From Ben Fronczek... December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012

By Ben Fronczek

Reading: Matthew 25:1-13   

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’  “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’  “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

I didn’t really expect to talk about this topic today but I believe it’s important for a preacher to address issues that are of public concern. If you haven’t noticed in addition to the added pressure of the holiday season, the media has been stirring up a cauldron of concern and wonder about what is going to happen on December 21, this coming Friday.

The reason I am speaking on this subject today is because over the few days I believe you are going to hear a lot about this.  Some claim that a prophecy was written in stone of what will happen at the end of the Mayan long count calendar.

The Long Count began in 3114 B.C. and is to end 5126 years later, the “end date” will be – As I am sure you have heard this Friday, December 21, 2012.
As to what will happen on that day, there are debates. There are those who simply predict that it’s just going to be another day like any other day.         But there are also those who seem to think that the Mayans predicted some significant changes will happen on our planet. Some say that the Mayans “predicted” the end of the world as we know it. On this date, doomsayers assert that Earth will be ravaged by a smorgasbord of cataclysmic astronomical events — everything from a planet flyby, to a “killer solar flare,” a geomagnetic reversal, and more ensuring that we have a very, very bad day Friday.

But in all reality, this has become a money making media event which has done nothing but cause fear and feeling of uncertainty in the hearts of good people all around the world.
It is reported that people are spending millions of dollars on survival shelters, and on hording supplies, survival rations, kerosine, candles and more.

Not only that, there are those misinformed individual who are spending all kinds of money to go to certain places on the planet to wait for something, ‘special’ to happen on Friday. For example, people have been flocking to a small town in France called Bugarach which is at the base of a mountain.  Many believe that this mountain is some kind of Alien garage and they believe alien ships are going to depart from Earth, from this mountain on the 21st. And these hope to catch a ride with the aliens. Over 100,000 people are expected to be there by Friday.

In a recent news report one local commented by saying, “Although the tourists have boosted the local economy, their odd behavior, which includes naked group-climbs up to the summit, have raised eyebrows.”

Others are flocking to a pyramid shaped mountain in Siberia. Within the  Serbian Carpathian Mountains there is a mountain thought to house a ‘pyramidal’ structure left behind by alien visitors thousands of years ago that will emit a powerful force field at the moment of Armageddon, protecting those in its vicinity.  People are afraid and are doing some strange things.

But what do the experts say?   Christopher Powell, an archeologist who studies Mayan culture, says, “There’s no real prophesy that says this is going to be the end of the world, not from the Mayan ruins, anyway.”

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said, “Western messianic thought has twisted the cosmo-vision of ancient civilizations like the Maya.” It said “the Mayan’s believed that time started and ended with regularity, with nothing apocalyptic occurring at the end.”

A Mayan expert Leonzo Barreno, says “the ‘apocalypse’ concept is a false interpretation of the Long Count calendar. He said that Mayan elders taught him that December 21 this year simply marks the start of a new calendar.“

Being a professor at the University of Regina he said Mayan elders taught him that December 21 this year simply marks the start of a new calendar. He said, ‘When I grew up during my training I never heard the word “end of the world” from the elders or spiritual leaders,’  Professor Barreno added.  ‘For them it’s a joyous event, not an apocalyptic event. What is coming is the end of a calendar and the beginning of a new one.”

In other words the experts believe that the Mayan object is nothing more than a calendar, just like the ones we take down off our wall every year, but their calendar just happens to measure a whole lot more time.

As Christians, we do believe that the Bible teaches that there will come a time when this world as we know it will end. That’s what the Bible teaches. But the big question is. “Is it possible that it could be Friday the 21st?

And my answer to this is, “It is possible, but not likely.”  In the rest of this lesson I would like to share with you what I believe the Bible has to say about the end of this world as we know it. And I also want to reassure you that it is not as bad for those who are Christians, as many make it out to be.

#1. First of all, God is the one who will bring about this end.  Let me read to you one of the clearest descriptions of this event we have in the Bible    

Read:  2 Peter 3:3-13 

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgmentand destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

To begin with, these verses describe this event as the Day of the Lord’. It will all end when the Lord God says it will end, not before; no galactic alignment, no solar flare, no collision with planet x, and not by some freak accident.

#2. God is in control of His creation, and events that accompany the end of this world as we know it… are clearly defined:

  ● First of all we are told that the exact time is unknown. That’s what the Parable of the 10 Virgins was all about. That was Jesus’ concluding statement in verse 13; the day and the hour are unknown. In Mark 13:32 it also says that the day and the hour is unknown by the angels, the Son, but is only known by our Heavenly Father.  

That’s why here in 2 Peter 3:10 it says that when it happens,  

“the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.”  

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 it says the same  

“He will come like a thief in the night”

So no, we don’t have an accurate calendar predicting the end of the world as we know it. Not unless you want to call Jesus and the Apostle who taught this a bunch of liars.

● The next thing I see in scripture is when this end does come we read that Jesus will appear and His mighty angels will accompany Him. We read about this event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Thessalonians. 1:7b, and in Matthew 25:31-32.

1 Thess. 4:13-18 it says, 

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

In Matthew’s account it says, 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

So this day will be implemented by our Heaven Father, who will send His Son, and mighty angels to bring every man and woman who ever lived to stand before Him in judgment. Why? Because as we read on we read that God wants weed out the evil and bring those who have been cleansed or declared righteous into His eternal and holy realm as His adopted them sons and daughters. (Eph. 1:5)

● And while all this is happening to us in 2 Peter we read about what is happening to our planet earth.  

Verse 10 

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”

But as unreal, and maybe as scary as this may sound, a few verses jump out at me:   

#1. 2 Peter 3:9  

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

The Lord is not in a hurry to do this. Why? Because the very reason he created us was to bring us into His family, to adopt us as sons and daughters. And so if there is any chance that some would choose to love and accept His wonder gift of grace He’s not going to doom them before they get a chance.

#2  I notice here is in 2 Peter as well in other places, is the fact that this event is something Christians should not only look forward to, but it is also something we should prepare for. 

2 Peter 3:14 says,

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

For Christians this will be one of the most fantastic events that history will ever see. It will be the dawn of a new day, a new era, a new existence, one which is eternal, and magnificent, and glorious. It’s not something to fear, it will be one of the greatest family reunions ever!
But within these words of encouragement penned by Peter, Paul and Matthew are also words of warning. You better be ready for when He comes, whenever He comes. Don’t get caught unprepared like the 10 virgins in the parable.

Let Jesus clean you up by removing your sin. He will do that if you trust Him as your Lord and Savior, and if you allow Him of remove your sin in the waters of Baptism.   What a shame if will be if you lose out.

For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

From Jim McGuiggan... A public God and a private God

A public God and a private God

Why aren’t we bitter toward God when the roof falls in on us and life is wrecked almost beyond repair? Why don’t we call God into question when our young husbands are killed at work and a young family is bereft? Why are we so unlike the psalmists and prophets who speak with a boldness against God that takes our breath away? Part of the answer is that our theology differs from theirs.

Of course prophetic protest is not all we read in their writings. The psalmists contributed to "praise" literature but the strength of their theology and their lives is explained in part because they dealt with the one true God rather than some domesticated deity that has to be protected against criticism by elaborate discussions about randomness and free will. When they said yes to God they said yes to a God that is up to his neck in bringing invading armies, devastating drought, famine and other "natural calamities" (see Amos 4 and Habakkuk 1). When they came away from a conference with God they knew they had been in with the only God there is so that their "yes" was uttered with their eyes wide open. For good or ill, blessing or calamity, this was the God they committed to and more importantly this was the God that committed to them.

But the truth is that we moderns and particularly we Western moderns engage so much in double talk. We have a public rhetoric where God is always in the right and the cause of all our pain and loss is the Devil or our personal and individual sins or bad luck (called "randomness") or human stupidity or human oppressors. These we rage against in public and when some poor "ignorant" soul says she thinks God is behind it all we turn on her like a bad-tempered pit-bull—"how dare she; imagine laying all that awful stuff at the feet of God!" But in private—or at least in a setting not too public—we turn to God and want to know, "What are you up to? How could you let this happen, why didn’t you prevent it?"

Yes, I can see that the logic of the distinction can be maintained between God being involved in bringing it about and allowing it, but the fact is that we’re still sure that God isn’t running the show correctly. If he were doing his job right such things would not happen to us. So on one hand we have God standing helpless before free-will because he can’t interfere—that means he shouldn’t be criticized but on the other hand we privately work him over because he didn’t prevent or immediately remedy the bad situation.

You can’t read the Bible and shut God out of this whole mess. Prophets and psalmists and other biblical characters won’t hear tell of that. They’d rather argue with him, protest before him and ask him to change his mind rather than deny his hand is bringing it about. We usually speak our doubts or difficulties in private so no one will hear but the psalmists sang their protests and the prophets preached them. But they never gave God ultimatums nor did they ever imagine to say, "Dear God we know that you don’t bring calamity on us so it must be Marduk or one of those other pagan deities. Why don’t you go and whack them." And it wasn’t that they were ignorant of secondary causes. They had some basic understanding that wind and clouds and such were involved in rainfall or that eating bad food could make you sick or that it was actual foreign forces that devastated them during battle. They knew all that and still said God was doing it!

We’re just not robust enough for that. Too much political correctness and too much modernist theology still clinging to us from Ritschl and Harnack and others. Can you imagine what would happen if we asked some brother to frame our congregational prayer for us and he said something like this. "Dear God, we haven’t wandered from your will but you have given us over to our enemies. We have tried to walk in your way but it doesn’t seem to matter to you because our enemies prosper at your hand and we go to the wall. You made promises to protect us from the enemy nations and instead you brought them against us and they have destroyed our freedom to worship. When are you going to wake up and do right by us?" See Psalm 44 and ask yourself if that would go over as a hymn in any congregation you know. (I’ve developed this a little in a book you might be interested in. The God who commands the impossible.)

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

From Mark Copeland... Paul's Closing Benediction (2 Thessalonians 3:16-18)


                  Paul's Closing Benediction (3:16-18)


1. Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians was designed to encourage,
   enlighten, and exhort...
   a. He offered encouragement in the midst of persecutions - 2Th 1:
   b. He offered enlightenment about the coming of the Lord - 2Th 2:
   c. He offered exhortations to Christian living - 2Th 3:1-15

2. As was Paul's custom, he concludes with a benediction and prayer in
   their behalf...
   a. Compare his conclusion to the first epistle - 1Th 5:23-28
   b. While shorter, he ends the second epistle in similar fashion
      - 2Th 3:16-18

[There are two main thoughts expressed in "Paul's Closing Benediction",
the first in vs. 16...]


      1. It was prophesied that Jesus would guide us into peace - Lk 1:
         78-79; 2:14
      2. He came preaching peace - Ac 10:36
      3. Jesus offers a peace that the world cannot give - Jn 14:27
      4. A peace that prevails despite tribulation - Jn 16:33
      5. It involves peace with God - Ro 5:1
      6. It involves a kingdom in which peace is reign - Ro 14:17
      7. In which Jew and Gentile can now be one new man in peace - Ep 2:14-18

      1. Through His death on the cross
         a. Reconciling Jew and Gentile - Ep 2:15-16
         b. Reconciling man with God - Col 1:20-22
      2. Through our faith, and the justification it brings - Ro 15:13;
      3. Through harmony with brethren - 2Co 13:11
      4. Through the Spirit bearing fruit in our lives - Ga 5:22
      5. Through fervent prayer
         a. Producing peace in the inner man - Php 4:6-7
         b. Producing peace in our communities - 1Ti 2:1-2
      6. Through emulating the example of Paul - Php 4:9
      7. Through the pursuit of peace
         a. As Paul exhorted the Romans - Ro 14:19
         b. As Paul exhorted Timothy - 2Ti 2:22
         c. As the Hebrew Christians were commanded - He 12:14
         d. As Peter commanded the Christians in Asia Minor - 1Pe 3:
      -- The Lord certainly desires to give us peace:  He died to make
         it possible, He offers it to all who will follow Him.  Our task
         is to be diligent to be found by Him in peace (cf. 2Pe 3:14)
         by allowing this peace to rule in our hearts (cf. Col 3:15)!

[As we return to our text (2Th 3:16-18), we find that Paul makes a
brief reference to writing in his own hand (17).  He then closes in
verse 18 with a final benediction...]


      1. Again, it was prophesied that Jesus would bring grace - 1Pe 1:
      2. Jesus came full of grace - Jn 1:14,16-17
      3. His apostles proclaimed the gospel of grace - Ac 20:24
         a. How God justifies us in Christ Jesus - Ro 3:24; Ep 1:7; 2:
         b. Describing how we might stand in God's grace - Ro 5:2; 1 Pe 5:12
      4. He gives us everlasting consolation and good hope through this
         grace - 2Th 2:16-17
      5. His apostles commended souls to the Word of God's grace - Ac 20:32

      1. By obeying the gospel of grace - He 5:9
         a. Obeying the doctrine delivered to us, which sets us free
            from sin - Ro 6:17
         b. Through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
            Spirit - Tit 3:4-7; cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:36; 22:16
      2. Through growing in grace - 2Pe 3:18
         a. Grace is multiplied as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus
            - 2Pe 1:2,5-8
         b. Grace is received through prayer - He 4:14-16
         c. Grace is given to the humble in heart - Jm 4:6; 1Pe 5:5
      3. Making sure we do not receive the grace of God in vain
         a. His grace will not be available forever - 2Co 6:1-2
         b. Looking carefully lest we fall short of God's grace - He 12:15
         c. Aware of the possibility of falling away - Ga 5:4
      -- How sad to receive God's grace, but then to have received in
         vain!  Peter describes the sorry condition of those who turn
         away from God's grace after having known it (2Pe 2:20-22).
         Like Timothy, we need to heed the admonition to be strong in
         the grace of God (2Ti 2:1)!


1. Paul's love for his brethren in Thessalonica was evident...
   a. He wanted the Lord Himself to give them peace always in every way
   b. He wanted the grace of the Lord to be with them all
   -- Thus He began and closed this epistle with a prayer for grace and
      peace - 2Th 1:2; 3:16-18

2. As we have considered how Paul encouraged, enlightened, and exhorted
   his brethren...
   a. I hope that I have done the same through this series of lessons
   b. I leave with you with another prayer expressed in our text:

                      "The Lord be with you all."

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading December 20

Bible Reading   

December 20

The World English Bible

Dec. 20
Jonah 1-4

Jon 1:1 Now the word of Yahweh came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Jon 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before me."
Jon 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh.
Jon 1:4 But Yahweh sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty storm on the sea, so that the ship was likely to break up.
Jon 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and he was laying down, and was fast asleep.
Jon 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God! Maybe your God will notice us, so that we won't perish."
Jon 1:7 They all said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is on us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Jon 1:8 Then they asked him, "Tell us, please, for whose cause this evil is on us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? Of what people are you?"
Jon 1:9 He said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land."
Jon 1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "What is this that you have done?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Yahweh, because he had told them.
Jon 1:11 Then said they to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?" For the sea grew more and more stormy.
Jon 1:12 He said to them, "Take me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; for I know that because of me this great storm is on you."
Jon 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them.
Jon 1:14 Therefore they cried to Yahweh, and said, "We beg you, Yahweh, we beg you, let us not perish for this man's life, and don't lay on us innocent blood; for you, Yahweh, have done as it pleased you."
Jon 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased its raging.
Jon 1:16 Then the men feared Yahweh exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice to Yahweh, and made vows.
Jon 1:17 Yahweh prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jon 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to Yahweh, his God, out of the fish's belly.
Jon 2:2 He said, "I called because of my affliction to Yahweh. He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried. You heard my voice.
Jon 2:3 For you threw me into the depths, in the heart of the seas. The flood was all around me. All your waves and your billows passed over me.
Jon 2:4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'
Jon 2:5 The waters surrounded me, even to the soul. The deep was around me. The weeds were wrapped around my head.
Jon 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. The earth barred me in forever: yet have you brought up my life from the pit, Yahweh my God.
Jon 2:7 "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Yahweh. My prayer came in to you, into your holy temple.
Jon 2:8 Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Jon 2:9 But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to Yahweh."
Jon 2:10 Yahweh spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land.
Jon 3:1 The word of Yahweh came to Jonah the second time, saying,
Jon 3:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you."
Jon 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of Yahweh. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey across.
Jon 3:4 Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried out, and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
Jon 3:5 The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Jon 3:6 The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Jon 3:7 He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, "Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water;
Jon 3:8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal, and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands.
Jon 3:9 Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?"
Jon 3:10 God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn't do it.
Jon 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
Jon 4:2 He prayed to Yahweh, and said, "Please, Yahweh, wasn't this what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm.
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, Yahweh, take, I beg you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."
Jon 4:4 Yahweh said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Jon 4:5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth, and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city.
Jon 4:6 Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine.
Jon 4:7 But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered.
Jon 4:8 It happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."
Jon 4:9 God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?" He said, "I am right to be angry, even to death."
Jon 4:10 Yahweh said, "You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.
Jon 4:11 Shouldn't I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can't discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much livestock?"

Dec. 20
Revelation 2

Rev 2:1 "To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things:
Rev 2:2 "I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you can't tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false.
Rev 2:3 You have perseverance and have endured for my name's sake, and have not grown weary.
Rev 2:4 But I have this against you, that you left your first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent.
Rev 2:6 But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God.
Rev 2:8 "To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: "The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:
Rev 2:9 "I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Don't be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won't be harmed by the second death.
Rev 2:12 "To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: "He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things:
Rev 2:13 "I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. You hold firmly to my name, and didn't deny my faith in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Rev 2:15 So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise.
Rev 2:16 Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it.
Rev 2:18 "To the angel of the assembly in Thyatira write: "The Son of God, who has his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like burnished brass, says these things:
Rev 2:19 "I know your works, your love, faith, service, patient endurance, and that your last works are more than the first.
Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Rev 2:21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great oppression, unless they repent of her works.
Rev 2:23 I will kill her children with Death, and all the assemblies will know that I am he who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Rev 2:24 But to you I say, to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as don't have this teaching, who don't know what some call 'the deep things of Satan,' to you I say, I am not putting any other burden on you.
Rev 2:25 Nevertheless, hold that which you have firmly until I come.
Rev 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.
Rev 2:27 He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father:
Rev 2:28 and I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.

From Gary... What God seeks...

Nice flower- its called a red velvet tuxedo rose and it is quite beautiful!!!  I looked at this and remembered last week, when Linda and I "dressed up" for a community picture book.  It took me quite awhile to find a suit that I could actually get into- the recently purchased one was WAY TO BIG and most of the others were WAY TO SMALL.  But, everything worked out and soon I should be replacing my online pictures with a very recent ones.  All this reminded me of something I read a long time ago, by Frank Viola.  He has written several books about New Testament Christianity and I recall his discussion on our current custom of getting "all dressed up" for church services. Basically, he said this has nothing to do with real worship and I tend to agree with him (I know that not everyone will).  What is true worship, anyway?  This passage gives us some insight...

John, Chapter 4
 19  The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 

  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father.   22  You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.   23  But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers.  24  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

True worship (literally, to bend the knee [in submission]); defined by Jesus as being from the Jews and obviously through Jesus and his word.  In spirit (right attitude) and truth (right standard). These things are a MUST.  Anything else is NOT true worship.  So, we have standards to worship by. So, examine yourself.  Do I have a proper attitude?  Am I following a Biblical example? Do I worship the same God as Christians did in the New Testament?  Don't be obsessed as to your appearance, but do be concerned with the above questions.  That's the heart of the matter and something to contemplate.  What you do about these things is, of course, up to you, but remember verse 24 and that one little word that Jesus used that makes all the difference- MUST. God is seeking true worshippers, looking good is optional.