A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:8-11:
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Chuck Swindoll said, “The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The fact that all men are judgment-bound is the most sobering thought I know.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Revival during ‘Geneva’s Second Reformation’ was centered in classes of twenty to thirty divinity students at a time. It was a quiet awakening in which the Holy Spirit deeply moved in the lives of young men who became carriers of revival throughout Switzerland and the French-speaking world. Students training in the seminary attended their classes, then hurried over to Haldane’s home to be taught the Bible and theology by the Scottish preacher.”
In our last message in this series, we dealt with how God allows suffering in our lives to chastise us for our sins. God wants us to recognize the painful consequences of our wrongdoing so that we won’t do wrong again. Even though chastisement is painful, the “peaceable fruit of righteousness”, and the blessings that come from God as a result of that, are worth suffering through chastisement.
As we continue looking at the suffering that the Church at Smyrna faced, we find that another reason why God allows suffering in our lives is as a test in order that we might learn obedience. We can never truly know if we believe what we say we believe until those beliefs are put through the trying fires of suffering and tribulation. It is one thing to say that we have faith in God at a time when all is going well for us. It is one thing to obey God when we are not faced with temptation or being tested by circumstances or other people. But it is another thing to maintain faith and obedience when it seems like nothing is going well for us and we are facing difficulty on every side.
Many of God’s most faithful servants experienced suffering in the form of a test of obedience. J. Hampton Keathley III said, “Suffering is that which proves one’s character and integrity along with both the object and quality of one’s faith. God lovingly and faithfully uses suffering to develop personal righteousness and maturity in our walk with Him.” Abraham was one who loved God and was called a “friend of God.” Yet, that love and friendship was put to the test when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Joseph was an upright man who always strived to do the right thing. Yet, his faithfulness was put to the test when he was lied on and thrown in jail for years. Would he remain faithful to God or would he just give up in frustration? Job was another righteous man, yet his loyalty to God was put to the test when he lost everything he owned, all of his children, and his health. But it was Job who declared, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
When our obedience is being tested through suffering, we ought to see such times as opportunities to grow. Just as a test in school reveals whether one has truly gained knowledge, the tests that God puts us through help us to see our true standing in the faith. Tests reveal the areas in our lives in which we need to make improvement. Paul lists some of the results of suffering in Romans 5:3-5: “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
So, we should embrace the suffering and tribulation that come our way because, whether we pass the test this time or not, it always has the potential to make us better, more obedient, and more faithful in the future.
M.S. Lowndes said:
Sometimes you allow us, Lord,
To go through times of testing
And often, Lord, it may come to us
After a time of blessing
You let those times we go through
Be times of deeper work
To teach us, Lord, to trust in you
Even though we may hurt
We try so hard to understand
Just what is going on
And why we go through such a low
When before we felt so strong
But you know what’s best for us
And you see the bigger picture,
You’re always there to walk with us
Into a brighter, hope filled future.
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.