Revelation 16:1-16 The Final Warnings to Come to Christ

Revelation 16:1-16 The Final Warnings to Come to Christ

Revelation 16:1-16 The Final Warnings to Come to Christ

When you know that someone will soon be in danger, you take the time warn them about that danger. Here, we see that God knows that there are people who don’t know Jesus Christ. The last people who have made a decision for Jesus under the time of Tribulation are getting ready to experience the greatest set of warnings to remind them of their need for God.

In this case, the good Person is God. The bad person is the Antichrist. God represents the system of eternal good. Babylon represents the system of bad. This is the reason that the Antichrist will rule this system from Babylon. This chapter deals with the warnings from God. Chapter 17 and 18 deal with the “Seven Dooms of Babylon.”

The verbal thread “great” (megas) occurs eleven times in chapter 16 to emphasize the cosmic magnitude of the battle between God and the forces of evil.1 With the pouring out of the seventh bowl, God gives Babylon the Great the cup filled with the wine of his wrath (16:18–19), but the details of Babylon’s downfall await Revelation 17–18.2

Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”” (Revelation 16:1, HCSB)

We come to the final plagues that God uses. God is involved from beginning to end.

We are told in 16:9 that God has control over the plagues. In 16:1 the temple voice of God initiates the plagues, while in 16:17 the voice from the throne completes them (i.e., “It is done!”).3


1. Sores on People (Revelation 16:2)

The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.” (Revelation 16:2, HCSB)

2. Blood on the Sea (Revelation 16:3)

The second poured out his bowl into the sea. It turned to blood like a dead man’s, and all life in the sea died.” (Revelation 16:3, HCSB)

3. Blood on the Rivers and Springs (Revelation 16:4)

The third poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.” (Revelation 16:4, HCSB)

These three bowl judgments start out in a similar way as the judgments in Egypt. The point of the plagues of Egypt was retribution by God for the way Egypt treated God’s people. Here, we see a similar case. God is exacting retribution for the way that the world system has betrayed God’s people. In this case, the judgments are against people who will not repent – people who have totally bought into the system of the Antichrist.


I heard the angel of the waters say: You are righteous, who is and who was, the Holy One, for You have decided these things. Because they poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets, You also gave them blood to drink; they deserve it! Then I heard someone from the altar say: Yes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” (Revelation 16:5–7, HCSB)

Here, we have an intermission. Here, we see God’s angel who is in charge of the waters praise God for what He has done. These warnings come with a reminder that God is truly Almighty.

4. The Intense Sunburn (Revelation 16:8)

The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun. He was given the power to burn people with fire, and people were burned by the intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:8–9, HCSB)

Also noted, the first four bowls correspond largely with the first four trumpets—on the land, sea, rivers, and sun. In this case, they are directed especially against those who bear the mark of the beast and have worshiped its image (Revelation 2).4

We see the praise by God’s angel about God’s judgments in heaven. We see the opposite – rebellion and unrepentance – by unbelievers on Earth. God warns the people with His judgment, but it doesn’t change them.

These judgments have echoes of the same judgments from Pharaoh in Egypt. In that case, started with a hardened heart. Yet, as the plagues continued, his heart would soften.

Pharaoh responded, “I will let you go and sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but don’t go very far. Make an appeal for me.”” (Exodus 8:28, HCSB)

But after Moses’ prayer for Pharaoh, Pharaoh hardened his heart.

But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not let the people go.” (Exodus 8:32, HCSB)

By the sixth plague, God is keeping Pharaoh’s heart hardened.

But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had told Moses.” (Exodus 9:12, HCSB)

By the eighth plague, Pharoah is wanting to change, but God keeps His heart hardened.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may do these miraculous signs of Mine among them,” (Exodus 10:1, HCSB)

Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his land.” (Exodus 11:10, HCSB)

After the ten plagues, the Egyptians are begging for God’s people to leave.

Now the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, “We’re all going to die!”” (Exodus 12:33, HCSB)

The contrast in Revelation to Exodus is that God is not taking His people out. He has already done that. Instead, the people are who left could change. But they don’t repent. We will see this as we continue through the next three bowl judgments.

5. Darkness Over the Beast’s Kingdom (Revelation 16:10-11)

The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues because of their pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, yet they did not repent of their actions.” (Revelation 16:10–11, HCSB)

This is very similar to the ninth plague against the Egyptians (Exodus 10:21-29). Again we are reminded that the people do not repent. No matter how intensely God warns them with this plague, they don’t turn back to Him.

6. Preparation for the Final Battle (Revelation 16:12-14)

The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming from the dragon’s mouth, from the beast’s mouth, and from the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:12–14, HCSB)

The purpose of the sixth bowl of judgment is to prepare the evil force to come and fight against God. God won’t deliver people from judgment. He is going to fight them so that they can’t overthrow His kingdom. So supernaturally, God will dry up the Euphrates river. The beast’s kingdom will use demonic words and they will perform demonic works. That is the point of the frogs.

The magicians were able to use occult practices to produce frogs.

But the magicians did the same thing by their occult practices and brought frogs up onto the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:7, HCSB)

That the three spirits looked like frogs emphasizes their uncleanness and perhaps their endless croaking. Charles Williams5 takes the final phrase in an adverbial sense and supplies a verb—“Then I saw three foul spirits leap like frogs from the mouths of the dragon.”6 The evil spirits in Revelation work their spell on world rulers rather than ordinary people.

Jon Courson makes the following observation:

The phrase translated “kings of the east” is literally “kings of the rising sun” in the original text. The “land of the rising sun” traditionally and historically referring to both Japan and China, the pieces of the puzzle of prophecy begin to fall into place—for the technology of Japan and the sheer manpower of China could easily produce the two-hundred-million-man army prophesied in Revelation 9:14–16.7

At the same time, the “kings of the east” literally means coming from the “rising sun” which could mean these two countries, but it could also mean countries coming up on the horizon. Like in the old Westerns when the group would rise up from the horizon and come down to save the day. So they don’t have to be all the way from China and Japan to fit this description. The point is that they are gathering to battle.


““Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.”” (Revelation 16:15, HCSB)

This statement by Jesus is very similar to His warning in Matthew 24.

So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armagedon.” (Revelation 16:16, HCSB)

Again, Jon Courson makes an interesting observation, this time about Armageddon:

Located sixty miles north of Jerusalem, the Jezreel Valley has been filled with warfare. When Gideon and three hundred men overcame the Midianites, it was at the valley below a little hill called Megiddo. When Samson took on the Philistines, one of the key battles was at Megiddo. King Josiah was killed at Megiddo. Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera at Megiddo.

The Turks, Muslims, Syrians, Egyptians, and the Europeans have all waged war in this valley. In his disastrous excursion into Egypt, Napoleon passed through the Jezreel Valley. “If ever there is a place on earth where the last war must be fought,” he declared, “it is here.”

The armies of the world will indeed gather at Armageddon. And Antichrist, the false prophet, and Satan himself will meet them there.


First, to devour Israel. The ultimate anti-Semite is Satan. If He can destroy Israel, Bible prophecy will fail, for how can Jesus return to rule and reign from Israel if Israel ceases to be?

Second, to destroy believers. Having wiped out the nation Israel, Satan would then wipe out all who oppose him.

Finally, to determine who will rule. Satan knows he will ultimately encounter God at Megiddo.8

Armageddon is symbolic of the final overthrow of all the forces of evil by the might and power of God. The great conflict between God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, good and evil, that lies behind the perplexing course of history will in the end issue in a final struggle in which God will emerge victorious and take with him all who have placed their faith in him.9

The battle and its outcome are reported in Revelation 19:11–21 and specifically in verse 20a, “But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet” (Revelation 17:14; and perhaps Revelation 20:7–10). Jesus returns and totally defeats his enemies, judging them by his word.10

1 Resseguie, Revelation, 212.

2 J. Scott Duvall, Revelation, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 215.

3 J. Scott Duvall, Revelation, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 215.

4 Gordon D. Fee, Revelation, New Covenant Commentary Series (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 216.

5 Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People

6 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 299.

7 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1759.

8 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1760.

9 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 302.

10 J. Scott Duvall, Revelation, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 217.

5 Prayers To Protect Me Everyday

5 Prayers to Protect Me Everyday

5 Prayers To Protect Me Everyday

October 19, 2016 Year C
Psalm 57:1-11

Just like David, sometimes we look for protection against the dangers in life. In the case of David, he was a fugitive. King Saul sent out people to try to kill David. Yet, no matter what the danger may be, we can feel just as insecure as David perhaps felt. In this prayer, David calls out to pray for protection. He begs God to help him during this time of difficulty.

I believe that this psalm reveals to us five different ways that we can ask God for protection everyday.


1. Be gracious (Psalm 57:1)

David is asking for God’s grace to help protect him. He is placing his faith not just in the cave he hides in. The means of protection is not as important as the God who is gracious to protect us. Even though David hides in a cave, he knows that his true protection comes not from the means – the cave. Instead, God is the One who hides David. God is gracious to produce a shadow big enough to hide in until the danger passes. God produces a supernatural cloaking device or invisibility shield until the danger left. If God can do that with David in a cave, He can do that today with me.

2. Reveal Your purpose (Psalm 57:2)

I am quite sure that David was wondering why he had to spend time hiding in a cave. “What’s the purpose of this?” Don’t we all want to know sometimes why God puts us in certain situations? Why am still here in this town? Why am I still going through this struggle with my kids?

3. Reach down (Psalm 57:3-6)

Sometimes, don’t you wish that God would just swoop down from Heaven and solve your problems? I think David is saying that here. He recalls the times when he was surrounded by lions. He remembers a time when his enemies prepared a net to capture him, or a pit for him to fall in. Remembering this experiences made David feel despondent. He was deeply discouraged by negative thoughts. Dare I say it, perhaps David was a bit depressed.

Yet David reminds himself that God is to be exalted. He wants to God’s glory to fill the Earth. The reason is because He knows that God will handle the situation in the end. The pit that David’s enemies dug will be the same pit which the enemies will fall into. It’s not karma. It’s consequences for not trusting in God.

4. Build my confidence (Psalm 57:7)
The purpose of God’s reaching down is for me to be strengthened. I discover during times like this that I can’t do everything alone. I need God’s help. I need His strength. I need God to help me build my confidence.

As God shows His grace, reveals His purpose, and reaches down, it helps to build my confidence. As I realize that God is there with me all the way, and that I am not alone, I can see that I will get through this difficult time.

5. Be exalted (Psalm 57:5, Psalm 57:7-11)

The psalm crescendos from a plea for help into a performance of praise. David calls on his soul to wake up and praise God. God deserves one’s praise because of His faithful love.

When David spends more time praising God, he spends less time worrying about his circumstances. The same can said for me. I can spend time giving God excuses about my problems or I can spend time exalting God about His protection.

Prayer: God, I praise You because You protect me everyday.

Worshiping an Unknown God

Worshiping an Unknown God

Worshiping an Unknown God

October 13, 2016 Year C

Acts 17:22-34

People say they believe in God, but they don’t know Him or worship Him. People say they are religious, but they don’t go to church. People like to enjoy to the latest fad, but they don’t want to make commitments.

We live in very similar times as the people of Athens in this passage. We live in a world where people are worshiping an unknown God. They worshiped God in ignorance (Acts 17:30). We do too.

We are ignorant of the command that God will judge us for abandoning Him when He clearly made a way to come to Him (Acts 17:30-31).

People today say that they know Jesus, but they don’t follow Him. Instead, they fashion a worship experience of their own making. They abandon the clear way that Jesus said to experience worship.

Jesus never wanted us to make idols (Acts 17:29). Jesus never wanted us to worship in isolation. Yet people today choose to abandon the very community Jesus created for worship – the church.

Jesus created the church (Matthew 16:18). He expected Christian to commit to His church. You cannot know God without knowing the Son. You can’t know the Son outside of the church.

Other gathering are great (like Fellowship of Christian Athletes), but they cannot be a replacement for the church. Replacing the church with anything other than the church is creating an idol.

How many of you attend a church? How many of your parents attend the church with you? The reason I ask this question is because you are the next generation. The difference between people worshiping a God they don’t know and worshiping the true God is the level of committment.

It doesn’t matter what church you identify with: Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Full Gospel, non-denominational, Assembly of God.

Go to church. Worship the Known God. If you say that your parents don’t go, then invite them. Be the witness that you say you are by attending these lunches. Being a Christian witness isn’t just for school. It’s for the home as well. Go home and invite your parents to church. The church needs your families. They need their participation, not just yours.

If they don’t know God because they don’t know Jesus, then pray for your parents. Share the Gospel with them. Invite them to worship this God which is unknown to them. Use their non-commitment as a starting point.

Don’t let them give you excuses. Excuses are about the past, not the present or the future. You go to church to worship a known God. They should join you.

If that doesn’t bring them to church, or you can’t bring them because your parents won’t go, or they are stubborn. Then make the choice today’s to not make the same mistake with your children.

Prayer: God, please reveal Yourself so that I may worship You as the True God.

Psalm 66:1-20 Praising God’s Work In My Life

Psalm 66:1-20 Praising God’s Work In My Life

Psalm 66:1-20 Praising God’s Work In My Life

Most commentators believe that Psalm 66 was penned by Hezekiah, king of Judah, after the Lord delivered the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrian army. Although the city was surrounded by 185,000 Assyrians, Isaiah had prophesied that not a single arrow from an Assyrian bow would make its way into Jerusalem (37:33). Indeed, that night, an angel of the Lord came and slaughtered the entire army (2 Kings). It seems Hezekiah wrote this psalm in celebration of this event.1

In this psalm, we have a reminder that we need to praise God. Some commentators divide this psalm into two parts, others divide it into three. One can make a case for three psalms within a psalm: a hymn (66:1–4), a community psalm of thanksgiving (66:5–12), and an individual psalm of thanksgiving (66:13–20).2 This psalm is divided into two parts. The first half, verses 1 through 12, would be sung by a choir. The second half, verses 13 through 20, would be sung by a soloist, perhaps by Hezekiah himself.3


The psalm lists four different ways one can praise God’s works. The list may seem self-explanatory. However, it is amazing that I can praise God in these four different ways. These four different ways seem to lead back to each other in praise. I can shout, sing, say, and see.

1. Shout (Psalm 66:1)

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth!” (Psalm 66:1, HCSB)

As part of God’s creation, we are called to shout out to God. The fact that God has created you and me should make us happy. We should be happy that we are created by God. When we recognize that God has created us, that we have purpose, and that He wants to be with us, it should make us shout out to Him.

As a community, this church has reasons to shout to God, “Thank You.” For one, we have an activity center that has been paid off. For another, we can thank God that He has provided people for us to share the Gospel and whom we can disciple.

2. Sing (Psalm 66:2, 4)

Sing about the glory of His name; make His praise glorious.” (Psalm 66:2, HCSB)

All the earth will worship You and sing praise to You. They will sing praise to Your name.” Selah” (Psalm 66:4, HCSB)

A second way that we can praise God is through song. When we want to praise God, we can sing to Him. We can sing about how glorious God is. We can sing about how important His name is in my life. Eventually, our choir of praise will end in a heavenly chorus. People from all over the world and time and space will join us in singing praises to God (Psalm 66:4).

3. Say (Psalm 66:3)

Say to God, “How awe-inspiring are Your works! Your enemies will cringe before You because of Your great strength.” (Psalm 66:3, HCSB)

We can speak in praise about God. We can talk about what God has done for us. We can tell stories about how God has shown His strength against our enemies, whether these enemies are people or challenges we have encountered. God has been faithful and strong against our enemies of debt, of depression, of difficulties.

We can tell others about the wonders of God in my own lives (Psalm 66:5).

Come and see the wonders of God; His acts for humanity are awe-inspiring.” (Psalm 66:5, HCSB)

Our corporate testimony can lead to others praising God as well. How do they start to praise God?

4. See (Psalm 66:5-12)

People start to praise God when they see and experience His wonders and works personally. We see His awe-inspiring acts. We see God do all kinds of miracles. Whether it is turning the sea into dry land or some other miraculous work, We start to see how great God is in life.

Sometimes, however, the works of God will seem like a test.


For You, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined.” (Psalm 66:10, HCSB)

As a church, we will go through trials that will test us. God is doing this to refine His people, His church. Sometimes, these experiences are difficult and hard to accept:

You lured us into a trap; You placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us out to abundance.” (Psalm 66:11–12, HCSB)

But the purpose of this corporate refining is for the good of the church. Jesus compares this experience to pruning.

Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.” (John 15:2, HCSB)

This whole passage (vv. 10–12) may presuppose the Exodus. In Egypt Israel was tested and “refined.” She was netted in captivity. She had “affliction” laid upon her. However, she was delivered to “rich fulfillment,” to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Throughout the Bible God’s people are tested and tried. Paul tells us that such testing produces character (Romans 5:1–5). Out of the trial, glory shines. Likewise, out of death Jesus experienced resurrection, and out of our death to self we too may have a new beginning.5

When we see God’s works, we can begin to shout, sing, and say about what God is doing in the life of the church. But then we also need to share how God works personally. The psalm shifts from the “we” to “me.” Our testimony has to shift from “we” to “me.”


When I praise God personally for His works in my life, it should motivate me to do three things:

1. I am motivated to separate my PROFITS (Psalm 66:13-15)

I will enter Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows that my lips promised and my mouth spoke during my distress. I will offer You fattened sheep as burnt offerings, with the fragrant smoke of rams; I will sacrifice oxen with goats. Selah” (Psalm 66:13–15, HCSB)

I show that I praise God when I give him money which He has allowed me to make. In this passage, Davis is saying that when he enters the worship house, He will pay to God. He will pay offerings and vows. The vow is a promise to pay something when he was in difficult times and He promised God to give to Him. The vow is your word to God that you owe Him for helping you.

While marriage vows and religious vows are different, the former made between spouses before God and the latter made directly to God the gravity of both is essentially the same—they are to be kept, for ultimately God is the one we are accountable to.6

The offering is voluntary. In this case, David is giving to God because David is happy for God’s goodness in his life. So in this case, we have two different motivations which cause a person to give money to God. The first motivation is based on a promise for God’s work in the past. The second motivation is based on my willingness to see God’s goodness toward me.

2. I am motivated to share my PROFESSION OF FAITH (Psalm 66:16-17)

Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for me. I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.” (Psalm 66:16–17, HCSB)

Goldingay observes that in the Old Testament, calling on God when one is in trouble is a form of praise.7 That is, the parallel lines in verse 17 bring together the experiences of petition and praise.8

In other words, I am professing my faith when I praise God while in the midst of trouble. My personal testimony is important in showing other people how to praise God. Here, it is my experience that leads to my praise. This is where my worship leads to missions. I show other people my God by the way I praise Him. I tell them how God has been powerful in my life, even when things seem impossible to me. I share how God leads my life. This testimony leads other people to investigate: to come and see.

Come and see the wonders of God; His acts for humanity are awe-inspiring.” (Psalm 66:5, HCSB)

My testimony is also a call out to other people. I tell others to join me in praise.

Praise our God, you peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard.” (Psalm 66:8, HCSB)

I remind others about how God keeps me alive through my profession of faith so that I can continually shout, sing, say, and see Him today, tomorrow, and for eternity.9

3. I am motived to speak my PRAYERS (Psalm 66:18-20)

If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer. May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me.” (Psalm 66:18–20, HCSB)

In Psalm 66, David reminds himself that there is a time when prayer is a presumptuous, arrogant, detestable, and obnoxious deed perpetrated upon the Almighty. This psalm opens with seventeen verses of joy and praise to God for His mighty deeds. Then, suddenly, there appears in verse 18 the grim reminder of how the entire story could have been drastically different. We are alerted to the importance of properly approaching God in prayer. If there is anything worse than not praying, it is praying in an unworthy manner10

The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”11

When the cordless phone has been off the hook for too long, it no longer works. The signal has lost its power and its influence. That phone must be rested back onto the base in order for it to become rejuvenated.

One of the reasons Christians are not transformed the way God wants us to be is that we’ve been away too long. We’ve been disconnected too long. Like a cell phone that cuts off because there is a bad spot on the freeway, Christians lose contact with God.12

The best way to continue to have contact is to praise God for the works He has done in life. Praise keeps the connection active. Like a cordless cell phone, we can show people we are still actively connected to God through our praise to Him.

1 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 79.

2 C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms 1–72, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, vol. 1, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), 499.

3 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 79.

4 Jim Erwin, “4 Ways to Praise God’s Works,” Psalm 66:1-9, 1 July 2016, Lectionary Reflections (2015-2016) Year C, Logos Bible Software Notes, Internet,, accessed on 6 October 2016.

5 Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Psalms 1–72, vol. 13, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1986), 478.

6 C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms 1–72, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, vol. 1, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), 505.

7 Goldingay, Psalms, 2:295.

8 C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms 1–72, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, vol. 1, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), 502.

9 Jim Erwin, “4 Ways to Praise God’s Works,” Psalm 66:1-9, 1 July 2016, Lectionary Reflections (2015-2016) Year C, Logos Bible Software Notes, Internet,, accessed on 6 October 2016.

10 R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things?, vol. 3, The Crucial Questions Series (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2009), 68.

11 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 65.

12 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 306–307.

Top Ten Lectionary Websites

Top Ten Lectionary Websites

Top Ten Lectionary Websites

Here are my top ten places to go when I use the lectionary. From time to time, I will use the lectionary for a Bible study or a sermon. I go to these websites to help enrich my sermon preparation. Some of these websites contain links to other websites. Others contain podcasts. I have found that each of these websites is great for planning using the lectionary. Some contain worship resources, sermon preparation tool, commentaries, or completed sermons ready to use.

I am using websites that address the Revised Common Lectionary as developed by the North American Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) and, later, the International English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC).

Additional Online Resources for Lectionary Planning

The Lectionary Lab

Ministry Matters

Pulpit Fiction

The Revised Common Lectionary from Vanderbilt University

Christian Resource Institute – The Voice

Sermons and Sermon – Lectionary Resources

Singing from the Lectionary

The Text This Week

Working Preacher

You can find more TOP TEN lists. These include lists of inspirational storiesfunny sermon illustrations, Bible study programs, and free sermons.

Hearing God in Conversation by Samuel C. Williamson

Hearing God in Conversation by Samuel C. Williamson

Hearing God in Conversation by Samuel C. Williamson

Hearing God in Conversation by Samuel C. Williamson is a book that was written to help the reader “recognize God’s voice everywhere.” Williamson begins with the premise that God does speak and that He wants to talk with us (40-41) (John 10:3, Jeremiah 33:3, Revelation 3:20, John 16:13, Isaiah 30:21, John 8:47, Psalm 32:8.) In Chapter 1, Williamson illustrates how God speaks in multiple methods and moments (44-54). In Chapter 2, Williamson reveals that conversation IS the point and encourages the reader to just be themselves when they talk to God (55-72). He makes it clear that prayer is not a list of demands, but an ongoing relationship where God engages us through specific ways. In Chapter 3, Williamson describes how to recognize God’s voice (73-90). This has been a dilemma for many people. Williamson explains that one must learn to distinguish God’s voice from others because God is still, not silent. One must learn the discipline of paying attention in order to hear God. God has a strong, compelling voice, but He will not coerce or force us to hear Him. God speaks by putting words in our minds – which is the simplest way to explain it. The spiritual enters the physical through the mind. Yet it takes practice to listen. Williamson then reminds us that once we listen to God, we must act on what we hear (James 1:22).

In Chapter 4, Williamson describes the purpose of Scripture. He challenges the notion that the Bible is a maintenance manual or useful to prescribe correct behavior. It is not for inspiration or to find the truth. Scripture exists for us to meet God (91-104). In Chapter 5, Williamson shows how one can hear God in meditation (105-120). Using an illustration from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Williamson shows that Khan became Moby Dick because he had meditated on it and quoted it to James Kirk. He states that meditation changes us (131). We can repeat God’s law, write paraphrases, and interact with Scripture to gain its truth (121-135). In Chapter 7, Williamson shares the interesting idea about how to brainstorm with God. This is the idea of listening and sorting out the voices one hears when one studies the Bible (136-149).

In Chapter 8, the focus shifts away from hearing God’s Word for yourself and learning to hear God’s Word as ministry to other people (150-176). Chapter 9 addresses the difficulties and biases in hearing God’s Word (169-182). In Chapter 10, Williamson shows that God connects to us through His Word by asking questions (183-193). In Chapter 11, the author encourages the reader to cultivate a “holy curiosity” (194-209). In Chapter 12, Williamson addresses the question: “How Can I Know It’s God’s Voice?” (210-228). In Chapter 13, he asks the reader to pursue a “relational knowledge” of God (229-245). Williamson addresses the impact of emotions in Chapter 14 (246-258) and that God speaks in our detours in Chapter 15 (259-275). Williamson challenges the reader to hear God in the ordinary in Chapter 16 (276-289) and warns us that God shouts in His silence in Chapter 17 (290-309). Williamson reminds the reader that God always guides even when the answers to prayers don’t seem to come in Chapter 18 (310-330).

Williamson includes two appendices. The first answers significant questions that come up about the nature of prayer (331-351). The second deals with questionable and excessive practices (352-378). In all, Williamson provides a comprehensive book on the nature of prayer as conversation. He addresses the problems in prayer, the challenges of listening and in the end reminds us that prayer is about God, not us. Perceiving God’s voice is hard even for the experienced Christian. Williamson’s book will help a Christian to listen better to God’s voice. The book is theologically solid and gives practical advice on prayer. I highly recommend this book.

I also reviewed Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids? by Samuel Williamson

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

Psalm 85:1-13 The Four Stanzas of Revival

Psalm 85:1-13 The Four Stanzas of Revival

Psalm 85:1-13 The Four Stanzas of Revival

In the middle of this month, our church will host a revival. The music group The Texans will come to lead serves for four days. In order to prepare for this time, I wanted to share with you from God’s Word today about revival. Let me first say something about the nature of revival.

D.A. Carson makes an interesting comment about the modern-day revival:

First, the word “revival” embedded in these questions is used a bit loosely. Mercifully, it is not used in the sense common in some Southern states where it often serves as the near equivalent of “evangelistic meetings” (as in “Last month we held a revival”). It is closer to the more historic sense of a special movement of God’s Spirit that brings with it deep conviction of sin, fresh contrition and fresh holiness, and concomitant zeal for God’s Word and God’s glory—a special movement that may be as short as a few hours or as long as many years, and may result in thousands being renewed, and more thousands being converted. Some of the characteristics of revivals have not been particularly strong in this “young, restless, and Reformed” movement.1

While Carson is talking about the under-40 crowd of pastors who dismiss these kinds of meetings, I want us to realize revival is not just an evangelistic meeting. It has elements of evangelism. But revival involves more than that. It is a renewing work of the Holy Spirit to challenge God’s people to follow Him further. The best definition of a revival is in Acts.

Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” (Acts 3:19, HCSB)

Peter tells the people to repent, to turn back so that sins will be forgiven and seasons of refreshing may come. Revival is not evangelism, although people may get saved. Although we have placed a time on the calendar when a group of people will come and share with us, revivals cannot be planned into tiny compartments of evenings where people “get right with God.” That can happen, but a revival is more than that.

Here is my definition of a revival: the beginning of a movement of God to renew His people and return His people to His purposes.

This psalm was written by the “Sons of Korah,” which sounds like a modern-day music group. The song was written to worship God and ask Him to restore His favor with God’s people. Isn’t that what we ask of God from time to time. You get out of step with God and you want to come back to God. You want to seek His purposes. You want God to show Himself. That’s what this psalm is all about.

James Montgomery Boice was both a theologian and a musician, he looked at this psalm like a song. One can look at the structure of this psalm and see that it divides nicely into four parts, or like four stanzas in a song.

STANZA 1: My Past

Revival begins when I recognize that a “golden age” has gone (Psalm 85:1-3)

Lord, You showed favor to Your land; You restored Jacob’s prosperity. You took away Your people’s guilt; You covered all their sin. Selah You withdrew all Your fury; You turned from Your burning anger.” (Psalm 85:1–3, HCSB)

The first stanza of the hymn encourages us to look back at the past and to remember the mercies of God. Just look at the verbs that are here in this first paragraph – favorable, restored, forgave, covered, withdrew, turned from. What a great God that He would have mercy upon His people even in the midst of their sin and wickedness. As we consider our spiritual conditions, remember who this God is and how He has responded to us in days gone by.2

We have seen a few “golden ages” in the history of this church. Just like the people of Israel, we have seen God work. This is the first stanza, a reminder of God’s work in the past:

Prayer: Remember the mercies of God

So Israel and Yahweh had “made up.” Exile was over. It was a new day. However, when we read the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah, we learn that when the people returned, they soon became discouraged and they lost faith. The walls of the city were still broken down. The condition of their homeland had declined, and life was not easy like they had dreamed it to be, and they soon forgot God. The culture went south again. This leads us to the next stanza – my present.

STANZA 2: My Present

Revival starts when I desperately cry for change (Psalm 85:4-7)

Return to us, God of our salvation, and abandon Your displeasure with us. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger for all generations? Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your faithful love, Lord, and give us Your salvation.” (Psalm 85:4–7, HCSB)

This is the second stanza. Here, we remember that the past was great, but now the culture has changed. The people of Israel have been in exile and returned home. However, home isn’t like it used to be. The place has changed. In Israel’s time, the wall was down, the area was unprotected. It was run down by people who had no respect for God’s things. We live in a similar world today. We have grown up with two generations who have been faithful to God and His work here in this church. Now, we see the culture is changing. There is less respect for God, His place, His time, and His priorities.

As a result of this change in the culture, the psalmist asks a series of questions. These are very similar to questions that God’s people may ask today. The point of these question is that it comes with an expected answer of “No.”

Will you be angry? No (85:5)

Will you not revive us again? No (85:6)

The point of these questions is to assure the person that God is not angry and that He will revive. God will do what He said about salvation. Therefore, God’s anger is appeased and is not tied to salvation. However, salvation is tied to God’s love (85:7).3

This makes us realize that there needs to be change. We can complain about the glory of the past. At the same time, we can ask for God’s help in changing me so that I can deal with the present. This prayer is a prayer of restoration. We pray for God to restore our hearts to desire Him.

Prayer: Pray for restoration

This leads us to the third stanza in this psalm. It is how I prepare for revival. I have to wait upon God.

STANZA 3: My Preparation

Revival requires that I wait upon God (Psalm 85:8-9)

I will listen to what God will say; surely the Lord will declare peace to His people, His godly ones, and not let them go back to foolish ways. His salvation is very near those who fear Him, so that glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:8–9, HCSB)

If I want a movement of God to renew me to His purposes, then I have to wait for God to work. First, I have reflected on God’s goodness. Then I have returned to God and I make myself available for Him. Now comes the hard part. I have to wait upon God. Now waiting doesn’t mean I am doing nothing.

This Psalm tells us that we have called and asked God for restoration but until God has done what God is going to do, we are going to do what He has instructed us to do. We are going to live by that which we have learned from God. The New Testament reminds us that we are people who are now waiting for the return Christ. You know full well that God doesn’t intend for us to just sit here in the church, maybe have a picnic or two or just enjoy being together until Jesus comes again, but we are to wait for His return. We are to have that working waiting until He comes. We don’t give up hope that He is going to come.4

Prayer: Pray for patience and to not give up hope

STANZA 4: God’s Work

Revival results in God working in our midst (Psalm 85:10-13)

Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace. Truth will spring up from the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven. Also, the Lord will provide what is good, and our land will yield its crops. Righteousness will go before Him to prepare the way for His steps.” (Psalm 85:10–13, HCSB)

This is the final stanza, the last verse, the end of the song. God shows up. God’s past performance inspired confidence for the future. Renewal of both spiritual and material well-being would come. Heaven and earth would meet, creating meaning and harmony in the relationship of God and men.5

We shall enjoy the results of revival. Here in these verses, we see seven results of revival.


1. People start living right – How God wants them to (Psalm 85:10).

Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace.” (Psalm 85:10, HCSB)

The key word in verses 10–13, repeated three times, is “righteous –ness.” The word signifies right relationships and the terms that keep them. In various contexts the word can mean anything from salvation or victory to righteous help and healing. Whatever keeps God’s covenant operative in accord with His character is righteous.7 In other words, God’s people start living right. They get back on the straight and narrow. They see their sin, confess it, and then follow God’s ways.

2. The church has more unity (Psalm 85:10)

Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace.” (Psalm 85:10, HCSB)

Here, four major characteristics of God join in pairs. Mercy and truth join together, and righteousness and peace join together. They are pictured here like dancing couples. Couples who dance do so in unity. When you see people living right, when you see people at peace with one another, when you see love being shared, and truth being lived out, then you are going to see unity. Jesus prayed for unity in the church – the same unity that God the Father had with Jesus.

3. The church sees an increase (Psalm 85:11)

Truth will spring up from the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:11, HCSB)

When people get their lives right, they will be willing to share the truth – the Gospel. They will also live right. When we are living as God wants us to, and sharing with others, God’s church is going to see an increase. We will see more people come. We will see more people commit. We will see more families restored. We will see an increase in God’s favor.

4. The church sees God provide (Psalm 85:12)

Also, the Lord will provide what is good, and our land will yield its crops.” (Psalm 85:12, HCSB)

What is going doing during all this time? He is providing. He is providing what is good. He is allowing us to receive the blessings that come because of obedience. If you plant a seed, water it, take care of it, God will grow it into the crop which is harvested and enjoyed. The same is true with the church. If we are doing what God tells us to do, then He will provide. God will never send us somewhere without providing a way.

5. God prepares the church for the next step of the journey (Psalm 85:13)

Righteousness will go before Him to prepare the way for His steps.” (Psalm 85:13, HCSB)

A man’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way.” (Psalm 37:23, HCSB)

God himself appears to lead his people forward. Before him as a herald goes the righteousness which moves him to the salvation of his people. His people will follow in his steps.8 In order for God to help us in our next part of the journey as a church, we have to be living like God wants us to. Our obedience to God paves the road that God uses to take our church forward. If we are living like God wants us to, then He takes that obedience and uses it to pave the road to our future. If we are disobedient, if we dismiss this opportunity that God has given us, we will be as lost as a person in the desert with no orientation. But we have to pay attention. The results of this revival will only happen if we take time to pay attention.


When you pay attention to someone in authority to you and do what they tell you, benefits will follow. Why is this so? Because only the person you pay attention to can help you. If instead, you choose not to pay attention, then you will make mistakes and consequences will follow. Children learn these valuable lessons.

As God’s children, we are told in this psalm to listen to what God will say. The psalmist wants us to pay attention. What will God say to us? God speaks peace to us and tells us to not go back to foolish ways (Psalm 85:8). God will bring salvation to those who respect Him (Psalm 85:9). If we pay attention to God, faithful love and truth will come together in our lives. That means that out of God’s grace, He will speak truth to us. Truth comes up and righteousness (right living) comes down (Psalm 85:10-11). If we pay attention, we will see that God will provide what is good. He will make the land yield crops. He will show us the way of right living (Psalm 85:12-13). In other words, God will show us how to live. But for God to show us the good way to live – the way that benefits us, we need to listen to God and His instruction (Psalm 85:8). How closely am I listening to God? How much attention am I paying to God?9

Prayer: Am I ready for God’s results?

1 D. A. Carson, “Editorial: The Underbelly of Revival? Five Reflections on Various Failures in the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement,” Themelios 39, no. 3 (2014): 405.

2 Jordan Easley, “Crying Out For Revival”, Psalm 85, sermon, 8 July 2012. Internet,, accessed 30 September 2016.

3 Jim Erwin, “God’s Work in Our Salvation,” Psalm 85:1-9, 4 December 2014, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes,, accessed on 30 September 2016.

4 Dr. Tom Cheely, “The Major Obstacle to Revival,” Psalm 85, Evening Sermon, 28 July 2013, Internet,, accessed on 30 September 2016.

5 Russell H. Dilday Jr. and J. Hardee Kennedy, “Psalms,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 328.

6 David and Mary Tucker, Word of Life Ministries, “Seven Steps to Revival,” Series 14 Bible Studies, Internet,, accessed on 30 September 2016. I have condensed the number from seven to five because it fits the flow of the last “stanza” of this psalm (Psalm 85:10-13).

7 Donald Williams and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Psalms 73–150, vol. 14, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989), 113.

8 James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Ps 85:13.

9 Jim Erwin, “Paying Attention Has Its Benefits,” Psalm 85:8-13, 9 July 2015, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes,, accessed on 30 September 2016.