Philadelphia

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “These are the words of Him who is holy and true, Who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. ‘I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the Temple of My God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of Heaven from My God; and I will also write on them My New Name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches’.” Revelation 3:7-13 

Isn’t the living Word of God amazing? I have been too busy to do much except either drive or sit in the passenger seat for the last few days. Although most events have been “fun times,” I am in the midst of a post-lymes disease syndrome flare-up which messes with me physically and emotionally. I hate these times as I know I am being moody, miserable, and mopey yet, as much as I try, pray, and count to 5 before responding, I cannot avoid the negative interaction. Add this to the worsened pain in my muscles and I am living in a recipe for disaster. I am always aware that these “flares” are impending but they are also unavoidable. I rely on the Lord even stronger during these times; resting in these words from Pauls’ second letter to the church at Corinth, chapter 12, verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Since I had little time to write this week, I decided (in the beautiful solitude of our motel room as Rick is downstairs at the pool with our grandsons) to continue blogging about the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. What a treat opened itself in front of me as I read the words Jesus spoke to the church at Philadelphia. Jesus is telling them in our cultural vernacular, “Good job; keep on keeping on!” “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My Name.” He’s saying those words, even today, to believers who are staying the course. The promises He made to the church at Philadelphia are just as valid today for us! I love being love by God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t you? 

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” 

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘These are the words of Him who holds the seven spiritsof God and the seven stars.I know your deeds;you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief,and you will not know at what timeI will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.They will walk with Me, dressed in white,for they are worthy. The One Who is Victoriouswill, like them, be dressed in white.I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life,but will acknowledge that name before My Fatherand His angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

Faith is the victory, faith is the victory, O glorious victory that overcomes the world!! 

        An oldie but a goodie, don’t you think? I thought about that song throughout my Bible study today and almost felt compelled to share it with you. Sardis is the first church that Jesus addresses in the book of Revelation that He doesn’t praise at the beginning. He tells them that He knows their deed and their reputation for being a church on fire for Him! Then He tells that that their reputation is wrong!

        Have you ever gone through a sleepy time in your walk with God? I sure have but when I woke up, straightened up and began to fly right I realized what I had lost during my nap! God’s love is constant and uplifting; His Word is living and always current! The church as Sardis needed to review the goodness of the Lord, remember the excitement they felt serving Him and worshipping Him with gusto!

        We aren’t sure what happened in Sardis; we hope they never had to lock the doors and quake in fear of the thief in the night! I love the promise that follows: the believers who were still alive in Christ were going to walk with Him in purity and victory! I’m looking forward to that walk, aren’t you? I want to walk right up to my Mom and give her the biggest hug … but, that is for another day!

 

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches!” 

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Thyatira

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’  To the one who is victorious and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations –  that one will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery – just as I have received authority from my Father.  I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:18-29

       My great-aunt was 81 when she had her life-ending stroke over 30 years ago but she was, in modern terms, a “piece of work!” She was a liberated, strong woman before we even knew there was a glass ceiling. She married later in life to her sister’s brother-in-law but while her sister’s husband was mild-mannered, responsible and God-fearing, his brother was a man of the world who liked the “spirits” he could purchase at the neighborhood bar. When he worked, he was a good worker but those times were rare. After 25 years of marriage, my aunt divorced him on paper but she never stopped loving him or, later when he had physical problems, caring for him. She also never stopped telling the world about his exploits at the “tap room” with his “hussies and jezebels.”

          The church at Thyatira were faithful followers of Jesus; their chastisement came because they allowed a non-believing charismatic woman, Jezebel, to hold classes at their church. She had her own agenda and message; she taught and practiced sexual immorality and encouraged the eating of foods sacrificed to idols. Her intent was self-glorification and, although given more than ample time to repent, wouldn’t stop her incorrect, immoral teachings.

The Lord told the people of the church that He was going to punish her by two ways: first, she was going to get very sick and second, her children were going to be taken from her. He was also going to punish anyone who was involved in her sexual exploits by giving them the same vile illness she had. (We know little to nothing about her children and I cannot begin to justify any reason for their involvement. However, God DOES what is best in His will.)

          He warns the people … “stay away from her and her teachings and I will protect you. Keep on keeping on, you are doing well living for Me but STAY TRUE TO THE FAITH YOU ARE DISPLAYING.” Often we need to step back and LET GOD BE GOD! We can’t understand Him nor can we understand His ways but they are best!!

 

“To the one who is victorious and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations… just as I have received authority from my Father.  I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Pergamum

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of Him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. ‘I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My name. You did not renounce your faith in Me, not even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.’ Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:12-17 

It is never easy to leave a church family you love, never. There have been two times in my life when the Lord has strongly shown me that it was that time. I needed to walk away from friends I loved while continuing to pray for them. However, there are also times when the Lord tells you to prayerfully become a servant who helps (in a non-combative, scriptural way) to cleanse a church of non-believers. In His letter to the church at Pergamum, Jesus is telling the leaders of the church to (in the vernacular) “clean His house.”

As with Ephesus and Smyrna, Jesus commends the church for their faithfulness even in the midst of persecution. A well-known resident of their area, Antipas, had been martyred by the Roman government and the congregation had stayed firm in their public testimony. The Lord also praises them for because they are standing firm in an evil city, in Jesus’ words, “where satan has his throne. The city of Pergamum was THE center of worship for Dionysus, Zeus, and other pagan gods. Yet while the congregation of believers had stayed solid in their faith they had allowed people who were immoral to become members; as one commentary states, “they had married the world.”

God loves each and every person in His creation; that is without question but the scriptures clearly state that the Lord hates religious and moral compromise. He calls His people to live differently. God desires purity among His people and, especially in our current society where sin has become politically acceptable, we believers (as did the believers at Pergamum), need to be vigilant of what is being taught and lived out in our churches. 

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna.”* 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

 

*As Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life; scholars believe this reiterates that claim with the difference being He is “hidden” from human view.

Smyrna

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11 

        Persecution and martyrdom were prevalent in the early church age. John transcribed the book of Revelation late in the first century; church history guesses between 70 A.D. and 96 A.D; already some of the apostles had been put to death for their faith. Others, although not killed, were beaten or imprisoned; John was writing this book from the Isle of Patmos where he was banished and, again according to church tradition, died of old age. Here we read Jesus’ words to the church at Smyrna that warn them of persecution, possibly leading to death.

        However, before the warnings, Jesus praises them for their faith in spite of adversity. Apparently, the congregation at Smyrna included materially poor people some of whom were afflicted either physically or mentally. Yet, Jesus affirms that they are rich; I believe we can safely assume that these riches were in love and faith. As many churches are today, the church of Smyrna was being badmouthed and lied against by a neighboring congregation that is called by Jesus, “a synagogue of satan.” Nice neighbors, huh? Jesus praises the church for its today, warns them against their tomorrow, and promises them a bright tomorrow! 

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.”

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Ephesus

“To the angelof the church in Ephesuswrite: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right handand walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds,your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have testedthose who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name,and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repentand do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstandfrom its place.  But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans,which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious,I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life,which is in the paradiseof God.” Revelation 2:1-7

        This is one of the first times I’ve written from the book of Revelation but I make every attempt to listen to what the Lord lays on my heart; in this case it is the warnings to the seven churches. I believe Jesus’ words to them are applicable to us as Christians almost 2000 years after they were written down by the apostle John. In the words to the church at Ephesus, Jesus applauds them for their hatred of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, the belief that is based on the recognition of the grace and mercy of God as the foundation of salvation but makes the fatal error that man can freely partake in sin because we live in the age of grace rather than under Old Testament law. They believed that a mere intellectual belief in the truth of God’s grace and mercy worked through the death and resurrection of Jesus had saving power. However, one reads in James 2:19, “The devils also believe and tremble.” True faith and belief in God is an active principle the goes beyond belief but by following the teachings and example of Jesus. The beliefs of the Nicolaitans sounds SO very familiar; I’ve heard the words, “God loves us so much…” I realize that my beliefs are not politically correct but I believe that much of what is tolerated and accepted by our culture is sin, pure and simple! Yes, God loves everyone and He offers salvation to everyone but we must accept, believe and act upon our beliefs!

        Jesus warns the church at Ephesus that they “have forsaken the love you had at first” and tells them to “Repent and do the things you did at first.” Paul wrote to this church in Ephesians 1:16, 17 “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Later in the epistle, 4:1-3, Paul writes “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Did the church stop growing in the love of Christ? Did they make their worship more important than their walk? Did they allow the world to enter their church and water down the gospel? We don’t know for sure but Jesus wanted them to go back to square one and start again; back to the place where they were excited about the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God, back to the place where they lived to make the Lord smile! I pray they did… just as I pray we ~ and all those who love the Lord in America ~ will!

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches!”

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

To the Churches

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ‘To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’.” Revelation 2:7 

        I’d be lying if I told you that I understand the book of Revelation. If anything, I avoid it like the plague and study it rarely. However, this morning I was driving home from having breakfast with my wonderful husband, listening to the radio, and I heard a pastor delivering one sermon from his series on the seven churches in Revelation. As I listened, I heard him relate the true definition of tolerance, not the current cultural meaning but the real one. It is a subject I could relate to and one I struggle with. I am not, in political jargon, a Bible thumping conservative but I am a Christian and I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it is Truth; I believe our life instructions are contained within its covers.

        Can I share an illustration? There are times when I’ve spoken with someone about the Lord and they don’t fall on their knees in repentance. They don’t choose to share my belief in the life changing Word of God. Sometimes they are people I care about deeply; I don’t want them out of my life or, as a family member, they will remain in my life regardless. So, either silently or aloud, we agree to disagree and can share our lives with a smile knowing that we will be tolerant of our differences. However, tolerance is the fair and objective attitude toward those whose beliefs, opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own. Tolerance is not agreement or acceptance, e.g. the Bible states to lie is to sin. No matter what the world might teach, there are no shades of lying, under no condition would God tell someone to lie, a lie (which is an untruth with evil intent) is always a sin.

        In his revelation, the apostle John wrote of seven warnings to seven living churches. The churches mentioned were known to Him and to God. They may not exist today but their behaviors live on. I’m going to check them out over the weekend and muse over them next week. Maybe Revelation isn’t as untouchable as I’ve always thought … maybe! 

Speak to me, Lord, speak a word of life

That I might hear what thus sayeth, oh God

It’s the still small voice that I wait for so

Speak to me, Lord

Lyrics by Campbell, Warryn / Atkins-campbell, Erica Monique

Atkins-campbell, Trecina.

Mothers

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”Psalm 139:13 

        It’s not easy writing an entry about mothers since losing mine from a rare strain of breast cancer on 12/14/10. To describe her in just a few words is impossible; she was incredible! However, looking back I must thank her, first and foremost, for pointing me to God. She didn’t just take the six of us to Sunday school; my Mom LIVED her love for the Lord, her trust in His teachings, and her knowledge of His faithfulness through all things. There was not a time I can remember that I went to her with a problem without talking about the Lord and His consistent goodness! 

        It’s also not easy writing about mothers without recognizing that not all women who have given birth to children are good mothers. There are children born every day with mothers who are addicted or emotionally ill or dulled to love by poverty or inhabited by uncontrolled anger. As a young mother with two little ones who always seemed to have the sniffles or something, I looked out the window to see the four children across the street playing in puddles without coats in the icy rain. Nothing made sense so I called Mom; her answer was, “Sweetie, all you can do is pray for those children. All kids aren’t born with good mommies; the Lord takes care of those ones.” 

        To reword the common phrase, opinions are like noses, everyone has one but few are alike (or those relatedly similar), Mothers are like noses, everyone has one and they are all different. I knew 2 of my grandmothers, had at least six aunts who were all mothers, had one mom, have two sisters who are mothers, and have one daughter who is a mother.  Each one was different; most displayed the love and caring we expect from mothers, a couple did not but amazingly the Lord provided to every child a precious mother figure! How blessed we are as children of God; those of us with wonderful mothers can rejoice with them and for those who do not, He provides an army of Godly women! 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org

Roots

“It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters.” Ezekiel 31:7 

         Have you ever driven by someone’s home, right near yours, and wondered how their yard could possibly be so beautiful when you plant the same flowers, the same bushes, and the same grass seed then watch them wither and die? I have, often. I live in a manufactured home park; I found out that it isn’t the soil or a green thumb but the direction of the sun. I am – by no means – a gardener but my home also faces south and gets direct sun for 8 to 10 hours a day in the summer. The knowledgeable lady at the garden center told me that I need to water any hanging basket (even if it loves direct sun) three times a day. FORGET THAT; I have no time to water anything all day!

         All this to say that today I was gardening on the only side of my house where anything will grow without frying. Three of my plants needed repotting because they had outgrown their pots. The roots had taken all the nutrients and there was probably more root growth than soil left in the pots. I added fresh soil and loosened the roots; they should show a growth spurt very soon!

         As I was washing up, I thought about my roots! I’ve been reared to study the Word of God since I was a child but sometimes I get root bound. I find myself reading familiar passages, not a bad thing, rather than digging into the Truths waiting for me if I just dig a little deeper. It has always been amazing to me that I find new insights contained within stories I’ve been reading most of my life if I asked God to open His Word to me in a new, deeper way … to get down to the River of Life!!

         Do you feel root bound? Read the story of David and Saul; ask God why David didn’t borrow Saul’s armor? Read the story of Noah; ask God about the patience Noah showed after it stopped raining? Read the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Joseph; ask God to show you the pattern of deceit and repentance? You, like me can refresh your roots in no time!!

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: http://www.asistershugs.org

Confidence

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 

       I am not a highly trained theologian nor do I have a doctorate in English but both subjects interest me. I love digging into scripture, to search concordances and look into the original language to seek the true meaning of a passage. I’m not above contacting my brother, a pastor, or a number of friends who are pastors if I am undecided about the meaning. I also love words, sentence structuring, and checking out the different ambiguities in word meaning or phrasing in a scriptural passage.  Having said that, as with most Christians, I strongly stand on the truth of I John 5:14-15; it is a passage that brings comfort to my soul and conviction to my beliefs.

          But, WOW, can this verse be eisegetically used and misused! Most times, when it is used to claim some material, spiritual, or emotional blessing the person using it has overlooked or misunderstood the words anything according to His will. Whether deliberate or non-deliberate, I don’t believe for one moment that the apostle John was writing here about asking (praying) using the pre-ordained God method of prayer. Jesus didn’t give the apostles/disciples a “How to Pray” seminar.

          Often, verses are used out of context… I John 5:15b says, “we know that we have what we asked of Him,” so, the scripture promises us that the great Santa Claus in the sky is just waiting to drop our heart’s desire at our feet, right? That’s what the verse says, isn’t it? The gospel of prosperity… hmmm! How could we ever justify the belief in this “gospel” with Christians in poverty stricken nations like Haiti? How can we stand on this as a promise when Christians are suffering with dire illness or victims of atrocious crime? Look with me at this verse in context – verse 14 tells us to boldly approach the throne of God and ask for anything IN HIS WILL!

          I had a friend ask me to pray God would make a way for her to be with her “soulmate.” She wasn’t very pleased when I explained I could not. Earlier in this confidential conversation she had revealed that her “soulmate” was a married man. While I am sure none of us have asked God for something so blatantly against His will, I have to wonder how close to that I’ve gotten? Forgive me Lord if I’ve even come close!

 

Unless noted, scripture is NIV ©1984 Int’l Bible Society

Hugs +/or ChIPS ©3/05 Eleanor J. Gale-Boone

Ministry website: www.asistershugs.org