“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Life may seem like a daily struggle that begins with our own inner turmoil. We are in a great cosmic battle between the Almighty God and the forces of evil. It troubles our spirits, even when we can’t define it. There is a consciousness that we live in a broken world that is slightly off the mark. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse into the final epilogue, when Christ, who has been victorious over sin and death, proclaims the victory won at Calvary. This is our ultimate peace.
Revelation to the Seven Churches (Rev. 3, 4)
To Church at Ephesus – 7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
To the Church at Smyrna –The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
To the Church at Pergamum – To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
To the Church at Thyatira – 26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’[b]—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.
To the Church at Sardis – You have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
To the Church at Philadelphia – 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
To the Church at Laodecia – Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
I John 4:4
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
As a college student I had the habit of volunteering to help in the church with Sunday School or girl’s clubs or choir, and then dropping out when exams and homework overwhelmed me. I even dropped out of my first student teaching placement when the demands of life caught up with me. It took years for me to get over the dread of not following through on my commitments, even when it was inconvenient or required a second effort. I had proven myself to be unreliable and that was a label I worked hard to shake.
In our walk with the Lord, we can easily become discouraged and give up. Jesus spoke of that tendency in the parable of the sower when he compared the faith of some to “seeds planted in shallow soil.” The harvest goes to those who overcome. The seven churches in the first century were criticized for falling short of the goal. The Ephesians had “forsaken their first love”; the Smyrnians were facing persecution; Pergamum embraced false heresies and immoral practices from their culture; Thyatira tolerated sexual immortality; In Sardis their faith was dying; Philadelphia was facing coming trials, and Laodicea was lukewarm about the faith. John encourages them to persevere to the end: “Whoever has ears, let them hear”. . . the reward is peace with God both now and in the age to come. To those who overcome, there is peace.
“Lord, we are so easily discouraged. The enemy attacks us at our weakest point and we abandon our first love, embrace the norms of our culture, and walk away from our commitments to serve you to the end. We are weak, and without your power and love, we will not make it across the finish line. Give us a love for our neighbor so that we pray for them and encourage them to persist in the faith. May others be there to do the same for us.” Amen