letsloveothers

Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

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.

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. 

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