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Friday, March 29, 2013

Mystery revealed


Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 1:19.20 ESV

Jesus commands John to write all that he sees, current things and things that are yet to take place. This verse helps us to get a grasp on the revelation. Things that are covered in the book are both current and future. Current to the first century church and future events that are not given a specific time of occurrence. But, they are to come. The time span is not definitive.

Jesus then goes on to explain the meaning of the seven stars and lampstands. In His explanation we see that Jesus is actually present in His churches. He is keenly aware of the activities and circumstances of every congregation.

As we will see when get into the letters to the seven churches in Asia, Jesus has great concern for the members of His body and their spiritual well-being. He knows the influences within and without the congregations  and how faithful every body is.

So today, as we study the revelation we can know that our Lord is very aware of our congregations and our strengths and weakness. As we look at the letters to the churches we can learn from them and apply the lesson to our congregations.


© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

He holds the keys


When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Revelation 1:17,18 ESV


Jesus reassures John with an I am statement. Verse eighteen speaks to the eternal nature of Jesus. He is the beginning and the end, He is alive! Jesus says, l died but look at me I am alive for eternity.

Jesus then makes a statement concerning His power. He holds the keys to death and the grave. Death doesn’t have any power, Jesus does. He overcame the grave. This statement is central to the revelation message.

Many of the recipients of the revelation will suffer and die for the cause of Christ. To know that Jesus understands and has overcome death and the grave is a great encouragement for those that are or will endure persecution for their faith.

Think of the encouragement John himself took from Jesus statement. John is imprisoned on Patmos and at the mercy of the Roman government. His life is  in the hands of the ungodly. Just as Jesus overcame the sentence of death, so too will those that follow Him. Jesus death, burial and resurrection stand before the Christian as proof that those that die in Christ will live on in eternity.

So today, let’s take comfort in Jesus message, the Gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus) and know that whatever we may face in this life it is only temporary. Continued faith in Jesus leads to eternal life.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

THE BIBLE mini-series

Since THE BIBLE Mini-series began it has been viewed by 68 million . That's 68 million times that at least part of the word of God has been shared with the masses. I wonder how many of those viewers were being exposed to the Bible for the first time. God will use this opportunity to His glory. 




Rather than criticize it for being too Hollywood or inaccurate, let's encourage people to use it as a starting point for deeper Bible study. The door has been opened, let's invite them in. It is always important to remember that we can start where ever someone is in their Bible knowledge and teach them about Jesus.  Consider Philips interaction with the Ethiopian eunuch. And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. Acts 8:34,35 ESV

So today, let's let God work through His word. Let's not be an obstacle in the way of others seeking God. Let's invite others to study the WORD with us.

(C)  2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, March 25, 2013

Running the race


Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV


Its that time of the year when you start to see postings for all the road races coming up through the year. There are 5 k’s, 10 k’s, marathons, triathlons and so on where many people gather to race for first place and the prize that comes with it.

You start to see more and more runners on the streets and trails as they train for the big events they have signed up for. They are all hoping to be the one that wins the race. But the truth of the matter is, only one can be the winner. Everyone else will fall in behind and some won’t even complete the race.

Paul is speaking of the spiritual race we as Christians are running. He wants his readers to have that single minded goal oriented focus that runners have. He wants them to be focused on the finish line and the prize that awaits the winner.

Of course we know for the winner, the prize is eternal life in heaven with our heavenly Father. What an incredible goal and prize to strive for. There is no greater reward for our efforts.


So today, let’s make up our minds to continue in this race, striving toward the finish line and our rest at the end of it. Let’s look forward with great anticipation to hear these words, Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 ESV


© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, March 22, 2013

Discipline


For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 ESV


For some reason Christians don’t think we should have to endure discipline. What kind of Father would God be if He did not discipline us. Everyone of us goes astray at times and needs to be brought back in line.

The Hebrew writer says that God’s discipline bears peaceful fruit. If we think about it, that really is true. We all know that an undisciplined life is an unhappy life. Just think of children you know that didn’t receive good discipline while growing up. In the long run they don’t lead very happy lives. But, those that are raised with good discipline live much happier lives. Disciplined people are happy people.

Most of us are more than happy to accept forgiveness from God. We must accept His discipline as well. It is out of love that He disciplines us. He does it so we can be happy and complete.

Discipline is only effective on those that accept it. When one balks at discipline they find their situation worse instead of better. So today, let’s be just as willing  to receive God’s discipline as well as His forgiveness.



© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

His face was like the sun


The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Revelation 1:14-16 ESV



John is using descriptive words that anyone can recognize to describe the appearance of Jesus. Even though he uses these terms to describe Jesus, his appearance is beyond our comprehension. His appearance is so majestic that words cannot truly convey what Jesus looked like in his vision. This is why John uses the word like six times in this passage. The descriptors he uses are not exact representations of what he saw, but they give us a visual that we can understand.

When we read these descriptions we do get a picture in our minds of what Jesus looked like when John saw Him. The visual we get is quite an intense one. Pure white hair, penetrating eyes, standing firm, a strong booming voice, holding stars in His hand, His words are his weapon and He has a glorious shining countenance.

This passage reminds us of another passage, in the book of Hebrews. “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.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV When we think of this passage in conjunction with the revelation passage we are reminded of the power of the words of Christ. When we think of this in the context of the revelation we can know that the message being shared is powerful and life changing and carries eternal implications.



Certainly the book of Revelation has eternal implications. As we read further along we will begin to see in its context that it has immediate and future implications as well. It is rich with visions, warnings and encouragement. It is a love letter from our savior.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman






Monday, March 18, 2013

Give thanks to the LORD


Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1 ESV


Everyday is a day to give thanks to the LORD. All of humanity is blessed by God, simply because we are His creation. He made us in His image and He loves us.

Our God is good!  read what Jesus says about God’s goodness; And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18 ESV The significance of what Jesus says here is humbling to say the least. Only God is good. No matter how good we think we are as individuals or how good we think someone else is, only God is truly good.

It is out of His goodness that He created and continues to care for us. We are unworthy, yet He loves us above all creation. He loves us with a love that was there before He created mankind and will continue into eternity. His love is never ending.

Human love is for a lifetime at best, but God’s love is an enduring love. His love has no boundaries. Remember what the Apostle Paul said; but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV God sent His Son to die for sinners, not good people. That is the kind of love our God has for us.

So today, let’s give thanks for our good and loving God. Let’s also help someone else to see how wonderful a God, we serve.



© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, March 15, 2013

"One like a son of man"


Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
Revelation 1:12,13 ESV



In these verses the vision begins, John turns to see where the voice is coming from and he sees the golden lampstands and right in the middle of them is one that looks “like” a son of man. Like, is a very important word to keep in mind as we study the revelation. It is used frequently throughout the book. We must keep this in mind so we do not take everything we read about too literally. The book of revelation is writtenusing apocalyptic  language. Apocalyptic language was used commonly in eastern literature to draw attention to the significance of a subject being discussed. We must keep this in mind as we study.

The next part of the vision is that the one that looks like a son of man is dressed in a long robe  with a gold sash around his chest. Jesus referred to Himself as the son of man quite frequently and when the vision shows us one “like” a son of man wearing a long robe with a golden sash it shows the significance of the one wearing it. The gold sash denotes royalty. He is also standing in the middle of the lampstands, which shows he is the center of everything  around Him.

As we look at the next several verses we will see the word “like” used frequently to describe in terms that we can understand what John was seeing. Like, is used almost like a parable to help us grasp what is being revealed, in terms that everyone can understand. So, even as confusing as the book of revelation can be it, its not meant to confuse but to inform.

The revelation that was given to John was  something that could be understood and applied to those Jesus was communicating with. One thing that may play into the kind of language being used when we think about it is that, it was going to be written down and sent out from a Roman prison colony. Disguising the message with apocalyptic language may have helped to transmit the written word without the Romans catching on to it.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

From the hand of God



There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him  who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
Ecclesiastes 2:24,25 ESV


The book of Ecclesiastes is full of great wisdom concerning this life and all that we as humans endure in a lifetime. Solomon tells us that he has examined all that there is in life and outside of God all of this is meaningless. When one thinks about it his statements are so true. Our lives, if not for God in them is like chasing after the wind.

Chasing the wind is an exercise in futility, the wind cannot be caught. I tend to think of our lives without God like a dog chasing it’s tail. When a dog chases its tail it just continues going round and round until it tires of the game or actually bites its own tail and suffers the pain of its senseless game. That is how it is for us if we don’t allow room for God in our lives.

We must find contentment in our lives. As Solomon  says in verses 24, we must find enjoyment in our toil. So how are we to find contentment in this life of toils. We find it in God, we find it through Christ. We need to be like the Apostle Paul as he said Philippians chapter 4, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” ESV

Paul has discovered what Solomon was talking about in verse 25. He understood that God is the provider and if we trust in Him we can be content in all circumstances. All that we have in this life is God provided. If we think all that we have and are is because of what we have achieved then we are missing the most important fact of all. God created this world, He has created us and He gave us whatever abilities we have, all that  we achieve is through Him.

So today, let’s realize apart from God’s gifts we would have nothing.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, March 11, 2013

In the Spirit on the Lord's day

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”Revelation 1:10,11 ESV





In this verse we see John is still worshiping the Lord in spite of where he is and the conditions he is living under. John is a model of faith in that he lets nothing stand in the way of worship. It is the Lord’s day and he is worshipping as Jesus said we should. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23,24 ESV As he is worshipping he hears the voice of Jesus. Imagine how he must have felt, to be called to by the Lord during worship.

The next verse is a direct quote of Jesus speaking to John. Jesus commands John to write what he sees and share it with seven specific churches. The seven churches that are to receive the revelation are very close to the Isle of Patmos. Things are about to get tough for the churches in the immediate area in the near future. So, when we think about it, Jesus is wanting to send His letter of reassurance to real people in real time.

One conclusion that we can draw from this is that Jesus is keenly aware of what is going on in every congregation of His body. If it was so in the first century church, it is so for us today. While we do not receive letters specifically addressed to our congregations today, we can gain great reassurance from this letter. Today we can know that Jesus is well aware of the needs of every congregation of His body.



© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Friday, March 8, 2013

There is nothing new under the sun


What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV


Oh the wisdom in this statement. I quote this verse often when asked if things are worse today than they have ever been before. I use it because the world we live in has never really changed. Mankind has always been mankind.

Our behavior as humans has not changed we deal with the same issues today as Adam and Eve did after the fall. We have all heard the old saying “history repeats itself”. We’ve also heard that “those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. These old adages are meant to help us to see we need to change ourselves if we hope to see change.

As much as we know these truths, every generation of man struggles to be different, yet we end up being the same. That doesn’t mean that life is bleak, it means that we truly need Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins. The truth of the matter is, we are not capable of doing anything different in and of ourselves. We need Jesus sacrifice to erase our sins and the Holy Spirit to guide change in us. Consider the following verses...

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self  with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:8-10 ESV

When we come to Christ the changes begin, changes that take us away from human sinful behavior toward righteous and godly behavior. So, if we want to do something different in our generation, we need to turn our lives to God and follow the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.

So today, let’s do something new under the sun. Turn from sin and turn toward God.


© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom


I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 
Revelation 1:9 ESV


This verse really helps us to see the immediate context of the revelation. John referring to himself as brother, partner in the tribulation and kingdom speaks to his current condition. This is especially clear in the fact that he is on Patmos for preaching the word.

John doesn’t refer to the tribulation and the kingdom as future events, but as current. He is enduring tribulation, he is being persecuted for preaching the word of God. Although imprisoned on Patmos he still says he is a partner in the kingdom of Christ.

The statements that are made in this verse help us to see the context of the revelation. John was speaking in the present tense.

As we continue to read the revelation we can draw comfort from the fact that Christ is victorious in the lives of His followers at all times and in all places. John wrote in his day to comfort his fellow Christians of their victory in Jesus and by way of implication we too know we can find comfort in the revelation.

As we delve further into the revelation we will see that the main thrust of the book is faith. Faith in spite of circumstances.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, March 4, 2013

the Almighty


“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”Revelation 1:8 ESV

Verse six speaks of the deity of Christ. It is an I am statement. An I am statement is a powerful statement. It is a GOD statement. Think of what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” ESV When Moses had asked God what he should tell the people His name was when they asked God said “ I AM ”. So when this statement is made concerning Jesus it means He is on par with God.

The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. This entire verse speaks of the eternal nature of Christ. He is God, He is and was and is coming again. He is the Almighty. This verse also gives us hope in that we know where Jesus is and where we will be when He comes again.

The Almighty, El Shaddai-God Almighty proclaims His power. There is none greater. This would have been a very comforting thought for the first century church. With all the power and might that the Roman emperor had, he paled in comparison to the power of Christ.

We can draw great comfort in that as well today. When we are faced with what seems to be insurmountable odds, we can overcome with Christ. As the Apostle John said, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1John 4:4 ESV

So today, let’s remember we are victorious in HIM!



© 2013 Leo J. Woodman


Friday, March 1, 2013

Vanity of vanities

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:1,2 ESV

The book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. The wisest man that ever lived. Solomon’s wisdom was a gift from God. “God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king,” 2 Chronicles 1:11 ESV Solomon asked God for wisdom and it was granted to him.
As we read Ecclesiastes we know the wisdom imparted is God given.

In verse two Solomon uses the word vanity several times in describing our pursuits in this life. The word vanity is defined both as pride and worthlessness. It is an interesting word that Solomon chooses to use as he looks at all that man goes after in this life. When we think about it how true that is, we do much out of pride which in the end turns out be worthless when compare it to things that God gives us freely.

If God and His will is not at the core of what we do and what we pursue, all of it is useless. Because, when this life is over if we have not pursued God and His ways we will be lost.

So today, let’s consider our motivation for what we pursue and how we pursue it. Not one of us wants to come to our final day and know we haven’t lived as we should, careful thought of how we live is paramount.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman