Reblogged as part of the “Tough Issues of Christianity” series.

ChristianBlessings

 

Perhaps Jesus’ best know sermon is knows as The Sermon on the Mount.

This sermon contains what are known as The Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes

1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:

3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11″Blessed…

View original post 313 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“I’m Pregnant” Feeling as Joseph must have felt


“I’m Pregnant” Feeling as Joseph must have felt.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John’s View Into Heaven (Revelation 4:1-3, Study)


Have you ever pictured heaven in your mind, wondering what it might look like? We get a glimpse of heaven from John in Revelation 4:

The Throne in Heaven
1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:1-3)

This just begins the symbolism in Revelation 4. The picture shows what a marvelous and mysterious place heaven seems to be. To fully understand what John is describing we need to understand two things:

1. Heaven is far outside of our realm of human experience. Just as we can’t understand the mind of God, neither can we really describe something that is so far outside our senses, language and experience. So John uses the term “like” often in his descriptions. He’s trying to give us a picture using words and images we can understand.

Pastor Michael uses this example of trying to explain something that is outside of our experience. Let’s say you are describing the color blue to a middle-aged person who has been blind from birth. You can describe it in many ways… the softness of a clear blue sky, the emotions often associated with blue or even the scientific wave-length of blue light. Yet, this person still will not be able to “see” the color blue as a sighted person would. It is completely outside of their realm of experience. In the same way, the picture accompanying this blog immediately shows what we might think of a really far out visions of heaven, the scene John is describing as well as he can.

2. Once again John’s symbolism can be more fully understood within the context of the whole Bible. Some of the words and symbols used are references to other scripture. We’ll dig into these as we progress the rest of the way through Revelation.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. (v 1a)

This is the third reference to a door in Revelation. The other two are found in Chapter 3:

I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. (Revelation 3:8)

This is the “door of opportunity.” God has made a way for all of us if we choose to take it. No one, not even satan, can close this door.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20)

This door opens to the heart. Jesus wants us to invite Him into our hearts to share an intimate personal relationship with Him. Again, this is a choice for each of us.

This third reference can be described as the “door of revelation.” (Note the small “r.” The entire Bible is a book of the revelation of God and His plan for us.) Via John’s vision, we will get a glimpse of what is to come. Figuratively speaking, this doorway will open to all of us with Jesus’ Second Coming.

“speaking to me like a trumpet” (v. 1) This is a “like” statement that is easy to understand. God is not speaking in a “still, small voice.” It is resounding, attention grabbing, like the trumpet of a herald announcing the arrival of arrival of royalty. We’ve seen “like” statements before. an excellent example can be found in Mark 1:10:

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Here we also see heaven opening to us humans.

Jesus gives us a promise that we will see into heaven in John 1:51:

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (spoken to Nathanael)

This in turn refers back to Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28:12:

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

See how this amazing Book ties it all together! The Bible is one Book, one Story. Recognizing that sure helps us to demystify Revelation.

This study of Revelation 4:1-3 will continue with “The Throne of Heaven.”

My thanks to Pastor Michael and the faithful members of the Men on the Grow Bible study group.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom, Art
Alive in the Word

Posted in Bible Study, Revelation | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs


Each week a group of faithful men meets for Bible Study and fellowship. Under the guidance of Pastor Michael, we are now studying the Book of Revelation. This blog series is based on my notes with some supplemental information from these weekly meetings. Listed below are all the blogs written (so far) in this series.

My heartfelt thanks to Pastor Michael and the Men on the Grow Bible Study Group.

About This Study of Revelation

The Revelation of St John the Divine-A Study

Who Wrote the Book of Revelation?

The Book of Revelation Decoded (Revelation Bible Study)

REVELATION: A Study. Understanding Biblical Apocalyptic Literature

A Study of the Book of Revelation (Group study notes Rev. 1:1-3, 9/22/10)

A Study of the book of Revelation (Group study notes: Rev. 1:1-3, 9/29/10)

A Study of the Book of Revelation (Group study notes: Rev. 1:4-6, 10/6/10)

Revelation Study Notes, Rev. 1:5-7 (10/13/10)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8; Study Notes, 11/10/10)

The “IS-ness” of Jesus (Revelation 1:8; Study Notes, 11/10/10, Pt 2)

The Almighty (Rev. 1:8, Study Notes, 11/17/10, Pt.1)

..companion in the tribulation.. (Rev. Study Notes, 11/17/10. Pt 2)

Hidden Manna, A White Stone, A New Name (Rev 2:17, 2/16/11)

Tale of the Tel: Thyatira

The break in this series of blogs will be filled in as I have time.

Tale of the Tel: Laodicea

“I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Laodicea (Part 1) (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)

“I am rich and do not need a thing” – Laodicea (Part 2)(Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)

“Those whom I love I rebuke” – Laodicea (Rev. 3:19-22, Study)

“Here I am! – Laodicea (Rev. 3:19-22, Bible Study)

John’s View Into Heaven (Revelation 4:1-3, Study) (5/12/11)

Thank you for visiting. To keep up with this series, you can subscribe for an e-mail notification of any updates. Check the link at the top of this page.

Shalom, Art

Alive in The Word

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“Here I am! – Laodicea (Rev. 3:19-22, Bible Study)


This is the final segment of my notes from a weekly study of the Book of Revelation covering the Church at Laodicea. For prior segments see:

“I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)
and
“I am rich and do not need a thing” – Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)

“Those whom I love I rebuke” (Rev. 3:19-22, Study)

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:19-22)

v. 20a “Here I am!” Notice that exclamation point. We don’t have to seek Jesus. He’s already here, waiting for us to welcome Him. He implores us to turn around from our worldly view to a heavenly view. When we turn around (repent) we will find Him waiting with open arms. He reinforces this by saying “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (v 20b) Again, notice that in the attached picture there is no outside latch on the door. It must be opened from the inside. Jesus stands at the door of our hearts, always ready, but no willing to force Himself in. With God, grace is always ready and available.

Dining together during the time of Jesus and the 1st century was not just a casual thing. Think of how often Jesus was chastised for eating with sinners. Paul confronted Peter about this when Peter refused to eat with gentiles (the uncircumcised). (See: Paul Opposes Cephas, Galatians 2:11-21.) Jesus so wants that intimate, personal relationship with each of us. He wants to know us.

In Biblical times, to “know” a person often meant sexual intimacy. The meaning here is different. It means a complete intimacy, a “becoming one” with Jesus. When we ponder that, it becomes even more intimate than a sexual relationship.

v. 21 Those who do repent will join Jesus in Heaven.

v.22 “Whoever has ears, let them hear…” Jesus speaks to each of us, even today. As shown below, we all come to Jesus from different places and in different ways. We have to listen for and to His voice.

May none of us be “lukewarm” for Jesus. Amen!

My thanks to Pastor Michael and the faithful members of the Men on the Grow Bible study group.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom, Art
Alive in the Word

Posted in Revelation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Those whom I love I rebuke” – Laodicea (Rev. 3:19-22, Study)


This is a continuation of my notes from a weekly study of the Book of Revelation covering the Church at Laodicea. For prior segments see:
“I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)
and
“I am rich and do not need a thing” – Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:19-22)

Jesus is exercising “tough love.” If He didn’t love, He wouldn’t care. For the Laodiceans He is condemning their indifference, their apathy. Earlier in the letter He had called them “lukewarm.” Today their response might be “whatever.” John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said “It is easier to convert a secularist than to heat up an apathetic Christian.”

Jesus sought people who were passionate about what they were doing. It made no difference if they were on the right path or the wrong one. People who were passionate were like clay that could be molded. Those who were apathetic were more like a fired pot, difficult to change. Two examples of passionate people who started out on or took the wrong path were the Apostles Paul and Peter. Paul shaped the Christian Church after his conversion. Peter was “the rock” upon which Jesus built His church.

The church in Laodicea had gotten off to a very good start. Then the Laodicenas had become indifferent. The Laodiceans had become very wealthy, comfortable and believed themselves to be self-sufficient. (See: Tale of the Tel: Laodicea for a discussion of Laodicea at the time Revelation was written.) As it says in Hebrews 6:4-6:

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

How often do you see this applying to people today? As it says in 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

The Laodiceans did love their money.

This portion of the Bible Study on the Church at Laodicea will conclude with the segment “Here I am!”

My thanks to Pastor Michael and the faithful members of the Men on the Grow Bible study group.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom, Art
Alive in the Word

Note: The picture at the top of this blog is entitled “The Light of the World” by Holman Hunt. There is no latch on the outside of the door.

Posted in Revelation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I am rich and do not need a thing” – Laodicea (Part 2)(Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study)


This is Part 2 of our study of the Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) For the first part of this study see “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Bible Study).

These quotes are from the NIV.

v. 17 “You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” This reminds us of Jesus stringent requirements of the Rich Young Man to dispose of his wealth in order to follow Jesus. (See: Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30). In many cases, Jesus did not seem to impose this requirement on those who were wealthy. Why here?

Jesus knew this young man’s heart. He knew that the worldly possession came before being a servant. The same had clearly become the case with the Loadiceans. They were proud of their worldly achievements and possessions. It was “theirs” to use as they pleased and they did not want to be beholden to or give credit to anyone else for these things… either Rome or God.

In the second part of this passage, Jesus rebukes them for placing their temporal, earthy things above heavenly, eternal wealth. “…you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” refers directly to those things that made the city of Laodicea successful and wealthy. (See: Tale of the Tel: Laodicea) Jesus also said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).

v. 18 “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” This verse refers directly to the three things that made Loadicea so successful, their wealth, textile industry and an eye salve.

The gold refined in fire would be pure gold, referring to the purity of Jesus.

The white clothes refers to several things, all related to purity. One is the whiteness of Jesus clothing at the Transconfiguration. another is the wedding garments required at the wedding banquet (a parable).

Although Laodicea was famous for its eye medicine, particularly an eye salve, they were blind to the ways of heaven on earth. “Let he who has eyes see.”

v. 19-20 19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Jesus still expressed His love for the Laodiceans and His desire for them to return to Him. He did not reject them. The image of dining with someone was that of intimacy in the ancient world. Jesus wanted this personal, intimate relationship with them, just as He does with us today.

In our materialistic world, we have become very much like the Christians address in this letter to Laodicea. We are proud of our accomplishments and possessions and treat them as strictly our own. We are, along with the Laodiceans, being rebuked to placing ourselves above taking care of others. Remember the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:312-46).

We will conclude our study of the Letter to Laodicea next week.

My thanks to my rabbi, Pastor Michael, and the faithful brothers of the Men on the Grow Bible Study group.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom, Art
Alive in The Word

Posted in Revelation | Tagged , | 2 Comments