We welcomed Pastor Andrew Kane to the pulpit last Sunday. If there was a word to describe Andrew it would be integrity. The definition I came up with for integrity would be to be the same on the outside as the inside. You can trust him because he is a man of integrity.

Opening Scripture

Revelation 2:8-10   To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

The book of Revelation is a “Revelation of Jesus,” a revelation about and from Jesus given to us. It is a book for ordinary believers, the seven churches. The book is “to help ordinary believers in extra ordinary times,” a manual for martyrs. To sum up the book Jesus wins!

To the church of Smyrna:
– There were no complaints against the church; nothing was wrong with them. But Jesus did tell them about suffering.
– You are going to experience suffering (vs.10)
– You will be imprisioned (vs. 10)
– There will be death (vs. 10)

Illustration of today’s church suffering:
Andrew White, the vicar of Bagdad, told of the persecution of the church of believers. They have about 6,000 members and they have 100 funerals a year for people who have been killed for their faith.

We are living in an increasingly fragile world. The worst thing we can do is to imagine it couldn’t happen to us.

Corrie Tin Boom hid Jews during the war and was imprisioned in a concentration camp. When she came out of the camp, she had a passion to see the church in Holland reformed. She spent years teaching that bad times happen to ordinary, good people.

If we are unprepared, the church will not stand in tough times.

We need to shape up or be swept away
– We need to grab hold strongly to Jesus
– We need to be overcomers

In Rev. 2:8-11
– He is victorious. Nothing can happen to us that He hasn’t already conquered.
– He is all knowing. You may think nobody knows the trouble you’re in, but Jesus does.
– He is balanced. “I know your poverty but you are rich.” He won’t let us wallow in self pity.
– He is sovereign. “…suffer for 10 days” He says he is in control. It is for a limited duration and it will come to an end.
– He is purposeful. There are ways that we need to be tested. Going through tough times is good because it shakes away things that are superfluous.
– He is generous. “I will give you” He supplies all our needs.
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In the Muslim world, David Garrison, a professor at the University of Chicago, has done a research project into moves of God in the Muslim world.

He defines a movement of God as where the Holy Spirit is working in a Muslim area and a minimum of 1,000 people are converted plus 100 new churches are established.

–  From the death of Mohammad in 632 A.D. to the beginning of the 20th century there were no movements at all.
–  In the 20th century, there were 11 movements recorded.
 In the first 12 years of the 21st century, there were 69 movements!

Garrison concludes that something historic and unprecedented is happening.

They interviewed thousands of people to find out why they are accepting Jesus and the number one reason is because of the disillusionment due to the jihadist movement.
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Conclusion

Way beyond the headlines, Jesus is doing amazing things! He is on the throne, reigning, bringing salvation! What is a little bit of suffering if the world gets saved!

Discussion

–  When was a time in your life where you went through a tough time, but looking back on it you can see the Lord’s timing in it?
–  Rev. 2:8-11 tells us who Jesus is. Which of the characteristics speaks the loudest to you?
–  What kind of suffering are you going through right now?

Pray for the members in your group.

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