Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10
Acts through Revelation focuses on the Church. Acts documents the spread of the Church, and the epistles document the maturing of the Church. The Church is mentioned nineteen times in Revelation 1–3 but not at all in chapters 4–22. Why the omission in those chapters?
Beginning in Revelation 4, the book deals with what happens on earth during the seven-year Great Tribulation. And the fact that the Church is not mentioned is a strong indicator that the Church is not present during that period of trouble on earth. In other words, the Church has been raptured (removed) from earth and the effects of the terrible testing of those seven years. That is why Christ told the church in Philadelphia that He was going to keep them from “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).
If you belong to Christ, you will be either raised or raptured before the beginning of that season of testing (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Yet another reason to praise our God for His protection!
A sovereign Protector I have, unseen, yet forever at hand.Augustus M. Toplady
The Lord’s Word to His Church: Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7–13)
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29
In the spring of 2021, several storm-chasers recorded videos and took photos of a rainbow next to a tornado in Texas. In one video, long stalks of wheat in a field bent under the power of the whirling winds. A brilliant rainbow cut across the gray skyline and arched toward the twister. Bystanders in another video stood on the side of the road and watched the symbol of hope standing firm beside the twisting funnel-shaped cloud.
In Psalm 107, the psalmist offers hope and encourages us to turn to God during difficult times. He describes some who were in the middle of a storm, “at their wits’ end” (v. 27). “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28).
God understands His children will sometimes struggle to feel hopeful when life feels like a storm. We need reminders of His faithfulness, especially when the horizon looks dark and tumultuous.
Whether our storms come as substantial obstacles in our lives, as emotional turmoil, or as mental stress, God can still our storms “to a whisper” and guide us to a place of refuge (vv. 29–30). Though we may not experience relief in our preferred way or time, we can trust God to keep the promises He’s given in Scripture. His enduring hope will cut through any storm.
Have you ever wondered why a God of love lets bad things happen to you? Or whether your past keeps Him from loving you? But just because you may feel unloved doesn’t mean that you actually are. The apostle Paul could probably relate. In today’s reading we see that he encountered hardship after hardship while following God. And his past was so checkered with sin (Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:1-2) that he could have assumed he had good reason to feel unloved.
Yet Paul kept spreading his message of hope—that God loves us and sent His Son to die for our sins. The situation we find ourselves in may be unfair, painful, or humiliating, but it doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us. Sometimes we face difficulty because He is smoothing our rough edges and molding us into His image. Other trials are instigated by Satan but are allowed through the Lord’s permissive will.
Either way, God is working everything out for our good, according to His specific purposes for each believer’s life (Romans 8:28). The key to accepting the truth of God’s unconditional love is to focus attention on Him rather than on your circumstances. When you are learning of Him, talking with Him, and sharing your life with Him, trust and faith will replace doubt and fear
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
As Paul came to the end of his earthly life, he took great pains to encourage his disciple to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1) and to guard and pass on the precious teachings that Paul had taught him.
Paul compared Timothy’s life in the ministry of the gospel to the life of a soldier. The Greek word translated “endure hardness” is used twice more by Paul, each in this book. “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions [same word], do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Paul holds himself up as an example of such endurance when he claims: “I suffer trouble [same word], as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:9).
As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we are to avoid entangling ourselves with something that will hinder our effectiveness. The word “entangled” means “entwined,” or “involved with.” The soldier must be able to draw his weapon freely and use it effectively, and cannot do so if something is clutching onto him, binding his arms and legs.
Our text follows the well-known admonition “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2). The goal of a soldier is to please his leader. So must be our goal in the warfare at hand, preserving and passing on the truth. As Christians, we have been chosen to be in the army of the General who Himself died to assure our ultimate victory. He deserves our total devotion. JDM
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. —1 John 2:1
In a very real sense, faith is fixing our eyes on Jesus, keeping Jesus in full view regardless of what others may be doing all around us. This is excellent counsel, because as human beings we know we are not sufficient in ourselves. It is in our nature to look out—to look beyond ourselves for help. This world is big and deadly, and we are too weak and not wise enough to deal with it!
It is also a human trait to look beyond ourselves for assurance. We hope to find someone worthy of trust. We want someone who has made good, someone who has done what we would like to do.
The Hebrews writer points us to the perfect One, our eternal High Priest, seated now at the right hand of God. He is Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. He has endured the cross and is now the eternal Victor and our Advocate in heaven. JAF077
He who fought [the] battle once, comes still to fight it in our hearts. He who believed for Himself now believes in us, and sustains in us the spirit of trust and victory. CTBC, Vol. 3/194
There are many things in life that at first glance appear to have no point. Fear is one such thing; doubt is another. I have heard it argued that all fear is of the Devil and can serve no useful purpose in human life—but this is not true. Fear of being burned, for example, helps us avoid coming in contact with hot metals. Fear can have a positive purpose—and so can doubt.
Doubt, for one, can be used to help us detect error. We live in a world of which Satan is temporarily “prince,” and he tries his utmost to get us to believe his lies. Jesus was not merely being poetic when He described Satan as the “father of liars.” Half-truths and half-lies that masquerade as the whole truth are the Devil’s stock-in-trade. So because all things are not true, not everything should be believed. Some things clearly ought to be doubted.
One writer says: “The inescapable presence of doubt is a constant reminder of our responsibility to truth in a twilight world of truth and half-truth.” It acts like a spur to challenge us to find out the truth about a situation. It is precisely because all is not certain that we have to make certain.
Francis Bacon put it like this: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” Doubt can act as a sparring partner both to truth and error; it keeps faith trim and assists us in shedding the weight of false ideas.
Gracious and loving Father, thank You for reminding me yet again that I can take anything that comes and use it to positive ends—even doubt. Help me to use my doubts as a sparring partner to keep my faith trim. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
The Israelites of Jeremiah’s day believed they could trust in their army, the diplomacy of their king, and their foreign alliances to protect them from the powerful Babylonian empire. They gave lip service to their trust in God, but their actions showed where their faith really was: in their military and financial might. God spoke through Jeremiah to warn them that He would not bless those who trusted in anyone or anything instead of Him.
Placing your ultimate trust in anything other than God is idolatry. How can you know if your faith is not truly in God? Ask yourself these questions: Where do I turn when I experience a crisis? When I am hurting or afraid, to whom do I go? When I have a financial problem, whom do I want to tell first? Where do I seek comfort when I am under stress or discouraged?
Could it be that you are saying you trust in God but your actions indicate otherwise? God often uses other people as His method of providing for you. Be careful lest you inadvertently misdirect your faith toward His provision instead of toward the Provider. God may meet your need through your friends, but ultimately your trust must be in God.
The Israelites were so stubbornly committed to trusting in human strength instead of God that, even as the Babylonian army approached Jerusalem, they continued to desperately seek for a person, or a nation, or an army that could rescue them. They realized too late that they had neglected to trust in the only One who could deliver them.
Don’t make the same mistake as the Israelites. Go straight to the Lord when you have a need. He is the only One who can provide for you.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
When King David’s armies were victorious, a messenger was sent to bring the good news of victory to the king (2 Samuel 18:26). This was common practice in the ancient Near East—a messenger bringing good news. The prophet Isaiah foresaw just a messenger coming to announce the return of God’s people from exile in Babylon (Isaiah 52:7). And the apostle Paul picked up this image when he described the spiritual armor of the believer: feet ready to bring and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.
Which do we consider more “beautiful”—the messenger who brings good news or the one who brings bad news? Even when bad news is truth, we would much rather see arriving a messenger who we believe is bearing good news and glad tidings. So it is with the one who brings the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). What a blessing he or she is! What a blessing such news is!
Every Christian can be a bearer of Good News in a world that so desperately needs it.
The longing of my heart is to make known my glorious Redeemer to those who have never heard.William Burns
God . . . reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18
Tucked into a remote gorge in western Slovenia, a secret medical facility (Franja Partisan Hospital) housed an extensive staff that tended to thousands of wounded soldiers during World War II—all the while staying hidden from the Nazis. Though avoiding detection from numerous Nazi attempts to locate the facility is in itself a remarkable feat, even more remarkable is that the hospital (founded and run by the Slovenia resistance movement) cared for soldiers from both the Allied and Axis armies. The hospital welcomed everyone.
Scripture calls us to help the whole world to be spiritually healed. This means we need to have compassion for all—regardless of their views. Everyone, no matter their ideology, deserves Christ’s love and kindness. Paul insists that Jesus’ all-embracing love “compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:14). All of us suffer the sickness of sin. All of us are in desperate need of the healing of Jesus’ forgiveness. And He’s moved toward all of us in order to heal us.
Then, in a surprising move, God entrusted us with “the message of reconciliation” (v. 19). God invites us to tend to wounded and broken people (like us). We participate in healing work where the sick are made healthy through union with Him. And this reconciliation, this healing, is for all who will receive it.
God’s love for us never ends, but we must open our hearts to receive it.
God is love. It is His very nature to care for His creation unconditionally. This means that no matter what we do, the Lord will not stop loving us. After reading that sentence, many people are going to think of a dozen reasons why they are an exception. So let me make this clear: God loves each of us, and the only thing preventing us from experiencing that love is our own hesitation to accept it.
The truth is, none of us deserve the Lord’s love, and yet He freely gives it anyway. Some people intellectually believe every word of the Bible but still feel unloved because they judge themselves unworthy. Their doubt acts like a dam, keeping the flow of God’s care from their heart—and the barrier will hold as long as the person believes divine love must be earned.
Romans 8:32 tells the good news that “God is for us,” and the cross is a stunning example: Jesus died so we could be purified and enter into a relationship with the Father. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice is itself proof of God’s love, but there are many other expressions of it, including a unique purpose and plan for each of His children. And through His sovereign control, He works every situation—whether good or bad in itself—to our benefit. Won’t you ask the Lord to reveal and help you clear away anything that might be blocking the flow of His relentless love?