Last week we started a sermon series on the seven churches of Revelation. A lot of times when people read this book, they don’t realize it contains seven letters by Jesus sent to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Each of these seven churches was unique, each had its own struggles and issues to deal with. For instance, the church in Ephesus Jesus commanded to repent since they had forsaken their first love. The church was not as loving as it used to be. The church we’ll look at today is Smyrna.
The book of Revelation is a fascinating book, it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to the readers. (Rev.1:3). Within this book we find seven letters written to seven churches in the province of Asia Minor. Why these seven? We don’t know, but the messages we find in these letters is relevant to the churches today. The church is to represent Christ in this world, but sometimes churches go through many issues and may be distracted from their main mission as Christ’s agent in the world. Through the messages Jesus sent to these churches you get to learn what God expects of his church in this world. What does Jesus expect of his church today? We find answer to this question in our study of the seven churches of Revelation.
Growth is a wonderful thing but with it comes great challenges. We discussed this last week how the church faced challenges in the first century, but these challenges were great opportunities for them to continue growing in their faith. New ministry were being developed and ministry leaders put in place to serve in those ministries. In most churches today, you hear the word elders when referring to the leadership of the church. A lot of people may not have a clear understanding of who these people are.
The church began at the preaching of the apostles and as time progressed you will also hear the word elders for those in the leadership of the church.
A new year has begun and with it, new challengers. You will be challenged in many areas. Your faith and convictions will continue to be challenged. This is a year in which you will have to make a decision regarding who you would like to see as president of this nation. You will face challenges as individuals and we will face challenges as a church. It doesn’t matter the ministry or service you may be involved in, you will face big challenges. If you start working for God and expect it to be a walk in the park, you will be surprised. Every service or ministry has its challenges but the Bible gives us guidance in how we can overcome such challenges.
With the beginning of the New Year people tend to start making their resolutions; pledges or plans they would like to achieve. Things that they have been thinking about but have never been able to accomplish. People talk about quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthier, taking on a new hobby, working on their relationship, marriage, etc. How about working or growing in your relationship with Christ.
On September 11 2001 most of us got up and went about our business, school, jobs, etc. Our president had gone to a school to help promote reading when his meeting with the students got interrupted by a secret service agent who leaned over his shoulders and whispered “A plane just hit the world trade center.” That news rocked the world of many people. Our country hasn’t been the same ever since. Some information, messages or news tend to carry huge implications to our lives. They can really affect our lives. The visit to the Dr. as you wait the test results to find out you have a terminal disease. A shooting at the school where your kids attends. Sudden death of a love one in a car accident. These things are shocking, disturbing to your ears.
On Oct.28 to Nov.1 some of us attended ICOM, the missionary conference. One of the things I enjoy about that conference is the fact you get to know so many missions throughout the world. You get a glimpse of what God is doing in other parts of the globe. That conference is only possible due to the generosity of churches all over USA. I was encouraged this year when I saw churches in the Richmond area that came together to fund church planting. There were about 4 churches, during the conference, checks were given to those to go plant a church. The goal of the offering that weekend was $ 60, 000. Someone in the conference committed himself to give $30, 000 if they reached the goal. The next day this was reached. I was amazed at the generosity displayed there. Have you ever wondered what motivates people to be so generous?
There are so many ways people show others how grateful they are; some people just say thank you; some send thank you cards, gifts are always a way to show others love and appreciation. (Giving gifts is known as one of the five love languages DR. Gary Chapman). People bake goods. People do all sorts of things to show others they are thankful. At early age we want to implant this attitude in our kids, especially when they get gifts, so that they remember to be grateful. Throughout the Bible, God’s kindness motivated people to praise him. People composed songs to God, some brought offerings and sacrifices to God just to show the LORD how thankful they were for his loving kindness.
Webster defines contentment as: satisfied, happy, gratified or pleased. Some people think that in order to be content in life, they must accomplish something. This is the message we hear in our society: in order to be happy you have to have more things, better vacations, fewer troubles. However, the problem truly lies in our sinful self. We often find ourselves discontented in our jobs, our marriages, our churches, our homes, etc. Contentment doesn’t come naturally to us. Benjamin Franklin once said, “To the discontented man no chair is easy”
Most of us or most people take supplements; a supplement is something that is added to something in order to make it complete. There are all kinds of supplements, hair loss, for losing weight; to enhance performance; to fight anxiety, and so forth.
The Bible tells us about some supplements we are to add to our faith. As followers of Jesus, we also may experience deficiency in our walk, in our faith or even in the knowledge of how to live for God in a hostile world. God has given us everything we need to continue to grow in him, but sometimes we feel we may not be growing at the rate we want, because we have not added these supplements to our faith in Jesus.
We began to talk about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus inaugurated this kingdom when he came to earth and began preaching “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” We talked about that the Sovereign reign of Christ is not here yet. God’s people are to long for his coming kingdom, the time in which Jesus will return to earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords. As we wait for Jesus to return, have you ever wondered what you are supposed to do in the meantime? We are to continue spreading the good news that God’s kingdom is at hand and people need to repent and come to Jesus for salvation.
Most people would like to think that when they die they would go to a place the Scriptures called heaven. Heaven is one those topics we need the Bible to redefine our theology and misconceptions we have regarding this place everyone wants to go; we know so little about heaven because we let our ideas, presuppositions form our beliefs, rather than Scripture.