April 13 – Devotion Sharing (Revelation 22)

Submitted by Jeff L. Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Revelation 22:1-21

What does this text reveal about:

The nature of ultimate reality?

The nature of ultimate reality is God and His eternal kingdom that is to come.  It is true that the countries, the governments, the corporations and the power structures of this world seem so robust and permanent, but the reality is that they are not – even in the context of this world, they are short-lived and fragile.  In the ultimate sense, they are like a mist and the ultimate reality is the city of God, where everything that is good resides – God Himself, the Lamb, and the tree of life that we will be given access to when the blood of the lamb takes away our sin completely and the curse of the fall is reversed, permanently.

How I should live, what I should value?

If the ultimate reality is God’s eternal city, then the thing I should value the most is entering into this city.  The thing I should value the most is the blood of the lamb that enables those with stained robes to wash, and thereby enter into the kingdom.

For myself personally, what I should value most is my salvation–nothing else matters in comparison now that I have been saved!  The drama of my life is over and I am victorious because of Christ.  What can happen that would cause me to be a failure or a loser?  I may fail at ministry, I may lose my job, I may lose my health, some terrible circumstances may befall me, but in the end, my life is secure because the reality is that I have the keys to the eternal city!  How should I live then?  I should live with daily gratitude and joy over the reality of my salvation that has been secured by Christ.

And not only should I value salvation in my own life, but also the salvation of others as well.  I no longer have to “save myself” for I have been saved by Christ, and now I can give myself completely to “save others.”  I can give my whole life to ministering to the people that God brings into my life, giving my energy, my emotions, and my hear that others may receive the keys to the eternal city.

The Christian’s ultimate hope?

The Christian’s ultimate hope is to enter into and reside in the city of God where we will see God’s face and dwell with Him.  In heaven our struggles will be over – our struggle with our sin issues and our struggle against evil in the world. We will have access to the tree of life and be freed from the curse of the fall and all the consequences of it – our pride, idolatry, envy, greed, lust, anger, competitiveness, pettiness.  All will be gone, and we will live together in love and worship of God!

The role of the church (v. 17)?

The role of the church is to invite people to receive the free gift of salvation and to commend this message living lives of holiness, love, sacrifice, purity and integrity.  The role of the church is to be this new city, where God is at the throne and we are experiencing in the here and now the healing of the leaves of the tree of life…and as we invite people to “come,” then they will come and see with their own eyes the truth of the gospel and take themselves the free gift of the water of life.  I have been given the highest privilege of building up the church by being a sacrificial servant, doing whatever I can to build up the church, from giving my all to build up our youth ministry to doing whatever needs to be done for the work of God.

Reflect on the promises contained in this text, and write a prayer of adoration, hopeful anticipation and praise in response. 

Dear Lord, thank You so much for the sure hope that is my citizenship in the eternal city, not because of anything I have done, but because of the blood of the Lamb.  Thank You for Your costly death on the cross to forgive me and enable me to receive the keys to eternal life.  I long for the day that I will see Your face and sin will be no more – when my struggle with myself will be over and my struggle with this world will be over.  Help me until that day to fight the good fight – in the battle against my flesh and self and in the battle to win souls for Your Kingdom.  Both fights seem so impossible and challenging at times, but with the hope of eternal life and the memory of Your costly sacrifice on the cross, help me to give myself fully to the task.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Submitted by Alison N. Gracepoint Berkeley Church

What does this text reveal about:

o   The nature of ultimate reality?

The nature of the ultimate reality is the promise that Jesus will come soon and that we will be with him in heaven.  There will be a time when there is no more curse and God will be on the throne as a righteous, just ruler.  At this time, he will give to everyone according to what he has done.  The description from the text gives us a glimpse:

  • It is as bright as crystal, indicating the beauty and purity that represents heaven.
  • There are twelve kinds of fruit showing that there is an abundant supply.
  • There will be no more night, because God will provide all the light there is.
  • They will see the face of God and have His name on their foreheads as he calls them his own.
  • There will be peace as there will be healing of the nations.

o   How I should live, what I should value?

I should live with this ultimate reality in mind: that time is short and that Jesus will come soon. The suffering and the consequences of sins that I experience are not permanent.  I should focus more on the hope that is in heaven, which will be a reality one day and thus not place my hope or trust in anything that is on this earth.  My focus should not be self-focused on my sins, my to do list, my worries and comforts, but instead giving myself fully to bring others to the gift of life that I’ve received and bringing them closer to the ultimate reality.  I can value what is important in the eternal realm, rather than what is here on earth.  I can claim God’s forgiveness and focus on the grace he has promised.  For me, I often focus on my self and just the immediate tasks or frustrations that I experience instead of having the wider, bigger view of what God wants to do.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to accept the grace God offers, because I’m still on the paradigm that I need to control or perform. I’m reminded through this text that this is not true, and there is a greater reality.

o   The Christian’s ultimate hope?

The Christian’s ultimate hope is in God, and the eternal relationship with him. I will live without being accused of my sins or being separated from God because he died on the cross taking away my sins.  I can live with hope of heaven, where there will be no more mourning or crying or pain.

o   The role of the church (v. 17)?

The role of the church is to say “Come!” to everyone.  The church must be in line with the Spirit.  To bear witness to what God has done in each of our lives and to be the tangible representative of the invitation that God gives each of us to come.  The church is to be the place where people can come to say whoever is thirsty, let him come and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.  That whoever has desire to learn more about God can come and experience and gain knowledge of who God is. As a part of the church, I can make a contribution towards this reality by welcoming people, praying for those who are struggling, and sharing how God is working in my life with others.

  • Reflect on the promises contained in this text, and write a prayer of adoration, hopeful anticipation and praise in response. 

In this text, God promises that we can come to him and receive the free gift of life.  God promises a glorious picture of heaven, where there is purity, peace, abundance, and brightness.  There is nothing dark – no sin, no death. God promises that we will be with him in heaven – a relationship that lasts eternally.  He promises that his words are trustworthy and true.  He promise that his grace will be with God’s people.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I praise you God, for your desire to draw me and every single person to yourself.  Thank you for inviting all of us to come as we are, with our sins and faults. Thank you for the free gift of life through your death on the cross.  By you overcoming my sin, I find grace in you.  I praise you for the hope that is found in you and the vision of abundance, peace, and beauty in heaven.  Thank you for considering me precious and calling me your own in heaven.  I am not worthy of this love that you have showered upon me.  I praise you for continually drawing me to you and giving me hope in the midst of struggles and pains I encounter in this life.

Thank you for the reminder of the hope of heaven. Forgive me for so often focusing on the here and now, my worries, to-do lists, and finding comfort here, when there is a greater, more awesome reality right in front of me.  I confess that I am so unworthy of your care and I’ve neglected my relationship with you many times in my life.  But through this text, I recommit to the hope that I’ve found in you and the ultimate reality that you will be coming soon and that you will give according to what I’ve done.  Please help me to live each day with this true reality so that I can long for heaven all the more, as I bring to you my lack, my sins and self-focus.  Thank you that you relate to me and promise that we’ll be together in heaven one day.  Thank you for showing me a picture of the ultimate and greatest reality with you.

Submitted by Kenny C. Gracepoint Berkeley Church

What does this text reveal about:

o   the nature of ultimate reality?

The nature of ultimate reality is that the day is coming soon when all will be made right, where all people will be gathering around the throne of God, falling down and worshiping him in his full glory and splendor. The text says that “there will be no more night”, for all the darkness that are both in this world and within my own heart will be vanquished by the light of God. There will no longer “be any curse”, for the curse of sin and death will be broken once and for all. That day will bring about the “healing of the nations”, for all the wars and infighting, all the destruction and injustice, all the famine and oppression, will cease in the presence of our Lord and Savior. We will all surround the throne of God as we “will see his face”, for what was once dim will now be made crystal clear, and the whole host of saints down from the early ages until the present age will lift up our collective voice to God in praise and adoration. Oh what a day that will be! How appropriate that these are the final words of the entire Bible, as this is the ultimate reality that God promises will happen as words that are “trustworthy and true”.

o   how I should live, what I should value?

My response is that I need to live having this end in mind. Knowing that this is the ultimate reality, I need to reverse engineer my life by starting with the endpoint and working backwards. If this is true and if there will come a day when we will all see God face to face, than I need to be asking myself what I should be investing in today and where I should be placing my energy, time, resources and emotions. My life needs to be explainable and make sense in light of what is to come, by pouring out my life for things that are eternal. But the truth is I often get caught up in an alternate reality, where I’m zeroed on the problems and headaches of today and all my present day worries and sins keep discouraging me and weighing me down. It is easy to get caught up in them since they seem more immediate, more pressing and more visible, but this picture of ultimate reality helps me to see that God is the one who will reign today and forevermore. By working backwards, I can release all my present-days fears and worries unto God and trust in God’s promises once again that He is the one who reigns and is in control to the end.

o   the Christian’s ultimate hope?

The Christian’s ultimate hope is the hope that we have in heaven. The picture of heaven depicted here is not just another wishful pie-in-the-sky fairytale. This is what awaits every person who received the gift of salvation and placed their faith in Him. The hope of heaven is made possible because Jesus is alive! As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Indeed, what hope do I have if Christ had not been raised? It would be utterly useless and this hope would be nothing more than a cruel pipe dream. But thanks be to God for Jesus has risen, and because He lives, I can have the full assurance that death will not have the final word, but that Jesus has gone ahead and is preparing a place for us. Jesus has overcome the grave and because of that great news, I don’t have to fear death nor anything else that life may try to throw at me. I can have the utmost confidence that because of Christ, I can live today trusting my life entirely into His hands. As Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

o   the role of the church (v. 17)?

The role of the church as shown in v.17 is that it ought to be a place for anyone who is thirsty to come and take the “free gift of the water of life”. That means that the goal of the church is to be continually inviting more and more in, telling everyone to “Come!” so that they too can join the chorus of believers who will be gathered around the throne of God. The truth is that people are spiritually thirsty and that people are looking for something to quench their thirst, a thirst that cannot be satisfied by anything this world has to offer. No amount of success and wealth, or gadgets or houses or cars or titles or degrees or fame can possibly fulfill man’s thirst, because we were created with a void that can only be filled by Christ. So the role of the church then is to make it a place that is safe for a person who is thirsty to partake of this free gift of salvation, freely and without distraction. The mission of the church is clear, that is not a closed gathering of people just enjoying a good time by themselves, that we are not called to rest and simply relax while enjoying this free ticket to heaven, but that until the day God calls us home, we are called to bring as many people as possible into this great banquet. There is plenty of work to do, and I’m thankful that there is never a shortage of work as we strive to usher in as many as possible, whether it’s the work of preparing for something like Passion Experience and Good Friday/Easter services or the work of prayer that we are called to do in interceding for others.

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