Messages to Smyrna and Pergamos

(Revelation 2:8-17)

Lesson 7 -- second quarter 1997
April 13, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

He knows!
Do you know how to suffer?

The Lord Jesus knows! When no one else notices, He knows. When others notice, but don't appreciate, He knows. When our motives are impugned, He knows. When the cost is prohibitive, He knows. When we have nothing left for ourselves, He knows. The human spirit longs for recognition and appreciation, and yet the Scripture admonishes us not to advertise our good deeds! What a potential for inner turmoil and conflict. At these times in particular, the words of Jesus Christ flow as an especially encouraging balm, "I know thy works."

Why do you do the good things you do? Simple question? I doubt it. Most of us have such a conniving heart, and all of us have such a subtle enemy. We may do good hoping (expecting?) for reciprocation. We may do good anticipating gratitude or even reward. We may do good with an enhancement of our reputation in view. We may do good to soothe our conscience and balance our guilt over some failure. What may even do good as a means of increasing our chances of landing a certain job or being elected to a certain office. May we be on our guard against all these! I want the Lord to so work His ways into me that I do good for two very uncomplicated reasons: I want to serve Him and I want to bless others. I want to be satisfied with His "I know thy works."

The Lord also knows where we live. He knows how strong the enemy is in our age. He knows all about the proliferation of evil and temptation around us. And still He expects that we be "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Is He being unreasonable? Consider His provisions and decide for yourself: He gave Himself (Titus 2:14), He has given us His Word (2 Timothy 3:17,18), He gives us coworkers (Hebrews 10:24), and He will always supply us with enough grace (Romans 5:20). Praise the Lord for His faithful provision!

Suffering. For Jesus and His faith. This writer and likely most of his readers know so little about it. What can we learn from the Bible about the proper way to suffer for the faith? Let's have a little look.

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer" (Revelation 2:10). How we need the big picture to get around our fears! The rest of this verse promises, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." And the verse following assures, "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." But even more than seeing the big picture we need to see and commit ourselves to our big God. Depend on Him to see you from fear to the casting out of fear. Take your cue and your courage from Hebrews 5:7-9 and Matthew 5:10-12!

Earlier in this quarter we discussed holiness. Read 1 Peter 3:14,15 to discover a fascinating connection made between courage and holiness. These verses also indicate that we should suffer with a ready reason for the hope that compels us to choose suffering over compromise.

The Scriptures also admonish and encourage us to suffer without shame, substituting praise to God in its stead (1 Peter 4:16). And what shall we say to 1 Peter 2:20-23?! We must bear our suffering patiently and with a godly attitude.

Sounds pretty daunting, eh? Review the Lord's provisions for good works!

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