August 30, 2020
Revelation 2 describes 7 churches - Ephesus was a busy church, Smyrna was a suffering church, Pergamum was a confused church and the church in Thyatira; it was a tolerant church.
Thyatira was on an important trade route. Most of the trading that went on there was strong and growing. But there was a hitch for the local church. To survive economically at that time and to have a job it was really necessary to be a part of a trade guild - a bit like a union. That wouldn't have been so bad, except if you belonged to a guild, you were required to participate in banquets hosted by the guilds. And these banquets were legendary for their immorality.
Can you see some similarities today? Where the cultural path to living, to just putting food on the table and a roof over our head brings tension with our Christian life?
The encouragement of this letter is that – we not “drop our guard”; especially in light of the promise - “I will give (to the ones who hold fast) the morning star!” (Revelation 2:28)
August 23, 2020
Paul, writing to Timothy says – “Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God (1Timothy 6:5)
One of the seven letters to churches that we read in Revelation 2 and 3 is to a church in a place called Pergamum. The people there had many struggles. And those struggles resulted in a lot of “confusion” in the church.
Jesus reminds this church (and he reminds us, as he talks to this church), that our doubts and confusion can grow out of our relationships. Because the Pergamum church had left truth behind, they were in danger, not from the books they were reading and not from the thoughts they were thinking but from the relationships they were allowing into their lives.
This letter shares Jesus’ concern when we leave ‘truth’ behind and it reminds us how important relationships are when it comes to knowing and living the truth.
August 16, 2020
If we could go to a coffee shop, sit down opposite Jesus, look him in the eye and ask him "Jesus, what do you think about what's going on in the Church today ... what do you think about what's going on in Christian's lives today ... if you could say anything to the Church, anything about the lives of Christians, what would you say?"
Well - we don't have to wonder too much because the message he shared with the 1st century church is the same message for the 21st century church.
When we open up Revelation we read the letters, the messages, he sent through the apostle John to seven churches. The church at Smyrna was a suffering church and Jesus says - “look up and look ahead”. Revelation 2 says – “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer … be faithful … and I will give you the crown of life.”
August 9, 2020
Revelation isn’t an easy read; not easy to grapple with nor understand. It’s like the Bible ends with a kaleidoscope of – vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph. There’s colour and sound and strange images and energy.
But at its heart, Revelation is a multi-layered act of Christian worship.
In Revelation 2 we get the first of seven messages to various churches throughout Asia. Jesus is delivering them through the apostle John. And these are churches like churches today. So, these are messages for us as well.
Revelation 2:1-7 is to the church at Ephesus. Jesus is saying to this church that "there's one thing, that's got to be in first place.” It's him. This one thing, above all other things. We’re not to put Jesus behind a busy life, even a busy Christian lifestyle.
We’re to put Jesus first in our lives. Our first love has to be Jesus and responding to his “follow me” is to be our number one priority.
August 2, 2020
Robert Louis Stephenson said - "There's nothing but God's grace. We walk on it. We breathe it. We live it, and we die by it. It makes the nails and axles of the universe."
Everything is by God's grace. We wouldn't even have our own lives if it wasn't for God's grace.
So, we might say - "This sounds like a good deal. I want to be saved, forgiven, sustained, healed, liberated, given talents, used, kept saved, transformed and matured. We want to receive God’s grace in our lives to the fullest extent possible.
Then the question is - how do we get it? How do we receive the grace of God?"
The Bible says it in three simple words: by trusting Christ.
John in his gospel says it this way - "The law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)
July 26, 2020
We’ve all experienced them. Let’s call them the ‘inevitables’ of life. The ‘inevitables’ that happen to us. We don't have a choice over them.
Paul, writing to the Philippian church says – "Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5) So, how can we have an attitude, an attitude like Jesus when we’re living with the ‘inevitables’ of life? Only if we’re transformed by God's grace.
Scripture reminds us that God’s transformation occurs when –
we change the way we think,
we choose to focus on others,
we persevere through our difficulties, and
we determine to keep growing.
July 19, 2020
God’s grace, God’s awesome ‘goodness’ to us is at the heart, of the relationship we have with God. Our relationship now, and our ‘forever’ relationship with God. The Bible describes that as ‘heaven’.
That relationship, which is put in place through Jesus, is like any other human relationship. It has to be maintained. Maybe, we’ve known Christians, who are no longer walking, with the Lord. They've fallen away. Maybe through over confidence, laziness, fear of disapproval or convenience.
The good news is that God offers us restoring grace. When we blow it, when we walk away, when we stumble, when we fumble, God says - "you can come back to Me." God does that because His love is unconditional, salvation isn’t based on our performance, Jesus has already dealt with our sin, Jesus understands our human weakness and God doesn’t hold grudges.
Isn’t that good news!
July 13, 2020
Four words probably define grace, better than any other phrase – “God is for us”.
God is not just ‘with’ us. God is not just ‘by’ us. If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives, He's not just ‘in’ us, but the Bible says He's ‘for’ us. The Bible says that God didn't just intend for us to receive grace. He wants us to pass it on.
Forgiveness is at the heart of God’s grace to us. If we’ve been blessed by God He wants us to bless others. If we’ve been cared for by God He wants us to care for others. If we’ve been forgiven by God He wants us to forgive others.
Matthew 10:8 reminds us to - "Give as freely as you have received."
July 5, 2020
Galatians 3:3 says – "You began your life in Christ by the Spirit. Now are you trying to make it complete, by your own power. This is foolish."
If we understand how to relax in God's grace we’ll find a new level of joy in our lives, we’ll find a new level of freedom that we've probably never experienced before, except maybe when we first became a believer.
June 28, 2020
None of us sails through life. We all have problems and hurts. We may have some hidden wounds and emotional scars that nobody else sees but they're there and they hurt.
The Bible says in Psalm 147:3 – "God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."
How does He do that? By changing the way we think about ourselves. By changing our minds. Romans 12 says - "Let God transform you into a new person, by changing the way you think."
God helps us to see ourselves in a new light. We see that by His grace we’re acceptable, valuable, lovable, forgivable and capable. Healing Grace