One summer I visited sites of the seven churches of Revelation (Rev. 1–3). A congregation at each of these sites received a message from Jesus Christ. And while two thousand years separate us, their messages from Christ are still relevant.

Ephesus: The Ephesians lost their first love. Think about this. Nobody has to tell a fiancée to avoid flirting. Her actions reveal her loyalty. Do your works give evidence of your love?

Smyrna:  Many think “Smyrna” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “myrrh.” To make myrrh, one must crush a fragrant plant. In suffering, are you giving off a fragrant aroma to God?

Pergamum: Pergamum’s people worshiped at the temples of false gods. Yet sadly it was the words of their own teachers that pulled down the Christians. Are you discerning what is true?

Thyatira: Many experts think heretics encouraged Christian business owners here to join trade guilds that brought profits but involved immoralities. Are you compromising vs. enduring consequences for doing right?

Sardis: Smug citizens of Sardis felt nothing could reach them as they sat atop a 1,500-foot cliff. Yet Sardis fell to Cyrus after a soldier openly accessed a secret passageway. In what ways are you complacent about your strengths?

Philadelphia: Philadelphia had a long history of earthquakes. When the shaking stopped, only pillars were left standing. To people with little strength in Philadelphia, Jesus promised, “I will make you pillars.” Are you feeling weak in the faith? Ask God to help you endure to the end.

Laodicea: Water traveled six miles through an aqueduct to reach Laodicea. Mountain water arrived at “room-temperature” and steaming water from hot springs arrived lukewarm (see photo). Christ warned those in Laodicea against the “lukewarm” temperature of ho-hum faith. In what areas of your spiritual life are you passionless?

We need the same warnings as did our first-century brothers and sisters. And we also receive the same promises. Though poor, we can be rich. And we can dwell as pillars in the city of our God.

Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. She’s the author or co-author of more than twenty books including the Coffee Cup series. Learn more about the Book of Revelation by using her study Sumatra with the Seven Churches.

 

 

 

 

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The Bible’s Faith Hall of Fame is full of people with unimpressive resumes. God seems to specialize in using unlikely people to accomplish His will. Often, in fact, the least likely people demonstrate even greater faith than those who’ve witnessed God’s biggest miracles.

Rahab was a female Canaanite (Israel’s mortal enemy) with a disreputable occupation. She lived in Jericho, the first city slated for annihilation as Israel came to conquer the land. Jericho was an evil place. Yet spies who’d seen miracles listened as Rahab was the one giving the testimony about what their God had done—starting with a story about the Red Sea parting forty years earlier.

A priest (Zechariah) who knew of Sarah and Abraham’s conception in their old age still couldn’t believe God would allow his own elderly wife to conceive; yet a young teen who had never even heard of such a thing as a virgin birth said to the angel, “Let it be to me as you say” (Luke 1:38).

The Book of Esther is about a Jewish orphan girl who, with God’s help, outsmarted the racist advisors of a misogynistic king, thus saving an entire nation from genocide.

Abraham was a liar and Moses, a murderer. David abused his power with a woman and had her husband killed when he learned she had conceived. Zaccheus ripped off people as a tax-collector.

But all these people experienced the transforming power of God.

Some were powerless; some abused their power. We find both kinds on God’s varied list of lives transformed. Indeed, no matter what kind of people we are—maybe a bit of both—God can change us and use us. So let us come to him with palms open and say with the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I! Send me!”

Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. In her new book, Vindicating the Vixens:Revisiting the Sexualized, Vilified, Marginalized Women of the Bible (Kregel Academic), sixteen male and female scholars help readers see God’s heart for the marginalized. Dr. Glahn blogs for bible.org and at aspire2.com.

 

 

 

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