Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 2: Conquer

"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death; and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'"
Revelation 2:8-11


Paul nodded at Philip, and laughed at his joke. He and the dear friends who refused to leave his side were staying at Philip's house. They had been here about a week so far, visiting, learning, and strengthening each other in God. Even Philip's four daughters had been a blessing with all their prophesying and revelations.

Paul noticed a man entering the main room where they were gathered. The man looked unsettled, but determined. He assumed the man was Philip's friend, but something about him seemed to scream urgency.

Philip touched his arm, drawing his attention back to him. "What's the matter, Paul?"

Paul inclined his head towards the man, who was scouting the room, looking for someone. "Do you know that man?"

Philip frowned, and rubbed his chin in thought. "No. I've never seen him before."

"He looks like he has a message."

"Indeed." Philip said nodding. "I'll go talk to him."

He watched Philip go over and greet the man. The two talked for only a moment before Philip led him over to Paul.

Paul stood up from his chair at the table. "Hello, brother." Paul smiled warmly. By now, the others had noticed the man. They motioned to each other and pointed, vainly trying to carry on their conversations when they were really only concerned with trying to see what was happening.

The man smiled slightly, but it was grim. "Hello, brother. My name is Agabus. I am a prophet, and our Lord has given me a message."

"Then speak it, friend. We will listen." Paul nodded at him to continue. Now, everyone was gathered around them, all waiting to hear the message.

Without further prompting, Agabus stepped forward, and yanked Paul's belt free. Then he sat on the floor, and crudely tied his feet and left hand together. Once he was finished with the knot, he slipped his right hand into the bundle.

Everyone was quite, waiting for the Lord's words to come, and Agabus spoke boldly into the silent room. "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"

Paul met Agabus' eyes and nodded. He knew this. He was ready and prepared to die for His Lord Jesus.

"Paul, don't go to Jerusalem."

"You heard him. It's a death sentence!"

"The churches need you! Travel to them. You'll be safe there."

However, it appeared the others were not prepared for this.

"Listen to them," Philip pleaded, his hand firm on Paul's shoulder

Paul felt the hand of grief coil around his heart and gut, and squeeze with all his might. His eyes blurred with tears. His dear friends! They were the family God had given him! "What are you doing? Stop weeping and crying for me to stay. It's breaking my heart." Tears escaped his eyes, but not because he was afraid to die. "I am ready to be imprisoned in the name of the Lord Jesus. Why, I am even ready to die for him! I must go, and be faithful."

Based on Acts 21:8-13

Imagine yourselves back in church. Then next part of the message is being read. All that is going through your mind is, "Trial? Tribulation? Faithful unto DEATH?" You're hoping and praying that it's not you who will have to deal with such a fate! Your heart is racing, pounding, and the sick feeling in your stomach confirms that this is really happening. What do you do now?

Unfortunately, we all know people who, when faced with trial and tribulation, turned from Jesus and ran in the opposite direction. There have been times we might have been those people. Maybe we still are.

Paul was in that situation, but instead of running to a church or somewhere to hide out, he went to Jerusalem, and eventually all the way to Rome. Paul was faithful unto death. He was ready to face those trials.

Could we stand in Paul's shoes, and do the same thing?

Not all of us will face those intense moments of witness. We won't all be crucified, bricked into a wall, or put on trial for loving Jesus. We all face different kinds of trials, tribulations, and temptations. However, we are supposed to be faithful to Jesus unto death. So many people are like the sower's seeds who have no root in Him, and they never make it to the intense moments of witness because they gave up early. They fell away long ago, and weren't faithful.

Will we be faithful unto death? In every and any state of life? Mundane or difficult? Will we conquer this life?

The One who died and came back to life is telling you to conquer this trial, this life, and you will be victorious. The second death will not hold power over you, if you will live and die unto Jesus.

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

V. Joy Palmer

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  1. When we sinful creatures die to ourselves we are only sloughing off the ugliness of sin and are alive in the spirit of God who is love. I don't think we call sin by name enough. I think humans consider it worse than curse words because it speaks to our identity- like we are damned. But we are saved through Jesus. You really made me think. Thank you.

  2. You make a such a great point! Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad this touched you, and helped you look at things differently. God bless you!
    V.Joy Palmer