25 February 2016

23 February 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 15 and 16

In this week’s lesson, John saw God pour out his full and complete wrath on the world because they rejected Him.

To prepare for the coming seven bowl judgments, John saw seven angels. He also saw Jesus’ victorious people standing by a sea and singing. They sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. They sang about God’s deeds and character.

John saw the temple open. Out of the temple came the seven angels. One of the four living creatures gave seven bowls to the seven angels. In the bowls was the fullness of the wrath of God ready to be poured out on the earth.

Previously, we saw the seal and trumpet judgments. These were only partial judgments. The bowl judgments are full and complete judgments.

The temple was filled with smoke (God’s presence), and no one was able to enter the temple because nothing could stop God’s wrath from being poured out.

John heard a loud voice send the angels to pour out their bowls on the earth. The bowls of judgment were poured out on anyone on the earth who rejected God – the people who took the mark of the beast.

  • The first bowl caused festering sores on the people.
  • The second bowl turned the sea to blood and killed all sea creatures.
  • The third bowl turned all fresh water to blood.
  • The fourth bowl caused the sun to scorch the people with fire.
  • The fifth bowl caused darkness over the beast and his kingdom. The people recognized that the plagues were coming from God, but they cursed Him and refused to repent.

With the final two bowl judgments, the stage is being set for the final battle of Armageddon. This will be the final battle between God and the forces of evil.

  • The sixth bowl dried up the Euphrates River, and three impure spirits that looked like frogs came out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The spirits represent the deceit and propaganda the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet used to entice rulers to join with them and fight against God.
  • The seventh bowl brought lightning, thunder, and a severe earthquake. Cities were destroyed, and people were crushed with 100-pound hailstones.

There is no relief in these judgments.

But Jesus speaks up and calls believers to be alert and prepared for His return (16:15). Together with Jesus, believers will be victorious over the beast.

Things to Think About
  • One day God will bring about justice. But until that time, He allows injustice in our world.
  • God’s grace always comes before judgment.
  • God must judge. Sin must be dealt with.
  • God is true and just in His judgments (16:5).
  • Sin has consequences, and judgment will come. The result of sin is judgment.
  • What is God calling me to repent from?
  • God’s final judgment will be devastating, purposeful, and complete.
  • How will I pray and think differently as I prepare for Jesus’ return?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:4 NIV

19 February 2016

20 questions with Avery :: 7 years old

It's time for another installment of Avery's 20 questions. I think she was pretty honest with most of her answers. That last one really got me last year, and she did it again this year! Check out her previous responses.

1. What is your favorite color? Pink

2. What is your favorite toy? My baby Faith

3. What is your favorite fruit? Apples not cut in pieces

4. What is your favorite TV show? Odd Squad

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pizza

6. What is your favorite outfit? My winter dress that Grandma made me

7. What is your favorite game? My Hello Kitty game on my LeapPad

8. What is your favorite snack? Gum

9. What is your favorite animal? Cat

10. What is your favorite song? Let It Go

11. What is your favorite book? Frozen Fever with my name in it

12. Who is your best friend? Nina (at school)

13. What is your favorite cereal? Lucky Charms

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play basketball with Daddy

15. What is your favorite drink? Kool-Aid

16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Three stuffed animals

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Toaster Strudels

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Pizza

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mom

18 February 2016

16 February 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 14

Revelation chapter 14 shows the contrast between the future of believers and the future of unbelievers.

The chapter begins with John seeing the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000 people who were redeemed and sealed by God. Then John heard a new song that only the 144,000 could sing. We don’t know if this scene is taking place in heaven or on earth. But we do know that Jesus is standing in victory on Mount Zion.

The 144,000 had a distinct lifestyle. They were physically and spiritually pure. They spoke the truth of the Gospel. They were blameless because of Christ. Their redeemed lives were marked by worship and wholehearted devotion.

The Lamb saved these followers to stand out in a sin-stained world. Today, believers must stand out so we can speak out. We must be different than the world. We must speak the full truth of the Gospel – the good news of eternal life with God when people accept the Gospel and the bad news of eternal judgment apart from God when people reject the Gospel.

God gives us many opportunities to turn to Him. But when someone rejects Him, he does not force Himself onto them. There is only one hope. Jesus is the only way to escape God’s wrath.

After seeing the Lamb on Mount Zion, then John saw three angels. They were messengers from God.

The first angel proclaimed the eternal Gospel to everyone on earth. Apparently some people still haven’t decided whether to follow the Lamb or the dragon, so the angel was permitted to share the Gospel.

The second angel said Babylon had fallen. Babylon is representative of the world system that opposes and rebels against God.

The third angel promised the fullness of God’s wrath upon anyone who was marked by the beast. They will experience eternal torment and will have no rest. In the end, these people will receive what they wanted all along – eternity without God.

Next John saw Jesus use a sickle to separate believers from unbelievers. Unbelievers will be gathered away from God and His people. They will face their eternal destiny of suffering and God’s wrath. They will not be able to escape God’s wrath.

Time is running out on the Lamb’s offer to escape God’s wrath.

Things to Think About
  • How God-honoring is my worship? How wholehearted is my devotion?
  • Will you follow the Lamb or the dragon? Are you sealed with the name of the Holy Spirit, or are you marked by the beast? Will you sing a new song, or will you worship the idol of the beast?
  • If you are marked by the beast, life will be easy for you on earth. But if you are sealed with the Holy Spirit, life will be easy for all of eternity.
  • This life is temporary. Believers live with an eternal perspective.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ ” Revelation 14:7 NIV

11 February 2016

09 February 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Perseverance in suffering

In our study of Revelation, we have seen much suffering – whether it is believer suffering for following Christ or unbelievers suffering for rejecting Christ. Suffering entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and suffering will be abolished when Jesus returns to reign over His kingdom (Revelation 21).

God calls His people to persevere in their suffering. The only way we can persevere in our suffering is if we are prepared and ready by knowing what God’s Word says about suffering. And that’s what this lesson is all about.

Why do all people suffer? We suffer because of sin. Sin comes to all people through Adam. Jesus was not born into sin because He was not a sinner. He was born through the Holy Spirit and is God Himself.

All people suffer, but not all people suffer equally. Jesus suffered not because of His sin but because of our sin.

Sin is the reason for all suffering, but not all suffering is the result of specific sin. We suffer as a consequence of our own sin. We suffer as a consequence of the sins of others. Suffering can come directly from Satan. We suffer because we live in a broken world. Suffering can come from living a life that is obedient to Christ.

The suffering will come; we must be prepared for it.

Suffering causes us to reach out to someone or something beyond themselves. Believers should respond by pressing deeper into God. Suffering is the place to find intimacy with God.

Our only response to God in the midst of suffering should be accepting the suffering and surrendering to God’s will. Ask God how you can glorify Him in the suffering. And believe that He can bring good from even our deepest suffering.

Things to Think About
  • There is no suffering outside of God’s sovereign rule.
  • Everything is doable because God is with me.
  • How are you shaping your biblical view so when you are prepared to face suffering when it comes?
  • God loves us and walks with us in our suffering. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. Christ suffered to save us from eternal suffering.
  • God’s desire is to have intimacy with us. Intimacy is lost through sin but is regained through suffering.
  • Is your suffering drawing you nearer to God, or is it pushing you away from God?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

04 February 2016

02 February 2016

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 13

Remember last week in chapter 12, Satan was about to wage war against God’s people. Now in chapter 13, he called forth two evil agents to blaspheme God, fight against believers, and deceive the world into following him instead of God.

John described a beast coming out of the sea. Since we know that the dragon is symbolic of Satan, we can deduce that this beast is symbolic of the Antichrist. This beast had a healed mortal wound on his head. He appeared as the real Messiah but actually was a false Messiah. This is the same beast that came out of the Abyss in chapter 11. He is not Satan but is under Satan’s control.

This powerful beast had global rule and authority. He deceived people into believe he is the real Messiah. He was given a mouth to blaspheme God. To blaspheme God is to curse Him, to disrespect Him, and to use His name in vain. This beast will exercise his authority over 42 months. This may be a literal time, or it may be a symbolic time. The bottom line is this beast will have a limited amount of time to deceive people and turn them away from God.

The beast will have power to wage war against God’s people and to conquer them. But he will not destroy them because their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. This book is a registry of everyone who has a heavenly citizenship because they trust in Jesus’ death for their eternal salvation.

Next John described a beast coming out of the earth. This beast is symbolic of the False Prophet (a counterfeit Holy Spirit). He appears to tell the truth but actually tells lies.

He leads people to worship the first beast. At this time, all people will be forced to receive the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell. The mark is 666, just shy of the perfect 777. As a contrast, believers are already marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Satan and the two beasts are an unholy trinity. Satan is a counterfeiter and deceiver – he makes himself appear to be God.

The world is becoming increasingly hostile toward God and His people. Believers must expect and prepare for Satan’s attacks. God gives His people wisdom and endurance to resist Satan’s evil power.

God calls us to patient endurance (perseverance, continue in the faith, trusting God completely, not wavering) and faithfulness (being steadfast and loyal to God). How do we stand firm? Remember that we’re on the winning team. Pray. Know the truth of the Scriptures. Memorize God’s Word. Guard against false teaching.

While it appears that Satan is winning now, God’s people have already won through Jesus’ death on the cross. Our God is more powerful than Satan. Look away from the lying beast and dragon and instead look at Christ.

Things to Think About
  • Godly wisdom comes from reading and studying God’s Word. Do I evaluate everything according to God’s Word?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 NIV