Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 9 of “Fan or Follower – Be Faithful!” (LISTEN HERE).
Revelation 2:10 Do 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 life as your victor’s crown.
Faithfulness is easy when it’s not tested.
It’s easy to be faithful to your company when you have no other offers or incentives to leave your company for another.
It’s easy to be faithful when your marriage is going well and there are no challenges to your relationship.
It’s easy to be faithful to the Lord when life is stress and problem free.
But when challenges come, faithfulness is challenged.
Even when the challenges have little to do with our faith, we are tempted to blame God, create a story that God hates us or abandoned us and as a result, we are more willing to walk away from God, thinking he is the cause of all our problems.
When challenges ARE directly related to our faith in Jesus? How will we react then?
The Revelation that God gave to the Apostle John gives a vivid picture of days to come when the challenges to those who are Christians will increase. What will that be like?
I’m not sure. For those reading this in the United States, our faith has been relatively untested in modern times. Sure we may face challenges at work when we stand for Biblical values and world view. Those in public office may be voted out for their godly perspective on marriage and life in the womb. However, to my knowledge, facing death for our faith is not something we live with every day.
But here’s the truth that God gives to John and through him to us.
Satan is at work to challenge and test our faith. Satan would love if every believer in Christ would step away from their faith and leave their relationship with Jesus. The way he works? He seeks to bring persecution, hardship and even the threat of life itself to us in the hopes that we will think it is better and easier to step away from our faith instead of enduring the physical and emotional hardship, yet still remain faithful to the Lord.
Periodically I read a website called “Voice of the Martyrs” (https://www.persecution.com/). The stories of individuals imprisoned or threatened with their life are inspiring. These are current stories, not from the 1st century Roman persecution. Yet, the Christians persecuted around the world remain faithful to their Savior. While I pray that this type of persecution never comes to our country, I pray more that I will be able to remain faithful to the point of giving up my life instead of giving up my Savior.
For many of us, we made this promise on our confirmation day to “endure all things, even death itself, rather than give up the faith” we were professing. May God give us strength to uphold this promise all the days of our lives.
The victor’s crown! This isn’t just a token, “Thanks for playing” reward. It is a reward of grace, earned by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and given to us as a gift of love. It is a motivation to endure all things, even death. We don’t want to lose the crown of life! It is a reminder when Satan deceives us to think that denying Christ is better than walking with Christ. There is no greater blessing or greater reward than spending forever in the joys of heaven.
Persecution, hardship is temporary. Heaven is eternal.
Apply: What challenges to your faith are happening now? How does refocusing on Jesus’ promise help to endure all and stay faithful?
Prayer: Lord, keep us faithful to the point of death and in your grace give us the crown of life! AMEN.