Next Year’s Christmas List

We all need to think much about this – everyday. Thanks for this Cameron Cloud

Nephos

Around Christmas you often hear people say, “I’m not going to send them a card, they didn’t send me one.” Or, “I won’t buy them another present. They didn’t thank me for the one I gave them last year.”

What if God was only kind to us when we expressed appreciation? What if He said, “That person wasn’t grateful for the last breath I gave them. I won’t give them another.” If we only had tomorrow what we were thankful for today, how much would we have?

Jesus said, “The Father is kind to the unthankful.” (Luke 6:35) Right before He told us to be merciful because God is merciful. God-honoring kindness is based on the nature of the God who gave it to us, not on the nature of those with whom we share it.

Kindness.  The gift none of us deserve, but all need.

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The Church at Pergamos

Revelation 2:12-17

INTRODUCTION:
Pergamum was a city of compromise; the worship of anything was allowable in that city; and the Church at Pergamos had become engulfed in compromise too.
One of the gods they worshiped was Esculapius…
Writing of Esculapius, J. Vernon McGee wrote,
“Then the other outstanding temple was of the god Asklepios. Down from that great ancient world. It was the Mayo Clinic of that day. It was, first of all, a temple to Asklepios. If you are looking at the Greek god Asklepios, it is a man, but when you see the Anatolian or Oriental Asklepios, it is a serpent. There in Pergamum it was a serpent. I have pictures which I took of that great marble pillar which stands like an obelisk now but apparently was a pillar in the temple of Asklepios. The construction of the temple was unusual in that it was round. There they used every means of healing imaginable. They used both medicine and psychology – and about everything else.
Put yourself in this situation: you go down long tunnels, and above are holes that look like airholes for ventilation but are not. As you walk along these tunnels, sexy voices come down through the holes, saying to you, ‘You are going to get well. You are going to feel better. You are going to be healed.’ (Does that have a modern ring?) You go down to the hot baths where you are given a massage. There is a little theater there where they give plays of healing. If they haven’t healed you by now, as a last resort they put you in that temple at night and turn loose the nonpoisonous snakes which crawl over you. (That is known as the shock treatment in our day!) If they don’t heal you, they will drive you crazy, that’s for sure. They have a back door where they take out the dead. They don’t mention the ones they don’t heal; they speak only ot those who recover.” (From Thru The Bible pg. 908 by J. Vernon McGee).

Warren Wiersbe wrote of this also,
“The city aslso had a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on the staff.” (BE Commentary vol. 2, pg. 573).

I. THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD (v. 12).
A. The Sword is Both and Offensive and Defensive Weapon.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Eph. 6:17

B. The Word of God is Likened to a Two-Edged Sword.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb. 4:12

C. Jesus is the One who Has the Sharp Twoedged Sword Out of His Mouth.
“…And out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword…” Rev. 1:16

II. THE WORKS ARE KNOWN BY JESUS (v. 13).
A. They Dwelt in the Seat of Satan – It Was a Very Pluralistic Culture Worshiping many Deities, and Tolerant of Moral Depravity.

B. While there Was a Remnant of Faithful Believers; the Church had Given in to the Culture – They were compromising on morals, Doctrine, and the Gospel.

C. It is Known Also as the Church of Faithful Antipas Who Give His Life for the Sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel

III. THE CHURCH HAD ALLOWED THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM AND THE NICOLAITANS INTO THE CONGREGATION (v. 14-15).
A. The Doctine of Balaam is the Way – the Doctrine of Compromise.
1. THE WAY OF BALAAM = Ministry for pay. “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…” 2 Peter 2:15
2. THE ERROR OF BALAAM = To think that God would do the opposite of what He promised. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11
3. THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM = Counseling others on how to curse God’s people (See Num. 25 and 31) “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Rev. 2:14

B. This Church also Had Trouble with the Nicolaitans, Only Giving in to Compromise with Them.
1. To Overcome the People; to Rule, overrule, to Dominate.
2. Setting up a Heirarchy of Domination over them – even a Priesthood.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” 1 Peter 2:9

C. It Should become Quite Clear to the Church of 2018 that The Lord Hates Compromise in the area of Doctrine, the Gospel, and Morality.

IV. REPENTANCE IS NECESSARY TO AVOID THE SWORD OF HIS JUDGMENT (v. 16)
A. The Compromise Must be Dealt With Quickly, and Severely – There is no room for compromising with compromise.

B. Repentance is the Key – a Turning From Sin Back to Christ Jesus, and Faithfulness to Him.

C. The Call is to the Compromising Reprobates Within the Church.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:17-18

V. THE REWARD FOR THOSE WHO WILL OVERCOME (v. 17).
A. A Call to Pergamos and All the Churches to Hear.

B. A Hidden Manna – Heavenly Food that is Only Available for Those Who Overcome the Sin of Compromise.

C. A White Stone – A word for assurance to the Faithful

D. A New Name – A Name which Speaks of One’s Character, Honor, and Faith.

CONCLUSION:
1. We can be certain and assured that the Lord Jesus is the One who has from His Mouth the Twoedged Sword, and that He will Judge.
2. He knows the works of the Church, every individual professing Christ; He knows the works of compromise with Satan and sin; He knows the works of the Faithful; He knows of the moral depravity around and within the Church, and will Judge it.
3. Jesus Knows of the failure to adhere to Bible, Gospel doctrine, faithfulness, and purity of life.
4. The call to all who compromise the word, the Gospel, faithfulness, and morality is to Repent.
5. The Reward for those who are faithful will be to overcome; and to receive eternal rewards of heavenly portions; have the assurance of eternity with the Lord; and receive a new name; He has already called those who believe Him “Just and Righteous” by calling us “Saints” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2)

Integrity, Discretion, and Fear

Integrity, Discretion and Fear – Proverbs 19:1-29

Verses 1 – 10  Integrity is defined in the Mirriam/Webster Dictionary as… “SOUNDNESS: adherence to a code of values: utter sincerity,  honesty and candor: COMPLETENESS.”
This is once again a comparison between the poor man who has a completeness about him; being content with his life; family, friends, and God.  The wealthy can far too often not be content with their wealth, wanting more, feeling they have a lack.
As we look at verses 2 – 10 we can see the comparison even further.  Many who are wealthy depend on their wealth for friendships (vv. 4-6), getting good judgments from whomever it may count and luxury is not seemly for those who are without wisdom of God.  The wealthy are far too often servants to their wealth.

Verses 11 – 22  Discretion is defined as… “The quality of being discreet: PRUDENCE:  Individual choice or judgment: power of free decision or latitude of choice.” M/WD  The one who is discreet or having discretion will not prolong anger at the “transgressions” of others.  Discretion is having good sense.
“A person with good sense is level-headed and can defuse conflict (15:18).” Faithlife Study Bible Online.  The person with good sense will not be out to upset the king (v. 12), cause his/her parents grief and/or shame(v. 13), and will seek to find the right person to start a home (vv. 13-14).
The person with good sense will be a hard worker, keep the commandments of the LORD, show kindness to the poor, and be honest in his dealings (vv. 15-22).

Verses 23 – 29  The fear of the LORD…  We have dealt with this topic before (1:29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:16, 33; 16:6) and it is mentioned more as we journey to the end of Proverbs in 23rd verse; in 22:4 and 23:17.
The fear of the LORD is not a dreadful thing.  It is knowing that He is holding on to you; knowing He will not let go, even though we might.  Even though we might let go, because He does not He will pursue us until we are back in right relationship with Him.
Anyone having the fear of the LORD will be a hard worker (v. 24), be growing in knowledge and wisdom (v. 25), honor their father and mother (v. 26), be a godly witness, and trusts good judgment(vv. 27-29).

Please Note:  I just corrected a sentence I had made an error in.  In the section for verses 10-22  it was written, “The one who is discreet or having discretion will prolong anger at the “transgressions” of others.”  I did add the word “not” to read “…discretion will not prolong anger…”. (12/31/18)

Words of the Prophets – Ezekiel (4)

Come Up Out Of Your Graves

 

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, Thou knowest.’
Again He said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.’
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said He unto me, ‘Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then He said unto me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.’ Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it,’ saith the LORD.”  Ezekiel 37:1-14  (KJB)

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna

Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. A frangrance for kings. One of the gifts to the baby Jesus – “gold, frankencense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna replied, “Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?’ From John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

INTRODUCTION:
I. SMYRNA WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ASIA.
II. IT WAS DESTROYED IN 580 B.C., AND REBUILT IN 290 B.C. – dead but alive again- AND CONTINUING ALIVE TODAY.
III. WAS A FAITHFUL ALLY OF ROME AND ONE OF THE FIRST TO INITIATE EMPEROR WORSHIP OF CAESAR UNDER; ERECTED A TEMPLE UNDER THE REIGN OF TIBERIAS.
IV. THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA WAS HEAVILY PERSECUTED, LOSING THEIR GOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT WORSHIP CAESAR, BUT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

I. Jesus Identifies Himself as The Eternal One Who Has Been Dead, but is Now Alive (v. 8)
A. First and Last terms of eternity – His eternalness, beginning and end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Is. 44:6
“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Is. 48:12

B. He died, and He lives again – never to die again (Heb. 7:23-24).

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Heb. 7:22-24

II. Jesus Knows of Their Works, Their Tribulation, and Their Poverty, and Says, “But You are Rich” (v. 9).
A. Living in Smyrna, the seat of emperor worship, they lost all they had materially because of their faithfulness to the way of the Lord Jesus.
B. Some Jewish Zealots were persecuting them – were not believing even the writings of Moses.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom 2:29

1. These “Jews” were not believing God.

C. Riches are more than silver, gold, trinkets, any material thing (Luke 12:15)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Lk. 12:15

III. Jesus Gives Words of Encouragement, and Strength to Continue in Their Labor and Tribulation (v. 10
A. Fear none of those things – the persecution, the loss of things, death…
B. There will be further tribulation, persecution, pain, and death; however continue to be faithful; even unto death.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

C. The promise of the Crown of Life.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” James 1:12

IV. Jesus Gives the Church at Smyrna the Promise of No Second Death (v. 11).
A. Describe the “second death” – (Rev. 20:12-15)
1. We are all born into this world spiritually dead to God – thus we must be born again.
2. There is physical death – we all experience barring a supernatural miracle.
3. There is the “second death” also called eternal death – eternal separation from all that is God; holiness, righteousness, good and right.

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:11-15

B. The Spirit of God; if the churches have ears to hear; will overcome fear of losing, fear of death, and are given the promise of eternal life in the presence of our dear Lord.

CONCLUSION:
1. The One who is Eternal Died for Our Sins, was Buried, and He Rose Again; Because He Lives Now We too Live With Him in Glory.
2. The One who is Eternal Knows our Life Situation, Persecuted, Poverty, Power; and Stands Ready to Aid Us, and to Save Us.
3. The One who is Eternal is Our Encouragement, Our Strength, Our Hope of Eternal life, and the Crown of Life.
4. The One who is Eternal is our Only Source of Eternal Life, and Hope for Missing the Second Death.