February 12 2022
Today, Saturday February 12
Poor or Rich? Revelation 2:8-9 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)…”
Revelation 3:14&17 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God… Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
The church of Smyrna was the persecuted church. If indeed these churches represent different stages of church history, the church of Smyrna represents the church of the first three centuries. In the first three hundred years of the church there was tremendous opposition to it. We read of the beginning of this tribulation and persecution of the church in Jerusalem in Acts 8:1: “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Most likely, literally the church that John was writing to in the city of Smyrna was a very poor church outwardly. It was meeting in the homes of the believers. It didn’t have a budget or a church building. The believers there were mock, derided and persecuted. It was a church that lived in outward poverty. John wrote, “I know your tribulation and poverty….”. But then he added, “But you are rich”.
Now, what jumped out at me is what John wrote in his last letter to the seventh church, the church of Laodicea. Again, if these churches represent times in church history, then this church represents the church of today. This is the church that outwardly appears to be very rich. It is possible, even in the first century when John was writing these letters to these seven churches if you would have had the opportunity to visit these two churches you would literally have observed this. You would have left saying of the church of Smyrna, “Goodness, what a poor church!” And of the church of Laodicea you would have been impressed with its wealth!
Today, the churches in the western world appear to be like the church of Laodicea. They have large budgets with money in the bank. They have beautiful and large facilities. They have great influence in politics and government. And sad to say, they are saying, “We are rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing.” They have become nothing more that social clubs and have lost the power of the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus looks at the church differently than we do. He sees the poor persecuted church and says, “It is rich.” He looks at the rich affluent church and says, “It is miserable, poor, blind and naked.” I have the opportunity to visit some of the poorest churches in the world when I go to India. Many of them meet on the ground under a tree or they are meeting in a grass hut. But when you worship with these believers, you know they have something that most of the churches in America don’t have. They have presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in their midst!
They are rich in His grace and in His mercy! Read the first chapters of Book of Ephesians. Even we as believers need to be careful. When we lose our sense of need for the Lord and His grace and don’t read our Bibles, pray and seek Him for daily provisions and strength, we become poor, miserable and naked!
Yes, we might look rich but we are poor. And amazingly, those believers that look so poor are the ones who are rich with the grace and mercy of the Lord!
It is my prayer today that we would by God’s grace, keep ourselves humble and dependent on the Lord for our daily needs and recognize our poverty without Him!