February 2021

2.3.21 Wednesday

Good Wednesday morning. I read that the groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Well, what do you know? I thought winter was over. Yeah, right. We needed a groundhog to tell us that?

The attitude about Rome changes in the Revelation to John. Previously, Paul had received help from the Roman government. He wrote a number of times to be a good citizen, to fear God and honor the emperor. But, now, Caesar worship has begun and Rome has begun its persecution of Christians.

In 13:4, there is a grim and terrible parody. “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” From Exodus 15:11–“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods?” Any empire which is founded on brute force and not on moral greatness is anti-God according to Barclay. God is always asking for our hands and feet to do His work; so is Satan. We have a choice to make!

13:5-6 5 “The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.”

This may simply mean that the general power of the empire and Caesar worship is a blasphemy against God. Or, some theologians posit that is might be specifically the Emperor Caligula who was an epileptic and a little mad. He took his own divinity very seriously and insisted that altars be built all over the empire and that he should be universally worshipped! Caligula refused to acknowledge the rights of the Jews to worship their God and insisted that an image of himself be set up in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Can you just imagine how the Jews felt about that? This may have been the insult that John imagined.

Good stuff, eh?

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

2.3.21 Wednesday2021-02-03T06:45:20-06:00

1.2.21 Tuesday

Good Tuesday morning. We think we have the sound fixed for next week’s worship! Yay! That will help. It is supposed to be cold out so we may have less worshippers in the parking lot. Don’t forget the annual meeting, though.

Still on Revelation 13.

Among the seven heads there is one which has been wounded unto death and which has been restored to life (verse 3) It is that head which is above all to be worshipped (verses 12 and 14); that head is the supreme evil, the supreme enemy of Christ. (Barclay)

Emperor Nero was a horrible man. When he died in 68 CE, people danced in the streets. But, a legend grew that he was not dead, but had gone far away and would return to retake his power. The Romans concocted this idea of his immortality. There was even a fake Nero who tried to rise up to power claiming to be Nero. Christians fused this idea with the idea of an Antichrist. The history of Nero is fascinating if you have more time or desire to look him up. He was evil to the core just as his parents were. He is most notorious for setting fire to Rome just so he could build it up again for his own glory! (But, of course, he blamed the Christians.)

The beast from the sea is the satanic power of Rome. The beast from the land is the organized Caesar worship, and the head, wounded and restored is Nero, the monster of iniquity, expected back again as the incarnation of the devil’s evil. (Barclay)

Review 13: 1-5 for tomorrow.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.2.21 Tuesday2021-02-02T06:48:48-06:00

2.1.21 Monday

Good Monday morning. February #1. 28 delightful days. Ash Wednesday is coming up on Feb. 17th already! And Valentine’s Day! I hope you got your order in for the scrumptious chicken or ribs. Call the office if you haven’t ordered yet. We even have someone who will deliver if you need it.

So sorry about our sound problems during yesterday’s worship service. We believe it is our very limited internet service and we are working on it. If you know anyone who works in this field, send them our way. We could really use some help.

The question that begs to be asked: What was it about the Roman Empire that made the empire and its emperors so utterly satanic to John? It is the fact that the Roman emperors desired to be divine and wanted to be called gods. (There is a long story leading up to that, but more than we need right now) Then, they went so far as to demand worship or be put to death. Many people were grateful for the powerful Roman protection and were happy to worship the emperor. Jews were not in that group!

Caesar worship was a unifying influence and became the keystone of the imperial policy and was compulsory.

Every Roman citizen was required to burn a pinch of incense once a year to the godhead of Ceasar and say: “Caesar is Lord.” Then they got a certificate for having done so! It was an act of political loyalty. Christians refused as Jesus Christ was their Lord. The Roman government regarded them as dangerous revolutionaries and every Christian became an outlaw.

This is the explanation for the second beast, the beast of the land. The first beast is the Roman Empire; the second beast is the organization of Caesar worship. These two beasts would be unleashed on the world and no nation had ever withstood the might of Rome. Christians had no hope–poor, defenseless, without influence, outlaws.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

2.1.21 Monday2021-02-01T06:52:14-06:00

January 2021

1.29.21 Friday

Good Friday morning. I just read that this is the first January with no below zero temperatures. That is quite amazing. It has certainly been mild and is predicted to be in the 30’s this weekend. Perfect for our tubing event that Shawna is taking the youth on.

Revelation 13 Here comes the beast!

This chapter is the center and the essence of Revelation. We saw how Satan was cast out of heaven. On earth, he comes in rage and fury, death and destruction. He wants to do as much damage as he can in his allotted time so he delegates his power to the two beasts who are the central figures in this chapter.

The first beast, according to Barclay, the beast from the sea, stands for the Roman Empire. To John, the Roman Empire was the incarnation of evil and satanic power. This beast is described in Daniel 7:3-7. In Daniel, the beasts are the symbols of the great empires which have held world power and are so savage and cruel and inhuman they could only be symbolized by creatures. Jews knew this image well. In the Revelation, John puts together all four of Daniel’s beasts into one. For John, the Roman Empire was so satanic and terrible that it was the sum of all of the evil terrors of the past.

The beast has seven heads and ten horns which stand for the rulers and emperors of Rome. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian. 7 heads of the beast. The ten horns represent some other less significant rulers of the time. The blasphemous names are the titles which the emperors took to themselves. They were self proclaimed to be divine, Lord, Son of God, Savior of the World. Some even went so far as to call themselves God. Can you imagine how offensive this was to the Jewish people?

My study guide by N.T. Wright poses this question for chapter 13: “What deception or cover-up do you recall that affected many people on a personal, national, or worldwide scale?” Oh dear, where do I begin?

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.29.21 Friday2021-01-29T06:20:43-06:00

1.28.21 Thursday

Good Thursday morning. I’m asking for your prayers for a single mother named Sherry. Not from our church, but in a really tough place financially. She has two teenaged daughters and has left her abusive husband. She works full time, but can’t make ends meet. Let’s pray mightily that God lifts her up and surrounds her with helpful and loving people.

Revelation 12: 13-18

13 “So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

18 Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore.”

This chapter ends with a wild and crazy image! The dragon (devil) has been cast out of heaven and is now terrorizing the earth. He attacks the woman who may represent the people of God, the church, God’s chosen ones. John uses very familiar imagery from the Old Testament. The well known and well loved imagery of the eagle’s wings are a symbol of the arms of God that can lift you up.There are many Psalms that carry the image of the overwhelming floods. So while this picture of the dragon ejecting floods may seem odd and grotesque to us, it comes from a picture which the Old Testament knew well and used often.

 The earth swallowing the river imagery is real. It happened quite often in Asia Minor where rivers were swallowed up in the sand and traveled underground for a distance, then bubbled up somewhere later. John had seen this happen near Colossae. But, what does it mean? The earth was created not to destroy, but to aid goodness, so in our hour of need, nature itself comes to the aid of goodness.

In verse 17, the dragon goes on to make war with the rest of the family of the woman and the faithful in the church. This is a portent of coming persecution of the church.

Read Chapter 13 in preparation for tomorrow.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.28.21 Thursday2021-01-28T05:17:23-06:00

1.27.21 Wednesday

Good Wednesday morning. It’s chilly, but at least it isn’t 25 below like in International Falls! Yesterday, I had two pileated woodpeckers on the tree in front of my riverside window. Beautiful creations. Thank you, Lord.

More on the devil today.

Revelation 12:12

“Rejoice then, you heavens

    and those who dwell in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea,

    for the devil has come down to you

with great wrath,

    because he knows that his time is short!”

In the New Testament, Satan becomes the Devil. In Greek the word Devil is Diabolos, which literally means a slanderer. The power of evil is Satan. He has become more than an accuser; he has become the enemy of mankind. He gets in the way of God’s plan for God’s creation.

It is Satan who tempts Jesus in the wilderness; it is Satan who puts the terrible idea of betrayal into Judas’ mind; it is Satan who gets Peter to deny Jesus. It is he who is the cause of illness and pain as he works tirelessly to prevent the work of the Gospel. In the Lord’s prayer we pray, “deliver us from evil”.

Satan is the highest example of a servant of God who perverted his service into an opportunity for sinning; one of the best becomes one of the worst. “Satan is the great example of that pride which desires its own way rather than the way of God.” (Barclay)

Satan is very active in our world today. We must pray for all who feel under siege by the evil one that they may look to God for help and find strength in God to withstand the lies told to them by Satan. God’s will must prevail. If you feel like you are being persecuted by Satan, pray mightily for God’s spirit to fight for you. Tell Satan to stay the hell away from you, for you are filled with the promise in the victory through our Savior Jesus Christ.

This is tough stuff!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.27.21 Wednesday2021-01-27T06:24:14-06:00

1.26.21 Tuesday

Good Tuesday morning. Happy Birthday to Shawna, yesterday. I hope she had a wonderful day and her year will be full of blessings.

Revelation 12: 7-12

7 “And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power

    and the kingdom of our God

    and the authority of his Messiah,

for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,

    who accuses them day and night before our God.

11 But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb

    and by the word of their testimony,

for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

12 Rejoice then, you heavens

    and those who dwell in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea,

    for the devil has come down to you

with great wrath,

    because he knows that his time is short!”

A war breaks out in heaven! This time, John doesn’t make us guess who the dragon is: the devil, satan, the deceiver, the accuser. He and his legion of angels is thrown out of heaven, down to earth. There are many ancient stories that this could have been drawn from, but in Isaiah 14:12 we read, “How you are fallen from heaven,

    O Day Star, son of Dawn!

How you are cut down to the ground,

    you who laid the nations low!” or from the New King James translation, ““How you are fallen from heaven,

O Lucifer, son of the morning!

How you are cut down to the ground,

You who weakened the nations!”

In 1 Timothy 3:6 we read the qualifications for a Bishop, ” He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

There is a strong and definite line of thought in the Old Testament in which Satan is still an angel and is still under the command of God and still has access to the presence of God. We read about that in Job 1:6-9; 2: 1-6 and in Zechariah 3: 1,2. Satan has his own place in God’s design as the adversary of men. When a man is on trial before God, Satan is the angel who is the counsel for the prosecution and says all that is to be said agains the man. (according to Barclay) For the most part in the Old Testament, Satan is very much under the jurisdiction of God.

That’s enough for today. Tomorrow, we’ll see what the New Testament calls Satan.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.26.21 Tuesday2021-01-26T06:14:56-06:00

1.25.21 Monday

Good Monday morning. Sorry about the technical difficulties the live broadcast is giving us. We are working on it. If you have any IT skills please help!

Revelation 12: 1-6 The vision of the woman, the red dragon, and the son is rich in symbolism drawn from mythological traditions found in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, as well as in the Hebrew Bible.

“A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. 3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.”

The woman is unnamed and her identity is uncertain. She may represent Israel, or Mary, or the church. The crown of twelve stars refers to the twelve tribes of Israel, but could also mean the twelve signs of the zodiac. The dragon is the devil, Satan. The child must be Christ.

It’s likely that John took all of the signs of divinity and beauty which he could find and added them together in his description.Psalm 2 is a good description of the coming of the promised one and talks about the rod of iron in verse 9.

Eastern peoples regarded creation in the light of the struggle between the dragon of chaos and the creating God of light and order. This red dragon comes from John’s knowledge of this ancient thought. This dragon has seven heads and ten horns, a mighty powerful creature. Sweeping the stars with his tail comes from Daniel 8:10 and the picture of the dragon waiting to devour the child comes from Jeremiah 51:34.

The child is immediately snatched up after birth. If this is the Messiah, then His entire earthly life is left out. Birth to immediate ascension. John is only concerned with the fact that the Messiah was delivered from the hostile powers which constantly attacked Him, and that He was delivered by the direct action and power of God.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.25.21 Monday2021-01-25T06:24:33-06:00

1.22.21 Friday

Good Friday morning. How can it be Friday again already? And it’s a frosty one!

Revelation 11: 15-19

15 “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord

    and of his Messiah,

and he will reign forever and ever.”

16 Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 singing,

“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,

    who are and who were,

for you have taken your great power

    and begun to reign.

18 The nations raged,

    but your wrath has come,

    and the time for judging the dead,

for rewarding your servants, the prophets

    and saints and all who fear your name,

    both small and great,

and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.”

There is still 1/2 a book to go and it seems like things have come to an end in a final victory. These are foreshadowed events. Confused enough, yet? These things have not yet happened, but are going to happen. In verse 19, the ark of the covenant was seen. This is something no ordinary person has ever seen as it has been hidden away in the Holy of Holies in the temple. Only the High Priest ever saw it and that was just once a year on the Day of Atonement. Now God’s glory is on full display!

So this picture is a picture of the coming of the full glory of God, which is a terrifying threat to the enemies of God, but an uplifting promise to the people of God’s covenant.

Read chapter 12 to prepare for next week.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.22.21 Friday2021-01-22T06:14:44-06:00

1.21.20 Thursday

Good Thursday morning. Did you see Bernie’s mittens at the inauguration yesterday? They were made by a Vermont Schoolteacher and he really rocked them!

Here comes the beast!

Revelation 11: 7-14

7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; 10 and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.

11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.

So the beast kills the witnesses (Moses & Elijah) and leaves their bodies in the street. In Jewish thought, it was a terrible thing that a body should not be buried. In these end times, the people who refuse and reject God, rejoice and celebrate over these bodies. That would be a most disgusting event for any reader of the Revelation.

After 3 1/2 days (remember that is half of 7–the complete #), the breath of God comes into them and they stand up reenacting Elijah’s first departure to heaven in 2 Kings 2:11.

Then, to add to the terror, comes a destructive earthquake. Those who saw that and were spared gave glory to God. This is the story of the cross and the resurrection all over again!

Unfortunately, there is more woe to come.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

1.21.20 Thursday2021-01-21T07:45:14-06:00
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