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In the letter to Smyrna, the afflicted and poor church that was suffering slander and persecutions, Jesus said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Jesus even foretold their sufferings right down to the number of days – ten – I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.”  And He encouraged them, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.”

The church of Smyrna suffered, and many would say, suffered as the Lord promised.  That is true, but they did not suffer as the Lord intended.  There is a difference between what the Lord said and what is intended.  The difference lays in the degree of power we each have.  We all know Jesus Himself was slandered, persecuted, rejected and suffered, and rightly so we should expect no less for ourselves.  Anyone who has read the words of Jesus will know that persecution and suffering are part of the life we will receive in Christ.  When Jesus said, “…anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these…” it includes experiencing and receiving persecution and sufferings as well… but remember… receive them as He did.  Until the crucifixion, Jesus received all these things with the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit and not as a powerless Man.  When they slandered Him, saying, “This Fellow is blaspheming!” Jesus responded with a clear and simple demonstration of the power He had and raised the cripple.

Now Smyrna was also suffering from slander – “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  Understand clearly, the Smyrnans were not dealing with Satanists as much as they were being slandered by men who called themselves people of God, but who did not have in mind the things of God but of men, just like Peter did when he opposed Jesus.  Jesus told them, “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!” to remind them and us… “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God,” and the Kingdom of God is the kingdom of power as we know.

We do not know the details of Smyrna’s ten days and how they fared through their trials; that is not important.  What is important is this:  The Galilean congregation must know and be prepared for what Smyrna experienced, for it will go through its share of allocated afflictions, slandering and persecution, even suffering, but with the power of God rather than without.

Indeed, if the Smyrnans were promised ten days of testing by Satan, the Galilean congregations that are to see through these days of distress unequalled since the foundation of the world will experience even more… indeed more days.  The possibility of imprisonment is very likely and is not new or unique to those who hold onto the testimony of Jesus.  Today there are men and women in different countries who are being persecuted for their faith, even to the point of death, especially in countries where to be a Christian is to commit blasphemy or treason.  And today many more are being killed for that same faith.  However, when you hear of their stories, if you can see beyond the pain, suffering and injustice, you will see a distinct absence of the display of the power of God.

The power that withered Jeroboam’s hand, blinded the Aramean army, and allowed Daniel and his friends to walk around in a furnace so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in, is missing.  The power that prevented crowds from lynching Jesus is absent.  Miraculous deliverance of our brothers from persecution and suffering is as infrequent as miraculous healings in their fellowships.

And here is the key:  Those who are brought up in congregations that do not possess the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit on a constant basis, so that healings, miracles and so on are a common place in their fellowships, experience very little miraculous deliverance when persecutions break out.  Israel experienced miraculous deliverance whenever they obeyed God, but suffered defeats, even enslavement, because of disobedience.  So likewise, it has always been the intention of the Lord that His congregations would attract the slander and the persecutions, and suffer and even die as He did with full power that they know they have, and like Him, to withhold calling on their legions of holy angels, but suffer and die the way of their Lord.

That is the key and has always been the key – the power of the Holy Spirit, the first gift of the Holy Spirit Jesus said we would all receive… “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses…”  Power to do the things that He has been doing and even the greater things, even to withholding the use of that power so that we might die at the hands of those who hate us, slander us and persecute us, so that we might come to know exactly how He felt and was thinking on that cross so that our eternal life would reach a point of fulfillment where we would know Him in all things because we have truly shared His sufferings.

Having said that, we must always consider the sufferings and persecutions our forefathers received and yet which did not deter them from not denying Christ despite the absence of miraculous power as truly one of the greater things, so that the restoration of power to the church is not in any way a slur against them.  No, the slur is against those who lost us the power because they had in mind the things of men and drew us away from listening to Jesus and back to Moses and worse still, to Judaism.  The glory, the greater glory is to those who suffered without the power but did not deny Christ even to the point of death.  Their glory can only be increased when there are those who suffered as they did but with full power, who can say to them truly they are the greater ones.

Our heroes are not glorified by the praises of those who would build tombs for them and say if we lived in their days we would not have done such and such.  Our heroes are glorified when there are those who come from the church at full power, who can say they are greater, for we did what we did with the Lord’s power, but they did it without the Lord’s power.

As such, the restoration, no, the resurrection of power to the congregation will result in even greater praises for the martyred saints who are eligible for the first resurrection.  Truly theirs is the kingdom and the glory for what they have done.

The restoration of power through the Galilean congregation is not to demean their sacrifice, but to lift up their sacrifice and at the same time show the world and those who led the church astray just what Jesus had in mind.

You see, we only know of the events on the lake that night when they chose to go to Capernaum instead of Bethsaida.  We do not know what Jesus had intended for them in Bethsaida.  We do not know what Jesus was going to ask the Father for them in Bethsaida that night.  We do not know because they did not go, and because they did not go, they did not know either.

So the world and the church have spent almost 2000 years in ignorance of what Jesus had prepared for them that morning on the road to Galilee and in Galilee.  We do have an inkling.  If Jesus went with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and ate with them and taught them, then had the eleven been on the road to Galilee with the women that morning, Jesus would have walked with them to have a meal with them and to show them even more than what He had shown them.  As Jesus said, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

So the time is coming and has now come for that which we have heard in the dark when we followed Jesus into the night and prayed to the Father through the night as He did, to shout it from the top of roofs.  It is time for that which the Holy Spirit would whisper into the ears of those who have ears to hear to be shouted from the rooftops.  The shout must go up… “He is coming!  Get ready,” and must be lifted up even if He chooses to be late.

The heroes of Smyrna will be returning with Jesus for the millennium, those who remained faithful to the point of death, to meet with those who could tell them how different things would have been had they been able to retain the power of the Holy Spirit that had been poured out in their days and now in ours.  Afflicted and poor “…yet you are rich!”  Jesus did not say these words to mock an afflicted and poor church.  These are not the words of first world Christians in their air-conditioned cathedrals placating their third world brothers about their dirt floors and straw huts.  For most who have had to live powerless… these words of Jesus mean being rich in faith.

Richness of faith is never needed in the Kingdom of God, for a mustard seed of faith can move mountains… we do not need treasures of faith.  What we need are treasures of the knowledge of the secrets… knowledge, not faith.  We do not need to believe for miracles, we need to know how to do miracles.  We do not need ideas, we need technical knowledge.  We do not need to be told how to believe for a blind man to see, we need to know how to make a blind man see.  As such, we do not need the word of faith, but the word of truth, which contains the words and messages of knowledge, wisdom and counsel to give understanding.

When a man understands how to do something, he can do it again and again each and every time and do it better each time.

As such, we agree with the Lord… those who are afflicted and poor are rich because when you are poor yours is the Kingdom of God, and when you have the power of the kingdom and the knowledge of its secrets, you can never be poor.  How can a man who can change water to good wine feed 5000 families from five barley loaves and two fish, and heal all who are sick, be poor?  He who can control the weather has the world as his mansion.  If riches were measured in diamonds and gold, such a man would have more than anyone anytime, for the power that turns water to good wine can turn wood to gold and glass to diamonds just as easily.

So do not fear the days of distress, the days of affliction and suffering, even imprisonment, but rather, be found diligently practising the commands of the Lord until each and every congregation is filled with power, full power.  The slander of those who belong to the synagogue of Satan is only a blessing.  Now we have the slander of the churches of Satan, churches that do not have in mind the things of God but of men.  They are a blessing because “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”

But consider this:  No prison can hold in a man who can translate at will.  No famine can starve a man who can change water to good wine and multiply food.  No tsunami can drown a man who can walk on water.  No bomb can explode in the midst of those who can turn gunpowder to sawdust and C4 explosives to play dough.  No weapons formed can touch those who move like the wind.  No crowd can hold a man who can walk through them.

There is no situation you can face in this world that you cannot overcome with the power of God if only you go beyond belief and practise until you succeed.  The real challenge for a Galilean is to know when to hold back the power and die as the Lord died. 

Now recognise your true riches that are the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God.  Martyrdom for a Galilean is not easy because we who live and believe can never die.

Amen. 

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