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nChrist
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« Reply #345 on: December 22, 2006, 02:54:04 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 2 Peter 3:11-12 Mark 13:31 Revelation 1:1-8

The Book With a Blessing

Revelation 1:1-8

A blessing is promised, first of all, to those who read the Book of the Revelation.

Some may have bypassed this book because they find it full of figures and symbols they do not understand, and what they do understand makes them afraid.

The promise of God is that we will be blessed if we read it. This is an age that emphasizes happiness, but true happiness to the Christian lies in following the directions of the Lord.

And this is also a promise to those who hear the words of this book. This would have reference to listening to others reading it or us making it our own. This would include studying it and remembering what we find in it.

The third aspect of this beatitude has to do with those who "keep those things which are written therein."

God does not ask us to read the Book of the Revelation so that we might speculate concerning future events. It does not mean reading it in order to satisfy our curiosity concerning God's future program.

If we read it with the purpose of discovering the principles of life that God has revealed in it and determine by His grace to conform to these principles, then we will indeed be blessed.

There is an urgency expressed in this verse also with regard to such obedience. We are told here that the time of the fulfillment of these events is close at hand.

This is in line with Peter's admonition in 2 Peter 3:11,12: "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God."

"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31).

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« Reply #346 on: December 23, 2006, 03:53:39 AM »

Title: The Glorified Christ
Book: Strength for the Journey
Author: Theodore Epp

Revelation 1:9-20

In this glorious picture of Christ, He is represented as being completely clothed down to the foot. This was the opposite of Adam who, when he sinned, found himself to be naked.

Our Lord was stripped of His clothing when He died for us on Calvary, but now He has been appointed High Priest and Judge and as such He is fully clothed with the authority of deity upon Him.

He also has the girdle of authority that was given Him because in His coming to this earth He emptied Himself of His heavenly glory and took on the form of a servant.

He was made in the likeness of man and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Now God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name.

So it is as the One with absolute authority in the universe that He examines and warns and comforts the churches.

His examination of the churches is not confined to just congregations as such. The individual is very much included. The churches are made up of persons, and each person is closely examined by the Saviour.

He also stands among the churches as the rightful Judge. He was judged on the cross because of our sins, but now as the resurrected Christ all judgment has been committed into His hand.

What He commands cannot be successfully defied. All will have to listen whether they want to or not. Even those in the graves will, at the right time, hear His voice and come forth. His word is final.

"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end" (Eph. 3:21).

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« Reply #347 on: December 23, 2006, 03:55:08 AM »

Title: Fellowship First, Then Labor
Book: Strength for the Journey
Author: Theodore Epp

Revelation 2:1-7

Christ said to Ephesus that there was some love for Him, but the first love was gone.

He appreciated their labors and the fact that they had kept their house doctrinally clean. He commended them for their good works, but He could not in faithfulness to them overlook their neglect.

It is possible for us to labor for our Lord to the place where we have no time for fellowship with Him. And the charge He made to His people in Ephesus was not that they had lost their first love but that they had "left" it.

We can sometimes lose something we don't want to lose, but to leave something could mean a deliberate choice to leave it. We might say that these early Christians had abandoned their first love because they had become so occupied with service.

What is this first love that is sometimes called the "foremost" love? It is complete devotion to Christ, not merely religious duty. It is heart devotion that has no thought for self

How much time do we spend with Him in the morning? Fifteen minutes? Is that the measure of our love for Him? We must ever remember that Christian activity alone robs us of our personal fellowship with Christ, robs us of spiritual usefulness.

If we really love Christ, we will keep His commandments. It will not be a matter of we "ought" to keep His commandments, but we "will" keep them. Fellowship with Him produces the right kind of spiritual activity.

"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Eph. 3:19).

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« Reply #348 on: December 23, 2006, 03:56:47 AM »

Title: Winning a Crown
Book: Strength for the Journey
Author: Theodore Epp

Revelation 2:8-11

The word "tribulation" in this passage is very strong. This is not speaking of the time of the Tribulation (Rev. 6-19) but of a particular kind of suffering.

They were under the pressure of persecution. It was a very severe test, and some of them may have thought they were being tried beyond their ability.

The tribulation spoken of in this passage could be likened to grain being crushed in a stone mill. Or it might be likened to a winepress with the juice forced out of the grapes under great pressure.

The crown of life does not refer to eternal life, for these Christians already had eternal life. The crown believers receive is a victor's crown, and as a result, we will reign with Christ.

If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him, and if we deny Him in the time of suffering, He will deny us the privilege of reigning.

We are told in Revelation 3:21 that if we are overcomers, we will sit with Him on His throne. So the crown given will be a victor's crown, but it will also be a royal crown in the sense that we will reign with Him.

Christ's crown of thorns will be replaced with God's crown of life for us. We shall be victorious, yes, more than conquerors. All of this reflects back to Him who was dead and is now alive. We have nothing to fear when we trust in Him.

"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" (Heb. 13:13).

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« Reply #349 on: December 28, 2006, 08:23:11 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 2 Corinthians 5:10 1 Corinthians 4:5 Revelation 2:12-17

Only God Sees Everything

Revelation 2:12-17

The Lord knows all about our living conditions, the temptations to which we are exposed and the motives that govern our conduct. He can judge us correctly.

This is a factor we must bear in mind with regard to our evaluating another person's actions. We need to know how much the other person has to face and resist before we can be even reasonably accurate in our approving or disapproving of the other person's conduct.

Are we sure that if we would face the same problems in the same environment as the person we tend to criticize, that we would do any better than he did? Or it may be that in our case it is easy to run the race because there are few obstacles to hinder us.

Do we realize how easy it is to murder character by simply not knowing the facts about the other person? Our judgment may be harsh whereas our Saviour, knowing the circumstances, would render an entirely different judgment than ours.

For lack of adequate knowledge we might even commend a person when there is nothing to commend.

We must always keep in mind that there are hidden recesses of the heart that only God can know. Few of us know the burdens others may be carrying.

There is a great Judgment Day coming when the Lord Himself will evaluate what we have done in this life for Him. In that judgment (known as the Judgment Seat of Christ, 2 Cor. 5:10), we will not be judged as to whether we will get to heaven or not. That is not what is in view here.

There is no doubt that our Lord, who will be Judge at that time, will reverse many of our quick and unfair judgments.

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come" (1 Cor. 4:5).

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« Reply #350 on: December 28, 2006, 08:25:05 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Hebrews 6:10 Revelation 2:18-29

Thank God for the Godly!

Revelation 2:18-29

There were some good people in the Church of Thyatira. The Lord knew their works, all the hard work they were doing and the love that was the basis for it and their faithfulness to Him. He saw all they did even to their giving of a cup of cold water.

Some people are quick to spread a great banquet, but they are slow to give just a cup of cold water. The smallest deed of kindness done in our Lord's name will not go unrewarded.

There is too much today of the big showy things. Let us remember that God does not overlook the ministry of the little things.

The Lord commended some in Thyatira because they were hard working and the things they did increased in value. The last things they did were better than the first things.

We might well ask ourselves if we are growing in our spiritual lives. Were the works done after our conversion the greatest works for the Lord? Have we left our first love? Or are we progressing in our Christian lives to where we are more effective in what we do for the Lord as the days go by?

Apparently some in Thyatira had come back to their first love and were growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.

"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Heb. 6:10).

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« Reply #351 on: December 28, 2006, 08:26:42 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Revelation 3:1-6 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Serious Christianity

Revelation 3:1-6

So the warning is to be watchful, a warning that is as much for us today as it was for Sardis in John's day. The things that remain and are ready to die must be strengthened.

We must wake up to reality, examine the conditions and seek to remedy them in the wisdom and power of the Lord. This is not only a message for the church as a whole but for each individual in the church.

God will not accept an imitation. If our Christianity is not in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, His power will be removed.

The Lord knows we cannot demonstrate true Christianity in our own strength. Nevertheless, many are trying to do so and, of course, are missing it.

The Lord Jesus Christ has given Himself to us, and the Holy Spirit is working out the life of Christ in us. But when we turn from this, the only alternative God has is to remove His power from us.

There is too much playing church today. The Lord will allow this playing to continue, but He will remove effective power from such groups.

Some are building great buildings that produce a show of power. God may leave us with the outward show but minus the inward power. This is what Christ's warning of coming as a thief is all about.

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (I Thess. 1:5).

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« Reply #352 on: December 29, 2006, 02:13:37 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Romans 8:31 Revelation 3:7-13

The Master's Minority

Revelation 3:7-13

First of all, He says, "Thou hast a little strength" (Rev. 3:8). He speaks then to a minority group, not to a majority group.

The world usually measures strength by numbers, but this is not the Lord's method. The Lord deals here with the remnant. It is through remnants among His people that God has done some of His greatest works.

We read in Isaiah 1:9 that the Lord would have destroyed Israel like Sodom and Gomorrah had it not been for a remnant, a minority group that stayed true to Him.

The Lord started the Church with 12, then there were 120, then on another occasion there were 500. The Day of Pentecost saw 3000 added to the Church, but this was still a small number compared to the world at large.

In the early foreign ministry of the Church we find Paul and a few associates canvassing the world with the Gospel. God apparently has always worked through a minority group.

Now what is the message that the Lord has for this minority group who believes the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures and who gladly bows to Christ's personal lordship?

The message for these is "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it" (Rev. 3:8). We hear so much today, almost too much, about closed doors. We must not overlook the open doors that are before us.

We must honor Christ, recognizing that He has absolute control of all history and that He has been given a name that is above every name.

Final authority lies with Him, and full and complete power to accomplish His aims resides in Him. So when He promises that an open door is before us and no one can close it, we should obey Him and enter.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

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« Reply #353 on: December 30, 2006, 11:15:04 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 2 Peter 1:9 Revelation 3:14-22

The Church of the Blind

Revelation 3:14-22

To be "wretched" means to be "oppressed" with a problem or burden. Who does not have such oppressions or burdens?

Yet here was a church boasting of its wealth and its place in the world, but so spiritually helpless that it was not lifting those with burdens but was hindering and degrading them. Their wealth was actually a burden to them, but they did not know it.

The Lord says that this was a "blind" church. They saw nothing clearly. They were nearsighted in the sense that they saw only earthly things. They had no heavenly vision.

They had no grasp of what there is beyond this life. They perhaps hoped, as people are hoping today, that everything would be all right on the other side of death, but they did not know. They lacked real spiritual vision because they lacked spiritual life.

Furthermore, they had no real sense of spiritual distance. Many people are so broad-minded today that they cannot see to do anything except what is confined within their own narrow limits of knowledge and prejudice.

They do not accept the broad-mindedness of Jesus Christ where He makes Himself available to everyone. "Blind leaders of the blind" is the way the Lord described them, and sad to say, many church leaders fit this category.

Being blind they lacked discernment. They could not evaluate things properly in the light of heaven and eternity.

Heaven has to do with spiritual values, while the riches that men go after here are only material and cannot gain one thing for heaven so far as salvation is concerned.

"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off" (2 Pet. 1:9).

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« Reply #354 on: December 31, 2006, 07:06:52 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 1:2 Genesis 12:1-3 2 Timothy 1:9

Obeying God's Call

Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham was chosen, or elected, on the basis of the sovereignty of God. He had no Bible, so he was not able to receive his call through God's written Word. God sought a man, and on the basis of His sovereign will and purpose He chose Abraham.

As to calling or electing we are reminded of Peter's words: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet. 1:2). Abraham was not chosen because of any merits in his life. His was a supernatural call based on God's own purpose and will.

When God calls according to His own purpose and will, it is always a call for the good.

Abraham had no choice in the matter. God did not ask, "Abraham, would you like to be the man that I can use?" Instead, God said, in effect, "Abraham, I want you to come out of your country."

Abraham was called to begin a special, chosen nation through which salvation would eventually come to all mankind.

There was much involved in this great call. God staked His whole plan of redemption on the possibility of a man's being willing, by his faith and obedience, to become the bridgehead for delivering an erring world.

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).

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« Reply #355 on: January 02, 2007, 07:50:28 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Peter 1:2 Genesis 12:1-3 2 Timothy 1:9

Obeying God's Call

Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham was chosen, or elected, on the basis of the sovereignty of God. He had no Bible, so he was not able to receive his call through God's written Word. God sought a man, and on the basis of His sovereign will and purpose He chose Abraham.

As to calling or electing we are reminded of Peter's words: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet. 1:2). Abraham was not chosen because of any merits in his life. His was a supernatural call based on God's own purpose and will.

When God calls according to His own purpose and will, it is always a call for the good.

Abraham had no choice in the matter. God did not ask, "Abraham, would you like to be the man that I can use?" Instead, God said, in effect, "Abraham, I want you to come out of your country."

Abraham was called to begin a special, chosen nation through which salvation would eventually come to all mankind.

There was much involved in this great call. God staked His whole plan of redemption on the possibility of a man's being willing, by his faith and obedience, to become the bridgehead for delivering an erring world.

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).

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« Reply #356 on: January 02, 2007, 07:51:35 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference 1 Corinthians 5:19-20 Hebrews 11:8-18 Hebrews 11:6

Wanted: Faithful Servants

Hebrews 11:8-18

Have you ever thought about the fact that you and I have the Gospel today because Abraham and others who were chosen of God were faithful?

God has chosen to work through men; therefore, the future of God's work rests on what He is able to motivate men to do.

In Old Testament times the work of God depended on men such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In New Testament times Jesus Christ made His future program dependent on the apostles. He spent time with these men and properly trained them for the work they had to do.

Not only was faithfulness required of the patriarchs and the disciples, but it is also required of us because God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.

Paul wrote: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:19,20).

There is no choice in the matter. We are the sovereign appointees of God to represent Him to others. Abraham was faithful. The disciples were faithful. Are we faithful?

"Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]" (Heb. 11:6).

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« Reply #357 on: January 03, 2007, 12:50:42 PM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Ephesians 2:1-10 Romans 5:20

All of Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10

God dealt in judgment at Babel when He scattered the people and confused their language, but God dealt in mercy and grace as He called Abraham.

Abraham did not receive God's call because he merited God's esteem. Rather, in God's foreknowledge He knew Abraham and chose him for a special purpose.

God's election must always be traced to God's will and purpose. It is all of grace, for it is by God's sovereign choice. It is the same with our salvation. If it were not for God's grace, we would be doomed to an eternity in hell.

But notice what God has done because of His grace: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:4-6).

God did not do this for us because we merited it--it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us. It is important that we realize that our salvation is all of grace.

Abraham was not chosen because he was a special kind of person nor because he had a high IQ nor because he had great faith. It was totally of the grace of God that He called Abraham out of idolatry, and it is only of the grace of God that we have been called out to salvation.

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20).

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« Reply #358 on: January 04, 2007, 08:02:29 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Psalm 84:11 Deuteronomy 31:6 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Hebrews 13:5 Psalm 37:3

Rewards for Obedience

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

A call to be a missionary is much like Abraham's call. It is necessary to leave home, possessions, relatives, worldly ambitions and to go to another country to which God has led.

But one can never out-give God. Though Abraham was called to give up much, he was promised much more. God always promises blessings when we obey and follow Him.

Hebrews 13:5 says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Much the same thing was said to the people of Israel: "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Deut. 31:6).

The psalmist said, "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed" (Ps. 37.3).

God promised to bless Israel, and He promises to bless us when we trust and obey. God's call for us today is that we might be separated unto Him.

"No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11).

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« Reply #359 on: January 05, 2007, 10:17:07 AM »

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Genesis 11:27-32 2 Corinthians 6:17

Fruitfulness Requires Separation

Genesis 11:27-32

The trip from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran was not exceedingly hard because they were able to travel northwest along the Euphrates River. Along the river there was grass for their livestock.

However, from Haran to the land of Canaan was quite a different type of trip. They would have to leave the Euphrates River and strike out across the desert. This was a real test and was too much for Terah and his family.

Besides, God was not going to take Abraham into the land until he separated from his father. The years Abraham spent at Haran were wasted years of waiting.

Many Christians today start off like Abraham. They launch out with great enthusiasm to follow the Lord, perhaps as a result of a crisis experience, but then later grind to a standstill in their Christian walk. Has this happened to you?

Remember, the key issue for Abraham was separation. It is the same for us. This age of materialism has gripped even the Christians. We cannot expect God to lead us into fruitfulness unless we become separated from the things of the world.

Each Christian must make the decision for himself, even as Abraham had to make the decision for himself. Once we break from the things of the world, we will see that the treasures of God far more than take the place of the things of this world.

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate" (2 Cor. 6:17).

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