TO CHEW ON: "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.." Revelation 22:17
“Come!” What a welcome word to hear when we’re homesick. What a comforting word to hear when we’re lonely. What a delicious word to hear when we’re hungry or thirsty.
"Let everyone who is thirsty, Come" Designed by David Hetland (stained glass window Trinity Lutheran Church, Jamestown, North Dakota.)
The book of Revelation ends with this arms-wide-open invitation from God. Though our sins separated us from Him, Jesus made a way for us to be friends with God. God invites each one of us to come to Him by putting our faith in Jesus. When we do, God sees us as clean and holy. And we can look forward to spending eternity (forever and ever and ever and ever... to infinity) with Him in heaven.
"Little Children" by Darlene Slavujac, Copyright 2008. Used with the artist's permission
God’s invitation is to everyone. God’s invitation is to you. Have you come?
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the invitation to come. I accept it. I want to be dressed in a clean robe and spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. Amen.
MORE: What’s in a Name? The names Jesus is called in Revelation 22:12-21 tell us some important things about Him. Which name (or names) reminds us:
TO CHEW ON: "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever." Revelation 20:10
When you read a book, do you ever skip to the end, to see how it turns out? Today’s reading is the place we’d go to see how the story of the Bible, the story of the fight between God and Satan, ends.
"The Fall" by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Published 1907
Throughout time Satan has tried every trick to win. He started out by lying to Eve and persuading her to disobey God - to sin. Through the centuries he has lied to, stolen from, scared and tricked people. When Jesus came, Satan and his demons worked hard to destroy Him. Jesus was killed. But God used Satan’s plan to backfire on him. For Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose, won over death and now everyone who trusts in Jesus’ death as payment for their sins wins over death as well.
1. What is Satan’s end (Revelation 20:10)?
"An angel casts beast Satan into the pit" by Caspar Luiken, 1712
2. The trouble is, Satan and his buddies don’t go there alone. Who goes with them (Revelation 20:15)?
3. How does a person get their name written in God’s Book of Life? John 3:16 has the answer. Fill in the missing words: “For God so loved the world (including you!) that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus) that _____________ ______________ ____ ____ shall not _____________ but have ____________ ______________.” If your name isn’t written in God’s Book of Life, it can be. Just believe in Jesus. The minute you trust Jesus, it’s there.
PRAYER: Jesus, I believe Your death paid the penalty for my sins. Thank You my name is written in the Book of Life. Amen.
"The New Jerusalem descending from Heaven" by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1851-1860
MORE: Another Ending What is the end of the story for those whose names ARE in the Book of Life?
Read about it in Revelation 21:1-8. Which things will be in heaven? Which things won’t?
sea idol worshipers water of life tears death God cowardly pain God’s people murderers liars unbelieving crying New Jerusalem magicians
"The New Jerusalem" by Darlene Slavujac Copyright 1993, Used with the artist's permssion
TO CHEW ON: "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?" Revelation 6:17
Have you ever read an exciting book where the closer you came to the end, the more bad things happened? You looked at how few pages were left and wondered, how would the author ever straighten this out! In a way John’s vision in Revelation is like that. John saw more and more bad things as more seals were opened.
In the fifth seal, John heard the voices of people who had been killed for believing in God (martyrs). They asked God, how long until He would punish those who killed them. God answered, it would happen, but even more people would be martyred first.
Then came the sixth seal. It predicted some things that have never happened on earth. Read Revelation 6:12-17 and list five things John saw: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
"The Opening of the Sixth Seal" by John Martin
Every day natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and erupting volcanoes take place somewhere on earth. The size of the disasters John saw here, though, were bigger than any our earth has ever seen. They help us understand how weak and helpless we humans are when we face an all-powerful God.
PRAYER: Dear God, I worship You as the one with power over nature and people. Amen.
MORE: The Seventh Seal
"The Seventh Seal" by Caspar Luiken, 1712
The last of the seven seals is described in Revelation 8 and 9.
1. What happens to the earth (Revelation 8:7)?
2. What happens to the sea (Revelation 8:8)?
3. What happens to the water (Revelation 8:10,11)?
4. What happens to the atmosphere (Revelation 9:1,2)?
5. What happens to people (Revelation 9:3-6, 18)?
6. This causes people to repent of their sins of worshiping idols, murders, practicing magic, sex sins and stealing. (Revelation 9:20-21) YES? NO?
TO CHEW ON: "I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say, in a voice like thunder, 'Come!'" Revelation 6:1
If you get a letter in the mail, the untorn envelope and the stuck-tight flap tell you no one has opened the letter. In Bible times, scroll letters were sealed with clay or wax. This clay or wax had the imprint of the sender’s seal - an impression of his ring or special stamp. This seal told the person who got the letter it was from the person who had stamped it, and it had not been opened. What was inside a letter stayed a mystery until the seal was broken and the letter was opened and read.
As John watched scenes of heaven, he saw the Lamb (Jesus) opening seven seals. Although these seals weren’t on actual letters, they were messages from God, telling John (and us) things that would happen in the future. Read about the first seals John saw. Then fill in the thing that each brought (pick the answer from the words below).
1. Seal 1 (Revelation 6:2) A ____________ horse whose rider brings _________________.
2. Seal 2 (Revelation 6:3,4) A ______________ horse whose rider brings ________________.
3. Seal 3 (Revelation 6:5,6) A _____________ horse whose rider brings _________________.
4. Seal 4 (Revelation 6:7,8) A ______________ horse whose rider brings _______________.
Death white pale scales = Famine Conquest black fiery red power to take away peace = War
War, sickness, not enough to eat (famine, pictured by the scales) and death have happened on earth for a long time. But as Jesus’ return gets closer, we will see more and more of them. We don’t need to be frightened by them. If we see these signs in our time, they tell us Jesus’ return is coming very close.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me not to be frightened by these scary things that will happen, but to see them as signs that Your return is getting closer. Amen.
MORE: Sealed Letter Send a sealed letter of your own.
Write a note to a friend.
Put it in an envelope and lick the flap shut.
Roll a piece of plasticine or re-usable wall adhesive into a ball
Squish the ball onto the middle of the flap with your thumb to make a seal.
Engrave your initials into the seal with the end of a pen.
(Note: Melted wax could also be used to seal the envelope, but MELT THE WAX ONLY WITH AN ADULT’S SUPERVISION.)
TO CHEW ON: "Day and night they never stop saying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'” Revelation 4:8
Have you ever seen an angel? Have you seen Jesus? God? Heaven? Most of us haven’t. But God gave John a peek inside heaven. As we read his description, we get the feeling heaven is so incredibly magnificent, John had a hard time finding words to describe it.
An Angel comes to Mary - Artist unknown Look in Revelation 4:1-11 and then list:
1. Some of the sounds John heard:
2. Some of the sights he saw:
3. Some of the characters he watched:
But no matter how amazing everything else was, God was the center of heaven’s attention.
4. Where was God and what did he look like?
5. How did those who lived in heaven worship Him?
"God on His Throne" by Mathaeus the Elder Merian, 1625-30
God is heaven’s main attraction. All the glory and splendor and radiance and magnificence; all the cheering of nature, angel beings and people, belongs to Him!
PRAYER: You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being. Amen (Revelation 4:11)
John's Vision of Heaven - Artist unknown
MORE: Snapshots of Heaven Read some more Bible descriptions of heaven in:
TO CHEW ON: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.... On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: 'Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches...'” Revelation 1: 1, 10-11
Where would you go to find out what will happen tomorrow? Today’s newspaper? The six o'clock news? The internet?
Of course we know none of these places will tell us. Only God knows what will happen tomorrow. So when God sent an angel to John (Jesus’ disciple) and told him to write down the things God would show him about the future, we need to pay attention. Most of the Bible book of Revelation is what John heard and saw in a vision about the future.
John on Island of Patmos - Artist unknown
Though Revelation isn’t as easy to understand as a newspaper, you’ll find lots of interesting things in it. It has disaster and intrigue, dragons and mysterious horsemen, heroes and villains. Best of all, you’ll find out how the story ends - the story of the struggle between Satan and God.
It ends with Jesus the winner. He takes all who believe in Him to be with Him in heaven.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for this book about the future. Help me to prepare for these things and be ready to meet You when You come back. Amen.
MORE: Prophecy Much of Revelation is prophecy - a prediction God made through a person. The Bible has a great track record when it comes to prophecies that have come true. Match the reference of the Old Testament prophecy with its coming true in the New.
A. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. (Matthew 21:1-9) This was prophesied in: _____________________
B. A virgin got pregnant and called her baby Immanuel. (Matthew 1:18-25) This was prophesied in: _____________________
C. People cast lots to decide who would get Jesus’s clothes. (John 19:23-24) This was prophesied in: _____________________
D. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:1-7) This was prophesied in: _____________________
This is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. May your Christmas be a day full of peace and joy!
Here is a Christmas story for you to read:
I shiver under my goat hair cloak. It’s cold at night on the hills outside Bethlehem. I wish I were at home in bed. But a few weeks ago my father said, "Joel, you're 12. You need to learn the night watch." And so here I am, cold and sleepy, but I have to stay awake because it’s my turn to watch the sheep.
I look over at the flock, an island of wooly pebbles. Beside me, father snores a soft rhythm. Nearby, Abiram and Kohar, still awake, talk quietly.
"Plugged with travelers," Kohar says.
"Caesar is insane to command a census at this time of year," says Abiram. "He just wants more names for his filthy tax list." Then, lowering his voice so I barely hear, "I met a man in the village who's gathering an army to fight those Gentile thieves. He's training them to use swords." When he notices I’m listening, he stops. "The lamblet has, big ears." He winks at Kohar.
He doesn't want me to hear because of my father. Father’s the chief shepherd and he doesn't approve of resistance fighters. He has one passion. It’s to see the coming of Messiah.
"Messiah is coming," he always says, "and when He comes, He will be a true Savior. He will bring freedom and set up God's kingdom in His own wonderful way."
In the past, I never doubted him. But the talk tonight reminds me of the anger I feel when I see the Roman soldiers. They ride into Bethlehem and inspect it on snorting horses. They beat people who don't pay taxes. They make fun of synagogue teachers. They treat us like animals.
Above me now, the black sky is dotted with stars. Is there really a God up there? All my life I’ve heard there is, but lately I wonder. Maybe God and Messiah are only wishes. My father serves God without question. Yet for our family, things only get worse. The price for wool goes down, my mother has to open a stall at the market and my father works longer - for what? Just to give Caesar more?
I imagine my fingers tracing the cold metal handle of a sword under my cloak. I shiver, get up, toss a few sticks into the fire. The flames lick and began to dance.
Then blinding brightness!
At first I think something has flamed in the fire pit, but in the next instant, the sky turns from dark to dazzling and I see the light is coming, not from the fire but from a man. I can’t move. Is this God? Has He read my doubting thoughts? Is He going to punish me?
Around me the others sit up.
"Don’t be afraid," The shining man's voice booms. His bright eyes look right into mine. "I bring you the most joyful news ever told. And it’s for everyone! The Savior has been born tonight in Bethlehem! Yes! This is the Messiah, the Lord. How will you know him? You’ll find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."
Then the sky gets even brighter and as far as I can see are more shining men. They stretch way into the distance like an army, and they are chanting. "Glory to God in the highest Heaven. Peace on earth, good will to men. Glory to God in the highest Heaven. Peace on earth, good will to men."
It’s grand, majestic, the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. I wish they would never stop. But gradually the sound gets quieter and the shining army fades. Finally only the flickering firelight shows a ring of stunned faces. I hear the t-whoo, t-whoo of an owl.
Then everyone starts talking at once.
"Angels! Those were angels"
"Messiah! He said Messiah!" It’s my father. "I'm going to Bethlehem to find that baby."
"We're going with you!"
"Father, what about the sheep? Can I come too," I ask.
"If God can fill the sky with angels, He can surely watch a few sheep," my father says, with a laugh. "Joel, I wouldn't have you miss this for the world!"
As we hurry into town, the talk turns to how we’ll find this baby in the whole town of Bethlehem, and at night. Father's faith is unshakable. "If angels told us about the baby, we'll find him," he says. "It’s a baby in a manger."
"Many mangers here," Abiram says as we enter the town.
Bethlehem sleeps. As we pass house after house, inn after inn, no one’s awake. Then I see a light.
"There Father," I point to the dim glow, coming from a shelter behind an inn.
We trot across the courtyard and push open the door. Inside, a man leans over something in the manger. Then Father and I hear the cry of a newborn baby.
"God be praised!" Father exclaims. The others crowd into the doorway.
The man straightens up and looks at us. "We have permission," he says. "The innkeeper—“
"We're sorry to bother you,” Father says, “but we were told about the baby by angels."
A young woman sits up from a pile of hay. Bits of straw stick to her hair and cloak. The man picks up the wailing baby and places it in her arms.
My Father walks over and crouches down beside her. "The angels called this baby Messiah," he says as he reaches out and touches the child, then kneels. "My Messiah."
The stable is full of a holy presence and we all fall to our knees.
As we troop through town on our way back to the hills we sing and talk and laugh.
Someone in a house along the way flings open a window and shouts, "Quiet down you drunks! How's a person to sleep?"
Father calls back, "We're not drunk. An amazing thing just happened!" Then he tells it all.
As he’s talking other windows open. He tells and retells the story.
"Incredible! Amazing!" the people say. "Do you believe it?"
At our hillside encampment the sheep are still there, all safe. Only embers glow in the fire pit. I toss in some sticks and sit close to the warmth. It feels like days since I was last here.
A minute later, Abiram comes and sits beside me.
"No need to tell your father about the resistance army, Joel," he says. "I won't be joining." I think, neither will I.
TO CHEW ON: "In the last time there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires...But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." Jude 18b, 20
Have you ever met a scoffer? That’s someone who mocks or jeers you for who you are, what you are doing, or what you believe in. How many of these Bible scoffers can you name? (Need help? See the names of Bible scoffers and references below.)
1. “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks...Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.” ____________
2. “He saved others but he cannot safe himself. He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we’ll believe in him.” _______________
3. “What they are building – if even a fox climbed upon it, he would break down their wall of stones.” _________________
4. “What is this babbler trying to say?” ________________
Bible scoffers: - Chief priests and teachers (Matthew 27:41,42) - Goliath (1 Samuel 17:43,44) - Philosophers of Athens (Acts 17:16-18) - Tobiah (Nehemiah 4:3).
How did these people reply to those who scoffed at them?
David and Paul spoke words of faith in God. Jesus was silent. Nehemiah prayed.
Jude 18 and 20 tells us another thing we can do to help us stand strong: ____________ ____________ _____ in your most holy _____________.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to have a strong faith that can stand under scoffing. Amen.
MORE: Faith Gym Which things, below, would help you build up your faith? 1. Read stories from the Bible of people who overcame scoffers.
2. Watch TV shows and movies which make fun of Christians.
3. Memorize Bible verses which give an answer to scoffers.
4. Read books which try to convince you God doesn’t exist.
5. When you’re with mockers, pretend you don’t believe in God so they won’t pick on you.
6. Read biographies of strong Christians which tell stories of God’s reality and power.
TO CHEW ON: "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 3 John 2
When you hear the word “blessing” what do you think of? Saying a prayer over food before you eat? The pastor praying a benediction at the end of a church service?
You’re right - a blessing is these things, and more too. Any time we ask for God’s favor or declare it over someone, we speak a blessing. Look up the verses, below, to see what the Bible says about blessing and being blessed, then fill in the missing words:
1. Paul usually began his letters by speaking a blessing of God’s _______ and _______ to his readers (Ephesians 1:2).
2. In today’s verse, John speaks a blessing of ________ for his friend’s body and soul. (3 John 2).
3. Jesus took ________ in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:16).
"Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me" by James Tissot, 1836-1902
4. Jesus blessed or ________ ________ for food before eating (Matthew 14:19).
5. We will inherit a blessing by not repaying ______ with _____ or ______ with _______, but with a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
So next time you’re wishing someone well, or saying goodbye to someone you love, or thinking what to say to the class bully’s insult, don’t say ‘good luck,’ or ‘safe journey’ or ‘your feet stink too!’ Rather shout, or whisper, “God bless you.”
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I’m glad You loved children and blessed them. Help me to speak blessing to my friends and enemies. Amen.
MORE: More Blessings - What blessing has someone spoken or prayed over you? - What blessing can you pray for or speak over: your friends your parents your grandparents your brothers and/or sisters your enemy
TO CHEW ON: "I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." 2 John 5-6
To “walk in love” means different things to different people. To some it means having a crush on a special person. To others it means having a best friend who is always there for you. To still others it means constant reminders of someone’s love in the form of gifts and nice things.
But really loving each other is not nearly as soft and fuzzy as the things above would make us think. It’s all about choices. It’s about not doing the unloving thing and doing the loving thing. It’s about actions. It's about loving things that we do whether or not we feel loving.
I Corinthians 13:1-13 tells us some of the difficult things a person who lives a loving life does or doesn’t do. Which ways to “walk in love,” below, are hard for you?
Not being rude
Not getting angry
Not being proud
Not looking after my own interests first
Being hopeful (positive)
Not remembering bad things done to me (holding a grudge)
Not giving up (persevering)
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me with (name the things you chose, above). Help me to make a habit of walking in love. Amen.
MORE: Love Lessons
Name one person whom you find easy to love.
What love attitudes and actions (from the list above) do you see in their lives?