PROPHECY HEADLINES: U.S. faces pressure to arm Ukraine as EU leaders scramble for peace plan | Boko Haram slaughters dozens, destroys churches and mosques in Cameroon in retaliation for 3-nation offensive | Over 60 churches damaged by heavy fighting in Ukraine | Christian militia of over 3,500 soldiers formed to fight ISIS in northern Iraq | U.S. moves more military assets into northern Iraq
The Bible says in Matthew 24:37-39: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
PROPHECY BOOTCAMP: “Judgment Begins at the House of God” (Part 6) from Dr. Ed Hindson’s book “Revelation: Unlocking the Future”.
This section is titled: SMYRNA: THE PERSECUTED CHURCH (PART 2)
Persecution was the watchword of this church. They had suffered often at the hands of the Romans and would suffer even more in the years to come. The Jewish population in Smyrna was particularly anti-Christian. They led the chant demanding the martyrdom of Polycarp and other believers. But as was so often the case, the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. The church at Smyrna grew into one of the most revered and influential churches of its time because its leaders were willing to lay down their lives for Christ and the gospel.
Four things characterizing the suffering of the believers at Smyrna were mentioned in our Lord’s letter to them:
1. Poverty: They had been excluded from the financial prosperity of the city and were rich only in Christ.
2. Slander: The unbelieving Jews slandered them as heretics and troublemakers. But Jesus said such were of the “synagogue of Satan.”
3. Prison: Many of them would be imprisoned for their faith in Christ as were so many of the apostles.
4. Death: Like Polycarp and others, many of these believers died for their faith rather than worship the Roman emperor. They were indeed “faithful unto death.”
There are no words of condemnation for this church. There is no call to repentance. They are told they are rich in Christ. and exhorted to be faithful unto death. The heaven epistolary expresses no regret. Their deaths are but temporary in light of eternity. They will be rewarded with a “crown of life” and will overcome the “second death.”
it is difficult, if not impossible, for most modern Christians to comprehend what it must be like to risk all you have for Christ. Most of us struggle with concerns about public embarrassment or social rejection. We know little or nothing about laying down our lives for the gospel.
Joseph Tson, a Romanian Baptist pastor, survived great personal persecution during the Communist regime in Romania. He and members of his church became part of the revival God used to break the Soviet grip on his nation. When faced with the possibility of imprisonment and death, he met a fellow believer who challenged him with what he calls the “theology of martyrdom.” Tson calls it the “greatest privilege of the Christian life — to give your life for Christ.” “But,” he adds, “you must be counted worthy to die for Christ!” Despite all his personal suffering and that of his family, Tson laments, “We were not worthy!”
OCCUPY TILL I COME: “Waiting on the Second Coming — Living Like a Christian (Part 9)” by Ray C. Stedman
MUSICAL SELECTION: “Soon and Very Soon” by Andrae Crouch