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Second Sunday after Easter

Picture of God

SUNDAY, April 24
Revelation 1:4-8

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (v. 8, TNIV).

At summer camp when I was in fifth grade, the speaker asked us to draw our picture of God. My drawing was simple: old guy, beard, white robe, sitting on a throne. When you think of God, what picture comes to mind? This week, we will look at the final book of the Bible, Revelation. Chapter 1 frames the letter to seven churches in the One who was, and is, and is to come. John paints this picture of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as eternal, faithful witness, conquers death, ruler, grace, peace, love, offers freedom from sin, maker, glory, power, almighty. It’s a stunning window into God’s character, which I certainly can’t capture in a drawing!

Sometimes our experiences or circumstances distort our image of God. May our encounter with Revelation grow and stretch our understanding of the One. 

Lord God, lead me to the truth of who you are. Transform my image of you by the power of your love, grace, and peace. Amen.

Worthy of Worship

MONDAY, April 24
Revelation 5:11-14

Imagine your favorite basketball team (the Chicago Bulls, perhaps?) in an arena where the roar of the crowd deafens as the winning shot swishes through the hoop at the buzzer. Yet the victory of a sports team falls short of what John describes in the worship of Jesus in eternity. It’s quite a scene: innumerable angels, every single creature spanning context and time gives praise and honor and glory and power to Jesus. Every culture with one voice, representing God’s action all around the world, worships. Take a moment to picture this scene.

Everyone worships something or someone. Far too often lesser things consume our energy, attention, and creativity. What do you worship each day? May John’s vision of heaven shift our attention to the One who truly deserves our energy, attention, and creativity.

Jesus, may this scene in heaven inspire me to turn my attention to you each day, that my life may offer you praise, honor, glory, and power. Prepare me now for what heaven will hold. Amen. 

For All

TUESDAY, April 26
Revelation 7:9-12

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (v. 9, TNIV).

Thanks to the internet, social media, and media, we have exposure to life all around the planet. Reading about multitudes from every nation, tribe, people, and language stirs up specific images in our minds. In the first century, this scene must have rocked John’s mind, as he tried to comprehend what was before him. Knowing the Jesus movement started with a small band of followers, how surprising and encouraging it must have been for John to see what was to come. The good news touched people all around the world. All peoples uniquely give God praise and honor. What response does this scene evoke in you? Is there anyone I believe is beyond God’s reach? May our hearts be open to the reality that the gospel is the hope of all people. 

Jesus, may your love reach into the lives of people who seem beyond your reach. Expand my heart to believe the hope of the good news. Amen.

 
The Shepherd

WEDNESDAY, April 27
Revelation 7:13-17

When we are heading out on a journey, the destination matters. Directions are handy as long as you know where you want to go. Sometimes obstacles throw us off course.

The white-robed people before the throne had endured great suffering and hardship in life—and now they find themselves before God’s throne. The challenges of hunger, thirst, and lack of shelter did not define them. They clung to the Lord as Shepherd, described in Psalm 23. Their lives fixed on Jesus kept them centered on their ultimate destination. From chaos to comfort, from suffering to safety, from want to worship. 

In our culture’s comfort, perhaps it is hard to relate to the pain they endured, yet we are invited to the same destination. What obstacles steer you away from Jesus, from trusting this hope of heaven? God’s compassion reaches beyond the pain of life in this world, to provide for all we ultimately need. 

Jesus, may my hunger, thirst, or sorrow lead me to your compassion, lead me to worship. Amen.

Re-creation

THURSDAY, April 28
Revelation 21:1-6A

Some patterns in my life are good, centered around connecting with family, friends, God. Some are not so good—the shadow side of my behavior and attitudes. In difficult spaces, I can feel stuck, as if I’ll never get off the hamster wheel. I wonder, will I, or my circumstances, ever change? 

 “I am making everything new” (v. 5, TNIV) is a promise for eternity that reaches us here and now. The Creator continues to create and recreate—places, lives, spaces. God is at work to renew and restore, replacing the old order of death, mourning, crying, and pain with his presence and comfort. The Alpha and Omega is personal, reaching into each of our lives to wipe away tears, bringing transformation to our circumstances. 

Is there something in your life God needs to make new? May this be a day to entrust that place to God’s touch. 

Jesus, thank you for being trustworthy and true. I surrender myself to you. Amen. 

Healing

FRIDAY, April 29
Revelation 21:10; 21:22–22:5

Our world needs to be healed. Conflict, division, power, and position clash in ways that perpetuate hurt, rather than leading to peace and flourishing of people. In what ways do you see the need for healing in your community? 

There is a farm in Palestine, which has been around since Jesus walked the earth, that proclaims the hope articulated today: “The leaves of the tree [of life] are for the healing of the nations” (22:2). The family’s message to all who visit is to find life, to trust Jesus as the healer. In John 14:6, Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, the life.” Jesus is the way to life, bears fruit, restores what has been broken, heals what has been torn apart. 

This vision of heaven points us again to our dependence on God, who lights the way to life in Jesus, the One who transforms what is sick, broken, and torn apart. 

Jesus, so often I feel helpless in the face of pain, conflict, and division. Bring life and healing where I cannot. Amen. 

The Invitation

SATURDAY, April 30
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

“Come” is both an invitation from Jesus and an invitation to Jesus. The relational nature of this text speaks of God’s intent in interacting with people from the beginning of time. God steps into the garden to walk with Adam and Eve. Jesus steps into Bethlehem to live on this earth. The Spirit steps into lives filling Jesus’s followers with God’s presence. 

Jesus speaks, “Come, follow me,” and in responding yes, we surrender life to God’s ways. Christians pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” seeking direction, inviting his presence into the complexities of life. Jesus says, “Come,” as a continual call to obedience. 

We each have choices to make in how we live life each day. Will we draw near to Jesus? Or will other loyalties or longings draw us away from him? May the trajectory of our lives reflect our longing for Jesus to return, our longing to live in obedience to his ways that lead to blessing, life, and grace. 

Amen. Come Lord Jesus. I am yours. 

About the Author

  • Karen Ingebretson

    My husband, Ben, and I are both pastors. We have got busy ministry lives, and we balance our weeks with friends and family—biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, music, reading, cooking, volunteering at church, and traveling to spend time with three grown children who live across the United States. I serve the Covenant on the Develop Leaders team as the director of pastoral support and practice. I have been in ministry over 30 years with the Covenant, serving as a youth pastor, on faculty at Covenant Bible College, as the director of mission mobilization for Serve Globally, and as an associate pastor. My ministry focus has been in areas of discipleship, equipping people for serving God’s kingdom, and engaging mission and pastoral care.

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