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Jan 06, 2019

Family Meeting

Family Meeting

Passage: Revelation 1:4-6

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: The Churches of Revelation

Keywords: authority, family business, love, power, superiority, revelation of john, exalted lord

Summary:

Half of this message looks at the vision, work and person of the resurrected & exalted Lord Jesus in the first chapter of John's Revelation. The second half is a look back and a look forward to the church life of Mosaic Fellowship.

Detail:

Annual Family Meeting

January 6, 2019

Revelation 1:4-6

COMMUNION:  Next week we will be launching into a new teaching series—the first three chapters of John’s Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  Those chapters deal with the “7 Churches of Revelation,” city churches in 7 different major cities of Asia.  They occur in a sort of clockwise position geographically, all within about 200 miles of each other. 

            Next week John Moody will give us the introduction to this book in chapter 1.  Without stealing his thunder, I want us to begin both this New Year as well as this new series fixing clearly in our hearts and minds that this series is all about Jesus.  While these 7 churches of Asia appear to be the immediate focus, these 3 chapters are really about the churches’ relationship with their Savior Jesus. 

            The difference now for John and for us as readers is that Jesus is not presented as the humble servant anymore.  Even John, his “beloved disciple”, the one closest to Jesus in terms of emotional bonding and friendship, no longer relates to him as buddy and friend.  The experience John is going to have with Jesus in this book…and probably for the rest of his life on earth before entering heaven…is one of awe-inspiring, fear-provoking, death-defying surprise at the majesty and glory of the Jesus he used to walk country roads with, break bread with in homes and have long talks with in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  John’s shock and awe is evident.  But it is not something he seeks to avoid.

            Listen to the description of Jesus in the greeting section alone of this book.     

Revelation 1:4b-6

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

            If you look down to vs. 8, it clearly identifies “him who is, and who was, and who is to come” as “the Lord God…the Almighty.”  That is God the father.  The “seven spirits before his throne” would be the fullness or completeness of the Holy Spirit, seven being the number in Scripture that indicates fullness or completeness.  So you have the God the Father Almighty.  You have God the Holy Spirit in fullness.  And then you have God, the Son, the person of Jesus Christ who is described as “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”  God in his fullness is made visible in some form to John in this revelation. 

            Notice how Jesus is described:  “…the faithful witness.”  Witness to what?  To God himself.  To whom?  To humanity. 

ILL:  Yesterday hundreds of people gathered at Capt. Dave Phay’s funeral at a church in the Valley.  The place was packed with family, friends and firefighters. 

            Sandy had to step out at one point because of her cough.  That was about when I was calling people to either believe the lie that there is no life after death or believe Jesus who promised there would be life after death.  She said that a couple of men were standing near her right then.  One looked at the other and rolled his eyes indicating, “Oh boy, here comes the Jesus pitch!” 

            I find it sad that so many people who are so quick to dismiss the revelation of Jesus Christ in human flesh in the incarnation are often the very ones who are quick to condemn God for “sending people to hell.”  The fact of the matter is, God isn’t going to force anyone to spend eternity with Him, especially not people who are unwilling to have anything to do with Jesus, the “faithful witness” to who God is, during this blink of time here on earth we call life.  If you don’t like Jesus as God-in-human-flesh, you’re going to hate God in all his glory in heaven forever. 

            From “the faithful witness” John mentions that he is “the firstborn from the dead.”  Firstborn means not only prior in time but above all else in authority.  The Christ we worship today was the first in a long line of human beings who will experience bodily resurrection.  He’s the very first to have that resurrection from the dead.  And he is above all who will be resurrected in authority as well.  So the Lord we are called to worship today is the one that is resurrected, reigning today in heaven, given authority over all other human beings. 

            Just to make sure we understand His superiority, John tells us he is also “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Since kings are THE greatest rulers over people…far more powerful than Presidents or Prime Ministers or even Community Party Premiers who can be removed and demoted by simple votes of other people, John wants us to fix clearly in our thinking that the Christ we worship now and will forever is far more powerful and authoritative than the greatest, most feared of human rulers ever.  He stands in absolute rule over these absolute rulers.  And they will cower at his feet on the day they face Jesus Christ at the judgment seat. 

            So from this super-exalted view of Jesus, our Savior and Bridegroom, John now reminds us of what we mean to our exalted God, what He has DONE for us and to us.   

(Vs. 5b)  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

            John starts by reminding us HOW our Savior feels about us and acts towards us. “…him who loves us….”  We have a saying in English about power and people.  Finish the sentence:  “Power corrupts… and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

            Just think of how power has corrupted the most powerful people in the world over this past century.  Almost every region of the world has its notables.

In terms of financial corruption, there are plenty of contenders:

  • Jean-Claude Duvalier, President of Haiti (1971 – 1986) came to office at age 19 when his father died and left him the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He embezzled somewhere between $300-$800 million after 15 years in office.
  • Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines (1965 – 1986) embezzled some $5 billion to $10 billion during 21 years in office. His wife was famous for having amassed over 1,000 pairs of shoes & 888 handbags found at their palace when Marcos was hounded out of office.  Millions of their subjects didn’t own a single pair of shoes the poverty was so great in the Philippines.
  • Mohamed Suharto, President of Indonesia (1967 – 1998) Embezzled between $15 and $35 billion during his 31 years in office.

But all those guys are pikers compared to the human tragedy and toll inflicted by other powerful rulers in Russia, German & China. 

  • Adolf Hitler: may have killed up to 20 million people in a 5 year period. 
  • Russian Communist leader Joseph Stalin presided over the deaths of somewhere between 20-60 million people. Stalin’s extremely brutal 30-year rule as absolute ruler of the Soviet Union featured so many atrocities, including purges, expulsions, forced displacements, imprisonment in labor camps, manufactured famines, torture and good old-fashioned acts of mass murder and massacres (not to mention World War II) that the complete toll of bloodshed will likely never be known.  Depending on the numbers, Stalin killed from 2,000-40,000 people every week of his rule.
  • China: In the 4 years from 1968-1962, 45 million Chinese died under the “Great Leap Forward” policies of Communists and their leader Mao Zedong.  (I would have hated to see what a “Great Fall Backward” would have done!)

So when the Apostle John begins his description of the most powerful human being that will ever rule in this world, he describes Jesus as an absolute ruler “who loves us….”  What a difference!  A ruler of all rulers who loves, not hates, who gives, not takes, who heals and restores rather than torturing and killing. 

            But John’s next descriptive phrase is even more astounding:  “…and freed us from our sins by his blood….”  Have you ever been “freed” from something?  Prison?  A debt you couldn’t pay?  A fine that was exorbitant?  A habit that was destructive?  A relationship that was controlling or abusive? 

            And then there is SIN.  We can usually spot the damaging effects of sin in others.  If we’re humble and honest enough, we can see sin’s corrosive effects on our own lives.  When we fall back into some destructive sin that we swore we would never do again, we feel the shackling effects of sin all over.

            Jesus shed his own blood to free us from our sins.  He didn’t pay some big monetary fine…or talk God the Father into issuing some paper pardon.  Our Savior paid with his own life blood!  He freed us from the destructive and constant power sin held over every one of us that we were each powerless to break on our own.  And He paid the penalty of death that sin promised to hold over us for all of time and into eternity by embracing death and destroying its power in the Resurrection.       

            In just a few moments, we’re going to share in the age-old rite of Communion.  It is a spiritual symbol Jesus gave us of a spiritual feast.  The blood of Jesus Christ is to be God’s sacrifice of love on our behalf that we are to remember over and over and over again.  It’s even a sacrifice that will be remembered continually, visibly and eternally in the glory of heaven. 

            And as we prepare to engage in something that has great power to remind us what we have been freed from as well as call us to continue to experience His power to free us from sin, I’d like to invite you to talk with God about a couple of things:

1.)  If Jesus had never shed His blood for you, what bondage, what prisons of your own making, what slavery to sin would you probably still be suffering under…if they wouldn’t have killed you already?  What relationships would probably have been destroyed?  What bridges would probably have been burned?  Where would you probably have been this very morning and what kind of life would you probably be suffering right now IF Jesus had never loved you and shed his blood for you?  Take a minute to envision that sad and painful probable place you would be in life were it not for the blood of Jesus that set you free from sin’s power.  “God, where might I have been?  What might my life have been?”  [Pause for 30-45 seconds.]

2.)  Is there some sin you still need to see the power of Christ and His blood release you from?  Is sin’s power still causing havoc in your life?  In some relationships?  In your mind?  With your emotions?

How about taking this time of Communion to ask God to actually, practically, genuinely set you free from that sin’s power?  [30-45 seconds for silent prayer.]

Move into communion. 

______________________________________

FAMILY MEETING          

Thinking back over 2018…

  • who were some of the new brothers and sisters in Christ that you became acquainted with here at Mosaic? Became friends with?  Enjoyed fellowship with?
  • Who did you get to know in this community, this neighborhood as a result of our life down here?
  • Think about the people you started or kept ministering alongside NAME those different ministries you have been blessed to be a part of this past year.
  • Think about the people you got to share Christ with this year.
  • Think of the people you got to pray with this past year. The times you gathered together with others to pray…and saw God work.
  • Think of the ministries that happened because you were a part of keeping this Mosaic Center going and growing this year.
    • YFC—several hundred kids a week; the most marginalized kids in our city—Marshallese, African-American, street kids, etc. Decisions for Christ.
    • Unite Family Services: 20-40 families each week.
    • Life Services Clinic Van—Every Tuesday afternoon
  • Weekend Services:
    • Changing Lives--Bob
    • Sunday Morning:
      • New City Catechism
      • Testimonies & Ministry Highlights
      • Preaching Team
    • “Other Uses & Bible Studies” Graph
    • “All-Use Attendance”—600-700 people a week!
    • MLT--introduce members

LOOKING FORWARD:

  • New Space…New Ministries?: Jesse and Bob
  • New Building Outreaches? Bob & John
  • New Staff Alignment: Andrew, Jesse, Facilities
  • Leadership Development:
    • Preaching Team:
    • Ordination Group
  • Grant Possibilities with WU Office of Church Engagement:
    • Urban Business Resource Chaplain
    • Residential Building Community Chaplain

Mosaic FINANCES:

  • 2019 Budget
    • History of Total Giving
    • 2019 Projected (7% increase)
    • Staff Salary %
  • How we can meet the challenge:
    • New members--be inviting
    • New Giving:
      • Start giving if you’re not in the spiritual practice.  If you have anything you receive monthly (EBT, SSI, wages), you should be giving God the first and best part of that.  Buy some food for a Community Dinner Group, etc.
      • Increase giving from what you currently are doing...at least 7%
    • Surprise outside-Mosaic gifts
    • ???