Summary: What do you do when you have one of those days? Jesus' letter to Smyrna gives us great encouragement in suffering.
How many of you remember the “Hee-Haw” Show in the 70’s-80’s?
•How many would never admit to it if you did remember?
“If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me”.
Some of us have one of those days. Others have one of those lives.
So what do you do when you have one of those days?
More specifically, how do you deal with suffering?
Once again, God in His sovereignty led me to preach this message several months ago.
•He knew exactly what we needed to hear today.
The truth is, everybody here today is probably suffering in some way.
We’re studying the 7 churches in Rev. and discovering how to be overcomers victorious.
Today, we’re looking at Jesus’ letter to the church of Smyrna. Turn to Rev. 2:8-11.
Here was a church enduring great suffering and persecution.
Jesus gives them and us some great advice on how to deal with suffering.
Smyrna and Philadelphia were only 2 churches without a negative word.
•Ironically, they’re the only churches that still exist today.
I’d like to take a closer look at this passage and then take a closer look at suffering.
SMYRNA - Modern Izmir (in Turkey), about 35 miles north of Ephesus on the Aegean Sea.
It was a prosperous city, with a large, very hostile Jewish population.
The Church was probably started during Paul’s MJ to Ephesus (~AD54).
Smyrna comes from the word “myrrh”, which was an incense used in burials.
•Joseph of Arimathea used 100 lbs. of it on Jesus when He died.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus speaks about death to the city of “myrrh”?
What’s more, the Church of Smyrna was comforted by the One who had already died and rose again, claiming ultimate victory over death.
9 I KNOW YOUR AFFLICTIONS (“pressure”, tribulation, commonly used to describe End Times.)
It’s also used to describe birth pangs in Jn. 16:21.
Like the temporary pressure of giving birth, this church was also experiencing temporary “pressure” that would lead to new life.
(I KNOW) YOUR POVERTY - YET YOU ARE RICH. This was a rich, prosperous city, but the church, because of persecution by the Jews and the Romans, was under great economic stress.
•When they accepted Christ, they often lost their jobs and homes.
Jesus recognizes their material poverty, yet reminds them of their spiritual prosperity.
•Christians are the richest people on earth!
I KNOW THE SLANDER (blasphemy) OF THOSE WHO SAY THEY ARE JEWS AND ARE NOT, BUT ARE A SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN. They were physical Jews, but not spiritual Jews.
Rom. 2:28-29 (NLT) FOR YOU ARE NOT A TRUE JEW JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN OF JEWISH PARENTS OR BECAUSE YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH THE JEWISH CEREMONY OF CIRCUMCISION. NO, A TRUE JEW IS ONE WHOSE HEART IS RIGHT WITH GOD.
Not only were they not real Jews, but they were actually a synagogue of Satan.
Notice in v. 10 that their present suffering wasn’t over. More was to come. Oh, yay!
•It’s like a hurricane. When the eye hits, the other half of the storm is still to come.
YOU WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION FOR TEN DAYS – (prob. means a short, indefinite time).
The storm won’t last forever.
You may feel as if there’s no end to your suffering, but there is.
Jesus here gives them the best advice in the midst of suffering.
BE FAITHFUL, EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH, AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE CROWN OF LIFE.
Don’t give up, even to the point of physical death and I will give you the victor’s/ overcomer’s crown, the crown of eternal life.
v. 11 speaks of THE SECOND DEATH - the eternal death of the wicked.
Rev. 20:14-15 THEN DEATH AND HADES WERE THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE. THE LAKE OF FIRE IS THE SECOND DEATH. IF ANYONE’S NAME WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE, HE WAS THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.
Rev. 21:8 “THE COWARDLY, THE UNBELIEVING, THE VILE, THE MURDERERS, THE SEXUALLY IMMORAL, THOSE WHO PRACTICE MAGIC ARTS, THE IDOLATERS AND ALL LIARS—THEIR PLACE WILL BE IN THE FIERY LAKE OF BURNING SULFUR. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH.”
Our present suffering is nothing compared to the eternal suffering of the ungodly in the second death.
(Dr. Beasley-Murray 83) “To die under the wrath of man is small compared with the prospect of suffering the judgment of God”.
AND HE WHO OVERCOMES WILL NOT BE HURT AT ALL BY THE SECOND DEATH.
If you’re a believer and you don’t give up, the second death cannot touch you!
4 TYPES OF SUFFERING: (and how we can deal with them)
1. Counterfeit Suffering Complainers. Pessimists. “Woe is me!”
They make a mountain out of a molehill. “If it weren’t for bad luck…”