listen to His voice (as expressed in His Holy Word) and heed it. For in Jesus Christ alone, you can overcome.

March 14, 2013

Given a New Name

This is from a blog,  Into The Foolishness and appeared earlier this year as A White Stone and a New Name.

One of the things I find beautiful in the book of Revelation is when Jesus says,

“To him who overcomes I will give a white stone and on that stone is a name known only to the person who receives it and to Me” (2:17).

The white stone signifies victory and could very well hint at purity. The significant thing to me is there is a name on that stone that is the name Jesus knows me by. My mother does not know me by that name. My friends don’t know me by that name. No one in this world, including myself, knows who I really am. I think that when we see ourselves in the light of Jesus, which will only happen when we give up ourselves and begin to seek Him wholeheartedly, then we will eventually grow into the person that He meant for us to be. When we see our name on that stone we’ll say, “Wow, thats me! How did You know me when I couldn’t even know myself?” For me, that’s part of the goal of spiritual maturity.”

~Rich Mullins

This verse in Revelation is one of the most intriguing and beautiful passages in all the Bible for me, and one of the most mysterious. A white stone with a new name? One that is uniquely ours that no one understands but God and myself? To think that God knows me in a way I don’t even know myself and will reveal that identity to me one day gives me goosebumps. Whenever I read this passage I think “I want to know what my stone says!” Imagine your most true self summed up in a name and handed to you by Christ Himself. It staggers the imagination.

For the time being, we are citizens of a fallen world, but it doesn’t change who we are. We all have a true self that God created us to be. We strive and work to become better people in many ways, but I think growing into who God actually made us to be is one of the holiest things we can do. It’s not about becoming perfect or working harder – it’s about embracing our weaknesses and faults and handing them all over to a God who knows us better than we know ourselves. What if we stopped trying be so many different people and focused on discovering more about our unique calling?

We have an identity in Christ that is unique. This should be an encouragement to all of us to seek only His will for our lives and let everything else fall to the wayside.

I actually like that no one is able to figure out the exact meaning of this passage. There is an excitement and wonder in it that should make us long for the truth of who we are in Christ. We get a taste of it here on earth and see the fulfillment of it in heaven. For now it is, as CS Lewis once wrote, “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” 

I try and instill in my kids that they need to be who God has made them to be, no more and no less. I need to remember that myself. Find your identity in Christ and you won’t need to find it anywhere else.

“To him who overcomes I will give a white stone…”  What an unbelievable gift!