Saturday, January 9, 2010

Do You Tremble at God's Word?

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I took a "break" one day this past week from studying Revelation to listen to a sermon by Francis Chan, a pastor of a church in California and the author of the book "Crazy Love." I listened to a sermon entitled, " The Most Important Lesson I Could Teach." It was over 2 Peter 1--a chapter that I had never really read and introduced several topics that just challenged me so much in how I approach reading God's Word and how I live it out in my life. One of these areas that I felt challenged in was what I do with my life before I die. In this passage of scripture, Peter knew the type of death he was going to have because Jesus told him in an earlier passage. Peter says in verse 12-14:

"Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me." ESV

Those words in italics, I believe are important to highlight because it shows the kind of mindset Peter had: always reminding the believers of the qualities listed earlier in verses 5-7 (faith, virtue, self control...) "as long as I am in this body." Peter knew that he was going to die a cruel death. Don't you think that if he was in today's society, he would enjoy and live it up as much as possible before a death upside down on a cross? We invest, plan and save for retirement to "enjoy" the last few years we have on this earth before we go into the true Paradise. I don't know, I am not saying that you can't save money so that you're not a burden to your family when you're unable to take care of yourself, but don't you think we should have the mindset of "until I leave this body, I want to be reminding everyone, my family, friends, co-workers, people on the streets--everyone about how to live a life for Christ?" Maybe if you struggle with this concept, you should first pray that God would deliver you from a fear of death. It's ok, there are days where I am like "What if this happens....or I get sick and this happens.." and I panic but then I am reminded of the victory I have in Christ Jesus and that passage that speaks of "Oh sin where is thy victory? Death where is thy sting?" And that we have no fear in death!

Second Peter says something intriguing about how he saw Christ (in Matthew 17) with his face shining like the sun, his body turning to white and Moses and Elijah appearing by his side. God comes along in a huge, bright cloud (like the one in the OT that was with the how he is permeated throughout right? I love it!) and God says "This is my Son, whom I am well pleased." So Peter has witnessed an INCREDIBLE thing and yet his words in verse 18-19

"....we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation."

Did Peter just say that the prophetic word, is something more sure than all of the glory and splendor described earlier in verse 18? YES! Is that not crazy--but so so true? It is also neat how he says "knowing first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation." Ha. How often we hear "Well, that's just how you interpret the Bible...I interpret it like this..." Ah! We must be careful! Francis Chan did an awesome job in emphasizing this in his sermon of how to study God's word. We must work so diligently at looking at text asking God to "put aside my desires, give me the truth."

Lastly, Chan highlighted Isaiah 66:1-2 which states this:

"Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." ESV

But this is the one whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Humble. Contrite. Trembles. When I approach reading God's word, am I humble? Do I have a contrite or broken Spirit? Do I tremble at the power in His Word? This is my heart's prayer for the rest of my study in Revelation and well, the rest of my life: To approach reading God's word with reverance,humility, brokeness and with trembling--knowing that I have a privilege everyday to encounter something greater than the physical splendor of Jesus and God in a cloud. Don't get me wrong, ha! I want to see that and I will, but really---God's Word is just as powerful and amazing as that.

Get the sermon at:
11/27/09 "The Most Important Message I Could Teach" Francis Chan

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Revelation Chapter 2

I realized the other day, there is no way that I will be done with studying Revelation over break! In fact, my pace right now, with free time, is a chapter a week-week and half. It's hard not to dive into the scripture, read commentary and go to cross references which usually lead to other cross references :). Oh well. Let's look at chapter two a little bit and see what it all entails!

This portion of scripture, according to ESV commentary, is the "Beginning of the body" and it includes three letters to four of the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergmum and Thyatria.

Ephesus-Christ is aware of the work, toil nd patient endurance. He notes that one thing he has against the church is that they have "abandoned the love you had at first." The commentary says that it could either be that they forgot the love/lost love for one another or the same degree of love for Christ--or both.

Cross References

"abandoned the love you had at first"

  • Jeremiah 2:2- "I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me int the wilderness, in a land not sown.

  • Ezekiel 16:8- " When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you."

  • vs. 43-"Because you have not remembered the days of your youth but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord God. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?"

  • vs. 60- "Yet I will remember my covenant in the days of your youth and I will re-establish an everlasting covenant with you."

Smyrna-tribulation, poverty and slander of those who say they are Jews and are not. Two main topics: (1) Be faithful unto death and you will receive a crown of life. (2) that you may be tested.

Cross References-

(1)Be faithful unto death and you will receive a crown of life:

  • Matthew 10:22-" You will be hated for my namesake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

  • Hebrews 3:5-6: " Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were spoken later but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are in his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope."

(2)that you may be tested

  • James 2:5- " Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?"

  • 1 Timothy 6:18- " They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share thus storing up treasures for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of what is truly life."

  • Hebrews 10:34-"For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property. Since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession, an abiding one."

Church of Pergamum-The Holy spirit somewhat reveals a character quality with Jesus that corresponds with the church's weakness/is being challenged with. ie. "the words of him who has a sharp two-edged sword." And here the church is struggling with false witness and prophets.

"Satan's throne"-ESV Commentary: " pergamum hosted temples dedicated to "the divine Augustus and the goddess Roma" and to "Asklepios (the god of healing, symbolized by serpents) and a large altar dedicated to Zeus. The worship of the emperor as a god was also strongly emphasized, even required, in the province of Asia, and it was a major problem for Christians at the time. All of this qualifies Pergamum to be called the site of Satan's throne. Amid oppressive paganism, a believer named Antipas had sealed his testimony with his life, and Jesus shares with Antipas his own title, faithful witness."

Balaam-prophet seduced King moab to be both sexually and spiritually adulterous

Nicolatiains-spread the act of sexual and spiritual infidelity

Cross References

"War with the sword of my mouth"

  • Isaiah 49:2-"He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away."

  • Ephesians 6:17-"....and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God."

  • Hebrews 4:12-"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

  • Revelation 19:15-"From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations with and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty."


-"Christ's eyes like a flame of fire, whose feet are like burnished bronze"

*ESV Commentary-Interesting little note I just wanted to highlight in the commentary, that this passage in regards to the metals is somewhat familiar to Thyatiran metal workers.

Cross Reference

  • Revelation 1:14-15
  • Ezekiel 1:27

-Jezebel-prophetess: teaching and seducing servants to practice sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols. She could be hypothetically speaking or an actual woman who was a prophet.

Cross References

  • 1 Kings 16:30-33; 19:1-2: These passages describe the queen of Tyre, King Ahab's wife named Jezebel who suggested the Israelites to worship false gods etc...In (19:1-2) she wanted to kill Elijah the prophet
  • Babylonian prostitute
  • This woman had time to repent, or symbolic of the church having time to repent, but she or they didn't.

-"I will give to each of you according to your works"

Cross References

  • Matthew 16:27-"For the son of man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

-ESV Commentary-"reward only to those have taken up the cross"

-hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works till the end, to him I will give authority over the nations."

Cross References

  • Psalm 2:88-"Ask me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession."
  • Daniel 7:14-" And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him."