The world in which we live in is full of war and bloodshed. If history could count the total number of lives lost through this weapon of mass destruction, there would not be room on a conventional calculator to display all the digits! For all of fallen man’s efforts in trying to secure peace, history informs us that man is not able to live at peace with his neighbour!!
It’s one thing for the world to behave in this manner, but what are we to say when Christians behave like this? In the thirteenth verse of James chapter 3, a question is put; “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” The answer is given, “…let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom”. It is this wisdom that James describes as coming from above on account of its peaceable fruit that is contrasted with the wisdom descending from below which is earthly, sensual and devilish, tending to confusion and every evil work. May we be found in these last days walking in peace as the children of God!
It’s amazing how so much can change over time! If one was to visit Sardis in Western Turkey today, one would be greeted by a vast array of ruins; the crumbling shells of what was once a magnificent and illustrious city. Seven hundred years before this letter was penned by John, Sardis stood as one of the greatest cities in the world! Sardis was THE celebrated capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and was also of great importance in the era of the Persians and also the Romans. Yet sadly, when one looks for this eminence and splendour today, one looks in vain; all is but a faded memory of a bye-gone day, Sardis’ former glory now confined to the pages of antiquity, its ruins serve as a testimony of what once was!
The sad reality of the matter is that the passing glory of this ancient city was reflected by a Church which was found in it. Once this Church excelled in spiritually and godliness; yet, by the time our Lord addressed them, they had retained the name but had lost the reality of what earned them that name in the first place. “...thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”. There is much that we can learn from the Church in Sardis and the words that our Lord spoke to them; may God give us the grace to hear what the Spirit saith.
2 Samuel 20:8-13
I wonder, how many of us as Christians live in light of the coming judgment. How many of us walk in the shadow of this reality. Paul a thoroughly saved and blood washed man, in light of the judgment seat of Christ, sought to live and labour in such a way so as to be blameless, commending himself in the sight of God and before the consciences of men. My Brother, my Sister, when I look today in the professing Church of Christ, I see so little fear of God in the hearts of His people. Where is the fear of God in light of the judgment seat of Christ? Take just one area...Look at the way in which Christians treat one another, the callousness, the skullduggery and treachery. The bitter envying and strife, the false slander and assignation of character which all has its origins from the Prince of darkness, ascending from the pit of hell!! Who will take stock and recall to mind the terrifying words of our Lord who said “...That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mt. 12:36). Who will remember the words of Jesus who said, “...whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt. 18:6). These are serious words that we must give due consideration of!!
I tell you my Brother, there ought to be a holy fear and reverence for the fact that one day we are going to have to give a personal account to Jesus Christ as to how we have spent our lives. This must and has to filter down into the reality of how we treat one another for which we shall MOST certainly give account!! We look in this sermon at the life of Joab and conclude with this; YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT!
When one mentions the Church at Thyatira, what thoughts come readily to mind? Good thoughts or bad thoughts? If we’re honest, we’d have to concede ’bad’ thoughts’! How bad? Jezebel, false prophetess, Idolatry, fornication, foods sacrificed to idols, great tribulation, killing, sickness and death!! Yet, in keeping with the usual custom of our Lord, before He brings rebuke, He first brings commendation. Can anything good come out of Thyatira you ask? Absolutely!! “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first”.
That said, the Lord had a few things against His people which though few in number, was by no means a small matter! “I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols”. We’ve much to learn from this Church and in this teaching we touch on many practical points that serve to forewarn and arm us.
Though as Christians our citizenship is rooted firmly in heaven, we nonetheless for the time being have a dual residency, being found also with our feet on planet earth. It is for this reason that the New Testament is full exhortation, urging us on to personal holiness. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Drunkenness is a terrible blight upon any society that has given itself over to liquor; yet I want to suggest that there’s a far more subtle form of intoxication that is engulfing the masses in our day, namely that of the corrupting influences of modern media. How many sway under the spirit of this age, drunk with the propaganda of filth that’s literally flooded into our homes via the satellite airwaves. It’s time that we got sober, had an old fashioned cleanout and got rid of some of that old leaven from out of our homes!!
Brother, Sister, have you oil in your lamp? Are you filled with Holy Spirit? Show me a man yielded to God in absolute obedience; show me a woman that’s shut up with God in the closet in prayer and the study of His Word; show me one that is taking careful watch over their soul, cultivating holiness in the fear of God; and I’ll show you a man or a woman that is filled with the Spirit!!!! May God help us to light a fire in our bosom that will never go out!!
The ancient city of Pergamos had been for three hundred years, a capital city in that locale. Like that of Ephesus and Smyrna, Pergamos was a famous centre of religious worship and among the Greek deities worshipped by the Pergamenes was the revered Asklepios.
There were some in Pergamos who had remained faithful under trial, suffering much at the hand of the wicked one and yet had not denied their Lord. Others however had turned aside to the false doctrine of Balaam, eating things sacrificed to idols and committing fornication. There’s a lot to be learned from this Church, both from their commendation and their rebuke. By God’s grace we shall explore practically and theologically these precious lessons.
Pastor Paul brings a very stirring message to awaken the Church from a spirit of complacency in our day. Things never begin out in this way but as one generation passes another takes its place, the fervency and the vision which once characterised the former gives place to apathy and by the time one the third generation comes, already the rot of backsliding compromise has set in. We are called to awaken from the spirit of complacency, to return back to our first love and to set our homes in order.
A sad reality that haunts our present day is that Christianity has been reduced to nothing more than a simple formula through which if a person can regurgitate a few words, giving mental assent to a few facts, then he’s admitted into this comfortable religion we call Christianity and promised the treasures of eternal life. What does this “comfortable” religion look like? Well...let’s just say, you’d never know that the people professing it were any different from the world if it were not for the fact that they went by the name of Christian!!!! Yet, here’s the thing...as we trace the history of the first century Church, they were not always called Christians; they were called Christians first in Antioch. What were they then known as before Antioch? “...the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. Hence we see, the name “Christian”, and the word “disciple” are synonymous!!
This sermon is a call for the rubber on the Christian wheels to meet the road. Who sits on the throne of your heart? Who is the supreme ruler of your life? Who’s pulling the strings? Who’s calling the shots? In short; are you a man under authority?
Of all seven epistles addressed to the Churches in Asia, the letter to the Church in Smyrna is by far the shortest. In just four verses, all that the Lord had to say was said! Smyrna was a Church that found itself amidst much tribulation and upon seeing their plight, Jesus sought to encourage them to hold fast and to prepare for an even greater period of persecution that was to follow.
There is much that can be learned from this epistle that we would do well to take heed. May God give us much grace in the days ahead so as to not only prepare for persecution but also to endure it.
There’s a thought that so grips my heart, subconsciously hanging over my head like an appointment. What is this thought you ask? It’s this...my personal accountability to God for what I have done with the time He has given to me whilst on this earth. It is this...the purpose for which I expended my life; the reason for which I lived and moved and had my being; to what end and to whose glory did I spend this little passing moment called life.
This sermon is a challenge and an exhortation for the Body of Christ to press into the will of God. Who will enquire of the Lord and seek out His will for every area of their lives? May God grant us much grace that when our Lord appears, we would not stand before Him empty handed. May we be able to say that we were busy about our Masters business!