Archive for September 18th, 2021

To The Persecuted Church:

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

To The Persecuted Church:

Pastor Don Carpenter

The Jesus Letters / Revelation 2:8–11

The following are current stories from Voice of the Martyrs.

After holding a rally, radicals in Gujarat state issued a statement to district authorities telling them that if they did not stop church activities in the region, the radicals would take matters into their own hands. The document issued by the radicals listed the names of 56 churches and pastors and gave district authorities three days to act. In response, the police told pastors not to conduct church services or they would risk attack by the radicals — and the police would not protect the Christians. Instead, they said they would arrest the pastors. Several pastors have already been arrested, many of the churches have stopped meeting, and pastors are unable to visit people. “The churches are all in fear and seek prayer for this matter,” a VOM contact wrote. Pray that these Christians will be able to worship and work freely, and pray for the hearts of the radicals and the police to be changed.

____

Rama and Joseph have fled their home in Syria after threats from family due to their marriage. Rama is a former Muslim who now follows Christ, and Joseph is from a Christian background. When Rama’s family learned of their marriage, they complained to a police officer. The officer beat Joseph and warned him to stay away from Rama. The couple then escaped to a neighboring country that also does not recognize marriage between a woman who is legally considered to be Muslim and a man who is not a Muslim. Joseph and Rama have now applied for resettlement to a Western country. Pray for God’s peace in their hearts while they wait. Pray for their resettlement application to be accepted so they can move to a country where their marriage is legally recognized and where they can start a family.

____

Momina Namee, 30, grew up in a Muslim family and was pressured to marry a Muslim man while she was young. Soon after they married, they had a son. But three years after their son’s birth, Momina’s husband suddenly fell ill and passed away. Devastated and a single mother, Momina struggled to get by as her husband had been the provider for the family. One day, two Christian women met Momina on the street and shared the gospel with her. Momina told them that she was a Muslim, and the Christian women asked her address, visiting her often. Eventually, Momina placed her faith in Christ and began attending a Christian church. But when the Muslim woman who provided shelter to Momina find out about her newfound faith, she drove Momina and her son out of the house. Momina was homeless, and her family and relatives stopped associating with her because of her faith in Christ. When Momina’s church leaders heard about her situation, they rented a home for her. Pray that Momina will be able to provide for her and her son as she rebuilds her life. Pray that she can be a faithful witness to Christ to her family, and pray that they will come to faith in Him.

___

Ever since Jesus founded the Church, churches and Christians have faced persecution, and still do today. This morning’s Jesus Letter is one to the Suffering and Persecuted Church at Smyrna. This tender letter has no condemnation but is full of words of comfort. The truth our Savior shared with His beloved sheep in Smyrna, is truth we can embrace too. When all seems hopeless, Jesus offers healing, compassion and hope to those of us who are hurting.

Jesus Applies Salve To A Wounded Church

Revelation 2:8 KJV

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

The healing comes from knowing the Great Shepherd.

Psalm 23:1 KJV

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Shepherd is Eternal

John 1:1 KJV

IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Micah 5:2 KJV

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Revelation 1:18 KJV

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

The Shepherd Has Already Defeated Death

1 Corinthians 15:54–57 KJV

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Shows Compassion to a Hurting Church.

Revelation 2:9 KJV

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

I Know!

???????a; ????a; ???????a; ??????a, ??? f: to possess information about1

1 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 333.

I Know Your Works

Psalm 23:4 KJV

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

I Know Your Tribulation

John 16:33 KJV

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1 Thessalonians 3:4 KJV

For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

I Know Your Poverty

2 Corinthians 8:2 KJV

How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

I Know The Blasphemy of Fakers

Romans 2:28–29 KJV

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Jesus Gives Encouragement to a Weary Church.

Revelation 2:10 KJV

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Fear None of Those Things

He Already Knows What Will Happen

People were betrayed to provincial officials by delatores, “informers,” and by the early second century it is attested that Christians in Asia Minor were generally charged only if accused by such informers. By the early second century, Jews in Smyrna were reportedly fulfilling this function against Christians (such as Polycarp). But simply claiming publicly that Christians were no longer welcome as part of the synagogue community was a form of betrayal; Christians who were not seen as Jewish had no protection against civil requirements for participation in the emperor cult.1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Re 2:9.

The Devil is on a Leash

The Suffering Has an Expiration

ten days A round number, reminiscent of Dan 1:12. Their testing might literally last for 10 days, or the number may be figurative and indefinite.1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Re 2:10.

“Ye shall have tribulation ten days.” There were ten intense periods of persecution by ten Roman emperors (these dates are approximate):

Nero—64–68 (Paul was beheaded under his reign)

Domitian—95–96 (John was exiled during that period)

Trajan—104–117 (Ignatius was burned at the stake)

Marcus Aurelius—161–180 (Polycarp was martyred)

Severus—200–211

Maximinius—235–237

Decius—250–253

Valerian—257–260

Aurelian—270–275

Diocletian—303–313 (the worst emperor of all).1

1 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophecy (Revelation 1-5), electronic ed., vol. 58 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 76.

Be Faithful Unto Death

Revelation 2:11 KJV

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

1 John 5:4–5 KJV

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Revelation 20:14 KJV

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

You Are An Over Comer that will Not Taste the Second Death

Virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: for prosperity best discovers vice, but adversity best discovers virtue.

Francis Bacon

1 Elliot Ritzema, 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation, Pastorum Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 9:10 AM September 18, 2021.