The Suffering Patient - Church in the Doctor's Office #2

Bible Book: Revelation  2 : 8-11
Subject: Suffering; Presence of Jesus; Comfort of Christ; Church; Smyrna
Series: Your Church in the Doctor's Office

Doctor Bloomfield was a well know doctor who had extraordinary success in the treatment of arthritis. Everyday is waiting room was full of patients who were looking for a miracle cure for their disease. On one particular morning, with the waiting room full of hurting people, a little old lady, almost bent over in half, was called by the receptionists to see the doctor. She shuffled in slowly, painfully, leaning on her cane. Within five minutes she returned to the waiting room walking completely erect and with her head held high.

A woman who had witnessed the transformation rushed up to the little old lady and said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking erect. What did the doctor do?

The patient replied, “The doctor gave me a longer cane!”

Sometimes in life we are looking for a miracle cure. We know Jesus, the Great Physician, will be with us no matter what we are facing in our lives, and if we will trust Him, we will look at difficulties in a  way that will honor Him.

The Church at Smyrna was being examined by Jesus. When you read the diagnosis by Jesus concerning this Church, you see a number of symptoms that would concern you. As a matter of fact, at first glance, this Church seemed to have enough problems to just make them just want to give up and attempt to handle their problems on their own. But they didn’t. They had confidence in how they were living their lives, and they were not interested in changing their spiritual lifestyle to attempt to change the prognosis that Jesus had given them. For you see, after Jesus examined this Church,  He told them that things were going to get worse before they got better. As a matter of fact, He told them some would even die because of the way they were living their lives! Jesus told them they were going to suffer for what they believed, for how they lived their lives, and for Who they worshipped.

One of the great questions of all time is why do God’s people face suffering? It seems that some of the most godly people suffer the greatest. This is one of the great mysteries of the human existence, and a question that I cannot answer. Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” He replied, “Why not? “They’re the only ones who can take it.”

When suffering comes in your life, do you think you can take it? Let me tell you something, your ancestors in Smyrna handled it! When I read about them, I realized they are my spiritual ancestors. When God promised Abraham he would have more ancestors than stars in the heavens, He was talking about people of faith, His faith. The same blood that washed away the sin of the saints in the Old Testament is the same blood that wash’s away our sins today – the blood of Jesus.

Let us look at the Church of Smyrna and see what Jesus had to say about them, and what we can learn about our spiritual ancestors who lived in a situation where they were tried, tested, and found spiritual fit by the only One who can give an accurate diagnosis and prognosis to their situation. The spiritual evaluation that Jesus give to this Church is the same evaluation that we have in our Church today. What is Jesus saying to the Church of FBC Cherryville?

I. You Are Never Alone

A Church should always have a community to which they minister. Countless churches have closed their doors and many are in the process of closing their doors now because they have forgotten that they were placed in a community by the divine providence of God to reach that community with the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. One of the biggest mistakes a Christian can make is to close his or her eyes to the community around them. You must minister to the people around you.

A Church should always realize that trouble is ever present. We are in a spiritual battle with evil, and evil will always contend against God’s people. trouble can come in a variety of ways.

A. You Can Bring Trouble on Yourselves

You can bring it on yourself with bad decisions. You can allow others to bring it on you by following their decisions.

B. You Will Experience when You Identify with Jesus

You will experience trouble when you identify yourself with Jesus Christ. Whenever you make a decision, ask yourself this question, “Will it honor Jesus Christ?” A Christian must first and foremost identify with Jesus with everyday decisions. You may not like to do everything Jesus wants you to do, but if you are going to honor Him, you are going to ask yourself if your actions are bringing honor to the One who redeemed you, to the One who is keeping you, and to the One who will one day bring you to your heavenly home.

C. You are Never Alone

Jesus will not leave you when you are facing trouble. He is there! He knows where you are. He loves you. He sees your faithfulness and will reward it in due time. Remain faithful to the One who has remained faithful to you.

II. You Are Never Outnumbered

The Christians in Smyrna were being persecuted because they were Christians. They would not submit to the people around them. They realized the example they set would be followed by their children throughout time.

During the China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station. They told the people on the inside that if they would allow them to live if they would walk on a cross they had placed at the front door, but if not, they would die. The people were terrified. What would they do? The first seven people ran out, trampled on the cross, and were allowed to live. What would number eight do?

A young lady arose, went to cross, kneeled beside it and prayed for strength. She was executed on the spot.

What would number 9 do? Well, let me tell you, everyone one who was left, all 92 students were strengthened by her example and they followed her to the firing squad! How could they do this? They realized they were not outnumbered.

2 Kings 6:17 tells us Elisha was able to see the enemy, but he was also able to see his allies! Matthew 26:52-53 tells us Jesus was able to see the same allies! Do you look for them in your life when trouble comes your way?

A. Enemies All Around – The People of Smyrna

The church of Smyrna had enemies all around them. Smyrna considered itself to be a beautiful city. Coins of that day had this inscription, “First in Asia in beauty and size.” With a famous stadium, a magnificent library, and public theater (the largest in Asia), with famous people claiming the city as their hometown, one being the epic poet Homer, it had some people in it that attacked the Church.

At one end of the city was a temple dedicated to Cybele, known as the patron of divinity. At the other end of the city was a temple dedicated to the worship of Zeus. In the middle was a synagogue of non-believing people pretending to be spiritual ancestors of Abraham, who attacked the Christians.

B. Enemies All Around – The Pretenders in the Church

Isn’t it strange that their always seems to be pretenders in the Church. The Ephesians had people pretending to be apostles, and now the Church in Smyrna had people pretending to be descendants of Abraham. Jesus called them the “Synagogue of Satan.”

C. You Need Never Feel Outnumbered by your Enemies

The Church of Smyrna never felt they were outnumbered or overwhelmed because they had faith in and served Jesus Faithfully.

1. You are never going to have an easy life

You are going to have a blessed life, you are going to have peace when trouble comes, and you are going to have victory through the Blood of Jesus, but it will not be easy. I don’t know of anything worth having that is easy.

Listen, Proverbs 13:15 tells us, “But the way of the transgressors is hard.” You want a hard life? Live for this world! The Christians of Smyrna knew that the hard life is the life without Christ as its source of power. Without Christ in your life you will face hardship after hardship without His hand to guide you.

2. You are never going to be poor

You are never going to be poor! The world may say you are poor. They may take away your ability to work and to make an income. They may persecute you where you live. They may attack you when you do go to work with hurtful words. But, Jesus says, “You are rich!”

Let me ask you a question, Who are you going to believe, the people of this world whining about losing money, or Jesus, the King of King and Lord of Lords, who tells you that you are rich? I choose Jesus.

3.  You are never far from home

Jesus has a crown for you, the victor. Are you facing trouble right now? Trust in Jesus because He is in control of all things. He knows what the enemy is thinking and He knows what he done to you in the past, and what is doing to you right now, and what he is planning to do to you in the future. But take courage because Jesus told us not to be afraid. Why? Because Jesus had a plan for you before you were even born, and we must get in line with His will for our lives to make sure we are heading  in the right direction for His glory.