Fight My Battles!

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 15

Sometimes it feels as if everything is a battle. Dealing with the kids. Stressors at work. Relationships. Staying above water financially. Living a healthy lifestyle. Family. Depression. A diagnosis. Fill in the blank.

The group singing in Revelation 15 is a group that had won the battle and were experiencing victory through Christ. “They were singing the song of Moses” (Verse 3), which was a song from long ago, in early Biblical times. This was the song that Moses and his gang (the children of Israel) sang back in the day when they finally escaped the Egyptians. From early on in Biblical times, worship has been a way to fight (and celebrate) battles. And it still is today.

John also calls this the “song of the Lamb” (Verse 3). The Lamb is Jesus and it is in Jesus that we can and will have victory!

They sang at the top of their lungs:

Great and marvelous are your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
And glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
For your righteous deeds have been revealed. (Verses 3-4).

Most worship songs of today are based on Scripture. When we face a battle, we can fight it through Scripture, prayer, and worship (which like I mentioned, is often also Scripture — so it packs a double punch!).

Michael W. Smith, in his song “Surrounded,” puts it this way:
The word says, for the spirit of heaviness, put on the garment of praise
This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles
It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You!

When we worship:

  • It turns our focus off us and on to HIM
  • It moves problems from our control over to HIS control
  • It brings us from the despair of defeat to the VICTORY available in and through HIM

When we are feeling defeated, when we want to have control over a situation, when we’re focused on all of the struggles of the here and now, turn to the FOREVER ONE. Surrender to HIM in worship, through prayer and the Word. In HIM, we have the victory.

Questions:
Are you feeling defeated? What battles are you currently facing?

Next Steps:
Journal about the battles you are facing. Be honest—God already knows what you’re facing.

Then, turn on some worship music, raise your hands and surrender your battles to HIM. Let HIM fight your battles. Some worship songs that have helped me fight my battles lately are:

Do It Again Elevation Worship
Faithful to the End Bethel Music
Raise a Hallelujah Bethel Music
Rescue Lauren Daigle

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you know the battles I am facing. Help me to turn my focus from the weight of the struggles I face to the hope and victory that I have in you based on your Word and your promises. Help me to fight my battles through your Word, prayer, and worship. Thank you for how much you care about me and that I am not alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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The Happiest Ending of All

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 14

I am an avid reader! I love all types of books. I love books with happy endings, books that make me laugh, books that touch my heart, and books that offer second chances. I do not like sad books or books where evil triumphs. Several years ago, the book “Gone Girl” was highly recommended to me. I read the book. I hated it. I wanted to throw the book across the room when I finished reading it. In the book, evil triumphed. It was devastating. Life can be really hard, and it is heartbreaking when we see evil triumph in our world. Just watch the news and you can become instantly depressed. Unfortunately, our world is filled with so much evil.

Revelation is one of the hardest books in the Bible to understand and parts of it are terrifying. However, the book has the HAPPIEST ENDING of any book! We know how the story of life will end. God will triumph over evil. The author of life planned a happy ending from the beginning! We have a God who believes in second chances. He wants us to be saved more than anything. God does not want anyone to perish. God is so holy that he cannot allow evil to prosper and go unpunished. Someone had to pay for our sins.

John 3:16-17
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.

The first time Jesus came into the world, he came to save us. The next time Jesus comes into the world, it will be to judge the world. I am overwhelmed with joy that our God, who is holy and who loves us so much, sent his Son to die for us so we can be saved.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Jesus deserves all of our praise and worship! He has done so much for us and continues to do so much for us. He is our Savior. Revelation 14 paints a beautiful picture of the Lamb of God, Jesus, being worshipped. It goes on to let us know that God loves us so much, he gave everyone an opportunity to be saved.

Revelation 14:6-7
6 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. 7 ”Fear God,” he shouted. Give Glory to him for the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and all the springs of water.”

Revelation 14 lets us know that evil will not prosper forever. God is so holy and just that there will be a day of justice — a day when God will prevail and the devil and all his followers are defeated.

Revelation 14:8-10
8 Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting “Babylon is fallen that great city is fallen because she made all the nations drink the wine of her passionate immorality. 9 Then a third angel followed them shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast or his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wind of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the lamb.

Revelation 14:12 goes on to say: “This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his command and maintaining their faith in Jesus.”

We should remain encouraged and faithful through every trial because we know God will ultimately triumph! We know how the story ends: those who believe and remain faithful will spend their eternity with our glorious God!

Questions:
How do you feel when it seems like evil is triumphing? What is the ultimate happy ending to life? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If not, what is stopping you? If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, what is your next step?

Next Steps:
Meditate on the consequences of the greatest decision you will ever make. Praise God for loving us so much that he sent his beloved Son to die for our sins.

Prayer:
I praise you God that you love me so much you had a perfect plan to save me. You sacrificed your beloved Son for me. If that is all you ever did for me that would be sufficient. But, you had so much more planned. You desire to have a relationship with me. You want to fill me with the fruits of your Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. I am so grateful and I love you so much. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Listen Carefully

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 13

Today we are reading Revelation 13, which describes the Beast Out of the Sea and the Beast Out of the Earth in great detail. The first beast speaks great blasphemies against God and is allowed to wage war for 42 months against God’s holy people. It is eventually fatally wounded but comes back to life, when the second beast arrives. The chapter then ends with a statue of the first beast being made, which is brought to life. The statue of the beast condemns anyone to death who refuses to worship it.

Revelation 13:16-18 (NIV)
16 He required everyone small and great, rich and poor, free and slave to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18 Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.

This is pretty heavy stuff, pretty frightening stuff! While there is of course controversy as to how to interpret the Book of Revelation, it can still teach us important lessons. Reading this chapter reminded me again how important it is that we pay careful attention to which voice we ought to listen to and which not. Today there are no huge, terrifying beasts roaming the Earth commanding us to worship them, but the evil behind them and evil’s influence is nevertheless present today, albeit much more subtle in its nature.

When I had to make a difficult decision in my life earlier this year, a very dear friend of mine sent me a meme text that read: “God’s voice stills you, leads you, reassures you, enlightens you, encourages you, comforts you, calms you, and convicts you. In contrast to this, Satan’s voice rushes you, pushes you, frightens you, confuses you, discourages you, worries you, obsesses you, and condemns you.”

The text continued: “God is never early and he is never late. He is always right on time and his plans for you are good. God is a god of love and order. If the voice you are hearing doesn’t sound like those things, then the voice is not from him.”

I so love this text, whose author is unknown to me. I found this immensely helpful at the time and I still do. Whenever I am not sure which path to take, I try to look for God’s signs. I try to listen for his voice. And I am careful to pay attention to how that voice sounds so that I do not confuse it with that other voice that may try to lead me astray.

Evil is like a sneaky street magician who distracts you one way to cleverly steal your watch at the same time. Evil tries to distract you from God’s voice by telling you that you are not worth anything or that someone can treat you badly because you deserve it. That you are not loved. That you are alone. That no one is there who would care to help you. These are not the voices we should listen to, but instead we need to focus our mind to listen carefully for the right voice, namely the loving voice of God. A voice that will make us feel loved.

Questions:
Are you listening to what God has to say to you and where he is trying to lead you? Have there been other voices in your life that simply did not sound like him? Voices that just did not quite feel right in how they were trying to influence you or make you feel?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the voices trying to influence your life. Write down what their message to you is and how that message makes you feel. Then compare your feelings to the list described above to determine whose voice it really is.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for trying to guide me. Please let me focus on your voice as I am walking my path. Please hold my hand and whisper encouragement into my ear so that I may face any scary situation in my life with you by my side. I know that you have a plan and that if I listen to your voice, I will find the path you have made for me. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Satan, the Real Space Invader

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 12

In 1978, Taito released a video game called Space Invaders. It was one of the first two-dimensional shooting games, and the objective was to defeat waves of aliens as they dropped from the top of the screen. A player controlled a laser cannon, which moved horizontally across the bottom and would shoot at descending aliens. As more aliens were defeated, the aliens would march faster down the screen. The aliens attempted to destroy the cannon by firing on it as they approached the bottom. If the alien invasion reached the bottom of the screen, the invasion was successful, and the game was over.

Today we continue with Apostle John’s apocalyptic account. Chapter 12 is God’s amazing plan that takes us from the fall of Satan to the great tribulation period (end times). John used strange, unrealistic figures to explain when God will end this present age and establish his kingdom in a new world that will last throughout eternity. God promises a wonderful future for all who believe in Christ. It is important to comprehend the meaning of Chapter 12 to understand history as well as prophesied future events.

Revelation 12:3-4
3 Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

The symbolism used in Verse 3 suggests just how malicious Satan is. This is not a physical description, but a moral one. Verse 4 depicts how Satan took one-third of the angels with him when he was thrown to Earth from Heaven. He uses those angels today to recruit non-believers.

Isaiah 14:12-14
12 How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. 13 For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. 14 I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’

Just as in Verse 14, the serpent convinced Eve that she would be like God, knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:1-16). Satan knows that there is nothing greater than God, so he uses deception to trap the unknowing to his side.

In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil to join his rebellion against God. Christ was not deceived, and the devil went away.

Revelation 12:7-9
7 Then there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. 8 And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. 9 This great dragon the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world-was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.

According to John’s account, Satan will attempt one final takeover of Heaven. When I think of Heaven, I do not picture a war zone. This is not a past war, but a future battle. The odds are stacked against Satan, so why would he even try?

The subject of today’s chapter is difficult to grasp, controversial, and somewhat taboo. Unlike the game of Space Invaders, where it is possible for the invaders to win, this book provides hope and encouragement for believers because it denotes that Satan does not have unlimited power over Christ followers and will be defeated forever.

Questions:
Do you think the book of Revelation is relevant for Christians today? Do you believe that Satan still exists? To which side have you placed your allegiance?

Next Steps:
Read Matthew 24 and journal how this chapter portrays the events in the book of Revelation.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for showing us that evil will NEVER win! Thank you for the encouragement that you are in control during times of persecution or suffering. Grant us discernment when faced with evil so we may stay faithful. Thank you for the promise that one day Christ will return. In his name we pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Can I Get a Witness?

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 11

As I read about the two witnesses, the image of the two of them dressed in sackcloth struck me. It reminds me of John the Baptist, who wore clothes made of camel hair and a leather belt around his waist. All three of these individuals would stand out in a crowd by their wardrobe alone, but each one also carried an important message that grabbed the audience’s attention.

Matthew 3: 1-3
1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” 3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”

The message that these two witnesses carry in Revelation is similar to John the Baptist’s message. It was a warning of things to come and a message for listeners to repent. Ultimately in both cases, in John the Baptist’s case and the case of the two witnesses, this message is not well received by many. It angers those in power and leads to them being martyred. John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod (Matthew 14:1-12), and we read about the death of the two witnesses in today’s reading of Revelation in verses 7 and 8.

Despite the opposition they encountered, they never wavered from their purpose. They had a message to share, and they made sure that it was delivered. In both cases, I am inspired by their examples of courage and persistence to live out their assignment from God.

Like the witnesses, we also have a purpose to live out. A purpose that comes from God. When God made you, he did so with a plan. He gave you a unique personality, gifts, and talents to accomplish your purpose, and he placed you at this time and location in the world for a specific reason.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Each of us is unique, and we all have individual assignments from God, but we all share a common purpose to make an eternal difference in the lives of those closest to us, in our communities, and the world. Not only in the current generation but also, as Lauren Snyder shared in this past weekend’s message, in generations to come.

One of the primary ways we do this is by sharing the message of Jesus. As we introduce people to him, and they chose to follow him, their lives will be changed forever. Don’t let fear or obstacles get in the way of living out your purpose. We serve an awesome God who will reign forever, and that is a message worth sharing.

Revelation 11:15
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Questions:
What are your unique talents and characteristics? How could you use them to spread Jesus’ message of love? How could you serve others in the unique way that only you can?

Next Steps:
Make a list of three ways in which you could make a difference to those whom you love as well as those in your community. Commit to implementing one each month for the coming three months.

Attend and complete GrowthTrack. It will help you learn about the spiritual journey so that you can take your first steps towards discovering your unique gifting and purpose. For more information on GrowthTrack click here.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for making me the unique individual that I am. Thank you for putting me on this Earth with a purpose. Please help me to be curious and persistent enough to discover your purpose for me and to follow through with pursuing that purpose even if it may be at times difficult or scary to stay on the path you have chosen for me. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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God’s Directed Discretion

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 10

Revelation 10:4
When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Keep secret what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down.”

Sometimes I wish I would hear an audible voice from heaven! Whenever I need to be brutally honest with people I love the most, I really need God’s directed discretion. I practice “speaking the truth in love,” but I need to let the driving force be the love that Christ freely shared with me. Trusting God and keeping others needs ahead of my own selfish desires takes a lot of practice, grace, and patience. Still, sometimes I forget where I came from and how I got to where I am. That doesn’t mean that I compromise. The apostle John’s warning is as much for us today as it was when he wrote the churches in Asia Minor.

Revelation 10:7
”When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets.”

God proclaimed many things that happened just as he said they would. By this we can be assured that future events will happen just as he said. We will all be called to give an account of how we have used or misused the resources and gifts that we’ve been given. For me, I want to be ready when that trumpet sounds.

Questions:
Are we ready? Have we been generous? Have we helped our brothers and sisters in need? Have we shared the good news of Jesus Christ? Have we been wise stewards?

Next Steps:
Practice telling family, friends, neighbors, and yes, even enemies the Good News so they can be ready too. Show others through your words and actions the same grace and forgiveness the Lord has shown to you.

More reading:

2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for Jesus. He makes us clean and shows us the way. He helps us to forgive and to be forgiven, to love and to be loved. We are nothing without Jesus. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who guides us in our daily lives. Give us the courage to share the gospel message and the Good News through your directed discretion. Help us to remember that we all have sinned and fall short of your glory. Equip us to give each other a hand along a narrowing path. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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The Final Authority

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 9

Revelations. Whether reading it for themselves or talking to someone else about it, where does one even begin with Revelations? I’m sure you have questions about this chapter, because I have questions about this chapter. And there’s no way I’ll be able to explain what you’ve either just read or are about to read. People more intelligent than me—way more intelligent—have tried.

One logical place to start when dealing with a chapter like this (what with the locusts like horses with tails like scorpions, faces like human faces, hair like the hair of women, and teeth like the teeth of lions) is by researching what more knowledgeable Christians have said on the topic. Fortunately, there are many Bible commentaries available that offer thoughts on this chapter.

Unfortunately, most of them don’t agree with each other.

Some theologians insist this chapter should be taken literally (taking into account, of course, the use of figurative language). Other theologians say this is clearly meant symbolically. Some biblical scholars say these prophecies are things that are going to happen. Others say these are about things that happened after this book was written, but that are now in the past.

I imagine those who believe these events already happened are not the same people who believe this chapter should be taken literally. If there were ever horses with tails like snakes and heads like lions that breathed smoke and burning sulfur from their mouths, I think I would have learned about it in history class!

Here’s one thing I hope we all can agree on from this chapter: God is ultimately in control. No matter how bad things get, in Revelations or in our own lives, God has full authority. Even with all the terrible things that happen in this chapter, we see God limiting the powers of these destructive forces (Revelation 9:4, 5).

You may wonder why God wouldn’t put a stop to all of the suffering entirely. It’s a fair question, but it’s not fair to ask me. Again, people much smarter than I have struggled with that question, and though I do have some thoughts on why God allows suffering, I’m supposed to keep this devotional under 400 words.

Within the context of this chapter, I imagine the “why” of the matter involves giving people the opportunity to repent (Revelation 9:20-21). However, putting the question of human suffering aside, here’s another thing I hope we can agree on: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

So whatever you’re worrying about or struggling with, I hope you can take some comfort in this fact: No matter what happens, God, who loves you and to whom you matter, is in complete control.

Questions:
Do you know what you believe about Revelation? Have you spent any time researching the different views?

Do you trust that, no matter what, God is in control?

Next Steps:
Think about the things that worry you or that you don’t understand. Spend time releasing these things to God through prayer. End your prayer by reaffirming your trust in God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the book of Revelation. I don’t always understand it, but I know you want us to read it and that you have things to teach me through it. Thank you that, no matter what we face, you are in control and looking out for us. Teach me to have complete trust in you. May your will be done. Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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The Sound of Silence

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 8

One of the most misunderstood and diversely interpreted portions of the Bible, the Book of Revelation is a study in contrasts. Revelation 8, which begins with silence in the heavens but rapidly unfolds into a dizzying series of cataclysmic events, is a worthy contributor to this divergent reality.

With its apocalyptic imagery of fire and blood raining from the heavens, stars falling onto rivers, and darkness enveloping the land, it is a frightening and foreboding chapter of a downright scary story. (I suppose it’s only natural that the manifestation of God’s judgment would provoke such feelings.) And yet, at its core, Revelation is a book of hope. Today, as LivingItOut explores Revelation 8, we discover the silver lining within its epic storm clouds.

Revelation 8:1-2
1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. 2 I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.

After the seventh seal is opened, fully revealing God’s planned response to the depravity of man, Revelation 8 begins with the deafening sound of silence in the heavens. On its surface, the duration of this silence—“about half an hour”—may not seem terribly dramatic. But given the backdrop, this was surely a period when minutes felt like hours.

It’s interesting to consider how often challenging or disruptive events in our lives are preceded by a brief, but disquieting silence. Sitting in the waiting room awaiting a diagnosis from the doctor, standing in the wings before taking the stage, the eerie quiet before a coming storm… in these moments, believers often turn to prayer.

And so it was at the outset of Revelation 8. The silence in the heavens was purposeful. It was a dramatic pause lending further gravity to God’s coming judgment. But more importantly, it was an opportunity for prayer. The silence reinforced the greatness of a god—our God—who is in control and who stands alone in casting judgment. The stillness enabled his people to seek him, to exalt him, and most of all, to trust him.

What we learn in Revelation is that our faith must remain fixed on Christ. When faced with an oncoming storm, we understandably tend to focus on the question of “why” we must endure it. Why does God allow evil to exist? Or, in this case, why would God unleash the maelstrom foretold by the seven trumpets?

But within these questions lies a beautiful answer: God will always provide his believers with protection from spiritual harm. If we believe in him, he will have our back. As the Baker Bible Commentary puts it, “God does not stop evil by suspending the human freedom that contributes to it but rather turns evil into an unwitting actor of his design.” Knowing this, we can see that “God can use suffering as an opportunity for unbelievers to repent and believers to refine their faith.”

The silver lining in the storms of Revelation 8 is that we are assured that God alone is in control, his triumph over evil is guaranteed, and those who embrace the silence to pledge their trust in him will be saved.

Questions:
How do you typically react in the moments of calm before a coming storm? Do you descend into worry and fear, or do you lift your eyes to God for comfort and assurance?

If you are a believer, what does God’s promise of salvation mean to you? What can you do to more purposefully transform this promise into your daily reality?

Next Steps:
Take time today to consider the powerful opportunity that is present in silence. Pray to God with open hands and welcome his love and assurance. If you find comfort in music, listen to this song as you consider the wonder of God’s promises:
Kari Jobe – Revelation Song (Official Live Video)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your gift of salvation. Grant me the wisdom to seek you at all times, but particularly in the moments of pregnant silence before the storms of my life. Help me to always believe in your love, your promises, and your glory! Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.


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Hope and Courage

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 7
Have you ever thought that heaven might be boring? Does the concept of an eternal worship service not really excite you? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dishonoring God, I just think the traditional concept that we are going to walk around on clouds with harps for all eternity is not particularly appealing to most people.

Revelation 7:9
 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.

I’ve been reading some of Mark Twain’s story of Miss Watson, where she tells Huck Finn about heaven: “She said that she was going to live so as to go to the good place. I made up my mind I shouldn’t try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble and wouldn’t do no good. Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and, she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.”

Miss Watson tells him he can receive anything he wants through prayer. This then causes Huck to believe he could receive fishing gear, if he just prayed. But when his wish does not come true, he starts to contemplate the concept of prayer and wonders why, if someone can get anything, why he cannot get any fish-hooks.

Because Huck takes everything at face value, he cannot understand the concept of prayer or “spiritual gifts.” He does not reject religion, but his literal mindset has difficulty with beliefs that, on the surface, appear to be impractical or untrue.

Sometimes we can become so focused on the suffering of Jesus on the cross that we fail to see the intended outcome. The suffering of Christ led to the redemption of mankind and the redeemed of Christ will reign with him forever. It is this total picture that gives us hope and courage.

Romans 15:4
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Suffering Christians who overcome the sorrows and tribulations of life will be with God, in his very presence, and participate in the joys of heaven forever. “Only the blood-washed throng can stand before the throne of God and enjoy his presence forever.”

Revelation 7:15-17
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Questions:
What are your thoughts on suffering and the intended outcome? Do you love your neighbors?

Next Steps:
Take a moment to thank God for his grace and praise him for his plan for us. Look at your efforts to share the Gospel and to love your neighbors as ourself.

Prayer:
Father, you are our God of hope and love. Thank you for sending your only begotten Son into the world so that sinful men might be forgiven of their sins and be given peace with God, through the sacrifice of the precious life of Christ Jesus. Amen.


This post was written by Gary Schnabel, a first time contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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It’s Not Fair

Today’s Scripture: Revelation 6

In Spain each year, on December 22, friends and families gather around their televisions to watch the ceremony of the world’s biggest lottery. The official name of this lottery is El Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad, but it is often called “El Gordo,” which means “the fat one.”

In 2012, a group went door to door selling lottery tickets in the small town of Sodeto, Spain to raise money for their favorite cause. Their campaign to raise money was a tremendous success. Out of the 250 residents of Sodeto, every one of them purchased a ticket and as a result of their investments, everyone shared a chance to win “El Gordo!” That is everyone except for one man, named Costis Mitsotakis. He lived on the outskirts of town and his house was missed on that day. He did not have an opportunity to invest with the rest of the town.

Imagine how he might have felt when watching the nationally televised lottery drawing of “El Gordo” on December 22, and the number shared by the residents of Sodeto was drawn for the grand prize! The realization that everyone else had just become instantly wealthy except for him probably came with an array of emotions! Happy and excited for many of his friends, but also shock and disappointment that he was not a part of it. I would have to imagine that the words “It is not fair!” were thought or spoken in those moments.

“It is not fair!” I hear those words almost daily from my kids. Personally, I say them more often than I would like to admit. As humans, justice is important to us and we want to see things be fair in our lives.

Today’s reading of Revelation 6 reveals that God’s character is just. He is fair and one day he will no longer allow evil to go unpunished. He hates evil and will not stand for the oppression and mistreatment of his people forever.

Psalm 89:14
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.

2 Thessalonians 1:6
6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

So today, allow God’s character to bring you comfort. Like Costis Mitsotaki, we all have moments of believing things in life are not fair, and in some cases they aren’t fair. If you are being treated unjustly, know that God sees you and what you are going through. He is on the side of what is right and against the evil and injustices of this world, and one day he will make everything right.

Questions:
Are there circumstances in your life that you feel are not fair?

Do you believe God sees you and what you are going through today?

Next Steps:
Take a moment and reflect on God’s character. Write down how this truth about God changes the way you live out your everyday life.

Read Romans 3:24, Romans 8:1, and Colossians 2:14. Since justice requires a payment for sin, reflect on how Jesus’s work on the cross sufficiently satisfies God’s character.

Prayer:
Dear God, I am thankful that you are just. Today, I want to recognize and thank you for sending your Son to pay for my sins by shedding his blood and dying on the cross. It is because of Jesus that justice is satisfied and that you can see me as a saint and not a sinner. Today I praise you and all that you are. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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