The AMI QT devotionals from June 26-July 2 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, recently completed her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary. She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
The Glory That Is To Come
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” 19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Now is the perfect time to pause and really think about the glory to come when the Kingdom of God is here in its fullness. If you’ve been tracking with us through Revelation, by the time you’ve finished chapter 11, you may have let out a huge exhale after reading about the strife and painful anticipation in the chapters leading up to it. Furthermore, if you’ve been doing the Christian life long enough, you have likely experienced your own longing for what’s described in the verses above. The two words in these verses that strike me most are “has become” in verse 15. This idea that all of the things in this world, all our pain and suffering, all our faithfulness and obedience, all our ups and downs, all of it, every single part, are becoming something – something beautiful and abundant for those who fear God – really leaves me speechless.
An excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce: “‘That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. …‘Ah, the Saved… what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.’”
If you have read quickly through the passage for today, take a moment to slow it down and read them again. No matter what we are presently going through—the good and the bad—we should overflow with praise when we take time to think and begin to picture the incredible work God is doing and the unimaginably delightful end toward which we are headed as His people. May we take time today to really meditate on the promises of God and the truths we know about His coming Kingdom and allow our hearts to be filled with worship and hope.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are truly awesome and worthy to be praised. As Paul articulated so well in 1 Corinthians 2:9, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what You have prepared for those who love You. Give me a more vivid picture of Your coming Kingdom today and allow that picture to fill my heart with hope and worship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Timothy 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Isaiah 65:17-25: For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. 18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. 19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed. 21 “They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 “They will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. 23 “They will not labor in vain,
Or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord,
And their descendants with them. 24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord.
Questions to Consider:
- In the biblical text, the word “for” often points to purpose, reason (explanation), or result. According to vv. 18-19, what is God creating His people for (i.e. for what purpose, to what end, for what reason)?
- What are some of the things God promises in this new creation He is making? What does this tell us about the kind of God we serve and the kind of existence He wants for His people?
- Read through this passage once more. What strikes you most from the text and why? In what specific ways are you encouraged or challenged as you think upon these verses?
- God is creating His people for rejoicing and gladness! And He himself wants to participate in it! While so many of us walk around with a negative or overly stoic view of God, here we get to see His merriment and His delight. God creates His people for joy—that’s their chief end and where He is taking them.
- While the theology around this passage gets a little complicated (esp. when trying to pinpoint the exact fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic words), it does paint a picture for us of just how good a Father and Creator God is and what kind of existence He wants for those He calls His own. Some things to note about the new creation: death will lose its power, the people will enjoy and delight in the work of their hands/their blessings from God (e.g. their homes, the crops, etc.), their offspring will be a godsend and be righteous instead of being full of calamity, God will hear and respond to their needs before they even call, and there will be peace where not previously possible (e.g. between the wolf and the lamb).
- Spend some time in personal reflection.
C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce has been for me the greatest human fumbling at describing the reality of Heaven and Eternity. Let’s read a little more of the brief excerpt from this text that we read this morning:
“‘That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.’ …‘Ah, the Saved… what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.’”
While remembering the end encourages the faithful, it should also serve as a warning for the unfaithful. And truth be told, there is a little faithfulness and unfaithfulness in all of us. What are the areas in your life where you declare in your own way, “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences?” Spend some time in repentance before God offering those areas to Him, remembering that you are ultimately trading trash for treasure.