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“WARNINGS FOR THE CHURCH & ME” – Nov 22

November 22, 2013

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into to him and eat with him, and he with me.  The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Revelation 3:19-22

“I love you” manifests itself in a variety of pleasing forms when uttered in response to gratitude and appreciation.
“I love you” has a startling different appearance when declared in a warning.

Julian E… / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Would it be “loving” for me to stand on the edge of the pool as my son thrashed through the water and simply watch him drown?
Would it be “loving” for me to speak words of affection and affirmation, spaced for those times when his head jerks above the surface in a gasp for air.

The loving response would be to reprove my son for not grabbing the pole that I have reached out to him.
The loving response would be to discipline him to learn how to swim.

We are attuned to recognizing the emotion of love in the context of relational harmony.  Love is hugs and kisses, fond family gatherings and reminiscing, feelings of warm emotion and happiness.  Songs are sung of this love.  Romance novels are written honoring this love.  Greeting cards fill store racks with sentiments of this love.

Love is harder to appreciate when it comes in the form of a warning. 

YanivG / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I am distressed for those who define God’s love only in terms of warm affections and affirmations.  I am befuddled by those who refuse to hear the warnings of our Lord only as being judgmental, intolerant, and unloving.  Somehow, a belief has grown that true spiritual conquerors are individuals who love a god of their own definition, make it inside the walls of a church, or are spiritual in some sense.

The warnings that the Spirit spoke through John were to those within the church.  These were warnings to professing Christians.  I have listened and read many sermons regarding the applicability of these warnings to the churches of our time.  I was inclined to join my voice to the choir, pointing to the reality of the continuing presence of these same attitudes in today’s Christianity.  Then I read,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:22)

Will I have an ear or am I just another voice?  Will I listen to what the Spirit says to these churches or will I ignore the plank in my own eye?  Will I submit myself to the love of God?  Will I submit to my Father’s reproof and discipline?

Worship

Church of Ephesus: 

Do I toil in patient endurance?
Do I bear with those who are evil?
Do I test teachers to determine if they are false?
Do I bear up for Christ’s name sake?
Do I grow weary in my faith?
Do I still have the love I had at first?

Church of Smyrna:

Am I willing to bear tribulation?
Am I willing to bear poverty for His name sake?
Am I willing to be slandered by those who hate my Lord?
Am I fearful of suffering?
Am I ready for the testing of my faith?

Worship/Skit- Grosvenor Pk, Saskatoon

Church of Pergamum:

How am I holding fast to the name of Christ?
How am I proclaiming my faith when opposed?
How am I opposing the heretic?
How am I protecting my brothers and sisters in Christ from the stumbling blocks of false teachers?

Church of Thyatira:

Are my works known?
Are my actions motivated by a love for God?
Are my steps reflecting my faith?
Are my steps following in patient endurance?
Are my works increasing?
Are my thoughts tolerant toward the sexual immorality in myself?
Are my opinions tolerant of the sexual immorality of others?
Are those who I allow to lead and teach me tolerant of the sexually immoral?
Are safeguards in place to allow me to hold fast to my savior?

Stuck in Customs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Church of Sardis

What is the pulse of my faith?
What is the completeness of my works complete in the sight of my God?
What am I remember?
What am I keeping?

Church of Philadelphia

Have I kept his word?
Have I denied his name?
Have I held fast?

Church of Laodicea

Is my spiritual temperature hot?
Is it cold?
Is my soul lukewarm and worthy of being spit out?
Is a love of riches and prosperity blinding me?

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 3:22)

It is easy to bemoan the spiritual condition of the churches we attend.  However, I don’t believe these problems are with the churches.  The problems arise from the people who attend these churches and the leaders they choose to follow.

These warnings are for you and me.  I embrace these warnings even though I cannot answer them all like I would hope.  I am thankful for these warnings because they demonstrate God’s love for me.  God loves me.  God loves His Church.  The healing of my church starts with me.  It starts when I hear and respond to the warnings that the Spirit has for me.  If the children of God will hear these loving warnings and repent, God will heal our churches.  He will make us conquerors who will sit with Him on His throne if we heed His warnings.

Stuck in Customs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t know what the future holds for the churches of America.  I pray that there will be repentance and a return to our Lord and Savior.  I feel powerless in the larger context of the church but that does not relieve me of responsibility.  I am still responsible for my soul and my family.  Therefore, I plan to follow the example of the faithful in the churches of Thyatira and Sardis

 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.  Only hold fast what you have until I come.  (Revelation 2:24)

 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  (Revelation 3:4)

 My encouragement for the faithful in the churches of this continent and the world is to hold fast.  Do not be lead astray by teachings that come from Satan.  Hold onto the teachings that we have been given in the Scriptures.  Hold fast because our Lord will return.  May we be found anxiously awaiting the bridegroom without anything to be held against us or our church.

PRAYER: O Lord, give me ears to hear your warnings.  Show me all that you may have against me.  Forgive me for all the ways that I fail like those in these churches that you warned.  Help me to hold fast.  Lead me in repentance.  Move me to turn to you in all things.  Enable me to walk by faith in white.   Keep me from soiling my garments.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

11 comments

  1. I can relate to embracing the warnings even though I cannot answer them all as I’d like. That knowledge that I am loved enough for the God of the universe to chastise me when needed, that He has taken the time to warn us–it is just mind-blowing. I can rest and be joyful even in the midst of a celestial spanking, precisely because it is borne out of His intense love for me. Nice post, as usual, JD.


  2. A somber word for all of us!


  3. I had the privilege of leading a small group of high school students through the letters to the churches; they were astounded to learn these were letters to US, because we ARE the church(es). Great reminder, thank you!


  4. thank you for this timely and edifying post! May we be quick to heed the warnings and ready to change course!


  5. Great post. I love this. My pastor is doing a series on the 7 churches of Revelation – and how those warnings can apply to us. Thanks for being a bold voice!


  6. Wow thank you for this edifying devotional today.
    This really stood out to me and I’m going to quote it on facebook: “We are attuned to recognizing the emotion of love in the context of relational harmony. …Songs are sung of this love. Romance novels are written honoring this love. Greeting cards fill store racks with sentiments of this love. Love is harder to appreciate when it comes in the form of a warning.”


  7. Come in, quickly, Lord Jesus. Make me over anew with your Holy Spirit and give me peace!


    • Amen!


  8. Don’t feel warned! Rejoice, open the door, and say WELCOME IN!


    • Amen and Praise our Lord and Savior!


  9. Praise Adonai! Love received! Shalom



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