Sunday, October 31, 2010

Revelation 14 - A Song, Some Warnings, and a Harvest

by Becky

LINK: Revelation 14


This chapter concludes John's vision of the conflict between the Church and the world - which is really a deeper conflict - between Christ (the seed of the woman) and Satan (the dragon).

John heard of 144,000 in Revelation 7, which we discussed last week. Now, once again, we meet the 144,000 - and see them. I see no reason to think that this is a different group or to think that this is a literal number, when almost everything else in the book is symbolic.

Before John focuses on the group, he hears a voice! "And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harp and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth."(Revelation 14:2,3 ESV) The voice was mighty (like a mighty waterfall or thunder) and also melodic and peaceful, like many harps. Notice the unity - one voice. The redeemed are singing with one voice.

It seems to me that these 144,000 represent all believers from all places and through all time. Look at what characterizes them: they are redeemed (v 3); they have kept themselves pure (v 4). (I believe this means they remained faithful to Christ - spiritually pure. I'm sure there are other thoughts out there, which is fine. But 2 Cor 11: 2 says, "For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ."). They follow the Lamb wherever He goes (v4). They are first fruits from mankind to God. Humanity is headed for the final judgment, which is referred to as a harvest in the gospels (Mt. 9:37; 13:30; Lk. 10:2; Jn. 4:35). Believers are the first fruits, set aside to God, of that harvest of mankind. In contrast to those who are marked with the beast's name on their foreheads or hands (see the end of Rev. 13), these people's foreheads are sealed with the names of the Lamb and the Father. Finally, they resemble that Lamb. They live in truth and are blameless (because of that Lamb!).

Remember, they are singing! We see singing again in the beginning of chapter 15, but between the songs are some angels. As my ESV Study Bible puts it,"Between these anthems John sees three angels who announce impending judgment (14:6–13) and three who order and execute harvests (14:15–20). At the center, between the three announcing angels and the three harvesting angels, John sees a seventh figure, one like a son of man, gathering his grain from the earth (14:14). Despite the beast's cruel persecution (ch. 13), these visions (like those in chs. 7 and 10–11) provide reassurance that God and the Lamb rule..." and that the Church is victorious in the end.

The first of the first three angels proclaims the eternal gospel and the coming judgment while he gives a clear call to all the peoples of the earth to worship God. The second angel announces judgment on Babylon, which represents the seduction of living for pleasure. The third angel announces that those who worship the beast will experience God's wrath and eternal unrest and torment.

There is a parenthesis then, a kind of benediction. "Here is the call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God, and their faith in Jesus... Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." (Revelation 14: 12-13, ESV)

The chapter returns to the narrative, to a scene of a harvest, overseen by "one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand." (Revelation 14: 14, ESV) Two more angels appear to aid in the harvest of the earth. It is finally time for the harvest that had been promised.


One thought that has hit me as I've read this chapter and puzzled over it, is that what God says will happen will happen. All those parables in the gospels about the harvest are echoed here. In the gospels the farmer is told to leave the tares with the wheat until the harvest. Jesus came first as a gospel sower, but now it's clear that He's the one with the sickle.

We are either God's or we're not. There's no in between. We are either sealed with the name of the Father and the Lamb or we're marked by the beast.

God gives warning! Over and over again He makes clear His gospel. He makes clear that we can't live in Babylon (serve our own desires)or live for Satan (the beast) and have no consequences. There will come a judgment.

I will end with a happy thought! Look at the beginning of the chapter again and how the song is described... like mighty water and the sound of harps. The voices sang in unity! No more factions and disagreements. I do look forward to that!


If you are living for yourself and fighting against Christ, please reconsider. Judgment will come. God gives clear warning.

If you are struggling as a believer, take heart! This story has a joyous ending.


Father, this chapter (this book) is hard to understand. Help us to glean from it what you intend. Help us to live for you - to keep on keeping on in faithfulness. We look forward to the day when we will know complete joy and unity in worship of you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Revelation 9 - Two More Trumpets

by Katrina

LINK: Revelation 9

The first four trumpets brought destruction of 1/3 of the heavens and earth. Today we will look at the 5th and 6th trumpets.

5th trumpet - Demons are permitted to torment unbelievers for five months

6th trumpet - Destruction of 1/3 of mankind on the earth, probably by demonic forces

If the events described in the last few chapters are chronological, then half the human population is now dead. (Chapter 6 told of 1/4 of humanity dying.)

It was expected that when one-third of mankind died in these horrible plagues that the other two-thirds would repent and turn to God. But they did not repent. They continued in their idolatry, demon worship, sorceries, murders, immorality, and thievery.

God gives mankind plenty of opportunity to repent, but man refuses to do so! You might remember what Peter said when referring to the fact that Jesus had not yet returned as the early church expected Him to. "The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God has been extremely patient, but one day that patience will end and His wrath will pour out.

Read and meditate on Psalm 115, and worship the Lord!

The Lord is mindful of those who fear Him. Our God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases. As for us, we will bless the Lord from this time forward and forever. Praise the Lord!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Revelation 8 - Silence and Trumpets

by Katrina

LINK: Revelation 8

Imagine . . . The throne is surrounded by worshipers crying out, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" and "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen." There are souls from every nation and all tribes of peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They are clothed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They came out of great tribulation but have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. Now they are before the throne of God day and night, serving Him. . . It's a scene of joy bubbling over and constant praise to God.

Then the seventh seal is opened . . . and suddenly all goes silent. For thirty minutes there is no sound of worship, or anything else, in heaven. One half hour of absolute silence.

The seven angels receive seven trumpets. Another angel receives a great deal of incense to add to the prayers of all the saints. The smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of the saints goes up to God. God hears the prayers of all believers, especially those suffering at the hands of unbelievers. For centuries, believers have prayed, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." David prayed in the imprecatory psalms for God to vindicate His people and serve justice to His enemies. Now these prayers are about to be answered.

The angel threw fire/coals from the altar to the earth, and there were great peals of thunder and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. This represents the judgment of God on the earth. The silence is over, and the seven trumpets begin.

1st trumpet - destruction of 1/3 of the earth
2nd trumpet - destruction of 1/3 of the sea and its creatures
3rd trumpet - destruction of1/3 of the rivers and springs (fresh water)
4th trumpet - destruction of 1/3 of the heavens (sky)

So far, the judgment has been "natural" in that it affects the natural creation of the heavens and earth. But great woe is predicted with the next three trumpets. We'll see the 5th and 6th trumpets tomorrow.

The incense reminds me of the Law that God established with the temple/tabernacle. There was an altar of incense that the high priest was to tend to every morning and evening. This golden altar was near the ark of the covenant, close to the presence of God (Exodus 30). On the annual Day of Atonement, the high priest would offer sacrifices for his own sin. Then the priest would enter the Holy of Holies into the presence of God. When he entered this area, he was to bring incense along with the blood from the sacrifice and allow its smoke to cover the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. If the priest failed to bring the burning incense, he would be struck dead when he entered God's presence (Leviticus 16). The burning incense is linked to man's ability to commune with God.

Here, in Revelation 8, the prayers of believers are mixed with the incense. This golden altar is before the throne, just like the Old Testament golden altar was before the ark of the covenant. The prayers of believers really do ascend to God's presence. God hears our prayers. He is not deaf to His children. Somehow, some of those prayers are involved in the judgment at the end. He is waiting for the time of judgment to complete the answer, but God will carry out what He has promised. The purpose of prayer, then, is to get God's will (not man's) accomplished on earth. Prayer is serious business! And we would be wise to keep the altar of our prayers close to the throne of God where it belongs!

Lord, we don't understand all the things you will do in the end. But we do know that you tell us to pray, and you tell us to pray for your will, your work to be done. May we draw so close to you that our prayers truly reflect your will. May our prayers be a sweet aroma to you. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Revelation 7 - Faith Becomes Sight

by Becky

LINK: Revelation 7

The stage is set for final judgment. The sixth seal has been broken and unleashed on the earth. Even mighty rulers hide,"calling to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'" (Revelation 6:16-17 ESV)

We see who can stand in Chapter 7! Four angels are ready to let loose the winds of destruction when a fifth angel ascends with the "seal of the living God." He calls to the other angels to do no harm to the earth or sea or trees until God's servants are sealed on their foreheads. Those who are sealed are the only ones who will stand.

John hears that 144,000 are sealed, from every tribe. Then a list of some of the tribes of Israel is given, with 12,000 from each tribe. Not every tribe is listed. The tribe of Dan is left off, as is Ephraim. Joseph (from which the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh came) is included. Judah, the tribe that Jesus came from, is listed first. Because of all this, and because of the number 144,000 and the exact numbers of 12,000 from each of the tribes, I believe that this is a symbolic number that represents completeness. (The number 12 often represents completeness in Scripture, as does 10 cubed. 12 x 12 =144; 10 x 10 x 10 = 1000; 144 x 1000 = 144, 000.) ALL believers, through all history, are sealed. Only God knows how many. Not one is left out. (There are quite a few Christians who do not see that number as symbolic - just thought I should let you know that! I am simply explaining as it makes sense to me; I am not the last word on the topic, for sure.)

Then John sees. "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV) I think this multitude is those who were sealed.

They are experiencing what they had only hoped for on earth. The salvation they know now is from God and the Lamb, not from their own goodness or wisdom. They have been a church in tribulation - all the tribulations of all God's saints through all the history of the world is surely great - and now they are the church triumphant - giving glory to God. They placed their trust in the shed blood of the Lamb; they wear clean garments, garments of righteousness, made clean through Jesus' death.


It hit me as I read this that first John heard and then he saw. When I read that I thought of these verses, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17 ESV) And "now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 ESV) And "for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7 ESV)

We do not see now. Just as John heard of those sealed, and then saw the fulfillment; so it is for us. We who are sealed by our faith in the Lamb do not see yet, but someday we will. Right now we operate on the basis of what we are told, what we hear in God's Word; but someday we will SEE!

This will be true of us (!):

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17 ESV)

Here's what William Hendriksen says:

"Therefore are they before the throne of God. Only those who have placed their confidence in Christ and His atonement appear before the throne. They worship Him; that is, they render to Him the spontaneous, glad, and thorough devotion of the heart. It is unceasing worship. These redeemed saints in glory, moreover, experience the sweetest, fullest, and most intimate fellowship with God through Christ; they worship Him in His sanctuary, that is in His immediate presence. The One who sits on the throne treats them as His own dear children, for such by grace they are; He spreads His presence like a tent over them. Negatively, their salvation consists in this, that they are delivered from every care and hardship, from every form of trial and persecution; no more hunger, thirst, or heat. Positively, their salvation means this, that they enjoy the most perfect bliss; the Lamb is now their shepherd (cf. Ps. 23; Jn. 10: 11, 14). Thin of it, a Lamb being a shepherd! This Lamb leads His flock to life's springs of water. Water symbolizes eternal life and salvation (Is. 55:1; Jn. 7: 38,39). The springs of water indicate the source of life, for throught the Lamb the redeemed have eternal and uninterrupted fellowship with the Father.

Finally, the sweetest touch of all: 'And God shall wipe away every tear out of their eyes.' Not merely are the tears wiped or even wiped away; they are wiped out of the eyes so that nothing but perfect joy, bliss, glory, sweetest fellowship and most abundant life, remains. And God Himself is the Author of this perfect salvation." (from More than Conquerors, 114)

Read verses 9-17 out loud and worship our God!


Help us to take to heart the words of this wonderful book, dear Lord. You alone deserve our worship. Help us to worship you now and to continue to walk by faith, believing you, even in the midst of trial and for some, persecution. Give us hope. We look forward so much to the time when our faith will be sight and we will join believers from every people group and time and language in worshiping you. In the name of the Lamb who has washed our rags and made them gloriously spotless, Amen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rev 2:18-29 - Thyatira

by Katrina

LINK: Revelation 2:18-29

THYATIRA - Thyatira was a military town as well as another commercial center in Asia Minor. It was home to many trade guilds, which were usually accompanied by much idolatry and immorality. It was the location of a special temple to Apollo, the "sun god," which may explain why this is the only time in Revelation Jesus is referred to as the "Son of God."

Jezebel - This name is symbolic of one who leads people into idolatry like Jezebel enticed Israel into Baal worship (1 Kings 16-19).

Add Thyatira to your chart of the seven churches. How is Jesus described? What are they commended for? What did Jesus have against them? What are they exhorted to do? What promise are they given?

Lord, may we increase our works of faith, love, and patience toward others. Let us not confuse love with tolerance of sin. And may we hold fast to our faith until Jesus returns. Amen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rev 2:1-17 - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum

by Katrina

LINK: Revelation 2:1-17

Chapters two and three contain the letters to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These were seven cities where Christianity was established at the time John wrote. The letters are messages from Jesus Himself. Only Jesus could know the condition of the hearts of the people, and this is primarily what He addressed in these letters. Most of the letters contain a commendation praising the people for their faith and/or deeds. And most of the letters also contain a charge against the church. They also contain an exhortation and a promise. It is helpful while studying these letters to make a chart identifying the praise, rebuke, exhortation, and promise to each church.

Although these letters were written to specific churches, they are meant to be taken to heart by all churches and all believers individually. The letters close with "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." All local assemblies will do well to listen to what God says to the churches here in Revelation. And, remember, that all churches are made up of individuals, and whatever the people do is what the church does.

The city of Ephesus probably first heard the gospel through Priscilla and Aquila when Paul stopped there on his second missionary journey. On Paul's third journey, he stayed in Ephesus for about three years, making it his home base while he took the gospel all over Asia Minor. He left Timothy to pastor the church as well. Later, John lived there for a time before his exile.

The city of Ephesus was a major business, political, and religious center. It was the home of the temple of Artemis (Diana). It was located on a major trade route and ranked with Alexandria and Antioch as a major business city. Under Caesar Augustus, Ephesus became the capital of the Roman province called Asia (now western Turkey).

The early church fathers spoke of the Nicolaitans as "lovers of pleasure" and "given to calumnious speech." Ignatius defined a Nicolaitan as "a corrupter of his own flesh," indicating immorality.

Smyrna (today known as Izmir) was a seaport city about 35 miles north of Ephesus. It was a center of the imperial cult of Rome, and Christians were greatly persecuted for not following the religion of Rome.

The city of Pergamum was about 45 miles north of Smyrna. It had one of the finest libraries of ancient times and was the place where parchment was first used. At one time, it had been the capital of the Roman province of Asia. The first temple dedicated to Caesar was in this city, and the city very actively promoted the cult of Roman religion. In this city was also a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing. The serpent entwined on a staff was its symbol and is still used as a medical symbol today.

Find the praise, rebuke, exhortation, and promise in each letter and consider how they might apply to your own life as a believer.

Begin a chart with the following sections for each church: description of Jesus, praise for the church, rebuke, exhortation, promise. Fill it in as we go through the seven letters over the next few days.

Lord, give us ears to hear what you are saying to us about our lives in you. May we be sensitive to your Holy Spirit and have the humility to repent where we have sinned, correct our path where we have strayed, and seek to follow your teachings in all areas of our lives. Amen.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Revelation 1 - The "Man" in the Midst of the Lampstands

by Becky

LINK: Revelation 1


Let me tell you (oh no, Carol has already done that!) writing about Revelation is quite intimidating. I guess the best way to do it is simply to jump into this blog post and begin writing!

I think the best approach to Revelation is to read it to get the big picture. Ask what the book has to say about God, about the Lord Jesus Christ, about history. Don't begin by trying to analyze the symbols or details.

Revelation was written to encourage believers. The first century church was undergoing tremendous persecution. John wrote down his vision to reveal the reality that God is in charge. Good does triumph over evil! This is a book of hope.

There are seven divisions, or visions, in this book. Almost everything I've read agrees about that!

  1. Christ in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (1-3)
  2. The book with seven seals (4-7)
  3. The seven trumpets of judgment (8-11)
  4. The woman and the Man-child persecuted by the dragon and his helpers (the beast and the harlot) (12-14)
  5. The seven bowls of wrath (15,16)
  6. The fall of the great harlot and of the beasts(17-19)
  7. The judgment upon the dragon (Satan) followed by the new heaven and earth, new Jerusalem (20-22)
I have used the divisions outlined by William Hendriksen in his very readable book More than Conquerors. Others will probably mark the divisions slightly differently.

It is Mr.Hendriksen's view that Revelation is an organic unity, with an easy transition from vision to vision. Each of the visions spans the era from Jesus' first coming to the time He returns again in judgment. So the message is for us if we are part of the universal Church! We live in that era.


There is much to reflect on in this first chapter. This is a revelation of Jesus Christ to John, so that John could communicate it to the believers alive at that time and to all of us who have come since then. It says we are blessed if we read the book and blessed if we hear it - especially if we take to heart what it says. So get ready to receive a blessing!

Try to lay aside any preconceptions you have of the book. Read this chapter and worship the LORD.

Look at what is said about Jesus:

  • He loves us.
  • He's freed us from our sins by His blood.
  • He has made us a kingdom and priests to serve God.
  • He is coming back in the clouds and everyone will recognize him.
  • He is the Alpha and Omega. (The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet)
  • He is the one who is , who was, and who is to come. (The I Am.)
  • He is the Almighty.
  • He is the First and the Last
  • He is the Living One.
  • He was dead and now he's alive for ever and ever!
  • He holds the keys of death and Hades.
How can we not fall down and worship him?

We meet someone "like the son of man" in the middle of seven lampstands. This is the Lord Jesus in power! Look at the similes used to describe Him:

  • His head and hair - like wool, as white as snow
  • His eyes - like blazing fire
  • His feet - like bronze glowing in a furnace
  • His voice - like the sound of rushing waters (Have you ever heard a huge waterfall or waves?)
  • His face - like the brilliant sun (Can you look at the sun?)
Do you see him? This man, clearly the Lord Jesus because He'd been called "son of man" when he lived and walked on earth, holds seven stars in his right hand and out of his mouth comes a double-edged sword.

In short, He is frightening. John fell down in fear as if dead. I think we will, too, when we see Him in His power and glory. But the man reassures him, "Don't be afraid."

The man himself tells John what some of the objects represent: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. (I don't begin to understand that, but isn't that cool?) The seven lampstands are the seven churches. (How fitting is that? We, the church, are the bearers of God's light.)


Read this chapter again and then bow low and worship our Lord Jesus.

Thank-you for this book, Lord. Help us to read it and heed it. Help us to worship you and trust you more through what we read. You are in charge. You are directing history to the end you have in mind. We praise you that you love us and that you have freed us from our sin through your death on the cross, through your shed blood. We are your servants. Give us eyes to hear and ears to hear.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

3 John - Walking in Truth

by Katrina

LINK: 3 John

In this brief letter, John wrote to his friend Gaius, a leader in the church. In this letter, John mentioned three men: Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. This chapter lends itself to three very short character studies.

Read this chapter very carefully. What character traits do you see in each of the three men John mentioned? What can you learn about their behavior? What about their attitudes? Their mindset?

Which man would you like to strive to be more like? What can you do to grow in the good traits of this chapter? Which traits should you work on avoiding in your own life?

Lord, teach us to not only know the truth, but also to walk in the truth. May our lives overflow with the love that demonstrates that we belong to Jesus. And may we live as fellow workers worthy of being called by Your name. Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2 John - Walk in Truth

by Katrina

LINK: 2 John

The apostle John wrote this letter around the year 90. He addressed it to "the chosen lady," which may be an individual or may be a church. If it's a church then the greeting from "your chosen sister" would refer to the church where John was at the time of writing (probably Ephesus).

John's primary purpose is to warn his readers of false teachings and to exhort them to remain firm in the truth. The teachings of Christ are truth, and anyone who does not accept them does not belong to Him. They need to guard against anyone who brings any teaching that does not align with Christ.

One specific false teaching at that time was that of gnosticism. Gnostics taught that Jesus was not God in the flesh. (I posted more on the teachings of gnosticism here.) John warned against this particular teaching and those who taught it (verse 7).

The best way to avoid the trap of false teaching is to really know the truth and to live the truth. It's not an easy task; it requires reading, thought, discussion, and study. It's much easier to be complacent, but it's also very dangerous to be complacent. Our world is full of false teaching, and much of it is packaged in a way that sounds biblical.

The key is to examine the core of any "new" teaching. When it's boiled down, what does it say about Jesus? It doesn't have a leg to stand on unless it teaches that Jesus came as God in the flesh, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross as payment for man's sin, was buried, raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will one day return to claim those who belong to Him for eternity. In the meantime, He left us the command to love God with all our being and to love others. Those who belong to Him will keep His commandments.

Father, may we be more aware of the falsehoods of the many various teachings of our day. Teach us through Your word and Your Holy Spirit to know the truth and to recognize what does not align with the truth. May we grow in our understanding of Your word and seek to walk in truth, keeping Your commands. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1 John 5 - Jesus Is the True God

by Becky

LINK: 1 John 5

When I think of this letter of John certain shorthand phrases pop into my mind. This letter is more devotional than Paul's and less linear. John uses simple language here, and yet writes with consistency and insight. So over and over the same themes are repeated: we love Him because He first loved us, belief in God=love for Him, abiding in Him, obedience to Him, loving other believers, Jesus=God=life. Love and obedience go hand in hand.

Chapter 5 continues many of the themes established earlier in the book. In fact the main theme of the book is reiterated here at the end: " And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (ESV)

If ever you wondered if the Bible says that Jesus is God, wonder no more! It says it right here. Jesus is the true God and eternal life.

Earlier in the chapter, John cites the evidence that Jesus is God (vv 6-12). The Holy Spirit (like a dove from heaven), Jesus' baptism (water)which includes God's voice from heaven (Mark 1: 10-11), and Jesus' death (blood). We ourselves have the evidence in us! We have evidence as Christians of Jesus being God/Man! Our faith is based on evidence; it's not superstition.


If we know that Jesus is God that will change what we focus on, the way we live. If He is true, then the way He tells us to live is true. We will pray, wanting his will. His will is revealed in the Word. It's not some mystery, but is stated clearly. What we pray for should be in accordance with His revealed will, what He tells us in the Bible.

Our prayers matter. We are here to pray for each other, especially when we see our brothers and sisters sinning. God is the judge, not us.


The chapter closes with this sentence, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Most of us don't bow down to little statues, but that doesn't mean we don't have idols.

Near the end of a sermon that I found online, Kenny Stokes laid out thirteen questions, adapted from an old Puritan sermon, to help us identify the idols of our hearts. I think they reveal a lot.
  1. What do you most highly value?
  2. What do you think about by default?
  3. What is your highest goal?
  4. To what or whom are you most committed?
  5. Who or what do you love the most?
  6. Who or what do you trust or depend upon the most?
  7. Who or what do you fear the most?
  8. Who or what do you hope in and hope for most?
  9. Who or what do you desire the most? Or, what desire makes you most angry or makes you despair when it is not satisfied?
  10. Who or what do you most delight in or hold as your greatest joy and treasure?
  11. Who or what captures your greatest zeal?
  12. To whom or for what are you most thankful?
  13. For whom or what great purpose do you work?
Think about these. The whole sermon is here.


We thank you, Lord for clearly stating that Jesus is the true God. Help us to follow your truth. Give us hearts of love to pray for each other. You alone are worthy of worship. Open our eyes to see if we worship something other than you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1 John 1 - Walk in Light

by Katrina

LINK: 1 John 1

The author of these three epistles is the same John who wrote the gospel account by his name. The same John also wrote the book of Revelation which we will soon be reading.

One reason John wrote this letter was to counter the false teaching of gnosticism that was spreading in the early church. This was a teaching that the immaterial was superior to the material. Because of this, Gnostics denied the incarnation of Jesus, because God could not unite with a material body. Along the same lines, they also denied the resurrection of the body. They taught that knowledge was superior to virtue and therefore generally had low moral standards. The Gnostic explanation for evil in the world is that God is not the only creator, but another creator made evil. They taught that only a select few were capable of understanding Scripture.

Throughout this letter, John clearly expressed his affection for the recipients as well as his concern for their spiritual welfare.

John begins with the "realness" of Jesus and the gospel message that had been proclaimed. Next he contrasts the light of God with the darkness of the world. And then, he urges the readers to stay in the light and be continually cleansed from sin through confession.

If we walk in the light with Jesus, we have fellowship with one another.
If we confess our sins, we are cleansed from them.
On the other hand, if we deny that we sin, we accuse God of lying.

I have a black t-shirt with the white words, "I am walking in the light" printed on the front, and "How about you?" on the back from 1 John 1:7. Only I can't read the shirt because it's written in Khmer (Cambodian language). It was the theme of a youth camp in Cambodia that a team from our church helped with a few years ago. We encouraged the young believers there to walk in the light while at camp and to continue to walk in the light when they returned to their villages. Some of these young people are the only believers in their village, surrounded by animism and Buddhism. They shine as bright lights in a very dark world.

What does it mean to walk in the light? It means to live a life of obedience to the Lord. In doing so, we stand out as different from the dark world around us that lives in disobedience to God. It doesn't mean we will be sinless. But it does mean we will notice our sin and confess it before God. If we try to hide our sin, we participate in darkness. Jesus Himself is in the light; let's join Him there and avoid sinful ways.

Are you walking in the light?

Lord, we want to walk with Jesus in His light and shine like lights in this dark world. May we be honest about our sinfulness and confess our sin. You promise to cleanse us when we do. May our lives shine the light of Jesus to those around us. Amen.