07-16-17 Let Them Hear: Sardis

Today was our first day of this year’s Vacation Bible School, and everyone seems to be holding up okay.  Well, Kristi’s cold is leaving her ears plugged up and her throat raspy, so she’s fielding her share of “deaf-mute” issues today (and, for that matter, the silly voice that I’m doing in the Finale each day kinda leaves my own throat a little sore), but other than that, we’re doing okay so far.

Please do continue to be praying for our VBS.  It’s more than just a silly, week-long camp, or three hours of free babysitting each day for people -- it’s an outreach and a genuine ministry to these children.  For some of them, this is the only time they’ll ever set foot inside of a church building in their childhood years -- possibly even in their whole lives -- so we want to take this very seriously and do all that we can to help the Lord to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their families.

You could pray specifically for our outreach at Thursday’s Finale, where we’ll try to share the Gospel with the kids in a meaningful way.  Each year, several children prayerfully and thoughtfully make a decision to sincerely open their hearts to the Lord, and we want to do everything that we can to facilitate that decision, to make sure that it’s an intelligent and genuine decision, and then to follow up on that decision in heartfelt and helpful ways.

And then you could pray for our outreach to their families on Friday evening, when we have our annual Ice Cream Social.  That may not sound like a particularly spiritual event, but that’s the point where we are able to most consciously and most directly connect with the children’s extended families as a church, and we want to do that as carefully and effectively as we possibly can.  If you can join us, the event begins at 7:00 with me doing an utterly ridiculous accent, followed by some quality fellowship time.

In our message this week, we continued our trek through Asia Minor, as Jesus continued His mini-letters to the seven churches in what is now western Turkey -- this time, looking at the church in Sardis.

The city itself was fantastically wealthy, and it used to be something of a military and economic superpower.  Used to be.  It had been conquered so many times that it was a bit of a joke by the time that the Revelation was written -- a “has-been” city.  Even its grand temple of Artemis, funded in part by the famously rich King Croesus, never did get around to being finished, and was as famous in the ancient world for that as Gilbert Stuart’s unfinished painting of George Washington is in our own.

Jesus said that the church there mirrored the decaying city -- that it had a reputation for being alive, but it was really spiritually dead inside.  It might have looked solid, looked impressive on the outside, but its inner, spiritual heart was as incomplete as Artemis’ temple.  That’s not the way that we want to be as Christians today.

We don’t want to be well-seen by our fellow man but poorly judged by our God.  We don’t want to be like fig trees that don’t bear figs, and so are in danger of withering under Christ’s own curse.  We don’t want to be shiny on the outside, but hollow on the inside.  Too many churches, too many Christians, would fall under those descriptions... and that’s a tragedy.

But to those who would overcome, Jesus promised an eternity of purity with God, a citizenship in Heaven which no one could ever take away from us.  He promised kinship and love and a healthy, Godly pride that this world and all of its outer finery could never even begin to emulate.  The treasures which our sincere hearts build up in Heaven are far more than even Croesus could ever imagine.

So stop and think about your heart, your church today.  Are you alive and vibrant and bearing fruit?  Are you actively working to find out what pleases your Lord, the Creator who sculpted you?  If so, then praise God and keep up the good work!  If not, then wake up and make developing that relationship with your spiritual root system the priority that it needs to be...