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: Bob Hirst firstname.lastname@example.org Reading Assignment: Read Revelation chapters 2 and 3 and pray over them. Verses in parentheses and without other designation are always from the book of Revelation. OVERVIEW OF THE SEVEN STARS & CHURCHES - for your reading before class. Notice the Son of Man (1:13) is holding seven stars in his right hand (1:1:16). We do not need to speculate on what these stars are. The angel from God who speaks to John tells him that the “seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (1:20). The greek word for angels in this verse is translated both angel and messenger. The primary text in the New Testament (NT) for angels is Hebrews 1:5-14 where they are contrasted with the nature of the Son who is self-existing. He is the I AM from and to eternity. All angels are created beings, ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. Here the word angel could also be translated as God’s messengers in the churches. It is comforting to know that the Son of Man is holding them in his “right” hand of power. Everyone who is a believer is to be a messenger for God, doing his bidding. Here the word “angel” could also refer specifically to a spiritually gifted leader such as a pastor or teacher. (See 1 Corinthians 14:3-5). All believers have been given some gift of the Spirit to serve the church. “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 10:27. Just as each of the seven churches is symbolized by a lampstand, so it is God’s purpose that individual Christians have a part to play in a local congregation. There is a spiritual reason why Christians living in a certain place should unite their witness with other Christians and thus make the light of God shine brighter where they are. People who take the position that they can live the Christian life just as well alone and unassociated with a congregation are expressing a very self centered position. For them the Christian life is an individual matter and of no concern to others or God. While we can respect their opinion, Christians living apart from a local congregation are never “blessed” or condoned in the NT. As we have seen in the past, the churches described in Revelation 2 and 3 were in cities on a mail route and were contemporaneous with one another. The message they received in this letter as it was passed from church to church in a scroll was meant to be read aloud and taken to heart because the hearers were told what was in it had to do with the immediate future. (1:3) COMPLETE THE BLANKS BELOW: Particularly notice the common elements repeated to each of the churches. Also note the differences. The numbers are verses where you should find an answer. Look up the verses in the Bible translation with which you are most familiar.
Below each church on right, put your answer in the box below each church name
I know this about you
I have this against you which you should repent of:
My promise to you if you overcome is:
2:7 last part
2:17 last part
If you have ears you should
SUMMARY: It is the Spirit that speaks through the messenger to the congregation in a given place and on a given Lord’s day. As we wait in the sanctuary for the worship service to begin, let us pray that the Spirit will speak to us through songs, prayers and the message of our pastor. The emphasis on “listening” hearkens back to non-verbal behaviors that are as old as communication itself. A person who is listening is receptive and shows it in his body language that he has an obedient heart. A person who physically turns away from listening is showing rejection of the message. If we reject the Spirit’s call, what else can God do for us? How else can he reach us? By continuing rejection of God’s message when under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, people finally come to the place where they cannot distinguish between the voice of God or any human voice or the voice of the great Deceiver of mankind. As Jesus said to the religious people of his day, You are of your Father the Devil for the devil sinned from the beginning. I heal and bless people and you go about to kill me. John 8:44. Can we be like those who killed our Lord? Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.” Psalm 95:8-11. The writer of Hebrews in 4:1-13 comments on this Psalm. There he says that Israel did not believe the gospel - the good news that Jesus was their Messiah - and so like their forebears who rejected God’s leading in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt, they hardened their hearts and cannot enter the rest of God. For all their religiosity, their rebellion unfitted them to be witness to a lost world. Here we see the meaning of the weekly seventh-day rest for Christians now. Jesus becomes the Sabbath when we accept him as our Savior and are “in him.” He “gives us rest” from worries about the future judgment. We are safe in his hands and at peace. “There remains, then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work [human effort], just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9. Let us accept the salvation God has “given” to us in Jesus Christ and know for certain that our sins are forgiven and that in him we are perfectly acceptable to God - beloved of heaven and at peace. Ephesians 2:8,9. Jesus said: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest [sabbatos]. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest [sabbatos] for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. When we apply the message of the churches to God’s church in the USA, which of the seven do you feel has the most pertinent message to our condition? Which message is most pertinent to our congregation? Can we claim God’s promise and remedy for our situation?
My Prayer for You Today: O God who knows all human hearts. Turn not away your face from us for we are sinful. Cleanse us from selfishness and self-centeredness. Pour out your love, grace and forgiveness upon us that we may be overcomers reaching out to your goal for us. Amen. LOOKING AHEAD May 9: “Iraq and Babylon - the Cradle of Civilization - Home of Noah and Abraham” Revelation has much to say about spiritual Babylon. (Rev. 13-19) Following the law of first mention, we will look back at the origin of the word “Babylon” to see how it was used by Biblical prophets. We want to see lessons Christians today might learn from history to help them live for God in a secular world. In our world that pressures us to conform and live by its standards, how can a Christian be a bright light for God? In our world that makes stars and heros of those who live selfishly, cheat, applaud dishonesty, ignore injustice and despise the poor, how may we make a difference and example the power of the God who loves a lost world? May 16: “The Babylonian Captivity of Israel - what happens when people forget the God who made them?” (Rev. 13; Romans 1:16-32) We will see how God’s judgments often come in the form of allowing people to have the results of their own bad sinful choices. We will see how selfishness, greed, a desire to control and manipulate others, appetite, obsession with possessions, pride, vanity and a refusal to listen are roots of disobedience to God and have been since the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve hid themselves, why did God look for them? If the Lord wills, I will see you next Sunday morning.
P.S. If you are able to browse the Internet, you can see more background material on the seven churches. I probably will not be using the video projector to my laptop PC on Sunday so will be unable to show you these supporting pages then. Once we have our own wide screen LCD television set in the library we will be able to see extra pictures and documents online. I know you are praying about this. If you or a member you know has indicated an interest in such a project, this could be something that will bless not only our own class but also other groups who use the library. So for now - double click on the links below just to see if you can review these supporting documents on your own PC. The Seven Churches http://www.kusadasi.net/historical/sevenchurches.htm On Ephesus http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/ephesus-museum.htm A few pictures Bob and Mary Hirst took on their 1977 visit to the city of Ephesus. http://picasaweb.google.com/UCQwik/1977TripToItalyAndTurkey?feat=directlink
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