The Revelation part four: Smyrna, faithful under pressure.

In part five we delve into the church at Smyrna. This is an amazing church who is faithful when the pressure (thilipsis  gk) is on.  Yeshua (Jesus) is holding His church, walking in the midst of His church, and speaking truth and grace to His church so that we (His church) might reflect His beauty, presence, and glory through lives of compassionate love.

revelation 4 teaching outline

revelation-4 JG notes

Revelation Week 4 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.

The Revelation part one: Unveiling Jesus

I have been excited to start the journey through the book of Revelation. It is the only book in the Bible that comes with the promise of divine blessing for those who read it, hear it and actually do what is revealed.  That is a big promise! Below are downloads for my study notes and small group discussion questions along with a series bumper and live videocast of the talk. I’d love to interact with your comments below as you join me on the journey through the most mysterious book in the Bible: Revelation.

Revelation-1 outline

Revelation-1 JG notes

Revelation Sermon Series Begins 9/21 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.

Revelation Week 1 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.

To care or not to care…

Sometimes it seems that people spend more time and energy trying to justify why they won’t or shouldn’t demonstrate compassion and love instead of simply engaging. Jesus didn’t provide us with any “opt-out” clauses…In fact, His take was more along these lines:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” ~Jesus Matt. 5:43-45

Somehow, a follower of Jesus moves beyond judgement in order to love. I have found that it is very hard to love and grace others when my mind is locked into a judgmental, black and white set of propositions. I might be right, and I might be wielding some truth, but if I employ it without love, I have missed the transformative crux of the Gospel, or as St. Paul would say:

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”           ~Paul, 1 Cor. 13:2

But, on the other hand, I have also learned that I move towards people from the motivation of love without judgment, I am invited to share what I believe to be true and generally, it is received well.

The mindset of our culture/world is eye for an eye, you get what you deserve, look out for #1 first…but the command of Christ is to love and forgive those who are against you, you receive grace instead of what you deserve, and look out for everyone regardless of whether you like them or agree with them.

Christianity takes courage, strength, and integrity. The call to follow the Rabbi require a new way of thinking, feeling and acting…it takes a new heart as well. The good news is that God promises all of that and more as we choose follow Christ allowing His life to be lived through our own.

So, the next time we encounter an opportunity to be Jesus with skin on, let’s not look for an excuse, but rather express love in the face of brokeness.