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Devotionals

The Church in Smyrna (Part 1)

I watered the lawns and garden this morning. As I came within 1 meter from the bore-hole manhole, I noticed bees flying around the manhole. On closer inspection I saw the bees entering into the manhole through the hole for the electrical cable. This led to me getting someone to remove the bees. It was fascinating to watch. According to this person, the hive was a small one, likely one week old and having about 10,000 bees. There was honey in the comb already even though only a week in the making. The point I want to make is that I was surprised to find the bees there. It was scary to think that perhaps children could have been playing in that area and might have been stung. I really had a fright to find these bees so unexpectedly. Then I think of the seven pastors to the seven Churches … imagine how surprised they were … what a fright they had when they received their letter and then they pass it on to the other six. Now we come to the second pastor and his Church

Rev 2:8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write”

Smyrna was situated on the west coast of Asia Minor … today called Izmir. She was almost a rival to Ephesus with her wide streets, open-air theatre seating 20,000 people, schools for medicine and science plus her monetary system which was famous. The Church was most likely founded by Paul around AD 53-56.

Ac 19:8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Remember the letter is written to the pastor who in turn would read it to his flock before passing it on to the other Churches. This Church was not without fault though the Lord Jesus spoke no word of complaint against it. One commentator outlined this letter like this … (1) The comfort of the Savior; (2) The constancy of the saints; (3) The courage of the sufferers and (4) The crown of the slain. I’ll however use the same format as before. Here’s the text

Rev 2:8 “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.

1) Jesus is God incarnate who provides salvation. These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. The Lord Jesus stamps His authority by telling the pastor two things …

(1) He is the First and the Last. That is, He is the Alpha and Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Not only has Jesus every answer to every question as He encompasses all wisdom and knowledge, everything that exists from the beginning to the end is His. He is Almighty God. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things.

(2) He died and came to life again. You cannot detach the Creator from the Gospel because He is the God of the New Creation too. Outside of Jesus’ salvific ministry there is no Church, no meaning, no purpose and no future … no hope! The Gospel makes the difference between all religions! It must be the main thing in the Church and remain the main thing in the Church for when the main thing is lost to the Church the Church is lost and there is no hope for the people! Beloved, this must be our daily prayer, that God in grace will persuade us by His Spirit to keep the main the main thing in the Church.

2) Jesus knows and understands the environment in which His people live. Once again our Lord’s omniscience comes through. He knows and in this case there is no need for fear only encouragement. Something a Church that struggles even though she is faithful to the Gospel needs to understand is that Jesus sees and knows what the Church is doing. In this case, the pastor could be encouraged. He was doing something right and the result of this was a Church that was on the right track. Any pastor who serves God correctly, with passion and faithfulness in the pulpit and pastorate can be encouraged even though finances are low or other interventions disrupt a smooth operation. God never says a pastor must look at money, numbers, fame, image or popularity … but He does say the pastor must teach the Word, giving the people healthy doctrine and preach the gospel. God calls for service and servanthood in all faithfulness. Look at this

Rev 2:9 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.

The City was famous for its monetary system … cash flowed … yet this pastor and his Church were extremely poor financially. For the Name of and Cause of Jesus Christ, these people struggled economically. This is not unusual when a pastor and Church stand up for the Bible and the Gospel without compromise that the finances run thin. When people don’t like the application of the Gospel … holiness, separateness and Christlikeness … some from in the Church number who want a Gospel that accepts a weakened morality and will punish the Church through with holding their tithes making the Church’s cash flow dry up. But … Jesus says they are rich! You see, there is a decided difference between monetary wealth and spiritual wealth. Money is temporal and when it becomes a god it destroys. Spirituality is eternal and when it’s directed by the True God it builds up, matures and makes one conform more and more into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ! Meditate on these two verses

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

and

Mt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

O Lord God Almighty, please save pastors and Churches from being worldly, wanting money, popularity and the things that distract from keeping the main thing the main thing. Thank you Lord that our true wealth is spiritual and heavenly and only available in Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us to enjoy our true riches. Amen.

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