Saturday, April 28, 2007

Church of Laodicea

Revelation 3:14-22

Christ’s Introduction: The Amen, the faithful and true witness, and ruler of creation.
Reveals: Christ has the final say so. He is one that will always speak the truth. He is the one with authority and control over all creation.

Affirmations: None concerning their works, but He did show his love to them through rebuke and discipline vs19

Faults/sins: Not hot or cold. No zeal. Works were ineffective. vs. 15,16 They were deceived in believing they were blessed when they were not in a righteous position to be blessed. They were self-satisfied and indifferent to their need for authentic discipleship and ministry. The Laodiceans were puffed up in their self-sufficiency. Their faults were obvious to everyone but themselves. They were blind to their own deficiencies. vs. 17,18

Penalties/Instructions: They were soon to be excluded from the Lord’s presence if they did not change.vs16 Christ counseled them to obtain gold, white raiment, and eye salve from Him; rather than the material wealth that they possessed. In doing so they would cover their shame with purity and their eyes would be open to discern the truth. vs. 17,18 With His rebuke he exhorted them to be sincere in their repentance.

Promises: To the repentant who invited Him in, Christ would enter and engage in sweet fellowship. Vs19 The overcomer would receive the right/privilege to reign and rule w/Christ.

Link of intro w/penalties &promises: Christ has all authority to enforce penalties or grant rewards. He is the One who speaks to God on behalf of the people.

Application: Self-reliance =Self-satisfaction=self-deception. Self-deception leads to loss of zeal and complacency. Complacency leads to ineffective service and lack of progress. If a church is not maturing it is going backward. Rather than leading others to salvation it will pull others into it’s deception.

This church could be characterized as magnet of materialism for those having no incentive to actually work in and for the kingdom. One with an 'anything goes' message requiring no commitment.
Additional reference: Luke 16:15 NIV “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The ? Revisited

"While John records the characteristics of seven distinct churches, I believe they had one common fault. That fault is the same one that plagues the church today. That fault is without question, the reason the church has removed herself from the fight. It is why she can not even muster a good argument against the evil practices that proliferate in our society. Can you name that one characteristic, that one flaw, that one sin, that has given rise to the degradation of our nation?" Excerpted from my 03/25/07 post, the beginning of this study on the 7 churches of Asia.

The church of Laodicea is the last one of the 7 mentioned in the first three chapters of Revelation. Of the seven, I believe it failed more miserably than the rest. Certainly the one common flaw/sin of the churches was more blatant in the Laodicean church.

Until I can finish that post, The Thunderer has suggested two excellent posts to augment this study. See the following links:
Chet Swearingen's 04/16/07 post
and the 04/27/07 post of PyroManiacs

Shane writes of a church that would fit right in the mix. See his 02/02/07 post at Caffeinated Thoughts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lazy Way Wednesday

Check out the April 14,2007 post at A Steward of Secret Things . There you will find some more helpful tips for preaching and teaching. John Brand a preacher for over 25 years, provides insightful reviews of preaching related books.

Also, please visit godzheart atLessons for Life. She is currently posting from the book of Nehemiah. She offers both exposition of the text and practical applications. She is a serious student of the Word, and dedicated to quality posts.

Milton's Daily Dose gives compact posts that deliver a big punch. Easy to read and thought provoking. He has a couple of other blogs that I enjoy as well.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Church of Philadelphia

Revelation 3:7-13

Christ's Introduction: The Holy One, the true One, the One w/the key of David
Reveals: His purity and righteousness, His control over the doors of the kingdom. vs 7

Affirmations: Some strength, faithfulness to the Gospel and to the name of Christ vs8,
patience vs10

Faults/sins: No direct indictments against them. Verse 8 could indicate that they had a dim vision of what God was calling them to do. He declared plainly that the door He had opened, no one could shut. Somewhat like saying I have cleared the way, now complete your journey.

Instructions: He warned them of the coming trial/testing vs10 and of His coming. vs11
He exhorts them to hold on to what they possessed. (see affirmations)

Promises: He would humble the liars/counterfeiters and cause them to acknowledge that the church of Philadelphia was loved and chosen by Him.vs9
The overcomer would be more than a resident in His kingdom, he would be a visible testimony of strength and steadfastness. A pillar of stones was often used as a memorial to a divine appearance or intervention; like the 12 stones taken from the Jordan in Joshua 4:2-9 Furthermore the overcomer would need never to leave or be driven from the presence of God. Christ promised to write upon the overcomer 3 names; the name of God, the name of the city of God, and Christ's own name.

Link-Intro w/promises: The Holy and True possesses the key/power of the kingdom. He is the one who denies or grants the privileges of citizenship.

Application: To become a citizen of the heavenly kingdom, one must be an overcomer. To be an overcomer, one must keep the Word of God, be loyal to Christ, be patient, endure temptation, and be diligent to hold on to what they have in Christ.

This church could be characterized as spiritually sincere but existing with little progress. A church that was long in patience but short in vision.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Church of Sardis

Revelation 3:1-6

Christ's Introduction: Rev 3:1 The One who has the 7 spirits and holds the 7 stars. Again, the 7 stars are the angels of the churches.

Reveals: The word 'hold' in reference to the stars/churches, indicates His control over them. As for the 7 spirits of God, the NIV footnote inserts "seven-fold Spirit of God" Regardless of which rendering is correct, the idea of the fullness of the Spirit can be drawn from the use of the number 7. Seven being the number of completion.
The words "I know" follow His introduction to each of the churches. Of course this indicates His omniscience. Nothing is hidden from Him.

Affirmations: Previous works that built a good reputation for the church. vs 1 Some good qualities remain. vs 2 There are a few saints w/pure hearts. vs 4

Faults/sins: No longer a thriving church. vs 1 Works incomplete & good works declining.vs 2
Continuing to exist as a church- under false pretense. Living in the past/reputation rather than perpetuating new life in the church.

Instructions/penalties: Wake up. Examine your condition. Instead of letting true ministry wane, build up the truth. vs 2 Remember your faith and doctrine. (what you have heard- faith comes by hearing....) Repent! Change directions. Choose faith and sound doctrine over the things that are killing your ministry. If you don't watch i.e. prepare yourself, you will be surprised as my judgements come upon you.

Promises: The pure will walk w/Christ as worthy recipients of eternal life. vs 4 Christ Himself will be witness to their worthiness. vs 5

Link- Intro w/penalties & promises: The all -knowing One will be the one to determine the churches fate; be it cursed or blessed. He has the power to release or withhold the spirits and angels to minister to the churches.

Application: A good reputation is gained through consistent service over the course of time. That reputation will become blemished and useless when the service is no longer up to par. It is better to have no reputation at all and to be building one, than to loose it through poor judgement and complacency. If a church is not thriving it is dying.

This church could be characterized as a nominal one that was content w/past experiences rather than present efforts and future goals. It could be described as 'having a form of godliness, yet denying (not possessing) the power thereof.' II Timothy 2:5

Not from Sardis

I ran across a neat poem atStanding in the Gap. Thought you might enjoy it too. Although the author is unknown, the young man who writes this blog is dedicated to putting out good material. It is refreshing to see young men using their talents for God. Speaking of young men, there is another site I frequent. The Good Report consistently offers biblical posts with practical applications for today's Christians.

The Thunderer and R.I.P. while fairly new to blogging, are men that are building a good reputations as they consistently contribute biblical posts. Certainly these men are positive influences that shining the Light to the world. Stop by and thank them today.

P.S. This post was supposed to be after 'The Church of Sardis'. Chalk up another learning opportunity. :>)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Study Tips

The word on studying the Word. Read and consider the Biblical text and context first.

In a previous post (03/27/07), I mentioned the study tools that I use most of the time. I failed to mention that I use them in the order I had listed them: Bible, Strong's Concordance, Bible Dictionary, Expositor's Commentary.

I realize there are innumerable resources available on the internet and on software; I just have not gotten up to speed on that part of the information highway, yet. The more I check out the blogrolls and links the more great stuff I am finding. One I really like and find helpful is the Webster's 1828 Dictionary. You will find it in my 'Tools of the Trade' list.

When preparing a topical study, a good concordance will be your best friend. I like using the Strong's Concordance because it includes the Hebrew and Greek words and definitions. A Bible dictionary comes in handy when you need to know the meaning of people/places names. In biblical times you knew volumes about a city or person just by their name. Not so today.

Now days people name their children all kinds of things. I know a child named Lexus Mercedes ________. How do you think that child feels being named after cars? At least they are upscale cars. Some folks may still consider their child's future when choosing their name. I have heard of one named Jabez in the past few years. Now the name is biblical alright enough, but do the parents really know what the name means. I think they just like the part about the blessings. Really, who would want to call their child, "Pain" or "Misery"?

Back to the subject. I leave the commentary for last. Yes a commentary will have scholarly material and documented facts, but it will also have stuff that is strictly opinion. As long as opinions are clearly stated as such, I have no problem using the material. Kind of like blogs. I have gleaned much in reading them; but I always weigh the information with the Word of God.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Church of Thyatira

Revelation 2:18-29

Christ's Introduction: Son of God, with eyes like fire, and feet like burnished bronze Rev 2:18
Reveals: His Deity as the Messiah, His eyes that penetrate and discern all things, His feet or foundation has been tried in the fire and is hardened and unbreakable.

Affirmations: good works of charity/love, service, faithfulness, and patience. He acknowledges that the church has made some advancement. Rev 2:24- some have been partakers of the false doctrine being promoted in their midst.

Faults/Sins: Allowed a false prophetess to remain in leadership; teaching a doctrine of sexual immorality and condoning participation in pagan feasts/activities.

Penalties: Suffering to the false prophetess and her followers, death to her children (those she had begotten in her adulterous relations) perhaps not only her biological children but her spiritual offspring. Each will reap the wages of their works. vs 23

Instructions: To the ones who had not followed her nor accepted the doctrine she taught: Hold on to the little discernment you do have. Don't fall prey to her deception. Don't give up the true doctrine that you possess.

Promises: No additional burden given to the righteous ones. The promises given are with the following condition: they must continue in righteousness until the end. Authority over nations means they will rule with Him. verse 27 is a quotation from Psalms 2:9 speaking of the authority and power of the Messiah. The church is also promised the morning star. The darkness of their present circumstances will be replaced with His glorious light. Rev 22:16 Christ refers to Himself as the morning star.

Application: No church or individual can have authority outside of their submission to Christ's authority. Failure to expel impostors from the church will bring suffering and death.

This church could be characterized as one that had fallen prey to an idolatrous cult leader. It was a church of compromise taking the path of least resistance.

Additional reference regarding discipline in the church: I Corinthians 5:11-13

The Church of Pergamos

Revelation 2:12-17

Christ's introduction: One who holds the sharp two-edged sword. One who knows where they live both physically and spiritually. Rev 2:12,13
Reveals: Christ equipped and ready to separate the false prophets from the true.

Affirmations: Some had been faithful to Christ in days of persecution and martyrdom.

Faults/sins: The church tolerated people (perhaps leaders) who held to false and seducing doctrines.

Instructions/Penalties: Repent. Christ will do battle and cut down the unrepentant.

Promises to overcomers: will receive some of the hidden manna- strength for the days ahead; a white stone w/a new name on it- no longer will they be known as part of a sinful divided church; the new name that only they will know may indicate that only they will understand the full meaning of their new name. Much like the person who is saved is the only one that knows the fullness of his own pardon. That new name will show the overcomer's relationship w/Christ.

Application: God is not pleased w/a church divided. Those who tolerate false doctrine are just as guilty as those who pedal it.

This church could be characterized as a politically correct church, tolerating false doctrine at the expense of Christ's approval.

---Again, I want to say that these posts are not meant to be exhaustive in anyway, there is much more to explore in regards to the geography, culture, historical data, etc. These are merely gleanings taken directly from the text.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Award Winning Thinking

My thanks to Heather for the "Thinking Blogger" award. My task now is to write a post naming 5 bloggers that I think deserve this award.

Rules are given by the original "Thinking Blogger".

My 5 blog choices with specific posts are as follows: Accidental Blog, Voice of Vision, Julie's Jewels, Caffeinated Thoughts, and Lessons from Life.

Accidental Blog Sarah posts a mix of personals, current events, photos, and missionary endeavors. Read her 04/02/07 post and be challenged to really walk in faith.

Voice of Vision Even So is a personal favorite of mine. He writes with the love of God and the heart of a pastor. His biblical studies are in-depth but not so technical as to be out of reach of the ordinary reader. Powerful and to the point.

Julie's Jewels Check out Julie's post about the all time favorite excuse for staying out of church; posted 03/19/07.

Shane at Caffeinated Thoughts puts The Word on current events and political issues. Sample his April fools day post.He is not afraid to tackle what some call "sticky subjects".

Godzheart at Lessons from Life posts detailed biblical studies that bring the scriptures to life. She gives the reader both explanations and applications for everyday life. Teacher extraordinaire.

Church of Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

Christ’s Introduction: Rev 2:8 The first and last, once dead, but now alive.
Reveals: Christ's eternal existence and His resurrection power.

Affirmations: Rev 2:9 works, survivors of tribulations, poverty, and slander

Faults/sins Rev 2:9 poor self-image/estimation of worth, possibly fear since they are told not to fear in verse 10

Instructions: Rev2:10 Don’t fear, be faithful through imprisionment, trials, and tribulations even unto the point of death. Forcast of severe tribulation for 10 days.

Promises to the overcomer: Will not be harmed by 2nd death, will receive a crown of life

Link of intro w/promise: Christ’s power over death will give the overcomer eternal life

Application: No matter how impoverished in this life, if we have Christ we are rich.
The resurrection power of Christ will raise the dead.
Additional references: Philippians 3:10,11 Romans 8 :11

This church could be characterized as a missionary type church that had become in-grown. A church experiencing dire hardships, and expecting more. They did however have the opportunity to overcome and receive eternal life.

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