RECAP: UNDER FIRE based on Revelation 2:8-11
The second letter was written to the church at Smyrna. Smyrna, like Ephesus, is a church we know much about. Unlike Ephesus, the majority of what we know of Smyrna is through accounts of the early church fathers. Smyrna was one of twelve cities in the Roman Empire that actually had a temple built for and dedicated to Caesar, under the reign of Tiberius. In addition, because of its location on the East-West trade route, it was a very busy city with much wealth and influence that passed through its corridors. Therefore, when Domitian mandated imperial worship, Smyrna became front and center of the conflict. The church quickly became a church under fire in the following ways:
1) Affliction and poverty. In Smyrna, the requirement was to pay homage once a year in the temple of Caesar and declare Caesar as Lord, burning the incense and smearing the ashes on the statue of Caesar. Once this was completed, the resident received a certificate verifying the completion of the task. Since they were more affluent, they were able to keep on top of the records more. For those who did not comply, at first there was gentle pressure to quickly make it right. But over time, the pressure increased and consequences became more severe, including stiff financial penalties such as fines, increased taxes, or loss of job. For the Christian in Smyrna, taking a stand for Jesus might result in also the lack of ability to buy goods in the marketplace!
2) Slander from false Jews. The Jews were the only group that was exempt from the mandate, since the Jews were known for their lack of compliance, often by taking up arms. Even though Christianity started from Judaism, the Jews quickly tried to distance themselves from the Christian. After they had lost Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Diasposa Jews often came into deep conflict with Christians, for they believed it was all their fault that the temple was destroyed. So the Jews turned on the Christians, ratted them out to the government, and pointed out their treason.
3) Synagogue of Satan. Some believe it could refer to the temple of Caesar, but many believe this pointed to the mob of public opinion that rose up against the Christians. Once one was identified as a follower of Jesus, they were quickly turned over to the court of public opinion turned on them, refused goods, and believed that the Christians were the reason for all their problems. And so they became an adversary until the government had to act.
4) Imprisonment and persecution. Many Christians, because of their stand, faced prison. At least twelve leaders were executed publicly, including Polycarp, the 86-year-old bishop of Smyrna who was a disciple of John. Polycarp was one of the four church fathers of the second generation (Clement of Rome, Timothy of Ephesus, Ignatius of Antioch the others). Many more laid down their life for belief in Christ.
It would have been easy for this church to have given up, throw in the towel, for it was too hard. Yet, this church not only thrived but had success throughout the centuries in part because they took Jesus’ words to heart. How can we stand when we are under fire?
1) Develop a perspective of gratitude. Jesus encouraged the church to be thankful for what God has done in their lives and not forget it. Focus on the good that can never be taken away, for, despite their poverty, they were “rich” because they had Jesus!
2) Do not be afraid. Jesus encouraged them to flip the script on fear. The world is going to come against them, but they should not be afraid. For it is fear that the darkness uses to control humanity and keep us down. But if we are not afraid and take our place as more than conquerors, to keep on fighting to the end and be the champions we were created to be, all power was broken. The stand of the people of Smyrna encouraged more to believe and stand, for there was something worth dying for!
3) Unwavering Faithfulness. Jesus called the church to be faithful, no matter what they faced, and no matter what false accusation was leveled at them. Live with and practice integrity at all times, and see what God will do!
4) Focus on Eternity. Jesus reminded them that those who overcome will not face the second death. He encouraged the church to keep their eyes on heaven, for that is the ultimate reward. Then, everything on this earth is just extra!
The day may come when we are under fire. Will we stand like Smyrna?
Questions for Reflection
1) Have you ever faced a time you experienced hardship for your faith?
2) What is a time God has shown his faithfulness to you or your family in the midst of struggle?
3) For what can you be thankful today?
4) What are you most afraid of? Can you flip the script and rise above it?
This Sunday, Pastor Ryan will continue the series called “Faithful in Unfaithful Times” with the sermon titled, “Biblical Compromise,” based on Revelation 2:12-17. Of what did God warn the church at Pergamum? What can we learn from this church under pressure to compromise? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for August 9 – 15
August 9: Daniel 3:1-30 How did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego find themselves under fire? How did they remain faithful?
August 10: Daniel 5:1-30 How did Daniel find himself under fire? How did he remain faithful?
August 11: Daniel 6:1-28 How did Daniel find himself under fire? How did he remain faithful?
August 12: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 How did Paul come under fire? What did he want the Corinthian church to understand?
August 13: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 How did Paul come under fire? How did he remain faithful?
August 14: Psalm 19 How can one prevent biblical compromise?
August 15: Psalm 119:1-8 How can one prevent biblical compromise?
This Week’s Events:
Sunday, August 14–Chasing the Lion Bible Study at Sunset Park @ 4 pm
Thursday, August 18–Leadership Team Meeting–all budgets due!
Friday, August 19 – Sunday, August 21–Church Retreat @ Natural Chimneys
Sunday, August 28–Lenten Vespers
Sunday, September 4–return to normal hours!
Sunday, September 11–Instachoir practice begins
Sunday, September 11–Pastoral Epistles Bible Study Begins; more information to come next week
Sunday, date TBD (October)–Love Feast
If you are a newer attendee at Beaver Creek, please call the office or leave in the offering plate your birth date so we do not miss anyone!
Bible Study Opportunity!
It is not too late to start the study! You can read the information below. This week will meet at Sunset Park in Dayton.
Six Weeks of Lion Chasing: A Study Series
Do you feel called to step out and do something great in your life? Or are you looking for what to do next? Then this six-week series may be for you! Based on the best-selling Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, this series has as its theme: If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small
This small-group series has been meeting at 4 p.m. for six consecutive Sundays starting July 17. It will be led by a team of two educators, Lynne Miller Lent and Bill Wood.
Child care will be provided. There will be lemonade and ice water and cookies for the kids — and participants. Each session is designed to go for one hour. We will be covering the first six chapters in Chase the Lion and then gauging the interest in follow-up sessions for fall.
Adult participants of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Child care will be for those age 2 and up.
To register, fill in the form at williamcwood.com/lion.
About Chase the Lion (from publisher’s description):
Based upon 2 Samuel 23, Chase the Lion tells the true story of an ancient warrior named Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it. For most people, that situation wouldn’t just be a problem…it would be the last problem they ever faced. For Benaiah, it was an opportunity to step into his destiny. After defeating the lion, he landed his dream job as King David’s bodyguard and eventually became commander-in-chief of Israel’s army under King Solomon.
Written in a way that both challenges and encourages, this revolutionary book will help unleash the faith and courage you need to identify, chase, and catch the five-hundred-pound dreams in your life.
We will have our final summer vespers on the final Sunday of August. We will gather for a meal over the fire, sing some hymns and camp song favorites, play a camp-style game or two, and conclude with a vespers devotional. Come out and enjoy!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
We are still in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
We will have our first Church Retreat post-COVID at Natural Chimneys from Friday, August 19 through Saturday, August 21. Come rent a lot, pitch a tent or park a camper, and spend the whole weekend, or come and go as you please. It will be a great time to get away and simply enjoy each other at Beaver Creek!
Friday dinner will be a meal of hot dogs and the fixings in shelter #3 (closest to the chimneys).
Saturday dinner will be a catered meal, and a time of vespers to follow.
If you have any questions as far as where to set up camp, please connect with the fellowship team!
What do you want to see at Beaver Creek? What are some ideas you have for the long-term growth of our congregation? Any outrageous outreach ideas? Please either email Pastor Ryan or write them down and place them in the brown suggestion box in the narthex. Dream big!
The Christian Education Team is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to the Christian Education Team and let them know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G. Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sandy Bennington (health)
Donnie Cornwell Sr (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Natalie Dodge (health)
John Fix (addiction)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Bob Hess (health)
Tori Jackson (peace)
Darlene LaPrade (health)
Leroy Makely (health)
Mark Martin (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Torrey Meyer (well-being)
Meda McNett (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Winnie Wilfong (knee & health)
Shelvy Wittig (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek Church