Overcoming — Times Seven
Overcoming — Times Seven
As one listens to the evening news and hears how immoralities are being touted as a constitutional right, it is easy to see how we are facing mountainous problems we need to overcome. Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, records Jesus speaking — not to the world — but to the seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These seven churches represent us today. (Oooops!)
We face the same problems, so Jesus is warning us to overcome. His words reveal great rewards for us IF we humbly see our problems in the church and overcome them.
1. Jesus tells Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) He knows all about their deeds, toil, perseverance, intolerance in enduring evil men, and how they have not grown weary for His name’s sake. Then comes the big “BUT”. Those people left their first love.
If, in all our church work, we lose our sincere love for Jesus, we lose all. If we want Jesus’ word and love to remain in our hearts, our love for Jesus must be foremost. We must overcome our tendency to become so wrapped up in our daily trials that we forget to love and trust God’s power and begin leaning on our own strength.
2. Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) is to face tribulation, poverty, blasphemy from unbelievers, imprisonment, and possible death. They are instructed to overcome all those trials to gain their crown of life. Their trials sound much greater than ours. What are we willing to face and overcome to gain our crown of life? Do we retreat at the first hint of anyone raising their eyebrows over our faith?
3. The people of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) refused to deny Jesus, even while living in a very evil place. BUT, they were caving in to heathen suggestions to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit immorality. The main force behind trying to get the people to sin this way was the stumbling block of bribery. This could be akin to Christians today treasuring the heathen traditions connected to Halloween, Christmas, Mardi gras, and Easter, along with their claim that they can enjoy the immorality in the media without being spiritually affected. Money is the main force behind these traditions and immoralities.
Jesus tells us we had better listen up and overcome these influences that are stumbling blocks. The reward is only for those who buckle up and overcome.
4. Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) has some great attributes like deeds, love, faith, service and perseverance. But……. they tolerate someone who claims to be spiritual, and yet teaches and misleads Christians to become immoral and eat things sacrificed to idols. These people refuse to repent.
In today’s setting, this could be the influences in the church to accept all religions and organizations as bona fide salvations, even when they do not recognize Jesus as the only LORD, God and Savior. This spiritual influence claims we should not be judgmental of other belief systems. The congregation imagines that they can accept this situation because they are spiritually strong and have “good works”. But, no amount of “good works” will make us acceptable in God’s eyes. We must overcome all worldly influences or face the consequences.
5. Other churches think Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) is alive because of their works, BUT Jesus says they are dead. They have received the gospel — long ago — but now they’ve forgotten what it means to be saved. If God’s saving love becomes meaningless to us, we will not be worthy to walk with Christ in white. We must overcome our deadness to the free salvation we have received.
6. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) knows how to love the brethren and they have kept Jesus’ word of perseverance. They are instructed to really hold tightly onto their faith and love, because they need to overcome those who want to take away their crown. We need to overcome every influence that tries to convince us that God doesn’t love us because we are weak and unimportant.
7. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) has a big head, thinking they’re rich and totally capable of taking care of themselves on their way to heaven. But, Jesus threatens to reject them. If they don’t start totally depending on God for their salvation, they will be lost. Only Jesus can give what we need for salvation. Listen up. Overcome all pride and self-sufficiency.
Each of these seven churches is told to examine their thoughts, attitudes, and faith and to overcome their problems. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says,
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?”
As Christ seeks to work salvation in our hearts, we are warned not to reject His way of salvation. It is the only way. We must stay true to every word in the Bible, not just those that suit our fancy. We examine our weaknesses so we may overcome — times seven — in love for our LORD.
Matthew 19:26, “With God all things are possible.”