the second death

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. [Revelation 2:11 NASB]

What do you think "second death" means? The phrase is used four times in Revelation. Some think it means a time in distant eternity when death is thrown into a fiery lake. That could be true but I wonder if the second death is an illusion to the time when each of us die?

Paul and Peter both use the phrase "dead in your sins" when they speak of the time preceding spiritual birth. Could it be that the first death is the state of all humans when they are born? If that is the case then the second death simply refers to the time when a person dies and is no more.

I am glad that the verse goes on to speak of those who are not hurt by the second death. Those who have been born of the Spirit continue to believe until the time of their death. They are not hurt by the second death because they have something that transcends earthly constraints.

Give us ears to hear Lord that we might be witnesses to those who need you.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

the tested heart

Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. Your suffering will go on for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. [Revelation 2:10 GW]

Knowing God transcends every part of life. In a very real sense it is impossible to unknow your Heavenly Father. Or for Him to unknow you. This sentiment is evident when Jesus declares that there are people who he simply does not know. How we react in suffering reflects whether we know God.

The ten days mentioned in this verse are symbolic of extended suffering. Interesting that it says that suffering does not always happen to test us. Testing comes in many forms. Yet the message is clear that extended suffering will test our faith, and just about everything else, like nothing else will.

How we face death is the ultimate test of what is in our heart. Those who know, and are known by, God face death very differently. These understand that a crowning life awaits us on the other side of the grave. They know this because they have hearts that have been tested. Hearts that know the Lord.

Grant us courage dear Lord that we might not be afraid of suffering - or anything else.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

the wealthy heart

Write this to Smyrna ... I can see your pain and poverty—constant pain, dire poverty—but I also see your wealth. [Revelation 2:8,9 MSG]

The phenomenon of poverty is an ancient and complex one. Their are all sorts of explanations for it's existence. Some point to wealthy people saying that their greed has caused others to be poor. Others point to laziness as the source. And there can be societal issues at the root of it.

Interesting that this verse speaks to an inner wealth in the midst of external poverty. Most of us focus on the eternal as it is easier to comprehend. Yet their is an inner poverty of the heart often present in both wealthy and poor people. It often surfaces in things like envy and discontentment.

In contrast I have found that there is a wealth of spirit than surfaces in generosity, compassion and kindness. Folks who have a wealthy transformed heart tend to act differently that those who are internally poor. Perhaps these qualities are the kind of wealth that this verse speaks of?

Help us Lord to live from the new and wealthy heart that you have given us.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

agapé lost

However, I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. [Revelation 2:4 ISV]
It seems that love, like many things, rarely stays the same. Love grows or it abates. It is found and sometimes it is lost. In this verse it is hard to discern what sort of love is being referenced. Offhand I might think it to be just fleshly love. Yet the Greek word translated here is agapé.

Perhaps it is significant that the word used is agapé? Many of us think this is the highest form of love. It is often described as: selfless, sacrificial and even godlike. So how is it that such a love can be abandoned? My theory is that it can only happen when agapé never reaches the heart.

It is certainly possible for graces like selflessness to cease when it is superficial. Sacrifices can stop when they are unacknowledged. Even so, I believe that there is an agapé form of love that will not be abandoned. A love for God that is resident in the new spiritual hear of the believer.

Connect us with our hearts Lord that our love will stay strong.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

toughness. patience. endurance.

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. ... I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. ... You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. [Revelation 2:1-3 NLT]

There are seven epistles contained in Revelation. This is how the first one begins. The pattern is the same for the other seven letters. The congregation is first commended then it is censured.

The Greek word κόπος, translated here as hard work, can be rendered 'laborious toil'. It reminds me that following God requires inner toughness and requires us to hang in there when the work is hard. It also reminds me of this sentence that I heard Robert Schuller say many years ago.
Tough times never last, but tough people do.
I think that sentiment is the heart of what it means to endure. There are things in life that try us like nothing else and lay bare either our weakness or our toughness. People and suffering can surface the best and worst in us. It is why patience and endurance are so needed.

Teach me Lord to patiently act and not impulsively react.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

spiritual keys

I am the one who lives. I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. [Revelation 1:18 ERV]

What do you think about when you hear the word key? Perhaps it is something that can be locked or unlocked? Interesting that 'keys', and not 'key', is used here. Reminds me of the passage where Jesus speaks of the keys to the kingdom. This verse in Revelation is a reference to those keys.

When people read about the keys to the kingdom they often think about spiritual authority over forces of darkness. I think that these kingdom keys are much more practical. I think of the idea that I have the power to speak life or death to a situation. To open or close spiritual doors.

In reality, we all have tremendous power over darkness and even death. By our words we can open doors of light that usher in encouragement. Our actions can lock doors of hate and open ones of love. Yet the power to open such doors is given to the one who has a heart that is divinely open.

Open our heads and our hearts Lord that we might unlock doors that are closed.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation

trustworthy messengers

I turned to see who was talking to me. ... When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He put his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. [Revelation 1:12,17 NCV]

How do you think you would respond if Jesus appeared before your very eyes? Fainting, as John seems to have done, seems like a logical response. Interesting that Jesus appeared to John as someone that he did not recognize - a being that was unlike anything that he had ever seen.

The text says that Jesus showed up in John's vision with a message for the seven churches in Asia. I love that he chose this apostle to be a conduit for a message to these assemblies. A wild vision given to another may have been discounted. In contrast John was trustable.

In my life I have seen a lot of people speak for God. Sadly, unlike John, some of these were not reliable and their message not believable. I guess what I am saying is that the messenger is important. They must be trustworthy. They must be trusted to only speak what God shows them.

Help us to be trustworthy messengers Lord.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Revelation.