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September 17, 2019 1:00 am
Recently a coach and a well-known university in the South is been fired. The reason she was holding a Bible study with the athletes in her group after working hours. One person objected.
The coach was fired not so long ago, a Swedish pastor was put in prison. The reason he preached against the sin of homosexuality that is considered crime not so long ago on the general of the United States had to fight hard to keep his job.
The reason he spoke the truth one time and talked about how his Christian faith is a peaceful faith and my other faith of violent faith. All of these are just samples of the intense increase of persecution, intimidation and hatred toward the faithful servants of the living God, and I will make you a prediction and I am no prophet nor the son of a prophet. In fact, I pray that I would be a false prophet and say what I'm saying that unless the Lord Jesus Christ somehow intervenes with the power of his Holy Spirit sweeping across the land with a revival of Holy Spirit revival not manufactured one things are going to get worse and the persecution is going to heat up, and the pressure and the intensity for believers to compromise is going to be like we have never seen in modern times, or even in past times and that is why the message to the church of Smyrna is a message of hope. It is a message of comfort.
It's a message of assurance. It is a message of encouragement.
It is a message of the resurrected Jesus Christ to all his faithful believers who are oppressed throughout generation. It is a message. Indeed, that is given for us. Most desperately needed today but I can tell you it will be most desperately needed in the days to come.
It is a message to high school students.
It's a message to elementary school students. It's a message to government workers. It's a message to faithful preachers and teachers of the word of God.
It is a message for everyone. Turn with me please to Revelation chapter 2 beginning at verse eight. The words of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to the church in Smyrna 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. I know your afflictions and your poverty and yet you are rich.
I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison and test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
He who overcomes will not will not will not be hurt at all by the second death. Father, we bless you for your words of encouragement given to us in the Scripture that we today be men and women Boys and Girls Club coverage and trust and love for the Lord Jesus Christ like never before, even as the days get darker.
We will shine brighter as your children in this world. In Jesus name amen we saw in the last message. The first one of the seven that the apostle John was communicating to the seven churches of Asia minor.
The first church with the church in the city of Ephesus. We saw how the church was a church that upheld the truth. It was a church that believes the right doctrine, it was a church that taught sound biblical truths and Jesus commended them for that. Jesus never said will that really didn't matter known or not. He said that is of vital importance, and he praised them for that. But then they he told them that there's one thing that they are lacking, and that is they have lost their first love for Jesus. There were serving Jesus.
There were teaching Jesus still preaching Jesus, but their love for Jesus has grown cold and so he comes to the second Church of church of Smyrna, one of only two churches in all the seven that you would never find a word of condemnation from the Lord Jesus Christ. Not a word of rebuke. Not a word of correction. It was a church that love the Lord Jesus Christ as well. As love the word of God. It was a church that love the Lord Jesus Christ as well. As loving the truth, the believers in Smyrna were hated for their faithfulness. The Lord, and will because there were hated there were persecuted and because there were persecuted.
They tended to love the Lord Jesus Christ more in the something these people love the Lord not because they needed him, but because they loved him for who he is now the Smyrna is a the modern city of Izmir in Turkey and so here's the church of Ephesus and 35 miles north of Ephesus is the church of Smyrna.
It was a busy city. It was a city of trade.
But more than that. It was a beautiful city, physically beautiful.
In fact, they called up all kinds of them. They call them the crown of Asia.
They called it flower of Asia. They called it the ornament of Asia and it was founded by the Greeks.
About 1000 BC and about 600 BC. It was totally destroyed. It became desolate but then around the year 195 BC the Romans came and rebuilt the city unlimited far more beautiful than before because the Romans rebuilt the city. There population of that city of Smyrna with Phil beholden to the Roman Empire. They felt indebted to the Roman Empire very therefore tried to become more Romans than the Romans in fact there were the only city to build a temple for the goddess aroma. In order to show their gratitude to Rome and not only a temple to aroma these folks were building a temple for every copy thinking God that they ever stumbled on a timely and there probably more than any other city in Asia minor. They had more temples than anybody else. They build temples for food Zeus + for Apollo for nemesis for Aphrodite's numbing dangers every God they heard they built them at they had temples everywhere; why are you telling me all this I'm trying to teach me some history lessons. No, I wanted to listen very carefully because that's where the relevance comes in to our day. These people who worshiped every God they've ever heard of. They worshiped every goddess they ever heard of those same people were accusing the true believers in the one true God that Christians as atheists, as they called these people who were worshiping every God that they can lay hands on with accuse the Christians the children of the living God, who were worshiping the one true God the way God asked him to worship as atheists. I mean, I wanted to think with me, please use your mind here. Okay.
Just think with me.
It's mind blowing. And you say will happen. They knew this when they yeah typing right now it's happening right now. This is a very relevant message you will understand when you when you understand this particular message to the church in Smyrna. You will understand that the devil never changes his tactics into thousand years. Not only is very smart. He just re-arrives his essay he just regresses his falsehoods and is the same thing that he did with the church in Smyrna is doing today in modern USA and the West in general, the people who were tolerant of every God in every God asked were calling the ones were worshiping the one true God and tolerant visit. This is a message of relevance with the head and the sounds very familiar to most of us, the very people who preach tolerance. Tolerance of every crazy idea of premorbid philosophy and great inconceivable thought are the very people who shout accusations at the true believers of being intolerant just like the devil big in Smyrna.
They called him and told him they call the bigot they call them out of the mainstream.
I wanted to just think with man and understand my frustration with how things here, the most loving people on the face of the earth.
Call intolerant the most caring people on the face of the earth. I called Megan that people who have built hospitals and schools and educated people in India and the Middle East all over Asia all over Africa.
The people who have taken the love of Christ to the end of their call intolerant and bigots just as the devil had those folks in the church in the city of Smyrna to call the believers atheists now had to tell you this, but the devil who failed in the church of Smyrna, and with the church in Smyrna 2000 years ago is going to fail in the church of Jesus Christ today. He is the father and he is the father of confusion and the reason he is creating confusion so that the masses get confused and they don't know what the truth is, and they don't know what fiction is they don't know what falsehood is and they get totally confused. He is the God of lies, the father of lies in the God of confusion, but is a good news I love to get going to the good news as fast as I can, is a good news here is a good news of what Jesus said to the faithful children of his in the church in the city of Smyrna and here's what the risen Christ is saying every faithful child of his in every city in the world today is what he is saying he saying I know I know your affliction. I know that you being falsely accused.
I know that you being misunderstood. I am know the price that you are paying for your integrity. I know all of the price that you praying for your faithfulness.
The resurrected Jesus Christ. No, I know what the devil is up to and using the Gentiles and the Jews alike in order to persecute you. In order to hate you in order to put you in prison. I know I know it's very simple. The Lord knew what the devil is up to in the devil was up two bags and is what the devil is up to in your life and my life today and that is to in imitators, and that is to frighten us that though we don't want to be rejected. We don't want to be hated. We want to be liked. We want to be loved and therefore if he managed to get sis to the point of fear he is managing the silence us about speaking about our Lord Jesus Christ. That's his strategy is his strategy was strategy event. It's his strategy. Now it's very simple and that is why the Lord Jesus Christ says do not fear that is really the key point of the whole message here. There is nothing that is nothing that the devil loves more than silencing the believer. Absolutely there is nothing that he loves more than a believer whose mouth shut about Jesus. If he can intimidate you into silence. He has succeeded and that is why the risen Lord Jesus Christ is Ptolemy afraid. Don't be intimidated by him. Don't be silent because he is trying to frighten you. And that's why he begins by saying I know if you started by saying, fear not. You have to struggle to redefine the rest of the Mesopotamians. I know, and then he goes on to say fear not. He said I am the first on the last I am the one who was dead but now I'm alive.
Do not be afraid to see Jesus always gives you a reason why you don't be afraid, and he started by saying he who is an innocent. Don't be afraid.
I wanted to hear me right there is nothing that can frighten away fear more than the fact of who Jesus is. That's what you and I forget all the time. There is nothing that can banish fear out of your life, like the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ. There is nothing that can replace fear with faith like knowing experientially firsthand the power of the resurrected Christ.
There is nothing that will give you confidence in the midst of trouble in the midst of hatred and in the midst of persecution and in the midst of difficulties like knowing the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ and so the pagans came to the faithful believers in the said will all you need to do just burn incense to the image of Caesar, nobody will know nobody will tell and is just going to be our secret. The faithful believers says no way will look wherever intolerant people here. We have all these guns just add Jesus to the list of your friends and Jesus to the list of the gods. Nobodies can ask any questions and the believer said no way. They said to them, you gonna lose your jobs. You gonna become poor. You gonna be destitute you will become alienated from society and culture. You will be considered a pariah in this part of the world you may lose your life in the faithful believer said what, why Jesus said I am the Alpha and the Omega, that is the first alphabet from the lost in case you did not in the Greek language. I am the first and the last on the beginning of the end.
I am the one who died but rose again. I have all power that the father thrusted in my hand. I have power over your enemies.
I have power over you.
I have power over those who are hurting you power over those who are persecuting you. I have power on the alphanumeric, so bring it on bring it on and you notice there's a sense of disappointment and hurt even the Jews who supposed to believe in Jehovah, one God, there were not polytheistic, worshiping many gods are worshiping Jehovah even very in order to save their skin in order to save their own lives. They cooperated with the pagans and handed over the believers to be persecuted and that's why Jesus calls this particular synagogue. This particular group of Jews in this are specific to them. Look at verse nine he calls them. I know the slander of those who say that there are Jews but they are not, you know. Have you ever asked yourself the question, why is the natural man hate the gospel so much with that natural man belongs to a religion or no religion at all. It really makes no difference. In fact they have a lot in common. I've seen it.
I've experienced it firsthand the natural man doesn't like the gospel I want to spend my life trying to figure this out.
I really did. I share this with you some years ago and only shared with you again for things why the natural man hates the gospel and therefore hates the children of the living God number one, the gospel exposes man's sin and guilt and all. They don't want that to be happening. The gospel reveals the judgment and the wrath of God that is calling upon sin and they don't want to be reminded of that the gospel announces that man can never, never, never saves himself in all their pride rejects that before the gospel announces that only through the cross of Calvary. Can one be saved and received the gift, the gift, the gift, the free gift of eternal life, but that arrogance can tolerate that.
That is why they reject not only the gospel but those who believe it. And beloved, I want to tell you something, his would ask in my heart. So many modern-day preachers and teachers out of fear of rejection's there watering down the gospel message there watering it down the softening and they call it old kind of other names, but all goes back to fear of rejection on tell you something. Whether I live 50 more years of 50 more days of 50 more months. I don't care.
I'm going to see Jesus.
One of these days I now brother be accepted by him and by society MN belongs here. Satan failed in Smyrna 2000 years ago and he will fail with the faithful believers today wanted to hear me right is with the risen Christ. Once everyone all of his faithful children to know I don't make up the stuff that is not in the book you're going to hear from me there was an opinion I'm gonna tell you, and you can take it for what it's worth, but his love the Lord Jesus, the risen Christ wants all his faithful children who are facing trouble to know. Here's what the risen Christ once all who are victims of fear and intimidation to know is what the Lord Jesus Christ. Once all his timid children don't understand, and to comprehend and to receive three things basically in this letter. Three things number one that he has all power. Secondly, that he knows all things. And thirdly, that his purpose is working out in the midst of difficulties. He has all power. I am the first and then in the last I was before anything was created and any man was created and I'm going to be there when everything is destroyed I and one who no one ever came before him, and no one will be after him.
I am the one who has created all and I consulted all I died, and they thought it's over. But in the third days. I surprised them all and rose from the dead. I have defeated Satan, and death. I have defeated your most powerful enemy. I have defeated your most powerful follow-up. I have defeated death. Therefore, just firstly bring you through your pain. I'll bring you through the difficulties bring you through your agonies.
I will bring you through past your enemies attack.
I'll bring your past, your false accusers attack bring you pass your temporary defeats your temporary suffering C has he has all power in his hand, given to him by the father and by the way through the book of Isaiah.
I am the alphanumeric is a description of God the father and that is why Jesus was emphasizing this that now the father handed Jesus the same description that assailed him that he now became the Alpha and the Omega, he is has all authority under his control. Secondly, he knows all things peanut only knows intellectually.
He knows experientially. All things the Bible says that like us.
He has been tempted in anywhere but never sin never sent. He says I know your afflictions. I know your pain. For my sake but I'm working with you in the middle of it.
I'm holding your hand right in the middle of your pain, I don't only understand your afflictions, but I'm holding you in the very palms of my hands in the middle of your afflictions. I understand your afflictions because I have experienced more afflictions than you'll ever experience in 10 lifetimes, and I'll never leave you nor forsake you.
Your suffering may be causing your financial reversals of liquid Jesus said about that he said remember I don't judge you on the basis of the statement of your net worth other people do that because he said they call you before but I call you Rich and the great people might call you forward because he controls everything because he are all things he calls you Rich because he is the one of whom was said that he was rich, and for your sake became poor, so that he may make you rich. Not only that he has all power. Not only that he knows all things. Thirdly, he has a purpose and everything in your life for his faithful children. For those who love him and those are called by his name, you see the devil tempted us for one reason, and his reason is to destroy us. In his mind and he lies so much.
He deceived himself so much that he thinks he can really destroy us.
Us and that's how you get why the temptress of the Lord Jesus Christ turns it around and turns it into a test in order to prove us and bless us. Look at verse 10 do not be afraid of what you're about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution was on the fourth a period of time. 10 days you see the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is saying that what Satan means for evil in your life.
He turns it around and mean it for good. What Satan tries to use in order to destroy you and destroy your family God the resurrected Christ will turn it around to use it to bless you what the devil delights in working and designing to destroy you. God turns it around and use it to your faith because Jesus promised when you walk this earth. He promised in John chapter 10 versus 28 and 29 I give them eternal life, and they shall never never never perish, really. And if you look at it in the original language.
No not never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my father's hand you got the father and the son, and you are in a class of their hands.
You want to banish fear out of your life memorized. John 639 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose nominal all that he has given me, but raise them up in the last day.
All of the intimidation all of their false accusations. All of the persecution. All of the harassments. All of the lies will amount to not in the doomed to failure doomed to failure.
When you put your trust in him who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end the one who died but not rose again when you put your trust in him there is a common story. The well-known story historical story about the church in Smyrna. Some of you probably heard this before but it bears repeating simply because it tells you something about those believers in Smyrna. It tells you something about that tenacity tells you something about their strength.
It tells you something about the love for Jesus Christ. In this particular story took place 50 years 50 50 years after this message of the Lord Jesus Christ was delivered to the pastor of the church in Smyrna. The church had a success in history tells us that this pastor of the church in Smyrna was ordained and set aside for ministry by the apostle John himself of the book of Revelation in that man's name was Polycarp, Polycarp, Polycarp was the pastor of the church in Smyrna but in the month of February of the year 156 A.D. at the urging of his congregation, knowing that he could be killed at any moment. They pleaded with him to leave the city. He would do it. They come back the whole congregation began to plead with him. Please leave the city and so he did, but then the police tracked him down and they found him and he refused to flee instead he held a feast for his captors. He made food for them and he began to feed them. He said all I ask for you is to give me two hours to pray and so while the eating feeding the faces he goes in there and he prays to the Lord Jesus, and after he prays he comes back and he says I'm ready. The commanding officer began to plead with him for such a kind man he such a gentleman. Your generous man please just swear by the genius of Caesar, and I'll let you go. Please just revile Christ, just once, so that eyewitness if you have revile Christ and I'll release you and I'll set you free.
Right now, which Polycarp spoke his famous words and imitative. Those words have encouraged believers for over 850 years.
That is 1850 years. Here's what he said for 86 years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me the proconsul said I'm going to send wild beasts to tear you to shreds. He said call the beasts. He said I will burn you in a fire. He would not recant and finally, both Jews and Gentiles went out and began to pile the word in the middle of the city and Polycarp only asked for one thing, he said don't fasten me to the stake. I will not run I will not escape. And so he stood freely as they left the fire, but even then a wind blew the fire away from Polycarp and finally the soldiers went in with their swords and finished them off beloved on ask your question how much we think of Jesus. Jesus means to you how much Jesus means to, Jesus means to me, but I pray that that? You want us in our vocation and avocation not coming in are going to face difficulties and when we face silly and conveniences of life and think of them as difficulties.
Father God. When we focus on our wants.
We attempted to take our eyes.
The prize help us to answer the question what is Jesus means only you can do that supernaturally.
In Jesus name. Thanks for listening to this message from Dr. Michael. You sat recently featured on leading the way. If you'd like to know more about us, please visit LTW.org that LTW.Ward