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More Than Conquerors

Today God gave me something in Revelation 2, verses 8 through 11, which say:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto 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. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Revelation 2:8-11)

God knew that the Church at Smyrna was in a time of tribulation and poverty. He knew that legalists (i.e., those who call themselves Jews because they, for the most part, try to obey the legal requirements of the law, yet don’t believe in salvation through Jesus’ death and Resurrection) were slandering them, and He knew that they were going to have to endure even more suffering in the future. Some even believe the ‘ten days of tribulation’ refer not to ten actual days in which the Church would be persecuted, but rather to ten Roman emperors under which Christianity would suffer.

In spite of knowing all this, though, God tells them not to fear. He even goes further than that, saying that not only are they not poor, they’re rich. And they were, too, just not physically. The reality is, you could be the poorest person in the World, and still be rich. You could not only be poor, but be suffering persecution for your faith, and be looking forward to nothing more than a life time still to come of suffering, and still have nothing to fear. These poor people were living in a very difficult time for Christianity, in a place that particularly disliked Christians. Yet, they could rest just as easy as many Christians today living in the United States, because they had Christ.

Jesus makes all the difference. You are never poor if you have Jesus, because your spirit will always be rich. You could be living as the Church in Smyrna was: with no foreseeable Earthly hope on the horizon, and yet you could still be happy and bold, because Jesus makes us look past the mortal on to the immortal. Everything on this Earth will pass at some point, but Heaven and God are eternal.

The last section of the passage makes this point nicely when it says, “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'” The ‘second death’ (which is complete separation from God in Hell) won’t touch Christians, because as Paul puts it, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (see: Romans 8:37). What cause have conquerors to fear? What cause have the rich to believe themselves to be poor? We simply have to look to Christ whenever we’re feeling like poverty is closing in, or when we’re being tempted by Satan. Whenever we look to Christ, we see that, in everything, He makes us more than conquerors.

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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Shield of Faith

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:16)

The shield of faith

What was the job of the shield? Obviously, to protect the wearer. In the case of the Romans – who, by the way, may be who Paul is basing this armor on. Seeing as he was most likely in Rome while writing this letter. Albeit under house arrest. But still… –, as well as blocking swords, it was also used to block arrows and spears. All the Romans in the army would lock their shields together, hold them up, and hardly anything could get past to harm them. Just like that, they had an old fashioned force-field, able to blunt all attacks…. At least, so long as they were all standing together, with their shields locked into place.

Likewise, so longer as believers stand together and have the shield of faith, we’ll be able to blunt all the Devil’s arrows… But, faith in what? What is it that we have faith in that gives us this shield of faith? Some all-powerful genie? A mighty warlock? None of the above, rather, a man on a tree. That’s where our faith originates from.

Jesus protects us:

A mighty man and son of God? Yes. A man whose given up His spirit on a cross to save all humanity? Yes again. He, Jesus Christ, is who we believe in; is who we have faith in. Thus when we hold up our shields to defend against the Devil, we are holding Jesus, our faith, up to defend us. When the devil throws His arrows, we hold Jesus up on the cross to defend ourselves. But more than that:

Jesus unifies us:

In order for all to be safe, all must lift their shields up together, and lock them into place together. The only way to have a unified shield without any gaps is for everyone to take part. The only way a church or any other gathering of believers can be safe from the Devil is by exalting Christ Jesus on the cross and their faith in Him. Everyone becomes at risk when one person lets their shield down, because a single person letting down their guard can cause a domino effect: the enemy will target the weak one, and when his/her shield is down, they can attack those next to the fallen one from the side, which creates a bigger gap, which leads to everyone’s death, if someone does step in remind the weak soldier to keep His shield high.

Our Spiritual lives rest wholly upon Christ. He must be our very life, or our shield lowers. And the moment that happens… Picture one of those practice dummies with a couple dozen arrows sticking out of it.

The Roman army is actually a surprisingly good example of what Christians should look like:

  • Organized.
  • Always on alert.
  • Armored against attack.

You are Loved

Joshua Cleveland

 

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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Romans 1:1-16. I mainly caught two points:

1. The history of Rome is… Important? – He gave us several interesting, but as I saw it, mildly unrelated facts about Rome and it’s rulers, such as Nero. Who, by the way (I learned this from the pastor) was apparently a musician who hosted concerts that could go on for days… I think the whole purpose of this point was to lay the ground-work; to show us the conditions the Roman’s were under (a ruler who killed people at a whim and forced them to listen to his horrible music…).

2. We should spread the Gospel. – The majority of the sermon was taken up with facts about Rome’s rulers (mainly Nero). However, he did make sure to add this point, as it’s what Paul was doing.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Todays Sermon

 

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