|We Shall Overcome Part 2
Never Give Up
Scripture Revelation Chapters 1-3
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation2:8-11 N.I.V.)
There is a legend about Jesus, mind you, this is just a legend. How Jesus once had each of His disciples pick up a rock and carry it. They carried the rock for days. Finally the time came when they were in the wilderness then Jesus asked them each to give Him their rocks. As they did Jesus turned the rocks into loaves of bread. The larger rocks were large loaves of bread and the smaller rocks were small loves. A few days later Jesus once again instructed His disciples to pick up a rock and carry it. This time the disciples each picked up large rocks. You can only imagine the rock that Peter picked up and carried. They carried them for days until Jesus at last told them to take out their rocks and throw them into the river.---
Well that was it. No miracle, no loaves, no water turning into wine, nothing. The disciples asked Him why. His answer is one for us also. He asked them in return; Why were you carrying the rock? Were you carrying it for the blessing or were you carrying for me. I know that in the last message, I wrote about how excited I was to be able to receive the blessings that God had in store for me in this teaching. Now I ask myself and each of you; Are we serving God for the rewards or do we serve Him because He is worthy of our service. Romans 12:1 says "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (KJV.)
Even though the above story is just a legend it demonstrates an important aspect of the Kingdom of God. It's as if it is an upside- down kingdom. Strength out of weakness, exaltation from humility and success flowing forth from failure. Yes there are great rewards awaiting us for our service to the King of Kings. Yet too often we are sold a bill of goods about Christianity, how we are going to have a joyful, abundant, trouble free life and when that does not happen we fall away from the faith and once again attempt to find our own way. Looking at the message that our Lord has for the church today in the passage of scripture above we can see how first how He is The Beginning and the End. In the Greek the words express being before all things and enduring to the uttermost. You see God being omnipresent, or everywhere at once that includes the future and the past. He knows the mistakes we have made as if the are right now happening as well as knowing the victories we have coming up as if they are happening this instant.
We know that this life that we now live is but a vapor. In an instant it is gone. Yet our eternal souls are in the balance. What Jesus was saying to the church at Smynra is that He understands and knows the pain that they are going through. God knows your trials and your tribulations. He knows your loneliness and your depression; He knows your failures and your lost hope. Yet He reminds us of how rich we truly are. We can get so wrapped up in our own problems that we for get how many blessings we really have. All most of have to do is to go into any inner city to see the real poverty and despair through our own country to once again realize how blessed we are. If that is not enough then go to any border town on the U.S. /
Mexican border. We need to count our blessings and once again be thankful for the wonderful things that God has provided for us. Then we can give Him praise for them all and we know that God inhabits the praises of His people. Lets continue to praise Him for there is coming a time when it will be difficult. God does not leave us unwarned. As we read in this passage of scripture there will come people claiming to be righteous yet they will only be out to destroy us. Now I do not want to start sounding like a prophetic alarmist but let's not go into the future without the clear understanding that you will be persecuted for being a Christian. Words like "Intolerant, hypocrite, bigot, homophobe and many more are already being thrown at us without relent.
If you are considering or have already committed your self to being a Christian then you need to know that there will come this time of "testing." This tempting or testing or tribulation that you will and perhaps are even now entered into will not last. Yes there may be some that you have known that have died and perhaps you may even be losing someone close to you but know this! God is faithful! I say again again! God is faithful. He will give to you and your love ones that remain faithful unto the end the crown of life eternal. Just an interesting side note. Did you notice how the text talks about suffering persecution for ten days? Why ten days? God does not use numbers without a reason. As I researched the use of numbers in the Bible I discovered that the number 10 is used to represent "human government." (There I go again sounding like one of those prophetic, or should I say pathetic, alarmist.)
The message to the church at Samyra reminds us to hang in there to the end. Never give up. Live life to it's fullest without convictions of death and in the end the beginning will be an eternal paradise. God has prepared for us wonders that we can not even imagine. Yet if we turn away and deny the very Christ that came to give us eternal life then what awaits us is not only the death of this physical body but what this scripture calls the "second death." Real quick lets look at this second death then we can get back to the job at hand which is overcoming. Three passages of scripture:
(Rev 21:8 KJV) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
(Rev 20:14 KJV) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Now for the good news:
(Rev 20:6 KJV) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
You know, some people would like to think that when you die you just die and that's it. Others would like to believe that everybody is going to get into heaven. Still others have different ideas of there own. After over thirty years of seeking the truth I have discovered that there is no other text or book that has ever been more reliable then the Bible. Jesus Himself spoke more about hell and the torments of it then He did about heaven and the glory of it. Some people say we should preach 20% fire and brimstone and 80% grace. Others invert that equation. No matter what it is still Jesus that remains the savior. Whether or not we receive showers of blessings upon this earth or have nothing but troubles Jesus is still the one who gives us true peace in the midst of the storm. He fills us with joy that no circumstance can take away. He loves us with an ever-lasting unconditional love that when we ask Him how much He loves us He says "This Much!" and He spreads out His arms upon that cross and says, "It is finished."
Don't give up. God knows the exact situation you are in and He wants you to know that as you continue to trust in Him He will make a way where there seems to be no way. And do you know what? It is going to get a whole lot better.
Never Give up!