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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Every eye will see Him

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Revelation 1:7 ESV

In this verse John reassures his readers of the return of Christ. (see Acts 1:9-11) John is reaffirming the event that Luke recorded in Acts chapter one. Jesus is coming again just as promised. He is coming back to claim His own. In this part of the introduction of the revelation John is setting the stage for encouragement to those that will endure persecution.

John attests to the power of Jesus return. Jesus return will be an incredible event, everyone alive on that day will see Him. Everyone, of the world that has not submitted to His authority will wail in response to His victorious return because they will know all is lost.

John ends the verse with  Even so. Amen. Amen means; so be it. In other words may it happen soon. In the first century the church was anticipating the return of Christ as something that was imminent. They expected His return at any time and loved their lives accordingly. John in this verse is reminding them of that as they face persecution.

The Apostle Paul also encouraged believers in this way. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) The resurrection and return of Christ have been encouraging the faithful since Jesus ascended into Heaven.

So today, let’s be encouraged by this verse knowing that whatever we are going through we know it is only temporary.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, February 25, 2013

Yesterday's sermon

Biblical Love "Agape"

To the seven churches that are in Asia

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:4-6 ESV

The apostle John addresses  this writing to the seven churches that are in Asia. This is significant in this writing, it is to a specific audience. We cannot discount that in the rest of the book. This thought must remain in our minds as we continue in our study of this prophecy.

Johns greeting gives glory to God and let’s his readers know from whom the revelation originates. He wishes them Grace and Peace from  the Father and the Son. He goes on to let them know that Jesus is the faithful witness of God, He has overcome death and has authority over all the kings of the earth. This will be important to remember as we get further into our study.

He then gives glory to Jesus for all that He has accomplished. He freed us from sin, by His sacrifice. He has made us a kingdom. He has made us priests to God the Father. These are also very important facts to remember as we go along. We are free from sin, we are a kingdom and we are priests! He doesn’t speak of things to come, but that these things are for us now. He states all of this to remind his reader that they are significant in the sight of God. The Apostle Peter touches on this as well in 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ESV With this evidence, as well as more to be found in the N.T. it is obvious that the Kingdom of Jesus is already in existence. It is the church. We as Christians live in and serve that kingdom, and John wants his readers to know where they stand in Christ.

John finishes up his greeting with a proclamation about Jesus.  “To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  This proclamation speaks to the eternal power and authority of Jesus. This is a major theme throughout the revelation. This theme serves to remind the reader that the victory is already won and He will repay those that persecute His people.

So today, let’s remember that in Christ we already are victorious. Whatever this world and it’s leaders can do to us is not everlasting, but temporary. We are victorious and our continued faith in Christ will be rewarded with eternity in heaven with our God.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, February 22, 2013

Church persecution in the first century

Persecution was really on the increase at the end of the first century. Rome was persecuting the church as never before under Emperor Domitian. As John is penning the Revelation persecution is about to get worse.

Domitian was the first Roman Emperor that demanded to be called “dominus et deus”, which means master and god. He revived the imperial cult deifying the emperor.  “4th century writings by Eusebius of Caesarea maintains that Jews and Christians were heavily persecuted toward the end of Domitian's reign.” (Wikipedia) It’s important that we look at the book of revelation in this historic context. Because, it explains the purpose of sending the revelation to churches that were about to undergo persecution.

Why would Domitian persecute the Jews and the Christians so vigorously? When you think about it it is very simple. Jews and Christians cannot and will not call any man god. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 ESV)Christian are to remain faithful to Jesus and they will be rewarded “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 ESV Domitian wanted to be called god and they refused and preached against doing it. Christians were defiant in an even more troublesome way than the Jews, they claimed Jesus as their King. Domitian couldn’t tolerate any other god or king, so they must be made an example of what happens to those that do not worship the emperor.

So let’s keep these thoughts in mind as we delve further into the book of Revelation. 

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blessed are those who hear

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3 ESV

Obviously from this verse we can see that the revelation was meant to be read aloud to the church. The Revelation is a blessing both to the reader and the listener. The book of revelation truly is a blessing. It is full of reassurances of our faith in Christ.

As the verse states, the revelation is a prophecy. A prophecy of things to come and as the last part of the verse says, the time is near. SInce this is put right in the introduction of the book we have to realize that John is putting things in context for the readers and hearers of the revelation. “The time is near”.

As we read through this book we need to keep this in mind. This book was written at the end of the first century, to the first century church. Verse one spoke of “the things that must soon take place” and verse two says “the time is near”, that tells us something about the urgency of the book. The readers of this revelation must realize that the prophecy they are reading is about to take place.

This verse also says that the hearer is to “keep what is written in it”. In other words this this prophecy and the message of it are to be applied to the lives of believers. There are things in the prophecy that they will need to be ready for. As we read the revelation we too must realize the implications for us as believers today and apply them to our lives. We will will develop this theme as we go along.

In the next post we will look into the historical context of the revelation.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants  the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant  John,who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Revelation 1:1,2 ESV

The book of Revelation, is one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible. Why? I think it is because it is taken out of context as a whole. We tend to see it as something totally different than the rest of the New Testament. Besides that, many seem to think it fits far better with the Old Testament, especially those that go to Ezekiel and Daniel to explain it.  While they are very similar in literary style and have many things in common it is very important to take it in the context of communication to the first century church, very much like the other letters of the New Testament canon.

It is important to look at all the evidence available concerning the book of Revelation and study it in light of that evidence. The Revelation was written at the end of the first century by the last remaining Apostle imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for preaching the Gospel. The isle of Patmos was just offshore from the cities that Jesus addresses in His seven letters to the churches. So one thing we can see from the beginning is that the Revelation was written to be read in these actual churches.

Let’s look at the first two verses. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants  the things that must soon take place. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the Apostle John. Which was given to Him, by God. It was given by God to show the followers of Jesus what must happen soon. The context here is that this revelation was given by God to Jesus to give to His followers, so they would know what was going to occur.

He made it known by sending his angel to his servant  John,who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. An angel was sent to the Apostle John, a witness of Jesus ministry and teachings.As John records the Revelation he starts off by letting his readers know the source of the Revelation and why it has come thorugh him.

So, as we continue to look into the  book of Revelation let’s keep it in context as it was intended to be.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, February 15, 2013

Whoever does good is from God

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
3 John 1:11 ESV

This is a great straight forward sentence about what should be imitated, good not evil. Whatever one does shows where they are coming from on a spiritual level. What we do speaks volumes about our heart attitude and where our heart truly lies.

Jesus said this in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ESV When we imitate evil our heart is in an evil place, when we imitate good our heart is in the right place.

We must be careful of the behaviors we imitate, because what we do shows where we are coming from or where we have never truly been. If we have seen God we will not want to imitate evil we will want to imitate good. We must remember that, if we are exhibiting evil we have not truly seen God. If we have not truly seen God, we need to step back and start the journey again with a repentant heart.

So today, let's take stock. Are we imitating good or evil? Either way we have work to do. We must either get back on the right track or continue in serving as we should.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

As it goes well with your soul

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1:1,2 ESV

I really appreciate the opening sentences of the Apostle John's letter to Gaius. It is his prayer that Gaius enjoy a sense of well-being in all of his life, like he enjoys in his soul. “As it goes well with your soul.” What a beautiful thought. When we are in Christ it does go well with our soul. Sin has been washed away, we are new in Christ and eternity in heaven waits for us.

Our spiritual well-being truly is the greatest of gifts that we enjoy in Christ. The inner peace that comes from spiritual well-being helps us to cope with anything else that life may send our way. It is John's prayer that every other aspect of Gaius' life will go as well for him, as it does for his soul. This should be our prayer for all those we love in the faith. We should pray that every aspect of their will go as well for them as it does for their soul.

So today, let's make that our prayer for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Let's pray that “all” would go well for them. Let us also pray for those that we know that are not in Christ. Let's pray for them that they would come to Him and find the spiritual well-being that their souls need.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, February 11, 2013

Abide in the teachings of Christ

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
2 John 1:9 ESV

John really makes a great statement about following the teachings of Jesus Christ in this verse. He basically gets down to the fact that if we are following the teachings of anyone other than Jesus we do not have God. Conversely if we follow the teachings of Jesus we have God and Jesus.

This verse helps us to realize that we must test all teaching, against Jesus teachings. Jesus teachings is what the Apostles taught and are what we as Christians are to follow. If anyone teaches differently they do not have God. If we follow the teachings of one that doesn't have God, neither will we.

Simply put, if we follow teachings that go against what Jesus taught Himself or through His disciples we are lost. If we are lost we are in need of direction. Where do we find our direction? The Bible, Matthew through Revelation specifically. This does not exclude Old Testament scriptures, they pointed to Jesus. They were a shadow of things to come. The Gospel are the testimony of prophecy fulfilled in Christ. The rest of the New Testament scriptures are the Apostles and disciples teachings of all that Jesus had commanded.

So today, let's purpose to follow in Jesus teachings. Knowing that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV Everything we need to know about living the Christian life is in the directions.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Yesterday's sermon

Yesterday's sermon: Biblical Love "Storge"

Audio Sermon

Friday, February 8, 2013

Watch yourselves

Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
2 John 1:8 ESV

In this verse John warns his readers to watch themselves. Watch themselves in what way? Watch yourselves that you don't lose what you have in Christ. Don't lose your salvation, don't lose your reward in heaven.

When we begin our walk in Jesus, it is just that the beginning. Our walk in Christ is a lifetime endeavor. John isn't just writing to new Christians he is writing to all Christians, even those that have been in the faith for a long time. All of us no matter how long we have been in Christ must watch ourselves. We must watch our hearts and what we allow to enter them.

No one really falls away from Christ and His body overnight. Falling away comes from listening to lies, the lies of the world, the lies of false teachers. Over time when lies are heard enough or told enough they become believable. That is when the process of walking away from all that we worked for begins. Just like walking in Christ has a beginning, so does walking away from Christ.

Influences in our lives are what shape us as individuals. We need to watch what influences us. If we allow Jesus and His teachings to influence us we will walk in His ways. Conversely, if we allow the world and its teaching to influence us we will walk in its ways. There is no middle ground.

So today, let's watch ourselves so that we are aware of how we are being influenced. Take the time today think of what your influences are, are they the influences that will lead to your full reward or are they something that will bring you up short of that goal?

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Keep yourselves from idols

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
1 John 5:21 ESV

Most of us would never think of ourselves as idol worshipers, but if we are honest with ourselves we have to admit there are times when we allow things, events and others to reign in our hearts. We displace God with these other means of distraction.

We tend to think of idols as some sort of image or statue that one bows down to in worship. Really an idols is that which takes away our attention, affections and time for God. It is whatever takes center stage in our lives.

There are many things that become idol's to us, money, work, sports and people. This list of potential idols goes on and on. What it comes down to is whatever takes our eyes off of God and living for Him is an idol.

John uses the term “little children” as he addresses his readers about idols. Think of the love in his statement, like a father to a child. John writes to the church out of love, love for truth and the love of God's children. John knew that if God's children were to allow anything to take God's place in their hearts they would be on a slippery slope to spiritual ruin.

So today, as we consider this verse let's consider whether or not we may be pursuing an idol in our lives rather than God Himself. If we are pursuing idols let's keep ourselves from them and give ourselves to God and His ways.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, February 4, 2013

Overcoming the world

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1John 5:4,5 ESV

Overcoming the world, think of what that implies. By our faith in Jesus we overcome the world. We overcome all that this world can throw at us. We have overcome Satan, he no longer has power over us he has lost the battle for our souls. We are no longer slaves to sin, we have been set free. That is the power that believing in Jesus as the Son of God has in our lives.

Read Acts chapter two and see the power enacted in those that come to believe in Jesus. Just like those that heard Peters sermon on the day of Pentecost we have come to believe in Jesus. We have repented of our sins and been baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the moment when we overcame the world. That is when we were born again, born of God. Just as Jesus had told Nicodemus was necessary for one to see the kingdom of God. We are more than conquerors as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:37. We have overcome the world!

So today, let's go about our day with that knowledge in mind. When we find ourselves tempted, frustrated and feeling overwhelmed remember we have overcome the world. Our faith has made us victorious!

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, February 1, 2013

His commandments are not burdensome

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:2,3 ESV

So we can know that we love, by showing our love for God by obeying His commands. These verses tell us it is of utmost importance to be obedient to God. Our obedience shows our love for Him and His children.

I love the last part of this passage, “his commandments are not burdensome”. When we read our bibles Old and New Testament, it is obvious God's commands for us today are nowhere near as burdensome as the commandments of the old covenant.

So, loving the brethren should not be burdensome. When we love the brethren we are being obedient to God. We are keeping His commandments. We are doing His will, just as Jesus did. Doing His will, will sustain us. Think about what Jesus said in John 4:34, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Jesus was saying that He lives to serve God and that is what sustains Him.

So today if we want to be satisfied, truly satisfied we need to do His will. We need to want to accomplish His work. While food satisfies the body temporarily, doing God's will satisfies the soul eternally.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman