If Jesus Passed a Note in Church, What Would it Say? Series (part 2 of 7)
(Series of sermon content original to W. Herschel Ford)
To the Church That Was Broke and Blessed
Oct. 15, 2006 FBC, Chester Mike Fogerson, Pastor
A There are two kinds of rich & poor:
1 A person can have untold millions materially & be a pauper spiritually.
2 A person can have little (pauper) materially & be rich spiritually.
3 Many times poor folks will lament, "I just can’t get a break" or, "I’m just waiting for my ship to come in."
a Our ship came in 2,000 years ago outside Jerusalem on a dusty hill called Golgotha.
b All of us got our big break at Calvary!
B "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 9 ’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 ’Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until 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 by the second death.’ Rev 2:8-11 (NASB)
1 Historical background on Smyrna (bitter, suffering-from myrrh)
a 35 miles NW of Ephesus, seaport city (money), learning, sciences, medicine flourished. Birthplace of Homer.
b First city to have a temple built for the Roman emperor Tiberius (23 AD).
c Smyrna was seen by some as the church in the martyred church period (2nd & 3rd century).
d Emperor worship/Jews were major antagonists to Christians.
aa All citizens of Rome had to call Caeser "Lord" (about 100 AD).
bb Once a year burned incense at an altar, to the godhead of Caesar & say, "Caesar is Lord." Received a certificate good for a year.
cc Jews were exempt.
2 Jesus knew that the Smyrnan church He saw as rich in Him, the world perceived as impoverished (essence of the text in a sentence)
a It’s eternally more significant for the Christian to have treasures in heaven than in Chester (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
b I pray you’ll know how to find blessing when your heart is being broken (objective).
c What are you doing to be blessed in your brokenness? (Probing question).
3 Let’s look at two promises that Jesus makes that can help us to find the blessing when our hearts are being broken.
I There is promise of tribulation to the faithful. ’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 ’Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
A The little church at Smyrna was persecuted for their faith in Jesus.
1 Tribulation (thlipsis) was more than just a bad day.
a It was a grievous affliction, distress, crushed
aa (IL) Smyrna’s name comes from myrrh, the spice brought to Jesus at His birth. Myrrh’s fragrance is not fully realized until it’s beaten/crushed with a pestle.
bb He’s saying they’re being beaten, crushed, afflicted.
b Their tribulation was more than we can almost imagine today
aa The (Emperor) Caesar cult was big in Smyrna & must call Caesar "Lord".
bb Punishment for refusing: citizenship revoked, unable to work, crucified, wrapped in animal skins & attacked by wild dogs, dipped in tar & lit as a lamppost, thrown to the lions while thousands cheer.
cc Polycarp (156 AD, disciple of John & bishop of the Smyrnan church)-burned at the stake for refusing to call Caesar "Lord". "86 years I have served Christ, & he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"
2 Jesus knew the devil’s plans/schemes for the church at Smyrna.
a ’Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. It’s revealed here for the first time in Revelation that the devil is the ultimate source of persecution for the Christian/church.
b Satan was the composer of the persecution, wicked men were his instruments (faux Jews).
c Jesus promised a faithful & suffering church more suffering if they stayed faithful (He didn’t promise to save them from suffering).
B Jesus has not promised to save us from our sufferings/tribulations either.
1 Tribulation is NOT when you get a headache, belly hurts, down in the back, cancer etc.
a It’s the Christian woman whose lost husband gets angry/causes trouble every time she goes to church (TRIBULATION); the student who’s ostracized by others because he lives out his faith by saving sex for marriage, choosing to be filled with the Holy Spirit & not alcohol (TRIBULATION).
b Tribulation is when you suffer in order to serve the Lord.
2 "Pastor, I’ve never suffered to serve the Lord."
a Never been told to keep my beliefs to myself, lost friends, vilified, slandered & lied about.
b Consider that perhaps you’re not living enough for/looking like Jesus in your own life.
c Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) The devil has plans to bring tribulation to the believer (if you’re not living for/looking like Jesus, the devil could care less).
d Many of us would rather stand up to rather than for Jesus.
Suffering has a way of reminding us which things in life really matter, forcing us to depend radically on God (transitional sentence).
II There is a promise of blessing to the faithful. Be faithful until 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 by the second death.’
A Smyrna & Ephesus were entirely different churches.
1 Ephesus was told to repent "or else"; Smyrna was not threatened, but rather promised, "I will give you a crown of life."
a The promise matches the "overcome" message we’ll see in all seven letters to the seven churches.
b Jesus promised those faithful a "crown of life" (not gold or diamonds).
aa Those who died being faithful were going to have life.
bb No second death. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20:14 (NASB)
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Rev 21:8 (NASB) =No hell
cc To the Christian at Smyrna, death was a real possibility, but greater than the fear of physical death was their fear of God’s eternal judgment.
2 Jesus reinforced the promise of James 1:12 & assured them that there was nothing to FEAR for the believer. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 (NASB)
a A crown was given to the athlete who finished first at the annual games, & Smyrna was a huge part of those games.
b Even if they were martyred, they would immediately go to heaven...wearing a crown.
c The world may call them "poor Christians", but in God’s sight they were rich! ’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)
B Our blessing for Christ comes out of our faithfulness to Christ.
1 Life is not the fleeting years we have here & then 6 feet of earth.
a The believer’s life is the period of time spent here in service of the King, & then the eternal blessing /joy at His side of heaven.
b Promised! Be faithful to Christ & life will be yours.
c Those who are born twice, die only once. Those who are born only once will die twice.
2 Dr. James McGinlay addressed an interesting idea with v. 11a, "He who overcomes will not be hurt."
a There are Christians who are always getting their feelings hurt.
aa A man was a deacon 20 years, told them to remove my name, they did & elected a new deacon. Hurt
bb A woman sang in choir, didn’t feel appreciated, quit. Hurt
cc A Sunday School teacher quit because she wasn’t recognized from the pulpit. Hurt
b God gives us Christians who are willing to serve anywhere, just so it is for the glory of God.
3 Jesus didn’t promise to save us from tribulation, He promised to reward us for standing up for Him.
A Jesus knew that the Smyrnan church He saw as rich in Him, the world perceived as impoverished (essence of the text in a sentence)
1 It’s eternally more significant for the Christian to have treasures in heaven than in Chester (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
2 We’ve looked at two promises that Jesus made that can help us find the blessing when our hearts are being broken.
a Promise of tribulation to the faithful
b Promise of blessing to the faithful
B I pray you’ll know how to find blessing when your heart is being broken (objective).
1 Choice #1: Tribulation is going to be faced with or without fear.
2 Choice #2: Much reward or little reward on God’s side of heaven.
C What are you doing to be blessed in your brokenness? (Probing question).
1 (IL) Great preacher & an elderly Christian woman die.
a Preacher had preached thousands of sermons, thousands had been saved, got to heaven, "Well done my good & faithful servant."
b Old woman died just a few blocks away. Spent hours in prayer, tithed her mite, read the Word, served the kingdom where & when she could, got to heaven, "Well done my good & faithful servant."
aa They both had different talents, but were alike in their faithfulness.
bb What would Jesus say to you today?
c When we’ve come to the end of our life, it isn’t going to matter how much money we have, but it will matter what we have done with Christ & for Christ.
2 What are you doing to be blessed in your brokenness? (Probing question).
a Today, you may be broken & looking for a better, sweeter life
b Jesus is offering you these things today if you’ll:
aa Turn your back to sin, self
bb Let Him have His way with you.
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