Tag Archive | affliction

Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

To be followers of Christ then our lives completely secure, free of problems, enjoy life without any obstacles at all. Have a life with abundance blessings, and live in prosperity.  I thought this is a misconception about following Christ and sadly, this concept is currently held by many people and becoming a benchmark when they decided to follow Christ.  Personally, I know a businessman who suddenly decided accept Christ in order to save his business that is threatened with bankruptcy. Today, there are many wrong purposes in following Christ. They only think about blessings, help, and miracles from God. Actually, we all know that being a Christ follower doesn’t mean that we will be hundreds percent have a safe life, trouble-free, and without any obstacles.  In fact, when we become a Christ’s follower, we will face so many trials and our faith will be tested.  It is so easy we says, “God is so good” when our lives is free of problems and there is no obstacles and pressure at all. But the question is, have we remain easily say, “Good is so good” when we have so many life pressure and in a very hard situation? Can we remain being faithful and obedient even though our lives in unpleasant condition? These are questions which the answer will indicate how far we love and believe in Him.

My brother and sister in Christ, this evening I would like to take all of us to learn from one of seven churches that received the message from God in the book of Revelation 2. Let’s take a look to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a seaport city about 40 miles north of Ephesus. It has been described as the most beautiful of the seven cities. Today it is called Izmir, Turkey. Scripture does not give us any information concerning the founding of this church, nor is it mentioned in the book of Acts. Presumably, this church was founded during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Smyrna is the Greek word for myrrh, a flagrant perfume used in burial. Many believe that this church represents the martyrs of all the ages and the sweet-smelling fragrance of their faithfulness until death. There was no rebuke for this church and because they were faithful until death. Why the church in Smyrna mentioned as the martyrs of all the ages and sweet-smelling fragrance of their Faithfulness? Actually, the life of the church in Smyrna was contrary to the conditions the city of Smyrna itself. The church of Smyrna was the suffering church. How suffered they are? Let’s have a look together.

I know your afflictions and your poverty… (Revelation 2: 9 NIV)

The church of Smyrna suffered because of the pressure of the Roman government, at the time, made it mandatory that all citizens should worship the emperor or they will facing the death. They must burn incense and acknowledges that the emperor is God. Here lies the root of the problem. The church in Smyrna refused to do all that and they considered as unpatriotic traitors. Then the affliction begins. Many of them were boiled alive, many others were roasted alive, some crucified, or the Roman authorities took them to the coliseum and fed to the angry and hungry lions.

The church in Smyrna lived in poverty. Based on some of the commentary on the book of Revelation I have read, they were not only poor but they absolute poor. They were absolutely didn’t have anything.  They cannot live their lives normally. They hated, boycotted, people didn’t want to make a trading with them just because they were Christians. They cannot develop their work; there was no way to make a living, and worse it seems the all city dwellers trying to make them starve.

The affliction does not stop there, there is another one. The church in Smyrna was slandered.

I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2: 9b NIV)

The Jews was making false allegations and reported it to the government. They slandered that the Christians make a practice of cannibalism, immorality, considered atheists, people instigator, and a family crusher.

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

…I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days… (Revelation 2:10 NIV)

Verse 9 talking about the suffering that has been experienced by the church in Smyrna, but the verse 10 speaks of the suffering that are still will experienced by them. There are many Bible commentators assume that “ten days” refers 10 period of time of suffering for the God’s church that will be experienced during the reign of ten anti-Christ Roman emperors.  And it was true; history noted that there were around five millions Christian dies as a martyr during ten period of Roman emperor.

What lessons that we can take from the church in Smyrna?  After I study deeper this passage, I thought there are two important things we can learn. Being fearless and be faithful. God gives two instructions to handle their suffering.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, until death(Revelation 2: 10 NASB)

Do not be afraid and be faithful! God said these with His omnipotence and omnipresence (These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. Verse 8) and His omniscience (I know your afflictions and your poverty. Verse 9) and the church in Smyrna chose to be fearless and be faithful. They are not afraid to die to defend their faith in Christ. Polycarp, a pastor in Smyrna offered freedom by governor if he willing to deny The Christ. But He said: “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my king and my savior?” Before Polycarp was burned, he prays, “Oh Lord, almighty God, I thank you for counting me worthy of sharing the cup of Christ among the number of your martyrs”. The church at Smyrna knows He is the Word that is the first and the last. What this means is that He is God who fought in the entire history of this world and have full authority over what happens. They also realized and understand in their suffering God always be with them and even will strengthen them. Suffering because of their faithfulness is not due God forgetting to help them but rather God is present in their lives.

My dear friends, what about us today? What season of life are we in today? Maybe we are in a season that everything is going great and we just love life. Things are running smoothly. We are so in love with the Lord. Every day there is just a wonderful surprise and we are just in a great season of life. But I going to tell one thing that God never promises us as a believer that life is going to always be fun. He never promises us that life is just going to be great. As a matter of fact, He promises us that if we are a believer, we will face suffering and you will have some persecution in our life.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Jesus Himself reminded:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

This evening,  allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the church in Smyrna. We may be hated by the world, received unfair treatment, insulted, slandered, and so on, but it should not make us turn away from God. Jesus had reminded this thing. He said:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NIV)

Let’s emulate the church in Smyrna to remain faithful, never give up, and keep stand firm in their faith despite the torment and suffering continue come upon them. And eventually, they got great rewards. There are two rewards from God. The first is “The Crown of life”

…and I will give you the crown of life. ( Revelation 2 : 10 NASB)

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2 : 11 NASB)

As a believer, we do have eternal life and He is saying we may suffer the first death, we may die physically, but spiritually we will never die again.

If today we facing so many severe pressures, problems, treated unfair, and any form of inconveniences, Please remember God said:  

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Do not grumble when there is a problem, do not despair and give up. There is a crown of life and eternal life that God provides to all of us who remained faithful to God in all circumstances. Just as the church in Smyrna, let us prove the strength of our faith in Christ through fortitude, obedience and faithfulness whatever our situation. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

Keeth, Janane. Rekindle the Fire (Revelation 2-3), bible.org

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Related post:

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/daily-devotion-july-21-2015

http://tworiversblog.com/2015/12/10/smyrna-i-know/

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

Let All The Earth Be Silent Before Him

Habakkuk 2  20 Karina's Thought

 

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Habakkuk 2:20

Been this month I go deep into the book of Habakkuk. Like from another Bible figures, I learned so much about faith from Habakkuk. This is the second post based on the book of Habakkuk. The first is Feet like the Feet of a Deer. As usual I try to relate it to our daily lives.

“O Lord, How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!”(Habakkuk 1:2) This is was Habakkuk’s cry when evil was rampant in the land of Israel. He size up that God was doing nothing. What was done by Habakkuk at the time was not much different from what we usually do at this time. I don’t know how many times we complain to God when there are so many problems and afflictions in our lives. When we cannot see evidence of God at work, or are puzzled by the unfolding His providences, often times we tend to draw the wrong conclusions and we start complain to God.

“Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:12-13) This is the Habakkuk’s second complaint. He did not understand why God the Holy One could keep silence to see the wicked to destroy His people.

There is important thing that we can learn from Habakkuk. Even though he was complaining and do not understand and also have limitation to be able to dive into God’s plan, he’s still waiting for God’s answer to his complaint. “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” (Habakkuk 2:1) This means that Habakkuk still rely on the God’s power and, and he believed that God would doing something.

Finally he became satisfied that God is sovereign and that all should bow before Him. “The Lord is in His Holy Temple” this is comforting and reassuring us. Maybe we faced so many things that make us confused, worry and fear; we face so many problems and affliction but we should to remember that the Lord is in His Holy Temple and He is still reigning. Every problem and affliction that comes to our lives is under His control. If we know that everything is under His control, why we should to complain?  “Let all the earth keep silence before Him” Knowing God has a purpose in our problems and trials gives us hope. Indeed, by our problems and afflictions we will be made more holy, more like Christ, and God will reveal to us more of Himself.

At the end of the book of Habakkuk, we saw how great his faith. Habakkuk’s faith is a faith that is not shaken by any situation, even in his lack of understanding of God’s decision he is still faithful. When he prays, he ended his prayer with firm faith. He said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Take a look at a form of faith that even in a state of crisis, stress, fear, threat seems terrible, still able to make Habakkuk joy and rejoice in the Lord. Habakkuk attitude is based on faith fully surrender to God’s decision. Despite his situation will probably continue to be more severe, but his faith in God does not waver. He still rejoices in the God who saves, and it all happened because he made God ​​as a source of his strength.

My lovely friends, Is there this day we are shaken by the difficulties facing an increasingly difficult situation?  Whether our faith began to waver due to pressures that continue to hit us, increasing the difficulties of life, problems that do not have a way out?  Do not be discouraged. We can learn from Habakkuk. Have firm faith like Habakkuk. Totally believe in the Lord with all our heart. God is able to equip us to be able to face all the problems, all the uncertainties in life, because God is the source of our strength. Have a strong faith as a basis in our life.  Do not ever rely on our own strength. We must remember that the existence of God is always faithful to accompany us with His unlimited power; His strength was never under the control of the difficulties we face. Everything is in His control. Let we keep silence before Him. Amen.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19

Karina – Living by Faith

Photo credit: biblerays.com

Getting The Right Perspective

perspectiva02

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”(Romans 8:29)

A high school hired my friend George, an artist, to repaint the school mascot – a yellow jacket – on a football stadium wall. This was a difficult task because the painting was so large that the painter could only see a small portion of it at a time.

George had to stand a distance away in order to see the whole picture and give directions to another painter. If George’s assistant had tried to paint according to his own limited perspective, seeing only a small part of the picture, he could have made a mistake. By following George’s directions, however, he helped create an image that delights school sports fans.

Our life with God is something like George’s view of the wall. As we face life’s challenges, we are not in a position to see the whole picture, neither of the world nor of our own lives. We see only a small portion. If we rely only on our limited perspective, we risk calamity. Instead, we can choose to trust God – the One who sees the whole picture – to direct our efforts. If we do, God can work through us to create something delightful. God sees the big picture for He is working for eternity.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

We see the “momentary afflictions” but He sees the “heavier weight of glory”. Being outside time He sees the beginning from the end. God’s not worried, nothing takes Him by surprise. And for those in Christ, all things are working together for good. Just like the ingredients to a cake don’t all taste that great when eaten. Take a spoonful of butter, or a spoonful of flour – not too tasty. But when you put all these ingredients together out comes a cake, it creates something beautiful. So to with us, things are working together for good. And that “good” is spoken of in the next verse – “conformed to the image of His Son” Amen.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory “(2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Karina – knowing Jesus

Photo credit: puntodefe.com