â€œWrite therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter; 1:20 the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies[churches]. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies[churches].â€Â Â Â Â Revelation 1:19-20 (WEB, my paraphrase)
â€œHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies[churches].â€ Â Â Â Revelation 2:7, 11, 17,29, and 3:6, 13, 22
It would be good to read Revelation 2 and 3 for yourself, even if it is very familiar, to refresh and receive what God has for you in His words to the seven churches. He had a lot for me that will be my life time to consider and be obedient.
Ephesus â€“ God is pleased with the use of His gift of discernment. The church has drawn the line on wickedness and tested those who come with the right words on their lips but yet have their own agendas and manipulation in their hearts. These hypocrites have been rejected. They also â€œhated those that the LORD hatedâ€, the Nicolaitans. Why hate them? That is not historically clear. The most common possibility is that they compromised and said, â€œitâ€™s okâ€, allowing them to live their lives on both sides of the fence. Sound familiar? Jesus spoke about this problem before He died and rose. (Matthew 7) Now He is coming through with the word hate. He hates it when I point my finger and judge that someone else is becoming a part of this world and not living a holy life â€“ and totally ignoring the plank of sin in my own life. But Ephesus had one major flaw of sin. They forgot. They forgot how much they loved the One who saved them. The One who was everything…their First Love.
Smyrna â€“ It is this church that I have come to wonder if I have been led to this fellowship. Jesus says He knows their suffering and poverty but instead of giving them some news that it will soon be over or they will receive their reward â€“ He tells them to â€œHang in there because there is more coming!â€ It is news that I do not always want to hear: that my reward is not here and not soon â€“ but it is eternal!
Pergamum â€“ Jesus says He knows that this church has stayed true to their faith in Him but some are also proclaiming faith in others. Our Lord is jealous. He does not tolerate a divided heart. We can love Him and someone or something else equally.
Thyatira â€“ Jesus again warns me about the insidious seduction of the enemy. I can have strong faith, love the Lord, and serve Him. My mistake is when I think I have â€œarrivedâ€ as a Christian. It is then that I can easily slip on that tiny banana peel of sin when I skip prayer or miss Bible study or think that I can somehow make it through without staying connected to my Lord.
Sardis â€“ Wake up! There was a time in my spiritual life when I could stand in church, sing the hymns, recite the Apostleâ€™s Creed, and make out a mental grocery list at the same time! My spiritual life was dead. Words, music, obediently fulfilling commands can be as cold and dead as any corpse. Jesus warns that life with Him is â€œliving and activeâ€. My relationship with Him must grow. Change. The good news and â€¦ difficult news of any relationship.
Philadelphia â€“ Here is a church that Jesus encourages and reminds them how He is faithful in His power and commitment to those who believe in Him. Life may get worse, much worse, but Jesus has â€œovercome the worldâ€. (John 16) I must ask Him to develop my spiritual eyes so that see past what my human eyes believe. I stand on His promises.
Laodicea â€“ The well-known lukewarm church is chastised that their faith isnâ€™t even cold much less hot! A relationship with God means nothing when my focus is on the â€œIâ€. I see my successes and life as all that I really need and all that really matters. God is â€œout thereâ€ and â€œsometime when I get oldâ€. God falls low on the priority list. â€œLowâ€ is anything not first place! It is when I realize my weakness and nothing-ness that I become rich. My Lord is my Bridegroom who wants to keep me safe and lead me into the richness of our relationship. Yes, discipline is involved in His love for me because He knows my rebellious heart. He is teaching me to listen and obey so that I do have ears to hear what the Spirit says.