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Posted By Nan

Revelation 2:8-11
This short letter is to the congregation in Smyrna. Smyrna, now modern day Izmir, was an important trading port on the Mediterranean. The people of the town were very keen participants in the practice of Emperor Worship. In addition to this, the town housed a Jewish population that was very hostile and jealous of the Christian community in Smyrna.
The letter is identified as being from the First and the Last. Isaiah 44:6 reads: “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; besides me there is not God.” (NIV) No matter what anyone else says, be reassured, there is only one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Having reassured the people if this, Jesus also reminds them He is the one who died and came to life again. This is a particularly apt description. What it communicated to the people was that Jesus is the Lord of all, the one who was there in the beginning and will be there at the end. Nothing preceded the Holy Trinity and nothing will succeed the Holy Trinity. Because Jesus rose from the dead He conquered sin and death. Those who die in Jesus will have everlasting life with Jesus. This is a great comfort and important aspect of the message for the congregation.
Jesus knows the people are suffering persecution. It is comforting to know that, when we suffer in our lives, Jesus is aware of that. Our suffering does not go unnoticed, even though it may feel that way. The persecution suffered is probably the reason the people were living in poverty. It is quite likely the persecution involved them losing income. Jesus is also aware of the slanderous things being said against the followers by bitter Jewish inhabitants. The Jews appear to have informed against the followers. For all the suffering, Jesus warns that more is to come. He encourages them in the knowledge that the persecution will be short, but some will die.
His promise to the people is that if they persevere in their faith, even to the point of death, then he will give them the Crown of Life. He also reminds them that the overcomer is not hurt by the second death. The second, or spiritual, death refers to the fact that death is the penalty for sin. Death leads to eternal punishment, being lost and separated from God. In John 5:24 we read that for salvation we must pass from death into life. Death cannot separate those who are saved from God. One message we can take from this section is that human wrath is small compared with suffering the judgement of God. The persecutors may do terrible things to the people, but those sufferings pale in comparison to judgement when you have not been redeemed by Jesus. Those who persecute the followers of Jesus face a terrible judgement of God.


In the past few days my family have received the call to move. We have three weeks to pack up our house, move to the new one, clean the old house and unpack the new house before a scheduled holiday we booked earlier this year when it seemed late August/ September would be a quiet time! God has other plans. I will not be posting another blog until Saturday 20 September. May God bless you and watch over you for the next four weeks. xx Nan

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 2:1-7
This is the first of the seven letters to the churches. It is considered by most Bible scholars that these letters apply as much today as they did then. Each letter starts with a commendation then follows with a complaint and a correction. Jesus commences this letter, which He identifies as being for Ephesus with a reminder that He is the one who maintains the spiritual life of all of His followers and has the power to sustain or remove followers. We rely on Him for our spiritual growth and we supply the willingness. (Verse 1)
The congregation are commended for having worked hard and done much in Jesus’ name. They have persevered through great hardships. Also, they have remained faithful to His word and have not blindly believed those who have spoken in their midst but have studied the scriptures, prayed and identified and rejected those who claim to be from Jesus but preach heresy. (Verse 2-3)
Jesus complaint is that the followers have forsaken their first love. Not just their love for Jesus but, flowing on from that, their love for one another. When they first came to faith in Jesus they spent much time in prayer and reading the scriptures. They were hungry to know more. They eagerly worshipped Jesus. Now they take Him for granted. They may get together once a week but go about their lives for the rest of the week without even considering Jesus at all. This charge could be levelled at most of us. Are you as enthusiastic in your time with Jesus as you were in the beginning? Do you find excuses to put off praying? Do you rush through reading the Bible or even not do it at all because you are “too busy”? Do you remember a time when you did all these things with great joy? It is inevitable that we will lost that early enthusiasm. Long term love is about an initial rush of enthusiasm that transforms to a longer, deeper, more enduring love. Do not forget your time with Jesus.
When we lose that closeness with Jesus then love for others is lost too. In this world that loss of love is something that is most frequently condemned in Christians. The world uses this as a reason to condemn faith in Jesus. Do you love and care for others as Jesus wants you to do? Do you love your enemies? Do you care about the needs of the poor? The refugee? The sick? When you heartlessly fail to consider the needs of those people and support policies of a political party that refuse to help these people or even mete out unfair and harsh punishments on these vulnerable people, claiming it is to “help” them or it is “biblically based” (where in the Bible does it say to do that?) then you are guilty of acting like the Ephesians.
The correction. (verse 5). Repent of your loss of your first love and do the things you did at first. Remember your first love and remember to study the scriptures, pray and delight to be in Jesus’ presence. Remember His call to you to love others and turn away from your heartlessness.
Jesus promises that those who overcome will receive the right to eat of the Tree of Life in Paradise. In other words, they will be restored to that perfect fellowship with God that existed before sin entered the world.
So today stop, sit in Jesus’ presence and ask Him to search your heart and convict you of any areas where you have forgotten your first love. Repent and beg Him to restore you. Eagerly await that restoration and open yourself to the changes He wants to make in your life. If necessary change your world view, including your political views, to be in line with Jesus’ commands and the behaviour of one who remembers his or her first love.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 1:10-20
This section starts with John fervently worshipping Jesus and being “in the spirit”. So we was well prepared for what was to come. He heard a voice and turned and saw Jesus, not the earthly Jesus, but Jesus the Overcomer, Jesus the Son of God, Jesus in all His victory and Heavenly power. What an awesome sight!
I am not surprised John fell at Jesus feet as one dead (v 17) The sight of Jesus in all His glory would have been overwhelming in its awesomeness. Jesus response to John falling down was to lay His hand upon John. He placed strength in John and lifted him up. He encouraged John to not be afraid (v 17). He reminded John who He is: the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of Greek alphabet), the first and the last. He was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. He is also the Living One. He was dead and he is alive for ever and ever and has conquered death. He holds the keys to death and Hell. He has authority over all things. Remember Jesus is the one who was dying on the cross and now He has overcome.
John is in the presence of the almighty Messiah, the Son of God. This is not a man in an earthly body but the true Jesus Christ. Just that image of His majesty is enough to cause me to stop in awe and worship…  Here is a revelation of Jesus as Lord of all. He is who He truly is.
Jesus directs John to write what has been, is now and is to come. He directs John to write what He directs him to from whatever He degrees. There are many who see these words as Jesus saying this is a prophesy about different stages in history, but I don’t see it that way. For those reading the letter it was a wonderful establishing of Jesus’ credentials and a beautiful vision of the true Jesus we worship. It is important to understand this to be able to hear the prophesy Jesus is about to reveal to John.
As John is able to look around him, he sees that Jesus is standing amongst 7 lamp stands. Jesus tells John they represent the 7 congregations of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These locations are all in modern day Turkey and at the time of writing of Revelation they had the greatest concentration of Christians in the world. These cities were at the centre of postal and administrative centres so things could be distributed fast. In many ways the believers in the 7 towns are to be the lamp of Jesus’ light, just as we are called to be the lamp of Jesus’ light, shining forth for all to see.

 

 
Posted By Nan

Revelation 1:9
There is so much contained in this one verse that I am going to devote an entire blog to it.
John relates to his readers that he is John. He is their brother. He is their companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance. These three things belong to all the believers in Jesus Christ. John was on the island of Patmos, just off the Turkish coast from Ephesus. He was there because he had been sharing the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. This emphasises that he is definitely their brother in persecution.
Suffering, Kingdom and Patient Endurance. These are important themes in Revelation. No matter what you may believe about Revelation, it is certain that these things are underlying everything written in the book. Suffering, Kingdom and Patient Endurance are ours in Jesus, as we preach God’s word and bear our testimony to Jesus. Every day, somewhere in the world, Christians are suffering persecution and being killed because of this testimony.
If you look at Revelation 2:9-10, 22 and 7:14, you will see that suffering includes: afflictions, poverty, being slandered, imprisonment, persecution, illness and death. But the reward for suffering in Jesus’ name is to be in God’s presence in Heaven. Suffering in Jesus’ name is not unnoticed by God and it does not go unrewarded.
In Revelation 11:15, 12:10, 16:10, 17:12 and all of chapters 17 and 18, you will see that kingdom incorporates: the kingdom of the world becoming the kingdom of God and Jesus, where He will reign forever; power; salvation; authority; the overthrow of satan; and all wealth accumulated by men coming to nothing. So all those greedy people who seek to amass fortunes at the cost of great suffering by the world’s poor will find their great wealth is just dust in eternity. Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven that will not perish, that are forever. (Matthew 6:19-21).
Patient endurance is explained in Revelation 2:2-3, 19, 3:10, 13:10 and 14:12 as follows: hard work, perseverance, not tolerating the wicked, discerning false prophets and taking a stand against them, enduring hardship without growing weary, love, faith, service, increasing the work you do for Jesus in tandem with the faith you have in Him, faithfulness, obeying God’s commands and remaining faithful to Jesus.
These are all part of Jesus’ pattern (Luke 24:26). To be in Jesus is to experience the suffering and the kingdom now, with a view to sharing the Kingdom’s glory in the future.
These words of 2 Timothy 4:1-3 are a great summation and a timely warning to all believers to be on their guard against false prophets.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (NIV)

 

 
Posted By Nan

Chapter 1:4-8
These beautiful verses commence in the form of a letter from John. He greets his readers with the blessing of peace (from the old covenant) and grace (from the salvation of Jesus) and presents them now as the now salvation of the Kingdom of God.
He describes the sender of the grace and peace as being “from Him who is, and who was and who is to come” v4 (NIV). This is an extension of Exodus 3:14 where God introduces Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM”. As we read through this short passage we will see Jesus identifying Himself as the one who is and who was and who is to come and as the Almighty (v8).
It is important we understand who has sent the message of Revelation.
The 7 spirits mentioned in v4 hold the symbolic number of 7. This is the number of fullness and completeness, used to signify God. In this place it is likely to be referring to the Holy Spirit who holds the fullness of God’s power.
In v 5 Jesus Christ is again referred to. He is the faithful witness of all God has spoken, taught and done. He died because of that witness. He is the firstborn from the dead, the supreme one, who rules over all. He holds the first place in the Kingdom of God.
The greeting is followed by a benediction (5b-6) which emphasises how we are freed from sin by Jesus’ blood. He has made us into a kingdom of priests to serve God. Because of who He is and what He has done He will hold the glory and power forever and ever.
Verse 7 refers to Jesus coming on the clouds. This is a reference to Daniel 7:13 where Daniel sees the vision of the one “like a Son of Man” coming on the clouds. This is the promised final redemption of Jesus Christ. This passage introduces a fundamental theme of Revelation, the concept that redemption occurs and it is like a second exodus. The first exodus occurred when Moses (the first redeemer) led the Israelites out of Egypt. The second exodus is far more important. It is Jesus (the second redeemer), who loves us eternally, having freed us from our sins once for all and made us a kingdom of priests. He is our Lord, the one we trust and obey and worship. He will come to lead us to be with Him.
It is important to note that verse 7 speaks of all people on earth mourning. Why? Because all mankind is responsible for Jesus death. When He returns we all will mourn, not just those who killed Him.
This section winds up with Jesus identifying Himself for who He is as the one who was and who is and who is to come, the Almighty (v8).
For those reading these words, this was the evidence that this was no ordinary letter, but one with a mighty and powerful message from Jesus.

 

 


 
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Nan
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