End Times Medley

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The Door and the Storm

by Sarah Leteta

 

I’m reading the book of Revelation. It’s night and it’s stormy, which seems appropriate. Isn’t a good mystery always better in the dark, with the occasional clap of thunder?

I haven’t read this final book, with its final message, in a long time. I find myself stopping at chapter 4 to reflect on a “door” (v. 1) that’s been mentioned a couple times in chapter 3 already: an open door Jesus sets before us (v. 8) and the closed door He stands at and knocks on (v. 20). When John goes through the open door in 4:1, he’s suddenly at God’s throne. There is thunder and lightning (v. 5).

Revelation is like a storm: It unsettles us with its symbolism and scenes of the future, shrouded in mystery. And storms can be scary. I wonder if John was afraid when he went through the door and saw those incredible sights. Was he tempted to close it?

In this moment, I decide to open my front door. I sit back down to read but can’t concentrate. I get up, go back to the front door, and just stand there — far enough outside to hear the storm but enough inside to not get wet.

Something about John’s experience takes me back to when I was a kid in Alabama. Spectacular storms would roll through, and the whole family would sit on the front porch and watch as the wind and thunder and lightning went nuts around us. I can see my parents clear as day: Mom leaning on the railing, holding her long hair up off her neck, enjoying the cool wind, and Dad sitting, strumming his guitar as if the only thing missing were a soundtrack. We weren’t afraid of storms.

I live in Canada now and still don’t fear storms, but my kids hate them. They worry because they think all wind is a tornado waiting to happen. I’m always saying, “Kids, stop worrying! We live in Canada.” They’re quick to remind me of the great tornado that hit Edmonton in 1987 and blew the roof off one of the barns at the family farm. Their grandma saw the whole thing.

As I stand in the doorway thinking about my kids and fear and storms and Revelation, I’m aware that I fear other kinds of disturbances that life brings. I grab my phone and earbuds and listen to “Don’t You Worry Child,” by Swedish House Mafia. The song reminds me that our heavenly Father has a plan for all His children, young and old, for now and the future. We need not fear.

As the song ends, the rain slows down. I decide that I must somehow help my children overcome their fear. I will start by opening the door to thunderstorms, as John did — not revealing a God to fear but a God to trust. I’ll read them the story of Jesus walking on the water to His disciples in the middle of a storm. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus tells them (Matthew 14:22-27).

This is good advice for all of us, whether we’re facing the tempests of life or reading Revelation. “Don’t you worry, child,” our heavenly Father says. We find Him on His throne, through the door and in the storm.

Safe and satisfied, I go inside and continue reading.

 

Sarah Leteta lives outside Edmonton, Alberta, with her husband Fred and their two children, Levi and Savannah. They attend the Parkland Church of God (Seventh Day).

 

 

True Worship

by Andrea Slawson

 

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy . . .  (Revelation 1:3a).

When I read these words a few years ago, their truth finally sank in: Revelation is a book of hope, not of doom. God in His kindness and mercy met me with a promise of blessings, and I received them!

One of those blessings is Revelation 4. In my opinion, it is the best chapter in the Bible. We get not only the slightest look at God and His authority but also the beautiful picture of raw, pure worship. The chapter is between the promise of a blessing to those who hear and the judgments of those who do not turn to the Lord. We see the throne of God and His appearance like jasper, clear and radiant like a diamond, and a rainbow circling the throne. John uses precious jewels of awesome color in his description. Like Timothy stated in his first letter, God dwells “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (6:16).

I’m envious of more than one aspect in Revelation 4. First, to be in the very presence of God, to be a part of His glory. Second, to give glory to God by worshipping Him without end — to be so full of God that I do not need rest from the worship (v. 8). So often our worship is what we have left over, but the example of the four winged creatures is that God is worthy of our best. They value God so much that their worship is unending. The twenty-four elders cast their crowns before the throne — their highest achievement, their notability. They take a posture of reverence in bowing face down before God — another example. Those closest to God, those in His presence, worship Him most.

We experience peace and awe in the worship setting — what it will be like one day when we live freely with God and worship as we were created to. Too often we think that worship is about us and how it makes us feel, about our needs, about bringing us to God. But the reality is like the example of the creatures and the elders: Worship is and should always be about and for and to God and His glory. Worship isn’t our action but our reaction to the glory of God. It moves us to respond in praise, falling on our faces in reverence.

The truest worship is real and unending. Revelation 4 shows us whom we should worship — God — and that true heart worship is not just an obligation to God but also a great privilege.

In order to have true heart worship with God, we must be with Him. God’s heart calls to us through His Word, and through it we will feel His love for us. He longs to bless us. All He asks is that we come into His presence.

 

Andrea Slawson is married to Bruce and has two sons, Andrew and Adam. She resides in Owosso, MI, and is a blogger for the Bridge Co-Mission, a ministry of the Northeast District.

 

 

 

Watch is a Verb

by Liorah Bogle

 

But of that day and hour no one knows. . . . Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:32-37).

Four times in this short passage Jesus commands us to watch. But what does this mean? The definition of the verb watch is 1) to be sleepless or keep awake; 2) to be attentive or vigilant, ready; 3) to give strict attention to, be cautious, active; and 4) to be expectant.

As action verbs go, watch is not typical. Try to act it out. Compared to other action verbs, it doesn’t seem to do much.

In Matthew 24:42, 44 Jesus says to “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming . . . at an hour you do not expect.” He will come as a thief in the night, stealthily and silently.

So how do we watch without knowing when? How do we perform this task that Jesus commanded? What should watching look like in our day-to-day lives? Does it mean that we should wake up in the morning and do nothing but read our Bible, pray, and watch the news all day? Should we look up into the sky for signs of the clouds parting every hour, on the hour? I don’t think so.

First Thessalonians 5 tells us that we who are of the day, who walk in the light (who are awake and watching), need to put on our armor — the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation — because watching will keep us busy! Verses 11-22 lay out many more daily activities for believers in this world of sin:

Encourage one another.

Edify one another.

Warn those who are not living as they should.

Comfort the fainthearted.

Uphold the weak.

Be patient with all

Pursue good for all.

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Thank God for everything.

Do not quench the Spirit.

Do not despise prophecies.

Test all things.

Hold fast to what is good.

Abstain from all evil.

I challenge all of us to meditate on and study each verb in this list and discover what God would have us do today, tomorrow, and the day after that. God has a blessing for those who watch (Revelation 16:15)!

 

Liorah Bogle, her husband William and five children live in Jasper, AR, where they attend and serve in the Church of God (Seventh Day).

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