BE HOT AND HEALING OR COOL AND REFRESHING

Ruins of Laodicea

by Tammy Phillips
September 22, 21

 TO:                  The angel of the CHURCH OF LAODICEANS, the Lukewarm Church.  Laodicea was    a rich powerful, banking center.  They had a thriving textile industry and had a medical center that which developed an eye-salve to aid in eye problems.  It had a huge colosseum that sat about 60, 000.  It had four markets and about 4500 shops.  It was a hopping place. Laodicea was located in the Lycus river valley between Hierapolis, a military city, known for mineral hot springs and Colossae, a resort town that had a supply of cool refreshing water from the surrounding mountains.

CC:                   (Future Churches, Future Followers)

FROM:             “Jesus, the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14 NKJV) These are definitive names of Jesus!  They are who He is.

The AMEN (the Firm, the Faithful, the Most Assured, the Absolute Sure, the “So Be It” and the Final Word.). Jesus is the SO BE IT!  And…

The Faithful (Trustworthy, Believable, Sure, Reliable) and the True (Genuine, Real Deal) Witness (The Greek word martyr.  Look familiar? It should.  Witnesses were summoned to testify in a court of law.  They were only allowed to speak what was personally known to be true.  They had to be faithful to speak the truth to the point of suffering or death.) Jesus is THE Witness no one is more honest or upright.  He is the FAITHFUL ONE. He is the ONLY TRUTH! He is the REAL DEAL.  And…

The Beginning (the Starting Point, the Originator, the Commencement, the Chief, the First) of the creation (the act of creating, the original formation, all created things). John 1:3, Co. 1:16-17).

I LIKE THIS:      Sadly, In John’s letter to this church, this line was blank.  Jesus did not commend Laodicean Church on anything!   They thought they did not need Him.  We need Jesus every day.  It is when we are stubborn and try to do things on our own that we fail.  Take Jesus out of Church, country, or life, and watch it fall.

I DON’T LIKE:   “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked–” (Revelation 3:15-17 NKJV)

Hot water has healing, restorative properties.  Cold water refreshes.  How is lukewarm water useful?  Laodicea had built systems to bring hot water from nearby, Hierapolis, and cold water from Colossae.  When the water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm and not satisfying.   It had lost its valuable properties and was not pleasing to the mouth.  Jesus was inferring to the Church, “You are not refreshingly cold nor restoratively hot.  You do not leave a good taste in My mouth, so I am going to spit you out of my mouth.” 

“Deep down, there is no one more miserable than the lukewarm Christian is. They have too much of the world to be happy in Jesus, but too much of Jesus to be happy in the world.” -David Gusik.   

To be lukewarm is a to be in “comfortable” place of in action in the world.  Toes are not in the hot nor the cold.  It is a place of riding the fence.  Jesus often takes us out of our comfort zone when we follow Him. 

Laodicea was known for its fabulous wealth, but Jesus saw the Church of the city as spiritually wretched, miserable, and poor.  Laodicea was famous for its optical medical center and healing eye salve, but He saw a blind Church.  Laodicea had the finest clothing, markets, and shops where they could buy their opulent clothes, but Jesus saw the Church as spiritually naked.    They were blinded by their prosperity.  They thought they did not need anything and that included Jesus.  Jesus was speaking to the Church here, not the lost.  Laodicea had left Jesus standing on the outside of the Church and He wanted back in.

DO THIS:         “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.  (Revelation 3:18-19 NKJV)

Jesus wanted to meet the needs of Lao’s.  He wanted them to have spiritual riches of gold refined in the fire.  He wanted to dress them in His righteousness.  He wanted to heal their spiritual blindness, but they had to open the door to a knocking Jesus.   He still loved them and corrected them.  He asked them to be zealous which means to burn, to boil, to strive after and pursue Him.  And, repent. Simply, turn back to Him.  

REWARD:        “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:18, 20-21 NKJV).  Jesus was on the outside seeking to come back in.  He was knocking.  Can we ignore the knock at a door?  He wanted the church to be hot and healing, cool and refreshing. Lukewarm just did not cut it. He loved the church and wanted the Laodiceans to get back on track. He promised them a seat with Him.  Wow.  What a reward.

I enCOURAGE you to open the door to Jesus. He wants to sit at the table and eat with you. He wants us, His Church body to be like freezing, cold, refreshing ice water or like boiling, hot, restorative, healing water.  Indifference and apathy in the church are compared to unwelcomed lukewarm water which is really of little value.  Be zealous and jealous for Him alone.   A Church on fire for Jesus will change the world, one person at a time.

THE ONLY ENDORSEMENT EVER NEEDED

Ruins of the ancient city of Philadelphia

By Tammy Phillips
September 21, 2021

TO:                 The angel (messenger, pastor) of the CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA (The Faithful Church) Philadelphia was established as a key city to further the culture and language of Greece.  It was a prosperous, beautiful city and had one of the greatest highways in the world at the time.  It went from Europe to the East. 

FROM:           Jesus, “He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens, and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens (Revelation 3:7 NKJV) from Is 22:22

Jesus alone was Holy and True.  He was not fake, but real and genuine.  Jesus was/is the keeper of the keys.  He could open doors and keep them open.  He could shut doors that could not be opened. By holding the keys, He had the power to lock and unlock.  He used Philadelphia as a church to further His kingdom and spread Christianity.

The Philadelphian Church followed Jesus’ footsteps.  They obviously were real and genuine.  They chose to step through open doors and opportunities that Jesus put before them in spreading His word.  They didn’t bow or enter into the pretense and fakeness of others in the area.  They stood strong.

 I LIKE THIS:           “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.10 “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.” (Revelation 3:8-10 NKJV)

The Church of Philadelphia had little strength and power to faithfully stand.  Their little strength was their big faith in God.  They kept His word and did not deny His name.  They lived up to their name and who they were called to be in Him.  They persevered because they endured.  Jesus said He would keep them from the hour of trial, or Great Tribulation.   He tells us the same thing, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13 NKJV)

We must keep and guard His word.  To keep His word, we must know His word.  To know His word, we must study His word.  Joshua told us to meditate on it day and night.   Holy Spirit will illuminate the word to us.  However, it helps to use different translations of the Bible, various Bible Apps, concordances, and commentaries to learn as much as we can from His word.  As I study Revelation, I need all the help I can get.  I have five books, two Bible apps, a computer, and my phone, as tools to help me dig for the hidden treasures in God’s word.   

In your profession don’t you use the best tools at your disposal to excel?   Isn’t your network important for opening doors and helping you do the best you can do?   We can learn from Holy Spirit and His word alone, but I encourage you to use everything in your arsenal to learn more about God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   His word is the power that helps us perservere and further His kingdom.

I DON’T LIKE:        Jesus did not mention one thing He had against this church!  How cool would it be to have this line blank in an email from Him? 

DO THIS:      “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11 NKJV)

Jesus plainly told the Church to prepare.  He implied, HEY, LOOK, I AM COMING QUICKLY.  I am coming suddenly and unexpectantly.  Again, He says: “HOLD FAST…”  Hold on tight.  He adds…” that no one may take your crown.”  Can you hear Jesus cheering us on?  “Finish strong.  Stand.  Stand. Stand.  Don’t let anybody take the victory, the crown, from you! OVERCOME!”  

REWARD:    “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And [I will write on him] My new name.” (Revelation 3:12 NKJV)

I absolutely love the picture painted of this reward.  You have heard me say it many times.  BE RESOLUTE.  What will a resolute stand get you?  A pillar in the temple of God and a big-time endorsement deal.  Pillars are perfectly aligned, pictures of strength and support.  Pillars find rest on the foundation.  Jesus is our foundation.  What an endorsement deal!  When we are faithful, He endorses us.  He promises to write on us:  the name of God, the name of the city of God, and His new name.  This appears to be an eternal all-access pass and the endorsement deal of all time.

When I die, I do not need my name written on any earthly stadium, field nor building. I could care less if I even have a tombstone.  I want to be remembered as a faithful resolute pillar in Him with His endorsement and Name written all over me as many times and in as many places as He pleases. 

I enCOURAGE you to resolutely stand in Him, once again.  Keep His word.  Promote the Name above all names, Jesus. Endure. Be steadfast and constant.  Be resolute and wait for your reward.  Picture it. It will be so worth it. 

ARE YOU LIVING?

Sardis, a city on a hill

by Tammy Phillips
September 20, 2021

TO:                 To the angel (messenger, pastor) of the CHURCH OF SARDIS (The Dead Church) Sardis was a very wealthy city from gold found in its river.  “Sardis was the place where modern money was born. Its people were notoriously loose-living, notoriously pleasure-and luxury loving. Sardis was a city of decadence.” (Barclay) Sardis was a spiritually dark, overconfident city on a mountain that did not watch for the enemy.  They thought they were impenetrable because of their location.  Reminds me of Paul instructions to the Corinthians and us, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV). They were conquered twice because they lacked discipline and failed to watch for the enemy.

CC:                 (Future Churches and Future Followers)

FROM:          Jesus, “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.”  (Rev 3:1)  Jesus, the completeness of God and the Church.  Jesus was and is everything needed, if the church would only hear what He was saying. Are your a hearer? 

I LIKE THIS:            “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive…” (Rev 3:1) Sardis had a reputation that they were alive and doing good works.   There were a few who Jesus considered worthy, but over all He saw them as dead.  

Think about this…do you have a good name in the church?  Do people think you are a good person?  Is your reputation that of a good Christian person? It does not matter what others say, it matters what Jesus say about how we are living.

I DON’T LIKE:        …BUT you are dead.” (Rev 3:1) “I have not found your works perfect before God.” (Rev 3:2 NKJV). They seemed well, but Jesus saw death.  They had not finished what they started with Him.  After investigating their overall works, He gave them failing and incomplete marks.  The church of Sardis had not become all Jesus had called them to be.  Are we living up to the call of Jesus?  Are our works found complete in Him?

DO THIS:                  “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die…3Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.” (Revelation 3:2-3 NKJV).  Jesus had not given up hope.  He told the church to become watchful, wake up, pay strict attention to their lives and to BE ALIVE. They were falling apart and needed to strengthen, stabilize and to stand up immovable.  Sardis had forgotten things that they need to remember.  They need to remember how they how received and what they heard about Jesus. They needed to hold on for dear life and turn to Jesus. 

Are we living up to our name?  Are we worthy to be called Christian? Are we following His commands? Are we loving well?  Are we the united church body?  Are we watching? Standing? Remembering? Holding fast?  Are we repenting and turning to Him? Are we overconfident in our stand and paying attention, lest we fall?

OR ELSE:                 “Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Rev 3:3NKJV). I hear Jesus saying, “I have told your over and over to watch.  I am going to show up and clean up when you least expect it.

If Jesus showed up in person at my physical house at this very moment, I would be so embarrassed. We have been so busy with things that our house is dirty and badly needs cleaning.  I have let it get this way because the few days I have been home, I have not been self-controlled, paid attention, nor worked to keep it clean.   We can get away with this for a bit in our physical house, but not our spiritual house.   We have to watch, lest we fall and if we fall, we have to repent and be cleansed in Him.  No time to waste because He could come at any time.

REWARD:                “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3: 4-5 NKJV).

Perpetual overcoming pleases God. White is the Greek word, leukos.  It means bright, brilliant, dazzling, and shining. An overcoming attitude dazzles God. Overcomers walk with Him, cleansed in His blood, and clothed in His righteousness.  I want to walk with Him.  I want to overcome every and any obstacle that keeps me from being who I am called to be.  I want to dazzle God.  I want to be alive in Him.  How about you?

I enCOURAGE you to watch and stand.  Would He count your alive in Him?  “Live” up to the name He has called you.  Remember, His word and what you have heard.  Complete the works He has called you to.  Hold fast and repent.  Return to Jesus.  It is not, nor ever, too late, as long as you have a breath in your body.  He loves you and wants the best life for you. He desires to walk with you.

 

 

 

 

LOST AND FOUND

by Tammy Phillips
September 19, 2021

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25 NKJV)

I hate to be lost or to lose anything. I lost an earring at a collegiate football game.  Some would have just resigned that the earring was lost in the sea of people. The earring was important to me because I really liked it.  I carefully retraced my steps over the past 2-hour period.  I found it at the place I started the day, a large tailgate tent where we began pregame festivities.  I found it because someone cared enough to pick it up, put it in a safe place and direct me to its resting place.  I am thankful that they thought my lost item was important enough to save. 

Facebook Groups has an ad on television which pictures a person posting into a group called, “Not Wasting My Twenties.”  The person writes: “Feeling lost …help.”  Others respond by posting, “Do what moves you.”  Good advice, as long as what “moves you” points you in the right direction.   A second girl advises, “Put yourself out there!” I interpret that to mean, “Be brave and courageous.  You have got to be a friend to have a friend.”   The last commenter says, “It is ok to be lost.”  This is where I was like, NOPE, I beg to differ. Who ever wants to be lost? Everyone wants to be found.  When we are lost or lose something, negative feelings surface.

When we lose our keys, we feel panicked because we obviously need them to reach our destination.  When we are driving and get lost, we can experience anxiety and even fear if we cannot find our way.   When we cannot comprehend what we are reading or studying, we may feel lost. We want to understand and find the path to illumination.  When we feel invisible in the world or lost in a room, we want to be seen.  What about taking the wrong train in a big city? Losing a child at a basketball game? Misplacing a piece of jewelry or any amount of money?   What about the death of a child or a spouse?   “I like feeling lost.  I like being lost,” said no one, ever.  I guess it is “OK” to be lost.  It is just not ok to stay lost.

The Facebook Groups advertisement ends with a graphic, “Take on figuring it out. Take on anything with Facebook Groups.”

If you are lost or feeling lost, do not stay in that place.  Jesus thinks you were, and are, important enough to save and to be found.

I enCOURAGE you to take on figuring it out if you feel lost.   Take on anything and everything but take it on with Jesus.  Joining a support group is not a bad idea, but start with the Lord.  He is the Way, Truth, and the Light.  He came to find you.  He came to save you.  “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10 KJV).  He is Savior in life and in every situation, but you have to invite Him in.  You have to talk to Him about it.  Jump in the deep with Him.  You will not regret it.

“‘For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. …  I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.’” (Ezekiel 34:2, 11, 16 NKJV)

(In the Bible, Luke tells three stories, one about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and one about a lost son.  Each story speaks of the great joy of finding what was lost.  Hope you will take time to read.  Click the link:  LUKE 15)

WORDS FOR THE BOARD FROM THE LORD

by Tammy Phillips
September 2021

“The word of the LORD came…”  (Genesis 15:1,4, 1 Kings 6:11, 1 Samuel 15:10, Isaiah 38:4 Jeremiah 1:4, Ezekiel 6:1, etc…)

Pardon the interruption of our journey through the book of Revelation.  Holy Spirit downloaded short, declaration nuggets to our Cover Tennessee prayer team each day this week.  He told me, “At the end of the week, you will have something to speak.”    I hope these will bless you as much as they blessed us.  Post them on your memory board and use as needed.

The word of the LORD came…

I am not offended,
and I am not bending.

Invite Jesus to enter in. 
He will bring the win.

My Lawyer is on the throne.
I am not alone.

Let it be known,
My God will never be overthrown.

I am an overcomer!
I am not a succumber!

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

I enCOURAGE you to have an “ear to hear.”  The word of the LORD wants to come to you like it came to us, but you have to have ears to hear. Take courage and refuge in our little words of inspiration. I hope they help you along your way.    

“As for God, His way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

HOLD ON FAST AND DON’T LET GO

by Tammy Phillips
September 17 2021

TO:
            To the angel (messenger, pastor) ofCHURCH OF THYATIRA (Corrupt Church)  Thyatira was a small city primarily known for making purple dye and had multiple trade guilds for a city of its size. 

CC:                 (Future Churches and Future Followers)

FROM:       Jesus, “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass”(Revelation 2:18 NKJV) Fire is light a blaze.  Jesus’ eyes were described as fire, alive, penetrating, all knowing, and all-consuming. His feet were described like fine brass which was the strongest known metal at the time.  Brass feet would be strong, steady, and immovable.  They would also be tried in the fire and purified. Head to toe fire!

LIKE THIS:  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and [as] for your works, the last [are] more than the first.” (Revelation 2:19 NKJV) Growing and improving is good in the eyes of God.

DON’T LIKE:        “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. 21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.”  God does not tolerate “the Jezebel.”  In the Old Testament, she used her influence to destroy her family.  We cannot allow false teachers, prophets nor seducers to destroy our church family, yet the “Jezebel spirit” abounds today in many churches.  Affairs are plentiful, as well as wrong thinking about love, faithfulness, and marriage.  Jesus allowed Jezebel time to repent, and she would not. The Lord warns us not to lead nor follow others into sin. 

 DO THIS:    Repent and hold fast what you have till I come.  “As many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come.” (Revelation 2:24-25 NKJV)

Everyone was and is not in the same boat.  Some had done the works, but followed Jezebel, too.  Some had remained righteous in the church.  They had growing love, faith, patience, and endurance.  They had God.  He told them to HOLD ON, be vigorous, and master all those things until Jesus comes again. Keep on keeping on.  Do not let go hold on fast.

OR ELSE:    “I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23“I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”(Revelation 2:22-23 NKJV).   God knows His church.   He knows our minds, our hearts, our actions, public and private.  He knows it all.  In His mercy and grace, He gives us chance after chance to choose Him.  When we reject Him and His righteous ways, when we let go of what He has gifted us, there are grave consequences. However, when we follow Him and there is great reward.

REWARD:   “I will give power over the nations– … “and I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:26, 28 NKJV).  When we, the church, overcome idol worship and do not succumb to sexual immorality, we are promised to reign with Jesus in His kingdom.  And…He gives us Himself, the Bright and Morning Star.  He is radiant, brilliant, and magnificent.  He lights up the darkness and brings in the dawn.

I enCOURAGE you to hold fast to what you have in the Lord.   Maintain your power in Him. Keep growing in works, love, service, faith, patience, and in Him until He comes again.  Hold on to Jesus whose eyes are like fire, alive, penetrating, all-knowing, and all-consuming. Hold on to Jesus whose feet are like fine brass, strong, steady, and immovable.  Hold on! He is coming quickly.

HOLD FAST TO YOUR FAITH and LIVE UNCOMPROMISINGLY

by Tammy Phillips
September 16, 2021

TO:                 To the angel (messenger, pastor) of CHURCH OF PERGAMOS (Compromising Church) Pergamos was the political capital of Asia Minor.  It was a cultural and education center.  Pergamos was a religious city and a center for the worship of Asclepios who was a false, Roman god of healing and knowledge. Pergamos was evil.

CC:                 (Future Churches and Future Followers)

FROM:          Jesus, “He who has the sharp two-edged sword.” (Rev.  2:12 NKJV). The two-edged sword is the word of God coming from the mouth of Jesus. (Rev. 1:18). “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I LIKE THIS:            “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne [is]. And you hold fast to My name and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas [was] My faithful martyr(witness), who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” (Revelation 2:12-13 NKJV)

Pergamos was described by Jesus as where Satan lives and had his throne, yet the Church arose there.  One might call Pergamos, an epicenter of evil.  Jesus knew where the people lived and how hard it was.  Antipas had been killed for his faithful witness in Pergamos.  However, the church stood in faith, held fast to the name of Jesus, and did not deny His faith.

I DON’T LIKE:        “But I have a few things against you, 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. 15 “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:14-15 NKJV)

In the Old Testament, we see Balaam wrongly mixed the sin of idol worship and immorality in attempt to be a “people pleaser” to King Balak.  Like present day, the Roman Empire was all about sexual immorality.  The fact that “everybody was doing it,” did not make it right. All sex outside of marriage is sin in God’s eyes.  False teaching and immoral conduct are still issues in the church today.   “Truth is being watered down and altered to reflect the inclusive values of a changing culture.” (Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems II, pg. 665). The word of God is being diluted. The Word is not a priority in peoples lives, they believe a lie, and thus, perish from a lack of knowledge. 

DO THIS:      REPENT. Simply, turn from the wicked way and any shape of compromise.

OR ELSE:     “I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” (Revelation 2:16 NKJV).  Peter said: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  His word is truth and transformative.  Jesus was/is NOT backing down.  His word is encouraging, but it is also corrective. The church of God cannot “ride the fence” in hopes of avoiding persecution.  The church had to align with the word of God and stand, or else.

REWARD:    “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.  And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives [it].” (Revelation 2:17 NKJV).   Jesus said in John 6:41, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” (John 6:41 KJV). He is the Bread of life that supplies the overcomer with the power and provision to prevail each day in body, mind, and spirit.  The hidden manna strengthens the overcomer to uncompromisingly walk by faith, run the race, answer the call, and complete his assignments.  

A white stone would be given, too.  It had multiple meanings in New Testament times.  A white stone could be cast as sign of innocent, not guilty, in a trial.  White and black stones were also cast in public elections.  A white stone cast meant you were in favor  of the issue and the black stone meant you were opposed to it.  Jesus may have been alluding to one of these meanings to the church:  you are NOT GUILTY of your past sins.  You are covered in the blood of Jesus. You are free.  He could have also been telling the church, I favor you.  I vote for you. You have my full support. Either way, I cannot wait to get my new stone with my new name.  How about you?

I enCOURGE you to be faithful and uncompromisingly stand in the Lord.  If you are living a compromised life in any way, not according to the word of God, repent. Get off the fence and move to the side of the Lord.  Follow Jesus and no one else. 

THE VICTORS CROWN OF LIFE

The ancient marketplace of Smyrna still has beautiful arches and running water.
(Photo by Karrie Sparrow)

by Tammy Phillips
September 15, 2021

TO:                  To the angel (messenger, pastor) of THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA (“Smyrna was a rich city. It was large and beautiful, a center of learning and culture. It was a city of wealth, trade, and commercial greatness. They worshipped the Roman Emperors.  Once a year the Roman citizen must burn a pinch of incense on the altar to the godhead of Caesar; and having done so, he was given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty. Christians would not do this.” -Barclay, Blue Letter Bible commentary of David Guzik) 

CC:                             (Future Churches and Future Followers)

FROM:             JESUS, “the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive” (Revelation 2:8 KJV)

I LIKE THIS:      “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (BUT YOU ARE RICH); I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but [are] a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:9 NKJV).  They were poor because their stand for Christ cost them. It cost them jobs.  It cost them their lives.  Jesus declared them rich spiritually.  Jesus knew them.  He had not forgot them.  He approved of them and their stand.

DON’T LIKE:    Out of the seven churches who received letters, Smyrna is the only one whom Jesus did not correct for one evil thing.  This line was blank in their letter.  This should be our goal.  

DO THIS:         DO NOT FEAR any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw [some] of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.  BE FAITHFUL until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10 NKJV) Do not fear and be faithful.  Stand, stand, stand.  Isn’t that what the LORD has old us throughout the Bible?  The time is now.  In this evil world, we must stand.  Oddly, enough, if they were followers of Christ, the church of Smyrna was considered outlaws for rebellion against the directive of their government to bow to Caesar.  No certificate. No job.  Sound eerily familiar?  When tested, Christians are purified, and our testimonies become a witness for the Lord. 

REWARD:        The crown of life mentioned was a “wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) This was a victory crown.  They were faithful to death and victory was theirs.  Death was not defeat, but a result of a faithful stand.   “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”  (Revelation 2:10-11 NKJV).  In reality, they were not hurt by the first death either, but victors in both.

I enCOURAGE you to stand, stand, stand! Remember, Jesus is the First and Last.  He has the first word on all things and the last.  He says, “Do not fear.  Be faithful unto death.”  Those are such easy words for me to repeat.  However, if we believe Jesus, this is how to receive the crown of life, the victor’s crown.  I do not know about you, but I do not like to lose.  I particularly do not want to lose for eternity.  Do you?  We must choose the excellent way, the right way   We must choose to  stand, faithfully for all things God and not bow to anyone, but Jesus.  This is not a game.   This is life eternal.

REIGNITE THE FIRST LOVE FIRE

by Tammy Phillips
September 14, 2021

TO:                            To the angel (messenger, pastor)  of the THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS 

CC:                             (Future Churches and Future Followers)

FROM:                      JESUS, “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”  (The seven stars equate to the seven angels or messengers of the assemblies.  The lampstands equate to the seven churches that receive their light from Holy Spirit.)

I LIKE THIS:            “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; 3 “and you have persevered and have patience and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. ” (Revelation 2:2-3, 6 NKJV)

I DON’T LIKE:        “Nevertheless I have this against you, that YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE.”(Revelation 2:4 NKJV).   They were so busy working, it seems they forgot Who they were working for.  The Greek word for love is agape.  Agape love happens when we see and really appreciate the value of a person. This is big love.  It is the highest love.  It causes us  to love with awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. W cannot get so caught up in working for the Lord that we are not absolutely amazed by Him, every day.

DO THIS:                  REPENT.  Remember where we have fallen.  Remember, the first love when we saw what Jesus did for us and how much he loved us.  Remember, the radical, transforming, life changing, sold out, fervent love we had for Christ. If we have fallen, we must turn back to Him and do what we did in the beginning. We must remember and be compelled to love Him.  Look at what the Church of Ephesus did in the beginning. They were sold out and in love.   From Rick Renner’s, Sparkling Gems II,  page 802, look at their “first works” and what God was calling them back to:

    • They possessed a great spiritual hunger (see Acts 18:20).
    • They enjoyed rich fellowship among the brethren (see Acts 18:27).
    • They had an eagerness to repent and to receive what God had for them (see Acts 19:1-6).
    • They cherished the Word of God (see Acts 19:8).
    • They sacrificed their religious reputation for Jesus (see Acts 19:9).
    • They were committed to applying God’s Word to their lives (see Acts 19:10).
    • They were receptive to the power of God and to the gifts of the Spirit (see Acts 19:11,12).
    • They loved Jesus and the wonder-working power associated with His name (see Acts 19:17).
    • They were quick to confess their sin and turn from their evil works (see Acts 19:18).
    • They severed all connections with a pagan past at great personal cost (see Acts 19:19).
    • They were publicly persecuted for the sake of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:32).
    • They were faith-filled (see Ephesians 1:15).
    • They were known for their love of the brethren (see Ephesians 1:15).

OR ELSE:                 “I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.(Revelation 2:5 NKJV).  Jesus is the light and provides the light to do the work.  Like the church of Ephesus, He will turn out the light in our church, or us, if we turn our back on Him and turn only toward the work.  The answer is to repent and turn back to Him.  Remember our first love.  He is first.  He is chief.  He loved us first. We are to seek Him and love Him first, and above all.  

REWARD:                “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”  (Revelation 2:7 NKJV)

I enCOURAGE you, like Jesus exhorted the Church at Ephesus,  return to your first love.  Repent and do what you did when you first found Jesus.   May the blazing fire of His love be reignited in you if it is only flickering.  Overcome the distraction of this life and turn your attraction to Him.

 

ARE YOU A WHO WITH AN EAR?  

by Tammy Phillips
September 13, 2021

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:11, 17, 29, 3:6,13,22 NKJV)

“He who has as ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…”    I am walking down the path of Revelation in this encouragement.  I believe it is to paint for you the beautiful picture of Jesus that John delineated through the words of the Holy Spirit in the last book of His love letter to us.  Please walk this path with me because…

“All seven letters to the churches are vitally important to us, because they are the inspired Word of God. Each contains a message for us—either instructions or warnings for us to heed, lest we fall into the same snares as six of the churches.” (Dr. Hilton Sutton, Revelation Revealed, pg. 71)

Jesus begins each letter to the church by telling them what they are doing right.  He then tells the churches where they have wandered from the right way.  He calls each church to repent.  Lastly, he warns the churches of the consequences of their actions if they continue to disobey His words and corrections.

All of the seven letters end with:

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:11, 17, 29, 3:6,13,22 NKJV)

Are you a WHO with an ear?  Walk with Holy Spirit and I as we navigate on this journey through the REVELATION of Jesus.  As I used to tell my boys, “Turn on your listening ears.”  We all know how to turn a deaf ear.  Do not  do that.  Let these words sink into your ears.  Take them.  File them away in your memory.  Hold onto them.  They are of vital importance.  Heed the warnings and reap the rewards.  Hear, obey and overcome. 

I enCOURAGE you to always listen and see what the Holy Spirit says.  However, when Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  I know that I am a who that has an ear, so my physical and spiritual ears need to perk up and listen to Holy Spirit.  You are a who that has ears, right?  We are all who’s with ears!  He is talking to us all and we will benefit if we tune in.  Please, do not tune out Holy Spirit because you think there is nothing more for Him to teach you.  He is infinite in wisdom and willing to share.