Perseverance Demanded, Perseverance Given: Revelation Part 5

“And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them! ” – Revelation 14:9-13

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve read the whole Bible, or perhaps you’re working towards that end. In any case, if you’re a Christian, you do have to acknowledge and wrestle with the reality of hell as revealed by God in His Word. Anyone who rejects Christ will be judged according to his or her own works and will stand condemned before him. The consequences are eternal.

Just today God provided me with a great conversation and an opportunity to share the good news. My new friend is quite convinced of the certainty of hell for the really bad people he knows. But he wasn’t concerned with it affecting him someday, despite admitting he doesn’t believe in Christ alone for salvation at this point in his life. We said goodbye on friendly terms and I hope we’ll run into each other again so that we can talk more. Either way, I’m asking fervently for his salvation.

But I’ll admit that on my drive home I was like, “God, what if not? Why me to know you and maybe not him? What about all the people outside of Christ who are already dead? What about the people I’ve prayed for for years who still haven’t received Your incredible love?”

And once again the Spirit brought Revelation 14 to mind. He doesn’t downplay the reality of His eternal wrath against the disobedient. The judgment is coming and it’s serious. But, don’t forget and don’t doubt it, Emma: God is very patient and He is fair. Keep the faith, Emma. Persevere, Emma.

I reached chapter 14 in my memorizing schedule in February 2016, just a year before the deaths of loved ones began to ravage my friend’s lives. Some lost young children, and continuing to trust His providence in those losses is still very difficult. (As an aside, this book is very comforting).

Some were believers and some- by what could be seen- were not in Christ. Then, just a few months after those losses, God woke me up early on a Saturday and urged me to go back out to pray and sidewalk counsel at the abortion clinic. It’s a place where death seems to win out, where offerings of tangible help are often rejected, and where I don’t get to see what happens in the lives of those who hear that God loves them but walk on by.

God knew what was ahead. The Spirit was getting me ready to hang on to Jesus for dear life. He was establishing me to continue working- because every prayer and every proclamation of the good news matters.

I can’t wait to rest from these labors and see how these works follow us. But for now, let’s persevere.

Sure Things: Revelation Part 4

A few weeks ago we had a Valentine’s Day party at our house – toddlers ran wild, crafts were crafted, and an inordinate amount of sugar was consumed by all.

The day before the party I was hanging decorations while all three kids napped (a rare occurrence these days!) and so I got to do my review without interruptions. I started with Revelation 8 and 9. It was so very incongruous to be festooning my living room with pink and red streamers as I recited a passage about the terrors of the last days. Here’s one passage:

“[The locusts] were not permitted to kill them but were to torment them for five months; their torment is like the torment caused by a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.” – Revelation‬ ‭9:5-6‬

But you know what? It was exactly what I needed to hear. I had been stressed about party details. About chocolate covered strawberries and glittery hearts. Hearing those words again brought me face to face with what is eternally important. I have been redeemed and rescued from the just wrath of God against my sin. Anyone who shelters in Christ can be saved. That’s the real reason I love to celebrate anytime there’s an opportunity to do so. And I want everyone I know to be able share in that celebration!

Revelation chapter 6 ends with every type of person – rich, poor, slave, and free – crying for the rocks to hide them from God’s wrath. Refusal to shelter in Him is serious. The day of judgment is a sure thing. He desires everyone to come to Him and be adopted into His family (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Chapter 7 showcases the beautiful reality that He has redeemed people from everywhere on the earth, and the vast multitude of saints ascribe praise to His name and are promised eternal security and perfect intimacy with Him. He will wipe away every tear! That’s promised in chapter 21 as well. It’s a sure thing.

This post is up late because I didn’t really feel like I was qualified to write a post (a rough weekend turned into a rough Monday) and because I didn’t know how to write about these chapters clearly. But I know I can’t go wrong pointing to Jesus’ power to save anyone who repents and believes. And for believers, we can always hear another reminder that our tears here are running on borrowed time.

Be blessed,


Aforementioned strawberries 😊

Judge, Leader, Warrior: Revelation Part 3

After putting it off for awhile, I’ve just hauled a laundry basket up the basement steps to sort through and put away…eventually! While I was pulling the clothes out of the dryer I was sorting through my thoughts for this post.

Every week I pray through a stack of coffee-stained index cards with various prayer requests on them. I had just been praying through the one I have for governments and those in authority. As I petitioned God on their behalf I was also confessing my own failure of looking to these leaders for security rather than to God as the ultimate Authority. It brought this part of Israel’s history to mind:

“The people refused to listen to Samuel. “No! ” they said. “We must have a king over us. Then we’ll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.” -1 Samuel‬ ‭8:19-20‬

As I acknowledged my skewed perspective I considered the scene that’s revealed in Revelation chapter five. John sees a mysterious scroll that no one can open in the right hand of the One seated on the throne. No one on heaven or on earth or under the earth is worthy to open it or even look in it. When John sees this, he begins to cry.

After all, he was a person with a nature like ours. At that time he was an older man who was in exile on desolate Patmos. It’s been many years since he beat Peter in a foot race to the empty tomb and ate breakfast with Jesus on the beach.

He had just glimpsed and fallen down at the feet of the glorious Jesus, then written down the seven letters from Him. Immediately after that he saw a vision of the throne room of the living God! Of course he’s overwhelmed. And this scroll is important. What’s going on? And then, one of the elders halts his tears. Look, John!

Who is it? He’s there! The Christ, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. The Good Shepherd humbled Himself and laid His life willingly for His sheep. That just hit me as I was writing. I had never realized that He Who was the Shepherd offered Himself to the slaughter. He is the perfect Atonement Lamb, the only way to the Father. Oh yes! He’s worthy to take the scroll! He’s worthy of eternal worship!

The rest of chapter five shows the throne room erupting in adoration and praise, then the entire universe ascribing blessing and honor and glory to the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb.

God hasn’t answered our human longings for a king like we would have expected- and we can (and will) thank Him for that forever!

As believers, we do have a King Who judges us, but not as we deserve. He bore the wrath of God on the tree and we are pardoned and welcomed.

Yes, our King goes out before us. He enters the sheepfold by the gate and calls each sheep by name. He leads us faithfully, never asking us to do anything He has not already done perfectly on our behalf through His life, death, and resurrection.

Does He fight our battles? Every single one, all the way to Armageddon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold…and some more marveling over Jesus’ worthiness to get to.

Click the photo to go to an incredible song based on Revelation 5!

The Perfect Communicator: Revelation Part 2

Trying to encapsulate what I’ve learned from a book of the Bible into a concise post has pretty difficult so far, but Revelation is especially daunting. It’s my favorite book of the Bible. In my review (one chapter from Revelation daily, so I go over it on a three week cycle) I recite from it first because He always uses it to lift my eyes to Christ and His perfect Kingdom. Because of this, I’m planning to just take as many posts as needed to really delve into truths mined from each chapter. This post will cover chapters 1-4!

What does Revelation reveal? Who reveals it? Why? Chapter one verse one tells us:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place.” (HCSB)

The purpose of this letter, written to God’s slaves, is to show them what is going to happen soon. God is such a good Father. He communicates perfectly. Hebrews 1:1 tells us that in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, the perfect Prophet. In keeping with His flawless testimony and perfect work during His earthly life, Jesus makes the Father’s will known to us through this letter. And lest we forget that we worship a triune God, the Spirit is clearly at work in this act of revelation. John’s salutation in 1:4 includes “the seven spirits Who are before His throne” and John describes himself as being “in the Spirit” when he sees Christ in His splendor and receives the command to write down what Jesus shows him.

Practically, I continue to be so convicted and mega blessed by the second and third chapters. These are individual letters from Jesus to real people in real churches. Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

As I review these chapters, I thank Jesus for how He loves me by rebuking and disciplining me. I ask Him to reform me and keep me faithful to His Word, to truly love Him, to remain steadfast under persecution, and to make and keep the church I belong to solid and safe from the very real threats of false teaching and idolatry. I know He can.

I rejoice in all of the promises given to God’s true sons and daughters. In this letter, our Victorious King Jesus encourages us to strive to live as victors in Him. There are rewards waiting for us, and He tells us about them! Genuine believers who hold on to His Word will have the right to eat from the tree of life, we’ll get a stone with a name written on it that no one knows except the one who receives it, and He promises the right to sit with Him on His throne…I mean, wow!

John then describes the incredible throne room of God in chapter four. Where I am when I review is varied, but it’s usually doing something kind of boring or repetitive, like emptying the dishwasher or driving to pick up groceries. And amidst those routines I get to dwell on what John describes. What kind of King is this that He makes known such great mysteries to such lowly people? One far above us, but One Who wants us to know Him!

“Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was set there in heaven. One was seated on the throne, and the One seated looked like jasper and carnelian stone. A rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne.” (4:2-3)

It’s mind-blowing to think about how His throne is established forever, about how beautiful He is, and about how I have been brought into His kingdom to worship this glorious God forever. All because He’s reconciled me by His own blood. Spending time meditating on that puts any frustration I’m dealing with into perspective.

So, Christian, if you’re struggling with some paper cut problems- annoying, perhaps, but not life-threatening: look up to the One Who has revealed Himself to you in Christ. Keep persevering.

If you’re barely enduring a gaping wound, grieving and isolated: keep enduring. Lift your gaze to the One Who laid down His life to redeem you and Who enables you to be victorious, even over death. Amidst potentially feeling as if you can’t see Him at all, know that He truly has revealed Himself. May You see Him and may you love Him all the more.

Today is Regina’s third birthday! While I was pregnant with her I memorized up to Revelation 14, then continued to memorize and review as I cared for her. That’s why her baby book verse is this beautiful song!

His Judgments are True and Righteous: Revelation Part 1

I love the beautiful description in Revelation 21-22 of John seeing the river of living water from a great and high mountain!

During high school and college I spent several summers working as a camp counselor. “Working” might not be an accurate term. Those summers involved lots of chubby bunny contests, extreme ironing, near death experiences with copperheads, and becoming permanently dependent on caffeine.

Anyway, one summer the staff t-shirts had “18:2” written on them. There was some clever theme that escapes my memory, but I remember looking up every 18:2 reference with my fellow staffers. When we got to Revelation we all joked that it definitely wasn’t that one.

“He cried in a mighty voice: It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen! She has become a dwelling for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, and a haunt for every unclean and despicable beast.”

Revelation has always been one of those pick-and-choose books for me. I carefully avoided the parts about locusts, plagues, the notorious prostitute, and any passages that made me confused or uncomfortable. However, I often wrote out the comforting promises about no more tears and the descriptions of the new Jerusalem in journals and letters.

In fall of 2015 I had signed up for Bible Study Fellowship, which is an awesome international community you can learn about here. The study was Revelation, so I hoped that as I committed to lots of meditation on the book that the BSF study would shed light on all of the previously skimmed over passages- and it really did!

The Spirit was continuing to use my review time in Colossians and James to show me the richness of memorizing and reciting Scripture in its full context. A year into the journey, I was even more confident than before that I could trust Him to continue to guide me in the light of the Word. The Spirit had also been making it clear that this discipline was all by His power, not my own efforts.

So, still nervous that I’d falter out a few verses in, but with the encouragement of my amazing sister Caroline that God was able to keep me at it, it began. Ten months later (just a few weeks after BSF ended) I finished it. For the first year and a half afterwards, I reviewed the whole book every week (~4 chapters a day) to really get the content kneaded into my heart. Currently I review it on a three week schedule- one chapter a day- and am amazed afresh at the whole counsel of God.

I still find it difficult to fully grasp and humbly receive the harder things revealed by God in Revelation, but I join with the vast multitude in chapter 19 in praising the King of Kings:

“After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because His judgments are true and righteous, because He has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and He has avenged the blood of His slaves that was on her hands.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭19:1-2‬ ‭

Next week I’ll share more about what I’m learning from Revelation! Listen to the Streetlights recording here!

Also, I want to go ahead and share a few practical tips regarding long-form memorizing that have helped me:

  • As you go, copy one chapter, without verse numbers from a Bible app (such as Youversion) into a note application on your phone
  • Break the chapter into sections that make sense for you. Each one can be as short as a phrase or a few sentences. Try to add one section daily and use the note to review what you have so far. It helps to have it on hand on your phone for memorizing and reviewing anytime- you’ll be surprised how much in-between time your day has!
  • Here’s an example of one of my notes from from 2 Timothy:
    • I previously shared the Memorize Anything app as a good tool for auditory learners. Find your learning style and leverage that for getting the truth into your head!
    • Another essential thing is finding an accountability partner – for me, those have been family members and several friends. If you need one, I’m always up for it! When I started Revelation, Caroline and I made this shared Google document with a game plan in it. Utilize technology as much as it’ll help and motivate you!

    Be blessed!