Sunday, August 30, 2015

I AM the Light of the World

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. This is one of seven “I AM” statements of Jesus in the gospel of John. But do you know your “I am” statements from the Bible? There are many. For example, here is one that is directly connected to the one above; “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14 – 16. So, which one is the light, Jesus or you? The answer is both; but only if His light is shining in you, with you, through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world around you.

         There is much written about your new life and identity in Christ, which focuses upon your new thoughts, your new choices, and your new behavior, in Him. But your identity is not something that you learn about, but rather something you receive by knowing the person you trust the most. In that way, you really can’t work on your identity, you can only know the person you received it from more and more. In that relationship you simply become more and more of who you truly are. This is not something you work at; this is someone that you listen to and believe more and more. You will not even know what you are becoming because you will be so focused upon the One who is giving you your new identity.

         Since your identity is seen in Christ’s, knowing Him is the key to understanding yours. He is the mirror to look at to see whose you are and are becoming like. His voice is the one to listen to during the day for a clear understanding of what He wants to do in you, with you, through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world around you today. These daily articles will focus upon Jesus Christ so that you can know Him more and more. In knowing Him more, you will receive from Him your true identity. Everything else will follow, including people who also want to know Christ as you do. Hallelujah!

Today memorize these three sentences; “Jesus is the light of the world. I am following Him and have the light of His life. Now I am the light of the world as His light shines from within me.” Say this ten times, then cover it up and say it by memory ten times. Then pray it throughout the day.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jesus Christ Stands in the Midst of His Church

John had been exiled to the island of Patmos because of his faith in Jesus Christ. He was probably the last living apostle of the original twelve at the time of his exile. The sole eyewitness, one of the inner circle of Christ, had been separated from the church. All alone in exile, John heard a voice, the voice of Jesus, telling him to write in a book the things he was about to see. The Lord told him to send it to seven churches, and then the seven churches were named.

         Many of the images in the book of Revelation are representative of more than just the one named. The seven churches are the first example. Even though each one is named specifically, together they represent all churches; the Church, as in all believers, for all time. Each church named in Revelation 1:11 received a copy of the book of Revelation, but it was also for us in our churches today. In that way, the seven churches in Revelation 1:11 represent every church. The message of the book of Revelation was to each church named, as well as to each church that has ever been, is now, or will ever be.

         When John turned to see the voice, he said, “…I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like the son of man…” Revelation 1:12 – 13a. The description of the church as a lampstand is instructive. The lampstand was one of three items in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle, and then later, in the Temple. It was a seven-branched lampstand with cups that held olive oil and a wick for light. The priests went into the Holy Place twice a day with oil for the lamps, fresh bread for the table of presence, and incense and a coal of fire to burn on altar of incense. The light of the lampstands was to be kept burning 24/7. It represented the wisdom of God from the word of God; the Holy Spirit of God; oil and fire. It also pointed forward to the day when God’s Spirit would dwell in the hearts of the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.

         The church has the word of God and the wisdom of God dwelling in each of the members, in each believer, by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus has always been in the midst of His Bride, the Church, and always will be. In the midst of the Garden of Eden was the tree of life, Christ, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Church. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not to be eaten; it was to be given to God as an offering, as first fruits. Christ and His Bride, the Church was a picture, a model, for the husband and his wife to see, follow, and be like, then and today (Ephesians 5:22 – 31). Eve was tempted with her counterpart in the garden to take what she was to receive from Adam, and Adam was tempted to take from Eve what he was to give to God in worship. You may want to pray and meditate on that today.

         Back to Revelation; when John turned to see the voice, he saw Jesus standing in the midst of His Bride, the Church, but in that moment, John saw the glory of Jesus in the light of the lampstands! This is the purpose of the church. With the oil and fire of the Holy Spirit, the Church magnifies and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, her glorious Husband and constant Companion. The church does not call attention to and lift up herself; no. The church calls attention to and lifts up the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fruit of the Church; the Life of Jesus. The Church produces the fruit by abiding in Christ. The Life of Jesus is lived in, with, through, and as the Church, before the Father and the watching world around her.

         When the world looks at the Church, it should see Jesus Christ in all His glory! In Revelation 2 – 3, the Lord will address each church in areas that magnify His glory and/or diminish His glory. The Church must hear the message of the book of Revelation as the world approaches it’s dark and final days. The light of the glory of Jesus Christ is the only answer and hope for our world. Always has and always will be.

Friday, August 21, 2015

In the Spirit on the Lord's Day

The first three chapters of the book of Revelation and the last two chapters have this in common; you see Jesus Christ with His Bride, the Church. In the first three you see Jesus in great detail, and in the last two, the Church in vivid detail. The Church, like each of us, is still being made whole in the first three chapters, and then, in the last two, she is seen in the splendor and glory of her eternal state.

         After John identifies himself in Revelation 1:4 – 9, he relates his experience on a particular 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…” Revelation 1:10. Many are eager to know what the loud voice will say and overlook the significant phrase, I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day….

         John is all alone, exiled on the rocky island called Patmos, and yet, he is not alone. The Lord Jesus was with John on the island. He was not alone. Although John could not have fellowship with other believers, he could still enjoy fellowship with Christ, especially on the Lord’s Day. The early church met together daily according to the book of Acts. But on the first day of the week, on Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, they celebrated His resurrection. This day gave meaning to all of the rest; it was the new beginning day, the new creation day, the Lord’s Day.

         The Lord chose this special day to be the day He would give to John this amazing revelation, the final book of the Bible. The last book of our Bible would be given on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. The meaning of this is seen in the setting. It was one of the darkest days in the life of the early church. It was one of the most difficult times in the life of the old apostle. Just when things could not get any worse, the Lord’s Day arrived and the voice of the Lord was heard like a trumpet! AMEN.

         Sunday-by-Sunday the same can be true for you, if you will see the Lord’s Day in its full significance, the celebration of new beginning, of the new creation. In order to do this you too must first be in the Spirit. This phrase describes the child of God walking with the Spirit, by the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit of God. This is the person who enjoys personal fellowship and companionship with the Lord, walking with the Spirit. It is a person who spends time in the word of God. The Spirit of God and the word of God are inseparable; the two are one. It is a person who is obedient to the Lord, allowing the life of Jesus to be lived through them because His life is their life; with the Spirit, in the Spirit, by the power of the Spirit. AMEN!

         Those who look forward to the Lord’s Day are those who walk with the Lord all the other days, in His word, and by faithful and abiding obedience. There seems to be a concentrated power when the people of God, living in the Spirit of God, obediently gather together on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. The victorious voice of the Lord is clearly heard in that setting, even if you are exiled on a rocky island, in the middle of the sea, you and the Lord are a majority, and the power of the Lord is present for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming! Hallelujah!!!              

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Gospel of Tribulation

The first eight verses of the book of Revelation are called the introduction. John identifies himself in verse nine, “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.” John was probably the last living apostle of Christ, one of the few eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus still living at that time, and yet he calls himself “…your brother and partner…”

         The humility of John is seen in this opening line; actually, it is the humility of Jesus that comes through. He does not elevate himself to some special status, with a special title, which is so common today among those with special gifts, abilities, and experiences. John certainly had all of those, and more. But he does not see himself as someone in high demand; he sees himself as a brother among the believers. The word “brother” is the Greek word adelphos, which means related by the same father. This word is sometimes translated “brethren.” In the family of God, we are all born from above, by the same Father, and from different mothers (different churches). We are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

         But our tendency is to elevate individuals within the family of God to places of status based upon gifts, abilities, and experiences. Some may even seek to elevate themselves. Hard to imagine, but it happens. But not John. Today, people flock to see and hear the religious rock stars of our time, and we are even exporting their images via the internet to the other nations of the world. But not John. He is alone on an island, surrounded, not by people, but by the sea.

John is suffering because of the word of God and his testimony of Jesus. This does not fit very nicely into the theology of the prosperity gospel that is so popular today. One thing about the prosperity gospel; it requires a personality with status. The personality is the example of the validity of its message. You sure do not see this or hear it coming from our brethren in North Korea, Iraq, Syria, or Iran. And you do not see it or hear it coming from the island of Patmos.

John identifies the brotherhood and partnership as one of tribulation. The Greek word for “tribulation” is thelipis, which literally means to crush. It was used in the Greek culture to describe the process of making wine and/or olive oil, which began by crushing the grapes and/or olives in a press. The crushing brought out what was inside. Suffering does the same thing in the life of a believer. Difficulty, stress, and pressure do not build character; it reveals it, to bring it out. For a believer, suffering reveals the life of Jesus in you, with you, through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world around you. And like the testimony of John the baptizer in John 3:30, so that “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John knew the outcome of the tribulation and persecution in his life; patient endurance. The Greek word hupomeno, is the one used for that phrase in Revelation 1:9. This word is made up of two words, hupo, which means “under,” and meno, which means “to stay, or abide;” to stay under. It is translated in the New Testament with words such as patience, endurance, and steadfastness. It is produced in the life of a believer as a result of the crushing pressures of trials, persecution, difficulties, and stresses brought on as a result of being a follower of Christ in a sinful world. It is the strength of the life of Jesus in you, with you, shining through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world around you.

Today, as a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and in the stress and difficulties you are facing, know that you are not alone; you are in the family of God, Christ lives in you and with you, and His life is shining from you! Hallelujah!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Jigsaw Puzzle Without Borders or a Box

Without the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle without borders or a box. The book of Revelation is like the picture on the box of a jigsaw puzzle. The revelation of Jesus Christ puts all the pieces of the Old Testament into a clear vision of the Father, of the sin of man, of the salvation of God in Christ, of Way of salvation, and of the hope of the resurrection from the dead. The first chapter of the book of Revelation is like the box of the jigsaw puzzle called the book of Revelation.

In the first chapter Jesus Christ is revealed and His work is described, “…and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the 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 1:5 – 6.

         Yesterday you memorized the three-fold revelation of Christ; the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. Today notice the description of His work; He loves, He has freed from sins, He has formed us into a kingdom of priests.

Jesus Christ loves you. The verb agapeo, is in the present active tense. God’s love (agapeo) is an active love. It is not passive. Jesus Christ loves you today, yesterday, and forever. He is actively working in your life today, based upon how He loved you yesterday, and moving you forward to how He will love you tomorrow. This is who He is and this is what He does. Jesus loves you. This revelation is definitive in understanding the book of Revelation and the Bible. Without it, you just have a bunch of puzzle pieces without any clear meaning.

         Jesus Christ has freed you from your sins. The verb translated “freed” is the Greek word luo, which means to liberate, to release from prison by an authority. This verb is in the past tense with the meaning of completed action. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He died your death, and you died with Him. The wages of sin is death. Jesus paid the penalty of all of your sins. His blood, His life poured out, paid in full the wages of your sins. In doing this work, once and for all, Jesus Christ released you from the outcome of a life of sin, set you free from the prison of sinning, and liberated you from the enslavement of condemnation and guilt. Hallelujah!!! By the authority of His sinless life, He has freed you from your sins. This is who He is and this is what He has done. The cross of Jesus Christ gives meaning to the book of Revelation. This puts all the pieces together.

         Jesus Christ has created a new humanity in Himself, a kingdom of priests for His God and Father. The word “made” is the Greek word poieo, which means to form, to make, to create. When God created Adam, He took dust and formed him after the likeness of Himself. When God created Eve, He took a bone from Adam, and formed her after the likeness of Himself. Jesus Christ has formed a kingdom of priests from those who have been born from above, from those who have been freed from their sins, from those who are loved by Him. He creates with the Spirit, with the Blood, and with the Father’s love. This is the new humanity in Christ. Priests worship. Priests teach. Priests serve. Priests represent others in the presence of God, and represent God in the presence of others. This is called interceding, and witnessing.

         Today, memorize the work of Christ, who loves us, has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us a kingdom of priests to His God and Father. Pray it back to the Lord as a hymn of thanksgiving and praise. To Him by glory now and forever!!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

All Glory and Praise Be Unto Jesus Christ Today

The book of Revelation begins with a hymn of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ, “…and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the 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 1:5 – 6.

         The first description of Jesus is that He is the faithful witness. The word “witness” is the Greek word martereo, which describes a person whose testimony of the facts is more important to them than their own life. We get our English word “martyr” from this Greek word. Jesus fully revealed the heart of the Father to man. He also revealed the faithful heart of man to God. He lived as God intended man to live. In living this way, He was rejected by man, which led to His death for man.

The crucifixion of Jesus not only revealed the love of the Father for man, it also revealed the sinfulness of man toward God. Jesus is the faithful witness of both. His sinless life revealed the hypocrisy of those who lives were full of sin (ours) with full knowledge that He would become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus is the faithful witness of God to man and man to God.

         Jesus is the firstborn of the dead. This phrase reveals the fact that there has only been one person who has lived in perfect fellowship with the Father; Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus died, and God the Father raised Him up on the third day. Hallelujah!!! Death had no claim on His life because He never sinned. Jesus robbed death of its reign over man by His sinless life. He conquered the grave and forever made it something to walk through rather than be trapped in! The resurrection of Jesus Christ created a new humanity for the new heaven and new earth that God has promised to create. Jesus is the firstborn of the new creation. In Him, you are next.

         Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. The book of Revelation will reveal the failure of all of the kings of the earth and their kingdoms. History reveals the same truth. One by one, every kingdom and scheme of man has failed because of sin. Sin has always had the last word in people’s lives, until Jesus stepped onto the scene. He rules by His sinless life in perfect fellowship with the Father. The authority of Christ is the word of God. He rules with the two-edged sword that proceeds from His mouth; the word of God. All of the kings of the earth have tried and failed, but Jesus overrules them all, by His faithfulness to God’s word. He is the Word of God!

         Today, memorize this powerful three-fold description of Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth. Meditate on the truth of it and pray it back to Him as a declaration of praise.