Revelations 2:9a & 10b “I know your afflictions and your poverty — yet you are rich! Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.” (NIV)
One of the greatest tragedies of a follower of Christ is to dwell in your afflictions and poverty. Poverty here could be financial, but just as likely could be relational, vocational, status, and recognition. Allowing your afflictions and poverty to dominate your life poses four problems: 1) They can consume your life. Proverbs 13:12a says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (NIV); 2) They can preclude God from working in the situation. 1 Timothy 1:12 describes Paul’s position in tough times, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (NIV) 3) They can prevent God from working in your life to develop Godly character. Romans 5:3-4 shows the potential, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” 4) They can tarnish your witness for God to use you in the lives of others. Hebrews 2:10 shows the perfect model, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the Author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (NIV) In reality no matter the afflictions or poverty, you are rich in Christ! The question is… are you willing to believe there is a God and accept your position in Christ?
This passage reveals two helps for persevering through affliction and poverty. 1) Know that you are not alone in what you are going through. Jeremiah 29:11 shows how God not only knows what you are going through, but is actively at work in the situation, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) 2) Your place in Christ is secure. There is nothing in this world that can replace what you have in Christ. Ephesians 1:13-14 affirms your security in Christ, “You also were included in Christ when you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession.” (NIV) Knowing and believing your position in Christ frees you to live out your life in and for Him.
2 Timothy 1:8-9 “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life. (NIV)
Do you know someone who needs this message on hard times. If so, forward them this devotion as a blessing for their growth in Christ.
Resources on hard times from Growing in Christ Bible studies: “Hard Times” and “Identity in Christ.”
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