The Church in Laodicea

Laodicea 1201

Pipes from the ruins at Laodicea.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage is a good example of why we cannot force our modern usage of words onto the Bible. When we say someone is hot or cold about something today, we mean they are either passionate or disinterested. Is that what Jesus means when he tells this church that he wishes they were hot or cold rather than lukewarm? Is he saying he wishes they were either for him or against him rather than riding the fence? Does that not seem odd?

To better understand what Jesus means we need to understand the historical background. Nearby Hierapolis had hot springs while nearby Colosse was known for its cold pure water. What did Laodicea have? It was infamous for the lukewarm water that was piped in via an aqueduct built by the Romans. The hot springs were desirable for bathing. The cold water was great for drinking. And the lukewarm water was good for nothing!

Jesus’ statement about being cold or hot is about being useful for something. Lukewarm water is undesirable and useless. May we never be found useless to our Lord. Let us serve him and have a deep fellowship with him as we await his return.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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The Church in Philadelphia

Revelation 310 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:7–13 (ESV)

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, Jesus speaks to the church in Philadelphia. This church and the church in Smyrna are the only two of the seven addressed that are not rebuked by Jesus. Instead, they are encouraged to continue on in the face of opposition. The church in Philadelphia may have “little power”, but Jesus is the one who holds the key of David and has opened the door for them. He is the authority and no one can shut what he has opened!

Christians today can be encouraged by these words. Our Lord reigns and is the final authority in heaven and on earth. We can serve him, even in a hostile world, knowing that we belong to him and that all that he has promised will be realized. What a wonderful day that will be! Until then, let us stand strong in the truth of God’s word.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Sardis

Sardis 6613

Gymnasium at Sardis.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Have you ever heard that saying? Well, you can’t judge a church by its reputation. Often times, what one thinks about a church can be deceiving.

For instance, a church that is growing quickly, or one that has a new building, or another that has a well-known pastor may have a reputation for being the best church around. However, this may not be the case. False teaching or failing to put into practice what the Bible says can be the reality even in a church that looks on the surface to be wonderful.

Here, we are warned that Jesus knows the true condition of our churches and he will judge. May we seek the Lord and his will in all we do. And when we get caught up in doing our will instead of his, may we repent and return to him.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Church in Thyatira

Broken Column and Inscribed Stone, Thyatira

Ruins of ancient Thyatira (modern Akhisar, Turkey).

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:18–29 (ESV)

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

False teaching is a big deal. Churches that do not address it and allow it to spread are warned that Christ is watching with eyes like a flame of fire. In this passage, we are told that the false teaching resulted in eating meat sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.

Unfortunately, many churches today soften their teaching on sin because they believe it helps them to reach the unsaved world around them. This simply is not the case. In reality, all it does is condone the very things the Bible says that we need to be saved from. It trivializes the things that Christ died to save us from.

Jesus will one day return in judgment and he is the one who searched “mind and heart”. He will be concerned not only with our sincerity, but also with truth. May we take the word of God seriously and may we communicate that word to ourselves and to a lost world perishing due to sin.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Revelation 2:12-17

I am not writing devotional content during Thanksgiving weekend, but I have included the daily reading below. Daily devotional content will return on Monday, November 27.

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:12–17

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’”

Revelation 2:8-11

I am not adding devotional content during the Thanksgiving weekend, but here is the daily reading for Saturday, November 25:

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:8-11:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’”

Thank you for reading. Devotional content will return on Monday, November 27.

Revelation 2:1-7

I will not be posting daily devotionals until Monday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Below is the daily reading.

Reading the Word

Revelation 2:1–7 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

Revelation 1:9-20

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Due to the holiday weekend, I will not be posting daily devotionals. I will include the readings for each day. Daily devotionals will return on Monday, November 27.

Reading the Word

Revelation 1:9–20 

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Jesus Is Coming Again

Clouds background

Reading the Word

Revelation 1:4–8 (ESV)

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Understanding the Word

John writes his letter to the seven churches in Asia, which we will learn more about shortly. He greets them with a Trinitarian formula making mention of the Father (the one who is and was and is to come), the Spirit (the seven spirits who are before his throne), and the Son (Jesus Christ the faithful witness).

John tells us that Jesus, who saves from sin, is going to return and all people will see him.

Applying the Word

Jesus is coming again! How should that make us feel? For some it should be an encouragement. It means that serving Christ is not in vain. Some days the difficulty of being a follower of Jesus can wear a person down, but do not give up. Jesus is coming again soon and you will see him!

For others, the thought of Jesus coming again serves as a warning. What are you spending your time and resources on? Will you be ashamed or embarrassed when he returns? You too will see him.

Let us prepare for the Lord’s return by submitting ourselves to his will today.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Revelation

Reading the Word

Revelation 1:1–3 (ESV)

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Understanding the Word

As an introduction to the Book of Revelation, we are told that John has received revelation from Jesus Christ through an angelic messenger. This is the only book in the New Testament that promises a blessing on the one who reads it, receives it, and obeys it.

Applying the Word

The Book of Revelation is often met in one of two ways: great eagerness or great timidity. Many are eager because they want to look into the future. So why are some reluctant?

I believe many are reluctant because the book is not an easy one to fully grasp. One only needs to look at the many divergent interpretations of the book through the years to see that this is true. However, if this is the only book that has the promise of blessing for those who would read it and apply it, we must understand that we are encouraged to work at it. We should not run from it, but we should seek to come to an understanding so that we may find comfort and so that we may testify to the truth we find. May God grant us understanding as we read this book in the days ahead.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!