Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recieve Your Crown! - October 12th, 2011

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 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 shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
Revelation 2:8-11

History and Context:
Revelation is the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament. An apocalyptic book was written in times of crisis and had the purpose of encouraging the believers by reminding them of the coming voctory in Christ. Apocalyptic writings always included visions, symbols, and numbers containing special meanings. This often makes it harder for us to understand as we are in a different time and culture. The book is authored by John from the island of Patmos. There is disagreement among scholars whether this is the John the Apostle or a different John. Tradition supports the idea that it is John the Apostle but the style is very different from the Gospel of John and the letters of John. In the first three chapters of revelation Jesus has John write seven letters to seven specific churches.
The Text:
The church in Smyrna is another one of the seven churches to which Jesus has messages at the beginning of the book of Revelation. Back on September 4th we discussed what Paul said to the church in Ephesus. The general format of each of these letters was the same. Jesus would address the church and say what they have done right, then He would correct them for what they did wrong. There are two exceptions to this pattern, in chapter three there is the church of Laodicea (the famous 'lukewarm' church) which Jesus has nothing good to say about them, and the church of Smyrna, which Jesus has nothing bad to say about. For the church of Smyrna, Jesus only has encouragement. They are going through terrible tribulation and trials but have stayed completely faithful to Him through it all. It seems interesting to me that the one church to which Jesus has nothing to correct is the church that is in the most difficult circumstances.

The Challenge:
The church in Smyrna shows us that just because we are walkly closely to Jesus, doesn't mean everything around us will be great. When we live a completely committed lifestyle to Jesus Christ there is always tribulation and tests that come, but pay attention to the encouragement that Jesus gives the church in Smyrna. He says, "Be faithful to me until death, and I will give you a crown of life." Being completely committed to Jesus is not easy, but it is worth it. It is only through that commitment that we can grow closer to Christ and in the end receive true life from Him. It is only through that commitment that we can overcome. Make that commitment and brace yourself for the response. But know that Jesus is going through everything with you.

The Prayer:
Lord, thank you for going through these tests and trials with me. Thank you that you have promised true life to your followers. I want to follow you no matter what the cost may be. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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