Gene Cunningham - May 23, 2000

Living Sacrifice 32

In Rev 2:1-5, seven lamp-stands means seven pastors and the congregations (Rev 1:20). Jesus walks among the churches; He knows every motive (Rev 2:2). Ephesus had Christian service going on; they persevered and would not put up with hypocrisy; they were faithful in their witness (Rev 2:3). But, they left their first love (Rev 2:4, 1Th 1:9-10). Believers in this generation have no excuse; their plans are made therefore don't want Jesus to return. He wants us to live expectantly. In Rev 2:5 (1) when we want to restore lost love, we must remember what we had before; (2) We have to repent - change your mind, action (e.g. the prodigal). (3) We have to renew; prodigal was better off after he returned. "He renews your youth as an eagle" (Psa 103:5). We can only experience the promises partially on Earth, but they are a foretaste (2Pe 1:3-4). The return of Christ is when we experience the fullest extent of the promises; when Christ returns He'll remove limitations. To those who loved his appearing -- the first love -- is given the crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:7-8) -- Paul express (1) courage for the battle (2Ti 2:4); (2) endurance (Heb 12:1-2) -- Christ is the finisher or "Fulfiller" of our faith. Righteousness is full relationship with Him. Promises are in human terms, but indicate future fulfillment we can't imagine (1Co 2:9); (3) resolve or determination -- Paul kept the faith and spread it out to others(2Ti 2:2). Five crowns depend upon the blessed hope. Five Crowns: (1) Imperishable crown given for spiritual self-discipline (1Co 9:25); (2) Crown of Joy (Phi 4:1, 1Th 2:19) given for faithful witnessing. (3) Crown of Life (Jam 1:12, Rev 2:10) given to those who endure trials and temptation (2Co 4:17-18). (4) Crown of Glory given for faithful ministry (1Pe 5:4). (5) Crown of Righteousness (2Ti 4:8) only Righteousness can be applied to God. In practical terms it means a right standing before God - only those who take advantage of His grace through faith. We make God's word attractive/appealing (Tit 2:10-13); this is only done by looking for the blessed hope -- like Simeon looking for the consolation of Israel (Luk 2:25). "Blessed hope" -- defines the quality -- if you possess it you are blessed. The "living hope" looks to eternity (1Pe 1:3-4). "Purifying hope" is a hope fixed on the promises (1Jo 3:1-3, 1Jo 2:15, Phi 3:20, Col 3:1-3). Jesus first lesson shows attitudes of a believer who has the blessed hope (Mat 5:3-12). Living hope (1Co 7:29-35, 2Co 4:17-18) - present an "other-worldly" lifestyle; this is abundant life, fixed on the eternal. "My soul is like a weaned child" (Psa 103:2) -- we need to be weaned of the world so we can focus on the blessed hope. Purifying hope can be illustrated in multiple scriptures (2Ti 2:19-24). As soon as we lose the blessed hope we fail -- we're sick (2Pe 2:3, Pro 3:12). Focusing on the blessed hope (1) Quickens, gives life to our activity; (2) compensates for sacrifice/service; (3) weans us from the world; (4) incites us to unselfish service to the least. Promise from the Lord "... My reward is with me" (Rev 22:12). We groan waiting for our adoption (Rom 8:1-39) because we don't belong here. Don't trade off eternity for now -- like Esau (Heb 12:1-29) short-sighted (2Pe 3:9). We need to lay our desires before the Lord (Psa 37:4) because He'll give them to us.

Scripture References: Luke 2:25, Psalms 103:2, Revelation 2:5, Titus 2:10-13, Matthew 5:3-12, Revelation 2:4, Psalms 37:4, Revelation 2:10, Colossians 3:1-3, Revelation 2:3, Hebrews 12:1-29, James 1:12, Philippians 3:20, Revelation 2:2, Romans 8:1-39, Philippians 4:1, John 2:15, Revelation 1:20, Revelation 22:12, Hebrews 12:1-2, John 3:1-3, Revelation 2:1-5, Proverbs 3:12, Psalms 103:5

From Series: "Living Sacrifice (1995)"

Romans 12 and specifically Rom 12:1-2 is a pivot point between the doctrinal section and application of the book. This series methodically uses this passage to outline aspects or doctrines of the christian life -- God's provision and our prospect. Our lives can be acceptable to God if we progress on the path He intends. Living Sacrifice presents 12 doctrines: (1) redeeming time; (2) standing (positional truth); (3) self-presentation - availability; (4) approval; (5) service; (6) provision; (7) spiritual warfare; (8) conformity; (9) spiritual advance; (10) renewal; (11) divine guidance; (12) abundant life.

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