In my last post, we looked at the caution of not being afraid or deceived. In this post we will examine not being afraid when we suffer and holding on to what God has given us.
Cautions ~ Part D
6. Don’t Be Afraid When You Suffer
“Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown.” (Revelation 2:10)
Yeshua knew what His people were about to face. They would encounter suffering that would challenge their faith. Some would be thrown into prison, and many would die. This was a daunting truth for Believers to have to face, but their confidence and trust were in their Lord.
Facing suffering without fear is no easy task unless you already happen to know the outcome. If you understand that suffering is the only way to achieve success and victory, then it can be well worth the pain. Yeshua was able to endure the cross because He knew victory was coming three days later. The cost was worth providing reconciliation between a lost humanity and His Father in heaven.But if the suffering is pointless and there is no greater good to be achieved, then there is good reason to fear. Had Yeshua not had any guarantee of being raised from the dead and being seated at the right hand of His Father; or, if Yeshua did not know His death had any purpose, there would have been no reason for Him to endure such suffering.
Yeshua offers a crown of life for those who pay the ultimate price for their faithfulness. But we can be confident in knowing any suffering we endure is temporary. We also know that Yeshua is fully able to understand our suffering as He also endured the ultimate suffering on the cross. He will walk with us in the midst of our suffering and bring glory to Himself in the end as we remain faithful.
Application: Facing suffering requires dependency on our Lord. It brings necessary growth and depth in our relationship with Him, and it forces us to put our priorities in proper order, causing us to use our time and resources with great care. Suffering is not caused by God, but He allows it and uses it to mold and shape us into vessels that are increasingly more valuable and usable by Him. In the midst of suffering, keep your eyes on the Yeshua so that when you come through it your faith will shine. You can have victory even in the midst of pain and trials knowing you are in the hands of God. God may use your suffering to help others who are also enduring suffering in their lives.
7. Strengthen What’s Left, Hold on to What You Have
“Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you” (Revelation 3:2-3)
“I am coming soon; hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” (Revelation 3:11)
Whether they knew it or not, the kehilah in Sardis was in trouble. They had been neglecting what they had been taught and were living in disobedience to God and needed to repent. Yeshua warns them to stop everything and strengthen what was left or it would be too late. Their priorities had shifted, their focus was off, and they were heading down a dangerous path. Yeshua told them there was still time to save themselves from certain destruction, but the choice was theirs.
The kehilah in Philadelphia seems to have fared better but was in danger of losing what they currently had and losing their reward for their faithfulness. The warning here is to be careful not to let others distract us from our purpose, or steal our treasure, or take from us what is most precious. The kehilah was on the right track but was vulnerable to their enemies. They were to put extra measures in place to protect and guard what they had in their possession, ensuring that no one could take it away from them.
The kehilah in Sardis was facing the result of their own neglect and distraction, whereas the kehilah in Philadelphia was facing potential outside attacks. Yeshua gave each kehilah a warning to protect what they had, nurture it, guard it, and keep their original fervor so that they would not be in danger of dying out.
Application: What would you say is most important in the life of your kehilah? What would alter the character and direction of your kehilah if it were taken away (fellowship, doctrine, ministry, leadership, etc.)? Be careful not to neglect the fundamentals: the two greatest commandments, modeling 1 Corinthians 13, authentic worship, in-depth Bible study and prayer, meaningful ministry to others, and faithful service to God. If you neglect the basics, you are in jeopardy of losing your focus, getting sidetracked on secondary issues, following after fads and gimmicks, and becoming ineffective and unusable to your Lord. Not only should you protect and hold on to what you have, but you must strengthen it so there is no chance of losing it and being rebuked by your Lord. If you are not currently involved in service within your kehilah then get involved. We are all called to serve.
Remember always the words of Yeshua: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (Yochanan 14:15)
In my next post, we will continue our mini-series on the character traits that Yeshua expects us to possess concerning cautionary insights by exploring His commands to beware of false prophets and not to worry about our life.