God wins.

Revelation 20

Monday, December 5, 2022

The title of this post is unassuming. Two words: a noun, the subject, and a verb in the future tense. 

I am in the business of speaking, teaching, training, sermonizing. And sometimes (less often than I’d like to admit) I may have a sermon that God uses in spite of all my failures and faults. But if I were to have all the power of the greatest speakers, the powerful conviction of Billy Graham, the clarity and precision of Andy Stanley, the dedication of pastors from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr. and beyond, more than a thousand eloquent sermons could not compare to the truth of the future of the world summed up in these two words. 

God wins. 

I don’t want to take away from that truth, but I do want to flesh it out a bit. 

In the earlier parts of Revelation, the beheaded souls have been calling out from beyond the grave to the God who will give them justice (Rev. 6:9-11). God promised the victors that they would have reward upon reward (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21). When God wins, those who placed faith in God above even their own lives have the incredible promises. For time out of mind (1000 years) they will reign with Christ, they will not be hurt by the second death. While the language of two resurrections is not common in the rest of the NT*, the truth is that they are SO ASSURED of their salvation its as if they cannot possibly be brought to judgment. The joy of this resurrection is that we who are powerless, weak, poor, and oppressed will one day win, be victorious and live forever with God and his Christ, because God wins. 

And Satan can’t win. The dragon’s wings are clipped, and the serpentine body is prepared for the flames. In this world, God has power to throw the serpent of old, the devil and Satan, and bind him for 1000 years. During that time, his temptation and power are cast down. In the end, the devil who deceived the world was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone. This is a threat and a promise. Moreover, Satan KNOWS this is his end. The battle between God and Satan is not a cinematic, climactic masterpiece. There is no worry about who will win. Satan is not trying to win, because he can’t. He IS trying to make YOU LOSE, because that is a possibility. But God will help you overcome sin, fight temptation, and come through faithful. God can protect you from the defanged, declawed, clipped-wing dragon, because God wins. 

In some sense, part of the glory of God, part of his winning, is allowing humans to choose their outcomes. God allows people to determine their final state. While we are only and forever able to be saved by the glory and grace of God, God both does not force his salvific will upon us and does not preclude us from choosing him. God gives people what they desire. The books are opened; the dead are judged. Christ is our hope (Col. 1:27), our peace (Eph. 2:14), our resurrection and life (John 11:25). If any person has rejected Christ, what have they done but rejected peace with God and people? Rejected hope of eternal life? Rejected the resurrection and the life? God gives them exactly what they demanded. God doesn’t put up with those who were rebellious against him in this life. Because…

God wins.

No ifs, ands, buts. 

No amount of persuasive words will make it less true. 

No force of hell can stop Him, not a dragon or an atheist. 

The promise is true:

God wins. 

– Jake Ballard.

* There are hints of two resurrections in the rest of the NT, but nowhere is it explicitly stated like here in the apocalyptic work of Revelation. 

Reflection Questions

  1. How significant is the phrase “God wins” to you? To elaborate, in what areas of your life are you losing? Temptation and sin? Suffering and pain? Anxiety, depression, stress? What would it mean for you to stop trying to fix it all yourself, and let God win, allowing him to be victorious where you haven’t been yourself?
  2. In the ultimate sense, Satan is powerless. While we might be attacked, tormented, and tempted by evil today, that is not the way the world will be forever. How does it make you feel to know that all evil and wickedness are going to be overcome by the power of God? Will you allow God to protect you, so the battle is one-sided in your favor today?
  3. There is no peace, hope, resurrection or life without Christ. Have you given him control of your life, allowing him to be your savior and lord?

Another White Horse, Another Rider

Revelation 19

Sunday, December 4, 2022

If you can remember way back to November 21, we read about a rider on a white horse, the first of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” in chapter 6. The four horsemen constitute the opening section of the “chronology” of Revelation. (If we can call it that. Revelation is in part so fascinating because it loops around, runs back to creation, brings us to the time of Christ, and then thrusts us into the future again!) In chapter 6, the horseman was conquest, the personified human impulse to dominate and subjugate others. The horsemen collectively are personifying human evil with the brakes cut. Humanity is allowed to get as bad as it will get, and then God steps in, in judgement. 

But today, the same imagery of a person on a white horse is used, with VASTLY different purposes. The one who rides the horse does come to conquer, but his name is faithful and true. His motivation and goal is righteousness. Then we see him: eyes of fire, head full of crowns, a mystery to all except God himself, drenched in the blood that saves, the Word made flesh. Christ, magnified, glorified, empowered and regal, comes to take the crowns from the world leaders that are his by birth, his by death, and his by resurrection. He truly is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

I recreate so much of the language to encourage you to stop and read 19:11-16 – and actually, the whole chapter while you are at it. This is the Christ we are called to serve, recognize, praise and adore. This is the Christ who comes again, for the second time. When first he came, why we celebrate Advent and Christmas, he was born in a lowly stable with a manger for a bed. He comes the second time riding the warhorse, not lying where it feeds. At Christmas, he was born to a young woman and her husband-to-be and raised as a refugee in Egypt. At the second coming, he will be bringing together those who follow him from every corner of the world, and setting his people up tall, not refugees and sojourners but citizens of the world made new. At Christmas, only shepherds (and magi, but not really) came to him and gave him gifts and bowed down to the king. At his second coming all will bow to Christ, highly exalted and magnified above every name and above every power. 

May we praise and adore the Christ who came and is coming again. 

  • Jake Ballard

Questions

  1. We need to reexamine our view of Jesus. Jesus was a child born to the poor, oppressed and disposed. Jesus was a meek and mild suffering servant. But Jesus IS and WILL be Lord over all. Jesus IS and WILL be king of kings and lord of lords. Do you give him the worth and honor due him?
  2. As you celebrate Jesus’ first coming, how can you put more focus on his second coming?

Destruction

Revelation 18

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Babylon is often a generalization of those who are against God. As the Revelation is getting closer to the end we see the time when all of those that are against God will soon see their end. 

Two things stood out to me in this chapter:

The first was in vs. 4 –

“Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”

Revelation 18:4 NLT

John 17 tells that we are not of the world, but like Christ, we are sent into it. The everyday world we live in is surrounded in the evil described in these last chapters. Although we are surrounded by it, we cannot be a part of it. 

Here we are being called away. Another reminder to not be like those who have made the life choices to be against God. We shouldn’t take part in sin and if we do, we already have a clear picture of the punishment in store for the enemies of God.

The second is on that punishment in vs. 6 –  

“Do to her as she has done to others. Double her penalty for all her evil deeds. She brewed a cup of terror for others, so brew twice as much for her.”

Revelation 18:6 NLT

We all have been told at some point to do unto others as we would have done to us. Jesus gives us this golden rule in Matthew 7 as he encourages us to love others as he did. Here we see the fruition of just that. Have done to you as you have done unto others but further in a double measure.

This should really make you think. How would I be treated if it was based on how I have treated others? 

We are called out of the world to avoids it’s punishment and we will ultimately be judged on our actions and how we treated others.

Act like the world and we will be treated as the world. Act like Christ and we will be treated like Christ. One situation is accepted and loved temporarily while ending with eternal consequences. The other is temporary consequences with eternal rewards. We are given that choice and unfortunately many choose the one that is easier and convenient now while giving up a much greater reward that we get to see in the upcoming chapters.

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. When reading Revelation 18, which verses stand out to you most? How is Babylon described?
  2. Are there areas of your life where you are acting more like the world/Babylon than you are acting like Christ? What changes should be made? What loving warnings can be given to those living against God now?
  3. “How would I be treated if it was based on how I have treated others?”

“Why are you so amazed?”

Revelation 17

Friday, December 2, 2022

I once heard a preacher ask the audience, “Does anyone enjoy sinning?” As one who enjoys asking questions like this from the pulpit, my interest was piqued. You are faced with an internal dilemma – be honest and vulnerable or give the church answer that you think is the right answer. (I am always looking for the honest answer.) He followed up that question by telling  everyone, “Of course you do. Why else would you do it?” Temptation would not be tempting if it was not desirable. 

Sin has it’s appeal. It is tempting. Abstaining can be difficult at times.

In chapter 17, John is carried away by the spirit with an angel. He is taken into the wilderness where he sees the great prostitute. This prostitute has stolen the attention of all the people of the world. As he describes her, we see all the things that the people of this world crave after: power, prestige, wealth and attention. 

John stared at this with complete amazement. The angel asked in vs 7 – “Why are you so amazed?” 

All that this prostitute offers is temporary and ultimately leads to destruction – yet like John, we can stare in amazement. 

We need to heed one of John’s other writings. 

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”

1 John 2:15-17 NLT

Do not get caught up in the pursuit and temptations of this world. For the prostitute, the beast and all those that fall into their temptation will be destroyed and eternally separated from God.

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. What are you amazed by when you read Revelation 17? What questions do you have? What is the greatest “take-away” or lesson from Revelation 17?
  2. How would you describe the woman on the beast and what she represents?
  3. How often do you consider the eternal consequences of your choices? Would it be easier making wise choices if you thought of it more often?

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Revelation 16

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Chapter 16 picks up with the angels and their bowls of plagues that describe some horrible and disastrous things that are happening to the earth.

In the middle of it all we get a message:

““Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.””

Revelation 16:15 NLT

Like Matthew 24 – the thief comes when those in the house will be least likely expecting it. 

As a kid, I remember playing hide and go seek with my dad. I figured out a way to actually not be found. I found a way to sneak in between the walls. No one could find me and it was great. Until it was not. After not being found for 10-15 minutes, I would get bored, get out of my hiding spot and make my way to do something else. And every time my dad would look at me and say, “Found ya. I win!”

I think that happens with us too. We get distracted or bored while waiting. That is when we move away from our calling.  We let our guard down and while we least expect it – ready or not, here he comes. 

Again we see another reminder to remain faithful and vigilant. We all will be found. Will you be found faithful and ready? Or ashamed and not? 

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. Say a prayer to God about how you want to be found.

Breaking Out Into Song

Revelation 15

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Oddly enough, as I read through Revelation 15, I thought of so many Disney movies. No, not the fictional characters or the talking animals. Instead, the random break out in song no matter what else is going on or crazy circumstances that they are in. 

We are given the picture of the angels holding the plagues that would complete God’s wrath –  and then take a look to the left, a song breaks out and all those that were singing had harps that were given to them by God. Timing seems pretty odd with the upcoming events about to take place.

They are singing 2 songs – both redemption songs. One like the one that Moses sings after He had freed them from slavery in Egypt and the other a saving from death and destruction He provided through Christ. These songs are giving God glory and praise for what He has done. 

It doesn’t matter what is happening around them, the singers have reason to sing. They have been saved by an amazing conquering God. We too have reason to sing. It may seem weird to break out and sing at random moments but I think that is a glimpse of the kingdom. We will sing praises to the God that is worthy to be praised.

The angels are about to spread the plagues and the redeemed are singing to their God. 

Not to make light of these events foretold, but our world at times may feel like a plague is upon us. We still have reason to sing. Never miss an opportunity to sing praises to our God. Don’t let the distractions of this world get in the way of our ultimate purpose; to worship the one that sets us free. 

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. How can you practice giving God praise and glory even in the midst of scary, overwhelming or unknown circumstances? How can you bring glory to His name in the midst of your activities?
  2. How does music help us display our emotions?
  3. Create a short (or long) song of praise to God, using the song of Revelation 15 as inspiration. What do you praise Him for? Do you fear Him as well (Revelation 15:4)? Why?

The Eternal Good News

Revelation 14

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


There is a lot happening in Chapter 14 – including the introduction to the 144,000 – the 3 angels and their messages – and the harvest. 

The 144,000 with God’s and Christ’s names on their forehead – coming after the beast’s mark in the last chapter – we see a group of the faithful that have remained pure to God and taken His mark. 

Before we get to the messages of the angels, this stuck out to me:

And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.

We see the eternal gospel (good news) – the message of love, hope and salvation all found in the promise of God’s kingdom. This angel has the responsibility to make sure that everyone hears this truth. No one is forced to accept this gospel but everyone gets the opportunity to hear it and make a choice. 

It sounds like the commission that Christ left his disciples and then they have passed this responsibility down through the church and us. It will ultimately be fulfilled through our preaching and teaching and in entirety by one of God’s messengers. 

We have a role in this. Those that have received this truth are charged to proclaim it. Through what we say and do, our life is a proclamation to those who may not know the truth that Christ taught, lived and promised. 

The message of the angels was really for those that have not accepted this truth – fear God, evil has lost and those of you that joined the beast have picked the wrong team. Times up!

After these messages we see another small note added by John for the faithful before God’s wrath:

12 This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.

The chapter ends with a gruesome depiction of God’s wrath through a harvest.

Further motivation to choose the right team. If you have been following these devotions, you have heard the eternal Gospel – have you accepted and further began proclaiming it?

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. What evidence do you have of what team is the right team?
  2. What motivates you most to be actively choosing the right team?
  3. How can you share the eternal good news this week?

Where Does Your Allegiance Lie?

Revelation 13

Monday, November 28, 2022

Multiple times throughout the book of Revelation Jesus is referred to as faithful and trustworthy. In chapter 12 we are introduced to a deceptive dragon and in 13 his beast minions that also deceive. 

We are all given a choice. To follow what is faithful and true or what is deceptive and false. 

When painted so clearly it seems silly that some would actually choose the latter. Unfortunately, if you look around, we see Christians dabble in the ways of the world. They straddle the fence of what is right and wrong. 

Those who straddle will be deceived. Right and wrong becomes muddied. Black and white becomes gray. They will slowly drift further from what is faithful and true and more in line with the way of the world. 

Vs. 8 describes those who fall into that trap:

“And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭13:8‬ 

A few verses later is the mark of the beast. A time when a clear choice will have to be made. Will you be branded and continue to live a worldly life that takes your name out of the book of life? Or will you maintain your allegiance to Christ even if it means severe persecution, being cut off from buying goods and even possible death? 

That day may come in our lifetime; it may not. You do not have to wait until then to make your choice. 

Like Joshua (Joshua 24) – choose for today whom you will serve – as for me, I will serve the Lord. 

Where does your allegiance lie? 

Choose today! Choose to follow what is faithful and true and stay vigilant to not be deceived. 

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. Can you think of a time when you were deceived by Satan or by “the world”? What could you do differently to not be deceived next time?
  2. Because of the evil, deception and difficult times John writes that God’s people will need what 3 characteristics (see Revelation 13:10 and 18). What grade would you give yourself in each of these areas? What can you do to strengthen yourself in each area?
  3. How has Jesus shown himself to be faithful and true?

War in Heaven!

Revelation 12

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The book of Revelation at times can be difficult to read and understand. Ultimately it is a letter to the followers of Christ to encourage them to remain with the God that has already won the battle and further telling us how to remain faithful in the difficult times that are sure to come. 

Chapter 12 starts with a cosmic battle with a dragon and a woman with child. The dragon, attacks the woman and her child. And although it appears the dragon has the child briefly, he is snatched away to signify his power cannot contain him. 

The dragon is defeated and is thrown to the earth, and in response to his defeat, continues his war on earth. 

This is the situation in which we live: Christ has defeated death and sin, but evil is still at war with and among Christ’s people. 

John tells us in verse 11 that we too can conquer through the imitation of Christ and lives of love and the message of the gospel:

“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So then the message of chapter 12 to us is first to rejoice that God has already won. And then second, to receive the encouragement to be faithful ourselves: to witness even though we face opposition, persecution and in some cases even death. 

It is through this sacrificial living that the kingdom of God advances, and it is to this faithfulness that John is calling us.

-John Wincapaw

Reflection Questions

  1. According to Revelation 12, what part of the battle has been fought and won? What evidence do you have of this? What part of the battle are you still actively fighting? What evidence do you have? How is your battle going?
  2. What power do you find in the blood of the Lamb?

42 Months. 1,260 Days.

Revelation 11

Saturday, November 26, 2022

In Revelation 11 John is told to measure God’s Temple and the altar, and the people worshipping there – except the outer court. We never learn that John reported or used these measurements, perhaps it is all a complex object lesson. (Later an angel also measures the New Jerusalem, see 21:15.) Still, the fact of doing this made John walk over every part of the Temple, and it took time. Ezekiel 40‑42 seems to list what he needed to measure – with the addition of the worshippers, and I don’t know how he did that. The whole scene also creates another lengthy pause for John in the vision, which is hard to visualize when reading.

John then learns about the Two Witnesses, who sound like a combination of Elijah with Moses and Aaron. The ability to breathe fire, while new for prophets, fits well if these verses are taken as part of the second woe. Reading about their authority it could seem odd that the nations will walk over Jerusalem and the Temple’s outer court in that time, rather than being driven away. But the witnesses will be in sackcloth for mourning. It will not be their role to drive out all the wicked, but to speak truth. The choice of what happened to the city belonged to its population. Their miracles will strike against those who seek to kill them, and back up their statements, but their basic ministry will be in their words.

And “when they have finished their testimony” the witnesses will be killed in Jerusalem. It is quite the image to think of wicked people celebrating ‘Happy Two Witnesses Day’ and exchanging gifts, perhaps commemorative shirts or mugs. But the wicked will have rejoiced in error. In the immediate aftermath thousands in Jerusalem will die, but the rest “gave glory to God.” Maybe those giving glory will be the first fruit of the witnesses’ ministries at that time. If so, I think they will be welcomed to the truth with joy, and the witnesses will count their own deaths as worthwhile. But I believe that the testimony of what these two will faithfully do has already brought great good, before they have even begun to prophesy – that is one of the strange potentials with prophecy about prophets.

The blowing of the Seventh Trumpet is answered with voices from heaven. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ! God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! But it seems like God will be reigning over a world that is still populated by many of the wicked. If the seventh trumpet launches the third woe there is a lot of damage to come, although nothing more is said about that here. John has been told he needs to “prophesy again,” and perhaps it will be necessary to go backward to gain traction to go forward. The three-and-a-half year period which is discussed early in chapter 11 will come up again in chapters 12 and 13. While many people see the seven trumpets as leading into the woeful seven bowls of the wrath of God that is not for several more chapters.

Chapter 11 closes with another reference to the Temple in heaven, as it opens to reveal the ark of the covenant. I think that for the equivalent of the Holy of Holies in the heavenly tabernacle to open says the separation between God and mankind is being reduced or eliminated. This may not be a safe thing for the general population. Rather than a promise of blessings about to pour onto the world, it may mean that holiness will be called for.

Lord, I see in John and the unnamed witnesses people who understood servanthood, who accepted the risks in following Jesus and were completely committed. Allow me to be as humble and as brave as one of your prophets. I don’t need to tell the future. Please let me grow into that passion to do what you desire of me, guided by your Spirit, living in your love, serving in faith, working toward hope. May your will be done. Amen.

-Daniel Smead

Reflection Questions

  1. What good can come from the prophecy of the coming of the Two Witnesses before they have even come? What do you personally gain from looking into the book of Revelation? Who do you know who could potentially benefit from knowing what is in this revelation? Pray for them, and for your faithfulness as a servant of God.
  2. What are your thoughts and feelings about the separation between God and mankind being reduced or eliminated? Why?
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