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How to Be a Winner

Key References: Revelation 2; The Acts of the Apostles, chap. 57, pp. 585-588; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 10, pp. 171-175; Our Beliefs nos. 22, 10, 12

Power Text

“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

Power Point

We worship God when our lives reflect our trust in Him.

Imagine that you are at the Olympic Games and have just won the 100-meter race. You are standing on the winner’s podium listening to cheering crowds. In real life you may not win the Olympics, but if you follow the guidelines God has for your life, you will always be a winner and a good example as a Christian.

John struggles to get up from his knees. He has finished his morning prayers thinking about the people he has left behind. All the other apostles are dead. And Domitian had intended John’s exile to be a living death for him. But here on this deserted island of Patmos John has visitors Domitian doesn’t know about. In fact, John has more communication from heaven than he has had in his entire lifetime.

It is the Sabbath day, and the Holy Spirit is showing heaven to John. Then John hears a voice, and turning, he sees Jesus, with whom he used to walk and talk in Judea and along the Sea of Galilee. John recognizes Him, but He looks different. Now He is all bright, shining, and gold, and His voice seems to fill the sky.

Later John writes what he remembers. Dipping his quill in his ink, he begins to write down the messages Jesus sends to the churches: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. . . . To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).

John continues to write the messages from Jesus. “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 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! . . . Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . . . The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death” (verses 8-11).

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. . . . Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam. . . . Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! . . . To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (verses 12-17).

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.

By her teaching she misleads my servants. . . . I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. . . . ‘Hold on to what you have until I come.’ To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. . . . I will also give that one the morning star” (verses 18-28).

To each church Jesus says, “I know you.” He knows their strengths. He praises them for their successes. He knows their weaknesses. Because He loves His people, He shows them their faults. Writing on his lonely island, John praises God. John knows that Jesus has preserved his life so that he can write His message to the churches.

John knows these churches. He knows these cities. Ephesus is a leading city of the Roman province of Asia, a port on the Aegean Sea. Ephesus became a church center. But the Ephesians have lost their first love. Oh, Ephesus, return to Him, John thinks. He knows Smyrna. It is one of the most important trade centers of the region. It too is a seaport surrounded by protecting mountains. Oh, Smyrna, John thinks, only the word of Jesus can protect you. Listen to Him.

Pergamum is situated in a wide valley with public buildings on the slope of a high hill. On the summit of the hill the Altar of Zeus calls Pergamum’s citizens to worship. Oh, Pergamum, John thinks, follow Jesus. Worship Him.

Thyatira is a smaller city that specializes in making purple cloth. Many of the Christian converts still belong to their trade guilds and take part in feast days to their god, Sambathe. John thinks, Hold on, Thyatira, hold on. Jesus is coming to you!