Revelation Sermon Series Part 6: “The Moment”

Chapter 22:

 

12 “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

 

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes,[d] so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

 

15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 

16 “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

 

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”

And let everyone who is thirsty come.

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

 

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

 

20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”

 

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

 

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

 

SERMON: “The Moment”

 

This week we come to the end of our sermon series on Revelation.

Over the past six weeks we have talked about this wonderful and mysterious book called Revelation.

 

The main points have been: Continue reading

Revelation Sermon Series Part 5: “Be The Light Not The Dark”

Rev 21:10, 22-22:5
Revelation 21:10-22:5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 And in the spirit[a] he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

22 Then the angel[e] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life[f] with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants[g] will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

This week’s reading from Revelation is a continuation from last week as we began looking at the 21st chapter.
The 21st chapter begins a celebration tour for God after his victory over Evil.
And this week, that tour continues. Continue reading

Revelation Sermon Series Part 4: “God’s New Address”

Revelation 21:1-6
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Revelation Sermon Series Part 4: “God’s New Address”

Each week we have skipped chapters in Revelation.
This week we take what I call a quantum leap all the way to Chapter 21.

And our reading begins with “then.” Continue reading

Revelation Sermon Series Part 3: “The 8th Seal”

Revelation 7:9-17
9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Sermon : “The 8th Seal”

This morning we continue our series on Revelation.
Now you may have noticed that our scripture from Chapter 7 starts with “after this.”
So there is something we have missed between last week’s reading from Chapter 5 and this week’s reading.
So the first question we have to ask is, “After what?” Continue reading

Revelation Sermon Series Part 2: “The Response”

Revelation 5:11-14

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

 

This week is the second in a series of sermons based on Revelation.

Last week our reading came from the very beginning of the book.

However, we now make a leap to Chapter 5.

Does this mean nothing of importance happens between Chapter 1:9 and through 4?

Oh no.
Continue reading

Revelation Sermon Series 1: “The Revealing”

Revelation Sermon Series 1: “The Revealing”

Revelation 1:1-8

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed[d] us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;

    every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

    and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

 

 

This morning we begin a sermon series based on Revelation.

The sermons will be a little different than others I have done in the past because there will be a lot more teaching that goes along with the preaching.

I am not an expert on Revelation. However, I believe the Holy Spirit is drawing me closer to it.

 

Revelation is filled with a lot of amazing art:

Poetry,

Songs,

Battles so epic you can picture them on the movie screen,

This art has influenced artists and writers, poets and painters, musicians and speakers.

There is another reason why I feel drawn by the Spirit to talk about Revelation.

It’s been misused.

It’s been abused.

It has been hijacked by certain Christians and changed from a book of hope to a book of revenge, violence, and separation.

In my opinion,

These types of Christians love the idea that one day Christ will come and those they hate will face a reckoning.

These types of Christians believe and dare I use the word “hope” that those they hate or those who they feel have wronged them will received their ultimate reward: eternal damnation.

This type of belief has been around a long time.

Even before Christianity.

 

You get the same kinds of believers in the Old Testament, especially the Psalms. Not all Psalms are alike. There are quite a few where the writer praises God, and then wishes harm and death and torture on his enemies.

For example:

Psalm 3

Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

Psalm 35

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

For without cause they hid their net[a] for me;
without cause they dug a pit[b] for my life.
Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it—to their ruin.

 

Or this happy thought from Psalm 58:

V.6- “O God, break the teeth in (the wicked’s) mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!…V.7- Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime.”

 

You probably won’t see THOSE words in a Hallmark card anytime soon.

 

So. Are you  type of Christian who wishes torture on your enemies?

Do you read Revelation for the purpose of finding comfort that God is going to strike down all your enemies?

Because if you are,

My prayer is that this sermon series will help change you.

 

Because we should not be that type of Christian.

We should not be Christians who want to build a wall around Jesus to keep people out but to get people in.

We should work to get everyone to be a part of the kingdom.

We should want and pray that everyone we meet and know can be with us in the Kingdom.

 

I have met many people who want to argue about who will be “left behind.”

And I ask, “Why are you so determined to keep people out?”

 

Because to me, everyone has value.

 

Everyone deserves a chance at the grace and peace that has been given and shown to us.

 

And Grace and Peace is what John writes about in the lesson from Revelation for this week.

And even though it is in the greeting of his letter, those two words mean a lot to the people hearing them.

Because at this time, around the close of the first century, Christians were not the majority.

They were hunted.

They faced arrest and persecution from the Roman Empire.

And throughout the letter, John warns the people that the suffering will get worse.

He is trying to prepare the readers for what lies ahead.

But he doesn’t just write about the bad stuff.

He doesn’t spend 22 chapters talking about the pain and the suffering.

In fact, John spends many of those chapters talking about God.

He starts from the very first verse.

 

The revelation of Jesus Christ.

Why is this important?

This is where the title of the book comes from.

Revelation comes from the Greek word “apocalupto” and in the Ancient Greek is defined as:

To cause something to be fully known

To Disclose

To Bring To Light

To Reveal

 

God is revealing something to John.

God is bringing something to the light.

And for people who are suffering, who feel like they are surrounded by darkness, God’s Light is needed.

 

Now let’s get to some teaching moments (found in your bulletin):

This is the “Revelation” of Jesus Christ.

It is NOT RevelationS.

We all have our vices.

Our annoyances.

For some its nails on the chalk board.

For others its hearing someone crack his or her knuckles.

Mine is hearing someone calling this book RevelationS.

No matter what point that person might have, if he or she calls it Revelations, it makes the point less significant in my book.

To me it’s like a recent debate I had with Kristen.

Not an argument.

Just a debate…and I felt like I had made the ultimate point.

I felt that I was about to win!

(NOTE: Kristen is right the majority of the time. And by majority I mean 90%.

But that 10% I get right?

Oh yeah, I let her know!)

So right when I made this point of all points, and I am about to do my “I am so right” dance (Yes I have one)

My phone rings.

But it doesn’t ring like a normal phone.

I had forgotten I had changed my ring tone.

And instead of a telephone it was a CLOWN HORN.

Do you know how hard it is to look smart with a clown horn ringing from your pocket?

Even though I won that debate, I actually lost on a technicality.

Too much Clown Horn.

 

My point is whatever point you may have about Revelation, remember it is not RevelationS.

When you say the plural I hear a big clown horn ringing.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that Revelation is a letter.

After the introduction in the first 3 verses, Revelation takes on the features of a typical early Christian letter,

A format we see the Apostle Paul use in his letters.

We get:

A the sender and receiver

In this letter: John is the sender and the 7 Asian Churches are the receivers

And you get a greeting: “Grace and peace”

Then a doxology.

 

The 7 churches that are mentioned in Revelation were based in what we call modern Turkey.

Back then this territory was under the rule of the Roman Empire.

Rome plays a very important part of the letter.

 

And keep in mind the number 7.

The number 7 is used 57 times in Revelation.

In Biblical times, 7 meant “fullness”

Think back to the creation story.

God took six days to create, and on the 7th He rested.

Because Creation had been completed.

 

Even though seven churches are mentioned, by the end of chapter three, John has moved from those seven to the worldwide church.

So John is now writing to all Christians.

 

So the grace and peace from God is now a gift for all of us.

 

So what is the Revelation?

John’s main point, the one that will be the thread through the whole book:

God wins.

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

Well, ok, not THAT simple.

But that is John’s message.

 

Think of the battle between God and the Devil like a chess match.

And because of the cross and the resurrection, God has made his “checkmate” move.

In chess, once someone is in “checkmate,” he or she loses.

No matter how many moves he or she has left, the end is inevitable.

And no matter how many moves the Devil makes, the Devil cannot and never will win.

 

And for a group that is facing persecution (REAL persecution) this was Good News.

 

And this is Good News for us as well.

Because when we go through bad times.

When we go through pain.

When the Devil gets the upper hand in our lives (and it can happen)

We can find grace and peace knowing that in the end the Devil is still a loser.

The Devil is THE loser.

 

Now another Good News that I believe we need to hear and hold on to is found in verse 5.

“To him who loves us and freed us.”

This is John writing about Jesus Christ.

Who FREED us from the Devil.

Who won our souls, and gave us the forgiveness we need to live new lives.

 

But MORE IMPORTANTLY,

Jesus Christ LOVES us.

While FREED is a past action,

LOVES is present.

 

What this means, what I hold close to my heart is that present action verb.

Jesus loves me.

Jesus loves you.

Jesus did not stop loving us once he saved us.

 

Jesus does not stop loving us when we sin.

When we fail.

 

Jesus’ love for us is constant.

And will never change.

 

He loves us from the beginning.

And he will love us to the end.

 

Beginning to End.

From Alpha to Omega.

Alpha: the first letter in the Greek Alphabet

Omega: the last letter.

The book ends if you will.

 

And that means that the Devil, Evil, Death do not have the last word.

To stay in “teacher mode,” you need to summarize your points: 1 revelation,  #7, world-wide church, etc. ending with Good News, Jesus loves us.

 

So what do we do with this Good News?

We have the answer in our text:

We have been made “priests” who serve God.

We are to serve all in need.

From making lunches to over 60 people on a weekly basis in Thomasville,

To helping those who have been affected by Cancer,

To donating our time and care to ministries like CCM,

To preparing holidays meals for families,

To praying for those who are lost, lonely, afraid,

To talking and teaching to those who do not believe,

 

 

We are to make lives of those around us better.

 

We are to bring Grace and Peace to everyone.

We are to BE the Grace and Peace to all.

 

We are to be the Revelation to the world.

 

 

Sermon for Easter Sunday 2016: “The Seven Phrases”

John 20:1-18

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Sermon:  The Seven Phrases.

I love Jim Gaffigan.

He is one of my favorite comedians.

Gaffigan also happens to be a Christian, a Catholic, and he talks about Easter and the strange way we celebrate it:

“Easter. The day our Lord Jesus rose from the dead. How should we celebrate?

How about eggs?

What does that have to do with Jesus?

Alright, we’ll hide them.

Um. I don’t follow your logic.

Don’t worry there’s a bunny.”

Listening to him got me into a better frame of mind and it got me thinking.

How ARE we supposed to celebrate Easter? Continue reading