Revelation 3:14-22 “To the Church in Laodicea”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 3:14-22

To the Church in Laodicea

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this passage to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 


Revelation 3:1-6 “To the Church in Sardis”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 3:1-6 

To the Church in Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this passage to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 
Sermon unavailable due to technical issues.


Revelation 2:18-29 “To the Church in Thyatira”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 2:18-29 

To the Church in Thyatira

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star.  Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this passage to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 


Revelation 2:12-17 “To the Church in Pergamum”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 2:12-17

To the Church in Pergamum

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this passage to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 


Revelation 2:8-11 “To the Church in Smyrna”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Revelation 2:8-11

To the Church in Smyrna

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 


Revelation 2:1-7 “To the Church in Ephesus”

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, as I open the word of God today and read this letter that you have written to Your Church, may my heart be opened to the message you have for me, for my family, and for Hopkins Community Church.  Reveal Your Truth to Your Church that we may shed those things which bind us and blind us to what it means to be Your people, Your witnesses, Your light in this world.  Convict us, Lord, and call us to repentance.  Break the chains of comfort and complacency and empower us for the mission and ministry you uniquely call each of us to.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Revelation 2:1-7

To the Church in Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
 

Follow-up Questions:

  1. Why is God speaking to the specific church that this passage is addressed to?
  2. How do you think God is speaking through this passage to my church?
  3. What is God saying specifically to me through this passage?
 


Advent Day 25: Incarnation

Reading

 Meditation

At the risk of being over-repetitive, the Incarnation of the Word is one of the top three events that creation has ever experience.  Though I wouldn’t dare rank them, as the other two would be the death of Jesus and His resurrection, I would argue that these other two wouldn’t have happened without His birth.  The events we celebrate at Christmas set all of Jesus’s life in motion.  They pave the way for Salvation to be won for humanity.
 
While we often celebrate the fact that Jesus has “come to us,” we must also be wary of such language.  The angels announce to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day…”  We, when hearing this, and in our celebrations must be careful.  Contemporary Christianity has pushed a sort of individualized religion, one that puts the emphasis solely on ourselves.  This can be quite dangerous.
 
When we think about the reality of God becoming flesh, we must not uncouple it with the mission of God either.  Certainly, we can say with confidence that Jesus came for “us.”  We must, however, never forget that Jesus came for “them” as well.  This is the reality of the Incarnation.
 
As the Word of God “puts on flesh,” He doesn’t just come to those who “have it all together.”  He comes precisely because no human does.  We are sometimes tempted to differentiate ourselves as those who have “the true meaning of Christmas.”  Those who don’t believe, or perhaps aren’t like us, are forgotten.
 
Yet this is the exact opposite message of the Incarnation.  God had every right to keep His distance from humanity.  Instead, though, He jumps right in.  He becomes like us in every way, the writer of Hebrews says.  What would happen if we took on that same outward-focused love?  Like Paul, who “became all things to all people, in order to win some for Christ,” would we be willing to go out from “us” to “them” in the name of our Incarnate, loving, Savior?
 
Maybe that is what Christmas is really all about.

 Prayer

Almighty and Everlasting God,
No human language possesses an adequate expression of thanks for what You have done for us.
The true meaning of Your Incarnation is truly beyond our comprehension.
Yet, even in the magnitude of this event, we recognize You becoming one of us.
You took on our flesh and our life, and eventually our sin on the cross.
Even while we were still Your enemies, You came for us.
Help us to remember this true meaning of Christmas,
and to see those around us, those who we may tend to avoid,
with Your loving eyes and Your heart of mercy.
May we always seek to bring the message of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior,
to all those within the spheres of our lives,
and those outside of those spheres as well.
Amen.


Advent Day 24: Born to Reign

Reading

 Meditation

On Christmas Eve, my family would often find ourselves reflecting on the Luke 2 narrative of Jesus’ birth, whether at church or as we celebrated with our family.  It was a good moment for us to meditate on the events that we celebrate every Christmas.
 
It is, however, this passage in Isaiah, as well as other prophecies throughout the Old Testament that help to paint the bigger picture of the significance of the Incarnation of Jesus.  God didn’t come to earth to set up some manner of earthly Kingdom.  He didn’t come just to throw off an oppressive government or dispose of some tyrannical leader.  Jesus didn’t follow the pattern that was set down in many of the mythological stories of demi-gods and the like.
 
Rather, Jesus came to restore the justice and righteousness that was originally created in and for this world.  Instead of riding in on a white horse, armed for war, Jesus arrives as a helpless infant.  His goal, unlike the human rulers of the world, was to serve.  His mission was accomplished through his sacrifice.
 
The names that Isaiah gives this Messiah ironically contrast our human expectations.  The Mighty God humbled Himself to become human.  The Everlasting Father became mortal, subject to death by those He created.
 
Though He brought peace to the world, He was despised and rejected.  Yet despite all of this, His greatness is unparalleled and unmatched.  He meets all of our needs, the provider of all things in heaven and on earth.  And He will continue to as well, for all eternity.
 
As you think, reflect, and remember Christ’s birth this year, think beyond the manger in the stable.  The true picture of Christmas is world-changing.  From this point, nothing would ever be the same because salvation has come.

 Prayer

Jesus Christ, Wonderful Counselor,
We thank You for coming into the world for us.
You are the great King, the whole earth bows before you.
As we meditate on Your birth this Christmas,
help us to see the greater picture of all You have done and continue to do in our lives.
We worship You, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Our voices join with the angels singing “glory to God in the highest.”
Continue to establish Your Kingdom, Your Righteousness, and Your Peace in us,
each and every day of our lives.
Amen.


Advent Day 23: Timing and Purpose

Reading

 Meditation

Paul does a lot of work throughout his writings in the New Testament to interpret and apply the life and teachings of Jesus.  In doing so, he lays out for us exactly what the impact that Jesus’ life has on the world and, particularly, in the life of believers.  Here, we read some of his interpretation and application of what we celebrate as Christmas.
 
As we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the timing, arrival, and events of the birth of Jesus were perfectly orchestrated by God to fulfill all of the prophecies in scripture about Jesus.  God did not leave out a single detail.  Mathematically speaking, the odds of Jesus fulfilling all of the prophecies about him are astronomical.  Some people have placed this statistical probability at greater than 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power.  That is a 1 with 157 zeros behind it!
 
To put this in perspective, the chances of winning the lottery are roughly 1 chance in 302,600,000.  Additionally, the chance of getting struck by lightning twice in a lifetime is only 1 in 9,000,000.  So, for one man to fulfill all of the prophecies of Scripture about the Messiah, the chances are inconceivable and practically impossible.  Yet, for God, nothing is impossible; He makes the impossible possible.
 
Along with this, Paul also points out that Jesus’ birth happened at just the right time.  God had been working toward this for a long time, over 2,000 years in fact.  All that time was spent working out the events of history and the necessary details for Christ’s arrival.  Though it seems like a long time for us, with God a 1,000 years is like a single day.
 
While it is amazing to see God’s work over a long period of time in Scripture, we don’t always enjoy the waiting and patience that are often required in our own lives for God to work.  Once again, though, we see very clearly the faithfulness of God.  His promises are true and certain.  For us, what we see in God’s past work gives us assurance and hope for the ultimate accomplishment of His work in us and in the world.
 
Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are all living proof of this.

 Prayer

Everlasting God,
In You, all things life and move and have their being.
The whole universe exists by You, for You, and to You.
We thank you for creating us, for providing for us, and for being faithful to us.
You have shown us the fullness of Your love in sending Jesus to this world.
Through Him, You adopt us as Your own children and give Your Spirit to us.
Help us to be constantly and consistently aware of Your work,
and of Your loving and guiding presence in our lives.
May our lives reflect Your love for us and the Good News of salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.


Advent Day 22: Great Gifts

Reading

 Meditation

Anyone familiar with the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth knows that the gifts that the Magi brought were that of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The significance of these gifts, though, has been lost for us over time and cultural context.  With the rise of the use of Essential Oils in our culture, things like frankincense and myrrh are readily available to anyone.  In a booming economy, and in an increasingly cashless society, obtaining gold seems unnecessary and rather old school.
 
Yet, for Jesus and His family, these gifts had incredible value.  Frankincense and myrrh were both rare spices that had a variety of uses.  Gold, back then, as it is supposed to be even now, was the base and foundation of currency.  These were indeed great gifts.
 
More than that, however, is the reality that their bringing these gifts was also a fulfillment of prophecy.  Psalm 72:10 says, “May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him.”  Isaiah 60:6 prophecies to this event saying, “…and all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”  Both foretell the eventuality of the Magi’s presence and presents to the coming Messiah.
 
Myrrh, especially, was an oil of great value in those days.  Scripture records it as a gift that is “fit for a king.”  Incidentally, the women who wrapped Jesus’ body after His death also used myrrh as they prepared to bury Him.  Could this have been a foreshadowing of something to come?  It certainly seems possible.
 
One thing that Matthew would have wanted the reader of His Gospel to see, though, is that Jesus was the Messiah, the true King of the Jews.  His majesty and royalty have divine acknowledgment.  Gentiles and Jews alike come to worship Him and offer gifts.  Though His birth is humble, and the location almost humorous, all of the “normal” nods of divinely appointing kingship are there.

Prayer

Lord God,
All authority, dominion, and power belong to You.
Only You can grant these to another, and You have done so to Your Son, Jesus.
At His arrival here on earth, the angels sang,
kings and peasants alike bowed down.
Even in the highest heavens, stars shown out there light in glory to Him.
We worship You, today, Lord as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Help us to acknowledge Your Lordship in our lives,
and live You at the center of who we are.
In Jesus Name, we pray, Amen.