Friday, July 6, 2018

Revelation Devotion Finale


Closing

I hope you’ve been blessed by this 12-week devotional study based on the first three chapters of Revelation. I certainly have been. God has been faithful to lead, guide, and reveal more about Himself through the examining of His Word. He has also used this most powerful two-edged sword to pierce into my soul and call me to examine myself. The goals of seeking who God is and who He desires me to be have been met, but only in part. The journey of getting to know God greater, developing a deeper intimacy with Him, and transforming to become more like Him is a process that doesn’t end as long as we’re on earth. Any time we open God’s Word with ears to hear, eyes to see, and a moldable heart, He will use it to transform us. My prayer for each of us is that we continue to seek Him, love Him, obey Him, and glorify Him to greater and greater degrees.

To God, who was and is and is to come, who is holy, who is Lord Almighty, be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.
  

Holy, holy, holy is the
Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.

Revelation 4:8



If you are interested in having a printable copy of this devotion or a book version to share with others, email me at tracy_wainwright@yahoo.com

I hope you'll join me next week for the start of a new devotion from James 1.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day!


Hope you're day is full of celebrating the great freedoms we have, honoring those who've paid for our freedom, and enjoying friends and family.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Revelation Prayer Devotion Day 12


Day 12

Scripture focus: And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of our nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 3:14-22

Application: I believe we could sit in this one passage for a full twelve weeks. There is such great richness in it, beyond what we even see on the surface. We miss the contextual information the first century church would have had when they read this letter. Briefly, from what I’ve learned there is a lot in this letter referring to the geographical location and culture of the city of Laodicea. As He often does, the Lord uses specifics to an individual or group to personalize His message. Laodicea had no good water source, where one nearby city had hot springs known for their healing properties and another a fresh, cold water source known for its purity. Hot and cold aren’t opposites here, but equally beneficial. Lukewarm, on the other hand, is useless, as is lukewarm faith. Also, Laodicea had thriving cloth and eye ointment industries. Yet, Jesus calls them naked and blind. How often do we have what we need physically yet miss out on what we need spiritually? In each of these cases the Lord uses what would be familiar to the hearers of this letter to get their attention. He does the same with us. But even more so, He uses His Word.

One of the sentences in this passage that sticks out to me is: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Could it be that when we are most self-sufficient, we are most spiritually deficient? There is not a direct link between financial wealth and lack of faith, but there is often a correlation. Remember the “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” passage. Why is there such a connection? Because when we experience success on our own, we tend to lose our dependence on God. But the truth is, we couldn’t do one thing without Him. There’s no way for us to even cause ourselves to continue breathing or our heart to keep beating if the Lord does not sustain us. Much less get out of bed and work. Yet we take these things for granted and give ourselves entirely too much credit. Granted, there is choice involved in what we do and how we spend our time and talents, but it is God alone who gives us our time and talents. We tend to forget that we have a thousand reasons to praise Him each and every day. Every breath and heartbeat are cause for worshipping the Lord.

Oh, that we would be on fire for God, desire to be filled with His presence, seek to do His will, and be a vessel to bring Him glory every day! That we would share the cool, refreshing, revitalizing truth of the Living Water with others wherever we are. That we would spend more time clothing ourselves with His righteousness than we spend on our physical clothes. That we would focus our eyes on Him and see as He sees. And what He wants us to see. That we would open ourselves and even welcome the loving discipline of the Lord. That we would be zealous and repent and open the door when He calls out to us. Oh, to experience the indescribable presence of the holy, Lord Almighty! This is the call He makes each and every day.

Prayer: Lord, let me not forget what you have been teaching me through Your Word. Plant it deep into my mind and heart and transform me by it. Help me to always evaluate my works according to the fruit they produce for Your Kingdom. Stoke the fire in my heart for the Gospel and embolden me to live in such a way to bring glory to You every day. Give me the wisdom, power, and steadfastness to conquer in this world and one day sit with You on Your throne, to ever bring glory and honor and praise to Your name.

Reflection questions/prayer prompts:

What temperature am I? Do I burn for Jesus and bring healing? Do I pour out the cool, refreshing Water on others with my words and actions?

In what ways do I place confidence in myself and my abilities instead of in God?


Where is my greatest spiritual need?

In what areas or my life and/or ministry could I see more clearly?

Lord, help me not to shrink back from Your discipline, but embrace it as You mature my faith and multiply my fruit.

What can I change to hear God’s voice more?

How can I praise God and bring Him more glory today?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Revelation Prayer Devotion Day 11


Day 11

Scripture focus: And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Stan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 3:7-13

Application: What Jesus says and does is final. There isn’t a power on earth or in heaven that can undo what He does. This is how the letter to Philadelphia begins, with Jesus reminding the readers of His holiness, truth, and power. This is the second letter with no condemnation in it, but only encouragement. Like the letter to the church in Smyrna, Jesus’ followers are facing trials. Yet Jesus knows. And in comparison to the little power the church has on its own, the Lord declares His undefeatable power.

Another theme we see popping up again in this letter is the emphasis on patient endurance. Something many of us would rather not discuss. Much less consider praying for. Instead, many joke about not praying for patience because God will bring circumstances that provide the opportunity to learn it. None of us want to wait and develop patience. We live in an instant gratification culture. We aren’t used to waiting for much of anything. In the world of drive-thru food, instant microwave cooking, and free two day shipping, we don’t have too many occasions to cultivate an attitude of patient endurance. Yet, when we examine scripture, we find that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a characteristic of love, and a sign of spiritual maturity.
Patient endurance is not only a virtue, it’s a sign of trusting God. Trusting that He is still in control. Trusting that He is good. Trusting that He is love. Trusting that He has a perfect will in each of our lives. Trusting His Word. Trusting His ultimate power. We may face challenges and difficulties, experience disappointments and hurts, but God will keep us under the shadow of His wing. He has opened the door to salvation and eternal life through His own blood, and no one can keep us out.

It is so hard to imagine what heaven will be like. There are many descriptions of heaven, but I don’t think there’s anything that comes close to actually describing what it will be like. However, the glimpses we’re given through scripture are enough to keep us focused on eternal things. We will be honored and repaid for hardships due to following Jesus. We will receive a crown. We will be a pillar in God’s new temple. We will have God’s name written on our being. We will be in the glorious presence of the one and only true and holy Lord forever.

So no matter what you’re facing today – whether financial hardships, difficulties on the job, family stress, illness, hard relationships, failures, lostness of loved ones, chronic pain, death, or other major losses, let Jesus’ words be a reminder that He’s always with us, He knows, and He still has the power to bring about our good and His glory. We are but a mist and our troubles, not matter how painful at the time, are light and momentary compared to the glories of heaven. Let us rejoice in who He is and what is to come!

Prayer: Almighty God, You alone are worthy of praise. You alone sit on the throne of creation and no one can defeat You. You alone hold the key to heaven and You alone open and shut doors in my life. Thank You for Your great love. For Your great promises and salvation. I hide under the shadow of Your wing in the midst of troubles of this life. Help me to keep my focus on You. To be compassionate and sincere, but not faltering in my faith. While it feels like I have so little power on this earth, I know that Your power is within me to endure as I follow You and proclaim Your name in all the earth. Show me how You desire me to bring glory to you today, where I am, as I am.

Reflection questions/prayer prompts:

Lord, turn my eyes to gaze upon Your holiness and truth.

In what ways have I not kept God’s Word or denied His name?

Jesus, Reveal to me those around me who don’t know You and prompt me to pray for their salvation.

How can I cultivate patient endurance?

How can I not only hold fast to what I have in my relationship with Jesus, but grow in it?

What area of sin, complacency, or comfort do I need to conquer by the power of Jesus’ blood?

Holy Father, thank you for loving me as I am and too much to leave me where I am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Revelation Prayer Devotion Day 10

Day 10


Scripture focus: And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not spoiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 3:1-6

Application: Five out of the seven letters to the specific churches found at the beginning of Revelation begin with these words: “I know your works…” In previous letters, and in the next one, these words are followed by encouragement. In this and the last letter, however, these words are meant to cut straight to the heart of the readers. There is no comfort in being reminded that God knows everything when we are dead inside.

I cringe at the thought of taking these words too lightly. Of passing over them briefly without allowing God to use His Word to examine my heart. During the last nine weeks, there have been many opportunities for you and I to open ourselves before the Lord and have Him purge what needs to be excised and plant what needs to be nurtured. Yet, He is not done. There is no plateau in a relationship with God. There are always deeper issues to be dug into and higher places to go. This is such an opportunity.
Throughout many sermons I’ve listened to and discussions I’ve participated in, the question of how we do church and how it compares to the biblical model for the Church seems to continue to come up. People have various preferences and desires for worship style, location, programs, preaching style, and discipleship. We tend to base our opinions on our backgrounds, education, church experience, and perceived successes or failures. However, this scripture gives us a perfect opportunity to examine how we “do” church – both individually and corporately.

That a church can have a phenomenal reputation yet be dead to Kingdom works should raise an alarm in us. It is much easier to look upon other church bodies, other denominations, other people and point out how they are lacking in spiritual fruit and growth. It is much more difficult to turn our gaze inward and be willing to sacrifice any beloved church ministry or way of doing church. This is the very problem Jesus constantly pointed out in the Pharisees and Sadducees: they knew the scripture and followed the letter of the law while neglecting the heart of the law – to love God and people. They most likely had a reputation of being alive within the larger church, but Jesus called them whitewashed tombs. They were dead inside.

Could it be that we are more like them than we’re comfortable considering? Could we be clinging to a way of doing church more than God’s vision for us being the church? Could we be pushing the Gospel aside to have great programs? Could we be failing to make disciples because we’re too focused on feeding ourselves? Could we be missing the leading of the Holy Spirit because we’re following rules and regulations according to human teachings? Could we be forgetting the ends of the earth because of being too comfortable at home? Could we be missing out on the best God has for us for the good that is before us?
Let us be a people who hears what the Lord is saying to us and stay alert to who He wants us to be.

Prayer: Oh, God! Wake me up! Strengthen me! Let You be my greatest love and the Gospel be my greatest mission. Make me uncomfortable. Reveal to me if I’m dead in my works. I forego any reputation I have with anyone other than You. Teach me to walk in Your ways of righteousness. Remind me that bringing glory to Your name by living a holy life and sharing Your salvation with others is why I am here. It doesn’t matter what that looks like. Make me who You desire me to be. Use the unique gifts, talents, and abilities You’ve given me to bring glory, honor, and praise to Your name. Thank You, Jesus for confessing my name before the Father. Let me respond to the worthiness You poured out on me by grace through faith by letting go of everything that doesn’t expand Your Kingdom.

Reflection questions/prayer prompts:

In what areas or ways have I placed too much importance or emphasis on my reputation in the world?

What works am I putting my efforts into might God be asking me to give up or alter?

Lord, by the power of Your Spirit, help me remember the grace I received and Gospel I heard through Your Word.

Where might my preferences and perceptions of how church is to be done be hindering the spread of the Gospel?

How can I be more focused on who God desires the church to be rather than what I think the church should do?

Lord God, I praise You for writing my name in the book of life.

Father, what are You saying that You want me to hear today?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Revelation Prayer Devotion Day 9


Day 9


Scripture focus: And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold to this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 2:18-28

Application: I don’t know about you, but this passage seems to blur the lines between metaphor and literal prophesy. There is debate on what much in the letter from John to the churches means, and this section isn’t immune to that debate. Whether Jezebel is an actual woman in the church, or symbolic. What it means when it says the one who conquers will rule nations. What the morning star is the conquerors will receive. Instead of glossing over passages such as this one or diving too deep into trying to figure out the exact meaning behind each word, I think we are best served by examining it from the perspective of the two questions we broached from the beginning of this devotional:

          Who is God?

          How is God calling us to live?

These are two of the most important questions we can ask in reference to scripture.

First of all, I’d like to note once again Jesus starts off His message to this church with the phrase, “I know….” He knows! When you are loving someone without that love being returned, the Lord knows. When you are standing on your faith and your stance isn’t appreciated, He knows. When you are serving and no one seems to notice, He knows. When you endure hardships, trials, challenges, difficulties with patience, He knows. When you grow in your relationship with God and dedicate more time to God-glorifying works, He knows. You are never alone and you are never unrecognized for your devotion to the Lord.

This knowing of course also means that God sees our failures and faults. He sees if we tolerate sin in our lives, families, or church. He knows if we stand idly by as Satan corrupts members of the church or church teaching. He knows if we excuse, ignore, or try to explain away sin. In a culture where people seem to ignore, embrace, or harshly condemn sin, there seems to be a lack of bold speaking truth in love. This is the case often within the church as much as without. Sometimes, there is so much yelling at the lost world for being lost, saved sinners slipping back into sin are missed. Let it not be of us!

We don’t want to miss the glaring truth about God knowing our sin: He gives us time to repent! God’s desire is that we surrender our hearts to be gutted by Him. To turn from our sin and acceptance of it. To not withhold Him full access to search our minds and hearts and transform them by His mercy, grace, and power.

Let each of us be emboldened to love the Truth and love in truth as we speak the truth in love.

Prayer: Father God, search my heart and mind. Reveal to me any hidden sin. Any hidden fear. Any part of me I haven’t surrendered to You. Clean me from the inside and help me to see myself clearly through Your eyes. Reveal to me any sin in my home, my family, or my church that I have accepted or turned a blind eye to. Guide me in cleansing that sin from my life and how to confront others’ sin in truth and love. I praise You for Your goodness, love, grace, mercy, and limitless power. How great it is to think about absolute power controlled by absolute love! Holy, holy, holy, are You, Lord God Almighty. All praise and honor and glory go to You alone. May Your praise always be on my lips.

Reflection questions/prayer prompts:

What is God revealing that I need to repent of?

How can I most effectively praise God today?

Is there sin in my church I’ve been ignoring?

Lord, help me hold fast to You today.

How can I cultivate an ear to hear God more clearly?

God, thank You for sustaining me when I get weary and or feel unrecognized/ unappreciated.

Lord God Almighty, embolden and empower me to speak the truth in love.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Revelation Prayer Devotion Day 8


Day 8

Scripture focus: And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: “The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Revelation 2:8-17

Application: Again, the message to this church begins as the letter to the church in Smyrna did: the Lord knows. What a comfort it is to recognize that there isn’t anything out of the purview of God’s knowledge. Not one thing. There is no pain, no hardship, no circumstance that the Lord is unaware of. He knows what is going on in our nation, He knows what’s going on in our job. He knows what’s going on in our church. He knows what is happening in our families. He knows even the state of our hearts. How eye-opening is it that He knows when His people are living in the midst of Satan, and leaves them there?
This goes against what we tend to believe and pray for as God’s will. We want to be taken out of the difficult situation. We want God’s rescue and healing. While God does rescue and heal, He also works His will in and through us as we walk through trials. It is by walking through the fire as we cling to God that we are refined and our faith becomes stronger in us and used in a greater way for God’s Kingdom. None of us would choose to walk through the fires of trial, but when we do so holding fast to His name, His rescue and healing found on the other side is more rewarding than if He’d saved us from those trials. He is good all the time! Even when times aren’t good.

Then there are those times we, or someone we love, live with, worship with, work with, doesn’t hold fast to God’s name. And we tolerate it. As our culture has gradually moved away from God, many ungodly values, thoughts, and ideas have crept into the church. They were so subtle for so long that now they are becoming blatant and we are shocked. This is the teaching of Balaam that Jesus refers to in this letter. (The story of Balaam and Balak can be found in Numbers 22-25.) Balaam agreed to take money from King Balak to curse the Israelites, but each time he attempted to do so, God put blessings in his mouth. Since he wasn’t able to curse God’s people outright, he devised a plan of subtle deception where he used the Moabites to entice the Israelites to mix with them and take on their false gods and sinful behavior. While we don’t have the details of how the Israelites transitioned from faithfulness to idolatry, I imagine it was what we would call a “slow fade” today. One small compromise followed by another, and before they realized what they were doing, they were fully engulfed in pagan worship and sin. We are just as susceptible to these small compromises and overlooking the compromises of those around us. They sneak in through our music, TV watching choices, things we read, time management, busyness, and in so many other ways. God calls us instead to repent of any idols in our lives and conquer over sin through His Word and His power.



Prayer: Lord God, the living, sharp two-edged sword, thank You for Your mercy! You are always faithful even when we are not. Your mercies are new every morning. You are slow to anger. Call me to an uncompromising love of You and empower me to see and eliminate any idols I’ve allowed to creep into my life. Thank You that You know my circumstances. Remind me whenever I need it that it doesn’t matter where I live, not even in the midst of Satan’s throne, but You know and are with me. Sustain me with the Bread of Life. Keep my eyes fixed on You and on Your Kingdom to come. Refine my heart to love You will all of my being. I praise You, Lord, for You alone are King.

Reflection questions/prayer prompts:

How can I better let God’s Word act as a sword in my heart, discerning my thoughts and intentions and refining them?

How can I use where I live, where I work, where I learn, where I play, and where I worship to bring glory to God?

What trials or difficulties is God calling me to surrender to His refining fire?

Lord, open my eyes to any stumbling blocks that have been placed in my way on my journey of seeking You.

Are there any compromises I’ve made that are hindering my spiritual growth and witness?


Father, help me evaluate every experience, belief, and decision based on Your Word and Truth and not any other teaching.

What are You saying to me today, Lord? Help me to hear Your voice.