Summary: 3rd in a series on the seven Churches in Revelation. Looking at characteristics that help us have a positive presence in our community and in our church.
EVERYBODY IS KNOWN FOR SOMETHING
Sensitivity to Spiritual Things
Jesus and Knowledge
-- Awareness of principles and characteristics the produce a positive image
-- Understanding of the process involved for us to have a positive image
-- Willingness to take us through the process for a positive image.
Qualities discovered so far that enhance my positive image
-- Laboring to the limit of our potential
-- Not tolerating sin
-- Loving Christ
-- Awareness of our riches
-- Avoiding the squeeze
The world squeezing us into its mold
The world squeezing Jesus out of us
Positive presentation is tough BECAUSE it is ALWAYS easier to focus on the NEGATIVES!
-- A church in a distinctly pagan city
-- “Imperial” Cult Center
-- Citizens expected to participate in RITUAL WORSHIP
Christians are suspect
-- Antipas martyred
Establishes a precedent for further persecution
Plaguing the Church
-- The Teaching of Balaam
Hired by King Balak to Curse Israel
God would not allow an “EXTERNAL” attack on the people of Israel
Balaam counsels Balak
Subvert the people from within
Enticement to idolatry
“LITERAL” Sexual immorality (aspect of idolatry)
“SPIRITUAL” sexual immorality (Hosea)
God will withdraw His blessing
-- The Teaching of the Nicolaitans
Focused on liberty at the expense of the law
Focused on Spiritual at the expense of the physical
Believe and live it up – (spiritual is secure)
IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS JESUS REVEALS ADDITIONAL PRINCIPLES FOR POSITIVE LIVING!
Jesus has described Himself in three different ways. A different description for each church
“The One who walks among the churches and holds them”.
The presence of Christ in the church.
Knowledge, direction, protection, and growth
“The one who has experienced death, yet is alive”
The supreme authority, whether death or life
“The two-edged sword”
One side separates the believer fro the world
Other side condemns the world for sin
“There is an edge to make a wound, and an edge to open a festering wound.” Matthew Henry
I. FAITHFULNESS TO CHRIST
Rev. 2:13 I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives.
A. Loyalty despite the environment
1. A City consumed with pleasure, possessions, and comforts
2. Christ – “City of Satan”
B. Church had refused to deny Christ
1. Were not silent about faith
2. Would not confess Caesar as Lord
ILLUSTRATION: Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called “House of Dying,” where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.”
ILLUSTRATION: I recently read about an old man, walking the beach at dawn, who noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. ‘But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,’ countered the man. ‘How can your effort make any difference?’
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. ‘It makes a difference to this one,’ he said.” Hugh Duncan,
OUR FAITHFULNESS MAKES A DIFFERENCE TO GOD
II. SENSITIVITY TO INTERNAL STRUGGLES
Rev. 2:14-15 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
ILLUSTRATION: Some years ago, musicians noted that errand boys in a certain part of London all whistled out of tune as they went about their work. It was talked about and someone suggested that it was because the bells of Westminster were slightly out of tune. Something had gone wrong with the chimes and they were discordant. The boys did not know there was anything wrong with the peals, and quite unconsciously they had copied their pitch. So we tend to copy the people with whom we associate; we borrow thoughts from the books we read and the programs to which we listen, almost without knowing it. God has given us His Word, which is the absolute pitch of life and living. If we learn to sing by it, we shall easily detect the false in all of the music of the world.