Part 2 / Rev 2:8-11 / Smyrna
Pressure is a necessary element of the refinement and purification of any material.
Our second talk of the collection “SEVEN” is titled “Under Pressure” and serves as an opportunity for Pastor Cameron to teach us about Jesus’s message to the Church of Smyrna, which was under intense persecution during an age of Roman empirical rule.
Evidence of pressure while following Jesus indicates the fostering and testing of true faith. We must actively encourage each other to remain steadfast in our faith in Jesus, who has conquered death, despite the crushing ‘thlipsis’ we are all destined to face at one point or another.
Revelation 1:8-11 ESV
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 “ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
Referenced Scriptures: Isa 41:4, 43:10, 44:6, 48:12 & 53:5, Heb 4:15 and Psa 46:1
Following Jesus is a beautiful journey, but we also know that faith is developed with purification and opposition. By the work of His Spirit within, we are sanctified to become more like Him. The more we grow like Christ, the more of a threat to the enemy we become. The reality is, it isn't even about us directly, but His presence and purpose He has placed in us. He can and will use the pressure and opposition to deepen our faith and further reveal His goodness.There is a great purpose, and calling for your life, and the pressures that we face in this life isn't without cause. Whether we feel pressure from relationships, emotions, spiritually, financially; it is because there’s a bigger purpose on the other side of it.
The church of Smyrna knew this first hand. They weren't facing crushing pressure because of disobedience, but rather because of their faithfulness. Jesus trusted their faith, and reminded them that He doesn't come to evaporate the pressure, but rather to encourage them to embrace it. This truth still stands today. We are called to hold tightly to the fact that Jesus has been through it all, He is the first and the last, and He will always meet us in the middle.
Pressure produces God's promises in our lives. If you keep running from the pressure, you risk running from the promise.
1. Pressure Proves
When we experience a time in the valley, we should surrender and cast all our cares on to Jesus so that He may use this time as to demonstrate His faithfulness. It is an opportunity to grow even closer to The Good Father who provides peace and joy in all seasons. We can celebrate and testify that our loving creator of all is never limited or concealing His care for us.
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”- Rev 2:10-11
How has pressure revealed His care for you?
In what ways has the testing of your faith revealed it?
What do we learn about our valleys when remembering the truth that Jesus, God in the flesh, first walked through the valley to gain victory on the other side?
2. Pressure Improves
While in the valley, it can be easy to feel like nothing is going your way. However, with the power of Christ within you, it can actually be a season to develop strength and perseverance. Like an athlete in training, the preparation for what is ahead can be painful and exhausting. Without it, though, they would never be prepared for the race at hand. Jesus helped prepare His church by reminding them who their enemy is, and by giving them a fresh perspective of eternity.
In what ways can previous trials and valleys helped improve your faith?
How does it improve my walk with Jesus and people we are called to love when we are reminded that our battles are not with flesh and blood?
What does it do for you perspective and attitude today by thinking about the valleys He has already lead you through, knowing that all trials are temporary?
Let that insight create foresight -
this too shall pass.
Let that insight create foresight -
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
3. Pressure Produces
Just like great pressure upon ordinary coal produces a stunning diamond, pressure placed upon us has the potential to produce something incredibly valuable and beautiful within us. The key is to steward this pressure according to God’s will by standing with Him under the load. By bearing the weight of our calling in and through Christ Jesus, we will become stronger and more resilient than we ever imagined.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1
How can pressure produce opportunities to expand your testimony?
What are some blessing you have experienced by standing firm under pressure? What are some promises still to come?
How is managing your pressure different than surrendering your pressure?
What is the difference between being refined by pressure and being crushed by it?
Painful situations are never easy, but there is always a purpose in the pressure. Yet, if we don’t give pressure a point, then the enemy (and our pride) can ultimately pervert God’s purpose. The good news is: God knows all your tribulations, even when you feel like no one is watching. He can be silent but He is never absent. Jesus has the final word, He is the end and the beginning.
Remind yourself that you are a child of God, and He calls you by your name. Surrender everything to Him, and allow troubling times to prove your faith and confidence in Christ. Lastly, remember, the enemy will attack you, but don’t take it personally, because its not about you; but rather its all about God- whose radical love defeated hell, death, and the grave.
Call To Action
This week in your daily prayer and devotion time, identify 3 causes of pressure in your life and write them down. Challenge yourself to surrender your pressure to God in prayer each day of the week.
Remember the times God has been faithful. Think about the promises He has fulfilled, and about the promises you've made to Him. Bring back to memory those promises and follow through. Moving forward, write out any promises you see Him bring to fruition, as well as any promises you make to God.
"The only courage worth calling courage
is when the soul passes a breaking point
and does not break."
- G.K. Chesterton
A Calling that hasn't been Tested
is a calling that cant be Trusted