letsloveothers

Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

To the angel, divine messenger of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of Him who has and wields the sharp two-edged sword in judgment.

“I know where you dwell. A place where Satan sits enthroned. Yet you are holding fast to My name, and you did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one. Who was killed, martyred among you where Satan dwells. 

But I have a few things against you. You have there some among you who are holding to the corrupt teaching of Balaam. Who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel. Enticing them to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of sexual immorality. You also have some who in the same way are holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

Therefore repent. Change your inner self— your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior. Seek God’s will, or else I am coming to you quickly. I will make war and fight against them with the sword of My mouth in judgment. 

He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God. To him I will give the privilege of eating some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone which no one knows except the one who receives it.”

Revelation 2:12-17

Amplified Bible

The region of Pergamum was a jewel of the Roman Empire. 

King Attalus who reigned around 200 BC signed a peace treaty with Rome and was given control over all of Asia Minor. Upon his death, all territory was bequeathed to the Roman Empire. Surrounded by the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Aegean Sea, all ports of commerce belong to the Roman Empire.

Pergamum was the breadbasket of the known world.

The city of Pergamum is the best excavated city of the seven churches. Excavations include: 

The steepest theater of the ancient world, the Hellenistic Theater, which had a capacity of 10,000.

A library which at one time contained an estimated 200,000 volumes. 

Temples dedicated to a multitude of Roman deities.

If you desired power, worship in the Temple of Zeus.

If wine and pleasure were your desires, worship in the Temple of Dionysus. Drunkenness, orgies and even murder occurred within the four walls of this temple. 

If you desired a bountiful food harvest, worship in the Temple of Demeter. 

If you desired physical healing, worship in the Temple of Asklepios. Pilgrims came from around the known world to this temple seeking healing. After a vision, priests would diagnose the ailment. The individual would then acquire the appropriate medication. There was also a snake healing ritual. At night Individuals would be enclosed in a room. After the priest induced a deep trance. Snakes were then released to crawl over them. 

If you desired wisdom, worship in the temple of Athena. Something Roman military strategists did.

If you desired to affirm Caesar as the lord of your life, worship in the temple of Trajan. By doing so, your savior Trajan would grant you safety and peace. 

Idolatry impacted every aspect of life in the city of Pergamum, and it eventually seeped into the Church of Pergamum. In the beginning, members of the church were unified in their faithfulness to Jesus and the Gospel. But over time, the idolatrous practices of sexual immorality, eating meat offered to pagan gods and satisfying immoral desires became common among some of the members. 

The Church of Pergamum, like King Solomon, began well. Only later to be deceived by the teachings of idolatrous individuals.

Acknowledged as the richest and wisest man of the ancient world, King Solomon was blessed with both wisdom and wealth. Not because he sought it, but because he sought Papa and His righteousness— code of conduct.

At the beginning of Solomon’s reign, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. 

God said, “Ask. What should I give you?”

Solomon replied, “You have shown great and faithful love to Your servant, my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness, righteousness and integrity. You have continued this great and faithful love for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today.

Lord my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

Now it pleased the Lord that Solomon had requested this. 

So God said to him, “Because you have requested this and did not ask for long life or riches for yourself or the death of your enemies, but you asked discernment for yourself to understand justice. I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart. So that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for, both riches and honor. So that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life. If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14

Unfortunately, Solomon didn’t keep Papa’s statutes and commandments and suffered the consequences. Nearing the end of his life, Solomon realized what foolishness it was to live one’s life according to the wisdom of man.

I applied myself by heart and mind to seek and search out by human wisdom all human activity under heaven. It is a miserable business which God has given to the sons of man with which to busy themselves. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity— a striving after the wind and a feeding on wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is defective and lacking cannot be counted.

I entered into counsel with my own mind, saying, “Behold, I have acquired great human wisdom. Yes, more than all who have been over Jerusalem before me. My mind has had great experience of moral wisdom and scientific knowledge.” 

I gave my mind to know practical wisdom and to discern the character of madness and folly in which men seem to find satisfaction. I perceived that this also is a searching after wind and a feeding on it. For in much human wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:12-19

The words of the wise are like goads. The collected sayings of the masters are like the nail-tipped sticks used to drive the sheep, given by one Shepherd.

Wise words ring true in our ears. Whether we want to hear them or not. They prod us, convict us and move us. Heeding them strengthens us.

So be warned, my child, of anything else that might be said! There is no end to writing books, and excessive study only exhausts the body. When all is said and done, here is the last word. Worship in reverence the one True God and keep His commands, for this is what God expects of every person. For God will judge every action— including everything done in secret, whether it be good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14

Do not misjudge Papa’s attitude regarding disobedience and apostasy. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God. Protecting and demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His.The Lord avenges, and He is full of wrath.The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Nahum 1:2-3

For His eyes watch over a man’s ways, and He observes all his steps. There is no darkness, no deep darkness where evildoers can hide themselves.

God does not need to examine a person further. That one should approach Him in court. He shatters the mighty without an investigation and sets others in their place. Therefore, He recognizes their deeds and overthrows them by night, and they are crushed in full view of the public. He strikes them for their wickedness because they turned aside from following Him and did not understand any of His ways. Job 34:21-27

Many of today’s Christians, like members of the Church of Pergamum, pick and choose biblical teachings that agree with their lifestyles. Ignoring that all of Scripture is God-breathed. In its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction and training for a life that is right. So that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

As Papa’s child, you are held to a higher moral standard than non-believers. Yes, your sin may be forgiven, and your eternal passport stamped. Nevertheless, there are always consequences for sin because sin mocks Papa’s holiness. It scorns His justice by thumbing its nose at His truth. Truth that demands the abolishment of corruption and immorality and punishment for those found guilty of peddling evil.

Woe, judgment is coming to those who call evil good and good evil. Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness. Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe, judgment is coming to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21

I know your deeds and your toil, and your patient endurance, and that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and have tested and critically appraised those who call themselves apostles, special messengers of Christ, and in fact are not, and have found them to be liars and impostors, I know that you who believe are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and that you have not grown weary of being faithful to the truth. But I have this charge against you. That you have left your first love. You have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me.

So remember the heights from which you have fallen, and repent. Change your inner self— your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior. Seek God’s will and do the works you did at first when you first knew Me.  Otherwise, I will visit you and remove your lampstand — the church, its impact from its place unless you repent. 

Yet you have this to your credit. You hate the works and corrupt teachings of the Nicolaitans that mislead and delude the people, which I also hate. 

He who has an ear. Let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God. I will grant the privilege to eat the fruit from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:2-7

Ephesus was one of the largest and most important cities in the ancient Mediterranean world. It had many claims to fame.

Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

As the provincial seat of the Roman government in Asia, its political and economic power was supreme. Although subject to Roman rule, it was a “free city”. It coined its own money and governed with a city council.

Ephesus was one of the oldest Greek cities located on the Aegean Sea and a mecca for trade. Located at the end of the East-West trade. It’s harbour exported products to Greece, Italy and the rest of the Roman Empire. 

The residents of the city also reaped the benefits of the Ephesian trade. The Agora marketplace, the commercial hub of Ephesus, was filled with items from around the known world. Before entering Agora, all were required to take a bit of incense and drop it in the incense burner. In doing so, the individual was declaring loyalty to the Roman emperor as a deity.

Considered an intellectual center. Ephesus possessed one of the greatest libraries in the civilized world.

With fourteen pagan temples, paganism was the dominant religion. Pilgrims traveled to Ephesus to worship in its grandest temple, which was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Within the temple sexual immorality was rampant. Orgies and prostitution were common practices. Banking was also conducted within the Artemis temple. Outside the temple was the tree of fertility. Touching the tree supposedly imparted fertility to women desiring to become pregnant and a life of abundance to all.

Ephesus housed the temple of the Roman emperor, Domitian. Constructed on the highest point in Ephesus, it dominated the landscape. It was a daily reminder to the members of the Ephesian church of Domitian’s brutality towards early Christians, second only to Nero. 

From the beginning of the Christian era, Ephesus was the key city in the expansion of Christianity. From Ephesus originated many of Paul’s evangelical missions.

Despite the infiltration of paganism into every aspect of community life in Ephesus, the church had remained steadfastly faithful to Jesus. Refusing to compromise the truth of the Gospel despite persecution and cultural alienation.

BUT 

Even under the leadership of the apostle John— “the one Jesus loved”, they were reprimanded for abandoning their first true love, Jesus.

Do you remember when you first became a believer? It was like Christmas morning, and you had opened the Gift of all gifts. 

You absolutely knew that life without the Gift would be unbearable.

Your heart skipped a beat each time someone talked about the Gift.

The Gift was your first thought every morning and your last thought before falling asleep.

But as time went by your enthusiasm faded. The Gift no longer preoccupied your thoughts. Soon gifts from the past were replacing the Gift.

Why was the first letter sent to the church that had abandoned its love— relationship with Jesus? 

An undying love for Jesus is Christianity’s foundation.

How important is it? 

Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as He went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

He replied, “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. And 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 13:22-30

This parable should send chills down your back. Just because you… 

Recited a prayer of salvation during a church service.

Became a member of a local church.

Was baptized.

Tithed.

Prayed for the sick and lost.

Was the instrument of miracles for others.

Helped the poor.

These acts of duty won’t open the door into the Kingdom of God. One and one thing only opens the door.

Do you have a relationship with Jesus and love Him unconditionally?

So many today are hopeless and desperate. To the outside world they appear to have it altogether. In reality a slow, agonizing death haunts their daily existence.

I. like many of you were once counted among the terminal. Regardless of what I did, or how hard I tried. Nothing could quiet the emptiness shouting its name. Nothing that is until I had an up close and personal encounter with Jesus.

In June of 2000, my husband and I were visiting our oldest daughter in Houston, Texas. She shared with us how the church she was attending was changing her life. Begging us to go to church with her, I reluctantly agreed.

As I walked through the doors love overwhelmed my heart. My heavenly Father was there with arms opened wide for His prodigal child, lovingly welcoming me home.

That day I had an unforgettable encounter with Papa and His son, Jesus. They captivated me, touching the innermost parts of my being. Gently reassuring me, I was safe and unconditionally loved.

Today my heart grieves for anyone who has never experienced the exquisite love that is Jesus.

An unquenchable love that makes a lifelong pursuit of Him irresistible.

A tender love that heals the scars incurred on the battlefields in the war for my soul.

An empowering love that showers grace upon me. Enabling me to forgive those individuals who carved scars on my soul, including me.

An encouraging love that declares my best days are yet to come.

It is this love that has sustained me during times of death, betrayal and hardship. Creating within me a heart that is strong as steel AND soft as silk. 

I know your deeds. You have a name, reputation that you are alive, but in reality you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen and reaffirm what remains of your faithful commitment to Me, which is about to die. For I have not found any of your deeds completed in the sight of My God or meeting His requirements. 

So remember and take to heart the lessons you have received and heard. Keep and obey them. Repent. Change your sinful way of thinking. Demonstrate your repentance with new behavior that proves a conscious decision to turn away from sin. So then, if you do not wake up. I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 

But you still have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. That is, contaminated their character and personal integrity with sin. They will walk with Me dressed in white because they are worthy, righteous. 

He who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God will accordingly be dressed in white clothing. I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess and openly acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels saying that he is one of Mine. Revelation 3:1-5

Sardis was once part of the ancient Persian kingdom of Lydia. Liberated by Alexander the Great in 340 BC. It became an important Greek city. Its chief deity was Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, wilderness and fertility.

Worship of celestial beings impacted every aspect of community life in Sardis. Besides a plethora of pagan temples, it had the largest synagogue outside of Palestine. Continually exposing the congregants of the Church of Sardis to paradigms and behaviors that contradicted the teachings of Jesus and the Gospel.

The lack of religious persecution suggests the Church of Sardis had fully and silently compromised Christ’s truth so as to exist peacefully with the pagan society that was Sardis. In ignoring all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted because of their faith. 2 Timothy 3:12 They chose to hold to an outward form of godliness— religion. In the process nullifying the Gospel’s power in their lives because their claim of faith was fictitious. This community of the living dead needed Papa’s power to bring them back to life.

It’s difficult to rock the boat, and challenge ungodly paradigms, but Jesus made it clear. 

This is serious business we’re involved in. My mission is to send a purging fire on the earth! In fact, I can hardly wait to see the smoke rising. I have a kind of baptism to go through, and I can’t relax until My mission is accomplished! 

Do you think I’ve come with a nice little message of peace? No way. Believe Me. My message will divide. It will divide a household of five into three against two or two against three. It will divide father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:49-52

Rocking the boat is frowned upon by many Christians.

Questioning religious leadership is taboo. 

Confronting sin among fellow believers is none of your business. 

Challenging paradigms which are opinions and generalizations is spiritual suicide. 

John the Baptist refused to remain silent concerning religious hypocrisy. So when he realized that Pharisees and Sadducees were attending baptismal experiences because it was becoming popular. He exploded.

IIf you think that simply hopping in the Jordan will cleanse you, then you are sorely mistaken. Your life must bear the fruits of turning toward righteousness. Nor are you correct if you think that being descended from Abraham is enough to make you holy and right with God. Yes, the children of Abraham are God’s chosen children, but God can adopt as daughters and sons anyone He likes— He can turn these stones into sons if He likes. Matthew 3:8-9

John’s refusal to not rock the boat did not endear him to those in authority. 

BUT

John the Baptist did attract the attention of those searching for truth. Individuals who were spiritually starving.

Like the people in the days of John the Baptist, many in the Church today are starving because the truth of Jesus is not being taught. Truth that…

Demands holiness and repentance— a life of spiritual excellence regardless the personal cost.

Boldly confronting religious paradigms that are more concerned with the observance of rules and traditions than spiritual transformation.

Is non-negotiable. All information, experiences, relationships and opportunities are to be processed through the filter of Papa’s moral absolutes.

Beloved, disciples of Christ can’t collaborate with evil. Believing loyalty in Jesus and the Gospel must be their creed. They can never bequeath their loyalty to any other god. Disciples need to believe boldly so that it moves them and affects the way they think and behave.

We are at war with evil’s lies and deception. Papa’s truth must be both our weapon and shield.

The word of God, you see is alive and moving, sharper than a double-edged sword. Piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart. No creature can hide from God. God sees all. Everyone and everything is exposed. Opened for His inspection, and He’s the One we will have to explain ourselves to. Hebrews 4:12-13

The living dead must be resuscitated, brought back to spiritual life. Transformed into the image of Christ so they are worthy to wear the white robes of the redeemed. 

This is only possible if you study and do your best to present yourself to God approved. A workman tested by trial who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. Avoid all irreverent babble and godless chatter with its profane, empty words. For it will lead to further ungodliness, and their teaching will spread like gangrene. 

The firm foundation of God which He has laid stands sure and unshaken despite attacks, bearing this seal. “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord stand apart from wickedness and withdraw from wrongdoing.”.2 Timothy 2 15-16 and 19

To be worthy to receive a white robe, both one’s spiritual and temporal life must be one of…

Vitality, not stagnation.

Light, not darkness.

Holiness, not evil.

Joy, not sorrow.

This is only possible if one is made spiritually pure by the blood of Jesus. It’s not our good works by which we are made spiritually pure, only Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. He alone is the path to eternity with Papa.

In these last days, rocking the boat must become the default mode for Christians. Silence and apathy are no longer an option. 

Beloved, be a voice and clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. Isaiah 40:3-5

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