Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Overcoming the Dragon"

244462465_4859313657413116_7446440319381813819_n

Revelation 12:1-17 – PRAYER POINTS
"Overcoming the Dragon" - Steve Whitacre

These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down... And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring. (Revelation 12:3-7, 10-11, 17)

This woman is symbolic of the people of God. She is in the agony of labor pains, ready to bring forth a child, the promised messiah. The expectation of joy in the arrival of a baby, however, is met with a grotesque picture—the dragon is waiting for the birth of this child, ready to devour the infant.

PRAYER: Father, thank you that from Genesis to Revelation we see the enemy and the deceitfulness of sin conquered again and again by your predetermined plan to bring deliverance to your people and glory to your name. May we view all of life through this lens!

Despite the danger, the son is protected from the dragon. Failing to get what he wants, the dragon turns his attention to the woman, who flees into the wilderness and is nourished for 1,260 days. The focus here is on the people of God. To live in this world now, between Jesus’ first and second coming, is to live in the wilderness. We are besieged and terrorized by the forces of darkness but find nourishment, protection, and even prosper under the hand of the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have protected and preserved your church through millennia of persecution, darkness, and tribulation. We stand today as a testimony to your inexorable plan to keep a people for your own glory. May our gathering each Sunday be a celebration of that glorious reality!

We shouldn’t be surprised that this wilderness we live in is a war zone. And we must not lose hope. The dragon is waging war, but he will not ultimately be victorious. "The suffering of Christians is a sign, not of Satan's victory, but of the saints' victory over Satan because of their belief in the triumph of the cross, with which their suffering identifies them." (G. K. Beale) The followers of the Lamb will overcome the dragon because the dragon has already been overcome. At the cross, the dragon was thrown down. And one day his viscous reign will finally and fully be defeated.

PRAYER: Lord, show me where I waver in faith, am tempted to fear, and might even be inclined to resignation and despair. Prompt me to look back and remember other times when I have felt the same way. Lift my heart and faith with the reminder, that by your grace, here I still stand!

If you’ve been a Christian for very long, you probably know something about Satan’s accusations. We fight back with an arsenal of gospel truth: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) This is how we conquer the accuser through the blood of the Lamb.

PRAYER: Father, thank you that because of the blood of the Lamb, there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). Thank you for the cross that silences every foul accusation.

Believers also conquer by the word of their testimony. They publicly testify to following Jesus by living a manner of life that provides undeniable proof that they belong to the Lamb. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” And Proverbs 28:1, “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” We overcome the dragon when with our words we declare our allegiance to Jesus Christ alone.

PRAYER: Lord, in light of the precious gift of forgiveness of sin; and in light of the reality that awaits those who do not know Christ, grant me faith, courage, compassion, and grace to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ whenever and wherever you provide opportunities.

"They loved not their lives even unto death.” (12:11). You love not your life when you live like Christ and when you live for Christ regardless of whether this includes death.

PRAYER: Search me O God, and know my heart. See if there be within me any wicked desire, habit, or craving...in thought, word, or deed...where I am tempted to love something more than you. Help me to put to death these false loves as I passionately pursue a wholehearted devotion to you.

There is a dragon on the loose and he wants to destroy you. Even though he has lost the war, he will continue to battle against you. As you walk in the midst of this present, evil age, you must rely on Jesus and stand firm.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that by your grace, we are those described in verse 17, those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. We overcome the dragon by the blood of the Lamb. May this truth be a source of hope and the grounds for patient endurance in the midst of tribulation.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:

In Revelation 12, we see the devil, symbolized by the great dragon, is on the loose. He is wicked, strong, and intelligent. His intent is to wage war on God’s people and devour them. The Church, symbolized by the woman, flees to the desert where God sustains and nourishes her. Even though the dragon is on the loose, the people of God have great hope because the dragon has already been defeated by Christ. Knowing that Christ is already victorious, Christians now overcome the dragon by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by not loving their own lives even unto death.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • Steve reminded us that the book of Revelation helps us see the world as it really is. What are some ways that Revelation 12 has helped you see reality more clearly?
  • Like the woman who fled to the wilderness, we are living in a wilderness until Christ returns. What is your current experience of living in the difficulty and pressure that the wilderness can bring about? What nourishment are you currently experiencing amid the place God has prepared for you?
  • Not only are God’s people living in the wilderness, but the great dragon is waging war against them (v7). In what ways does the devil wage war against the people of God?
  • Although the dragon wages war against us, we are experiencing “the thrashing of a dying beast.” His conquered condition was accomplished by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. How have you overcome the dragon by the word of your testimony this week?
  • In the conclusion of the sermon, Steve commended and encouraged us in the ways we love Christ instead of loving our own lives. What are some specific ways you have seen fellow saints at SGCL love Christ instead of their own lives?