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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Gracious God,

thank you for the smell of pencil shavings,

the elegance of a good fountain pen,

and the click-clack of ancient typewriter keys…

for the intoxication of creative juices,

the sweetness of a well-turned phrase…

for the creak of the office chair,

and the surprise of a catch in the throat

and the salty track of a tear on the cheek…

for the hum of a computer,

for the thrum of a printer,

for the agony of the blank page,

the ecstasy of the last line,

the terror of hitting “send”

and the fragrance of fresh ink on crisp new pages.

Thank you, Lord, for these gifts and graces,

and for the many others I am too dull to sense,

in Jesus’ name, amen.

Bob Hostetler is the author of fifty books, including The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, and Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (coauthored with Josh McDowell). He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award. He is the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have two grown children, Aubrey and Aaron, and five grandchildren. You can find out more on his website: http://www.bobhostetler.com.

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The handmade collection of misshapen guitars, ukuleles, and banjos  made me wonder. Is the museum desperate for displays?

About half of the instruments hanging on the walls were painted barn-red. Others had obviously been pieced together from two or three different types of wood. But the story of the man who crafted them changed my whole perspective.

In the 1960s Arkansas farmer Ed Stilley had difficulty supporting his wife and five children. One day, while plowing his field behind a donkey, he thought he was having a heart attack. Lying on the ground with no one around to hear his cries for help, he prayed and received a vision of God telling him to make guitars and give them to children. If he did, God promised to take care of him and his family.

So Ed did what God told him to do. He didn’t make excuses for his lack of musical training, nor did he wait until he could afford the “right” materials. Instead, he scrounged for wood and other scraps, using what he had on hand. He built instruments out of old door hinges, Masonite siding, circular saws, marbles, and even an aluminum pot.

He wasn’t embarrassed by the amateurish look of his instruments. He simply did what God told him to do. It’s believed nearly every child in the county received a guitar, each inscribed with this message: “True Faith. True Light. Have faith in God.”

Ed Stilley’s obedience inspires me to do what God tells me to do. No excuses for my lack of ability or training. No waiting for inspiration to strike with the right message. No hiding my work because it’s not professional.

Lord, make me an instrument…that plays the melody You’ve chosen for me.

 Mary L. Hamilton is the author of four novels, including one adult mystery. Her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for middle-grade readers was inspired by the years she lived at a camp growing up. Besides writing, she enjoys photography and traveling with her husband.

 

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Almost everyone has a favorite color. Mine is yellow. I love the yellow sun, yellow buttercups, and yellow sweet corn.

But I also like blue. I love going to the beach to see the vast blue sky and various shades of blue in the ocean.

I’m not sure why those colors appeal to me—they just do.

What amazes me is that God is the only One who could think of all the different colors.

What is even more amazing is they have been in existence since the beginning of time. The sun is yellow, the grass is green, and the sky is blue. It’s always been that way and it will always be that way.

I smile when I think how God put orange feet on a duck. And I wonder what He was thinking when He chose brilliant splashes of red, yellow, and blue for the feathers on a macaw.

And what about patterns? Orange and black tiger strips, spotted leopards, and the unique geometric pattern on a tall giraffe—how did He come up with those ideas?

Our human minds will never grasp the magnitude of God’s creative and artistic abilities. The beauty of a rainbow, the majesty of a sunset, and the splendor of a crimson rose reveal God’s greatness. They were created for our pleasure and for His glory. We don’t have to explain it—we just need to enjoy it!

“Lord You are the one who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in the world” (Acts 4:24 ICB).

Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children. A speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), she teaches at several writers’ conferences throughout the U.S. She’s a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music.

 

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Do you ever wish for more time in the day? God can do that––extend your time. He did do it. The Bible says so.

“The sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies” (Joshua 10:13 NIV). God still does miracles today. Maybe the sun won’t stand still, but we can find more time to shine. He can do a miracle in our life so that He shines through us, letting others see His miracles in us.

How to make that happen:

Realize. What is our spirituality?

It is God in us—serving each other and the world. How many miracles do we miss because we don’t believe the Lord? Worse yet, we don’t always realize the miracles God performs for us because we aren’t aware of Him in every aspect of our life. Joshua believed God to defeat the enemy. He realized God existed. We can start the day defeated before our feet hit the floor, or we can rise and shine––and realize His existence and power daily.

Reflect. Whom do we reflect?

So many verses talk about God’s face shining on us. The Psalmist says, “Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees” (Psalm 119:135 NIV). He wanted to be close to God and learn about Him. When we spend time in the Word, we learn of God’s teachings––His decrees. Applying those teachings changes our life. It’s then we reflect His shining face and others see Christ in us. When I apply moisturizer in the morning, my face shines. But as the day progresses, it loses its shine. Applying more moisturizer brings back the shine.

Rest. Rest assured, if we keep reading and applying God’s Word, our lives will shine continuously.

Apply God’s moisturizer all day (His Word) and let Him shine!

Peggy Cunningham and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a prolific writer. Books one and two of her children’s series, Hooray for Holidays, recently released. Her devotional for adults is Dancing Like Bees. For more visit http://www.peggycunningham.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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