Thursday, October 31, 2013
Read Rev. 3:9 During this age, the power of the Roman Church became lessened. People had started demanding freedom of religion. France fell in revolution, but the Wesleyan revival kept the revolution away from Great Britain. God’s Word was being preached in one kingdom, and communism and liberal thought was being preached in another. Spurgeon, Edwards, Bunyan, Meuller, Brainard and many other great preachers were raised up during this age. But Satan had his members and his church. The problem is that his members went to God’s church. They were tares among the wheat. They said they were Christians, but they contained another spirit. They loved organization and authority, but were missing the fruits of the spirit. They built their beliefs around what they think was right. These people are the ones that 1 Co. 6:2 says that will be judged by the saints. There are always tares that are planted by Satan in every church. Judas was a tare sewn in the group of disciples. No one knew it but Jesus and he chose not to expose it till the end. It is not our job to get rid of the tares, that is God’s job. Our job is to not be a tare. Studying this really makes me check my motives about everything. We as people love organization and we love to have a leader. We just can’t be side-tracked by thinking this can come in the form of another human being. It can’t. But it can come by Jesus. He is our sole leader and he will organize what He wants to organize. We just follow Him. Lord, we want to see You only, and follow You alone.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Read Rev. 3:7-8 We see God give this age the key of David hat can open doors and shut them. The key of David is the key to David’s house: the house of David. This is all those who love God, like David did, and are part of his spiritual offspring. Isaiah 9:6 says that this key is on Jesus’ shoulder. We get a picture of this in the eastern wedding ceremony. The bride wears a veil that she takes off in the ceremony, and places it on her groom’s shoulders signifying that she is placing herself under his covering. She is saying that no other person but him is responsible for her or has any rights to her but him. I sometimes forget that God chose me, for some reason. He called me, saved me, and washed me, that I might be his bride. I now belong to Him and Him alone. So do you. It is Jesus that is the head of his church. He is the one who gives out his gifts. And he choses his members. He has the key to the church door. To his members he gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19) to bind up the evil spirits and loose the good spirits. That has been given to us. Jesus alone, has the keys to death and hell. To this age he sets up an open door. Brother Andrew has a ministry called “Open Door” which reaches out to the unreached countries with the gospel. This is exactly what happened during this age and is still happening. God is opening doors to countries never before reached for the gospel. This is also an open door to heaven. Never before do you hear of people accessing heaven - going there and coming back. The door to heaven is open. Lord, help us to walk through your open doors in our lives here or in the heaven lies.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Read Rev. 3:7 Yay! We finally get to the good church - the church of brotherly love. But first, let’s look at what was going on in the city of Philadelphia. It was the second largest city in Lydia and was famous for the wine grown there. Along with the Christians, there were heathens that worshipped Bacchus. Bacchus is the same god as Nimrod. Nimrod was a mighty hunter who built Babel. So we see a strong demonic presence and a strong Godly presence. This age lasted from 1750-1906. It is known as the age of brotherly love because Philadelphia means, “love of brethren.” Our messenger is John Wesley. John Wesley was one of 19 children!!! He was born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley in England in 1703. He studied religion in Oxford and became a missionary to America. On the ship over, he met some Moravians and was impressed by their meekness, peace, and courage. Up till this time, Wesley only knew a life of self denial and hard work. His mission trip to America was a failure and he went back to England defeated and in need of salvation. When he got back to England he found the Moravians and they showed him the way of salvation by grace, not works. He then started preaching grace. He was opposed by the religious system, so he went to the fields and preached. He would begin at five in the morning preaching and would preach four times every day. He traveled around 4500 miles a year preaching. Manifestations of the Spirit followed his ministry. The Methodists were formed of his members though this was never Wesley’s desire. His life was based on living for Jesus, not having a creed or doctrinal statement. He died at 88 having fulfilled his destiny. It is amazing to me that many famous men and women of God started out with a zeal for God before they had a salvation experience. I think we will encounter many more people like that as the days get closer to Jesus’ coming. Lord, give us discerning spirits and remind us that grace and love is better than doctrine and knowledge.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Read Rev. 3:4-6 In verse three, God promised to come as a thief just like he will come in the last days. But he tells us that there are a few that he could name, that haven’t been soiled by the false teaching of the Roman church, who have found the grace of God that comes by faith and continued to walk in it. It seems that it is easy to get excited in the beginning of our walk, but not so easy to stay when persecution and rejection comes. The ones who stay true to the truth will be clothed in white like a bride. They will be called worthy. Verse 5 brings up a very controversial statement. It says that those who are dressed in white will not have their name blotted out of the book of life, but have their names read out loud in front of God and the angels. Why would it tell us these names were not blotted out, if there was no way for this to happen? I noticed one day while reading Revelations that when it gives the names of all the tribes in Revelation 7:4-8, it leaves out Dan and Ephraim. I wondered why they were not written. After some study I found that when God gave the curses in Duet. 29:16-20, He warned about those that turned back to the idols of Egypt. He said that he would blot their names out from under heaven. 1 Kings 12:25-30 states that both Ephraim and Dan turned away to fornication and idolatry. Hosea 4:17 says, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” Could that be why they are not mentioned in Revelation 7; they had their name blotted out? Is it possible to have your name written in the book of life, then blotted out? It looks like, according to the Word, it is. I know of one way to be sure your name is not blotted out - obey God and serve Him only. It’s really simple, and not something we should be afraid of. Consequences are only scary to those who disobey. Our commandment from God is to love him first, then others. Lord, I thank you that our names are forever written in your book.
Read Rev. 3:4-6 In verse three, God promised to come as a thief just like he will come in the last days. But he tells us that there are a few that he could name, that haven’t been soiled by the false teaching of the Roman church, who have found the grace of God that comes by faith and continued to walk in it. It seems that it is easy to get excited in the beginning of our walk, but not so easy to stay when persecution and rejection comes. The ones who stay true to the truth will be clothed in white like a bride. They will be called worthy. Verse 5 brings up a very controversial statement. It says that those who are dressed in white will not have their name blotted out of the book of life, but have their names read out loud in front of God and the angels. Why would it tell us these names were not blotted out, if there was no way for this to happen. I noticed one day while reading Revelations that when it gives the names of all the tribes in Revelation 7:4-8, it leaves out Dan and Ephraim. I wondered why they were not written. After some study I found that when God gave the curses in Duet. 29:16-20, He warned about those that turned back to the idols of Egypt. He said that he would blot their names out from under heaven. 1 Kings 12:25-30 states that both Ephraim and Dan turned away to fornication and idolatry. Hosea 4:17 says, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” That is why they are not mentioned in Revelation 7; they had their name blotted out. So is it possible to have your name written in the book of life then blotted out - according to the Word, it is.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Read Rev. 3:2-3 Is. 11:2 gives us the seven spirits of God: 1. the spirit of God 2. the spirit of wisdom 3. the spirit of understanding 4. the spirit of counsel 5. the spirit of might 6. the spirit of knowledge 7. the spirit of the fear of the Lord The messenger, Martin Luther, operated in all these attributes of God. These are the lights in the menorah with the spirit of God being the center light. Even so, the people were for the most part, spiritually dead. He warned them to stay awake and not let their faith die. This was the age of “justification”, but that is where they stopped. They never grew into “sanctification”. Their works were found not perfect which means unfulfilled. Martin Luther preached the sovereignty of God, election, and grace. He separated the church from the ecclesiastical hierarchy. He tore down the idols, casts out the confessions to the priests, and denounced the pope. These were all good things, but wrong must be replaced with right, and if you are going to bind a bad spirit, you must loose a good spirit, etc. Luther brought down the bad which eventually was replaced with worse spirits. The people went back into slavery under the name Lutherans. When we try to organize the Holy Spirit, we box him right out. Our goal is to get back to the power and spirit that was given on the day of Pentecost. Verse 3 tells us to remember what God gave us at the beginning of our walk with Him and repent of what we have added to it that is not Him. If not, we will be of the five foolish virgins that had oil, but theirs ran out without them realizing it. Lord, draw us back to our roots with You and let us not organize you out of our lives. Sanctify our hearts.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Read Rev. 3:1 The Age of the Sardis church was from 1520-1750. This age was also called the Age of the Reformation. The messenger was Martin Luther. Martin Luther was studying to be a lawyer when one of his best friends got sick and eventually died. He was faced with his own spiritual condition. So wrought with despair, he enrolled in the Augustinian convent to study religion in 1505. Though he lived a very righteous life, he could not rid himself of the conviction of his sin. He became a priest and traveled to Rome. He saw all the works and rituals they required the people to do, to get pittance from sin. They proved futile to him, but one verse came back to him over and over: “The just shall live by faith.” It sunk deep into his heart, and he was, at last, saved. He then spent the rest of his life teaching the Word of God which diabolically opposed the churches creeds and doctrines. The pope started selling indulgences for sin, and Luther stood up against this by preaching the truth, then nailing his famous 95 thesis to the door of Castle Church in 1517. This began the reformation - the Roman Catholic church vs. Luther and his followers. Martin Luther also translated the New Testament and gave it to the people. Remember, the Catholic church had rewritten all the scriptures to Latin and burned all copies written in the language of the people. With the help of Jewish scholars, he translated the Old Testament. He was endowed with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Lord, thank you for the abundance of your Word we have at our convenience.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Read: Rev. 3:1 Sardis was at that time the capital of ancient Lydia. It was usurped by the Persians and then Alexander the Great. Antiochus the Great leveled it, then it went to the kings of Pergamos until the Romans took over. It was further destroyed by earthquakes and plagues. Today it is a heap of ruins. At one time the city was a commercial success. The art of dying wool was said to have been invented here, and gold coins minted here for the first time. They worshiped the goddess Cybele. She had a son who was the sun god; and she was the moon god. He, Deoius, was the lord of heaven and she was the queen of heaven. They were equal in power. When he was killed, raised and ascended into heaven; he carried her with him. He was referred to as the son of God and she the mother of God. Sound familiar? The worship of the son began to fade to the worship of the mother. She wore a key like Janus which gave her the same authority as him. He was the father. This key was the key to heaven and earth and the mysteries. The worshippers would whip themselves until blood spurted from their bodies, which is a custom done still to this day. During this age the Protestants broke with Rome as Luther received his revelation of justification by faith rather than what the Roman Catholic Church was teaching which was justification by works, penance, prayer, and other means. As the Protestants worshipped Jesus, the Catholic Church increased their worship of Mary. Jezebel worshipped Astarte, which resurrected in this age as Cybele and has resurrected again as Mary. They are all the same. I do not want to dishonor Mary, the mother of Jesus, who God chose to carry Jesus into this world. What a privilege and an honor. What they have done to her is dishonoring and sacrilegious. People have worshipped the creature instead of the creator. Lord, as we study history, help us to do it without having malice in our hearts.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Read Rev. 2:20 The church of Thyratira was rebuked for allowing Jezebel to teach and seduce God’s people into idolatry. It is important to know who Jezebel is to recognize her spirit. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon (1 Kings 16:31) “Sidon” means “hunting” because it personified the devil who is always roaming around hunting someone to devour. Her father was a priest unto Astarte. He had gained his position as king by murdering his predecessor making Jezebel the daughter of a murderer. Jezebel was not a child of Abraham. She came into Israel by a political marriage to Ahab. Her goal was to bring her idolatry into Israel. She became a priestess in the temple and erected a temple to Astarte (Venus) and Baal (the sun god). She was greatly used by Satan for the downfall of Israel. The church married the state under Constantine who was a pagan disguised as a Christian. He tried to bring everyone under one religious group. When the true Christians realized it wasn’t working and split apart, they were branded as heretics and persecuted. Jezebel did the same thing. She tried to force her religion on all the people and killed the prophets and priests of God. I watched that happen in the 70’s when people all over the US got filled with the Holy Spirit, and the organized church labeled them heretics and had them thrown out. They might not have been persecuted physically, but they sure were persecuted emotionally and some even asked to leave the churches they attended. Many new Charismatic churches rose up. This spirit of Jezebel was alive and well in the Roman Catholic church. The popes changed the wording of the Bible to reflect their beliefs, came up with rituals that taught the people they could buy their way to heaven. Without the Bible to read for themselves, the people were easy targets of seduction. Jezebel spread her idolatry to all who would believe. Lord, help us to stay awake to truth and discernment.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Columba was born in North Ireland to the royal family of Fergus. He was brilliant, and memorized most of the Bible. God called him, with an audible voice, to be a missionary. His ministry was marked with signs and wonders and he preached the pure gospel. On one of his missions he came to a city that was surrounded by bars. They refused to let him enter to preach the gospel. The court magicians started harassing him with loud voices, so he prayed and started singing to God. God magnified his voice above theirs and the gates burst open. He was then allowed to come in and preach, winning many to the Lord. He sent out many workers throughout Scotland to preach the Gospel. His tactic was to send 12 men of all walks of life into a town that used their scope of influence to spread the Gospel to every man. Eventually, the whole town became a Christian town. He took a forsaken, infertile island and planted a Bible school, with literal seed in one and and the Bible in the other. He made that island a fertile island that sent out thousands of missionaries into the world. During this time, in Rome, the Pope was elevated to have the same power as God and had power over salvation. 1 Tim. 2:5 says that there is only one mediator between God and man and it is Jesus. No wonder God’s eyes are like a flame of fire and his feet like fine brass. Brass has to do with judgement. This age was marked with great tribulation and death for Christians. The papacy was filled with adulterers, fornicators and homosexuals who fathered many illegitimate children and sold priestly offices to the highest bidder. Another name for Thiratyra was “continual sacrifice”, which well describes the life of the Christian during this time. Lord, how like today these churches are, and yet you always have a remnant of true believers. May we be counted in that number.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Read Rev. 2:18-20 Thyratira was a city of many rivers which brought many leeches. Thyatira hosted many artisans who came here to sell their wares. This is where Lydia, the seller of purple came to sell her clothes and was led to Jesus by Paul. The major religion of Tyratira was the worship of Apollo, the sun god. He was known as the “averted of evil” who presided over religious law and atonement of sins and how to get to get to the afterlife. He communicated his knowledge of “the future” and “the father’s will” through his prophets. This ritual was conducted by a woman who sat in a tripod chair and spoke through a trance. In order to be a part of the social and commercial life one had to be a member of this cult and participate in all the licentious orgies and pagan feasts. (A type of the mark of the Beast.) Thyatira means “dominating female.” In this age the dominating female is Mystery Babylon, the great whore. She is personified in Jezabel and is the bride of Satan - the opposite of the Bride of Christ. The devil always takes God’s plan and perverts it. He produces a counterfeit that looks so much like the real, but once it has seduced its followers, it shows its true colors, which are evil to the core. The false church of this age plundered and destroyed for over 900 years. She killed the arts, destroyed the sciences, and produced nothing but darkness. But, in the midst of such dark times, there remained a remnant of true believers who belonged to God and knew that their citizenship was not of this world. There were several men God rose up to be a standard, like Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick, and Peter Waldo of Lyons, but the messenger of the age seems to be Saint Columba. We’ll talk about him tomorrow. Lord, let us be a messenger from you to our generation. May our walk qualify us to speak for you.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Read Rev. 2:16-17 Repent, is the only hope for those who take the Word and twist it to fit their lifestyle. To those who overcame during this age will God give to eat of the hidden manna and give him a white stone with a new name written on it. The hidden manna is the new revealed Word of that age. Every age in history has gotten more and more revelation into this Word. When Martin Luther got the revelation that the just were saved by grace - it was new revelation for their time. It was the hidden manna that God chose to unveil at that time. In the seventies, their was a new revelation that we will be raptured out of here. I don’t know if anyone through history had this revelation or if it was just not taught, but in the seventies, it became a predominant theme in the church. Then came the knowledge of the Bride of Christ. The Bride is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. They were building up to becoming the Children of God. When Moses led the people through the wilderness, God instructed Moses to put a portion of manna in the Ark of the Testimony for the priest to eat once a year. Miraculously, this manna stayed good all those years and didn’t have maggots. This is the manna that the messenger will get from heaven and share with his flock. Then it says we will receive the white stone with a new name written on it. God changed many men’s names in the Bible after they had had an encounter with him. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. It was after Abram and Sarai’s name was changed that they were ready to receive the coming of their son. Saul’s name was changed to Paul. When we become a Christian, God gives us a new name. This has to happen to make us ready to receive the coming of God’s son. When we get to heaven, we will get this new name. What a gift it will be to learn what God calls us. Be sure, it will come with a meaning. Lord, thank you for such promises. May we remain faithful and true to your Word.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Read Rev. 2:15 Like the church in Ephesus, the church in Pergamos had the same sin of holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Remember Nicolaitans means “to conquer the laity”. It was when the overseers, elders, bishops, whatever you want to call them exercized supremacy over the members of the church. Jesus refuted this in Matt. 20:25-28 when he told those who wanted to minister to others, to be their servants. The gold head that Daniel saw in Daniel 2 was the Babylonian kingdom that was later duplicated as the Roman Empire and will be duplicated again as the anti-christ. In Rev. 13:3 it said that the beast had seven heads and one of them had a deadly wound that was healed. This head stood for the pagan Roman Empire. It rose again as the Roman Catholic spiritual empire. Her motto was to divide and conquer. As it went in the government, it went in the church. Men began to covet the leadership, and politics, human knowledge, and programs took the place of God’s wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s control. Evil men led the flock. From this arose bishops, and archbishops, and cardinals, till finally the Pope. To maintain control over the people, they realized they needed to take the Word from them, so the people could have no power to rebuke what they were doing. They burned the ancient scrolls, and excommunicated the righteous teachers, telling the people it took a certain education to be able to interpret the scriptures rightly. Now they had control to teach their own wicked doctrines and lead the people into darkness. The ancient Roman Catholic church called herself the mother, so could it be that she is the woman clothed in scarlet: the whore - the Anti-Christ in chapter 17? The early bishops believed they were above the Word. They forgave sins by confession to them, they baptized infants, and even practiced regeneration baptism. Today’s devotional is a little heavy, but our hope is in adhering to the Word and not the doctrines of men. God has blessed us with the written Word that has the power to bring life and hope and restoration - even to our wrong doctrines. Our prayer today, Lord, is that we adhere strictly to your Word and allow your Holy Spirit to guide us.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Read Rev. 2:14 In this third church age God talks about two doctrines that he hates. There first is the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam was the false prophet that was bribed to curse Israel. Each time he tried, God blessed Israel through Balaam’s mouth. But, Balaam’s heart was not on blessing Israel, and he found a way to bring Israel down by introducing them to idols and perverting the truth in their doctrine. When the Jews were scattered from Jerusalem in 36 A.D., some of them ended up in Rome. There was so much dissension among the Jews, that the emperor of Rome had the Jews expelled. They had been the leaders of the flock in Rome and when they left, the small remnant fell into sin and introduced pagan ceremonies under Christian titles. They worshipped the apostles and saints as gods and lit candles and burned incense on the altar just like sinners did in the pagan temples. They celebrated the Passover under the name Easter and worshipped the sun god. When the Christian Jews that had been kicked out returned in 54 A.D., they found the church deep in paganism. They were not received by the new leaders, so they started a second Church of Rome. God visited this second church with signs and wonders. The First Church of Rome still remains today and is called the Roman Catholic Church. The First Church of Rome continued to grow and become powerful and politically involved. So much so, that they convinced the government to persecute the true church. They began killing their once brothers just as Cain killed Abel. Though the true church tried to get the First Church to repent, it was useless. Terrible persecution of Rome fell upon the true believers until Constantine arose and gave freedom of worship to everyone. Constantine tried to govern the church and wed church and state. This is why Pergamos means many marriages. Constantine had beautiful buildings erected with marble floors and altars, and images of the saints. This is the fulfillment of Rev. 13:3 that says the beast that was wounded came back to life again. It was the rebirth of the pagan Roman Empire that resurrected back to life. It was now called the “Holy Roman Empire”. (Dan 2:31-45) So the spirit of Balaam lived on. Lord, may your true church arise in power in these last days and live by every Word that proceeds from your mouth.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Read Rev. 2:12-13 We are slowly going through this, because there is so much to say about these churches. Pergamos reveals God as a two-edged sword. This is the Word of God that divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and thoughts and intents of our hearts, according to Hebrews 4:12. “Word” means a thought or concept. The concept of God was expressed in Jesus. He was God who became flesh to dwell among us. Verse 13 starts like the beginning of all the church ages: “I know your works.” He is addressing the true church and the false church of every age. Our works flow from what is in our hearts. First, he addresses the true church who knows and holds to his name. They are not afraid or ashamed to be called Christians. In this age, the church had turned from the truth of salvation by the name of Jesus only, and taught that there were many ways to God. The Word was no longer the standard. Humanism had taken its place. The true believers were commended for not denying the faith, even in the days when Antipas was martyred. I can’t find any account in history, or the Bible to tell us about Antipas, so we can assume that he stood for one of many who gave their lives for the truth. You might wonder how Pergamos became the seat of Satan when Babylon is always depicted as Satan’s stronghold. The answer is in history. When the Babylonian kingdom fell to the Medes and the Persians, the Babylonian priest, Attalus fled to Pergamon and set up his satanic kingdom there. In the midst of that Satanic stronghold, there were spirit-filled believers who stood strong in their relationship with God. Lord, remind us today that greater are you who dwells in us, than the devil who roams about the earth.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Read Rev. 2:12 The church in Pergamos was the type of our next church age. Pergmum was considered the most illustrious city in Asia. It had three rivers that flowed around it. It was a city of culture and had one of the largest libraries. I notice a trend in these cities - they all have much knowledge which was the fruit of the bad tree in the garden of Eden. This beautiful city had irrigated gardens, public walks and parks but was full of satanic worship and sin. They worshipped Aesculapius which was a serpent. They actually had a live serpent in their temple. The word Pergamos means “much marriage”, which could be interpreted much sex. In the midst of this satanic-worshipping city was a remnant of believers who chose not to be a part of the licentiousness of the city and lived lives separated unto God. The messenger of that age was Martin. Martin was born in 315 in Hungary. He spent most of his life in France where he was a bishop. He was the uncle of St. Patrick of Ireland. He became a Christian while serving in the military. One winter day, Martin was walking down the street, when he came upon a beggar, lying in the cold without a coat. Martin only had the cloak he was wearing, so he took out his knife and cut his coat in half and wrapped it around this man. That night, Martin had a vision. The Lord came to him and showed him this man wrapped in his coat and the Lord spoke to him and said. “Martin, though he is only a catechumen has clothed Me with this garment.” When Martin woke up he sought to serve the Lord with all his heart. His life became filled with miracles of God’s power. When he left the army, he became a leader in the church and was very militant against the sin of the city. He cut down the groves, broke up the images and pulled down the altars of paganism. When he was challenged by the pagan leaders, he challenged them to a test like Elijah did to the prophets of Baal. He told them to tie him to a tree branch, on the underside, so that when they cut it down, it would fall and crush him. God would have to turn the tree branch while it was falling to keep him alive. They found one on a hill and tied him to it. When they cut the branch, it not only rotated so he would be on top, but it also spun around and went uphill defying all the laws of nature. It landed on some of them that were fleeing. He also raised three people from the dead and was spared from death several times himself with amazing power. Despite all this, Martin never gave in to pride, but remained a humble servant of God which qualified him to be the messenger of this age. Lord, may we be inspired to not love our lives unto death. You are more powerful than death!
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Read Rev. 2:10-11 Jesus told us not to fear all the suffering that will happen at this time. Paul wrote it very eloquently in Romans 8:35-39. Paul reminds us that no amount of suffering or persecution can separate us from God’s love. Even though they were killed they were considered more than conquerors through Christ who gave them the strength to go through the torture. At the time of this church age, the devil had gotten into the hearts of some of the Jews, the pagan priests and the government, and they were hurling Christians into the arenas to be eaten by lions, for sport. It was the time of the gladiators. Nero came to power and his terror on Christians lasted ten years. He used Christians, who were wrapped in oil cloth, tied to poles and put on fire, to light his gardens at night. He would have killed all the Christians, if he had lived longer and God had not stopped him. Being a martyr receives a special reward in heaven. They will be given the crown of life. It is the reward of running the race and winning. Those that overcome will not be hurt in the second death which is the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14) When the scripture says “to him that overcomes” he is talking to all the ages. This is just one more thing the overcomes will win. Lord, may we walk in power, not afraid of what could happen to our mortal bodies.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Read Rev. 2:9 The first thing addressed in this church age is their persecution. The first church age had persecution, but not like this one. God does not tell them he will take their persecution away, but he wants them to know that He sees what they are going through. He knows. We stumble over a God that will allow us to go through unbearable circumstances and not rescue us out. God chose us, and it is his decision what he does with our lives, but we can be sure that it is for a purpose. Read Heb. 10;32-38 and know that there is a reward awaiting you, for all you endure for the kingdom’s sake. Jesus had to learn obedience by the things he suffered. We are no different. James 2 tells us to count it all joy when we fall into temptation and trials. They will make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Romans 8 says that the sufferings we go through here on earth are not comparable to the glory we will receive when we get to heaven. When he sees their poverty, he sees that they are spiritually blessed and rich. Jesus told them in Matt 5 not to worry about what they wore or ate, because God would supply their needs, but to seek the kingdom first, then all these things would be added. Yesterday we learned that Smyrna means bitter. A bitter root must have settled into the church and what splintered off was this group that God called the “synagogue of Satan”. I wonder what they called themselves. I’m sure it was something politically correct that sounded right and safe, when it was really not. These people said they were Jews, when they weren’t like people today, who say they are Christians because they go to church, but really aren’t. Cain and Seth came through the same birth canal, but their seeds were from two different sources. Even Eve was deceived into thinking Cain was from God. So it was with this church. It came from the devil’s seed of bitterness. Lord, show us roots of bitterness that might be trying to deceive us with their lies.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Read Rev. 2:8 A messenger is sent to John to tell him what God wants written to the church in Smyrna. Paul was the messenger of the first church age, and Irenaeus was the messenger of the second church age. Irenaeus was a student of Poycarp who was a righteous follower of Christ. Polycarp was martyred. He was suppose to die by being burned but the flames refused to touch him so they bent away from his body. They then pierced him with a sword and the water that flowed from his body extinguished the flame. Those watching saw his spirit leave his body in the form of a dove. But in all this, he was not militant in opposing the Nicolaitane system so he was not the messenger of the church age. His mentee, Irenaeus was. He stood against the corrupt system of religion and served God with many signs and wonders following his ministry. He taught in the churches in France. He was against organized leadership and stood for a unified, Spirit-filled, gift-manifesting local church. He preached the Godhead being one: the Lord Jesus Christ. The town of Smyrna was north of Ephesus at the mouth of the Smyrna Gulf. Because of its location, it was a commercial center known for its exports. It was also known for its schools. There were many Jews living there who bitterly hated Jesus and his followers. They were the ones who martyred Polycarp. The word Smryna means “bitter” which comes from the word for myrrh. Myrrh was used in embalming. So this was a bitter age full of death. In this city were two famous temples: one to worship Zeus, and the other to worship Cybele. Between these two temples was a road called the Golden Street. This was when Maryolotry began where they glorified Mary, Jesus’ mother. This was also the age that blended church and state for monetary reasons causing the love of money to further apostate the pure gospel. Lord, give us discernment to know the pure gospel from the counterfeit.
Friday, October 4, 2013
Read Rev. 2:7 “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This statement is given at the end of every church age: seven times. God is talking about having a spiritual ear to understand what the Bible says. Every one can hear with their natural eyes, but to hear with your spiritual ears means to comprehend what the Holy Spirit is saying. The reward of the church of Ephesus is to eat from the tree of life. The tree of life is mentioned in Genesis and in Revelation. All throughout the Bible trees represent people. (Ps. 1) So, the tree of life represents Jesus. In the garden of Eden there were 2 trees. One brought death and the other brought life. Jesus was the tree of life. The other stood for the wicked one, Satan. He sent the serpent to entice Eve to eat from his fruit. When Eve ate of the seed-bearing fruit she bore Cain. Her union with Adam brought forth Abel. Genesis only speaks of Adam knowing his wife twice. Once before Cain and Abel were born and once when Seth was born. If Mary, the mother of Jesus could be pregnant by the Spirit of God, then Eve could be pregnant by the spirit of Satan. I wonder if Cain and Abel weren’t twins by two different fathers. It is medically possible to do that, and there have been cases where a mother has carried twins of two different fathers and delivered days apart. God gives us another type of Cain and Abel in the twins of Jacob and Esau. God said he hated Esau, but loved Jacob. These twins struggled in Rebecca’s stomach the whole time she carried them. When she did conceive, they were fighting for the right of being born first. Esau came out harry! How inhuman is that! When the serpent was in the garden he was upright and the size of a man. He could reason and talk. He was Satan in the flesh only he was an animal. Satan manifested in the flesh to beguile the woman, who stood for the church, into sin, just like God had to come in the flesh of Jesus to redeem his bride, the Church. Lord, today give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Read Rev. 2:6 The church of Ephesus is praised for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The word Nicolaitans means “to conquer the laity”. Remember that there were two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was life and the other was knowledge (of good and evil). These two trees are in the church also. Jesus warned against trying to separate the wheat from the tares, lest you dig up wheat with the tares. He said, to let then grow together, and he would separate the in the end. So, in the church, there are wheat and tares - false teaching and true Word. Matt. 24:24 talks about these false prophets that will be able to do signs and wonders and will try, if it were possible, to deceive the elect. Only, it is NOT possible. God will give us the spirit of discernment and wisdom. We see this play out in the children of Israel with Moses. God led them out of Egypt with signs, wonders, miracles, a cloud, fire, and the oracles of God. They moved when the Holy Spirit led, or the cloud moved. But, the people rebelled and complained. They wanted rules and then a king, and eventually wanted to be like all the other nations and fell into complete apostasy. That is how it works. It starts out small and innocent and ends up big and atrocious. It started out as “deeds” and ended as “doctrine”. They fell out of God’s leadership and subjected themselves to man’s leadership. That is why we have denominations. It divides us when Jesus wants us to be one. It is God who is our leader and him alone. He anoints his leaders and his flock. Lord, make us one!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Read Rev. 2:1-5 Ephesus stands for the first church age that began on the day of Pentecost. It’s messenger was Paul. Peter was given the authority to open the doors to the Gentiles, but Paul was their apostle and prophet. He founded the church of Ephesus. Paul was absolutely true to the Word of God and never deviated. He went wherever the spirit led him. No man dictated to Paul what he should do. These things qualified Paul to be the messenger or angel to the first church age. At the time of John’s writing, Paul has already been martyred. Let’s look at the city of Ephesus. It was one of the three greatest cities of Asia - Jerusalem and Antioch the first and second. Ephesus was a very rich city with a Roman government, but Greek language. Paul pastored here for about three years. Ephesus means “aimed at” and “relaxed”. This church age began with an aim of fulfilling the great commission, but relaxed into sleep. They eventually left their first love - Jesus. They built a huge temple to Diana and had a image of Diana that was different than any other image of her. The artist depicted Diana as a shapeless female that finally sunk into the block of wood she was carved from. She held in her arms two bars of iron. She perfectly depicted what the devil was doing in this age. He was immersing in a formless shape so as not to alarm the people. His iron bars were his weapons he intended to use to crush the real church. His doctrine soon became the law of the land. Jesus proclaims that he has seen their persecution and conviction, as many of the early Christians died a martyr’s death. Paul warned his people that after he died, there would be grievous wolves that would try to distort the truth and lead them astray. (ACTS 20:27-32) John also spoke of these false prophets in 1 John 4:1. Jesus had this to say to the church: remember the truth, repent, and go back to doing what you did before you lost Me. When I read Ephesians now, I’m going to see it in a different light. This was the example of that first church that was so rich in faith and maturity. It wasn’t till years later that it fell. Lord, help us to remember those things when we lose our first love.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Read Rev. 1:17-2:1 John saw Jesus standing in the midst of the golden lamp stands with the seven stars in His right hand. John saw Jesus as the Judge, the Priest, the King, the Eagle, the Lamb, the Lion, the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, what John saw totally undid him. He fell at Jesus feet and just lay there unable to get up. I’m sure he felt the weight of his unworthiness and sin, but Jesus took all that for us. So, Jesus tells him to not fear, because He has everything from the start to the finish all figured out. He conquered death, hell and the grave and all he has is ours to inherit. He instructs John to write down everything as he sees it. I’m sure that is the only way he could have kept all the memory of what he saw. It is believed that John saw all this in a span of two years, so it wasn’t all in one vision. He then explains the symbolism of the seven golden candlesticks and the seven stars. The seven golden candlesticks are the seven churches and seven stars are the seven angels or messengers of the seven churches. Since the seven churches stand for the seven church ages, the messengers of that period would be someone during their time that God raised up to hold up a standard without compromise. The first church age started with Pentecost. God poured out his spirit upon his disciples and they went out in the power of the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues, preaching with boldness, healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. Paul was the messenger to the first church age: the church of Ephesus. It is described in the book of Acts. Every church age has tried to be like them. They moved in a demonstration of power. But, along side them was the false church talked about in Matt 24:24. The false church always tries to supplant the true church. Just as their were two trees in the garden and two sons of Eve: Cain and Able - there will be two churches in the end. Lord, give us discernment during these last days to see evil for what it is.