Summary: The letter to the church at Smryna Part 1.
AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church 3rd in series on seven letters
"When is Enough, Enough?" (The Letter to the Church at Smyrna, Part 1) Rev. 2:8-11
[SERIES SLIDE WILL TRANSITION TO TITLE SLIDE]
This morning we’re going to look at the shortest of the seven letters found in Revelation chapters 2 & 3, the letter to the church at Smyrna. And yet even though it’s the shortest letter, there’s just so much here that I decided to preach from it both today and next Sunday.
As I read the letter, I encourage you to follow along in your Bible, or on the screen to my left. [SCRIPTURE SLIDES...]
8 "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
9 I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
I remember years ago listening to a comedy sketch involving a mother and her children. I believe it was something done by Bill Cosby and I think the setting was a grocery store. In any case the comedian began to detail how the woman’s children keep pushing all of her buttons, doing all of the things they knew they weren’t supposed to be doing, ignoring Mom’s directions and instructions. As the kids turned up the disobedience, the internal pressure in their mother built up until it reached that point of emotional explosion....you know what I’m talking about---that point when Mom shouts out, "that’s it. No more. I have had enough!" The comedian then went into graphic detail describe the woman’s flaring nostrils, extended veins and bulging eyes. Any onlooker could immediately recognize that this was a woman who had had enough and you didn’t want to mess with her. For that mother somewhere along the line after "stop that right now" and “do you hear me?” and "if you do that one more time" and "help me Lord" came the point of having enough.
Growing up I figured out how to tell when my Mom had had enough. There were two telltale signs. Whenever Mom used your middle name---watch out---cause you knew she had had enough. Now that’s a telltale sign with most Moms. But a telltale sign for my Mom that was much more unique was her occasional us of everybody’s name. When my Mom hollered out, "Mac, Pat, Darren, Dirk, darn it, whichever one of you that is, get over here..." man you knew you were in trouble...you knew she had had enough.
But what about us? Has life turned up the heat on us? Are we feeling crushed by its pressures? Has hardship or tragedy got us feeling like we’re at the end of our rope? Have we reached the point where we feel we have had enough and we can’t take any more? Maybe we feel like we’re there---or maybe we’re thinking we’re approaching the breaking point---maybe that’s what we’re thinking….but what’s God thinking about our situation? Does He see things the same way we do? Talk about your tough questions to answer…. Whenever we think we’ve had enough does God think we’ve had enough too?
Here in our text we have the first century church at Smyrna. It’s being subjected to a lot of pressure and persecution. Instead of having an upbeat joy-filled worship gathering I can almost here them singing “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” These guys were singing “gloom, despair and agony on me” a couple of thousand years before the twang nasal Hee Haw version hit the airwaves. Many of them were thinking, okay, enough is enough Lord. We think it’s time you turned down the burners. And then along comes this letter from the Lord. As the old hymn puts it, “Jesus knows all about their struggles.” And surprise instead of Jesus agreeing with them that they’d had enough, the Lord says, to borrow a phrase from BTO, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Now believe it or not folks---There’s only one primary point that I want you to get from today’s message---not three, not five, just one and it is simply this... [SLIDE WITH FIRST POINT] 1. How you endure hardships matters more than what hardships you endure.