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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415 - The Curse of God’s Abandonment

August 24, 2017

There's a time when the Lord gives us what we want: freedom, autonomy, independence, and to have no authority over our lives but ourselves.  That's right.  God gives us over to our selfish, carnal attitudes and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins.  It's like He says, "Ok, you want to go your own way?  Have at it.  I'll be here when you come to your senses."  It's the story of the prodigal son played out in our lives in real time.

This is called the curse of God's abandonment.  It's when He removes His protecting grace from our lives and our nation and let's us see how we like life without Him.  And the results are catastrophic.

Samson, after having his hair cut by Delilah, woke up to confront his enemies still believing he had the same strength as before because his God was with him.  But that was not the case.  He said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!”  But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20).  Samson was experiencing the abandonment of God.

God Gave Them Up

In Romans 1 we see three examples of this very act of God's abandonment:

Therefore God also gave them up – Romans 1:24.

For this reason God gave them up – Romans 1:26.

God gave them over – Romans 1:28.

But who are the "them" in these verses?  The lost?  The unregenerate?  Those nations that reject truth and justice?  Yes.  But if you will study these verses closely you will find the object of God's curse of abandonment is also the church.  It includes His wayward believers.  It includes you and me.

Does this seem strange to you?  Maybe hard to believe?  Then I suggest you keep listening and find out the truth for yourself.  And remember, "judgment begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17).  Are you ready?

The following is a study on the Curse of the Abandonment of God.

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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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398 - When Our Blessings Become Curses

April 23, 2017

One of the greatest blessings the church has experienced has become its greatest curse.  And that is wealth.  Opulence.  The ability to run ahead of God rather than waiting on Him to provide what His church needs and when it needs it.  Then there’s the great blessing that comes with persecution that a wealthy church always views as a curse.  How did it become so upside down?

The early church understood the blessings that come with persecution.  Because they remembered the promise of Jesus when He preached His sermon on the mount where He said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

And later, Paul would tell his son Timothy that “Yes, and all who (condition) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (result) will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).  Do you see the condition and the result?  If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, which most Christians would say they do, then you will suffer persecution because of your godly life in Christ.  It’s a given.  A promise.

And the opposite of this promise is also true.  If you are not suffering persecution, then it stands to reason you do not desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.  Sobering, isn’t it?  This is not how the early church lived.  They embraced every opportunity to live godly in Christ, regardless of how they suffered.  Do you want to know more about people who love Jesus that way?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 4:1-35.

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366 - The Downside of Revival

October 3, 2016
Often we preach about the need for revival in the church and in our own lives.  We hold the virtues and blessings of revival up high, for all to see, yet fail to talk about the dark side of revival, the downside of totally surrendering to Him.

And that downside is satanic attack.

For the novice, this attack can be devastating because they are often ill-prepared to stand against it.  For the more mature believer, the attack is just another affirmation they are living as light and walking where the enemy dwells.

Do you know how to prepare for a spiritual attack?  Do you know how to stand when the day of evil comes (Eph. 6:13)?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Warfare.

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358 - Will You Face Persecution?

August 7, 2016
Consider these if / then passages:

"(then) Blessed are those (if) who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for (then) theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (then) Blessed are you (if) when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  (then) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for (then) great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:10-12).

Yes, and all who (if) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (then) will suffer persecution.  (2 Tim. 3:12).

Which leads us to ask a few questions:

Question:  Will you face persecution?
Answer:  That depends.
Question:  Depends on what?
Answer:  On how committed you are to live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12).

To find out more about persecution and the if / then passages, keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:10-12.

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331 - The Stuff Life Throws at Us

December 7, 2015
Sometimes, life throws us a curveball.  Scripture tells us to expect "trials and tribulations" (James 1:2) and even "persecutions" (2 Tim. 3:12)— but what seems to knock us down the hardest are the things we don't see coming, just the bad stuff that happens to fallen people living in a fallen world.  

All people, both good and bad, sometimes get cancer, lose their jobs, or suffer from broken relationships.  No one is promised an easy road this side of heaven.  Which, if you think about it, should make heaven more appealing.  But often it doesn’t.  Instead, we get overwhelmed and depressed by daily life.

Did you ever wonder why?   And have you ever wondered why your prayer life gets overwhelmed by the problems of life when it should be the other way around?  If so, this message is for you.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Prayer and Luke 18:1-8.

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318 - We Are Not Alone… Even if it Feels Like it.

August 10, 2015
Sometimes, when we look at how big the evil in the world is and how small we are in comparison, we tend to get defeated and depressed.  “After all,” we reason, “what can one man do?  I’m in this all alone.  The enemy is too big, too well funded, too powerful.  What can one man do?”

But we forget we are not alone.  We are part of the church, His church, the unified Body of Christ.  We are children of God. And, “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

We can’t look at us and the enemy with our own eyes, we must look at things from the eyes of our Lord.  And when we do, everything changes.

Want to find out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 2:1-3.

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317 - How to Rejoice in Suffering

August 2, 2015
When Paul says, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Col. 1:24), we scratch our heads and wonder how that could be?

How could a man, even the over-the-top Apostle Paul, actually rejoice in his sufferings?  Especially when we realize Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the church at Colossae.  How is that even possible?  

And what is there to rejoice about?  We, in our culture, rejoice when our suffering is over. Yet Paul rejoices in the midst of his suffering.

What can we learn from this?  Much.  So keep listening to find out more.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:24-29.

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314 - How to Exalt Jesus More Than Ourselves

July 27, 2015
To totally commit our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ is the first thing we must do to spiritually prepare for the coming persecution in this country.  And, as we said last week, the way to do that is found in the words of John the Baptist.  John said, when comparing his ministry with that of his Lord:

"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

The first statement, the "I must decrease" part is easy to understand yet difficult to apply.  But what about the second statement, the "He must increase" part?  What does that mean?  How can I, a mere mortal, make Jesus more than He already is?  Or, what can I give Him, who created everything, that He doesn't already possess?

Keep listening as we begin to answer this all-important question that will give us practical steps to total commitment.

The following is a study on Total Commitment.

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