Repentance and Worship

“When you lift up your hands in prayer,
 I will refuse to look at you;
 even if you offer countless prayers, 
I will not listen.
 Your hands are covered with blood.” – Isaiah 1:15

We live in a world that is filled with boundless activity. From iPhones and social media to the daily demands of school, career, and family, we find ourselves filling the spaces of our lives with busyness, responsibilities, and activities. While those things are not altogether negative in themselves, it is true that the busyness of life can often consume us and keep us from staying connected to that which is most important. I certainly can relate to that in my own life. Continue reading “Repentance and Worship”

Pure Spiritual Milk

“Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1 Peter 2:2-3

I remember when my twin boys, Chris and Mark, were first born back in 1998.  What a change it was to our lifestyle!  It was quite an adjustment particularly since my wife and I had not had any prior experience caring for babies!   One of the memories that I have during that first hectic year of life was the demanding feeding schedule. My wife did an incredible job nursing them, but it was certainly not easy and required a lot of patience.  As those of you who have children are aware, newborn babies have a way of letting you know when they want their milk.  In our case, two high-pitched screams was the preferred method to get our attention! Continue reading “Pure Spiritual Milk”

Lessons from Laodicea

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says:  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.  Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.  The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.  “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:14-22

Self-sufficient…independently wealthy…financially secure.  Sounds attractive, doesn’t it?  These phrases are all buzzwords of the American dream that promise contentment and fulfillment in life.  Many of us have bought into its message believing that somehow if we only had enough money our problems would go away and we would have everything needed for life and happiness.  Sadly, many find out the hard way that this is simply not the case. Continue reading “Lessons from Laodicea”

Lessons from Philadelphia

“The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens says: I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close. Take note! I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying—note this—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth.  I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.  The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My new name.  “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:7-13

Most of us remember as children forming exclusive clubs of various sorts.  I recall as a young boy attempting to establish a “boys only” club in our little neighborhood.  Obviously, open only to boys, it restricted membership to those we deemed worthy of entrance.  You can imagine all that went along with our inventive brainstorming – secret passwords, handshakes, and even a dog as our mascot!  For those privileged to gain entry into our little kingdom, it was a dubious honor.  But for those on the outside, it meant only a closed door that could not be opened.  This story opens our thinking to what Jesus would write in a letter addressed to believers in the first century church of Philadelphia. Continue reading “Lessons from Philadelphia”

Lessons from Sardis

“I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.  Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you.  But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with Me in white, because they are worthy.  In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels. Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:1-6

In the first century AD, seven churches in Asia Minor were recipients of letters penned by the Lord Jesus.  These individual letters were dictated to the apostle John and recorded in the last book of the bible, the book of Revelation.  Jesus issued a variety of commendations and warnings to the churches.  In view of the persecution that was taking place in the Roman Empire, the churches wrestled with what it meant to be faithful to Christ in a society that pressured them to compromise at every turn. Continue reading “Lessons from Sardis”

Lessons from Thyatira

“The Son of God, the One whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze, says: I know your works—your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your last works are greater than the first.  But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality.  Look! I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her practices.  I will kill her children with the plague.  Then all the churches will know that I am the One who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” – Revelation 2:18-23 

On occasion, I have been known to watch an episode of Judge Judy.  If you have never seen Judge Judy in action before, you will immediately notice a no-nonsense, “take-no-prisoners” approach to imposing justice in the courtroom.  Judge Judy has experienced many plaintiffs and defendants throughout the years giving “he-said, she-said” testimonies under oath.  It always impresses me how Judge Judy is able to discern when someone is lying and sift through the nonsense to get to the truth. Continue reading “Lessons from Thyatira”

Lessons from Pergamum

The One who has the sharp, double-edged sword says: I know where you live—where Satan’s throne is! And you are holding on to My name and did not deny your faith in Me, even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.  In the same way, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent! Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.” – Revelation 2:12-17

I remember as a young boy feeling a sense of excitement to go to the mailbox to see what had just been delivered.  To be honest, most of the time I would find a lot of bills and junk mail addressed to my parents.  However, to my delight, I would occasionally find a card or letter addressed specifically to me with my name on it.  Those pieces of mail were often sent on birthdays and holidays reminding me that someone special was thinking about me from a distance.  What a special feeling that was! Continue reading “Lessons from Pergamum”