29 October 2015

27 October 2015

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 3:7-22

Today we will review the letters Jesus sent to the last two churches. He only commended one church and only rebuked the other.

The church in Philadelphia was passionately devoted to the Lord Jesus. In the city of Philadelphia, the Christians were a minority and were persecuted for their beliefs. Yet they remained faithful to God.

Jesus only commended the church in Philadelphia; He did not rebuke it. He commended the church for its faithfulness through persecution. He called on them to hold fast, to persevere in His grace. He made four promises to His followers:

  1. Make them a pillar in God’s temple – a symbol of strength and security
  2. Write on them the name of God – a symbol of possession
  3. Write on them the name of the city of God – a symbol of a new permanent address with God
  4. Write on them a new name – another symbol of possession

Jesus called this church to view its identity and circumstances through Him. He asks the same of us today.

While Jesus only commended the church in Philadelphia, he only rebuked the church in Laodicea. Laodicea was a very wealthy city. But the Christians in this city had lukewarm hearts. Jesus reprimanded this church because of its complacency. This church left a bad taste in Jesus’ mouth and made Him vomit.

The people in the church in Laodicea felt competent and confident; Jesus said they were wretched and pitiful. The people felt secure in their wealth; Jesus said they were poor. They thought they were self-sufficient and didn’t need God. They were more satisfied with wealth and material possessions than with God. They ignored God and the needs of others.

In spite of these downfalls, Jesus still loved this church and wanted to correct it. Jesus urged them to recognize their spiritual poverty and “buy” the true gold of His Word, to trust completely in Him and His truth.

The church in Philadelphia came to the end of themselves and focused on Christ, but the church in Laodicea was full of themselves and focused on the wrong things. Jesus called both churches to look at themselves in the light of who He is and to align themselves only with Him and not the world.

Jesus calls us to stand for biblical truth rather than pursue comfortable lives.

Things to Think About

  • “God sovereignly and personally preserves His people in their suffering, even if they suffer to the point of death.”
  • Jesus does not delete the struggle, but He empowers the endurance.
  • Jesus calls us to view our identity and circumstances through Him.
  • “Self-satisfaction with a superficial life reveals spiritual poverty.”
  • In which areas of life am I complacent or spiritually empty? Where am I being lukewarm?
  • Is my comfort resting in earthly possessions and situations or in Jesus?
  • We studied seven different churches. Which church most resembles my life? What adjustments will I ask God to make in my life so I more closely align with His standards?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.” Revelation 3:11-12 NIV

23 October 2015

22 October 2015

21 October 2015

15-month doctor's appointment

It's hard to believe yesterday was time for another well-check visit with the doctor! Here are Damon's current stats:

Weight – 23 pounds, 4 ounces (50th percentile)
Length – 29.75 inches (25th percentile)
Head – 18.25 inches (25th percentile)

The doctor said Damon can start taking vitamins now to help him on the days he doesn't eat as well as he should.

We discussed a few minor skin issues – a light rash that came up just last night, the beginnings of a cough, and what we think was a case of roseola last week. The doctor thinks the skin rash might be eczema. And we'll need to keep an eye on Damon's cough to be sure it doesn't turn into a chronic one like he suffered last winter. The good news is that Damon doesn't seem to be bothered by any of these minor ailments. He hasn't slowed down at all (except during the roseola...that one knocked him out for a few days)!

Damon got two vaccines and the flu shot. He's all done with vaccines until he starts kindergarten!

The next appointment is at 18 months.

20 October 2015

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 2:12-3:6

Let’s talk about the letters Jesus sent to the next three churches – Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis.

In the letter to the church in Pergamum, Jesus described Himself as coming with a sharp, double-edged sword. The sword represents the Word of God. He was telling the church in Pergamum to be more concerned with Jesus’ sword than with the Romans’ swords.

Jesus commended the church in Pergamum for being faithful. But it also was compromising in the areas of sexual immorality and eating foods sacrificed to idols. Jesus commands the church to repent from these false teaching.

Jesus commended the church in Thyatira for its good service, but He said it also tolerated evil in the prophet Jezebel. The Jezebel mentioned in Revelation was used to point to the Old Testament prophetess who encouraged people to worship false idols. The mention in Revelation points to an evil person in Thyatira.

Jesus promised that the Jezebel in Thyatira as well as all of those who followed her false teaching would be punished with a bed of suffering. Jesus told this church to hold on to the truth they knew. We must not mix our Christian values with the world’s values (tolerate or compromise), and we must not discriminate against those in the world. We must share the truth of the Gospel with them. Christians must hold tightly to the basics of the Christian faith and avoid any new teachings that take us away from God’s Word and the fellowship of believers.

The church in Sardis had a good reputation, but Jesus knew it was dead on the inside. This church was complacent and spiritually dead. Jesus commanded this church to wake up and remember what He called them to do.

Jesus called these three churches to repent. Repentance involves a conviction of sin, a contrition for sin (a sorrow or repulsiveness for sin), and a conversion from sin (turning away from sin and back to God).

Things to Think About

  • Is there an area where I’m compromising with the world to avoid suffering or to achieve success?
  • Is anyone influencing me to rationalize behavior that God’s Word forbids?
  • When we are spiritually tired, we must persevere and not let Satan take control of us.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” Revelation 3:5 NIV

15 October 2015

13 October 2015

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 2:1-11

For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about the seven churches at the beginning of Revelation. Jesus gave specific messages to each church, and many of these messages have applications for us today!

First, what is the Church? The Church is God’s redeemed people. There are two facets to the Church – the Church Invisible and the Church Visible. The Church Invisible is all of God’s redeemed people – past, present, and future. The Church Visible is all of the people we see in local churches on earth right now. Not all members of the Church Visible are members of the Church Invisible. But all members of the Church Invisible should be a part of the Church Visible by participating in a local church.

The Church’s responsibilities are to spread the Gospel, to make disciples in all nations, to love God and people, and to live as Jesus lived. All members of the Church Invisible are called to listen carefully to God’s Word and Spirit.

Now let’s talk about the first two churches Jesus addressed. The church in Ephesus was a large, booming church. This church worked hard and persevered. This church recognized false teachers because its members knew God’s Word.

But this church had forsaken its first love – its love for God. Jesus told the church to remember how far they fell from their first love, repent, and go back to what they used to do. If you have fallen away from loving God, remember His love for you, repent of your sin, and go back to what you did when you first started loving God.

The church in Smyrna was located about 25 miles away from Ephesus. Jesus promised a limited suffering for this church. He also promised to be with them as they walked through the suffering. He told this church not to fear people who can kill their physical bodies because these people cannot kill their spiritual souls. He also promised the victor’s crown and eternal life to this church.

Today Jesus also calls believers to remain faithful through suffering and persecution. God uses suffering to purify His Church and to lead the Church to victory. Suffering will come. Ask God to enable you not to be afraid for the suffering that is to come. But when the suffering does come, stand firm, remain faithful, and don’t fear those who can kill the body.

Things to Think About

  • If you are a believer, are you actively involved in a local church?
  • How carefully do I listen to God’s Word as I read it?
  • What is distracting me from hearing God’s Word?
  • Do I know God’s Word well enough that I can discern false teachers?

This Week’s Memory Verse
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7 NIV

12 October 2015

The Pioneer Woman's Skillet Cookie Sundae

I was tasked with bringing dessert to a family gathering yesterday. I really wanted to have a new and different sweet dish, so I checked out The Pioneer Woman's recipe box for some ideas. When I saw this recipe, I remembered watching her make this on her TV show. It looked delicious! I knew I had to try it. And I already had all of the ingredients. No trip to the grocery store with two kids in tow – bonus!

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Ice cream, such as vanilla, strawberry, mint chocolate chip or chocolate, for serving
Ice cream sundae toppings, such as hot fudge, canned whipped cream or maraschino cherries, for serving

Preparation instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing after each one. Stir in the milk and semisweet chocolate chips. Spread the mixture into a 10-inch skillet and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, top the cookie with several scoops of your favorite ice cream, drizzle on some hot fudge and top with whipped cream and a cherry.

I made this the day before we ate it, but I think it would be better straight from the oven. I guess it went over pretty well with the family since several people asked for this recipe!

08 October 2015

06 October 2015

BSF 2015-2016: Revelation 1

Finally, we get to jump feet first into Revelation! In chapter 1, we see the beginning of John’s vision from God.

God gave this revelation to John through an angel. God explained that the purpose of His vision, and thus the book of Revelation, is that its readers would know what would soon take place and that they would be blessed for reading and applying the truth in the book. Blessings come from reading, hearing, and applying God’s Word to our daily lives.

The message of the prophecy is found in verse 7 – Jesus will come in the clouds. Because we know Jesus will return to take us home to heaven, we don’t need to fear today. Our future is secure in God.

In verse 9, John describes when and where he was when he received the vision. John was exiled on the island of Patmos because he shared the Gospel. John received this vision from God on the Sabbath Day. He would have been praying, worshipping, and thinking about God. He would have been in a position of being ready to hear from God. John heard a voice like a trumpet behind him. He turned around and saw Jesus as the glorified Messiah. John immediately fell to his face in worship.

The first part of John’s vision is seven golden lampstands, which represent the seven churches.  Jesus was standing among the lampstands holding seven stars that represent the church leaders. This shows that Jesus is with His church and knows exactly what is happening to it. He held the church and its leaders in His hands. He also holds us in His hands!

Things to Think About

  • When considering the end times, we must be anchored in biblical truth not our own opinions and conjecture.
  • Do I read God’s Word? Do I listen to God’s Word? Do I apply God’s Word?
  • Is the return of Christ good news for you? Are you ready and watching for Jesus’ return? Are you living in obedience to God as you wait for Jesus’ return?
  • How often do we put ourselves in a position of being ready to hear from God?
  • I cannot slip through a crack or be overlooked because God knows me and sees me.

This Week’s Memory Verse
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Revelation 1:7 NIV

01 October 2015