You Will Be Tested

Wednesday, November 26, 2014, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:8-11 (NASB).

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until 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. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Tribulation and Poverty

Jesus Christ knows all about us. He knows all about the difficulties we face in this life. They have not escaped his notice, although sometimes we may feel as though he is not paying attention. For instance, I can remember a time in my life many years ago when I was going through such a trial, and when God was encouraging me to stop running away from the situation, and to get back in there and to see it through. He spoke to my heart while I was reading the story of Jonah to my children. I responded to him with, “But God, you don’t understand!” I truly believed that in my emotions. Although intellectually I believed in the sovereignty of God, my responses to my circumstances spoke just the opposite.

I did listen to him, though, and I stepped out in faith, and I went against my fears, and he did turn the situation around for my good and for the good of others. But, did I learn? For a time I did, but then when the next big trial came my way, I responded in fear once again, and again, and again until I finally learned to trust in the absolute sovereignty of God over my life, to believe in his promises, that he is in control, and that he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows to come into my life. As well, I learned to believe that he is quite capable to see me through any and all troubles and hardships, and that he will work all things for good in my life, if I put my faith and trust in Him. Yet, this is not a finished work in me. I am still a work in progress, but growing stronger every day by his grace.

For each one of us, our trials will be different, though for some of us they may be the same (or similar) as what others are going through. Some of us may be suffering physically, while others of us may be going through emotional pain. For some of us, our trials and tribulations may be minor, while for others, they may be catastrophic. Yet, God’s grace is sufficient for us no matter what we are going through. He will give us all we need to remain strong and steadfast, and to persevere and to not give up hope. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that he loves us, that he is not absent from the situation, that he knows what is going on, that he has something he wants to teach us through it, and that he will give us all we need to keep on keeping on, even when all looks absolutely hopeless.

So, although we may presently be facing hardships and difficulties, we are rich in faith, and abounding in all of God’s resources, blessings, and provisions to us which will see us through these troubled times. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always there to meet our every need. We just need to trust him, and not give way to fear. Amen!

A Synagogue of Satan

In the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant relationship between God and his people, the Jews were God’s chosen people, the children of God, heirs of the promise; the true Israel of God. Yet, when Jesus Christ died on the cross, and he provided the way of salvation for us via his shed blood for our sins, the children of God became those who put their faith in Jesus Christ – both Jew and Gentile. We are now God’s chosen people, heirs of the promise; the true Israel of God (See: Romans 9:6b-8; Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18).

So, in context, when it speaks here of those who say they are Jews, but are not, this can be either a literal reference to those who are Jews by physical birth, and who think they are still God’s chosen people, but who are not because they do not believe in Jesus Christ, or this could be speaking more figuratively of those who say they are Christians (God’s chosen), but who are not. Either way, this is definitely speaking of those who believe they have a relationship with God, and that they are his people, but it is profession only, for their lives deny what their lips profess. In reality, they oppose Jesus Christ and his gospel, so they are not true worshipers of God Almighty, but are worshipers (followers) of Satan.

Jesus said, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).

These who profess to know God, but who deny Jesus Christ either verbally, or by their lifestyles, and thus stand opposed to God/Christ and to the full gospel message, may become abusive towards those of us who are true followers of Christ, and who hold to the truths of God’s word, and who preach the full gospel message. They may attack us with false accusations intended to damage our reputations, and/or they may make unfair, unkind and hurtful remarks about us or towards us.

They also may become blasphemous concerning the gospel itself. Those who blaspheme the gospel switch right for wrong, i.e. they exchange the truth of God for a lie. Literally this word “blaspheme” carries with it the idea of being “slow to identify what is truly evil, and slow to call something good that is really good” (Source: I see this taking place quite frequently in the modern church of today here in America, and often coming straight from the pulpits of many churches (cross-denominational). So many who claim to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ have diluted the gospel message to make it more appealing to human flesh, less offensive, non-judgmental and acceptable to the world.

They twist the word of God to make it say what they want it to say so that it is pleasing to the ears of those who listen, and so that people will want to come back to their churches. When the world feels at home in our churches, though, something is seriously wrong! I have seen so many different versions of “the gospel” in the past 15 years, that it is truly heartbreaking, for so many people are being fed lies in place of truth, and are being given a false hope of heaven based upon those lies.

Some ways in which this is realized is in what I call the “false grace” movement. They teach faith absent of the cross of Christ in our lives, because they do not teach what the apostles taught concerning our salvation, which is that we must die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, that we must be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that our new lives in Christ are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24-25). As well, they do not teach that God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, and that Jesus gave himself up for us “to purify for Himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds” (See: Tit. 2:11-14).

Do Not Fear

Because there are so many people who reject Jesus Christ, either outright by verbal denial of him or through denying him by their lifestyles, although they give lip service to God, we are bound to face persecution at their hands if we stand on the Word of Truth and we do not deny our Lord. For me personally, the largest percentage of the persecution which has come against me has not come from the professed unsaved in the world, but from the professed saved within the church. And, much of that has come from the leadership within the church who are diluting the gospel and who are following after a gospel of humans, instead. In fact, many of these leaders are being trained to suppress, reject and/or to discard those who are sharing the full gospel message, because we serve as a direct threat to their human-based kingdoms here on earth. I have even heard preachers from the pulpit encourage people to either “get on board” with human-based goals and objectives or to “go someplace else.”

Yet, we are not to be afraid of their rejection, persecution and personal attacks against us because we hold to the truths of scripture and do not deny our Lord. We are also not to be afraid of being falsely accused and/or arrested on false charges, or afraid that people will think things about us which are not true. We must surrender our reputations to God, understanding that we are called to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. He was treated in the same way, so he empathizes with us in what we are going through. Although the idea of going through severe physical pain and suffering for the sake of the gospel may seem foreign and a bit scary to some of us who have never had to suffer in that way, we have no cause for fear, for our Lord is with us, and he will supply all we need to survive and to be victorious. Amen!

Be Faithful

So, this is an encouragement to us to be faithful (steadfast) in our commitments, service and obedience to our Lord and to his word, despite how we may be treated in return. We must never give up, or lose hope, or begin to doubt God when life hits us hard, and it will. For some of us, this may require much strength and perseverance, but God will supply us with all we need. Many of us, too, will be persecuted unto death, yet we must hang in there! We need to rely upon the strength of the Lord to see us through. It will be worth it all! One day we will get to see our Savior face to face. Then, I believe that many of the things we don’t understand now, in this life, will then make sense to us, for we will see how God was working in and through our lives in ways which we now cannot see. So, trust him, even when life doesn’t make sense. Believe him. And, rest in his love.

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.