There are so many things in life that we wait for. Kids and parents alike often can’t wait for Christmas to come; kids more than parents can’t wait for their next birthday. We wait expectantly for a child to be born and we often wait with mixed emotions about our mortality. Many wait in anticipation for their wedding day and some wait patiently for “the one” to come into their life. We wait in line at banks, grocery stores, doctors’ offices and for our turn to get on a plane for that well-deserved holiday. What is it in life that you wait for?
When you take the time to think about the incredibly powerful visions and imagery found in the book of Revelation that John records for us, you can’t help wonder or be curious about what God has planned for us. There is one particular passage in John’s writing that has stuck with me this past week, one that made me curious, excited and wanting while waiting. Found in Revelation 22:1-5, subtitled “Eden Restored” we get an glimpse into heaven. John describes what the angel showed him, “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb… on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Can you imagine the beauty these words portray? Do you believe that one day this will be a reality? I do. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
There is something else, something even greater than the crystal-clear rivers, trees and bountiful harvest of fruit that I find in this passage. Verse 4 of chapter 22 talks about you and I, it says, “They will see his face.” (read that quote again) To see His face means we will one day walk with God, our creator, just as Adam and Eve did. This incredible promise is a picture of restoration, a renewal of the intimate relationship our Heavenly Father intended to have with us. With his own breath, He created us so we could walk with Him and talk with Him, to be one with Him. If you are not on the edge of your seat in anticipation of this incredible promise, WAKE UP. God wants you to know that this is His greatest desire, a desire that I have put all my hope and trust in today. Through His Son, through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will one day meet him face to face. So, will you wait with me? We have so much to look forward to.
What do you see when you look at this image? Some people will look and see five random black geometric shapes, others will look at the white spaces in-between the black and see four letters that spell the word LIFT (If you can’t see the letters, squint your eyes at the screen, it might help). Our complex minds are wired to interpret what our eyes see. Our unique perspectives, our experiences and environments can influence our “view” on many things.
The book of Revelations is much like the image above; we can look at the text and read one thing today and then something different the next day. Recently, after spending some time reflecting on the opening words in the seven letters to the seven churches, I “discovered” some new insights into how God reveals himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The words of the letters by way of introduction identify Christ as the “first and the last”, “holy and true”, “the faithful and true witness”, the one “who died and came to life again”, “the Son of God whose eyes are like burning fire” and “the one who will rule over all”. I have not discovered anything new here, these things are written many times before in the other books of the bible. What I saw today through these words was the incredible connection between the Father and the Son. I was reminded about the incredible power and authority given to Jesus by His father to rule over all of creation.
Earlier in his Gospel letter, John writes the following words to portray the relationship between the Father and Son, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) Christ, (the Word) from the beginning, was with His Father. The book of Revelation is a “revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev 1:1) Through the detailed imagery of Revelation I find a message of hope, hope for the complete ruin of evil & sin (taken on by Jesus Christ) and the promise of everlasting life for all God’s people. The opening words of Revelation encourage us to “read aloud the words of this prophecy”. Take some time to read through this incredible message, listen to the words that God has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, be blessed as you take to heart what is written in it. (Rev 1:3)
“That one… wait, maybe that one”. Should I get the orange one or the red one? “Ok, I am getting this one… I think”, “Only one?” When confronted with only one choice from the rows and rows of sweets that line the shelves at the corner store, my kids, or any kid for that matter has a difficult decision to make. There are many factors at play that can influence the process of choosing. What’s kind are the others choosing? Do I try something new? Which one is the biggest? Which one will last the longest?
There are 40 chapters in the book of Exodus and found within the verses of each, there are incredible stories of the works and power of God in the lives of His people. The crossing of the sea, the provisions of water from a rock, manna and quail, the building of the Tabernacle to name a few. Today, it is the story of Moses that captures my attention as I read and reflect on how God reveals himself to us through his word. Often we have a hard time recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament stories, the words or actions of the Spirit seem absent. What comes to mind when you think of the Holy Spirit? For me, I think about things like leading, guiding and even protecting. God, through the work of the Holy Spirit was leading and guiding the life of Moses right from the beginning of his existence on earth. The events surrounding his birth (the basket in the river, being reunited with his mother) are clear examples (for me) of the Holy Spirit working not just in His life but the lives of others. (His mother, sister and even Pharaoh’s daughter).
Romans 8:26 holds a powerful message that can give us confidence in knowing how the Holy spirit works in our lives. “the spirit helps us in our weakness… the Spirit himself intercedes for us.” There are times when we are completely overwhelmed by the sin and trials of life (weakness) that bring us to a place where we feel we no longer have control. I can’t help but think about the mother of Moses and the moments leading up to her decision of putting her small child into a basket and letting it go down the river. We read that things were out of her control, she did what she had to do to save that child. Through the power of God, through His Holy Spirit, He interceded in the life of Moses and his mother and brought him to a place where he flourished and did some amazing things for the Lord. The purpose of God’s word is to reveal himself to us, for us to find hope in His display of power and love that leads and directs our lives.
Working the soil, planting the seed, watering, pulling weeds, harvesting. As a gardener, there is a not only a sense of satisfaction around the work of planting and growing something in your own garden, there is a sense of anticipation. We can’t see what is happening once we cover the seeds with soil, with patience we tenderly care for and wait for the first signs of life to pop up, reaching out for the light of day to nourish and strengthen the tender shoots that have the potential to bear a bountiful supply of fruit or flowers.
There is a sense of anticipation and mystery around this verse in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This is one of the early verses in scripture that points directly to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour (Her seed), the one who will stand against sin and overcome death. The enmity or hostility that we read about here warns us of the perpetual battle (the fight between good and evil) that we as God’s people will face as we live together on this side of heaven. 1 John 3:8 reminds us that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work”. Christ came to “bruise”, “crush” or “strike” the head of the serpent and to be the gateway for us to be in relationship with His Father, our Heavenly Father. As we continue to read through Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament we get glimpses of the hope of a saviour who will come. We hear the reminders of the prophets and others that one day Jesus will come and live and die in our place so that we will be saved from an eternal death.
Each year we work through a season of anticipation as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. When we consider the foretelling of the one who will come in Genesis 3:15 we have a guiding light that shines through the rest of scripture. Like the seed planted in the garden we may not always see what is going on around us. Today, we still live in a state of anticipation our forefathers did. Christ, who came once many years ago will return. We must have faith as Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:10 “So that you (we) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
Is your person wearing a hat? Does your person have white hair? Is your person wearing glasses? Is your person young? Is your person (fill in the blank)? Those are the type of questions you might ask when you play the game Guess Who. The object of the game is to guess the mystery person on your opponents card by asking one question each turn, and eliminating any game board faces that don’t fit the mystery person’s description.
As we read through the book of Genesis we are introduced to people like Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Noah, Abram, Lot, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Joseph and many others. There is one particular portion of scripture that you will come across in Genesis 32:22-32 that introduces us to a man, a man who wrestled with Jacob. Unlike the game of Guess Who, we don’t have a physical description of who he is, we are only told that he was a man. Within the context of these verses we are given some clues that point us to the identity of the unknown wrestler. Verse 28 reads “you have struggled with God”, in verse 30 Jacob says “I saw God face to face”. Jacob wrestled with God, let that sink in for a minute… From nightfall to daybreak this indescribable wrestling match took place between Jacob and God, how can this be? God, through his divine power has revealed himself to Jacob and brought to him a blessing and renewed hope of the promise that He will always be with him.
Throughout scripture and particularly in Genesis chapter one we are introduced to the Bible’s main character – God. There should be no “Guess Who” questions or surprises when we come to knowing who God is through His word. We often read the bible with “blinders” on, this causes us to wrestle with and question who God is. The narrative of Genesis reveals God as our creator, it describes the work of the Holy Spirit and reveals the promise of His Son who will come one day to walk among us and save us from our sins. As we grow in our faith, as we wrestle with might seem like endless questions of who God is, we must remember that God is all things; hope, joy, love, peace, patience, kindness and more. Yes, Jacob wrestled with God, the text tells us that he did not let go of Him until he received his blessing. I “guess” we have to do the same. No matter what, we must hold on to the promises of God. Never let go. Take God with you everywhere you go, trust in Him, live for Him.