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Devotional Thought

A Victorious Crowd  
    New York is famous for its ticker tape parades.  Millions crowd the streets of lower Manhatten to celebrate.  Confetti fills the air.  Players receive honor.  Fans revel in victory.  They scream and cheer.  They even dress in the victor's uniform.  They wave banners.  This crowd is victorious.
     Jesus gave the apostle John a vision of the victorious crowd of believers in heaven.  In Revelation 7:9 we read how John saw "a great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands."  How John ever needed this vision!  He had been exiled to the island of Patmos.  In the glimpse he had been given of the end of all things he had seen mostly violence - war, famine, persecution and death.
    Jesus invited him to "look and see."  The crowd before him was innumerable and diverse.  Their focus clearly was on Jesus Christ, the Lamb.  Dressed in white robes and holding palm branches - an ancient symbol of victory - the vision of this crowd must have filled John with every bit of comfort and hope.
   It's easy for Christians today to become disheartened - just like John.  Maybe you feel all alone, the only Christian in a sea of unbelieving people.  Maybe an illness or a death in the family gives you the feeling of defeat.  Maybe the devil tempts you to believe that Jesus doesn't have all that much power as national and world events spin out of control.  Your faith falters.  You doubt.
    Friend, look into heaven!  See the countless host of believers.  They are victorious - all of them - because of Jesus, the Lamb.  Including you!  He was sacrificed on a cross to pay for sins.  He burst forth from the grave as the victor, to grant victory to his people forever.
     You can battle loneliness.  You have an eternity among the countless throng of heaven.  You can stare death in the face.  In heaven you will gaze into the eyes of the Lamb who saved you.  You can endure suffering, persecution, and defeat for Jesus.  In Baptism the Savior has dressed you for heaven.  Your arms will one day wave the palm frond of victory forever.

Prayer:  "Strengthen my faith, O Risen Savior, that I may continue to trust in you for forgiveness and deliverance from every trouble.  As you have conquered all of my enemies, so remove my fears, that I may live for your glory today and live with you in glory forever.  Amen."