Monday, January 11, 2010

Revelations Chapter Two (Part IV)

By Odon Bulamba (9th March 2001)

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.”

To be a Jew today means you belong to God’s tribe. The new tribe of God is today’s Christians. The new Jewish tribe is Christians today. Remember that the Israelites and the Jews are two different tribes.

How could Jesus say that in this church of Smyrna there are people in the synagogue of Satan? People pretend to belong to Jesus but are not. Remember the horse and the donkey, people pray and walk according to the church rules but don’t belong to the real thing. They might give their 10%, or kneel down for five days and fast, but Jesus is not with them.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4,
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

We see that this church of Smyrna is still alive today. In 2 Thessalonians it says that Satan will lead the church and in today’s world there are churches led by Satan. Satan works through servants of God who lead churches. They mix up the Bible with things from the world and lead God’s people into confusion. This really hurts God.

How can people say, “I belong to this church and you belong to that church”? Because of this kind of attitude the church is divided. Churches don’t help one another. “Because you belong to this church your faith is different from our church”, but all of us believe in Jesus Christ. Are there two or three ways to believe and worship God? Do we have different faiths in Jesus Christ? The faith Moses had is our faith today because God never changes; God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Today Christians want people to think there are different ways to believe. They mix the Bible with communism; they mix the Bible with the law of New Zealand and then they serve it to people for them to drink.

I know someone who was invited to a ceremony. This person said, “Today I will eat all the different kinds of food available to me”. This man ate a lot. After the feast he went home. At home his stomach started to heat up and hurt. He started thinking about what he ate and said to himself, “I ate good food today but my stomach disagrees”. Suddenly he burped and gave off a horrible smell. When people talked to him they turned their heads from him because of the smell. This happened because he mixed up the food.

This is what servants of God are doing today, they mix up bits from the Bible and give it to Christians and then they become confused. If Jesus were to come back today, what would happen to you? The Pastor will say, “Do not worry, this church is the best in the world but if you go somewhere else you’ll be lost”. When Jesus comes back and people are spreading the good news, they too will not know He has come.

When Jesus was raised from the dead not all the disciples had seen Him, only the women. After this two young men were walking and the Lord was beside them. They had been with Jesus for two years but at that time Jesus was a stranger to them because they were living in confusion. Do you know why they were confused? Jesus said that, “when I am arrested you will flee”, but Peter said, “No Lord, not me, I’m so strong I can lift heavy weights”. Everyone wants to show how strong he or she is before Jesus and forget that Jesus is God and doesn’t need our strength.

We as Christians today want to defend God instead of God defending us. We want to fight in His place. We are not as strong as the Almighty God and we have no experience in combat, but we still want to fight. This is terrible!

When Jesus was on the mountain before His arrest the Bible says that the people all fled. They became frightened and left Jesus. The Bible talks about fear more than 368 times. It says, “Do not fear you Christians for fear is not a gift from God”. The disciples left Jesus and Peter was with them, this was the Peter who was strong and brave. A woman came up to Peter and asked him, “don’t you know this man”? But Peter said, “Do you know me? You must be confused because I have never seen him before”.

This is what the church is doing today. We keep living in confusion and deny the truth. The Bible may say something but you say, “No, our church doesn’t accept this”. Why do we deny He who created us? When someone comes to speak about the word of God we change things.

Revelation 2:10, Do not fear what you are about to suffer, behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison that you may be tested and you will have tribulation for ten days, be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life

The Bible says, “Do not fear”. When servants of God didn’t bow down to other gods they were arrested. The king would say, “Because you do not bow down to my gods you will be thrown into the furnace”. God’s servants were not afraid of the fire because they knew it was for the glory of God.

Most people are afraid to die. It is better to die for the glory of God then the devil. People are burnt alive in South Africa for stealing. As for us Christians we know there is eternal life after this life, but we are afraid to tell the good news about it. When someone becomes a Christian they carry a New Testament in their pocket so they don’t have to carry a big thick Bible. When a nice girl walks by you hide your Bible because you believe she won’t want a preaching. “I just can’t relate to her if I am a Christian, but if I drink a little and invite her to the pub, it will be easy for me to talk with her”. Can you see how sin is more important then the will of God? Christians do these things not pagans. You must carry your cross and die.

Daniel was arrested because he prayed and the king threw him into the lions’ den. But because he was not afraid, he carried on praying. Remember that FEAR is a bad thing for a Christian, but only fear the Lord and wisdom will be given to you.

Nobody can stop the devil from tempting us. Many Christians in Smyrna were in the presence of the devil. Jesus said, “He will throw you into prison because you just let things go”. You are thrown into a prison because you have done something wrong, but when you do something against the will of God, Satan puts you into his prison, and when you are in there he will persecute you. In Satan’s prison there is both physical and spiritual torture.

Jesus says, “be faithful until death.” It means that if you are not faithful until death you will not have this crown. It doesn’t mean being faithful for five years after your second birth, it’s not about being faithful for ten years of knowing Jesus Christ, but it says, “be faithful until death.” The church of Smyrna gave up their faithfulness, which allowed the devil to lead them.

Jesus promised that, “if you are not faithful to the end, you will not have the crown of life.” We must be really careful to know where we are up to. Am I faithful to God? Am I faithful to the word of God? How can I be faithful if I have enemies? How can I be faithful to God if I don’t listen? How can I be faithful to God if I don’t love my neighbour? We must think about these things, don’t just read it; put it into practice.

2 Timothy 3:7, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Some people can study everyday but will have no knowledge about the truth. We must not think like these people. If we don’t know the truth it is hard to be faithful to God. How can I put truth into practice if I don’t know what the truth is? When you encourage someone not to sleep during a message, are you the first one to fall asleep? When Steve will ask you, “how was the message?” and you reply, “Oh, it was good.” This is a lie. You can’t say it was good because you were asleep, maybe you’ll say that you slept well in the church but if you say you fell asleep Steve may think that you’ll not a good Christian. You will make excuses to Steve because you didn’t know what the message was about and so that Steve won’t think you’re a bad Christian.

Do I learn the truth or not? The Lord said to the church of Smyrna, “Christians in Smyrna be very careful and faithful until the end.” Not to be faithful has serious consequences in the Christian life, the five foolish virgins are an example. They were faithful for a time, 2 hours before their Lord came they were unfaithful; there was no oil in their lamps.

Instead of checking the oil in their lamp or turning their lamps off before the coming of the Lord they just wasted it. They would have used the light of others. You cannot imitate other people’s gifts so do not compare yourself to anyone else or you could lose your life. Those who try to imitate other people’s light, their light will get smaller and smaller. The wise woman could see that the other five women had a problem, and the not so wise women became envious towards them. “If only we had their oil we would look good”.

The same thing happened with the two women who had babies in Solomon’s time. One child died so the woman of that dead child decided to steal the other woman’s child. Before God you cannot hide yourself, the wisdom that God put in Solomon was able to detect whom the baby belonged to. He took a sword and said, “I must take this child and cut it into two so you can both have a share”. The true mother said, “Why do you want to do this? Give the child to the other woman”. The other woman said yes, this is my child. So the lying mother said cut this child into two and it was therefore obvious to Solomon who was the correct mother.

In the book of Hebrew the word of God is a sword and this sword always cuts. God uses this sword to cut us spiritually. God doesn’t care whether your Bible is French or English, but He does care about the work of this Bible in your heart.

As for us Christians we must make up our minds to know where God will cut us. If we say, “God, we want to belong to you only so please don’t cut us”, you must put te Word of God into practice.
Because of their bitterness God said, “be faithful until death, the one who has ears must hear what I am saying”. God didn’t say to those who have ears listen to what the Pastor has to say, nor what the bishop has to say, but to those who have ears to what the Spirit has to say to the church.

God invites us to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice instead of man’s voice. Ask God to help you know where the Spirit speaks and where the Spirit does not speak so that you will not follow what man wants. This is how you will find the crown of life.

Those who are winners will not die; this means there is a second death after this life. We live and then die. If we don’t live in the Lord or are not faithful to the end, you risk taking part in that second death and this death is dangerous because it is eternal.

There was a servant of God who wanted to know what life was like after death so God said to him, “do you really want to know what life is like after death?” and he said “yes I want to know, because people say there is life but what kind of life, how can I preach to people about death if I haven’t experienced it?”

So God showed him. At night in bed the Lord came to him. He felt someone holding his neck and pulling it with a great force. The Lord ripped his neck, head and chest from his body. The head was on one side and the chest on the other. The pain he felt was unbearable so he started screaming out for help but God closed his mouth so that nobody could hear him. God said to him,” this is only the first part”. When the spirit leaves the body it is like a fight. The man then said, “this is too hard, I want to go back”. The Lord said, “you have started your journey so you must finish it”.

So they moved on and the Lord left him alone. Because he had the knowledge of God’s word he remembered that the way that leads to heaven was narrow. He wanted to go the narrow way but someone said, “this is not your way, go back”. He had fear and said, “this is a problem Lord because I preached your word and did good things for You, so how can I be on the wide path”?

The devil came before him and said, “you have disturbed me everyday and you cast me out in the name of Jesus. When people were sick you cast me out of them and today you have the cheek of coming into my kingdom, you had ears but they never listened”. So the devil pulled the eyes and ears out of this man.

Imagine the pain in your body and heart, “you had ears but you didn’t listen”. So he went on and saw the world. The mountains were flat and in Revelation 20 you can read about this. The world was flat, the trees were gone, the buildings were not there, and nothing was there.

He then saw the sun coming down 7 times and the power of the sun was multiplied 7 times, so the sun was very hot. The water in the ocean started boiling and the water would come onto the earth and mix with the dirt. It is like mixing boiling hot water in a pan and water bubbling over the sides. The dust was mixed up with water and became like mud.

Because the earth was like boiling mud the Lord said, “death doesn’t exist in you for this is the earth”. He looked everywhere to hide but couldn’t. Everywhere there was mud. He tried to run but it was impossible so God gave him pain 7 times greater. When he wanted to flee he put his foot on the earth but it got stuck and his foot burnt up. He cried and screamed but nobody came to help him. God left him there for a few seconds only. This servant of God said, “Lord, forgive me, I want to go back where I was before, I don’t want to move on, I think this is enough and I accept what you want to say”.

God gave him life again and now this person really knows about life after death. Remember we must be very careful to know there is a second death and this second death is not just about being buried, it is a death that has no end!

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