Revelation

When you hear about Revelation what do you think of? How does it make you feel?

There are so many depictions out in our current culture of what the end of the world/end times could look like. None of them paint a very happy picture, in fact many are quite scary.

I had a friend who is scared of being “left behind” when Jesus comes back because that would mean that her faith isn’t that strong. This is all based on the books and now movie based on one view of the end times.  I want to assure you that what Left Behind and other apocalyptic depictions of scripture are from flawed interpretation of scripture. Revelation is also a book that we cannot take literally.

When Revelation was written it was during the time when the Roman government was persecuting Christians and early Christians had it very rough. This is why much of Revelation is written with symbols and codes that early Christians of the time would understand. So taking it literally can get quite confusing.

Think about the 💩 emoji. What does this mean? Some say it is chocolate frozen yogurt, or poo. These are two VERY different things! In the context we understand what it means, but think in the years to come people may not understand what it actually means or the nuances of using such an emoji or other emojis.  

Rev. 1-3

Read Rev. 1:9-11

 

Revelation starts off as a letter with John of Patmos writing to his fellow first century Christians who are being persecuted by the Roman government. This was a really rough time for these Christians, and John shared the vision that he’d been given by God with the seven churches.

This explains why much of Revelation is written in code or with references back to the Old Testament that first century Christians would understand.

Read Rev. 2:1-7

Have you ever felt like you were trying really hard to do something right, only to have your efforts ignored, or worse yet, declared not good enough?

How would it feel to be part of the church of Ephesus and hear the words in v. 1-3?

What do verses 4-6 tell us about  some of the new churches in Asia at the time?

What do you make of the tree in v. 7? Does it seem familiar or similar to another biblical story? What might the author be indicating by making this connection?

Revelation 4-5

In these two chapters John is sharing his vision of the throne room. There is a person (God) sitting on a golden throne with his heavenly court surrounding Him. He is hold a scroll in his right hand that has seven seals (pieces of wax). He was saying that there is only one person who can open the seals on the scroll. This person was a slain lamb representing Jesus.

Jesus came and he is making God’s word true and is with us. The scroll also contains a word of God’s justice and comfort for those who are persecuted. Justice will be brought to those who are against God.

Revelation 6-16

In this part of Revelation, the seals are broken and God’s judgment/justice is reigning. People aren’t repenting though God is pouring out his justice through: the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls/cups.

Each of these 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls were opportunities for the people to repent, which they did not do. Sounds familiar right? This is a nod back the 7 plagues in Exodus.  

 

Revelation 17-18

All of God’s judgement is poured out on Babylon and it falls. This is reassuring for the early Christians because Babylon was code for Rome, and John was saying that Rome will be destroyed.

Revelation 19-20

Here is the scene of an epic final battle between Jesus and all the evil of the world. Guess who wins? Jesus! Jesus conquerors all evil, and the story still continues!

 

Revelation 21-22

Read Rev. 21:1-8

What part of the text stands out to you? Why?

For first century Christians, life was bleak. How might this have made them feel?

How does reading this challenge what you’ve maybe heard about this book and the end times?

What can we take away from revelation?

This is a story of Hope, God will make all right again, and always provides for us.

End point: Jesus Wins! Love Wins!

God is here with us even when we don’t feel like He is.

Dear Galatians,

Paul is writing a letter to the people of Galatia reminding them of the true message of the Gospel (Jesus’ story), and not adding to it. Galatians can be broken down into three big themes. These are all things that I think we do from time to time without even realizing it.

Jesus+: What do we add to the Gospel? [ Galatians 1:6-10]

We add: Be a good person, do the right thing, do good for others, respect, actions that bring us closer to God, etc… We’re all adding to the gospel kind of like the Galatians did at times.  The law that the Galatians used did its job, but they missed so much of the bigger picture.

Questions:

  • What are situations where there are so many rules that it is hard to follow?
  • Do you feel like you ever add rules to the Gospel? Do others?

the checklist: Why do we do what we do? [Galatians 2:16]

Why do you come to CREW or to church? To grow closer to God? Because it is something we should or ought to do? There are times for sure where CREW may seem like another item on the checklist, but I hope that your main reason of coming is to grow in faith. The main point of this though is looking at our intentions, and not letting our intentions of faith growth be cluttered by a long to do list of faith moments.

The Galatians had this same problem. The Galatians as we all know were making faith so complicated and added so many steps/rules to knowing God that they lost sight of who God really was. Paul was speaking against the law a lot in Galatians because the Galatians were spinning their wheels trying to get the law right to get to God.  God was speaking through Paul saying forget about the law…Look to me.

With Love: [Matthew 22:36-40 & Galatians 5:6]

Paul’s main point was Love.  Love is the greatest command, look at Matthew 22:36-40. How do you love your neighbor?

The law was miss understood, it wasn’t a benchmark to grade how good a Christian is it is to show how we always fall short of the glory of God. Just like earlier Paul summed up the entire law: For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Through Christ coming for us the old law isn’t going to be necessary, but something just as important is our relationship with others and our relationship with God.  Through faith and love we get to our end goal, but at the same time we are strengthening the entire community of believers and affirming them in their faith.

Growing in faith is our new goal and love is how we get there

Action Steps:

Take 15 minutes at some point over the next week to just sit without distractions to spend time with God. Ask him to help you focus on him and loving others.

Take the masks off: Take your Wed/Sun mask off and be the same person everywhere you are. We can get in habit of just putting on our church mask and then have the school mask.

I don’t think that we intentionally make our faith life harder, but sometimes we make it harder for ourselves. We are made right with God through faith (trusting in Him). We don’t have to work to earn His love, or take all these extra steps. We are called to love one another that is the greatest command. Though freeing, it can seem too simple, and we need to add more to it. I urge you to not do this and just focus on the true message of the Gospels.

John

The writer(s) of John is pushing us to see past what we know, see, and experience to see God’s presence in and around us. This is why John focuses on different stories and Jesus’ miraculous powers. John helps us to see who Jesus really is.

John is purposely different from the other 3 gospels and has different stories.

John (the author(s)) is/are writing to the gentile community to show them that God is at

work in the world.

John was writing to a people who more immersed in scripture than many of us are today. These readers/hearers were ones who were smelling what Jesus was stepping in and knowing the Old Testament references. I’m not that good! I may seem that way, well it’s because I use my resources, like google, Pastor Mike or Dick, and my library of books. As we read through some of these texts I may be asking you to think back to texts that sound familiar. Don’t feel dumb if you don’t know, that’s why we are all learning together. Why does this matter?!  I think/know that this will help us to better understand scripture as whole and it can reveal God’s love even more for us. It also gives us a better understanding. There will be times in your life when you will think about this, and God’s word/ the Holy Spirit will help us through. 

John 14:6-11

  • What is Jesus trying to explain to his disciples?
    • That he is God
  • What does he say if they don’t believe him?
    • Look at what I’ve done!
      • What signs/miracles/acts has Jesus done to prove he is the Son of God?
        • Water to Wine
        • Healing official’s Son
        • Healing at Bethesda
        • Feeding of 5,000 Jn 6:9 sack lunch
        • Walking on Water
        • Healing man born blind
        • Raising Lazarus from the death
  • Do Miracles still happen today?

Doubting Thomas: Jn 20:19-29

  • How would you react to some random person showing up in the locked room you and your friends are sitting in to avoid being taken? This was also during the traditional mourning time, so they wouldn’t be out and about anyway.
    • How did they know it was Jesus?
      • Couldn’t it have been another person who was crucified?
    • What do you think of Thomas’ reaction?
      • Can you relate?
      • What do you think of Jesus remark to Thomas? V.29

I know for me there are definitely times where I don’t feel God’s presence with me, and even when He is there, I still doubt or question. Questioning is part of faith, and it leads to stronger faith. I know God is with us all the time, but man there are times where it doesn’t feel like it. It depends on the time, but I usually try to catch myself and ask God to help me see Him, other times, I just wait a bit.

So if you relate to Thomas, and have doubts that is ok. I think it is beneficial to share your doubts with someone though whether it be a parent, small group leader, or me. If you talk with me about this, I promise that I won’t try to convert you. I will listen and be a resource for you.

Luke

Luke 2:41-52

This is the only story of Jesus childhood in the 4 gospels. Jesus is sitting and learning from the Rabbis. Jesus is asking questions, answering questions, and growing in his faith. It may be easy to read this and think Jesus is having an attitude with his parents, but this is far from it. Jesus was obedient to his parents when they said it was time to go. I’m sure this was quite the conversation Jesus parents lost him for 3 DAYS! 3 Days! That would be horrifying!

How would you feel if you were Jesus Parents?

What does this tell us about Jesus?

A disobedient pre-teen?

Humble Son of God?

Jesus even says “don’t you think I’d be doing my father’s business…”

What does this mean? Wasn’t his father a carpenter?

If you dad was God, the creator of the universe how would you feel? Would you have an ego?

How did Jesus use this power?

Psalm 131

What is humility?

Humility is knowing our relationship with God and where we stand.

What do you need to be humbled in?

What does it feel like to be known or understood by someone? What if they don’t understand seem to understand something that you’ve done or needed?

When I was applying for ministry jobs when I first got married, I applied a church that I did some work with when I was in high school for a youth ministry job. I had changed a lot and really come of out my shell between high school and when I was 24. That was a 6-8-year difference and time to change, grow, and mature. As I was interviewing they asked what part of ministry I was interested in; the logistical desk work or upfront interactions with students and leaders. I said that I love direct interaction with people. The interviewer was shocked…”you mean you really want to work with people, aren’t you quiet and shy.” I was more shy in high school, but when I came out of my shell and was secure in my identity this was opposite from who I was. It felt disheartening and like something I wasn’t called to since who I was, was not heard or understood. Thankfully God lead in a different direction.

Parables

Luke 8:9-10 What is a parable?

Parables are stories to illustrate and explain points, not to obscure them.

As we read parables, we can look for who the God, Jesus, and human characters are in these. This gives us a glimpse of God’s plan and love for us.

Parables can be broken down into some themes:

Kingdom of Haven

Luke 13:18-19 Mustard Seed

Mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet it grows into something that is huge. And it provides shelter. What does this mean for us? God’s kingdom keeps growing to make room for all of us!

Redemption

Luke 15:8-10 Lost Coin

Pharisees would not value a woman’s morals, though would care for the poor. They come from an educated class that would have much more than 10 coins. A coin was about 10 days wages.

The angels in heaven took great interest in God’s work, so they would be rejoicing for someone coming to faith or back to God. Searching for what was missing and then celebrating what was found with a feast by inviting neighbors. It’s so reassuring to know that God will seek us out and rejoice when we turn to Him, not matter what we’ve done.

Love and Forgiveness

Luke 10:30-37 Good Samaritan

Samaria was not a good place to be, people would not look fondly at having to travel through.

Two who were very well to do passed an injured person in an area where they would most need help.

The lowest of the lows (a Samaritan) stops and helps this person and sacrifices for their care.

Prayer

Luke 18:1-8 Unjust Judge

Widow is ultimate example of the oppressed

If the unjust judge who cared not for widows can give justice, how much more can a just judge of all the earth give?

Look what prayer can do and how God provides.

Even if the unjust judge is slow to listen God is quicker

Eschatological: what happens when we die, the final judgment of humanity

Luke 13:6-9 Barren Fig Tree

Jewish leaders believed that God would judge Israel every year to decide when he would be coming back for the final judgement.

Fig trees did not usually need manure, so with the vineyard worker doing all he could to save the tree they wondered if Israel repented in its ways if God would come back sooner

Owner of vineyard is God, the worker is Jesus

One last chance for hearers to express repentance and receive grace

Other

Luke 8:16-18 Lamp Under a Jar/Bushel

We have the light of Christ and we should not hide it. We need to share that light with others.

 

 

 

CREW Closing Worship

Tonight we spent time going over the purpose of CREW and celebrated our year together through songs and games. Continue reading past the jump to learn what the CREW youth learned about the purpose of confirmation before the 8th graders are confirmed on May 21st at 6:30pm. Continue reading

Is the Holy Spirit a person or wind or fire or what?

Tonight we continued our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We explored the idea of The Holy Spirit. This week kids had an opportunity to learn what the Holy Spirit is and what it does. As we explore what the Holy Spirit looks, feels, smells and tastes like, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Is the Holy Spirit a person or wind or fire or what?

Continue reading

Does God still create stuff today?

Tonight we continued our exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We are exploring God the Father as the Creator. This week kids will have an opportunity to consider God’s presence in creation and recreation and discover what it might mean for them to be co-creators. As we begin to look at the stories of creation throughout scripture, we ask ourselves a difficult question:

Does God still create stuff today?

The “first person” of the Trinitarian God is known primarily as Creator. Indeed, the entire biblical narrative begins with two accounts God’s creation of the cosmos and of human kind – both of which served to set the monotheism of the Israelites apart from the polytheistic creation stories of their neighbors. No matter how one reads the creation accounts – be it literally or more figuratively – the message is clear: God and God alone is the author of everything that exists. When God rests on the seventh day, according to the first narrative, it suggests that a particular mode of God’s creative activity has ceased.

However, the second narrative suggests that when Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, a new mode of creative activity begins; Adam is to work to cultivate crops, and Eve will bring forth new life from her body. In each case the creative act is made possible by God, but human beings are now called upon to cooperate with God in God’s creativity. This being the case, the Christian witness testafies to a God who relies upon human participation in the creation of new things, be they works of art, medical advances, the birth of a child, or even the emerging kingdom of God’s grace in Christ.

We started of this week’s lesson by posing the main question to everyone in the room and asked them to move around the room to a sign that matched their answer. Then we turned to scripture and explored six separate stories from both the old and new testaments that feature God’s creative power. Then as small groups we created our own artistic interpretations of the Genesis 1 creation story.

This week’s Take Home Activity asks students to go on a walk, either inside or outside, and look for examples of things God has created. They will be asked to consider when things transition from God-created to human-created.

How can God be “three-in-one”?

Tonight we began our four week exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. We’ll be exploring the Creed as the Faith Statement of our church as a whole and we will be tying that into the faith statements we’ll begin working on this weekend on the CREW Retreat. So as we look at the Apostle’s Creed as a whole, the Trinity is the first big idea most everyone, from middle school students to long-time pastors, struggle with. Tonight we’ll be asking the question:

How can God be “three-in-one”?

While not explicitly spelled out in the Bible, the early church combined two words (tri- meaning “threeness” and -unitas meaning “oneness”) to describe the movements of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that they found in Scripture. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. wrote that God is constituted by three persons, but by one substance. This concept explained how Jesus of Nazareth could both be God incarnate and be in a prayer-relationship with God.

Another way to understand the Trinity is to focus not so much on the three “persons,” but on the relationship that binds the three. That eternal, divine relationship can be understood as a mutual indwelling or as a reciprocal enveloping, each of the other two. When this understanding is applied, the incarnation of Jesus is seen as the invitation by God for human beings to enter this relationship, and the crucifixion is God’s own experience of broken relationship and godforsakenness.

Tonight, we started off with the idea of a Father simultaneously being a dad, a husband, and a son. Although he is just one person, he plays at least three distinct roles in his life. This analogy, as with all analogies, ultimately falls short of totally explaining the Trinity. So we turned to scripture to see how Christ calls us to believe things which may be impossible for us to comprehend. Then for our small group activity we took time to create Poetic Analogies for things from a chair to the spleen and preformed our poems for our small groups.

This week’s Take Home Assignment is to create a genogram of each students family or close friends. Using symbols, students will create a picture of the relationships within their own family and use that to explore the relationships that exist within the Trinity.