“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-11
Scripture reading: I Peter 4:12-19
Testing is never pleasant, but God’s word teaches it is necessary. The church gathered at Smyrna experienced a severe test—persecution for confessing Christ. Church members were going to be thrown into prison by the devil himself. The devil, the roaring lion prowling to devour, is the accuser, a slanderer who hates Christians with an undying hatred.
There are particular seasons throughout the history of the church where suffering is intensified and the church at Smyrna knew that first hand. Jesus taught that if He was hated, so would be His followers. Jesus was persecuted and so will be His disciples (cf. John 15:18-25). We need to take Jesus’ words to heart, not with anxious hearts, but with the courage of the truth that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. With resolve, we must remember that the power of the church in difficult and dangerous circumstances does not live within herself, but is only from Christ Himself. Persecution is used by God for His purpose. But never forget Jesus is fully aware of whatever trouble the church is called to endure. He does not want us to be afraid.
The dominant religion/faith in the Western world is secular humanism and increasingly there is the pressure for the Christian church to compromise. God’s Word calls us to stand firm on the Word, to stand firm in Christ. All other ground is sinking sand. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray in the conviction that Jesus is proving our faith. Pray often for the church to be true to the holy faith, living faithfully before the Lord. When called to suffer for the sake of the gospel, pray for strength to commit our ways to the Lord (I Peter 4:19).
Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.