Summary: Lessons From the 7 Churches as We Start the Fall Season
The Seven, part 12
Lessons From the 7 Churches as We Start the Fall Season
August 18, 2014
Today I want to look at some lessons that we have looked at over the last several weeks and use them to challenge us as we come into the fall season and ramp up our ministries. Every fall we start up our children's and adult Sunday School, life groups, Pioneers, and Ignite Youth.
God Calls us to a Robust Faith
We have seen that seen God that calls us to a robust faith. A faith that is dynamic and full of life. It is all too easy to neglect our walk with Jesus and lose the fire of our faith for any number of reasons – busyness, hurt or disappointment, neglect, incorrect theology, or spiritual warfare. Ephesus had abandoned their first love and Jesus told them to repent and return to what they had lost. Sardis had the reputation of being alive but was dead. They had so compromised as a church that they looked just like the surrounding culture. Jesus tells them to wake up and repent and strengthen what remained in them. Laodicea was lukewarm, not good for anything, God was so disgusted with them that he was about to spit them out of his mouth. That's the bad news. The good news is that Jesus had not left them or us without a way back. He loves us and has freed us from our sin by his blood. He demonstrated his love for us at the cross. Look no further than the cross to know that Christ loves you; meditate on any of passage that talks about the work of the cross on our behalf and you will experience the love of God. Do not look to people, things, or even some experience. The cross is the ultimate evidence that he loves us. How freeing is that! Not only that but he has also freed us from our sin – spiritual apathy and lukewarmness. An apathetic and lukewarm faith is not acceptable to Jesus; he tells us to repent!
Are you spiritually apathetic, lukewarm or are you growing? Are you growing in your knowledge of the word and in your knowledge of God? Are you cultivating your prayer life? Jesus told John to write what he revealed to him and send it to the churches as a means of grace and peace, strength to weather the storms of life. The word is our primary source of strength in life, it is the primary way God speaks to us. The word has the power to make dead people alive, kill sin, refresh, renew and revive lukewarm and apathetic hearts.
Each letter ends with the promise of eternal life only to those who conquer. This is not pollyanna triumphalism but in each case it is overcoming their sin and unbelief. In the case of those who are spiritually apathetic and lukewarm and even dead, it is seeking God to renew and revive their cold hearts.
God Has Made us a Community
There is sometimes a mentality among Christ followers that the community of faith, the church, is optional. We come and go as we please, we do not really get to know others beyond a surface level, we do not seek input from the community, and certainly not submitting to one another. The church is described as a body. When a body part is removed, say an arm, it dies or when the blood circulation is cut off from that arm, the arm dies. So to with anyone who is not actively engaged in community. The best way to develop community is to get involved in a Life Group where sharing, caring, and shepherding occur. Life groups are the place where we share in the word with one another. It is also the place for caring for one another. The more we learn about one another the more effectively we can minister to one another. As needs arise we can meet them. It is also the place for shepherding. When someone is in spiritual need or crisis the group is there for them.
God Uses Ordinary People to Build His Church
John says God has made us to be a kingdom, priests to God. Under the Old Covenant only Levites were priest's with the role of serving God in the temple on behalf of Israel. Under the New Covenant everyone who comes to faith in Christ is a priest who has a unique contribution serving God on behalf of the church. What is your unique contribution at CCC? Consider the body metaphor again. Every body part is needed for the body to function normally. When a body part is not functioning we call it an abnormality; when a body part is missing it is called a handicap; when a body part is not healthy we call it diseased. Everyone one of us are critical and necessary for a healthy church community here. Ephesus and Philadelphia were commended for their united front and active engagement. Philadelphia had kept God's word and not slandered his name. The church had gone through some difficulty and had kept true to God's word and not slandered his name. It was their church so they took responsibility for it's health. God calls each one of us to take ownership of CCC by serving in some capacity.