Scriptures: Revelation 8:1-6
In today's reading we read that the seventh seal is opened, which is the Day of the Lord. The entire book is now opened by Jesus. This seal is subdivided into seven major parts and each part is signified by the blast of a trumpet. There are seven angels with seven trumpets. Seven represents perfection. Revelation chapters 12-20 are the details of the Day of the Lord.
The first four trumpets speak of massive destruction. The first trumpet is rain of hail and fire: possibly icy hail mixed with lighting or volcanic eruption or a meteor storm. The second trumpet is a burning mountain cast into the sea: possibly a devastating super volcano or asteroid impact. The third trumpet is a falling star burning like a torch: possibly an asteroid or comet. The fourth trumpet is a plague of darkness: a third part of the sun, moon and stars are darkened. This a possible fallout from the previous event. These four trumpets devastate earth's environment. God has full control over our life-sustaining environment. In Revelation 9:20-21 is tells us that through these events humanity will still not repent.
The next three trumpets blasts target the inhabitants of the earth. The fifth trumpet is the first woe. Iron locusts: the machines of war. These torture people as with the sting of the scorpion; this is possibly chemical or biological warfare. The sixth trumpet is the second woe. Four angels are loosed which are bound in the Euphrates River. Euphrates was the easternmost boundary of the Roman Empire during the writing of Revelation. The dividing line between Rome and the kings of the east. John sees an army numbering 200 million. A massive army which kills a third part of all men. A global conflict which will climax with the return of Jesus.
The seventh trumpet is the third woe. The mystery of God would be finished. There shall be time no longer. There is an angel with a little book which John is told to eat. It will taste like honey but make his stomach bitter. Symbols initial joy then heartache. God sends two witnesses. A last chance to repents: these witnesses gain worldwide attention. But they are executed for their message, but God resurrects the two prophets. A startled world will have more proof of who the true God is. The world is given miracles and a message again but they respond the same way as when Christ came the first time. God always gives mankind an opportunity to turn to Him.
Revelation 11:15-18: These verses sum up all that we have been studying. Jesus Christ will take back full control of His creation. Satan's system will be completely overthrown.
Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-8
In these verses we read about two kings: both were called the King of the Jews. The 1st king was Herod. Herod was addicted to power; he was capable, crafty and also very cruel. Herod was consumed with possessions, greedy and did not have much concern for others. He loved to make an impression by building cities and naming them after his superiors. Herod married ten women and most of the marriages were politically motivated. Finally he was beset with paranoia: he had slaves which tasted all the food he ate and anyone who said anything against him was eliminated quickly.
We read of wise men who came looking for him who was born King of the Jews. Herod was not born a king: he had to fight and kill for his position. The birth to the true king brings out Herod's worst fears and also his cruelest nature.
This second, the true King, is Jesus. Jesus really does have all the power, but He was willing to surrender it for a greater purpose. He owns it all, but chose poverty to relate to our suffering. Jesus suffered rejection, but never went off course. He is the greatest King because He was willing to lay down His life for His servants.
We must determine which king we are following, like the old song says: "you gotta serve somebody." Both kings are competing for control over our lives. Herod's focus is only on getting, while Jesus focuses on giving. There is one thing they both have in common: they both believed that there was nothing that bloodshed could not cure. Herod shed other's blood, while Jesus shed His own.
Scriptures: Revelation 6:9-17, Matthew 24, Revelation 13:15, Revelation 12: 17, Revelation 21:5-8, Revelation 22:15
Today we will look at the fifth and sixth seals, which came after the four horsemen.
The fifth seal is opened and is explaining religious persecution. This time John is not told to come and see, because he had a personal understanding of the events of this seal. John sees the martyrs, souls slain for the Word of God, they are under the altar: a place of mercy and not judgment. In Matthew 24:9-12 Jesus had spoken of the persecution that the church would face. At the very beginning of the early church persecution set in and John could relate to what he was seeing. Most of the apostles met a violent and early death. Brutal persecution Jesus said will happen again. In Matthew 24:21-22 is says: "And unless those days were shorted, no flesh would be saved (alive)." What will be cause of this great persecution? Revelation 13:15 says that there will be people who refuse to worship the image of the beast. Revelation 12:17 shows us that the dragon's primary target is those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. This type of persecution exists in our world today.
The sixth seal is opened: signs in the skies. In Matthew 24:29-30 we see the sequence of events: first comes tribulation as described in the fifth seal, next the heavenly signs described in the sixth seal and finally comes the day of God's wrath: the Day of the Lord. A great earthquake, the sun becomes black, the moon turns to blood and the stars of heaven fell the earth. In Revelation 6:15-17 we notice that these events awaken the world to the reality that there is only one true and living God. Mankind has not learned that you cannot hide from God. All of the seals have pointed to one event: The great day of God's wrath.
Our God is a just God and He will avenge His church and the martyrs. There are insiders and outsiders, because the modern mind excuses itself for what we call "little things." To God any sin has the capacity to corrupt the soul and pollute God's creation. The goal is to one day wear the white robe God has prepared for us: an eternal insider!
Scriptures: Judges 17:6, Proverbs 12:15 & Luke 4:16-19
Police officers have found it difficult to interview witnesses at the scene of the crime or an accident, because many times witnesses contradict each other. Another fact is that people lie! Finally there are different angles of view: there are emotional biases and our eyesight can be blurred by pain or emotion. An officer must determine who actually saw the event and who just has insight about the event.
How's your spiritual eyesight? We can see things through God's eyes or we can function using personal insight. Insight equals: perception, awareness, comprehension or even being savvy. Insight is the act of seeing into the situation. Insight uses the natural mind to gain understanding. Jesus told us to "walk by faith and not by sight." We need to have His mind and His thoughts.
Disappointment is when expectations meet unachieved goals and this can result from the high expectations we place on others or self. Frustration is feelings of bafflement and it sets in when disappointment is not dealt with. A person can feel cheated and feeling cheated leads to envying and strife which creates confusion and every evil work.
Impatience is the inability to endure opposition and is makes us intolerant. Conflict is a state of disharmony and causes a loss of love for others. Blame and disillusionment is when we begin to blame others and God for our failed expectations. It's never understanding that from the beginning we set unrealistic goals for others and ourselves.
There are remedies for an unsatisfied spirit which can be found in God's Word:
1) Active faith- faith the produces measureable evidence
2) Joyful spirit- finding joy in the change and being able to control anger
3) Quiet humility- learning to be silent because often we talk over God's voice and realizing that waiting is not a lack of action.
Contentment is satisfaction in the moment.
Scriptures: Jonah 1:1-17
Jonah was a diverted man. What got Jonah to change his destination? A diversion is to turn aside from a course that is to be followed. God does not engage in useless activities: He always has a plan and purpose.
The characteristics of diversion: conscious diversion, unconscious diversion, inherited diversions, transferred diversions and those acquired by personal decisions.
Our enemy is very talented at diverting people: he too has goals. Our enemy was to take us away from God' will and usher people into failure. The enemy's desire is open avenues of spiritual pollution, to prevent us from reaching our God-given goals, to remove us from divine blessing and to waste our lives. A wasted life without purpose makes a person feel depressed, aimless and unhappy.
What does our enemy use to cause a person to get diverted from God's plan for their life? Three tools he uses: seduction, confusion and pride. When these three are combined, we come to place where we cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. The enemy will always offer an easier way with little resistance.
So how can we keep from becoming diverted? We must accept God's will for our lives. Jonah was prophet. We must recognize that a voice of diversion will be offering us something instead of asking something of us. We must avoid always wanting our own way. Spend time in prayer and seek counsel before making serious decisions. Jonah traveled the wrong road and a lot of people paid the price for it. Let us return or stay on the journey God has for us.
Scripture: Revelation 6:3-8, Matthew 24:6-7
Today we look at the second seal where John is told "to come and see." John must adventure beyond his present location and beyond the revelation has already received. The second rider is on a fiery red horse and he is given power to take peace from the earth and make men slay each other. To him was given a great sword: a symbol of mass destruction.
In Matthew 24:6-7, we read about nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. John is seeing global warfare and hundreds of millions of lives being lost. John could be seeing a specific time of war or multiple wars from his time until the second coming of Christ. He does not see peace on the earth.
The third seal is then opened in verse five and again John is told to "come and see." He must delve deeper into the revelation. Now we read of a third rider on a black horse holding a pair of scales in his hands. This seals portrays the scarcity of food and basic necessities of life. Matthew 24:7 tells us that there will be famines: famines are the natural aftermath of war. War destroys property, disrupts agricultural production, affects product transportation and causes nations/individuals to hoard what they have. Many that will survive the wars will die from hunger.
The fourth seal is opened and again John is told "to come and see." The revelation is so intense that John must go beyond his human capabilities. The fourth rider is on a pale horse: a sickly looking horse. This rider's name is Death and following behind him is hell. All four horsemen are given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague and with the beasts of the earth. Humans led by evil to cause mass destruction. Jesus spoke of pestilences, deadly epidemics and diseases. All these elements reinforce each other. Wars lead to famines and pestilences which lead to further fighting over resources.
At the time of the end the faithful people of God will also face some of these dire circumstances. God does not want His servants to be surprised by such tragedies, but He does want us to look up to Him for help and deliverance. Jesus said: "He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." This teaching should give us a new perspective and help us to put aside the little trivial things that get in our way.
Scriptures: Ephesians 5:19-20, Philippians 4:4
There is a place of the soul called the land of shadows. Grief or loss can cover our spirit with darkness. A shadow can also come from having an attitude that says: "I have no one or nothing to be thankful for." A shadow can form around us when we are constantly complaining or have a critical spirit. A soul shadow can come from carelessness: never truly considering all the things we should be thanking God for in our lives. Imagine if the stars came out once per year: we would make all the effort in the world to see them on that night, we would cherish their appearance. We take them for granted now and barely notice their existence, but what if suddenly they were no longer there?
Thanksgiving should be expressed. God appreciates our thanksgiving! Are we giving thanks always? Are we thankful for a sink full of dishes, because it meant we had food to eat and a house to clean them in. We should be thankful in prayer and praise, in offering forgiveness and when given the opportunity to do something for the church.
Thanksgiving will expand our vision. We have so much to be thankful for each and every day. The Bible reminds us to: "Not to forget all God's benefits." Thanksgiving is expected; it is the mark of a growing, giving and glowing Christian. It's time to try thanksgiving! Thank God for your blessings before they are gone. Thanksgiving drives away the shadows and lets the light in. "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice." Rejoice means to express thanksgiving: it will remind you of what is really valuable in life. Thanksgiving will give you your glow back.