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Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev. 2:12-17)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17)
  1. Affirmation (v.13)
  2. Rebukes (vv.14-15)
  3. Correction (v.16a)
  4. Warning (vv.16b)
  5. Promises (v.17)
Summary: We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Pergamum.  While affirmed for clinging to Jesus in the face of persecution, Pergamum was sharply rebuked for the fact that some among them were compromising both in terms of lifestyle and doctrine.  These compromises, like all compromises, start to become a stumbling block to others within the church and dim the overall witness of the church.  Therefore, Jesus calls the church to repent, to turn away from all such compromises lest He war against them with the sword of His mouth.  

Main Point: Jesus calls all churches and all christians to conquer, to express loyalty to Him by rejecting all forms of compromise.

Discussion Questions:
  • What effect should the words "I know" have on the church in Pergamum? (v.13)
  • What is significant about "Satan's throne" being in the place were Pergamum is? (v.13) 
  • What is Pergamum affirmed for? (v.13) How might this encourage and spur on other churches? 
  • What is Pergamum rebuked for (vv.14-15)? 
  • Read Num. 31:16 and 25:1-9 (cf. Num. 22-25).  How should this OT event regarding Balaam's advice and Israel's rebellion serve as a warning to churches? 
  • Why did Jesus call the entire church to repent when only "some" were compromising? (v.16a)
  • What will Jesus do to those within the church if they do not repent (v.16b)?
  • What promises does Jesus set before those who reject all forms of compromise and follow Him faithfully? (v.17)
Application Questions:
    • How loyal am I to Jesus?
    • What compromises am I currently making or am I tempted to make? What would repentance look like for me?  In other words, what must I do to heed Jesus' warning?
    • Am I aware of compromises in the lives of others in the church that need to be addressed? Make a plan for how to address them biblically.
    • How can Jesus' promises of hidden manna and a white stone spur me on to greater faithfulness?
    Prayer Points:
    • Praise God for the promise of hidden manna to sustain us throughout this life and for the white stone inviting us to enjoy the life to come 
    • Thank Jesus for loving us enough to warn us against dangerous compromises that can plague us spiritually
    • Ask God to help you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to conquer any compromises you currently face and to become a more loyal follower of Jesus
    • Ask God for wisdom as to how to best address any compromises that you see in the lives of your brothers and sisters at FBC

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

    The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)

    Outline: The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)
    1. Comfort (vv.8-9)
    2. Instruction (v.10a)
    3. Encouragement (vv.10b-11)
    Summary: We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Smyrna.  Smyrna, unlike Ephesus, was a healthy church, which is why rebuke, correction, and warning are absent from this letter.  But to say that Smyrna was a healthy church does not mean that life was easy for them. Rather, the believers in Smyrna were well acquainted with pain, poverty, and persecution and Jesus, the One walks among His lampstands (1:12-20), was totally aware of their circumstances.  Therefore, in this letter, Jesus' comfort, instruction, and encouragement was designed to help them conquer, that is, to remain faithful in the midst of their circumstances, no matter the cost.   

    Main Point: Jesus calls all churches and all christians to conquer, to remain faithful to Him in the midst of our circumstances, no matter the cost.  

    Discussion Questions:
    • What circumstances was the church in Smyrna experiencing? (vv.9-10)
    • Should the fact that Jesus is present with the church in Smyrna and intimately aware of all their circumstances be a terrifying or comforting reality for them? Explain.  
    • How does Jesus comfort the church in Smyrna? (v.9; Hint: "I know ____")
    • What instruction must Smyrna heed in the midst of their trying circumstances? (v.10a)
    • What does the phrase "ten days" symbolize? How should it impact the church in Smyrna?
    •  What promises does Jesus seek to encourage the church with?  (vv.10-11) What conditions are attached to those promises?
    Application Questions:
      • What trials am I currently experiencing?  And how am I responding to such trials?
      • How should Jesus' presence with me and intimate knowledge of all that I am going through serve to comfort me? 
      • How am I doing in terms of heeding Jesus' instructions to not fear future trials and to remain faithful no matter how hard things get?  
      • If faithfulness to Jesus meant dying for my faith, would I be willing to do so? How can I live now that would prepare my heart to make such a sacrifice?
      • How should the promise of being awarded the crown of life and being protected from the second death serve to fuel my present faithfulness to Jesus? 
      • What fellow believers can I comfort and encourage with these truths?
      Prayer Points:
      • Acknowledge that Jesus is present with you and intimately aware of all your circumstances
      • Praise Jesus for being a Savior can sympathize with you in the midst of all your trials
      • Ask God to help you to conquer, to be faithful in the midst of your trials, no matter the cost
      • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you run to win the crown of life and dodge the second death
      • Ask God to help your brothers and sisters at FBC to remain faithful through trial so that, as a church, our witness would be strong and bright for the glory of Christ

      Saturday, October 15, 2016

      The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7)

      Outline: In Revelation 2:1-7
      1. Jesus' Affirmation (vv.2-3, 6)
      2. Jesus' Rebuke (v.4)
      3. Jesus' Correction (v.5a)
      4. Jesus' Warning (v.5b)
      5. Jesus' Promise (v.7)
      Summary: After communicating the sobering vision of who Jesus is and what the church ought to be, John now relays a personal letter from Jesus to each of the seven churches (Rev. 2-3). These letters show that the Jesus described in John's vision is the Jesus who is present with and intimately aware of each church and their circumstances. This can be either terrifying or comforting depending on the health of a given local church.  Jesus wants every local church to be a faithful, conquering church regardless of the circumstances they face; therefore, He brings clear affirmation, rebuke, correction, warnings, and promises according to what each church needs to hear and heed.  The first letter is to the church in Ephesus, a church affirmed for their steadfast commitment to the truth but firmly rebuked for their sad and serious neglect of love.  Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms what they must do in order to conquer their sin and receive the promise.      

      Main Point: The church in Ephesus must remember the way they used to love one another, repent of their neglect of that love, and renew their efforts to love as they have in the past.

      Discussion Questions:
      • What does it mean that Jesus "walks among the seven golden lampstands" and what impression should this truth make on all churches, including FBC? (v.1cf. 1:13; 2:23)
      • What does Jesus affirm about the church in Ephesus? (vv.2-3,6)
      • What about the church in Ephesus provokes Jesus to firmly rebuke them? (v.4)
      • What three steps does Jesus command Ephesus to take when He corrects them (v.5)?
      • What is the meaning of the term repent?
      • What warning does Jesus give them if they do not mend their ways (v.5b)?
      • What promise does Jesus extend to them if they do mend their ways (v.7)?  
      • Why is it so important that we have strong minds committed to truth and big hearts engaged in acts of love?
      Application Questions:
        • How firmly am I committed to learning and applying the truth of God's word in my life?
        • How engaged am I in showing acts of kindness, compassion and self-sacrifice toward my brothers and sisters in Christ?
        • Do I need to repent and mend my ways in one or both of these areas?
        • What would it look like for me to be a head/heart person (one marked by truth and love)?
        • Does my individual commitment to truth and love effect the brightness of our lampstand at FBC? Explain. 
        Prayer Points:
        • Praise God for any ways we are excelling in our commitment to truth at FBC
        • Praise God for any ways we are excelling in our love for one another at FBC
        • Repent of any ways you have been personally neglecting truth and/or love
        • Pray that God would help FBC to shine as a head and heart people
        • Ask God to help you grow in your commitment to truth and your engagement in love so that you might do your part to help FBC shine brighter

        Saturday, October 1, 2016

        John's Vision of the Son of Man (Rev. 1:9-20)

        Outline: In Revelation 1:9-20
        1. John's vision of the Son of Man & the churches (vv.12-16, 20)
        2. John's response to the vision (vv.17-19)
        3. How should churches respond to this vision? 
        Summary: John is given a vision packed with symbols designed to tell us about who Jesus is and what the church ought to be.  This vision terrifies John nearly to death.  But Jesus tenderly comforts John with the gospel and then commissions him to write the things that he has seen (and will see) to the churches. This vision of the Son of Man is meant to shape the life and mission of every local church.

        Main Point: John's vision of the Son of Man is designed to both frighten and fortify every local church into faithful living as they await the return of the Son of Man.

        Discussion Questions:
        • Discuss the descriptions of Jesus in vv.13-16. Taken together, what does John want the churches to know about who Jesus is?
        • The churches are symbolized as "seven golden lampstands." What does this symbol say about what churches ought to be? (cf. Ex. 25:31-40, 37:17-24; Lev. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:14-16).  
        • How does John respond to the vision? Why do you think he responded that way? 
        • What effect do you think Jesus' words in vv.17b-18 had on John?     
        • How should the churches in general and FBC in particular respond to this vision of the Son of Man and the seven golden lampstands? 
        • Why might it be important to keep this vision (vv.12-16) in mind as we study the letters to the churches in chapters 2-3?  
        Application Questions:
          • How has this vision heightened my view of Jesus and who He is?
          • How has this vision heightened my view of churches and what they are meant to be?
          • In what ways is God calling me to live more faithfully in light who Jesus is and who we wants me to be as a member of my local church?
          Prayer Points:
          • Praise Jesus as the glorious Son of Man 
          • Ask God to open your eyes to see more of the glory of Jesus
          • Ask God to help you develop a higher view of the local church
          • Pray that God would help FBC to shine brightly for the glory of the Son of Man and for the good of those who desperately need to see Him for who He really is
          • Pray that God would awaken you to be more faithfully devoted to Him so that you might do your part to help your local church shine brighter