YouVersion Devotional

 

What’s Next? from Jerusalem

Path
God knows the end from the beginning. He has made hundreds of detailed predictions in the Bible, stacking the odds of fulfillment against Himself so that when they do come to pass, we know they’re from Him alone.
Points

The Place: Jerusalem (Matthew 24:3)

Jerusalem is the center of the earth:
Geographical center: Israel is at the center of the world, Jerusalem is at the center of Israel, and the temple is at the center of Jerusalem.
Salvation center: Jerusalem is where Jesus died and rose again.
Political center: Israel is the storm center of the world politically. God said, “I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone…. All nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:3).
Glory center: There is a kingless throne in Jerusalem and a throneless King in heaven. When Jesus comes, the two will meet, beginning a new reign of peace.
The Prediction: The Temple Destroyed (Matthew 24:2)

Jesus predicted the fall of the temple: “Assuredly…not one stone shall be left here upon another” (v. 2).
In AD 70, the Romans destroyed the temple. Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled, and the religious system of the Jews was forever changed.
This statement shocked His disciples; the presence of the temple was a sign of God’s favor.
The Promise: His Coming (Matthew 24:4-8, 42)

This is a promise of preparation: Jesus went away to prepare a place for us (see John 14:1-3), and though we don’t know when He’ll return (see Matthew 24:42), He promised He will come back for us.
We are looking for two future events to happen:
The rapture: Jesus will come in the air; believers will meet Him in the atmosphere. This is when Jesus claims His bride; it will be sudden and unpredictable (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The second coming: Jesus will come to the earth with the church, His bride. This coming will be proclaimed everywhere, as Scripture predicts (see Revelation 1:7; 14:1-20).
Finally, we will rule with Christ in the new heaven and new earth (see Revelation 21:1). This will be our home forever. We will rejoice not for what is at this home but who is at this home with us.
Practice

Connect Up: Consider Jerusalem’s importance throughout history. Knowing the story ends with a new heaven and new earth, how does the reality of our future draw you closer to the Lord? What do you think the new heaven and new earth will be like (see Revelation 22)?

Connect In: How does the future help shape your present interaction with fellow believers? How does the hope of a new heaven and new earth influence how you help others in our current dwelling place?

Connect Out: Are you ready? Are your family, friends, and coworkers ready? Take a few moments to pray for the people you know who need Jesus.

Governed by Love, Day 16

Today’s reading is drawn from Ephesians 1:7.

Jesus spoke of freedom, but he spoke of a different kind of freedom: the type of freedom that comes not through power but through submission. Not through control but through surrender. Not through possessions but through open hands.

God wants to emancipate his people; he wants to set them free. He wants his people to be not slaves but sons. He wants them governed not by law but by love.

We have been liberated from our own guilt and our own legalism. We have the freedom to pray and the freedom to love the God of our heart. And we have been forgiven by the who could condemn us. We are truly free!

from Walking with the Savior

7 Architectural Wonders to See Before You Die

From ancient pyramids to the tallest skyscrapers, there is no shortage of architectural marvels around the globe. Centuries-old structures sometimes remain a mystery as historians seek to understand how construction took place without current technologies, while modern architecture seemingly defies physics. If you’re looking to travel to some of the most fascinating sites, we’ve assembled our picks for seven of the best architectural wonders to see before you die.

Taipei 101

Taipei 101

Credit: Jeffrey Liao/Shutterstock

Previously listed as the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 was designed to resemble a bamboo stalk. Every element of its design is purposeful, taking into account feng shui principles and auspicious elements throughout. The reason for 101 floors? One hundred is perfect, and by adding one, it’s more than perfect. The tower has eight sections, another auspicious number in Chinese culture.

Where the real magic lies in Taipei 101 is the observatory where you can see the world’s largest tuned mass damper. This is like a giant pendulum that keeps Taipei 101 from being destroyed during earthquakes or typhoons.

Great Pyramids of Giza

Great Pyramids of Giza

Credit: WitR/Shutterstock

The iconic pyramids of Egypt are believed to date back to around 2550 to 2490 B.C. It’s hard to fathom that workers physically moved over two million blocks that each weighed an average of 2.5 to 15 tons. And that’s just for Pharaoh Khufu’s pyramid, which is the largest at just over 480 feet tall. Scientists today are still baffled by their construction, unsure exactly how the pyramids were built. Excavations have revealed that it was a well-organized community, and it’s quite likely that other communities across the country contributed both supplies and workers to complete the pyramids.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

Credit: 135pixels/Shutterstock

This Catholic church is an iconic part of the Catalonia landscape in Barcelona. Construction started in 1882 and is still going today. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, a famous architect from the region who devoted the remainder of his life to the project. When he died in 1926, not even 25% of the building was completed. Today, construction continues, and there is hope that it might be completed by 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Category IconGeography
2pts

Daily trivia question

Test Your Knowledge!

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Credit: aphotostory/Shutterstock

The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure ever constructed. It is over 13,000 miles long when you factor in the various dynasties that added to the walls over time. The Great Wall spans across more than 10 Chinese regions, and it is not one complete wall as you might imagine. It’s more like a collection of walls and, in some places, there are multiple walls running alongside each other.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Credit: Kirill Neiezhmakov/Shutterstock

At a height of over 2,700 feet, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. It also holds other world records, like the highest observation deck, highest occupied floor and more. Inside, you’ll find a mix of housing, office space, restaurants, the Armani Hotel and the observation deck.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Credit: Zhao jian kang/Shutterstock

The Forbidden City served as China’s main imperial palace for two dynasties, home to 24 emperors. It consists of nearly 1,000 buildings with around 9,000 rooms. Everything about it is symbolic, from the design along the central north-south axis to the choice in building colors.

Fallingwater

Fallingwater

Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater was a private residence built in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s considered one of Wright’s best works and best examples of his organic architecture philosophy that blends art and nature. Fallingwater was the weekend home for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., a department store owner from Pittsburgh. Today, the house is open as a museum and is a designated National Historic Landmark.

4 Breathtaking Hidden Beaches in Italy

The beaches of Italy are incredibly beautiful, with water so clear and blue that it almost doesn’t even seem real. Many beaches are overcrowded though, especially in the summer, which can take a bit of the fun out of it. Never fear though! Here is a list of four breathtaking hidden beaches in Italy that are far away from the crowds, so you can have the sand and that gorgeous water all to yourself.

Scala dei Turchi – Sicily

Credit: poludziber/Shutterstock

Sicily is an island near the bottom of Italy. Being surrounded on all sides by water, it is no surprise that is has some of the best beaches in the country. One of the most intriguing beaches here is the Scala dei turchi, which in English means “The Turkish Steps.” It is named for a set of blindingly white cliffs that resemble an enormous set of stairs. This is one of Sicily’s (and Italy’s) most impressive natural wonders, and it can only be seen by people who hike all the way down to the beach at its base, which keeps it free of big crowds.

Spiaggia Bidderosa – Sardinia

Credit: Faurinz/Shutterstock

Spiaggia Bidderosa in Sardinia is the polar opposite of the star-studded beaches just a bit further up the coast, and that is what makes it great. Its white sand and turquoise water are awe-inspiring, and it is surrounded by thick forests that you have to trek through to get to the hidden beach, where you can enjoy sunbathing without the crowds of other similar locations. The only downside is that you have to pay a fee to go to this beach, as it is a part of a nature reserve. But even that is really a positive, because it helps to limit the number of people near the water.

Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle – Marche

Credit: Buffy1982/Shutterstock

Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle – or, the “Beach of the Two Sisters” – is named for two enormous “sea stacks,” which are really two enormous rock formations. These formations look out onto the stunning, blue-green sea, making this an amazing place to hide away from it all. To get here, you have to take a boat from Porto Numana. Still, when you arrive, you’ll be free of all the crowds, beach-side bars and gift shops that line other beaches on the Italian Riviera and better able to enjoy the natural wonders.

Cala Pulcino – Sicily

Credit: bepsy/Shutterstock

WOMEN’S DEVOTIONAL BIBLE – THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2019

At Issue – Considering Divorce

Isaiah 40:26–31

Does your marriage seem hopeless? Perhaps you’ve tried and tried, yet nothing has changed. You’ve pleaded with God to fix the problems, but he doesn’t seem to be listening. So you’ve decided to solve it on your own. You feel you have no choice but to get out of the marriage. Don’t give up! God is bigger than your problems. In very few cases does God condone divorce. In the majority of struggling marriages, God will make a way if you will wait for him. You may feel as if he doesn’t see your struggle, but he does. He will give you strength to fight for your marriage.

A Startling Image of Jesus

Revelation 5

A helpless lamb—the mightiest of all creatures

Revelation 5:4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.

Images of Jesus abound in Revelation, and one way to study the book is to follow a single image throughout. After his luminous appearance in the first chapter, Jesus is presented as a king, a child, a warrior on a horse, the Lord of the whole earth, the husband of a bride. Of all the images, however, none is so startling and unlikely as the one in John’s second vision. Yet it takes hold and appears repeatedly throughout the book.

To set the stage for this vision, the book of Revelation uses more visual drama than a science fiction movie. Lightning flashes, the sky growls and awesome creatures encircle a lofty throne. Four of the creatures (see Revelation 4:6) seem to symbolize the most impressive of all creation, for a common saying in those days went,

The mightiest among the birds is the eagle.

The mightiest among the domestic animals is the bull.

The mightiest among the wild beasts is the lion.

And the mightiest of all is man.

Only One Worthy

A question resounds in the heavens: “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (Revelation 5:2). In other words, who is worthy to introduce the next phase of history? No one can answer, much to John’s dismay. Not one of the four impressive creatures qualifies.

But suddenly John sees another creature, “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). The image contains a great paradox. None of the majestic angels or elders or living creatures has the right to break the seals. Only a Lamb does—a helpless, slaughtered Lamb.

John records a song of celebration (“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” [Revelation 5:9]), a song set to earthly music much later in Handel’s Messiah. And elsewhere in Revelation true believers are identified as having their names recorded in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

This powerful image resurfaces often in Revelation, a book of warfare between good and evil. Christ the King is also the Lamb, the One who died for us. His death on the cross, seemingly a great defeat, actually ushered in a decisive victory, for him and for us. Good was not destroyed; it triumphed.

Life Questions

What meaning does the image of Jesus as a slain Lamb have for you? What are your favorite “pictures” or images of Jesus?

MARK AS INCOMPLETE