Thursday, May 19, 2016
Monday, May 16, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Let’s look at Revelation 2:2 where it says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” The Lord starts out this letter to the Church of Ephesus by giving them some compliments. He first compliments them on the fact that they do not “bear them which are evil”. The early church had something that I refer to as "purging power."
In other words, the early church was so real and the Holy Spirit was so active that it was impossible for evil or sin to be present in the church without opposition. When evil came into the church, it was quickly spotted and removed. The people of this church were “for real” in their relationship with the Lord. There is no better example of this than Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts. It says in Acts 5:1 that there was “a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,…” and decided to give a portion of the money they made to the church. There was nothing wrong with that. The problem was that they decided to lie about it. It says in v.2 that they “…kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” That means that they deliberately misrepresented themselves to Peter. Instead of being honest about withholding a portion of the profit for themselves, they pretended to be giving it all. If they had just been honest and upfront about it, it would have been no big deal. After all, they were only expected to give a tenth (tithe) of the profit to the Lord. However, they decided to be hypocritical and God killed them for it.
But, as we study through these churches we will see that they slowly lost this "purging power" because of their compromise with the world. This compromise has led to cold dead churches filled with cold dead people. Today, the church is filled with these types. As a matter of fact, the word hypocrite comes from a Greek word which means to “play a part, pretend, or to act”. There are many in the church today that are playing a part, pretending, and acting like Christians. When in reality, they have no relationship with Christ at all. Another example is found in Matthew when Jesus told the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Matthew 13:31-32 says, “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
In this parable we see three reasons why the church has lost its purging power. First, we see it in the unnatural growth of the mustard seed. A mustard seed plant does not become a tree as that it is an herb. The church today has grown so large because it is largely made up of unsaved people who are fooling everyone but God.
Second, we see that because of this unnatural growth the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. They have made themselves at home! Unfortunately, the birds spoke of here are symbolic of evil. They don’t belong, but they are allowed to stay and actually feel quite comfortable because there are so many like them in the tree (church). The bottom line is that evil could not thrive in the first century church because of the anointing and purity that was so present through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Third, we see the leaven. Leaven in the Scripture is always a type of evil. Leaven is what we call yeast today. When just a little bit of it is placed in anything, it spreads. Jesus compares it to sin in Matthew 16:6 when He said, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” Unfortunately, the last days Church of Laodicea does not receive this compliment because it has lost its “purging power.”
Monday, May 9, 2016
Friday, May 6, 2016
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Let’s pick up our study in Revelation 2:2-3 where it says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” Notice the compliments paid to this church. The first is their "patience." I believe that the patience spoken of here is in regards to their waiting for Jesus’ promised return. He spoke of this return in John 14:2-3 when He said, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Also, the last words spoken to them by the angels as Jesus was taken up into Heaven in Acts 1:11 was, “…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” This church was patiently waiting for the return of Christ. Of course, they had no idea when that return would be. Maybe the disciples hung around the Mount of Olives where Jesus had ascended for a few hours or days. They simply did not know, but the early church definitely lived in the expectancy of the return of Jesus.
Some even believed that Jesus would return before the death of John the Apostle because of what Jesus said in the Gospel of John to Peter in regards to his question about John. John 21:20-23 says, “Peter seeing him (John) saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Of course, John did die and Jesus had still not returned to the dismay of many. (Just as a side note, I do believe that what Jesus said in John 21 was fulfilled in that John did see the return of Christ when he wrote the book of Revelation.)
So, here we are today patiently still waiting for Christ’s return just as the church of Ephesus. That’s called living in expectancy. Here is another way to look at it. What if I told you that my family and I were coming over to your house tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. for dinner? What would you do? How would you prepare? You would surely clean the house just a little bit. I’m sure that you would also put things out of sight that you might think “the preacher” would question (i.e., questionable magazines, movies, CDs, etc.).
Now, that’s what you would do if you knew that I was coming. What would you do if I knocked on your door unannounced? Hmmm…maybe you wouldn’t answer it at all? Close the blinds and be real quite? Maybe you would yell, “Just a minute”, while running wildly around the house trying to tidy on the fly? Why would you do that? It’s simple, you were not ready or expecting me.
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” In other words, Jesus is going to come at a time when you least expect Him. Jesus said in Matthew 24:43-44, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”
The conclusion of the matter is that you and I need to live in expectancy. Jesus could return at any moment. It will unannounced and unexpected. The question is, “What will you be doing when He comes?” Will you be ready or surprised?
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Very realistic message on the pressures of ministry and the need to take a second look at how we "do church" today. The bottom line is that large churches may very well become a thing of the past and the church better rethink it's approach and it starts with discipleship.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Monday, May 2, 2016
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Today, before moving on to the next verse, I want to take one more look at Revelation 2:1 where it says, “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” Notice that it says that Jesus is walking in "the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” We’ve already established by looking at Revelation 1:20 that the seven candlesticks represent the seven churches spoken of here chapters 2 and 3.
It is interesting to note that in the very first church that represents the birth of the church, Jesus is walking in the midst of it. However, by the time we arrive at the last church at the end of chapter 3 we see that Jesus is trying to get back in! Notice what it says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” What a sad commentary on that church.
In the age in which you and I live; which I believe to be the last days church of Laodicea; you don’t have to visit many churches to figure out that Jesus is not in the midst of them. George Barna, founder of Barna Research, gives a staggering statistic in his latest evaluation of the church today. He estimates that six out of ten people who are sitting in churches throughout the United States on any given Sunday morning are lost! That means that they have no real relationship with Jesus Christ. They are faithful to the church, etc…, but they do not really know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
We have lived to see the day when the divinity of Jesus is denied. There are groups of so called Christians out there that deny that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. That means that they do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. We have lived to see a day when his virgin birth is questioned. I got news for you, if Jesus was not born of a virgin; he is in need of a Savior himself. I don’t think so! Jesus was born of a virgin and to deny that is to simply deny your own possibility of salvation. We have lived to see a day when the church is scoffed at, ignored, and passed up by the masses. How many people are there in your city? How many of them are in a church on any given Sunday morning? Just by personal observation and my knowledge of the other churches in my area, I would guess around 2000 to 2500 out of approximately 35,000. Oh, I’m sure that there are more than that on the church rolls, but I’m talking about actual attendance. I’m sure that there are some who go to churches in other communities, I must confess that that bothers me a little bit, but be that as it may; the majority of the churches in our community are half empty every Sunday.
We have lived to see a day when Jesus’ Second Coming is ridiculed and hirelings are in pulpits across America telling them what they want to hear and how to get rich! Paul warned us in 1 Timothy 6:6 to withdraw ourselves from any man that preaches godliness as a means of getting rich. Instead of crying for lost souls that are doomed for Hell, much of the church is crying, “Make us healthy, wealthy, and wise!”
I get amused when I hear on the Christian television station that we are in the midst of a great revival. I find no factual or scriptural support for that. As a matter of fact, I find the opposite. Jesus said in Matthew 24:12, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Paul said in II Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” Quite the opposite, we are in the midst of what the Bible calls the great apostasy. There is no revival from apostasy in the Bible without judgment. The organized church is not going to “get back to God.” Instead, they are drifting more and more every day further away from Him. Are you going with them?