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Richer Than You Think

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2021 8:00 am

Richer Than You Think

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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May 14, 2021 8:00 am

An examination of the message God gave John for the church at Smyrna. (Included in the 7-part series You’ve Got Mail.)

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I rose to tell somebody that God is particularly familiar with what you're going through. See, we don't serve a God who lives way out there and who just kind of has a large pan out view of the world. We don't serve a disinterested, removed, impersonal God. But in Christ, God became very, very close to you and to me.

Think of the worst things you could ever go through. Poverty, betrayal, torture, death. And remember, Jesus endured them all. Hello and welcome to Destined for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Today we continue working our way through the letters to the seven New Testament churches as recorded in the Book of Revelation. Pastor Paul spoke earlier this week about the church at Ephesus, whose members had begun taking the grace of God far beyond biblical proportions. Today we move ahead to God's letter to the church at Smyrna. You'll be encouraged as you discover that God not only knows what you're going through, He's been through it Himself. Stay right there or visit to listen on demand anytime. That's You can also listen through Alexa.

Try it out by saying Alexa opened Destined for Victory. Now, let's join Pastor Paul for his message, richer than you think. Second chapter of Revelation, beginning with verse 8. It says this, to the angel of the church in Smyrna, right, these are the words of Him who is the first and the last, who died and came to life again.

I know your afflictions and your poverty, yet you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. As we continue to explore these early verses in Revelation chapter 2, we come now to the letter that John received by divine inspiration from Christ for the church in Smyrna. There were seven churches that God gave messages to, and John was to deliver those messages once he ended this exile on the island of Patmos. He was to return to Asia Minor, Roman Asia, which today is Turkey, and he was to deliver these messages to those churches. But as we've discovered, these weren't just messages to actual existing churches, they're also messages to the church of Jesus Christ down through the ages for all scriptures given by inspiration of God, and all of us are called to benefit from the divine inspiration in these scriptures and in letters such as this. So I want you to look with me at the letter to the church in Smyrna, and notice that it opens with Christ identifying himself in a way very similar to the way he identified himself to John in Revelation chapter 1. He says here, I am the first and the last.

I'm the one who was dead, but I came to life again. Why is Christ wanting this church to know that he is the first and the last, that he was dead, but he is alive again? It's because he wants us to understand and always remember that we are not part of a religion founded by a dead holy man. Christianity at its core is really not religion.

I know in the general sense it fits the definition of a religion, but in a very specific sense, Christianity is not religion because it has to do with relationship with a living savior. Jesus wants you to know you are not simply following the teachings of somebody who used to be alive and who used to teach good things and who gave us a way of living and a philosophy of life. No, we serve a risen savior and he is alive forevermore. Jesus said, I want this church to know that I'm the first and the last, that I predate creation, that I predate history, that I am the one who is, who was, and who is to come. As we said in our study of Revelation chapter one, Jesus has eternal is-ness and he wanted them to know I'm the first, I'm the last, I was dead, but I'm alive again and I'm alive forevermore. That's extremely important because he wants you to know that you serve a savior who was not defeated by death. So you got to understand that if Jesus had stayed in the grave after he was crucified, if he was never raised from the dead, he would not be able to be your living savior, to give you hope, to give you salvation, to give you a future. But the fact that he was raised from the dead by the father means that he was not defeated by those who crucified him. He is now a savior who is utterly victorious. I need you to know you serve a savior who is not a little bit victorious, he is utterly victorious. Jesus triumphed over death, over hell, on the cross he triumphed over Satan and all the powers of evil.

Jesus is utterly victorious and he wants this church and he wants you to know I am the one who is alive forever and I have all power in my hand. See, I need you to make sure that you don't confuse your theology with your Star Wars ideas. Now if you're like me, I love those first Star Wars movies when they first came out for their entertainment value. The first three Star Wars movies were the bomb. When they first came out decades ago, some of you all remember that and I know since then they made some other stuff and I don't think that was that anointed. But the original ones, those original three, y'all remember Star Wars and then the Empire Strikes Back and then Return? Y'all got it, y'all got it.

Those were the bomb and I enjoyed that thoroughly. But you got to enjoy it for entertainment value only. If you make the mistake of mixing that in with your theology, you won't understand who Jesus is. Because see, in Star Wars you had the force and then the force was divided into two dimensions and you have the good side of the force. That's where you had Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker and, you know, Yoda, his little ugly self and all that stuff. But then you had the dark side of the force and that's where you had the Emperor and that's where you had Darth Vader, you know, and what have you. And in Star Wars philosophy you got this epic struggle between good and evil and you're not quite sure if good is going to triumph over evil and all of that.

That's good Star Wars but that's not Bible. You need to know that we are not serving a God who is trying his best to beat the devil and we're trying our best to not let evil win in our lives. You need to know that when Jesus hung on that cross, he said, nobody has taken my life, I'm laying my life down so that I can save you, I can change you, I can redeem you, I can give you life forevermore. And when Jesus was raised three days later, he got up saying, all power is in my hand. The Great Commission was preceded by his words, all power has been given to me in heaven and in earth. Paul said when he wrote the church at Philippi that because Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, wherefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. What that means is that God is utterly victorious.

He didn't just barely beat the devil 99-98. He is utterly victorious. He said, I was dead, but I'm alive and I'm alive forever. I want to let you know you serve a risen, victorious, utterly victorious Savior and you have a right to rejoice in the God of your salvation. So he identifies himself as the first and the last, as the one who was dead but who came to life again. Now, look at verse 9 of Revelation 2. He says to this church in Smyrna and to all of us, I know your afflictions and your poverty.

Paul is right there. He says, I want you to understand that I who am the all powerful one, I'm the one who is utterly victorious and have triumphed over the enemy. He said, I want you to know that I am very much aware of what you're going through. Up next, the second half of today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd. We want to thank all of you whose prayers and financial support helped Pastor Paul share the Gospel all over the world. And right now, as we begin to recover from the challenges of the past year, your support is even more critical today because more people than ever before are looking for answers that only Jesus can give. So as God leads prayerfully, consider making a gift to Destined for Victory. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not unfamiliar with our suffering.

He endured pain that was far greater than most of us will ever have to go through. He not only understands our pain, he sympathizes with us. Here's Pastor Paul with the rest of today's message, Richer Than You Think. I rose to tell somebody that God is particularly familiar with what you're going through. See, we don't serve a God who lives way out there and who just kind of has a large pan out view of the world. We don't serve a disinterested, removed, impersonal God. But in Christ, God became very, very close to you and to me.

The Bible says about Jesus, we don't have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. We serve one who knows, who sees, and who cares about what you're going through. I want to let you know, God is familiar with what's going on in your life. He says to this church in Smyrna, I see you, I see that you're dealing with afflictions and you're having to deal with poverty.

I want somebody listening to this message to know that God is aware of what's happening in your life. He sees what's happening in your personal life. He sees what's happening in your challenges on the job or your need for a job. He sees what's happening in your economics. He sees what's happening as you deal with your relationships with people in your family. He sees what's going on with your kids and your relatives. God knows exactly what's happening in your life right now. He's familiar with what you're going through.

He says, I know your afflictions and your poverty. And God knows what's going on in your life. And that's what poses for many of us a particular problem. Because once we realize that the Lord is very familiar with what we're going through, many of us 21st century Christians say, well now, Lord, since you're aware of what's happening in my life, since you see the madness I'm going through in this season of my life, since you see what the economic downturn is doing to me, since you see what I'm facing in my marriage or dealing with my children or dealing with people I know, since you are aware of where I am, what up with this?

That's where a lot of us are. We might as well be honest. You see, you can't get anywhere with God until you get clean with God. Now, I know there are a lot of people who want to believe I never questioned God. I've met folk who just say, I don't question God.

That's great. If you've arrived at a place in your experience with the Lord where you don't question God, that is wonderful. But I'm here to tell you, if you are a believer who has not yet arrived at that place, you got a whole lot of company. There are a lot of believers who say, Lord, I know you are aware of my situation and for that very reason I want to know why, since you love me, since you care for me, since you see what I'm dealing with, why are you allowing this to happen?

Some of us have been there. You might as well be honest with yourself. Because, you know, I believe that some of the folks who say they've never questioned God, I think what they mean is they never questioned him out loud. But you know what? If you have a why in your heart, the Bible says the Lord sees your heart.

So you might as well go and let the why out your mouth, since the why is down on the inside. And every now and then we say, Lord, since you see, since you are aware of our afflictions, of our challenges, of what we're dealing with, why in the world are you allowing this to happen? I know you love me. I know you care about me. So, Lord, I don't get it.

Why is this going on? I want to let you know that the reason why he says to the church at Smyrna, I know your afflictions and your poverty, and the reason why he says about your life, I know exactly what you're going through, but has not absolutely immediately changed your circumstances, it's because there are more promises in your Bible than the ones you like to grab. We are a generation of believers who love grabbing positive promises. We love it when God promises us provision. But my God shall supply all your needs. We grab that scripture.

Thank you, Jesus. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything you need will be added. We grab that one. You abide in me, my word abides you. Ask what you will and it shall be done. We grab that. Delight yourself in the Lord. He'll give you the desires of your heart. Grab that. So we got a bag full of positive promises that we carry around with us.

Here's the thing. There are more promises in your inspired Bible than the ones you grabbed. And some of them tell you, not only does God promise you provision, not only does God promise you protection, not only does God promise you power, not only does God promise you peace and joy and righteousness, but there are seasons of your life where God promised you that things aren't always gonna go the way you wish they would.

And as every bit of promise as the rest of them, I'm gonna prove it to you. John chapter 16. Now, in the Gospel of John chapters 14 through 16, you who are familiar with your Bibles, you know that Jesus is speaking in that section of scripture and he is preparing his disciples for the fact that he is not gonna remain on earth. So he's getting them ready for the fact that he's soon gonna be crucified, he's gonna be resurrected, spend 40 more days on earth, then he is gonna send back to heaven. And they will not have him as a living being that they can reach out and touch physically thereafter.

And he's getting them ready. And so you know in John 14, 15, and 16, Jesus gives us some wonderful information. He tells us in John 14 one, let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, there you may be also.

And all of that, we love that. Oh, thank God Jesus is away preparing a place for us. We're gonna spend eternity with him and that's something to rejoice in. Then later on in John 14, he promises us the Holy Spirit. He says, now I'm not gonna leave you by yourself, but I'm gonna send you the comfort of the counselor. He will abide with you forever.

We grab that. Thank you, Lord, that the Holy Spirit is gonna walk with me through this life and that he's gonna give me power and he is gonna help me develop spiritual fruit and character. And all of that, we rejoice in that. In John 15, he begins to teach us spiritual truths from an agricultural mindset. He says, I'm the vine, you're the branches. The Father God is the gardener. And he says, every branch in me that bears fruit, he prunes it that it might bear more fruit and all that stuff.

We love that. And that's the scripture in which you'll find if you abide in me as a branch and I, my words abide in you, you'll ask what you will. So we love John 14, we love John 15. Then in John 16, he starts talking about what the Holy Spirit will do in our lives and he's gonna teach us about righteousness and about judgment and all of that stuff. And then he gets down to verse 33. And he says, now I've been telling you all of this so that you can have peace. And we say, oh God, thank you, I want peace. Then he tells you why you're gonna need peace. John 16, 33, in this world, you shall, that's the language of promise, have tribulation. He says, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Now, that's not a promise many folk put in their bag, but it's a promise just like the other ones. He said, in this world, because of where you live, you live in a fallen world, you live among fallen people, even creation itself, the Bible says, is groaning for redemption when God is gonna finally straighten everything out. But in the meantime, we live in a fallen world, we live among fallen people, we are battling against a fallen enemy, Satan himself. And he says, in this world, you are gonna have tribulation.

What does that mean? You're walking ever so close with God, you're enjoying the salvation of God and the presence of God, but in the midst of all that, they are gonna be seasons and times when you go through tribulation. It was promised right in your Bible. Just cause you didn't claim that promise doesn't mean the promise doesn't come to pass in your life.

See, some promises you claim, other promises claim you. And that promise claims you, that in this world, you're gonna have tribulation. Now, I hear some of you, well, what's tribulation in the Greek? So you're wanting to get out of what you're going through. So you're hoping the Greek will bail you out. What does tribulation mean in the original Greek language? All right, you want the Greek, let me give you the Greek. In this world, you're gonna be jacked up sometime. There's your Greek.

Knock yourself out, there you go. Times change, seasons change, circumstances change. We've certainly learned that during the past year. But in the midst of life's chaos and uncertainty, God remains the same. He's endured what you've endured.

He suffered what you have suffered. And through it all, He is steady, the solid rock upon which the foundation of your life can be safely built. Thanks so much for being here for today's message, Richer Than You Think. It's been another great week on Destined for Victory, and we're so glad you were a part of it. Before we say so long for the weekend, though, I want to thank you on behalf of Pastor Paul Shepherd and the entire ministry team for all you do to make the Destined for Victory ministry possible. As a listener supportive ministry, we're counting on your continued prayers and financial support because so many people out there need the saving grace that only Jesus Christ can give. Your donations do make a difference, so please consider making a special gift today to help us share the truth of God's word with a growing audience. For your generous gift this month, we have a gift of our own to share with you, Pastor Paul's booklet Traits of a Virtuous Woman. Based on Proverbs 31, this booklet dives into some of the ways that godly women can have a profound impact in the lives of her family and those around her. Women will find biblical instruction on what a godly woman looks like. And others will be strongly encouraged to honor those women who have sown seeds of wisdom and grace into their lives. That's Traits of a Virtuous Woman, a booklet from Pastor Paul and our gift to you today by request for your generous gift to Destined for Victory. Call us at 855-339-5500 to give over the phone or visit to make a safe and secure donation online.

You can also mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538. I want to let somebody know I came to tell somebody do not let your circumstances define who you are. Just because you're going through what you're going through, do not start calling yourself what you're going through. That's next time in Pastor Paul's message, Richer Than You Think. Until then remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 21:18:37 / 2023-11-18 21:27:16 / 9

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