Pastor Jim Hammond | July 17, 2022

We’re right in the middle of the seven letters of Revelation written to seven different churches. These letters are important to understand for they lay the groundwork for things we need to be aware of as a church today. The letter Pastor Jim focused on this past weekend was the letter to the church at Smyrna who faced intense persecution. Jesus wanted them to know that they didn’t need to be afraid of persecution, but they could stand strong and hold onto their faith no matter what came their way!

Dive Deeper:
No one wants to be persecuted. Everyone would prefer to be well-liked by others and avoid the scrutiny that persecution brings. The church at Smyrna, however, wasn’t able to do that. False teachings were prevalent. In fact, they were one of the first cities to sponsor Caesar’s worship under the Romans. This included a gesture of formality that citizens had to annually and publicly acknowledge that Caesar was Lord. Rome didn’t necessarily care who you worshipped throughout the year. They simply wanted you to acknowledge Caesar that one time. Once you did, you could get a document that showed proof you obeyed.

Some Christians at that time figured it would be fine to say Caesar was Lord and then go back to church. Others recognized that their words were powerful and meant something. To say both Caesar and Jesus were Lord was incompatible and untrue. What that meant, though, was Christians were persecuted, burned at the stake, or fed to the lions if they didn’t obey.

Jesus encouraged these Christians to stand fast. He saw the trouble coming and what was awaiting the church, and He let them know that they did not need to be afraid of the certain persecution that was headed their way. Even when the Jews persecuted the Christians, they should stand firm in their faith.

May the Lord give us that same stamina, perseverance, and faith as well to hold to our faith! We don’t have to be afraid. We can choose Him!

Read About It:
Revelation 2:8–11 KJV
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 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. 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. 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 Corinthians 1:5 KJV
That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

Hebrews 10:34 Amp.
For you did sympathize and suffer along with those who were imprisoned, and you bore cheerfully the plundering of your belongings and the confiscation of your property, in the knowledge and consciousness that you yourselves had a better and lasting possession.

Ephesians 2:4 KJV
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Discussion Questions:
1. Have you ever faced persecution of some sort?
2. What can we do today to strengthen our faith so we are ready for persecution that comes our way?
3. Why would people choose to claim that Caesar is Lord even when they knew it wasn’t true?

Rewatch or catch up on the full sermon with the link below!

Recent Sermon Notes

Focus on Effect | Mac Hammond

Pastor Mac began a new series entitled, “Focus on Effect.” He started off by telling us the topic of the new series is something we probably think we already know about, but in fact, we don’t know enough about it as we probably should. The scriptural reference was 2nd Corinthians 4:17–18: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Though Pastor Mac has taught on this passage before, he said he’s “gotten a glimpse of a different side of this mountain. And I’m seeing it from a perspective that has really impacted me in a positive way.” He added, “And I want it to be that way for you all as well.”

Are We in the Days of Noah? | Jim Hammond

Jesus’ disciples asked Him what the signs will be of His coming. Jesus said it will be like it was in the days of Noah: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Fellow believers, we are in the days of Noah. All they thought about in the days of Noah was eating and drinking and the like. They were not thinking about the flood that was coming. So it is today!

A Deception of Palestine | Jim Hammond

This past weekend, Pastor Jim ministered a special God-directed message for the congregation entitled, “A Deception of Palestine.” He talked about how there is a division in the body of Christ worldwide, where believers are allowing themselves to become deceived when it comes to the present and ongoing deception regarding the Jewish people and Israel. It’s important that Christians do not allow themselves to be persuaded by worldly and ungodly leaders and news systems. It’s important they know what the Word of God says and exalt it as God’s truth.

The Seven Mountains of Influence Lance Wallnau

This last weekend, we had a very special guest minister, Lance Wallnau, at our weekend services. Lance is well known for his revelation of the “Seven Mountains of Influence” and how these mountains of influence shape and change the world. He preached about how God is calling the church to make disciples of nations. And in order to do that, we need strong, territorial churches that are raising up believers to go out and become the “head and not the tail.” Lance basically taught on the same thing at all three services but much of the information he shared in each service differed. So in light of that, if you want to hear his full message, it would be beneficial for you to listen to all three messages.

A Symbol and a Source of God’s Blessing | Dennis Burke

This past weekend, Living Word’s Guest Minister Dennis Burke taught a message entitled, “A Symbol and a Source of God’s Blessing.” He shared that it is understood that as members of the body of Christ, we have a clear sense that we are living in the last days. And even if these are not the last of the last days, we understand that these are our personal last days. So we must treat this time with a sense of commitment and a sense of design from the Spirit of God for our lives to make an impact, to make a difference. In fact, that’s what we’ve been designed for!