Tag Archives: sovereign

Father of Fathers

Today’s message summary of June 18, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

As a 31-year old, I can’t tell you very much about my biological father.  I have only met him three different times.  I don’t know much about him or his family.  On my mother’s side, I can only speak about her and my grandmother, and that is how much I know about my family history.

With that said, the genealogy in the bible has a purpose to identify lineages.

In Genesis, there are genealogies listed that start with Adam and his lineage, and those that follow lead to the promise made to David about the coming Messiah.

Matthew 1:1-17

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

This passage is a good one to examine for Father’s Day as it shows how fathers were preparing other fathers over time.

The point of this message is that your heavenly Father loves you more than your earthly father.  He will never fail you—in spite of your own disobedience to Him.  He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an example to all of us.

There is not information within these passages to explain the behaviors of some of these fathers. We don’t know if they were living in righteousness or holiness.

The Scriptures do identify that each of these persons does lead to Jesus Christ.  Some of these individuals we do know of, such as Abraham, Boaz and David.

2 Chronicles 20:7

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

Abraham, in the Christian faith, is recognized as the Father of Faith…but was he a good father?

If you look at his life closely, you would see that he lied often and even committed adultery (with Hagar).  He was far from perfect.  Abraham, at the behest of Sarah, abandoned Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-13

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

If it was not for God’s instruction to send his son off, he would have kept him there.  Out of faith and obedience to God, he listened.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

We are reminded that faith and obedience were most important in the relationship between God and Abraham in spite of Abraham’s sinful behavior.

Of the women who were involved within these genealogies, many of them were outsiders.  In Matthew 11:3, Tamar is referenced.  She disguised herself as a prostitute in order to seduce her father-in-law.  Judah, the father-in-law, was hardly an innocent victim.  It was contrary to the law of God.  We also see Rahab’s name in the genealogy.  She was a prostitute, yet she was praised as a woman of faith who turned out to be David’s grandmother.  Another person, Ruth, is listed.  She was a person of honor, but she was also a Gentile, a Moabite, an outsider.  Moabites are descendants of Lot.

Genesis 19:30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father. So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

You see how God moved past the sins of his people and brings different people into the lineage of Christ.

Matthew also wanted us to remember about David and Bathsheba through their adulterous union that led to Solomon.  Uriah, who was a godly man and a friend of David, was one of his most trusted men.  There is great irony in how David, because of his adultery, would have Uriah murdered and try to cover up the relationship.  Remember, God said that David was “a man after His own heart.”  Bathsheba is not mentioned within the genealogy in Matthew, and it was more a point of shame with David.  Nathan’s words of prophecy held true with the turmoil that followed David throughout the rest of his life.  While David failed miserably as a father, he still loved his children.  He still loved his son Absalom, even though Absalom was trying to kill him.

2 Samuel 18:31-33

And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you. The king said to the Cushite, Is it well with the young man Absalom? And the Cushite answered, May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man. And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

Despite David’s sin, he loved his children.  He was willing to trade his life for them.

Solomon, featured in the genealogy, had many, many, many, many wives.  God had declared, of course, that man should have only one wife.

Here is a prophetic verse in Deuteronomy that actually refers to Solomon and his choices:

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me, you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

Solomon’s heart turned from God because of the women he allowed in his life.

Solomon’s wisdom was evident and apparent to everyone, but he was flawed in his fleshliness.

Of the genealogy leading to Jesus Christ, the greatest thing that emerges is God’s grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  The fathers listed here were both good and evil; however, God’s grace was present throughout the lives of each of these people.

It was all part of God’s sovereign plan.

Note that Mary, listed in this genealogy, was a descendant of David.  Jesus was still the heir to the throne of David, and Joseph was His earthly father, who was willing to be obedient to God and take on the responsibility to raise Him.

Single mothers:  Are you helping the child in filling the void in his life by ministering to him and help him recognize Christ as the Lord of his life?

Fathers:  You will fail your children and even disappoint them, but it is an opportunity to display the gospel before them.  For all have sinned and fall short of His glory.  Your humble approach will show them that you are a father that unconditionally loves the children and lives according to the commands of God.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Bind them on your heart always;

    tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;

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Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


A Sovereign God Knows the Heart

Today’s message summary of December 20, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Today, I want you to see how God was working in the lives of people who were near Jesus Christ when He lived on earth. We will see how the sovereign God was at work. The Lord looks at the heart of the people as being most important.

1 Samuel 16:7-10

But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.

Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. The Lord hasnt chosen this one either, Samuel said. Then Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, The Lord hasnt chosen this one either. After Jesse presented seven of his sons to him, Samuel told Jesse, The Lord hasnt chosen any of these.

 

God is the one who chooses. Why is he doing so? It is because He knows the heart of the servant that He is choosing.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

I, Yahweh, examine the mind,

I test the heart

to give to each according to his way,

according to what his actions deserve.

 

God rewards the person based upon his conduct.

John 2:24-25

Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.

 

John 15:16

You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

 

These verses set the stage to look at the life of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ.

Joseph is very special in the life of Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-23

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

 

God knew every thought that Joseph had about what was going on, but God recognized Joseph’s faithfulness, and confirmed this by affirming his desire to love and care for Mary, and also care for a son that was not his own.

God knew the heart and conduct of Joseph as a father and as a husband. Joseph stepped out and obeyed God, and his actions were pleasing to God.

Remember that the angel had spoken to Joseph about the reason that Mary was pregnant. Joseph respected Mary and remained obedient to the Lord as he never consummated the marriage until after Jesus was born.

God is dealing with many people around the world about the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior during this season, but it is only God who can provide the knowledge that people can accept Him for who He is.

Luke 2:4-7

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for he to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough–because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

 

Joseph was trusting the Lord that He would do what He had said, and was willing to walk with God even though he did not completely understand. God, however, provided wisdom and confidence along the way.

Matthew 2:13-15

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him. So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herods death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.

 

God asked Joseph to take his wife and child to Egypt. He remains obedient and faithful to God by doing what he was asked to do.

Matthew 2:19-23

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Get up! Take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, because those who sought the childs life are dead. So he got up, took the child and His mother, and entered the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that He will be called a Nazarene.

 

If God entrusted you with something, how would you be able to respond?

God does not always appear at times that are convenient to you.

I want you to catch the level of character that was demonstrated by Joseph in his faithfulness and obedience to Jesus Christ.

When you live for the Lord and serve Him, life is not all that simple. You will be challenged with your level of obedience. He will show you your own heart for Him.


Grace and Peace from a Triune God

Today’s message summary of September 27, 2015 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Revelation 1:1-7

The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw. The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near! John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him, And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.

 

When it comes to greetings, such as those cards you purchase at the store, you will have funny greetings or serious ones. Greetings have a particular way of communicating one’s emotion.

Here is my greeting to you–it’s a happy Sunday morning greeting, which is the Lord’s greeting:

Within the text here, John is giving a greeting to the seven churches. This type of greeting to them was a means of comfort to the churches as they were facing a great deal of persecution. Of this group, Jewish Christians were not provided any protection under religious liberty.

Revelation 2:9

I know your affliction and poverty, yet you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 

Christians were being slaughtered at that time like animals. Under the Roman Empire, it is estimated that about 500,000 people were killed for their faith.

The persecution that those churches faces was wearisome, frightful and filled with despair. They needed to hear a message, through John’s greeting, from God Himself.

The persecution is being dictated by Satan himself as he is the ruler of this world. He is attacking today’s church in the same way that the attacks persisted on the seven churches.

As time progresses, Christians will see more persecution, and attacks will continue against the church. It will be a part of our culture today as “life in America,” as it was during the Roman Empire. Satan will continue to attack to cause a church to fall away and sin against God.

John’s greeting was a means of encouragement of God’s grace and peace. It is what sustains us as a church and as a means of overcoming persecution. He is writing the greeting to let them know that the sovereign God is working and that He will be glorified through the church. It was a way to counter the thought that God is nowhere to be found. John greets them with the message of grace, peace and comfort.

Look at the language that John uses in verse 4: John says, “from Him who is, who was, and who is coming…” He uses this language to remind us that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is working throughout the church. He is trying to comfort the church, who is always present and will remain present. God is sovereign, and by His providence He is working out all of the things we experience for our good and for His glory.

We can endure the difficult times when we face them because we trust in God’s grace and peace.

Find comfort knowing that God is sovereign in his control over all things.

Notice how he uses the number “7” in the text. Seven is the symbolic number for “completion.” In Revelation, the many uses of seven represent completion of something. The seven spirits who are before God’s throne represent God, the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 2:3

You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary.

 

Revelation 2:7

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.

 

Jesus said “let them hear” seven times. This means that what He states is assured and definitive.

Notice in verse 5 how Jesus is identified with three titles:

  1. The faithful witness
  2. Firstborn from the dead
  3. Ruler of the kings of the earth

The faithful witness reference is for those who were martyred for Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 11, the two witnesses before God were killed for their faith in Him.

Jesus is the faithful witness that did so during His life. He did so during His own life in which He stirred people up to the point that they wanted to seize Him, throw Him over a cliff, and He eventually died on the cross. He was a faithful witness in order that all would see and understand God the Father.

Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, and He was raised as the firstborn from the dead. He promises that those who believe in Him will overcome death.

2 Timothy 2:10

This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 

Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth.

John declared to the churches that there is Someone over the Emperor, who made the declaration to have all Christians eliminated.

Any illustration in history of dictatorships or any rulers still does not represent them being over and above the rule of Jesus Christ. It is important to remember that Christ is the One that allows any ruler to come to power. John is telling the churches here to look at the King of Kings and reminds them that Jesus is still on the throne.

Jesus’ atoning love is the anchor of the church (v. 6).

The church is to endure because of the presence of God’s love for the church and its people. We are to endure because He loves His church. Christ has made us His kingdom. We, today, as members of the body of Christ, are part of His kingdom.

John tells the churches that He is returning with the clouds (v. 7).

The clouds are a representation of God’s glory for everyone to see. When God comes back, the people of Babylon will cry out to the mountains to fall on them because they will see His glory at His return.

The Lord is coming. When He returns, He will pay every good or bad deed with its reward.

Judgment does not come from Satan–it comes from the Lord. Since it comes from the Lord, all non-believers in Him will face judgment and torment. If you don’t obey the gospel and believe in the Son, you will go to hell.

What is being said you may deem irrelevant and that it does not apply to you, and that you don’t care about those who are being persecuted. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is still called to stand on the grace and peace of God.


Is the Bible the True Word of God?

Original post May 31, 2009; Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

When one uses the phrase “God’s Word” or “The Word of God,” what is the meaning behind it? Man uses words to communicate with the idea of conveying a thought or a purpose. He can do it with sincerity, but at times it is done for our own selfish purposes or reasoning. God’s Word, on the other hand, is the revealing of God’s will for all people. He provides His Word for a purpose and it has the ability to “speak to us” and reach us in ways that normal communication cannot emulate. We have received His Word because it is inspired by God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture was given to us because it has a benefit for us, provided that we receive and respond to its teaching. While man’s words do not by themselves have power and authority, God’s Word ALWAYS operates in divine power (1 Thessalonians 1:5) and with divine authority (Luke 4:32, 36).

Many people will not read the Bible because the Word has the ability to convict those who read it of their sinful nature. It is the power and authority of God’s Word that challenge one’s mind and consciousness and that brings change in our lives. It will either bring one to Jesus Christ or it will condemn one to eternal separation. This is all in the choice that we make. God wants us to preach the Word and speak to others (2 Timothy 4:2). It is to be presented with encouragement and yet do so with the authority to correct those who are in sin with patience (2 Timothy 4:3).

It takes God’s time (and not our timing) for God’s Word to work in the lives of others. You need to allow God to work in His sovereignty and according to His purpose. Our call, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to be ready to share with others about our lives (1 Peter 3:15-16) and how God has changed us for the better.

It is God’s desire to impart His wisdom and knowledge to those interested in heeding His Word and to become more mature in their way of thinking about Christ (Colossians 1:28). The presence of the Holy Spirit is to guide men to God’s desires for our lives (Psalm 37:4; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit gives us the ability to understand God’s power and authority in His Word (Titus 3:5; Nahum 1:3; Philippians 2:13; Proverbs 21:1-3).

We should always be mindful that we derive our righteousness not in our own actions, but in His righteousness because of Jesus Christ making the eternal sacrifice for us all. The choice for us is to receive His Word in its entirety or reject it altogether. After all is said and done, God’s Word is the inspired authority and it operates with power and truth (2 Peter 1:21; Jeremiah 30:2). God is always in control…God’s Word is true…God’s will be done.