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  • Pastor Darren

It's hard to fathom the loss that takes place in between Genesis 1:31("God saw everything He had made and it was very good")  and Genesis 3:23 ("God sent them out from the Garden of Eden"). In just two chapters, the story swings from blessed and rested to cursed and restless, from being "at home" to being "on the outside looking in." That's because Adam did what we'd all have done: he doubted God's truth, he accepted the devil's lies, he ate the fruit and welcomed death. And in that we all lost out big time as the door of heaven was closed to us ... it seemed forever.


In one sense, the story of Scripture is the story of God opening that door and meeting us when we wouldn't expect it. Many times, He spoke through that door - to Abraham or Moses - or sent messengers through that door - Gabriel and others. But only rarely did humans actually come through - Isaiah or (here in chapter 4) John. 


So, even though we were told that the door was barred by a flaming sword (Gen 3:24), what does John then see in Rev 4? A door, but not one that's locked or shut tight. It's open, and John hears the invitation: "Come up here, and I will show you ..." So John took up the invitation in the Spirit to come see. Similarly, we get invited into this vision along with John, and what we've seen along with Him is awe-inspiring.


Don't miss the gospel here; there's good news in this invitation. What John got to see - the glories of heaven, the gall of human rebellion, and the grandeur of His redemptive work - was only because of God's gracious invitation. God's never been under any obligation to include us in His program, and He's never been required to reveal any of His ways to us.


And yet He does! He could have left the door shut and left us in the dark, but He invites us to see His plans and to savor the  power of His saving work. We don't deserve this grace, but we get the honor of accompanying John through that door and seeing Jesus the Victor.


So, let's read Revelation (let's actually read every verse of His Word) this way and enjoy it - because God called it a blessing (Rev 1:3). As we boldly charge through this open door, we get to see what God is doing and to worship Him alone. 

Discussion Questions

  • Have there been times when you've been more aware (or less aware) that God has given you an open door to see what He's doing in the world?

  • Think about times when God has made things known to individuals in Scripture (Ex 33:11, Dan 2:20, Gal 1:16). How does it make you feel that God brings you into a group like that as you read His Word? 

  • How does this open door concept help you to think about ... Reading Scripture? ... Enjoying fellowship with Jesus? ... Inviting others to a relationship with God?


Take Time to Pray

  • Praise God for the fact that His nature is gracious and welcoming to rebels, outcasts, and sinners. 

  • Thank God for inviting you from the darkness into His glorious light.

  • Ask God for help to understand this book of Revelation (and every book in Scripture) through this lens of an "open door" to God and His ways.

Each of the seven times Jesus addressed a church, He closed with the phrase: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."  It's similar to a phrase Jesus used a lot when He was teaching on earth, but it's unique in three ways: (1) even though Jesus was just talking, He says people should listen to the Spirit, (2) He says in each case that the "churches" should be listening, and (3) He tells us to listen to what the Spirit "says" - not "said".


More than just being unique or interesting, this is good - it's good news. All throughout these two chapters Jesus is talking to them with His eyes on us as well. When Jesus encourages them for being faithful, doctrinal, loving and pure, He's encouraging us too; and when he corrects their errors and half-hearted zeal, He's warning us to be careful in the same ways.


This is one of the benefits Jesus promised when He left: He promised that the Spirit would bring to mind what Jesus taught. That promise given to the disciples is as true today for us as we follow Jesus. We're not alone, He didn't leave us as orphans ... we hear Jesus' words for us just as powerfully as those 1st Century churches did - and that's good news we need right now. 


So, if you've got ears, listen to what the Spirit says, to you, today. 

Discussion Questions

  • What is so great about the idea that the Spirit  speaks to us today, and does this change they way we should read the Bible?

  • What other passages come to mind about how the Spirit speaks today?

  • Hint: check out Hebrews 3:7-11 and Psalm 95:7-11 ... and the story they both reference.

  • What would change about the way you heard and read Scripture if you believed God wanted to speak to you today?

  • What would change about how you lived? spoke? and shared the gospel with others?


Take Time to Pray

  • Praise God for never changing across all time as the Holy and Righteous One. 

  • Thank God for being a constant communicator with us, His people.

  • Ask God to build your faith to read and to know His Word and to hear His voice as you read.

  • Pastor Darren

Since we started the book of Revelation in the Fall, we've seen glorious moments filled with God's beauty as well as terrifying moments picturing God's wrath. This little blog series will be sent out to remind you that amidst all the pictures and symbols of this book, and amidst all the trials and fears of our day, Jesus has shown us plenty of Good News in this book. Revelation was written to seven churches ... and to a million churches. But it was written to the seven churches first - to areas now found in Turkey, or what was once called Asia Minor. And while those seven churches are certainly symbolically meant to represent the larger group of Christians in the entire body of Christ, they also heard from Jesus the encouragement and correction they specifically needed.


The patterns in chapters 2-3 are obvious, but there's one part of the pattern that uniquely carries good news for us today. No matter their strengths and weaknesses, each church was told that they could conquer: "to the one who conquers ..." Each group of Christians - despite their doctrinal and moral failings - each church was told that they could still conquer (ESV) - they could stillovercome (NASB), they could still bevictorious (NIV).


Where's the "good news" in that? Simple, this isn't just for the first 7 churches! No matter your past failures or present weaknesses, you -yes you- can stand up, keep walking towards Christ, and overcome today's trials and temptations. And just in case you think that your past disqualifies you from that kind of future, remember that Jesus is the One who conquered Satan and overcame death. So when He holds out to you this potential, don't forget that He knows what He's talking about.


God's Spirit wants to remind you today that you don't need to yield and that you ought never to give up. You - yes you- can conquer every struggle to despair and every temptation to turn away. More than that, when you believe God's Word and reject your sin, it's then that the same promises made to the first seven churches are offered to youas well: enjoying the life of God (2:8), real honor from God (2:10-11), a new identity in God (2:17), lasting hope in God (2:28), a righteousness from God (3:5), eternal dwelling with God (3:12), and a share in final victory with God Himself (3:21).


Jesus overcame sin and death, and He made it possible for us to do so as well ... and that's the best news (really the only news) we need to cling to today.

Discussion Questions

  • What picture comes to mind when you think of the word "conquer"? 

  • Does that seem like a word that describes your life? Why or why not?

  • In what ways does the Bible talk about Jesus overcoming? Or about us overcoming?

  • Hint: check out John 1:5 and 16:33 ... and then read 1 John 2:13-14, 4:4, and 5:4!

  • What one tendency or sin have you struggled with that you'd really like to gain victory over this next month?

  • How could these passages help you to conquer this sin?


Take Time to Pray

  • Praise God for His ultimate victory over sin and death. 

  • Thank God for inviting you to share in this triumph over sin and its effects.

  • Ask God for specific help to remember His victory and to lean on Him in faith when you are struggling to overcome during the week.

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