Category: Revelation (Page 1 of 8)

Everything New!

The five most exciting words in all of Scripture are “I am making everything new!” I think the Lord’s words in Revelation 21 and Isaiah 43 are electric with excitement. These five words just crackle with potential and promise. They explode with hope and expectation and possibilities. “I am making everything new!”

We are moving from an old year into a new one. We are also moving toward God’s glorious forever where everything we know is made new. Individually, each of us is always moving somewhere, to something. So let’s be intentional about it. Let’s pay attention to it.







At GCR this Sunday, we are beginning a new five-weeks sermon series on the story of Naomi and Ruth. The whole story is about moving: from Moab to Israel, from bitter to full, from three funerals to a wedding and a new child, from famine to harvest, from no future to complete redemption. The story is full of ordinary, mundane matters such as family and work, cities and laws, life and death. So much of this story is easily relatable to all of us today. And we see God’s gracious hand at work in the middle of it all to bless his people and bring salvation to the world.

So, yes, the whole stage and front of the GCR Worship Center is filled with moving boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and dollies. We are really focusing on the idea of “moving.” We want to embrace and embody the concept of “moving” toward a wonderful place with our Lord and with one another in his will.

I know we just moved into our newly remodeled room. I know. Don’t worry, we are not planning to move out. But, by our God’s amazing grace, we are wanting to “move” into his “everything new.”



Worthy is the Lamb

How about a difficult lesson from Revelation today? I know, Revelation. Why? What does anybody need to know from Revelation?

It seems that some of us are scared to death of Revelation, so we ignore it. We avoid it. We act like it’s not there. Others of us are almost obsessed with Revelation. We see penicillin in Revelation, and smartphones and bar codes and Russia and whatever Donald Trump had for lunch yesterday. That’s overboard the other way. Revelation was given to us as the final word in the Bible to encourage us. To give us hope. To give us the confidence to persevere. To show us how the Story of God ends and how we are to get from here to there. We ignore it to our own peril.

Randy Harris says Revelation is super simple, there are only three points to the whole book:

1) God’s team wins
2) You need to pick a team
3) Don’t be an idiot

But there are some hard lessons in Revelation. Here’s one: Jesus is not a lion. He is a lamb.

The Messianic expectation was for a lion, the Lion of Judah. That’s what God’s people were praying for, that’s what they were looking for and expecting. We need someone who is strong and threatening, someone who is powerful and mighty, someone to destroy our enemies and restore us to power. Like David, the Lion of Judah! That’s what Israel called all their kings after David, the Lion of Judah.

That’s clearly what Revelation 5 is alluding to. John is weeping because no one has been found worthy to break the seals and open the scroll to inaugurate the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. But one of the elders tells John to stop crying. “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed! He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals!”

So John looked. But he didn’t see a lion. There was no lion. He saw the Lamb.

“I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.”

A Lamb. Not a lion. John goes on to say he saw the Lamb on the throne. He saw all of creation worshiping the Lamb. The Lamb is the One who breaks the seals and opens the scroll to fulfill the will of our God. Not a lion.

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men and women for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation!” ~Revelation 5:9

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.” ~Revelation 5:12

Jesus could have come with power, but he didn’t; he came in weakness. Jesus could have asserted his rights, but he didn’t; he laid them down. Jesus could have stood up to his enemies, but he didn’t; he turned the other cheek in forgiveness and love. Jesus could have called ten thousand angels, but he didn’t; he died alone for you and me.

When Revelation 19 tells us the Lord Almighty rides on a white horse and his robe is covered in blood, we know it’s his own blood.

See, a lion or a warrior says, “I will fight to make things right. I will kill for you.”

The Lamb says, “I will sacrifice and serve to make things right. I will die for you.”

Big difference.

Jesus the Christ overcomes pain and anguish, he defeats evil and fear, he destroys sin and death forever with mercy and gentleness, with forgiveness and love, with grace and patience, with suffering and death.

Revelation tells us to wait for that glorious day of the Lord. And it calls us to wait in a certain way. In Revelation, the ones who are called  conquerors, the over-comers, the ones who are called victors, are not the ones who fight. They’re the ones who submit faithfully to suffering and death, totally trusting God and God only to deliver.

And Revelation shows us the Lamb. The Lamb who was slain. The Lamb who endured suffering and death and entrusted himself fully to his Father. And who reigns now and forever at God’s right hand.

Worthy is the Lamb!

So we testify and we witness and we change the world. Not by power or force, not by threat or volume, not by fighting or by any of the other ways of the world. But by patience and gentleness, mercy and love. And, yes, even suffering and death.

That’s a hard lesson. It’s the centuries-old  scandal of the cross, the centerpiece of our faith, that we still do not fully embrace.

Worthy is the Lamb!



House Call: Revelation

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” ~Luke 5:31

There is so much revealed about Jesus in the very short story of the great banquet at Levi’s house. Who Jesus is and what Jesus came here to do and why and how he came to do it is revealed in his answer to the Pharisees who are questioning the sort of company he keeps. He is a doctor who has come to heal the sick. Those are his words. It sounds kind of like a mission statement, doesn’t it? I am a doctor and I have come to heal the sick. Why?

Because he knows. Jesus knows the world is sick. He knows God’s creation is sick. Men and women and children are sick. Families are sick. Communities and cities are sick. People are hurting, people are suffering, people are in pain and dying. And Jesus says I am the doctor!

The old prophet Jeremiah uses this kind of language as he is proclaiming the miseries of God’s people:

“We had hoped for peace, but no good has come; for a time of healing, but there was only terror… My heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people… My people are crushed, I am crushed. I mourn and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” ~Jeremiah 8:15-22

God’s people cry out, “Is there a doctor in the house?” And Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God answers, “I Am! It’s Me!”

I am bringing to you the new age of the Kingdom of God. I am bringing to you new power and new possibilities and new hope that’s never been there before. I’ve got complete forgiveness for you and full holiness and total righteousness. Everything that’s making you sick and tired and weak, everything that’s keeping you from being who and what God created you to be, everything that’s killing you – I’ve got the cure!

You know, a doctor like that – you probably can’t just show up to see him without an appointment. He’s probably booked for six or seven months or more. And a person like you – you probably couldn’t even get an appointment with a doctor like this. A doctor this good probably isn’t taking new patients.

Except, no! Praise God the Great Physician makes house calls! He comes to you and knocks on your door! He comes to you and it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you are, he meets you right there. Jesus goes to the tax collector’s booth and then he shows up at the tax collector’s house, at his table!

In Revelation 3, Jesus says, “Here I am. I’m right here. I stand at the door and knock.” It’s a house call. Always. “I am standing right here and I’m knocking. And if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in. And I will eat and drink with you and you will eat and drink with me.”



Everything New!

These are the five most exciting words in all of Scripture:

“I am making everything new!” ~Revelation 21:5

This is the divine promise. This is the holy guarantee. This is the dramatic climax to the Gospel story we’re living right now in Jesus Christ. Not new like an existing breakfast cereal that adds additional marshmallow moons, not new like a laundry detergent that features a unique cleaning agent. It’s not a different label, a brighter color, or a longer lasting battery.

This is new heaven and new earth new. This is no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain, no more death new. This is mourning being turned into dancing new. Emptiness to fullness new. Bitterness to joy new. Death to life new. Our Lord is making everything new!

May our Lord move you into his “new” as he moves you and yours into 2021.

“The old order of things has passed away! I am making everything new! Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true!” ~Revelation 21:4-5



The New Order

“The old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  ~Revelation 21:4-5

The last two chapters of Revelation contain very familiar descriptions of heaven. These are the phrases that make it into our church songs and our popular lexicon: streets of gold, pearly gates, book of life, river of life, crystal sea, no tears.

There are some descriptions of the City of the Lamb in these verses that are not as familiar. Some of the descriptions are even surprising: coming down out of heaven to earth, the bride, Jerusalem, gates never shut.

These final two chapters show us where all things are headed. We see the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s goals. We get a picture of the finish line. And my favorite phrase is about the old order of things passing away and the new order being eternally established by our victorious Lord.

The old order — the broken way that things run in this world. Sin and death, power and threat, violence and division and strife — that’s the old order of things. That’s the way the world works. We know that’s how it works. But God says I am making everything new!

The old order is grief and loss and heartache and tears; the new order is no more death or mourning or crying or pain!

The old order is wealth and power and poverty and despair; the new order is access to the springs of life without cost — God’s everlasting blessings are free!

Right now the world operates by division and exclusion, racism and discrimination; the City of the Lamb has gates on every side and they’re never shut; it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re coming from, men and women from every tribe and language and people and nation are welcome; everybody’s invited, nobody’s left out, and the doors are always open!

Today we live under constant threat and fear and dread and anxiety; but nothing impure will ever enter the City of the Lamb — no bad people, no night, nothing to be afraid of!

Today we’re all impacted in some way by sickness, disease, and disabilities; tomorrow we all drink freely from the water of eternal life and the tree of life heals us and all the nations!

The old order is isolation and loneliness, separation from God and distance from each other because of our sins and failures and brokenness and guilt; in the beautiful City of the Lamb we will  see his face; his name will be on our heads; God will live with us; we will be his people and God himself will be with us and be our God; and we will reign in perfect love and joy and peace for ever and ever! Amen!



Living for the Lamb

We’ve made the book of Revelation too complicated. I love what Randy Harris says about it. He claims the whole book of Revelation is super easy. It’s only got three points:

1) God’s team wins.
2) Pick a team.
3) Don’t be stupid.

Revelation reminds us of the promise and shows us the hope. Revelation reveals to us God’s ultimate goals for his people and all of creation and shows us what it looks like when it’s ultimately fulfilled.

Revelation gives us one of the most stunning, creative and beautiful pictures of Jesus Christ and his eternal Kingdom in the whole Bible. It’s a masterpiece. Yes, some of it’s pretty wild. But the overarching point is about the conflict between good and evil. It’s about the cosmic clash between the kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of God. And it tells us — no, it shows us! — that the best and only hope for us and the world is Christ.

Our God’s mission is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ. As children of God and followers of Christ, we join him in that mission. We’ve given ourselves to that mission. And Revelation shows us that mission when it’s finally and fully accomplished.

The vision in Revelation informs and empowers the Church’s mission. We know what God has done in the death and resurrection of Jesus and we know where this whole thing is headed. We’re compelled by the current realities and the future realities to teach and heal, to encourage and comfort, to sacrifice and serve, to show the love of God and to share the victory of the Lamb with others here at home and to as much of the rest of the world as we can.

Every time a church is planted, every time a hungry child receives a meal, every time a missionary is trained and sent, every time a sick person is healed, every time a sermon is preached, every time a homeless man is brought into Christian community, every time a Bible is opened in another language, somebody is brought face to face for the first time with the power and love of Jesus Christ. Somebody gets the idea that this world belongs to God, not to the forces of evil. Somebody begins to believe that there are promises and there is hope because the Lamb of God is on the eternal throne and the situation here is not all there is.



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