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April 16, 2018

April 16

Devotion

There are varying interpretations, regarding the intent of the letters written to the churches in Revelation chapter 3. Some insist that the letters were written to specific local churches in response to a specific issue that existed in that particular church. Others see the letters as representing various phases that the church will go through as we move through what they call “the church age.” Another group of scholars perceive the letters to be written to a specific local congregation of the first century and addressing specific issues in that local church, but with the understanding that Scripture transcends time in its application, so that the issues addressed in the churches of the first century are issues we still struggle with today. In some cases, the struggle is localized to individual churches, but in some instances, the struggle affects the church universal.

Regardless of whether you fall into one of these three broad categories or not, the indictments revealed in  Revelation chapter 3 should not only cause us to examine our current situation as the church and as individual believers, but it should also prompt us to a hasty and heartfelt response. After all, at the conclusion of each letter, our Lord specifically says “let him who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches,” and the implication of that statement is not simply to receive and understand information, but to respond obediently and submissively. We also, must not ignore the fact that the letter is written to the church, and not simply individual believers, which means that the solution is not simply in the response of individual believers, but in the response of the entire church.

As you read each of the letters provided in Revelation chapter 3, I encourage you to reflect on our church as a whole, and your life individual, and together, let us respond in the attitude and posture of repentance, so that our Lord would pour out his blessings on Selma, and not his discipline.


Leviticus 25 (CSB)

1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you, the land will observe a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 You may sow your field for six years, and you may prune your vineyard and gather its produce for six years. 4 But there will be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land in the seventh year, a Sabbath to the Lord: you are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You are not to reap what grows by itself from your crop, or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. It is to be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 Whatever the land produces during the Sabbath year can be food for you—for yourself, your male or female slave, and the hired worker or alien who resides with you. 7 All of its growth may serve as food for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. 8 “You are to count seven sabbatical years, seven times seven years, so that the time period of the seven sabbatical years amounts to forty-nine. 9 Then you are to sound a trumpet loudly in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month; you will sound it throughout your land on the Day of Atonement. 10 You are to consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom in the land for all its inhabitants. It will be your Jubilee, when each of you is to return to his property and each of you to his clan. 11 The fiftieth year will be your Jubilee; you are not to sow, reap what grows by itself, or harvest its untended vines. 12 It is to be holy to you because it is the Jubilee; you may only eat its produce directly from the field. 13 “In this Year of Jubilee, each of you will return to his property. 14 If you make a sale to your neighbor or a purchase from him, do not cheat one another. 15 You are to make the purchase from your neighbor based on the number of years since the last Jubilee. He is to sell to you based on the number of remaining harvest years. 16 You are to increase its price in proportion to a greater amount of years, and decrease its price in proportion to a lesser amount of years, because what he is selling to you is a number of harvests. 17 You are not to cheat one another, but fear your God, for I am the Lord your God. 18 “You are to keep my statutes and ordinances and carefully observe them, so that you may live securely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, so that you can eat, be satisfied, and live securely in the land. 20 If you wonder: ‘What will we eat in the seventh year if we don’t sow or gather our produce?’ 21 I will appoint my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating from the previous harvest. You will be eating this until the ninth year when its harvest comes in. 23 “The land is not to be permanently sold because it is mine, and you are only aliens and temporary residents on my land. 24 You are to allow the redemption of any land you occupy. 25 If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no family redeemer, but he prospers and obtains enough to redeem his land, 27 he may calculate the years since its sale, repay the balance to the man he sold it to, and return to his property. 28 But if he cannot obtain enough to repay him, what he sold will remain in the possession of its purchaser until the Year of Jubilee. It is to be released at the Jubilee, so that he may return to his property. 29 “If a man sells a residence in a walled city, his right of redemption will last until a year has passed after its sale; his right of redemption will last a year. 30 If it is not redeemed by the end of a full year, then the house in the walled city is permanently transferred to its purchaser throughout his generations. It is not to be released on the Jubilee. 31 But houses in settlements that have no walls around them are to be classified as open fields. The right to redeem such houses stays in effect, and they are to be released at the Jubilee. 32 “Concerning the Levitical cities, the Levites always have the right to redeem houses in the cities they possess. 33 Whatever property one of the Levites can redeem—a house sold in a city they possess—is to be released at the Jubilee, because the houses in the Levitical cities are their possession among the Israelites. 34 The open pastureland around their cities may not be sold, for it is their permanent possession. 35 “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. 36 Do not profit or take interest from him, but fear your God and let your brother live among you. 37 You are not to lend him your silver with interest or sell him your food for profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. 39 “If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor. 40 Let him stay with you as a hired worker or temporary resident; he may work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children are to be released from you, and he may return to his clan and his ancestral property. 42 They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are my servants that I brought out of the land of Egypt. 43 You are not to rule over them harshly but fear your God. 44 Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase male and female slaves. 45 You may also purchase them from the aliens residing with you, or from their families living among you—those born in your land. These may become your property. 46 You may leave them to your sons after you to inherit as property; you can make them slaves for life. But concerning your brothers, the Israelites, you must not rule over one another harshly. 47 “If an alien or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the alien living among you, or to a member of the resident alien’s clan, 48 he has the right of redemption after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him. 49 His uncle or cousin may redeem him, or any of his close relatives from his clan may redeem him. If he prospers, he may redeem himself. 50 The one who purchased him is to calculate the time from the year he sold himself to him until the Year of Jubilee. The price of his sale will be determined by the number of years. It will be set for him like the daily wages of a hired worker. 51 If many years are still left, he must pay his redemption price in proportion to them based on his purchase price. 52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, he will calculate and pay the price of his redemption in proportion to his remaining years. 53 He will stay with him like a man hired year by year. A resident alien is not to rule over him harshly in your sight. 54 If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children are to be released at the Year of Jubilee. 55 For the Israelites are my servants. They are my servants that I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.


Revelation 3 (CSB)

1 “Write to the angel of the church in Sardis: Thus says the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. 2 Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before my God. 3 Remember, then, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come upon you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy. 5 “In the same way, the one who conquers will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. 7 “Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia: Thus says the Holy One, the true one, the one who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and who closes and no one opens: 8 I know your works. Look, I have placed before you an open door that no one can close because you have but little power; yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Note this: I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown. 12 “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. 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 out of heaven from my God—and my new name. 13 “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. 14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 See! 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 “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”