Monday, May 30, 2016

Revelation 21:3
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

My wife and I have lived in the tri-cities for over 25 years, in three different homes in three different neighborhoods. And we have a zillion family memories in those different houses.

But those physical spaces, those houses with walls and windows and doors, really aren’t home are they?

A house is a home only because of the people, the relationship, the love that dwells within that house. We can all remember that deep ache we felt when as children, we were separated for a time from our homes. We are homesick not for the structure of the house, but for the love that dwells within that house.

Our home is defined by people, presence and love.
Home is a place to be known!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

That’s why we are all homesick! We are homesick for the presence of God himself. We are homesick for the world for which we were created. We are homesick for a place where we will know fully, and be fully known. That place, the Bible says, is Heaven.

In 1951 Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the English channel in both directions, doing so in a record time of 16 hours and 22 minutes.

Just a  year later she attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island in the Pacific Ocean and the California coastline. The weather was cold and foggy, she could barely see the boats that accompanied her to fend off the sharks.

After swimming for 15 hours she began to tire. Her mother, among others, tried to encourage her, telling her that she was getting close, in hope that she could make it.

She swam on for another hour or so before becoming so physically and emotionally exhausted that she stopped swimming and had to be pulled from the water.

It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered that she was less than a half mile from the shore. At a press conference the next day she said,

“All I could see was the fog – I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

God wants us to see the shore! God give us his word; he gives us Biblical prophecy; because he wants us to peer through the struggles, pain and fog of this life to catch a glimpse of the glory and joy that he is preparing for us even now!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

 I once listened to a two and a half hour debate between 4 New Testament scholars called “An Evening of Eschatology”. (Sounds like a pretty exciting way to spend an evening right?) Each of the four scholars held a different view of what the events described in the book of Revelation mean and how they will eventually play out. 

Let’s take a moment to sketch out the four basic approaches to interpreting the complex imagery in the book of Revelation.

Preterist View - from the Latin praeter meaning "past" holds that through the use of symbols and allegory, the Revelation deals with events that were fulfilled in John's time and that it was written primarily to provide hope and comfort to the first century church persecuted by Rome. For example, this view interprets the Beast of Rev. 12-13 as the Roman emperor Nero in the first century A.D.

Historicist View - The historicist approach views the Revelation as a symbolic or allegorical prophetic survey of church history from the first century up to the Second Coming of Christ. This was the view espoused by most of the "reformers" and thus dominated Protestant eschatological teaching for centuries.

Idealist View - This approach argues that the symbols in the Revelation do not relate to historical events but rather to timeless spiritual truths. Idealists feel that Revelation relates primarily to the church between the first and second coming of Christ. They feel Revelation relates to the battle between God and evil and between the church and the world at all times in church history.

Futurist View - A strictly literal reading of prophecy will generally lead to a "futurist" interpretation. Thus futurists interpret Revelation as predictive of future end time historical events preceding, during and after the return of Jesus Christ.  This view is the one that leads often to the debates about when the rapture will occur and when the millennium will begin.

Now let’s take a look at a particular text from the book of Revelation and try to make sense of it from some of these different perspectives.

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.  Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.  His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
      Revelation 12:1-5

Now what in the world is all of this about?

There are three images in this passage; a woman, a Dragon, and a Child.  One of the things we have to ask ourselves in order to understand the meaning of this text is what do the images represent?

Just about all of the commentators agree that the Child represents Christ, and if you read far enough into Revelation you discover that the Dragon is Satan.  Well then, who or what is the Woman? Some scholars have understood the woman to represent the Church and the struggle between the woman and the Dragon represents the war between God’s Church and the forces of evil in the world.  But if the Child is Christ, then it does not make sense to think of Jesus Christ coming from the Church? No, the Church came from Christ, not the other way around. Other Bible scholars have understood the Woman to a figurative representation of Mary, the mother of God. This makes sense in terms of the birth of Jesus, but it does not fit with any of the rest of the imagery in Revelation 12. The best interpretation is that the Woman represents Israel. It was through Israel that God brought His Son Jesus into our world. And Satan tried to devour Jesus as a babe (through Herod murdering all of the male children 2 years and under), he tried to destroy Him at Calvary, and he (Satan has been warring against the Christ’s Church ever since!

The point is that is that even in this one simple text, we see a Revelation of Jesus Christ in past events, in present circumstances, and in future realities.  If we were to try and understand the book of Revelation only in terms of the past or only in terms of the future, we would be misled and we would miss the incredible depth of God’s Word! 


Jeff Frazier

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Revelation 7:16-17
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Years ago I walked up to a youth baseball field where one of my boys was practicing. A couple other Dads were standing there shooting the breeze, talking about fishing. One was saying to the other, “every year we go to a lodge in Wisconsin and for 30 bucks we get a boat, a guide, fish all day, drink beer, come back and get a 16 oz. steak – all for 30 bucks!” Then he said, “It’s like heaven!”

I thought to myself, “Uh…. No!” And then I thought, “Well, in a way, yes!”

The Bible indicates that Heaven will be rest and restoration!

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. -Revelation 7:16

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. -Revelation 21:4

Heaven will be “rest”, but not the rest of a nap on Sunday afternoon! My boys tease me for the increasing frequency of my Sunday afternoon naps as I get older. We have a couch in our family room that they now refer to as the “tranquilizer couch” because whenever I lie down on it I fall asleep within a few minutes!

But as enjoyable as those naps may be, the rest of Heaven will not be a Sunday afternoon nap! Heaven will be rest as in Sabbath rest or rest in the presence of Christ himself. We will rest from the pain and suffering of this fallen world. I think about this whenever I do funerals for those who have suffered long and debilitating illnesses. In Heaven they will have rest!

We will rest from the hunger and thirst the plagues our earthly existence. So much of our earthly lives are concerned with caring for or worrying about our physical needs. In our own culture we tend to eat too much, and suffer for it. In most of the rest of the world, people don’t have enough food, and they suffer for it. But in heaven we will have rest from hunger and thirst!

And we will rest from the burden of our own sins and guilt because Jesus Christ the Lamb of God will utterly remove all of that from us! Revelation 5:9 - "...for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God." 

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said,
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Heaven will be rest from our pain. Heaven will be rest from our sorrow. Heaven will be rest from our sin. Heaven will be rest for our souls.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Monday, May 23, 2016

Revelation 5:6-10

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders....The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.”


The Bible tells us that when God gave the gift of Jesus the Lamb of God, he gave a gift of great cost. 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

The gift God gave was the gift of redemption; that is, the gift of salvation. Scripture says that gift was purchased with the blood of Christ.

Economists tell us that the value of anything is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it.
A 90-year-old baseball card may be worth next to nothing to me; but to a collector of sports memorabilia it could be worth a million dollars.

A certain painting might seem garish to me; but to an art collector an original Van Gogh might be worth $10 million.

While it’s true that most of our possessions come down how much they cost in terms of silver and gold, we all know there are things that can’t be purchased with any amount of money!

Consider the family member or friend who willingly donates a kidney to a loved one who needs a transplant to survive.

Consider the price paid by a soldier who lays down his life for his comrades and his country on the battlefield.

Simply put, there is no price greater than blood.

In Hebrews 9:22 we read, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.”

This verse, of course, takes us back to Leviticus 17:11, where God explains, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls...”

Centuries later, when God announced the gift of his Son through the angels, he said,

“And you will give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins...”

When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

What all this means is that only by the blood of sacrifice could sin be forgiven and that Jesus was, in himself, the Lamb of God who would make the final sacrifice for all sin.

When the child born to Mary become a man he would say, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood - shed for the forgiveness of sin...”

 Jesus came into this dark world as the Lamb of God, whose blood would atone for the sins of the world, past, present and future; and not only the sins of the world, but for my sins and your sins; all of them.

So as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let us also remember his death; for only in his death, in the shedding of his precious blood, do we see the price paid for the gift we have received.

In Jesus God gave an extravagant gift at an unimaginable cost. May we never forget that the shadow of the manger is a cross.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Revelation 22:17-21

The Spirit and the bride say, Come!” And let him who hears say,Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with Gods people. Amen.

When our boys were very young my wife and I shared bedtime duties. Typically, one of us would do bath time, get their pajamas on, teeth brushed and get them all tucked into bed. Then the other would come up and do bedtime story and prayer time.

One particular night Lorene went up to take care of the first part of the bedtime ritual. When she was finished she called down to me to let me know the boys were ready for me.

However, I was in the middle of doing something important, like watching a Bulls playoff game, so I told her to tell them I would be up in a minute.

Well, evidently the game got interesting because I completely forgot to go upstairs and do my part. Some 40 minutes later my wife came into the family room and asked, “Did you say goodnight to the boys?”

Dooohhhhhppp!” I said, “I completely forgot.”

So I ran upstairs knowing they would already be asleep but figuring that when they asked in the morning if I had come up I could tell them that, yes, in fact, I did come up but that they were already asleep.

And I was right; the first three I checked on were dead asleep. But when I stepped up to look in on our 5 year old, who was in the top bunk bed, I was shocked to find him still awake. He was clutching his favorite blanket and he looked at me and said, “I knew youd come Daddy.”

My five year old son had stayed awake waiting for me to come because he knew I had promised. And to think I almost missed such a beautiful expression of trust and faith!

The whole Bible ends with these words from the Apostle John:

He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with Gods people. Amen.

The central revelation of the book of Revelation is Jesus Christ. Here John tells us the final thing we need to know about Jesus: he is coming soon.

The Bible tells us something is broken in the world and something is broken in us. That something is sin. Jesus came to defeat the power of sin and death, which he did on the cross and through his resurrection. (Thats what we celebrate at Easter.)

But even though we have been saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life, we look around at the world and things dont seem to be getting better. Rather, we can all sense the world hurtling toward the chaos and suffering described in the strange images of the book of Revelation.

While many have tried, no one can predict the future with absolute certainty. We simply dont know what tomorrow holds.

But with the final strokes of his pen, John tells us what we can know with certainty. We can know that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who rules today in heaven and who will rule one day over the new heaven and new earth. And John tells us that Jesus is coming soon.

So now we are waiting for Jesus just as my young son was waiting for me. And we are waiting because he promised. May we trust his promise; may we find hope in his promise; and may we stay awake!


Pastor Brian Coffey


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Revelation 19:11-16 (selected)
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

I don’t have a good history with horses. They are beautiful and powerful creatures, of course, but I just like them more from a distance! When I was about 8 years old or so my father had a friend at church who had a small farm or ranch in Ohio. One Sunday this friend invited our whole family over for the afternoon. After dinner he offered to take us boys for a ride on one of his horses. That sounded like great fun so off we went. But when my turn came, because I was the oldest boy I guess, he put me on the horse by myself. So there I was, perched precariously on the saddle, and the horse just started trotting off on his own. I had no idea how to steer the animal, so I just held on for dear life. That worked out for about 10 seconds. Then the saddle I was sitting on began to slip. Somehow it had come loose and as the horse bounced me along, the saddle was slipping and I was sliding over sideways until – plop – I dropped right out of the now upside-down saddle onto the ground.

So I have always been very aware of the strength and power of horses. Interestingly, a horse, of all things, is a powerful symbolic element of Biblical teaching on the second coming of Christ.

In the great book of Revelation, the Apostle John is given a vision into heaven itself. 

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

As mentioned in Monday's post, historians tell us that, in the ancient world, when a king or emperor came into a city riding on a donkey, he was coming in peace.

But if that same king or emperor came riding on a white horse, it meant he was coming to conquer, to destroy and to lay waste!

The next time we see him, the Bible says, Jesus will not be riding on a donkey, but, symbolically speaking, on a white horse, because he will be coming to conquer and to judge!

On that day Jesus will come with unimaginable power, authority and glory. He will come to judge all sin and wickedness; every wrong will be made right and his enemies will be completely destroyed. The Bible indicates that on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, because there will no longer be any doubt; there will no longer be any choice about who he is!

C.S. Lewis said it this way:

“God is going to invade…something so overwhelming that will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late to choose your side…Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side…”
From “Mere Christianity” – courtesy of Pastor Jeff Frazier

But, notice, that day does not have to be met with fear and trepidation! Those who have freely chosen Christ as savior and king will face that day with great comfort, peace and celebration! But those who have rejected him, who have refused his offer of forgiveness and grace, they will face that day with fear and regret, for they will face the judgment of the one who is KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS.

Are you spiritually prepared for that day? As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, “Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.”

I pray that you have chosen, perhaps even today, to receive Jesus into your heart as savior and king!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

There is a lot of speculation inside and outside of the church these days about the end of the world.  For Christians the debate always seems to come back to the question “when” it is all going to happen?

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
   KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS  - Revelation 19:11-16

This passage is a vivid description of what it will be like when Christ returns at the end of the world.  Far too many Christians are more concerned about when He will come than they are about the impact His coming should have on their daily lives.  Listen to what Jesus Himself had to say about this kind of speculation about the Last Day.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  – Matthew 24:36

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  - Matthew 24:42-44

I think C.S. Lewis captures well our present situation in regards to the End Times in a letter he wrote to an Italian friend…

The times we live in are, as you say, grave:  whether “graver than all others in history” I do not know.  But the evil that is closest always seems to be the most serious: for as with the eye so with the heart, it is a matter of one’s own perspective.  However, if our times are indeed the worst, if That Day is indeed now approaching, what remains but that we should rejoice because our redemption is now nearer and say with St. John:  “Amen; come quickly, Lord Jesus.”  Meanwhile, our only security is that The Day may find us working each one in his own station and especially (giving up dissensions) fulfilling that supreme command that we love each other. 
- From a letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, July 14, 1952

Jeff Frazier