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“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1

A Tale of Two Cities

Jesus, through His revelation to John, addresses the church in Sardis; in much the same manner as He addressed the previous church in Thyatira. Many scholars agree that the church at Thyatira is representative of the Catholic Church at its beginnings and yes, to this present day. If that is the case, and I believe that it is, the church at Sardis (which means: remnant) embodies the church of the reformation, or the protestant age. And like the Catholic era, the protestant era is still with us.

In comparing the words of Jesus to both the Catholic Church (Thyatira) and the Protestant Church (Sardis), one particular item stands out–Jesus commends Thyatira on six (6) points before He rebukes and warns her, but with Sardis He has nothing positive and uplifting to say. I find that somewhat discomforting (although I am currently a non-denominational Christian), my Christian roots as it were, are Protestant.

So, What’s the Warning

When John records the words of our Lord, and used the phrase, ‘You have a name, ’ the idea there is that this church has allied herself with a ‘name’ or denomination, rather than with Christ (at the very least, Jesus is given a back seat to church doctrine). In the Greek, the word used for ‘word’ is in actuality the source for the word ‘denomination’. The problem with that is that (we) tend to associate our faith with the originator of said denomination (Luther, Calvin, etc), rather than the true head of the church, Jesus Christ. I believe this joke, which pokes fun at the Methodists, illustrates the point Jesus is making.

How Many Methodists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

The answer…“Change the light bulb? You can’t change the light bulb! My great grandfather gave this church that light bulb! Now go back to your assigned pew.”

Hold Fast and Repent

The warning is for all of us; Catholic, Protestant, and non-denominationals alike—hold fast to Christ’s teaching and turn away from any teaching that deviates from God’s truth. The Apostle Paul gave us the very same warning in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (and it appears in several others places within the Bible as well. What is that word of warning?

Do not be deceived.

I further believe that Jesus first gave us this counsel in Luke 13:18-22 when He described something that had become way too big to be of much use to God.

Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”

Our Father in Heaven never intended His church to be embroiled with men, their movements, or the monuments we tend to erect to them. Surely God can and will use these men for His divine purposes, but never-ever should the focus be taken away from His Son. May those with ears hear.


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He opened the rock, and water gushed out; It ran in the dry places like a river… Psalm 105:41Desert PassagesLet’s face it, some portions of the Bible are dry and seemingly, most of those barren places generally appear in the Old Testament—particularly in those endless genealogies. What is God trying to say? Do these passages have any meaning or purpose? Is there something lying beneath the surface? Should I take the time to scrape a little deeper?

I am happy to tell you that the Lord is trying to tell us something, these verses do have meaning and purpose, that there is good stuff just beneath the surface, and yes, if we take some time to scratch and graze in dry places we will find life-giving water. To demonstrate the point I would ask you to consider the genealogy found in Genesis 5:1-32. Okay, thirty-two verses is too much aridness to start with, so here is the summary…

And Adam…begot Seth… (who)… begot Enosh…(who)…begot Cainan…(who)…begot Mahalalel…(who)…begot Jared… (who)…begot Enoch…(who)…begot Methuselah…(who)…begot Lamech… (who)…had a son. And he called his name Noah…

We certainly recognize some of those names: Adam the first man, Enoch who left the planet abruptly, Noah of ‘Noah’s Ark’ fame, and Jared the Subway guy. But what else is God trying to tell us? I will give you a hint…

What Does YOUR Name Mean?

While we do not rely so much on the meaning of our names, these guys relied on theirs. Not only do these names have meaning, their names were inspired by the Father for a specific purpose. First, here is what each name means (and in the order that they appear in the Bible):

1. Adam = man
2. Seth = appointed
3. Enosh = subject to death
4. Cainan = sorrowful
5. Mahalalel = from the presence of God
6. Jared = One comes down
7. Enoch = dedicated
8. Methuselah = dying He shall send
9. Lamech = to the poor brought very low
10. Noah = rest/comfort

So What is the Purpose

We are talking revelation ladies and gentlemen. When we put the meanings of all these names together in the exact order that they appear in the Scripture, we are left with an early Old Testament Gospel message. It reads like a poem from Heaven…

Man, appointed (and) subject to death (and) sorrowful. (From) the presence of God, One comes down, dedicated. Dying, He shall send to the poor brought very low, rest (and) comfort.

Did that give you a chill? It gave me one—and I knew it was coming! Scripture, every single word abounds in meaning and is recorded for a precise reason, for it was designed by our Creator. If in seeking Him we are diligent, He will be faithful to reveal Himself.

He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings. Psalms 107:35


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For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14
Covering vs. Cleansing

Growing up, I was not a very good driver. By the time I was 22 years of age, I had accumulated 27 points on my driver’s license and my license had been suspended 4 times. I remember the varying emotional sensations that go along with the getting caught, the receiving of the summons, the going to court, the paying of the fine, and the PST (the post-experience trauma) that always ensued.

It’s a toss-up, but probably the worst part was the PST. It begins with elation. “Whoopee, ” my mind would shout, “it is over!” But it wasn’t over. After a moment or two of euphoria, fear would kick in. And as I would get behind the wheel of my car, or more accurately hop on my Honda 750 motorcycle, I’d begin to wonder, “How soon before I mess up and get caught again.” My sin had been covered, but for how long?

It kind of reminds me of the Hebrews verse above. The Jews were atoning for their sins once a year, knowing that the covering was only good for 365 days. They likely spent the entire year searching for a spotless lamp to sacrifice, only to have to do it year after year.

Enter Jesus

I love the text, and honestly, before today I never noticed it. It says that Jesus, our ultimate and final sacrifice, cleanses our consciences. What does that mean? No more PST for one. No more worrying about if I am going to mess up, because I know I am going to. The conscience-cleansing is a result of the peace Christ has afforded me, through His righteousness, having paid the price, and not just for the sins I committed way back when, but the sins I have yet to commit. Oh yea, and the cost to you…zilch.

In light of this truth, why would anyone opt to sweep the dirt under the carpet, when in Jesus we have cleansing everlasting?

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Reading through my Google-alerts this morning and I came upon this wonderful item from Dr. Billy Graham as written in yesterday’s (Feb. 29, 08) Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. One particular paragraph ( highlighted below) truly sums up why Christians need to be on poverty’s frontline.

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I know the Bible says we ought to help the poor, and I guess I agree with that, but can’t governments do this better than churches? It’ll take a lot of money to fight poverty in places such as Africa, for example, and churches simply don’t have that kind of money. — P. R.

DEAR P. R.: We sometimes forget that Jesus Himself was very poor, and so were His disciples. On one occasion, He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).

After all, He could have chosen to come into this world as a rich man — for He was God, and the whole world belonged to Him. But He didn’t, and one reason was because He wanted to show His compassion for the whole human race, rich and poor alike. And if we are His followers we should have that same kind of compassion. Centuries before Christ was born, God commanded His people “to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11).

I’m thankful for the work governments and others are doing to fight poverty and disease in many parts of the world; the task is too great for any one agency. But Christians should be in the forefront — and one reason is because they come with compassion, and with the good news of Christ’s power to change lives.

Pray for Christian groups that seek to bring Christ’s love and mercy to those who hurt. (My son Franklin’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is one of them.) And be generous in your giving. Above all, ask God to help you see the world the way He sees it, with all of its misery and despair — but also with hope in Christ.

billygraham.org

I too applaud the efforts of our government to help in crisis situations, but without introducing folks to the saving power of Jesus Christ we risk merely making their lives more comfortable before they walk through the gates of hell.

Why give partially when we can give fully.

 

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Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whosoever Believeth in Him

Whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus Christ) should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Dedicated 2 Jesus Christ and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

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