03/28/2021 | “On Being Lukewarm” | Revelation 3:14-22

The message to the Church in Laodicea in Revelation 3 is familiar.   “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

They were lukewarm, going through the motions, not getting too excited about Jesus, God, or the Bible.   No fanatics here.   No controversies either.  Nothing but moderation.   And their lukewarmness made Jesus sick to his stomach.   Sickened by their contentment with a “form of godliness” but with no pursuit of its power.

Are you content with your relationship to Christ?   Is just enough, good enough for you?   Are you hot?  Or cold?  Or lukewarm?   The Lord speaks a hard word.   He is “The Amen.”   He is the faithful and genuine witness.  He has a hard but faithful word for a soft and unfaithful church.   Will we hear it?  Or will we bow up or turn a deaf ear?   Join us this week as we consider Revelation 3:14-21 and consider the diagnosis and the remedy for lukewarm Christianity.

“On Being Lukewarm,” Revelation 3:14-22

03/21/2021 | “The Open Door” | Revelation 3:7-13

The message to the Church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3 is remarkable.   Christ has no word of condemnation, only commendation for this church.   His message to them is filled with the imagery of the open door.  He is the Lord who holds the keys.  He is the one who opens doors which no one can close and closes those which no man can open.   Philadelphia was founded as a gateway city — not to defend the Greek cities to the west, but to evangelize peoples of the east with Greek life and culture.   And now the Lord has a more important gospel for the Philadelphian Christians to carry.    

Doors in the Bible often represent new opportunities for ministry, but they also represent the path from life to death and from loneliness into community.   All these things are part of Christ’s call come to and through the door he has opened.  Join us this week as we examine the message to the Church in Philadelphia from Revelation 3:7-12 and consider the call to follow Christ through the open door.   

“The Open Door,” Revelation 3:7-13

03/14/2021 | “Staying Awake” | Revelation 3:1-6

How careful are we to be on guard in our spiritual life?   In Gethsemane, Jesus’ disciples could not stay awake.   How crushing it must have been to hear Jesus’ lament. ‘And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”’ 

What about you?  Are you spiritually asleep?  Has the relative safety and comfort of being a Christian in our culture caused you to leave your life unguarded?  How easily does the enemy of your soul exploit the unguarded areas of your thoughts, your words, your actions, your loves, and your ambitions?   Jesus commanded to the Church is Sardis is to “stay awake,” remain watchful.   Are you struggling to stay awake in your spiritual life?   Join us this week as we examine Revelation 3:1-6 and consider the call to “wake up.”   

“Staying Awake,” Revelation 3:1-6

03/07/2021 | “The Third Mark” | Revelation 2:12-29

The churches in Pergamum and Thyatira are highly praised.   At first glance they appeared solid and impregnable.   But as is often the case, the greatest threat to a church is not from the outside, but from within.   False teachers were promoting compromise with the gods of culture and commerce.   “Go along to get along” was their theme.   And the churches tolerated it.   Disguised as ‘seeker sensitivity’ and ‘cultural awareness,’ this false teaching continued unchallenged.   And the false teachers continued undisciplined.    

Failure to discipline is deadly.  Deadly to a church and deadly to its members.   We might think it more loving to avoid it.   But discipline is a mark of real love.  Jesus takes discipline seriously.   Do we?  Join us this week as we examine Revelation 2:12-29 and consider why the Church struggles to practice discipline but why we must.    

“The Third Mark,” Revelation 2:12-29

02/28/2021 | “Under Pressure” | Revelation 2:8-11

Persecution comes in all different shapes, sizes, and intensities.  We do not get to pick out our cross.  We are only instructed to pick it up and carry it.   Paul wrote to Timothy, “all who live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  (2 Timothy 3:12)   Perhaps that is not what you signed up for when you gave your life to Christ.  But there it is.   We may seek compromise to avoid it — relief rather than peace.   But consider the words of Ralph Erskine.  “Some may bless themselves they were never assaulted by the devil and yet they are but sleeping, as it were, in the devil’s cradle and he is rocking them.”

What is your response to persecution?  To the intense pressure that comes with taking up a cross and following Christ?   Where will you seek rest?  In the promises of the Faithful one or the devil’s cradle?  Join us this week as we continue our survey Revelation as we examine the message to the Church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 and its encouragement to persevere in the face of extreme pressure.

“Under Pressure,” Revelation 2:8-11

02/21/2021 | “Falling Out of Love” | Revelation 2:1-7

How do we measure our health as a church?  By growth in numbers?  By increased giving?  By broader ministry reach into our community?  By powerful, theologically rich teaching?   Or by proven, solid leadership?   All these things are important.   But without love – growing love for Christ and for one another, all these excellent attributes are, in the words of Paul, “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Has the church abandoned its first love to pursue self-love?   Have you abandoned love for Christ and for one another in order to love and serve yourself?  

Join us this week as we continue our survey Revelation as we examine the first of the “Letters to the Seven Churches” in Revelation 2:1-7 and consider Jesus’ serious warning of the danger of abandoning the love we had at first.

“Do You Love Me?” Revelation 2:1-7

02/14/2021 | “Overwhelmed” | 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

The events of 2020 were bad.   And, unfortunately, for many, 2021 may get worse.   As Christians, how do we respond when life is absolutely overwhelming?   We profess that our faith gives us strength “many trials of various kinds.”  We are instructed to “count it all joy.”   Yet, when things go from bad to worse, how do those scripture truths hold up as threads in the fabric of our lives.  How do we keep from being overwhelmed? Or do we? Or perhaps the question is not ‘how do we keep from being overwhelmed,’ but are we ‘overwhelmed by the wrong things?’  In 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul points to this paradox, as he writes.

We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

Paul admonishes us to be overwhelmed by the grace of God, not the gravity of the present crisis.   Are you overwhelmed?  Overwhelmed by fear of what will happen next?  Or overwhelmed with faith in the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Listen as we examine 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and consider the calling as Christians to be overwhelmed by the things that will last forever. 

“Overwhelmed,” 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

02/07/2021 | “Moving Pictures” | Revelation 1:9-20

All of us have been moved to sorrow, joy, reflection or action by an iconic song, picture or story.  But no story has more moving pictures than the story of redemption, unfolded in the Bible, with its themes of mercy and grace and good triumphing over evil.  A living and active story of a mighty hero who through self-sacrifice and great power defeated the arch-enemy of all men, sin and death.  In every vignette, every chapter, this story is unveiled.

Painted in the words of Scripture, these moving pictures reveal the presence and power of a Savior who is “God with Us.”  While Scripture never describes what Jesus looks like, it thoroughly describes what Jesus is like.   Nowhere is this idea more vividly portrayed than in John’s inaugural vision in the Revelation.   Join us this week as we continue our survey Revelation as we examine Revelation 1:9-20 and consider how this opening vision reveals, not what Jesus looks like, but what Jesus is like so we might fix our eyes on Him, know Him, and run with endurance.

“Moving Pictures,” Revelation 1:9-20

01/31/2020 | “Nom de Plume” | Revelation 1:4-8

When writers attempt to gain credibility by assuming a false identity, this only exposes their fraud.   When a real author writes under his own name his life authenticates his work.  This is what makes the Bible so powerful.   Though God worked through human agents by the process of inspiration, the thoughts and the words are His thoughts and His words.  We see this powerfully in the Book of Revelation.   John is merely seer and scribe.  The comfort of these words flows not only from its vivid imagery, but from the character of its author.   As John pens the greeting, he is careful to describe the letter’s Divine Author. 

Join us this week as we continue our survey of the book of Revelation, examining Revelation 1:4-8 to consider how the letter’s greeting gives us key insights into the letter’s divine sender – insights which give needed comfort when our faith is challenged. 

“Nom de Plume,” Revelation 1:4-8

Nom de Plume

Many of our favorite writers, like their creations, are fictional – at least as far as their names are concerned.  Writers often write and publish under a nom de plume, or pen-name.   Contemporary writers do this for a variety of reasons.   If they are well known, they may choose a pseudonym in order to publish in a different genre.  Or perhaps previous work was not well received and they want a fresh start with the public.   Some may have a common name shared with a famous copyrighted author.   But more typically, authors use a pen-name because discretion or social bias prevents them from publishing under their own name.

Probably, some of your favorite authors have written under a false identity.   Famous pseudonyms include Mark Twain, James Herriot, George Elliot, and even Dr. Seuss.  Pen names are hardly a modern innovation.   Voltaire, the Enlightenment skeptic, was a cover for François-Marie Arouet.  And in the early centuries of the Christian Church, there were a many works purported to be written by biblical patriarchs or New Testament characters.  

Written centuries after the canonical books of the New Testament, these pseudopigrapha, are constantly appearing on the cover of grocery store tabloids with the headline, “New Books of the Bible Found!”   Yet there is nothing new about them.   These writings, such as the Gospel of Judas, have been well known as frauds since they first appeared.  Often their authors assumed an apostolic identity to gain authority or credibility.  But the church has never been fooled.   These works of religious fiction never passed the litmus tests of apostolicity, orthodoxy, or catholicity demonstrated by the accepted books of the New Testament.   More than that, the works themselves bore no resemblance to what we know of the supposed authors from Scripture and early church history.  

Paradoxically, when writers attempt to gain credibility by assuming a respected identity, this only exposes their fraud.   When a real author writes under his own name his life authenticates his work.  It is impossible for the life of the writer not to express itself in his work.  This is what makes the Bible so powerful.   Though God worked through human agents by the process of inspiration, the thoughts and the words are His thoughts and His words.  The Bible is no mere human creation.  And its human authors, even when known, never claimed otherwise.   

When we come to the Book of Revelation, this is seen explicitly.  The human writer, the Apostle John, does not claim the work as his own in any way.   Right from the outset, he gives complete attribution to the one from whom the word is received.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 

Revelation 1:1-2

John is merely seer and scribe.  But the content is the Lord’s.   Written in the form of a letter to comfort and encourage ancient Christians, this word is also for us.   Its comfort flows not only from its vivid imagery, but from the character of its author.   As John pens the greeting, he is careful to describe the letter’s Divine Author.  And the Author’s identity lends power and assurance to the letter’s challenging words.

Join us this week as we continue our survey of the book of Revelation, examining Revelation 1:4-8 to consider how the letter’s greeting gives us key insights into the letter’s divine sender – insights which give needed comfort when our faith is challenged. 

We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube