Friday, April 29, 2016

The Story: Book of Revelation - Hold On!

Focus: Book of Revelation

How do you encourage people to keep going? How do you motivate an athlete to give his best or get a person who has suffered a heart attack or who just has diabetes like me to change their diet and exercise because their life depends on it? Did someone scream at them like on the biggest loser? We could ask that of the church. Record numbers seem to be dropping out of the church and leaving the Lord. How does the church engage people who think that the church is boring or that they are too busy for religion? Such was the question in the early church. Persecution was heavy and temptations to leave the church were all around them. It was time for a view from above and a peek at the ending so people could be encouraged and not fall away.

They have lost their first love. Rev. 2:4 It had been over sixty years since Jesus had died on the cross. Most of the first generation Christians were gone and the second generation was growing weak in their faith. The seven letters enumerate how Satan was chipping away at the church. The once strong church of Asia Minor was slipping away. This book was a plea for the church to hold on and not give in to persecution or apathy. It is a message well taken today. Satan is killing Christians around the world who must die for their faith and is filling our American lives with busyness and hobbies.

The first battle has been won Rev. 7:14 God has already won the first battle. Through the cross of Jesus, He has saved both the Jew and the Gentile from the coming wrath here on earth and on the last day. John is pleading with the people to not throw away the victory that is theirs in Christ. They can see the beginnings of the fall of the Roman Empire. They can look to Jerusalem and see the temple destroyed. Don’t throw away your protection and future that you have in Jesus.

It is going to get tough. Rev. 16:1 There will be waves of famine, war, and seas of blood. Sadly, the evening news is filled with these occurrences every night. It is the result of a world filled with sin in which men kill each other and people starve in the aftermath. God will allow these things to happen to break down man’s pride. A world upside down shows that man cannot fix things. This is a time to hold onto the Lord. You and I cannot control what is coming in the world. We can protect ourselves, but God can. For those who have the Lord, they would be wise to not let go.

Satan will be destroyed Rev. 20:10 In the end, Satan and all the things that people rely on will be destroyed. False religions based on works or false gods will be gone. Technology and governments that people think will provide the answers will be destroyed. Satan himself will be judged and spend eternity in hell. Yes, they will wage war against God and the church. They can’t win the war because they cannot overcome the Lord. As strong as Satan is, he is not stronger than God. In the gospels, Jesus only had to utter one word and the demons obeyed.

God’s future reality- New Jerusalem Rev. 21:1 For those who do hold on, there is a vision of what the future can look like. It is a beautiful place filled with God’s people living and communing with God. In heaven, you will find the ones who overcame. Satan tempted them and they did not give in. For that reason, they will spend eternity celebrating. I want you to see all the scary things of Revelation and place yourself in God’s hands. Hold on to him and let him help you through the trials that are coming. Don’t find yourself outside His hands and trying to deal with illness, violence, and the harm of others by yourself. You can’t handle it. Revelation is a plea not to give up on God. He is your future and brings the promise of great things to come in eternity for those who just hold on.