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FOR EKKLESIA

Part 2 - Smyrna

- Revelation 2:8-11

 

- In Revelation 2:8 John opens up to the church at Smyrna, the people and its leaders, “These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”

- The purpose for this opening was to encourage this church that Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, and that He and the Father are one in the same.

- There is no division in heaven, and the Apostle John was making sure they knew, if there is no division in heaven, there cannot be any division in the church.

- a church divided on earth is not an accurate reflection of the church in heaven.

- This was encouragement to the church then and today; stay united as one, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one.

 

- Revelation 2:9, “I know your afflictions and your poverty”

- It is clear that Smyrna was not having an easy time as a church, and Jesus saw this, and let them know that He was aware of their struggle.

- He wanted them to know that He could completely identify with their struggle.

- That’s why He opened up His message to the church at Smyrna with, “These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last, WHO DIED AND CAME TO LIFE AGAIN.”

- He wanted them to know, “I know what it is like to be persecuted for your faith.”

- No matter what experiences you may have as a believer in Christ, your Lord can relate.

- Jesus was encouraging the church then and He is encouraging the church of today with the same message; I can identify with your affliction and your poverty.

- 1 Peter 2:20-23

- So long as you are a believer at heart, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can relate to your struggles.

 

- “But what about the rich and the prosperous believer, Lord?” And God says, “I can identify with them too.”

- In 1 Kings 10:6-7, the queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to see for herself the wisdom of God that was given to a man named Solomon.

- What’s the overall message here? Jesus can identify with the persecuted and suffering as well as the blessed and prosperous.

- Be encouraged church, so long as you are believer at heart, Jesus is walking with you and can relate to your pain and suffering and says in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you…

 

- And why should that encourage you church?

- Because it’s found in the next part of that verse, “YOU ARE RICH!” (there’s an exclamation point in my Bible)

- Jesus wanted them to know as well as the other six churches to know, “Smyrna is richer than they realize; Smyrna is richer than many of you other churches realize; Smyrna is most likely more rich than any of you other churches who think you rich but you just plumb broke.”

- Jesus just wants you to be encouraged, “I see what maybe nobody sees; I see what really matters;

- Psalm 75:7, “But it is God who judges; He brings one down, He exalts another.”

- Keep pursuing the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and keep positioning yourself for promotion.

 

- Stay encouraged for your suffering for the Lord.

- The believers of that time were heavily persecuted by the Roman government; anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord would certainly be excluded from society. In what way you ask? Two ways; according to research, one would mean unemployment. It’s like trying to get a job with a record; almost impossible.

- And number two; poverty. But let me explain what poverty of that time meant; it meant possessing absolutely nothing.

- Believers were being persecuted to the point of owning nothing. No property, no savings, no way of living, no future to build towards.

- These believers of the church at Smyrna found it difficult to support themselves and their families and were on a path to leave nothing for their children to inherit, and yet, John’s letter tells them, “Jesus wants you to know, you are rich!”

- Matthew 5:14 reminds us, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid;” The world can’t hide you for long; the world can’t hide what God has placed for the world to see. Stay encouraged that if God has called you His city for Him, He wants the world the see the Jesus in you that they need to have in themselves, and He wants the world to see what it looks like when God blesses those who have been ignored and hidden for so long.

 

- Revelation 2:9, “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”

- So John writes to remind them that Christ identifies with their suffering, expounds on their suffering and affliction, tells them, “But you are more rich than you think” and then comes back to how additionally they have suffered; they are being slandered by some Jews.

- So, from both Jews and Gentiles, the Christians in Smyrna received slander and suffering.

- What encouragement can we take away from this church? Not everyone is on your side, but if God is, that’s all that matters.

- stay focused on the prize ahead; they aren’t giving out the awards at the end of this race, Jesus is; He’s the one you are trying to impress, not them.

- our struggles are not with flesh and blood, but with the enemy, Satan, and he manipulates people to carry out his purpose and plan of division.

- In the scripture we just read, Jesus called these Jews who “worshipped God”, a synagogue of Satan; He called them a church built for Satan.

- Let me say it like this church; any religious ministry, that does not confess and believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son is living against God’s will and God’s Word.

- If we all say we love Jesus, than we have to show it by how we love each other; anything contrary to that mandate is worship for the devil.

 

- Revelation 2:10

- Jesus knew the suffering they had experienced and He knew the suffering they were about to experience.

- Be encouraged church; He knows the hell you’ve been through with Him and He knows the hell you are about to face because of Him, but the message was the same then as it is now as it will be when it happens: Do not be afraid!

- The devil thinks he’s the one putting you through this to test your weakness and vulnerability but little does he know God is allowing this test in your life to test your strength and your faith in Him.

- This is encouragement church that God knows the devils plan and through it all, God is still in control.

 

- In that same verse it said prophetically, “you will suffer persecution for ten days.”

- The number 10 represents man’s responsibility. There were 10 commandments given to Moses to give to the people to what? To be responsible to follow.

- The number 10 also represents the tenth of our income we are supposed to return back to God. What are we doing when return the tenth, the tithe? We are acknowledging our faith in God.

- So when we go through a test that the devil intended to destroy us, God is using that same test to teach us, it’s up to you to follow my Word and trust me in the process.

- Ten days is not an exact amount of time; it is a PROCESS of how you will pass the time.

- And how do we pass the time? With responsibility and faith.

 

- At the end of Revelation 2:10 it says, “Be faithful…

- When John wrote this to the church at Smyrna, he knew they would understand the phrase, “I will give you the crown of life.”

- At that time, Smyrna was a huge participant in the athletic games; the Grecian games.

- And at the end of the games, the winners would receive the winner’s crown.

- It was an honor to receive; it was a big deal

- There was only one winner here church, and Smyrna understood exactly what that meant.

- If Jesus was handing out crowns for the adversity and persecution and suffering, if they persevered, sign me up.

- Where is our hunger and thirst for the crown that Jesus is handing out church?

- Have we become too complacent with the worlds crown? Have we settled to be accepted by the world even if the Lord doesn’t approve?

- Where is our passion to suffer for good? Does God want you to suffer? If it means drawing closer to Him so you can learn to live a Holy life, pleasing and accepting to Him, then yes.

- And once you start living closer to Him and live a holy life, pleasing and accepting to Him, get ready; He’s handing out crowns.

- Crowns can come in all variations; crowns are not just in heaven church at the end of this life; Jesus is handing out crowns on this earth.

- And if you haven’t received one yet, or ones you think you should be getting, my question to you is, show me your suffering for it?

- What work did you put in for it? What adversity did you persevere through? What slander did you overcome? What test, planned by the devil, did you pass in God’s eyes?

- Because if you haven’t kicked fear in the face yet, it’s kicking you and keeping you from your crown.

- Hebrews 11:6

- When the church at Smyrna trusted in God, they were overcomers - to them that meant victors, even in the face of death.

- When John wrote to them and told them that Jesus called them, “rich” it was only confirmation that they were doing it right.

- Smyrna was the only church that received commendation only; there was no correction they needed to address; only to continue to stay encouraged that their suffering was not only noticed, but increasing their riches.

- Their focus should be our focus church; for eternal value that will never change; riches that can never be taken away

- Matthew 6:33

- it costs to be a dedicated believer in Christ. As end-time pressures increase, persecution will also increase, and the church needs to be ready.

- The world may call us broke Christians, but in God’s eye and in God’s timing, we are rich.

 

- What is interesting about Smyrna is that it is still around today; today we know it as Izmir and it is located on the edge of modern day Turkey.

- the church at Smyrna never got to see its flourishment and continuity. What they fought for then still remains today.

- What if what you are fighting for today, you never get to see? Will that keep you from fighting for them? Are they not worth the sacrifice? Are we only in it for ourselves and “now” gratification?

- The people of Izmir exist and thrive because of the church of Smyrna.

 

- Revelation 2:11

- As we learned from two week ago with the church at Ephesus, anyone with an ear, this is for them, not just for the church at Ephesus, but for the individuals as well.

- “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”

- When people die in their battle with some sickness or disease or ailment, that’s the first death. And if you don’t know Jesus and He doesn’t know you, there is what is called, the second death.

- Revelation 20:10, 14-15

- Think of this; the pain these people experienced in this life and into their first death, will carry with them into this second death, but will only increase, with no end in sight.

- I’m not saved because I don’t want to go to hell; I’m saved because I’m in love with Jesus.

- But this second death experience if we are not found to be believers in Christ, is a close second reason why we should want to be in relationship with Jesus.

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