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So What?

Letters to the Churches  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A concluding message for the Letters to the Churches series

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In college we had to do a lot of reading.
I love reading so it wasn’t a problem for me. However, a lot of kids hated to read so they would buy something like this:
Picture of Cliffs Notes
Cliffs Notes have taken on sort of a life of their own and have spun off some humor, and even made it into Veggie Tales. Such as in this clip
perhaps you wish that you had some Cliffs Notes on the book of Revelation
Ephesus—Zealous for the truth, but unloving.
The commendation: You do not tolerate wicked people
The accusation--“You have lost the love you had at first”
The solution: Return to doing the works you did at first
The reward: You will eat from the tree of life
Smyrna—A church tested but found faithful
The acknowledgment: You have been tested and slandered. You are poor, but you are rich!
The encouragement: Don’t be afraid at what you are about to suffer
The reward: “Be faithful, even to the point of death and I will give you a victor’s crown”
Pergamum—A Church tested but found compromising
The commendation: You remain true to my name. You didn’t renounce your faith, even in the days of Antipas who was put to death
The accusation: You have people among you who hold to the teachings of Balaam
The solution: One word—REPENT (otherwise I will come to you and fight against them with the sword of my mouth)
The reward: I will give the hidden manna. I will give that person a white stone with a new name written on it.
Thyatira—A Church growing but tolerant
The commendation: You have love, faith, service and perseverance. You are now doing more than you did at first
The accusation: You tolerate that woman Jezebel
The solution: Simply this: hold on to what you have until I come
The reward: I will give the victorious one authority over the nations. Also, I will give that person the Morning Star
Sardis—A church struggling and sleepy
The commendation: You have a reputation for being alive
The accusation: You are dead! I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God
The solution: Wake up! Strengthen that part that remains and is about to die
The reward: The faithful will walk with me dressed in white. Their names will never be blotted out from the book of life
Philadelphia—A church pleasing in front of an openED door
The commendation: Although you are weak, you have kept my word and not denied my name
You have kept my word through patient endurance
The encouragement: Hold on to what you have!
The reward: You will be a pillar in the temple of my God
you will be identified as belonging to Him. The name of Jesus, the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem will be written on Him.
Laodicea—A lukewarm, self-sufficient church
The commendation: There is none
The accusation: You are self-sufficient and lukewarm
You don’t realize how need you are
The counsel: Buy from Me gold refined in the fire, clothes to cover your nakedness, and eye salve to put on your eyes so that you can see!
The reward: Fellowship with Jesus “I am knocking on the door waiting to come in and eat with you.”
Also you will rule with Jesus
What have you learned?
I pray that all of us have learned something.
I have tried to include interesting facts about each of these cities,
But I pray that we learned something more than facts about Asia Minor, the cities there, the Roman Empire, the early church, etc.
I pray that each of us learned something new about Jesus and His church
Because, ultimately, I believe that all Scripture should point us toward the God of Scripture.
All Scripture should point us toward glorifying Him in our hearts, our minds, our lives
I could ask for a raise of hands but I don’t want to put any pressure on anyone to raise their hands simply to keep me from feeling bad.
Here’s what I am taking away from this series: (and maybe you can tell me after church something that you learned)
1. That we got a new fresh look at His glory, His majesty,
I got a new fresh look at the glory and majesty of our risen LORD
1. That we got a new fresh look at His glory, His majesty,
When we started this series, we talked a little bit about the image of Jesus that we might have grown up with
Pale, quiet, “other worldly”
When we are introduced to Jesus in the Gospels, he came to us as a weak and helpless baby.
He willingly laid aside His glory, position,
And He lived on this earth as a man
Not as a King, but as a Servant
and —The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give HIs life as a ransom for many
He died, willingly submitting to torture, accusations, and abuse, rose again, ascended
Now we see Him Risen and Glorified
Mount of Transfiguration—one time he revealed His glory
To a few select people: Peter, James, John.
He is no longer a Servant, the son of a carpenter, living as an itinerant preacher, with nowhere to lay His head.
Now He comes to John again who shares the revelation with us
Holding the seven stars (angels), walking among the seven golden lampstands (churches
As the First and the Last,
the One who died and came to life again
The One with the sharp, two-edged sword
Whose eyes are like a flaming fire
Whose feet are like burnished bronze
The Holy One, the True One
Who has the Key of David
Who shuts and no one can open, who opens and no one can shut
Who is the Amen (the buck stops here)
Who is the Faithful and True Witness
The Beginning of God’s creation
No longer do you see Him being led to His death. Now H
We see Him now as The Lord of His Church.
Why is this important?
It’s this Jesus who is LORD of His Church
Not me, not Perry, Leon, John. Not Menno
What is LORD? Master,
I was challenged by the desire that he has for His church to be holy.
The LORD of The Church has an intense desire for His church to be Holy. Why? Because He is holy and we are to be His reflection.
God’s desire for His people to be holy is a theme, beginning with his calling his people out of slavery
All of His commands were given to His people because of His holiness
Be perfect, just as your Father is perfect
This is a tall order. How is this accomplished
…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy
What is “in Christ Jesus?”
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight
And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—the the glory and praise of God
Jesus comes to His Church in Revelation because of His desire for them to be Holy and because of His desire for US to be Holy
It is so easy to presume on the grace of God and for us to let things slide into our lives that pull us away from Him
Anger, unforgiveness, jealously, lust, gossip, pride
We think, “Yeah, it isn’t right, but it’s not hurting anybody.”
And we think, “well at least I’m not as bad as...”
Martin Luther said, “Be careful not to measure your holiness by other people’s sins”
But those things destroy the church
Why, because we are the church. We are the body
5 of these churches were backsliding, compromising, proud, asleep, unloving
Why, because the people in them were like this
The reflection of Jesus was being tarnished or hidden altogether
Jesus comes to them with words of pleading and warning of what will happen if they do not correct what is wrong.
He has not changed. He still desires that we be holy
I saw the amazing and perfect love that He has for His church
Even in the midst of these words of condemnation and the warning of coming judgment, you still read words of love and encouragement
Even for a church like Laodicea which looks nothing like a church, he comes with words of love and words of counsel
He recognizes the hardship and persecution that HIs church endures
You remain true to my name, even when people were being persecuted and killed
The Bible says that he sympathizes with us because He, too, lived on this earth and was persecuted.
He tells us to hold on to what we have.
He recognizes that we will mess up and that we struggle
But he encourages us to not lose what we have gained
Because one day, the trials that we endure will seem like a shadow of the past
3:19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline
Don’t be discouraged if I discipline you. I do it because I love you.
This is hard for us to accept—it’s hard for our kids
But even Hebrew says that if we aren’t disciplined, then we aren’t really His children
Is everything difficult in our lives disciplining?
It may not be His response to something that we have done to sin against him
But I believe that everything is meant to mold us into what
So what did you lear
You remain true to my name, even when people were being persecuted and killed
The Bible says that he sympathizes with us because He, too, lived on this earth and was persecuted.
He tells us to hold on to what we have.
He recognizes that we will mess up and that we struggle
But he encourages us to not lose what we have gained
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