Be Faithful (Leap Year)

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
— Revelation 2:10

Today I want to speak to people who feel that they are facing circumstances that are beyond their control. That may even be you. If you are in the midst of a very difficult situation, hopelessness and fear may have tried to wrap its tentacles around you and drain you of the personal fortitude you need to stay in the battle. But I want to tell you the truth: Every person has faced something fearful at some point in his or her life. If you are feeling this way, I want to encourage you to stay faithful to the very end, because victory lies at the end of the battle you are facing right now.

It’s so important to learn how to respond to a crisis, because the one you’re facing right now is not the last one you’re going to face in life. It’s naïve to think that the devil is just going to lie down and watch you flow from one victory to the next. He does not want you to succeed at fulfilling the will of God for your life. You will always have another opportunity to be tested. That’s why you have to make the decision before it happens that you are never going to quit, throw in the towel, or bend to circumstances. You are required to have a determined mindset that says, It doesn’t matter what happens to me or what the devil says. I am going to do what God called me to do.

To be victorious we must decide that we will not budge in our commitment, regardless of the price that is to be paid. Any other attitude will lead to compromise, and compromise leads to failure, and failure leads to defeat. We must decide that we are committed to the end — even if, as Revelation 2:10 says, “the end” means that we must be “faithful unto death”!

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We must not forget that many people in previous generations, as well as many people right now on this earth, are facing crushing circumstances every day that seem to be beyond their control. That was true of the believers in the church at Smyrna, one of the seven churches that Jesus addressed in Revelation 2 and 3. They were under a constant onslaught of persecution, and Christ was aware of the situation they were facing — just as He is aware of what you are facing today.

Jesus knew that the believers in Smyrna refused to throw in the towel and to surrender to the hostile forces that were arrayed against them. Aware of their steadfastness and the possible troubles that still awaited them, Christ urged them, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death….

Christ did not give them a false hope. He saw what lay before them and warned them honestly that pressures against them were far from over. But in spite of the fact that they were facing more persecution, imprisonment, and possible death, Christ said, “Be thou faithful unto death….” Let’s examine those words today and see what we can extract from them that will encourage us in our own challenging situations.

The words “be thou” are a translation of the Greek word ginou, a form of the word ginomai, which describes a process of becoming. Thus, the phrase “be thou faithful” could literally be interpreted “become faithful” or “keep on becoming faithful.” Thus, the idea conveyed in this verse could read, “…Give it your best effort, putting all your energies into the goal of progressively becoming more and more faithful….”

The word “faithful” is the Greek word pistos, which is the most common New Testament word for faith. It conveys the idea of people who are faithful, reliable, loyal, and steadfast. No matter what assails them or how hot the fires of persecution blaze, these believers were to remain unwavering in their commitment to Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus was requiring His people to remain devoted, trustworthy, dependable, dedicated, constant, and unwavering, even in the face of the worst circumstances imaginable. Breaking their commitment to Him under the weight of external pressures, no matter how extreme, was not an acceptable option.

The word “unto” is archi, which means unto, up to, or including. In other words, these believers were never to renege on their commitment to Christ. This divine call to commitment — regardless of the price that had to be paid — was so serious that, if necessary, Christ expected them to be faithful unto, up to, or even including death itself.

A faith that remains steadfast only when times are good is unacceptable.

The Savior endured the Cross in order to experience His resurrection and exaltation — and now He calls on you and me to endure to the end. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to run His race to the end, the Spirit of God will enable us to endure any affliction, hardship, pressure, problem, trial, or tribulation we encounter as we prove the authenticity and sincerity of our faith. When the battle is finished, like Christ, we will experience resurrection and exaltation!

We are called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, regardless of the price we are required to pay. That may not be pleasant to consider, but it is a fact nonetheless. Scripture never teaches that we are to draw back from our faith when hardships approach. Rather, Jesus asks for our commitment and faithfulness, even unto the point of death, if that’s what is required as a part of our journey in Him.

Believers who live in parts of the world that are hostile to the Christian faith understand this type of commitment very well. Those who have come to Christ in a non-hostile environment often don’t comprehend the life-and-death type of commitment others have been required to make. Yet throughout the centuries of Church history, Christians have often given their very lives for what they believed. And this isn’t just a past reality. It is a statistical fact that in the past century, more believers died for their faith than in all the previous centuries of accumulated Christian history combined. Believers have suffered “unto death” for Jesus’ sake in the past, and they still are doing so today.

The word “death” in this verse is the Greek word thanatos, which is a word that is used more than 120 times in the New Testament. It describes the physical state of death or extinction of life. But in the New Testament, it also depicts a mortal danger, a dangerous circumstance, or something that is fatal. In the Roman legal system, it described the death penalty.

Jesus had already foretold the church of Smyrna that they would be falsely accused, thrown into prison, and intensely tested by the devil. In addition, He forewarned them in a most straightforward manner that mortal dangers were coming — and that for many who faithfully followed Christ, the danger would prove to be fatal. For these believers, a death penalty would be issued against them and carried out with great cruelty. Yet regardless of what they might have to endure, Christ urged them to “be faithful unto death.”

Very few, if any, of those who ever read this Sparkling Gem will be required to make a commitment that requires their death. But regardless, that is the level of the actual commitment that

Jesus Christ is asking each one of us to make. If we make the commitment to be faithful to the end — regardless of the price that must be paid — being defeated will simply not be an option.

Oh, my friend, I want to remind you that God has great plans for you. So rather than look at your dire situation today and think that there is no way out, ask God to open your eyes to see the opportunity in the midst of the crisis. Every crisis holds opportunity. When the world screams and rails against you, it is temporary. If you push it all aside and endure to the end, you will receive the ultimate reward.

You and I must ask the Lord to help us see each situation as He sees it. When Jesus died, God didn’t accept the thinking of the vast majority who said, “Jesus is dead. It’s over. It’s finished.” Instead, God saw an opportunity for resurrection! Oh, that He would give us His eyes so we can see how He sees!

Your best days are not behind you — they are before you! But for you to reach a glorious conclusion, it requires a rock-solid decision on your part. From this moment on and for the rest of your life, you must choose to be “faithful unto death” to the One you call your Lord and Savior. You must set your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, and determine that you will never look back again. Every moment that you live and breathe is all for Him — to the very end of this life and on into the ages to come!

 

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

 

Father, You are asking every believer for a higher level of commitment than we’ve ever made before. Today I understand that You are asking me personally for commitment of the highest magnitude — just as Jesus displayed a commitment of the highest magnitude to You, Father, in my behalf. Through that great sacrifice of Himself, I am now more than a conqueror through Him who loved me and washed me from sin in His own blood. Therefore, I do not fear death, but I joyfully commit my life unto You, Lord, knowing that I will not be able to be defeated because resurrection and exaltation await those who are faithful even unto death. So today I ask You to help me rise to a higher place of commitment so I can be faithful to the very end.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

 

I confess that I am committed to do what God has called me to do. Regardless of the forces that are arrayed against me, I will endure to the end and receive an eternal reward — a crown of life presented to the faithful who stand before the Lord on that day when we give an account of what we’ve done. I will not only be rewarded in Heaven so I can have a crown to lay at Christ’s feet on that day, but also I will taste victory here on earth. My best days are not behind me — they are before me! I declare that I am committed to the very end. Therefore, I reach a glorious conclusion because faith, confidence, and boldness arise in me! I fear no evil because the love of God in me and toward me drives out all fear!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Are you feeling tempted to fear right now? What are you doing to combat that spirit of fear and to command it to leave you? I encourage you to open your heart to someone who knows how to pray and to ask them to pray with you for courage and
  2. What does remaining faithful “until the end” mean to you personally? Can you recall past experiences where you thought you wouldn’t make it, but because you were committed to do what God asked you to do, you ended up seeing great victory in your life? What is the last time you experienced this? How many times have you seen obstacles move out of the way and victory move into place in your life?