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Focused on Jesus – Part 2

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2021 3:00 pm

Focused on Jesus – Part 2

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. Anne's message today is taken from the book of Revelation. So would you focus on him through prophecy? The book of Revelation.

It's thrilling. And we focus on Jesus through praise. The Bible tells us there are principalities and powers in the unseen world. And there are demons. There is the devil. There are evil forces at work and some of them are visible and some of them are invisible.

But it doesn't matter who you bump into or what you bump into or what black hole you go to or what you find under your bed. None is more powerful than Jesus. Ephesians 1 says that God raised him up from the dead. He seated him in authority over everything. Put all things under his feet. He is the Lord of Lords. He's King of Kings. He's in charge of everything. He's the Lord God Almighty.

Omnipotence. So praise him for his deity. He's God. Praise him for his humanity.

He's man. Praise him for his eternity. He's omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent.

Isn't he wonderful? And when we're going through trials, sometimes when we have hard things, sometimes the first thing to disappear is our praise. The very thing that would lift our spirits out of this vortex of problems and suffering and pressures and stress and hurt and pain. The very thing that would lift us out, we tend to lose if we would just lift up our heads, lift up our hearts and praise the Lord.

Like I told you yesterday, put his names of the alphabet. Put the blessings of the alphabet. It's amazing as you begin to praise him. How sometimes those things just fall into perspective.

The problems don't seem so great. The pressure is not so intense. When we praise Jesus for who he is, and as our world gets worse and worse, and I believe we're living in the end times, living right before Jesus comes, and it is a privilege, but it's also a lot of responsibility and it's going to get more and more and more difficult. And he inhabits the praises of his people. Praise him for who he is.

It will just help ease the pressure. So don't let the enemy rob you of your praise. So you stay focused on Jesus through prophecy, through praise, and then thirdly through patient endurance. Verse 9, this is more of John's testimony, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. So John, at the end of his life, at a time when, if you ask me, he should have, think about it, he was a disciple and he shared the things that he had witnessed. He was there at the cross. He was there at the resurrection. He was there at Pentecost. He helped establish the church. He was able to do miracles with Peter and turn the world upside down. And now at the end of his life, you would think he would have buildings named for him and he would have people holding banquets in his honor. And instead, for the word of his testimony, he must have been asked to come speak somewhere and they said, you know, we're a pluralistic society in the Roman Empire and we all have our own gods, so just tone it down a little bit. And one day John just got up and said, Jesus, that I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one will come to the Father except through me. And they slapped him in exile. They put him on Patmos, an island about eight miles long, six miles wide in the Aegean Ocean where he was cut off from everything. We think he's about 90 years of age, so I expect John is suffering, and I know that from my daddy. My daddy lived in 99, but even if he was in good health for somebody who was that age, he was still suffering because his body was just wearing out. And I know John at 90 had to have been suffering just because he was 90.

Old age is not for sissies, my daddy said, you know, and I'm discovering that myself. But John, in tradition, says that he was assigned to manual labor on Patmos. So I don't know what it was, but any manual labor for somebody who's 90 is too much. So John was suffering, and sometimes when we're suffering, you know, if we have our loved ones around us and somebody to bring us a meal and somebody to ask how we're doing and somebody to pray for us, then it helps us with the suffering. But John was not only suffering, he was in solitude. He was on Patmos, he was cut off, cut off from his church, cut off from his friends, cut off from his family, cut off from his ministry, cut off from people who might pray with him or encourage him.

He was in solitude, which I think makes the suffering worse. So what's your Patmos? In what way are you cut off? A chemo bed can be a Patmos. A hospital bed can be a Patmos. A small home with small children can be a Patmos. Being the only follower of Jesus in your family can be a Patmos. The only Christian in your place of work can be a Patmos. In what way are you cut off?

Maybe you've moved to a new city, you're in a new church, and you just don't know people around you. And at the same time, you're going through pressures and stress and struggles and suffering and solitude. And sometimes we're just called to patiently endure. I came across something in streams of the desert. Do you all read streams in the desert?

And I've remembered this one, October 30th. So if you don't mind, I'm just going to read some of what's written here. And it's written by George Matheson. The verse was, let us run with patience. To run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down.

But there is a patience which I believe to be harder. The patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune implies a great strength. But I know of something that implies a still greater strength. It's the power to work under a stroke.

To have a great weight on your heart and still to run. To have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It's a Christ-like thing.

Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed, but in the street. This was thy patience, O son of man. It was at once a waiting and a running.

A waiting for the goal and a doing of the lesser work meantime. I see thee at Cana turning the water into wine, thus the marriage feast should be clouded. I see thee in the desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a temporary want. And all the time that were bearing a mighty grief, unshared, unspoken, men ask for a rainbow in the cloud. But I would ask more from thee.

I would in my cloud myself be a rainbow, a minister to others' joys. Are you running with patience, patiently enduring? I think Eugene Peterson called it the long obedience in the same direction. Day after day after day, suffering in solitude. The neat thing about John, while he was suffering in solitude, he was in the Spirit. Verse 10 says he was in the Spirit. And I think that doesn't mean just indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. I think it means he was in a sweet spirit. He was in a right spirit. He wasn't saying, God, you remember who I am?

I'm a disciple of Jesus, and I've witnessed all those things, and I was there at Pentecost, I've preached. I wrote the Gospel of John, for crying out loud, in the three epistles, and you let this happen to me? I deserve better.

Get me off of Patmos, and then I'll serve you. John was in a sweet spirit, a submissive spirit. Lord, if this is from you, this is where I want to be, you know? He knows God is sovereign, and where he places his children, what he allows to happen. Nothing comes into our lives. For a child of God who loves him, called according to his purposes, not only for our good and for his glory, and our good is not our health, wealth, and prosperity, you know that?

Our ultimate good is to be conformed to the image of Jesus, to bring him glory. And so John, on Patmos, is in the spirit. What's your spirit like when you're in solitude and you're suffering? You have a complaining spirit, a whining spirit, angry spirit, bitter spirit, resentful spirit. Would you examine your spirit?

Ask the Lord to search you deep and cleanse your spirit, that you would just trust him. It was when he was in the spirit, suffering in solitude, that his eyes were opened, and he had a fresh vision of the glory of Jesus. Let's just look at it briefly, just in this passage. He said, I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. When I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and I think, just a parenthetical thing, behind the voice there is a living person. And when you read your Bible, and you're asking, what does it say? What does it mean?

What does it mean in my life? And you begin to hear the spirit whispering. It's because in back of the words there is a living person.

It's a living word. He speaks through his word. So, I turned, and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And we see from the end of the chapter, the lampstands of the church. And among the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. And I told you at the beginning, the church in John's day was suffering. They were being persecuted, martyred. And you see someone like the Son of Man, that's Jesus, drawing near to those who were suffering. And if you're suffering, and if you're being persecuted, and if you're stressed out, and whatever else is going on, Jesus draws near to you.

Did you know that? I wonder if you've not seen him. You're like Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Are you blinded by your tears?

You're focused on the circumstances. John turned, and he saw Jesus drawing near to the church at that moment. Dressed in a robe, reaching down to his feet. That's the robe of a high priest, because he ever lives to make intercession for us. And he understands the feelings of our infirmities. And he has a golden sash around his chest.

That's the robe of a king. He's in charge. And he knows exactly what he's doing.

Your life is not out of control. It's under his control. His head and hair white like wool.

It's white as snow. That's the ancient of days. That's his wisdom. He's all wise. He knows exactly what to come into your life to remember to heat up the fire, and skim off the dross until he can see his own face reflected in your life. He won't give you more than you can bear.

You can think he does, but he won't. His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in the furnace. I think he...

I'm not sure that's... But anyway, I take this as he's angry. If I saw him like blazing fire, I would think, you know, that's scary. And he's angry not at you, but at that which would cause your suffering. Those who would persecute you.

Those who would put you to death because of your identification with him. And he's coming back with feet like burnished bronze because he's going to trample in judgment everything that's raised up against him. His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. If you've ever stood at the base of a waterfall and tried to speak, you can't hear yourself speak.

The sound of the rushing water drowns out your voice. And all these voices in the world that are raised in blasphemy and obscenity and pornography and all the mess, one day they'll be silenced. And Jesus has the last word. And then it says, his voice like rushing waters, in his right hand he held seven stars. That's you and me, the leaders of the church, but representing you and me. And he holds them in his right hand because in my right hand I hold the things I use, my pen or my fork or my brush. And in his right hand he's saying, I hold you in my right hand right there in your suffering and solitude. I want to use you for my glory. I've got something for you to do.

Something that's just for you to do. And out of his mouth came that sharp double-edged sword. That's his word. Revelation chapter 19, when he comes back the sky unfolds and he comes back and that sword is coming from his mouth. And the armies of the world see him coming. They know it's the Lamb of God who's coming back to reign and rule.

And you would think they would all submit. Instead they turn their guns and their missiles and they go to make war against the Lamb and he just says a word and they all drop dead. The sword of his mouth, oh listen to me, pick up your sword. Don't leave it on the shelf.

Don't leave it to collect dust. Pick up your sword. Read the word. It's through the word that we can overcome the enemy. And when the devil starts speaking those thoughts in your mind, he starts accusing you and deceiving you and lying to you, you pull out the word and you put your faith in the word of God.

Faith anchored, remember? And then his face was like the sun shining and all of its brilliance. At the end of the long dark nights there was Jesus. And his night turned to day. And Jesus is where we're all headed. Human history is going to Jesus. The light at the end of the tunnel is Jesus. Just his face, who he is. Not his hands and what he does for us and his feet and grit.

Just his face and who he is. And when John saw him like this, the same John that leaned on his shoulder at the Last Supper because he was so familiar, when he saw Jesus like this, he fell at his feet, prostrate the feet of Jesus. He said, I fell at his feet as though dead.

What does that mean? Well, I've never heard a dead man speak. So I think it means John was silent, no longer arguing with Jesus about what he's allowed to come into his life, no longer rationalizing any defense or excusing his behavior, telling him what he wanted and telling him how to answer his prayers, just silence.

Still, I've never seen a dead man move. I think he stopped wrestling with God's will for his life that included suffering and solitude, being on patinas. Stopped wrestling with God's will and trying to get God to go his way. Instead he just surrendered to God's way. Have you ever fallen at the feet of Jesus prostrate?

And I don't mean just in your body, I mean in your heart, in your spirit. Silence. Are you still arguing with him? Still telling him how to answer your prayers? And you can tell him what you want. You can tell him how you want your prayers. I'm not saying that, but I'm talking about don't insist on it. Don't say, God, I can't love you if you don't do this for me. You haven't answered my prayer, then I've got to hold back.

I don't really like you because you haven't done... You know what I mean. You can talk to him, whatever is on your heart and your mind. You can tell him what you want.

Tell him how you want him to answer. But then you're silent. And you're just listening for his whisper. Somebody who's still wrestling here, still resisting the Holy Spirit. Still thinking, you know, if I give up everything I'm going to lose out on what I really want. I just can't give up everything. John, when he saw Jesus in all of his glory, fell at his feet, silent and still.

Absolutely surrendered. I think all he cared about was feeling the hand of God on his life. And he says, when I saw him, I felt his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me. The hand that he holds the worlds in space, his right hand of power.

And he put his hand on John and he said, don't be afraid. Why are we so afraid to surrender everything? It's got to be our pride. Something that just says if we do that we're going to lose out.

The opposite is true. That's the devil's lie. You surrender everything, that's when you enter into the fullness of God's blessing. But we can be afraid to fall at his feet as though dead.

But he said, don't be afraid. I'm the first and the last, the living one. I was dead. Behold, I'm alive forever and ever.

I hold the keys of death in Hades right. Therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. John, right there on Patmos, when you're suffering in solitude, I'm not going to change your circumstances, but I want you to serve me.

I have something for you to do. Write down what I'm going to teach you, what I'm going to show you, what you're going to experience. And John did. And the rest of the book of Revelation is what he wrote down. And you talk about passing a baton, a legacy for every generation. For 2,000 years we've all read the book of Revelation and this is our hope. This is where history is headed. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is the end of the story. And John was faithful to do what he was assigned to do right there on Patmos while he's suffering in solitude, totally surrendered. And I wonder if you would totally surrender, what would God have for you to do? And you think you can't pass the baton of truth to the next generation or you can't lead that person to Christ or you can't impact your family. Well, who knows what you can do when you surrender your life to him and he does it through you and you can stand on me.

This just comes to my mind. This is the wedding at Cana when the servants, do you remember? They put the water in the jars and there's that little phrase that said, only the servants knew of the miracle that took place because they put the water in but they saw the wine come out. And when we surrender everything, we just give him our little bits of, you know, five loaves and two fish and little broken pieces and we just give him the water, the plainness, but we surrender it to him and watch him bring the wine out, create a miracle, use you in a way, it doesn't have to be in a pulpit, it doesn't have to be in some big way, you know, in the eyes of other people, but just serving him in the assignment that he's given you right where you are. Your circumstances may not change but he will use you for his glory right there.

That's my challenge for you. Would you stay focused on Jesus? Stay focused in this wicked, wicked world, almost like the days of Noah. That's what Jesus said, as it was in the days of Noah, do you remember? That's what it's going to be like at the coming of the Son of Man.

Wickedness every which way we turn, stay focused on Jesus through prophecy. Revealed by God, recorded by prophets, you can read it, it's for you, it's not just for theologians, you know, it's for you. Don't get hung up on the things you don't understand, just look for the revelation of Jesus Christ that's there and you focus on him through praise for his deity and his humanity and his eternity and focus on him through patient endurance. When you're suffering in solitude, in a sweet spirit, open your eyes, ask him to give you a fresh vision of who Jesus is until you fall prostrate at his feet, silent and still surrendered. So stay focused in a world that's totally out of focus and going crazy. So think for a moment, what has God said to you?

What is your takeaway? So I'm going to ask you at this moment, whatever God has said to you, I'm going to ask you to say, yes sir, whatever you want me to do, I'll do. Wherever you send me, I'll go. Whatever you want me to say, I'll say. If you want me to cross the street and witness to my neighbor, I will. If you want me to get involved in the church, get involved in a youth group, get involved where I can meet some people of the next generation, whatever you would have, I'm silent and still and surrendered. If you want to feel the hand of God on your life, you would say, I surrender all. Then I'm going to invite you to seal that decision in your heart. Now I only want you to do this if it's a genuine decision. God has spoken to you and you're responding by saying yes sir to whatever it is that he said.

You're surrendered for service, whatever he would have you do. So let me pray for you. Father, we come to you. You are more wonderful than we could ever imagine. And we long for the day when our faith becomes sight and we see you face to face. But right now, at this moment, we just come before you and we acknowledge to you that we're so imperfect, we're little dust people. Some of us Lord are suffering and having issues, we're like smoking flags, a bruised reed. But we know you're tender and you're merciful. And so we're just asking as we bow before you that we would feel your hand on our lives.

Lord, would you reach out. Lord, we give ourselves to you. We don't know what that's going to mean when we leave here, but we know we're not going back the same way we came.

We are not going back to the country we left. We are going to press forward until we see you face to face. That's our commitment. Yes, Lord, we say, have your way, please. And I pray your blessing over those who are participating with us. And I pray your blessing that the Lord would bless you and keep you. The Lord would make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord would lift up his countenance upon you and grant you his peace. In the name of the Father who loved us so much. The gospel was his idea and he sent us his Son. In the name of his Son who loved us so much when the Father sent him, he got up from his throne and he left his glory robes and he came down to earth and went all the way to the cross, gave his life, the Savior who redeemed us with his own blood and then rose up from the dead to open heaven for us, give us eternal life. In the name of the Son and in the name of the dear sevenfold Spirit, who when the Father and the Son sent him, came down to live inside of us so that the glory of God is now within. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we make this commitment. This has been Living in the Light. Please take advantage of all the free resources at Ann Graham to help and encourage you in your walk with God and in your study of his word. Join us here each week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-20 03:01:23 / 2023-09-20 03:11:24 / 10

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