Revelations Chapters 14 through 16
Harps or hail!
This weeks’ reading is found in Revelations chapters 14 and 15. It talks about people playing their harps in heaven. Now I am not a musician and playing the harp in heaven never seemed to be of great interest to me, but when given the option of either playing the harp in heaven or experiencing the alternative mentioned in 16:21 “Great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a ton.” I like the idea of playing the harp!
The Book of Revelations may be hard to completely understand, but one thing becomes very clear, a day of judgment is coming! People may get away with doing bad things for a while but there will be a day when everyone will be held accountable before God. Those who have chosen to reject God’s ways, those who have chosen to follow their own ways will experience judgment and punishment that is almost too hard to comprehend. According to these chapters, there really are only two choices. Either we chose to “Follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” 14:4, and “Keep the commandments of God,” 14:12 or we chose to “worship the beast,” 14:9, and “Blaspheme the name of God…and not repent.” 15:9. Like it or not, it is coming! Make your choice now before it is too late.
Revelations Chapters 7 through 10
This week’s reading is found in Revelations chapter 8:1. “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Simon and Garfunkel wrote a famous song, “The sound of silence.” It is a song about people talking but no one listening. But this half hour of silence seems to be a good thing. It is a reference to a dramatic pause to symbolize the awe and dread with which the heavenly hosts await the events about to occur. The hushed thirty-minute silence makes the judgments about to be announced more dreaded. Imagine thirty minutes of silence to contemplate what is about to happen!
Today we live in a loud and distracting world, where silence is increasingly difficult to come by and that may be negatively affecting our health. In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern-day plague” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.” We’re constantly filling our ears with music, TV and radio news, podcasts. Think about it. How many moments each day do you spend in total silence? The answer is probably very few. I actually think some people are afraid of silence! But silence is a good thing. A 2006 study published in the journal Heart found two minutes of silence to be more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.1 Quiet times help us gather our thoughts, and can often be times for God’s Holy Spirit to speak to us. If a half hour of silence is good enough in heaven surely it can be beneficial on earth. Why not build some quiet time into your lives and see what happens.
Revelations Chapters 1-3
This week’s reading is found in Revelations 2:17. “To him who overcomes … I will give him a white stone, and on the stone, a new name written which no one knows except him who received it.” I remember reading this one day and then I stopped and began to pray about it. “Wow God that is so great, if I overcome all these temptations and serve You my entire life when I get to heaven You are going to give me a rock! Thanks, just what I always wanted, a rock! I mean what am I going to do with a white stone? How about at least some wings and a harp!” Then God revealed something to me about this white stone. This white stone will be a little secret between God and me, a name that we call each other that no one else can enter into. Sort of like the funny names that husbands and wives call each other. “Honey, sweets, babe, dear, binky, etc.” The white stone is sort of like a secret club that only you and God belong to.
We sometimes have this fear that when we get to heaven we will be lost in the crowd. We fear that only the bigwigs will hang out together with God and we will be left off in the corner by ourselves. Moses, Noah, Abraham, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul and so on, will be the only ones who get to hang out with God. Not so. Each one of us will have a special relationship with God that no one else can enter into. This white stone guarantees immediate access to God’s attention. God knows us by name. What a feeling. Once I was at a meeting with a big-time pastor in the city. I was a young guy at the time. At the end of the meeting that pastor came up and called me by my name! I was so honored. “Wow, he knew my name!” I was so honored. “Wow, somebody famous knows me.” Imagine how it is going to feel when God calls us by our name! In Isa 65:24, we read, “Before you call, He will answer, while we are speaking He will hear.” Somehow when we are in heaven we will have God’s undivided attention when we talk to Him! We won’t be lost in the crowd, we won’t end up in the corner all by ourselves. We will have God’s special attention in heaven even with all the bigwigs. Now I don’t know about you but that does something for me! Forget the harp and wings and give me that stone!
This week’s reading is found in III John verse 2. “Beloved I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Here we find a prayer of threefold value. 1. I pray that you prosper in ALL things. 2. I pray that you are healthy so you can enjoy the prosperity. 3. I pray that you prosper in your health as much as you prosper in your spirit and soul. John desired that the church prospered IN ALL THINGS, just as they prospered mentally and spiritually, he wanted them to prosper materially or physically. Prosper means to flourish, thrive, grow in a vigorous way, to do better, to succeed at reaching something desirable. In John 10:10 Jesus said that He came to give us the life of abundance. He designed a life that overflowed with good and was well supplied and rich. Never forget this, above all things, God desires for His people to prosper; spiritually, mentally, physically and materially. Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply wrong!