Where is your focus? Are you looking back and focusing on all the problems and pressures that occurred in the past? The hurts and heartaches? The disappointments and dead ends? The memories and the missed opportunities? Or, are you looking ahead and focusing on all the possibilities that await you in this new year? Your ‘hope-so’s? Your dreams and desires? Your resolutions? Would you choose today to refocus by “looking full in His wonderful face”?
The church at the end of the first century did not think it had a future. The Roman Emperor Domitian declared himself god, demanded to be worshipped and poured out horrific persecution on Christians who refused. In that setting, God gave the Apostle John a vision of the glory of Jesus Christ that he recorded in the Book of Revelation–a vision that has helped Christians throughout the centuries refocus on Him.
Read Revelation 1:9-17.
I. REFOCUS UNDER PRESSURE
Read Revelation 1:9
- What types of pressure do you think John experienced?
- What type of pressure are you under? Is it emotional? Physical? Mental? Material? Social? Financial? Describe it.
A. THE PRESSURE OF SUFFERING
- What were the two specific causes of John’s suffering in Revelation 1:9? Put each into your own words.
- In what way have you suffered in a similar fashion?
- In what other ways are you suffering?
B. THE PRESSURE OF SOLITUDE
Describe the highlights of John’s life from the following verses (John is sometimes referred to as “the beloved disciple”): John 1:1-2 and 14, 11:38-44, 19:25-27, 20:1-8; Mark 1:19–20, 9:2-7; Matthew 26:36-38; Acts 1:1-11, 2:1-4, 3:1-10.
- How was John’s life different on Patmos?
- Have you ever had to make a similar transition?
- What is your Patmos?
- Do you think John would have received the vision of the glory of Jesus had he not been on Patmos?
II. REFOCUS WITH PATIENCE
Read Revelation 1:10-11
Patience has been described as idling when you feel like stripping your gears!
A. PATIENCE IN YOUR ATTITUDE
- From Revelation 1:10, what was John’s attitude when under pressure on Patmos?
- What does 1 Peter 1:6-9 say our attitude should be when we are under pressure? 1 Peter 2:20-25? 4:12-19?
- What is your attitude under pressure?
- How do you think Proverbs 3:3-6 might help you adjust your attitude? Matthew 11:28? 1 Peter 5:7?
B. PATIENCE IN YOUR ACTIVITY
- Describe John’s activity in 1 John 1:1-3, before his exile on Patmos.
- What activity is God now commanding John to do? See Revelation 1:11, 19.
- How were the two activities different?
- What opportunities would John have missed had he not been willing to change activities and ministries?
III. REFOCUS THROUGH PREOCCUPATION
Read Revelation 1:12-16
- What do the lampstands represent in Revelation 1:12? (See Revelation 1:20.)
- Who was the one “like a son of man”? (See Revelation 1:17-18.)
- How do the images in Revelation 1:12-16 help us see Jesus as: High Priest (see also Hebrews 4:14), King (see also Revelation19:16), Everlasting Father (see also Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 7:9), the Living Word (see also John 1:1-2, 14), the Good Shepherd (see also John 10:28), the Truth (see also John 14:6; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrew 4:12), and the Light of the world (see also John 8:12).
- When under pressure, with what are you preoccupied? With what was John preoccupied?
IV. REFOCUS UNTIL PROSTRATE
Read Revelation 1:17
- What impact did the vision of the glory of Jesus Christ have on John?
- What are the primary characteristics of a dead man? Relate these characteristics to surrendering to Christ.
- How did Paul have a similar experience in Galatians 2:20?
- Do you think Jesus was referring to this same concept in Matthew 16:24-25?
- How does this apply to you?
- How do you think the vision of the glory of Jesus Christ helped John refocus as he faced an uncertain future?
God has given us a fresh start in this new year. Would you choose today to lift up your eyes, and refocus under pressure, refocus with patience, refocus through preoccupation, refocus until you are prostrate? Bottom line: Would you choose to simply refocus on the vision of His glory? Read your Bible. Every day. Listen for His voice and look for His face through its pages. Especially if you are on Patmos.