Sunday Sermon, 2020-01-19, “Revelation, Seven Churches, part 2.”

“Revelation: The Seven Churches, Part 3”
Revelation 3:1-22

Welcome to Revelation chapter three! Here’s what we will cover this morning:

3 mini-letters sent to 3 actual churches that actually existed at the time John received this Revelation: Sardis (yes, the fish “Sardines” are derived from the root word “Sardis” which means “Red”, Philadelphia (Yes, THAT Philadelphia), and Laodicea. SEE MAPS.

Reminder, even though the details of each letter are specific to that church, we find something in each letter that applies universally to every church:

• Use listening ears! Vv. 6, 13, 22, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
• God knows His church. Vv. 1, 8, 15, “I know you …”
• We’re a mixed bag. There is good to be praised, and problems to be addressed.

A. Sardis.

Revelation 3:1-6, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Good:
• Backhanded compliment: “You have the REPUTATION of being alive …”
• There are SOME who have remained pure.

Bad:
• “… but, you are dead.”
• Actions don’t measure up to God’s standard.

Command:
• Wake up!
• Focus on making what little you have better.
• Restore what you originally heard and believed.
• Repent and turn to Jesus.

Warning:
• Sudden appearance, like a thief.

Promise:
• Victorious: Clothed in white, name never erased, announced before the Father and angels.

B. Philadelphia.

Revelation 3:7-13, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open.
8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.
9 Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.
10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
13 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Good:
• Obeyed Jesus without denial, even with little strength.

Bad:
• None!

Command:
• Hold on to what you have.

Warning:
• If you don’t hold on to what you have … lose your crown.

Promise:
• Wrong-headed Jews will bow down before you, and admit Christians are loved by God.
• Protected from a great time of testing.
• Victorious: Pillars in the temple, God’s name written upon them, citizens of the New Jerusalem.

C. Laodicea.

Revelation 3:14-22, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!
16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.
22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

Good:
• None!

Bad:
• Make Jesus ill.
• Blinded by personal wealth: “I have all I need.”

Command:
• Buy the “real stuff” from Jesus.
• Be diligent and turn from your indifference.

Warning:
• None!

Promise:
• Because I love you … you will be corrected and disciplined.
• I’m knocking on the door of your heart … open … enter … share meal as friends.

Hierapolis, which is about six miles from Laodicea, is famous for its hot springs. The waters are as hot as 95 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, the waters of nearby Colossae were cold and pure. The site of Laodicea appears to have been chosen because it was a crossroads, not because it had its own water supply. It seems that Laodicea received water from “a remarkable aqueduct of stone pipes.” Archaeological evidence indicates that the waters around Laodicea were afflicted with a “calcium carbonate content” that resulted in the waters being impure and emetic—that is, they caused vomiting

Calcium carbonate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
• upset stomach
• vomiting
• stomach pain
• belching
• constipation
• dry mouth
• increased urination
• loss of appetite
• metallic taste

Jesus was saying to the people of Laodicea, “You make me sick.”

Main Point: “God wants our church to honor Him and remain faithful to His calling upon us to help ordinary people experience full life in Christ.”

A closing prayer, “Dear God, we are one of many churches in Wythe County, Virginia. God help us to know what is good here, and what you have against us. Command us. Help us to hear and heed Your warning … and God, make us a people of promise. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Hope Bags Ministry

Each “third Thursday” our church joins in with several other churches and organizations to pack food bags for kids in Wythe and Bland Counties to go home on Friday. This week we packed 912 bags!

Hope Bags Team for January 15, 2020.

Sunday Sermon, 2020-01-12, Revelation 2, Seven Churches, part 1.

“Revelation:  The Seven Churches, Part 1”

Revelation 2:1-29

Welcome to Revelation chapter two! Here’s what we will cover this morning:

— See who this chapter is written about.

— Understand what applies to each of us in this chapter.

— Figure out how our church measures up to the standard Jesus sets for the church.

— Discover the promise of God for churches which honor Him.

A.  Who is this chapter about?

1)  Specifically, 4 churches that actually existed at the time John received this Revelation.  SEE MAPS.

2)  Broadly, any church of any age, including Sunny Hills Church. This chapter is about US.

What does this chapter say about us?

— Use listening ears!  Vv. 7, 11, 17, 29, 7  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

— God knows His church.  Vv. 2, 9, 13, 19, “I know you …”

— We’re a mixed bag.  There is good to be praised, and problems to be addressed.

A.  Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1-29 (NLT2)
1  “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
2  “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.
3  You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
4  “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!
5  Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
6  But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
7  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

Good:

  • Hard work.
  • Patient endurance of suffering.
  • Don’t tolerate evil people (especially the Nicolaitans).
  • Discern the truth.
  • Don’t quit.

Bad:

  • Love for Jesus has fallen off.
  • Love for each other has fallen off.

Command:

  • Turn back to Jesus.
  • Do the works you did at first.

Warning:

  • If you don’t repent, “lampstand removed.” (Church will vanish.)

Promise:

  • To the victorious:  fruit from the tree of life in Paradise!

B.  Smyrna.


8  “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
9  “I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.
10  Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
11  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

Good:

  • Even though they are suffering and in poverty, they are truly rich!

Bad: (none)

Command:

  • Don’t be afraid.

Warning:

  • About to suffer.
  • Some will be thrown in prison.

Promise:

  • To the faithful in the face of death:  the Crown of Life!
  • To the victorious:  no harm by the second death!

C.  Pergamum.


12  “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:
13  “I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.
14  “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.
15  In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.
16  Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

Nicolaitans is a Greek compound word meaning “to lead people astray.”

The name of Balaam, an OT evil prophet, is a Hebrew compound word meaning “to lead people astray.”

The church must always be wary of people who would lead us away from the Gospel into the minefields of personal opinion or cultural popularity.

Good:

  • Remained loyal in a difficult setting.
  • Remained faithful in the face of martyrdom.

Bad:

  • tolerate teaching that leads people astray.
  • Idolatry.
  • Sexual sin.

Command:

  • Repent of your sin.

Warning:

  • Sudden removal of leadership.

Promise:

  • To the victorious:  hidden mana from heaven, and a white stone with a secret name.

D.  Thyatira.


18  “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:
19  “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.
20  “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols.
21  I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.
22  “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds.
23  I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.
24  “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you
25  except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.
26  To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations.
27  They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.
28  They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!
29  “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Good:

  • Love.
  • Faith.
  • Service.
  • Improving.
  • Some have remained faithful.

Bad:

  • Tolerating “Jezebel” and allowing her to lead people astray.
  • Sexual sin.
  • Idolatry.

Command:

  • Hold on, tightly until Jesus arrives.

Warning:

  • Suffering and death to those who don’t repent.

Promise:

  • To the victorious, who obey to the end:  authority over all the nations, and the morning star!

Main Point:  “God wants our church to honor Him and remain faithful to His calling upon us to help ordinary people experience full life in Christ.”

A closing prayer, “Dear God, we are one of many churches in Wythe County, Virginia. God help us to know what is good here, and what you have against us. Command us. Help us to hear and heed Your warning … and God, make us a people of promise. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Sunday Sermon, 2020-01-05, “Revelation: Introduction”

Here are the resources for the Sunday sermon on January 5, 2020:

Revelation: “Introduction”

Revelation 1:1-20

Welcome to our 13-week study of the Book of Revelation! What a great way to start off the new year.  Let’s dive right in … take your “Revelation Quick Facts” page out of your bulletin and follow along with me.

REVIEW REVELATION QUICK FACTS:

The Book of Revelation Quick Facts:

Purpose:

To reveal the full identity of Christ and to give warning and hope to believers.

Author:

The apostle John wrote the book which was intended to be a letter circulated among the early churches. The book contains 22 chapters, 402 verses, and 11,995 words.

Original Audience:

The seven churches in Asia and all believers everywhere

Date Written:

Approximately A.D. 95 from Patmos, a “penal colony” island used by Rome to exile trouble-causers.

Key People:

John, Jesus, Angels, Elders, The “anti-Christ,” the Redeemed.

Key Places:

Patmos, the seven churches, the new Jerusalem

Setting:

Most scholars believe that the seven churches of Asia to whom John writes were experiencing the persecution that took place under Emperor Domitian (A.D. 90-95). It seems that the Roman authorities had exiled John to the island of Patmos (off the coast of Asia). John, who had been an eyewitness of the incarnate Christ, had a vision of the glorified Christ. God also revealed to John what would take place in the future—judgment and the ultimate triumph of God over evil.

Key Verse:

“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near” Revelation 1:3.

Special Features:

Revelation is written in “apocalyptic” form—a type of Jewish literature that uses symbolic imagery to communicate hope (in the ultimate triumph of God) to those in the midst of persecution. The events are ordered according to literary, rather than strictly chronological, patterns.

Now, let’s read Chapter 1.  READ REVELATION 1. I want to encourage you to read the Book of Revelation. Did you notice what verse 3 said?

Revelation 1:3,God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

As you read it look and listen carefully for a message you can obey.  Ask, “What can I obey in the passage?”  Maybe you won’t understand the entire chapter or passage, but is there something you clearly understand as a message you can obey? Do it! You’ll be blessed by God, that’s His promise.

Today I want to share chapter 1’s answer to 3 questions:

— What kind of Revelation is the book about?

— How did the Book of Revelation get written?

— What did John see and hear, what was Revealed to him?

A.  What kind of Revelation is this book about?

Revelation 1:1-2,This is a revelation from (of) Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, 2 who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

1)  It will reveal Jesus Christ. If you miss Jesus in Revelation you’ve missed the whole point.

For example, let’s look at verse 4-5 of Revelation 1: This letter is … from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.

What do we learn about Jesus in just this verse alone?

  • Jesus is a faithful witness to these events of human history.
  • Primary importance is that He is risen from the dead.
  • Jesus is the King of earthly kings!
  • Jesus loves us.
  • Jesus has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood.

This Book of Revelation is chock-full of facts about Jesus!

2)  It will reveal events of human history.

            a.  That already happened (in John’s time).

            b.  That are happening now (in our time). > Historical Theology <

            c.  That will happen in the near / distant future.

3)  It is a revelation for “his servants.”  It is a book about faith, for the faithful.

4)  It is a revelation about “his servants.” It shows us who we are in Christ.

Revelation 4:6, He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Our job is to bring others to God … this book is designed to warn and encourage. We bear the warning to others, and encourage others to obey God.


B)  How did the Book of Revelation get written?

1)  John’s worship was interrupted.

Revelation 1:10, It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast.

2)  John was told to write down and circulate what he saw and heard.

Revelation 1:11, It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

C)  What did John see and hear in the “Revelation”?

Jesus, he saw Jesus!

Revelation 1:12-20: (go verse by verse)
12  When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands.
13  And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.
14  His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.
15  His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.
16  He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.
17  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.
18  I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.
19  “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.
20  This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

MAIN POINT:  Am I ready to obey the message God has for me in the Book of Revelation?

A closing prayer … “Dear God, Your power is amazing and awesome in this first chapter of the Book of Revelation, and I know that You have a message of warning and hope for me. Open my spirit to what You have for me. Teach me, and mold me over the next three months as we see Jesus uncovered for us to clearly see. Amen.”