Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Brother Al (page 1 of 39)

C.S. Lewis & Coronavirus

Here are some thoughts from C.S. Lewis.  Written 72 years ago, we simply need to replace “atomic bomb with “coronavirus.”  These words should be taken to heart by each of us, men in whatever leadership capacity we find ourselves.  This is especially true when with each passing day our normal routine of life are being disrupted.  It makes us very aware that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.  “How are we to live in an atomic age?”  I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, and age of paralysis, and age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.  Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.  We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still.  It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.”

My wife and I live in a comfortable senior apartment that fits our lifestyle just fine.  But we are seniors, who are being told to take extra precautions.  Everybody else in our building is doing the same thing.

Judy and I have prayed together each morning for many years.  Our prays include deep gratitude for all the good years he has given to us (54 years), his protection over us, and our desire to be his witness in the here an now.

That means that we need to be prudent and wise in our lifestyle choices for the next month or so.  We take all the necessary precautions that are asked of us.  But we do not live in fear.  

Men, I encourage you to read the story of King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles, when he was faced with a vast enemy army.  He prayed, “O our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (ll Chron. 20:12) 

Men, may you lead your family by keeping your eyes on the Lord.  A prophet spoke to the King, declaring, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s…..Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” ( II Chron. 20:15,17).  

The next morning when the King went out with his army, he declared in confidence to the people, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (II Chron. 20:20). God gave them a mighty victory over their enemies

 

 

 

Yes, I am coming soon

These are the last words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. In our day with so much uncertainty due to the cornonavirus, the thoughts of many are turning to the last days and the book of Revelation.  Will Jesus be coming soon?

Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, has suggested the new coronavirus might be a sign of the end times and stressed the importance of making “sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes.”  Max Lucado told The Christian post that the coronavirus “could be” a sign of the end times and encouraged Christians to “keep our Bibles and hearts open” more than ever before.

Revelation is like a drama in which we are taken behind the scenes of our present world, to get a glimpse of what God is doing.  Here are a few suggestions of what he might be saying to us, based on the book that claims to be, “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him [John] to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev 1:1)    

First, Jesus is the beginning and the end.  “”Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead. and behold I am alive for ever and ever.  And I hold the keys of death and hades” (Rev 1:18).  Then again in Rev. 22:12-13, “Behold, I am coming soon!….I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the End.”  The time line of history is securely in the hands of Jesus.  He is sovereign over all that is happening: from the first to the last. 

Second, something all new is coming!  The old will pass away.  We are looking for something much better. So don’t lose hope. “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…. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live 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 mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3).

Third, the best is yet to come. It will be better than the Garden of Eden. “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve  crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.  Its leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.  No longer will anything be cursed.  For the throne of God and of the  Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.  And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there – no need or lamps or sun – for the Lord God will shine on them.  And they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:1-5 NLT).  

Fourth, we are told to be patient and endure.  Men, we will get through this time.  The best is yet to come. “Let this encourage God’s holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting Jesus (Rev 14:12 NLT).

 

The Coronavirus

While I have been studying and teaching the book of Revelation a world wide pandemic is being discussed in the media. Revelation portrays such events.  In Revelation 6:8 we read, “And I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green like a corpse.  And Death was the name of its rider, who was followed around by the Grave.  They were given authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword an famine and disease and wild animals.”

The implication is that God allows such things to happen on the earth.  They are meant to make us insecure and vulnerable, remind of our need for God, leading to repentance.   

The coronavirus could be an example of God allowing an extraordinary event in the world, to be a sober reminder that we are not in charge.  In Revelation, heaven declares the sovereignty of God over nature. “You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created  all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11). 

The folks over at Breakpoint remind us of Chuck Colson’s favorite Kuyper-ism quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'”  It is good for us to be reminded that Jesus is in control, even in the midst of a crisis.

But how does world-wide disease play out in history with all the suffering that has to be endured.   N. T. Wright has been helpful for me in gaining an over view of the suffering depicted in Revelation and God’s purposes for a new heaven and earth.  He writes, “Revelation is…….a cosmic version of the tough pastoral struggle over the deeply wounded soul.  The soul of the world is aware of immediate problems and pains; but unless we look deeper, to the ancient patterns of conquest violence, oppression, and death itself we shall not begin to understand what needs to be done if the world is to be healed, really healed rather than merely patched together for a few more years.”  

Revelation pull the curtain open so that we can see the impact the spiritual realm is having on earth.  Revelation is like a drama unfolding before us as follower of the Lamb, who is Lord of history.  We see God at work ultimately bringing our world to a final conclusion, in making all thing new. From the throne God says, “I am making everything new!”

My study of Revelation and the fragile condition of life among us, has produced several resolves in my heart, for the days ahead.  I encourage each reader of this blog to join me.

First, I surrender totally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is Lord.  “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun the reign” (Rev 11:17).  I choose the follow the Lamb.

Secondly, I am aware that there is a mighty battle raging between the lamb and Satan.  Satan knows that his time is short and he is full of fury.  (Rev 12:13). I put myself under the Lordship of Jesus to be protected from the evil one

Thirdly, I am so thankful to know that in the end, the kingdom of God will be established on the earth. (Rev 11:15)  I pray daily for his kingdom to come.

Finally, I sincerely ask God for strength and grace to endure whatever suffering might occur for those who follow the Lamb in the days to come.

 

 

“The Man”

I was given a tip to view the recent video of Taylor Swift’s new song “The Man.”  Now I know very little about Taylor Swift.  I care even less for her music.  But I took the tip and viewed the video because it had the title of “The Man.” 

Haley Victory Smith, in a review said this about the song: “This anti-sexist battle hymn decries the injustice of society’s double standards.”  Swift sings, “If I was a man, then I’d be the man.” She laments, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/ Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.”

I am a 78 year old grandpa, of two wonderful granddaughters, who are  comfortable, each in their own way, living out their femininity.  If I were Taylor’s grandpa, this would be my advice for her with all the success she has had in her young career.

Taylor don’t focus on “the man.”  Celebrate your success as a woman.  Use your position to help girls become comfortable with their femininity.  I plead with you to see “the man” as God’s compliment to your being a woman.  Men carry a “deep wound”  because they are not affirmed in their masculinity.  They need other men to help them.

Don’t play the victim card.  Taylor, take some good advice from a long time crusading feminist, Camilla Paglia.  Think of yourself as a “street smart Amazon feminist.” See yourself as “a warrior at every moment.”  Celebrate your sense of dignity as a creative, successful young woman.  You have made it. Use it to bring healing between men and women

Don’t fall for what Christina Hoff Sommers calls, “fainting couch feminism.”  Don’t model yourself after young women who feel, “like fragile little birds in need of protection.”   Sommers laments seeing, “talented, idealistic young women turning inward – away from a world that needs them.”

Taylor,  you have an “incredibly successful brand [that] is uniquely feminine.”  I agree with Ms. Smith, that part  of your appeal is “your unabashed femininity.”  You have won the right to speak  into lives of millions of young girls.  Please, help them to be affirmed in their femininity. 

You sing about being “sick of of them (I assume men),  coming at me again.”  Towards the end of your song, you talk about “hustling,” as you “put in the work.”  You are concerned that, “they wouldn’t shake their heads/And question how much of this I deserve/ What I am wearing, if I was rude/Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.” 

Taylor, you are a very attractive young women.  I’m sure you remember the controversy with the halftime show during the recent super bowl.  A lot of what was on display was simply the objectifying of the female body, for the sake of a male culture.

Taylor, you know full well that there is a “war of the sexes” in our culture.  As a grandpa, I appeal to you to be a role model of modesty.  Don’t put anymore pressure on young girls to become any more body conscious then they are.  Help them in your performing to celebrate a strong, confident feminine presence.

But Taylor, you need to keep in mind what it is to “be the man.”  Every man, especially young men, have a “tiger in their tank.” Male sexuality needs to be tamed.  Don’t fall for the need to be seductive.  Don’t allow yourself to be a “sex symbol.”

But most of all, encourage and call out young men, to be all that they can be as young men, created equal in God’s eyes.  Our culture needs strong men as well as strong women.  You can be a great influence.      

   

    

The Center Cannot Hold

I believe William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” especially the first stanza is prophetic.  “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The Falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart;  the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction while the worst/ are full of passionate intensity.”

The latest Gallup poll gives evidence that the center is not holding.  “The fact that the 10 most polarizing years have all occurred in the past 16 years,” notes Gallup, “affecting both Democratic and Republican presidents — underscores how politically polarized the nation has become.  There have always been partisan gaps in ratings of president, just not to the degree seen over the past two decades”

This poll is a good indication of what might be coming during this election year.  We are at a point where no one is going to be a real winner, because of the deep divide. Many observers of our culture are giving us fair warning for the stormy days ahead politically and culturally. 

But men, the good news is that we have someone who is at the center and holds things together. Paul makes this declaration in Col. 1:15-16, “He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation.  Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities.  Everything has been created through him and for him.  He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together”

Hebrews declares there is a creator who holds everything together simply by what He says. “God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end.  This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature.  He holds everything together by what he says – powerful words.” (Heb 1:2-3 – Message).

So men. remember in your thoughts and intentions to keep Jesus at the center.  He will hold not only the world together, but also our lives.  He tells us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Yes, we are overcomers in this divided world, because we are committed first to Jesus and his kingdom.  John tells us, “…everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:4-5)

Jesus has conquered all potential enemies by his death on the cross. “He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets” (Col 1:14-15 Message)

So men, Jesus has not only overcome all that is opposed to his kingdom, but we, as overcomers in him, are invited reign with him. “To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev 3:21)

 

 

 

 

 

Lion and the Lamb

In my studying of the book of Revelation, I have  been impressed with the image given to us by John of Jesus as both the Lion of Judah and the lamb of God.  In Rev 5:5-6 we read, “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain…..'”

N. T. Wright commenting on this passage, notes, “….now we come to one of the most decisive moments in all scripture.  What John has heard is the announcement of the lion.  What he then sees is the lamb.  He is to hold what he has heard in his head while gazing at what he now sees; and he is to hold what he is seeing in his head as  he reflects on what he has heard.”

Wright goes on to say, “The lion is the symbol both of ultimate power and of supreme royalty, while the lamb symbolizes both gentle and vulnerability, and through its sacrifice, the ultimate weakness of death. But the two are now to be fused together, completely and for ever.”

In the rest of Revelation Jesus is continually referred to as the Lamb.  What we read is counter-intuitive to our modern sensitivities.  When the first four seals are broken to loose the four men of the Apocalypse, it is the Lamb of opens the seals.  Then the enemies of God cry out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (6:16-17).  In the final battle with the enemies of God, we read, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and king of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” (17:14).

Men, receive what I am about to affirm in you.  If you know Jesus as your Lord, you have the Spirit of the Lion and the Lamb within you.  “This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit…..Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God”(I John 4:13,15 – Message).

I almost am tempted to change the title of my blog site for men to that of “The Lion and the Lamb.”  Why?  Because this seemingly contradictory reality was lived out perfectly in the life of Jesus.  Now that reality can live our own hearts because we have been giving the very spirit of God. “We know that we live in him and he  in us, because he has given us of his Spirit”( I John 5:13). 

The reality of the Lion and the Lamb in our hearts, solves the tension between being tough and tender.  We can be sensitive, submissive, and humble, while still being strong, bold and courageous as a lion.

So my encouragement to you is to allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit of God.  Continually ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that you might know when to be a lamb and when to be a lion.  It will take discernment,  

 

 

Entering Mission Territory

These were the words of Arthur Brooks, in his address at the 68th National Prayer Breakfast.  He asked the audience to imagine a sign above the door reading, “You are Now Entering Mission Territory.”  He was encouraging biblical love amid what he called a nationwide, “crisis of contempt and polarization.” He noted, “contempt is ripping our country apart.” 

Brooks, who described himself as a “follower of Jesus,” reminded listeners that Jesus taught us to love God and to love each other.  Today,” he observed “the biggest crisis facing our nation and many other nations [is] the crisis of contempt and polarization that’s tearing our societies apart.”

In our cultural crisis, Brooks called for “moral courage,” which he defines not as, “standing up to those with whom you disagree…..[its] standing up to those with whom you agree on behalf of those with whom you disagree.”  I want to recommend this suggestion to the readers of this blog.

Men, we need to stand together in our desire to love our enemies.  Brooks thinks that talk of civility and tolerance is not enough, “because civility and tolerance are a low standard.”  Jesus didn’t say “tolerate your enemies.”  He said, “love your enemies.”  Our calling as followers of Jesus is to answer hate with love.  To do this is to be “subversive and counter-intuitive” in a culture that is getting more polarized.

Brooks give us men three pieces of advise.  May we pick up the mantle and take the lead in following his advice.  First,”ask God to give you the strength to do this hard thing, to go against your human nature, to follow Jesus’ teaching.”  Brooks encourages us to ask God to “take political contempt from your heart.”  If it’s to hard, you might have to fake it for a time.

Secondly, “make a commitment to someone else to reject contempt.”  We are going to have disagreements.  Brooks calls it “the competition of ideas.”  There will  be times when we need somebody to hold us accountable.

Thirdly, “go out looking for contempt.”  Why?  I love what Brooks had to say.  May this burn into the souls of godly men. “Because when people treat you with hatred and you answer with love, you change the country.  It’s like being a missionary.  This is your opportunity to show people what leadership is all about.  Run toward the darkness, bring your light.”

Notice what Brooks says about leadership.  Men, it take moral courage to stand for what you know is right.  You will be hated and misunderstood.  We need to be able to take the arrows?  Yes! Brooks encourages us to “run toward the darkness.”  Why?  Because we have the light.

Interestingly, President Trump who was in attendance, after hearing Mr. Brooks remarks, seemed to go off-script at the end of his remarks and had this to say. “I’m sorry, I apologize.  I’m trying to learn,” he said, appearing to return to the question posed by Brooks.  “When they impeach you for nothing, you’re supposed to like them?  It’s not easy, folks.  I’m doing my best.”  

Men, I include this remark from our president, as a strong reminder to pray for our president.  We are strongly encouraged to do so. “The first thing I want you to do is pray.  Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.  Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well…” (I Tim 2:1-3 – Message).

 

 

 

 

 

Curled Up

Men, I am learning more and more to live in the darkness.  I love the Michael W. Smith song,  “Light to You.”  It is based on Ps.139: 11-12, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is a light to you.”

Darkness will descends upon us in our walk with the Lord, when we find ourselves in circumstances in which we are not able find a solution for the lack of peace and “the heaviness of soul.”  Our effort and understanding will not produce any lasting results.  There will not seem to be a way out.  Let me tell you, God is in the very center of what is going on if your desire is to know God

For me it has gotten to the point, where I just want to go away and hide from reality.  I am confessing to you men that it is similar to a little boy curling up in the womb living in self pity.  I testify to you men that the darkness has been significant lately. 

I am so thankful for those who have helped me integrate more of the teaching of St John of the Cross in my walk with Jesus.  He informs us that “faith is like a ray of darkness.”  I read that years ago and it made little sense to me.  Now I am starting to get.  I am learning to trust God in the darkness.  I hope it is an encouragement to a brother reading this post.

The key is what I desire.  I desire God more then anything else.  Desire takes me beyond my thinking and doing.  I have come to the understanding that God loves me unconditionally.  I do not say that lightly.  To come to such a confession has meant being able to surrender and trust God’s goodness. 

The key lately has been allowing the love of God to penetrate into the deeper parts of my soul; what St John calls “the caverns of the soul.”  It is there that I can be found curled up in a womb-like position out of fear, filled with self pity as to what is going on in my every day life.

I testify to you men that there is nothing I can do accept receive God’s love for me.  Since I don’t understand what is going on nor can I fix my condition, it is really a “ray of darkness.”

Why is it darkness?  God’s light is so bright that it overwhelms my understanding of what is going on.  I just have to let it happen.  By being open and willing to receive I create space for God to enter and bring healing.

I know today as I write this blog, that the Lord is bringing new healing to the “caverns of my soul.”  My advice is as follows: First, desire God above all things in our life.  Second, open your heart to receive the love of God, thus making space for his presence to bring healing to your “wound.”  Thirdly, accept the darkness.  Faith is like a “ray of darkness” doing God’s healing work in your soul.

Then remember your desire to want to be free.  Only God can bring you lasting freedom from your bondage and brokenness.  At this moment I testify to you that I can celebrate the freedom that He has given me.  I don’t want to go back to depending on my attempts to patch up my wounded soul.  

 

 

Follow the lamb

Here is one more blog on the book of Revelation (note: not Revelations).  It was written to the “seven churches in the province of Asia” (Rev 1:4).  At the end of the first century, Christianity was a tiny minority, a movement considered to be a splinter group of Judaism. Try to image yourself committed to one of those small churches, wanting to spiritually flourish in the mighty Roman Empire.  You would be living in an indifferent and sometimes hostile environment, with the increasing pressure to worship the Emperor of Rome.  

The Empire was the undisputed ruler of the known world.  Roman civilization was impressive.  There were signs of its glory everywhere.  There were treasures of art and architecture to be seen along with magnificent temples that held lavish ceremonies.  Rome had a matchless legal and political organization, all of which was protected by a huge and mighty army proud of all its victories.  

Confronted with such an imposing and well organized society and culture could easily intimidate members of the young churches, causing some to question whether following Jesus was realistic. Revelation was written to help those committed to Jesus to be assured that they would be victorious, especially as the persecution increased.

The visions and symbols of the book were meant to stimulate the imagination of believers to see the spiritual reality, one more real than their daily life in the Empire.  It was intended to say, “things are not the way they seem.”  The book as one observer noted was, “a kind of  ‘therapy’ for believers who were in danger of being blinded and deafened by the environment in which they lived.” One such symbol is the Lamb.

 In Revelation the Roman Empire is portrayed as a great prostitute with her seductive powers of adultery and idolatry.  But heaven declares that mighty Rome has fallen.  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great…For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:2a, 3)

It is Jesus, the lamb of God that defeats the forces of darkness.  We read in Rev 17:14, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.” In heaven they rejoice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Rev 5:12).  

All of heaven rejoices and shouts out in victory.  God, “has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Rev 19:2).  Then an angel tells John, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” (Rev 19:7).  And the angel added, “These are true words of God” (Rev 19:9)

Men, the seductive power of our culture which is similar to Babylon is indeed seductive.  It has caused many men to compromise.  Many men in our churches live in a kind of spiritual stupor because of the influence of the harlot.

Like the Moravians, whose spiritual cry was “to follow the lamb,” I challenge each of you to be a follower of the Lamb.  May this be said of us, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure.  They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.  No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless” (Rev.14:4).  

 

 

Behold, I am coming soon

These are words from the book of Revelation. I have been studying Revelation for the last couple of months, while teaching the adult Sunday School class at my church.  One can be overwhelmed by the various interpretations of all the symbols and visions.  But this could be a trick of the enemy to keep believers from this unique book.    I hold unto the promise in 1:3, “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.”

The cry of my heart for some time has been, “Lord, what are you saying to the prophets.”  My contention is that the days ahead will be darker for followers of Jesus.  This was certainly true for the young church in the first century during the reign of the mighty Roman Empire.

But we know this: 1) We have the word of truth in Scripture, 2) Jesus is Lord over history  3) We reign with Jesus in his kingdom and 4) God speaks to his people through the prophets. The Revelation tells us not to be afraid. “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18).

The first century followers of Jesus eagerly awaited for the return of Jesus. They firmly believed the reign of Christ on the earth was more certain the the victory of evil.  The book is meant to give hope to the followers of Jesus.  One author observed, “Revelation touches at the point of our despair, our world-weariness, our future shock, our fear of persecution, our collaboration with an anti-Christ society.  It is quite possibly the most relevant book of the Bible for this moment in history.”  

Here are four reasons why we should be acquainted with the message of Revelation. First, We learn how to live in a post-Christian culture.  The small churches in Asia Minor faced external persecution from a hostile culture that had a seductive influence.  The churches had to also combat lethargy in its midst.  We too, can be attracted to the culture, tempted by its life-style and thinking.

Secondly, Revelation unmasks the powers of darkness.  It opens the curtain so we can see what is taking place in the spiritual realm, alerting us as to how the powers of darkness tempt us and fight against us.  Thirdly, we can celebrate the victory of Jesus, as Lord and King.  The  wonderful worship in Revelation declares the victory obtained for us through the blood of Jesus (5:9).  We are able to see ourselves as overcomers in Jesus, even though it might not seem that way at times.

Fourthly, Revelation helps us to see beyond this world.  Revelation give us a wonderful vision of the new heaven and new earth.  Because we tend to easily focused on the “here and now,” we need to embrace the compelling vision of our final home and destination prepared for us by Jesus  Fifthly, we gain the assurance of God’s sovereign control.  Revelation helps us to understand that God is still in control of a world that seems to be spinning out of control.

So do your self a favor.  Read the Revelation of Jesus.  Ask God for guidance and discernment.  One of the promises of Revelation should be an encouragement to to you. “Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of this prophecy in this book” (Rev 22:7).    


 

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