Sorry for the blogging break. Honestly, not too much has been going on around here. I will share that I got a job! It is basically a sub job for the rest of the year doing special education. I am not certified for special ed but I am so excited for this experience!
Anyways, at church we have started studying the book of Revelation. Jack has done a really great job explaining things that are confusing and honestly, really deep. Sunday, we studied Revelation 2:8-11. It was amazing but more than anything, it was convicting. Really convicting. These verses show a letter to the church of Smyrna. First of all, let me start by saying that they are probably verses I would have skipped without putting any effort towards what was being said. How wrong of me. There is so much in this passage of Scripture.
In this letter there is no rebuke. There is only encouragement and Christ only says good things about this church. This is because this church was suffering so severely for their faith.
Verses 9 and 10 say, "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 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 to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will save you the crown of life."
Really? I do not know suffering. I hope that when I suffer I consider myself to be rich. I pray that if the Lord was to tell me that I would be thrown in prison, tortured, or even would suffer to death, that I would trust Him. I pray I would remember that it is an honor and privilege to suffer for Christ. The church in Smyrna show us that their faith in Christ cost them everything. They were rich in eternal treasure and that was enough for them. Jack reminded us that suffering is the badge of a true Christian.
I will say, the principles about suffering for Christ, I had heard. I know that it is important to suffer for Christ. I know that as believers, suffering is promised. I know that we live in America and that often, this is used as an excuse for why we don't suffer. I do not know suffering. This message convicted me. No, it doesn't mean that I am packing my bags and heading to another country where I know I will suffer. Besides, there will probably be more and more suffering coming in the United States before we know it. It also doesn't mean that I have had this radical change in me. It simply means that I was convicted. I was convicted that I do not suffer, that I don't ever truly think about suffering, and that I do not consistently pray for those that do suffer.
Jack went on to talk about a man named Polycarp.
He was the Bishop of Smyrna. He was a martyr. He devoted his life to Christ and for that he suffered and died. Those who killed him begged him over and over again to renounce Christ and he would have saved himself. He never did. They beat him and drug him out to where he would be burned at the stake. They gave him one more chance and he said, "Eighty-six years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?" They lit the stake on fire but he was not singed. Someone was ordered to stick a sword in him. When they did, his blood gushed out and extinguished the fire. Wow. All I can say is, what a way to go. Polycarp served Christ until death and Christ made a statement through his death.
I want to pray for those who are persecuted. I want to pray for the future and that we, as believers, will be strong when we are persecuted and that we would pray for persecution. He is faithful. He suffered and died for us. Shouldn't we suffer for Him?