Hymn #87 Holy, holy, holy
Hymn #710 I need thee every hour
Words of assurance: Psalm 32:5
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Hymn #705 Marvellous grace of our loving Lord
God's will for our lives: Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Scripture: Rev. 2:8-11
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 about 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 life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
Title: The church under pressure
Preaching: Rev. John Zwaan
To the church in Smyrna. This was a wealthy church in Ephesus. It was a seaport town. Means 'bitter'. Takes the name from its main export Myrrh.
This church was part of a proud city, but the church was under persecution. Societal climbing was part of the culture. So Christ said I am the most important, the first and the last. People struggled with that notion so the church was persecuted. Persecution still happens today. Sometimes it is harsh (imprisonment) sometimes more gently (bad press, fines etc).
Christ knows all this. He is with us all the time. He is the first and the last and spans time throughout history and the future.
I know your tribulation and your poverty...and the slander ....do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold ...you may be tested...be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.
We have choices
1. Will we bear up under pressure? What will we give up for Christ?
2. Will we stand for God? Who will we be loyal to? Caesar or God? The world or God?
What kind of pressure can we stand up to? We don't know until we face it.
What do I want to be rich in? Things or God?
The Jewish people accusing them - John says they are folks from church of Satan - pretenders. There are pretenders in the church today. Persecution helps to weed out the pretenders from among us.
We are told that more persecution is coming. The devil is always wanting to attack the church. And when the church is persecuted God always has a reason to allow it. Might be due to testing, wanting to strengthen the church, wanting to sharpen us as a sword etc. It (persecution) does not mean that God has abandoned us. God will always walk with us.
Born once die twice, born twice die once. D.L. Moody.
Know that Christ always cares - he has indeed told us so.
Hymn #81 A mighty fortress is our God
Hymn #489 The son of God goes forth in war
Hymn #86:3. All praise and thanks to God