Revelation 9:1-21

I do not write devotional material on weekends, but here is today’s suggested reading.

Reading the Word

Revelation 9:1–21
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. 7In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. 12The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. 13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. 20The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

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Worthy Is the Lamb!

lamb

Reading the Word

Revelation 5:11–14 (ESV)

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In an amazing scene, the heavenly hosts fall down and worship. This group includes the living creatures first described in chapter four, the elders, and angels numbering “myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands”. What a picture!

God and the Lamb are declared to be worthy of all worship because of their work of redemption. Take special note that worship of the Lamb here is equal to the worship of God and is understood as the proper and right thing to do. The unity of God and the Lamb will continue throughout the rest of the book. This is an important point to consider because Scripture is clear that only God is the proper recipient of worship. Here we find an important piece of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity and Jesus being divine.

Take a moment and consider the greatness of the Triune God. Consider the redemption that has been achieved through God and the Lamb. And give him praise.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Seated on the Throne

Revelation 48 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 4:1–11 (ESV)

1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After writing to the seven churches in chapters two and three, John now shares a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. John gives us a picture of God seated on the throne with all of the heavenly court worshiping him. As they worship, they call out to the “Lord God Almighty”, which speaks to God’s sovereignty. They also praise God as the one who is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power” because he is the Creator of all things.

In short, this passage tells us that God is the sovereign Creator over all things. This is important because we have just finished reading about how the seven churches are facing persecution in the world and things are not easy for them. Here, John encourages his readers to remember who is truly in control: God.

It may sometimes seem like all hope is lost. We may have a difficult family situation or we may be discouraged by how things are going in the world. But let us be encouraged knowing that our God is seated on the throne. He is the Creator and all things belong to him. For this reason, we always have hope.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Laodicea

Laodicea 1201

Pipes from the ruins at Laodicea.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage is a good example of why we cannot force our modern usage of words onto the Bible. When we say someone is hot or cold about something today, we mean they are either passionate or disinterested. Is that what Jesus means when he tells this church that he wishes they were hot or cold rather than lukewarm? Is he saying he wishes they were either for him or against him rather than riding the fence? Does that not seem odd?

To better understand what Jesus means we need to understand the historical background. Nearby Hierapolis had hot springs while nearby Colosse was known for its cold pure water. What did Laodicea have? It was infamous for the lukewarm water that was piped in via an aqueduct built by the Romans. The hot springs were desirable for bathing. The cold water was great for drinking. And the lukewarm water was good for nothing!

Jesus’ statement about being cold or hot is about being useful for something. Lukewarm water is undesirable and useless. May we never be found useless to our Lord. Let us serve him and have a deep fellowship with him as we await his return.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Philadelphia

Revelation 310 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:7–13 (ESV)

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, Jesus speaks to the church in Philadelphia. This church and the church in Smyrna are the only two of the seven addressed that are not rebuked by Jesus. Instead, they are encouraged to continue on in the face of opposition. The church in Philadelphia may have “little power”, but Jesus is the one who holds the key of David and has opened the door for them. He is the authority and no one can shut what he has opened!

Christians today can be encouraged by these words. Our Lord reigns and is the final authority in heaven and on earth. We can serve him, even in a hostile world, knowing that we belong to him and that all that he has promised will be realized. What a wonderful day that will be! Until then, let us stand strong in the truth of God’s word.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Sardis

Sardis 6613

Gymnasium at Sardis.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Have you ever heard that saying? Well, you can’t judge a church by its reputation. Often times, what one thinks about a church can be deceiving.

For instance, a church that is growing quickly, or one that has a new building, or another that has a well-known pastor may have a reputation for being the best church around. However, this may not be the case. False teaching or failing to put into practice what the Bible says can be the reality even in a church that looks on the surface to be wonderful.

Here, we are warned that Jesus knows the true condition of our churches and he will judge. May we seek the Lord and his will in all we do. And when we get caught up in doing our will instead of his, may we repent and return to him.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Thyatira

Broken Column and Inscribed Stone, Thyatira

Ruins of ancient Thyatira (modern Akhisar, Turkey).

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:18–29 (ESV)

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

False teaching is a big deal. Churches that do not address it and allow it to spread are warned that Christ is watching with eyes like a flame of fire. In this passage, we are told that the false teaching resulted in eating meat sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.

Unfortunately, many churches today soften their teaching on sin because they believe it helps them to reach the unsaved world around them. This simply is not the case. In reality, all it does is condone the very things the Bible says that we need to be saved from. It trivializes the things that Christ died to save us from.

Jesus will one day return in judgment and he is the one who searched “mind and heart”. He will be concerned not only with our sincerity, but also with truth. May we take the word of God seriously and may we communicate that word to ourselves and to a lost world perishing due to sin.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Revelation 2:12-17

I am not writing devotional content during Thanksgiving weekend, but I have included the daily reading below. Daily devotional content will return on Monday, November 27.

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:12–17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’”

Revelation 2:8-11

I am not adding devotional content during the Thanksgiving weekend, but here is the daily reading for Saturday, November 25:

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:8-11:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’”

Thank you for reading. Devotional content will return on Monday, November 27.

Revelation 2:1-7

I will not be posting daily devotionals until Monday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Below is the daily reading.

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:1–7 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”