Sunday small thought: We haven’t done anything, He has done it all!

According to social media and to the endless promotional material that falls into our junk mail we have accomplished a lot!

But for those who sing the song of Moses and the Lamb they know who really has done the work and it was not them:

“Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.  Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15 v 3-4)

Let’s worship Him who has done it all!

What God does is right, every time!

When we cross into the eternal place I am quite sure we will find out we got a lot wrong regarding our deductions of how God thinks and His ways.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11 v 33)

How often are we worshipping what we have deducted and reduced in size to our understanding, thanking God for the detailed strategic plan that we have understood. Compared to worshipping Him for who He is because we cannot understand what He has done. The song of Moses and the Lamb says:

“Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations” (Revelation 15 v 3)

Let’s keep to the ways of the Lord even if they are beyond understanding. Let’s keep to the ways of the Lord even when we are under severe trial and temptation. Let’s keep to the ways of the Lord even when we feel justified not to for the enemy of our soul does not only move with force and violence.

Be careful of gentle alluring words and the visuals of beauty set before you.

Watch out for the empty promises of no harm shall befall you, take it and see.

Be attentive to the friendliness and understanding of your situation.

For ways, steps, paths and roads are more important than we think. We are lulled into false security that these are not destinations but that is where we end up quicker than we could ever have imagined. Where do you not want to live? There is a way to get there.

Many have their eyes solely on the destination that they miss the importance of the journey.

Be careful who you have signed up to walk with.

Better to walk alone than with a manipulative deceitful friend.

Walk in just and true ways for hat God does is right every time.

The King of the World Cup 2022

Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain;
Righteousness, peace then His empire shall bring,
Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.
 Come let us sing: Praise to our King,
Jesus our King, Jesus our King:
This is our song, who to Jesus belong:
  Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.

No. It isn’t a World Cup song. It was written by Charles Silvester Horne (1865–1914). I didn’t even realise that at every World Cup there is an album of songs produced with singers and musicians from across the globe. How did I not know this important fact?!

Here is the end-time song about Jesus our King:

“They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15 v 2-4)

He is the King of the nations and all nations will be worshipping Jesus in the end!

England beat Iran 6-2 this week and in a few hours we will see how Wales do? But one thing we know is that the King of the nations is defeating the beasts of Iran every single day. It is true that Christians face arrest and many Pastors have been sent to prison as their house churches are raided. However the King is doing something quite remarkable. Clergy and Church buildings may be missing but disciples are being miraculously birthed and hidden house churches are commencing with numbers often not more than 4 or 5 disciples. Open Doors estimated there were 370,000 disciples in 2013 and in 2022 there are estimates of at least 1 million. https://www.newsweek.com/irans-christian-boom-opinion-1603388

The Iranian nation will come and worship before Jesus the King.

Saudi Arabia surprisingly defeated Argentina a few days ago 2-1. It may look on the surface that Christians are being defeated and Muslim converts do face the death penalty. However the King of the nations is defeating the beasts of Saudi Arabia every single day. Here is one story: “”Born to a Saudi family, in Saudi Arabia, and living very close to Mecca, I grew up with strict principals and traditions of Islam and the Arab culture. As a teenager I went to the mosque five times a day in obedience to my parents. One night, while I was asleep, I had this horrible dream of me being taken into hell. And what I saw there brought me real fear and these dreams kept coming to me almost every night. At this point I was really wondering as to why I should be seeing hell in this manner. Suddenly one day, Jesus appeared to me and said, “Son, I am the way, the truth and the life. And if you would give your life to Me, and follow Me, I would save you from the hell that you have seen.”

This came as a surprise to me, for I did not know who this Jesus was. Of course, He is mentioned in the Koran in the book Surah Mariam. He is stated as one of our prophets, but not as a Saviour who could save us from hell. So I started looking out for a Christian who could give me some advice about this Jesus I have seen and possibly get one of the Christian Holy Books, which I now know is the Bible. But it was a difficult task for me to get any Christian to speak to me about Jesus. As you would know, Christianity is totally banned in Saudi Arabia and if a Christian is caught witnessing to a Muslim, he could be almost sure that he would be beheaded.

Then the Lord led me to an Egyptian Christian who was sick. I prayed for this man’s healing and this man gave me a Bible. Then I, by myself, started reading the Bible. By this time Jesus had become a close friend to me. Soon I started witnessing about the experience I had with all my family relations and friends. Soon the authorities were informed that I had converted to Christianity, and I believe this was done by one of my family members. As it states in the Koran, if someone would turn away from Islam, he is a traitor to the faith and he should be executed. So I was taken into custody and tortured. They told me that I would be beheaded if I would not turn back to Islam. But I had already made my decision that I would never turn back. So I told the authorities I’m willing to die for Jesus and that I would never come back to Islam. After much torture and imprisonment, I was sentenced to be beheaded. They gave me a date and a time and I told them, “You go ahead and execute me. I’m going to heaven to see Jesus. But I pray that what you would do to me would stay in your minds and not give you rest until you come to Jesus.”

The appointed day and time came for my execution, and I was waiting with much anticipation, yet very much strong in my faith in Jesus. Generally the executions are carried out on the set time and date. But to my amazement, no one turned up. One hour lapsed, two hours went by, then it became three hours, and then the day passed by. And no one turned up. Then two days later, the authorities turned up and opened the doors and told me, “You demon! Get out from this place!” I also noticed that the main person who was determined to get me beheaded was not present when they came to release me. I asked them where this guy was. And with much hesitation they replied that his son had died on the same day they planned to execute me. Although I continue to go through much persecution, one thing I know is that the Lord’s hand is upon me.

A Brother from Saudi Arabia.

https://www.answering-islam.org/Testimonies/saudi.html

The Saudi Arabian nation will come and worship before Jesus the King.

Qatar are the hosts of the World Cup and are doing all they can with their Islamic evangelism. There have been videos posted online of up to a 1000 fans converting to Islam during the competition already however these have been fact-checked and proven to be from the years 2016 and 2018. They don’t seem to be very good at football and though it looks like they have stopped the spread of Christianity by not having any churches they are not very good at their gospel prevention either!

“Pastor Samuel is a migrant worker in Qatar. He can worship as a Christian – but his underground work is forbidden: telling Qataris about Jesus.

Pastor Samuel also secretly encourages other foreign Christians to share the gospel. One evening, one of the seven men he’s discipling says that he is fearful of doing so – understandably. Pastor Samuel responds: “Fear is always reminding me of the strength there is in the Word of God. Real courage is to totally depend on Him.”

Pastor Samuel recognises that Christians can have a hard time witnessing in Qatar. “In this Muslim country, we are limited in evangelising too openly. But nobody can stop us from talking to our fellow workers and witnessing to them in our everyday lives. Every day God gives us opportunities to show His love to others.

“Many of those we’ve encountered in Qatar testified that they came to the country for the opportunity to earn more, but God had a greater plan. They encountered the King of kings and the Lord of the lords, who does not only provide them with a ‘better life’ but with life everlasting.”

https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/qatar/

Qatar will come and worship before Jesus the King for Jesus is the King of the World not only the World Cup!

He has done it before and He will do it again

The most covered song of all time is ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles. There’s a little important fact for you this morning!

Here’s another covered song. The song of Moses (Exodus 15) which told of how God brought them through the Red Sea and destroyed their enemies has been sung again with a major remix, the song of the Lamb, with its new exodus and rescuing the people of God onto the sea of glass. Here is that song:

“They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.” (Revelation 15 v 3)

He has done it before and He will do it again!

In 1871 Queen Victoria opened one of our nation’s most exquisite and treasured of buildings, The Royal Albert Hall. Around the outside frieze, there is a message:

 Thine O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine. The wise and their works are in the hand of God. Glory be to God on high and on Earth peace.

To the 98 Christians held by the Eritrean authorities since September … Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty https://releaseinternational.org/eritrea-another-100-christians-detained/

To the thousands of displaced Nigerians of the North-East, the many martyrs and thousands of hurting through terrible violence … Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty https://releaseinternational.org/thousands-of-nigerian-christians-displaced-as-attacks-continue/

To the Churches in China who are being closed because they won’t join the government controlled ‘Three-Self Church’ … Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty https://releaseinternational.org/china-liquidates-church-as-crackdown-continues/

To the many missionaries facing persecution, ill-health, financial difficulty…

To the many, the silent, the unknowns…

To the daughter-in-law of one of my Pastors who is pregnant and facing cancer treatment today.

To one of my Pastors who this morning wakes up in a living hell.

TO YOU

Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty

Right now, all over the world, in the forgotten place, in the unspoken place and in the famous place. Here, now, with you and to all who can sing the best remix that has ever been sung. He has done it before and He will do it again!

Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.

To end all wars

We enter another chapter and as we do I’m wondering what happened to the dragon and the two beasts? We left them behind some time ago and they have been busy deceiving as many as possible. Is this just going to go on? Will the political powers and the religious powers simply continue to sweep across the seas and earth wreaking havoc? Will evil prosper? Look at the news this morning? Death, pain, suffering, anger, earthquakes, wars, the list continues every single day of this world. How long? That is our prayer surely. So we read chapter 15 …

“I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvellous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened. Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (Revelation 15 v 1-8)

It is time to end this darkness, this evil that dominates, the dragon and his beasts and their freedom to roam. This is the last of the seven plagues. The completion, the fulfilment of God’s purpose, it is the end of evil.

Can you imagine a day without evil? Without pain and death? It is coming. It is here.

It is the showdown of all showdowns.

The 7 angels carry out the 7 last plagues. As we move forward into the next chapters we will see the culmination of the world’s history. These are not the plagues of the seven trumpets which cover the world’s history and whilst the gospel is being preached, intercessors are praying and the followers of Jesus are being martyred. Those plagues were to bring the world to repentance.

No. These are prior to the Second Coming of Christ. These are as the doorway of heaven shuts (see v8). These 7 plagues are not for repentance but for closure.

What’s the take-home for this morning? As the 7 angels prepare to move out into the world with judgment can you see the inhabitants of the heavenly temple?

The victorious ones may have suffered loss in their world by refusing to follow the beasts but it doesn’t look like that now!

The beasts defeat them by even martyring them but in that martyrdom they defeat the beasts because they did not deny Christ.

Eternal perspective, that’s what we need. Lift up your heads. Don’t look down in defeat when your eternity is full of victory. This world and what it offers may only be pain and trouble and hardship. But it is coming to an end and when it does you will safely be home!

200 miles of blood

I am not reading this next passage as bad news. Some will and they interpret it with a far greater degree of theology than I have! But this morning I don’t read it as judgment but as joy. So here it is:

“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man[ with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”(Revelation 14 v 14-20)

What we have read so far through this vision is that John is writing to those who suffer as Christians and says salvation comes through suffering and persecution needs patient endurance, we are in a battle but don’t give up, it will all be worth it.

Here comes Jesus, the son of man. Also an angel.

In chapter 13 God’s people were instructed not to worship the beast.

In chapter 15 we will see them worshipping on the sea of glass.

How did they move between those 2 events? Chapter 14, where they are being harvested.

Harvest and reaping is joyful!

But this harvesting is with blood. But whose blood?

The wrath of God is seen in the collision with salvation on the cross of blood and it is the same for our lives. This is Jesus blood. The honour is that it is also the martyr’s blood, the blood of suffering.

Where did this happen? ‘Outside the city’. Where was Jesus crucified? Where was the first martyr Stephen’s death? ‘Outside the city’

This is the blood of suffering, but it is the blood of salvation and the blood of following Jesus.

Reaping is always for keeping never for wasting. This blood will be drunk by the beast worshippers. Yes it will be for judgment eventually, but not here, not on this day of harvesting. God will bring us home. God will turn heartache and suffering into joy.

And the blood? There’s 200 miles of it! Symbolic I am sure. John saw tonnes of blood.

What does it mean? There’s enough blood! The blood is enough!

R.I.P.

Rest in Peace.

“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14 v 13)

We don’t know who exactly is going to be in the torment of v9-11 but what we do know is:

Evil is evil.

Evil consumes totally.

Evil is ultimately defeated and because of this:-

Death is no longer to be feared.

Death is not the final enemy and ultimate evil.

From now on. From the cross and the resurrection. From the day of our salvation. From Monday 21st November 2022 death defeated has become death a blessing.

We rest in peace.

R.I.P.

Sunday small thought: The call for patient endurance

After the image of eternal torment comes the realisation why John saw and reveals it.

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14 v 12)

The word endurance is the English translation of Hupomone. This Greek word John uses doesn’t mean to ‘pull your socks up’ or to ‘keep smiling’ under duress. It is rather a conquering patience with anything that life can throw at us knowing that God will always turn even evil into good and if evil remains it will face a harsher treatment than what it gave to you.

Eternal torment calls for our endurance.

Annihilation or Eternal torment

This title may attract or turn people away from this blog on a Saturday morning!

The debate of how God will treat those with the mark of the beast will continue until annihilation or eternal torment happens.

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14 v 9-12)

These images certainly pull towards that of eternal torment for the worshippers of the beast.

Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath so that the cup of judgment did not need to fall on us.

The wine was not diluted as the custom of John’s day but John saw full strength wine, no holds barred, poured out.

Just like there is no rest of worship around the throne of God, it is happening day and night similarly there is no rest for the judgment, it is for ever and ever.

It is frightening stuff. But John doesn’t seem concerned to hold back the scary parts of his vision.

If it causes the redeemed to continue with patient endurance, so be it.

If it causes the world to say I don’t want to go to that place, so be it.

Those who say there isn’t a physical rapture and those who say there isn’t a physical eternal torment will forever be with us, well, maybe not all of them forever.

But an 8 year old boy didn’t want to be left behind and didn’t want to face God’s anger in a fiery hell and 48 years later he is writing this blog today.

So even if that boy didn’t have all the details correct the gospel and the gravity of rejecting it has kept him walking with the Lord for nearly 50 years!

To be honest, I think annihilation and eternal torment are worth choosing not to have the mark of the beast don’t you? But for me the eternal outweighs the finality every time. It becomes more powerful in keeping us within patient endurance of the life of the gospel. And perhaps that is good enough.

How the mighty have fallen

What sets itself up against you? What is mighty in your sight today? What overshadows you, a looming darkness which is bringing fear to you? What tempts you away from your devotion to God? What is in the way of your discipleship path? What disturbs your mind, robs your soul of peace and gives you heartache? What boasts over you? What parades like an invincible foe?

It has a limited shelf-life!

A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 14 v 8)

Whatever is against you is defeated not by anything you can do or any human power at all. It is defeated by God alone.

Babylon is no more! Actually it had died generations previously but since those days every enemy state that set itself up against God was referred to as Babylon. In John’s day, Rome was Babylon.

So this is the declaration of any nation, government, tribe and people that comes against God and His people, they will fall!

The hedonistic materialistic nations of the West will fall. The false religions of the East will fall. The adulteries of the idolatry and worship of the political and religious powers that mimic the true God will be no more.

No power that comes against you will survive.

You live longer than those things that try to ruin you.