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Devotionals

The Church in Sardis (Part 2)

For the past few weeks I have been getting the gardener who worked for me on Saturdays for more than 20 years to help me do the gardens and lawns. I trained him, I know him and I trust him. I don’t need to look over his shoulder. I don’t need to check the work he does. Today I worked with him. If I have the time I love gardening. I cut back the Lavender Bush and found a few branches that were dead. I cut them out leaving a gap that hopefully will be covered up as the bush grows. I cut back a few other bushes too. My gardener, who was working elsewhere and came past where I was working and said: “That looks very nice.” Did I pass the test? What happens if he was not happy with my work? Well that’s a little humor … but my point is he knew my work (deeds) and I trust him because I know his work (deeds). Often in the home or the pace of employment, be it family, friends, colleagues or employers, people do not know what each other is doing. Even the head of the home and business don’t know the deeds of those they are responsible for … yet …

2) The One who sends the Holy Spirit and holds the Seven Churches in His hands says

Rev 3:1 I know your deeds. The Lord Jesus is referring to His Omniscience.

This refers to what God knows from the past, present and future. Very encouraging on the one hand and extremely scary on the other. The encouraging part is that God knows all our needs. The scary part is that He knows all our deeds. The phrase normally means there is understanding and approval of ones deeds, but here it means disapproval. The pastor must have had an “electrical shock treatment” as he read this and then he needed to relate this to the congregation. Jesus says … I know your deeds. The pastor was not stupid … ignorant about spiritual things, yes … but not stupid. He knew he as a pastor and they as a Church were not anywhere near what they ought to have been. Why? Because …

(1) They were clever deceivers.

Rev 3:1 you have a reputation of being alive. They were such deceivers they deceived themselves!

It’s like the person who tells lies … eventually they believe their lies themselves! They acted church and people saw them thinking they were a real church … and they believed that themselves. As they deceived others they deceived themselves. Very sadly this is where many churches are. People pass by and people visit for funerals and weddings thinking that because there is a building, because there is a pastor and because there is a congregation … this is a real church. The pastor might think it and the people might think it, but they are wrong. The greatest mistake is not understanding what “being alive” is. In Genesis 2 God explains how He created man. The difference between the animal and human kingdom is found in

Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man.

Spiritual life separated the human race from animals because spiritual life meant that man could have a relationship with God. He could communion with God through prayer. He could love God through obedience. He could follow God’s Words. It was perfect, holy and intimate. The relationship was glorious because man was in union with the Glorious One. This pastor and his people thought they had this. Many pastors and their people think they have this.

(2) The deceivers thought they were alive … but they were dead!

Rev 3:1 but you are dead.

Spiritually they were dead! Read Genesis 3 … and see that through sin and rebelling against God, God removed spiritual life from the man and although human, he was spiritually dead.

Gen 3:23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

No longer could man pray. His union with God ceased. He was spiritually dead, lifeless … an enemy of God. The Omniscient Jesus who searches the hearts of man, has already analyzed this pastor and his flock. He decreed them to be spiritually dead, strangers to God … totally lost and in need of a Savior. This is the terrible reality with so many Churches across the planet. Pastors … yes. Congregations … yes. Buildings … yes. Activities … yes. Spirituality … no! Relationship with God … no! Born Again … no! People come into such a facility thinking it is a true Church of God and just become drawn into the deception. Yesterday we saw Jesus sending the Holy Spirit, yet this pastor and congregation strangers to the Holy Spirit. They had no spiritual life because they were distant to the life giving Spirit. Beloved this is the difference between a genuine flock of God and one that imitates. I am not suggesting that struggling Churches are spiritually dead … not at all. Many good Churches go through hardships. They struggle to draw people. They battle financially and a host of other things … but this does not mean they are not spiritual. Many Churches battle because they teach the Truth. Some communities do not want to be associated with Churches where the Bible is taught, sin exposed and the Gospel presented. Most people today want to be associated with a god in some way or the other, but not a god who dictates morality and ethics. But this does not mean a struggling Church, who is faithful to God is a Church that is spiritually dead! A spiritually dead Church is a Church where the Bible is not taught, the Gospel not preached and sin is not exposed. A spiritually dead Church is a Church that permits people to do as they please, live as they like, practice whatever sexuality they prefer and holds the doctrine of tolerance high. Anything goes as long as the Holy Spirit and True Bible teaching are kept out of the Church. I trust you are not in such a Church … and if you are not, it does not mean you can relax and be complacent.

Dear God, thank You for the many warnings You give in Your Word. Help me and help my pastor and congregation to be faithful, not letting our guard down, persevering in holiness and godly service. Amen.

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