February 6, 2000     The Poor Church that was Rich          Rev. 2:8-11

By Ronald E. George Jr. at the Fayetteville Baptist Church

As an old man once told me that it wasn't bad to be poor; it is just inconvenient at times. But the type of poverty that we hear the Lord speak of today is the type of poverty that is good!

In the pictures of the ancient Roman method of threshing grain, one man is always seen stirring up the sheaves while another rides over them in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels. Sharp stones and rough bits of iron were attached to these cylinders to help separate the husks from the grain. This simple cart was called a tribulum -- from which we get our word "tribulation." When great affliction comes to us, we often think of ourselves as being torn to pieces under the cruel pressures of adverse circumstances. Yet as no thresher ever yoked up his tribulum for the mere purpose of tearing up his sheaves but to disclose the precious grain, so our loving Savior never puts us under the pressure of sorrow and disappointment needlessly.

Purpose: To show in the 21st century church that even though we may be poor in the eyes of the world we are rich in the sight of the Lord….

Scripture Text: Rev. 2:8 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.

  1. Their poverty: The financial distress of the Smyrna church was probably due to the fact that:
  1. They would only serve the one true God. Jesus was their only Lord and Master so they wouldn't participate in the Craft guilds of the day. These guilds were business associations that were directly related to the cults of the day. To be involved in these guilds meant that you were involved in the worship of these false gods. Particularly the cult that was enforced was the God of the Roman Caesar. This was called the imperial deity.
  2. They would give of their wealth to help others.
  3. They would have had their possessions confiscated by the government.
  4. They would have been slandered and considered dishonest.

Matt 5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.They would have been persecuted.

The New Year Massacre of Christians in Egypt
Between December 31, 1999, and January 3, 2000, a wave of hatred toward Christians exploded in a shooting spree in the village of El-Kosheh and nearby villages in Upper Egypt that resulted in the deaths of unarmed, peaceful Christians. Egyptian Muslims killed more than twenty Christians and left more than thirty-six gravely wounded. The Muslims continued their barbaric rampage by burning down a Coptic Church, looting Christian stores, and setting ablaze many Christian homes and businesses.

These violent actions were the bloodiest by Muslims against Christians in recent years. As bad as they were, however, they were not new to El-Kosheh. In 1998, Egyptian police arrested over one thousand two hundred Copts from El-Kosheh and subjected them to torture in order to extract confessions to crimes they didn't commit. The officers, who were responsible for the police brutality, were not charged; some incredibly
were promoted.

  1. Their Riches: the riches of the church were based on what they have in Christ.
  1. Jesus knows who you are and what you do. He cares enough about them/us to know what we have done. He is watching the sacrifices that you are making for Him.
  2. Jesus will reward those who serve him faithfully. If we share with him in our personal sacrifice of time, talents, and treasurers then we will also share with him in his glory. He will give us the crown of life. We will not be hurt by the second death. But remember there are no shortcuts to the crown of Glory.
  3. Jesus will speak highly of you to the Father. Even though there are some who will speak evil of you Jesus will straighten everything out in the end. He will give you the crown of life in exchange for the crown of thorns you have had to bear in this life.
  4. Jesus gives you eternal riches. Spiritual riches that we have through all eternity.

Are we ready and willing to share in his poverty in the world so that we may partake of his heavenly riches when we join him at the marriage supper of the Lamb?