Philadelphia: Little Strength But Loyal To Word

THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:7-13)

Background – Philadelphia was seventy-five miles southeast of Sardis. The adjacent region was celebrated as a wine-growing district, and its coins bore the head of Bacchus, the pagan wine god. The population included Jews, Jewish Christians, and gentile converts. It suffered from Continue reading “Philadelphia: Little Strength But Loyal To Word”

When Faith Seems Ordinary

Screenshot (94)FROM THE MIND OF WEBSTER

Blessed – to confer prosperity or happiness upon.
Their – relating to them as objects.
Future – time yet to come.

BACKSTORY

Genesis 17:18, 19 – And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (NIV 1984)

Genesis 22:15-18 – The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (NIV 1984)

Genesis 26:3-5For to you [Isaac] and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.” (NIV 1984)

MUSINGS FROM OTHERS – Just before he died, Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau concerning things yet to come. (Genesis 27:27–29 for Jacob and 27:39–40 for Esau). In both cases the fulfillment would not come until after Isaac’s death. The promised blessing for Jacob included the words, “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you” (Genesis 27:29). It is a work of faith to bless about future things (hoped for and unseen) that may still be hoped for and unseen long after you are gone. When the thing itself does not yet exist and only a promise has been given, faith must rule. For the blessing concerned possession of the land which God had promised to him and his posterity, yet in his lifetime he had nothing in that land but the right to be buried.

MY MUSING – Little is recorded about Isaac, sandwiched between his father Abraham, that man of great faith, and his son Jacob, who became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. His life got off to an extraordinary start, miraculously born as it were long after his parents were physically capable of having children, and spared from death in his father’s great test of faith. Beyond that, his life seems to be fairly ordinary, as if God had skipped a generation. Yet here he is in Hebrews taking his place alongside other giants of the faith. Why, or perhaps better still, why not? [T]hink of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Oftentimes, he chooses the ordinary to introduce the extraordinary.  Does it seem significant to you that God has ordinary people of faith along with great people of faith on his “honor roll”?

MY ADVICE – Be satisfied with your ordinary calling.  If done faithfully to God, it will be extraordinary to Him.

Full Commitment

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – God is not distant or aloof. He is actively looking to strengthen those who are fully committed to Him. It is not by accident that the greater our commitment to Him, the greater is our strength and ability to follow through on that commitment.

My Advice – Be a fully-committed follower of Jesus Christ. God will take notice and you will not be disappointed that you made the commitment.

Sardis: Reputation As Alive But Dead

THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:1-6)

Background – As the capital of Lydia, the ancient city of Sardis was an important city. It was about fifty miles east of Ephesus at the junction of five main roads, making it a commercial crossroad. As a province of the Roman Empire that was located on an almost inaccessible plateau, it was also a military center. Continue reading “Sardis: Reputation As Alive But Dead”

Cultivating Enthusiasm

2 Chronicles 15:15They sought God eagerly, and He was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – We must be eager to seek, serve and follow the Lord. We need to cultivate the enthusiasm we had as new Christians. It need not die out. It usually doesn’t over night. We need to be alert for signs of erosion and act early.

My Advice – When you find that your eagerness to seek God is waning, it is pretty good indication that you are drifting away from Him. Take this to heart and ask Him to restore the eagerness and remove the hindrances (and you must be willing to let go of them). If you do this, He will answer you.

Thyatira: Increased Works But Tolerates Evil

THE LETTER – “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’ – just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:18-29)

Background – Thyatira, now called Akhissar, was situated some forty miles south-east of Pergamum. A Lydian city, it had been under Roman rule since 190 BC, housing a large military garrison. Thyatira was a trade center, and was especially known for its dye for royal purple. It was the home of Lydia of Philippi named in Acts 16:14. Various inscriptions indicate that it was full of trade guilds. Apollo was the chief pagan deity of the city. The emperor was linked with Apollo and may have been worshiped in Thyatira as his earthly manifestation. It was another center of influence for the Nicolaitans, known for their idolatry and licentiousness. Locally, it was influenced by a “prophetess” who stood in opposition to and defiance of the church there. This was the longest of the seven messages to the churches, although Thyatira was the smallest city of the seven.

Greeting: What’s in A Name – The name of the city, Thyatira, apparently means Continue reading “Thyatira: Increased Works But Tolerates Evil”