Amos 4:1-6:14, Revelations 2:18-3:6, Psalms 130:1-8, Proverbs 29:21-22
Today is the 11th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s great to be here with you as we fully immerse ourselves in this brand-new week. And from our Old Testament reading, we are smack in the middle of the book of Amos. We will conclude that tomorrow. And, of course, we’re working our way through the book of Revelation in the New Testament. But first, the book of Amos. We’re reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week. Amos 4:1 through 6:14 today.
Okay. So, as we go through the book of Revelation it’s important that we try to keep our place and that we try to approach it with new ears. And what I mean by that is, that the book of Revelation has a lot swirling around it. A lot of people think of it as the scary book of the Bible because it has to do with the end and it’s full of symbolism and people try to make that symbolism a lot of things. And, so, there’s incredibly diverse interpretation. So, we need to try to keep track. So, basically where we are is that John is on the island of Patmos and he hears a trumpet call and he turns around and their seven golden lampstands with Jesus in the middle of them holding seven stars. And Jesus tells John to write down what he hears, what he sees. And we learned that these lampstands represent seven specific churches, not churches that are symbols, actual real churches that exist at this time. And, so, as John is basically taking this dictation from Jesus and writing the words that he has to say to these churches down, we see that these little notes or letters to the individual churches are addressed to the angel of that church. And although there are several interpretations, we think these Angels of the church are the leaders of the church, churches, because the letters are specific to what’s going on in the church. And yesterday we read the three different letters to the first of the three churches - Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum. Today we read the letters to Thyatira and Sardis. And then tomorrow we’ll read the of the last remaining two letters to the last two remaining churches. And, so, to the church at Thyatira, Jesus encourages them that He knows their works, what they’re doing. He knows their love. He knows their faithfulness and service and even their endurance. And He says that their last works are greater than their first. So, in other words, there growing in this, they’re living into it, they’re doing better now than they were when they started, which is an incredible complement. But Jesus does have a problem with the church at Thyatira. And it’s basically the same problem with the church at Pergamum. There holding onto the faith and they have no problem engaging the culture, but that has led to the problem that they are too engaged and things are seeping back into the church that shouldn’t be there. And Jesus describes that by saying you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives my slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. So, we don’t know if there is actually a woman named Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess in this church or if Jesus is simply talking about the behavior of Jezebel found in the Old Testament stories about her, because Jezebel led God’s people away into Baal worship, which also led them into sexual immorality. But, anyway, there’s someone or some people who are following this someone that are in the church and this kind of behavior is being tolerated. And Thyatira was an economic hub at the time and it was a working city and there were trade workers. And there were many trades to keep a city and region going. And these trade workers would collect themselves together in guilds and these guilds would be communities of people who did the same kind of work. And, so, people knew each other and lived together in community. And these guilds would have their own customs. For example, there would be like a patron god or deity of the guild. So, if the trade was iron working, for example, then there would be a god that would overlook that whole process. And, so, no matter what other gods might be worshiped in the home, these people would worship that god, the god of the guild. And if you refused to do that, then you can see how quickly you could be ostracized and economically impacted, blacklisted. And, so, people would assimilate, they would belong to the church and worship Jesus but then go to their guild and worship that god because it was required in the culture and then maybe they would visit other temples and feasts and do all kinds of rituals and things and then show for church on worship day. And, so, we can see it was it was just as hard if not harder for them to be in the world, but not of it, as it is for us. And they’re trying to figure this all out. But some churches are taking this too far. And, so, we’ve seen references to Balaam, to the Nicolaitans, to this Jezebel prophetess person or people and it stems from a teaching that this world is passing away and our human experience in it in exchange for a new world and a new glorified body and the family of God. And, so, while that’s being awaited it’s a free-for-all. And the cultic practices of the culture are seeping their way back into the church in the guise of freedom in Christ. And, so, this was going on and Pergamum. This is also going on in Thyatira. By the wording of the letter, it looks like it was going on longer in Thyatira than it had been in Pergamum because in the letter to Thyatira Jesus is talking about judgment and He’s saying time has past. Specifically, He says, I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. So, she’s going to get sick and those who commit adultery with her are going to fall into tribulation and it’s not going to go well. So, Jesus is calling out a specific group of people in the church that are living this way and then he closes the letter by talking to everyone else, those who are not, by telling them that there is no additional burden for them. In other words, there’s nothing else, you’re doing it right, well done. And that brings us to the letter to the church in Sardis. And the thing going on in Sardis seems to be similar to what is going on in Ephesus. The light or the witness of the gospel of Jesus is going out. And Jesus is fairly frank with them. I know your works. You have a reputation for being alive, but your dead. So, wake up. Be vigilant, be alert, strengthen what you’ve got left because it is about to die and you haven’t finished your mission. Repent, remember what you heard in the beginning, remember what you received and heard and keep it and repent. Because if you don’t wake up if you’re not alert, I’ll come like a thief, and you have no idea when, when that will be. And in this letter Jesus says you have no idea at what hour I will come against you. With the church in Ephesus, Jesus said that if He has to do that He’ll remove the lampstand. In other words, the light will go out. So, we can probably assume that what Jesus is saying to the church in Sardis is similar. So, we’ve gone through five little letters to five different churches and there are different things that are going on in these churches and they all seem to boil back to the question, how do I be in the world and not of it? In the case of some of these churches they’re true, they’re holding very, very true, but because of the marginalization of the culture that they’re in, they aren’t able to shape and shift the culture, they’re not out in the world showing a better way. They’re getting every conceivable opposition and it’s making them grow smaller and quieter. They’re being true, but they’re also basically being invisible. And then the other side of that, you have churches that are out and engaging, and kind of showing that, hey we Christians, we’re people too, we can do all things you can do, we’re just part of this, we just have a different way of looking at things. But the end result is, rather than shaping culture and being a positive influence in showing a better way, the opposite is happening and their being shaped. And it’s seeping back into the church. And, so, Sardis is one of the churches that is growing smaller and invisible and they have a lot of pressure. The Jews are very vocal about denouncing the Christian faith, very, very much about the business of trying to differentiate Christianity with Judaism. And the Jewish community in Sardis was large and influential, one of the most important in the entire region. And, so, they have cultural opposition and then they have spiritual or religious opposition as well. And they’re finding it easier just to keep their mouth shut and be together rather than to shine bright and be a light in the darkness, because that will likely only amp up the opposition and it could lead to death, persecution, marginalization, blacklisting, all of the things that would bring suffering. So, we still have two more letters to two more churches to read, but we’re getting a pretty good overview of what’s going on in these churches and we see that these are still issues that we have to face today. How can I be in this world but not of it? And the picture that were getting from Jesus is that, remaining true is very, very important, critical, crucial, but also crucial is the outflow of that. We are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We’re not just here to stay true and wait for the world to change, we’re here to stay true and change the world, and those are different things.
Father, we bring that question to You. How are we being in the world but not of the world? What is shaping us and what are we shaping, and what is out of balance? And we acknowledge that this is different for each one of us. We are in an individual relationship with You, walking with You, and this is different for each of us. We’re in all kinds of cultures and in all kinds of contexts, but it does boil down to what we are allowing to shape us and what we are vigilantly trying to shape. And we invite You into that question. Holy Spirit, speak to us we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is the website. It’s home base. It’s where you find out what’s going on around here. And, so, a number of things, all Christmas related, since it’s Christmas time.
It is time to call in your holiday greetings for the annual Daily Audio Bible family Christmas, which is kind of our virtual Christmas party together. And we’ll only be doing this for a few more days. So, don’t procrastinate. It’s really easy. You just use the prayer line 877-942-4253 or you can use any of the prayer lines that we have for different parts of the world. And you just call in your Christmas wishes. It’s that simple. The only rule about this is, because of the fact that were using the prayer line, don’t like call in a holiday greeting and then add on to it a prayer request. That’s too hard to edit and make it make sense. If you’re calling in for a prayer request, call it in. If you’re also calling in a holiday greeting, call it in separate. And that’s it.
The Daily Audio Bible Christmas Box for 2017 is also available and going fast. And if you want these to arrive for Christmas, jump on it. We’ve got just several more days on that too before we kind of feel like we’re getting close. And I’m speaking domestically. So, like, I’m speaking inside the United States at this point. If you’re outside the United States, we’re kind of past that, not sure. You can certainly order it and we will certainly ship it. We’re just not sure it will arrive for Christmas. Inside the United States we’re good for a few more days. But the Christmas Box is full of goodies, some that you will keep for yourself and some that you will give away. We have the Advent CD from our friends at Mission Chattanooga in the Box. The family Christmas CD that I produced and it’s lush and contemplative and full of the carols of the season. So, that’s in there. The book by my friend Ian, The Road Back to You, is in the Box. Two copies of Sneezing Jesus are in the Box. A Black Wing pencil is in the Box. The Daily Audio Bible annual Christmas bulb is in the Box. So, it’s got Daily Audio Bible 2017 on it with our word ‘Margin’ for the year. A pack of 20 Christmas cards, the Daily Audio Bible Christmas cards for 2017 with the envelopes, are in the Box. And then, your choice of our DAB blend of coffee or if you’re a tea drinker our honey bush and rooibos tea.
And speaking of The Daily Audio Bible Christmas cards, those are available separately. If you’ve got a lot of Christmas cards to send, we have them in packs of 20 with the envelopes for $4.99. It’s just a great way to invite those that you love to take the journey with you next year. So, you can get those in the shop.
And the More Gathering for women that is coming up this April, early registration is open for that right now. You can find it in the Initiatives section at dailyaudiobible.com. All the details about it, locations, just the kind of questions that you would have, they’re all answered there. You can also just go to moregathering.com. And early registration pricing is available until the end of the year. And this, this makes for a very unique gift. So, check that out.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible, you can do that at dailyaudiobible.com. There is a link on the homepage. And, as always, I thank you profoundly. It’s pretty amazing, what we get to do together every day. Thank you for helping that happen. So, there’s a link on the homepage. If you prefer the mail, the mailing address is PO Box 1996 Spring Hill Tennessee 37174.
And, as always, if you have a prayer request, 877-942-4253 is the number to dial.
And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports:
This is Candice from Oregon, let’s pray. Dear Lord Jesus, thank You that You are Holy and that You are present and that You’ve done everything to save us out of the pit of hell. And even though this earth has not been restored yet, it has not been renewed yet, even though it’s pretty much a war zone and You’ve left us here. You’ve left us here for a reason. You will empower us for mighty things that You want us to do. I mean, we’re just trying to get through the next day, sometimes the next hour. I have trouble getting the vision for all of the aspects of Christmas when my husband of 40 years is no longer sure to do that with me. And he was so inspired about it. And I just heard the community prayer and I know that so many others also have really no idea how to move forward in the dilemma of whatever their situation is. So, Lord, we look to You. We look to You and we know that we have but to keep our eyes on You and You will give us a vision for this moment, this hour, the next step. And that we only have to do the next right thing. You’re the one who’s sovereign. You’re the only one who can redeem the situation. And You love us Lord, deeply, that we can even begin to imagine. You’ve counted every hair on our heads and You will show us how to move forward in a way that brings honor and glory to You and wholeness to our hearts.
Hi DAB family. It’s James here from the UK. Long time, no call. But once again, just inspired by a young lady today. Joyce from California, your request and your story really touched my heart and I just want you to know that I’m sitting here in my little car in a back quarter of the UK after just listening to what you said and I’m just wanting to channel such positive energy to you by the Holy Spirit right now, that you would just know God’s transformation and His peace and His grace, which you already seem to have experienced in incredible ways in your life. That He would take you into the next step part of the journey, and the healing and restoration that you are going to experience would be beyond your comprehension and that what He would be doing would be preparing you for a great, great work. That is what I believe in my heart. And I just hope you can embrace that joy along with hopefully many other people calling. We love you and I know that God has got an amazing plan for your life. Thank you for calling in and sharing your story with us. Bless you. Bless everyone. Happy Christmas.
Hello, my brothers and sisters of Daily Audio Bible. This is Randy from Rocket City. I haven’t called in while, but I was so touched by Joyce from California. My precious sister, daughter in the Lord. Oh Lord, may you just shower Your love upon Joyce and just know how precious she is. And I definitely lift her up this entire month of December that she might have victory over this exam, that she might go on to serve you, Lord, in the medical community. Lord, help her to know how precious she is to You, how valuable she is to You, and to all of us. And we lift you up, sister Joyce in California. God bless you.
Hi Daily Audio Bible family. It’s James Redeemed in LA. I know it’s been a while since I called in. I was just listening to prayer requests this morning, and Joyce from California, yea, it’s been a while since we heard from you. I’m glad you called in. I remember praying for the last time you took your boards and I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t pass them. But, even more, I just want to pray for you now. So, that’s what I’m going to do. Father God, we love You. And we rejoice that Your love for us is not like our parents love for us, which, even for the best of parents, can still be conditional and flawed and based in the flesh. You took ___ the world sees and we thank you for that. You don’t see Joyce the way that parents saw her, the way that cultures see her. God, I pray against the spirit that hated her and got into her family, and pushed them, urged them to do evil. ___. I pray that there would be redemption and reconciliation fully in that family, that as that relationship heals, that Joyce would heal fully as well. Let her pass those boards Lord. Most certainly, let her find her place in You. Lord God, we love You and we praise You. We know and trust that You are going to do exactly Your will in Joyce. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hi, my names Tom and I’m calling from the UK. I just want to give a shout out to Joyce, 4th year medical student from California. Joyce, I’m a doctor and I graduated medical school 2 years ago. I know the struggles of studying for medical exams. I’m studying for my postgraduate exams now. It’s had but God is your strength. We need Christian doctors to deliver God’s healing. God wouldn’t have brought you this far for you to fail. God is greater than any exam. He is the great physician and I’m praying that you’ll ace your exam. God, bless.
God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Amen. It’s is Jubilant Perseverance in Indonesia and I needed to call and give you guys an update. I just found out that I will not be continuing my time in Indonesia next school year. I will not be invited to return to my current teaching position. I am not angry. I’m not sad about it. I am disappointed because I have __ myself up and been vulnerable in this season of growth and tried to develop my relationship here through honest conversation and sincere choices, but that’s neither here nor there. God knows exactly what He’s doing with that and He’s still using it to give authority and to make sure that I’m growing. Right? For our good and for his glory. So, I just need to call and ask you guys to pray with me as I job hunt and explore the right moves to take next because I know that God has amazing things planned for my future. I trust, honestly, but I don’t know exactly where my feet need to step next. So, please pray with me for clarity and direction there. And I hope to talk to you all soon with a wonderful update of what’s to come. Thank you so much. Have a great day. Bye-bye.