Date: November 9, 1997

Series: Jesus: Lord of His Church

Speaker: Ron R. Ritchie

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Remain Faithful in Times of Suffering and Temptation
Revelation 2:8-17

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You who are servants, be good servants to your masters - not Just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God's sake when you're treated badly of no good reason. There's no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you're treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.

This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step by step.

They called Him every name in the book and He said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used His servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

If you're abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It's the Spirit of God and His glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they're on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that's a different matter. But if it's because you're a Christian, don't give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!

It's judgment time for Christians. We're first in line. If it starts with us, think what it's going to be like for those who refuse God's message!

So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him. He knows what He's doing, and He'll keep on doing it.

The Message, Eugene H. Peterson

Smyrna: Remain Faithful in Times of Suffering!
Revelation 2:8-11
8...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.
1. A Word of Encouragement: 9I 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
2. A Word of Exhortation: 10Do 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.
3. A Promise: 11He 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. (NIV)

Pergamum: Remain Faithful in Times of Temptation!
Revelation 2:12-17
12...the angel of the church in Pergamum write...
These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
1. A Word of Encouragement: 13I know where you live -- where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city -- where Satan lives.
2. A Word of Correction: 14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
3. A Word of Exhortation: 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
4. A Promise: 17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (NIV)

Some Questions to Consider

1. Do you really believe or sovereign shepherd, Jesus, not only knows who you are, but He also knows about the current stressful social, financial and emotional circumstances you are experiencing because you call Him Lord? Does your present attitude demonstrate your answer? Explain!
2. When trouble, stress, and persecution come into your life because you are a follower of Jesus Christ, how do you interrupt that pressure? Explain!
3. How have you prepared your heart to resist the temptation of sexual immorality and idolatry? Explain!

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