Friday, June 24, 2016

Chaplains Are a Safe Place

Dear One and All,

I am a School Chaplain in two primary schools in Melbourne, Australia. I love being involved in making a difference in the lives of students, staff and families! Much of what happens through chaplaincy is funded through people like you who want to see schools have the influence, mentoring and care of chaplains. I am employed by ACCESS Ministries and would love for you to help keep myself and other chaplains like me doing what we love!

Please click on the Pic or the Link below to make a difference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Embracing God: Study 6 - Millennium & End of Sin: The End of the Dragon’s Tale

Study 6 - Millennium & End of Sin: The End of the Dragon's Tale

Scholars have said there is nothing in Revelation that is not also in the Old Testament. Many of the references are direct and obvious quotes or rewordings. Other phrases and ideas are vague enough that they require detailed knowledge and careful study of the Old Testament. The study of the Dragon in Revelation is one of the primary themes in Revelation. Let’s explore this ancient story carefully!

Read Revelation 12:1-2
How is the woman dressed? Does this remind you of any story in the Old Testament? (Genesis 37:9)
What is the woman doing? Why? (Genesis 3:15-16)
In the second study – about Creation – we saw this ‘first prophecy’ of mankind. How does this story retell the prophecy?
How does the Dragon story combine the Genesis curse and the promise?
What twist exists in the story of Jesus’ birth that adds something unique to the curse/promise? (Isaiah 7:14)

Read Revelation 12:3-4
Who does the Dragon represent? (Rev 12:9)
Why is there conflict between the Woman and the Dragon (Genesis 3:15)
Who do you think the Woman represents? (Isaiah 54:5-6)
How did the second half of Rev 12:4 play out in reality (Matthew 2:7-8,16)

Read Revelation 12:5-6
Who was the Son of the Woman?
Read Psalm 2 and reflect – what might this section of the Dragon story have brought to mind for ancient hearers?

Read Revelation 12:7-9
What result did ‘setting his sights too high’ have for Satan?
How does this remind you of our first study? (Review Isaiah 14:12-19)
What is the Dragon’s goal? (Rev 12:9)
Who is Michael? How is Michael vs Satan going to play out? (Daniel 12:1)

There’s a lot that can be said (and has been in these studies) about the time between the Fall in the Garden and the Return of Earth to the perfect pre-fall state. As we live through the final hours of this Earth’s suffering, we are experiencing the death throes of the Dragon as he thrashes about – knowing that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). We explored the Victory March last week – as Jesus returns in the clouds of Glory to claim those who have claimed His gift on the Cross – and this week we explore what happens after the Second Coming.

In our third study, we saw that the Day of Atonement was key to understanding the meaning and purpose of the Death of Jesus on the Cross. In the middle of that day, there were two goats. The first was sacrificed for the cleansing of the Sanctuary – This first goat represented Jesus who took the weight of the confessed sins of the entire world for all time and died as a sacrifice for us all. The second goat received both hands of the High Priest as all the gathered sin from the cleansing of the Sanctuary was transferred to its head. This act – only on the Day of Atonement – was the final act of removing sin from the Sanctuary – sin which had already been forgiven during the past year of Israel’s confession was now removed entirely from God’s presence.

In the Old Testament Sanctuary, the sacrifice of the second goat was the only time both hands were placed on the head of a sacrifice. It was also the only time the sacrifice did not die immediately after receiving the weight of sin upon it. At this point on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest had already purified the people and the Sanctuary. This Goat - representing Satan after the Second Coming – was sent walking with the blood of all the deaths from all offerings of the year upon its head. While the first goat took the punishment, the second goat took the blame. The entire metaphor holds together here only if that goat, guilty as charged, never returns and ultimately dies. This goat is not purifying anything. He’s not playing any role in forgiveness for sins. He is merely taking what doesn’t belong to God or His people – Sin – away from them both.

While the second goat was merely a metaphor, Satan deserves his time in the desert. He is the guilty party for all of sin. He is the tempter, the dragon, that old snake the Devil. He deserves – and will receive – the blame for all sin.

Read Revelation 20:1-3
What is this passage describing? What do you think it will be like for Satan?
As we saw in last week’s study, there are no humans alive on the Earth after Jesus’ Second Coming. Those who believe in Jesus have gone to the place he prepared for them. Those who do not believe are destroyed by the brightness of His coming.
How is this humanless state of planet earth like a bottomless pit for Satan?
How long will Satan be in this ‘locked up’ state? (Rev 20:2)
Without anyone to deceive – what will Satan do for so long? (go even more mad!)

Read Revelation 20:11-15
What happens after the 1000 years are finished?
What process occurs for every person who has not accepted Salvation? (Rev 20:12)
Then what happens to them? (Rev 20:13-14)
How do we know that this judgment and death do not happen to the Saved? (Rev 20:6, 15)
What is the difference between the First and Second Death? (John 11:25-26)

Conclusion and Call

Read Revelation 21:1-4
What is your favourite part of this passage?
Do you think this time of eternal peace will mean more to us or God? Why?
What do you think this will be like?
What excites you most about the new Earth?

From the moment sin entered our planet, God had a plan to solve it. We are now living just moments from that plan reaching the second of three major waypoints. The first, and most important, was the Death of Jesus in our place. The second, drawing ever closer, is the promised return of Jesus to claim those who have accepted the gift of eternal life. The third and final waypoint is the one we studied tonight – the end of sin, Satan, death and pain. Forever!
A day is coming when God will cleanse and perfectly recreate planet Earth. He promises that He will make His home here with us! Do you want to see this amazing day?


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Embracing God: Study 5 - Second Coming: Eager Living

Study 5 - Second Coming: Eager Living

As we learned in the study about the sanctuary, the blood of the sacrificed animals prepared people to understand the sacrifice of Jesus. The Sanctuary on Earth was also a great illustration of what would one day take place through the Cross. Just as the Sabbath is tied to this great day of atonement, so is the second coming of Jesus.

Read Hebrews 9:23-28
Where did the plan/model for the tabernacle on Earth come from? (Heb 9:23)
What was accomplished by the sacrifice (blood) of animals? (Heb 9:23)
What ‘far better sacrifice’ was made to cleanse the Heavenly Sanctuary? (Heb 9:23)
Where is Jesus, now? What is He doing? (Heb 9:24)
How powerful was the death of Jesus? What did it accomplish? (Heb 9:25-26)
After death, there are two possible outcomes: Judgement or Salvation. It is our choice which we receive. How do we demonstrate our belief that Jesus took the Judgement we deserve and that we await ultimate Salvation? (Heb 9:27-28)

Those who eagerly wait for the return of Jesus live with the assurance of Salvation because of their faith in His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. They live in the belief that the same God who would offer His son as a perfect sacrifice in their place will also send Him to claim them as His own.
The lifestyle of one living in the hope of the Second Coming is one of eager anticipation. Knowing they are soon to receive the ultimate reward of eternal life with their Creator and Redeemer, they tirelessly spend their time telling others of the soon-coming King and the eternal reward He brings with Him. And, unwaveringly, they invite and implore their friends and family to be ready.

Read Acts 1:6-11
When the Holy Spirit enters God’s people, they receive the power to do what?
Why is it important to be telling the story of Jesus to the world as we wait?
How will Jesus return? What will it look like?

Read Matthew 24:26-31
The first time Jesus came as a baby quietly born in a stable. How is this time different?
What do you think Matt 24:30-31 will sound like? Look like? Feel like? Describe the scene…
What is the goal of this second visit to Earth?
Where will he take these ‘chosen ones’?

Read John 14:1-3
Why might our hearts be troubled before Jesus returns? (death of loved ones, suffering, sin)
What is Jesus’ advice for those of us who worry about life?
What promise did He make to those who have chosen Him?
When will Jesus return to get us?

When Jesus is ready, when all is prepared for us, He will return to Earth in glorious splendour. This time not as a baby in a manger surrounded by animals but as a King on a throne surrounded by angels. The Second Coming of Jesus will show his true nature to the entire world.
And it will change everything!

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
What promises are in this passage?
What happened to Jesus after the Cross? (resurrection)
How does this give us hope for the Second Coming? (Eternal life is secure – even for dead believers)
What story of the future are we to encourage each other with until we see Jesus return?

Conclusion and Call

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
This is the story we are to repeat to our friends, family and ourselves as we eagerly wait. What part of this ‘end time mission statement’ stands out for you? (take an answer from each person in the circle)
Do you want to live in the light of knowing Jesus is returning to claim His people?
Do you want to live like someone living in the dark or the light? What will you do? (1 Thes 5:8)
God chose not to pour His anger on you but to save you through Jesus. What do you say?
Christ’s death and resurrection guarantee that eternal life is possible! What do you say?

The last two verses in the Bible speak to and for all those who believe Jesus is coming back for them.

Read Revelation 22:20-21
What do you say?


Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Embracing God: Study 4 - Sabbath: The Rest of the Story

Study 4 - Sabbath: The Rest of the Story

As our previous studies have shown, the Sabbath is tied tightly to the identity of God’s people.
In the first Creation story, the Sabbath features as the day humanity celebrates being created in the image of God by worshipping Him faithfully from week to week on the day he set aside.

In the Sanctuary system, the Sabbath played a special role – particularly on the Day of Atonement of which God said, “It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you” (Leviticus 16:31). This “Sabbath” was on the 10th day of the 7th month – the Day of Atonement. Clearly, this would not always be a Saturday but God calls it a Sabbath nonetheless. And a very special Sabbath. If the people of God were not fully committed to the careful observance of “denying themselves” on this day, the High Priest would die within the walls of the Most Holy Place as he attempted to minister on their behalf. This yearly day of Atonement was a foreshadowing of the amazing gift of eternal atonement made by Christ on the Cross.

It would stand to reason that when type met reality, things would change. Rather than fading into non-importance, as some would suggest, the Sabbath rest of the people of God swelled in meaning and purpose with Jesus’ life and death. The perpetual Day of Atonement in which we now live creates in us and through us a Sabbath reality that is beyond any understanding available before the event of the Cross. 

Let’s explore this Biblical and historical background so we can launch fully in understanding and action into the new Sabbath of the present.

Blessed Rest…. Creation/image

Read Genesis 2:1-3
How did God celebrate the finish of His creative week?
What do you think Adam, Eve and God did on that Sabbath?

Read Exodus 20:8-11
To whom was this passage being presented? (Exodus 19:25)
What had they been doing for the past 400 years?
Why do you think this commandment starts with the word “remember”?

Rest we Forget… Freedom

After spending 40 years in the desert, Moses repeated the 10 Commandments to the Israelites as they were about to conquer the promised land. The wording changes – particularly in the Sabbath Commandment.

Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15
What follows the word “remember” this time?
Why is this important?
How is the Sabbath a day of Freedom, today?

In God We Rest… Jerusalem falls

Read Jeremiah 17:19-27
What were they doing that God wanted them to stop? Why?
What was promised if they honoured the Sabbath?
What was promised if they dishonoured the Sabbath?

Read 2 Chronicles 36:11-21
How did the people’s treatment of the Sabbath impact their lives?
How important is the Sabbath to God?

Heart of the Sabbath… Jesus & Sabbath Kingdom Activity

Read Matthew 12:1-8
What are some things in this passage that are examples of missing the point of the Sabbath?
What does Jesus see as the most important thing to do on Sabbath?
Based on this passage, what would a Sabbath ‘well-kept’ look like?

Read Luke 4:14-21
What is Jesus teaching here?
How did Jesus bring the things in this passage into reality?
Does this passage describe what you think Jesus was like?

Read Isaiah 61:1-3
What would a place look like if this prophecy was fulfilled?
How does it bring God glory when His people are blessed?
If this passage was your mission statement, what would you spend your time doing?

Conclusion – Sabbath Attitude

Thinking back to the beginning of this study, the Sabbath attitude present in the hearts of those living in the perpetual Day of Atonement begun at the cross brings about a new way of living and loving. What does this perpetual Sabbath attitude look like when lived out?

Read Isaiah 58:1-14
What stands out to you in this passage?
What kind of ‘fasting’ pleases God? Fasting is ‘denying yourself’ something – usually food. What ways of ‘denying self’ are mentioned in this passage?

What is the difference between a self-centred Christian and a God-centred Christian?
How does the Sabbath act as a reminder of who we are meant to be?
How is the Sabbath a day of delight for those living this way?

Sabbath is a day to remember.
A day to remember that we are created in God’s image.
A day to remember that we are free from slavery to sin.
A day to remember that God’s Kingdom serves God, not self.
A day to remember that Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, came to bring mercy.
And, ultimately, Sabbath is a day to remind us to live this way every day.

We are God’s image-bearers selflessly showing mercy and joining Jesus in His mission to ‘so love the world’ by being willing to give up our lives in the hope of seeing His Kingdom Come, His will done – on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

This is what it means to be a people of the Sabbath.

We don’t keep the Sabbath; the Sabbath keeps us.
It keeps us living as reflectors of the image of God.
It keeps us claiming forgiveness rather than guilt.
It keeps us focused on serving rather than being served.
It keeps us speaking mercy rather than judgment.
It keeps us holy by doing good rather than being good.
The Sabbath keeps God’s people on task, on track and on fire.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Embracing God: Study 3 – Sanctuary: Rites for Wrong

Study 3: Sanctuary – Rites for Wrong 

Introduction: The Sanctuary was a place of forgiveness. It started with blood and ended with holiness. All year long, the blood sacrifices would come into the temple and then, on the 10th day of the 7th month – the day of Atonement – everything would be cleansed and holiness would reign among the people and priests for a time. Until it all started over again. And again. And again.

Then Jesus came.

Read Romans 5:6-11
How does this passage make you feel? Why?
What state were we in when Jesus died for us? Why does this matter? (v6,10)
Why is it important that we were ‘still sinners’ when God sent His Son? (v8)
What has the blood of Jesus done for us? Why is that important? (v9)
What restored our friendship with God? What comes with that friendship? (v10)
We are friends of God! How does this new relationship change the way we live? (v11)

The Old Testament Sanctuary
Before Jesus came, God demonstrated his plan for reconciliation through a system the people participated in each year. It was called the temple. When God’s people were wandering around the desert, God gave Moses a plan for a mobile temple called the Sanctuary. Just as the people had tents they would set up every time they stopped travelling, the Sanctuary was God’s tent where the priests made sacrifices for the people – to cleanse them from their sins – because of God’s instructions. These personal sacrifices could happen anytime the Sanctuary was set up.

Once the Israelites settled in Canaan, they built a temple out of stone and built a fixed Sanctuary at its centre. There were many rituals, rites and items in the Sanctuary used in the forgiveness process. Amazingly, each and every one of these things represented the ultimate and complete sacrifice made on the cross by Jesus – God’s Son.

Once a year, both when they were travelling and once the temple was fixed in stone, there was a special day called the ‘Day of Atonement’ in which everything was ‘made right with God’ through an entire day of purification rituals. This ‘Day of Atonement’ was designed to return God’s people, priests and temple to a perfect relationship with Him. On this day all of the sins of Israel were forgiven and then the sins were removed from the Sanctuary and sent walking – literally! Let’s have a look.

Read Leviticus 16:1-2
What had happened that caused God to present careful rules for coming into His presence?

Why was God so serious about how people acted in His presence? (sin cannot exist in God’s presence. If it is enacted, it will destroy the sinner.)

Read Leviticus 16:3-5
What must Aaron (the High Priest) do before entering the sanctuary? (bathe, clothes, bring sacrifices – two goats, one bull-ram)

Read Leviticus 16:6
What did this sacrifice (of the bull ram) accomplish? (purified himself and his family)

Now that he is clean, dressed right and ready – the first sacrifice ensures he is totally right with God before entering the sanctuary.

Read Leviticus 16:7-10
What is the purpose of the two goats?
(one is a sacrifice for the sins of the people)
(one is sent walking with the sins accumulated in the temple that year on its head – at the end of the ceremony – to purify the sanctuary for the next year)

‘Azazel’ is one of the most mysterious words in the Bible. It only appears on the Day of Atonement and nowhere else in any ancient literature. Therefore, its meaning is unsure. What do you think ‘azazel’ means? (‘the goat that goes away’ or ‘scapegoat’)

What does the goat sent walking to Azazel accomplish?
(In effect, the sins of the people are symbolically cast into the realm beyond civilization, to become the property of a being who is the antithesis of the God of Israel.)

Read Leviticus 16:11-16
Why were each of these steps so very important?
This is the most dangerous part of the day. Aaron enters God’s presence – the Most Holy Place. Each year, when Aaron came out of the Most Holy Place alive, how do you think he felt?
What did this part of the day accomplish? (purify the Most Holy Place, entire Sanctuary [tabernacle])
What was it purifying God’s house from? (the sin and rebellion of the Israelites)

Read Leviticus 16:17-19
What did putting blood on the altar accomplish? (purified Israel from sin [goat] and his family [bull])

Read Leviticus 16:20-22
All the sins from the people that day and all the sins accumulated in the Sanctuary that year were now figuratively ‘on the hands’ of the High Priest, Aaron. What does he do with those sins? (both hands – not through the HP, all other offerings were one-handed! – but from him onto the goat.)

Where did the sins from the purified Sanctuary go? (into the barren desert – to Azazel)

With Christ as our High Priest and the sins of the world forgiven on the cross, we are now living in the heart of the perpetual literal Day of Atonement. The High Priest was right with God, the Sanctuary was cleansed (Daniel 8:14), and now we await the time of the second goat – when all the sins of God’s people, reconciled throughout history in the Sanctuary of Christ’s love will be placed on that old goat, the Devil, and he is sent walking for the thousand years between the second and final (third) coming of God to this world. We are living in the presence of God because of the lifesaving rites and righteousness of His Son.

With such forgiveness and reconciliation with God available, how can you take the temple to the people in your life, today?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-19
What does the ‘old life’ and ‘new life’ mean? (v14,15)
How does it change? (v15) (selfishness to Christlikeness)
Who do Christians live for? How are they new people? (v17)
What ‘gift from God’ did we receive? (v18)
Who is the initiator of our reconciliation: us or God? (v18)
What does that ‘gift’ of friendship lead to initiate in our personal relationships? (v18)
What is ‘wonderful’ about the message of reconciliation? (v19)

Read 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
How do these two verses sum up this study? (v20 our call, vs21 perfect sacrifice)

Leviticus is at the heart – the middle – of the books of Moses.
Leviticus chapters 1 – 15 are focused on blood and how to apply it.
Leviticus chapters 17 – 27 are focused on holiness and how to maintain it.
Leviticus 16 – The Day of Atonement – is the apex and tipping point between sin and salvation, blood and holiness, justification and sanctification. How does this compare to the cross? (the cross is the tipping point in reality, the Sanctuary was the example)

Reconciliation between humanity and God has always been in God’s hands. He chose to forgive us for our sins. He chose to establish a plan of reconciliation to reach out to us. He designed the Sanctuary to exemplify His plan for forgiveness. He sent His Son to enact His plan for forgiveness. Every time the plan of reconciliation emerged, God initiated it.

From that place of applied reconciliation, God calls us His ‘temple’ and our actions are the actions of His ‘priests’ – acting on behalf of God to enact the work of reconciliation which God, again, began within us. God’s ‘priests’ (us) are called to continue the work of reconciliation between humanity and God - firstly within the camp (between sinful believers and God, as in the OT Sanctuary system) and then to the wider world of those who do not yet know God due to the gift of His Son – the perfect blood sacrifice.

Now, bought with the blood of Christ, we live in the reality of the Sanctuary’s work in our lives – as holy because He is holy. Each and every act of reconciliation that we initiate is an act of God’s holiness in us and through us.

We are living in the perpetual Day of Atonement – bringing at-one-ment between God and fallen believers, God and those who have yet to meet Him and between God’s image-bearers and fellow image-bearers (interpersonal forgiveness).

This life of bringing forgiveness is a work we are truly cut out for! We were saved from certain death by the Reconciliation of God for us through His Son Jesus. And now we are called to enact and encourage reconciliation in every relationship in which we have influence. When relationships break down, the deceiver is delighted. When relationships are healed, the Creator is exalted. We are relationship reconcilers.

Do you want to take seriously God’s Sanctuary mission to make things right in the world?

Will you commit to being a reconciler in a world filled with brokenness?

Will you accept the challenge to be God’s reconcilers, today?


Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...