1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Many are they that will report that the messages to the seven churches of Asia, now known as Asia Minor, has nothing of value today but for the sake of history. My Eighth Grade Teacher, Miss, C. C, Allen (also Charles Swindol´s History Teacher) started the new class, each year, with, ¨ Those, who do not learn History, must relive it.¨ I heard Chuck report on day that he had found Miss Allen´s statement to be true and I tell you that it is absolutely true! Today, the world has taken Matt. 7:1 out of the context it is spoken in and has shut the mouth of the Church, that is tragic. In the context we are taught to judge in the same manor we wish to be judged in but to always judge! In the passage above, from the KJV, we see that Jesus/God is making note of their works and in verse 4 we will see that this is not a problem for that church, rather it is held up for comparison to the problems He finds with them. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. So few, today, can give a testimony for the time and date of their conversion. I, and all of the elderly men in my class can tell you where we were, what we were doing and exactly how our lives changed in that moment. If you or one you know has performed the ¨duties¨ required for Salvation and there is no visible change you might need to council with them. For those of us that are secure in our salvation, we need to do a Spiritual Inventory! Remember the fire of the moment when we were saved? Does it hurt your heart (your inner being) to see thousands of Lost Men and Women walking around you every day? In Matt. 28:18-20 Jesus called us to the Great Commission and to nothing else! How many people have you asked to receive the LORD in the last month and how many Babes in Christ have you Discipled (Mentored) to Spiritual Maturity? 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Here is another is another commendation for this Church. It is uncertain what the Nicolaitans taught but I will suggest to you that it was probably some form of ear tickling. When was the last time you heard an Old Time Fire and Brimstone message on the prizes of Hell? Just as was foretold by our LORD there are few today that can eat (hear and reason with) the Meat of Scripture. I believe there are churches (Buildings where the Church meets) that contain not a single Christian today. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Here we find the reward for faithfulness. This is not the reward for the person that got his or her Sunday School Pin for faithful attendance! No, this is for those that have been found faithful and have overcome the temptation to sit in front of the Idiot Tube, to become saturated with the latest novel, to know the latest and complete stats of the Houston Texans. This reward (Crown) goes to him or her that has continually returned to the LORD´s service. 8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. I am a proud American Veteran and I know that the man living under the bridge on the way into town is among the top ten percent of the wealthiest people in the world. In my latter years I have found that it concerns me that I can no longer be a wealth contributing member to the nation I live in but, at the same time, I now have the time to do greater works for the LORD than I have ever done in the past, I am richer in my poverty than I ever was in my wealth. I find new ways to help my Church Family (the Church) than I ever had the time to discover in the past. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. What a sweet promise! Think about what Jesus has just said in the fashion of a parable. When we look back, just before the Millennial Reign is finished, these seventy to hundred years or so will be but a wisp in time. As a Christian, my time of trouble is very short but for those that never call upon the LORD for salvation will still be suffering ten thousand years from today. They will suffer the Second Death every day, all day long. 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. The most important thing of all to remember is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Christians is neither stupid, nor is God blind. There is a rule for the beginning of understanding scripture, ¨Never attempt to understand any verse or group of verses with out the light of all scripture shinning upon it.¨ When we allow the world to influence our teaching, the way we have in the matter of judgement, as per Matt. 1, we are teaching the doctrines Satan wants for us... a doctrine of Balaam? It is not of the LORD. In Mal. 3:6a we learn that God never changes. Any time you can listen to or read a teaching that is contrary to what God has taught in the past and it does not line up with the Word of God without bending something... it is not from God, no matter how much it tickles your ears or warms your heart, it is a lie and not from God. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. One contention I have always taught and frequently rebuked for is that the instructions to all of the churches in Asia is cumulative and additionally, is applicable for instruction to all Christianity. The evidence for this position is found in the pluralization of the word church in the cautions of these passages.