The church is a mess

“The churches of Revelation show us that churches are not Victorian parlors where everything is always picked up and ready for guests. They are messy family rooms. Entering a person’s house unexpectedly, we are sometimes met with a barrage of apologies. St. John does not apologize. Things are out of order, to be sure, but that is what happens to churches that are lived in.” — Eugene Peterson, Reverse Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination.

The IMMENSE power of the Scripture

The Revelation, extending St. John’s experience (“I fell at his feet”) puts a stop to all bookish approaches to the scriptures that merely study them out of pious duty or for intellectual curiosity. The scriptures are not a textbook on God; they are access to the living word of God that speaks a new world into being in us. — Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder 

We need to experience the Word. The intent of scripture, especially a word like Revelation, is to put us on our knees in worship. We’re so busy predicting the anti-Christ and talking about the alignment of moons, we miss the radical call to worship. 

We are always trying to make the Scripture be useful to us… to contort into our purposes. Here is the truth: the Scripture uses us. We are not meant to be “students” but worshipers. Awed worshipers. 

What happens when we pray?

What do we EXPECT to happen?

One of my favorite prayer heroes was always in a spiritual fight. The Lord invited him to pray and stuff happened. The Lord would ask him to pray for places he had never heard of, so he would fast and pray until breakthrough came, often resulting in spiritual warfare that would sometimes feel like a physical fight.

But when he prayed, stuff happened. Nations could be changed. And I’m not kidding.

Too often… way too often… when I pray I’m just hoping to stay awake.

I need to keep Rev. 8:3-5 in mind when I pray.

The intercession of God’s people is meant to move God to actually act.

He waits to act. And when he acts, Revelation reminds us… watch out.

What happens when we pray?

 

When This World Fails

Revelation 18 is an interesting picture. Babylon… the world’s system… that which so many have put their hope in for so long… has fallen. It has been exposed for the corruption at its core. It has been exposed as inadequate, to say the least. The Kingdom of God is revealed as what is lasting and powerful.

Yet, so many weep over the collapse of Babylon. For many, it’s the end of their economic income stream. Money had been their god, and that god was gone. Kings would weep because Babylon had delivered to them a false sense of power. Power was their god and that god was now dead.

The clear warning give to the people of God was to come out of Babylon. Do NOT share in her sins.

It is a call to allegiance. The call of God to people everywhere and in every time has been a call of allegiance. The call of Babylon has been the same. Those powerful draws we feel in our soul are calls to allegiance. Which call will we answer?

As believers in this world, those allegiances still call out to us. The Kingdom of God calls out, as do the kingdoms of this world. Believers have the ability to respond to those calls. Where will we land our ultimate allegiance?

Silence in Heaven and the Prayers of the Saints

Revelation 8 gives a break in the first few verses. John’s visions have been utter chaos. The first six seals have unleashed visions of terror. War, famine, economic collapse, natural disasters… and he didn’t even have CNN at the time!

Then, he is whisked into a vision of heaven and the incredible worship in Revelation 7.

But then… silence.

The seventh seal is broken and silence reigns in heaven for half an hour. Thirty minutes of silence. We can’t stand 30 seconds of silence.

It is the quiet before the next storm.

We then get a picture of intercession and prayer that is astounding. The prayers of the saints are brought before the Lord as incense. When the prayers have accumulated, God responds. And he responds powerfully. 

“Then the angel took the incense container and filled it with fire from the altar. He threw it down to the earth, and there were thunder, voices, lightning, and an earthquake.” (Rev. 8:5, CEB)

I’m just wondering: What happens when I pray? 

The prayers of the saints should move heaven.

Why Does the Church Suffer?

We don’t suffer in America, or the Western world. Yet, the Church suffers. Revelation is vital to the suffering Church. This is a letter we need to read and understand. It’s not about escape from suffering. It is the understanding of why the Church goes through hard times. It is understanding the presence of Christ in that suffering.

Why does the Church suffer?

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring —those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Rev. 12:13-17, NIV)

We are the Church at war. You can’t claim pacifism on this one. There is an enemy locked and loaded.