August 26 – Heaven FAQ’s – Who else will be in Heaven?

Read Revelation 4:1-5:14

The book of Revelation describes how Jesus appeared to John on the island of Patmos, it outlines letters to seven first-century churches, and it describes events yet to come.

Much like the future rapture experience of followers of Jesus, John was called to heaven in chapter 4. His description of what he experienced offers us insight into the nature of heaven. Today’s reading, particularly, gives us a better grasp of who we can expect to find there. So, who else will be in heaven?

First and foremost, John points to God (5:1-3)! He is described here as sovereign ruler seated on a throne. His glory is displayed in terms of precious stones and a rainbow. He is the one who will be worshiped eternally by redeemed humans and angels!

Next, John describes 24 elders (4:4, 5, 10, 11; 5:8-10). Many believe these elders to be illustrative of the 12 tribes of Israel from the Old Testament and the 12 apostles from the New Testament. These leaders will have prominent positions in heaven. But, ultimately, they will worship the Father and the Son!

John also mentions four living creatures (4:6-8; 5:8-11). These are likely unique angelic beings whose role it is to endlessly extol the holiness of God. They too will worship Father and Son!

But among those highly esteemed and redeemed men and women, and including these angelic beings, no one is worthy to open an important scroll. Thankfully, Jesus is also in Heaven (5:5-7)! Through Him, Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled and sacrifice was made for the redemption of humankind. He is worthy of worship!

Once Jesus took the scroll, the elders and creatures broke into a song that points to people from every tribe and language and people and nation (5:9, 10). The result of believers’ Spirit-empowered response to the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations will be evidenced in eternity as individuals from all over the world join in worship of the Lamb (7:9, 10).

Finally, John describes innumerable angels (5:11, 12). They number “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (5:11). They, too will join in worship of the Lamb!

So, if you are a Christ-follower, you will not be alone in heaven! Righteous angelic beings will be there. Others from the nations will join you. But other people will only come by invitation. Boldly and compassionately invite others to join you so that, collectively, you can adore the crucified Christ!

Steve Kern

August 24 – Heaven FAQ’s – Will I eat and drink in Heaven?

Read Revelation 19:1-10 & Luke 22:14-23

I’ve been called many things in my life. Some of them, I’m not too proud of. However, when I was little, people called me the human garbage disposal. As is the case with many younger boys, I had quite the appetite. Legitimately, people would invite me over to their house to clean out their fridge. My metabolism was insane as I never went over 200 pounds until after I graduated high school. I was always the tall and skinny guy…not so much anymore.

I have always had a loving relationship with food for as long as I can remember. To this day even, my brother and I, if we know we are going to be eating at mom and dad’s that night, will text mom asking what’s on the menu so we can be excited for it…sometimes the day before. This is also exemplified by the Lawson family’s love for popcorn. We’ve toned down a little bit but there was a time where we would fill a mixing bowl with popcorn, which would be for one person, which would be consumed with minimal effort.

A question that many people have is if there is going to be eating in Heaven. As a “foodie” I can agree that that is a good question! To answer it, I want to draw you to the 19th chapter of Revelation. In the first 8 verses of our reading, you are given the context of what is called the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. This is a meal that will take place in Heaven including all believers in Christ for all of time. I’m not going to do it justice so I would encourage you all to read the first 8 verses and try to visualize just how incredible a scene that will be!

What I want to draw your attention to are 4 words in verse 9:

“…those who are invited…”

As mentioned previously, this is a celebration for those who have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Those who die apart from Christ will not be at the table, instead they will be experiencing eternal torment in Hell.

Those 4 words should shake us to our core. Who do you know that, if they were to die today, wouldn’t be invited to this meal? Who do you know that believes in God but doesn’t yet have a personal relationship with Him? Who do you know who is still living in their sin?

This is a meal they can’t afford to not be at.

Imagine what it would be like getting to Heaven and seeing a familiar face in line. It’s with tears in their eyes that they say, “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.” You could be the last time they hear the gospel in their lifetime.

Who do you know that needs to secure an invitation to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

Jake Lawson

August 6 – Perseverance – With faith

Read 2 Peter 1:5-11 and Revelation 2:19

What sentence stuck out to you as you read the above scriptures? I know what it was for me: 

“…For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”

Wow. How amazing would that be, to figure out how to never stumble again! It almost sounds too good to be true. Peter lists the steps like a recipe:

… add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love

The elusive ability to “never stumble” begins with one thing: faith. None of the above virtues can be added without it. How is your faith right now? I’m not asking about your acts toward faith (going to church, reading these devotionals) I’m talking about your sincere belief that God is real, He loves you unconditionally and has everything under control.

Faith is the great leap. The cornerstone of a process that leads to absolute peace. It is the resolve of all circumstances. I have had many conversations with people (Christian and non-Christian) who feel that the response, “Don’t worry, God is in control” is a bit too naive or over-simplifying for the major problems they are facing.

It’s an understandable reaction.

But God’s genius is often found within His simplicity. Faith is never flippant. We don’t say these words when we have no answer. We say them when it is the only answer. I don’t think we have touched true faith until it beckons us to step into our pain. When these are the only words we have the strength to utter. The enemy has us backed into a corner and hope is lost. Yet, we supernaturally choose to step forward with a trembling prayer that for thousands of years has moved mountains and silenced raging seas: “I will not fear; my God is in control.”

If you are facing a faith-draining circumstance today, I encourage you to persevere. Step toward your pain. Make a promise to yourself that, for the next 24 hours, you will choose to believe that “God is in control”. Let go. See what changes this choice brings to your mind, soul and body. This life is not an easy journey, but in faith, we can invite His Spirit to walk beside us on that journey. He is your partner in this. When we finally let go, our hands are free to grab onto Him.

He will never stumble!

Nate Torrence

July 6 – Names of Jesus – Victorious One

Read Revelation 3:21

What does victory look like?

A victory is when you defeat or beat an opponent. A spiritual victory is when God defeats the evil one, Satan. God is THE only being powerful enough to defeat and have COMPLETE victory over Satan. This is why we call God the Victorious One. Jesus is committed to His promises. He will carry out a victory every time against Satan.

The perfect example of victory in the Bible is shown through the story of David and Goliath. Samuel 17 demonstrates an overlooked man, David, who sets out to fight the giant, Goliath. David was the underdog in more ways than one. He had no sword, was not respected for the job and he was small, but still spoke to the Philistine, Goliath, about coming before him to fight in the name of the Lord Almighty God. David chose to fight Goliath in battle with a stone and a slingshot. Not only did he go into battle, but he came out victorious.

“This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel..” – Samuel 17:46

At this time, David had defeated Goliath and continued on in Samuel 17:47 to claim, “the battle is the Lord’s.” David believed the whole world would know there is a God in Israel from a victorious battle. Goliath was defeated and God had won. David had a full understanding that God was the Victorious One and God worked through him. He knew God would work in miraculous ways despite his fear.

David could not have been victorious on his own. He needed the power of the Victorious One to win against Goliath for a greater purpose. Life often presents challenges which seem impossible. God is the only form of victory in our lives when it comes to finding peace, healing of sickness and mental illness, freedom, and more. God chose to be the Victorious One because He has greater power than we do alone.

Take time today to reflect on the times God has been victorious in your life.

Did you see God’s victory immediately or was His victory a process over time?

Pray for God to win and be victorious over every heart who needs to know Him.

Pray every heart grows closer to God, the Victorious One.

Thank God for being the Victorious One over every obstacle in your life.

Questions to consider:

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • In what way does this specific name bring you peace?
  • How have you experienced victory from the Lord in your life?

July 2 – Names of Jesus – Alpha and Omega

Read Revelation 22:1-21

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

In this last chapter of the last book of the Bible, you find this last description of eternity and the last recorded words of Jesus. Having recorded numerous “I am” statements of Jesus in his gospel, John, here, writes one final declaration of His identity in verse 13 and cited above. Jesus describes Himself with three parallel pairs of words, each conveying the same concept:

  • The Alpha and the Omega
  • The First and the Last
  • The Beginning and the End

Likely, you understand that alpha and omega are letters of the Greek alphabet. In fact, alpha is, not surprisingly, the first letter, while omega is the last. Jesus is essentially saying that He is the A and the Z…and everything in between. He is the full alphabet. As the living Word, He is, even, the One who gives meaning to the letters of life.

As Alpha, He existed at the beginning (Jn. 1:1)…or even, if you can fathom it, before there was a beginning. He is the one who called both the three dimensional world (Gen. 1) and the perpetuity of time and eternity (Heb. 1:2) into existence. From nothing, He made heavens and earth, day and night, sea and dry land, sun and moon, fish and birds, wild animals and livestock, and man and woman. Colossians tells us that “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16). Indeed, it is “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 18:28).

As Omega, Jesus has made all provisions for an endless eternity. He is the “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8). He will return in the air at the rapture to take believers with Him (1 Thess. 4:13-18). He will return to the earth at His second coming (Rev. 19) to reign for 1000 years (Rev. 20). At the close of that millennium, Jesus, as Omega, will unveil our eternal home in the context of a new heaven and a new earth.

Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, has purpose in your creation and in your destiny. Praise Him!

Steve Kern

Questions to consider:

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • In what way does knowing that He is the beginning and the end bring you peace?
  • How can you use the truth of this name of Jesus to reach the lost around you?

May 12 – What Does the Bible Say About Satan/Demons?

Read Revelation 20:7-10

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Matthew 6:13

Satan is “the evil one”.

Known as the devil, Satan is the main adversary of God and man. In Matthew 4, Satan tempted Jesus with an opportunity to sin. Jesus defeated Satan with a weapon we all can use: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Hit Satan with a Bible verse. Hit him!

Satan has many names including enemy (1Peter 5:8), the one who leads the whole world astray (Rev 12:9), the evil one (Matt 13:19, 38), the father of lies and a murderer (John 8:44), the prince of the world (John 12:31) and the tempter (Matthew 4:5).

There is a great deal of misinformation about Satan. A lot of it may come from fiction movies and books which are flawed. It’s important that we go to the Bible for the truth and the Bible plainly tells us that Satan does exist, and the Bible explains how he operates. We have no reason to be intimidated by Satan as his power is inferior to God’s. The key is to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7), knowing that Christ has defeated him for good at the cross and through the resurrection.

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Christians must stand fast against sin and be aware of the schemes of Satan.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

When tempted by Satan, the Christian believer should submit himself to God’s only Son and resist the devil, and then Satan will flee (see James 4:7).

The future and the doom of Satan is described in Revelation 20:7-10. His big attempt to conquer God’s people is followed by his death and extinction.

Demons are evil spirits. (Matthew 8:16). Christians are fighting against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12). Demons are under the leadership of Satan, who opposes God’s purposes and wants to hinder man’s welfare.

You take what the enemy meant for evil

And you turn it for good,

You turn it for good.

(SEE A VICTORY, sung by Elevation Worship)

Do you recognize the evil of Satan and demons? The more we read, pray and understand the Bible, the more we can recognize what evil really is. Have a loving attitude toward others, be a Christian role-model and fight evil at every opportunity. Becoming a member of a Christian church is a step toward fighting evil.

Are you “all in”?

How can you overcome evil with good? Pray for opportunities to participate in Christian ministry! By doing good, we are fighting evil. It could be a great way to love others while serving God. And hit Satan with a Bible verse. Hit him!

Tom Weckesser

May 8 – Letters to the 7 Churches – Laodicea

Read Revelation 3:14-22

I love the letters that God wrote to the churches that we have documented in Revelation. However, the letter He wrote the church in Laodicea is the most troubling for me.

All the letters to the other churches contain something positive about how the church is doing. I don’t find any of that in the letter to Laodicea, the only positive I see is what God is willing to do if the people will turn back to Him.

So, what is it that displeases God?

They are “neither hot nor cold”.

On the surface it sounds like they aren’t “too bad”. It seems they are content to live in comfort with no passion for God, no desire to grow. I can imagine them saying, “I’m not too bad – it’s not like I ever killed someone. I’m certainly better than some people.”

God is clearly appalled by their behavior.

I’ve seen a translation of verse 17 that says “I’m going to vomit you out of my mouth.”

That’s a nasty picture!

I believe that God is very serious about the fact that He is looking for people who will passionately serve, worship and follow Him. Also, He wants us to serve others, in His name, with all of our heart.

The church of Laodicea reminds me a lot of much of the church in North America. I challenge us to take a hard look at ourselves and say, “am I cold, am I hot or am I lukewarm?”

Please ask God to show you how He sees you.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 139:23-24

Don’t settle for comfortable and content, we only have a short time on this earth to make an eternal difference in the life of others!

Later in this letter, God gives an invitation:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

How are we going to answer?

Let’s love God with all of our hearts, soul, strength and mind and love our neighbors as we love ourselves!

Mike Molter

May 7 – Letters to the 7 Churches – Philadelphia

Read Revelation 3:7-13

Perseverance and obedience aren’t flashy. The person with spectacular gifts and abilities and the single event that caused jaws to drop seem more appealing. Still, these are qualities that are heralded by Jesus in His description of the church in Philadelphia.

Rather than negative traits or actions that needed to cease, Jesus applauded positive responses of the church that were to continue. When it came to perseverance, they were committed to “endure patiently” (3:10). You know, anyone can withstand opposition for a moment. What if the opposition continues? Will you remain faithful? Anyone can force a one-time godly response when things get tough. What if the “tough” never stops? Will you persevere? Yeah, perseverance is under-appreciated because we are taught to lash out. We are trained to respond in the flesh rather than persevere in the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23).

Obedience was another response affirmed by Jesus. He acknowledged that they had “kept my word” (3:8) and “kept my command” (3:10). I am sure it wasn’t easy. In fact, there were apparently individuals close by who claimed faith but were, in reality, liars (3:9). Genuine faith is more than a claim. It is demonstrated and even confirmed by obedience (Jn. 14:21). Unfortunately, most of us as believers know more truth than we are living out. Is there one of those areas that comes to mind for you? What step could you take to begin to obey in that area?

Let’s face it…no church is perfect. The church in Philadelphia was no exception. But unlike many of the other seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus gave no negative descriptors. In fact, He extended to them some amazing realities.

  • To them, Jesus had opened a door that could not be shut (3:7). This door certainly included their access to the Father through Jesus (Jn. 10:9; 14:6) or it could also be an open door of ministry opportunity (Col. 4:2-4).
  • To them, Jesus promised exclusion from testing…the testing of the tribulation (3:10; chs. 5-19).

While perseverance and obedience may not be flashy, they do merit blessings and reward.

Steve Kern

May 6 – Letters to the 7 Churches – Sardis

Read Revelation 3:1-6

Alive Church

That was the name that some people might have ascribed to the church in the ancient city of Sardis located in present day Turkey. These people were doing things! God was at work in them. Sardis was congregation with spiritual vitality. At least that was their reputation.

But the interesting thing about a reputation is that it is often rooted in the past and based on appearance. The trouble with a reputation rooted in the past is that it may no longer be accurate in the present. And the problem with a reputation based on appearance is that it may not be a good representation of reality.

How about your reputation? Do others have a realistic perspective of you? Are the opinions of others congruent with the perspective of God?

Back in first-century Sardis…Regardless of the reason, the Lord Jesus pointed to a discrepancy between their reputation and reality. Yes, there were a few exceptions (v. 4), but the majority of them exhibited little signs of spiritual life (v. 1).

While we aren’t given great detail on what this spiritual lifelessness looked like, we are told what was required to experience spiritual revitalization. Whether you would consider your walk with Christ to be described by lethargy or vitality, here are some good principles.

  1. Wake up! (v. 2…and dare I add “and smell the coffee”?) There is sometimes the need to come out of the state of slumber and candidly recognize our true state. How would Jesus describe your walk with Him?
  2. Remember! (v. 3) If you have walked with Jesus for any time at all, there are certainly a few things you have learned along the way. There are principles that you have been taught in sermons or read in the Scriptures. These principles fit into two broad categories of love for God and love for others.
  3. Keep it! (v. 3) The Lord doesn’t just give us truths as information. These truths serve the purpose of transformation. His word invites an obedient response.
  4. Repent! (v. 3) Those areas of discrepancy between God’s plan and your reality are more than just areas needing improvement. They are areas requiring repentance. Humbly go to the Lord and acknowledge that discrepancy and ask for His forgiveness.

Your response to these four principles can breathe vitality into spiritual lethargy. They can help you eliminate the discrepancy between appearance and reality.

Steve Kern

May 5 – Letters to the 7 Churches – Thyatira

Read Revelation 2:18-29

How often do you find yourself excusing sin as “not that big of a deal”? How often do you find yourself comparing your sin to others as “at least I’m not doing that!”

As a society, it seems apparent that we are transitioning to becoming post-Christian. We seemingly don’t care about what makes God happy but only what provides us the most immediate satisfaction.

Right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right! No matter what, we must never tolerate immorality and sin.

In Thyatira, God is calling out their toleration of immorality, specifically, by someone who claims to be a prophet. God is about as clear as you can be by saying that believers should have no part in the prophet or they will face immediate and harsh consequences.

Do we really believe God does not have eyes to see and ears to hear? There is great danger in this path of toleration of sin!

Are you tolerating any kind of sin in your life or with those around you? How can you lovingly but truthfully call the sin out and strive for reconciliation with God? In what way can you be praying for our world to turn back to Christ? Instead of getting bogged down with the state of our society, are YOU living a life glorifying to God?

If we continue to tolerate sin and immorality, it will only get worse. We need to speak out. We need to make our presence known. Let’s dance on God’s great dance floor! We need to get out of the fetal position because this is a war. A war for our souls and the hearts of the unbelieving.

Let’s all commit to living a pure and God-honoring lifestyle. One that shows people the God that we serve and the hope that is available to those who believe!