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Application

Have you ever been hurt, injured, and wounded? Are you going through hardship, pain, grief, and persecution? Have you shut down your bowels of mercies and emotion of love, and have allowed the weeds of hurts to kill your love for people? Have you lost the heat, and introduced seasons to when you can love and care for people? How cold or hot are you, emotionally toward people you do not know, and have never seen? Have you allowed your pain, hurts, wounds, and sufferings to dry up your milk of human kindness, love, and care?

Your actions make Jesus Christ very sad and He cannot bless you, even though you may be right. The Pharisees were very right, and yet they could not see Jesus Christ standing right in front of them. They were too cold to love and care for people.

Jesus is asking you to change, repent, and rekindle your flame and fire of love for the saints, visitors, and strangers. This gives God great joy and pleasure. Do not turn off people or withdraw into yourself for fear of being hurt again.

Remember that the Bridegroom is with you personally, and He will help you, if you ask Him to. Let us start again from square one of loving and caring for the saints, people, visitors, and strangers alike. This brings great joy and pleasure to the heart of the Father. Just do it!

Remember that God will not ask you to do what He knows that you cannot do. He is a very just Father. He loves you!

The Bride at Smyrna

(Rev. 2:8–11)

The Church in Smyrna is small in number and not large. The Lord and Husband of the Church writes to His Bride to encourage her to be steadfast and courageous in the face of trial, temptations, imprisonment, and death.

The angel of a Local Church represents the leadership of both divinity and humanity. Every Church has an assigned angel to watch over it. Only the Lord of the Church can call off the services of these angels in a Local Church.

The Lord of Hosts is writing to the leaders of the Church, the family of God on Earth. He writes to them as the Lord who is in charge of all, and holds the remote control of the universe in His hand. He has authority and powers both in heaven and on earth, and no one can stay His power and might. (Matt. 28:18) The letters A and Z stand as the first and last letters in the alphabet, and these two hold all the other letters together, because B to Y are contained in A and Z. The Lord Jesus Christ is the First and the Last and holds together all of God’s creation—past, present, and future—in Himself. Nothing escapes His eyes and power.

In Him we live, move, and have our beings. He is the True Vine and we are the Branches in Him. (Jn.15:1–5) Jesus is not only the A and Z of the human race, but also the One who has gone to our hell, and came back to life again for our freedom and justification. He has conquered death, having tasted death for all humanity. He stands alone as the Resurrection and the Life, and because He lives, we can face tomorrow, and put the army of the enemy to flight. On planet Earth, the worst thing that can happen to you is death, and Christ has defeated death right in its turf. The best thing that can happen to you is life, and He has become your life through the power of the Gospel of His grace. Jesus has prevailed over the gates of hell on your behalf (Matt.16:18)

CHRIST: The Conqueror Of Hell And Darkness

(The gates of hell shall not prevail)

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 Matt.16:17-19

 

Caesarea Philippi, where Christ revealed Himself as Messiah to His disciples, was home to the Temple of Pan, a place so demonic that many of the rituals performed there are too horrible to mention. The city sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, which was known as the ‘Rock of the Gods’, referring to the many shrines built against it, for all the gods.

At the foot of Mount Hermon sat the temple of Pan, the ruins of which can still be seen there. In the rear of the temple was a cave with a deep pool (which also remains there) from which spring water flowed. Ancient pagans believed that the water symbolized the abyss, and that the cave was a door to the underworld.

The cave at the rear of the temple was considered the ‘Gate of Hades’ because it was believed that Baal would enter and leave the underworld through it. God only knows what kind of spiritual activity passed through this realm of darkness.

 It was here, in the most demonic place in Israel, and the world that Christ chose to reveal through Peter’s spirit, the inspired proclamation, that He was Messiah, the Son of God. And it was in this place of repugnant darkness and spiritual degeneracy that the Lord announced His intention to build His Church.”

And it was in this ” Hell hole” that He gave us the assurance, “The Gates of Hell will NOT prevail against it.”

 We are planted where evil dwells, to proclaim and represent the Lord of Light. And we seem to be witnessing an advance of evil in this world that is unprecedented, and is becoming a “flood” reminiscent of the “Days of Noah”. How precious and vital are the Lord’s words, “The Gates of Hell will NOT prevail against you…”

Believing those words, we will stand, every day, and we will overcome the power of Satan, by faith, especially as we continue to pray as He taught us, “Deliver us from evil.” Not in our own strength or power – but in the power of God given to all His children through His Son!

The Lord Jesus opens His heart to His Bride at Smyrna as the very Author of life, and this message to the Bride in this city will reflect His description of Himself. He is the One who holds all things together as well as the One who was once dead and now lives forever and ever.

Verse 9 says, “I know who you are. I know your works. I know everything about you from A to Z. You can never hide from me, even if you try.” Do not even put forward your good foot first, thinking that you can fool the Lord. He knows who you are and you are transparent before Him. Psm.139, vv. 7–10 say, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, and your right hand will hold me fast.” Jesus said to this Church, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty.” Christ sees all that you are going through. Your sufferings, hardships, tribulations, pain, and trials are all before Him.

He is very much aware of them. Do not equate His silence to a lack of interest in your life. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. (2Chr.16:9) The Lord our God is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, pain, and hardship. (Heb.4:15)

This Church is going through great tribulations, sufferings, and afflictions from Satan, who uses people as his tools of destruction against the works of God. This Church is also poor materially and much in need of daily means of livelihood. In the eyes of the world, this Church is a failure, inconsequential, and unimportant. They may just be a handful of people, but the Lord thinks that they are wonderful, very important, and rich.

If the Bridegroom said that you are rich, you better believe it. That is the truth, friends, and it is no lie. The way God defines poverty is different from the way our world defines it. From the estimate of the world, you are a rich Church if you have several thousand members, and your annual budget is in the millions. If you do not fit this category, the world thinks you should not be allowed to exist.

The Lord said to her, “I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not. They are the synagogues of Satan.” This Church has been ridiculed and called all kinds of names by the enemies of Christ. Their accusers claimed to be thorough and purebred Jews. The Lord takes notice of this abuse, insult, and slander. He denounces their accusers. If you do not fight for yourself, the Lord will fight for you, but if you choose to fight for yourself, He will withdraw His support. The arm of flesh will fail you, and you dare not trust your own. Jesus calls the accusers the synagogues of Satan.

The Lord brings a word of encouragement to His bride in Smyrna regarding future persecution, hardship, and suffering. He tells them not to be afraid, even though Satan will tempt them severely. The enemy will put some of them in prison and even kill some. Suffering is part of the Gospel and Christian faith. We should not be surprised that we experience suffering and persecution. If it happened to the Green Tree, the Lord Jesus Christ, then it must happen to us, the dry wood. (Lk. 23:31). The Lord Jesus Christ led the way for us in suffering and Phil.2:1–11 confirms it. The Scriptures say, “It has been given to us, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His namesake. (Phil.1:29)

Those who cannot bear the cross will never wear crowns. The attacks and trials are tests of their (ours too) faith and trust in the Bridegroom. It will continue for ten days, indicating a need for patience and longsuffering. They (and us too) must not throw in the towel in discouragement, but demonstrate trust and faith in Him in the midst of the fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. (Dan.3:13-25)

We must look up to our Bridegroom even in the valley, at the point of death. Those who die for His sake will be resurrected and they shall receive crowns of life from His hands. (Rev.20:1-4) They must remember that Jesus is the One who died and now lives forever. He has control over death and life. (Jn.11:25–26) Moreover, the saints do not die. They only fall asleep. He will wake them up in the resurrection, and this is a promise He made to them. He will never fail to keep His promise. He is the Promise Keeper!

This particular letter from the Bridegroom to His Bride in Smyrna addresses the theology of suffering about which we hear very little today. Was the cross the will of God? Did it have pain, trials, hardship, and sorrow? Certainly. And Isa.53 is the divine commentary on the sufferings of our Bridegroom, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even though He was in the very center of the will of God, He experienced untold agony of heart, because of what He suffered.

Elder James reflected on the suffering of Christ, and made the following statements, “Consider it all pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (Jms.1:2–4) We need to adjust our thinking and be prepared for suffering, because it is included in the Gospel’s package. We cannot have one without the other. (Phil.1:29)

In Mark.10:29ff, Christ said, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the Gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—with them persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” Christ also said in Luke’s Gospel, “If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever loses his life for me, will save it. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.” (Lk.9:23–26)

This message is not just for Smyrna’s Church, but also for the other six Churches and for future believers yet to come. They and us need to take to heart the message of encouragement from the Lord Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom. Those who endure suffering and persecution unto death while trusting the Lord are overcomers, and they will not experience the second death. Their faith works not only on Sunday, but also Monday to Saturday, at the office and in the community. Let those who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches from the Bridegroom. He is the First and the Last, and holds together in Himself all of God’s creation: past, present, and future.

As a disciple of Christ, you must not forget that the Church is people, not a building. You are the Bride of Christ, individually and collectively, and the Bridegroom wants to live His life in and through you. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Resolve to live for God!

The Bride at Pergamos

(Rev. 2:12–17)

Pergamos and the Throne of Satan: (A Disciple in the HQTS of Satan)

Emperor Domitian erects his image in Pergamos, and commands everyone to worship him as “god.” Whoever disobeys faces instant death.

What will happen to the disciples of Christ in the city of Winnipeg, Brandon and all the cities of our world, if the prime ministers decide that they are “gods” and have their images erected in the center of the cities? They command all the people in the cities to worship them, and the armed forces back them up. Those who refuse to worship their images will be put to death, including all the disciples of Christ. What would you do? How easy will it be to be a lively Church in the cities of our world? Will the Church at the Glory and Peace still be alive in the midst of this declaration by the prime minister of Canada? What about your cities? Will there be saints who will defy the orders of the presidents or prime ministers?

This is what the Bride of Christ faces at Pergamos. Some members are faithful to God, while others serve dual gods: self and Satan. Some of the trademarks of Satan are sexual perversion and lawlessness with unrestrained pleasure. Put yourself in their shoes and let us worship on Sunday. This is where we distinguish boys from men, and the fearful from the faithful and brave. You really come to know those who are serving the Bridegroom through adversity, when their lives are in direct danger for the sake of Him and God, whom they serve and worship.

Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into the burning furnace, heated over seven times, because they refused to worship the image of Nebuchad-nezzar. They lived.

In verse 12, the Lord Jesus Christ is described here as the One who has the sharp, doubled–edged Sword in His mouth. A sword is an offensive weapon, and this will reflect the message to the Bride at Pergamos. Christ is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of God in heaven and on earth, and rules over all creations. This is a fierce description of the Bridegroom.

The Lord knows who you are. He has your name, number, and address. He even has your email and your account number. Your life is like an open book before Him, and you cannot hide from His all–seeing and searching Eyes. He is aware of Satan’s activities, and where his throne is in Pergamos, as well as in your cities. Right in the very center of Satan’s turf, this Church remains steadfast to the Lord. They are not afraid of death or dying, and will not worship the image of the emperor. They would rather die than bow down to the image of a madman. If you bow, you burn and die. But if you refuse to bow, you live.

The Lord encourages them and says, “You did not renounce your faith in me in the midst of fire and hardship. The death of Antipas through the hands of Satan did not weaken your faith in the heart of demonic activities. “Well done.” The love, grace, mercy, and the power of God are always strongest where satanic opposition is hottest. Satan lives right in the center of the city of Pergamum as he does in some parts of the cities of the world today.

In verse 14, the Lord talks about the wheat and the weeds, figuratively speaking, in keeping with Matt.13:24–30. Just as every nation has spies in other nations of the world, so does Satan have spies in every Church. Not everyone who sits down in the Church building on Sundays is there to worship God. People come for different reasons. Some people have secret agenda, while others are agents of Satan and are there as spies. Am I a spy? You know who you are, and the Lord knows you above all. Darkness always shows up where the light seems the brightest, but the former will soon disappear. Light always conquers darkness!

Some members of this Church at Pergamos are followers of Balaam. They eat food sacrificed to idols, engage in sexual immorality, they are into mixed marriages (believers to nonbelievers), and also worship idols. (other gods) Another group among them follows the teachings of the Nicholatans, and are into sexual perversion, unbounded pleasure, lawlessness, and idolatry.

It is very hard to be a disciple of Christ in Pergamos, and the Lord knows that very well. He praises the faithful ones! Of all sins that destroy the Church, and a group of believers, nothing is as potent and powerful as sexual immorality among the young and old alike, whether married or single. It is like the yeast in dough or leprosy in a human body. There are some people who just cannot stay away from sexual sins, because a spirit is now involved. Such people need the anointing of the Spirit of God to break the stronghold of the spirit of perversion over their lives. This can be done very easily. Of all sins that plague us as humans and the people of God, these three are at the top: a) Glory (pride) b) Gold (money) c) Girls (sexual immorality) and these are the three G’s.

In verse 16, we can see the heart of God, the Father. He is always in the business of restoration and not destruction. The Lord Jesus Christ died to restore and reconcile man to God. That is what John.3:16 is all about. The heart of repentance is mercy, rehabilitation and restoration. The Lord commands these people in His Church to repent and turn from the errors of their ways. If they refuse to repent, they will face the sword of His mouth in judgment.

Repentance: To repent is to turn around, change your mind and direction. It is to take a 180° turn in the opposite direction. Isa.55:7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him and will abundantly pardon.” Acts.3:19–20 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” In 2Cor.6:1–2, “As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘At the time of my favor, I heard you, and on the day of salvation, I helped you. For now is the time of God’s favor, now is salvation’s day.”

The Lord closes the message in verse 17, and makes it a general message for all to hear. This is not just hearing with the outer ears, but the ears of the heart, because He who is speaking to the Churches is the Lord of the Spirit of God Himself. The message is for all the Seven Churches. It is one thing to hear with your outer ears, it is another to hear with your h-ear-t.

Overcomers here are those who take heed to the commands of the Lord to repent. They are those who turned away from their sins, and give no excuses or reasons why they could not change their immoral ways. They obey the Lord!

Results of Repentance

They will receive hidden manna.

They will receive white stones with their new names on them.

The new names will only be known to those who receive the stones and they will be with Christ forever.

… To Be Continued

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