419 - Thyatira - The Church of Sin and Corruption

October 25, 2017

In our Lord's seven letters to His seven churches, He says both good and bad things about three of the churches (Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira).  Two churches have only good things said about them (Smyrna and Philadelphia) and two have only bad (Sardis and Laodicea).  And when we look at how these seven letters lay out for us church history in advance, we would assume the church that represents the Medieval church, the church of the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, would have only bad things said about it.

But that's not what happens.  In fact, incredulously, the Lord says some pretty good things about the church at Thyatira, which represents the Catholic church (along with some pretty bad things too).  For example:

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first" - Revelation 2:19.

Note this is the first time the Lord commends a church for their love (agapē).  Love?  How can He say that about a church known for corruption, false doctrine and the Inquisition?  And then He says the church that represents the Catholic church is actually getting better.  After all, our Lord says, "I know your works" and "the last are more than the first."  Really?  How can that be? How can the Lord have anything good to say about a church filled with so much corruption and have nothing good to say about the church (Sardis) that shed their own blood to remove themselves from that corruption? 

How is that possible?  Is there something we’re missing?

I think so.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Lord's letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

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417 - Do the Next Right Thing

September 17, 2017

You want some great advice?  Good.  Then "do the next right thing."

When we're faced with depression, chilling disappointment, or numbing loss, what are we to do?  What happens when all our dreams come crashing down around us like Jenga pieces scattered on our dining room floor?  What happens when the intimacy we once felt with our Lord evaporates right before our eyes— and we don't know why?  What do we to do when the only voice we hear is our own doubt and paralyzing fear?  What happens when our pain compels us to sleep 18 hours a day, and we forget who we are and Who we serve?  What are we do to then?

"Do the next right thing?"  Simply stumble forward.

Stumbling Forward

Do you realize that if your goal was to run 5 miles and all you could do was stand and then fall flat on your face, eventually you'd get there.  One body length at a time.  That's exactly what our Bible heroes of old did.  They stood on their feet and did the next right thing.  They chose to not doubt in the dark what they believed in the light.  After all, truth doesn't change.  But our circumstances do.

What did Moses do when decades passed and it looked like God had forgotten and forsaken Him?  He did the next right thing.  And remember Elijah, who was struggling with self-doubt and depression to the point he wanted to die.  What did God say to him as they met at the mouth of the cave?  Essentially this, "Do the next right thing."  How about David when he learned his son was dead due to his own sin with Bathsheba?  What did David do?  The next right thing.

The Scriptures are full of those, just like you and me, who stumble forward in the dark faithfully doing the next right thing, even when they didn't know why or how.  They just did what was right.  And they made sure it was the next thing they did.  Do you want to know more about putting one step in front of another and doing the next right thing?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on being faithful and doing the next right thing, no matter what.

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412 - Leaving Your First Love

August 3, 2017

The first of Jesus' seven letters to the churches in the Revelation reveal more about each of us than we often care to admit.  The letter to Ephesus has this chilling assessment from the Lord:

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love" (Revelation 2:4).

Ouch.  In spite of this church standing firm against heresy and faithfully persevering under great trials, the Lord holds something against them.  He is hurt, angry, almost unforgiving.  He must feel rejected and forgotten.  Why?  Because the church in Ephesus, the early church, the church that still had members that knew the Lord personally had left and forsaken the very one they claimed to love.  He said, "Nevertheless I have this against you, (what) that you have left your first love."  And that first love was Jesus.

Do you remember what it was like when you first came to Christ?   Do you remember the joy, the exuberance, the passion and full commitment you felt towards Him?  Do you remember the promises you made in sheer gratitude for what He had done for you?  Do you remember any of this?

Now look at your life.  Are you still as passionate?  Are you still giddy in love with Him?  Are you closer to the Lord today than in any other time in your life?  If not, you've done more than simply plateaued.  You've left and forsaken your first love.  And in doing so, the Lord now has something "against" you.

If I were you, I'd not rest until I made this right with Him.  Do you know how?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Jesus' letter to the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:1-7.

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379 - The Cost of Christmas

December 25, 2016

When we think of the cost of Christmas, most of us think about how much it is going to cost us and how long before we pay our credit cards off.  But that’s the horizontal cost.  The cost of presents that feel good for the moment but have very little lasting value.

There’s also a vertical cost to Christmas.  And that cost was paid by the Son of God who “emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave” (Phi.2:7), the lowest of men.

What did Christmas cost Jesus?  You’d be shocked, surprised and humbled to know.  He exchanged the praise and adoration of angels for the spittle of men.

Want to find out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Philippians 2:5-8.

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373 - The Love of Women and the Apathy of Men

November 15, 2016

This truth is never more apparent than at the crucifixion of Jesus. There, at the foot of His cross, standing faithful with their Lord, we find several women and only one disciple, the one characterized as the disciple "whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). We see Mary the mother of Jesus, and her sister, Salome, the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee. We see Mary the wife of Clopas who, along with Mary Magdalene, kept vigil at the tomb (Matt. 27:61) and was one of the women who tried to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:10). We also see a larger group of women, possibly as many as a dozen, standing together "at a distance" from the cross (Luke 23:49).

But what we don't see are the bold, self-confident men who pledged their very lives to Christ just a few hours earlier. Nowhere is Peter, the "even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (Matt. 26:35) disciple. Andrew, James, Matthew and the others disciples are conspicuously absent. AWOL. Scattered like dry leaves in an October wind.

The men are gone. These bastions of courage and determination fled like frightened children while the women stood faithful with their Lord to the end. Why was that? What was it about the quality of love and devotion found in these women that propelled them to such courage when the men, who should lead in that area, drifted off into the landscape? What does this show us about true faith and devotion? What does this show us about the love of women and the apparent apathy of men? And how can that change our lives today?

If you would like to explore this further, then keep listening.

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356 - Is Your God Too Small?

July 17, 2016
When we are overwhelmed with fear, it's usually because our God is too small and our problems are too big. 

Have you ever experienced a fear of Death?
Fear of the Future?
Fear of Failure?
Fear of Never Being Loved?
Fear of Pain or Sickness?
Fear of Financial Ruin?
Fear of Divorce?
Fear of Something Happening to My Children?
Fear of Being Victimized?
Fear of Getting Older?
Fear of Things Always Changing?
Fear of Trusting?
Fear of Confrontation?
Fear of the Death of a Loved One?
Fear of Satan?

If so, the reason for your fear is that your God is simply too small.  Way too small.  Tiny.  Do you want to know how to change that?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 John 3:1-3.

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354 - The Heart of the Law is Mercy

July 11, 2016
The fifth Beatitude speaks of mercy. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:7 - "Blessed (makários) are (who) the merciful (those who show compassion, to be benevolent in both thoughts and actions; it is the word that emphasizes the misery with which grace deals), (why) for they (the merciful) shall obtain mercy."

But mercy from whom?

This Beatitude does not teach that mercy to men brings mercy from men, but that mercy to men brings mercy from God. If we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us, whether men are or not.

But there is so much more to this wonderful statement of Jesus. To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:7.

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336 - Tough Words to Fathers and Children

February 10, 2016
In Colossians 3 the Lord confronts us with a checklist that deals with the proper attitudes we are to have in our most cherished relationships:  wife to husband and husband to wife, children to parents and fathers to children, and employers to employees and employees to their employers.

In this lesson we're going to look at some of the tough words the Lord has to say to both fathers and their children about their relationship both to Him and to each other. 

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. - Col. 3:20-21

To find out more, just keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 3:20-21.

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333 - Are You Chosen, Holy and Beloved?

January 24, 2016
There are three words that Paul uses to describe each of us: elect (or, chosen), holy and beloved. He uses these descriptive words in the first part of Colossians 3:12.

Therefore (based on the previous verses), as the elect (or, chosen, picked out, one selected) of God (or, by God), (defined as) holy (hagios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint, a most holy thing, its fundamental idea is separation and devotion to the service of God, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement) and beloved (agapao – to be dearly loved, esteemed, to delight in).

Does this describe you? Do you see yourself as chosen by God, holy in His sight, and beloved above all? I sure hope so. But if not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 3:12.

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330 - “Will You Meet With Me?” - God

November 29, 2015
Our lives are busy, incredibly busy.  But the One who gets slighted when we fail at proper time management is usually the Lord.  Think about it.

We schedule a time with Him and stay up too late the night before and oversleep.  Who gets slighted?  Who gets stood up?  Our boss?  Nope.  Our friends?  No way.  Our spouse?  Not on your life. Then who?  The Lord.  The very One we say we love more than anyone.  How can that be?

Probably because we don't enjoy our time with Him as much as we enjoy our time with our spouse or friend.  That's why we choose them over Him.  And probably we don't respect Him as much as we do our boss.  That's why we choose pleasing our boss more than pleasing our Lord.

If any of this sounds familiar, there is a change that needs to take place.  And to find out more about that change, keep listening.

The following is a study on Devotional Bible Study and Prayer.

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