Summary: This message is a message of encouragment and challenge to the family of God.
A Message to the Messengers
* Every time you look into, linger over, and listen to God’s word, you will discover something new & fresh.
* In reading verse 9, you can sense the loneliness of the Apostle John who finds himself on an island, quite likely, in solitude. Have you ever felt lonely, cutoff, deserted, & vulnerable? Quite honestly, he probably felt mistreated as the believers had now suffered many years at the hands of the Roman leader. No doubt his thoughts were with the congregation which he pastured. He knew that some of them were so discouraged that they were losing heart & wanting to quit.
* In spite of it all, John was staying focused on the Lord, maintaining his personal devotion & commitment. Even on the island he was, obviously, seeking God’s hand. This may be a personal lesson for us. Wherever we are (I.E. home, work, vacation, jail, etc) that we continue to seek God’s face, see His hand, and trust His heart.
* In writing this letter, John had already sought to encourage his discouraged brothers by reminding ‘us’ of several things;
* First, be reminded of the blessings which come from reading, studying, and keeping the written word.
* Next, be reminded of who it is that we serve.
* Finally, be reminded that, one day, He’s coming back!
* Now, John says, “It was on our day of worship (The Lord’s Day) that I was fully filled with the Spirit of God, here’s what I heard, and this is what I was told to do about it.” (Next week, we’ll look at what he saw.)
* Let us keep in mind that John was now an elder statesman in the early church. Think about the fact that John walked with Jesus around 30AD and now it is some 60 years later, yet his heart still pumped with life for the Lord he had walked with. History tells us that he pastored an urban church in the Roman Empire & now he found himself isolated.
* It is what John was told to do and why he was told to do it that should interest us!! Contained in these three verses is a message which COULD change the face of the church in America, Alabama, & Hueytown. Four words surface which can change US. It’s not a matter of understanding & comprehending, it is a matter of embracing & doing.
1. Connections – To read verse 9 is to see John felt connected to his fellow believers. Do you remember the church of years past?
* Everyone was “brother” and “sister” and this was not a ‘cultic’ tag, it was identification because believers are brothers & sisters. This was not just reserved for leaders & elders but was meant for everyone. We are in the same family, born of the same Father (our Heavenly Father), and are ‘blood relatives’ (the Blood of Jesus.) John is saying, “It doesn’t matter how bad the persecution gets, we are all in this together. This is the first message to all the messengers. We are not only brothers; we are partners (companions) or co-participants. Like it or not, those who are a part of God’s family are interconnected.
* John knew that in this family, what happens to one affects all. A chain is never stronger than its weakest link. When one hurts, we all hurt. When one church suffers, all churches suffer. For the tighter focus, when one believer talks bad about another one or a church the entire body reaps the consequences. This is why Paul wrote to Titus, “Reject the divisive person and after the first & second warning, have nothing more to do with him.” Why is such a stark word given about this? Because of its effect. On April 27 when the tornado came through we lost our electricity. There was nothing wrong with the lines around our as only light winds has come our way. It was miles away where the transmission lines knocked down that caused the power to be taken from our place. In the same way, we are connected each to the other. When one hurts, we all hurt. We are connected. Not only are we connected, but we have
2. Commonality – What exactly do we have in common? Read the text. John begins with “Tribulation” (HCSB). KJV translates this word as sufferings. The Greek word means “pressed together, pressed in,” or better said, “pressure.” For those who are attempting to live out the teachings of Jesus & share the gospel with the lost world, one of the commonalities that we share is the ‘sufferings’. Christ suffered for His desire to change this world, this culture, and people; and so will we. These sufferings are not isolated, but are common among God’s redeemed. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to “Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.” Candidly, all who follow Him experience the same kind of sufferings. If you’re not under pressure of some kind because of your faith, it may say something about your life. The old country song said, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” Look at 1 Peter 4:12-14. Living out your faith will bring a “fiery ordeal” to you. Admittedly, Peter was speaking from ‘outside of the fellowship’, but Jude makes it clear that, in the last days, sufferings will comes from places which surprise the committed. Make no mistake, sufferings will come to those who trust & follow Christ.