Putting God's Word into Practice…

Revelation 22:6-21 ~ Come Lord Jesus

Two years, seven months, and 17 days–501 posts!  That’s how long it has taken me to blog through the New Testament.  What a joy it has been to read God’s Word nearly daily and pray about how to apply it to my life and to share it with others!  Studying the life of Jesus from his birth through his death and resurrection to his ascension and his promise to come again while seeing the impact it has had throughout time and in my life personally has been my greatest joy in this journey!  All of life–past, present and future–is about Him, by Him and for Him! To God be the glory!

“Behold, I am coming soon…” Jesus promises this to John three times in this last chapter of Revelation. For every promise to “come,”  there is a responding request to Him to “come”–like now!  When I was younger I didn’t want Jesus to come back until I had a chance to get married…then after I was married I wanted him to wait until I had children…having children now there are times I’d like Him to wait until I get a chance to see them raised and give me grandchildren…My life is good, and sadly my urgency for His return has been low.  When John was writing these commands, the Christians were being persecuted mercilessly (as many are still today).  I can imagine that reading that Jesus was coming back soon was music to their ears!  And the plea of their hearts was for Him to, “Come!”

2 Timothy 4:8 says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to ALL WHO HAVE LOVED HIS APPEARING.”  Do I long for His appearing?  Am I excited by His promise to come soon?  Can I shout the request to, “Come!” along with the Spirit and the saints?  Am I ready for His coming?

Jesus doesn’t say exactly when he will come, but when He comes He will reward the faithful and punish the faithless.  He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega–He has seen and knows all things!  The reward of the faithful is entrance into the eternal city, the ability to eat from the tree of life, and to quench our thirst with the water of life.  We will be provided for and protected in His presence forever–fully satisfied, fully content!  The price for this reward has been purchased by the blood of Jesus that He shed when He died on the cross.  Only those who have put their faith in His sacrifice to cover their sins will receive this reward.  IT IS NOT TOO LATE!  JESUS COULD COME BACK TODAY–WOULD YOU BE READY???

Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

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Revelation 22:1-5 ~ Faith Made Sight

Have you ever seen a talk show or a news segment when someone who has been rescued from certain death is on, and the producer brings out the one who saved their life to meet face-to-face for the first time?  Everyone’s tears are flowing because of the fullness of joy and gratitude of the experience.  Now multiply that times a billion…The One who died to save our lives–the One who rescued us forever–WE WILL SEE HIS FACE!

Revelation means revealing or unveiling.  In the case of this book, it is the unveiling of Jesus!  John tries his best to describe Jesus in chapter one:  “…one like the son of man clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Revelation 1:13-16)  That description will just have to hold us over for now knowing that someday WE WILL SEE HIS FACE!!!

WE WILL SEE HIS FACE!  Our Rescuer!  Our Redeemer! Our Savior! And we will worship Him!!!

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.  And THEY WILL SEE HIS FACE, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5)

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Revelation 21:9-27 ~ Good News, Bad News, Good News

In the beginning of Revelation 21, we are told of the new heavens and new earth.  God promises He will wipe away every tear and take away all mourning, pain, and death for eternity.  GOOD NEWS!  In the next section of verses from this chapter we see a picture of what it will be like to live in the heavenly city.  Here are a few quick descriptions and key points:

  • Having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
  • Length, width and height are 1,380 miles.  That’s about the distance from Cleveland, Ohio to Key West, Florida and Cleveland to Laramie, WY and then up into the sky the same distance.  That’s huge!
  • The walls are 216 feet thick.
  • Walls are made out of jasper
  • City made out of pure gold
  • Foundation of the city adorned with every kind of jewel
  • 12 gates made out of a single pearl each
  • Streets of the city are pure gold
  • No temple–for the Lord God the Almighty and Jesus are there
  • No need for sun or moon–for the glory of God gives it light and Jesus is the lamp
  • The gates will always be open
  • There will be no night
  • Nothing unclean will ever enter it.

Reading through the list (or the chapter) what excites your heart the most?  Is it the pure gold streets, the giant pearls, the precious jewels, the size, or the presence of God?  What excites our hearts the most about our eternal home may reveal what it is we are longing for most in the present!  Lord, help me to long for your presence more than any other thing!  Let my amazement over heaven point me to Your beauty and grandeur.  Let me be fully satisfied and contented with You.

Everything above is GOOD NEWS!

However, both sections of verses (1-8 and 9-27) are punctuated with a warning.  Heaven is not for everybody!  In God’s grace and sovereignty, He had John continuously remind the reader that some will not be in His glorious presence where there is peace, love, beauty, joy, and rest forever.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Vs. 8)

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (vs. 27)

You may not be a sorcerer, but have you ever lied?  Have you ever invested your life in something that was not God, elevating it to a place of a god in your life?  Have you been afraid to trust God with your life?  Have you refused to believe that you need Jesus to save you?  All these things will keep you out of heaven!

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? DO NOT BE DECEIVED! Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. BUT YOU WERE WASHED, YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, YOU WERE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD! (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Jesus has the power to wash away all our sins–even the ones we think are unforgivable.  Trust me–I was 7 out of 10 of the lifestyles mentioned above before Jesus saved me.  There is freedom in Jesus.  He alone has the power to change us and make us right so that we can inherit the kingdom of God. God longs to cover bad news with the GOOD NEWS in our lives.


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Revelation 21:1-8 ~ Woo Hoo!

It’s back to school season in households across America!  Even though we have tennis shoes, pencils, shirts, notebooks, folders, etc…it is so refreshing to get all new!  I love looking at the stack of clean lined paper packs, doodle-less notebooks, unsharpened pencils, clean pink erasers, shiny shoes and still creased  shorts and shirts.  New things are wonderfully full of opportunity and unwritten experiences.

God said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  And John saw the prophecy unfold before His very eyes.  After Satan–and all who stand in opposition to the gospel–are  defeated for the rest of eternity, God will create a new heaven, a new earth and a new city–Jerusalem.  Along with this new earth will be a whole new way of living where God is dwelling among His people and we are able to love and worship Him freely–without the dampers of sin, the deception of Satan, and the distractions of the world.

He will wipe EVERY tear from their eyes, and death shall be NO MORE, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain ANYMORE, for the former things have passed away.

With Satan gone, sin will be gone, and everything related to sin will be vanquished!  The Bible says the penalty of sin is death.  Please hear me, I’m not saying that your mourning, sickness, pain, tears, etc…are always a direct result of personal sin.  But because we live in a sinful world among sinful people the consequences of sin are all around us…and every living thing is dying.  So this new world will have no crying, mourning, pain or death…

  • no heart attacks and strokes
  • no ALS
  • no chronic back pain
  • no unfaithful spouses
  • no pornography
  • no addiction
  • no mental illness
  • no poison ivy
  • no autism
  • no allergies
  • no loneliness
  • no depression
  • no wheelchairs, walkers, canes
  • no hearing aids or glasses
  • no sunburns
  • no violence
  • no war
  • no relational conflict
  • no bankruptcy/debt
  • no cancer
  • no broken bones/dislocated shoulders
  • no orphans
  • no widows
  • no homelessness
  • no unemployment
  • no divorce
  • no insecurity
  • no discontentment
  • no doubts
  • no hopelessness
  • no strife
  • no exhaustion
  • no restlessness
  • no …

In His presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore! Psalm 16:11 

I can’t wait!!!

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Revelation 20 ~ Hard Truth

This chapter feels like a mystery/action movie with one too many twists or battle sequences.  Or like a “good” horror movie: when it feels like the movie is over and evil is defeated, the villain reaches out and grabs the leg of its victim one last time.  The comeback is short-lived as “good” delivers a final blow!

Satan is referred to as the dragon, the ancient serpent, and the devil, but his goal is always the same: to deceive!  At the beginning of this chapter, Satan is bound and sealed in a bottomless pit.  Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth and reigns for 1,000 years.  Can you imagine life on earth without the devil prowling around deceiving all of mankind and with Jesus tangibly at the center of all things?!  The problem is that humans have free will!  Our hearts are desperately wicked!  Even in a perfect environment, being ruled by a perfect King–people will choose to rebel against Jesus and try to make their own way.  At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released from captivity and start deceiving again.  Revealing the rebelliousness of hearts, he will raise up an army of unbelievers who would rather follow Him than side with a Savior.  But just like the villain making one last run at his victim in a movie, Satan will be crushed.  He will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur and “be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (vs. 10)

I wish that was the end of the story, but there is one more event–one that gives a lot of company to Satan in the lake of fire–one that sentences many to eternal torment and total separation from God–the great white throne judgment.  This is where all the dead from all time will stand before God’s throne and be judged “according to what they HAD done.”  No more chances–the past will finally catch up with them.  Those who spent their whole lives refusing God’s grace and salvation will have to give an account before the Lord, and it will be too late to change their minds. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (vs. 15)  

So what does any of this mean for me:

  1. Satan was defeated at the cross, but not bound!  Therefore, he is roaming, prowling, deceiving, destroying, devouring, killing, stealing all day long (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10).  I need to be alert, on guard, sober and watchful!
  2. I know my name is written in the Lord’s Book of Life.  I have received Christ as my Savior and surrendered my life to Him.  My sins are forgiven because of His sacrifice, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  I need to walk out my life in accordance with this miracle!  I must be diligent to love God and others, to disciple and teach people to obey God, to aim for holiness in my thoughts and actions, to “do” God’s Word.  I only have so much time and I need to be faithful!  “Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
  3. Many, many people will choose to reject the good news of salvation through Jesus–thinking they don’t need saving and that there is nothing to be saved from.  But in order to reject something, it must be heard. And how will they hear if no one proclaims (Romans 10:14-15). I have a responsibility to “each day proclaim the good news that He saves,” (Psalm 96:2b) to “rescue those who are being taken away to death,” (Proverbs 24:11a), and to “save others by snatching them out of the fire.” (Jude 1:23a)
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Revelation 19:11-21 ~ Grass-eater and Fishguts

When I was young, an older kid dared me to eat the grass clippings that had been tracked into the baby pool we were playing in. I ate a few to “impress” him and consequently earned the name “Grass-eater.”  The summer after seventh grade, I had my mom put highlights in my hair. I swam every day and spent a lot of time in the sun.  The highlights quickly turned green and orange.  That same summer there was a drought in my city and the fish died, and they were green and orange laying in the cracked mud of the riverbed.  You guessed it, I received a new nickname–Fishguts!

Nicknames reveal who we are and what we do.  They are often not self-proclaimed but given by others who witness our lives.  Jesus is called two names right off the bat in this section of verses–Faithful and True!  He received those names because that is Who He is and how He functions.  His faithfulness and truth is what is valuable about His character.  He will fulfill all promises and prophecy.  In this chapter Jesus is also called The Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He has a private name that no one knows.  This reminds us that we cannot fully know Him in our human understanding–He is unfathomable and exceptional!

Verses 17-21 give us a glimpse into the future when Jesus will fulfill the most anticipated promise–His return to earth to rule and reign and set the world free from the curse of sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection are only part of His victory.  They give us victory over sin and death personally and daily.  But a time is coming when Jesus will purge His creation from all evil and completely redeem forever giving the final blow to Satan and sin and all the pain and repercussions that come along with living in a deceived world.

Jesus is Faithful and True.  He is Lord of lords and King of kings.  He is a valiant warrior who fights for us.  During this final battle against sin, those who belong to Christ will follow Him into battle, but we will not lift a finger.  The victory is eternally His alone.  And those who are behind Him will be the only survivors!  Evil will make war on Jesus, and Jesus will prevail.

Maybe you’re thinking, “What kind of God would annihilate all the people who oppose Him?”  Any world leader has the power–and even the responsibility–to destroy evil and uphold good.  Right now there is a “Christian genocide” happening in Iraq–this should ignite in us a demand for justice and a desire to see the blood of innocent children avenged.  Any good ruler would take action.  How much more so for the King of kings and Lord of lords!

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Revelation 19:1-10 ~ Worship God

Hallelujah ~ An expression (often spontaneous) of joy, thanks and praise to God; hallal (praise) Yah (Jehovah)

Revelation 17-18 foretells the destruction of this world system–labelled as a prostitute–and the vengeance poured out on those who trample the blood of Jesus and oppress His followers.  Revelation 19 is all of heaven’s response to this swift vindication and display of power.  They cry out, “Hallelujah!”

Worship and praise is the only proper response when we see God’s character and authority on display through His actions.  They worship Him for His salvation.  Those who follow Christ–who love and fear God–will be rescued/saved from judgment and destruction (vs. 1-2).  That is reason enough to worship!  In God’s judgment, His character is evident; He is just and true (vs. 1-2).  What He promises to do, He fulfills.  He is generous; He gives righteousness freely to all who come to Him (vs. 8) and then invites them in for a wondrous wedding reception in Heaven.  (No Macarena line dances there–just our own Personal Jesus!)

Based on John’s response to seeing the worship in Heaven, we see that we are made to worship but sometimes it can be misdirected.  We need a reminder to: “Worship God!”  He alone is worthy of our praise, joy and thanks.

So what can we learn about worship even now:

  1. Focus on God–keep Him central.  Fix our mind on His truth, His character, His power and authority.  He is seated on the throne–in the middle of heaven and our hearts!
  2. Join together!  John witnessed a “great multitude” worshipping God.  Sure, we can worship in our cars or at our kitchen sink, but the joy and power that is experienced in corporate worship can’t be beat!  Recently I attended a Jesus Culture concert and the unified worship of God was powerful!
  3. Be loud! Several references to the volume of worship in heaven are mentioned along with the praise being “cried out.”  God likes loud worship!
  4. It’s acceptable to “fall down” and worship.  Worship should make us feel small and bowing down is a tangible expression of our smallness in light of His greatness, our unworthiness in light of His holiness; our weakness in light of His strength; our humility in light of His honor.
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Revelation 17-18 ~ Stay Faithful

Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk…The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality…And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (1b-2, 4, 6 )

The prostitute represents this world system.  It is seductive, attractive, alluring, and to have what we desire will cost us something…there is no such thing as a free prostitute.  All of its adorning is merely external.  Once we have given ourselves over to it, we see the reality behind the beauty–impurity, confusion, destruction and death.  To compromise with “her” is costly, and yet, to stand against her is costly too.  It  comes down to whether or not we want to be faithful to the One who created us and made a way for us to escape destruction, judgment and wrath no matter the price, or if we want to commit spiritual adultery on Him with the world–buying the temporary pleasures it offers. Warning:  worldly pleasures are short-lived, and it doesn’t end well for those who pursue them at the expense of their souls.

Just like a man paying for an hour with a prostitute receives false power, pleasure and partnership; when one gives the authority of their soul to the world, there is an air of power, fulfillment and belonging, but it is counterfeit.  God is still and always will be the real authority.  His purposes are being carried out, even by those who oppose Him, and it will be that way until His words are fulfilled.

They will make war on the Lamb (Jesus), and the Lamb WILL conquer them, for he is LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS, and those with him are CALLED and CHOSEN and FAITHFUL.

Jesus and His followers will be victorious over this world system and all who align with it.  Like a jealous husband, he will exact vengeance on those who seduce people away from His eternal love and who try to destroy His called, chosen and faithful followers whose names have been “written in the book of life from the foundation  of the world.”

No matter how many kings there are, Jesus is King over all.  No matter how much pain we go through to follow Jesus, it will be worth it in the end.  Stay faithful!  True joy and fulfillment is found in knowing Him!

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Revelation 16 ~ Take Responsibility

We all know someone who refuses to take responsibility for their poor choices.  They blame everyone they can and insist they were wronged somehow.  Most of the time they blame someone in authority…parents, teacher, boss, police, judge, etc…And the fitting punishment they receive is deemed “unfair.”  Instead of it having its proper effect–humility, repentance, and change–it serves to make them angrier and to continue on their own self-made, destructive path.

When God’s wrath comes on the world, it will be that way too.  With each of the seven plagues written about in this chapter, the people’s hearts harden.  They continue to curse the name of God and refuse to repent and give Him glory.

Is there any area of my life where my circumstances are hardening instead of humbling me? The first step is to repent of that sense of entitlement and anger with God.  Stop blaspheming His name by blaming and complaining.  Start giving God glory!

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Revelation 15 ~ Just Wrath

It is difficult to read verses about God’s wrath.  We are prone to want to think only of His love, mercy and  grace.  But we are not a people who are content with love, mercy and grace.  We are zealous for justice.  We celebrate when justice is served and grumble when it is not (ie. Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, George Zimmerman)  Therefore, we must also acknowledge God’s justice and His wrath.  We must have a balanced approach to His character.  The wonderful thing about God’s wrath is that it is not eternal.  Once it is completely spent; it will never be faced again.  When He says, “It is finished,” it is really finished (John 19:30, Revelation 15:1).

There are two injustices that God will right.  First, those who have experienced injustice at the hands of God-hating men see their oppressor’s destruction.  Second, those who dishonor, disrespect and devalue the sacrifice that Jesus made are defeated.  If God did not bring justice to His enemies, He would not be a righteous God.  God alone has authority and power and glory.  He alone is to be worshipped–not just for His grace but also for His justice.

Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (3-4)

Here is a great song that puts these words to music:  http://youtu.be/dJtseWTJCmY

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