Sunday, July 28, 2013

P3 - Jesus wants a courageous church - Revelation 2:8-11

Revelation 2:10 "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." 

Introduction & review
In the letter to the church of Smyrna, we have discovered that Jesus Christ wants a courageous church from the following two thoughts:

1. Courageous faith comes from Jesus Christ. Revelation 2:8

2. Courageous faith is strengthened by trials. Revelation 2:9-10a

In today's post we will consider a third thought from this text that reveals how Jesus wants courageous faith among His people and churches, namely that courageous faith feeds on the scripture. 

Courageous Faith Feeds on the Scripture. Revelation 2:10b-11
You would think this could go without saying concerning the Bible being the believer's source and food for daily living.  Though many Christian's will tell you that they believe the Bible to be God's word, statistics tell us that only 16% of people in our churches read their Bible's daily.  Jesus states to this church in Revelation 2:10b-11 "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death."

How else can you and I hear what the Spirit is saying to us individually and as a church unless by the scriptures? 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." God affirms His will through the Bible and  confirms it through people, circumstances and peace of the heart.  Unless your emotions or mind have been exposed consistently to the scripture, you will not hear God speaking to you.  The Holy Spirit in you gives you the ears to hear what He is saying in and through the scripture.  Unless you and I are going to the book, we won't hear. 

To prove how scripture feeds a faith in need of courage, let me list for you some scriptures that equip you to face fear head on:

1. Deuteronomy 20:1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you."

2. Jeremiah 1:7-8 "But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord."

3. Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.

4. John 14:1 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."

5. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

When you realize that this is only a sample of the more than 200 scriptures that speak on the subject of "not being afraid" and urging you to have courageous faith, you understand how rich you truly are.  Jesus told the Smyrnan church in Revelation 2:9a ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)".  What did Jesus mean by that? When you put your treasure in heaven above and not here below, you will have an unending supply of spiritual wealth despite the poverty of circumstances. (Matthew 6:19-20)  It is often the poor of this world that God has so chosen to make rich in faith in Him. (James 2:5)  You and I spend so much time trying to fill the poverty of our sense of need with things that we usually neglect that only book that can sustain - the Bible, and the only person that can suffice - Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Courageous faith always goes back to Jesus 
When you consider the courageous faith that we as Christians and as a church are being called to have, three things are learned from Revelation 2:8-11.  First, the Smyrna church was given such faith from Jesus Christ, since He is the source of it.  Secondly, as the Smyrnans were told, they would be tested.  Courageous faith is strengthened by trials and testing.  Then thirdly, courageous faith feeds on the scriptures, as we saw particularly today.  

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