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?

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?

Your Choice

Joshua 24

February 26

Like Moses, Joshua had an opportunity to give a farewell message to the Israelite people he had led before dying. Under his leadership things have gone well. One of the greatest compliments given to a godly leader would be that your people served the Lord throughout your tenure. In verse 31 Joshua gets just that. 

Joshua uses these last moments to remind (common theme in this book) the people of where they came from and what God has done to get them to the promised land. God was the sole source of their successes and their only failures were when they tried to do it on their own. 

The part of his speech that gets the most attention is a challenge. After telling them all what God has done he looks out at the people and asks them to make a choice. If serving this God I have described is undesirable, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. Don’t wait, waiver or wander. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. 

It is a choice that is set out before each individual both then and now. Half commitments are not acceptable. It is a decision that we continue to make each day as we face the temptation to wander. Like Joshua, as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. 

-John Wincapaw

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Look at Genesis 12:1-7 to see the significance of gathering the people at Shechem for these final words from Joshua.
  2. As Joshua recounts the history of the Israelites, what part did God play? Consider your own history – where has God been at work to bring you to where you are today (both during your lifetime and your ancestors)?
  3. What other ‘gods’ (popularity, addictions, wealth, power, affection, leisure, hobbies, security, or a significant person) have you been tempted to serve? When have you made a wrong choice?
  4. What do you choose today? Why? What can be a reminder of your commitment?

Nothing is Impossible with God

Joshua 10

February 25

The people of Gibeon heard of the victory at Jericho and quickly created a peace treaty with the Israelites. This ruffled the feathers of the 5 surrounding nations and their kings declared war on Gibeon.

The king of Gibeon cries out to his new ally – come help us. With God’s direction and encouragement, Joshua gathers his best fighters and comes to the rescue. The passage tells us that he surprised the armies and with the help of God’s hand they push the enemy back. 

Joshua sees that victory is at hand but fears that the enemy may be able to escape in the night. So Joshua looked up to the sun and told it to stand still, and miraculously, it did! 

Verse 14: There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

I would suggest it is rarely (possibly never) a good idea to give God instructions. God is capable to do what we see is impossible. That does not mean we can tell him to provide us with all of our desires and entertain us with cool magic tricks. To be clear, that is not what Joshua did. God has already given the order, promised he would be with them and would hand over his enemy. Joshua was looking for God to provide him an opportunity to do what God already said He would do. 

God will do miraculous things in our lives. Especially when we ask Him to do things that he already wants to do. If there is calling in your life that seems impossible to you, know that your God wants to help you fulfill what he is calling you to do. What may be impossible to us – is not for God!

-John Wincapaw

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. There is an interesting story in the previous chapter (Joshua 9) of the Gibeonites deceiving Joshua in order to create a peace treaty with the Israelites. Why do you think Joshua – and God – still fought to protect them?
  2. If social media had been around at the time, what would those who witnessed the sun standing still post?
  3. What does it mean to you that the Almighty and All Powerful God can and has used His powers over His created world to influence or control an outcome?
  4. Is there a job you think God wants you to do that you feel you need more time for? How can you better order the rest of your day and projects to give the required time to God’s project?

Do we learn from our past mistakes?

Joshua 6

February 24

The Israelites’ failures in the desert can be summarized simply down to disobedience. Even though God was leading the way, they stubbornly chose their own. Will the new generation do the same? 

Once they have crossed the Jordan, the people have dedicated themselves to follow and obey. God quickly puts that to the test. He promises them Jericho but he tells them to take it in the most unorthodox way. He is going to show them that it will all be done by his power and not theirs. 

Imagine being excited to fight for God! He has proven he is with you. You are ready to go out on his behalf and the order comes down the command chain that we are not fighting but instead we are marching. Talk about a let down. You get to come back to camp and tell everyone of your great triumphs – err, a few miles walk around a city wall. And it gets worse. They have to do it for 6 days without seeing any results. 

I’m sure there was plenty of confusion and likely complaining. But on day 7, it was different. They got to walk around 7 times and wait for it, SHOUT! Talk about a warrior’s perfect picture of their first battle. I’m sure this tugged on all their desires to take this in their own hands and do what they were trained to do – fight. 

They were faithful – and after the 7th trip on the 7th day, they let out a shout and the wall collapsed and they finally got to fight. Although they did not understand God’s way in the beginning or during the process, it made sense in the end. They were able to go in and take the city without loss. Had they tried any other way, this level of success was unattainable. 

Most had learned that following God’s way (even when you don’t fully understand) was the best path. If interested in finding out again what happens when they disobey, you don’t have to look far, just read the next chapter. 

-John Wincapaw

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. When would God have you be silent? How well do you do this? When would God want you to SHOUT? How well do you do this?
  2. In what ways does God’s battle plans today seem crazy to a world that does not follow and obey God?
  3. Why was Rahab and her family spared (see Joshua chapter 2)? How can we be involved in saving lives from the coming destruction?

Prepare Yourself

God is going to do wonders among you!

Joshua 3

February 23

It is finally time. The Israelites are finally getting to go into the promised land. The years of wandering are over. The last day starts very similar to the first. They are standing in front of a large body of water that needs to be crossed. God once again shows that a large body of water is not an obstacle too big for Him. 

God gives Joshua the plan and again lets him know that he will be with him along the way. He gives him the words to say to get the people to follow. Joshua prepares the people for the miracle that is about to happen. Different translations may say cleanse, sanctify or prepare – but essentially get ready, God is going to do something awesome. 

The directions are to have the spiritual leaders carry the Ark of the Covenant (signifying God’s throne and presence) and the people were to follow. They were to take a couple steps into the water and stop. 

I love this! How much easier would it have been if God separated the water before they started moving. No faith required. Instead, they had to trust God would do what he said he was going to do. The waters begin to separate after their feet hit the water. 

Again, the Israelites get an amazing miracle to help them remember their God is with them and for them. Once everyone made it to the other side, God asked Joshua to set up a memorial. They were to set up another reminder for the generations to come to remember the events that took place. 

-John Wincapaw

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Everyone wants God to work in their lives, but are you ready for it? Is there something in your life that may be stopping God from doing something great? What might God be asking you to do to prepare, sanctify, consecrate or purify yourself?
  2. The Israelites had to get their feet wet before the water parted. Is there an obstacle in front of you? Describe it. To overcome it, what is a first step you can take in faith?
  3. When God does something amazing, it is important we set up ways to use it to tell others about his greatness. What has God done in your life that you could share with someone else? How will you share it? With whom? When? Where?
%d bloggers like this: