Archive for the ‘The Book of Revelation’ Category

Revelation: Jesus Will Conquer the Beasts in Your Life

When you hear the word “beast” what comes to mind? The definition of beast is: a) any nonhuman animal, b) the crude animal nature common to humans and the lower animals. One of my first dates at Andrews University was with a girl who expected me to open the car door for her every time she got in or out of the car. I was not accustomed to doing this, and actually walked away from the car with her still in it. I waited a few minutes and finally decided to go back to open the door for her. She described me as “beastly” and in retrospect I think she was right!

I believe all of us have a beast lurking within. Paul called it the “flesh” which is the nature we struggle to overcome. We all have a different beast with which we struggle. For some it is materialism, entertainment or sports. For others it is an addiction to pornography, video games or gambling. Whatever the beast, the issue becomes how to conquer it. Perhaps this is where Revelation’s discussion of the beast powers is relevant to us today. Could it be that the description of how to defeat the beast powers in Revelation is the same way we can defeat the beast within today?

It seems to me that this concept speaks to the real point of Revelation – worship. The real issue for me is what or whom I worship. I seek to worship the Jesus who can conquer my beast!

Little Scroll, BIG Message!

As I consider the relevance of Revelation 10 in my life today, there are two aspects of the chapter that really catch my attention. The first is the fact that we are dealing with a “little scroll.” It may be tempting to think that it’s not as important as a bigger scroll. After all, a bigger scroll would have more information & thus be more likely to be relevant for John as well as for us 2000 years later. But then I realized that often the best things come in small packages. A diamond necklace, precious stones, a fine watch, or the winning lottery ticket worth 60 million dollars are just a few examples of really valuable items that come in small packages. And then I think of minute size of microprocessors that allow us to have laptop computers more powerful than the mega-sized computers just a few years ago, or the incredibly small size of a red blood cell that travels through 60,000 miles of blood vessels to take oxygen to over 70 trillion cells in the human body. Now that is small, but very powerful. In fact, the smallness of a microprocessor or a red blood cell actually makes it all the more powerful! And so when I think of the “little scroll” I begin to realize that there is real power in its small size. In fact, the size of this scroll gives me a better appreciation of its real worth in the 21st century than it would have been to John in the 1st century simply because we now know the power and worth of small packages!

But then there is a second aspect of Revelation 10 that compels me to take notice – John was told to “eat” it! Until now, John has been observing and writing. But he is now instructed to eat the scroll! Perhaps this is another reason it is small, so he can consume it. John is now an active participant in Revelation. It is not good enough to simply write what he sees. He must digest it, incorporate it into his life! How often do I simply write a blog or a sermon or prepare a worship talk or give a devotional thought without taking the time to digest God’s Word. But in Revelation 10, we are told to eat the Word of God. In the midst of Revelation’s beasts & warfare, John is told to eat! Could this be the key to success in life today? Could this be the key to peace, joy, contentment, and even victory over addictions, anger, hardened attitudes, & selfishness?

The Army of God

Once I was accepted into medical school, I then had to figure out how I was going to pay for it. I soon discovered there were military scholarship programs to pay for the entire bill! However, I wasn’t sure the military was a good option for me. There were lots of reasons why I didn’t think I should join the military: 1) I am independent. 2) I don’t like to be told what I have to do. 3) I don’t like to take orders. 4) I don’t like to wear a uniform. 5) I don’t like to be told where to live.

But in the end, I accepted a military scholarship in order to pay for medical school. And though I never wanted to make the military a career, I learned to appreciate & enjoy my time in the US Navy. I didn’t always like the orders I received, but I understood the need for them. I actually learned to enjoy the simplicity & usefulness of wearing a uniform. And though the Philippines was not my first choice for a duty station, I understood the need to have an obstetrician there!

So when Revelation talks about the church as an army, I have never fully embraced the metaphor. “Onward Christian Soldiers” has never been my favorite song. The Old Testament stories of wars & battles have caused me more alarm & consternation than inspiration. But the reality is that the church is not only the bride of Christ and the family of God, but an army. As I consider this metaphor, I wonder how far I should take it in my daily life. What does it mean to be a part of God’s army? What is my uniform? What are my orders? Should I really view the church & my role in the church in such terms? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jesus Rules!

What does the phrase “Jesus Rules” mean to you?  We talk about Jesus as the Lamb who was slain for our sin.  But Revelation also talks about Jesus being a Lion!  What is the significance of this metaphor for you today?

We had lived in the Philippines for 6 months when we were invited to a wedding in Banaue.  We were excited to travel to the site of the famous rice terraces and to see a traditional tribal wedding.  I was stationed at Subic Bay Naval Base for three years, so we were ready for any and every adventure.  Several people from the base went to the wedding, most traveled via US Navy vans while we chose to follow along in our own car.

I was following a safe distance behind the second van when a little girl ran directly in front of me.  We had driven for about 6 hours when this happened.  I turned the wheel of the car to miss her, but to no avail.  I still remember seeing her flipped upside down by the impact of my front bumper on her torso.  She was now laying on the hood of my car as I abruptly hit a cement post, which threw her about 100 feet from the car.  The van ahead of me stopped, picked up the girl and took her to the nearest hospital.

In the meantime, I was taken to the police department downtown not knowing the status of the little girl.  I waited four hours before receiving a report on how she was doing.  Those four hours were some of the longest hours of my life.  I realized that I was NOT in control of this situation.  Hundreds of people gathered around this police station, the city jail, to catch a glimpse of the American!  Before I knew it, the mother of the little girl arrived with a lawyer to talk with me.  They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Tagalog.  I needed someone to help me.  I desperately needed someone to take over, take control, to RULE!  Yes, I needed a person who spoke Tagalog AND English, one who was articulate, well versed in Philippine law and culture, and someone who would be an advocate for me.  But I also wanted a person who was compassionate for not only me, but for the mother and the injured girl.  On that warm December evening in the northern reaches on the Philippine island of Luzon, I found that person in Dr. Mendoza who came to my rescue.  She ruled the situation.  She solved the problem.  And the little girl escaped without a scratch or broken bone!  I will never forget being rescued by the kind, compassionate, honest, and articulate Dr. Mendoza.

I have found that Jesus rules in my life in this same way if I allow Him to have a place in my heart.  I struggle with internal issues that are just as real and troubling as my situation described above.  And my only hope in overcoming such issues is to allow Jesus to rule in my life!  Revelation 4 describes a heavenly coronation ceremony for Jesus. What does such a ceremony look like for you in your life?  What does it look like for Jesus to “rule” in your life?

Jesus Knows Your Name

I was in Chicago in October, 2009 to run the marathon.  It had been a few years since I ran that particular marathon, but this one was special as I had already decided it would be my last marathon.  In addition, it marked the 10th anniversary that my daughter, Sally, & I had run our very first marathon, which was in Chicago.  So this was a very special marathon, indeed.  But there was something that made it even more memorable.  While we were walking on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago two days before the marathon, we noticed a huge crowd gathered outside the Nike Store.  Everyone was taking pictures of a window display, or so I thought.  When I was close enough to see for myself, I realized that Nike had written the name of every participant who had signed up to run the Chicago Marathon that year.  So what did I do?  You guessed it.  I found my name on the window, got my camera out & took a picture of my name & Sally’s name.

There is something about a name that is more than just letters.  A name is more than a way to greet you.  Your name represents YOU.  In fact, you are your name.  Here’s what I mean…  If my name had not been on the list to fly from Pasco, Washington to Chicago through Denver, then I would not have been on that flight.  If my name had not been on the admissions list for the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, class of 1982, then I would not be a physician.  If my name is not on the employee roster at the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, then I would not be a pastor.  If my name is not on the reservation list at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Chicago the night before the marathon, then I will not eat there.

Revelation tells us that God has a list.  Everyone is invited to be on that list.  Jesus signed the paperwork for your name to be on that list.  In fact, He signed it with His own blood.  That means that your name & mine can be on that list in heaven called “The Book of Life.”  This is a book that guarantees eternal life to each name in it.  And each name is a person.  Will you accept His invitation to have your name written in the Book of LIfe?  What does that look like for you?

The Great Counterfeits

I love things that are truly authentic.  When we lived in the Philippines we would go to Hong Kong on occassion.  There we could purchase a “Rolex” watch for $20.00.  Such a watch would have the Rolex insignia and look just like a Rolex, but it wasn’t a Rolex.  It wasn’t even a stolen Rolex, it was a fake!

Most of us don’t like fakes.  Today we use the term “poser” for anyone who is trying to be someone other than himself or herself.  Thirty years ago we called such people hypocrites.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, the fact remains that we treasure authenticity.  We want the real thing, we don’t want a counterfeit.

So I find it comforting that the book of Revelation adresses this very issue.  There are counterfeits to God all around us.  What do you find to be the most popular counterfeits to God, His message, and His promise to us today?

 

 

 

Living God’s Vision

I wanted to take Pam to NYC for an anniversary trip.  I looked at maps of Manhattan, pictures of hotels, and read multiple reviews before booking an interesting “art deco” hotel close to Broadway & Times Square.  I was so excited for us to spend a few days in the heart of Manhattan & take in all the sights.  I had the itinerary set & knew what we would be doing each day.  I was excited about the hotel in anticipation of an exotic New York ambience.  However, when we arrived via cab at the door of the hotel, I was gravely concerned.  It was nothing like I expected.  We registered at the front desk & made our way to the room without a view!  The bed consisted of a mattress on the floor with no dressers & little room to even walk around the “bed.”  Needless to say, this hotel did not meet the vision I had painted in my mind.  I spent the rest of the day finding a more pleasant hotel that was available.  We only stayed in the “art deco” hotel one night.

When I think about the purpose of the visions in the book of Revelation, I think about how rarely things turn out to be exactly as I expect in my everyday life.  This is true for me every day of every week.  I make plans for each day, and yet there are always surprises – alterations to those plans.  And yet I was taught as a child that to be a good Christian I should know everything about the time of the end.  Now maybe I misinterpreted the intent of my mentors & teachers of Revelation, but I had the distinct impression that I better know the exact meaning of every symbol in Revelation in order to know exactly what would happen when. 

Since that time, I have come to believe that knowing God’s vision for my life is necessary before really understanding the significance of the visions He gave to John in Revelation.  And I have discovered the parables of Jesus in Matthew 24-25 give me principles by which to live in anticipation of the fulfillment of the visions of Revelation.  There are 5 “end-time” parables in Matthew that tell us how to live in the 21st century.  I challenge you to study these parables and ask yourself this question: “What is God’s vision for my life?”

 

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