Wednesday, March 08, 2006

the patience of the saints

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus…” Rev. 1:9

I’ve been reading the book of Revelation lately. Talk about some heavy stuff! John starts off by telling us he is our companion in the difficult times we all have to endure as it relates to advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Oh the pain I have known since I decided to give my life to this King and to advancing His Kingdom. It is as if there is a constant pressure upon me. It’s like I am almost never free from it. Sometimes it can be crushing.

One chapter later Jesus begins a series of special words to different churches and among them is the church of Smyrna… “Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The Devil will throw some of you into prison and put you to the test. You will be persecuted for `ten days.' Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev. 2:10

Once again we see God’s people being put to the test and Satan himself is permitted to administer the test-he is the one putting us under pressure. This is a truth that few ever fully grasp much less accept. It is not very sheik to believe in or talk about a personal devil in today’s culture. Many churches rarely mention him much less teach waging war against him. Yet I believe that understanding this reality is critical for us to be able to finish our race and resist the demonic temptation to quit on God.

What is going on here? Why is this happening? In the verses above, Jesus uses the word persecution. We translate it from the Greek word thlip'-sis which is a technical word used in the New Testament. The word is not used to describe the normal pressures and frustrations of life we all experience. It is always and only used in connection with the coming of God’s Kingdom. It is a word that is used to describe the point of friction that exists when two Kingdoms clash; when one kingdom advances upon another there is thlip'-sis pressure applied.

What’s that got to do with me? If I am seeking to live for Him and I desire for His life to be known in me, then guess what is going to happen? Demonic forces will marshal thlip'-sis against the Kingdom of God in me and try and push me back from advancing the heart of my great King.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Tim 3:12
I was told just yesterday of someone in our church that lost a good paying job because of Jesus. It was a crushing blow to them. This person was seeking to help someone and share Christ’s love with them. Then Satan reared his ugly head and caused division in this work place relationship and before anyone knew it someone got fired (thlip'-sis)-all because of Jesus. I happen to know that this person is currently making a major difference in the lives of many. Satan is ticked off. May God bless and turn all this around for amazing good.

Do you experience this strange pressure (thlip'-sis) in your life just when you are making an effort to honor God in your family or work place? According to scripture thlip'-sis is standard operating procedure because two Kindgoms are clashing.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Pet. 4:12-14

Three quick things to give hope:

1. Jesus sees this coming and warns us in advance.
"I have told you these things so that you won't fall away. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I'm telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember I warned you. John 16:1-4
2. Jesus is also in control. He decides how much pressure is allowed to be applied and how long it will last. “You will be persecuted for `ten days.' Remain faithful”.
3. If I remain faithful and refuse to quit He will reward me. “Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power is his forever and ever. Amen. 1 Pet. 5:8-12

Remember God in His wisdom is using all of this to build us into unstoppable forces to be reckoned with. This is how He produces His life in us. Stand firm my dear friends and God will bless you. He has promised!

Standing with you,

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12

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