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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)
  1. Rebuke (vv.14-17)
  2. Correction (vv.18-20)
  3. Promise (vv.21-22)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' final letter, His letter to the church in Laodicea.  Laodicea, of all the churches, was perhaps the most unhealthy.  They were so self-deceived and so self-reliant that they failed realize just how disgusting their spiritual condition had become.  In a word: Laodicea was lukewarm and Jesus was sickened when he "tasted" the stagnant waters of their halfhearted devotion. Jesus counsels them to come to Him as the true source of all value, security and vision.  Jesus then lovingly urges them to repent in earnest, so that they can again enjoy Him in genuine fellowship.            

Main Point:  All churches and Christians are called to conquer their lukewarmness by earnestly repenting of it and by coming to Jesus as the source of all value, security, and vision.

Discussion Questions:
  • How does Laodicea's witness compare to Jesus' track record as the "faithful witness"? 
  • What is it about Laodicea that Jesus finds so repulsive? (vv.15-16)
  • How do lukewarmness (v.16), self-sufficiency and self-deceit (v.17) relate to one another?  
  • What is Jesus counseling the Laodiceans to do in v.18?
  • Reread 3:14-22.  Do Jesus words strike you as loving? Explain (cf. v.19; Heb. 12:5-11).  
  • What does the picture of Jesus knocking at the door teach us about what Jesus is like? (v.20)
  • What promise does Jesus motivate the church with in v.21?
Application Questions:
  • Do I consider Jesus words in 3:14-22 to be loving? Why or why not?
  • Is there any evidence of self-sufficiency or lukewarmness in my life? Explain.
  • Am I looking to Jesus as the source of value, security, and vision in my life? Explain.
  • How does Jesus want me to respond if I have been lukewarm?
  • According to v.20, how willing is Jesus to fellowship with me after I have sinned?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess any self-sufficiency or lukewarmness God has exposed in your life
  • Praise Jesus for loving us enough to say hard things to us and to call us to repentance
  • Praise Jesus for loving us enough to pursue fellowship with us after we have dishonored Him 
  • Acknowledge Jesus as the true source of value, security, and vision
  • Ask God to help you conquer lukewarmness and to be faithful in our devotion to Him

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13)
  1. Affirmation (v.8)
  2. Earth-bound promises (vv.9-10)
  3. Exhortation (v.11)
  4. Heaven-bound Promise (vv.12-13)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia, like Smyrna, was a healthy church.  Therefore, Jesus did not speak words of rebuke, correction, and warning but words of affirmation followed by promises that were designed to encouraged and inspire them to stay their faithful course.  Jesus promised to help them triumph and endure the sufferings of this life and to lavish blessing on them in the next life if they conquer, that is, if they continue in patient endurance to the end.         

Main Point:  All churches and Christians are called to conquer, that is, to patiently endure suffering and trials though faith-filled obedience to Jesus.

Discussion Questions:
  • Is v.7b an accurate, one-sentence summary of John's vision of Jesus in 1:12-20? Explain. 
  • What is the church of Philadelphia affirmed for in v.8?
  • What is the relationship between keeping Jesus' word and not denying Jesus' name?
  • How is it possible that Philadelphia had "little power" yet was considered a healthy church?
  • What earth-bound promises did Jesus give (vv.9-10)? What effect are they meant to have?
  • Jesus exhorted Philadelphia (v.11)? Why do even healthy churches/Christians need such exhortations?
  • What heaven-bound promises did Jesus give (vv.12-13)? What effect are they meant to have?
  • What promise is particularly meaningful to you right now and how might you use it as motivation to patiently endure in the midst of your present circumstances?
  • What form does conquering take in the first five churches? How about for Philadelphia?
Application Questions:
  • What am I clinging to in order to make it through? What does this reveal about my heart?
  • How am I obeying God's word in the midsts of my circumstances? 
  • What is it going to take for me to patiently endure to the end?
  • How is my weakness an opportunity for God to show His power? (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9-10)
  • What brother or sister is currently in special need of endurance? What can I do to encourage them? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise Jesus for using His loving authority to open and keep open the door of salvation to us
  • Praise Jesus for His power and acknowledge His ability help us endure in the midst of trials
  • Ask God to help us not be disheartened by our weakness but to trust all the more in His power 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)
  1. Rebuke (vv.1-2)
  2. Correction (vv.2a, 3a)
  3. Warning (v.3b)
  4. Promise (vv.4-5)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Sardis.  From man's perspective, the church in Sardis was a success, but, for God's perspective, they were spiritually sluggish and therefore in great need of a wake up call.  In fact, Jesus said that they were spiritually "dead" and that their works fell shamefully short of what God expects His redeemed people.  And, while there were some happy exceptions who had not "soiled their garments" with sluggish devotion (v.4), Jesus clearly desires every Christian and every church to conquer their spiritual sloth, to be fully alive and genuinely awake in the eyes of God.

Main Point: All churches and Christians are called to conquer their tendency to spiritual sloth by actively remembering and obeying God's word.  

Discussion Questions:
  • Is it possible for a Christian and/or church to not have much by way of outward or obvious sins and yet still be in a seriously unhealthy spiritual state? Explain.
  • Why does Jesus rebuke the church in Sardis? (vv.1-2)
  • What is the differences between sins of omission and sins of commission? (For extra study on on sins of omission see James 4:17; Rom. 7:14-20; Lk. 10:30-37; Matt. 25:31-46).
  • What steps does Jesus give to correct and conquer the tendency to spiritual sloth? (v.2a, v.3a)
  • What can people expect from Jesus if they do not conquer their spiritual sloth? (v.3b)
  • What promises are made to those who do conquer their spiritual sloth? (vv.4-5)
Application Questions:
    • Am I spiritually awake or spiritually sleepy? Explain.
    • What are things that I know God would have me doing that I am failing to do?  
    • How important is it to God that I live an active and obedient life marked by good works as opposed to merely avoiding doing bad things? 
    • What changes should I make or what strategies should I employ in order to conquer my tendency to be spiritually lazy?
    • How can we believers help one another stay spiritually awake on our journey to heaven?
    Prayer Points:
    • Praise Jesus for securing our acceptance before God by His active obedience to the Father
    • Praise Jesus for this merciful wake up call
    • Ask God to help you say no to temptation AND live a life of Christ-like, active obedience

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    The Letter to the Church in Thyatira

    Outline: The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
    1. Affirmation (v.19)
    2. Rebuke (vv.20-21)
    3. Warning (v.22-23, 29)
    4. Promise (vv.24-28)
    Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Thyatira.  While affirmed for their continued growth in love and faith and service and endurace, Thyatira was rebuked for tolerating a false teacher, "Jezebel," whose seductive teachings have lead some church members into great moral compromise.  Therefore, Jesus warned them (and all churches) that He searches minds and hearts and will exercise His authority to repay every person according to what they actually deserve (vv.18,23).  On a brighter note, Jesus acknowledges that, in spite of "Jezebel's" influence, there were some in the church in Thyatira that did not embrace her teaching nor practice her works (just as there were seven thousand in Elijah's day that resisted her influence by refusing to bow the knee to Baal).  It is those who hold fast to Jesus' teachings and embrace His works to the end who will receive the promise.    

    Main Point: All churches and christians are called to conquer by resisting false teachings and deceitful influences that cause one to stray from faithfully following Jesus.

    Discussion Questions:
    • What effect should the words "I know" have on the church in Thyatira? (v.18)
    • What is Thyatira affirmed for? (v.19) How does this compare with Ephesus? (2:4) 
    • What is Thyatira rebuked for (vv.20-21)? 
    • Why did Jesus call the false teacher(s) in Thyatira "Jezebel"? What dots were they to connect?
    • Background study: Read 1 Kings 16-21; 2 Kings 9:21-37.  Who is Jezebel? What does she do?What effect does her influence have on Israel?  How do things turn out for her in the end?
    • How does the character, actions, influence, and demise of the Jezebel of the Old Testament   serve as a warning to all churches? 
    • What will Jesus do to those who embrace Jezebel's teaching and practice her works? (vv.22-23)
    • What does Jesus promise those who embrace His teachings and practice His works? (vv.24-28) 
    Application Questions:
      • What past or present teachings or influences have pulled or currently pull me away from God? 
      • What would it look like for me to resist those influences in order to stay faithful to Jesus?
      • Take time to dream about the honor it will be to reign with Christ. 
      • Is there a brother or sister in my life who is wandering from the truth? If so, what actions should I take to help bring them back?
      Prayer Points:
      • Praise Jesus for proving who He is so that I can know with confidence I follow the real God
      • Praise Jesus for his long-suffering, His patience willingness to receive those who repent
      • Ask God to help you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to resist any teachings or influences that would draw your heart away from Him
      • Ask God for wisdom as to how to lovingly help bring others back from their wanderings