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SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20160124 THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING

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Senior Pastor Phil Roland

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Pastor Ray Scott

 

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THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING

THE THIRD OF SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD

REV. 2:8-11 - REV. 1:9-20

SERMON STARTER

 

         The Seven Churches of Asia are located on the Western side of what is today Turkey. Smyrna's believers suffered great persecution and some were martyred, suffering death for their Faith in Jesus. Rome was threatened by the new religion of Christianity. They were strange religious adherents who were sneeringly called by Romans, "Followers of the Way." Any educated Roman knew there were many gods and many ways to approach them. They were polytheists. Jesus' believers were monotheists as were the Jews.

          The Jews were adherents to an ancient religion that posed no threat to Rome. The new religion of Christianity was a threat to Rome, because of the passion and zeal of their members. As a result of their unshakable faith Christians were seriously persecuted. Apostates discovered they could deny faith in Christ take up Judaism and the Roman authorities gave them no trouble. Smyrna's believers would have none of the apostasy, even if it meant persecution, suffering and even death.

          Today, this could easily be the Church in Syria or the Church in Libya, or the Church in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt or almost anywhere in the Middle East where Muslims proliferate. Muslim's today have assumed the prosecutorial role of ancient Rome. Christians in Muslim dominate countries have been harassed, beaten, and martyred. Their Churches and assembly halls have been destroyed.

          Still the people of faith, the modern day spirit of the Church at Smyrna have persisted and refused to deny their faith in Jesus. Embracing the Spirit of Suffering gives permission to the Holy Spirit to grieve and suffer with us.  He is with us in our trials.  If we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him!         

Pastor Phil <><<

 

 

 

January 24, 2016, Pastor Phil Roland

Sheepfold Ministries

 

THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING

THE THIRD OF SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD

REV. 2:8-11 - REV. 1:9-20

 

"Embracing the Spirit of Suffering gives permission to the Holy Spirit to grieve and suffer with us.  He is with us in our trials.  If we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him.”                                                       Pastor Phil    <><<

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matt. 5:4

 

THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION:

EPHESUS - The Spirit of First-Love Poverty             

SMYRNA - The Spirit of Suffering   

PERGAMOS - The Spirit of Obedience       

THYATIRA - The Spirit of Righteousness

SARDIS - The Spirit of Mercy

PHILADELPHIA - The Spirit of Purity

LAODICEA - The Spirit of Completeness

 

I. TODAY'S CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS HATE SUFFERING- Rev.2:9b

9 . . .and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  

          A. Smyrna had a lot of apostates who denied their faith

                    1. The Romans tolerated the Jews, but persecuted Christians

                    2. Many Christians renounced their Christian faith

                    3. They embraced Judaism to escape Roman persecution

                    4. Islamic countries today demand believers to deny their faith

          B. True Christian believers refused to deny their faith in Jesus -

                    8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and

              you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,

              and to the end of the earth."     Acts 1:8

                    1. Witnesses - Greek Mar-toose - Martyr - One who gives the                          testimony of Jesus to the point of death

                    2. Faith is proved/tested by suffering - Hebrews 11:35b-37

                                        35 Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were

                          tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better

                          resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings,

                          yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they

                          were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They                                 wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute,

                          afflicted, tormented--

 

II. WESTERN WORLD BELIEVERS BELIEVE IN MAGIC

          A. Magic is attempting to manipulate deity for personal gain

                    1. A wrong belief that one can possess supernatural powers

THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING, p.2

 

                    2. Eg. Sorcery, witchcraft, wizardry, necromancy, voodoo, etc.

          B. Magical religious thinkers wrongly think they will miss tribulation

                    1. Modern Rapture Theory is an example     

                    2. True Christians will magically be snatched away from pain

                    3. The same Holy Spirit that can take you to trials can take you                                   through them

          B. For some of us the only way we can know God is thru Suffering

                      6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom

              He receives."    Hebrews 12:6

                    1. Pain and deprivation is a great teacher

                    2. Suffering drives us to our knees and our need of Jesus

 

III. SMYRNA'S BELIEVERS WERE POOR IN MEN'S EYES /

     RICH IN GOD'S EYES - Rev. 2:9a

      9 I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);

          A. Smyrna was one of the most beautiful cities in Asia

                    1. It was 35 miles North of Ephesus

                    2. Smyrna's location made it good for commerce

          B. Smyrna's inhabitants enjoyed prosperous

                    1. It's fields were watered by natural springs

                    2. Farmers sometimes harvested 2 crops per season

          C. Yet Christian believers were not allowed to enjoy prosperity

                    1. They were sorely persecuted under Roman rule

                    2. Rome's Final Edict of Toleration by Constantine in 313 A.D.

                    3. This was not to occur for another 200 years

                    4. Pages of Christian history run red with blood those years

          D. The faithful are promised a Victor's Crown Rev. 2:10

                    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.

IV. SMYRNA WAS NOT DECEIVED BY FALSE TEACHERS

          A. Paul warned young Timothy - 1 Tim. 6:10a; 6:5; 6:10b

                    10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have                      strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through     with many sorrows.     1 Timothy 6:10

                    5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth,

              who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw

              yourself.   1 Timothy 6:5

                    1. Smyrna's believers tested Judaizers and rejected them

                    2. Judaizers - So-called believers who followed Law of Moses

          B. One of Paui's tests of false teachers was their love of money

                    1. Accumulated money grants power to Control Health

                    2. Money grants power to Control Future of self and others

 

THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING, p.3

 

            C. Learn from the error of False Teachers - Ecclesiastes 5:10

                    10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is

              never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

                    1. They teach what grants them the most favor and money

                    2. People will pay you well to teach  what they want to hear

 

V. SMYRNA'S AFFLICTIONS DREW HER CLOSER TO JESUS

          A. The Church at Smyrna Embraced her Afflictions

                    1. We are a pain-avoidant culture and church

                    2. Our hunger for pain-escaping, mood-altering drugs is an                              international disgrace

                    3. The illegal market is 150 Billion Annually

          B. Even our theology is pain avoidant

                    1. Fluffy, Feel-Good, Meatless Sermons

                    2. Milk-Toast purveyors of Bible-less teaching

          C. Smyrna Lost All Things For Christ - Phil. 3:8

                    8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge

              of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,

              and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. . .

          D. Smyrna had the best - She had Peace With God - 1 Tim. 6:6-7

                    6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing

              into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

 

VI. JESUS KNEW THEIR AFFLICTIONS - Rev. 2:9a

9 I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);

          A. He feels and knows your pain first-hand - Hebrews 2:18

                    18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help

              those who are being tempted.

                    1. Testing, Suffering tends to isolate us,

                    2. Pain tends to cut us off from God and each other

                    3. Jesus loves us through our pain

          B. We suffer for Christ and we suffer with Him

                    1. Affliction is God's Tool - Psalm 119:67

                    67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

                        2. Smyrna could have been God's Prodigal, but He loved her

                    3. She chose Jesus despite her suffering

 

CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: Rachel's Story

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HORROR TO HOPE--A STORY FROM THE HOLOCAUST

                   
In Jerusalem there is a Holocaust Museum dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. It has been said that going through the museum is a very depressing experience because you see these horrible pictures and read the accounts of the ghettos and the concentration camps. But in the midst of all the dark tales of suffering, there is one amazing story of how God can transform horror into hope.

In one of the German concentration camps there was a young lady named Rachel. She endured great hardship from being made to work in the snow with inadequate clothing. She watched in horror as many of her friends and family members were killed.

                   
Then one day, the guards left unexpectedly. She didn't know the war was over. Later that day some American soldiers arrived to set the prisoners free. One young American soldier told Rachel he had come to rescue her and for her to gather her few possessions. Then he held the door for her and said,

"After you, ma'am."

Rachel started to cry. He asked, "What's wrong, ma'am?"

 

She said, "I can't remember the last time someone held a door open for me. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." The soldier stayed in touch with Rachel after she was relocated, and they became friends. Later they fell in love and were married.

That's what God can do. He can take the most terrible situation imaginable and make something beautiful out of it. Our God is an awesome God and I'm glad He's in control. Whenever you go through tough times, you can either look for the junk or you can look for the joy.


The Church at Smyrna received a reward, A Crown of Life" awarded only to victors. God rewarded Smyrna and Rachael's persistence, endurance, and patience.

 

THE SPIRIT OF SUFFERING, Texts:

Revelation 2:8-11
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 1:9-20
9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

2

HORROR TO HOPE--A STORY FROM THE HOLOCAUST

                   
In Jerusalem there is a Holocaust Museum dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. It has been said that going through the museum is a very depressing experience because you see these horrible pictures and read the accounts of the ghettos and the concentration camps. But in the midst of all the dark tales of suffering, there is one amazing story of how God can transform horror into hope.

In one of the German concentration camps there was a young lady named Rachel. She endured great hardship from being made to work in the snow with inadequate clothing. She watched in horror as many of her friends and family members were killed.

                   
Then one day, the guards left unexpectedly. She didn't know the war was over. Later that day some American soldiers arrived to set the prisoners free. One young American soldier told Rachel he had come to rescue her and for her to gather her few possessions. Then he held the door for her and said,

"After you, ma'am."

Rachel started to cry. He asked, "What's wrong, ma'am?"

 

She said, "I can't remember the last time someone held a door open for me. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." The soldier stayed in touch with Rachel after she was relocated, and they became friends. Later they fell in love and were married.

That's what God can do. He can take the most terrible situation imaginable and make something beautiful out of it. Our God is an awesome God and I'm glad He's in control. Whenever you go through tough times, you can either look for the junk or you can look for the joy.


The Church at Smyrna received a reward, A Crown of Life" awarded only to victors. God rewarded Smyrna and Rachael's persistence, endurance, and patience

 

 

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NKJV)
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

 

NOT DECEIVED BY $$$$

Luke 12:15 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

 

Psalm 37:16-17 (NKJV)
16 A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.

Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV)
10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

 

Matthew 24:9-13 (NKJV)
9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.