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Bible Pathways - Dec. 23, 2008


December 23

Revelation 1

Highlights In Today's Reading:

John opens with a striking statement (1:3)! He brings a message to the 7 churches from the Risen Savior. John interpets the 7 stars and 7 candlesticks (lampstands) (1:20). Each church is evaluated by the Lord.

The Book of Revelation is the only Book of the Bible specifically promising a blessing for all who read it in obedience to its commands. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein (1:3). The seven churches of Asia Minor each received a letter dictated by Christ and recorded by John while he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos. Since the character and conduct of these churches and Christians are similar in every generation, the messages are just as vital and valid for us today. This Book exposes the sins, as well as what was commendable, in the churches and reminds them how to be prepared for Christ's return (chs. 2 — 3). His last recorded Words are: Surely I come quickly (22:20). Until then, we have assurance that the Living Lord is disciplining and perfecting His people.

Words of praise were given to the church at Ephesus for its sound doctrine. However, Christ said: Thou hast left thy first love (2:4). Losing devotion to Christ usually happens gradually as one becomes too involved in business, leisure activities, even church responsibilities, crowding out time with the Lord in His Word, so that the worship of Christ becomes a mere formality. Outwardly they were fundamentally sound, but Jesus knew the heart and said: Thou hast left thy first love.

This charge is most serious: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent . . . or else I will come . . . and will remove thy Candlestick (remove the Church, see 1:20) . . . except thou repent (2:5).

The Christians at Smyrna faced great tribulation and Jesus observed their suffering and said: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich). . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer (not because they were sinners, but faithful saints) . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (2:9-10). The safeguard against defeat is to be daily strengthened in God's Word. Then, when we face tribulation because of our faith, we will be able to remain faithful.

The letter Jesus sent to Pergamos reminded them that they lived where Satan's seat is: But hold fast (remain true to) My Name (2:13). But, some hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel (2:14). Jesus warned: Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them (Rev. 2:16).

Thought for Today:

With the temptations of our day and the prevalence of "an easy believe-ism" one can readily identify with the church at Ephesus: Thou hast left thy first love (Rev. 2:4).

Cross References:

For Rev. 1:5: See Ps. 89:27. Rev. 1:6: See Ex. 19:6. Rev. 1:7: See Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10. Rev. 2:7: See Gen. 2:9. Rev. 2:23: See Jer. 17:10. Rev. 2:27: See Ps. 2:9.

Word Studies:

1:8 I am Alpha and Omega =b> I am the First of all things and the End of all things and know all things A to Z; 1:13 girt =b> wrapped around; paps =b> chest; 2:19 charity =b> love; 2:23 reins =b> minds, innermost thoughts.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Staff: Clarence Rathbone • Government Officials: Rep. Michael Burgess (TX) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) • Country: Spain (39.6 million) in southwestern Europe • Major languages: Castilian Spanish and Catalan • Limited religious freedom • 85% Roman Catholicism; 1% Islam; .5% Protestant; .5% Jehovah's Witness; 13% Other (Mormon, Jewish, Secular Humanist) • Prayer Suggestion: The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (Prov. 16:23).

Memory Verse for the Week: John 14:6

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