letsloveothers

Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

To the angel, divine messenger of the church in Smyrna write.

These are the words of the First and the Last, absolute Deity, the Son of God who died and came to life again:

I know your suffering and your poverty, but you are rich. And how you are blasphemed and slandered by those who say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of satan. They are Jews only by blood and do not believe and truly honor the God whom they claim to worship. 

Fear nothing that you are about to suffer. Be aware that the devil is about to throw some of you into prison. That you may be tested in your faith, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful to the point of death if you must die for your faith, and I will give you the crown consisting of life. 

He who has an ear let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God will not be hurt by the second death— the lake of fire.

Revelation 2:8-11

In 600 BC, the Lydin king, Attalus, conquered and destroyed Smyrna. But thanks to Alexander the Great’s vision to rebuild the tiny, humble village. Smyrna was resurrected, becoming one of the greatest city of its day.

The closest Roman port to Europe, Smyrna thrived. It had the exclusive right to import and export the expensive, fragrant spice— myrrh. Valued for its use in burial procedures. Immense amounts were sold to Egypt. Known for its architecture, flowers and tropical-like climate, Smyrna’s inhabitants treasured their city, especially its history.

For the Christians in Smyrna, swearing loving loyalty to Jesus was costly. Tribulation, poverty and slander were daily companions. Considered a subculture by the Jews of the city. They could face imprisonment, even death.

How did these Christians persevere? 

They believed and repented— internalized Christ’s words of wisdom and warning.

POVERTY

Financial tribulation was almost a certainty for a Christian in Smyrna. You could lose your job. Be cast our of trade unions. Prohibited from independently selling your wares.

BUT

Jesus encourages us to pursue spiritual, not earthly treasures. 

Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice. Don’t undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets. Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack. Where rust does not corrode. Where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is.There your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray. That is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.

No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second or vice versa. People try to serve both God and money— but you can’t. You must choose one or the other. 

Here is the bottom line. Do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat, or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. 

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap. And yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. You are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you. Worrying does not do any good. Who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?

Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field, and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies. Think about grassy fields. The grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. Yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust?

So do not consume yourselves with questions. What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions. They don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. Matthew 6:19-34

SLANDER

“Christians have orgies in their gatherings.”

“Christians are cannabals. They drink the blood of Christ and eat His body!”

“Christians call each other brother and sister. They don’t care about their families, just each other.”

These were some of the rumors spread by both Jews and pagans in Smyrna.

BUT

Jesus declares the Spirit, not biology, is the foundation of faith.

Therefore, the one who confesses and acknowledges Me before men as Lord and Savior, affirming a state of oneness with Me. That one I will also confess and acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. But the one who denies and rejects Me before men. That one I will also deny and reject before My Father who is in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword of division between belief and unbelief. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household when one believes and another does not.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross, expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come and follow Me. Believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life in this world will eventually lose it through death, and whoever loses his life [n this world for My sake will find it. That is, life with Me for all eternity. Matthew 10:32-39  

TRIBULATION

Those who professed allegiance to Jesus risked imprisonment, even death. A rat infested dark dungeon filled with human excrement awaited some. Others would die burned at the stake or ravaged by wild beasts in an arena. 

BUT

If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything— if the whole world is in your pocket— but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you?

If you’re ashamed of who I am and what I teach, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in all His glory, the glory of the Father and the glory of the holy messengers. Are you ready for this? I’m telling you the truth. Some of you will not taste death until your eyes see the Kingdom of God. Luke 9:23-27

How did these Christians in Smyrna prevail? Never denying loving loyalty for Jesus? 

They learned to overcome the weakness of the flesh by thinking eternally, not temporally. One day they would be resurrected to a superior life with Jesus. This truth fortified their faith and obedience. Enabling them to persevere, despite experiencing tribulation and temptation.

Unfortunately, spiritual immaturity handicaps many Christians today. Failing to grasp that in the days of His earthly life, Jesus offered up both specific petitions and urgent supplications for that which He needed, with fervent crying and tears to the One who was always able to save Him from death. He was heard because of His reverent submission toward God, His sinlessness and His unfailing determination to do the Father’s will. Although He was a Son who had never been disobedient to the Father, He learned active, special obedience through what He suffered. Having been made perfect, uniquely equipped and prepared as Savior and retaining His integrity amid opposition, He became the source of eternal salvation, an eternal inheritance to all those who obey Him. Hebrews 5:7-9

This promise of an eternal inheritance miraculously floods my being with gratitude. Whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside— it’s nothing but a pile of waste— so that I may gain Him. When it counts I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith. I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death. So that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead.

I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me. Nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived. But there’s one thing I am doing. I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts— to cross the iline, to win the prize, to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed. All of us who are mature ought to think the same way about these matters. If you have a different attitude, then God will reveal this to you as well. For now, let’s hold on to what we have been shown and keep in step with these teachings. Philippians 3:7-16

To the angel, divine messenger of the church in Philadelphia write.These are the words of the Holy One, the True One. He who has the key to the house of David, He who opens, and no one will be able to shut. He who shuts, and no one opens.

I know your deeds. See, I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut. For you have a little power and have kept My word and have not renounced or denied My name. 

Take note. I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not but lie. I will make them come and bow down at your feet and make them know without any doubt that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My endurance, My command to persevere. I will keep you safe from the hour of trial. That hour which is about to come on the whole inhabited world. To test those who live on the earth. 

I am coming quickly. Hold tight what you have so that no one will take your crown by leading you to renounce the faith. He who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God. I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. He will most certainly never be put out of it. I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from My God and My own new name. 

He who has an ear. Let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3: 7-13

A cataclysmic earthquake struck Philadelphia in 17 AD. Although Rome ceased taxation for five years, no financial aid for rebuilding was provided. 

This betrayal was compounded when Emperor Domitian ordered all vineyards, the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy, razed so they couldn’t compete with the Roman vineyards. Philadelphia’s prosperity would never return. 

Initially, Christians were allowed to worship in the synagogue. However, when people began converting to Christianity because of the Good News. This privilege was revoked, and their names removed from the roll of attendees.

For the Christians in Philadelphia this was problematic. If your name was on the synagogue’s roll, you were exempted from declaring Cesar as Lord. 

Like the gentiles of old, individuals today must continually decide who or what is worthy of their loving loyalty. For disciples of Christ this is a no brainer.

JESUS!

As Christ’s disciple you must never forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews who were proud of their circumcision. Even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 

In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.

For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. Ephesians 2:11-21

But Christ’s crucifixion isn’t the zenith of the Good News. There’s more, so much more— our victorious resurrection. 

Now listen to this brothers and sisters. This present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery. Something you may have trouble understanding. 

We will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We’ll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. When we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay. When we put immortality over our mortal frames. Then it will be as Scripture says.

“Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death. Hey, Death! What happened to your big win? Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?”

Sin came into this world, and death’s sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God then. For our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted. Be unshakable. Do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have? What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow but only a bare seed of wheat, or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body He wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh— one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds and another for fish.

There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory. While the moon and stars each have another kind. Even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam— that is, Christ— is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body. Then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth. While Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Just imagine. No more…

Battling sin.

Attending funerals.

Scheduling medical appointments.

Succumbing to mental, physical or emotional pain.

Dreading growing old.

Yes, it is my resurrection— my eternal destination that is my hope on this side of eternity. My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20

An indestructible hope that prevails no matter my circumstances because Papa is faithful. What was hidden for ages, generations and generations, is now being revealed to His holy ones. He decided to make known to them His blessing to the nations.The glorious riches of this mystery is the indwelling of the Anointed in you! The very hope of glory.

We are preaching Him, spreading the Word to all with equal amounts of wise warning and instruction. So that, at the final judgment, we will be able to present everyone to the Creator fully mature because of what Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, has done.  Colossians 1:27-28

And to the angel, divine messenger of the church in Thyatira write.

These are the words of the Son of God. Who has eyes that flash like a flame of fire in righteous judgment, and whose feet are like burnished, white-hot bronze:

 “I know your deeds, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your last deeds are more numerous and greater than the first. But I have this charge against you. You tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess. Claiming to be inspired, and she teaches and misleads My bond-servants so that they commit acts of sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent— to change her inner self and her sinful way of thinking, but she has no desire to repent of her immorality and refuses to do so. 

Listen carefully. I will throw her on a bed of sickness. Those who commit adultery with her. I will bring into great anguish, unless they repent of her deeds. I will kill her children, followers with pestilence. Thoroughly annihilating them, and all the churches will know without any doubt that I am He who searches the minds and hearts— the innermost thoughts, purposes. I will give to each one of you a reward or punishment according to your deeds. But to the rest of you in Thyatira who do not hold this teaching. Who have not explored and known the depths of satan. As they call them, I place no other burden on you except to hold tightly to what you have until I come. 

He who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and he who keeps My deeds and doing things that please Me until the very end. To him I will give authority and power over the nations, and he shall shepherd and rule them with a rod of iron. As the earthen pots are broken in pieces. As I also have received authority and power to rule them from My Father. I will give him the Morning Star.

He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 2:18-29

As a commercial hub, Thyatira’s crafts were exceptional, garnering worldwide admiration. Each craft was represented by a guild. As the social, industrial and religious epicenter of Thyatira, guilds were powerful. All workers were required to join and participate in the festivities held in the temple of Apollo. For Christians this was problematic . Unless you ate, fellowshipped and committed immoral sexual acts in the temple, you risked losing your job.

Like the Christians in Thyatira, Christians today must navigate the politically correct and humanistic philosophies prevalent in the culture. Nonetheless, as a Christian you are to boldly proclaim Jesus and His teachings as truth, no matter the cost. Watering down His teachings to make them less offensive or dressing them up to make them more attractive is unacceptable. 

Only Papa’s truth can shattered the chains that have enslaved the world. 

Truth that transcends denominational and secular boundaries. 

Truth that exemplifies the God worthy of worship— the God of the bible. 

The God of love and relationship, not a god of rules and rituals. 

The God of faith, not the politically correct humanistic god of the culture. 

The God of eternity, not a god who promises a false sense of temporal peace and prosperity. 

For the Samaritan woman at the well, a single encounter with Jesus was what her tortured soul was seeking. Truth that sets the captives free.

Now He had to go through Samaria. He arrived at a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the tract of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down by the well. It was then about the sixth hour, noon.

Then a woman from Samaria came to draw water. 

Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink”

For His disciples had gone off into the city to buy food.

The Samaritan woman asked Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” 

For Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew God’s gift of eternal life, and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink.’ You would have asked Him instead, and He would have given you living water— eternal life.” 

She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with— no bucket and rope, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well? Who used to drink from it himself and his sons and his cattle also?”

Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water. Satisfying his thirst for God. Welling up continually flowing, bubbling within him to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not get thirsty nor have to continually come all the way here to draw.” 

At this Jesus said, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 

The woman answered, “I do not have a husband.” 

Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I do not have a husband’.  For you have had five husbands, and the man you are now living with is not your husband. You have said this truthfully.” 

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I see that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place where one ought to worship is in Jerusalem at the temple.” 

Jesus replied, “Woman, believe Me. A time is coming when God’s kingdom comes when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans do not know what you worship. We Jews do know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews. But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit— from the heart, the inner self and in truth. For the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers. God is spirit, the Source of life. Yet invisible to mankind, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming. He who is called Christ— the Anointed. When that One comes, He will tell us everything we need to know.” 

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He— the Messiah.” John 4:4-26

The early Christians turned the world upside down because they internalized their heavenly Father’s truth. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a special people for God’s own possession. So that you may proclaim the excellencies, the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people at all, but now you are God’s people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers in this world to abstain from the sensual urges. Those dishonorable desires that wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the unsaved Gentiles. Conduct yourself honorably, with graciousness and integrity, so that for whatever reason they may slander you as evildoers. Yet by observing your good deeds they may instead come to glorify God in the day of visitation when He looks upon them with mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-12

Disciples of Christ refuse to worship anyone or anything other than Jesus, the Son of the living God.  God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. 1 John 4:13-16

Disciples of Christ refuse to embrace the culture’s definition of reality. Values, priorities and dreams that contradict Papa’s truth. Therefore, do not love this world nor the things it offers you. When you love the world you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Disciples of Christ have no illusions of grandeur They understand that Papa’s Kingdom isn’t a democracy. He alone decides the whos, whats, whens and whys of His Kingdom. 

Be wise. Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom. For many will try to enter but will fail. When the Master of the house has locked the door. It will be too late. 

You will stand outside knocking and pleading, “Lord, open the door for us!” 

But He will reply, “I don’t know you, or where you come from.”

Then you will say, “But we ate and drank with You, and You taught in our streets.”

And He will reply, “I tell you. I don’t know you, or where you come from. Get away from Me all you who do evil.”

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, For you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. People will come from all over the world— from east and west, north and south— to take their places in the Kingdom of God. Note this. Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. Luke 13:24-30

Disciples of Christ come from every walk of life. Distinctions of rank and social class are irrelevant and unimportant. In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. If you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:6-8

Today, take a long deep drink of Living Water. Jesus alone can quench the thirst of unrighteousness.

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