12/20/18 “Overcoming the Obstacles We Face” (Daily Bible Reading: Revelation 1-3)

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until 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. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:10-11).

As Christians we are told we are going to have trials in this life. In fact, we are told to count it all joy when we face various trials (James 1:2-4). However, do you ever get tired of the trials you face in this life? Do you find yourself getting weary of having to overcome the various obstacles before you?

Jesus understands that it is tempting for us to become weary of having to overcome the various challenges before us as Christians (cf. Hebrews 4:15). As the opening passage above indicates, Jesus understood the trials the church at Smyrna faced and was encouraging them to “overcome” (Revelations 2:8, 10-11). While the book of Revelation can be a challenging book to understand, its core message is not. The main message of the book is that blessings await those who “overcome”!

The apostle John was told by Jesus to write the things which Jesus revealed to him and send it to the seven churches in the province of Asia (Revelation 1:11). Each of these churches had obstacles to overcome. Some, such as the church at Smyrna and Philadelphia were struggling with persecutions from the outside (cf. Revelation 2:9-10; 3:8-9). Others, such as the church at Pergamos and Thyatira, were struggling with needing to combat false teaching which had infiltrated the church (Revelation 2:14-16; 2:20-23). Then again, there were others, such as the church at Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea, that were struggling with inward conflicts such as losing their love for Christ, becoming lukewarm in their service to Christ, and even becoming spiritually dead (cf. Revelation 2:4; 3:15-17; 2:1-2). The apostle John himself had his own challenges to face as he had been arrested and placed on the island of Patmos for holding to the Word of God (Revelation 1:9). Just as every Christian in those churches faced challenges, so we too face obstacles which we need to overcome.

However, not only does Jesus tell these Christians that have obstacles to overcome and that many of them need to repent of sins which they have committed (cf. Revelation 2:5, 16, 22; 3:3, 19), but He encourages all of them that great blessings await those who overcome. He says, “To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life…” (Revelation 2:7). Jesus adds, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11). Again, He states, “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat…” (Revelation 2:17). Moreover, Jesus notes, “And he who overcomes, and keeps My words until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). Then, he adds, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5). Again, Jesus states, “He who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God…” (Revelation 3:12). Finally, he says, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).

It is tempting to become weary as we daily face trials. However, I rejoice that as I go through these trials, Jesus encourages me by promising me great blessings if I will overcome. Today, whether the obstacles I face come from the outside or from within my own self, I will strive to overcome!

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).