Monthly Archives: November 2019

Wake Up! On Revelation

The Church at Sardis

Think of things that didn’t live up to their reputation.

  • The Ford Edsel in the 1950’s was to be an innovation in cars- sucked…
  • New Coke in the 80s was to build on Coke’s reputation- it didn’t…
  • PS3 was great! -unless you got the three rings of death…
    There’s a difference between reputation & reality-

Jesus, dictating the letter to the church at Sardis to John says:

“You have a reputation that you live, but you are D E A D.”

They were living on reputation, they were living on past accomplishments, they were living in the glory days but had fallen asleep to living the life and doing the stuff of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

WAKE UP!

Jesus says “WAKE UP!!!”…living on past accomplishments just isn’t enough-

Any time we live in the past it is not a good thing, it robs us of today – good or bad. If you live in the past of the bad things that happen in life then you’ll never go forward, never heal, never explore and discover life now. But the same is true for the good things: starting a business, being a star athlete in school, whatever the accomplishment, to live in the past is DEATH.

Paul speaks clearly words that the church at Sardis needed to hear, and words relevant for us today, in Philippians 3:13 “This ONE thing I do- forget what is past & move forward”. Sardis needed to do this to live.

Let us begin again!

Saint Francis said something as he gathered the brothers around not long before his death- “let us begin again, for up to now we have done nothing!”. For Sardis, For the American church, and for us individually, these words ring true. It is a time for us to begin again. Jesus said “repent & return to what you have received and heard.”

In ancient culture, cities kept a book with the names of all it’s citizens, when someone moved or died they would scratch the persons name out. Look at the promise Jesus gave to Sardis:

“He who overcomes will be dressed in white…& I will never erase or blot out his name from the book of life…” -Rev 3:5

Let’s not live in the past, let us not fall asleep, but be awake! & let us begin again; letting go of the past & moving forward!

The Church at Thyatira: Hold on!

The message to the church in Thyatira-

“Hold on!… & get rid of Jezebel”

Working Man Town: Thyatira was a working man’s town, like Pittsburgh’s steel industry, or Chattanooga with textiles in the 60’s. There were unions called “guilds” which had a patron Roman god or goddess, along with the guilds came regular “dinners” and rites as a part of membership. One of the main temples was to the Emperor, who was considered a “son of Apollo” ie. A son of the god, Apollo.

Jesus opens this letter addressing himself as “The Son of God” – as in the one and only. He commends them for love, faith, service, perseverance, and making progress, as well as their good deeds.

Slippery Slope

The followers in this city faced some difficult decisions, if you were not a part of the guild then you could not function in your trade, meaning economically you were at a huge disadvantage. To participate meant to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to participate in the “rites” of the guild which often included sexual rites or prostitution. Beyond getting a disease, the follower participating would compromise the lifestyle he had chosen as a disciple of Jesus.

Put your hand on the TV, say “Amen”, and pick up the phone now $$$

Jesus refers to a particular self proclaimed “prophet” as Jezebel, probably not her real name, but He’s making a point; she was leading the people astray by preaching it was OK to participate in functions of idol worship and the sexual rites that went along with it. WHY? Not for sure, but money and power probably had a lot to do with it, and human nature excuses many things by saying “So & so said it was OK…”

A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall

Jesus speaks hard judgement to those in Thyatira who are unrepentant in their sin. No matter how we look at the harsh words given to some of the churches, at the core is a real desire that no one would die in sin but rather be reconciled to God and live! Here He says “I gave her a time to repent but she did not” therefore it’s a hard rain that’s going to fall. (quoting Bob Dylan)

Hold On, I’m Coming!!!

To everyone else who did not buy in to the lies and sin Jesus gave these words “I will put no other burden upon you, just hold on to what you have till I return.”

And return He will. When He does, He and His followers will break nations like clay pots with an iron rod. What does that mean?

Not sure entirely, let me just throw out one thought. If there were no government, nations, rivalry, competing for power, dominance, and fighting over resources then there would be no bloodshed, abuse, domination, war, or death. WHEN HE RETURNS He will put an end to all these things. That is good news! We say “Come! Lord Jesus!”

Hearing God – Elijah

What makes it difficult to hear God’s voice?

We get busy, distracted, overwhelmed, enamored, we find ourselves too tired, angry, lonely or hungry, we get depressed or disinterested…

In 1 Kings 19:3-12 we read a story about Elijah depressed, afraid and running- after experiencing a high, a victory, an undeniable experience… After seeing God clearly, Elijah experiences the anger and threats of Queen Jezebel and it’s like air out of a balloon. What goes up must come down; and he did, hard.

“I’ve had enough”

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, atown in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life…” – 1 Kings 19:3-4

Have you ever been there?

When was the last time you said “I’ve had enough” -How did you feel? Elijah was overwhelmed by fear, he was afraid. He also let himself get to hungry, too angry, too lonely & too tired.

Then he lay down and slept under the broom-tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.- 1 Kings 19:5-6

God sent an angel to minister to him. Basic needs were taken care of; Elijah slept, he ate, he drank. He was also encouraged by the kind words of the angel.

What does this tell us about the character of God?

God is concerned about Elijah’s basic needs. Those were first, then other things. We often think we are left alone, forsaken, but here’s a great example of God’s care. Like Jesus said “Don’t think about what you’ll eat or drink- your Father knows all your needs…”

So he got up and ate and drank, and that food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. – 1 Kings 19:8-9

Now catch what is said here: Elijah ate and drank and “that food gave him enough strength to travel 40 days” – This is no doubt one of those places that influenced Tolkien’s “elven bread” in the LOTR series. This was not just natural food for Elijah but spiritual food as well, supernatural food.

God finds us, feeds us, & brings us back to a place where we can hear Him!

Elijah had allowed himself to get in a place where he felt alone, cut off from God, unable to hear God’s voice. But God ministered to him where he was and gave him strength to get to where he needed to be- in the presence of God, to a place where he could hear God; Mount Sinai,where Moses heard the voice of God.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”- 1 Kings 19:9-10

We let other things keep us from hearing God

He felt alone, abandoned, he was disheartened at all he saw before him- a nation gone astray from their God. He’d seen many friends and contemporaries put to death under an evil king and queen. Often we feel God is far away and wonder why He doesn’t speak or show up. But the problem is we often let our circumstances, our fear & our condition speak louder and drown us from hearing.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. (V 11-12)

Sometimes we think God will speak to us in some big way but that was not Elijah’s experience.

…And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper, a still small voice. (V 12)

What does Elijah’s story tell us about hearing God?

When do we find it difficult to hear God? When is it more easy?

Once God had refreshed Elijah, he sought to be in God’s presence, to be connected to God by going to a place where His presence could be found, in this case Mount Sinai. Still, quiet, listening for God and seeking His presence- Elijah was able to hear; Unafraid, at peace, at home with God.