Bible Reading: Revelation 16
During this week of Christmas, we are going to step away from Revelation and focus on parts of the Christmas story.
Matthew 1:18-25 (KJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
The person who is often overlooked the most in the Christmas story is Joseph. He is often misrepresented as the father of Jesus. We do not hear of him past when Jesus is 12. I believe there are some things about him we should all strive to be like.
1. vs 19 He was a Just man
The definition of just here is- innocent, holy, righteous. While Joseph wasn’t sinless. We can deduct that he strove to follow God with his whole heart.
2. vs 20 He was wise
He was thinking on what to do with Mary. He didn’t act rashly and publicly shame her. He didn’t judge the situation too quickly. How often do we make snap judgements on thinks without thinking first?
3. vs 19-20 He was willing to change
There is no doubt he must have initially been disappointed that Mary was pregnant. I would assume he loved her. Yet, when things didn’t go the way he anticipated, he yielded his will to God’s.
4. vs 24-25 He was a man of faith
When he awoke from the dream. He obeyed God immediately. Obedience is a sign of faith.
If there was someone who could have changed the way the Christmas story happened it way Joseph. But his humble submission to God was the exact way we should obey God today.
BIBLE READING: Revelation 15
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
By this point in Revelation, John is about to witness some of the last judgements of the Tribulation, the Seven Vials. He sees the angels preparing and coming out of the temple to release plagues. John describes the temple where God is at full of smoke. By verse eight, no one is even allowed to see the Lord until the plagues are finished. With the descriptions given, this is like God dealing with Moses on the mount or a description when the Lord came down to the temple Solomon built. This represents His Glory and Majesty. John, also, describes those who had given their live as a martyr and standing up against the antichrist. What a picture of God’s holiness, righteousness, and glory during this judgement.
Reading and studying this chapter, I am overwhelmed by the fact that a holy and righteous God wanted to have a relationship with me. The creator of everything, the God that cannot accept sin and has to judge it, but showed me love through Jesus. Now I can have a relationship with Him. Verse 3, shows us that those who were martyred, sang the song of Moses, Exodus 15:1-2. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” What a song to be sung! Though these people lost it all on earth for the Lord, they knew God would reward and keep them in heaven. No one could touch their soul. From these two portions of scripture, I am encouraged to know this:
1. God strengthens me, when I am weak and when I fail.
2. God gives me a song, when my spirit is down and nothing else can help.
3. God saved me, when nothing else could.
That’s the beauty of God’s grace and love! This passage shows us God cares deeply for His children, and we can find rest in that. After all He shows toward us, how sad would it be to not spend time with Him today. Spend some time today thanking Him and telling how much His love and grace mean to you.
 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.  And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Chapter 14 begins by speaking of the 144,000. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything, or understand everything about the book of Revelation. I love prophecy, but some of it confuses me. However, I love to see how the book of Revelation speaks to the believer, and is applicable to today in our life.
John here points out the separation of the 144,000. These men were no longer earth dwellers, but citizens of Heaven. Now we as believers today do not belong to this special group of 144,000, but like them we have been redeemed and do not belong to this world. I want you to notice with me an awesome portion of scripture that has really meant a lot to me over the last couple of days. These are the words of Jesus. In fact, it’s His prayer for His disciples before He was to be crucified. He also looked into the future and prayed this prayer for you and me.
 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jesus prayed and proclaimed we don’t belong to this world any longer. He prayed for His Father’s protection on us. He prayed that you and I would be clean and holy through studying, and obeying His Word. He commissioned us to spread His Word. Prophecy is a wonderful thing, but let’s not miss the opportunities we have to live for Jesus today.
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Revelation 3-4
Everything the Lord has done, Satan tried to make a counterfeit. The Antichrist is wounded to death. He is then resurrected by the dragon (Satan). Satan loves nothing more than to take glory from God and give it to himself. With no one to challenge him people will believe he’s God. Later in the passage another beast enters. It has two horns and is more subtle, looking like a lamb. It’s job is twofold. Fist is to direct people to worship the Beast and second is to make war with the saints. This individual is thought to be the False prophet. The passage says he will deceive many and cause many to worship the beast. This individual is the one who does great harm to believers. He removes their ability to buy and sell without the mark, and actively seeks to kill believers. The Bible says he makes war with the saints and overcomes. This makes up the Unholy Trinity, Satan, the Beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet.
I find it interesting that a religious person will be responsible for the deaths of so many believers. It gives one more example in history that religion doesn’t save. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ does.
BIBLE READING: Revelation 12
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Throughout this chapter, we see the chosen nation of Israel (the Woman vv. 1-2) go through struggles. While Satan (the Red Dragon vv. 3-4) tries to destroy them. The answer comes from the promised Messiah Jesus (the Child vv. 5-6) who died for the sins of the world, rose again, ascended to heaven, and one day will return to as ruler. The fate of Israel and of Satan is told easily through this story in two chapters. Though this is a very quick description given of what happens to Israel throughout the Bible, this shows two great details about Israel’s problem.
First, there was an answer to their problem, the Child. Jesus was to come to earth to die for sin and be the Messiah, but many thought He was to be ruler then. This will not happen until after the Tribulation. The first time He came to save men from sin, but His second coming, He will mightily rule (vs. 5a). The Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to problems given. This was referring to Israel, but God gave us the answer to our sin problem through Christ as well.
Second, we see a promise was answered. God kept His promise from the beginning in Genesis 3:15, that there would be a Messiah, and Jesus will keep his promise to return and rule. The great thing about the Bible is we know the ending and God wins! The wonderful news God knows our problems and wants to help. II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I’m so glad, through Jesus, we can go to a caring and loving God, who has an answer and keeps His promises!
 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.  These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
I don’t know about you, but the passage about the two witnesses during the tribulation has always intrigued me. It seems these 2 men have an almost impossible task here. It appears as if the whole world hates them, and wants to harm them. However, these 2 prophets of God are resilient. Let’s look at how this message from God’s Word applies to us. This truth is an encouragement to God’s servants in all ages, for the work of the Lord is never easy.
FIRST I’d like you to notice that God gives his servant power (vs3, vs 6) (Acts 1:8)God has given you His power to accomplish what He places you here to do. SECOND verse 3 says they shall prophesy, which means God gave them a message. You and I have the awesome, and humbling task of sharing the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20) THIRD God gave them protection (vs 5) (2 Thessalonians 3:3) Nothing happened to these men that God didn’t allow, or handle Himself. What comfort to know that anything Satan wants to bring against us must first be filtered through the will of our Father. FOURTH we see perfection (vs 7.) Of course we aren’t talking about being sinless, if you’ll notice verse 7 says “when they shall have finished their testimony.” (Philippians 1:6) We have a God who is faithful to see us through until our time, and task on earth here is perfected, or complete. What a faithful God we serve. As we read the book of Revelation we can’t help but think about the end times. Can’t help but think about eternity. Today we are one day closer than we were yesterday to the rapture of His church. I agree with what John said in Revelation 22:20 ….Even so, come, Lord Jesus.