If you have a Bible, you can turn to Revelation, chapter one.
We're going to be starting in verse one here this evening.
The title of our message title is, "Revealing the Greatness of Jesus."
And what we're going to do is: we're going to begin to introduce the Book of Revelation.
When it comes to introducing the Book of Revelation there are a lot of appropriate passages
we could pull out from the Old Testament or the New Testament that would be very helpful
in laying a foundation for the Book of Revelation.
But as I've been studying chapter one, I believe that the privilege of introducing the Book of Revelation—
John reserved that for himself. It's like he understood the greatness of this book,
the importance of this book, and so he wrote to us and gave us this incredible introduction.
I think it has one of the clearest and one of the most exciting introductions in all of the Bible.
So tonight we're not going to get through the entire introduction, but rather we're just going to begin to follow
John's outline as he introduces the book.
So chapter by chapter, passage by passage—we're going to take apart the context and take apart the introduction as we go.
So we're not going to get to the whole introduction tonight; it will take us a couple of weeks to do so.
But I think it's better to lay a really good foundation for this series.
The Book of Revelation is a very unique book. There's no doubt about it.
I think Christians and Non-Christians alike are very interested in it.
And typically, when people read this book, they have one of four different responses.
The first response is that Revelation doesn't really make any sense to them.
They'll begin to read it and they just think to themselves, "this is like a scene from Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter."
They think, "what in the world is this?", and they kind of give up and they stop reading it.
The second response is that Revelation scares them.
They read it and they get scared.
These are the people that start going to bed holding a machine gun, filling their basements with MREs—waiting for the beast to come and get them.
They just get freaked out. They read it and they get freaked out.
The third response is that Revelation interests them, but confuses and frustrates them.
They read through it and they say to themselves, "I don't really understand what this is talking about."
They get frustrated so they start reading about all the different positions (there are so many different positions).
They read about the Preterist position, the Partial Preterist position, the Futurist position, the Pinterest position (there's probably one of those by now).
They read about these different positions and it doesn't really help them understand, but rather is just confuses them even more.
And then there's the fourth response. This is the group of people when they read it, Revelation gives them hope,
it gives them encouragement, it gives them vision to continue to follow Christ, to continue to walk with Jesus Christ.
And I think so much of how you're going to experience this book
and how this book is going to impact your life is going to come down to your attitude,
it's going to come down to how your approach this book.
And if you're willing to spend some time, if you're willing to ask some questions and think through it and discuss it with people,
I think God will use this to greatly impact your life.
But if you're unwilling to do that, I think this book will just leave you asking a lot of questions and not understanding much.
And I think that this series gives us a great opportunity as a church; it gives us a fresh reason, a fresh start to dig into the scriptures.
So I just want to challenge all of us—as we're getting going, as we're starting this series—
I want to challenge all of us to really make a commitment to study the Word of God—to be studying the Book of Revelation.
And what I've learned is that whatever time I put into the scriptures, whatever time I invest in the scriptures, the pay off is always far greater.
Sometimes it's hard to study and sometimes I feel busy and a lot of other things, but every time I get into the scriptures the pay off is always far greater.
So as we begin the series I want to really encourage you to really dig into the Word of God.
What I'm going to do tonight, is that I'm going to share with you three things that I've learned about the first three verses of Revelation
that I think will help to develop the context.
And context is so important. When you think about understanding the scriptures, context is so important.
And it is especially important in this book, the Book of Revelation, because we're going to probably some across some things that you're
unfamiliar with or things you haven't thought of all that much.
I think sometimes when we come across things we're not familiar with, it's easy for us to kind of check out.
The more context we understand, the easier it will be for us to understand what the scriptures are teaching.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was confronted with a living example as far as why context is really important.
I had just walked into my house and I saw a plate of cookies on our microwave.
So I said, "Oh, it looks like somebody brought some cookies for us."
So I walked over and I grabbed a cookie and I began to eat this cookie.
Where I was standing in the kitchen, my daughter Myla saw me eating this cookie.
She stopped what she was doing and she ran in almost in tears and she said, "Daddy, don't eat the cookie!"
And I thought to myself, I bet these cookies are for somebody else.
So I said, "Myla, I'm sorry for eating this cookie" and she looked at me teary-eyed and said, "Daddy, now you're going to start making breast milk!"
She's crying and then all of a sudden her face lit up and she was so happy. And she said, "Daddy, now you're going to make breast milk! You can feed Jett. Yay!"
And then she ran away and I just went back to eating my cookie.
But I remember thinking to myself, this is ridiculous. What in the world is going on?
I didn't worry about it too much. I didn't know what to think.
Later I talked with Meg and I said, Meg, this is is what happened and she started laughing.
And evidently there are cookies that induce milk production. And I said, "What?! I didn't know that."
It didn't work on me, in case you're wondering. But evidently there are.
And that little piece of information I didn't understand helped to bring some clarity to the situation, right?
Then I understood why Myla thought that and it made sense.
I think sometimes when we read the scriptures, we'll come across passages and we'll say, "What? What in the world does this mean?"
And what I've learned is that the more I understand about the scriptures, the more I understand what the Word of God is saying,
the more I understand the context, the more these passages make sense and the more I understand what God is trying to teach me.
So context is very, very important.
I'm going to lay out three things I've learned that I think will help lay out a foundation, a context for the book.
And remember we're not going to get through the whole introduction tonight, it'll take us a couple of weeks.
It says this in verse one: it says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place.
He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God's word and to the testimoney about Jesus Christ, in all he saw.
The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed because the time is near."
Number one is this: Revelation is a message from God the Father to Jesus Christ.
The idea is: where does this book start?
And John presents this message, the Book of Revelation, as beginning with God; and it's a message that God gives to his Son, Jesus Christ.
Look back at verse one, it says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ that God (referring to the Father) gave Him (the 'Him' is Jesus).
And so I remember reading through this and thinking to myself, what in the world does that mean? What in the world?
It's almost as if John is presenting the Book of Revelation as if we are eavesdropping on a message that the Father is giving the Son.
This is what is happening; that the Father is giving a message to the Son. That's where it starts and that's where it originates.
And John was just able to hear about it, he was able to see what was happening there.
This is where the message starts. Now what exactly does that mean?
Well, the word 'Revelation' is the word in the greek 'apokalypsis' which means 'laying bare, making naked, or a disclosure of truth or instruction'.
The idea is that you are revealing something that was once hidden. There are a bunch of ideas or truths that have been covered up and all of a sudden they are revealed.
It's the revealing of something that was once hidden.
You think about Apple, they have the iPhone 5S or the iPhone 6 or whatever is coming out, and people are speculating a lot about what it is going to be.
Are they going to make the screen bigger? What are the features of the phone?
And they've revealed some of that stuff (maybe they've revealed it all by this time, I don't know).
But the idea is that there is some stuff that we still don't know and they're going to reveal it.
They know, but they haven't revealed it.
This is the idea: that there is this information that God is now revealing that has been hidden forever.
It's information about what? Well, it says in verse one, "It is the revelation of Jesus Christ".
Revelation gives us a clear look at who Jesus Christ really is. And what we need to understand from the very beginning
of our series, is that Revelation is all about Jesus. It's all about highlighting who Jesus is.
It's all about lifting up Jesus Christ and showing us the infinite value and greatness and glory of Jesus Christ.
This is what Revelation is all about.
And in that sense Revelation is very similar to the Gospels.
If you think about the Gospels for a second—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and what we see in the Gospels is the first coming for Christ.
In the Gospels we see Jesus in his humanity and in his humiliation.
What I mean by that is that we see Jesus— who created the universe, the heavens and the earth, [and] he created the idea of babies being born.
In Luke, we see Jesus growing and developing in the belly of teenage peasant girl named Mary.
This is what you see. You see the humanity. This is Jesus growing and developing and then he's born.
And then we see Jesus as a twelve year old young man. And then we see Jesus growing up and becoming an adult.
We see the humanity of Christ. You see Jesus get angry. You see Jesus get hungry.
You see him get thirsty. You see Jesus crying. You see him get tired. You see him sleeping. You see his sorrow.
You see his struggle with sin. You see the humanity of Christ.
[There's] no doubt you see the deity of Christ, but in the Gospels you definitely see the humanity of Christ.
And then you see him in his humiliation. You see him hanging on a cross.
The last thing that most of the world saw of Jesus was Jesus hanging on the cross, brutally beaten, totally humiliated, dying as a criminal.
In Jerusalem, that is what most of the Jews— most of the people in that region of the world who actually saw Jesus—
the last thing that they saw was Jesus humiliated on a cross.
And so we see Jesus in his humanity and in his humiliation.
But in the Book of Revelation, we don't see Jesus in that sense. How we see Jesus is this:
We see Jesus in His second coming and we see Him in His deity and in His exaltation. We see the exalted Christ.
I don't know if you've ever asked yourself this question, but the question I've thought to myself is 'What in the world is Jesus doing now?'
Well, ruling and reigning—I get that. But what exactly does that mean?
What is he like now? We saw him in his humanity and humiliation, but what about his exaltation?
Well, this is what Revelation is all about. It's about revealing who Jesus is right now and what he is doing right now.
I think as believers, this thought of Christ is so healthy for us to meditate on.
This vision of Christ, the exalted Christ, seeing Him as he is—it's a thought that needs to capture our heart.
It's something that we've got to lock in on. It's something that we need to understand; who Jesus is now.
We need to understand what he's doing now, what he's about now.
It reminds me of this passage in Philippians chapter two. It says this in verse five, "Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for his own advantage.
Instead he emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross." And it says this in verse nine, "For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In Revelation—if you could take this passage in Philippians chapter two and zoom in on it, and take a deeper look at this passage—this is what Revelation is all about.
Look at verse nine again. It says, "For this reason God highly exalted Him."
What does that mean? What does that mean for Christ?
Revelation is going to tell us. It's going to show us the vision of the exalted Christ.
And what is He doing now? It's going to show us the vision of what Christ is doing now.
Then it says in verse nine, "[He] highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so at the name of Jesus every knee will bow."
What does that mean? Well, we kind of get it. Everybody is going to bow.
But in Revelation, we see that play out. We see in great detail how that actually happens.
The Book of Revelation is all about Jesus Christ. It is all about the greatness of Christ. It's all about the infinite value of Jesus Christ.
It's like everything in Revelation, it points to this one passage in chapter five.
I'm going to give you a sneak peek of chapter five. This is what it says (and this is a vision that John had):
it says, "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders.
Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands."
Think about that. This huge group of people. Just thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands. And they said with a loud voice, what did they say?
They said, "The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!
I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say:
Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
This passage, it's just stuck in my mind. It's like John is driving towards this thought. He just keep driving at it,
to get us to a place where in our heart of hearts, we come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is really worthy to receive all glory and honor and dominion and power and that he is worthy of everything.
He is the one who created all things. All things have been created for Him.
And we've got to get to a place, John wants us to get to a place, God wants us to get to a place where we say,
'Yea, Jesus Christ is worthy of my life and he is worthy of my death. He's worthy of my sacrifice. He's worthy of money.
He's worthy of my time, my relationships. He's worthy of everything that I have.'
And when we get to that place, the nature of Christianity changes—where we're worshiping and loving and serving Christ.
The whole nature of it is different. The joy that is in it is so much different.
It's not just this monotonous routine, but rather it is a relationship with Christ, where growing in the likeness of Christ
and God is using us to change the entire world. To impact the whole world.
But see, in our heart of hearts, if we haven't considered Jesus as being worthy of everything, then Christianity will be such a burdensome thing to you.
It'll be something where you just kind of drag your feet. 'I'll go to church. I'll do you a big favor, God.
I'll go to church and I'll give a little bit of my money and I'll serve a little bit here and there, but Christianity will be burdensome until we see the infinite value of Christ.
And the Book of Revelation is just pointing at that. It's just driving at that point; that Jesus Christ is worthy of all things.
And so as we begin the series, we've got to get this in our mind. We've got to get this in our heart.
Because, we live in a world with so many distractions, right? I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of the world where there are more distractions for people.
Just think about it for a second. You have Facebook. You have Twitter. You have movies and TV.
You can just sit at your house and just watch things all day. You have Instagram. You have video games. You have YouTube.
To some degree, I'm afraid of YouTube. Because if I ever sit down and I watch a few videos, I can get stuck there for an hour pretty quickly.
One more video, one more video, one more video.
I felt like the Lord rebuked me a little bit yesterday, because there is this new video out. I don't know if you've seen it.
You probably don't want to see it. It's this new video, it answers the age-old question: 'What does the fox say?'
Do you know what I'm talking about? Maybe not. Maybe you haven't seen it.
It's this ridiculous video. It is so stupid, but it's kind of funny. And I watched it five or six times yesterday.
And I thought to myself, 'What am I doing?' It wasn't like, 'I want to be in rebellion to the Lord.'
It was just that my heart got distracted for a minute. Every day we have to fight with so many different distractions, right?
They can be big things or they can be little things. It could be money, it could be sex, it could be YouTube videos, it could be whatever.
There are so many distractions, but the Book of Revelation is driving us to this point where we get to this place in our heart of hearts where we say,
'Jesus Christ is worthy of everything.' And if you're not there, Christianity will be burdensome.
So the aim of this book is to get us there.
To get us to this place where we say, 'He really is worthy of all that I am and all that I have.'
The second point is this: Revelation is written by John, a close friend and follower of Jesus.
Look back at verse one. It says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place.
He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God's word
and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw."
So the progression in verse one, it goes like this: the message originates with the Father and then it's given to the Son and then it's given to an angel
and then it's given to John and then John writes it to these seven churches (which we'll talk more about next week) and then it's written for
every believer and follower of Jesus Christ. But, John is the human agent that records this message.
John is described this way in verse two: it says, "who testified to God's Word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ in all that he saw."
This is the thinking that is laid out for us. John is an eye witness. He was a faithful eye witness of all that he saw.
John was a disciple, he was a close friend, he was a follower, he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ;
and he thought of himself as being a witness. This is how he thought of himself. "I am a witness."
In fact, he starts his letter in 1 John: he says, "The things that we have touched with our hands, and heard with our ears, and seen with our eyes,
these are the things we tell you. [These are the things are we are communicating to you]".
So he thought of himself as an eye witness. And I think this is part of the reason why Jesus picked John.
This is somewhat speculative, but I think this is part of the reason.
Because what was going to happen in this book is that Jesus is going to give a vision to whoever writes it; which ends up being John.
In the vision, whoever writes this letter becomes an eye witness. And John is referred to as being a 'faithful eye witness' of Jesus' life.
And this is how John thought of himself: 'I am an eye witness'.
Before the Apostle John dies, it's like Jesus had one more eye witness account for John to record before he goes to be with the Lord.
This whole letter, this whole book, is written from the perspective of being an eye witness.
So Jesus gives John a vision. And in this vision, he gets to see three things very clearly.
He gets to become an eye witness of three things.
Now what are those things? Well, he becomes an eye witness of who Jesus Christ is.
There is this vision in chapter one where John gets to see what Jesus is like right now.
So he becomes and eye witness of what Jesus is like right now. He becomes an eye witness of who Jesus Christ is.
Number two: he becomes an eye witness of what Jesus Christ is doing in the church and how he thinks about the church
He begins to answer the question, 'What is Jesus up to right now? What is He doing right now?'
Well, John gets this vision where he sees what Jesus is doing. We get to see how Jesus thinks about His body through this vision.
The third thing he becomes an eye witness of is how Jesus will return and set up His kingdom— which is crazy.
It's crazy because those are future events. For whatever reason, God fast forwards John into the future and he becomes an eye witness—
not of past events, but of future events. And this is how the book is written.
He says, "And I saw." You're going to see this time and time again. "And I looked and I saw." "I heard [this]".
So the book is written from the position of someone who is trying to record what he sees and what he hears.
And what he sees and what he hears is just mind-blowing. He is seeing the most incredible stuff ever.
Why did God want to use John? I think it is because he is referred to as a faithful eye witness.
I don't all the reasons why, but this seems to be John's M.O. He was a faithful eye witness.
So it's written, not from some person who lived hundreds of years later after the life of Jesus, but it's written by Jesus' close friend from the eye witness perspective.
The third thing about Revelation verses one through three is this: Revelation is designed to be a message of hope and blessing.
Revelation 1:3 says, "The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed,
because the time is near!" So in verse three it says, "If you read this". The idea is if you read this out loud you are blessed.
And those who hear these words: they are blessed. And those who hear these words, that are written in it: they are blessed, because the time is near.
So it starts off with a blessing, but the Book of Revelation also closes with a blessing.
It says in Revelation 22:7, "Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed."
So it begins with a blessing and it ends with a blessing. It's intended to be a blessing.
If fact, there are seven blessings in the Book of Revelation.
The number seven is a number you're going to see time and time again.
There are seven churches, there are seven bowls, there are seven trumpets, there are seven seals.
There are all these different 'sevens' that you see. Now, what in the world does it mean?
The idea of 'seven' here is that it's the number of completion. So the idea of there being seven blessings is the idea that there is a total and complete
blessing from understanding it, and reading it, and doing what it says.
It's just communicating the idea that it's designed to be a blessing.
Here are some of the seven blessings that are listed: it says, "Blessed is the one who reads this book."
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." The third one is, "Blessed are those who stay awake and keep their clothes on."
I'll explain that one when we get there. It's kind of speaking against streaking here, I think.
"Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of The Lamb"
And it keeps going, but the idea is that this book is intended to be a blessing.
And I think you need to understand this, because as you read about it, as you look into it, John's circumstances aren't all that good.
He's writing from a perspective of having very bad circumstances.
What I mean by that is that John is probably around 100 years old and he's at the end of his life.
And John had been faithfully following the Lord for many years. 70 years. 80 years.
And he had experienced some really good things and he had experienced some really bad things.
Some of the good things are that he was able to walk with Jesus for three years. He was an eye witness of Jesus' miracles.
He was an eye witness of Jesus. He experienced the love of Christ, the compassion of Christ, the holiness of Christ.
So that was an incredible privilege. But he also saw Jesus be crucified. He was standing at the cross, looking at Christ as he died.
He hung there are bled and died.
He also saw Jesus after He had come back from the dead. After He rose from the dead.
That would have been an incredible thing; to be an eye witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But then his brother was killed; his brother James. His close friend, his companion, his fellow Apostle. He was killed.
James was killed because of Christ. That would have been a hard thing to go through.
He helped to plant churches. And these churches grew and God blessed them and many people's lives were changed by the Gospel (which would have been an incredible thing.)
But then at the same time, he experienced a great deal of persecution because of the cause of Christ.
Because of his connection to Christ. People even that he knew, they actually died.
And so, John was somebody who had gone through a lot of good things, but through a lot of bad things as well.
In Revelation 1:9 it says, "I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus,
was on the island called Patmos because of God's word and the testimony about Jesus."
So John says he's on the island of Patmos. And why was he there?
Well, according to the Early Church fathers, the reason John was there was because he wouldn't shut up about Jesus.
He kept telling everybody about Jesus. He says, 'You need to believe in Jesus.
You need to repent. Jesus is coming again.' And he was a pastor who loved people, so he had a lot of influence over people.
He constantly would talk to people about the Lord and so finally people got sick of it.
They said, 'You're not going to talk anymore about Jesus.' So certain people took John and they heated up a vat of boiling oil and they threw him in it.
They actually took John and they threw him in a vat of boiling oil.
Now, why did they do it? Obviously they didn't want to help him. They didn't think it was going to feel good.
Their aim was to kill him. That's what they were trying to do. They said, 'Let's heat that thing up and throw him in there.'
And after John had been in there, he crawled out and he survived.
When I look at that, I don't even know what would happen to the human body if you get dipped in a vat of boiling oil?
What would happen? Your body would be destroyed.
John, he was put in the vat of boiling oil, he came out alive and they said, 'We tried to kill you. You didn't die. You should have died, so we're going banish you to an island.'
It's called the island of Patmos, which is a real place. You can go there if you want. It's a real, actual place.
So they put him in a boat, and they went dozens of miles out to this island to shut him up.
John, when he's writing this letter, is an old man. He has experienced a lot of good things, a lot of bad things, he's the last Apostle who is alive, he's just been boiled alive,
his body is a wreck, and he's been banished from civilization and put on this deserted island.
And at the same time he's a pastor. We're going to talk about the seven churches next week.
Most scholars believe he was overseeing these seven churches. He loved these people. And a number of those churches were going through a great deal of persecution.
So John couldn't even be with them as they're going through persecution.
His heart is broken because of his broken body and his heart is broken because the people he loves are being persecuted.
He's going through a very difficult time. In the middle of all of this, Jesus appears to him and He gives him this message.
And the reason he gave him this message was to give him hope.
The reason he gave him this message was to be a blessing.
He showed up, not to add to his misery, but to say it's worth it to keep going. This is the theme of the book.
It's worth it to continue to follow Christ. It's worth it to keep your eyes on the end. It's worth it to suffer.
This is the theme. And what we're going to read, in these churches, is that Jesus keeps saying that it's worth it to overcome.
Jesus says, 'I overcame and I've been exalted. I've been given the name that is above every name. I am ruling and reigning over the whole universe.'
And he says, 'If you continue, if you'll walk with me, if you'll say 'no' to your flesh, if you say 'no' to your desires,
if you walk into suffering for the cause of Christ, and you endure to the end', he says it will be worth it.
Any way you suffer in this life will be repaid one-hundred-fold, one-thousand-fold in the next life.
So the message is: continue. Keep going. It is a message of hope.
I think sometimes people get confused because there is a lot of doom and gloom in it as well.
You think, if it's a message of hope, why does there seem to be so much judgement? Why does there seem to be so much death in the Book of Revelation?
I think the reason is this: the Book of Revelation is all about revealing who Jesus Christ is. It's all about revealing what is in store for those who follow Christ.
But this book is also the revealing of what is in store for those who do not know Christ.
See, in this book, we're going to get a very clear picture of what is in store for those who do not belong to Jesus.
As I've been studying, it just grips my heart more and more. It's sobering.
It helps me to focus-in and think about what really matters.
It helps me to think about the world who doesn't know Christ.
It gives me compassion— recognizing what is in store for those who don't know Christ.
You see the judgement of God that comes upon the world.
This book is designed to be a blessing to give hope, but it's also designed to be a warning to those who don't love Christ.
To be a warning to those who don't follow Christ. For those who are still in their sins.
Just as a pastor, I am so excited to see how God uses this series. Just to stimulate us to keep going.
I think in many ways, our church (or any church) is like an airplane— you have to keep moving.
If you don't keep moving forward you start to lose altitude. That's what happens.
You have to keep going. And the moment we let go of the gas, we hit the brakes as a church, I think we'll start to lose altitude.
My hope is that this will stir us up. It will stir up our heart to keep going. To keep our eyes on Christ, to keep out eyes on the end.
To recognize that this world and this life is not all that there is.
That the cause of the world: to live for pleasure and to live for money and to live for fun and to live for comfort—
that this is not a cause that is worth giving your life to.
But there is a different cause. The cause of knowing Christ. The cause of making him known in the world is worth your life.
And I am so thrilled by so many of you. I look at your lives and I think, 'You guys are crazy, in a really good way.'
I think, 'Man, you guys are walking with the Lord, you're serving the Lord, you're out on the edge.'
But then some of you, I look at your life and I think, 'You need to wake up. You need to stop playing a game.'
I think that this book serves us well in that sense: it will encourage us to keep going and I think it will also wake us up as a church.
For those who need to be woken up, it will wake you up.
If you read it and think about it, it will help you to live a life that makes sense in view of eternity.
It will fill your heart with hope. It will fill your heart with faith to continue to walk with Jesus.
This book is designed to be a blessing. There is an incredible blessing attached to it.
Just to close, I have three practical things for you.
The first practical thing is this: use the study guides to study Word.
I don't know if everyone got one of these or now, but right here we have a study guide for the Book of Revelation.
And there are a bunch of them in the back. I think we ordered 1,200 of them or something crazy like that. We have a lot of them.
We ordered them so that every person would have one and they're free.
They're free because we don't want money to be any excuse for people not to get one.
And the way this study guide is set up is that it's set up for you to study it.
It's not a book that just walks you along and just gives you all the information,
but rather it's designed to slow you down and break down the passage. To help you break down the passage.
To help you think through the passage. To help you write out some thoughts.
There are some questions that will kind of guide you in the right direction, but there is a lot of freedom to use it how you would like.
If you open it up and you look at it, you're going to see the passage, then you're going to see a Greek word, then you're going to see some questions to consider,
and then you're also going to see a place for you to write out your general observations.
What stands out to you? When you look at the passage, and you read through it, what stands out to you?
A lot of times I write out questions that I have. I don't understand this. What is this all about?
Then there will be a place for you to write out the commands of God. What does God want me to do?
There is a place for you to write out the promises. Why does God want me to do these things?
Principles and all these different things to help you slow down and think through the passage.
I would say, if you want to grow in your walk with the Lord, just about the very best thing you can do is take time to study the Word of God.
The Word of God says that it is "Living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword."
It's something that will expose us, encourage us, instruct us— it'll give light to our dark situations.
It will give light to our difficult situations, but we have to take the time to go through it.
I'd encourage you to use this book. Luke and I are going to do our very best to make sure we stay on schedule.
We're not going to skip around all over the place. We'll do our best to stay on schedule.
The second thing I'd encourage you to do is this: pray that God would help you put your eyes on the end.
There is 140 days between now and the time we're done with this series. 140 days.
I'd encourage you, in your heart, to say, 'God, every day help me to pray, "God, help me to put my eyes on the end today"'.
Just pray that. It doesn't have to be a super long prayer, but just ask God. God, help me to see the end of my life, the end of this world.
Help me to recognize that this world is not all that there is. And just pray every day. 140 days.
After 140 days, you never need to pray like that again. I don't care. It will impact your life.
It will impact your life if you do that because the key to being an overcomer is that you've got to take your eyes off this life. That's the key.
Put your eyes on the end and look forward to what God has prepared for you. To look forward to what is in store for those of us who know Jesus Christ.
The third thing that I'd encourage you to do: pray that God will help you see Jesus more clearly.
140 days. These are the two prayers that I would give you and I would encourage you to think through and to pray through.
God, help me to see Jesus more clearly.
This is what has to capture our heart.
If Jesus doesn't capture your heart, the world will capture your heart.
If you don't get a view of Jesus that motivates you, that impacts you and that changes you, the world will control you.
That's just the way that it works. These are options: Jesus or the world.
And Revelation is all about exalting and all about honoring and all about highlighting the greatness and the infinite value of Christ.
I'd encourage you to pray these things every day and see what God will do in your life.
Let's go ahead and close with a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, we thank you, Lord, for your Word.
We thank you for the fact that we won't have to wonder what Jesus is like. But rather, you've revealed it to us in your Word.
And as we begin this series, Lord, I pray for us as a church;
that we would focus the eyes of our heart on to Christ. That we would focus the eyes of our heart on the end—
recognizing that it's worth it to continue. That it's worth it to be an overcomer.
Lord, we want to commit the rest of our night to you, we want to commit this series to you, we want to commit our Community Groups
and everything we're doing to you, Lord. And we ask that the name of Jesus Christ would be honored and glorified.
We pray these things now in Jesus' name. Amen.