Before I begin my post, (what I had set out to post anyway), I must share my thoughts on the particular issue of nuns and nunneries. Just before I was about to type away, I got posed with this interjection,
“You know, the more you interact with Theo, the more you become a nun”
This requires immediate address! I couldn’t help but chuckle – Aiyo, well, for all intents and purposes I must make my stand clear. I do like the romanticised idea of nunnery and the supposed intimacy with God assumed in nunhood (definitely easier intimacy, I would say, given that one does not have to deal with the outward struggles of this world e.g. you wouldn’t see a nun at an indie concert, or walking down Chatuchak market hunting for cheap deals, not the Salvation Army for good bargains either, I am pretty sure, or someone please prove me wrong), but, I do have my misgivings with the concept – monks, nuns, abbeys, monastries… My understanding is that these periods of quiet meditation and retreat into physical alone-hood with God, away from the world, historically, was meant to be only for a set period of time. One is then meant to go out and shine as light (Matthew 5: 13-16) and live for Jesus in the world. Yet, many through the centuries (note many, not all), have become too comfortable with this life away (with their good intents and purposes), and have decided to retreat from living among the pagan world altogether, not getting alongside every other brother or sister in Christ who struggles to live for Christ in contemporary society. It is therefore my firm belief that I shall never enter nunhood (unless of course, that be the super-clear will of God). Although I do ponder into much things, I suppose. The kind person could well have meant, with the use of the term nun, to mean a desired level of closeness with God. Well, by the grace of God, we’re meant to reflect the Light of Christ, and Jesus was One who definitely did walk close with God.
Right, there ends my thoughts on nunhood.
I do thank God for one blessed weekend, very much indeed =) That is the strange thing – life is ever packed to the brim here in Durham, but these are blessed packedness – it is often amidst the quiet moments amongst the flurry that I note the hand of God and come away greatly comforted.
Yesterday, I had gone down – my 7th time in 4 years! – to Newcastle for an afternoon. My eager other-faith (non-Christian, that is) friends were not there to evangelize their beliefs, though they had said, promised even, that they would be there at the Monument opposite the Christian booth, rain or shine, snow or winter! Two ‘elder sisters’ had graciously accompanied me on my journey following a slightly-harrowing encounter I had two weeks earlier, but we did – guess who was Faithful in minstering to the masses? – see fellow brethren setting up their booth in the middle of the Newcastle City Centre, ready with prayers to reach out to the passing crowds. I had been slightly disappointed to not see F and M (my other-faith friends) there, but my two ‘elder sisters’ joked lightly that their prayers had driven them away and so the people of Newcastle wouldn’t be seeing them that afternoon. I couldn’t help but to lol. Who has indeed proven faithful here? The Proven Faith? 😉 Prayerfully, someone else would be patiently reaching out to them, wherever they are.
Picture from ethnographic collection, Newcastle
God was very gracious then to allow me to meet a very special individual, a dear lady called Lynne, who had been a missionary to India for a good thirty years!!!!!! I got so excited that I could not think straight for one moment, and I was marvelling at how, after Amy Carmichael, God continues to raise up such determined, faithful workers for Him in the field. Praise God for His amazing Grace and Mercy to the masses. We have exchanged numbers, and I cannot wait to hear her stories. Real and live this time!! =D I cannot believe it.
I had later met Dorina on my way to the Supermarket in the late evening, and I am excited for when we shall meet next week to chat about Figo, her 6-month old grandson =D God makes all things/meetups even, beautiful in His Time aye!
This Sabbath day was indeed a good one of Rest – Through the morning, I have had time away to really think and ponder about how the past weeks had been, there was a fair bit of reflection to do, and to think about where and how I had been/or had not been listening to His still, small voice. I think at various moments I had allowed myself to read into things too quickly, and prayer did help very much in terms of stabilizing myself again, and re-orientating, getting to base with where my Father was leading me. I am thankful that He continued to graciously hold my hand tightly, even times where my grasp was limp, and far and beyond that, moments where He had simply embraced me in His Loving arms altogether.
I cannot be more thankful as I think to these precious moments, and I am sure, dear reader, that you would be experiencing these very same moments with God as well. That is our God – Almighty King and Ruler of this Universe (GRASP THIS!!!! FURTHER & HUGER THAN THE MILKY WAY!!) and also, One who knows the number of hairs on me head and also yours, and knows each of His children – and relates to them – so intimately and personally.
Let God have you, and let God love you, and don’t be surprised if your feet learn to dance and your heart sings to new music, as never before.
From the point you accepted Christ as your Sovereign King, you entered a love relationship that is set to last for eternity, and which began right then, and continues through to the now.
Press on, in good faith.
Seek out moments of solitude with God alone, and let Him embrace you wholly in Word and in Spirit. There is a very real feeling of fresh rejuvenation, which every Christian would identify with. God, is definitely, definitely Real.
Okay yes, so on to this blessed Sunday!
I had been down for the Welcome Rota this day, and following the previous post by Tim Keller, it did make me think about how I had approached this task that God had given this day. Before I left then, I was not particularly high or anything – though I must say, refreshing time of rest with God I had emerged from – Praise God, Amen!!! – but I only asked that His joy be in me as I go about with my duties.
And yes, guess? =)
I did learn to make coffee and tea with the huge filter machines in the pantry, and yes I did spill the steaming hot coffee once – God was very gracious to send friends to help with the clearing and cleaning up – but it was amazing – I had the chance to chat with a sister I never knew, an American from the North Carolina woods – beautiful woods – Google them pictures!!!! – Natalie who had lived for 3 years in Singapore about 10 years ago! (For her parents had been missionaries there) She had noted my distinctive Singaporean accent (I would admit that it is quite hard to miss), and we enjoyed a lovely chat fellowship as she prepared the biscuits. I did enjoy the edification tremendously, and then we were beckoned to join in prayer before the evening service commenced.
I have not served often on the Welcome team – not for awhile, since being away – and the time of prayer with the Evening Minister and the leaders was an incredibly humbling time. We prayed over the congregation, we prayed for non-Christians who might come along (and you will witness how God graciously answered this very prayer!) and that the passage we were examining this evening – taken from the book of Revelation – might encourage us Christians to persevere and endure in good faith. Sitting in the congregational pews on a Sunday, I am reminded then of the laborious prayer that behind God’s work – indeed, in those very many times that I had felt so ministered by what had been preached that day – these were God’s gracious answers to the prayers of the people and leaders who had been praying for me, for the congregation.
What an incredibly humbling reminder, and a moment to still before God.
It was a privilege, to be praying as part of the Welcome Team. I thank the LORD for these very reminders. Amazing God, we do have.
Matt (a Church Associate) and I were then shuffled off for the proper ‘Welcome’ service – that is, being stationed at the gates of the church to hand out the Service Sheets to people as they streamed in, and hopefully as well, to reach out to people who might be on the streets and were perhaps attracted by the warm lights of the church (our doors are transparent panes), of course, that would be the Spirit’s work, and it is humbling to be a part of it.
Thank You, Father.
I loved welcoming friends as they came through the door – faces I do see in church, hugs for those I do know on a deeper level, hehehe – for they have made the time to come to God’s House for a time of corporate worship and fellowship. How great the Grace of God, to draw His children near to Him. How Great is our God! Amen!
There was then a lady – she looked about her mid-thirties – whom I had noticed walked by – not without a sidewards glance into the church, but walked on by up the hill into Claypath. I had continued my conversation with Matt, but a couple of minutes later, she had apparently walked back down hill and decided to come in to the church. Matt and I – after Natalie ushered her into the service – were literally jumping with joy! The Spirit leapt in us both, and it was an amazing witness to see God moving amongst those whom He called in this special way. I think to the time I had stood by the door whilst Christchurch had still been along North Road in my second year – and sharing the very same experiences with Rachel from church =)
It is one moving experience, this.
The lady, I think, had stayed on for the rest of the service =)
It is here then, that I too thank God for the very insightful sermon we had, delivered by the minister, on Revelation 12-14 (We have been on this series for the past month, since the series of sermons on the different types of denominations of faith, Charismatism, etc).
Here I attempt to put my notes together, and pray that you, dear reader, might too be edified in its reading.
Sermon Notes: Revelation 12-14, The Jesus Letter – WAR
…. Hold on!
I have just realized that it is a little late into the evening – I had made a sincere dedication to retire to rest early, because with the early-darkening evenings, I do wish to have an earlier start to the morning in order that the day might feel a little longer and therefore, God-willing, a little more productive.
I shall thus leave these notes – which I do feel called very much to share!!!! – for tomorrow morning, where it is my promise to continue!
I must share one thing this evening, though!!! It had been Nicola’s first time attending church as a Christian, and God showed her His two sacraments today – Briefed by the minister on the meaning of the Holy Communion, she had partaken of the Holy Communion with us the church as the Bride of Christ, and had also decided to consider a baptism (for the following week).
Answered prayers, these are!!!! =D
My heart leapts with so much joy I am unable to put them into words!!!
Okay but yes so we had later a good evening chat, I shall see Nicola tomorrow at Big Monday (Christchurch’s outreach event where a talk on Jesus would be given! If you do feel called to, please do keep this event in prayer that many hearts would be drawn to God!) and pretty much through various days interspersed in the week.
Prayers are greatly coveted at this moment, and together, as a Body of Christ, we shall conquer the Evil one. For amidst the beasts of terror and error we face in this world (see Revelation 12, 13), we have been promised TRIUMPHANT VICTORY IN CHRIST (Revelation 14: 1-20). We have a decisive Triumph at the Cross, when the blood of the Lamb had been shed, and Jesus took upon Him, in His Love, the punishment we ought to have deserved as the price of death was paid in Full. Jesus has died, and we have been saved, Redeemed.
And we keep trusting as the Day draws nearer.
I leave with beautiful scenes of His hands, this very day here in Durham:
Above: Leaving for the train station, beautiful Autumn trees in a pretty frame!
&… Leaving for church this blessed Sabbath, a glimpse into the sunset distance
Wait, I must leave one with these verses!!!! (Really, one verse and one message, in its encouraging repetition – Jesus here in His repetition beckons us to take note!! )
“Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13: 10)
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Revelation 14: 12)
Blessed are you who puts your whole Trust in the LORD Jesus Christ!!!! =D
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Addendum, 11 November 2013
SERMON NOTES: Revelation 12-14: WAR
WAR – What is its effect on us? Spiritually?
What happened to the great hymns of old which cry war against the spiritual battles Christians face? What happened to “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus?” Surely, Christian songs have become much more sentimental, much more like love songs… yet here, in the Book of Revelation, John takes the Christian straight into the battlefield. He is our war correspondent here, and here, is a raging war where Christians are at the frontline.
In the previous weeks, we had looked through the early chapters of Revelation – on the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets of warning, the 7 plagues (put on hold for the next session) and this section here, which we are examining today, Revelation 12-14, is very much the centre of the book, I believe. That makes this section here, incredibly important.
A Determined Aggressor (12: 1- 13: 18)
Where is the war, you ask? Revelation here is not written for the ‘end of age’ or a distant future or a time yet passed, here it is, the war rages in every generation where the people of God are caught in it! War often means casualties, and John here is writing to potential casualties. In 13: 10 we see the “call for the endurance and faith of the saints” Indeed we refer to Genesis where the people of God, who were in suffering, are promised Triumph! The woman here in Chapter 12, groaning in the pains of childbirth, represents Israel, the people of God in the Old Testament (we see the parallels). She is pregnant and about to give birth to a male child – we refer to Psalm 2 – which very obviously is Jesus, Christ Jesus. In verse 3 however you see a great red dragon rising, in verse 9 here we are reminded he is SATAN (Once again, in Genesis 3 where the devil is being mentioned, acts like a victorious king), 4 attempts are being made in this war:
- To Kill the newborn King Jesus
In verse 4 the dragon visits the woman as she is in childbirth… as soon as the baby is born, he is ready to devour the child! It is the dark side of Christmas referred to here, one that you would not find on Christmas cards, the story of Herod and his genocide of children, in his desperate attempt to search the cities to kill the newborn King, the puppet master here is Satan.
2. Satan tries to dethrone heaven
In verse 5 we fast forward to the birth of Jesus and in verse 7 the “war arose in heaven” and verse 8 “Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon” and yet were defeated
3. Operation: Kill woman
In verse 6 the woman here flees into the wilderness, the desert, we think to Exodus 19 where the people of Israel in their rescue from Egypt were in the desert, here in chapter 12 verse 14 the woman is given the strength and wings of eagles to flee, and so escapes with ease and speed, into the desert where it is God’s promises (as it is to His people in the desert) to nourish and to provide with supernatural protection (water, quail, manna) In verse 15 the battle arises again when the “serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood” but! Verse 16 the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river
4. Raging war on the woman’s offspring:
Which is US, brethren! In verse 17 “then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” – Believers keeping the commandment – that is US!
We are at the frontline in the infantry, this is a picture of war, the devil is raging against here! Think about it – why is it so hard to stay Christian in this world, to stay pure or to speak out for Jesus? We are in the warzone, where the background is the cosmic war raging behind all of these – evil – the world, the flesh, the devil – is against me, and I have got to win! Yes there is no place for Satan in the heavens it is a secure zone (and that is where we rejoice! Evil has NO PLACE there! Evil has got no grip, no traction) but woe to those on earth! Verse 12 “Rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” For that is where the daily battle against evil – the world, the flesh, the devil – we must fight!
Yes, we do however have the decisive TRIUMPH at the Cross – in verse 11 “And they have conquered him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” – this is where Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our sins, as the price of death was paid in full, the full and final – past tense and present – VICTORY. Jesus has died, and we have been Redeemed. We see here in John 12 v31 “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world would be cast out, and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” Satan, the ‘ruler’ of this world, would be permanently defeated in eternity.
Now then the woman stands as the people of God, in chapter 21 she is described as the beautiful bride of Jesus, whilst chapter 12 ends on an eerie note “and he (Satan) stood on the sand of the sea” in Chapter 13 comes the next attack, a marine assault – it is the picture in Daniel 7, in verse 5 the beast (Satan) was allowed to exercise authority and exalts himself – John telling us the beast is here in this contemporary age – From society to society, age to age, it is happening, this war, NOW – the beast emerges from the sea in a different incarnation – it is the relativism in this age! The beast sits in parliament enacting laws which redefine marriage – and enforces it! – the beast redefines what God says and in chapter 13 verse 13 it says the world “marvels” as they follow the beast!!!! The earth worships him! Everyone would bow and follow the beast except for those, the minority, who stand up for Christ, for God – in verse 7 here the beast “makes war on the saints and to conquer them” – the beast declares war on those who believe in Jesus Christ! In verse 10 it is expected that prison will come – if we stand up and say no to people and the ideologies of today – relativism, pro-homosexuality, etc – we would be expected that battles rain on us, we might be thrown into prison for standing up for what we believe and what God has instructed us to be correct.
I think here then to kids in my class next time who might have single-sex marriage parents – how am I meant to relate, and tell and teach them about God’s values? Will I be persecuted when I stand up for my beliefs in society and stand on the side of God’s law and what He says in the Bible? Christians are to expect persecution, it says, and in persecution our faith be challenged, but in the Spirit of Victory that is in Christ we must battle on to the Day.
Thence this is a CALL FOR THE ENDURANCE AND FAITH OF THE SAINTS – the first beast is a weapon of Satan, one of terror, and the 2nd beast here is the one more subtle, using covert tactics… chapter 13 verse 11 it “looks like the Lamb”… it looks like real Christianity, but really is the voice of Satan – it is the false religion (I think, the prosperity gospel and the like), it is the 2nd beast – the beast of Error. In verse 12 here its goal is to make the earth and its inhabitants “worship the first beast” (think money, think wealth, think popularity, think diluted societal values, complacency!) and such false religion is to be expected – they may be ordained, sitting in a position of authority – ordained bishops, even! With their ideas, dogmas, creeds which fall far from the Biblical teaching! There here are hence 2 beasts – One of Terror, and one of Error.
The axis of evil is very present – on this beast its people has the seal “666” (verse 18), the links are obvious, for 7 is God’s perfect number – (7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, as in the earlier chapters, 7 is God’s number for perfection AMEN), and 6 then is the number for a fallen humanity, a number falling short of God’s perfection!
Can the Church of Jesus stand, you ask?
A TRIUMPHANT VICTORY – Revelation 14: 1-20
14: 1 Behold on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him the 144 000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads – the seal, the mark, of God’s people! In Ezekiel we do see parallels here the mark of safety, of security, on God’s people where the gates of hell would not prevail – The use of the virgin’ here (verse 4) is symbolic – in the old testament they are the virgins who have not committed adultery with the beast! Those who haven’t 2-timed God with the false religion of this day, they are the faithful followers of Jesus in this day! No they haven’t got one foot in the boat of Jesus, and one foot in the world – they are the FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS, SINGLE-HEARTED, of Jesus!
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Revelation 14: 12)
The Day of Judgment is here, put on hold – for we must “proclaim the eternal Gospel to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (verse 6), we must tell them, warn unbelievers that “Anyone who worships the beast and its image… he will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb… they have no rest, day or night, the worshipers of the beast and its image” (verse 10-11)
For the unbeliever amongst our midst – turn to God, repent and believe in the LORD Risen Christ, before it is too late! Hell in the Bible exists – here it is, marked out!!!!
What is the application for the Christian here then? In the face of the fronting of evil, we must proclaim the clear truth of the gospel (Revelation 14: 6), we must endure and persevere as God’s saints, in verse 14 onwards the “Harvest of the earth” is clear – it is HARVEST TIME – no life is not circular, no such thing as death reincarnation, life death reincarnation but no,
“Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe” “So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped” – Revelation 14: 15, 16
Life is Linear, there is a terminus, an end point, a climax! We must pick up our sickles and harvest away! Reap!
Revelation 14 :18 – “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe” Judgment here is pictured to rain on the rebellious – in verse 20 the “blood flowed from the wine press”
Here you might say – oh no, Preacher, stop! This is all too medieval, too uncomfortable sounding, too embarrassing! But here, Scripture says clear, to those who say yes to the beast, to say no to Jesus and His loving rescue, the Lamb who was slain for us, these are they who must drink of God’s wrath! Cataclysmic judgment awaits for those who reject the risen Lord Christ! The Great news of the Gospel, that Jesus has died and rose again!
Keep your options open! You say, just put one foot in – Yes, one foot for Jesus, yet another foot too in the world and for the beast – there is no need to be an evangelical bigot, no need to be a fundamentalist, no need to go all out for Jesus…
No! Why shouldn’t you? For the masses need to warned, to repent and to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The world must know, that
The dragon, the beast HAS BEEN DEFEATED AT THE CROSS!
Stand up, Stand out for Jesus, all you who listen!
SERMON: END, to the Glory of God
“He was pierced for our transgressions,
And bruised for our iniquities;
And to bring us peace He was punished,
And by His stripes we are healed
He was led like a Lamb to the slaughter,
Although He was innocent of crime;
And cut off from the land of the living,
He paid for the guilt that was mine.
Through many days of darkness,
Through many scenes of strife,
The faithful few fought bravely
To guard the Nation’s life.
Their gospel of redemption –
Sin pardoned, man restored;
Was all in this enfolded:
One Church, One Faith, One LORD.
Your mercy will not fail us
Nor leave Your work undone;
With Your right hand to help us,
The Victory shall be won!
And then by earth and heaven
Your name shall be adored;
And this shall be their anthem:
“One Church, One Faith, One LORD.”