A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:8-11:
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
Adrian Rogers said, “I have not suffered a lot for Christ, but I want to tell you that those times that I have suffered and I knew it was for Jesus, have been some of the happiest times of my entire life. I cannot tell you the indescribable joy that has come into my heart and my life.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Without question, the greatest need of this hour is that the church shall meet her ascended Lord again, and get an enduement that would usher in the revival of revivals just before the night of nights settles over this age of incomparable corruption.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Over the winter of 1816-17, Robert Haldane continued training a new generation of leadership for the Reformed Churches of Switzerland. Although his following was small compared to those who had gathered to hear him preach in his native Scotland, his influence throughout the French-speaking world was extensive. As those who had met completed their formal training, they went out to churches throughout the nations to preach and teach, not what they’d learned in school, but what they’d discovered in Haldane’s Bible study group.”
From Scripture, we have examined three reasons why Christians are faced with suffering, oftentimes suffering that seems to be more than our fair share. But God’s children suffer as a form of chastisement for sin; God’s children suffer for the purpose of testing our obedience; God’s children also experience suffering as a means of preventing sin in our lives. The fourth reason why God allows His children to suffer is so that their lives might bring glory to Him and produce fruit for His kingdom.
In Acts 9:15-16, right after Paul’s conversion experience, Jesus says that Paul “is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Paul had just had his dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He is confused, blind, and in a stranger’s house. Yet, we see that God already had plans for him to go through great suffering for the name of Christ. Before one can enjoy a great bottle of wine, one must crush the grapes.
From this point forward, Paul would go through extreme persecution, hatred, and conflict in his time serving as a minister of the Gospel. He documents his suffering in Second Corinthians, saying, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” Despite all this, today, we recognize him as the foremost apostle and contributor to the formation of Christian doctrine. While we recognize his suffering and eventual martyrdom, we focus far more on the fruit that his ministry brought forth and the many souls that have been brought into the kingdom of God through his preaching and writing. All of Paul’s suffering brought glory to the name of Christ and blessings to the lives of others.
When we are going through suffering, we must consider that God may indeed intend to bring glory out of it in the future. While we may barely be able to see our hand in front of our face, God sees decades and generations into the future. While He allows suffering in our lives today, He alway plans to use it for our betterment, for the benefit of others, and for the bringing of glory to His name. As Paul himself wrote, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Singer and songwriter Shane Barnard wrote this song titled “Though You Slay Me” after the untimely death of a family member:
I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say you do it all in love
That I might know you in your suffering
Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
I’ll sing a song to the one who’s all I need
My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLight and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.