Summary: Does God REALLY know the problems I am facing and the circumstances I am going through?
Iliff & Saltillo UM
May 16, 2004
“Glimpses into Revelation--God Knows Your Circumstances”
INTRODUCTION: A couple of weeks ago we talked about the first chapter of Revelation in which John was given a very unusual vision, and he was to relay the message in this vision to the seven churches of Asia Minor. It was a message intended to STRENGTHEN the first century Christians and to ENCOURAGE them not to give up in the face of persecution and trouble but to BE OVERCOMERS. Although there were more than 7 churches, the number 7 means COMPLETE or TOTAL and the letters were representative of all churches then and now. Some of the things they are going through then in the early church are similar to what we are still going through in the 21st century and in our lives.
Sometimes we say, “Nobody is going through what I’m going through. God must not even be aware of what’s going on in my life.” Today’s messages from Revelation assures us, “Yes, God does know your circumstance, He cares, and He brings a message of hope to you--hang on, don’t give up. Be an overcomer.”
Today I want to look at three of the 7 churches--Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum--and see what is going on with them. And then we want to see how these letters apply to us today.
1. A Personal Message--Not just a general forward or a form letter.
ILLUSTRATION: Wouldn’t you rather get a letter written to you, not just a forward or form letter? E.mail--get a lot of forwards and junk mail.
Although the format of the letter was the same, there was a PERSONALIZED message to each of the churches. There were DISTINCTIVE things about each church as well as COMMON features. The things they had in common:
1. The author--a special word from Jesus through John
2. The Sufficiency of the Lord to meet their individual needs
3. the Omnicience of Christ--I know your works and deeds--his searching eyes like a flame of fire penetrating--yet there is comfort and hope for us because there is no problem or circumstance we face that he is not aware of.
4. In each of the churches there is a relationship between the problems they faced and the environment they lived in. These conditions presented different set of problems for each church. They needed a letter that was addressed especially to them.
In these letters:
1. He mentions the name of the church
2. He gives a description of Jesus--some particular characteristic about him from chapter 1 that would be of importance to the church.
3. a commendation or approval and/or
4. A condemnation--I have somewhat against you
5. an admonition and invitation to do something about it--He that hath an ear to hear
6. a promise or assurance--these were all individualized and contained meaning for these individual churches.
Application: What is significant about the fact that a general letter was not just hurriedly sent off to all the churches? I think that it reminds us that the Lord meets us at our individual POINT OF NEED the same as he did those early Christians. Each of you may be needing help in different ways because you are like the people of these 7 churches--going through a different set of circumstances or problems. The Lord is aware of your current circumstances and can bring a message of comfort and hope that will be meaningful to you. The Bible is filled with many promises that we can apply to our individual situations. When we are afraid we can’t take it any longer, he speaks encouragement:
I Corinthians 10:13 says. “...but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able...”
Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Exodus “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”
Phil. 4:19, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
We don’t all hear the same general message in a church service on Sunday morning. The Holy Spirit allows certain things to stand out to us and to minister to our individual needs. You all have specific things to pray about. Individualize your prayers accordingly. Know what the Bible says and how to apply it to your individual situation.
Know how to pray about your own individual needs. Expect the Sunday morning service to meet your needs and speak to you.
I think that this is evident in these letters. They were meant for them personally.
2. They Saw Jesus in the Way that Was Meaningful to Them: Jesus appears to the churches in the way they needed to see him.
a. Ephesus--from Jesus who WALKS around among the lampstands--active in their midst. He doesn’t just stand and OBSERVE. He is ACTIVE. This is important to the church at Ephesus because they were a very ACTIVE church, working themselves about to the point of exhaustion. They would probably have placed a high value on ACTIVITY. In chapter one He STOOD among the lampstands. Here He actively WALKS among the lampstands. He is in these churches.