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Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2024 12:00 am


Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 9, 2024 12:00 am

A Christian who feels sorry on Sunday for what he did on Saturday but still plans to do it again on Monday is in grave danger! This is the attitude Stephen calls "flexitarianism," and in this message he challenges us to get rid of it. Access all of the lessons and resources in this series:



Christian is in grave danger who feels sorry on Sunday for what he did on Saturday, but he's planning to do it again on Monday.

You don't get points for being here. Sir, you may be planning to meet a woman later on this evening. You're not married to the Word to you is stop! Young lady, you've been asked out by a guy you know he doesn't belong to Jesus Christ and you've come up with a hundred reasons why you want to say yes, say no!

It's urgent! One of the problems in the church today is that people feel comfortable living in two worlds. Have you noticed this? They're perfectly content coming to church on Sunday, singing the songs, listening to the sermons while keeping a smile on their face, and they're also perfectly content pursuing their sin and living as if Christ doesn't matter the rest of the week. The Bible confronts that kind of thinking. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey addresses this issue head-on. Stephen calls this attitude flexitarianism. Stay with us for this important lesson.

Here's a story that describes the times we live in, came across the AP News Network a little more than a year ago. Even after five years, quoting, Christy Pugh has no trouble sticking to her vegetarian regime. The secret to her success? Eating some meat. She says, sometimes I feel like I'm a bad vegetarian, that I'm not strict enough or good enough. The 28 year old bookkeeper from Concord said in this article, I really like vegetarian food but I'm just not 100% committed. You see, I really like sausage.

The article went on to say that this growing number of people are now referred to as flexitarians, a term that was actually voted by the American Dialect Society the most useful word of the year. Molly Katzen, a cookbook author and founder of a mostly vegetarian restaurant, advocates vegetable-based diets but she said, I see room for flexibility. She said, I don't feel it's wrong if you have a great big plate of vegetables but your protein is from a healthy, happy chicken. How'd you know the chicken was happy?

That's my main question. Charles Stoller, co-director of the Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group, credits the growth of his movement to these flexitarians. Vegetarians who dabble in meat and meat eaters who seek out vegetarian meals. Stoller says, this is why Burger King now has a veggie burger. It's not because of true vegetarians, they wouldn't rush to Burger King anyway. Now note this, it's because of the millions of people in the middle.

They are the driving audience. So there you have it. A most useful word for dieting, flexitarians. Well, I want to coin a new word today for the church and I believe millions of people will find it helpful. Flexitarianism, that's a good word for a new denomination, don't you think? Flexitarianism should catch on well because that's the prevailing mood of the church. It fits the millions of people in the middle. You know, they're not 100% committed. They are the undecided.

They dabble in both worlds. So the church of the flexitarian denomination can be a place where everyone is comfortable with their lack of commitment. Listen to these advertisements from churches that I guess are trying to lure unsuspecting unbelievers to visit, certainly the uncommitted believer to be interested in attending. And here are some of them I have read. One said, there is no fire and brimstone here, no Bible thumping, just practical witty messages. One person advertised for his church saying, the sermons are relevant, upbeat, and best of all, short. Another speaks admiringly of his pastor. This one says, he preaches a salvation message, but the idea is not so much being saved from hell, but saved from meaninglessness. I think this is the prevailing mood of our culture. I watched one of the most popular preachers in our country recently sit through a television interview where he repeatedly dodged the implication that anyone who disbelieved in Christ would not go to heaven.

He and a growing host of leaders are amazing flexitarians. One author commented that for most preachers caught up in this, they would never say they are trying to compromise the gospel, but they do. For whenever the Word of God is decentralized, and the gospel is diluted, and the hard truths avoided, and the tough passages reworded, the truth of Scripture is compromised, whether they admit it or not. Have you gotten those advertisements in your mailbox from churches? They all say the same thing, don't they? They advertise, you can come dressed any way you want, coffee is great here, music's cool, our pastor's sermons are short, relevant, witty, above all, non-confrontational, or the word dynamic. Can you imagine having the President of the United States here today, and we advertise, and we are implying he will be our guest, and we know he's not your cup of tea, so if you come, we promise you coffee, and some music you like, and if he says anything, we'll try to keep it short, and witty, and dynamic. Can you imagine God visiting?

Is he so dull? Is his word so dull and uninteresting that we bait people with coffee, and wear what you want to wear, and everything's witty, and cool, and short? Would you want to visit if you were God? Can you imagine getting an advertisement for a church that read, come prepared to worship the true and living God? Come prepared to study the Scriptures and discover real, absolute truth. Come prepared to confess your sin and renew your walk of integrity. We are here to meet God as an assembly, and if you want to meet him too, come and join us. But you say, well churches are growing, and mass numbers of people are attending.

I would agree with George Peters who wrote this, numerical growth can be deceptive, and I think in America it is foremost in its deception. It may be no more, he writes, than the mushrooming of a social movement. It may be Christendom in the making, but not the church. People are drawn into the church resulting in a mass of people professing Christianity without any resemblance in lifestyle defined by the New Testament.

It came, he wrote, at the expense of the purity of the gospel, and true Christian living. The church has become infested with pagans in lifestyle, and undefined in theology. Large segments of the American church have become Christo-pagan. Pagan and Christian, flexitarian, and we attract everybody in the middle. This is the new denomination of our era, and it is the fastest growing one in this culture and country. It is a place led by men with nothing to challenge, and people with nothing that changes.

The truth is, flexitarianism is really not something new. If you travel back with me 2,000 years or so, and listen as a church is worn by Jesus Christ, they have become flexitarians. And the Lord is writing them a personal letter, he is warning them of coming discipline, he will remove their candlestick if they do not repent. Let's open that letter as we continue our study in Revelation chapter 2. While the church we studied in our last session was struggling through faithfully with persecution and pressure, the church in Pergamum is flirting with corruption and immorality. Revelation chapter 2 verse 12, and to the angel or the messenger of the church in Pergamum write, the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

Let's stop for a moment. In the days of John, governors were divided into two classes. One had the right of the sword and the other did not. The one with the right of the sword could literally speak judgment and bring execution.

Pergamum was one of those areas where the governor had the right of the sword. He could speak judgment. And it's interesting then that Jesus Christ introduces the one who has true power over life and death. Verse 13, I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is, yet you hold fast my name. You did not deny my faith or faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness or martyr who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. And again, in the practice of our Lord's letter writing style, he begins by commending this church before bringing about his criticism or his challenge.

So let's stop for just a moment and understand this commendation. Pergamos, your translation may read, which is the feminine form of the city's name or Pergamum, which is neuter and more common, was a city built on top of a tall hill from which the Mediterranean could be seen 15 miles away. It was a splendid, beautiful city.

While it was never as famous as Ephesus or Smyrna, it did boast of a famous library with its 200,000 parchments, second only to the library at Alexandria. In 1878, archaeologists working for the Museum of Berlin excavated the ruins of this ancient city and discovered the massive, stunning altar to Zeus. From a distance, that structure looked like a massive throne jutting out from the hillside. It was considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.

Many believe that this was the thought behind our Lord's comment that they dwelt where Satan had his throne. That would be the prominence of Zeus. Still others believe it refers to the worship of another prominent god named Asclepius. He was the god of healing and his temples actually served as ancient hospitals where people flocked and there was a combination of superstition and religion along with whatever the medical helps were available for those who were ill.

There were pools of water that were considered sacred and miraculous. The symbol for Asclepius was serpents winding around a pole used to this day as the symbol for medicine. I found it interesting that Asclepius is the official name used by Medicare for its email alert system.

You sign up to receive Asclepius. Now I'm not suggesting Medicare is connected to the gods but getting paid by them is considered miraculous so maybe there's a connection there. People would flock to the temple of Asclepius and spend the night on the floor and as their custom was they had non-poisonous serpents that were allowed to roam free. Now this would keep me a million miles away but the religion believed and taught if you slept upon the floor of the temple and at night one of those serpents touched you or slithered over you, you were healed. Can you imagine such a counterfeit religion? A false god whose symbol is a serpent and whose name is Savior. Jesus Christ commends this church by saying, I know where you live.

It is a place where Satan himself is worshipped. But how encouraging for the believer. It's a wonderful thought for Jesus Christ to tell them and us, I know where you live.

I know the trouble that you have in that family perhaps filled with unbelievers. I know everything about your neighborhood. I know where you work. I know the route you take home from work. There are no surprises in your world.

I know. I know exactly what might be the temptation for you to stay quiet, to give in, to relax, to flex. Notice verse 13, I know that in spite of that and in spite of where you live, I know you hold fast my name. What a great testimony.

Evidently the believers in Pergamum were not doubting the singular deity of Jesus Christ and they weren't doubting their faith in the singular deliverance of and by and through Jesus Christ. I commend you, he says, for your testimony. Now the Lord moves from commendation to to criticism. Notice verse 14, but tough word isn't it?

But I have a few things against you. Here they are, you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam. You taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel so that they might eat food sacrifice to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Now for the sake of time I'll simply review but the story of Balaam is told. This account appears in Numbers chapter 22, 23, and chapter 24. This is the prophet who could be hired. If you could pay him enough money he'd tell you what you'd want to hear. Sound familiar?

Going on to this day. Well evidently the king of Moab was a little frightened because the Israelites were in town and he knew that they could easily overrun him especially with the power of their God and so he hired Balaam to come along and he said now you go out there and you pronounce curses upon these people. God of course kept Balaam from cursing Israel. You may remember Balaam riding his what? His donkey to meet the king and an angel was standing there in the road and and the donkey was allowed to see him but Balaam didn't see the angel and so because the donkey stopped Balaam got upset and he took a stick and he whacked the donkey three times to try to get him to move and then the Lord put words in the donkey's mouth and actually allowed the donkey to to speak these words to Balaam and he said why are you hitting me? Why are you treating the one who's carried you around for your life this badly?

Why would you do that? Balaam responded look if I had a sword in my hand instead of a stick you'd be dead. The amazing thing to me isn't that the donkey was talking to Balaam but Balaam was talking back to the donkey.

You'd think he'd stop and say now wait a second this is a little unusual. When did you learn how to speak? But then an angel appeared and told Balaam what was happening and challenged him to speak only what the Lord said. He said only what God put in his mouth and at that moment the embarrassing analogy was obvious. Balaam you're the donkey.

Now try to do as good a job as your donkey did speaking the words I put in your mouth. He got the point and refused to curse Israel. However he teaches Balak how to bring Israel down. He says look all you've got to do is send Moabite women into the camp and offer them a combination of sexual immorality and idolatry. They're not going to buy into the idolatry so get them to fall for the women and then the two will be combustible.

They will be explosive and destructive and Balaam's plan succeeded. God moved in judgment and disciplined his people and Balaam goes down now in biblical history as the symbol of a man who led people to mix religion with sin. He gave Balak the formula that is still at work today in the church. Listen if you can't curse those people just corrupt them. What you can't do from the outside do from the inside ruin their moral standing cause them to sin and that will take care of their testimony.

Text also tells us that they allowed the teaching of the Nicolaitans which of course as we've already looked at further believed that Christians could claim to be Christians and at the same time be involved in the sexual activity of the temple and attend the pagan orgies and participate in acts of immorality. Temptation hasn't changed over 2,000 years. My friends if Satan can't curse you and he can't he will attempt to corrupt you. Verse 16, therefore repent.

Heiress Imperative, it is urgent that you do this now. Stop sinning. Turn around. Stop compromising and commingling truth with error.

Sin with your testimony. You're headed in the wrong direction. He says stop now and turn around. He's not telling the world to stop. We expect the world to continue. He's telling the church stop. You're following the world. Turn around and go the other direction. He says if not, verse 17, I will come to you and make war against them with the sword of my mouth.

Wow. Change in pronouns between you and them. I will come to you and make war against them reflects an underlying Hebrew idiom where both pronouns refer to the same body. The church is commanded to deal with immorality and the tolerance of immorality. The imperative mood emphasizes the urgency of the request.

In other words do it now. You are in deep trouble. He says if you do anything with sin but deal with it seriously and severely. A Christian is in grave danger who feels sorry on Sunday for what he did on Saturday but he's planning to do it again on Monday. That's not repentance.

You don't get points for being here. You don't clock in and assume that that God puts the blinders up and well I'm so glad that that he flexed enough to come in here today. Sir you may be planning to meet a woman later on this evening you're not married to the word to you is stop. Dear woman you've received an inappropriate email from a man who's married and you know he's interested in your wondering at this very moment should you respond to him don't young lady you've been asked out by a guy you know he doesn't belong to Jesus Christ and you've come up with a hundred reasons why you want to say yes say no it's urgent. Listen to the warning he writes to this church and to ours he that has an ear to hear verse 17 let him hear what the spirit says to the churches are you listening will you shut my spirit up God says will you listen to everyone but him if you will listen if you will repent if you will pursue with great passion purity and integrity he gives us these wonderful incentives or commitments to those who are truly sons and daughters of his to those who truly hate sin to those who truly despair over their failure and come to him confessing he says for those of you that truly are among the conquering ones the Lord promises I'm going to do some things for you number one the text says verse 17 I will give you some hidden manna interesting phrase this promise alludes to the fact of coming nourishment and satisfaction some believe it's a reference to Jesus Christ himself the bread of light the rabbis and I think this would be the nuance here the rabbis had already been teaching for some time the tradition that Jeremiah had hidden the ark before the destruction of Israel and it would be recovered when Israel was restored in the future glory those reading this and hearing of this manner that's been hidden away that's going to be theirs would immediately think of the blessing of the messianic age to the Christians reading this it would clearly mean the blessings of this coming world when Christ the true savior of the world would reign supreme notice verse 17 further the Lord promises them and I will and I will give them a white stone with a new name written on it on this stone that no one knows except the one who receives it now this is a little tougher in fact I've uncovered about six or seven different views on this in fact all six or seven maybe in some ways pulling out a different a nuance of this particular phrase wonderful options I'll just mention two of them for the sake of time the juries of the Roman court cast their votes in cases involving the death penalty by dropping into an urn one of two stones a dark stone was representing a guilty verdict and a white stone represented innocence and acquittal and release there was another possible meaning of this white stone and it comes from the world of sports which prevailed of course in that era the outstanding victors in the in the Olympic games would be awarded with a white stone oftentimes with his name written on it and it would serve as his ticket to any festivities in this view then and nuance Christ is promising a heavenly award banquet and festivity festivities for his victorious ones the text says on this white stone is a special name a new name Jesus Christ is going to give every believer a new name just between you and your Lord we don't know what ours is yet yours will be different from mine but it will be a special name as he gives his bride this particular gift and calls them by their name Isaiah the prophet said the nations shall see your righteousness and all the kings your glory and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give Isaiah 62 2 and 3 imagine that listen when you refuse to compromise when you refuse to be a flexitarian with truth and morals and integrity and values you will be called names God says just just wait I've got a name a new name for you I'm not even going to tell you what it is right now but all the name calling will be over and I will refer to you by this special name in the meantime let me give you three quick things and we'll stop I pick up three warnings from Christ's letter to the church at Pergamum and church in Cary specifically to every believer number one don't be surprised by the temptation to compromise don't be surprised anticipate it expect it your enemy cannot curse you he will then try to corrupt you and steal your joy away secondly don't be naive in the face of it detect it look for it discern it the enemy hasn't really come up with any new game plan frankly he continues to use the plays the word best combine a little sin with with your your testimony you know live a little bit for the world and then come in here live a little bit for the Lord become a flexitarian don't negotiate with it either thirdly don't negotiate with temptation fight it fight it tell yourself no don't do that don't think that don't go there don't say that don't write that don't have that conversation with you start it tomorrow morning maybe start it this afternoon don't what are you thinking stop maybe like Joseph you'll have to leave your coat behind and run for your life legend has it that Martin Luther the great reformer was once in his study and he became so angry with temptation and the thoughts that were just dumping into his mind and his flesh seemed as if the devil was in the room with him according to tradition he picked up his ink well and and as if he were throwing it at the devil he threw it across the room and it smashed against the wall in his study leaving a large ink stain not sure if that's true but I do know this for sure Martin Luther used his ink to write such truths that the kingdom of Satan trembled he also wrote lyrics that spurred the Christian onward with confidence and courage listen to this one particular set of lyrics did we in our own strength confide our striving would be what would be losing so we're not leaving here and we're not going to say okay now it's just up to me and my resolve and my commitment and I'm going to be pure and I'm going to hold on my values no we depend entirely upon Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we're not the right man on our side the man of God's own choosing Christ Jesus it is he Lord sabbioth his name from age to age the same and he must win the battle and he has and in him so shall we today's lesson was an important reminder to get serious about the Christian faith as we continue working our way through this section of Revelation Stephen has a booklet designed to help you read and understand revelation properly it's called understanding revelation it's available today at a deeply discounted rate we can give you more information when you call 866-48-bible you can also go to when you navigate to our store search for understanding revelation I'm Scott Wiley and for Stephen and all of us here thanks for listening please join us next time for more wisdom for the heart you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 01:24:23 / 2024-01-09 01:34:08 / 10

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