Jesus chose you to conquer with Him

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In Revelation chapter 17, ten mysterious kings rule for a short time, then consolidate their power in the hands of a great beast.  They then rally their forces, all their might and power, and make war upon Jesus and His people.

Not only that, but in this endeavor they are guided and overseen by a cryptic character whose description is as disturbing as it is exotic, “She had a gold cup in her hand filled with everything vile…” and she is “drunk on the blood of the saints…and the witnesses to Jesus” (vv 4, 6)

Where is the hope in this chapter filled with blood and chaos and confusion?  It’s found in one little verse with big implications.

These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lord and King of kings.  Those with Him are called and elect and faithful.  (Revelation 17:14)

You see, if you are in Christ (WITH Jesus) that means you’ve been called by God!  He has desired to draw you to Himself because He wants to show you His love.

Not only that, but you are elect, chosen specifically before you were even born, because God wants to give you His salvation.

Finally, this passage shows that if you’re in Christ, you are faithful, able to stick with Jesus because He is sticking with you, giving you the power to be faithful to Him.

What does this all mean in a practical way?  It means that no matter what your enemy the devil throws at you, you can be confident in the hope of this truth.

Jesus chose you to conquer with Him.

–Pastor Phillip

You can overcome in Christ today

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“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”  (Revelation 5:5)

What is that unsolvable problem in your life?

What is that question that can’t be answered, that stronghold that can’t be broken, that obstacle that can’t be overcome?

Weep and worry no more: Jesus can overcome it!

Jesus can break it!

Jesus can answer it!

Weep no more today, friend, for the Lion of Judah has already conquered the foe you face, and He is on your side.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s justice is a pathway to His mercy

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So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image…  They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues.  They did not repent and give him glory… and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores.  They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:2, 9, 11)

The escalating judgments of Revelation are pictures of the perfect justice of God and the total depravity of those who refuse to worship Him.

Like swimmers in a flood who refuse to accept life jackets and boats, these people refuse to repent, to turn away from their wickedness and thus be saved from the rising tide.  Like a person who provoked another to violence by repeated assault, then got angry at being hit back in return, these people curse God for allowing them to receive the consequences of their actions, and blame Him for the suffering they brought upon themselves.

Have you ever done the same?

Be very careful not to blame God for the pain caused by your own sinful and foolish choices.  Jesus is full of mercy and love and forgiveness for you, but it makes no difference if you don’t accept responsibility and come to Him humbly to receive.

God does not delight in your suffering, but in your salvation!  (Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4)  Don’t push Him away when you think He’s being unfair.  Draw close to Him in humility, accept the fruit of your actions, and receive His forgiveness and restoration.

It is only when we grasp and accept the rightness of God’s justice that we can truly appreciate the beauty of His mercy.  So, be honest with yourself and let this truth lead you to peace.

God’s justice is a pathway to His mercy.

–Pastor Phillip

God has perfect rest prepared for you

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And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire–and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.  (Revelation 15:2)

In several places throughout Scripture, heaven is described and images of God’s throne room are given.  A consistent feature in these descriptions is the sea of glass, an expanse before God’s throne that is clear like crystal and perfectly smooth.  (See Exodus 24:10, Ezekiel 1:22, 26)

It is a picture of peace and tranquility.

Contrast this image with how we might visualize the state of our world today, and so often the state of our hearts.  Far from a sea of glass, these things are better described as muddy streams or turbulent oceans.  Over and under, forward and back, murky and uncertain, these are better descriptions of our life here on earth, so is it any wonder that sometimes we feel emotionally exhausted by all the ups and downs?

But if you’re in Christ, God has something better planned for you.

One of the beauties of our future hope is that it is a hope of rest.  For every believer in Christ, once we finish our time on the uncertain seas of earth, we have a glorious reward waiting for us in the harbor of heaven.

So, no matter how stormy your life is at the moment, hang on and take heart as you embrace the hope that comes from this truth.

God has perfect rest prepared for you.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s gospel is about God’s glory

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And I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.  And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”  (Revelation 14:6-7)

The word “gospel” in Greek means good news.  When used in Scripture, though, it isn’t just news of any random thing.  Rather, when the Bible uses the word “gospel,” it carries with it the nuance of an announcement of triumph, a declaration of victory.

Typically we see this word connected with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but here in Revelation we see something related, but different.  Here we see an angel of heaven, announcing an “eternal gospel” to all the peoples of the earth.  So then, what is this good news that has been true for all eternity?

That God is glorious, and worthy of worship.

Here’s why this is good news…

We were created to worship and serve God.  Since this is the point of our existence, true joy and fulfillment in our lives can only come through bringing glory to God.  For most of us, though, it can be difficult to worship God when we’re in the midst of painful seasons.

However, something special happens when we realize that the main point of God’s redemptive work is not our happiness, but His glory.  When we embrace this reality, we are empowered to worship God fully and freely no matter what our circumstances look like, because we realize that God’s goodness is not determined by our experience, therefore our worship of Him need not be, either.

This is truly good news for you, because it means that no matter how difficult your life may seem today, you can still experience joy, meaning and fulfillment as you receive and embrace this truth.

God’s Gospel is about God’s glory.

–Pastor Phillip

God still commands the chaos

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And the [first] beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months…  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them…and by the signs that [the second beast] is allowed to work in the presence of the [first] beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  (Revelation 13:5, 7a, 14-15)

Ungodly authority, violence and conflict, deception and false miracles, persecution, state-sanctioned murder: this is chaos.

As the book of Revelation continues to unfold the unraveling of human society in the end times, it seems like things are getting darker and darker, worse and worse, and it seems like for the people of God, everything is falling apart.

Does your life ever feel like that?

Take note, then, that even in the midst of such hardship and trial, there is a common thread running through this entire chapter: “it was allowed.”

We may never understand in this life just why God allows certain things.  We may feel we would do differently, or wish there would have been an easier way.  As we try to process the hard circumstances of our lives, this is a normal reaction and a natural place to start.  However, it doesn’t have to be the place we finish.

Christian, know this.  No matter how crazy things look down here, God is still in control, watching over your destiny from above!  No matter how dark things appear from your perspective, God is still overseeing and working all things together for your good in Christ.

So, in the midst of whatever turmoil you may be facing, this is God’s word of hope to you today, sent by the Holy Spirit through the prophetic pen of John.

God still commands the chaos.

–Pastor Phillip

Your accuser has no power over you

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And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  (Revelation 12:10-11)

War in heaven, the angels of God against the demons of the dragon: different scholars believe different things about when these events will take place and what exactly the images mean.  Yet, nestled in the midst of these descriptions of battle is a word of hope for every believer in Christ.

When Jesus died, His blood was shed on your behalf.  Like a sacrificial Lamb, His death was offered as payment to God the Father for all of your sin.  When Jesus rose, His victory was validated, His triumph secured and His Kingdom authority confirmed.

Now, look at the result of Jesus’ triumphant work on the cross…

“The accuser…has been thrown down…and they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death.”

This means if you’re in Christ, your sin can no longer be used against you because the prosecutor has been kicked out of court!

If you’re in Christ, your failures have no impact on your membership in God’s family because your accuser has been thrown down!

If you’re in Christ, then you have no need to wallow or worry because your guilt and shame now have no effect on your standing before God!

So, stand strong and free today as you trust the finished work of Christ on your behalf.  Don’t let your past sins or present struggles have any power over you, because they have no legal claim on you anymore.

Christian, if you feel the weight of failure and condemnation, push it aside and be released as you walk in this powerful truth today.

Your accuser has no power over you.

–Pastor Phillip

The King and His Kingdom are coming

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Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”   (Revelation 11:15)

As we look around at our world, we see brokenness and pain.  We see evil and injustice.  We see suffering and sin.

But all these things will soon pass away.

We live in “the time between the times,” when the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but not consummated.  The kingdom of this world, of darkness and death, that kingdom is still very much alive and strong… but not forever.

The deepest hope of God’s people is not that somehow humanity will all finally wake up and be nice to each other, but that someday soon Jesus will come and complete His Kingdom on earth.

We look to a day that is not yet here, but is nevertheless certain to arrive.  We look to a coming reality that is sure to happen because it has been promised by the only One who has never, ever broken a promise.

So, no matter how strong the darkness may appear, take heart!  No matter how bad the world seems to get, stand strong!  If you’re in Christ, then you can live boldly and confidently today because of this hope-inspiring truth.

The King and His Kingdom are coming.

–Pastor Phillip

Some things are not for us to know

And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”   (Revelation 10:4)

We could speculate as to what the seven thunders said, but it would be fruitless, because some things are not for us to know.

We could theorize as to why God would reveal so much to us through John yet hold this knowledge back, but it would be pointless, because some things are not for us to know.

We could worry about what we missed and wish we had more answers, but such worry is really worthless, because some things are not for us to know.

What we can do—what we must do—is cultivate the heart and art of humble trust in our heavenly Father.  When we train our hearts to rest in the reality that in Christ, God loves us deeply and will look out for us eternally, we position ourselves for peace.

Why is this so important?  Because life is so complex, and our capacity to understand is so limited.  Yet, when we learn to let go of our constant demand for complete explanations, we will be able to truly rest in the goodness of God and the reality of this truth.

Some things are not for us to know.

–Pastor Phillip

God will keep His people from true harm

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Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.  They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  (Revelation 9:3-4)

As the world receives an end-times judgment of demonic attack, God gives the order that the only ones who may be harmed are those who are not His children.  So, what happens to those who are His children?

They are protected from the judgment.

Times and seasons of pain are inevitable for all of us, saints and sinners alike.  However, there is a crucial difference between the two.  For sinners, those who haven’t come to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness, their pain is harmful, serving as punishment for their sins in the end.  Yes, often God allows pain to wake us up to our need for salvation, but for those who don’t respond, pain in this life is a reminder that all that awaits them is eternal harm.

Believers, on the other hand, have a much different lot.  Pain in this life is our Refiner’s fire, cleansing and purifying us and drawing us closer to Him.  Not only that, but because a heavenly eternity with Jesus awaits us, we can have hope because we know it will get better.

How can we know this?  Because again and again in Scripture, we see this truth.

God will keep His people from true harm.

–Pastor Phillip