Today’s Reading: Revelation 1
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. – Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22
This is the command given at the end of each of the messages for the seven churches. This is where I start as I begin my study of the book of Revelation and as I end this 12-month journey through the Bible. Now I find myself on my knees asking for ears to hear so that I can listen to what the Spirit wants to say to me through this final book in God’s word. I pray for understanding of what He is saying to the churches and ask Him if there is a message in this book for me today.
God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. – Revelation 1:3
Lord, we are prepared to be blessed as we spend time in your presence studying this book of Revelation. Reveal to us your message. Reveal to us your heart. Reveal to us the good you see in us and reveal to us the bad – the areas in which we are lacking and need to make changes.
God gave Jesus a revelation, which he then sent to John through an angel. The words of this book, though written down by John while imprisoned on the island of Patmos, are the words of God himself and the testimony of Jesus Christ. This letter was written to the seven churches in the province of Asia and still has a powerful message to believers in today’s churches.
Before John reveals the seven messages to the seven churches, he gives us a better understanding of where the message is coming from. He wants his readers to clearly understand that these are not his thoughts, this is not his message. He is simply a fellow believer and brother in Christ. He is a partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom. He is patiently enduring what Jesus has called him to, just as the believers in the churches were doing.
It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshipping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” – Revelation 1:10-11
Let’s not miss that this moment in which John heard from God was while he was worshipping in the Spirit. He was in God’s presence filled with the Spirit focused on worship when he experienced God like he had never experienced Him before. Because he was positioned to hear from God, he heard from God and the result was that God was able to use him to reveal His message to His people.
Almost 17 years ago I heard from God through a Nazarene pastor in Ohio, Rev. Daniel Witter. The message God sent me changed my life forever but I also walked away with a deep gratitude for a man who had positioned himself to hear from God. His faithfulness to spend time alone in God’s presence resulted in him hearing from God and me receiving God’s promise. The promise gave me hope; the fulfillment of that promise changed my life. But the realization that my faithfulness to entering into God’s presence daily could result in God communicating to others through me made the greatest impact of all.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” – Revelation 1:17-18
When we enter into God’s presence, we position ourselves to hear from Jesus himself – the one who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his own blood for us. He then makes us a Kingdom of priests for the service of God the Father (1:5-6).
I was initially concerned about starting the book of Revelation so close to Christmas day, but now it makes more sense. Perhaps it is during the week of Christmas that we are the most likely to be POSITIONED TO HEAR FROM GOD. Most of us will take time off work and close out the many distractions of our daily routines. We are attending special Christmas programs and hearing the Christmas story over and over again. We are worshipping to familiar Christmas carols and pondering the birth of our Savior. God has our attention. The Alpha and Omega has something to say to each of us as we end our journey through the Bible and say goodbye to 2016.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.” – Revelation 1:8
From A to Z – there is nothing outside of God’s domain. When we come to Him and sit at His feet, we are entering the presence of a God whose power and authority is all-encompassing. He is fully in control and nothing is beyond His knowledge or ability. This is the God I love, the God I serve, and the God with whom I look forward to sharing my morning coffee each day.