Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A new start

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. – Revelation 21.1-5

What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see…

I am glad we have a great assured hope for the future. I am glad that I am looking for a day when all the stuff we have to put up with today will be gone and we all get a new fresh start. When this old world is done away God promises us the joy of a new heaven and a new earth. God and men will tabernacle together as men live with God and God with man.

And then there will be

No more tears
No more death
No more sorrow
No more crying
No more pain

Because all the old things will be done away with and everything will be made new.

I don’t know about you, but that list of ‘no mores’ sounds pretty good to me and we all have had, have, and will have plenty of them. We have all had our share of tears and crying. We have all had our share of deaths. We have all had our share of sorrow. We have all had our share of pain. When those things come they shatter our lives and our hopes and our thoughts. Those things consume us.

But one day, one wonderful, glorious, marvellous, amazing, fantastic, joyous day all of that will be done away as we share eternity with our God.

Indeed, what a day that will be.

Monday, 29 June 2015


And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20.11-15

One day all this mess is going to be over. I am student of history so I know that the evil we see today is nothing new. It has been then since the very start and murder has been around since Cain killed his brother. It doesn’t take much study to realise that man is now and always has been capable of unbelievable horrors. Every attempt at establishing some type of utopia has failed because man is a sinner and eventually someone is going to break that utopia.

I realise that we are often accused of using our faith as an escape from reality. Some say that we would rather look forward than deal with the present. Of course true believers are always aware of the present and see to do the best we can for God and other people while we are here, but I admit that I am looking forward to the day when God is going to sort it all out

One day God is going to sit on His throne as judge. Those who have rejected God will be called into His perfect judgement. God is going to examine all their works and all their works are going to be found lacking and only one standard is going to matter – are their names in the book of life.

I know my works could never pass muster because I know me and my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I know I would fail at the judgement as well.

But praise God I am in the book of life and my eternity is secure. My task is to lead others to the book of life as well.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Faithful and true

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  – Revelation 19.11-16

I have mentioned before that eschatology, the theology of future events, is not my strong point. I do know though that a day is coming when God will show Himself mighty and true to all the world.

I don’t think there is any doubt that this world is broken. It looks ‘brokener and brokener’ every time we look at the news. Nothing seems to be going our way as believers. It is a lot different world than it was even in my short lifetime. Things might look hopeless and judging by some of the comments by believers on social media it seems like many Christians are so focused on this present world that they are in total despair.

Why are we shocked? God’s people were never meant to fit in with this world. We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom and we are travellers and passers-by in this world striving to serve our God and draw others to Him. We can’t moralise the world through our actions – only God can do that.

And one day He will. One day our King is going to come back and set up His Kingdom.

And what a King He will be. He is a king who is called:

The Word of God
King of Kings
Lord of Lords

This Faithful One is our God.
This True One is our God..
Our God, Jesus Christ, is the very Word of God in the flesh.
Jesus is the King over all kings.
Jesus is the Lord over all lords.

And He is coming back to sort out this broken world.

The King is coming.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The marriage supper

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. – Revelation 19-7-9

Weddings are normally big special events. I think I will keep my opinion of opulent and extravagant costly wedding to myself, weddings are a big deal. They are normally a time of celebration no matter how big or small or costly or thrifty they are a day of happiness and excitement.

Even Jesus celebrated a wedding and chose one to perform His first public miracle.

What a great day of celebration is coming. The Lord God omnipotent reigns and one day the Lamb of God will fully take His wife. On that great wedding day the church will well and fully be joined to Him forever.

On that day all of the waiting and trials and preparation will be worth it all. At the great marriage feast we will sit down and rejoice in our union with Jesus Christ.

I have seen the excitement of young brides as they look forward to their wedding day. It is fun to see their anticipation. All the troubles pale in comparison. I have seen them writing out their married name. Their future husband is always in their minds.

Our future is secure. The church is the bride of Christ and He ought to be our focus even when things are looking bad around us.  Clothed in the white robes of His righteousness let us live daily in anticipation of that day.

Friday, 26 June 2015

My God reigns

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. - Revelation 19.6-7

It is easy to forget while we are here in the midst of all the trials and struggles of the world who is ultimately in control. From our perspective it seems that things are hopeless because it looks like this world is so powerful.

That’s why we need a reminder like this – the Lord God omnipotent reins.

We might not always see that. We might even be tempted to wonder if He really is all powerful and He really does reign why such rotten stuff happens. Why does a gunman walk into a Bible study and kill nine Christians. Why poverty and violence and natural disasters?

The problem is that we don’t understand how God reigns because He is God and we are never going to understand His ways and His thoughts.

I do know this – we live in a broken and sin-cursed world. We live amongst broken people and we live in a world which has been broken by man’s sin.

But God does reign. He could have simply wiped out the entire human race and started again. We are not robots forced to conform to God’s ways.

I may not always get it, but the Lord God Omnipotent does reign. He is still on the throne. He is always just. He is always just. He loves me. He is good.

And the day is coming when His reign will subdue and the evil and wickedness and brokenness. What a day that will be.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Overcoming Lamb

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. – Revelation 17.14

It kind of sounds strange to think of an overcoming lamb. Lambs must be among the most defenceless creatures in God’s creation. They have no big teeth or bulk or claws or horns. The don’t have a venomous bite. We would be had pressed to find an animal a lamb could overcome in a fight.

And here we read of a lamb who overcame ten mighty kings who made war against Him. How can that make any sense?

I think the illustration of a lamb was used just because it makes no human sense. The Lamb is also the Lord of lords and the King of kings and His saints, those with Him, are the called and the chosen and the faithful.

Right now that it seems like Jesus has adopted the role of the meek and quiet Lamb. It seems like the bad guys are winning and it seems like the called and the chosen and the faithful are being overcome.

That may be how it seems – but the Lamb is the Lord of lords and He is the King of kings and one day He is going to step up and be the Overcomer.

And we get to overcome with Him.

Praise God for the overcoming Lamb of God.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The patience of the saints

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. - - Revelation 14.12

I have said it before and I am certain I will say it again – I don’t like patience. I don’t like patience no matter what definition we use. I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to hold up under pressure. I don’t like enduring through trials. Patience is a virtue, they say, and it is a virtue with which I struggle.

Here Jesus speaks of yet another kind of patience. This patience challenges my heart.

The patience of the saints is that they

Keep the commandments of God
They keep the faith of Jesus Christ

There is a sense where patience is the same as persistence. In this case patience means that the saints persist in keeping God’s commands and they persist in being true to the faith. That is after all, the ultimate test. True believers will persist. False professors will fall by the wayside. Its not a matter of keeping or losing salvation. It is a matter of proving we have salvation by patiently keeping God’s commands and the faith He has entrusted to us.

Do our lives reflect this kind of patience?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The everlasting gospel

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, - Revelation 14.6

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. It is a whole different world than it was when I made my inauspicious entrance 60 years ago. In the midst of all this change it is good to know that some things are stable.

This verse takes place some time in the future. I honestly could not tell you when – but it is the future and in that future there are two things that stay the same.

First is the ‘everlasting gospel.’ The gospel is the same gospel it was all those years ago. It is the gospel that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was crucified, dead, and buried. But that is not all – He conquered death through His glorious resurrection. The gospel message is the same in 2015 as it was in Jesus’ day and the everlasting gospel is not going to change no matter how good or how bad things get.

Another thing that has not changed is the need to preach it it every nation, and family, and language, and people. Jesus told the disciples of the need to preach the gospel to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. That need to preach the everlasting gospel is as real now as it was then and as it will be in the future.

We have an everlasting gospel. We have an everlasting need to share it with and everlasting needy people. Let’s just stay at it.

Monday, 22 June 2015

They did not love their lives

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. – Revelation 12.10-12

I have to admit that I generally love life. I love my family and I love my church and I love my friends. I love living in Ireland.

And I don’t think that there is anything wrong with loving the live God has given us. We ought to be grateful and content with what we have.

But it is possible to love life too much. Loving life can get in the way of serving God. Moses could easily have chosen the life of a king, but he chose to ‘suffer the afflictions of this world’ instead. One of Paul’s helpers left him and the work because he ‘loved this present world.’

We all love our lives to a certain extent. I like to be comfortable like anyone else does. I don’t like to leave my comfort zone because it disrupts my life.

But the saints here loved Christ more than they loved their own lives. They loved their lives so little that they could submit their bodies as living sacrifices. They were willing to lay it all on the altar.

Frances Havergal wrote a wonderful hymn that sets the tone of what it means to put Christ ahead of loving our lives. I think these words say it all.

Help me Lord to not be bound by my love for my own life.

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

He could not prevail

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. – Revelation 12.7-9

There is a lot of mystery in the book of Revelation and there is a lot I don’t understand.

I do understand this though – Satan did battle against Michael and his angels and Satan could not prevail. He could not win. He didn’t have the power.

And the truth is that he can’t win now either because greater is the God who is in us that the devil who is in the world.

Decades ago there was a strange comedy sketch programme on the television. One of the characters was a guy who just popped up and said ‘the devil made me do it.’ I guess it was a little humorous in the context, but ‘the devil made me do it’ is no excuse for the true believer because the devil can’t make us do anything.

That is an amazing truth that we must grasp, especially in those dark hours. Satan really has no power because God lives in us and He is always stronger than any evil which may befall us.

So praise God that Satan could not overcome the saints of God around the throne. Thank God that he cannot overcome me as I trust my Saviour and my strength and power.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. – Revelation 11.15-16

It sure seems like this old world is in control, doesn’t it? All over the world laws are being passed that go totally contrary to the word of God and contrary to our way of thinking. It could almost make one want to just give up and give in.

But Christians we have always been future minded. In fact, that is so well known that it is one of the criticisms cast on us. Those who don’t believe may think that we create this false hope because we can’t handle things here and now.

But I don’t mind that. I don’t want my focus to me on death and despair and destruction – and if our record shows anything it shows that is what man does. The nations of the this world have proven themselves incapable of doing much to sort out man’s root problems.

And they will keep on failing to bring world peace and harmony.

But the day of peace and harmony is coming. It is coming when Jesus comes to establish His earthly reign and all the kingdoms of the world be His and not left up to sinful men.

What a day it will be when all the petty kingdoms of this world well and truly are part of God’s eternal kingdom.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Salvation is of our God

And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. – Revelation 7.10-12

Salvation belongs to our God.

Praise God for that. Praise God that my salvation is not of me or my strength or wisdom. Salvation is His to give and praise God He gave me salvation way back in 1974. It’s a good thing that salvation is our God because if it were of been it would not have survived that first day I was saved.

Man has tried to make salvation his all through history. He has invented all kinds of religions to claim salvation for himself because then he can feel like he is in control.

But salvation is only of God and only through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus paid it all – all to Him I owe.

And what do I owe?

‘Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might.’

Without the salvation that Christ provides I would have nothing – so every aspect of my worship belongs to Him. And even more than that – everything about every part of my life belongs to Him because sin had left a crimson stain and He washed it white as snow.

Salvation is of Jesus Christ. He is the beginning and the end of my faith. May I be able to say with those around the throne, ‘blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might’ be to our God.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Who is worthy?

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. – Revelation 4.11

The angels and others we see in heaven have a constant theme throughout the book of Revelation. They constantly speak of the worthiness of Christ.

This gave me pause to stop and consider what it worthy of my glorifying and my honouring and worthy of my strength and power. Only Christ is truly worthy – but what do I see as worthy?

We all show what we think is worthy by our actions and attitudes and what is worthy of our time and effort. We show what is worthy by what we do because we generally do whatever is important to us.

For some of us money and wealth and things are worthy of our time and effort. We spend all of our time and effort in the support of more.

For some it is sports or entertainment. We make sure that we have time for our favourite match or programme or show. Nothing gets in the way.

For some it is simple pride – we are not going to do anything that would make us look bad or hurt our popularity.

So who or what is really worthy of our glorying in? Who is worthy of our honouring? Who is worthy of our strength?

God and God alone. Are we giving Him His due?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A lesson from Laodicea

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. – Revelation 3.14-21

For most of my life when someone asked if I wanted tea my mental image was a tall, iced filled glass of sweet tea with condensation drops running down the outside of the glass. I could, nearly literally, drink it by the gallon. Nothing satisfied my thirst like it. I loved it at any time in the Alabama heat. In fact, I was just out walking last night and it have become a little warm (for us) and I came home and enjoyed a glass of sweet iced tea last night.

Of course now if someone asks me if I would like tea I think of lovely scalding hot cup of Lyon’s tea with that dark orangey colour. Nothing satisfies like a nice hot cuppa – but it has to be hot.

 There have been a few times where I have become distracted and forgotten about my cup of tea. I may notice it after a while and reached out to take a big gulp only to get a mouthful of tepid, lukewarm tea.

YUCK – I am always tempted to simple spew it out, but usually can’t to I have to grab the cup and spit it back in the cup. It is nothing but GROSS! It is sickening.

And that is a human picture of how Jesus feels about the lukewarm church. Of course it would be better if we are on fire for God, but at least when we are spiritually cold it is clear that we need revival.

But when we are lukewarm we are just blech.

Lukewarmness makes God sick – ‘I will spew you out of my mouth.’ The lukewarm church thinks it is fine. It takes on all the forms of being rich. It thinks it is doing fine because it has loads of money. ‘We are doing fine,’ they say, ‘just have a look around!’

But Jesus says ‘you don’t even know how poor you are spiritually. You are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’

Jesus tells the lukewarm church that they need to seek heavenly riches and to and to be clothed in his righteousness and heal their eyes so that they can see what it really important.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A lesson from Philadelphia

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. – Revelation 3.7-11

The opposite church of Sardis was Philadelphia. The church in Philadelphia had a little strength, but in that strength they kept the word of God and did not deny His name. This was a solid church. God had given them an open door to share the gospel and they went through that open door.

Apparently they did have loads of strength. Jesus said ‘you have a little bit of strength,; but, as the little song puts it, ‘little is much when God is in it.’ The true church was never meant to be strong in this world. We were always going to struggle. So, with our little strength, we walk through the doors He opens.

That little strength is also enough for us to keep the word of God in our lives and in our hearts. The word of God is alive and sharp and powerful and it is our light and our hope. We are to keep God’s word in our hearts and as we do it will keep us from sin.

With that strength and with open door and as we keep His word we have the power to stay true to Him and not deny Him. In his strength we have the power to not deny Him in our words or attitude or actions.

He is coming again – all we have to do now is hold fast and be assured that no one can take our crown of life.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A lesson from Sardis

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. – Revelation 3.1-5

Sardis was a church in a lot of trouble – but it the kind of trouble that is not unfamiliar today.

The Sardis church looked grand from the outside. They had a name that there living and vibrant and going strong. Nobody would have guessed that there was anything wrong.

The problem is that there was no depth. The looked alive, but deep down it was dead. There was nothing there. Their ‘alive-ness,’ if you will, was only skin deep.

But even in skin deep Sardis there were a few names that have not defiled themselves with worldliness. There were a few names that truly were alive and who would forever be with Jesus.

Today is no different. There are still massive numbers of churches where it looks like everything is grand are the outside but are crumbling within. There are churches where compromises are made and sin is allowed and the church changes itself to get along better in the world. In the west what calls itself Christianity is already dead even though it looks okay.

If we are among ‘the few’ we need to be sure that we are not drawn away from the truth to what looks like success.

Being among the few is not a bad thing when we don’t allow ourselves to be defiled by error.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A lesson from Thyatira

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. – Revelation 2.18-28

The church at Thyatira was also split. Jesus says to the church:

I know your works
I know your love
I know your service
I know your patience
I know that your works are always increasing

It looks like they are doing it all right. They look like they have it nailed. I wish all of these things could be said about me. What more can you ask than a working, loving, serving, and patient church?

But there was a problem. The church tolerated the teachings of a woman so vile that Jesus himself calls her Jezebel. It seems that we live in a day when the true church is being testing. As our cultures turn from any sense of decency and morality we need to beware that we don’t follow them in a deadly downward spiral.

God however tells the church that he is going to deal with this woman. Despite her opposition Jesus says to those who are faithful and true that they are staying working and hold fast to the truth.

No matter what ‘everybody’ else does we are to hold fast and keep serving God. Stay true, keep it up, don’t give in, and Jesus promises us that we will reign with Him.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A lesson from Pergamos

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. – Revelation 2.12-16

The believers in Pegamos were in a tough place. ‘You live in Satan’s seat,’ Jesus said, ‘and I know all about your works and how you hold fast to My name and how you have not denied the faith even when Antipas was martyred for his faith.’

But on the other hand they had some serious problems. There were some in the church who held on the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. These folks were antinomian in their beliefs. Basically they believed that because of our liberty in Christ they could do whatever they wanted. Since our salvation is secure they believed they could just do whatever they wanted. That included an connection with idolatry and open fornication. It was all okay because believers had liberty to do what they wanted.

Hopefully none of us live with a Nicolaitan spirit. Or at least we don’t think we do, but there are times when we do choose to take an attitude that we would rather do what we want than what God wants. We know it is not going to send us to hell so we give in to our whims and just do it anyway.

Sin is nothing to be trifled with. If we are dabbling with a spirit that says it is acceptable to carry on in sin and at the same time claim to be faithful to Christ we need to examine our hearts and our spirit, but most of all it is time to repent.

Friday, 12 June 2015

A lesson from Smyrna

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. – Revelation 2.8-10

The Smyrna example is a special one. They knew what it was like to suffer. This church has only good said about it. There is not ‘but’ or ‘however’ associated with them.

Jesus at first reminds them that they indeed serve a risen Saviour. When we see what they were going through this must have been a great encouragement. Things were tough, but Jesus was alive and knew about their struggles.

Jesus knew all about their works for Him
Jesus knew about their poverty (but tells them they are really rich)
Jesus knew about the blasphemy they had to put up with

And He says ‘don’t be afraid of all these things.’
The He says ‘you be faithful unto death’

The key here is the phrase ‘but you are rich.’ While we may sometimes feel like the struggles of this life are unbearable they are in actuality only temporary. Our earthly difficulties are nothing compared to the glories which will one day be revealed to us in heaven. So like our brothers and sisters in Smyrna by the grace of God may we not be afraid of the worst the world can throw us and may see stay faithful to Him.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A lesson from Ephesus

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. – Revelation 2.2-6

As part of the book of Revelation John wrote seven letters to seven real local churches in Asia Minor. These churches would have been mostly inn what is now Turkey. Though not now a hotbed of Christianity at the beginning there we strong viable churches there and that is who John writes to.

There are several ideas about what the churches may represent. Some say they are descriptive of different kinds of churches in every generation. Some say they are pictures of the church through that ages and give us dates and descriptions to fit that idea.

I am not going to try and address that. I see these simply as real churches with real issues and real good things and real bad things. In other words I think they are churches like our churches today so I try to lessons from each of them.

We start with Ephesus. The Ephesians are praised because they work hard and labour for the Lord. They are patient. The don’t put up with ungodliness. They bear up through struggles. They patients and they do not lose heart.

What a great example they are!

But there is a problem. In all of their patiences and sticking and plodding and not losing heart they somehow managed to ‘lose their first love.’

I think there is a lesson there for us. I think it is possible for us to stick with it, stay at it, plug away, not be weary in well-doing, being steadfast, being unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing our labour is not in vain in the Lord, and not fainting – and still lose our first love.

We can serve without loving. We can serve out of pride or resolution or dogged determination or ambition or because we are too embarrassed to quit – and no longer do it out of love.

Perhaps this was the problem at Ephesus. No matter what there is one solution – repent and return to our first love. If we are serving with any other motive than love we need to go back and serve simply because we love Jesus.

Patience and perseverance are grand – but without the love of Christ we are doing it wrong and need to sort things out.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

I serve a risen Saviour

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. - Revelation 1:18

‘I am he that was dead, and is alive, and alive forevermore.’

I don’t know of many Bible truths that are more vital than the truth that our God is alive. Jesus doesn’t just say that He is alive here, but that He was dead and is now alive. That has extra meaning because it tells us that even though death was held Him Jesus has conquered it through His resurrection.

One of the first hymns I remember, from long before I was saved, is “I Serve A Risen Saviour.’ About fifty years later I still remember it clearly. It is usually an Easter song, but is a great reminder any day.

I serve a risen Saviour
  He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
  Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
  I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
  He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
  I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
  I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
  Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
  Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
  Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
  To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
  The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
  So good and kind.

I am not even going to try and beat that. I serve the One who was dead, who now is alive, and who will live forever. I serve a risen Saviour – amen! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

I John

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. – Revelation 1.9

I like John. He had quite a history. As a disciple he was ‘the one that Jesus loved.’ He was in the inner circle of disciples. He was a young man then and stayed by Jesus’s side. Jesus gave his mother to John to look after her.

But now a lot of time had passed. He could very well be close to 90 years old. According to church tradition he had been tortured for his faith by being boiled in oil. Now he was exiled to a lonely rock of an island – probably to spend the rest of His life alone.

And yet we don’t read Him bemoaning his fate. He simply says

I am your brother
I am your companion in tribulation
I am your companion in the kingdom
I am your companion in patience

He also said

I am here for the word of God
I am here as a testimony of Jesus Christ

We can not be under any delusion. If we stand for the word of God and we stand as a testimony of Jesus Christ we are going to be joining John in trials and tribulations. God’s kingdom is never going to fit in to the world’s kingdoms. While we have coasted in relative ease for a long time this is not the norm. We had better be prepared.

And we had better be prepared to join John in patience. At the end of Revelation John is going to write ‘even so come Lord Jesus.’ He, like us, was waiting for Jesus to come back for us.

So John is a pattern for us. Our brother knows what it is like to go through tribulation for the cause of the kingdom, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Let us join him in patience as we say with him ‘even so come Lord Jesus.’

Monday, 8 June 2015

Alpha and Omega

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. – Revelation 1.8

The scriptures talk a lot about the eternality of Jesus Christ. He is, as we know, the great I AM of the burning bush. He is the first and the last. He is the Word what was already there in the beginning. He is there from eternity past. He is yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Alpha and Omega, He is the beginning and the end. He is that which was, and is, and is to come. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

And all that matters because He is the Almighty.

Because Jesus is the beginning and the ending and is and was and is to come and is the same yesterday and today and forever there is nothing that is going to catch Him off guard. Nothing is ever going to catch Him by surprise. As a friend asked one time ‘has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?’ Nothing can ever occur to Him because there is nothing new to Him. Because He is not bound by time He is already there is the ‘is to come.’

No matter what happens to catch me off guard I don’t have to fret. Jesus knows. He knows because He has seen it all and He has seen it all because He has always been. He can help because He is here now. And I need not fret about the future because He is always going to be here – and He doesn’t change.

Jesus was the active agent in creation. If He can say ‘let there be light’ and light appears He can surely take care of that bill or that burden or that emotional need. I never have to worry that He is not going to be here or not going to be able.

The Almighty is also the Always Here and so is the Always Able.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Kings and priests

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. – Revelation 1.5-6

A lot of people have real issues with self image. While I think we can carry that to an extreme and while I think we need to be careful to remember humility and all that we should never have to worry about our worth or our value.


Because Jesus has made us kings and priests unto God. Chances are that nobody I know is ever going to have a book written about them. We are not going to be the subject of a blockbuster film. We are never going to draw thousands when we speak. We may never be well known. Our circle of influence may never extend beyond a handful of people. We may be common labourers or janitors who toilet cleaners or burger flippers or may be corporate executives business leaders or whatever.

No matter what we end up doing what really matter is that in the eyes of God we are already kings and priests.  That is a great leveller. Here on earth people judge us by who we are and what we do and how we look and how much stuff we have. We can’t change that.

But in heaven we are already kings and priests in God sight.

God has called me a king and a priest. How can I get down on myself when that is how God sees me? I can’t even let Satan make me believe that I am worthless because in Christ I am priest and king.

Does my life reflect my real status before God? Do I conduct myself as a heavenly king and a heavenly priest?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

From Jesus

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. – Revelation 1.5-6

It is is a bit of a rhetorical question I guess, but why are the words of Christ so important? What authority does He have?

There are a few reasons here:

He is the faithful witness. What He says is true. Because He is ‘the truth’ we never have to worry about the veracity of His words. That means that even when I read things that are hard to grasp or difficult to understand I don’t have to worry about whether it is true or not because Jesus is our faithful witness.

I can trust Him it matter of eternity because He is the ‘firstborn from the dead.’  He knows all about life and death and eternity because He not only planned it but He did it. He was born and lived and died and rose victorious over death.

He is the prince over the kings of the earth. He is in control. He is the ruler and the heart of the kings of the earth are in His hands. He is in charge.

He loves us. No matter what happens we can trust Him because He loves us and cares what happens. Even in our darkest ours the One who loves is there by our side.

He shed His blood to cover our sins. We can trust what He says because He gave His all for us.

So as we read we can take confidence in the One behind the words. We will be blessed as we read and keep them in our hearts and lives.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Keep it

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. – Revelation 1.1-3

The book of Revelation is one of those books which is full of mystery and imagery and difficult teachings.  I will be the first to admit that I don’t even come close to understanding all of the images and symbols and mysteries. I am glad that one day I will get to know it all.

But there are many things that are very clear and which have clear applications for the church today. This is one of those passages.

Blessed is he who read these words and hears the words of this prophecy and keeps them. Though these words are specific to the book of Revelation they are a clear reminder of the need for God’s people to do more than just read and hear God’s word.

God’s word, in Revelation and elsewhere, is there for more than just our reading. We read God’s word and we keep it in our hearts and we do it. It isn’t like a history book or a good novel. We don’t really have a ‘take it or leave it’ option. Our blessing does not come from just a casual reading to tick it off our daily ready list. God blesses when we read it, take it in our hearts and lives, and do it.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Lord comes

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. – Jude 1.14-15

I had to go back and address this verse before I move on to the book of Revelation since that books picks up on this theme.

‘Behold, the Lord is coming…’ That is a truth that the church has counted since the very last words recorded in the New Testament when John wrote ‘even so, come Lord Jesus.’ In fact, it started even before then when the angels told the disciples to get to work because Jesus was coming again.

This is an exciting prospect! The problem is that it is so exciting that some folks spend so much time trying to figure it out that we don’t get a whole lot done. Folks are looking at signs of what might be indications that Jesus is coming back. Could this guy be the Antichrist? Could this be the mark of the beast?

Judgement is coming. Jesus is coming back to set up His kingdom. But in the meantime we can’t be like the disciples gazing longingly up to heaven. We need to be busy. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he told them not to worry about signs and wonders but he told them ‘But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.’

Jesus is coming again, amen! But we have a lot to do while we are waiting.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

God only wise

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. – Jude 1.24-25

‘To the only wise God our Saviour…’

It is to the only wise God and Saviour that we acknowledge glory and majesty and dominion and power for ever and ever.

But I like that little reminder that He is the only source of true wisdom. While men have sought for wisdom in all kinds of places all through history there is only one place to find wisdom – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Earthly wisdom is based on the best that man can do. It is based on human logic and human reasoning.

There have been great pursuers of human wisdom. The ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and Plato and Socrates were great wisdom seekers. In the late 18th century the philosophes created a resurgence of wisdom seeking. This seeking of wisdom can bring human advances that benefit mankind.

But when it comes to eternity only God’s wisdom will work. Our life here is fleeting so we live for eternity and God is one who dwells in eternity. He is the only wise God. He is the only source of wisdom that will count for all eternity.

There is a great old hymn we hardly hear sung today that expresses the power of our ‘God only wise.’

Immortal, invisible, God only wise, 
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, 
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, 
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise. 

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, 
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might; 
thy justice like mountains high soaring above 
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love. 

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small; 
in all life thou livest, the true life of all; 
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, 
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee. 

Thou reignest in glory; thou dwellest in light; 
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight; 
all laud we would render: O help us to see 
'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

He is able

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. – Jude 1.24-25

Kids love to sing and I love to hear them sing. If you ask our grandson Wil what song he wants to sing is is almost sure to say ‘sable.’

‘Sable’ is the old children’s chorus “He is able.’ It is a nice little peppy chorus that goes in part like this.

He is able
He is able
I know He is able
I know my Lord is able to carry me through

And the wonderful thing is that even though it is ‘just’ a children’s chorus it hold a great theological truth. The only wise God, our Saviour is due all glory and majesty and dominion and power both now and forever. That wonderful God is able to carry me through this life because I am His and He is mine.

If it were up to me to keep me from falling away I would surely fail. I can hardly keep myself for a few hours without falling away so I certainly could not do it for the rest of my life. If it were up to me and I had to stand before God it would be with great sorrow and pain and remorse and certainly not with great joy. I would always fall short.

But my Saviour is able to carry me though and because He carries me though when I stand in the presence of God it will be with great joy because I will stand there in Christ.

I know my Lord is able to carry me through!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Making a difference

And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. – Jude 1.22-23

Despite all of the opposition that is going to come and despite the attempt by the false teachers to corrupt the church and pervert the grace of God we still have a task ahead of us. While we are building up our faith and such we also must be trying to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are told here that the very best way to to earnestly contend for the faith is to share our faith with others. This is the only way we have to try and fix the broken world.

While love is our motivation Jude tells us here that we approach different people different ways. By the way, I like that he still got to write a little bit about salvation like he wanted to do at the start.

Some folks need compassion. There are some who are loved to Christ. Many folks, from my experience the vast majority, are reached by showing them the love of Christ. The love of Christ makes a difference in their lives because it is not the norm. People are looking for love – and we have all the love the world needs.

But sometimes people need to see the awfulness of sin and the terrible consequences of sin. God’s hatred for sin is all they will listen to. These needs to pulled out of their sin. They need to fear the wrath of God.

There is no one way to make a difference. That is why we need to preach the full word of God. We need to preach the love of God and the wrath of God in order to make a difference.