Buoyed by the Stories of Faith

Bruce Menning

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (v. 7) I haven’t experienced the suffering of which Paul wrote. This suffering is not the stuff of natural disaster, war, illness, and loss, which are common to us all. The sufferings Paul has in mind are the afflictions that Christians endure because they are Christians: ostracism, discrimination, humiliation, persecution, imprisonment, and even …

Ears to Hear

David Bast

Read: Matthew 13:1-9 He who has ears, let him hear. (v. 9) Every letter in Revelation 2–3 concludes with this: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Jesus added something similar to his parable of the sower. It’s not enough simply to hear the Word of God; the Word must take root in our lives and produce lasting fruit. But doesn’t everyone with ears hear? I’ve noticed something as I have aged …

Faith is the Victory

David Bast

Read: Revelation 3:21-22; 12:10-17a [To] the one who conquers . . . as I also conquered. (v. 21) Seven times over in his letters to the churches the Lord makes promises to “the one who conquers.” These concluding promises are variations on a single theme: eternal life. But they are only for those who stay the course. “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). Not the one who drops out somewhere along the way. Heaven …

Laodicea: Knocking at the Door

David Bast

Read: Revelation 3:14-20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. (v. 20) If you remember any of the seven churches, you probably remember the one Jesus threatened to spit out of his mouth. “Laodicean” became a synonym for half-hearted Christians. The lukewarm temperature of the church probably referred as much to its spiritual usefulness as its spiritual ardor. You can use both kinds of water—cold for drinking and hot for washing. But lukewarm water is like salt that’s lost …

Pillars of the Church

David Bast

Read: Revelation 3:12-13 I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. (v. 12) The phrase “pillars of the church” calls up faces and voices out of my past—from the church I grew up in, from the churches I have served. It’s how we describe those members on whom every church depends—faithful Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, elders and deacons, servants of every kind; the people who are always there, first to volunteer, supportive of leaders, constant …

Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door

David Bast

Read: Revelation 3:7-11 Behold, I have set before you an open door. (v. 8) Of all the churches, this one seems to have been the Lord’s favorite. It’s the only church of which he has no words of either criticism or warning. The same formula (“I know your works”) that introduces Christ’s judgment on churches like Ephesus or Sardis is used in Philadelphia as a prelude to comfort. In human terms the Philadelphian church was small and weak. But it …