THE CHURCH IS CHRIST'S FOCUS: We learned yesterday that this book is called the Apocalypse, meaning it's revealing what was previously unknown, so it's significant that this revelation that John is receiving directly from Jesus starts with His concern for the churches. Jesus' love for the Church is evident, even in these chapters where He's critical of them. He says, "those whom I love I rebuke and discipline (v19)." This is why it's so critical for you to be actively involved in the Church.
ALL THAT GLITTERS ISN'T GOLD: Some churches just seem to have it all going on, with a beautiful modern building, lots of programs and activities, and awesomely produced worship service experiences. But just having those things does not equate to having a healthy church. Jesus tells the church in Sardis that although they have a reputation for being alive, they are actually dead (v1). Often times it's easy even in a very busy church to spiritually fall asleep. We need to make sure that we're awakened to the Holy Spirit.
BE LIKE PHILADELPHIA: The church in Philadelphia is the only one of the seven churches addressed not to receive any criticism. There are two key things they did that helped keep them on the straight and narrow. They:
kept the Word, and
did not deny Christ's name (v8)
What are some practical ways you can help your church remain faithful by keeping the Word and not denying Christ's name?
DON'T BE LIKE LAODICEA: Whereas Philadelphia received no criticism, Laodicea receives no praise from Jesus. In fact, they disgust Him. The Laodiceans were extremely wealthy and had a really high quality of life. The result was a sense of self pride and not needing help from anybody else, and this attitude was reflected in the church there. Commentator William Hendriksen puts it this way:
The Laodiceans were lukewarm, tepid, flabby, half-hearted, limp, always ready to compromise, indifferent, listless: that ‘we’re-all-good-people-here-in-Laodicea’ attitude. The author of this book has become personally acquainted with this attitude on the part of some church members. You cannot do anything with such people. With the heathen, that is with those who have never come into contact with the gospel and who are therefore ‘cold’ with respect to it, you can do something. With sincere, humble Christians you can work with joy. But with these ‘we’re-all-such-very-good-folks-here-in-Laodicea’ people you can do nothing.
How much of that Laodicean attitude is reflected in our Christian culture?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Jesus, who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars (v1)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will open your ears, that you may hear what the Spirit says to the churches (v6, 13, 22)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: