Sun, Jul 15, 2007

"I AM COMING QUICKLY!" REVELATION 22:6-7, 21-22

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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“I AM COMING QUICKLY!”
REVELATION 22:6-7, 21-22
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Revelation chapter 22 as we look at the hope we have in the promises of God, in His soon return.  I have called this study, “I AM COMING QUICKLY!” because it is a promise to us from God that He is coming back.  First to meet His bride, the Church in the air prior to the start of the 7-year Tribulation Period, we call that the Rapture of the church.  Then He will come with His bride, the Church at the end of the 7-year Tribulation Period, at the battle of Armageddon to put down man’s rebellion against Him and usher in His Millennial reign!

            Having that hope is important to us, to be able to trust in what God has said and believe He can bring it to pass. Hope is a powerful feeling within each of us, for without it people would just give up. Let me explain:

            A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!

            Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should its effect be on our lives.

                       - Today In The word, May, 1990, MBI, p. 34

So hope is a powerful force in our lives for without it we would be hopeless, we would just give up. But, if your hope is not based in truth, then it too will not ultimately help. Yes, it may make you feel good now, live a healthier life now, but in the end it will be of no value to you. Let me explain.

Some of you may have heard of Norman Cousins. He was the editor of the Saturday Review and then, in 1964 he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which is a severe connective tissue disease. After a period of powerful anti-inflammatory medications, he turned away from this conventional treatment and began a treatment that was very unconventional.

This unconventional treatment consisted of mega doses of vitamin C and mega doses of laughter.  No kidding. He would watch Candid Camera and The Marx Brother’s and stated, “ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain free sleep.”  Guys, I tried that with my wife, watching a marathon of The Three Stooges and telling her, “Honey, it is for my health!” It didn’t work. Anyway, this treatment did seem to work for Norman Cousins. When they measured his sedimentation rate, which measures the degree of inflammation in the body, immediately after a laughter spell or a dose of vitamin C, it was decreased.

Norman Cousins died 26 years after being diagnosed with this disease, living much longer than his doctors had predicted. He died of a bad side stitch from laughter one day!  No, not really. He died following a cardiac arrest in 1990. But laughter did seem to help him live longer. It, in a sense, gave him hope. Laughter boosted his spirit!

Now I do believe laughter is good for our bodies. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 17:22, A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.  A merry, a joyous, a heart filled with laughter is like medicine. But, a broken spirit, one that is downcast, one where there is no laughter just saps the life out of a person, they become dry!

In saying that I truly believe if your hope, if your laughter is not based in truth, you are in trouble.  What I mean by that is this.  You see, there are many people who are laughing their way to Hell. Yes, in this life they had a great time but they never prepared to meet their Maker, they never surrendered their life to Jesus and thus, they will die in their sins. Now, if that were the case, if it didn’t matter what you believed, if it was true or not, nothing would matter, but it does!

Here in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 John is discussing the new heavens, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven and it will be the place the Lord will dwell. And in our study of these chapters we saw how there was no sun or moon, but the glory of God will light the place and as His glory bursts forth it will shine through all those multicolored stones, through the streets of gold. There will also be no more death, no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more sadness, no more pain, no more suffering, no more curse!

Now, as we pick up our study this morning in verse 6 of Revelation chapter 22, we see the concluding remarks given as the Lord admonishes us by telling us that the time is near. So with that said, let’s begin reading in verse 6 of Revelation chapter 22 and see what the Lord has for us as we hope in Him and the promises He has made to us!

REVELATION 22:6-7, 20-21

 

            Some Christians wonder why this is so important to us, to know what is going to take place down the road.  I think I can explain this to you from one of my life experiences. This is my 12th anniversary here at Calvary Chapel of Manitowoc and in this community and through the years I have learned a lot.  I would like to blame you for all these sermon illustrations that God puts me through, but the reality is, it is just me and God takes my goofy, my strange actions and makes a point out of them. I guess I can say they don’t go to waste although it is a little scary to know they are being recorded on CD and placed on the air.

For almost 11½ years I worked at St. Nicholas Hospital in their ICU there in Sheboygan. Recently I started working at Coulis Cardiology, which is less than a block from the hospital. So I am very familiar with the I-43 roadway from here to Sheboygan and back. I have even experienced cow dung being flung from a vehicle to fertilize the farmland – not something you see in Chicago! I think that is a good thing.

Anyway, I was here maybe a year or two at the time and I was driving home from work around 4 in the afternoon. And as I as driving I saw in the distance this small plane flying low, just above the Interstate.  I do call this story The Suicidal Airplane Pilot, as you will see in a minute.  And as I am driving at 65 mph this plane is getting very close!

At first I didn’t think much about it, it was just interesting to me. But now it was getting closer and closer and it was a little scary. From my vantage point he was coming right at me and with my quick mathematical calculations, it looked like he was going to crash into my car! It looked like he was going to kill himself and me!  So as my brain is trying to compute all this information at lightening fast speed, okay, maybe not that fast, but here I am trying to decide if I should slow down or speed up to avoid this disaster.  

            By now my heart is beating faster and faster and I was losing hope of escaping this, as hard as that is to believe, the mind can do strange things when you are faced with a situation like this. How is my wife going to explain to the insurance company that our car was totaled on the Interstate by an airplane!  I know, strange.  My life was flashing before my eyes and it was a short story, so short I saw trailers of other people’s lives!

            Closer and closer this plane came to my demise. It was so low to the ground you could almost touch it, at least that is how it felt. And then, at the last minute the plane veered off to the side, over some farm fields, and started to dust the crops.  Of course, he was a crop duster, not on a suicide mission.  I wasn’t going to die, although at this point, I wanted to, I felt so foolish! The problem was I didn’t know it was a crop duster and I didn’t know how it would turn out. Again, we don’t have many crop dusters in Chicago! You see, if I had known the end of the story, if I had known the truth, I would not have lost hope in the situation. But, because I didn’t, I did lose hope.

            The reason I shared that story with you is to not make me look foolish, I do a good job with that already, but to make this point.  The Lord has told us the end of the story so that we don’t lose hope; we don’t become discouraged by what we see before us!

            Bernard Travaieille was at a theological college in the United States and was playing basketball with some friends. They were using a court that was located at a nearby school. The old janitor at this school was very friendly and he patiently waited until their game was finished and then he would lock up.  One day Bernard noticed that the janitor was reading the Bible. In fact, he discovered the old janitor was reading the Book of Revelation.

            Bernard was very surprised to see this for the book of Revelation was a very difficult book to interpret even for highly trained Bible students! “Do you understand it?” asked Bernhard.

           “Oh yes, I understand it” the janitor replied.

            Now Bernard was really intrigued. Here was this book that baffled scholars, that was the focus of every conspiracy theory known to humanity, and this old man, this janitor with very little formal education, let alone Bible schooling, claimed to understand it.

            “You understand the Book of Revelation?! What do you think it means?” asked Bernard.

            The old man, not missing a beat, looked up at him and very quietly said, “It means that Jesus is gonna win!”

            I guess if you take anything away from our study through the Book of Revelation, that it would be that Jesus is gonna win!  In fact, it is so sure that it is spoken of as if it already happened! Thus, no matter what may come our way, no matter how dark things may look, our hope is in Him and His promises to us!

            Now, do you believe this because I have said it? I hope not!  You see, what has God said, that is what is really important and that is going to be our focus with the rest of our time this morning.  We are going to look at THE EVIDENCE. And then we will look at THE EFFECTS. You see, if the evidence is there then it should produce some kind of effect upon our lives or it is meaningless, it is of no benefit.  I pray that you see this morning that the evidence is overwhelming for us to believe and thus, it will have a positive effect upon our lives, it will give us hope!  Paul put it like this in Romans 15:4, For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.”  Thus, that is what we are doing here, looking at what God has said so that we may have hope!

1.  THE EVIDENCE – REVELATION 22:6-7

            What evidence are we looking for here? That the Lord is coming back, that what has been said in the Book of Revelation will come to pass. How can we trust it?  How do we know that it is true?  First of all we are told that the Words from God are FAITHFUL, we can put our trust in them.

            In Psalm 119:89-90 we are told, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. God’s faithfulness is everlasting and David tells us the reason we can believe this is true. He tells us that God not only established the earth but He is the one sustaining it, and thus, God is faithful, that what He has promised He can bring to pass and He can sustain it!

            In Psalm 89:33 we are told, Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.  Here we see the faithfulness of God, that it will not fail. Yes, man is unfaithful, but not God!  We can trust in what He has said to us because His faithfulness fails not!

            David, in Psalm 36:5 wrote, Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. In other words, the faithfulness of God is infinite, it does not end, it does not run out! I am so thankful for that, His faithfulness is infinite!

            One example in the Bible of God’s faithfulness is given to us in I Kings 8:20, where we are told, So the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised; and I have built a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. Solomon is saying that the promises that God made to his father David have come to pass in his life.  Solomon is now king of Israel, he has built the temple for the worship of God. In other words, what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass and here is one example!

            I believe that is an important principle for us to understand and apply to our lives. That we look back on the past situations we have faced and see how God was faithful in seeing us through them, and that then gives us encouragement for the present situations we are facing.  You see, our hope is not found in what we can do nor is it found in us at all, but in Him and what He has and will do for our God is faithful!

            And folks, I can’t imagine anyone living today and not seeing the prophetic words that God has spoken coming to pass right before our eyes. These things are taking place in the days we are living in! God said that he would bring His people back into the land of Israel and in 1948 that is exactly what happened as the Jewish people returned home after being almost 2,000 years without a homeland! We see the Muslim nations, along with Russia coming together and one day they will invade Israel. Keep in mind that Russia has already made alliances with Iran and Syria. We see the emergence of the European Super-State. We see that the movers and shakers are working on dividing the world up into 10 kingdoms, just as the Scriptures say will happen in the last days. We see the coming together of the one-world government. We see the coming together of the one world religion. We see the apostasy growing within the church of Jesus Christ as many are moving away from the truths of God found in the word of God, denying the atoning work of Christ and saying all roads lead to God!  We see the move towards a cashless society. And I can go on-and-on but as you can see, God has said that these things will come to pass and we are beginning to see them before our very eyes! And the point I want to make here is that God is faithful and what He has promised us in His Word will come to pass – HE IS COMING BACK!

            The second point is that God is TRUE. God does not lie. When He speaks, He speaks forth the truth, not just some things are true, not just most things are true, but all the things that come from the mouth of God, all the things written in His Word are true! We are told in Numbers 23:19, God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? God does not lie, what He says He will do and thus, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21 we have the Words of God from the mouth of God and it is truth!

            In John 17:3 Jesus said, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  You see, there is only one TRUE God and that means that all the rest are false gods and what they speak is not true. Now that may seem arrogant or prideful but if it is true, then it is not, it is just a statement of fact. God the Father is true and there is no darkness in Him at all – He is truth!

            In Revelation 3:7 we are told, And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”’  In other words, not only is God the Father truth, but so is Jesus!  We also see this in Revelation 3:14 where we are told, And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.’”  Thus, Jesus is truth!

            One more point here and that is what Jesus said in John 17:17 that ties this all together.  He said, Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  Do you see what Jesus is saying here, that the Word of God is truth! Now if you don’t want to believe that, you are a fool. In fact, if you don’t want to believe that, then what are you going to believe is from God and what is not? You see, you are acting as God picking and choosing what you want and what you don’t want and that is a very dangerous place to be. I am very simple; God said it and I believe it!

            Once again, and I know I am repeating myself, but this is so important. God’s Word is truth, not some of it, or most of it but all of it! This is not something that is open for debate; God’s Word is truth.  Now think about it, if God’s Word was not truth, we would be in trouble because how would you know what is true and what isn’t? You wouldn’t! God’s Word is true because He has spoken it and since He is truth then His Word is truth!

            The Lord is coming back, He has told us that.  Let me show you how important it is for us to trust in the Lord’s Words for us. We are told:

            The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child.  She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

            The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.

            But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

            Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

- Bits & Pieces, July 1991

            Why would the Lord come back for us if there was no hope for us? He wouldn’t and yet there are over 500 prophecies related to His second coming.  It is going to happen! Why would the Lord say He was coming back if He really wasn’t? He wouldn’t do that! Why? Because He is truth and thus, God cannot lie, He will not deceive us. You see, the one who is FAITHFUL, the one who is TRUE, tells us, Behold, I am coming quickly!  Revelation 22:7.

2.  THE EFFECTS – REVELATION 22:20-21

            In knowing that the Lord is coming back soon, it should affect our lives; it should impact us in a positive way. A few weeks back my wife came back from a mission’s trip to Mexico with our Youth Group. I knew the day and the time she was coming back, so like the Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat, I was cleaning up the house, making sure it looked as good as it did when she left.  I wanted the house in order!

            We do not know the day or the hour the Lord is coming back for us, but we do know the season and I believe we are in that season right now.  How soon before He returns, I do not know, but I want to live like it could be today! You see, the Bible tells us that knowing the Lord is coming back will affect our lives; it will impact us if we allow it to! In I John 3:2-3 we are told, Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

            You see, in knowing that He is coming back it should cause us to live our lives in a manner that would bring Him honor. You don’t want to be involved in some ungodly activity when He returns and since we don’t know the day or the hour of His return, we should live every day like it is today, living in such a way that we are bringing honor, bringing glory to Him as we are serving Him!

            In knowing that the Lord is coming back soon, it should bring us great hope, great joy as we wait for His return. It is as Paul told Titus in Titus 2:13-15, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.  Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

            It truly is a blessed hope, a great joy as we wait for the return of the Lord.  This world is not getting better even though at times we may have some better periods than others. The ultimate fate is this world will grow more and more wicked and thus, we do long for the day when He comes. You see, one day righteousness will fill this land, peace will permeate this world, but that will not happen until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ comes back!

            And there are those out there that may mock you, make fun of your for believing this and it may even cause you to doubt what you believe.  Think about that, you are going to listen to the words of man and negate the Words of God? Don’t allow that to happen, you know the truth, you believe the truth and you can then share that truth with others!  He is coming back!

            The bottom line is this. What has taken place inwardly – knowing that God is faithful, knowing that God is true, will overflow outwardly, in the things we do, in the things we say, how we live out our lives!  And if you are having a hard time believing the Lord, what He has said, it is easy to become hopeless. We as Christians should not be hopeless though; we have the promises of God in the Word of God!  Listen to this story and you will see what I mean, trusting or not trusting, having hope or being hopeless! We are told:

            George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four pictures a world run by totalitarian regimes. In this world “Big Brother” controls everything – where people live, what they do, where they work, what they say, even how they think. “Thought crime”, to think thoughts that are against the ideology of the Party, is a heinous wrong.

            The central character in Orwell’s book is a man named Winston. Winston finds himself rebelling against the “Big Brother”. He finds an alcove in his house where the cameras of Big Brother cannot observe him, he begins an illicit affair with a woman named Julia, and in his own thoughts he questions the way the world is.

            Eventually he is captured, and sent to prison to be “rehabilitated”. This means breaking him emotionally and physically and then turning him once more into a party drone. His interrogator is a man named O’Brien. At one point O’Brien chilling says to Winston: “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power. . . . Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. . . . If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

            “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” To many people this seems to be the future. Oppression, violence and poverty are an ongoing reality in many corners of our world. But the good news of the Christian faith is that this will not be the last word, that the risen Christ will return to restore the universe too goodness and justice. This is the Christian hope.

- Scott Higgins

            I do think we sorrow over the pain, the suffering, the injustices that happen throughout this world and to us many times. It is not a pretty picture out there, even though there are bright spots, there is a lot of darkness because the heart of man is dark, it is evil apart from Christ.  But we do know the end of the story. God wins! That brings to me and I hope to you great comfort.

            I love the way that the Book of Revelation closes and for that matter, the way that the New Testament closes. You see, it closes on a far different note than the way that the Old Testament closes.  We see in the Old Testament, the last book, Malachi, close with these words, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.  Malachi 4:5-6. The Old Testament closes with words of judgment, which speaks of the Law. You see, under the Law we are all guilty, none of us are perfect and thus, the Law could never save a person, it can only point to our failure, expose our sin. Thus, the only outcome of the Law was judgment!  Not a great way to end.

            But, in the New Testament, we see it close with the grace of God being extended to sinful man or God’s unmerited favor extended to us. We truly get what we don’t deserve, eternal life with Him through His Son Jesus Christ!  John closes Revelation like this, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Revelation 22:21. Folks, what the Law could never do, Jesus can and thus, my salvation is not based upon my faithfulness but His!  Paul put it this way in Galatians 2:20-21, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.  Isn’t that a great way to end the book, with the grace of God, which is opened to all to receive by faith and escape the coming judgment and enter into eternal life with Him!

            As I close this morning I pray that you can trust in the Lord and believe in His promises, which causes you to rejoice in knowing that He is going to return, and what a glorious day that will be! Jesus said to John, Surely I am coming quickly. And John replied back with this Aramaic word – MARANATHA or Even so, come, Lord Jesus! May we have a heart that feels that way and overflows in our actions as we point people to the giver and sustainer of life – JESUS CHRIST!  Let me leave you this morning with these words, MARANATHA or Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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