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Archive for Revelation


Keys That Matter

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One of my simple life objectives is to carry as few keys as possible. I carry my car key and on a separate key ring I carry the keys to my house, office, and mailbox. When I was a kid I wanted my own set of keys. After my persistent persuasion, my father rounded up some old keys and put them on a key ring and gave them to me. I recall feeling important as I carried those keys around, acting just like my dad. The only problem was that none of the keys I carried fit any locks. They didn’t start cars or unlock my house or anyone’s office. They were keys, but they didn’t matter.

Sometimes I think that we live life pursuing keys that really don’t mean anything. We claw, scratch and dig to get keys to cars, recreational vehicles, homes, businesses and safe deposit boxes. Those are the keys we tend to value, but in the end are they really keys that matter?

In John’s vision of Jesus described in Revelation chapter 1, he observed this about Christ:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:17-18, NLT).

Jesus held in his hand the keys to death and the grave. These keys, like our keys, represent access and authority. The big difference between Jesus’ keys and our keys is that his keys fit the locks of eternally significant things…things that really matter. When I studied this passage last week I was reminded that life is filled with endless pursuits of pleasures and possessions that won’t matter 1,000 years from now. We only find fulfillment when we pursue that which is eternally significant.

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Not Your Typical Jesus

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The mind thinks in pictures. Let me explain. Close your eyes and think of the word “pie.” What image is in your mind? A piece of pie? A pie chart? If you heard the word pie rather than reading it, your mind may have thought of the Greek letter and associated it with either a fraternity or a mathematical formula.

Let’s try another word, the word “light.” Your mind may be filled with an image of the sun, or a lamp, a feather, a cigarette lighter, or something else you associate with the word light.

What image comes to your mind when you hear the word Jesus? The nativity? Maybe an image of Jesus with little children? What about DaVinci’s painting of the Last Supper? Perhaps you are envisioning the image of Jesus on the cross.

The book of Revelation begins with John’s explanation of the setting and occasion for his writing. He had been banished to the island of Patmos because of his testimony of Jesus Christ. He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when he heard a sound. Check out his description of what he saw as he turned around.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Revelation 1:12-16, NLT).

John had personally known Jesus and had walked with him for three years. He had seen Jesus in multiple contexts and in a wide variety of settings. Undoubtedly John thought often of Jesus following his ascension and would have perhaps reflected on many of those images. But the time had come for John to release those historical images and receive a new vision of who Christ is.

I wonder if our discipleship becomes hampered because we are holding on to ancient images of Christ. There’s nothing wrong with the Christ of history, but if the only vision we have of Christ is the Christ of the gospel record then we (unintentionally) limit him to what he did 2,000 years ago. Let me encourage you to pursue a fresh vision of Christ. A good way to do that is accomplish that goad would be to give the book of Hebrews a careful read. There you will find a lot of insights to what Christ is doing today.

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The Vision of His Glory

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Tonight my wife Lisa and I will begin team-teaching the Anne Graham Lotz study The Vision of His Glory. This 14 week series focuses on the Book of Revelation.

One of the reasons I’m excited about this video series is the Bible Study method that Graham-Lotz shares with her students. Here’s the five steps of Bible study that she teaches in the study guide (pp. 9-11):

Step One: Look into God’s Word
Simply read the designated passage of Scripture.

Step Two: What does the passage say?
When you have finished reading the passage, make a verse-by-verse list of the outstanding facts. Don’t get caught up in the details, just pinpoint the most obvious facts. Ask yourself, “Who is speaking? What is the subject? Where is it taking place? When did it happen?” As you make your list, do not paraphrase, but use actual words from the passage itself.

Step Three: What does the passage mean?
After reading the passage and listing the facts, look for a lesson to learn from each fact. Ask yourself, “What are the people doing that I should be doing? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a warning to heed? Is there a promise to claim? An example I should follow?” Focus on spiritual lessons.

Step Four: What does the passage mean to me?
The most meaningful step is step 4, but you can’t do step 4 until you complete the first three steps. Take the lessons you identified in step 3 and put them in the form of a question you could ask yourself, your spouse, your child, your friend, your neighbor, or your coworker. As you write your questions, listen for God to communicate to you personally through his word.

Step Five: Live in Response.
Pinpoint what God is saying to you from this passage. How will you respond? Write what you will do now about what God has said to you. You might like to date it as a means not only of keeping a spiritual journal, but also of holding yourself accountable to following through in obedience.
This is an excellent strategy. I hope that you can find it useful to you in your daily Bible study.