God’s harvest requires laborers, and God doesn’t have hired help; all of His workers are volunteers.
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Today, we are starting a new series, “Seven Letters to Seven Churches.” In case readers haven’t figured it out yet, our new series will be about the 7 Letters Jesus Christ dispatched to the seven churches of Asia in the Book of Revelation.
FYI, for no other reason that I want to, this new series will run Monday and Friday, and the “Follow Me,” articles are going to Tuesday and Thursday.
Even though this is from the Book of Revelation, this will not be any type of study of Eschatology. I’m actually not the biggest student of that; maybe later in my Christian “career,” I will be, but I am not now. Don’t get me wrong; it’s very important that we study and try to understand every single word in the Bible. So, while I do like to study eschatology, I am far from ready to write an actual “study” about it.
Having said that, we are going to keep this simple. There is a Historicist view of the seven letters that suggest they were designed to represent 7 different periods of church history from the time John was inspired to write this book until the present. We aren’t actually going to look at them from that angle at all. I am not really a fan of that interpretation of these letters.
The letters seem very straight forward for the most part, and the vivid symbolism we see in much of Revelation is absent. We see here, seven letters dictated to the Apostle John by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be delivered to what were, at the time, seven real congregations in Asia Minor(present-day Turkey.) So, immediately we can see that there was an immediate application to reach churches in real time. Jesus was writing about very specific concerns He had with these churches.
Since every word in the Bible is ultimately intended to today’s audience(whenever today happens to be,) we are going to approach this from the standpoint of how we can apply the lessons in these letters to churches today. Because many, at different times, may have had these issues, or may in the future.
So, we will be keeping things simple for the next bit. I’m all about the application of God’s Word, and there is plenty of that in these letters to keep us busy for a bit.
If you want to read ahead, here is our full text for this study.
Introduction: Revelation Chapter 1
Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love
Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution
Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent
Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess
Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep
Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently
Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith
by Mark Clements
Monday, July 15
Be Careful Where You Place Your Trust
“Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation,” Judges 10:13, 14.
During the time of the judges in Israel’s history, idolatry was a very common occurrence. The people had no king to guide them, and they had neglected regular worship of Jehovah, so eventually, they gave in to the temptation of idolatry. The cost of forsaking God was high, as God used the surrounding nations to execute discipline on them. Once the people of Israel realized their error, that the nations from which they adopted their new gods were actually oppressive and brutal, they returned their gaze to God, begging Him for deliverance. God ultimately delivered them since He loved them, but before He did, He exposed the lunacy of their decision to reject Him and serve powerless idols. In today’s verses, Jehovah scolded His children, telling them to look to their new idols for deliverance. Of course, they had no answer except confession and repentance for their sins.
We might not be tempted to bow down to a graven image today, but we are affected by idolatry in the same destructive, albeit more sophisticated ways. Instead of looking to God for help, encouragement, healing or support, many times we are tempted to look for those things in worldly elements. We often look for immediate relief from pain or heartache by drugs, drink or distractions, while God has promised to be with us and provide a refuge of healing. Often, it is only when worldly elements stop working to relieve us that we seek God’s presence. Instead of forsaking God, may we constantly look to Him for direction and protection.
JUST A THOUGHT: Only God can satisfy.
by Mark Clements
Sunday, July 14
In Christ We Are a New Creation
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He encountered a curious Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was convinced that Jesus had come from God since it would have been impossible for anyone to do what Jesus did unless God was the One sending Him. The faith of Nicodemus was still developing, and since he did not want to be seen with Jesus as he sought answers to his questions, he visited Jesus at night. Before Nicodemus could even ask his first question, Jesus informed him of his need for rebirth, saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Of course, Nicodemus was confused by the statement, and Jesus went on to explain Himself, but He began with a powerful declaration of the new life God brings.
What Nicodemus had difficulty understanding was the nature of man from birth. His religious background had formed his worldview, namely, that man can make himself better by abiding by religious rules and doing good things. However, no amount of religious activity can rid a man of sin and sinful habits, which is why Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again. That is what God does through His Son. By faith in Jesus, God causes believers to be born again, making people who were spiritually dead, alive. Until a person is born again by the Holy Spirit, through faith in Jesus, he is unable to do anything spiritually beneficial for God, for others, or even for himself. Thankfully, in Christ, God removes what is old and He makes every believer new.
JUST A THOUGHT: To enjoy the new life, allow what is old to pass away.
The worst person in the world who repents and exercises faith in Jesus Christ gets to heaven faster than the best person in the world who does not.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
by Mark Clements
Saturday, July 13
A Puffed-Up Mind
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntaryhumility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,” Colossians 2:18.
Early Christians in Colossae faced multiple forms of false teaching from influential leaders who appeared to have supreme intelligence and spiritual experience. These false teachers attacked the simplicity of the believers’ faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, insisting that they were somehow disqualified from the true knowledge of God since their experiences did not match the leaders’ experiences. True believers in Jesus were being judged by religious Jews because they did not observe certain Jewish feasts or festivals. Paul reminded them that those Old Testament ceremonies pointed to Jesus, who came and provided the substance of the promises to which they pointed. Other false teachers had actually strayed from Jesus and were embracing a mystical, experiential cult, promoting a false humility and the worship of angels. Both of these groups were pressuring the believers to leave their foundation of Christ through prideful fleshly manipulation, and Paul encouraged them to resist them.
Daily, we are met with spiritual resistance. God’s enemies will use every tactic possible to knock us off balance, including manipulation, bullying and asserting their superiority because of supreme intelligence or experience. The gospel is simple enough for a child to grasp, but that does not mean it is inferior. It is the power of God and it reveals His righteousness (Romans 1:16, 17). We must actively resist manipulation from false teachers and stand firm on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, no matter how smart or manipulative false teachers might be. We are qualified by faith in Christ, therefore no human being can make us disqualified through their vain imagination or high intelligence.
JUST A THOUGHT: Christ qualifies you.