GNB 2.101

May 2, 2023


After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”(Revelation 4.1)


Following the pattern suggested yesterday as we take in summary form the words given to the seven churches in Asia Minor, I highlighted what would have been seven “cold” words. They would be “cold” only in that they represent the hardening of the heart of the believer against doing what is right, good and appropriate to completing the will of God on earth. In modern terms, “cold” would indicate harsh, critical and judgmental. I suppose that definition would work, too, because Jesus was calling each church and the churches as a whole into accountability. The “cold” words represented the negative aspects. The “hot” words would then represent the positive aspects. They would be the reflections of what each community of faith was doing that promoted faithfulness, righteousness and a holding fast “to their first love.” Today, I want to highlight those seven words so that the paradigm for “what comes next” may be better understood. I think today, we fall a bit short in our understanding of hot and lukewarm. In comparison to the “cold we want to avoid” lukewarm may seem hot but it is not. And for many, spiritually speaking, cold is more embraced than even lukewarm because of that false understanding. Those who study the brain and the psyche point out that humans have a penchant for focusing on the negative. Such a focus projects judgmentalism to the point of violence. Honestly, how many of us yell at the television news broadcast because there is so much attention given to the “bad” news? But, it sells! Misery loves company. God is not a fan of misery but He certainly desires our company. So, let’s focus more on what was good in those communities and set them as benchmarks for our own behaviors.

What is “hot” or acceptable in each community:

Ephesus: “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people. You have tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not, and have found them to be false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary.”

Smyrna: “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!” Sometimes it is true that our greatest weakness may actually be our greatest strength. While those in Sardis may have focused on their strife and poverty forgetting they are rich in faith; they are indeed rich by faith and made strong by their belief in Jesus as the Christ. Defining themselves by the terms of the world, which was happening by their enemies who spoke against them, would be turned around if they remembered to define themselves by the terms of the Kingdom.

Pergamum: “You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.” When the going got tough, the tough didn’t go anywhere. They made their stand.

Thyatira: “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” The parable of the pounds/talents would fit nicely here as those in this community took what was given to them and invested it for the purpose of allowing God to increase it even more so that more could be done.

Sardis: “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.” Jesus wasn’t speaking of their literal robes and cloaks. Rather, he was talking about their “spiritual armor” which protected their heart, mind, soul and spirit. They did not surrender their will nor their conscience.

Philadelphia: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Hard work, good work, has its own rewards. Those in Philadelphia refused to lose the victory that had been won for them in Jesus Christ.

Laodicea: So, is there a positive word about anything happening in Laodicea? If there is it would be “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” The positive is that Christ has not given up on them. He still affords them the opportunity to choose the right direction for their lives. Jesus is the positive influence and affluence which makes living in this world palatable. Choosing Him means choosing authentic, valued, worthy and eternal life.

Mighty ones of God, do we find these “hot” and “positive” attributes among us? Are we investing in them and building them up in ourselves and in one another? Are we working together to maintain the positive focus in desperate times? Are we preparing to rise up as with wings of an eagle, to run and not grow faith, to walk and not grow weary? Jesus never promised life in this world would be easy. Jesus said it would be challenging because we choose to believe in Him and follow Him all the days of our lives. But, He did promise benefits, rewards and securities to those who would maintain their first love and accept Him who stands at every door and knocks. Some in this world and all in the world yet to come: the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.

Before we move on to “what comes next,” let’s make sure we know those benefits He has made available to us. That will be tomorrow’s reflection. Until then, shalom.


You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us and clothe us with what is fitting and good that Your will be done and our will be Your will done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.

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