Revelation 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)
When I first read today’s passage from Revelation, I was a teenager who had rebelled against God and my family. The words shocked me and cast a dire shadow over my soul. I felt quite anxious about the whole scenario depicted in Revelation 20, and fearfully convinced myself that God was waiting to punish me for all of my sins on the other side of death. I felt miserable and alone, unloved and hopeless.
Instead of making me turn my life around, this frightening knowledge only made me worse. I flippantly cast aside God’s judgment for two reasons. Firstly, I was in denial about my own selfish and sinful ways. Secondly, my self-destructive attitude was summed up in an old saying: “I may as well be hanged for stealing a sheep, rather than a lamb." Defiance and rebellion against God fed my despair. Since God was going to punish me anyway, I might as well just sin as much as I could.
Thankfully, Jesus saved me from myself, as well as from God’s wrath. Giving my heart to Jesus was the best decision that I have ever made in my entire life. It did not make me perfect, holy, or sinless, but that personal commitment offered me a hope to hold on to, as well as a Savior who has never let me go. Each day, I depend upon Him to accept, correct, and direct me; each day I need Jesus to both forgive and fortify me. Without His grace, I cannot truly find God. Without Christ’s love, I cannot truly live.
Perhaps you are worried about your future with God. It may be the case that you’ve been burdened with a personal mistake, or a deep regret, or a secret shame which makes you fearful of God’s final judgment. Whatever it is, know this for a fact: it can be forgiven; it can even be forgotten. All it takes is a simple act of faith, a prayer of sincere confession to Jesus. Talk to Him about it and ask for His pardon. He will forgive you. He will save you. He will always love you.
Questions for personal reflection
What sins am I still carrying from the past? When will I bring them to Jesus and ask Him to forgive me?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Only One who can forgive our past mistakes and bless us with an everlasting future. We carry our burdens too long and ask too little of You. Forgive our pride and resentment, pardon our shame and disappointment. Help us to come to You today, praying for mercy and asking for love. In Your Holy Name, we earnestly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s drawing is John’s latest digital glass image called ‘Tree of Life.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Tree of Life.