The Church of Smyrna: Don’t Give Up!

Hello Friends,

So, I have to honest with you…Last week it was really cold, I mean really really really cold. Everything felt like it was frozen and nobody wanted to be outside. Now, it feels like early spring and the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and I have this urge to do things outside. What I need to be honest with is the fact that I am weather-confused! One day I want to stay inside under a blanket and the next day I want to be outside. One day the wind is blowing and the next day the birds are chirping. One day the clouds just won’t go away and the next day the sun is shining. I am weather-confused. But, I guess that is what we get for living in the Mid-West! I don’t know what to expect anymore. If any of you want to become a meteorologist and take away this confusion, you have my vote.

Enough about the weather…let’s talk about another church found in the Book of Revelation. Last week, we began our journey of visiting the Seven Churches found in the Book of Revelation by visiting the Church of Ephesus. This is what we found about the Church of Ephesus. The Church of Ephesus did a lot of good things for the people, the community, and for God’s glory, but they were missing the most important thing. Do you remember what they were missing? They were missing Jesus’ love in what they were doing.

To some regard, the Church of Ephesus is like us at times. We do good things but we don’t do them with Jesus in mind. Instead we do good things because that is what we are told to do not because that is what we want to do. For example, when we are told to take out the trash, we just do it and don’t think about how taking out the trash is helping our parents. When we make our bed, sometimes we just through the comforter over the wadded sheets and messed up pillows instead of taking the time to straighten the sheets and fluff the pillows: we make the bed because we have to not because we want to. We need to do things with love in our heart.

The Church of Ephesus, like you and me, needed to return to their first love because it was missing. Our church even needs to experience this love too. When it comes to our church, we have done, are doing, and will continue to do good things, but I know those good things can become great things when we do them with the love of Christ in our heart; when we do them with intentions of making and strengthening relationships; when we make every meal, every kids party, every cleaning day an act of God’s love in motion; and when we put God first in our life. With God’s love we are everything and more. With God’s love we can do great things. We need God’s love just like the Church of Ephesus needed to find the love of Christ in their life. “Love is all you need.”

Now, we move onto the second church. The second church goes by the name of Smyrna. Smyrna, once a main exporter of myrrh, is located about 45 miles north of Ephesus along the western coast of modern-day Turkey. The Church of Smyrna was likely established, according to Biblical Archeologists, between 53 and 56 A.D. during the work of Paul at Ephesus. The Church of Smyrna experienced persecution and the believers grew spiritually stronger from it. Their faith was proved to be real as they persevered and it encouraged others to remain faithful. No matter the case, every believer is encouraged to keep the faith and to know that one day there will be an end to the seemingly endless time of suffering in tribulations. The Church of Smyrna teaches us a valuable lesson: Always remember God is in control no matter how out of control things may appear to be.

You see, the believers of Smyrna, those who attended church, were being picked-on because they weren’t wealthy, they weren’t like everyone else, they were different, and they didn’t have the best or coolest things. People found them to be weak and not important. But Jesus saw them for who they really were and encouraged them to not be afraid but to be strong and courageous. As much as the Church of Smyrna wanted to put on a disguise and blend in with everyone so that people would stop picking on them, Jesus reminded them that they are exactly who God needs them to be: they are believers of God who are rich in faith and who wear the “crown of life”–Jesus’ salvation, grace, mercy, and eternal love. The Church of Smyrna didn’t need to change but rather it was the people around them that needed to change. Even when it felt like things were out of control, God was still in control.

There have been moments in my life when things were out of control. I wanted to give up, I wanted to walk away from the problem, I wanted to hide in my room, I wanted to be like everyone else. But in those moments, God reminded me that He is with me and that I must not give up because He has things under control. It would have been easy for the Church of Smyrna to give up. Sometimes giving up seems like the best answer to many problems. Furthermore, sometimes the church wants to give up when it is challenged to do something new or to see things through a different lens. We must remember that God is in control! He will remind us how important we are to Him and to all those around us. We must not give up and hide, but be who God has called us to be. Even when the weather can’t make up its mind, we must remain strong and embrace whatever comes our way.

Always remember God is in control no matter how out of control things may appear to be.

Your Friend, Holy Spirit!


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