The words of Jude - the half brother of Jesus -
will begin the introduction of this Bible devotional.
Note that this page has teaching and a prayer at the end.
“Some godless teachers have wormed their way in
among you, saying that after we become Christians we can do just as we like without fear of God’s punishment.
The fate of such people was written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.”
That was Jude chapter one verse 4 in the Bible.
Jude reminds us that even though we are Christians, we need to continue to ask the Lord for forgiveness of our sins.
In the book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, Jesus is talking to Christians who are in the seven churches. The main message of those chapters is Repent.
In Revelation 2:2-7 Jesus is talking to the church of Ephesus. Jesus is telling the Christians in the Ephesus church to repent. First, he tells them of all the great things they are doing that please Him then he tells them what they need to repent of.
“I know your
works, your labor, your patience, and
that you cannot bear those who are evil.
And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not,
and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
I have this against you,
that you have left your first love.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent and do the first works,
or else I will come to you quickly
and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.”
In those verses, Jesus is speaking to Christians and telling them to repent.
Jesus said they had left their first love and were not
doing the first works.
I am not sure what they were doing wrong. But I believe I know. Let me explain:
Today there are Christian organizations that were created to do apologetics. These Christian organizations originally were formed to study other religions and then tell Christians where the errors were in those religions, so we could reach people in other religions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today many of those organizations have become ultra critical of their fellow Christians.
Several years ago, my church hosted one of their meetings. As I listened to them, all I could think about was Revelation chapter 2 - where the Bible speaks of the Church of Ephesus.
The speakers began with teaching us about other religions, but quickly turned to teaching about "heretic" Christians. I noticed that there was no love or tenderness in their words.
2 Timothy chapter 2 clarifies my point. It says,
"God's people must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong.
Be humble when you are trying to teach those
who are mixed up concerning truth."
Then in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives us information about how important love is when we are teaching others.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all
and all knowledge and though I have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains……
but have not love, I am nothing.”
So without love, our ability to help others is almost nonexistent.
In the book of Revelation, I believe Jesus is trying to say that the people of Ephesus have great zeal for serving Jesus Christ but somewhere along the way they have left love behind and Jesus finds them only interested in cleansing the church.
This does not mean that we should shy away from teaching
what the Bible says.
It just means that we need to do our teaching in love.
AND we must realize that some subjects - such as the endtimes -
can have a variety of opinions in the church
while each person is still in right standing with the Lord.
Ephesus Christians sometimes continue until they get to the point where they call everyone, but those in their small group, heretics. Here they move away from clear Bible teaching and move into their own opinions and preferences.
The Lord wants us to work together
not tear each other apart.
Note that Jesus compliments those in Ephesus concerning many things.
The main thing Ephesus members need to focus on is LOVE - love for others and love for God.
Going back to the book of Revelation,
we need to remember that the verses written to the churches
were not only written for the people in the churches of that day,
but the verses are also written for every generation.
As I have studied the churches, I have seen that each of us living today is -
in essence - a member of one of the churches of Revelation. I believe we can all find ourselves in one of the churches.
(The words to each of the churches were written specifically to each of the churches that were in existence when John wrote down the words. The words are also applicable to Christians all through the centuries. And in fact, we can even find ourselves and evaluate our spiritual condition by looking at the letters to the 7 churches.)
Going back to the Ephesus church, if you are personally acting as those in Ephesus, Jesus has a message for you today – repent. Jesus says to you in verse 5…. “I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.”
I’m not sure exactly what "removing the lampstand" means, but I know one thing it means. It means you better repent.
This is not to say that only those who find themselves in the Ephesus church need to work on their love walk.
I'm sure the Lord has to speak to all of us at one time or another
about our love walk.
When he does - the correct response is repentance.
Take note that:
The main message Jesus gives to the churches is -
when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin
Repent means that you ask God for forgiveness AND you work on changing so that you become obedient to God in that area of your life.
Jesus said in the book of John 14:15 that if you love me, you will obey me.
Today there is a new grace message that is preached
that is not new and it is not of God. I looked at one of the books of
one of its main teachers and
even the “prayer for salvation” in the back of his book did not include repentance of sins.”
Anyone who says that Christians never need to repent, is not teaching what the Bible says.
We are not saved by works
we are called to become obedient children of our Heavenly Father.
We are justified by faith
but God calls us to participate in sanctification.
There are 7 churches in Revelation. I am not going to teach on each of them. At this point, I am going to skip to the church of Pergamous.
Here is what Jesus said to the church of Pergamous……
"You hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith
even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr,
who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
But I have a few things
because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam,
who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel,
to eat things sacrificed to idols,
and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those
who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
or else I will come to you quickly and
will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
If you identify with the sins of the church of Pergamous, Jesus says to you - REPENT.
Jesus tells Pergamous several things to repent of. One of the easiest sins to highlight is the sin of sexual immorality. If you are committing sexual sin, you probably fall into this church. Jesus is saying to you, “Repent.”
Another thing they are told to repent of is eating things sacrificed to idols. I believe the clear meaning is the main meaning but I also think it probably means that we are not to be consuming things that the devil is producing for entertainment on our TV and other devices.
We need to be careful what we watch. God wants us to agree with Psalm 101 when it says, “I will live a pure life in my home and not tolerate evil.”
Too many times we entertain ourselves with sinful things.
Jesus tells us,
"As many as I love - I rebuke and chasten.
Therefore, be zealous and repent."
Revelation chapter 2 beginning in verse 18 talks of the church of Thyatira.
Jesus says to them,
"I know your works, love, service,
faith,and your patience;
and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
I have a few things against you,
because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess,
to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality
and eat things sacrificed to idols.
And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she
did not repent."
Jesus says a lot more right after that about what is going to happen to them if they don’t repent. I’m not going to include that here, but I encourage you to read it for yourself - especially if you or a loved one is in that church.
The people in the Thyatira church don’t just commit sexual sin in their personal life, they have people speak in their pulpits that sexual sin is ok.
The Thyratira church teaches it is ok to disregard Bible commands.
Jesus calls those in the Thyatira church to repent.
The Philadelphia Church
I am going to highlight one more church. That church is the church of Philadelphia.
This is the church that Jesus wants us to be in.
Jesus doesn’t tell this church to repent, because people in this church are regularly evaluating themselves.
The members of this church live continually with a mindset of repentance.
Jesus says that the Philadelphia church Keep His Word – meaning they continually try to obey the Bible.
Jesus is pleased with the Philadelphia church.
Here are the words of Jesus to those in the church of Philadelphia:
"I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door,
and no one can shut it;
for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and
have not denied My name."
Jesus goes on to give them an interesting promise that he doesn't give the other churches.
"Because you have kept My command to persevere,
I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
Interesting, Jesus tells this church that they will be given a blessing that apparently no other church will get, because they persevere and continue to try to do what the Bible tells them to do even with opposition.
So how do we get into the Philadelphia church?
We TRY to keep his word.
We stand firm on what the Bible says and do not give in
to peer pressure.
For example, even if all the world says sexual sin is ok,
the church of Philadelphia says that
they will obey the Bible and they will teach what the Bible says.
Again it is important to emphasize that the people in the church of Philadelphia are not told to repent, because they live a lifestyle of regularly repenting when God convicts them of sin.
Being in the Philadelphia church
doesn’t mean you think you are perfect.
It does mean that you will regularly look at yourself and
notice the areas you need to work on.
We never arrive
but we are continuing to work on ourselves
until Jesus comes back to get us.
I invite you to pray with me.
I come before you, and I declare that I want to please you.
I want to be right with you.
I am promising you that when you convict me of sin, I will not ignore you.
Help me, Lord, to become the person you have destined me to be.
In Jesus' name I pray,
Is there anything more important than
reading the verses Revelation about the churches today
or at least sometime this week
and making sure that you are right with Jesus Christ?
Note that when talking to Pergamos in Revelation 2:13, Satan's throne is mentioned. It is generally believed that the words "Satan's throne" refers to an altar that was in the city of Pergamos.