As the year 2019 begins, 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 the new year? Your hopes, your dreams and desires, your resolutions? As I begin the new year, still set aside from an active lifestyle and ministry as I undergo cancer treatments, I have decided to intentionally refocus on Jesus.
The church at the end of the first century was surely tempted to get out of focus. The early believers did not think they had a future. The Roman Emperor Domitian declared himself god, demanded to be worshiped and poured out horrific persecution on Christians who refused to do so. 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 given hope to Christians throughout the centuries as it has refocused them on Him.
Read Revelation 1:9-17
I. REFOCUS UNDER PRESSURE 1:9
- What type of pressure are you under? Is it emotional? Physical? Mental? Social? Financial?
- From Revelation 1:9, what types of pressure do you think the Apostle John experienced?
A. The Pressure of Suffering
- What were the two specific causes of John’s suffering in verse 9? Put each in 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, 14; Mark 1:19-20; John 9:1-8; Mark 9:2-7; John 11:7, 16-17, 38-44; Matthew 26:36-38; John 19:25-27; 20:1-8; 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 1:10-11
Patience has been described as idling when you feel like stripping your gears!
A. Patience in Your Attitude
- From verse 10, what was John’s attitude under pressure while on Patmos?
- What does 1 Peter 1:6-9 say our attitude should be when we are under pressure? 1 Peter 2:20-25?
1 Peter 4:12-19?
- What is your attitude when you are 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
- From 1 John 1:1-3, describe John’s activity before 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 1:12-16
- What do the lampstands represent in Revelation 1:12? (See 1:20.)
- Who was the one “like a son of man”? (See 1:17-18.)
- From verses 12-16, how did John see Jesus as our High Priest? (Cf. Hebrews 4:14.)
— as King? (Cf. Revelation 19:16.)
— as Everlasting Father? (Cf. Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 7:9.)
— as Judge? (Cf. John 5:22.)
— as the Living Word? (Cf. John 1:1-2, 14.)
— as the Good Shepherd? (Cf. John 10:28.)
— as the Truth? (Cf. John 14:6; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12.)
— as the Light of the World? (Cf. John 8:12.)
- When under pressure, with what are you preoccupied? With what was John preoccupied?
IV. REFOCUS UNTIL PROSTRATE 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 surrender to Christ.
- How did Paul have a similar experience in Galatians 2:20?
- Do you think Jesus was referring to this experience 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 clean slate in this brand-new year of 2019—12 months—52 weeks—365 days. Would you choose today to lift up your eyes, and refocus under pressure, refocus with patience, refocus with 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 … like me … you are on Patmos. ©2018 Anne Graham Lotz
Adapted from an article originally published in January 2011.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her latest book, “The Daniel Key,” is available from major booksellers.