Tag Archives: Revelation

Knock at the Door – A Trireme Sonnet

Joy, where’s my joy, I’m always wanting more
Lord, bring me peace and comfort is my plea
I find only stress and fear in this place

Soft knocking, I hear knocking at the door
A sound so sweet, it’s beckoning to me
I peer through the window, see His sweet face

He enters, in awe I fall to the floor
He bids me arise, all my fear does flee
I find myself in His heartfelt embrace

I found my joy in the One I adore
From the shackles of sin He set me free
We dine in the miracle of His grace

Finally I trust I will win the race
My Savior is here with me in this place
Jesus Knocking

Last Thursday Sam Peralta shared a lesson on the trireme sonnet for the dVerse Poets Pub FormForAll. I didn’t have time to write one before the link box for that post expired, but I had one on mind that included Sam’s extra challenge to make it an ekphrastic poem, meaning it is inspired by a picture or painting. I plan on sharing this for Open Linke Night at dVerse later today.

I’ve included here the painting that inspired this poem. It is an old painting on a burl of Jesus standing at a door knocking. This particular painting of this scene, which is based on Revelation 3:20, used to hang in my in-laws house, but they gave it to us last year so now it is in my living room.

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This Is My Gift to My King

Today is Epiphany. This morning on our way to church I said to my son, “Yesterday was the 12th day of Christmas and today is Epiphany.” He replied, “Did you just realize that?” Clearly his gift is a quick wit among other creative talents.

Epiphany is the church holiday in which we celebrate the Magi from the east visiting the child Jesus. They brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but before they bestowed these gifts on the young Jesus they offered Him their worship. The Magi worshipped Jesus not for what He had done for them but simply because of who He is. The story of their visit is recorded in Matthew 2:1-12.

In church this morning our pastor talked about the significance of the three gifts the Magi brought, and then he asked what gifts we can give to Jesus. I decided I would share the significance of the Magi’s gifts, as well as my thoughts on my gifts to my King.

The first gift of the Magi was gold. This was the customary gift given to kings. This gift points to Jesus as being a king from His very birth. He is the highest of royalty. The Magi sought Him as the King of the Jews. He is ultimately revealed to be King of kings: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16 (NIV).

The second gift of the Magi was frankincense or incense. It was customary for priests to use incense in the temple as part of their worship of God. It was the priests who presented sacrifices in the temple to atone for the sins of the people. But these sacrifices were only temporarily effective for that purpose and had to be repeated over and over. This gift of incense points to Jesus as the final priest. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14 (NIV). He has been our sacrifice once for all to atone for the sins of the world.

This third gift of the Magi was myrrh. This is a spice that was used in burial. This points to Jesus as a prophet who will be killed for preaching the truth just as the prophets of the Old Testament were killed. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37 (NIV). Jesus knew that He would be treated just as the prophets were. He was born for this purpose — that He would die and be buried with myrrh to atone for our sins. But praise God, He rose again.

So what then is my gift to my King? What can I give that is worthy of His glory? First of all I give my worship of Him simply for who He is and not for what He has or will do for me. I can give my time and myself. As I listened to the sermon this morning, though, it occurred to me that one of the greatest gifts I can give to Jesus is this blog. As I write to glorify His name and to share His mercy and love with others, I hope that this gift is pleasing to Him so that someday I will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 (NIV).

What gift will you bring to the throne of the King?

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Advent and the Second Coming

The season of Advent is about anticipating our celebration of the coming of Christ into the world. But it is also about anticipating His second coming into the world at the end of time. For that reason, our pastor gave a sermon yesterday titled “End Times – A Lutheran Perspective.”

It was a very interesting and informative sermon. He talked about the many attempts of mankind and the church to predict the exact time when the end will come, even though Jesus clearly said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32.

He also talked about the various perspectives on the end times and the thousand-year reign of Jesus written about in Revelation. There is the pre-millennial view that the thousand-year reign hasn’t yet started. There is the post-millennial view that the thousand-year reign has already passed. And there is the amillennial view that the thousand years is a figurative timeframe instead of a literal one.

But the most important thing our pastor said during the whole sermon took up only six little words: “This is not a salvation issue.

Whether you believe the rapture and tribulation are still to come, that the church is experiencing the tribulation now, or something else does not affect whether you have salvation in Christ. What matters is if you believe God came to this earth as Emmanuel and then died on a cross to pay for your sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

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My Favorite Song to Sing

Just before bed last night I decided to check Facebook one last time. The “I Love God” page that I like had posted one of my favorite songs from scripture. It appears in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (Just one more example of how they are two parts of a whole!)

The first place where this song is found is in Isaiah 6:1-3:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
        “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth  is full of his glory.”

The second place where this song is found is in Revelation 4:6-10:

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures  had six wings  and was covered with eyes all around,  even under his wings. Day and night  they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne   and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders  fall down before him  who sits on the throne,  and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

This reminded me of a song I had heard earlier in the day while I was listening to my iPod Christian playlist on shuffle as I put groceries away. It’s called One Day by Aaron Shust. I decided I wanted to share this song for Music Monday. It doesn’t really need any commentary. Its simple praise of our Holy God speaks for itself.

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Grace Is Not New

Many characterize the Old Testament as a book of God’s wrath and the New Testament as a book of God’s grace. But as I read the whole of scripture, I find grace and wrath throughout. There is grace for the humble and wrath for the proud in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Two translations of a verse from Proverbs illustrate this truth.

Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Proverbs 3:34 (NASB).

He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
Proverbs 3:34 (NIV)

This Old Testament verse is quoted twice in the New Testament, in James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5. In quoting this Proverb, James and Peter are teaching the new church that humility is at the core of the Gospel of grace that they preach. We trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ because we know we are unworthy to be able to earn God’s grace on our own. The proud, who believe they do not need Christ, remain under the wrath of God.

There have always been scoffers and proud mockers who deny the majesty of God. Until Jesus returns there will continue to be. These scoffers say that our faith is futile and useless because God does not exist, or if He does then He surely does not care about us mere mortals.

But there have also always been the humble, those who desire to know God and trust in His grace and strength. And as much as the mockers would like to think humble believers in Christ will someday cease to exist, that all religion will one day be irrelevant, we will survive because God has granted us grace and mercy.

I sometimes think about all the people who lived before Jesus walked the earth and wonder what their eternal fate was. They could not have trusted in the saving grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, because it had not yet happened. And yet I cannot help but believe that His blood covers the humble and afflicted of the Old Testament. It’s the ultimate time paradox – one that, for me, is answered by the timelessness of our dear Savior.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). He lives outside the bounds of linear time as we experience it. His grace is sufficient for the humble who trust in Him.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 (NIV).

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Silence – A Double Triolet

In our world today it seems that there is constant sound. We have such a hard time being silent and just sitting quietly in the presence of God. Even a moment of silence and we seem compelled to fill it up with some type of noise. You can hear it in many public speakers who fill every moment of their presentation with “ums” and “aahs” rather than pause for even a few seconds to think about what they will say next. You can see it in our young people who walk around with headphones in their ears listening to something, anything, from their iPods rather than listen to silence.

But silence truly is, as the saying goes, golden. It is not something to be feared, avoided, or filled with noise. Silence is heavenly and divine.

Silence

There is a time for everything under heaven
A time to be silent and a time to speak
As a sheep being sheared is silent, Jesus remained silent
There is a time for everything under heaven

He was oppressed and afflicted, crushed for our iniquity
Yet he did not open his mouth, Jesus gave no answer
There is a time for everything under heaven
A time to be silent and a time to speak

There was silence in heaven for about half an hour
When the Lamb of God opened the seventh seal
As incense and prayers of the saints rose to the Lord
There was silence in heaven for about half an hour

The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent
Be silent, for the day of the Sovereign LORD is near
There was silence in heaven for about half an hour
When the Lamb of God opened the seventh seal

Note: This double triolet is also a “found” poem as it all comes from God’s Word. The verse that inspired this poem is Revelation 8:1 – “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” It occurred to me that if heaven can remain silent for half an hour, perhaps silence truly is a good thing.

I also wrote this poem for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Find a quiet place and check out the other poems offered there.

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The Shepherd – A Poem

The other day I posted a “found poem” that my son wrote for his social studies class. After reading a bit about this form of poetry, I decided I wanted to try writing one. I thought of all the references to sheep and shepherds in the Bible and chose to focus on these references for my found poem. Biblegateway came in handy so that I could easily search and “find” the verses I wanted to include. I thought about including all of the scripture references as footnotes, but decided that would make the post too cluttered.

I’m posting this poem as my Thankful Thursday post because I am thankful that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. I am also thankful for the consistent theme of God as the shepherd of His lost and wandering sheep throughout the Bible.

The Shepherd

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who sit enthroned
between the cherubim.

Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep
without a shepherd,
each will flee to his native land.
Save your people and bless
your inheritance; be their shepherd
and carry them forever.

He had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who only take care of themselves!

Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
“I will place shepherds over them
who will tend them, and they will
no longer be afraid or terrified,
nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

Then I will give you shepherds
after my own heart, who will lead you
with knowledge and understanding.
They will follow my laws
and be careful to keep my decrees.
And David shepherded them
with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

For you were like sheep
going astray, but now
you have returned to the Shepherd
and Overseer of your souls.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.

For the Lamb at the center
of the throne will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs
of living water. And God
will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
So the LORD’s people will not
be like sheep without a shepherd.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.
“I have other sheep that are
not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

He will stand and shepherd
his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD
his God. And they will live securely,
for then his greatness will reach
to the ends of the earth.

“I am the good shepherd
who lays down his life for the sheep.”
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

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The Alpha and the Omega – A Poem

This week I’ve been thinking about how awesome our God is, and how thankful I am for His Glory. Each morning I begin my prayers by praising God as the Alpha and Omega. He is the creator of all things, seen and unseen. So I decided to write my Thankful Thursday poem in praise of His wonder.

The Alpha and the Omega

You are the Alpha and the Omega
The beginning and the end
Before You there was nothing
There will be only You in the end

You are the Alpha and the Omega
Your glory will not cease
When all You’ve created is gone
There will remain Your peace

You are the Alpha and the Omega
Creator of all that is good
Both the seen and the unseen
In awe before You stood

You are the Alpha and the Omega
My living God of grace
You offer love and mercy
Never leaving us in disgrace

You are the Alpha and the Omega
Your name exalted on high
Yet You humbled Yourself
So Your people would never die

You are the Alpha and the Omega
You promise to make all things new
To take away all sin and death
All that You promise is true

You are the Alpha and the Omega
You owe nothing, yet intend
To bless Your whole creation
From beginning to the end

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV).

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To Look Upon the Majesty of God

Last Sunday we had a guest preacher, a young man named Chris Nye. You can check out his blog here. He is a youth minister at another church in our area and had preached for our church a few times as we have been going through the process of calling a permanent pastor.

The text Chris was preaching from was Isaiah 6, which begins like this:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

      “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
       the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

The message Chris shared was simple: “If we could see God for who He really is we would be sinless.” In this passage of scripture we hear of how Isaiah saw God for who He is and was deeply humbled. John had a similar vision as recorded in Revelation 4 with a similar reaction. Seeing God for who He truly is reveals to the heart of man who he is by comparison, and the result is immediate awe and obedience. Upon seeing God, our response should be as Isaiah’s: “Woe is me!”

The problem is we don’t really understand who God is. We see “the fringes” of His glory and majesty, but fail to grasp the whole picture. Many people never even try, preferring to create a God of their own making, one who is much less majestic and worthy of awe.

Even those of us who desire to see Him, all of Him, fall short of a complete understanding. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV). But still, as we gain more knowledge through the study of His Word and through prayer, seeking Him, we grow closer to that sinless state we would find ourselves in if only we could see fully. Slowly we are transformed, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

But this is not really what I had thought to write today. There was another message that came to me as I read along with the passage from Isaiah in church on Sunday. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, but something occurred to me that I had not thought of before.

Isaiah describes the seraphs that attend God’s throne, noting that they covered their faces with two of their six wings. The footnote in my NIV Study Bible says this is because they could not gaze directly at God. I have always accepted this as the most logical reason for why the seraphs cover their faces, but I wonder if there is another reason.

It seems to me that if Isaiah, a mere man, “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted,” then surely the seraphs who attend the throne could look at the Lord and see Him, too. As I ponder seraphs, I imagine they are some of the most beautiful creatures that God has ever created. Could any lesser creatures attend His throne?

Perhaps the reason the seraphs cover their faces in Isaiah’s vision is so that all focus will be on the Lord Almighty and Isaiah will not be distracted by their beauty. Surely they know that any beauty they have is only because it is a gift of God and that all glory belongs to Him alone. Perhaps it is their humility that leads them to act as they do.

I wonder if we could ever do the same? God has gifted each of us with a beauty all our own, but it is not ours to boast in or show off. It is for God’s glory that He has given us our gifts, talents, and beauty, and yet we take pride in them as if we had anything to do with obtaining them. We forget that we are nothing and have nothing apart from our Creator.

Which I suppose, brings me full circle to Chris’ message. “If we could see God for who He truly is” then we would give all glory to Him alone. We would want all focus to be on Him, just as the seraphs calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty” wanted Isaiah to see only God and His majesty.

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Unceasing Prayer – A Poem

Continuing on with my thoughts on prayer, I decided I would write a poem about how thankful I am for prayer and for the strength and wisdom God grants me through prayer. I know that without prayer my life is much more stressful and overwhelming.

The other day I received a Martin Luther quote in my Quotemeal email that said, “I have so much to do [today] that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.” Most days are like that, though I certainly don’t find time for three hours of just prayer. The alternative is to spend at least part of my focused prayer time in the morning asking God to help me always be aware of His voice and to practice the unceasing prayer that comes from knowing He will never leave me.

Unceasing Prayer

Up in the morning, I’ve places to go
N
o time to waste, so to my knees I fall
C
ounting on Jesus, praising Him first
E
ver in worship and love I do call
A
lpha and Omega, the beginning and end
S
in I’m confessing, forgiveness I seek
I
mploring His will to be done all the day
N
ot wanting my will to prevail, I am meek
G
etting up from my knees, I go forth in His strength

Pray without ceasing, the Scriptures teach
R
unning on empty, I’d surely fail, but
A
lways thoughts of praise guide my speech
Y
earning and learning to listen to Him
E
ver my actions His love and mercy preach
R
est for my soul in His never-failing presence

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Revelation 4:6-8 (NIV).

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