Pastor’s Weekly Message

SUNDAY MARCH 29 2020

INTRODUCTION

We are in the midst of a series concerning the seven churches of Revelation chapters two and three. I was hoping that this message and the previous four messages on this topic could be up and running on our church website but this may take longer than anticipated. I am posting this one on the web site but the previous ones will take a while. We will also distribute hard copies of this to as many as need. Linda will be making the message available as she did last week for those with computer access too if you have difficulty logging onto our web site.

For today’s message I will be including three worship songs that can be accessed from youtube. Please play each in turn at the indicated point in the message and join in the worship.

Also, I have included the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song, “When you gonn’a wake up,” on the last page. If you want you can also listen to his song on his web site and follow along.

Blessings, and enjoy God’s message.

Listen to song of praise one by going to Heaven’s Gates by Robin Mark on youtube.

THE CHURCH AT SARDIS

REFERENCE REVELATION 3:1-6

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; ‘These things says he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, but are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you will not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they will walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcomes, the same will be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.’”

As in the previous four churches of Revelation two, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira, Jesus chooses a name for Himself from chapter one. Here, He identifies Himself to the church at Sardis with the title, “He that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars;” This is an idiom for the Holy Spirit given in Isaiah 11:1-2. It reads:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes neither reprove after the hearing of his ears. . .”

“I know your works.”

This One, resurrected and glorified, knows everything about us, both collectively within our congregations, and individually.  We are His sheep, and the sheep of His pasture. His eyes, described earlier as,  a flame of fire, see everything. The Spirit ‘sees’ the condition of soul and spirit; sees our heart; discerns our motives.

You will notice as we progress through this epistle of Jesus to Sardis that there are no commendations given. I want you to pay attention to the number of times the word ‘name’ appears throughout this letter.

He begins his ‘report card’ for Sardis by saying that they think they have a name, and because of this Sardis believes it is alive, that it lives. But the truth of the matter is rather that they are dead. A harsh truth.

Perhaps a little review of history will help here.  

The fortress of Sardis was perched high upon a thousand foot cliff and had access only from the one of four sides. The three other sides leading up to the fortress were impenetrable rock cliffs. During the war against Cyrus of Persia the king of Lydia retreated to this safe haven after his defeat. Cyrus you may recall was the Persian king called by God to free the Jewish population from the Babylonian captivity       (See Is. 45). This fortress of Sardis was ostensibly secure but in reality was not.

Cyrus laid a fourteen day siege and offered a reward for anyone finding a way up the side of the cliff. One of his men noticed one night a defender looking down and dropping his helmet. He marked the path the defender took retrieving his helmet and discovered the way up to the unguarded side of the fortress. The fortress of Sardis was soon taken by total surprise. Sardis became a watch word for being unprepared and for not watching! In fact, historians used the phrase to describe this overthrow as “a thief in the night.”

The cliff walls were made of clay and had developed many cracks and crevices over time that went unnoticed.

This picture of Sardis as being seemingly secure but in reality having cracks in their defenses both in terms of their structure and in their lack of watchfulness, is a perfect backdrop for the Lord’s words to the church at Sardis.

This fate happened repeatedly to Sardis over the many years it was rebuilt after ruination. I am reminded of the quote by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Or the oft repeated saying, “The one thing that history teaches us is that history teaches us nothing.”

These warnings of our Lord have been here in print for centuries and still yet we choose to ignore their meanings.

What warnings?

  1. Be watchful. Watchful of what? How about 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:”  The occupants of the Sardis fortress high upon their seemingly impregnable fortress were not watchful nor vigilant to their utter demise.  How about Matthew 26:41 – “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Temptation creeps up on us, like the Persian soldiers upon the citizens of Sardis. How about, Matthew 24:42-43 – “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord will come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” If the watch had been set  upon the backside of the fortress they would have noticed the coming attack.  How about, Acts 20:29-31 – “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves, enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves will men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember . . .” The warning against false teachers.
  2. Strengthen the things that remain. (At this time you might refer to the song by Bob Dylan at the end of this message.) We may not have large numbers attending services but what things do remain? Our first song mentioned some of these. Do we still have our First Love? Let’s strengthen that. We get to know about Jesus in the Bible, but it’s through worship and personal prayer and devotion that we get to know How about our love for the one across the aisle? Let’s strengthen that; let’s pray for that one. How about our service to the Lord, our financial commitment? Let’s strengthen that. Personal Bible study; kind words; encouraging notes; phone calls?
  3. Remember what? God is good. God loves you as you are. Who you are in Christ. That He died for you; was buried for you; went to Hell on your behalf; rose again for you; ascended for you; intercedes for you, and is coming again for you.
  4. Hold fast. Hold fast to the Truth; to His Word; to His promises. Put your armour on daily. Declare His word over your life and the life of your loved ones. Stand on his promises for the lost ones. Feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned; give a cup of water to him who is thirsty.
  5. Wherever we have fallen short of the glory of God let us repent and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to rise up and move forward. If we have tired of doing good, repent. If we have tarried in doing what is right, repent. If we have used ungrateful words, repent. For He is just to forgive us of all our sins.

Please go to Reckless Love of God (official lyric video by Cory Asbury)

Let us keep our garments undefiled – unsullied by the cares of the world; brushed clean of false teachings; un-singed of the fiery darts of the enemy. Remember that we are clothed in His Righteousness. Let’s honour our Lord by keeping things in line with His word. Remember too, that we can do this through His Spirit. It is not our flesh that does such things. Remember Gal. 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

The promise to the overcomer. “The same will be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

We are assured by the Lord Himself that we will be clothed in white. Indicating that we are indeed blameless in That Day, because our sins have been covered. They, our sins, are covered by The Blood, while we are covered in white!

And our names, forever inscribed for all to see, in the Book of Life!

I look forward to that moment, as do you, when our Lord and Saviour, the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, ushers me into the presence of the Father amidst the throng of holy angels and says, “Father, it is my pleasure to introduce to you . . .”  Oh what joy in heaven!

So, in conclusion, let me quote 1 Cor. 16:13 – “Watch you, stand fast in the faith, be courageous, be strong.” And, 1 Thess. 5:6 – “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”  Amen.

Please go to Lion and the Lamb (official Lyric Video by Leeland)

 

When You Gonna Wake Up?

WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN

God don’t make no promises that He don’t keep
You got some big dreams, baby, but in order to dream you gotta still be asleep

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts
Karl Marx has got ya by the throat, Henry Kissinger’s got you tied up in knots

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

You got innocent men in jail, your insane asylums are filled
You got unrighteous doctors dealing drugs that’ll never cure your ills

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

You got men who can’t hold their peace and women who can’t control their tongues
The rich seduce the poor and the old are seduced by the young

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Adulterers in churches and pornography in the schools
You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Spiritual advisors and gurus to guide your every move
Instant inner peace and every step you take has got to be approved

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

You can’t take it with you and you know that it’s too worthless to be sold
They tell you, “Time is money,” as if your life was worth its weight in gold

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

There’s a Man up on a cross and He’s been crucified
Do you have any idea why or for who He died?

When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

 

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