The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“Faithfulness in the Midst of Persecution”
Revelation 2:8-11 (ESV)
“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[a] 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.’
The church in Smyrna was going through tribulation and poverty, yet God recognized how spiritually rich this church was—in fact, no indictment was given towards this church. The Greek word Smyrna can be derived from the Hebrew word marar, which means “to be bitter.” One commentator writes that “the trials in life can make one bitter or better.” Oftentimes, persecution and poverty act as the tipping point for us, causing us to become bitter at God or to better appreciate God. As this church went through trials and tribulations, Jesus’ encouragement to them is this: “Be faithful unto death.”
As a North-American Christian, I have not faced much (if any) persecution for my faith. Although many of us probably feel very sheltered and distant from persecution, it is not a guarantee that we will live the rest of our lives without persecution. In fact, Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Though we may not experience intense persecution right now, we know that there are many Christians around the world who are suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus. As brothers and sisters, fellow heirs in God’s kingdom, we are called upon to pray for these persecuted brothers and sisters.
There are many who are suffering economically because of their faith, since government restrictions or unfair practices are imposed upon them. Others are suffering socially because of their faith, being ostracized in their communities, shunned, and even ripped apart from their families. Many are suffering physically because of their faith—being beaten, tortured, and even murdered for their faith. Let’s not turn a blind eye to the persecuted church. Let’s pray fervently for God’s intervention and protection, but more importantly, for God to help them to persevere until the end—that they can stay faithful in the midst of the persecution. Let us learn from the persecuted church—how we need to persevere when things get difficult or even monotonous, and also to prepare ourselves for the future persecution.
Prayer: Father God, we lift up the persecuted church this morning, and ask for Your protection for those who are being persecuted for the faith. Not only that, we pray for those who are undergoing continuous persecution, that You would give them the power to remain faithful in the midst of persecution. May they fix their eyes on the crown of life that awaits them! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 21
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Hebrews 11:32-40 (ESV): And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Question to Consider
- What does this passage tell us about the people of faith?
- How were these men and women able to endure through so much persecution?
- Have you prayed for the persecuted church? Spend some time to pray for the persecuted church.
- Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith,” and these men and women were commended for their faith. This passage shows us is that there were many people throughout the ages who have endured persecution in many various forms for their faith.
- Many chose to endure persecution and intense suffering because they believed that there was something greater to preserve than life itself; they believed in God’s promise that there was something greater for them.
- Personal reflection.
Spend some time praying once again for the persecuted Christians around the world. Many times the only thing we can do is pray, but prayer has great power because we pray to a God who is all-powerful. As you pray for the persecuted church, make a plan to remember them and to routinely pray for them.