Tag: revelation

The Last Devo

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:1-4).”

Well friends, we’ve come to the end.  Nearly 200 star studded passages later, we’ve reached the end of the Bible, the end of the school year and thus, the end of this blog.  I’m sure there’s a handful of verses about the sun or moon or stars that we missed but in general I hope we all have a better understanding for just how clearly the heavens are declaring the glory of God and how not just the firmament, but every element of creation plays a part in the great redemptive drama writ and wrought by our Creator and King. 

From the epic beginnings of Genesis to the last Amen of Revelation these cosmic beacons gloriously fulfill their divinely appointed purpose to separate day and night, to be signs, to mark time and seasons and to give light on the earth.  Jesus Himself warned us in Luke 21:25-28 that there will be a time when the signs in the heavens will bring terror on earth.  But those who look for and long for His coming needn’t be filled with the same “fear and foreboding” when they see these things take place.  No, Jesus tells us to instead, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

The book of Revelation describes many of those foreboding heavenly signs but opens with this amazing image of Jesus standing in the middle of the churches and holding the angels of those churches as stars in His hand.  He’s in our midst and holds our  destinies in His hand!  No matter the circumstances befalling the world around us we can stand up straight and say with confidence, “Our redemption draws near.”  The Redeemer Himself says, in the last chapter of Revelation, 

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each on for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, beginning and the end… I Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.  I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Did you catch that part about the churches?  Revelation doesn’t just open with Jesus standing in the midst of the churches, it ends with Jesus stating that the testimony John was given was specifically FOR the churches!  Oh how I need that testimony when I’m feeling discouraged about the messiness of church life.  Tonight, especially, as I’ve heard the pain of what brothers and sisters are experiencing in their churches, and seen the tears, and witnessed the bitter ramification of corporate wounds, and worried over the wayward path of The Bride, tonight I needed that testimony of John.  I needed to see Christ standing in her midst (Revelation 1:20).  I needed to feel the thunderous roar of the great multitude crying out,

“Hallelujah!  For the lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready;  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure (Revelation 19:6-8).”

I needed to hear “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’” And I needed to straighten up and say with them, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:17-20).”

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.”

Week 31

Memory Verse:  Isaiah 65:17

“For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

Reading #1:  Revelation 1:9-27, 6

Questions:  In chapter 1 what, or rather who, does John see Jesus standing in the midst of?  What are the seven stars in Jesus’ right hand?  In chapter 6 what response do the people on the earth have to the what’s going on in the sky?  How would John’s earlier vision of Jesus in chapter 1 be of great comfort to the church during this time?

Reading #2:  Revelation 8, 10

Questions:  How would John’s earlier vision of Jesus in chapter 1 be of great comfort to the church during this time?

Reading #3:  Revelation 12, 14:6-13

Questions:  How would John’s earlier vision of Jesus in chapter 1 be of great comfort to the church during this time?

Reading #4:  Revelation 21-22

Questions: How are the first and last chapters of Revelation of great comfort to you in light of all the judgements revealed in the chapters in between?

Psalms and Hymns

Children of the Heavenly Father “Children of the heavenly Father safely in His bosom gather.  Nestling bird nor star in Heaven, such a refuge ne’er was given.”

Devo 28

“And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Acts 2:19-21

I knew this post was coming.  This week’s readings have been sitting here for 9 months waiting their turn.  Why should I  dread writing about the wrath of God if I need not dread His wrath?  Perhaps because I know it is real.  And it is coming.  And I am partly to blame.  God’s wrath is a result of my own sin.  Because of my rebellion against His holiness, His wrath was first poured out on His willing and righteous Son, Jesus Christ.  He bore my sin for me on the cross and therefore He bore the wrath of God against me.

But there’s more wrath to come.  And this time Jesus will be the judge, not the condemned.

We did a quick overview of Revelation in a series of devotionals for the ladies up here, looking specifically at who Christ is and how He is worshipped in the vision John is given.  I was so struck by the attributes God was being praised for; some expected and very present in our own worship like His holiness, eternality, sovereignty, sacrifice, salvation, power, and righteousness; and others, not-so-much, like His wrath, judgements, rewards, justice, truth, vengeance and destruction of the ungodly.

The Psalms are brimming with the same kind of worship we see in the book of Revelation, but some where along the line, certain elements of God’s nature seem to have fallen out of our praise vernacular.  So if I’m going to spend an eternity worshipping God for these attributes, I should at least be able to take a few minutes to write about them.

It’s easy to say passages like Ezekiel 32:1-8 and Micah 3:1-8 are too graphic for our modern day sensibilities, but I’m pretty sure such bloody descriptions weren’t exactly standard Saturday Evening Post fare for the ancients either.  That kind of brutality would be shocking to any generation of man.  Any human at any time would quake at the threat of being flung into an open field to be food for the vultures and other beasts and then to have ones flesh strewn upon the mountains along with so many others the ravines are flowing with blood.

Sounds merciless, right?  And yet that’s exactly the kind of horrid consequence my rebellion demands.  That’s how ugly my sin is to the just and holy and righteous God who made me.  But when God turned the full fury of His wrath onto my sin, it was His perfect and holy and righteous Son who voluntarily took the blow.  The wrath of God poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross was merciless.  And all God’s mercy was poured out on me instead.

So can I praise God for His wrath?  Yes!  Because it is a holy wrath and because He was willing to bear it Himself on the cross for me. But how can one escape the wrath that is to come?  For surely, the same Christ who bore my sins in His own body on the tree, who was buried and who rose again and ascended into heaven, this same Christ is coming back as judge over all the earth.

Just as a star announced Christ’s first advent, the heavens will proclaim His second.  But dear friend, you need not dread that coming.  No, you can rejoice and welcome your King!  Peter, one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection, proclaimed in Acts 2:21 that “it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”  Now, you might have the same question that Peter’s listeners had, “What shall we do?”  His answer was simple.  Repent and you will be born again.  Your sins will be forgiven and God’s loving mercy will be poured out on you.  Then you, too, will have all the reason in the world to praise Him for His wrath for He will have born it for you.  Joel 2:12,13, which Peter was quoting from says,

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;  and rend your hearts and not your garments.”  Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents from disaster.”