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Prisonbreak

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Read Psalm 62

Revelation 2:8-10 (NIV)

Big Idea:  You need to have a biblical understanding of suffering.

Introduction

The city of Smyrna is modern day Izmur.  In the time that John is writing Smyrna was the rival to Ephesus.  It was called "The first city in Asia in beauty and size."  The city sat atop a hill, Pagos, that sloped down to the sea.  The collection of beautiful buildings on the top of the dome shaped hill was called the 'crown of Smyrna'.  There is to this day a westerly breeze that freshens the city and keeps it cool even in the summer months.

In this beautiful place and the surrounding region Christians were strongly persecuted.

Archaeologists digging in the remains of a school for imperial pages in Rome found a picture dating from the third century. It shows a boy standing, his hand raised, worshiping a figure on a cross, a figure that looks like a man with the head of an ass. Scrawled in the writing of a young person are the words, "Alexamenos worships his God." Nearby in a second inscription: "Alexamenos is faithful." Apparently, a young man who was a Christian was being mocked by his schoolmates for his faithful witness. But he was not ashamed; he was faithful. Lieghton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, 1977, David C. Cook Publishing Co., p. 78.

mention the role that suffering took on after Christian persecutions ceased.  Martyrs, desert fathers.

You do not suffer apart from Jesus.  He knows your suffering.

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.

Jesus is saying "I was a corpse but now I'm alive." or "I became a corpse but have always lived."

Smyrna=myrrh

The text indicates that they were destitute.

the sacrifice of being a Christian was being fired from your job, excluded from the marketplace; it meant going hungry, imprisonment, death, and torture.

Yet Jesus says that they are rich!

Matthew 6:20- they have stored treasure in heaven...

Luke 12:21

they weren't like the man who was rich toward himself and not toward God.

Synagogue of Satan

Notice Jesus has no charge against Smyrna.  They are not suffering because of sin.

Philippians 1:27-30 (TNIV)

knowledge from observation

knowledge from experience

You do not suffer apart from Jesus.  He gives you courage.

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.

'ten days' was an idiom that meant for a short time

It is probable that at the time of this letter, the bishop or pastor of the church in Smyrna was Polycarp.

The Courage of Polycarp, Foxes Book of Martyrs

1 Peter 3:13-22

When the emperor Valens threatened Eusebuis with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, "He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow." Source Unknown.

Suffering and persecution, when it comes demands our response.

it should be a response of conviction and resolve founded in faith- trust in Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20-24 (TNIV) 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 23 call God as my witness-and I stake my life on it-that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-20 (TNIV)  

Acts 4:23

Matthew 16:13-18

You do not suffer apart from Jesus.  He rewards you with true life.

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

The Crown of Smyrna

Quote E.H. Plumptre bottom pg 65-66 MHendrickson

Closing

NO SCAR? Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, Hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend, Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned: Hast thou no wound? No wound, no scar? Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And, pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole: can he have followed far Who has no wounds nor scar? Amy Carmichael.

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