Thursday, September 3, 2015

Signs of A Dying Church

The very nature of complacency is to say, "It's no big deal," then when it's no big deal, you become complacent. Then when you become complacent it is no big deal. Like one big circle. It's a spiral. It's fatal. When we as Christians, say, "I've done that before, I can pull that off. I won't bother you, God with that." It's a self reliance upon our own resources and that is a dangerous thing. We need God in everything we do. When a church begins to die, it departs from a Holy Spirit dependent position. It happens so slowly we don't even realize it is happening. Do you remember when our church used to...? Beware of those words, those churches are coasting on their former victories.

Instead of marching forward, it had become easily to boast of it's former victories and that is just what was happening in the Church of Sardis. Some churches have become mausoleums, you whisper when you walk in. May our churches never sound like coffins. If you don't have the Holy Spirit controlling your life, you may as well crawl into your own coffin. Some churches have big names in certain cities. What goes on in those churches? Just because it is big, doesn't mean its successful and that God is dwelling there. Is it walking and exhibiting the power of the Holy Spirit? A church can be like a big train, and just because you cut the power off, it will still keep going. It's moving off of the old power is used to have. Is the Spirit of God moving there?

Jesus told the church of Sardis that they were alive. They had it all. Mission outreaches, internet and radio broadcasts, right off the freeway, big church with a grand name. We should be going where the Holy Spirit is moving. It's exhibited in the love of God's people. They should be dependent on God. A church should not be concerned about how much money it raises, it needs to be God dependent, not church dependent. They should never ask you to belly up to the bar and cash out. "Where God guides, God provides."

When a church begins to die, Jesus says with His eyes of fire, "I know how much money this church makes, I know exactly where your priorities are, I know what the pastor is doing?" It's source of power is gone. When the Holy Spirit is no longer the source of power for the church. He gives 4 scathing diagnosis to the church.

1. You. Me, myself and I. Jesus says to the Church of Sardis. "You have a name." That is all they were concerned about. 'How to become a successful church' was their best seller at their local stores. Isn't it interesting how many of those programs are out there. Tips on how to grow churches by 10%. Why in the world would you limit what God can do? How about going to churches that are growing for FREE. You want to be careful you don't curse yourself by boasting how well you are doing. If it's not the Holy Spirit, its nothing but what will burn in the end. It's a tragic thing. Jesus pleads with them, to strengthen the things that remain. He always gives hope even when He is denouncing a church. Jesus always ruined a perfectly good funeral by raising their dead. He always gives hope.

He said there is a few that have not defiled their garments, in that church. Can you imagine Jesus saying that in your church? Jesus holds the power to the churches in His hand. He is the one responsible for the successes of churches not man's power. They boast that His blessings are the results of their efforts. Those are the signs that we are dead. If our lives are so fine, we don't need God, or prayer meetings. We have our salvation, we don't need anything else. We got a healthy family, home on a hill, great job, clothes, I am fine. Jesus could say, you have a name that you are alive, but in reality, You are dead!

If Jesus doesn't return soon, where will your church be? What will we leave the next generation after we are gone? Will be pass along to them to passionately seek Jesus, to not grieve the Holy Spirit, and live your life that people who see you will see Jesus glorified in your life.

Beware of the signs of a dying church:

1. We see our past experiences more exciting that our present ones. 
2. We go to church to attend, without the expectation of God speaking to us. We attend rather than be attentive.
3. When our financial investments in the church begins to wane. Your checkbook never lies about where your passion is.
4. Prayer meetings will begin to evaporate in your church. When prayer is put on the back burner.

If we stick to God's Word, we won't have to worry about the future.

Isaiah 55:11 ~ "So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Do You Have Spiritual Cancer?

When a train, plane or ship gets moving, it's kinda of difficult to get it to stop. You can turn the power off and it will still go for quite awhile. Even in big churches, once you get the momentum going, we can become complacent. We see this even in today's modern times. The question you should be asking is "Are we still doing God's work here?" Churches should always contemplate before making any decision, is how will it glorify the church or glorify the Lord.

Are you a Christian? Because when you say that, you make that a public declaration to the world what your life should look like. We better be careful  when we say it because when you say you are a "Christian," it means "I follow Christ!" We are now living in a world of recreational Christianity. We just want to bring Him out on Sunday's only and even then, we don't want our pastors to go one minute over their allotted time slots. No more than an hour to an hour and a half. We put Jesus back after that.

Remember the signs of dying church? One of reasons is when Jesus Christ is no longer consulted. Jesus is either the Lord and Savior of your life, or He isn't your Lord or Savior! When pastors stop seeking the will of God, then the hearts of the people will likely follow. It's a very frightening thing when that happens. Is God working through the pastor of your church? You know that pastors will stand before the throne and give an account to what they are teaching duties of any church. Jesus Christ when writing this letter to the Church of Sardis, He is addressing it to the church leaders, but also the the leaders of the church age as well. We have learned in our study into the Book of Revelation that in each of these letters to the seven churches, they also apply to certain aspects of our own spiritual life at one point or another. This is the reason we ask, "What kind of church are you?"

If you are a believer in Jesus, one of these letters in the Book of Revelation, applies to you right now in your life. In this case with the Church of Sardis, Jesus' letter indicts the church on a few things.

1. Complacency: You never take your hands out of your pockets. You don't do anything for the Lord, you're not interested in that. This church of Sardis began to slack off. They had quite the reputation. Out of all the churches in the seven letters, Sardis was the most popular church. Everyone knew about the church of Sardis, it had a reputation. If it existed today, we would send people to that church to learn how to grow the church and its ministry. The church was so accepted in the community that the community began to depend on the church for godly things but for conditional things. They became comfortable.

Vance Havner writes in his book, Playing Marbles with Diamonds, that we need the Holy Spirit to comfort those who are afflicted and afflict those that are comfortable. They wanted messages that only made them feel good, no negative comments in their sermons. They didn't want people to tell them what to do. Only positive messages from the pulpit please! No one took the church seriously anymore.  They had grown complacent when it grows old. They were rotting in the church with how comfortable they were. They didn't want anything new in their church. They don't like the color of the carpets, or chairs, music or anything different than what was their traditions dictated. Is your church growing old?

Do you hear things like, "Well this is the way we have always done it." Maybe the Holy Spirit wants to do something different. Do your pastors messages sound the same? Pray for your pastor, that He spends time alone with God in study, you have to get the messages from God, not the internet or in some book. It's like eating old manna. You ever eat old bread? You might eat it if you were dying. A pastor needs to be spending study time with God and have God dictate the message. A pastor should never want to hear that "his messages all sound the same." If a pastor stops growing, so will his church through his messages to them.

2. Jesus is the proprietor of His church, paid for with His own blood. It was bought and paid for by His blood on the cross. You just need to accept the offer. It needs to left in the hands of Jesus to use as His will. He is in charge. That regardless of a churches condition, progress or failure, the Holy Spirit is always watching. And God is patient, giving man time and opportunity to repent, or to strengthen up in spiritual matters. Have you ever thought about how your doing in your relationship with Jesus Christ?

Jesus has the seven spirits of God = watching.
and the seven stars = the men who answer to God for the direction of that church.

Pastor Jesus was saying in the end, these men will answer to Me alone.

3. If we don't consult Jesus, it's over. Human now take over the church, if we won't consult Jesus. That just like Porky Pig saying, "That's all folks" at the end of the cartoons. Haven't you seen a local church is your town, dry up and blow away? When Jesus is no longer consulted, the church begins to die from the inside out. In the letter to the church of Sardis, at the conclusion of verse 1, that is all the good that Jesus had to say to them. From here on out it was all downhill.

What kind of church are you, when the Holy Spirit is no longer in power! When's the last time you asked God to fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit. We can't live Christianity without His power. They lost the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 3:1b -2~ " 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 not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God."

The worst patients are doctors, because they know what goes on. Like a passionate surgeon, here Dr. Jesus, the Great Physician, cuts into the body of the church of Sardis, and looks inside and is sickened by what He sees on the inside, and sees spiritual cancer and disease of complacency. He stops and begins to stitch her up, saying "you are as good as dead. There is nothing I can do here." Instead of marching forward, it had become easier to boast of past victories.

"Christianity has no grandchildren; and a church alive for Jesus Christ, will never turn into a coffin."

Sardis was resting on its reputation, and for this reason, Jesus denounces it as a dead church.  Are you willing to be revived? This was the only hope for the church of Sardis. Maybe God is trying to lay you open through things going on in your life so He can revive you and bring you back. Are you willing?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Does a Church Die?

Welcome back to our continuing Bible Study into the Book of Revelation, the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing on those who read and hear it's words. We've been going through this in very detailed studies, not trying to rush through anything so things are explained that may have been misunderstood or simply didn't understand because you can't simply just read the words, in the book, you have to study them, specific words in the original context in Hebrew, Greek or other word origins, because as we studied thus far into the letters to the seven churches, they were not only realy churches in Asia Minor, now modern day Turkey, but they also chronicled the age of the church and lastly that each of these letters are applicable to us as believers in our current spiritual state. This is what prompts the question in each of these studies to "What kind of church are you?"

We begin today with the Church of Sardis or the fifth of the seven churches, Jesus personally addresses here. One thing you don't want is to be anything like the Church of Sardis. It was a church that was very complacent, they were in a lucrative and affluent area, very successful, they were very comfortable in their culture and thus the reason for the rebuke from Jesus. He warns them to take their eyes off of the things of this world and back onto the things of Heaven and faith. He tells them, they believed they had a great name. He says, you're alive, but I say you're dead. There was no heartbeat in this church towards the things of heaven. They had become complacent and settled on their laurels. He basically tells them to ship out, and even reminds them that there are a few in the church that are still hanging in there, he alludes them to get it together otherwise their name might be blotted out from the book.

We need to understand that if you are truly a Christian believer, and have found salvation and repented of your sins through the offering of Jesus Christ, your name will never be blotted out from the Lamb's book of life. The reason Jesus is addressing the church here is that some may not have been so solid in their faith, they looked the part but were lacking true salvation on the inside. The question we need to look at our own spiritual lives is this, is your name in the Lamb's book of Life? Do you know Christ personally?

So when looking at the churches in the Book of Revelation, we are also to take a look at what kind of Christian you are because each of these letters deals with things believers struggle with. You and I are a church, in our home, in our work, the people we hang out with. We are a witness. You are a church in your own life. It defines the kind of church you attend as well. We learn churches are impacted by their leadership, so the way the church goes, so does it's leaders and pastors.

Today we are looking at how does a church die? Churches aren't supposed to die, they are supposed to live, because they are alive due to their belief in Jesus Christ which can never die. How many of us have grown up in communities that have watched churches die? Why does that happen? We know the gates of hell that will not prevail against His church. They won't prevail, but the truth is that churches start and fail. Jesus wrote this letter to a church so sick that it had died.

He is calling out to them to remind them what is happening to them. The church of Sardis on the surface, looked like a church you wanted to attend on the outside. It was the desired tourist stop in the Ancient world. It was a beautiful place, located in the valley of Hermus, east of Smyrna on the Mediterranean and south of Thyatira. It is modern day "Sart" and that is all that is left of the city of Sardis of that day. There are lots of tremendous ruins still available today. Isn't wonderful that we can still go to places like that today, based on the Bible, and prove it is not a story or fable. Our faith is based on fact today. The church was been the greatest influence in the world today. It is raising the standard of what we see like women's rights to be treated well, we get that from the Bible.

Sardis was the most famous of the Lydian regions of the Roman Empire. In fact if you saw the movie Gladiator, you have seen the most historically accurate Roman Empire at about the time of the writing of the book of Revelation. It is the most accurate recreation of Rome based on the facts we know about Rome from that time. In fact the historian Eusebius, tells of a letter from Melito, the bishop of Sardis, when he wrote to the emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son, Com-mo-dus, counseling them to enact a decree to the magistrates of Asia Minor, to stop all persecutions of the Christian churches, and to take no further evil actions against the Christians.

Sardis was a comfortable church, easy place to live in. Welcome to the City of Sardis, It was considered the greatest city of its day, at an elevation of 1500 feet above the Hermus valley, with a 360 degree view, it was considered impregnable from invading powers. It was well fed by a fresh water river, Pack-ta-lus. However Sardis was conquered. The King of Lydia was a man named Creesus, an extremely wealthy and powerful man, who resided above that perfect elevated city of Sardis. He believed that he had been called by his god (Delphi) to rule the world. He consulted with oracles about if he should conquer the world. He believed what they told him that he could attack and destroy other cities.

And so rumors of war began to spread. So the King Cyrus of Persia sent spies to survey the region and the city of Sardis. One night history records, William Ramsey writes, how a Persian spy watched a Sardian soldier drop his helmet over the side. He traversed a secret path, picked up his helmet and went on his way. It was that little observation by that Persian spy that enabled the Persian forces to sneak into the city that night undetected and took the city. Later Antiochus III,  brought his army to Sardis and guess what? Captured it exactly as the Persians had done. Sardis means the ones who have escaped. But escaped its spiritual carnality or escaped its invading forces?

Revelation 3:1-6 ~ "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 not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, 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. He who overcomes will, be like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has a ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (NIV)

What kind of church are you, when Jesus Christ is no longer the counselor or consulted as a church. (verse 1a). They became comfortable. When He writes to the Sardis, it is an open rebuke to the church. Are you disgusted in your performance as a Christian? When we proclaim we are a Christian it means that we follow Christ.

It is so easy to slap on a label or a sticker. What we need to ask our ourselves is what is behind our label or sticker. We need to make sure we are representing Jesus well in our lives and not just recreational users. The world these days is looking for the real deal, can it be found it you? If we live our lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we will attract a world, that is hurting, especially in light of the growing persecution that is happening around the world. Did you know on average 362,000 Christians die every year for their faith, most in Central and Northern Africa and that number is growing?

So why would you want to claim this kind of faith when it could get you killed? The church today needs to grow in its purity and strength and stop being a cancerous growth.

Monday, August 31, 2015

False Doctrine is Entering Churches, What Can We Do? Part 23

As we come back to our conclusion on the church of Thyatira, we remember that this was a church that allowed false doctrines to not only come into the church, but became a part of what the church was becoming. It was a lover of itself also known as the church of Jezebel which we will learn more about today into our study into the Book of Revelation, the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing to not only the one who reads the words found within but hears it as well.

Revelation 1:3 ~ "Bless is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."(NIV). 

As we begin in the letter to the church of Thyatira, Jesus warns of a type of church that has allowed false doctrines to permeate the church so it becomes loveless. It is what the church of Ephesus had become, loveless. They had forgotten their first love. Smyrna was a church that was gripped by the fear of persecution if you remember. We looked at the church of Pergamum which had allowed doubt and compromise to enter their church. Now we look once more at the church of Thyatira, their morality, their light, their commitment to Christ, began to wane.

I think we fail to take into consideration how serious this is. If you take a plane from LAX bound for Hawaii and that plane is off by just 1 degree, you will miss the island by miles. If you have a Bible, God's going to hold us accountable for what we know and what we did with what we know. We need to spend more time understanding and reading our Bibles more as the end times draws near. The Book of Revelation is key. Did we take the time to pick it up and study it? That is why we are doing this in depth study into the Book of Revelation, so that you would know what God's will is for you, and your church and your life.

Jesus is comparing the church of Thyatira to the spirit  or doctrine of Jezebel from the Old Testament, had crept into the church to its leaders, that had allowed it to become part of this church. This is why it is such a challenge to the leadership of the church. When Jesus examines our confession, we must be diligent to teach the Word of God.

Revelation 2:20 ~ "Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols."

It would benefit you to take the time later to understand how for the last 2000 years the doctrine of Jezebel has managed to creep its way into the modern day church. Remember what the war plan of Satan has been thus far. Against the church of Ephesus, Satan used the fact that the church was so busy, that they managed to lose their first love. Satan used the fear of persecution to the church of Smyrna so much that the would be willing to say that "Caesar is Lord." to save their life. He used the church of Pergamum to embrace heresy, so that they would compromise, remember? Satan's war plan against the church of Thyatira, is so true in our modern age. Build a church. Fill up the parking lot, put a cross on the building, have Bibles and hymnals and do all that stuff. Satan would say that is fantastic. Just begin to bring in some good, old-fashioned traditions, and doctrines that have no business in the church, but they're so old, so rooted and so grounded, among religious people and pretty soon, they will begin to say it's okay. You believe that? That's okay, let's just be one big happy family.

If you have ever been to Europe, everything is one bank, one Euro, one union, one thought, one religion, one direction, one people, everything. It's a oneness, compromise at the expense of including people.

Romans 2:22 ~ "You would say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?" 

Every one of us holds to a certain morality. But is that a good thing? The Bible says that humanistic morality leads you away from God. Satan is the one who swallows a camel but strains to swallow an ant. Hypocrisy. This is a dangerous thing, this doctrine of Jezebel. The name Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, but the name now is synonymous with false worship and church sanctioned sexual activity. She ordered the murder of true believers of YHWH God. In New Testament times, the title, "Jezebel" is a freakish hybrid worship system, that hides in the name of Christianity, that allows sexual indulgence without punishment or fear of judgment. She had priests and priestesses, that encouraged an immorality appeased by religion. This demonic representation of Jezebel claimed to be the Oracle = the mouthpiece of God. The doctrine was this, the pagan world around them, adopted the doctrines that when a prophet would speak, they would take that as what we would say is the gospel truth.

Jeremiah 7:15-19 ~ "I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim. So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares the LORD. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?" 

God indicts a people who has forsaken Him and they have bowed to what Jeremiah calls this worship the doctrine of Jezebel, the worship of the Queen of Heaven. If you have ever done any study on the Queen of Heaven, that whoever the Queen of Heaven is, she has given birth to ALL things, that she has given birth to God, Himself; she sits and rules and reigns over the earth, and all that there is and for 3000 years and this doctrine has taught that you, as a human being, cannot relate to God in Heaven unless, you go through the Queen of Heaven first. This precedes the book of Acts, this precedes the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; this is rooted in ancient Babylonian-ism. It goes back to the times of the Pharoahs.

The church at Thyatira embraced it! It said that when this icon or image or statue speaks, dedicated to the Queen of Heaven, the doctrine of Jezebel, we obey. And when it becomes, when that oracle speaks, on behalf of God, it is doctrine. Did not the Bible say in the last days, God who once spoke to us through his prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. See how this hits home to how many of us have been brought up. The Protestant church is guilty of rarely if ever addressing the honor, due to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the wife of John. When you read what the Bible has to say about Mary, she was a godly woman, she loved the Lord, she gave glory and honor to God. She obeyed God. The Lord chose her, not for her holiness, but she herself said, I rejoice in the Lord my Savior and the God of my Salvation. Protestants should give honor in that way to Mary, and the reason why so many swing away from that and even her cousin Elizabeth who gave birth to John the Baptist, is because there are those who have deified Mary. Isn't it interesting according to the Bible that Mary's last words recorded ever were, "Whatever my son says to do, do it."

In Romanism, there is the worship of what is called the Queen of Heaven and the Old Testament condemns it. Mary is not the Queen of Heaven. She was a wonderful precious sister of ours in Christ who we will see in Heaven and worship Christ with her. She is not the co-redeemer as is taught in Mary worship. These are tremendous things that are directly linked to the Queen of Heaven. If Mary could part a cloud and talk to us today, she would set us straight.

We see as we draw closer to the end times, we see people following bizarre, abhorrent manifestations of people who bow down and worship and dedicating their lives to trees, pots, trinkets and food items that are weeping, all around the world. Aberrations. People want signs and miracle. They want to see something so they can set up a shrine, where spiritual ignorance exists. Why can't they simply open the Bible and read the truth? What in the world is going on? They will believe in aliens and others that will fight Darwinism to death. There are scientists now leaning to intelligent design and dismiss evolution now. What's happened? People will follow anything instead of reading the Bible.

We will spend tons of time reading and doing other things that occupy our time, but spend less than a minute reading our Bible and then wonder why we are lead astray with every wind of doctrine that comes along. Do you realize that most of the people who died when the Titanic hit the iceberg died while they were asleep or partying? There was a warning that went out before it ever hit the iceberg, but no one listened.  What were they doing when it hit? Partying and sleeping. It took a long time for it to sink, however, long enough for people to rush back to their rooms to line their pockets with cash and jewelry, gold bricks that they were taking to America and jump overboard. Due to the weight, they went straight to the bottom. It could have been prevented, they were warned. They didn't listen.

When God examines our confession, we must not be like those stuck in religion. Jesus here issues a strong and damning end to such false Christians.

Revelation 2:21-22 ~ "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. "
These very religious people needed to experience conversion = salvation. What they failed to do was repent. Remember when you were a child, and you built a clubhouse, those who wanted to join had to know the password. If you knew the password, you were allowed in. In Christianity, there is a code word or password and that is "In Christ."

1 John 5:11-13 ~ "And this is the testimony: God has give us eternal life, ad this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Sn of God so that you may not you have eternal life."

1 John 5:20 ~ "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 

If we know Him we will not get led astray from false teachers or confused by man-made religions.

John 10:14 ~" I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me."

John 10:27-28 ~ "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." 

John 10:4-5 ~ "When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 

When God examines our confession, we must COME OUT from that which is dying.

Revelation 2:23 ~ "I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

We learned in verses 21-22 of Revelation 2, that Jesus reminds us that "I gave her time to repent."

Revelation 21-22 ~ "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. "

His nature leaves the door open, but Judases refuse the offer. It's like saying, "She made her bed, let her lie in it." This came from this verse. Her bed was awesome. It was warm and inviting. It was a bed that made you say thanks because it felt so good. But after a while those smooth silk sheets began to made you think and feel in other ways as well. Until the bed she made for us, gave us such a feeling that nothing that we did could be wrong, and if by chance it was wrong, she would cover that too.

A sick bed is a bed that leads to hell, in comfort, pleasure and ease. The spirit of Jezebel says that you can live like the world and still be a Christian. What can be better than that?

Jesus warns in Revelation 2:23 ~ "I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

Please hear me on this, not me, but the Lord Jesus Christ. These are not Christian believers here, these are they that have been lied to, and they want it so.

John 3:6-8 ~ "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it please. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

John 3:14-21 ~ "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Revelation 2:23 ~ "Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and mind (kidneys) , and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ~ "What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

When we face a lack of water in our bodies, the end result is hurting kidneys.

Jesus says that in Revelation 2:24, ~ "Now to those of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have learned Satan's so-called deep secrets ( I will not impose any other burden on you).

Wouldn't you have wanted to be one of those people who did not accept the doctrine of Jezebel? That this was Jesus' message to you.

Revelation 2:25-29 ~ "Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery - just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear that the Spirit says to the seven churches."

Jesus warns that the doctrine being taught in those in Thyatira who were marrying the power of Christianity to the power of Rome, had a hope through Constantine to conquer the globe and make Christianity the world religion. Jesus says Oh no! It's not through human efforts, its through Spirit. He is telling them not to believe in that message. Not a marriage through church and state, it will come through My means. God will bring forth His kingdom, not man.

He clearly defines the body of Christ, from those who believe and those that believe in false doctrines in this letter and what the outcome will be for both. Let us not confuse the two. The church in Thyatira believed in the doctrine that said, that God could only be reached through a mediator, and this mediator was the Queen of Heaven. This was the doctrine of Jezebel.

1 Timothy 2:5 ~ "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ." 

To pray to a statue, a icon, an image, if you are praying to anyone other than God, it is an abomination to the Lord and spiritual adultery. No one takes Jesus' place. There is no one else. No pastor, favorite spiritual person, no Pope, no institution that can guarantee you access to God, but Jesus Christ!

There will be no Utopia on this earth and no one can bring it here on this earth. Don't let anyone fool you! No one in government will bring perfect peace on earth, no matter what they attempt to do. Just Jesus and one day He will bring that to fulfillment.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What Does Your Spiritual Blood Reveal About You?

Welcome back to our study into the Book of Revelation and we are taking another look at the Church of Thyatira, the church had pretty much let down its guard and wanted to blend itself with the world. We certainly see that happening not only in churches from the past, but churches even today. What we need to remember is that even though these letters were written to the churches of Asia Minor, they are also a letter to the lives of Christian believers of today. Have you let down your guard, wanting to blend into the world around you? Jesus has something to say to you through this letter to the church of Thyatira today.

How much trouble do we get into when we let the world come into our lives and begin to influence us? People today are more concerned with how cool a church can be rather than how relevant it can be. You might say your church is relevant today, but I would ask you to define what makes it relevant or cool? You never compromise for one thing to be relevant. If you want to be effective, you want to be different. Be wary of a church that looks like the world, acts like the world. That is a dangerous place to be and one that takes a step downward to the slippery slope. The church of Thyatira was a sick and dying church.

The city of Thyatira was a tremendous place. They produced an abundant amount of wool. They had an incredible amount of textile industries for dying material and fabrics. They had the first known union of the Roman Empire. It was a wool worker's union. Because so much wool, fabric and material was produced there it made them extremely affluent. It was a very beautiful town in comparison to the other cities we have studied, but they were very resourceful. If you had any clothing made from Thyatira, it would have been very colorful. That is what they were known for, abundant colors in their fabric and material. Armani, Gucci and other top designers would have been based there. It was a real place, it had a real church and it was a place of affluence that could be found there.

But some things went on there that led to some very serious indictments from Jesus Christ. When He says in His opening statement, "I am the Son of God and I have these eyes of fire and feet of brass." You've got to learn this practice so you can do it next week and that is "Why did Jesus say that?" "Why did He say that to this church?" Well, when He said that He was the Son of God, it was said and taught in the city of Thyatira that there were other ways to God. The church began to adapt those other avenues. Could you imagine what would happen in the 21st century if someone walked into a church and the man behind the pulpit said, "Welcome all of God's children!" It sounds nice doesn't it?  But it is not exactly accurate according to the Bible. "Welcome all of God's children, no matter what you believe. We are all God's children. All roads lead to heaven. It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in that belief. God will look upon your sincerity and evaluate that level of sincerity." The word judge or judgment would never be used. Sin would never be mentioned and there would never be a gospel message preached with the word repentance in it. There is no such thing as the gospel without the word repentance in it!!!

The first word of the gospel is repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. A lot of people go around and simply say, "Just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." That is a half truth. You need to understand why you are turning away from your sin and the world and you're fleeing to Jesus Christ. It's a very important thing! Be careful of the subtle things that are being left out in a spiritual context because the Church of Thyatira had departed from the Bible that they had and they didn't preach the full counsel of God. When you don't do that, you embrace all kinds of things from the world. Just so you can look good, not ruffle any feathers or cause any waves. This is a dangerous thing!

Jesus says, "I am the Son of God" so you ask that question, "Why did He say that?" Because His very presence in the church was being challenged by a doctrine of belief that is called Jezebel. He says, "I've got the eyes that are holy and pure. My feet exercise judgment." He says,  "I walking in the midst of the church and I am the Son of God. I see with perfect vision into the heart of every human being and every person in this church, I am looking at you and I see exactly what is in your heart. I know if your doctrine is true or not. And by the way, My feet are like polished brass, that is I am the One who stands in perfect judgment and I will either reconcile your case before God and once again set you on firm ground, firm doctrine and truth or you will experience My judgment of My wrath and holiness. This is the awesome resurrected Jesus Christ and it is tremendous!

When He says, "He has eyes like the flame of fire," guess what kind of gods were worshiped there? You know his name, Apollo was worshiped there and guess what kind of attribute it was said that Apollo had? Eyes of a flame of fire. Helios was worshiped there. What kind of feet did they say that Helios had? Take a guess? That's right, feet like brass. That is why Jesus says these things to the Church of Thyatira. Jesus is saying, listen up. "I am the Son of God, no one else! I've got the eyes, not them! I have the feet, not these pagan gods!" You see this kind of worship had crept into the church. Jesus is saying, "Let's set this straight. You belong to me and you need to know the truth!"

1 Corinthians 13:12 ~ "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face." 

That is when Christ comes or we go to Him. Then we will see Him face to face. Do you ever stop and think about that? When we stand before Him, we will see Him face to face. We will know Him as we are known. You and I are going to know God. People will often say when they get the opportunity to see God, they have quite a few questions for Him. You will not. You will know because God will give you the knowledge of what you need to know. Right now we look through a glass dimly, that is why God gives us the Bible so we could worship Him, obey God and love one another according to the Bible, not according to me, the church or anything else. What does God say? That is what we do!

A Christian is someone who by the power of the Holy Spirit, experiences God living His life out through us. Above all we Christians are the most shocked and surprised when anything awesome comes out of our lives because we know that is God doing the doing. It's like where did that come from? Thank You Lord because that was not in me. You know when someone cuts you off on the freeway and you come up along side them you say, "Praise the Lord, brother!" That's the Lord! I know what I can do.

He sees everything, that is the meaning of His eyes. Now we see that when God is in our life as an actual reality, it will be a healthy reality.

Revelation 2: 19 ~ "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first."

When your Christianity is healthy, there will be obvious signs of life. According to Jesus those signs are (4) blood types, if you will of a healthy church.

1. I know your works, it is LOVE. This is agape love, the strongest and highest level of the Greek meaning of the word love. It is a active love, a verb that does, meaning practical affection and benevolence, unlike Ephesus, dead right in their Christianity. Sometimes people at church are the biggest bunch of huggers. It might seem weird. When people say they love you, they are saying it because it is a God thing. It's hard to explain to someone who isn't a Christian. We need to watch out that we aren't just saying things that are "Christianese." The church in Thyatira is an active church, they acted it out. If they saw someone in need, they would always stop. What do you do when you see someone who looks different from you. Would you stop? Jesus would and so would this church!
It creates such an opportunity to share your faith with someone in those circumstances because they would not be expecting it.

2. I know your works, it is SERVICE. The word here for service is "diakoni or diakonia, a church willing to attend to the needs of the body. It is where we get the word "Deacon."

3. I know your works, it is FAITH. The word here for faith is"pistis" meaning loyal, non spasmodic, but more and spiritual conviction, your desire for truth, your reliance on Christ for salvation, your consistency and assurance about Christ being your Savior. They really loved the Bible. They had loyalty to the Scriptures and would go to the church. But they left out certain Scriptures and substituted others which we will look at later.

4. I know your works, it is PATIENCE. The word here for patience is hupomone, meaning to take it when it's tough/ if you're cheerful and hopeful waiting for Jesus, your glad endurance. you're continuance at waiting for His return. They were busy about their Father's business. Living as if He could come at any moment. Paul the apostle was excited about the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Are you?

What kind of church are you, when He examines your confession of faith?

All these things are true if we were the church back in Thyatira and Jesus commends us for those things, but as He begins to examine our confession of faith, what does He find? I got to tell you, this petrifies me, because verse 20 tells us that we have to be diligent to teach the Word of God, line by line, precept upon precept, chapter by chapter, book by book. Here is the reason why,

He says, "I have a few things against you." Have you ever had someone tell you that "You're such a great worker." Have you ever been called into the bosses office? "I just want to tell you that your such a great worker. Have a seat." Look whenever your boss tells you to have a seat, I don't know if that is going to be good or bad, you know? You get a little tense. Because you know if its such great news, it's not going to take long. "Hey! How are you going? Come on it. Have a seat. You know you're love for this company is wonderful, you're an inspiration to many people around here. I just thought I'd let you know that. Your service, in fact, you know how a couple of weeks ago, you got the company service award? Fantastic! That's really great. I wish more employees were like you! And your faith in this corporation and what we do, what we make and what we stand behind, ah it's fantastic! Your patience? I know things have not always gone well for you, but you hung in there! With joy even! Excited as how things might turn around! Nevertheless...." Does any of that stuff matter now? Not a word! Most of us want the bad news up front. You know don't butter me up like a turkey, just cook me up front! Let me have it, I want to hear the bad news up front!

Here Jesus commends them to give them hope not to give them some false picture. With this we need to be diligent to preach the Word of God. Your blood types correlate with spiritual types, He is going to draw your blood and determine what is going on inside of you. We hope that our blood shows what is going on so we know what we can do to fix it. On Monday, we will finish up with our study into the Church of Thyatira and I hope you will join us.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recap of Revelation to Understand the Letter to Thyatira - Part 21

Today we begin our study into the fourth church in the Book of Revelation, the church of Thyatira, pronounce (thigh - a - tie - ra), who had lost their vision of who Jesus Christ was, they were so accustomed to bringing into their worship the human and pagan side of things, they viewed various gods, like Apollo, who had the eyes like a flame of fire, or even other Greek gods, Helios for example, with feet of fiery brass. Jesus comes on the scene and just lays it out for them about who He is! I am the Son of God, I have the eyes of fire, I have the feet of brass, and He straightens out their theology in seconds.

If this is your first time, finding this study today, I welcome you. We are going through the Book of Revelation, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Sometimes even word by word. We are certainly going through the letters of the seven churches of the Book of Revelation, and that Jesus wrote after his great ascension back into heaven. We remember when He ascended among the disciples in Acts, Chapter 1, when He ascended back up to heaven in glory, and there the messengers that stood there in white, be it, as angels or two men in white apparel as it says in the Bible, heavenly manifestations no doubt as they stood there and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." ~ Acts 1:10.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, He wrote as it were, seven letters, to these churches in Asia Minor, and they were dispatched as it were in Revelation 1 via an angel to John the apostle. John writes it down by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and these letters are sent out to all seven churches of Asia, but we need to remember to keep this truth in mind, there were many more than 7 churches in Asia Minor, that is today modern Turkey. But those seven cities or seven churches located in those seven cities, created almost an elongated circle, and each of those seven churches had a condition which they lived in and certain doctrines that they either fought against or allowed into the churches that were false, and they put up with sin, in their culture, in their age, in one degree or another. But the truth is, they all belonged to the family of Jesus Christ. The important thing to keep in mind is not all of those people in those churches, were Christians, just like every church that claims to know Christ. Not everyone that attends church is a Christian. You know that, that's just the way it is.

Sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car, just as sitting in church doesn't make you a Christian! You can't just go to church for six months and say "I am Christian." They try to fit in because their morality or behavior does go along with that of the world, they love the safety the church provides because they offer an October 31st celebration that is family friendly and safe for their children, rather than go into the world and experience those things; it's a great way to celebrate the Christmas season rather than getting caught up in the things of the world; they are not exactly comfortable inside the church but they are certainly not comfortable outside the church; there's a sense of morality they enjoy; they enjoy a sense of belonging but outside of that it doesn't go any further. There is no deep or committed entering into the things of God as God has declared or Christ has invited.

We see today the church of Thyatira, it was in a very dangerous place, by the way, the place that we are going to in this study today, this is important because the church of Thyatira not only existed back in that day, but also in the church chronologically but in the hearts of people today who claimed to know Christ. The letters to these churches are not only contemporary, but so contemporary that we might find ourselves guilty of some of the things that Jesus indites them upon. So this is a very challenging portion of Scripture. Why is this important? Because you and I make up a church.

Are we going to be a loving church? Are we going to be a church that is effective? Are we going to be a church that is benevolent to the needs of the people? Are we going to be a church that is faithful to the Word of God even if it involves persecution like the Church of Smyrna? Are we going to be involved and committed to the Bible for what it says for remember the Bible does not contain the Word of God, the Bible IS the Word of God! That the Scripture is not only endorsed by God, but is breathed by God. The Bible was NOT written by men, the Scriptures say that the Bible, by the Holy Spirit possessed these men and wrote the very Word of God, Himself! The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, used in the various eye witness accounts if it were, of its authors and writers of these 66 books.

By way of review, I want to point out the thrust in light of where we are going. In Chapter 1, remember this, by the end of Chapter 1 from the beginning to the end in just those few verses, we came to the conclusion at the end of Chapter 1 this is what we found out about the Revelation of Jesus Christ:

That is He is Jesus.
That He is the Christ.
He is the Faithful Witness. He is exclusive, not one of many. He is the ONLY one!
He is the First Begotten of the Dead. He is the first one to be resurrected from the dead to never die again.
He is the Prince of the Kings of the Earth. He is the governor and judge over all the judicial systems.
He is the One who has loved us and washed us from our sins with His own blood.
He is the One who comes with the clouds. 
He is the One who was pierced for us.
He is the Alpha and the Omega.
He is the Beginning and the End.
He is the First and the Last.
He is the Lord.
He is the Almighty God.
He is the Son of Man.
He is He that liveth and and was dead and is alive forever more.

The great testimony of who Jesus Christ is. It's enough to blow your mind. 

And now as we have been studying Chapter 2, we see that for each church, for each of its particular reasons have been in need of hearing again exactly what they and every believer in Jesus Christ was in need of...a Jesus Christ who is exactly as the Word of God has revealed Him to be. In each of the letters written to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor, John is given a list of key descriptions of Jesus Christ!

Revelation 1:10-16 ~ "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea" I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man, " dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like woo, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."(NIV).

People may mock and reject Him, but it is Jesus Christ who is enthroned in heaven and it is that same Jesus Christ who is coming again in great glory and power and all the angels worship Him. Each one of these attributes of Jesus Christ does and will apply to their lives as well as ours. We now see what Jesus writes to those who are mating, blending or joining itself with the world. It has let down its guard concerning the Bible, and it has allowed the world to come in, and form much of its existence.

Revelation 2:18-29 ~ "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 who 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 prophetess. 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 learned Satan's so-called deep secrets ( I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations - "He will rule them with an iron scepter: he will dash them to pieces like pottery" - just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (NIV).

We are going to look at three very important things you should note, we are going to get through most of the first two points to spend more time on the third and final point of this letter, because we find it is most applicable to our age but throughout the ages. Jesus is going to cut to the heart of the matter in this letter and we need to understand are we going to receive this truth or leave here today rejecting it. I want to issue this warning today and a plea to just hang on. I pray here today, God please give them ears to hear what the Spirit is saying today! The danger here today is that you might misinterpret that what you are reading today is my opinion. My direction and opinion will have no help for your direction into eternity, it's what you study in the Bible, taking God at His Word, and so I am bringing this to your attention first.

In verses 18 and 19 today, we need to ask ourselves today, what kind of church are you? People don't like when you make these things personal. People don't like when they are included in this message today. It must be God talking to you, because no one emailed me and asked me to address you here today. The truth is that the Bible does apply to you and I personally. He's s personal Savior who personally gave Himself to You on the cross, that you and I might enjoy a personal Savior and enjoy heaven with Him and fellowship with one another.

So regarding what kind of church are we, number (1), when God is an actual reality to us. When God is real to us, than tradition, than mindless acts, go out the door. We want to know what we believe and why we believe and how we can tell others about it We want to know how we can live what we are reading. I don't want to pick up this Bible and read something that isn't true. I want to know that if I pick up a Bible and go to the outermost parts world or to the hospital down the street, and pray for somebody that God might raise them up from their bed and heal them completely or a heart might be changed right on the street and they come to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. If this is not the truth, then what are we doing? Jesus is real and He is going to address the Church in Thyatira, and He challenges them directly:

Revelation 2:18-19 ~ "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 who 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."

This is nothing new to you if you have been a part of this study from the beginning. He has already said this in the beginning of Chapter 1, He has said, I have eyes like a flame of fire, I have feet like brass, and you already know what that means. In Chapter 1, He gives a list of these things and by the way, He rementions those things and how they apply to each church and where they are at in life. He mentions to the church in Thyatira, I am the Son of God, I have eyes like blazing fire, I have feet like burnished brass. I know your works and He gives 4 wonderful things regarding His reality and who He is, He says, I know your works, your love and faith, your service and your perseverance. He says in regards to their works, "you are progressing onward." This is a good thing. 

In the back of your Bible you should have several pages of maps, and one of those maps will show you the location of these seven churches of Asia Minor or Turkey. We started in Ephesus and we move north to Smyrna, then further north still to Pergamum, and now we go south easterly to Thyatira, more inland from the Mediterranean Sea, we are now beginning to head south!

When Jesus says He is the Son of God, He brings direct conflict to the gods that are worshiped in Thyatira. Why? I love how Jesus does this. Remember how the Church of Smyrna was under attack for persecution and would give their life for their faith? What did Jesus say to them by way of encouragement? "I am the First and the Last, I am the One who lived, and died, and rose again. I am the One! Why did He say that? Because remember they were going to suffer death, that there is no greater word to say to someone, like Jesus did, "that I lived, I died, and I rose again. Church of Smyrna you are going to go through this persecution, don't worry, you are going to live again. "

He says something new to us regarding Thyatira, He says, "I am the Son of God. " That's a powerful thing, you want to know why? The church of ancient history lost sight of the fact, that Jesus was THE SON OF GOD. The One and Only Mediator between heaven and earth. Christ Jesus.

Jesus said it, "I AM the Son of God!" It's a powerful and prophetic statement and it's sad it doesn't carry the punch and power for us in the west as it does for those living in the Middle East. When Jesus says I am the Son of God, the Middle Eastern cultures shudder when they hear that because it is such a profound declaration because what it means is to the Middle Eastern thinking and culture in the context in which it was given, Jesus is saying, I am the physical manifestation before you of God, my Father. He is 100% equal to the Father. The Middle Easterns understand this, Judaism condemns this thought even though the Old Testament Scriptures taught in Proverbs 30:4 that "God has a Son." Islam in all around the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem it says "that God is not begotten nor does God have a son." Isn't that interesting? Even though the Bible in the Old and New Testament says Jesus is the Son of God!

Tomorrow we will learn a bit more about what it was like in the city of Thyatira and what it was like to live there. Hope you will join me tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Surviving in the World of Compromise!

To understand the Book of Revelation you have to understand the Old Testament. When we were studying yesterday about the church of Pergamum we were understanding what Jesus was referring to when He reprimanded the church for holding to the doctrines of Balaam, who was called and ordained by God,  and here, the best way to understand what that was is to go back to Numbers 22-25 and read how Balaam was a prophet of God who found he could make a serious profit selling his services to those who wants blessings or cursing issued upon their enemies. He was basically prostituting his office for money. Isn't that what we are seeing a lot of today?

Just like Satan's tactics are designed to lead us astray so was that very same thing happening not only to Balaam but to those in the church of Pergamum as well as the believers and churches today. We all need to be aware to judge what we hear based on the Bible and the Word of God, over what the world would have us believe.

Acts 17:11 ~ "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

We need to be doing the same in every part of our lives, all of the time. Rightly dividing the word of truth from that of the world. Lets go back and see Jesus' reprimand in its entirety to the church of Pergamum and those believers who compromise in their spiritual walk even today.

Revelation 2:14-15 ~ "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have people who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entire the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. "

We remember that when Balaam attempted to curse the Israelite's, God instead pronounced a blessing over them instead. We know that Balaam went back to the kings, enemy of Israel and asked for more money to try it again, they paid it, he pronounced a curse but once more God gave Israel a blessing instead. He is able to manage to convince the king one more time to pay him to curse Israel but it doesn't work and God continues to bless them instead, the same as before. At this point Balaam knows his time is up, the king is about out of money and Balaam is quite wealthy. You've heard the saying, If you can't beat them, join them? Remember what happened to the church of Smyrna, when they resisted against temptation? Satan simply tries something else. There is a Greek proverb that says, "Whom the gods could not destroy, they made great." If they couldn't destroy them, they simply exulted them instead.  Man can't handle exultation!

So what Satan did, was marry them to the world since they could not be destroyed. Balaam basically told the king of Moab, and all the surrounding kings to bring their finest women, all the most beautiful and hot women and bring them down. Bring them with their pornographic idols, have them bring those as well. Don't forget to bring some sacrifices too, and have them walk real seductively down to the men of Israel. Now remember these men have been away at war for quite some time. Have them begin to flirt with the men of Israel, and he proclaimed that the men would fall for every single one of the women. So that is just what the kings did. The men did exactly what Balaam said they would do and they followed the women to the altars of their pagan gods. They set down their idols and said, "Let's do this. Let's do that." After they completed the acts, they sacrificed the animals, on the altars and then they ate it together. God turned and killed thousands of those Israelis soldiers that day. Why? Because they compromised.

"Oh I will just lower my standard so I can date this person or that person. Surely God will know and understand." You allow compromise in and who knows if you would have just held out for one more moment, when God's answer was coming and you simply gave up. God had that wonderful person for you, or that perfect job all lined up or whatever it might be and you simply gave up. You compromised. Jesus turns and rebukes the church and if you're a Christian, you know what that feels like when He rebukes. It hurts!  He says, "When I spank you, cause I'm about to spank you, when he spanks in His correction and rebuke, He carries you upward as His hand comes down, right into His arms. He never comes down on you! When God disciplines, He puts a stop to our behavior because He knows its not beneficial to us. When He spanks its one that lifts us up into His arms.

But will we be willing to be judged like that from the Lord? Will we let Him judge us? He says, I have a few things against you. He mentions the doctrine of Balaam, you know about that know. We have to be willing to be judged by the Scriptures, but also this, we have to be willing to refuse false doctrine in our lives. "Thus you also hold to the doctrines of the Nicolaitans which I hate." The Nicolaitans were these guys, scholars can't agree, there were disciples of Nicholas, who were a bunch of weirdos, or the Nicolaitans, which is a compound word in the Greek Nico = rulers, kings or judges, hierarchy, a status in a religious setting, that ought not to exist. Laitans = laity, the people. Jesus says, "I hate the teaching that a church gets from a select group, that presides over the church, thereby the servants, flock or church, become servants to a select few. Nicolaitans, rulers over the people, who fleece the flock. They take money from them. Who Peter says, "that they through preaching, might acquire money, position, status. Jesus says, I hate it! People who have designated lives, "Don't talk to him, he's the Pastor." What?

How many of you have been in the corporate world, understand the corporate ladder, the pyramid? Who is at the top? The CEO, or the stockholders. The stockholders employ the CEO to ensure the company is working right. And everyone else serves him so to speak. The pyramid goes up. Well not in church. Not in the church of Jesus. It goes upside down. The church is lifted up. The church is exulted, that is why as Pastors of churches, if they are going to be true pastors, that if you're doing something right, they should be encouraging you. If you're sleeping with someone's wife or husband, they are supposed to say, 'You can't do that! Right here in the Bible it says you're not supposed to do that! You're going to ruin your life!' They will do anything they can to help you stop doing the things you shouldn't be doing. But instead, people will turn on their pastors and say, they should be the ones judging them, but all they are merely doing is pointing out what Jesus says, and He has the authority to judge. They are simply helping you to try and get back on track again. To repent and get right with God.

Do you really think when you tell your pastor off, that they are put off by the fact that they care more about your soul than you do? But the truth of the matter is that you are going to ruin your own life and someone elses life as well. The thing is regarding false doctrine, these Nicolaitans, they existed, the church at Pergamum, was the first period of church age, historically through Constantine. It became most prominent. That Constantine, of the Roman Empire said, "You know what? Enough of this. I want Christianity to be the official religion of Rome of the Roman Empire. I want it's headquarters moved to Rome. And to show my token of sincerity, I will appoint Bishops under me. Constantine declared himself to be Pontiff. If you don't know this, than you haven't spent much time in history. Alexander the Great said, I will be the Pontiff, the Pope, and I will declare all of these to be my bishops, and as a token of sincerity I will drape you in robes, I will set you apart from the people. I will grant you basilicas and cathedrals. He commissioned them to be built. He declared that the church would be just like the world. And the world would be just like the church. And the lines were skewed. Now I am not coming down on the Catholic church or religion at all, I'm just telling you that if there is any church, group, denomination, that says, "We are the ministers, and the pastors." People might say that pastors stand behind a piece of wood above everyone else, but it is simply to see everyone else. Not to be above everyone else.

But if your pastor can't interact with you, something is wrong. If pastors have to have a designated life, I eat here, you don't eat here, I sit here, you don't sit here; I park here, you don't park here; that is Nicolaitan!  It creeps into the church, it's all over the place. It's wrong. If you're church shopping, put this verse on your shopping list.

"Jesus said but you, do not be called masters any of you, for one is your teacher, that is the Christ, and all of you are brothers."

That means if I am not born again, I'm not going to make it to heaven. It doesn't matter how high a pulpit is built or if you give a pastor a parking space, or a million bucks, if there are not born again, they are not going to heaven. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one gets to heaven but through me." Jesus told Nicodemus, the religious leader of that day, unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. Its not about how much money you give, Jesus doesn't need your money, it's not how much you serve, He doesn't need your service; He wants your heart, the part you won't give up. He wants your heart. If you are not born again, you will not see the kingdom of heaven. No one will make it in, unless they are born again. Despite how wonderful they might appear. God does not judge based on performance. Where did we get that?

No one welds any power but whatever God gives them. You can't buy faith. It's free. You don't get it by following anyone else but Jesus.

Revelation 2:17 ~ " He who has an ear, let him heart what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna,. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. "

No more manna to eat. No more sacrificial food, sacrificed on altars. He says He will give us a white stone, the stone of acquittal. All of these sins you have racked up against you, all of these things you have done, Jesus says, He will give you a white stone. In those days if you were acquitted of a crime, the judge would give you a white stone. Isn't that cool! It also says He will give you a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it, that is a great reference to 2 Corinthians 5:17, ~ "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 

God's going to give us each a new name. Do you have a new name waiting for you? When you arrive into the presence of eternity, are you going to get a new name? Is God going to hand you a white stone, which means, you've been acquitted of all crime, sin, wrong doing in your life. If you do, when you turn it over, there is going to be a brand new name that is fit for heaven. You'll get a whole new life. Is your name written in heaven. You can have that by asking him to forgive you of your sins and ask Him into His life.

Heaven is going to be an awesome sight and you missed it because of religion and you missed out on the relationship with Jesus. We don't need to compromise because God is on the throne. Remember that no matter where you find yourself, what kind of job, community, school or neighborhood you live in, you don't have to compromise! Stand strong! God's on your side.