Sunday, January 10, 2010

Revelations Chapter Two (Part III)

By Odon Bulamba (9 March 2001)

Revelation 2:8-9, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

We are going to talk about the message given to Smyrna. Smyrna was a big church and well known in the Middle East. You would be respected if you belonged to this church. It means that if you belonged to this church you were proud. People boasted that they belonged to this church. Smyrna means bitterness, this word will tell us what happened in this church.

As we know Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. Jesus doesn’t want us to turn to someone else. He didn’t give power to other gods to be worshipped in this church, but says, “I am the first and the last”. If you want a solution just go to Jesus, don’t think you can find a solution in your friends or family.

Why did Jesus say that to the church of Smyrna? Because deep in their hearts the Christians in this church forsook God’s will and followed the Roman Government. If you mate a horse and donkey together and ask the offspring, “who you do you belong to?” it will not know.

The church of Smyrna accepted the Roman law and left out God’s law. They started mixing God’s law with the Roman law and this is like inter-breeding a horse with a donkey.

Nobody knew exactly what was going on in this church. Some people would see that they were 50% Christian and 50% Roman. So the Lord reminded them of one thing. “The government has never given their life for you, but as for Me, I have given My life for you and was crucified for you, so why do you want to give Me up? Remember the great love I have for you? Remember I left my throne in heaven to come to earth in a body to suffer? I also accepted to live among you humans even though I am God, but today you reject Me! You say that this is the church of God but you have no room for Me because the government fills it”. The people didn’t realize what Jesus was saying.

In verse 9 He says I know your suffering. How many people know about suffering on this earth? Suffering makes many Christians fear. Most Christian’s give up their faith when suffering is involved/ Many Christians will diminish the value of their faith and forget that at the beginning God said that Adam will suffer. They forget that Jesus said, “The one who wants to follow Me must carry His cross”. However when the time comes to carry our cross we are not willing to do it.

These people in Smyrna suffered from spiritual sickness. They could give their life to God when they prayed and sang but spiritually they were sick because there was bitterness inside them. When I was a child and fell ill from malaria, my mother gave me bread which had medicine in it. She knew that if I saw the medicine I would not take it, so she put it in a piece of bread with honey in it. “Here is honey son, come and eat”. So I started eating the bread. I could taste something bitter in my mouth and then my attitude changed, my mum said, “you must swallow the bread”. She knew I had discovered something in the bread. We are like this with God, when there is bitterness in us, God can see it, you can do your hardest to hide it but God will say, “I know everything”.

Even though these people worked hard for God and suffered for Him, their bitterness would count it useless. So their suffering was useless. Jesus said that, “apart from your suffering you still make an effort and the one thing I like is your poverty because you are realizing you are poor”.

Matthew 5:3, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

If you have admitted that you are spiritually poor, the kingdom of God belongs to you. Try to count how many churches are spiritually rich. Any Pastor or Christian will say, “I know the Bible, I’ve been a Christian for twenty years”. If you know everything why do you meet with others to preach and pray? If we know everything why are we looking for God’s face? Jesus Christ knows everything because He is the first and the last. Even though Jesus is God He still learnt about carpentry from Joseph.

One day I needed salt. In Africa nobody asked his neighbour for anything so it became a problem because we needed salt to taste the food. We thought we were rich but to have something little as salt was a problem. If you don’t admit you are spiritually poor you will never grow. Although we might be poor we must rejoice in poverty for it is better to be poor physically then spiritually. You may be rich physically but if you don’t have Jesus in your life you are poor. You may think that Helen Clark is rich but if she doesn’t have Jesus in her life she is poor. Only when she realizes that she is spiritually poor can she be sure that one day she will enter the kingdom of God.

The poor always seek and have this courage to look. They are very strong and work hard day and night to win their bread. The rich however do nothing. They know that bread is available all the time. This is why it is written, blessed are the poor in spirit. Revelation 2:9

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