Sermon:  Dragon Slayer

Summary:  What looks like obstacles in our way are not obstacles to God, but challenges 
for us to overcome in faith.  Not only did God demonstrate this in the Exodus and at the 
cross, but he gives us a behind the scenes look in Revelation 12, which demonstrates that 
God is always there, always in charge, and that we need only to continue to serve and share 
in faith.

Know:  You do not have to have your life all together in order to serve, reach out, or tell the 
story of the Gospel or your own story.  What matters is your faith in God who will see you 
through the challenges you face when you serve and share.

Feel:  Motivation to carry on with God's mission

Do:  Reflect on the specific things that challenge us against carrying out God's mission and 
purposes and what perspective this passage brings to the table on the challenges.  Make 
a commitment to continue with the mission of God.

Text:  Rev 12

Scripture Reading:  Ex 15:1-11

1.  Sometimes the odds against us seem impossible
2.  Imagine how Israel must have felt when they were surrounded.
	a.  Pharaoh's army trapped them against the sea
	b.  But God intervened
	c.  Exodus 15:1-18 - Reminds us that God wins
		- He threw the horse and rider into the sea
		- Yahweh is a warrior, from the breath of his nostrils, parted the sea
		- He blew with his wind, and the sea consumed Egyptian army
		- God will bring his people through - He reigns forever!
	d.  We sing songs of victory - The Lord reigns, Victory in Jesus, etc.
3.  Book of Revelation - We are the overcomers
	a.  Woman with crown of 12 stars & her offspring - The glorious bride, us
	b.  Birth to a son who would rule all the nations with iron scepter - Jesus
		- Snatched up to God and this throne - resurrection and ascension
	c.  Red Dragon
		- Seven heads - Smart & crafty
		- Crown on each head - Ruling power
		- 10 horns - he is powerful
	d.  Rev 1:10 - Be faithful unto death (even to the point of death)
		- Satan loses

I.  Because God helps
	A.  Satan attempted to devour and destroy but couldn't
		1.  v.4 Waiting to devour the child when born
			a.  Wanted to destroy Jesus
			b.  v.5 - Jesus was crucified, but rose and ascended!
		2.  v.6 - Fled to place in desert prepared by God. she was safe
		3.  v.13-14 - Pursued the woman, but she got wings to fly away!
		4.  v.15 - Satan tried to drown her with flood, but earth swallowed 
		     the water
	B.  What are these images reminding us of?  God is always in charge
		1.  When Satan is pursuing God's people, things not out of control
			a.  It is not as if Satan is taking over
			b.  God does not allow Satan to devour or destroy his people
		2.  When Egypt increased hardships in slavery, God was in charge
			a.  Things did not seem to be going well
			b.  Ex 5:22-23 - Moses said "Why have you brought harm to 
			     this people?….You have not delivered this people at all!"
			c.  But it was all according to God's plan - Display his power 
			     over stubborn Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt
		3.  When the adversary afflicted Job, God was in charge
			a.  Satan could only do what God would allow him to do
			b.  Job had a difficult time trusting in God
			c.  God was in charge the whole time, never lost control
		4.  When Jesus was scourged, spit upon, crucified, God in charge
			a.  Satan did not win, but lost
			b.  In death, we have life, in suffering, we have peace
			c.  In weakness, we find power
	C.  Need to reframe our challenges and difficulties
		1.  God's hand is always in them
		2.  We have had our share of difficulties haven't we?
			a.  For some, children leave home on bad terms
			b.  A good friend turns against you
			c.  Lose your job because of being righteous
			d.  People we have known for years leave the congregation
		3.  Can God's hand be in them in some way?
			a.  When think God's will is not being done and we are losing
				- That is a human way of looking at things
				- Gates of Hades will not prevail against the church
			b.  According to scripture, God's hand is in everything
			c.  God will not allow us to be overcome
			d.  God will help
	D.  Someone asked C.S. Lewis why do the righteous suffer
		1.  Answer - "Why not, they the only ones who can take it"
		2.  WHY? -- We reframe struggles from God's perspective
		3.  May not understand how or why, but we can understand what 
		     God want us to do
			a.  Realize Gods is in charge
			b.  Continue to be faithful to him
			c.  Do not lose hope
		4.  Stan will lose!  God will win!

II.  Because Satan will lose
	A.  Satan has lost a lot of leverage
		1.  Angels (not God) cast the dragon out of Heaven
			a.  He no longer has power and authority he once did
			b.  v.12 - He is filled with fury, his time is short, he will lose
		2.  (v.10-11) - Accuser has been cast down
	B.  As Christians, Satan has no grounds to accuse us
		1.  Satan will try to keep us from pleasing God through accusation
			a.  This is what he attempted to do in Job's case
			b.  He may use guilt and shame
				- Make us feel like we are not worthy to serve
				- Make us feel despondent and down
				- Make us so self-absorbed with our problems that we 
				   get stuck there and can't move forward
		2.  The blood of the lamb has washed away our sins
			a.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins
			b.  Since it is taken care of, there is no basis for accusation
	C.  So, do we need to have it all together BEFORE we start serving?
		1.  Sometimes we feel the need to have all ducks in a row before 
			a.  ILL:  Justin, hesitated becoming a Christian
			b.  Didn't feel he had it all together
			c.  Shared 1 Jn 1:7-2:1 - We do not have it all together
		2.  The12 apostles didn't have their ducks in a row
			a.  Jesus called them, warts and all
			b.  Even afterward, Peter still had problem with Gentiles
			c.  Paul evidently had a problem with pride, so God gave him 
			    a thorn in the flesh
		3.  Power is perfected in weakness - 2 Cor 12:9
			a.  Grace is sufficient in order to serve God
			b.  Do not need to have all ducks in a row
		4.  God works most powerfully when they are not all in a row
	D.  We fight an already defeated enemy
		1.  No need to have a defeatist attitude
		2.  No need to wring our hands wondering what to do
		3.  March forward in faith…

III.  Because we have a role in this struggle
	A.  There is more than what God does
		1.  Rev 12:11 - Overcame by the blood of the lamb
		2.  But there is more that they overcame with…
	B.  Our part in this struggle
		1.  The word of their testimony
			a.  They had something to tell - Their story of the Gospel
			b.  Do we have a testimony??  You bet!
				- The Gospel story is our story
				- We each have a story to tell - The Gospel
				- How the Gospel has changed your life
		2.  They did not love their life, even when faced with death
			a.  Telling the story did not come without challenges
				- Many threats and challenges
				- Some lost jobs, friends, family, lives
				- Yet they continued with the word of their testimony
			b.  Do we have challenges today?
				- Accusations - You don't have it all together
				- Fear - Of rejection, of messing up
				- Guilt, Shame - I am (we are) not what I/we should be
					- Of course you're not!  Who is?
					- Mixed in with shame may be a little pride
					- 1 Jn 1 - Say we have no sin, we lie
			c.  When get a handle on who and what we are in Christ
				- We can boldly serve and share
				- We can serve and share with grace and humility
				- We are a testimony to the power and grace of God
	C.  The lesson here is that we have a role in this struggle
		1.  It is not a passive role
		2.  If it is a campaign, serving one in need, growing in discipleship, etc.
	D.  Satan will give you a million reasons to sit and do nothing, or to wait
		1.  Many of them will seem to make sense
		2.  All I need is one reason to not sit and do nothing - the Gospel
			a.  Jesus died and rose - Power
			b.  I died to self and am risen with Christ
			c.  Not about me or even having it all together
			d.  It is about the power of Christ in me & my weakness

1.  Have you been to the cross? (invitation)
2.  God has already determined the outcome if we will just do as he wishes
	a.  Don't have it all together?  Well, God has it all together
	b.  Satan is mad, he is still fighting
	c.  But God is bigger and stronger
3.  We are on the right track, God's hand has been in everything, don't get discouraged.
4.  Can look back at Israel in Egypt
	a.  God is able, all the people had to do was follow in faith
		- Challenges in the wilderness
		- But God helps in the wilderness
	b.  That is the same God - He is able, our place is to follow
	c.  The Dragon is no mach for God and his people - God will slay the dragon


Small Group Questions:  Dragon Slayer

Summary:  What looks like obstacles in our way are not obstacles to God, but challenges for 
us to overcome in faith.  Not only did God demonstrate this in the Exodus and at the cross, but 
he gives us a behind the scenes look in Revelation 12, which demonstrates that God is always 
there, always in charge, and that we need only to continue to serve and share in faith.

- What has been the scariest "monster," story, or movie you have seen?

Explore:  (Rev 12)

1.  Discuss the things this vision portrays about the Dragon, Satan

2.  Discuss the things this vision portrays about the woman and her offspring (the people of God)

3.  This was written to Christians who were being persecuted, tortured, killed, slandered, and 
thrown out of communities due to their faith and message.  What message(s) would this vision 
have given to them?

4.  How does this vision (which focuses on the behind the scene over-arching perspective of the 
difficulties and challenges of faithfulness to God) reframe the difficulties that Christians face, the 
place of God, the place of Satan, etc…?

5.  According to this vision, in what ways do the people of God overcome?


6.  How does this study reframe the difficulties we have faced?  What should be our attitude toward 
them?   Toward carrying out our mission and purposes?

7.  What are some of the specific fears doubts you have concerning doing something like an 
organized outreach campaign such as We Care?  What is God's perspective on this?

8.  What can help aid you, and all of us, to see things more from a spiritual perspective rather than 
a more human perspective?

Pray specifically that the Lord grant us eyes to see our community as God sees it