416 - The Church in a Bad Marriage

August 25, 2017

The word Pergamos comes from a combination of two Greek words that mean "mixed, objectionable" and "marriage."  Pergamos therefore means a "mixed marriage" that is "objectionable" to God.  Prophetically, it represents the marriage of the church and state where the state elevates the church to a place of acceptance or political correctness at the expense of the church’s devotion to God.

Look at what the Lord had to say about this church:

"But I have a few things against you, because you have there (in the church) those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those (in the church) who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate" - Revelation 2:14-15.

The Sin of Compromise

The church, although commended by Christ for the fact they have not denied His name under severe trials and suffering (Rev. 2:13), nevertheless dropped the ball and allowed those into the church who were heretics and sought to drive the believers away from God and into sin.  And the church did nothing about it.  Why?  Because, like the church of today, they allowed themselves to compromise with the world and allow all sorts of worldliness into His church.  And they also showed a glaring lack of discernment and church discipline.

Sadly, the same can be said of the church today.  Which raises a couple of questions:

How should we, as His church, respond to compromise and worldliness in the church?
What can we do as a congregation to foster a spirit of holiness in our time together?
What can you, as a member of His body, do to present yourself before Him spotless?
What areas of your life need to be addressed?
And what are you prepared to do about it?

The following is a study on Jesus' letter to the church at Pergamos, Revelation 2:12-17.

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414 - The Blessings of Persecution

August 20, 2017

Sometimes there are passages in the Scripture that confound even the most mature Believer.  These are the ones that seem to defy logic, ones that fly in the face of our cherished sensibilities.  For example, in Luke 6:30 the Lord tells us to "Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back."  But Jesus gives no qualifier in this verse.  The person who asks for your stuff may be a bum, a greedy businessman, or the government.  How are we supposed to follow that command?

Another example deals with how we respond to a personal attack.  Jesus said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also" (Matt. 5:39-40).  How does this play out in real life in real time?  If the church followed this command the future of the legal profession would be in great peril.

But one of the hardest teachings in Scripture, especially to an opulent, narcissistic church like we have today, is the idea that suffering or persecution could be a good thing.  That sentiment is hard to swallow, let alone believe.  How could persecution be a good thing?  Ever?  To anybody?

The Church at Smyrna

In the second of our Lord's seven personal epistles to His church, found in Revelation 2 and 3, He has nothing but kind words to say about the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).   And the primary characteristic of this church was their faithful perseverance under extreme persecution that lasted centuries.  We would be well advised as a church, and as individuals, to emulate in our life what brought this church such praise from our Lord.

To find out more about the Lord's letter to the church at Smyrna, and what we can learn about our own view of suffering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11.

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343 - The Spiritual Hat Trick: Mark, Luke and Demas

April 11, 2016
In the closing verses of Colossians we are introduced to a list of names, a list of those beloved and commended by Paul.  And in the midst of those names we find Mark, Luke, and a guy named Demas.  We can basically summarize their lives this way:

Mark - started out weak but finished strong.
Luke - was always growing in his commitment to Christ and others.
Demas - started out strong and finished... horrible!

And if you have ears to hear, you can find your spiritual life embedded in the lives of these three men.  

Are you interested?  Maybe intrigued?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 4:7-18  and 2 Timothy 4:9-11.

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303 - Our Bonhoeffer Moment

May 3, 2015
With our society and culture crumbling all around us it behooves the church to assess its commitment to Christ.  Are you hot or cold or lukewarm?  Is Christ on the outside of the church knocking, waiting, for us to open the door and allow Him into His church? (Rev. 3:20).

These are scary times.  But not unprecedented times.  

In fact, it's these very times that bring out the best in the church.  It's times like these where true men and women of God step forward to take their stand for truth.  

It's the time of Daniel, Elijah, John the Baptist and Gideon.

The following is a study on the call of Gideon.

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293 - Credibility and Character

February 23, 2015
What's the big deal with pastors today calling themselves apostles?  Why are they doing that and how can that be justified from Scripture?  

Or, better yet, what are the qualifications for the office of apostle?  And, once we determine the qualifications, do any of these pastors meet them?  Can anyone meet them today?  Anyone?

The lesson to be learned in all of this is that credibility is not communicated by titles or degrees.  Credibility is communicated by character.  True, God-like character.  And the fact we have men calling themselves apostles today shows us how much we still need to learn as a church, doesn't it?

The following is a study on Colossians 1:1-2.

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281 - What Makes a Good Shepherd, Good?

January 8, 2015
When Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) what does He mean?  What makes a shepherd of the sheep, maybe even a faithful shepherd, a good shepherd?  What characteristics or innate virtue qualifies them to be a Good Shepherd?

The answer is simple:  Jesus said, "the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).  In fact, this specific attribute is repeated four times in 8 verses just to emphasize this very fact (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18).

And Jesus goes one step further.  He says in John 10:17:  "Therefore My Father loves Me, (why) because I lay down My life that I may take it again."

Don't be caught sleeping— these statements by the Lord are deeply profound and life-changing.  Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 10:11-21.

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255 - Shut the Door!

August 25, 2014
Some of the most scathing words spoken by the Lord to those who have committed their lives to Him, the priests, are found in the first chapter of Malachi.  And I mean scathing words.

But what God says in Malachi is not limited to the priests of Israel, but also to the church today.  These words speak to everyone of us.  They are not to be taken lightly.

Consider the following:  

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor?  And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?" says the Lord of hosts.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Malachi 1:6-14.

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253 - It Was the Best of Times, it Was the Worst of Times

August 18, 2014
Message from Malachi — A Prophetic Warning to the Church

We are about to undertake a study of the last book of the Old Testament, the last of the Post-Exile prophets, Malachi.  This small, four chapter book holds a unique place in the Scriptures because it stands at the end, the last call if you will, of the Old Testament and also at the beginning, as an introduction, to the 400 year period where God was silent and closed the door on any future revelation to His people.

Rest assured, there's much in Malachi to challenge and rebuke and offend the church and the clergy today.  It's a most timely book that needs to be preached from pulpits all across our land but, unfortunately for the church, seldom is.  As we dig deeper into his message, you'll understand why this book has fallen out of favor in the Laodicean church of today (Rev. 3:16).

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Malachi 1:1-5.

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