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Revelation Bible Study – Part 4 (2:1-7)

Revelation Bible Study Notes & Aids

To the Church in Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

The ESV® Bible (The Holy BibleEnglish Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Biblecopyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

A Joy Filled Life in Troubled Times – Part 2

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

A Joy Filled Life in Troubled Times

There is no reason and absolutely no excuse for any Christian not to have a joy filled life no matter what circumstances they find themselves in: a joy filled life is available to all Christians regardless of troubled times.

  • Philippians 2:1-3 – A key to having joy in troubled times is unity through humility.
  • Philippians 2:9-11 – A key to having joy in troubled times is humbling yourself like Christ for the sake of others.
  • Philippians 2:12–16 – A key to having joy in troubled times is pouring yourself out for others so that you may be a light in a dark world.
  • A key to having joy in troubled times is to consider the example of other godly persons.

– – – – – –

Christians have a hard time finding joy in troubled times is because they get wrapped up in the “things” of this world.  Philippians 3:7–11

Philippians 3:12–16 (NKJV; emphasis mine)  12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.   13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,   14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.   15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.   16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Through genuine faith in Christ, discarding our prideful religious efforts, we come to know the Lord and the power found in salvation as we join Him in taking up our cross and being conformed to the example Christ gave us through His own life.

A key to having joy in troubled times is putting the past behind and pressing on toward the ultimate prize.

  • True unity in Christianity is all believers having this mindset, keeping our eyes ahead on Christ and having a single focus in life.
  • A three legged stool of our faith: TRUTH  – LOVE – UNITY

Philippians 3:17–21 A key to having joy in troubled times is having a spiritual mind and not an earthly mind.

  • The work of salvation is about what is DONE, not what you can DO.
  • Paul counted all his zealous religious achievements as useless garbage compared to genuine faith in Christ found not in man’s righteousness (by keeping some sort of law or checklist), but found only via faith.

A key to having joy in troubled times is faith in Christ not faith in our religious works.

Philippians 3:20A key to having joy in troubled times is reminding ourselves of our future destination.

  • One of the ways we avoid getting wrapped up in the things of this world is to continually remind ourselves of our future.

Chapter 3 that helps us attain a joy filled life even in troubled times:

  • We count everything as loss compared to the blessing of salvation
  • which is obtained only by faith in Jesus Christ
    that we may know the power of the resurrection and through suffering for the gospel
  • be conformed into the image of Christ forgetting what is in the past
  • and continually pressing on to the prize
    which is an eternity in heaven and a glorified and incorruptible body.

If we really believe that, and choose to focus on it, how can we even have one moment that does not result in joy once we get our mind firmly fixed on that truth?

A Joy Filled Life in Troubled Times – Part 1

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

A Joy Filled Life in Troubled Times

Philippians 1:3-6 – When Paul wrote Philippians his life’s circumstances were anything but joyful.

A key to having joy in troubled times is a focus on Jesus and not our circumstances.

Three aspects:

  1. fellowship in Christ
  2. growth of the gospel
  3. the increasing of our faith.

God has begun a good work in you and he will complete it until the day you meet Jesus.

Philippians 1:7-8 – Paul considers other Christians as fellow partakers of grace and it causes him to long for them with great affection. This grace and affection is a key to the joyful life.

A key to having joy in troubled times is to focus on grace.

When you feel a lack of joy and just cannot seem “choose” joy for the moment, think about the grace God has shown you.

Philippians 1:9-11 – Again you find Paul focusing on others and not on his own circumstances.  

Paul didn’t say “life stinks. There is nothing wrong with being tempted to feel that way, {it is the natural human response} it is only wrong to actually follow through with it, and choose to remain in that mindset.

  • It’s always a choice. Your joy, your happiness, your content IS YOUR CHOICE.  
  • If you don’t remember anything else about this lesson remember this: YOUR JOY IS  A CHOICE NOT DEPENDENT ON CIRCUMSTANCES

A key to having joy in troubled times is to choose to focus on others, praying and blessing them rather than focusing on your own circumstances.

Philippians 1:12 – make the gospel a priority in your life.

  • Whether done of love or of selfish ambition, the only thing Paul cared about was that Christ was preached. Therein he found his joy.

A key to having joy in troubled times is when we look for how God is using our circumstances to further the Gospel and glorify Christ.

Paul believed (and lived) that in every circumstance we can’t help but have joy if we have the right mindset.

  • There is no circumstance of trouble that cannot result in joy if we seek to find how it may focus others on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:21 – a foundational principle of the Christian life.

  • If we live, our life brings glory to Christ but if we die, it is to our gain because we go to be with Christ.

Philippians 1:27-30 – Selfishness or self focus always breeds discontent and unhappiness.

  • The Biblical approach to contentment, joy and happiness is always encapsulated in the idea of focusing on others, especially Jesus Christ, rather than our self or our circumstances along with the goal of “putting the past behind and pressing on”

A key to having joy in troubled times is remembering that our life is not our own, our future is not our own, our plans are not our own, and our reputation is not our own.

  • Whenever we choose to focus on others and on Jesus Christ with the mindset that no matter what happens it is Christ’s glory that matters, only then do we discover the secret of true joy in troubled times.

Philippians 1:27-30

A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we are not alone.

  • We are not alone. We take joy in knowing that God is not left us all alone in our struggle.
  • We can be confident we are on the winning side.

A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we have already won the battle.

Paul reminds us that it is a privilege to suffer for Jesus.

  • It is hard for us in our modern way of thinking that it is ever a privilege to suffer for any reason.
  • This is a privilege granted only to those who suffer for the sake of Christ. It is impossible for all others.

A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ.

  • Are you focused on yourself or on Christ?
  • Are you complaining about your circumstances or focused on and praying for others?
  • Are you having a pity party because life is so hard or are you choosing to remember that you are not alone and that our victory is already secured?

Are you choosing to believe that your difficulties can glorify Christ and further the gospel or are you just consumed and focused on the fact that you are unhappy and life is not going your way?

Revelation Bible Study – Part 3 (1:9-20)

Revelation Bible Study Notes & Aids

Vision of the Son of Man

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy BibleEnglish Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Biblecopyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Spiritual Viruses: Part 3

Matthew 6:25; 33

25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life… 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The Coronavirus has alerted otherwise passive affluent cultures like our that life is fragile. Prosperity, comfort and security are precarious.

However, the Bible plainly tells us NOT to worry, or be anxious or live in fear.

DO NOT WORRY: all inclusive.

Jesus knew what He was commanding. He knew the effects of life. DO NOT WORRY.

  • 1 Peter 5:6–7 (NKJV)  6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,   7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

What do we worry about? The “cares” of this world.

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious [worry] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (NKJV)

Paul gives us several reasons not to worry:

Philippians 4:5 – Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (NKJV)

Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)

When we read the verse in light of the entire book of Philippians we find its true meaning:

  • No matter what the situation, hardship, sacrifice or circumstance, when we have the right thinking, right attitudes, right praying and right living we will find that we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength to live both in joy and victorious power.

Practical Application – How to Not Worry

  • Remember who you are praying to and who is in control…
  • Be honest with God about what is worrying you…
  • Give thanks in all situations, hardships and circumstances

Ending Worry When It Tempts You

  • Worry doesn’t have the power to prevent anything bad from happening in your life.

Recognize how much worry harms you. 

  • Worrying doesn’t benefit you in any way, but it does harm you in many ways.
  • Worry also wastes valuable time and energy that you could be using for better activities.

Distinguish between worry and concern. 

  • While it’s healthy to be concerned about something, it’s unhealthy to worry about it.

Identify what triggers worry in your life. 

  • Once you understand what triggers worry in your life, you can begin to guard against worry in those situations.
  • Know your Bible so you can respond with “it is written…”

2 Peter 1:3–4 (NKJV)  3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,   4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

CHOOSE not to worry… feelings follow choice 

  • If you struggle with worry, you cannot wait until you FEEL like now worrying

Trust God to carry your burdens

  • He said he would; he commands us to cast our cares and burdens on Him

Develop healthier lifestyle habits including what fills your mind

  • Exercise and good nutrition help us not to be weak or depressed physically
  • Fill your mind with the WORD instead of endless amounts of TV, movies, social media and other spiritual garbage

Transcend your circumstances

  • When you focus your thoughts too much on your circumstances, it’s easy for your mind to wander off into worrying.
  • Understand that God is control, this life is temporary, all of the problems are going to end soon and forever

Cultivate contentment 

1 Timothy 6:6 (NKJV)  6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

  • Our culture cultivates relentless discontent
  • This is a fertile ground for worry when that discontentment is not quickly remedied

But What If I Choose to Keep Worrying?

Worry ruins the present, but even more important for the believer is to recognize that worry is sin.

Worry means you are striking out at God.

  • When you worry, you are saying in effect, “God, I just don’t think I can trust You.”
  • Worry strikes a blow at God’s integrity and love for you.

Worry means you are disbelieving Scripture.

  • The Bible says don’t worry, if you do it anyway, you disbelieve the Bible

Worry means you are being mastered by circumstances.

  • Let the truths of God’s Word, not your circumstances, control your thinking.
  • If you believe God can save you from eternal Hell, also believe He can help you in this world as He has promised.

Romans 8:15 (NKJV) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

  • No Fear. We are safe and secure in God’s hands.

Otherwise, you have MUCH to fear.

  • A life without the blessed assurances of God and the gift of eternal life is an existence ruled by unpredictable circumstances of which only one thing is for sure: if things are not bad now, just hang on, they will be soon.
  • Fear! Fear! Fear… that’s the truthful message for those who don’t know God.

For those who do know God: NO FEAR!   KNOW GOD, NO FEAR

Proverbs 3:25 (NKJV) Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;

There are a lot of ways “sudden terror” and trouble can rear its ugly head in our lives.

  • And there always will be until God dissolves this sin-cursed world and gifts us with a New Heaven and New Earth, as well as a sin-free glorified eternal body.

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

If only there was never a reason to fear… then for sure, I would never fear. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

  • God is with you. God will strengthen you. God will see you through.
  • God will hold you up, walk with you and see you across the finish line.

Don’t fear, don’t be discouraged, don’t worry… there is no reason to for He is your God.

John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Apart from Jesus, life goes something like this for the vast majority of humans: you’re born, life sucks, you die.  Pretty depressing. Apart from Jesus it certainly is.

  • With Jesus, there is peace.
  • We live above life’s turmoil and out of reach of temporary trials and hardships because we live anchored in our Lord’s promises about this life and the next.
  • With Jesus, we live with an eternal perspective knowing this life is VERY brief and eternal life awaits.
  • With Jesus, we don’t fear because we believe that no matter what happens in this life, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and our future home in Paradise with Him.

With Jesus… peace. With Jesus… no troubled heart. With Jesus… no fear.