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Archive for the tag “Revelation 3”

The Letters to the Churches

I don’t know if you are as sick of this election cycle as I am, but I will be so glad when it’s all over. If I hear one more commercial about what he said or what she did – that goes for national and state too – I think I’ll just scream. I keep waiting for the truth to come out; after all, what’s done in darkness will come to light one day. Satan loves to reveal his work especially when it comes to God’s people.

There’s been too many occasions lately when I have heard of moral failures in the leadership of churches. It’s pretty common place to have moral failures in the membership; even though that shouldn’t be, but it is. But leadership has a different standard which they should be held accountable. The dark deeds always come to light. God will not let us “get away” with anything that is done in darkness when we are supposed to be of the light. He pursues us in those pig sty locations! He will set us up to get caught. Been there, done that; didn’t enjoy the consequences of my actions.

In my Bible, the chapter heading for the fifth chapter in 1 Corinthians says to “Expel the Immoral Brother!” That seems pretty harsh. Paul wrote that the Corinthian church body was not to associate with sexually immoral people (vs 9). The letter was written to the church for the church body. Paul had sharp words for those allowing such sins to remain in the church body. Paul wrote that a little yeast will work through a whole batch of dough. Sins left unchecked in the Body will have consequences and bring harm to the church’s influence.

In Galatians, we read how Paul offers the hand of reconciliation to those who are caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-5). We are told to help carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus tells us not to cast stones at those caught in sin. We can also fall into the same trap and need to be watchful for Satan’s attempts to harm the church through us. Paul wrote to the church body in Ephesus about living as children of the light. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).

Paul’s writings were for a different time, right? This doesn’t apply now, does it? I believe these truths still stand, and I believe the church body will be sifted for any “weeds that have grown up in our wheat field.” If Jesus is getting ready to come back to get His bride (the church) like I hear from prophecy experts, then the church has to be ready. The church needs to be clean. And the leadership needs to be held to the certain standards set for overseers and deacons as stated by Paul in 1 Timothy 3. Paul reminds us that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

We go to the letters to the church found in Revelation, and Jesus warns these churches of the coming wrath. To the church in Ephesus, He said to repent and do the things they did at first; they had forsaken their first love – Him. He warns them if they do not repent, their lampstand will be removed (Revelation 2:4-5). To the church in Smyrna, He reminded them of the coming persecution; to stand strong in the face of it (Revelation 2:10). To the church in Pergamum, He called them to repentance because of the teaching that was allowed to entice the believers to sin. To the church of Thyatira, again this church was misled into sexual immorality. He reminded the hearers of His word that He searches hearts and minds; “hold on to what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25).

To the church in Sardis, He tells them to wake up! He tells them to obey what they have heard and repent (Revelation 3:3). To the church in Philadelphia, He tells them to hold on as well. He said He is coming soon; how much more so now than then. And to the last church letter to Laodicea, He warned them about being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Being lukewarm is repulsive to Him. But He said to those whom He loves, He would rebuke and discipline. He stands at the door waiting. If we have ears, we need to hear and be obedient to His teachings.

Church, it’s time to wake up; it’s time to clean up our act. It’s time to turn away from the darkness and live as children of the light. Leaders of the church, you set the example we must follow. Teach the truth even if we don’t want to hear it. It’s time to thrive again. Politicians and government cannot do what the church is equipped to do – love one another and be the light to our communities. Jesus is counting on us. For those with ears, let them hear.

Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Luke 13:23-25

Are you stuck?

That was the question I posed to my newsletter readers this month. I have been contemplating that myself this week. I have a routine that I follow pretty closely every day and every week. I work out three days a week – usually. I go to church every Sunday morning at the same time. I go to my small group every Tuesday night. I sit down at my computer every morning and look at emails before I get my morning smoothie. I have my quiet time at the same time every morning. That’s my usual week. Since last Wednesday, I had to rearrange a few things.

I hurt my shoulder a few months back and did not stop working out to rest it. I went to the chiropractor last Wednesday, and she got my shoulder back in working order. But instead of going to work out on Friday or Saturday or even Sunday, I decided to take a break. I also, started writing the book (PRAISE to the Lord for the inspiration that finally came!). So my days have been focused on getting words on the screen. I even decided to write in a different room to get my inspirational juices flowing.

But am I stuck spiritually? That’s what I am wrestling with this morning. In my quiet time for the last two mornings, I have been reading in Revelation 3. The church in Ephesus had been doing things well. They had been serving the Lord and doing all that they were supposed to be doing, yet they had forgotten their first priority was to love. One of the things that God has pressed upon me is to demonstrative love toward Him by helping others. We are to “do good” but we are called first to love. The Ephesians church forgot the love part. I wrote in the newsletter last month that “being a disciple of Jesus means that we will demonstrate our love for Him. We don’t earn His favor or earn our heavenly home by doing good works. It comes by belief in the grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus says that we are to love God with all our hearts, soul and strength. We are to love others as we love ourselves. These are the two greatest commandments stated in the Bible – so Jesus says.”

We are told if we are His disciples that we will obey His teachings. In order to obey, we have to know what He teaches us in the Gospels. The central theme in His teachings is: loving others. There really is no other message that we should take away except the way Jesus demonstrated love toward everyone He meet. He even loved the Pharisees – they just didn’t understand though. He wept over Jerusalem when He knew they were going to be battered and scattered for generations because of their lack of love for God and Him. They just didn’t get it. Sometimes I think we don’t either. We – the people of God – could be viewed as the church at Ephesus in this time and place. We are all about helping others, but are we too busy to love God? There are too many things that keep us from devotion to God and to Jesus. We don’t make time to get in His word and learn what we need to be the people we need to be. The weather is turning for the better here in the US (or at least in the south) so that will mean that outdoor activities may keep us from going to church.

Andy Stanley said in a recent sermon “Devotion to God is authenticated by love for others.” In First Corinthians 13, in the famous love speech, “if there’s no love in our action, then it means nothing but devotion to me.” People in the world understand selfishness and it’s “all about me.” But we are to be different. We are to live differently. God said in His word that He created good works for us to do. Before the foundation of the world, He thought of us and gave us a hope and a future. The way life was supposed to be was in an intimate relationship with Him. That’s what He desires. When we finally understand that we are to Love Him and show love toward others, we will finally shake off the Pharisee robe and live as a follower of Jesus!

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12

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