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The Letter to the Church at Smyrna

February 23, 2022

Leadership Notes


Revelation 2:8-11


SMYRNA


Sometimes, things are worse than they seem. This is particularly true at Smyrna:


1. From verse nine, we know that the people in the church at Smyrna know that, while facing tribulation and poverty, they are also being slandered. They know that.


2. What they might not be aware of is that their opposition also comes from the devil. It will result in some of them going to prison soon. And this will result in them being tested to the point of death. Things will get worse.


Contrary to the promises of unicorns and rainbows from today's preachers of prosperity, here's something we learn from Smyrna.


FAITH DOES NOT NECESSARILY REMOVE THE STORMS OF LIFE,

BUT IT WILL ALWAYS CARRY US THROUGH THEM WITH PERFECT

PEACE.


Please don't misunderstand. I hope I am not coming across as the voice of a cynic…some negative Neil projecting a gloomy outlook of life onto anyone who has ears to hear. Things are always infinitely better than they seem:


1. Christ has the last word.


2. Christ is alive forevermore.


3. Christ knows your pain.


4. You are rich with the riches of Christ.


5. You will receive from him the crown of life.


6. He will not let you be hurt by the second death.


Persecution and hardship hammered the church at Smyrna because they strongly resisted compromising with the culture.


Here is what we know. In John 16:33, Jesus says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” In Second Timothy 3:12, Paul says, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Finally, in First Peter 5:10 we read, "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." What all this means is that the fiercest persecution has the affect of perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing the church. Persecution doesn't destroy the church, it makes it strong.


This letter, from Jesus through John, was from the eternal One who knew everything. It was encouraging that Jesus had died and risen. It was encouraging that Jesus had power over sin and death. So even death could not hold fearful sway over their lives.


In 155 A.D., Polycarp of Smyrna was burned at the stake for refusing to say, "Caesar is Lord." So confident was he that he could endure this brutal death, Polycarp was only loosely bound to the stake. This happened to the man from Smyrna, who was taught by John. Polycarp himself wrote an encouraging letter to Philippi. Such amazing faith in the face of death.


Finally, a few unrelated tidbits:


* Why is it easier to fool people than it is to convince them they've been fooled?


* Approximately 99.85 % of all the mass in our solar system is concentrated in the sun. -

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor {Psalm 8:3-5}."


* There are eight times as many atoms in a teaspoon of water as there are teaspoonfuls of water in the Atlantic Ocean.


And finally, your Moment of Spurgeon:


He will have you as you are. Only trust him; trust him, and you shall find

that this new covenant will do for you what the old covenant of "Do, do,

do," could never do - it will sanctify you and justify you.


With Much Love and Affection,


Richard

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