Too Scary to Read

A couple of years ago I was outside after a huge hail storm.  One of the college students who lived in our neighborhood was having a smoke break on his deck and commented about the crazy weather.  He said, “It’s like we’re living in the end times or something… like the book of Revelation.”  I don’t know what his spiritual beliefs were, but current events were making him wonder about spiritual things. And that was two years ago.  Before Ebola, ISIS, and some of the crisis we face in 2014.

If you type in “Is this the….” into Google – guess what will come up 1st, 2nd, and 3rd?

You guess it:

  1. End
  2. End Times
  3. End of the world

That means a lot of people are wondering if this is the end.  Some of them might be looking for answers.  Motivated ones will research the Bible, the book of Revelation in particular.

I’ve had more than one person tell me the book of Revelation scares them, or that it’s, “too scary to read.”   If you’ve had any apprehension at all about reading this book of the Bible, this post is for you.  If a few people have told me, then there are probably many who feel this way.  Don’t worry, I’m not asking for a show of hands.  Now, take a deep breath and another sip of whatever you’re drinking…I promise, I’m not going to scare you!   I want to encourage us today to take a deeper look at this book.  Revelation has encouragement for us in any time.

Being afraid of what it might say is not a helpful foundation for studying it.

I’m not going to go into a big hermeneutics lesson here, but rule #1, for the purpose of this post, is:  fear and Bible interpretation do not go together.  It’s always important to interpret scripture in light of God’s love and character.  He’s NOT scary by nature, therefore, His Word is not designed to scare anyone.  The only reason to have any fear while reading scripture would be if you do not have a relationship with Jesus.  And if that’s the case, you can read more about developing that relationship here.

Revelation is filled with 22 mysterious, yet amazing chapters about Jesus and His bride. There’s not one individual who can say they completely understand everything that’s written in it, but all of us can find strength and encouragement there.

The name of the book itself is AMAZING….The book of REVELATION.  Wow…revelation is an amazing gift…and this book was given to John (the author) as an incredible revelation.  I believe everything from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 is revelatory.  God gave us the Bible; it’s alive. He reveals Himself on every page.  I love that John simply shares the revelation and does not go into a big explanation about it.

More often than not we complicate things that are meant to be more simple.  The book of Revelation is meant to bless and not scare.  John said in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…..”  So, I’m thinking, if you want to be blessed, read the book.  But don’t just read it, ask God to bring you clarity and understanding as you read.  I’m not saying that you’ll “get it” entirely, but  you’ll be blessed and encouraged as the eyes of your heart are opened.

The book of Revelation has encouraged me on many levels.  I’ve been comforted, convicted, and intrigued.  It’s given me a hunger to experience more of Jesus.  John was privileged, but the blood of Jesus has bought us all similar privilege.  None of us will be adding to scripture, but all of us are welcome into revelatory encounters with the word of God, which is not only a book, but also a person!  If you’re weary or dry, I encourage you to take time and meditate on the book of Revelation.  Your spirit will be refreshed as you “eat” His words of life.

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Are we living in the end times?  I don’t know, but we are living in some exciting times, and God is not surprised by anything that’s happening.  Are things getting better or worse? Yes. Both. (Isaiah 60:1) Can reading the book of Revelation encourage us in these days?  Yes. Will it answer every question we have? Probably not.

Is the Church called to be a light no matter what time in history it is?  Absolutely.  Will encountering God in His word equip us to be more of a light to the lost and hurting?  Without a doubt!

 

Here are the facts:

  1. These are troubling times.
  2. God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble.
  3. We discover more of God when we read His Word.
  4. God is in the book of Revelation.

There are a few ways we can respond to the times we live in.  We can bury our head in the sand, caving to fear; Or we can be brave and face head on that which in front of us, equipped with His power, Word, and love.

As I was typing, this song came on and I think it sums up what I’m saying perfectly.

No matter what happens…it is well with my soul.  When I have saturated myself in Him and His Word, I am confident in who I am and Whose I am.  Indeed, it is well with my soul.

 

Our Confidence

con·fi·dence
noun \ˈkän-fə-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s\
: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
: a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
: the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true

Confidence determines outcomes.

My 10 year old son started playing All Star Baseball this year. I’ve always enjoyed watching baseball, but never fully realized how mental and emotional this game can be. It’s easy to tell when the boys are feeling more or less confident. Confidence affects their outcomes. When they get ahead in hits and runs their confidence is high. They step up to the plate and go to battle every time. I can see the confidence on their faces. When their confidence is shattered, they don’t look the same. They make more errors and get fewer hits & runs. And I haven’t even talked about pitching yet. Pitchers have the toughest job of all and require the most confidence.

Our little Jr. Buck team has had some amazing victories this year and some emotional losses. I’m thinking that 10 year old baseball is just as intense as the MLB world series….minus the audience. The world might not be watching, but the competition feels just as fierce.

Right now they are learning that everyone makes mistakes, and those mistakes can not take them out of the game. One error in baseball can be very costly, but they are learning that they can not allow that one mistake to play into their next at-bat, pitch, or catch. The coaches will encourage them to, “shake it off”, parents will cheer, “it’s ok…get the next one.”

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Wait…am I talking about baseball or real life?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a voice over our shoulder every time we messed up affirming us that our identity is not found in how we perform, but in who we are? Oh, yes! There is such a voice of affirmation:

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:6

And what an incredible confidence it is! Confidence here connotes the following: freedom, unreserved-ness, fearless confidence, and cheerful courage. (Thanks Dr. Dav for that research!)

In other words..when we step up to the plate of life, we can swing with full confidence, knowing that we will succeed. Our success is guaranteed because of the finished work of the cross. I’m not talking about finances or fame here, I’m talking about success that comes from knowing who you belong to and finishing your race with confidence in Him.

Woah! Now that is something to meditate on and celebrate!