Hear What the Spirit Says…  To the Church in Smyrna.

by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on June 24, 2022 in

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost                                                  June 26, 2022
Text: Rv. 2:8-11             Summer Series: 7 Letters to the 7 Churches         22:2330
Theme: Hear What the Spirit Says…To the Church in Smyrna.

So radical are the claims of the Gospel, so sweeping its demands on the faithful, and so uncompromising does it render all who give themselves fully to it, that opposition, persecution, and even death are…are to be expected (Latourette p.81).
1,866 years ago, an elderly man of 86 years stood before a Roman judge. A disciple of the Apostle John and head of the Christian church in Smyrna, he lived some 60 years after John wrote the words of today’s text. His name? Polycarp. His crime? Being a Christian. He had been a pastor in Smyrna over 50 years and the soldiers had never touched him before. But now the state was determined to crack down on Christianity as a capital crime.
The judge wished to show Polycarp some clemency: “Offer a sacrifice, just a pinch of incense to the emperor. What harm could that do for just one moment?” To his suggestion the aged Polycarp replied: “Eighty and six years I have served Him (i.e., Jesus), and He never did me any wrong. How can I now blaspheme my King who has saved me?” In anger the judge threatened to use fire to quash his spirit. Old Polycarp replied, “Use it, if you will, but be concerned about another fire, reserved for the ungodly, which will eternally quell your spirit. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”
Soldiers grabbed him to nail him to a stake. But, Polycarp stopped them: “Leave me as I am, for He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, with the security you desire from nails.” As his flesh was consumed by the fire, the chronicler of this martyrdom said it was “not as burning flesh but as bread baking or as gold and silver refined in a furnace” (CSB). Thus came to pass a partial fulfillment of Jesus’ words: “I know your afflictions….Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer….You will suffer persecution….Be faithful even to the point of death….”
Faithful to the Savior were many early Christians. Fine examples in faith they are for us today. They heard the Word and willingly gave their lives for it. Likewise, the Scriptures encourage us Hear What the Spirit Says. Today we hear what He says to the church in Smyrna. It was rich in the midst of poverty; unafraid in the midst of adversity; and in the end, untouched by the second death, it would receive the crown of life.
I. Like the church in Ephesus, the church in Smyrna was a fairly old congregation, probably founded by the Apostle Paul when he was in Ephesus (Ac.19). So, perhaps it was some 40+ years old when John wrote this letter. It was only about 35 miles away from its sister congregation in Ephesus, about the same distance it is for us to go from Zion in Springfield to Peace in Marshfield. However, unlike its sister congregation in Ephesus, it was neither large nor solid by outward appearances for things had been tough in the lives of its members. They had suffered many cutbacks for their faith.
The city was closely aligned with Rome and the emperor, a center of emperor worship in Asia Minor. The city leaders courted Caesar’s favor by desiring to build a temple of worship to him there. They won his favor, and a great temple to Caesar was built. Imagine the tension that caused between the city leaders and the Christians for “there is no God except the Lord. Worship Him only.”
In addition, the Jewish synagogue leaders slandered the Christians. Judaism was a sanctioned religion in the Roman Empire. Christianity wasn’t. It was considered suspect, especially when Christians talked about their heavenly King, Jesus. To the Romans that smacked of rebellion. So, the Jews in Smyrna stoked the fire of suspicion against the Christian Church, just as they had done a century earlier with Christ when He stood before Pontius Pilate. The Church often sustains much insult from those who claim that they confess God, but do not truly confess Him. Instead, they are bound to the devil as their source of leadership.
As a result, some Christians seem to have had their property and possessions confiscated, for the Savior refers to their “suffering and poverty.” Others were imprisoned or, like Polycarp, lost their lives. The congregation was troubled on multiple fronts, not from within the church, as had been the case with Ephesus, but from outside of the church. How discouraged they could have become.
It was this temptation to discouragement that our Savior addressed, “I know your suffering and your poverty – but you are rich. I know the blasphemy that comes from those who say they are Jews but are not. Rather, they are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear anything that you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison and you will be tested and suffer.”
Suffering afflictions, possession taken from you, blasphemed by Christ-haters, thrown into prison, killed for the faith – – do you think it will ever come to that for any of us? From what I hear on the news, I know it’s happening in the Ukraine, Somalia, among some of those whom I know in China, and in other parts of the world. Surprisingly, there seem to be rumblings of it taking place in our own country. Do you ever think it could come to such extremes for us? Jesus did foretell that such things are a sign of the end times and will happen. So don’t be shocked when you hear of the extreme things that happen against Christians in the world and even here. But what else does the Savior say? “You are rich.”
Rich in faith. Filled with an abundance of spiritual blessings through the forgiveness of sins and salvation in Christ Jesus. Christians aren’t concerned about being rich with things of the present time. They are concerned about acquiring eternal things. It’s a result of God’s grace to us in Christ. Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Dear people of God, you can’t become any richer than you are in your faith. We have a Savior, who, through His humble death on the cross, made us eternally rich in the forgiveness of our sins. In that He points us ahead to the existence that will be ours in the heavenly mansions above. There is no poverty there, no slander against your name, no adversity for your life. Through Him, in the midst of poverty, you are rich; in the midst of adversity, you can stand unafraid. Hear What the Spirit Says through the mouth of our Savior: “Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life….He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”

II. You are forward-looking people, looking to that which lies beyond this world. Sometimes that appears to make the people of this world angry. They accuse us of not caring and we are told, “You need to focus on the moment. You need to find solutions to the world’s present problems and make this a better place in which to live.” But doesn’t history point out that this will never be a better place here on earth? As Jesus said right up to the very end there will always be “wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes and famines in various places. You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. They will betray you. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Don’t we see that happening today even as it was happening in Smyrna? How should we view it?
There is a hymn that says, “The world is very evil, the times are waxing late. Be sober and be vigil, the Judge is at the gate; The Judge that comes in mercy, The Judge that comes with might, To terminate the evil, To diadem the right.”(TLH 605:1).
A diadem is a crown worn by a king. Only one deserves that crown – Christ. But here, Jesus says He gives the faithful another crown. It is the crown of life and is pictured in the crown of laurel leaves that was laid on the head of the victor who ran in the Olympic races of the day. Christ will crown you, as you remain faithful to Him and His saving Word, with eternal life. It is our coveted prize. The second death, meaning hellfire, will never, ever touch you. But there is more to Jesus’ promise that does affect our lives in the present. It’s not only about the future.
He said, “You are rich (right now). Do not be afraid….you will be tested and you will suffer persecution for ten days.” Don’t be afraid. It will only last 10 days.
I suppose it is possible that “ten days” is meant literally. Although in the Book of Revelation, numbers tend to be figurative. Whatever the case, 10 days is a limited time, a specific amount fixed by God beyond which it cannot go. It means that God knows what troubles His people face in the present and He limits the influence that evil has on them. Evil will come because the Prince of this world will bring it. But God’s children remain untouched by it and the second death as they cling to their faith in the Savior.
To trust that God limits evil for our good and to believe amid present troubles that Jesus triumphs over Satan for us, because “He came to destroy the works of the devil,” – that’s what it means to be rich in the midst of poverty, being faithful right up to the moment our bodies die, always looking ahead to receive the crown of life that “will never spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.”
Until that day, hear what the Spirit says through the mouth of the Lord Jesus: “Keep looking forward. Don’t worry. I know your troubles. They will continue, but only for a little while. I will limit them. Be unafraid in the midst of any adversity for you are eternally rich, even in the midst of earthly poverty. Be faithful to Me until death. Your victor’s crown awaits.”
So it was for Polycarp. So it was for the Church in Smyrna. And so it will be for faithful Christians today. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone: 417.887.0886                       Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244

www.zionluthchurch.com                              email: revelehmann@gmail.com

You can also find us on Facebook

The Third Sunday after Pentecost                  June 26, 2022

“Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev.2:11

F o r   O u r   V i s i t o r s

The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.

U p o n   E n t e r i n g    G o d’ s   H o u s e

“May God be gracious to us and bless us…so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear Him” (Psalm 67).

W h a t   T h i s   S u n d a y   i s   A b o u t

The Cost of Discipleship – The Believer’s All. To follow Christ does not come without cost. The Savoir calls His people to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow wherever He takes them. As the Savior gave His all for us, so the believer gives his all to the Savior. From a worldly standpoint, that’s a high price to pay.

But it’s worth it to have such a Savior and to enjoy the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation He gives! Those blessings grow in life and increase in eternity. They far outweigh any cost to us in the present.

May we respond without hesitation or excuse when our Lord calls to walk in His ways. Then the light of His grace will show the way for others to follow and give thanks for His boundless kindnesses to us.

To that end we pray: O God, You have prepared joys beyond understanding for those who love You. Pour into our hearts such love for You that, loving You above all things, we may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

– T h e  W o r d   o f   G o d   f o r   T o d a y –

The Old Testament Lesson: 1 Kings 19:19-21        

After his time of dejection for people not receiving the Lord’s message from him, God sends the prophet Elijah to prepare others to carry out the work of the Lord. The Lord sends him to Elisha, who immediately leaves his family behind to be schooled by Elijah for the Lord’s work.

The Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 11:21-30

The Apostle Paul recounts the hardships that he faced in his dedication to taking the Gospel to people so that they might know Christ as their Savior.

The Gospel Lesson: Luke 9:51-62

The call to follow Jesus involves a change of heart and life. It involves sacrifice and commitment with no looking back or making of excuses, and with the understanding that some may not welcome you. Count the cost; then follow wherever the Lord Jesus takes you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Organist: Jane Rips                 The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Through the Word, Christ Creates Committed Followers – There are different types of followers: the half-hearted versus the committed. Jesus wants followers who are all-in…who love Him above all things…who would be willing to leave everything else behind if that is what it takes to be with Him. We simply do not have it in us to produce that level of commitment. But Jesus’ words have His power to enable us. His word alone creates the very commitment that He seeks.

Point to Ponder: “Nothing in heaven and earth would be more pleasant than the Word without the cross. But the delight would not last long, since nature cannot bear pure joy and delight for a long period of time…For this reason God has seasoned this pleasant dish a bit for us and has sharpened its taste with vinegar and myrrh lest we become surfeited with it. For ‘sourness whets the appetite,’ they say. Just so trouble on earth makes our hearts more eager, anxious, and thirsty for this treasure that is yet to come.”

— Martin Luther on Bearing the Cross Makes Wearing the Crown the More Glorious

Outline of  Our Worship

Lord, Hear Us

Opening Thoughts on the Service

Opening Hymn: #711

The Order of Service     Morning Prayer: Hymnal pg.207

Lord, Feed Us

Psalm of the Day: #67

(1 Kings 19:19-21)

2 Corinthians 11:21-30

Hymn Response: #867

Luke 9:51-62

Sermon Hymn: #872

Sermon Text: Revelation 2:8-11     Hear What the Spirit Says…  To the Church in Smyrna.

 Lord, Accept  Our Response

 “We Praise You, O God” pg.210     (The Te Deum Laudamus)

The Offering

Hymnal pg.213-214

“Lord, Have Mercy”

Prayers, Lord’s Prayer

Lord, Bless Us

The Benediction     Hymnal pg.214

Closing Hymn: #695

Silent Prayer

The Third Sunday After Pentecost – Series C

Old Testament Lesson: 1 Kings 19:19-21 – Elijah Anoints Elisha

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. Elisha was doing the plowing with twelve teams of oxen in front of him, and he himself was driving the twelfth team. Elijah crossed over to him and threw his cloak over him. 20Then Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah. He said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother good-bye! Then I will follow you.”

Then Elijah said, “Go back! For what have I done to you?”

21So Elisha turned back from following him. Then he took the team of oxen and slaughtered them. Using the equipment from the oxen as fuel, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he got up, followed Elijah, and served him.

Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 11:21-30 – Paul Recounts His Hardships

21However bold anyone might be (I am speaking in a foolish way), I am going to be bold too. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s seed? So am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I am speaking in a crazy way.) I am even more. I’ve done more hard work, been in prisons more often, been whipped far more, and I’ve been close to death many times. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. One time I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day on the open sea. 26I have often been on journeys, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from my own people, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in danger on the sea, in danger among false brothers. 27I have worked hard and struggled. I’ve spent many sleepless nights. I’ve been hungry and thirsty. I’ve gone without food many times. I’ve been cold and lacked clothing.

28Besides those external matters, there is the daily pressure on me of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak without my being weak? Who falls into sin without my being distressed?

30If it is necessary that I boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Gospel Lesson: Luke 9:51-62 – Follow Jesus, No Matter the Circumstance

51When the days were approaching for him to be taken up, Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem. 52He sent messengers ahead of him. They went and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. 53But the people did not welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55But he turned and rebuked them. “You don’t know what kind of spirit is influencing you. 56For the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s souls, but to save them.” Then they went to another village.

57As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59He said to another man, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.” 62Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.

        C a l e n d a r     &     A n n o u n c e m e n t s     f o r     Z i o n     L u t h e r a n     C h u r c h


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July 1


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Next Sun.

July 3

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

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10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study



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11 am

Bible Class








9:00 am

Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion

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10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

Pentecost 4


 A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

Following seems easy. We just go behind the person in front of us. But following Jesus daily for our whole lives requires endurance. It is a struggle between our old and new selves.

 The Gospel Lesson: Luke 9:51-62 (answers are found on the back side)

  1. As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, what did He do (v. 51)?
  2. Why didn’t one Samaritan village welcome Jesus (v. 53)?
  3. What is the main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men separately about following Him (vv. 57-62)?

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Dave Ballou; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Lois Wiese; Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Elizabeth Lisenby; Barbara Long, at home; the family of Pearl Busby, living in Minnesota, a former member here at Zion in the 1990s and early 2000s, who entered eternal life earlier this spring.

 Would You Like a Hymnal? Some have asked about acquiring one of the new, blue hymnals. Would you like to receive one? If so, please see pastor. If there is interest, we will send in an order so that you may have one for your personal use. One of the highlights of the new hymnal is the section on home devotions and the addition of the Small Catechism. Also, if you would like to have one of the older, red Christian Worship hymnals, you may take one from the fellowship hall.

Summer Sermon Series Today we continue with the second letter in our 7-week series for the summer, based on the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor recorded in Revelation chapters 2-3. The second letter is written to the Christians in the city of Smyrna. See the insert for more information on the city and Christian congregation there. The letters form a good basis for each of us to consider the question: “What does the Lord want in me and my church?” That is not proper English grammar. But the emphasis on “me” is meant to highlight the truth that “I” must follow and live in my Lord. And as each does the same, the church, motivated in love for the Gospel of Christ, takes on the characteristics and work that the Lord looks for in His redeemed people.

The Week in Review

Last Sunday Worship: 30; Bible Class: 15; Midweek Bible Class: 4; Offering: $1,120.

Next Sunday’s Lessons:               

Pentecost 4: Ezekiel 2:9-3:1; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 (CW-21, Series C)

Sermon Text: Revelation 2:12-17 Letter to the Church in Pergamum

Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:

  1. As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Literally, He “fixed His face for Jerusalem.” He was determined to die for us.
  2. The people of the Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus, because He was heading for Jerusalem. Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day usually had strong dislike for each other. (Yet Jesus had mercy on these people.)
  3. The main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men about following Him, is full dedication to Jesus and His kingdom. Halfway? No way.

This week I am praying for……

The 7 Letters to the 7 Churches in Asia Minor: Revelation 2 & 3

Letter 2 – The City of Smyrna stands at the head of the gulf into which the Hermus River flows, a well-protected harbor and the natural outlet to the sea for the major trade route which runs inland. It lies about 35 miles to the northwest of Ephesus. While Ephesus no longer exists, Smyrna still exists as Izmir in modern-day Turkey, a thriving city of 350,000 inhabitants.
The city was founded by the Aeolian Greeks at the turn of the millennium, 1,000 B.C. It emerged as a sturdy community, ready to assert itself against the powerful neighboring Kingdom of Lydia to the north. However, around 600 B.C., Smyrna was destroyed, and its site left devasted for 3 centuries. During this time its strong port lay “dead.” In 290 B.C., after the division of Alexander the Great’s empire, it was refounded. Seemingly, it “rose from the dead,” perhaps lending an occasion for imagery to a phrase in John’s apocalyptic letter to Smyrna. As Christ died and came to life again (v.8), so had the city – from a human standpoint. Blessed with a fine site, it entered an era of vitality and prosperity which still continues today as the modern-day Izmir.
Its progress upward was aided by a shrewd recognition of the coming dominance of the Roman Empire. In A.D. 26 the Smyrneans appealed to Rome for permission to build a temple to Tiberius Caesar. Out of 11 applicants, Smyrna became the site for the second Asian temple to the “deity” of Rome, the emperor. As a result, it became the seat of the sinister Caesar-cult which caused so much suffering to the early church. From this arose Jesus’ exhortation in John’s letter to endure and win a “crown of life.”
The “crown” description may have been utilized because of another piece of imagery in Smyrna. Secular writers of the time mention a diadem of porticoes, or covered walkways, that surrounded the hilltop above the city. Apparently, this diadem of porticoes became known as the “crown of Smyrna.” In the Greek language there are two words for crown, diadem, which refers to a king’s crown, and stephanos, which refers to the victor’s crown or prize at the Greek athletic contests. The victor’s crown is the one Jesus promises when He said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10).
Christianity’s Influence The exact story of Christianity’s coming to the city is not known. More than likely it came as a result of Paul’s activity in Ephesus around A.D. 52. That was extended later by John. Smyrna’s Christians stood well in the 1st Century A.D. They continued to stand as Smyrna was one of the Asian cities which withstood the Turk invasion and became among the last to fall to Islam. Their resistance to Islam, along with other cities in the east, allowed Europe time to emerge from the Middle Ages and receive with creative hands those gifts which brought the Renaissance and the modern world to birth.

Smyrna’s Most Famous Son – Polycarp was among the last of those who had been instructed by the apostles, especially John, and had talked with many who had seen Christ and been eyewitnesses to Jesus. He was bishop of the church in Smyrna in the 2nd Century A.D., holding that position over 50 years. With such longevity, it is thought that Polycarp was most likely born into a Christian family. At the end of his 86 years, he was put to death, burned at the stake, by the civil authorities because he refused to recant his faith and worship the Roman emperor. The date of his death is variously calculated, but is usually accepted to be in February, 156 A.D.
Polycarp wrote several epistles, but only one, to the Philippians, exists today. The date would be early September of 110 A.D. The letter is especially notable for its extensive quotations from books that make up the New Testament, especially Paul’s epistles. The amount of notations is extraordinary and is quoted by Polycarp as “Scripture.” There is a strong emphasis on the life of righteousness and good works. Jesus came truly in the flesh, died, and was raised again to life. Emperors, rulers, and persecutors were to be prayed for.
Another letter, not authored by him, recounts the time of his death. It is one of the first accounts of a Christian martyrdom. Polycarp was arrested at a country farm where he had taken refuge. For 2 hours he prayed aloud for individuals and the Church throughout the world. At the arena where he was taken, the earnest attempts of the proconsul to secure a recantation were in vain. Polycarp’s famous last words of a Christian confession were these: “Eighty-six years I have served Him (Christ), and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King?” He was therefore burned alive before the arena spectators.
“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev.2:10).

(adapted from The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia and History of Christianity by Kenneth Latourette)


Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann