Posted by: aphaneuf | October 27, 2011

The Wednesday night bible study crew

Pursuing God

SEATED (from left to right): Shelly Waters, Mike Waters, Terry Raymond, Sukanya Frank, Derek Frank. STANDING (from left to right): Aaron Phaneuf, Pastor Bob Rosinski, Lynn Gifford, Lisa Phaneuf, Lachelle Rosinski, Mary January, Chuck January.

Posted by: aphaneuf | October 27, 2011

Week 50 – 26 October 2011 – Summary of Revelation

Let's walk this path together

Together, we have walked through the book of Revelation. Yes, it has taken a long time. And the journey has not been easy. But few, if any, lasting or truly rewarding goals are easily attained. They take effort, toil, sometimes suffering.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Oh Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 131 – ESV Translation)

Shelly Waters shared this passage with us, encouraging our spirits. There is little doubt our study of Revelation has softened my heart. Humbling, is a word that comes to mind. Revelation is a book full of mystery, futuristic scenes of judgement and divine justice, heavenly encounters, but also beauty and the simple truth: God is in control. Our lives may spin out of control, this entire world may come unhinged, but God’s promises are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

The group divided in two, tackling the final five themes outlined in the ESV Study Bible. (You can find all of the themes in the previous post) Tasked with confirming the theme with scripture, each team dove into Revelation. We discussed several highlights identified in the passages. In a few cases, teams wished to add additional scripture to enforce the stated theme.

We concluded the evening and our study of Revelation by playing a game. Using the Scattegories model, each team scribbled down as many themes from Revelation as they could in two and half minutes. Here is a partial list of their answers:

Judgement                    Perseverance                    Confidence                        Purity

Blessings                        Encouragement               Throne of God                  Seals

Warnings                       Authority                           Persecution                      Thousand Year Reign

Sovereignty                   Promise                              Protection                         Worship

Divine Justice               Fulfillment                        Faithfulness                      Order

“This is the revelation of Jesus, the Liberating King; an account of visions and a heavenly journey. God granted this to Him so He would show His followers the realities that are already breaking into the world and soon will be fulfilled. Through His heavenly messenger, He revealed to His servant John signs and insight into these mysteries. John, in turn, gave witness to the word of God and to the glorious truth revealed about Jesus, the Liberator, the Chosen Ruler, by carefully describing everything he saw. Blessings come to those who read and proclaim these words aloud; blessings come to those who listen closely and put the prophetic words recorded here into practice. The finale is approaching.” (Revelation 1.1-2 The Voice Translation)

Coming up: we turn our attention to the book of John. God will surely guide our steps as He has before. We pray for wisdom and understanding and a keen mind ready to practice all that God bestows onto our lives.

Peace.

Posted by: aphaneuf | October 26, 2011

Week 49 – 19 October 2011 – Summary of Revelation

Searching for answers

“Revelation unveils the unseen spiritual war in which the church is engaged: the cosmic conflict between God and his Christ on the one hand, and Satan and his evil allies (both demonic and human) on the other. In this conflict, Jesus the Lamb has already won the decisive victory through his sacrificial death, but his church continues to be assaulted by the dragon, in its death-throes, through persecution, false teaching, and the allure of material affluence and cultural approval. By revealing the spiritual realities lying behind the church’s trials and temptations during the time between Christ’s first and second comings, and by dramatically affirming the certainty of Christ’s triumph in the new heaven and earth, the visions granted to John both warn the church and fortify it to endure suffering and to stay pure from the defiling enticements of the present world order.” ESV Study Bible – Theme for Revelation

Using the ESV Study Bible as our guide, we divided into two groups, addressing several key themes. Group 1 tackled the following:

– Through his sacrificial death, Jesus Christ has conquered Satan, the accuser, and has ransomed people from every nation to become a kingdom of priests, gladly serving in God’s presence. (Scripture: Revelation 1.5, 18; 5.5-10; 12.1-11)

– Jesus Christ is present among his churches on earth through his Holy Spirit, and he knows their trials, triumphs, and failures. (Scripture: Revelation 1.12-3.22)

Group 2 handled the third theme.

– World history, including its woes and disasters, is firmly in the control of Jesus, the victorious Lamb. (Scripture: Revelation 5.1-8.1)

We discussed how the scriptures confirmed the theme and introduced other scriptures that reinforced the main point. The groups gave their perspective, highlighting their favorite components.

We began the evening by sharing personal testimonies about how our study has affected our walk with Christ. There is indeed blessing bestowed on those who hear this book and respond with wisdom and grace.

Coming up: the group will approach five more key themes addressed in Revelation.

– God is presently restraining his own wrath and his enemies’ efforts to destroy the church as he patiently gathers his redeemed people through the testimony that his suffering people proclaim about Jesus. (Scripture: Revelation 6.5-11; 7.1-3; 8.6-12; 9.4-6; 18; 11.3-7; 12.6; 13-17).

– Present disasters (war, drought, famine, epidemic disease), though limited in scope by God’s restraint, are foreshadows and warnings of escalating judgments to come. (Scripture: Revelation 6.3-17; 8.6-13; 11.13; 16.1-21; 20.11-15).

– By maintaining their faithful testimony to the death, believers in Jesus will conquer both the dragon and the beast. The martyrs’ victory, now hidden, will be manifest in their vindication at Christ’s return. (Scripture: Revelation 2.10-11; 26-29; 3.11-13; 6.9-11; 7.9-17; 11.7-12; 17-18; 12.10-11; 14.1-5; 15.2-4; 20.4-6).

– Satan attacks the church’s perseverance and purity through violent persecution, through deceptive teaching, and through affluence and sensual pleasure. (Scripture: Revelation 2.1-3.22; 13.1-18; 17.1-18.24).

– At the end of the age, the church’s opponents will intensify persecution, but Jesus, the triumphant Word of God, will defeat and destroy  all his enemies; the old heaven and earth, stained by sin and suffering, will be replaced by the new heaven and earth; and the church will be presented as a bride in luminous purity to her husband, the Lamb. (Scripture: Revelation 16.12-16; 19.11-21; 20.7-22.5).

Peace.

Posted by: aphaneuf | October 18, 2011

Week 48 – 12 October 2011 – Revelation 22

Creatively finding land's end

I thank Pastor Bob for stepping in, walking with y’all through the final verses of Revelation 22.

While some manuscripts omit verse 21, I am happy The Voice and ESV among other translations include it.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus [the Liberating King] be with all [the saints]. Amen.” The Voice Translation – Revelation 22.21

Harken back a few books, we read: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.” The Voice Translation – 1 Cor 16.23

Digging around at the back of my ESV study bible, I discover the first appearance of “grace” appears in Psalm 86. “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.” ESV – Ps 86.6-7.

Revelation explains a time of intense trouble for the entire world. Unrest, and sinful destruction multiplied by the globe. A contingent of believers will endure this period and no doubt find solace in this verse. We can too, even now. Our lives – our world – are full of trouble and pain. By God’s grace we have this powerful book to combat the disillusionment that can arise from so much awful.

Coming soon: we will summarize Revelation, paying special attention to the overall themes that emerge as the book unfolds. We will divide the book into 8 thematic regions. In your own time of study, think back over the course of our discussions. What themes emerge to you? How has God spoken into your life (anew) as we have opened his word?

Peace.

 

Posted by: aphaneuf | October 6, 2011

Week 47 – 5 October 2011 – Revelation 22

Motivated to endure

We began the evening with a broad question: what might motivate a believer to endure the tribulation? Recognizing the vague nature of the question, I tasked each group to formulate an answer with a combination of scripture and personal testimony. While our personal faith journeys have not experienced anything close to a tribulation period, fire has entered all of our lives in some form or another. We all know what it is like to walk with Jesus during trials, pain and suffering.

Group 1 consisted of: Terry, Alan, Mike and Lynn. They reported that their discussion involved ideas like reward Heb 11.26-27, recognition of a nearing end point, fear of hell, obedience to the call, perspective, and the grace of the Spirit of God.

Group 2 was Pastor Bob, Greg, Lachelle, and Lisa. They echoed group one’s conclusions adding revenge (the sense that God will rightly judge those who persecute his saints).

We left the discussion purposefully open-ended in hopes of fostering thought. Uncovering motivation can lead to deep knowledge of a person or event. As I stated last week, our final weeks in Revelation allow us to clarify our own notions of relationship vs. technique and process.

Angels. Ok to worship, and why not?

8I,(U) John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them,(V) I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9(W) but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant[d] with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those(X) who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

Coming up: we’ll look (hint – check out the post from August 23rd) the 7 benedictions found in Revelation. The last is found in Revelation 22. In the days ahead, find the other six. Catalog who is blessed and for what.

Peace.

Posted by: aphaneuf | October 4, 2011

Week 46 – 28 September 2011 – Revelation 22

Purpose perfected

Speaking of movies…remember that tree in the Lords of the Ring’s? The white tree of gandor? I thought you might…. The tree, elegant in form and movement, stands in the court of the fountain in Minas Tirith. Its life cycle is tied to that of its owners. It endures seasons of war, drought, and neglect. Near the very end of the third movie, Return of the King, we see the tree with new flowers once again finding beauty amid the wreckage of life.

“also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22.2 ESV)

Terry asked the probing question – healing for the nations? What sort of healing will be needed in heaven? I couldn’t answer Terry specifically, but tasked the group to look at this question in the week ahead.

The group huddled together and read the following scriptures in this particular order: Gen 2.9, Gen 3.17-18; Rev 22.1-3, Rev 22.3; Gen 3.14-24; Rev 22.4; Gen 3.8. They were asked to create a brief narrative that explained the scriptures. Our audience was a curious individual, unschooled in scripture. The process gave us a chance to know the power and brilliance of the gospel message.

I encourage you to spend time thinking about the very basics of your faith. You can place theology on top of your rock solid understanding of who God is, why he created us, and where history is heading. Revelation is actually a wonderful place to re-affirm such things. Knowing how the story ends gives us a powerful tool to place in proper context the remainder of scripture. No wonder there is special blessing to those who “hear” this book. God wishes us to thrive as conquerors. No cowering needed.

Coming up: we’ll look closely at passages in Jeremiah, Romans, 1 Peter and others. Right now, we plan to spend the remainder of October finishing our study of Revelation. Next up – John.

Peace

Posted by: aphaneuf | September 28, 2011

Week 45 – 21 September 2011 – Revelation 21 & start of 22

A grand city...a new home

Amidst a crumbing, decaying world, hell bent on destruction, one book stands ready to pierce our hearts with a divine hope and formidable truth. Within the book there is a section – right at the end – that promises a justice and completion our hearts yearn for. There is a special blessing for those who read and study its truth (1.3).

We have been blessed.

This week we discussed the later half of chapter 21, then made our way into chapter 22. We spoke about items we won’t find in heaven: darkness, pain, suffering, church, separation of any sort from God.

We find ourselves at the bookend of scripture…Eden restored.

“because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God.” Hebrews 11.10

Coming up: we’ll continue chapter 22, focusing on the epilogue (6-21).

Peace.

Posted by: aphaneuf | September 17, 2011

Week 44 – 14 September 2011 – Revelation 21

A new heaven and new earth

Hard to imagine a reality void of suffering, pain, and sin. It’s all we know. But God means for so much more and intends to restore the fullness of creation.

“See, the home of God is with His people. He will live among them; They will be His people, And God Himself will be with them. The prophesies are fulfilled: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more, For the first things have gone away.” The Voice Translation (see Isa 25.8)

The group leaped into chapter twenty-one, ready to embrace the conclusion to this incredible story. This is our hope: that our Lord God returns, bringing with him total victory and complete justice.

We challenged the notion that Jesus alone is the alpha and omega. It seems like there is sufficient evidence in Rev 1.8 and 21.6 that God also occupies the beginning and end. The banter was quick and substantive. We dug deep looking for other scriptural references, building context. Understanding the trinity is one of the most fantastic elements of christianity. There is hardly anything else that confounds like God the father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet all three find a perfect distinction and measure in scripture. I am reminded of Paul’s comment: I see dimply now, but one day….(1Cor 13.12)

God designed us to be his bride. A perfect companion to spend eternity with him. As chapter twenty-one unfolds we see the garden of eden re-engineered. John spends considerable time articulating a heaven beyond belief. Jewels, gold, crowns…more than deserved, better than imagined, perfect in every way.

Coming up: we’ll continue to work our way through chapter twenty-one. Pray that we finish the race strong. Revelation has been just that and more.

Peace.

 

 

Posted by: aphaneuf | September 13, 2011

Week 43 – 7 September 2011 – Revelation 20 cont.

War no more, delicate peace achieved

Scanning the crowd, who might we see enjoying the millennial reign? Non-believers who perished before the tribulation, perhaps those who feel during the great war? Believers who pass during the tribulation, or those who have departed the strains of this world prior to the seven years of great tribulation?

The group hung on these questions, addressing the WHO. As with other areas in Revelation, it’s hard to land on sure footing. I was taught that the millennial reign will be a collection of ALL believers, both those before and during the tribulation – all will join with their creator on a renewed earth. Several serious scholars would disagree with me. They rightly point to the inclusive nature of verse six in chapter twenty.

Blessed and holy are the ones who take part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power; they will serve as priests of God and of the Liberator, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. – the Voice Translation

We concluded the evening by discussing the great white throne of judgement. Perhaps, the devil is such a savvy deceiver, he convinced himself that one more battle was all he needed. We see in verses seven through ten, Satan gather an army to lay siege to the holy city. One final battle was all God needed to finally dispatch Satan, death and hades and all who follow them, down into the fiery pits of hell. The throne is where unbelievers are judged according to their works. It is a place of torment assumed. These are those whose name is not written in the lamb’s book of life. These are those who forsook the good news and chose themselves instead of Christ and his redeeming love.

Coming up: we’ll wrap up chapter twenty and turn our attention toward chapter twenty-one.

Peace.

 

Posted by: aphaneuf | September 6, 2011

Week 42 – 31 August 2011 – Revelation 20

All creation cries out...

We began the evening with the intent to cover two broad themes: the necessity of the millennial reign, and the great white throne of judgement. When the clock struck eight, we had discussed only half of the “necessity” material.

Dr. Jeremiah’s, Escape the Coming Night, provided a cogent framework to follow, helping us better understand the millennial reign. We concentrated on four main topics:

– Reward – Isa 40.10; Matt 5.12, 6.27, 25.34; Col 3.24; and Rev 22.12

– Response to prayer – Luke 11; and Matt 6

– Redeem creation – Rom 8.19-22

– Re-emphasize humankind’s depravity – Rev 20.7-10

We dissected each passage, pulling out meaning, gaining understanding.

Tomorrow (7 Sept 2011) we’ll dive into the characteristics of the reign and plunge into the great white throne of judgement.

Peace.

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