Prayer Focus:   Suriname, Swaziland

Bible Reading:  Acts 9-11

Scripture –  

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[d] water, but you will be baptized with[e] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Observation –  Acts 9 starts with the calling of Saul, I mean Paul, to serve the Lord.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to have the Lord confront you in person.  Then we move on to Peter traveling around doing miracles and leading thousands to believe.

Application –  

Prayer – 

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Prayer Focus: Mission Organizations

Bible Reading: Revelation 10-22

Scripture
12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Revelation 122:12-21)

Observation 

Today’s selection of reading crosses the finish line for our year-long journey.  In the reading we celebrate the victory of God over the enemy, the thousand-year reign, the judgement of Satan.  Then the dead are resurrected and all are sorted according to who’s name is written in the Lambs book of life.

But wait, there’s more!  God declares “I am making everything new!” And so he creates a new heaven and a new earth.  This earth has no sea.  (To make room for all who have their names written in the lambs book of life?)  Then he shows John New Jerusalem.  And just like the ark, the tabernacle, and the temples of old, this new dwelling place of God has been lovingly described.  The bible calls it “The bride” and invites all who stay to the wedding feast.

Finally, John steps aside and holds open the temporal curtain so that Jesus can speak directly to us.  The last words in the bible are an invitation to come and warning not to change or take away anything written within.  It’s His last chance to speak to us through his written word to all nations, and He says “I am coming soon!”

There is so much here.  So much more than I can unpack in one devotional.  (And honestly, my personal understanding of the book of revelation is elementary)  Here’s what I know in broad strokes though:  He promises to hold all of us to account for the things we’ve done.  No one escapes it – not even Satan.  And when the old accounts are settled, he’s going to give us our reward.

Application

How then do we live?  Who should we fear?  What is important?

God wrote it all down through prophets and apostles so that we would have a template.  He gave us history, to learn from our past.  He gave us books of wisdom so we could learn from each other.  He gave us prophesy to learn to trust what he said as the truth.  He even gave us a peek at the end so we could not say we didn’t know what his purpose was.  He’s laid all his cards on the table and said his final word on the subject.

The only question left is when.   When will this happen?  Here is what Jesus said about it:

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father.37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

(Matt. 24:36-44)

Prayer

Lord, I pray a blessing on your word, that it doesn’t return void, but accomplishes what you designed it to do.  Come soon!

Prayer Focus: Prayer Networks

Bible Reading: Revelation 14-18

Scripture

“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. (Revelation 17:8)

14 These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)

Observation:

Revelation brings out such an ambivalent feeling in me. . . It’s so wonderful to be reminded of the Victory that Jesus will bring when He returns, but there’s so much sadness at the cost – the fall of Babylon and all the people it represents who will end up in a place they were never intended to be. It would be so easy to stay in chapter 15, a scene of Heaven, where the angels are singing praises. . . but there is more to the story and it’s ‘the more’ that rests at the heart of God, His heartbeat, if you will.

Application:

Over and over throughout Scripture, God reveals His heart for the nations. It’s the reason for everything, and in this context a reminder that even God’s patience has limits. The time will come (but not Dec 21st 2012) when He will send His son. God waits for the perfect appointed time that only He knows. Is it any wonder? Jesus’ birth was at the point, Scripture tells us, when the time had ‘fully come.’ Peter reminds us that God is not slow in keeping His promises – but lingers so that none would perish. God’s love and mercy . . . should we have any less?

We know that the enemy cannot create, he can only destroy. Society and history are littered with things that Satan has taken and obfuscated or completely twisted to deceive us into trading the genuine for the lie. So, as scary as this passage can be – all this talk of bowls of wrath and beasts and horns, etc. . . . even talk of the one who is and will come . . . Cannot compare to the ONE who was, who IS, and who is to come. It is in HIM we are to trust, and He who we are to worship. The beast, thinks he is coming to win, he will use his power, but it will not be enough. The Lamb will be victorious.

The Lamb will be victorious!

May we be on task to bring as many people as we can to join us and stand with Him – as the called, chosen, and faithful.

Prayer:

Father I don’t claim to have even a basic understanding of all that Revelation has to tell us. But I do have a child’s understanding – the kind that says my Father knows and I can trust Him. Help me to have compassion for those who are yet deceived. Who have despised the Truth and forsaken the Promise for instant gratification. Help me to be faithful . . . in obedience, to make disciples, to share Your story, to share my story . . . so that many will be saved. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Global Facts & Figures

Bible Reading: Revelation 11-13

Scripture

Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:14-18)

Observation

Revelation is arguably the most controversial book in the Bible. Apocalyptic literature is a unique genre that has produced countless theories, interpretations, and predictions. This passage concerning the second beast describes the infamous “mark of the beat” and the number of the beast, 666. It states that the mark will be on the right hand or forehead and that no buying or selling could occur without it.

Application

While I don’t necessarily believe it is the mark, I am very fascinated with Mint Chip, a Canadian project that seeks to replace all paper and coin currency with an electronic chip. Will this be a precursor to “the” mark? It seems plausible. Technology is moving rapidly. Are these the “last days?” I know two things for sure: 1) we are one day closer than yesterday, and 2) we always need to be ready. Are you?

Prayer

LORD, I don’t understand much of Revelation. I am tainted by the theories I have read of those claiming to know and understand it, yet they are only theories. What is clear to me is that before You judge every man, woman and child there will be a period in which wild things will occur on the earth. While I say again, “Maranatha! Come quickly LORD Jesus,” I also want to be ready…for judgment day and ultimately eternity with You. I love You, LORD. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus: Zimbabwe

Bible Reading: Revelation 6-10

Scripture

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!  Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!”

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;  and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:9-17 NIV

Observation

Revelation 6 starts with the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse  and is followed by disaster after disaster; conquest, war, economic collapse, death.  Natural disasters on a global scale follow, unnatural beasts bent on destroying humanity, all the while hearts do not repent.

But in the midst of it all is this great multitude.  They are already in heaven and they are praising God.

Application

This is what the end of the world looks like.  Regardless of what you’ve heard from crazy prophets trying to predict a date for the end of the world, or ancient calendars running out of days, nobody knows when this will actually happen.  Nobody except God.

This great multitude seems to have escaped all that, but how?  “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”  Meaning they repented of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, took the penalty for our sin and by rising from the dead made good on the promise to give us new life.

The end of the world is not a scary thing for the Christian because for us means being with Christ.  However, it should drive us to share the message of grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ with the unbelieving world.  Without Christ the end of the world means an eternity in hell for them.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for saving me so I can be one of those in the great multitude.  Give me the opportunity, the courage, and the words to speak, and the actions to take, so that those that need to know you will be reached.  Rekindle your Church, Lord, and start a revival.  Amen.

Prayer Focus: Zimbabwe

Bible Reading: Revelation 1-5

Scripture

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 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 him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:15-20)

Observation

Since the delivery of the Ten Commandments, humans have struggled to obey them, particularly the first two. Idolatry may be our greatest temptation, prone to rely on our wealth, strength, health, relationships, and power rather than being fully dependent upon God. The Church of Laodicea was no exception.

Application

Is it any wonder that the movement of Jesus Christ is dying in the wealthy west while expanding dramatically among the weak and poor? What does God’s rebuke and discipline look like to the Church in the USA? We desperately need to repent and allow God back into our culture, lives, and—tragically—our churches.

Prayer

Forgive us, LORD, for worshiping money, sex and power rather than You. We deserve discipline. Have mercy, LORD. Revive us and bring about spiritual awakening in lour land. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus:  Zambia,

Bible Reading:   1 John 1-5; 2 John; 3 John

Scripture – 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. – 1 John 5:13-15

Observation- John is telling us that our faith in Jesus Christ is justified.  That we indeed have the promise of salvation through our acceptance of Jesus as our savior.  Further, we know that God hears us through our prayers and through our petitions, we know that we have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe…. and our heavenly father.

Application-  As you read this we are in the eve of Christmas Eve.  In just two days we will celebrate the birth of the King, the birth of the Messiah.  How wonderful, how marvelous, how incredible is it that we can celebrate the coming to earth of the King, and our best friend and advocate in Heaven.  When we say our prayers this evening, lets remember to thank Jesus for his gift, and thank God for his son..

Prayer-   Thank you Lord for allowing us to call you father, thank you for assuring us that we have salvation through your son, The Messiah, The Christ child that came to earth over 2000 years ago, and will return.