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Revelation 12:1-11 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. 7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Silent Prayer To preface this passage, let me point out some main ideas.  The woman who gave birth refers to the nation of Israel from which Jesus would come.  The twelve stars represent the twelve tribes of Israel.  Jesus is the child who was born and taken up to His throne in heaven in verse 5.  The dragon is clearly the devil.  It’s classically thought that at some point Satan was part of the Heavenly Host and rebelled against God and that when he was cast out of heaven, a third of the angels went with him.  The further I go in my study, the more inclined I am to believe that even though I can’t explain why an angel that doesn’t have free will would have revolted against God or why something like that took place in heaven where there is no sin. That’s a mystery that we’ll probably never be settled on this side of heaven. It is clear in verse four, however, that Satan tried to take out the child who was born.  We remember how Herod ordered the Hebrew boys to be killed and how Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt.  Time after time we read in the Gospels that the religious leaders were always looking for a way to kill Jesus.  I think they got together every Friday to strategize and plan for ways in the upcoming week that they could take Him out. You remember, of course, the cross where Satan thought, he thought, he had destroyed Jesus. We also see the battle, the struggle.  However, the victory of Jesus is quite obvious here.  Satan doesn’t win.  He’s the “Biggest Loser.”  And in defeating Satan, Jesus has established some things that are ours to experience, enjoy and embrace. First of all, Jesus’ victory has made possible a now salvation. II Cor. 6:2 says, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Salvation is available now.  Just what is salvation and why do we need it?  Ultimately, salvation is a position whereby we are in right standing with God.  The holiness of God and sin don’t mix.  They are like oil and water.  Since God can’t change Himself to be less holy so as to sink to the point where He can be in a relationship with us, He made a way for us in our lowly sinful state to be elevated to a position of holiness.  He did so through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross. The Bible tells us that the payment for sin is blood.  It is ultimate sacrifice.  We read in its pages that Jesus was the only person who was qualified to pay the price for the sins of the world because He was sinless.  He has made salvation available to you right now.  You can be free from the eternal consequences of your sin, free from guilt and shame, free to enjoy God’s presence, and free to become all God desires for you to be by accepting God’s salvation.  Pre-christians, God wants to elevate you to a position of holiness even though you aren’t holy. It’s not only available now, but it is also necessary now.  Many people believe salvation is for when you die.  It’s good to be saved when you die, to be sure, as eternity is a long, long time.  But today is also the day of salvation so that you can experience fellowship with God RIGHT NOW.  Why wait to possess all that God wants to give to you?  He has help, strength, healing, wisdom, comfort, guidance, and so much more to give to you.  Addictions can strangle you.  Stress can overtake you.  Anxiety can paralyze you.  Wrong relationships can trap you.  The pull of this world, the desire to possess the things of this world, can rob you of your life.  “It’s complicated” doesn’t begin to describe the tangled mess we live in.  Why not have God on board?  Why not be walking in fellowship with the One who doesn’t get stressed out or overcome by anything? I’ve literally had people tell me they are purposely choosing to get saved until they think they are close to death.  I mean, really.  What kind of sense does that make?  Do you realize we exist for all time, but that our existence is split between two realities?  We exist right now in this life, the physical, temporal life.  Someday each of us will exist in another dimension which is the life to come.  Why would you want the benefit of a right relationship with God in one reality, but not in another? The only thing standing between you and right standing with God is you.  God has already spanned the distance between you and Him through the blood of Jesus.  You just have to walk through the blood, symbolically, and embrace God back.  He is holding out His arms to save you.  “Today is the day of salvation.”  Once you embrace Him, trust me, you’ll think, “Why in the world did I ever put this off?” Perhaps the biggest reason why “Today is the day of salvation” is because you aren’t promised tomorrow.  You don’t have to be aged to be close to the next reality. It’s a now power. Just as we’re no longer waiting on salvation, we are no longer waiting on power.  We don’t have to wait until heaven to become powerful.  We read in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you . . .”  When was the Holy Spirit poured out on God’s people?  The Day of Pentecost.  That means we are no longer waiting on power, but it is available to us right now. Have you been baptized in the Holy Ghost?  Have you been filled with the Spirit of God?  Have you asked for God to pour out His Spirit on you and to dwell in you in power so that you can do the kinds of things that Jesus did? Do you know that part of your responsibility as a believer is to enforce Satan’s defeated condition?  God has not only given you power, but He has also given you authority.  You are to exercise that authority in Jesus’ name.  Listen to Luke 10:19 “ I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”  Mark 16:17 says that exercising authority over Satan would be a regular habit of those who follow Christ.  It says, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons.”  “In my name.”  There is power in the name of Jesus.  Use it!  Satan hates that name, but to those of us who have been gloriously saved, there is no sweeter name than the name of Jesus. It’s a now kingdom. I realize this next point may not be one we all agree on, but I see it in the text, I believe it to be this way, and I want to share it with you.  We’re not waiting on some future time where Jesus will become Ruler or King of a Kingdom.  I believe the Bible teaches the Kingdom of God is now.  It is ruling and reigning in the hearts and lives of believers.  Jesus is the King and He’s ruling right now.  Seated at the right hand of God, He is in a position of power.  He isn’t waiting to exert His power.  He is doing so, right now. So many people missed who Jesus was simply because they were looking for an earthly kingdom, a political kingdom.  You’ll remember, the disciples so wanted a political kingdom.  They were always asking Jesus, “Is it time?”  “Is it now?”  They thought for sure He was going to overthrow Rome on Palm Sunday.  Instead, it was the beginning of the end for the earthly ministry of Jesus.  Shortly after, He went to the cross.  Even while Jesus was dying on the cross, some of the disciples hung their heads in disappointment because they thought they were going to be heads of state.  They believed their dream of ruling in the kingdom was over. Remember, James and John had their mother ask if they could have a position in the kingdom.  She too thought He would soon establish an earthly kingdom.  They were constantly in search of this physical, political military power. You can’t blame them.  They were under the heavy yoke of Rome.  Even after the resurrection, they knew He had risen and they were back to thinking a kingdom would be established.  “Is it time?” Look at Acts 1:6-8  So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Oh, they would rule and reign, but not in the sense they had anticipated.  Remember, we’re told in Ephesians 6 that our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, but it’s a spiritual battle with principalities and powers and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.  If our fight was physical, okay, I could see the thought of trying to establish a physical kingdom, but it’s not. Jesus didn’t answer the disciples’ question about the timing of the Kingdom.  He has never answered that question.  Why?  Because His kingdom doesn’t come with political power and observations of men.  It comes in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  The kingdom on the earth wasn’t to be established with violence and force, but with submission and peace in the power of the Holy Spirit.  If it had been established by force, how long would it be before it was overthrown?  Until the next regime rose up, right?  But listen, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus would establish a kingdom that would NEVER END!  Hallelujah? (Preceding thoughts about the Kingdom of God inspired by Rev. Mitchell Burch in a message on the Holy Spirit at Northeast Ohio Campmeeting, July 30, 2011.) It’s a now war. This is a concept I think many Christians either aren’t aware of or forget about.  Imagine with me a soldier in the midst of battle who didn’t realize he was in the midst of battle.  He stands in the line of fire where the battle is raging and he doesn’t even have battle gear on.  In addition, he is being pelted with ammunition, knocked to the ground and is walking around wounded and in a daze.  The idea never occurs to him to take cover or to try to fight.  It never dawns on him that he is even in a battle. Spiritually speaking, I think that analogy may describe many Christians today.  They are walking around wounded and dazed.  They have an idea that something is wrong or that they aren’t able to make progress or live in victory, but they don’t know why they feel dazed, angry, confused, or in turmoil in their spirit.  It’s because they are in a battle and they don’t even know it. Ephesians 6 describes in detail that we are engaged in a spiritual war.  We don’t fight against a flesh and blood person.  We don’t fight with humans.  We are fighting a spiritual enemy who uses people as pawns to create division, pain, and suffering.  Quit targeting people.  Quit seeking revenge.  Quit trying to get even.  Stop fighting and wrestling with people, and start fighting this spiritual battle with spiritual weapons and you will see results.  Conflicts with people are smokescreens of the enemy to get you focused on the physical and temporal instead of the spiritual where the battle is truly fought and won. If you are mad at someone and that has cut you off from people or shut you down emotionally so you can’t be engaged in the Body of Christ Satan, has gained a foothold in your life.  He has assassinated the potential you have to be what God desires for you to be as a member of the Body of Christ.  Is this helping anyone? Look into the crises and pain and woundedness in your life, and peel back the layers. You will find an evil enemy, a dark assassin that is trying to take you out.  And if he can get you confused to the point where you don’t even know you’re being attacked, he’ll have you completely vulnerable and right where he wants you.  You’ll suffer blow after blow after blow without even the sense to put on armor or to fight. Listen, you have everything you need to overcome Satan.  You can walk through the crisis and be victorious.  You can walk through the fire and not be scorched.  You can gain strength from adversity.  Trials can make you better instead of bitter.  That’s the way it works in God’s economy in the midst of this war. As long as you recognize you are in battle, as long as you are dressed for battle, and as long as you battling in Jesus’ name. So we should accept this now salvation, and as servants in this now kingdom, we should use our now power to fight in a now war.  This supernatural power flows in us as we do at least three things: 1. As we recognize we are in a war, we first of all need to learn to plead the blood of Jesus. “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb. . .” (vs 11) Satan hates the blood of Jesus.  Do you know what all is contained in the blood of Jesus?  We know there is forgiveness, amen?  If Jesus hadn’t shed His blood on the cross, we wouldn’t have forgiveness for our sins. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) There is also deliverance.  Through His blood, Jesus defeated Satan and the powers of darkness. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13) Delivered through the blood!  Plead the blood.  Satan hates to be reminded that he is defeated.  He hates to be reminded of the power of the blood because it is the blood that forces Satan to let us go!  We are delivered through the blood.  Plead the blood to force Satan to let you go! Forgiveness and deliverance in the blood.  Hallelujah!  There is also protection in the blood of Jesus. Remember the Old Testament story of the Passover where God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go from their slavery.  God sent plague after plague to move Pharaoh’s heart.  In one of those plagues, God decided to allow an angel of death to move over the land and kill all of the firstborn children of the Egyptians.  In order to protect the Israelites, however, God told them to put lamb’s blood, from a spotless lamb, over their doorposts and lintels.  The sign of blood would be the sign to the death angel to pass over or pass by the Israelite homes so that their first born would be protected. Do you see that the blood of this spotless lamb was being used in advance, before the attack to keep them safe?  If they hadn’t applied the blood before the attack, their first born sons would have been killed as well.  They couldn’t wait until the night of the attack to apply the blood.  It had to be done in advance. Listen, Satan is out to get you every day.  Plead the blood ahead of time.  Plead the blood of Jesus for your children’s school year.  Plead the blood of Jesus over your children’s dating life and driving experiences.  Plead the blood of Jesus over the upcoming meeting at work.  Plead the blood of Jesus over your health.  Plead the blood of Jesus when you are traveling.  Make pleading the blood of Jesus a habit.  Keep pleading the blood.  Plead it before the attack.  Plead it for forgiveness.  Plead it for deliverance.  Plead it for protection. When you plead the blood of Jesus over your family, you are reminding Satan that you live in the name of the One who conquered him and shed His blood to free you.  When you plead the blood of Jesus you are drawing a blood line the devil can’t cross. 2. As we recognize we are in a war, we need to learn to speak our testimony. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.  Let me tell you this, a testimony is a positive word.  A testimony speaks about the excellent track record of God.  A testimony is a confession of our faith. The word of your testimony speaks to the reality of the resurrection in your life.  When you testify that God has saved you, that He has forgiven you with His blood, that you are walking in newness of life you are saying something to Satan at the same time.  You are saying, “Satan, you have no place, no space in my life.  You have no right to any territory in my life because my testimony says I don’t belong to you in any way.”  Your testimony bears witness to who your Father is and what your position is in Him. You steal all of Satan’s thunder when you testify.  When you share what you used to be and how God has freed you, the verbalization of that miracle in your life just shuts Satan up. Do you realize that all Satan really has in his arsenal is accusation?  He is the accuser of the brethren.  That’s all he has.  He accuses God of being shady or controlling or manipulative to you like He did with Adam and Eve.  He accuses you of stuff by bringing up stuff that is already under the blood and is past history or he accuses other people to you.  He gets you to think things about people’s motives or hearts or intentions and creates division and doubt in relationships.  Shut him up with the word of your testimony.  When he says “You’re a drunk and you’ll always be a drunk,” tell him “I’m delivered in Jesus name.  I am free from the bondage of addiction.  I have a sober mind.  The Holy Spirit has control over my body, and I have power to resist temptation.”  Do you see how that works? It’s not just about testifying to what God has done, but it’s also about speaking positively over your future and what God will do.  If you stay surrendered to God, He will establish your life.  He will sustain you, give you strength, and help you find victory in any situation. If you stay centered on the promises of God and testify to their validity and truth and claim them over your life regardless of whatever your current circumstances are, you create a shield of faith (Eph. 6) that the enemy can’t penetrate. Once you start speaking negatively or in doubt, you give space to the enemy and give him permission to mess with you.  But you shut his mouth when you start saying things like: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13) My God shall supply all my needs according to God’s riches in glory through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19) The Lord is the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1). Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). God always causes me to triumph (II Cor. 2:14). There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God is always with me.  He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). What is happening to me will turn out for my deliverance (Philippians 1:19). God’s plan is to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). And because the believers described in Revelation 12 overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, they didn’t have to live in fear.  They could give their lives for the Kingdom.  They could wage war with confidence. Look at Rev. 12:11 “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” There wasn’t even a fear of death for these people because they realized Satan couldn’t kill them.  If they lost their lives in the first reality, they would live forever with the King of the next reality of the Kingdom.  They didn’t shrink back from living and proclaiming the truth.  They stood their ground. Are you enjoying salvation now?  Power now?  The Kingdom now?  Authority now?  Victory now?  Are you pleading the blood of Jesus over your life, your family, and your mission?  Are you speaking the truth of God’s Word over your life?  Are you sharing your testimony with others?  Have you decided that your life belongs completely to God and that you’ll do whatever He asks without fear?  If you couldn’t answer “yes” to any of the above, the time is now to make the decision to do so.
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