Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry



What the Heck IS a Revival, Anyway?


As I pick up blogging where I sort of left off a few weeks back, I find myself not sure exactly where I feel led to take this thing. So, just bear with me while I make the trip. I really like the very straightforward devotional stuff, but also seem to have all this STUFF rambling around in my head that needs to get let out. I think I may start letting some of those things out, and see where they go.

A couple of weeks back at our church, we had, “Revival.” Yep, revival. Meaning we had this “thing,” where we meet for 5 weeknights in a row and listen to some guy from out of town hurl exhortation at us until he turns purple. Then, we go back to business as normal. That’s what it’s all about eh?

Of course, it is not! But, then what is it all about? I have about a billion thoughts in my head on it and want to just sort of toss some of them out over the next bit if readers don’t mind.

I do know that this year, we took a different approach to the whole thing because we(some of us, anyway) actually recognize that what we have done for literally decades has accomplished….a big fat nothing. We did some neat stuff, and I think we may actually see some change this time.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome thoughts from you out there on the topic. What have you seen? What does it mean to you? Is it needed? Is the idea even Biblical. It’s all fair game, so have at it if you wish.




Daily Devotion-September 11, 2015-The Elijah Factor or How 1 Man Made a Difference-Time For a Showdown

1 Kings 18:22-25

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire underAnd call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.

It’s finally time for the big showdown! I use the term showdown very loosely, as we all know there was never really a showdown, don’t we? We know it, and Elijah knew it. Of course, Got knew it as well. The end was decided, and only Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel had any doubts about who was going the be the victor here.

Elijah was ready. He had been shaped and formed over the course of three years and was fully prepared and willing to engage in this contest with the King, the prophets, and the idolatrous people. He even made it clear just how ready he was when he said to the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Of course, he knew that was not true, as he was sell aware of the 100 prophets of God Obadiah had hidden away in caves. It seems that what we have here is a little hyperbole simply for illustrative purposes. What did this illustrate? it pretty clearly lays the ground work, that God doesn’t need large numbers to accomplish His work. God and one person is more powerful than all of the opposition that can be mustered.

Elijah goes even further to illustrate the point the God will prevail in this seemingly uneven contest. Put no fire under is used three times in this particular section of our story, and it seem notable. Being the god of weather and the storms also meant that one aspect of Baal was that of being the god of lighting. Surely the god of lightning could send fire from heaven to burn the sacrifice, right?

Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. Elijah made the contest yet further skewed towards his opposition, granting to the prophets of Baal not only the chance to go first in the contest, but to take all the time they needed to get their god to cooperate.

The rules have been established, the preparations made, and the “contest” is about to begin.

What do we see quite clearly here? Confidence is what see here. Elijah knew the outcome in advance, because he knew who was producing the outcome. He was more than willing to stack the deck against Himself, because he knew it did not matter. He had spent three long years talking with God, learning from God, and being prepared by God for just this very moment. Elijah KNEW. Not only did Elijah know, but he wanted the people of Israel to see clearly just who the true God was.

Are we that confident? We know the end of the story as well; God has told us what the end is, and God wins. We can know that just as confidentially as Elijah did as he went head to head with God’s enemys and also proclaimed God’s truth to those willing to listen. Today, in our nation, those two groups still exists: those who hate God and seek to destroy him, and those who are honestly seeking and willing to listen.

Are we ready for our mount Carmel?

Daily Devotion-September 2, 2015-The Elijah Factor Or How 1 Man Made a Difference-The Prophet Speaks To the Nation

1 Kings 18:20,21

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

Read all of 1 Kings Chapter 18 here

Well, there every body was, assembled on mount Carmel: Elijah, Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel. Elijah had a message for all of them, but first and foremost, he had a message for the people of Israel who had turned their backs on God and fallen into idolatry.

Elijah presented the people with a very clear choice and question. Today, will you serve God, or will you serve Baal? He said they were halt between two opinions; they were limping between loyalty to the one True God and the idols they were serving, not committing fully to either one. Elijah presented them a clear choice: serve God, or serve Baal.

What was the answer of the people? Complete silence; the people answered him not a word. Elijah asked a simple question, and not a person said a word in return. Why was this so? Maybe they were guilty; here we see a case of guilt shutting people up:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Maybe they just didn’t know which way they planned to turn,  Perhaps they literally awaited the results of this contest to see which god was truly the more powerful. It really doesn’t matter why they didn’t speak, as the end result was the same.

They were limping back and forth between serving the God of Israel and the various gods of the day, particularly Baal. They wanted it both ways. They may have called themselves believers and children of  God in name, but had allegiance to neither totally. Later in God’s Word, James would cover this same issue when he told us:

James:1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

We have been considering revival in our land as we work our way through the story of Elijah, and we have made many comparisons between the land in that day our our land today; let us make some more. There we had a nation wallowing in and accepting sin; we have that today in our country. There we had an almost wholesale rejection of the things and people of God; we have that today in our country. There we had a country being led astray by ungodly leaders and examples; we have that today in our country.

Finally, we see in Israel people who did not want to choose; they wanted it both ways. Do we see that today? How many people in our nation today, if asked, would refer to themselves as Christian? Even today, the majority would identify themselves exactly as such. Yet, how many of these if OTHER people were asked, would be identified as Christians? Do we identify ourselves as Christian or are we KNOWN as Christian? Are we limping back and forth between worshiping Jesus Christ and our idols? Wait! You say, I don’t worship idols? Are we sure?

Of course most of us don’t head up on a mountain to worship Baal, or down the the groves to worship Asherah; our idols are different today. Nonetheless, they are there. What are our idols today? Well, if we classify an idol as anything we place in a place of higher importance in our lives than Jesus Christ, they are many! Money, jobs, our sinful lifestyles, sports, and our “stuff” are all things we place higher on our priority list than God. We, also, limp back and forth, thinking we can call ourselves Christian while keeping our toes in the pool of the world. We think we can call ourselves Christian, yet find ways to support and accommodate things clearly counter and in conflict with God’s Word: sexual sin of all varieties, the watering down of God’s Word to make it appealing, the teaching that Faith exists to improve our lives and make us wealthy and healthy; these are all things we limp back and forth between.

Do we want our nation to become revived? Then, we have to ask ourselves the same question that Elijah asked the children of Israel. Who will we serve today: The Lord or Baal?

Daily Devotion-September 8, 2015-The Elijah Factor Or 1 Man Who Made a Difference-The Gauntlet is Thrown Down!

1 Kings 18:19,20

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.

Read all of 1 Kings 18 here

This is somewhat mistitled, to tell the truth. In reality, this gauntlet had been thrown down three years before when Elijah was first called to prophesy that drought would seize the land. As we, discussed way back when, early in this series, the use of drought as a judgment was very intentional and pointed on The Lord’s part. One of Baal’s supposed roles was as the god of the storms. Baal was the subject of his worshipers concerning weather related issues. One of the main purposes of a drought specifically was to show who was really in charge around these parts!

As we will see later, this contest was to be set up in such a way as to further specifically illustrate just who the True God really was. The role of Baal as the god of storms, and the god of lightning and fire from the sky specifically would play a key role.

Let’s take a quick step back to our previous devotion before we continue. Remember how when Ahab and Elijah met that Ahab immediately blamed Elijah for his trouble? This challenge from Elijah was the answer. Elijah did not defend himself, he did not defend God. He simply focused ON God and on the person he was dealing with. That’s a good lesson for any of us.

Now Elijah makes his invitations. Who was invited? King Ahab of course. Also invited were the 450 prophets of Baal, Jezebel, and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah. (Note the lack of mention later of Jezebel and her prophets. I seems they declined the invitation!)

The first invitation seem the most notable, as Elijah invited all Israel to come to this showdown. Now, it’s not likely that every person in Israel was literally invited or instructed to be on Mount Carmel; likely it was a representation of the 12 tribes to hear and see what was about to occur.

Why Israel? Wasn’t the big showdown between Elijah, and Ahab and Jezebel? Wasn’t Ahab the problem? Not at all. Of course, as King, the people would tend to follow him, particularly in that day where the King’s power was absolute. But, then, as today, the people had free will; they had the ability to choose a different path than they did.

That hasn’t changed a bit. Even today, our leaders are not responsible for the choices what we, the people, make. It seems like we spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of, and praying for the restoration of, Godly men and women in leadership in this country. We should, as in fact we are commanded to pray for our leaders. But if every man and woman in office in this country was a staunch, Bible believing Christian, would anything really change? I say not a bit. Revival doesn’t start from the top and work its way down; Revival starts from the heart of one individual and works its way up.

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 7

This week, we will close out our recap on the series on Revival and the Seven Churches of Asia with our devotionals on the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, the two churches that seemed to be revived and thriving. As last weeks was rather short, this one will be somewhat longer.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 2 here

The Church at Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-10

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Smyrna, a Church Under Fire

Note right away the very short nature of this particular letter. Jesus had nothing bad to say about this church. He merely had some commendation to pass along to Smyrna, as well as a warning later in the letter. He had a warning, not an admonition. In fact, only Smyrna and Philadelphia escaped without any words of critique from our Lord.

During the course of study, I read several commentators who referred to Smyrna as the “suffering church,” because apparently things were not easy for them. It seems the church at Smyrna faced trouble from two directions.

It needs to be noted that the city of Smyrna was somewhat of a leading center for the Roman practice of Emperor worship, with the Emperor of the day being Domitian. Of course, the Christian community was more than willing to obey and support the civil laws and government of the time. On the other hand, they were unwilling to extend worship to the Roman Emperor and offer sacrifices to him.

Not only was the church at Smyrna being persecuted at the hands of the Roman government itself, but they faced it as a result of the actions of the local Jewish community, which was quite large. At the time, the Jews enjoyed the protection of the Roman government, and they were not required to participate in worship or sacrifices to the Emperor. They were, however, very quick to hurl accusations at the Christian community. Jesus said, I know the blasphemy of them, indicating that He well knew the lies the local Jews were spreading about the Christians. Because they seemed to have conspired and planned out these lies in an intentional effort to erase the local Christians, Jesus referred to these Jews as the synagogue of Satan! The lies were many, ranging from cannibalism, to immorality, and oddly enough they were even accused of being atheists for not believing in the assortment of Roman Gods

The important part here is to understand why this church was undergoing persecution. Obviously, they were doing the right things; they were putting themselves out in the world clearly and definitively as what they were, and that was Christians. They were different than the world around them. As throughout the history of the church, anytime Christians do what they should and live as they should, persecution and troubles arise.

If the life our our churches is trouble free and easy, with no one questioning us or rising in opposition to us? We might be in need of revival.

A Warning for Smyrna

We have seen  that this church has already suffered substantially for their faith; in fact, they had gotten a double dose of persecution. They were being persecuted by the Roman government for staying true to the Faith, as well as some claiming to be among God’s chosen people, the Jews. Life had not been easy thus far for the church at Smyrna.

Jesus did not have an admonition, or negative words for this church; He did, however have a very solemn and honest warning. Unfortunately, more and possibly worse was to come.

What is coming? Well, more tribulation is coming. Our passage teaches us that some will be jailed, and tried, possibly for exercising their faith. Let’s talk quickly about this period of ten days . Some assign very symbolic meaning to this in terms of it representing perhaps ten phases of persecution under the Romans yet to come; some say it could represent some undermined amount of time, perhaps even ten years; others say it literally means ten days.  There is some credence to the idea that in other places, ten days was simply a “short time.”, signifying that this persecution would be intense yet short lived. Who knows, really?

We can absolutely conclude, however, that more was coming for these believers.  God has told them it is coming; but more importantly, He has basically told them, “Do not be afraid!” They need not fear this upcoming persecution, because what awaits them in Heaven with their Savior someday is far more wonderful than anything they face here could be bad. They will receive “The crown of life.” Note the similar reference to this crown in James 1:12. Just a quick note; there is nothing in this passage which would cause us to teach that the Crown of Life represents a gift of Salvation. In other words, this church is not being taught that if they persevere through the trials they would be rewarded with eternal life. This gift is only for those who have accepted God’s gracious gift of salvation, and will then be rewarded for their perseverance, which they are capable of because of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

What’s the application for our discussion on revival here anyway? Seems an odd connection, really. Here is what I saw.

If we do what we are supposed to be doing in our world and our communities, we will suffer. If we are living live on easy street, then we may need reviving.

If we do what we are supposed to do, then God will take are of us, protect us, and ultimately reward us.

So. let’s get busy. God told Smyrna they could handle it, and He is telling us that as well.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

The Church at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, A Revived Church

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Everybody knows that, right? The name literally means “love of the brethren,” and is simply two Greek root words combined. It comes from the word pheleo, “to love” and adelphos, “brother.” The city has borne several names throughout history, but we know it as Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, much like it’s namesake right here in the United States.  Just a small tidbit of history here might be fun to note; the name of the city actually never had any roots in The Bible whatsoever. It actually comes from the story of King Attalus II whose brother, Eumemes was the King of nearby Pergamum. The love and loyalty Attalus had for his brother was so great and well known that the city was named in honor of that great love. Not necessarily relevant to our discussion, but very interesting nonetheless.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, much like the church at Smyrna, had no negative words to say to the believers in Philadelphia whatsoever. I have read of this church being referred to as “The Faithful Church,” and “The Revived Church.” Just because it seems to fit, we are going to consider Philadelphia as The Revived Church.

I think we will spend some time discussing the many things this church was doing right over the course of the next few days. Ironically, the little we know about the church in Philadelphia comes from only this very short passage in God’s Word;, yet the words of praise Jesus had for this church could fill a book if expanded on fully. So, for the next few days, we will do a little filling.

Who’s In Charge Here?

What keeps a church in a revived state? That almost sounds like an oxymoron I know, as the stay in a revived state implies that one never needed reviving, but it’s the best way I could think of to ask it! But as much as anything, focus on one thing might be just the thing which keeps us in the state our Lord wishes us to be in. The state of being, not necessarily “re” vived, but simply alive and well in the first place.

This might be a little stretch with the text we are talking about, but I don’t really think so. It has to to with our focus, and our text clearly explains some things about what our focus as a church should be, and why. So, the title question remains: Who is in charge here?

Jesus Himself proclaimed Himself, when delivering these letters to the churches, and specifically the one we are addressing, to be holy. Who is holy? Well, only God is holy. One could construe this as Jesus stating quite clearly that He is also God. Being God certainly provides some credentials, some bona fides, if you will, as to His authority over the church He is addressing. He referred to Himself as he that is true. He is pointing out that He, and not any of the pantheon of false gods worshiped at the time this letter was written, is the one and True God of the universe. Again, impressive credentials for one establishing His authority over the church being addressed. He possesses the key of David. In this context, possession of a key clearly establishes authority. It is no accident that those in charge of some establishments are referred to as “key carriers.” Along with keys come authority; this is ultimate authority in fact. Authority for what? We may ask. Perhaps the door to the Kingdom? No one can enter the Kingdom unless the door is opened by Jesus Himself, and no one can be shut out from the Kingdom except by Jesus Christ Himself. Again, powerful credentials!

Colossians 1:17,18 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

So who, or what, is the head our our churches? If it’s anything other than Jesus Christ who possesses the ultimate authority which was handed to Him by God the Father, we might be in need of revival.

A Faithful Church

We are still talking about the church at Philadelphia today. As we have talked about over the last couple of days, this church was already revived, or had never had need for revival in the first place. I have also heard Philadelphia referred to as the faithful church.

First things first. Jesus Christ knows the works of our churches. We may have the most beautiful building, the biggest flashiest auditorium, and the most people; however, Jesus Christ knows the real story behind the scenes so to speak. He knew that with this church, and we know that because He told them in the letter He sent them. He knows our churches as well.

This church had only a little strength. This was in no way anything negative being said about this church. In fact, when we read on we see that this reference to their apparent lack of strength was in fact a great compliment regarding the reality of their actual great strength!

We don’t really know exactly what the problem was which caused Jesus to refer to them as having only a little strength, but we all know some things which might cause us to  think that about a church we know, or even our own church. Perhaps it was small unimpressive numbers of members; perhaps they did not have a great place or fancy home to meet in; perhaps their members came from the poorer, most unfortunate sections of town. We don’t know exactly what the issue was, but we do know that, on the surface, they may have appeared to not be very strong.

We all know God had some things to say about our position of strength in Him when we ourselves are weak as we all know how Paul concluded his noted writing on his thorn in the flesh, and the conclusion he reached:

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

So, while this church was perhaps poor, small, and weak on the outside, according to our Lord, their works were strong and powerful. What was happening here? Well, later in the passage some specifics are talked about, but some we can assume. What can we assume? Certainly people were being saved, lives transformed, and the Gospel was being preached!

Are we in a place serving which seems small and of little note? Don’t be discouraged, as later we will see that Jesus made some wonderful promises to this church; these are promises he has in fact made to all of his churches which remain faithful and true to His Word and in His works.

God’s Promises to a Faithful Church

Yesterday we talked about how this church at Philadelphia may have seemed small and weak by the standards of the world around them, but how the truth was that Jesus considered them to be of great strength. Over the next day or several, we are going to talk about some of the promises God has made this church because of their faithfulness.

The first thing we see guaranteed to this church is that Jesus has set an open door before them, and no man can shut it. Previously we talked about Jesus as the one with the keys, and the fact that the keys clearly symbolize authority.

What is the open door set before this church that no man can shut? Well, there are a couple of possibilities we can see here, I think. It seems that at least on the surface, that what we see is the guarantee of security in the grace of God through Jesus Christ to the saved believers in this church.  In other words, because of their status as redeemed of God, their salvation and entrance forever into the Kingdom of Heaven is promised and secure.

There is also something deeper here, having to do with things of importance right here on, this earth, in this life. Has anybody ever prayed for God to “open a door?” I think most have, it is common for many to ask The Lord to open one door and shut another, as a way to share with us what His will in a particular situation is.

So, then, what might be the door that is being opened here? The door for additional and greater service to Him of course! I have heard it said that the biggest thing we can offer God is not our ability, but our availability. Many of us dream of doing what we would call “great things” for God, and He certainly gives some the chance for that. But perhaps He also wants us to show we are willing are willing to do the small things.

Are you in a church that seems small and without much strength or power? Does it get discouraging because other churches seem more vibrant and growing? Do you dream of God doing great things in the local assembly you are part of? Perhaps He has great things planned for you, but also perhaps He just wants to see us become willing to tackle the small stuff too.

God’s Promise for Protection

As I said earlier, we are going to spend a little time talking about this church in Philadelphia. Because not only are we talking about what our churches are doing wrong these days, but when we can we will find good examples to follow as well. Philadelphia certainly provides a good example which we could all be following. They were a likely small, poor church, and yet had remained faithful and true to God’s Word and God’s work. In effect, they were  a church in revival. Because of this, God had made them some promises; He makes those same promises to us today.

Again, we see this reference to those which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;. Obviously this church, like Smyrna, was facing a similar tribulation in that they were being persecuted by those who themselves were claiming to be children of God. Again we see this reference to the Synagogue of Satan. Who were these people? I’d love to hear some views on this, as there are a couple of ways we could look at this. One thought I found that I rather liked was the idea that because of their rejection of Jesus, that He Himself regarded them as no longer being true Israel. One commenter from earlier made the point that maybe they weren’t really Jews at all, but trouble making out of towners  basically come to give the Christians grief. Interesting discussion if anybody wants to have it.

Regardless of who was causing the trouble, the point really is that somebody was. This church was doing the right things and not having and easy time of it as a result. God’s promise was a long term proposition; note that He did not promise them relief from their troubles, nor did he offer them protection in the sense that we would consider it. His promise was in the future, and it was of an eternal nature. Some day, God Himself will deal with people like that, and then all will know why; all will come to know those who stay true are being rewarded, and those who do not, or reject him, will be dealt with also.

God’s word has quite a lot to say about how He will deal with the enemies of His churches, and many involve footstools. Let’s take a look.

Psalm 110:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

That particular passage obviously means something, because it was given much mileage later in Scripture. I would venture to say it’s repeated use would be a clue this is a promise for us today.

Matthew 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Luke 20:42,43 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Acts 2:24 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Then, of course, we see the same promise repeated to this faithful church in Philadelphia. God’s promises to us are sure, and this one seems extra sure as God seems to have offered the assurance of repeating it, as if to say, “Got that?”

If we do the right things, we won’t be treated right. If we preach God’s Word as it is written, and do God’s work as it is commanded, we won’t have it easy. The Jews in question were just an example to us; ours will be different. The point is, if we do as we should, we will get grief from somewhere. There are two ways to avoid this:

Don’t preach God’s Word

Don’t do God’s work

But, if we do what we should, troubles will come. God, however has promised us protection from that. He guarantees it.

More Promises From God

We have been talking about the church at Philadelphia, who we have referred to as the faithful church, or the revived church. As we have covered, Jesus had nothing but words of praise and commendation for this assembly of believers. We have been using them as an example of what a church in a living, vibrant state looks like. This is what our churches should look like.

God has made some promises to this church, and we are working our way through them. These folks have been faithful with a little, and now God is blessing then with a lot.  He has promised them additional opportunities to serve, and protection for them if they do that. Now we see a promise to protect them from the hour of temptation.

Well here, we go, because this is a controversy just waiting to happen. Fortunately, we aren’t going to have it!  It seem fairly clear that what is being referred to here is not just some local pot of trouble that these people will find themselves in, but a larger spot of trouble, involving more than just them. We see this because this is referred to as the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Here, we are seeing a trouble which will seemingly affect everyone. So, what exactly is coming?

Therein lies the controversy. It’s possible this could be referring to some coming systematic persecution by the Romans; in that day that would have certainly fit how “the world” was considered. It could also be something much bigger, involving literally the entire world, What we may be seeing here is the idea that the believers, and others, will escape the wrath of the coming Great Tribulation prophesied in Daniel. In other words, many see this as evidence of a pre tribulational rapture of the church. Others see this as evidence that, even though they think the church will be present during the Great Tribulation, that she will be protected and preserved during it.

So, again, readers feel free to come on board and talk about this, but as always be nice. This is one of those things we can diverge on and nobody is a heretic okay? Just for the record, I am a pre tribulational rapture kind of fellow.

But the point is not a debate about the end times; the point is God’s promises. Earlier we saw God had promised to protect this church from the local issues they were facing. This promise just expands on that. As a reward for their faithful keeping of God’s Word and performance of God’s work, this church will also be protected from much larger things.

We will be also. Got that? In our churches we need to stop fearing the world around us. God’s Word and God’s work has not changed; it is us who has changed. One of the main reasons we have changed is fear of the world and desire to fit in that world. We need to stop that, as God has clearly promised that if we do the right things, He will protect us.

Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 6

This week’s recap of our daily devotionals is going to be quite short. We are only talking about the church at Thyratira and this only covered two days.

Revelation 2_19-21

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 2

Thyratira-A Commendation

When we began looking at the seven churches of Asia, we were just going to look at the ones specifically told to repent;however, we are going to keep going. Today we will begin a look at the church at Thyratira, which was also a struggling church. Then we will take a final quick look at the two churches Jesus seemed the most pleased with.

Even though this church had its issues, which we will discuss later; they were also doing some things well. In addition, they seemed to be improving and growing in their work for the Lord. So, what was going well in this church?

This church had love(charity). This seems the opposite of the previously mentioned church at Ephesus, where they had lost their first love. The first commendation for love in these letters was given to this church. What we see her is a love for God and for one another. That’s a great place to start, since Jesus did tell us that love is the greatest commandment.

This church was faithful in it’s service and patience. Because of their love, they were likely intent on service and meeting the needs of others. Furthermore, this patience had produced a church that persevered in its service and works.

The final part of the commendation to this church is interesting. Many of the churches seemed to be slipping backwards, or in the wrong direction. Note this: and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.  This church was certainly not backsliding; they were growing stronger in fact. Their love was probably going stronger, along with their faithful, persistent service. In other words, this church was growing more mature in its Christian walk, and was increasing its efforts to spread and foster the Kingdom of God.

They were not without blame, however, as we will see in tomorrow’s devotional. Like most churches, even good ones, Thyratira had its issues.

Are we in a church where overall things are going well, but yet there are pockets of issues which are ignored or overlooked? We might need revival.

The Church That Tolerated Sin

 As we previously discussed yesterday, there were some good things going in in the church at Thyratira. They were growing and maturing spiritually, and were certainly doing more than just putting on a front or going through the motions. There were real, God pleasing things going on there. However, all was not well there either.

Do we all remember Jezebel? She is the idolatrous queen who enticed Israel to begin worshiping Baal during the reign of King Ahab. In modern terms, she would be an idolatrous false teacher. So, here we have a church on one hand growing in love and maturity, yet on the other hand being very tolerant of a false teacher.

Along with the false teaching, there was apparently some fairly rampant immorality going on here, perhaps being taught and even encouraged by the false teaching. This is rather like the “Doctrine of Balaam,” which enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and idol worship in the church at Pergamos we discussed earlier.

Not only were the people hear tolerating sin and false teaching, but may have been quite proud and refusing to repent. In verse 21 on our passage we see, And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 

Not everyone was guilty of that, we have already shown the many were faithfully doing the right thing in this church. Jesus, in the verses that follow, is very clear of His concern for this situation and what He plans to do about it if change does not occur.

Revelation 2:22,23 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Why such great concern? After all, this church was certainly doing some things very right; Jesus said so after all. The problem is, sin and false teachings in a church are like cancers. If they are not taken out and treated immediately, they will spread and kill the entire body. If allowed to spread, they quickly reach a point where the patient can no longer be saved.

Are there those we are know are false teachers being allowed to openly exist in our churches, but yet we do nothing? Is there much “secret” sin among our members with no efforts at correction or restoration? We might be in need of revival.

Let’s Talk Revival!!!! Part 5

Our Saturday devotional recap this morning will be the Daily Devotions concerning Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

Revelation 3:14-20

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

A Lukewarm Church

Again, we see very serious concerns here on the part of Jesus toward this church, In fact, He had no commendation for this church, but launched directly into corrective measures. He uses an analogy to express this which the readers would have gotten immediately, as he did with each of the letters to the churches. Apparently the Laodicean water supply traveled through an underground aqueduct to bring water from Colosse. It started there as clear cold water, and would arrive in Laodicea tepid and lukewarm. Also considered was water from the hot springs in Hieropolis, which was so hot it steamed, but if brought to Laodicea again would be tepid and lukewarm. For those readers who are either soda or coffee drinkers, how do you prefer those drinks? Most of us like our sodas ice cold, and our coffee piping hot. For either to be lukewarm would, literally make us want to spew them out or our mouths over the distaste they would produce.

When Jesus said to this church, I know thy works, He was not in this case referring to good works, but evil works. Another important thing to note is that Laodicea was a wealthy city, being a center of banking and finance in Asia. This church was likely far from a poor church. In fact, Jesus alludes to that, saying, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;. But yet, Jesus clearly felt differently, as he pointed out many failings in this church.

In our country, and in our time, it almost seems that the church at Laodicea represents many of the things which are not right with our churches today. Are we basically fat and happy, thinking that we have reached the pinnacle of “churchianity?” Are we satisfied with where we are and what we are doing? Do we think we have attained Christian “success” to the point where we think we have accomplished something? Have we done these things while excluding Jesus Himself from our churches?

Our travels through the seven letters to the churches of Asia have been very cursory, and just an overview. Over the course of the next few days, we are going to really explore and analyze some of the issues facing this church, and see how they are applicable to many of our churches today.

Heart Temperatures

In yesterday’s devotion we discussed how the lukewarm state of the church at Laodicea was displeasing to Jesus, so much so that the distaste was such as to cause him to literally spew, or vomit them out of His mouth. That is kind of like a soda or coffee, which should be ice cold or piping hot respectively. Either of those drinks in a lukewarm state would be met with distaste, so much so that we might be inclined to spit them out of our mouths.

The Bible does describe to us that our hearts can be in somewhat the same conditions as a cup of liquid we might drink. As Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaeus and He revealed himself to them for who he really was, they said the following

Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

These two immediately went to find the other disciples and share the exciting news about what had happened to them. Their hearts at that point were on fire!

Our hearts can also be cold to the things of God. As false teachers arrive, we see this clearly in the following passage:

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

These are hearts which have become cold

And of course, we see the lukewarm hearts of the believers in the Laodicean church.

Why had they become lukewarm? Here is a passage which details why this church had likely become lukewarm:

Revalation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;………..

There it is. This church had it all, and they, in their minds, had need of nothing. A lukewarm Christian is complacent, comfortable, and simply does not realize his or her need. This church was tepid and stale, just like a barely warm cup of coffee that has been sitting on a counter all day.

What does a tepid cup of coffee need? it needs refreshing; it need an infusion of fresh, hot coffee to bring it back to life and acceptability. When a church has become comfortable, complacent, and blind to their own needs, they might be in need of revival.

More On Temperatures

In the previous devotion we talked briefly about what the Bible says about hot, cold and lukewarm Christians. Today, we are going to cover it just a bit more, then we will move on.

Being lukewarm is the issue here. This church was not hot, nor was it cold; It was lukewarm. Because of this, The Lord was going to basically vomit this church from His mouth. Churches may make our Lord feel many things. Some may make him angry, some happy, some sad, some disappointed, and so forth. This church at Laodicea made Him sick!

What then, is the difference between hot, cold and lukewarm in terms of the hearts of people? Hot is easy. Hot believers are those who are on fire for the things of Faith. Those who desire to worship, study, witness to the lost, and whatever they may be called to do. These would be the people who show the excitement in their actions of a transformed life

Cold people, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. These are those who simply reject The Lord. The offer of salvation holds no interest for them; God holds no interest for them. They may even be overtly hostile to the idea of God.

Lukewarm people are those professing belief, but are in fact hypocrites. LIke the Pharisees, lukewarm Christians have only an empty faith, devoid of anything other than the trappings of faith. Perhaps a nice building, a nice sound system, lots of people attending church, or any of a myriad of other things.

So, what is the danger of being lukewarm? Hot believers don’t need to be reached, as they are quite obviously part of the family. Cold people can be reached, as it is at least remotely possible to show them their need for God. The problem with lukewarm people is: They think they are ok! The hardest person to reach in the world is the lost person sitting beside you in Church.

So, that is the basic problem with this church. They thought their “stuff” made them a church pleasing to God.

If we think our “stuff”, our programs, our numbers, or any outward signs of Christian success is what makes us pleasing to God, we might need revival.

The Invitation

This particular Scripture verse is often used in the context of an invitation. Preachers often use it as an example of Jesus’ invitation to the lost sinner to come to salvation. I don’t rule out that it has that application, but the reach of it is likely far broader than that.

This will be an extremely un dogmatic devotion. In fact, I may ask more questions than I answer during the course of it, and I hope readers will chime in with their thoughts. As always, be nice. We can disagree and go round and round about the meaning here, and nobody becomes a heretic, okay? Thanks!

So, some things do seem evident. This is a church with serious problems, as Jesus’ critique of them has been quite harsh. It has been the worst of any of the seven churches thus far. Jesus’ own words seem to indicate He is outside this church in some fashion. Why? Who exactly is Jesus talking to?

Is this a church of saved believers who have simply backslid to the point where one would never know? Maybe. Jesus did say As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. In other places in Scripture we see Jesus chastening believers as his children. In fact, references are made that a lack of chastisement means we are not children of His. On the other hand, some commenters make a case that the terminology in our passage, rebuke(reprove in some translation), is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of lost sinners. Honestly, I am okay either way, to tell the truth.

One writer thinks the use of the phrase any man indicates that this is a church full of lost people under the delusion that they are saved. Could any man be the idea that Jesus only needs one saved person in that church in order to start a work?

Regardless of how we look at the soul situation of the people in this church, Jesus’ promises to them are ironclad and available if they simply repent and either come to Him, or repent and return to Him. See the last part of our verse: I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  That speaks of the joy and fellowship that any individual, and any church can experience with God, if they only allow Him in.

To sum up, it matters greatly that Jesus implies he is at the door of this church knocking to get in. If Jesus is not in our church, but is outside seeking entrance, then we might need a revival.

Revived? Or Not?

Well, as I stated a little over a week ago, I was planning on being absent for a bit while we had our annual Revival at my church. I must say, I am glad I took the time off, because I know now that focusing on that, and that alone, was what The Lord preferred that I do.

It’s over now. That is, the event we call revival is over. Of course, we will have one next year, just as we always do. Heck if somebody gets really fired up, we might even have TWO revivals! The event has ended, but has the Revival? Maybe the question is; Has the Revival even begun? What happened during the last week? Where are we going with what happened? Did anything actually happen? As you can see, my mind is simply bubbling with thoughts that even to me seem to make little organized sense. Since I fancy myself a writer, writing them down and tossing them out seems to be a proper response. Please bear with me if they are somewhat disjointed and disorganized.

First things first. Any week when I get to go to God’s House for worship and fellowship seven times in one week is just a good week. I love the local church, and truly believe that is where God primarily would have me to be to worship Him. The location is irrelevant, but God clearly desires that we gather in local, called out assemblies of believers to worship Him and perform His works. Now, that is from God’s standpoint. From my stand point, things just get better. I clearly understand church is not about me, but the God who loves me so much has made it so that I am blessed and filled with joy by it. That is just very cool. What’s it in for me?

I get to learn about God and HIs Word.

I get to be with the people of God who I love dearly.

I get my focus back on God instead of the world

I get to pray for others and they pray for me. There is power in corporate prayer, I believe.

I get to sing. Singing God’s praises in song is awesome, but even more so with a multitude of voices lifted up together.

I get to hear God’s Word preached. I am convicted regarding the things I need to do, and I learn how to get them done. I am exhorted, commanded, and encouraged in the direction I need to go.

The music, ah, the music. I already mentioned I love the music. Call me old fashioned, but next to prayer, picking up an old time Hymn book and singing together about things pulled directly from God’s Word is uplifting and edifying in ways that simply cannot be expressed. I love to hear others sing. Some of the individual special music touches like nothing else. I must add, we have the best music director on the planet. If a person pays any attention to what they are singing, they will quickly see that what we sing are not just random assortments of songs she likes, but they always have a point, a theme, and a message. You could almost say we get two sermons for the price of one. One is in song, and the other is in spoken words.

The message, or the point of the whole thing. The powerful, true, convicting presentation of God’s Word. This weeks messages were all preached from 1 Kings and relayed the story of the Prophet Elijah from his calling by God up until his confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. The message was entitled. “The Elijah Factor, How One Man Made a Difference.” If any readers have not really read the story, I strongly encourage you to do so. We see one man, living in an unGodly nation. We see one man called by God for a mission. We see one man who answered that call, willing to move forward in the face of daunting odds and great opposition. Over the next little bit, in our morning devotionals, we will explore this great story in some detail.

Okay. We had an event called Revival. Big deal. Now that the event is over, is the Revival over? Well, earlier in our series on this topic, I made it clear that Revival is NOT just an event; it is NOT just a thing we do once a year, or maybe twice if we get really excited. To be revived is a lifestyle, not a happening. Now that the happening is over, will we take what we heard and become changed? Or Monday morning will we be be the same as we were last Monday when we walked into the church building? Let’s take a look at some things quickly:

We live in a Godless nation, filled with sin and transgression of every sort.

We face opposition from the Godless, often it is heated and hateful.

We all have been called to stand, and to take a stand. Not all will answer, but we have all been called.

One man, one woman, one family, or one church can make a difference

What are you doing next week? Next month? Till the day you draw your last breath?

Let’s Talk Revival!! Part 3

Good Saturday morning readers! It’s good to be back in the blogging saddle after a week off. We are continuing to recap on Saturdays our Daily Devotions which for now and the undetermined future will be about Revival

Indwelt But Not Filled?

Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

We have covered some ground in our discussion of revival and the need for revival in the New Testament churches. We have truly had some fascinating discussions, and I hope they continue. What conclusions have we reached? Let’s sum up quickly.

The need for revival in the Old Testament time was constant in the sense of habitual falling away, repentance, and restoration. This seemingly in large part was because the Holy Spirit was not permanently in either the Israelites or individual believers.

We have concluded that at on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given once and for all to the church and at some subsequent point all believers began to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit upon their salvation. Seemingly this removed the constant need for revival and restoration.

We also concluded that, for some reason, we still seem to face the need for periodic repentance and restoration; we seem to still need revival. How can this be?

Let me say right up front, this will not be a major theological dissertation, as I am not a theologian. My choice of words may not meet the agreement of everyone, and that is just fine and dandy. I think we will all get the gist of the discussion, though.

Let’s look quickly at some scripture that supports the assertion that we are each indwelt with the Holy Spirit at salvation and permanently:

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

But yet a case can be made that, even though the Holy spirit is in us, we are not always filled with Him. Huh?, you say…how can that be so? Well, again I must go to a commenter who has really great words to describe what we are talking about here, Julie over at Light and Life again:

” I think of the Holy Spirit in me as an eternal flame, sometimes it blazes hot and sometimes it barely smolders. When it smolders I get on my knees and refuel it. The fire is always there, but if it I don’t stoke it, I end up just blowing smoke.”

We could stop right there, as the point is finely made, but I like to write so I will keep going for just a bit. The fire is always there…but we have to stoke it. The Holy Spirit is always there, but we have to allow Him to fill us. Basically we have to be so yielded to the Holy Spirit that He can fully possess us, and in that way fill us.

What are the keys to the filling of the Holy Spirit? What stokes the embers? What fans the flames of the Spirit? What causes the flames to die out? Why do we smolder? Stay tuned!

Quenching and Grieving The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

As we continue forward with our study on Revival, let’s recap quickly where we stand. We have arrived that the conclusion that due to the permanence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and churches, we really should not be in need of revival; we should just be alive constantly in the Spirit, and never in need of reviving. We also concluded that oftentimes we live lives which are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

We fail to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we should because we 1) Grieve HIm, and 2) Quench Him. Today we are only going to quickly cover the fact that we do these things; in the following days we will talk specifically about how we do it, and what are signs that we need reviving.

On thing is important to note when we talk about grieving the Holy Spirit is that this indicates He is a divine person of the Trinity. He gets grieved by our conduct in the same way we would be grieved about something. We grieve the Spirit by our sins, and our lack of obedience.

In the last devotional, a commenter compared the Holy Spirit in her to fire, which needs to be stoked and not allowed to smolder and die. The word quench refers to exactly that concept.When the word “quench” is used in Scripture, it is used in reference to putting out a fire. We use our shield in the Armor of God to quench the fiery darts of the devil. Jesus describes Hell as a place where the fire is not quenched.

It’s probably important to note here what is getting quenched, lest anyone think we have some kind of power to make the Holy Spirit stronger or weaker by our actions or our words. The Holy Spirit is God, so that idea is absurd. What we quench is ourselves. The Holy Spirit is in us, permanently, but we quench His work in us.

Yes, we need revival periodically; that conclusion is inescapable. We need only look at ourselves and your churches to see this.

Coming up: Signs we might be in need of Revival.

Signs That We Might Need Reviving

We are still in our study of the need for Christians to revive themselves, to turn away from where we are, and to move forward in service to The Lord. We have discussed how we fail to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, even though He is in us; we have discussed the fact that we grieve and quench His presence in our lives. The sad, but true, thing is we do fail in this area. We are going to move forward, put some verbs in our sentences, and talk about specific areas in which individual believers and churches fail and how we might fix them.

Just a few thoughts on circumstances which exist in our lives which dampen the Holy Spirits word and indicate we need repentance and revival, then we will move on to specifics as the days go on. We might be in need of revival if:

Our love for God has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our love for each other has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our prayer life has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our concern for the lost in the world has grown lukewarm or cold.

When we wallow and languish in our sin, with no efforts to correct it or restore one another.

When we are no different from the world around us,

When are churches are languishing or staying put. When they are no longer advancing forward in God’s work

When are churches are struggling to survive, or actually dying.

When we think that, because we are busy doing things for God, that we are okay and don’t need reviving.

When we are happy with things just the way they are and think our strength lies in our traditions.

We can stand idly by and see God mocked and ridiculed and feel no need or compulsion to say anything.

We think we know all we need to know about God’s Word and cease to pray, study and meditate on it.

We stop rejoicing in the blessing of others and instead resent that they received them.

We think we have become good enough, and cease striving to become Christlike.

We start to constantly doubt and question God’s Word and doubt key doctrines of Christianity and clearly taught precepts.

Our main priority in life is anything other than Jesus Christ.

That is hardly all the things we can do or fail to do to quench the Holy Spirit in our lives, but it provides a good start. Feel free to add, and perhaps we can explore your thoughts in more detail!

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