Sermons

Summary: Being faithful to Christ even in the midst of death.

LIVING FAITHFUL IN AN UNFAITHFUL WORLD

REV. 2:8-11

I. INTRODUCTION

IT APPEARS THAT WE ARE LIVING IN AN AGE WHERE WICKEDNESS REIGNS, RIGHTEOUSNESS HAS RESIGNED, MORALS HAVE MOVED, AND SIN IS SITTING ON THE THRONE. YES MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, IT SEEMS AS IF SOCIETY IS HEADED FOR A COLLISION COURSE WITH CHAOS; AS HUMANITY DANCES WITH DESTRUCTION, BECAUSE GENUINE COMPASSION AND CONCERN HAS BEEN EVICTED FROM THE MINDS OF MEN. THE NEWS BROADCASTS ARE FILLED WITH MORE BAD NEWS THAN GOOD NEWS. THE PAPERS ARE PERMEATED WITH THE PAINS OF THIS WORLD. THE RICH GET RICHER, THE POOR GET POORER, AND THE HAVE NOTS HAVE NOT, BECAUSE THOSE WHO HAVE CONTINUE TO TIGHTEN THEIR GRIP ON WHAT THEY HAVE.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO PERSIST IN PUTTING GOD OUT OF EVERYTHING. WHENEVER GODS’ PRESENCE IS OMITTED FROM ANYTHING, IT MESSES UP EVERTHING. IS THERE ANY HOPE OF MOVING OUT FROM UNDER THIS BITTER CLOUD OF CONFUSION? WHAT IS OUR DISCOURSE IN THE MIDST OF DISTURBING DILEMMAS? WHAT CAN THE PEOPLE OF GOD DO? THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE, BUT THE PROCESS IS CHALLENGING, AND THAT’S TO LIVE FAITHFUL IN AN UNFAITHFUL WORLD.

II. THE TEXT

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE CITY OF SMYRNA, IT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST CITIES OF ITS’ REGION, KNOWN BY MANY AS THE “FIRST CITY,” OF ASIA. THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA, ALONG WITH THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA, ARE THE ONLY TWO CHURCHES IN REVELATION THAT CHRIST DID NOT REPRIMAND.

CHRIST KNOWS THE WORKS OF HIS CHURCH. JUST AS HE KNOWS THE WORKS OF SMYRNA, HE KNOWS EVERY MOTIVE BEHIND WHAT WE DO HERE AT ZION. NOT ONLY DOES HE KNOW THE WORKS OF THE CHURCH, BUT HE KNOWS THE WORKS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL.

NOT ONLY DOES CHRIST KNOW THEIR WORKS, BUT HE KNOWS THE TRIALS, THE DISTRESS, AND THE AFFLICTION THAT HIS PEOPLE ENCOUNTER FOR HIS SAKE. YES, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THERE ARE GOING TO BE TIMES IN THIS LIFE WHEN WE MUST SUFFER FOR OUR BELIEF IN THE MASTER. I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT SUFFERING IS CONDUCIVE TO THIS CHRISTIAN JOURNEY. BUT WE MUST LIVE FAITHFUL IN AN UNFAITHFUL WORLD.

THIS CHURCH WAS PHYSICALLY, FINACIALLY BANKRUPTED, BUT SPIRITUALLY WEALTHY. THE WORD POVERTY IN THIS PASSAGE COMES FROM A WORD THAT MEANS HAVING NOTHING. BUT NOTICE IF YOU WILL, THAT FROM MAN’S STANDPOINT, THEY ARE POOR, BUT FROM CHRIST’S STANDPOINT THEY ARE RICH. FAR TOO MANY CHURCH FOLK ARE CONCERNED WITH MAN’S STANDPOINT AS OPPOSED TO CHRISTS’.

CHRIST KNOWS THOSE WHO ARE HIS, AND THOSE WHO BELONG TO SATAN, JOHN 10:5, “AND A STRANGER WILL THEY NOT FOLLOW, BUT WILL FLEE FROM HIM: FOR THEY KNOW NOT THE VOICE OF STRANGERS. 27, “MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, AND I KNOW THEM, AND THEY FOLLOW ME.” IN OTHER WORDS, CHRIST KNOWS THE SAINTS FROM THE AINTS.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE LORDS’ FAITHFUL GO THROUGH IN THIS LIFE, WE ARE NOT TO BE FEARFUL OR FRETFUL, OUR LORD IS A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE. WE MAY FIND OURSELVES OSTRACIZED, CRITICIZED, AND DISENFRANCHISED, BUT WE HAVE THE ASSURANCE ACCORDING TO 1 JOHN 4:4 THAT GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN US THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD. WE ALSO HAVE THE GUARANTEE OF ROMANS 8:31 THAT “IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?”

III. APPLICATION

THE QUESTIONS MAY BE ASKED, "WHY SHOULD I LIVE FAITHFUL WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE DOING JUST WHAT IT WANTS TO DO? WHY SHOULD I CONTINUE TO COME TO CHURCH AND THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE GOING TO HELL?" WE ARE ENCOURAGED BY CHRIST TO BE FAITHFUL UNTIL THE END. 1 COR. 15:58, STATES, “THEREFORE, MY BELOVED BRETHREN, BE YE STEDFAST, UNMOVEABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, FORASMUCH AS YE KNOW THAT YOUR LABOUR IS NOT IN VAIN IN THE LORD.” FURTHERMORE, IF WE HOLD ON AND HOLD OUT, WE ARE PROMISED A CROWN OF LIFE. THIS CROWN IS THE STEPHANOS CROWN. THE CROWN THAT LOOKS LIKE A WREATH. THIS CROWN WAS GIVEN BY THE GREEKS TO THE WINNER AND THE VICTOR OF A CONTEST. WELL, WE ARE IN A CONTEST MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, AND WE MUST STRIVE WITH ALL DILIGENCE NOT TO DROP OUT OF THE RACE.

BEING FAITHFUL REQUIRES THAT WE, ONE, RELY ON GOD FIRST AS OPPOSED TO RELYING ON THE WORLD. PSALM 118:8-9, “IT IS BETTER TO TRUST IN THE LORD THAN TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN MAN. IT IS BETTER TO TRUST IN THE LORD THAN TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN PRINCES.” WE MUST TRUST GOD EVEN WHEN THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE GETTING THE BEST OF US. TWO, WE MUST SEEK HIS FACE, 1 CHRONICLES 16:11 TEACHES, “SEEK THE LORD AND HIS STRENGTH, SEEK HIS FACE CONTINUALLY.” WE SEEK HIS FACE FOR COUNSEL AND DIRECTION. THREE, WE MUST BE STRONG IN THE LORD, EPHESIANS 6:10 TEACHES, “FINALLY, MY BRETHREN, BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT,” WHICH TRANSLATES, BE STRENGTHENED IN THE LORD. WE DRAW OUR STRENGTH FROM HIM, BY FAITHFULLY LIVING FOR HIM. IF WE DO NOT GIVE OURSELVES TO HIM, WE WILL DISCOVER THAT WE WILL EXPERIENCE A POWER FAILURE.

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