Smyrna: Worldly Poverty But Rich In Faith

THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:8-11)

Background – Smyrna, an important exporting city, was located on a protected harbor of the Aegean Sea 35 miles north of Ephesus and next to a major road system. One of the great cities of Asia, it was large, prosperous, and a seat of emperor-worship with a temple devoted to the emperor Tiberius. Smyrna was Continue reading “Smyrna: Worldly Poverty But Rich In Faith”

Beyond, Yet Within

2 Chronicles 1:6 – “But who is able to build a temple for Him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain Him?” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – He is beyond us. More than we can possibly imagine. Yet He chooses to live in us. What a privilege. How humbling.

My Advice – Your life is a temple. God’s Spirit resides in you. Remember this wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever you say, whatever you think about, whatever you see. It just may change where you go, what you do, what you say, what you think and what you look at.

Ephesus: Sound Doctrine But Deficient Love

THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1-7)

Background – At the time that Revelation was written, Ephesus was a major city of Asia Minor. It was a seaport community and was the location of the great temple of Artemis (Acts 19:24, 27–28, 34–35), which was numbered as one of the Continue reading “Ephesus: Sound Doctrine But Deficient Love”

Is Your Head In The Clouds?

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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (NIV 1984)

My Musing – We have a “cloud-based” theology.  We download from the “cloud” when we study God’s Word and pray.  Someday, those who have Jesus Christ as their Savior will be “caught up together with [our loved loves who have preceded us in death] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words

Reunited with our loved ones, and united with Christ forever.  What an encouragement!  But, the encouragement is not just for that future hope.  It is also encouragement for here and now.  In the meantime we should not wander aimlessly with our head in the “clouds.”  For when He does return for us, we don’t want Him to find us idle or involved in things we should not be.  We do not want to be ashamed at His appearing.  I hope to see you there!

 

Clothed With Compassion

Screenshot (61)Compassion – Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion. (Colossians NIV 1978)

The Sympathetic Consciousness Of Another’s Distress … 

Sympathy is sharing the feelings of others, being affected by what affects others.  In all their distress he too was distressed…In His love and mercy He redeemed them up and carried them…. (Isaiah 63:9, NIV 1978)

Together With A Desire To Alleviate It …

Desire stresses the strength of feeling and often implies a strong intention, longing or aim.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37, NIV 1978)

That Results In Action …

Action is bringing about alteration (i.e., doing something about it).  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15, 16, NIV 1978).

As An Expression Of Love …

Love is unfailing – constant, infallible.  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10, NIV 1978)

That Can Change Lives!

Used in the Gospels to speak of Jesus’ having compassion on someone in need that was often the turning point in their life.  Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:34, NIV 1978).

My Musing – Having become conscious of another’s distress, does this lead to sympathy?  Does sympathy, in turn progress to a desire to alleviate that distress if we could? Does our desire spring into action with the things we can and should do to help out?  Are we motivated by love or duty?

Having been the recipients of God’s unfailing compassion, how can we possibly fail to show compassion to those around us who are in distress?  Who knows, it could be a turning point in their lives that leads them to or back to God.

 

 

 

 

 

How We Appear, or Who We Are?

1 Chronicles 29:17 – “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – We cannot fool God. How we appear to others, may actually be deceitful. But not to God. He sees our heart and knows whether or not it is consistent with our actions and appearance.

My Advice – Be a man of integrity. Not just when others are looking or when the danger of not being so is too great. Be that way, no matter what, not just because it is right but because it is who you are. There should be no excuses for compromising our integrity.

 

The Commission

Screenshot (53)THE COMMISSION – “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:19, 20)

The Stars – Stars are symbols of pre-eminence and authority (See Numbers 24:17; Daniel 12:3). False teachers are wandering stars (Jude 13; Isaiah 14:12). Jesus identifies these stars as “Angels,” but the exact meaning of the term as it is used here is uncertain. The following are the principal interpretations: Continue reading “The Commission”