Monday Night Bible Study



V-12: And to the church in Pergamos write, these thing says he who has the sharp two edged
V-13: “I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to
My name and did not deny my faith even in the days when Antipas was My faithful
martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
V-14: But I have a few things against you, because you have those who hold the doctrine of
Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat
things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
V-15: Thus you also have those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
V-16: Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of
My mouth.
V-17: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who
overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone,
and on that stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”

Pergamos was the provincial capitol of Asia Minor. It had been the capitol for over 400 years, going back to the time of the break up of the kingdom of Alexander the great. This was the beginning of the Selecuid kingdom. After Attalus died in 133B.C., he willed Asia minor to Rome, where Pergamos remained the capitol.

Its geographical location made it an interesting site for a capitol city. The city was perched high on a cone-shaped hill overlooking the Caicus River Valley. It was not on any major trade routes and thus was not a major center of trade. From its location, one could see the Mediterranean Sea just 15 miles away, and any traveler coming through the river valley would certainly be impressed.

Instead of commercial greatness, Pergamos was the cultural center of Asia Minor. It had the second largest library in the ancient world, second only to the one in Alexandria, Egypt. A Pergamene king called Eumenes started a centuries-long feud with the Egyptians when he tried to hire the chief librarian away from Alexandria. Ptolemy, the ruler in Egypt at that time, promptly arrested the librarian and placed an embargo on papyrus to Pergamos. The people of Pergamos, not to be deterred, set about and developed parchment, which eventually replaced papyrus in the ancient world.

Pergamos was also a great religious center for Asia Minor, especially as the keeper of the Greek way of worship. Two of the most popular sites were the Temple of Athene and the Altar of Zeus. They both were 800 feet up on the mountain and could be seen by anyone approaching the city. Historians say that the Altar of Zeus stood 40 ft high on a large projection of rock and from a distance looked like a gigantic throne. Around its base was a majestic carving depicting the victory of the Greek gods over the barbarians’ giants. Smoke went up from the altar all day long from the continual sacrifices being made.

More important, Pregamos was the home to the god Asciepios. If there was any god who would be known as the god of Pergamos, it would have been Asciepios. He was the god of healing. People came from all over the ancient world to Pergamos for healing. It may have been the closest thing to a teaching hospital then known in the ancient world.

What probably caused Pergamos to be called the seat of Satan is that it was the capitol of Asia Minor. This made it not only the administrative center but also the center of emperor worship itself. While other cities jousted for position to build this temple or that temple to an emperor, Pergamos was the definite center for Emperor worship in Asia Minor, and they took that very seriously. Emperor worship was the only form of worship in the empire that could require punishment by death if one failed to concur. This wasn’t during all times and wasn’t always carried out in all places, but it was a fact.

This is pointed out in verse 12, where Jesus refers to Himself as ‘He who has the two edged-sword.’ Roman governors were divided into two classes – those who had the ius gladii and those who didn’t. The ius gladii would be one who had the power of the sword, thus having power over life and death. In Pergamos the governor had the ius gladii, and there was always a chance for the congregation to have that power wielded against them; but Jesus wants them to remember that HE is the one with the two-edged sword. Jesus has the final say. While the power of Rome might be satanically powerful, it would never be as powerful as the risen Christ.

This is not the first time the two-edged sword is mentioned in Revelation. It is also noted in Revelation 1:16. What I said there also applies to this scripture. It comes from Genesis 3:24, when God expels Adam and Eve out of the Garden. There is placed an angel with a two-edged sword, which turns every which way in order to keep them out. Also, in Hebrews 4:12, Paul talks about the two- edged sword as the word of God, “For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Hebrews text speaks more clearly to verse 16, where Jesus says that He will come among them and slay them with the sword in His mouth. The “them” refers to the teachers of the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Piercing the division between the true believers and the heretics, the sword of His mouth is Christ’s word. It is with His word that He will defeat them – and it is the same with us! It is with Christ’s word that we will be able to defeat the heretics of our day. Not logic, not philosophy, not psychology, but with Christ’s word.

Jesus said, “I know where you stay.” Jesus uses an interesting word here, the Greek word katoikein, which means a permanent dwelling. In most cases when referring to where a Christian lives or stays, the New Testament writers use the Greek word paroikein, which means a traveler or sojourner. Why? The common thought is that we as Christians upon receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are no longer of this world. We are now seekers and citizens of the Kingdom of God, and we are not expecting to permanently dwell here. This world is not our kingdom and not our home – and often the world does not even want us here…. But in this passage, the word katoikein is used to denote that we also follow the Lord who overcame the world. As Christians we are called not to escape the slings and arrows that the world throws at us but to conquer. The work of the Christian is to stand firm even in the face of persecution and possible martyrdom and witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Regarding the man who was executed, Antipas, Jesus calls a faithful witness. Too often this Greek word gets translated as martyr, but the Greek is actually martus, which translates as witness. Unfortunately, for a true disciple a faithful witness can leads to martyrdom. It is one thing to proclaim Jesus in our Bible study group, Sunday school class, or worship service. It is another to stand firm in our faith where our faith is met with even violent opposition….

Let’s be real – this is happening more and more in our world today. There is opposition within the church against fellow believers. Those who believe in the authority of Scripture are being called names, denounced, and vilified because of holding to scriptural correctness above politics or whatever society says is correct at the moment. Their definition of correct continues to change with the wind. There is also a growing opposition to Christian faith in our local communities as well as officials all the way to the top tiers of the government.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the French philosopher, is best known for his writing in which he supposedly proclaimed, “ God is dead.” Nietzsche was taken out of context. He saw the world around him and all the changes that were happening which at the time seemed like a very quick pace. He saw the societal changes and said basically that the ways of the church and the worship of God at the time was not meeting the need of the people of that time. Now this is a discussion for another day, but there were a lot of changes in the study of theology, especially out of Germany, which had spread throughout Europe and also to the United States which made that true. However, Nietzsche also wrote that there would always be a god, because humanity would make one to put in His place. Imagine that insight….

We see this today with the fascist leftist medias attacks on the faith of those who believe in the authority of Scripture. The Bible itself is being jammed into the category of hate speech. It is being called exclusive. Laws are in the process of being passed which will cancel a Christian’s right to free speech if they disagree with the social justice culture. There are talks of indoctrinating people to believe as the government thinks one ought to believe. Some of the people in the 2021 president’s administration believe that those who will not bow should be imprisoned in special camps. Look at what is happening in China regarding the imprisonment of Islamic believers and the enforcing of slave labor. There has been even talk of holocaust-type murders of Islamic believers in China, where the Christian church is also persecuted. As the violence and deceptive speech of the cancel culture and social justice warriors are rammed down peoples’ throats – and all media is being controlled to the point where dissenting voices are canceled, censored, or silenced – who’s to say the same thing will not happen in the U.S. ? Jesus is telling the congregation at Pergamos, and the congregations of today, that He is proud of their witness in the face of deadly opposition. He is telling them – and us – to continue to stay where we are, stand, and witness, even if it means death. He reminds us that He has overcome the world, no matter what the happenings around us look like. (We shall see later that the death of Antipas will be revisited when we talk about the stone and the name written on it.)

Who are the heretics? Well, apparently there are two groups and not one, as in Ephesus. The first are those who hold the doctrine of Balaam. Balaam was a great sorcerer who was contracted by Balak, the king of Moab, to cast a curse on the Children of Israel as they were passing through Moab on their way to the Promise Land. Balaam tried three times, but the Lord God only gave him blessings to pronounce. Yet Balaam told Balak that while the Lord God would not allow him to curse Israel, Balak could get them to curse themselves by going in the back door and tempting the children of Israel to blaspheme through the women of Moab. Thus, the children of Israel sinned against God by doing the same things mentioned in verse 14, sacrificing and eating things sacrificed to idols and committing sexual immorality. We have already noted that Pergamemes saw themselves as the keepers of pure Greek culture, as well as taking pride in their support of the emperor cult; and most Greek temples and their worship included male and female prostitutes. Unless you knew of a good Jewish butcher, all meats sold in the marketplace had been sacrificed to idols. The meat was not a problem unless it was eaten at a pagan temple as part of a pagan celebration. This purchase location would also be the same time that a person might be seduced into sexual immorality with a temple prostitute. Now, one might say, “ OK, just stay away from pagan temple functions.” But the Christians had family that were not Christians, and temples were the places for birthday celebrations, weddings, and many other secular social events. Apparently the congregation at Pergamos had become lax in the scrutiny of some of the fellow believers. While not all were guilty of these sins – maybe not even the majority – the congregation was not holding each another accountable.

The second group of heretics was the Nicolaitans. Again, go to my writing on Ephesus and reread. These were the early form of gnosticism, which would become an even greater problem in about 50 years (the flesh was not important, only the spirit mattered). The Christian lifestyle was nonexistent for them. What one did, what one ate, and where one worshiped were not important. These folks evolved to believe that Jesus did not exist as a human but was only was spirit. He didn’t die on the cross. Sin was of the flesh, and Jesus was all spirit. Thus, He didn’t have to die, and the life lived in the flesh was not important – only the spirit was important. Again, these people were not in the majority, but they were also not being held accountable. What a false compassion – where the feelings and desires of persons takes precedence over the Sovereignty, Authority, Will, Holiness and Righteousness of God!

We can see this in the break- up of major Christian denominations today. Where Scriptural authority is set aside and sin is ignored or disclaimed to support a false compassion for the feelings of persons. Where is the real compassion, when we are willing to condemn a person to Hell because we are unwilling to confront their sin since we don’t want to hurt their feelings? We act like Luke telling Darth Vader, “I see the good in you.” But we fail to compare the good in them to the righteousness and holiness of God. The people of the congregation in Pergamos were willing sell their fellow members short because they did not want to ruffle feathers or hurt feelings.

Jesus tells the believers of Pergamos that if they are not willing to confront their fellow congregational members, then He will, by the sword in His mouth. Remember the words of Paul in Hebrews, “The word of is like a two edged sword.” Jesus says He is going to fight the heresy with His word; and because His word can sever between soul and spirit, joint and marrow, He can deal with the heretics without harming the faithful. Isn’t it interesting that while we try to handle things by political maneuvering, Jesus says, “I will handle it through My word.”

Again, let those with an ear (singular) hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the overcomers, to those who are faithful to the end, Jesus promises three rewards: 1) I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. It is believed by Hebrew scholars that one of the signs of the Messiah will be that He will feed the remnant with the manna from heaven as God did the children of Israel in the wilderness. This was the sign Jesus used in His own ministry with the feedings of the 4000 and 5000. Here Jesus is telling them that they will not have to worry about food or meat sacrificed to idols because they will eat at His heavenly table and eat His heavenly food. 2) I will give them a white stone. In the ancient culture of the day, there were a couple of different thoughts about the white stone; but since we are talking about end time and judgment, I believe the correct thought is one based on the judicial practices of the day. In a court case, unlike today, there was usually more than one judge. The judges would hear all sides of the case and then would pronounce their judgment, not by speaking but by casting stones. Each judge would have a white stone and a black stone. The black stone was if they found against a person, and the white stone was for if they found for a person. Similar to this was that in the early priesthood of Israel, a priest sought the will of God through the urim and the thummin. While the color of the urim and the thummin are not known, it is greatly believed that they were stones. The urim and the thummin are not mentioned again after the 7th chapter of Nehemiah. Jesus is telling the overcomers, both in Pergamos and in today, that He has cast for us the white stone. We win!!
3) There will be a name on the stone, a name that no one knows but the one who receives it. Now, most people want to make a big deal about the secrecy of the name, that no one will know it except they who receive it. But I would like to share that the name is not the secret. The name is mentioned in Rev.2:13 of our present study and was mentioned earlier in our study in Rev. 1:5. It is the name given to Antipas and the name given by God the Father to Jesus in Rev. 1:5 – Faithful Witness. You may say, “But Dap, Jesus calls Antipas a faithful martyr.” Please remember the Greek word for martyr is literally witness. The secret is not the name. The secret is that only the one who overcomes can understand the meaning behind the name…..

Let’s review:
1.) Jesus is the one with the two-edged sword in His mouth. Jesus is the one who speaks the truth of
God. His word is truth. The power of His word is greater than the sword of Rome.
2.) Jesus knows their works, the hardship of where they dwell, and their faithfulness even in
persecution unto death.
3.) Jesus has one shortcoming against them, found in two areas: their failure to hold accountable those who are not constant in the faith (those who adhere to the doctrine of of Ballam) and those who refuse to adhere to the basic beliefs of the faith (the Nicolaitans).
4.) If they do not repent and do their duty as faithful believers, Jesus Himself will come and deal with
the unfaithful THROUGH HIS WORD.
5.) To the overcomers, Jesus will give three rewards: 1) They will be allowed to eat the bread of Heaven saved for those who overcome. 2) They will be judged righteous via the white stone.
3) They will be given the name that Jesus was given by the Father and which Jesus gave Antipas – that of Faithful Witness.


In Christ,

The Dap

Remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person daily. If you want to be more empowered, pray Psalms 23, 27, and 121 as well.


What Is a Disciple? – Consecration


The second step in sanctification is consecration. After having been separated to do the will of God, one must consecrate self. That is what is interesting – the person or the people have to do it. God does not consecrate us. We have to do it.

What is actually meant by the term consecration? It is the call for us to prepare ourselves to do the work the Father has set us aside to do. In the Old Testament, before the Levites could perform the work of caring for the Tabernacle and its articles, they had to consecrate themselves. Before Aaron and his sons could take on the responsibilities of the priesthood, they had to consecrate themselves.
Before the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, he would have to re-consecrate himself before each Day of Atonement.

Consecration is the admission that you have been separated out for a purpose beyond yourself which you are not able to do on your own.

There are several words used in the Old Testament for ‘consecration’ or ‘consecrated’. One such word (found in Exodus 28:41, 29:9, 29:33 and 29:35 as well as in I Chronicles 29:5, 11 Chronicles 13:9 and Ezekiel 43:26) is male’ (pronounced maw-lay). It is defined as to replenish, to restore, to bring to religious fulfillment. Another word is qadash (pronounced kaw-dash), found in Exodus 28:3 and 30:30. It means to be ceremonially clean, to prepare, dedicate, purify someone are some article for holy service. Yet another term is nazar (pronounced naw-zar’), found in Numbers 6:12. which means to abstain from unclean food, drink, and impure lifestyle. Finally, there is the Hebrew word charam (pronounced khaw’-ram). Found in Micah 4:13, its definition is to devote for religious purposes.

In the New Testament there are two Greek words used for ‘consecration’. One is egkainizo (pronounced eng-kahee-nid’-zo). Found in Hebrews 10:26, it means to renew or rededicate oneself. The other is teleloo (pronounced tel-i-o’-o). Found in Hebrews 7:28, it means to complete, to finish, to make ready for service.

In general, then, all of these terms call upon a person to do what it takes be ready to serve God in some way, to change what they are doing and make themselves ready for what God wants them to do.

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the story of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It is found in both I Samuel and I Chronicles. What a brilliant political move in centralizing his government in Jerusalem! Part of his strategy was to centralize the faith by bringing the Ark from Kirjath Jearim to a tabernacle spot he had prepared in Jerusalem. David meets with all the leaders and heads of families in Israel and sets the date to move the Ark. Instead of transporting the Ark the appropriate way (as described in Exodus and Numbers), they place it on an ox cart and start the journey toward Jerusalem with music and celebration. The ox stumbles, and the cart tilts in a way that could cause the Ark to fall off. Uzza, a Levite, put out his hand to the Ark to stabilize it, and when he did he was struck dead. Immediately, the entire group atmosphere changed from party time and celebration to awe and fear. The procession stopped, and the Ark was left at the home of another Levite, Obed-Edom, for 3 months.

For those three months, Obed- Edom was so blessed by God that David had to figure out a way to get the Ark moved on to Jerusalem, and eventually he figured out what they were doing wrong. It is described in I Chronicles 15:11-15: (11) “And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab. (12) He said to them, ‘You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; consecrate (qadash) yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. (13) For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.’ (14) So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel. (15) And the children of the Levites bore the Ark of God on their shoulders, by the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD”

Many people think and teach that Uzza was killed because he just touched the Ark. Not so. Uzza was not consecrated, thus he was not only not prepared for the function of transporting the Ark but also he and his fellow Levites had not even prepared themselves to learn the proper method for transportation. The last time the Ark had been moved was during the time of Eli and Samuel. Therefore, David orders them to prepare themselves spiritually and mentally and to do it right this time.

Consecration is a work or process in which we must be involved before we can be used by God. The priests and Levites had to cleanse and purify their thoughts and lives and rededicate themselves for this holy service they were being called upon to provide.

The best example of consecration in the New Testament is again Jesus Himself. In my last article, I quoted from Matthew 3:13, the story of Jesus coming to the Jordan to be baptized by John. This exemplified Jesus being separated out for the work of salvation that the Father was calling Him to do. The actual act of baptism was Jesus’ consecration.

Truthfully, baptism is an act of consecration for all Christians. Unfortunately, we don’t all or always look at it that way. In my Methodist tradition, we believe in baptism as a consecration of the faith community for the person being baptized. The responsibility for that person’s faith and spiritual well being is as much on the congregation as the individual being baptized. A large part of our liturgy is aimed as much or more at the congregation than at the one being baptized. Therefore, we practice baptism of infants and young children, with the parents and congregation pledging to live their lives in such way that the child will be brought up in Christian nurture and eventually their own confirmation. I remember while growing up in my home church we had a pastor who when baptizing a young child or infant would in his robe parade up and down the aisle with the child in his arms and instruct the congregation in no uncertain terms what their responsibility was in this sacrament.

A person is never baptized without training or teaching about what baptism is. When I was baptized I went through 7 weeks of confirmation classes. As a pastor, I have taught confirmation classes for both youth and adults. This would include consultation with youths’ parents. Of course when baptizing an infant, there was consultation with the parents as to their responsibility. I did everything I could to prepare the ones to be baptized for this event. When taught properly and done in the proper manner, baptism is a point of consecration for all involved in the event.

Okay, Dap, if consecration is a time of preparation, how was Jesus prepared when He was baptized? Well, lets go back to the Gospel of Matthew 3:16, “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.” As I said last week, Jesus’ baptism was not an act of repentance, but an act of submission. Through this submission, Jesus received the one thing necessary for the completion of His ministry, the Holy Spirit. In His act of consecration, Jesus received God’s power to do God’s saving work. Now, if the Son of God needs the Power of God to do God’s work, what does that say about the rest of us?

Let’s go to Acts 2:1-4, “(1) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Jesus had told the disciples (recorded in Luke 24:49) that they would receive the promise of the Father, but they needed to tarry in Jerusalem until they would be given the power from on high. Before then, the disciples had deserted Jesus, and although they had begun to come around, they were not ready for the work Jesus had called them to do. They were told to tarry, to wait upon the Father, to wait for the power from on high. Remember Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The disciples waited for the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit came, the same men who fled at Jesus’ arrest preached His crucifixion and resurrection – and on that day, 3000 people were saved…

The priests and Levites in David’s day had to consecrate and prepare themselves before they could move the Ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The disciples had to consecrate themselves, prepare themselves, by waiting for the day of Pentecost, for the promise of the Father, the Power from on high, to begin the work of the church. Jesus prepared Himself, consecrated Himself for the work of salvation that the Father had given Him to do by receiving the Holy Spirit through His baptism.

ANY disciple in the process of seeking God’s face, seeking God’s will, and desiring God to work through him/her must also tarry and wait upon the Lord to receive the Power from on high, the Holy Spirit. For without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. We truly are powerless to do the work of God.

I see this as the biggest problem in the church of Jesus Christ today. We are so busy walking in our own wisdom, believing we are smarter than God. Doing our own will and claiming it is God’s (or if He were smart, it would be…). We run on the emptiness of our own strength because we are afraid to submit to His real strength. We are too busy asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?’ We fail to ask Jesus, “What are You doing?”

Believers, CONSECRATE yourselves. Ask Jesus what He doing, then ask Him to work through you to do it. Realize that what He is doing you will never accomplish within your own strength. Just ask Jesus to give you the POWER from on high and wait for Him to answer your prayer. Then and only them will you be able to move to step #3 – participation!

The Dap

Remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person each day. If you want to be even more empowered, also pray Psalms 23, 27, and 121 in the first person each day.

Monday Night Bible Study

Revelation 2:8-11

Revelation 2:8-11

8) And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, “These things says the First and the Last,
who was dead and came to life:
9) I know your works, tribulation and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy
of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
10) Do not fear any of those things you are about to suffer. Indeed the devil is about to throw
some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be
faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes
shall not be hurt by the second death.”

Smyrna is second in line because it was second only to Ephesus in greatness among the cities of Asia Minor (although they never thought of themselves as second to anyone!). Unlike Ephesus. which basically does not exist today, Smyrna was the site of the present day city of Izmir. Smyrna was situated about 40 miles north of Ephesus and commanded the mouth of the Hermus River valley. This fed into a natural land-sided harbor which could easily be defended. It also stood at the end of the crossroads to Lydia and Phygia, which gave Smyrna command of all the trade through the rich Hermus valley.

Smyrna was a very wealthy city. It was also a very beautiful city. Originally founded by Greek colonists around 1000 B.C. it was destroyed by Lydians about 600 B.C. For almost 400 years it was nothing but a collection of small villages scattered about. Then in 200 B.C. a gentleman by the name of Lysimachus put together a project to reconstruct the city as a planned whole, and Smyrna thus became the first planned city. Its streets were set off in perfect squares with one main thoroughfare arising from the harbor and one crossing it around the Pagos ( the mountain that rose up from the harbor). All the temples and buildings were planned as they were built up the side of the Pagos. The city was aesthetically beautiful and was known as the Jewel of Asia Minor.

Not only was it aesthetically beautiful, but because of its position on the coast, it caught the westerly wind continuously from the sea, which made it a pleasant place to live – except for one problem. All the city’s waste was emptied from the river into the harbor, and at times the aroma was a little less than desirable. Well, I guess you can’t have everything…

Smyrna was similar to Ephesus in that it was also a free city, which meant it did not have to have Roman troops stationed there and had total self government. The City of Smyrna was very proud of their alliance with Rome. In fact, they were never conquered by Rome. They had thrown in their lot with Rome before Rome became a super power. They vied with other cities for the right to be the first to build temples to the emperors. This would be one of the areas of persecution for the church in Smyrna because of the city’s love of Rome and their desire to show it by emperor worship.

The other source of persecution came from the fact that there was a huge Jewish population in Smyrna. This was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that many Christian converts came from Gentiles who were interested in the belief in a one true God as opposed to polytheism. But they were not interested enough to become proselytes (namely, circumcision). Thus, the Christian faith which talked about the circumcision of the heart instead of the physical kind would seem more to their liking. The curse was that Judaism appealed a lot more to women than to men, and many of these women were wives of the wealthy and influential of the city as well as the wives of many of the government leaders. This made it especially easy to get the governing authorities involved in any persecution the Jews wanted to hand out upon the congregation, or cast a blind eye to whatever the Jews wanted to do to the believers. The Christians in Smyrna were under attack from two enemies in the city. Six slanders were often used to accuse the Christian in Smyrna

1) The taking of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist used the words, ‘This is My body and My
blood.’ Thus, the Christians were often accused of being cannibals.
2) Because Christians called their common meal the Agape or love feast, they were accused of holding
3) Because not everyone within a family became believers, Christians were accused of splitting up
families and destroying family values.
4) Because Christians had no carved or molten images for worship, they were called heathen.
5) Because they would not swear loyalty to Caesar and burn incense and worship at his temple, they
were traitors.
6) Because Christians believed in the powerful return of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven this would
bring, they were insurrectionists.

Cannibalism, orgies, family destruction, heathen, traitorous, and insurrectionist….The congregation in Smyrna was really up against it.

Jesus begins in verse 8 by telling the Smyrna Christians that He is the First and the Last. If we will remember from chapter 1, verse 11, the Greek here is saying that Jesus is the foremost one who was before the beginning. And the last in the Greek means as far from the last as you can get. In this Jesus is reminding the congregation that He is the Eternal One, the One who was alive before there was any creation and the One who will be around after there is no creation. He also reminds them that He is the One who was dead (the Greek here actually means a corpse, lifeless), yet now He is alive (the Greek meaning alive eternally, a life without end). There is also a play of words on the history of Smyrna here. Remember, Smyrna was alive from 1000 B.C. until around 600 B.C. and then was destroyed. It was rebuilt around 200BC and was at this time thriving, vying to be the greatest city in Asia Minor, considered a leading city in the entire Roman Empire. They are totally full of themselves and do not suspect their end. Jesus is reminding the Christians in Smyrna that He is the only eternal One and that in the same way the city of Smyrna cast their lot with a temporary empire like Rome, if they continue with faith in Him, the truly Eternal One, they will be the true overcomers.

In verse 9 Jesus reveals three things He knows about them. 1) He knows of their works. They are true to their Gospel calling. Unlike the Ephesians, knew what their first work and their first love was. They even understood the distress in their lives and continued to proclaim the Gospel and call sinners unto repentance. They maintained a heart for the lost. 2) Jesus knows their tribulation. The Greek for tribulation is thlipsis, which means to crush, press, squeeze, to break in any way possible. This congregation was being attacked from two sides – the folks who condemned them for not worshiping the emperor and the Jews whose position was threatened by loss of possible proselytes from their synagogue to a gospel of a risen Lord who offers eternal life. 3) Jesus knows their poverty. In the Greek there are two words used for the poor. One is penia, referring to a person who is not wealthy, one who has to work for a living. This IS NOT the Greek word used here. The Greek used here is ptocheia, referring to a person who has absolutely nothing, totally destitute, without job or resources of any kind. Yet the Lord tells them they are rich. They are rich in faith. They are rich in love from Christ to them and from them to the lost. They are rich in works, the true works of the church of Christ.

Why would the Christians of Smyrna be so poor in such a wealthy city? Because they were suffering for their faith. In a city where emperor worship was not just practiced bur expected, a Christian who refused to bow to Caesar or pay tribute to Caesar suffered from the cancel culture of that day. They had no 4th Amendment. There was no such thing as illegal search and seizure. The mob could enter and destroy any Christians home or business (if they had one), take what they wanted, and make the remainder unusable. Kind of reminds you of the actions that took place this summer in the USA with no punitive action taken. It wasn’t something that was continuous, but the Christians living in Smyrna lived under this type of threat at all times. As an aside here, the exact same things happened to the early Methodist of the 1700’s in England. In early 18th century England, Methodist were dragged out of their home and beaten or thrown into jail. The men could be forced into the army to fight the wars that were happening at that time. Methodist homes and meeting houses could be (and were) destroyed or irreparably damaged. John and Charles Wesley were both arrested by authorities. They were both seized by mobs and beaten and dragged down streets and around towns. If you need proof, read the journals of both Charles and John Wesley. The Jews in Russia were subject to the same treatment. The Christians of Smyrna were subject to the same abuse.

Another reason the Christians in Smyrna were so poor is also found in verse 9. Jesus says He knows of the blasphemy of the Jews. The Greek for blasphemy is blasphemia, meaning to vilify someone, to slander them, to tell falsehoods about them, to lie and speak evil of them and against God. The Jews were the primary instigators against the congregation at Smyrna. They propagated the six slanders mentioned earlier in this writing. Jesus calls them the synagogue of Satan, the Greek literally meaning slanderer, adversary, and accuser. This is what the Jews of Smyrna did and in so doing got the whole city stirred up against the Christians.

Yet in verse 10, Jesus tell the congregation in Smyrna not to fear. Then He follows it up with things that would make one fear. He tells them they are about to suffer. He doesn’t tell them what the total sum of their suffering is going to be, though probably a lot more of the same already mentioned. He specifically says that the devil will throw some of them in prison. The Greek for devil, diabolos, means the one who is full of falsehood and lies, one who slanders and whose main purpose is to lead people away from God and into sin. They will all suffer tribulation and will be tested. The good news is that it will be for a short time. The phrase “ten days” unfortunately does not mean a literal ten days. It does, however, refer to a short period of time. He tells them to be faithful until death, which indicates some will die under the persecution.

Here Jesus tells them of one of their two rewards: 1) Being faithful (Greek word pistos, meaning faithful in duty to oneself and to others, true fidelity) even unto even unto death results in Jesus’ giving them the crown of eternal Life, a life without end. The Greek here for life is zoie, which can either mean just life in general or, as in Scripture, eternal life without end. The interesting fact here is Jesus says the crown of eternal life. There are again two words for “crown” in the Greek. One is diadema, which means a royal crown worn by a king or emperor. The second word is the one found in our text, stephanos, which carries with it the joy of victory. Smyrna had an area where athletic events were held that were were prominent in the city. Victors in these events would receive a laurel crown. Smyrna was also called the crown of Asia Minor, thus one side of their coins would have a victors crown inscribed on it. City officials who left their jobs with great accomplishments, or others who had done great feats, would have coins fashioned with their wearing a crown of victory on one side. The crown was part of the strong imagery and tradition for the city of Smyrna. So it is interesting that Jesus promises a victor’s crown for the reward of the faithful believer. But His reward is not a laurel crown that will wilt, dry out, crumble, and disappear. Rather, it is an eternal crown that remains with the one who has been given eternal life.

Verse 11 begins with, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Then Jesus reveals the second reward for the faithful: 2) There is a promise that they who overcome will not be hurt, damaged, or harmed by the second death. Teachers of the Bible make a big deal about the Sadducees and their not believing in the resurrection of the dead, but most Jews believed in an eternal life. As a matter of fact, the term “second death” is only found a couple of times in the New Testament. The term is not Christian, it comes from Orthodox Judaism. The Orthodox Jews believed that when a person died, they went to a place where their spirits remained until they were judged. At the time of judgment is when they would go to their eternal home, Heaven or Hell. The Catholic concept of Purgatory actually derives from this Orthodox Judaism belief. Jesus promises the believers at Smyrna that they who are faithful till the end, until death, will not face the second death. Here the word for death is not the word for a corpse. It is thanatos, meaning destruction, perdition, misery, implying both physical death and exclusion from the presence and favor of God in consequence of sin and disobedience. The residents of Smyrna may be able to kill the Christian believers in this world, but the faithful will wear the eternal crown of eternal life in the next.

The sufferings of the Christians in Smyrna were not just historical suffering. Humanity has not really moved forward or grown past such atrocities. They are happening in Iran, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Argentina, Venezuela, and other countries in this world today. I really hate to say it, but the way things are going in Washington DC, they may be happening soon in this this country as well.

Let’s Sum it up:
1) Jesus is the First and the Last, He who was dead but now lives.
2) Jesus knows Smyrna’s condition, their works, their tribulation, and their poverty.
3) Jesus tells them that they are rich in what matters – their first work, their first love, their heart for
the unsaved.
4) He knows the false charges that have been brought against them and who brought them – Jews not
following God but following Satan
5) Do not fear the testing that is coming: more tribulation, imprisonment, even death. But it will be for
a short period of time.
6) Those who are faithful until death and those who overcome will receive the eternal crown of eternal life and freedom from the second death.

In Christ –
The Dap

Remember to pray the 91st Psalm in the first person daily. If you want to be even more empowered, pray the 23rd, the 27th, and the 121st in first person as well.


What Is a Disciple? – Separation

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE? – Separation

In my last blog we discussed that a disciple is someone who seeks to continuously be in the presence of God, a person who wants to develop and grow in their relationship with their Heavenly Father. Of course the first thoughts that come to mind are setting aside time each day to read Scripture and pray, but if we are not careful, these can become just habits. No different than reading a novel and one-sided communication with God, where we speak to God but don’t take the time to be quiet and listen. Believe me, prayer and reading Scripture can be good disciplines, and I’m not saying there is no benefit; but for them to truly help you grow in your faith in Christ and your relationship with your Heavenly Father, these actions have to become stepping stones through the process called sanctification.

What is sanctification? First of all, it is never-ending process. Like you, I have heard the word “sanctified”, which leads one to believe there is an ending place, an “arrival point.” But no one ever arrives. If this is the path as a Christian we choose, we are always growing, always moving deeper into the spiritual realm of a vital, living, growing relationship with the Father. In our microwave culture, we want to push start, get it cooked, eat it, and move on to the next process. But with sanctification, there is only continued growth until we arrive at the pearly gates. The Greek for sanctification is hagiosmos, and it means to be set apart for God and His purpose in your life.

Sanctification is the process by which we move toward holiness in our life. Not holier-than-thou holiness, where we become judges of others, but a humble form of holiness, where we realize that without Christ we can do nothing (yet through Christ we can do all things). By growing in holiness. we realize the truth of our power, or lack of it, and the awesome power of the Holy Spirit when we bow before God in humility. Through sanctification we move from working for God to wanting more and more for God to work through us. As I have grown in my faith and thus in the process of sanctification, I have realized that I have less and less with which o bargain… I used to come to God and try to make a deal: God, if you will do this, then I will do that. In perspective now, I see how ignorant I was. I realize now that the only assets I have to offer are praise and thanksgiving. But that’s fine with me, because it is fantastic to just sit back and rest in His grace, mercy, and love and to just receive His abundance, while giving God all the praise and glory and honor.

Thus, as sanctification helps us to move toward holiness, it helps us to develop deeper lines of communication between God and ourselves. We must remember that our Heavenly Father is a holy God. He cannot look upon sin. That is why Jesus upon the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” This was the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus referred to His Heavenly Father as God, because at that time God was pouring out all the quilt of sin from the time of Adam to the end of time on Jesus. On the cross, Jesus became sin for us. God had to turn His back on His Son because as a holy God He can not look upon sin. Even as brand new believers, we can pray to God through the name of Jesus, but as we grow in holiness through sanctification, our relationship with both the Father and the Son becomes much more intimate.

I didn’t always understand sanctification. What it was really all about eluded me. But after reading The Power of the Blood of Jesus, a book by Andrew Murray (one of my favorite theologians) , I began to catch the concept much better. In this book, Murray talks about the power of Jesus’ blood in the process of sanctification. He says that sanctification occurs in three stages: 1) separation, 2) consecration, and 3) participation. What surprised me is that God has power over only the first stage, separation, and that we have control over the other two stages. The remainder of this blog will focus on “separation.”

“Separation” is imperative in both the Old and New Testaments. Noah was separated out to build the ark. Abraham was separated out from his family and his land to go to a land that God would show him. God made a covenant with Abraham and sustained it through Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs. God separated the Hebrew people and called them to be a people unto Himself. God separated Moses to lead the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt. God separated Aaron and his sons to be priests, the Levites to care for the tabernacle and the holy articles. God separated Joshua to follow Moses and lead the people into the promise land. After Joshua’s death, God separated people to be judges over the land. When the people demanded a king, God separated out Saul and then David. God separated out Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah to be prophets. (There was a lot of separating going on!) The point is that when God has a certain work to be done. He separates a person or a people unto Himself to do that work.

In the Old Testament. the people God separated unto Himself to be His witnesses to the world were the Children of Abraham. He separated them out to be a nation of priests, a light for God to the world around them. Unfortunately, they (much like the church of today) preferred to blend into the world than be separated unto God.

In the New Testament God separated Mary to be the mother of Jesus and Joseph to be His earthly father. Elizabeth and Zacharias were separated out to be the parents of John the Baptist. We probably don’t think about it in this way, but God the Father separated Jesus to be the Savior, the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. And guess what – God has separated you and me out to follow Jesus. Separation is God’s call on our life. Separation is the first step toward our sanctification and the first step toward our salvation. I love how Charles Spurgeon puts it – he believes in predestination, in that we are ALL predestined to be called by God. But the answer to that call is up to us.

The problem with separation is that it means exactly what it means. We are called to be separated unto God and separated from the world. What makes an Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elisha, Mary, and Joseph different is that they accepted the call of God for their life. Each of them was willing to be different and separated from the people of the world around them.

Jesus Himself is one of the best examples of sanctification. We see it in His baptism. Matthew 3:13 says, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him.” There is a lot of theology behind baptism which is not necessary to go into with this blog. Suffice it to say that baptism is a sign of separation, a sign of submission, a sign of a calling beyond oneself. Johns baptism was a baptism of repentance, a change of mind/thinking. Don’t get this wrong -Jesus did not come to repent. He was sinless. Jesus came as an act of submission! But through repentance, the people from Judah and the people from Galilee who came to be baptized by John answered God’s call to separate themselves from the sins of their nation. Jesus’ coming was in answer to God’s call to fulfill the plan of the worlds salvation.

We’re back to that key word: separation. To be separated from the world and separated unto God the Father for His work and to do His will. The church of today wants to blend in with the world and try to bend God into doing their work according to their will. True disciples welcome separation from the world, because they know this is the only way to seek His face and to be in His presence.

In Christ –
The Dap
Next blog we will talk about step #2, consecration. Until them be sure and pray Psalm 91 in the first person daily. And if you want to be even more empowered, pray Psalms 23, 27, and 121 as well.

Monday Night Bible Study

REVELATION 2:1-7, Continued

Revelation 2:1-7 (cont’d)

While the letters to the seven churches are written to individual congregations, it is clear that Jesus’ intention was for all the congregations to have knowledge of each letter. The seven letters follow the exact same outline consisting of seven segments. While a couple of the churches may only have 6 segments, the outline is the same:
1) To which church the letter is written
2) The speaker of the words which are to be written
3) The intimate knowledge the speaker has about each church, the church’s accomplishments
4) The church’s actual condition, usually negative
5) The correction to their condition
6) The exhortation of, “he who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”
7) The reward promised to the victor.

In actuality only three churches have the full seven. Two, Smyrna and Philadelphia, do not include item #4 and two, Sardis and Laodicea, do not include item #3.

Jesus commands John to write to the messenger of the congregation at Ephesus. Jesus defines Himself the speaker as, “He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands.” The first thing we must glean from this verse is He who holds. The Greek for ‘holds’ is kratein, and it carries with it a powerful meaning: to take hold with complete control. Jesus is telling the congregation at Ephesus that He has and is in complete control of the church. This has a positive meaning and a negative meaning, depending on how one handles it. If we recognize Jesus’ control and submit to it, then we can walk in His presence, strength, and power. The congregation can live in the security of Christ’s love, presence, and power. When we submit, we are under such protection that nothing Satan can do – and no one that Satin can send – can tear us from the protective hands of Christ. But if we rebel…..well, the answer is found in verse 5.

The imagery with kratein is Jesus has all seven stars in His hands. Jesus moves among the seven lamp stands. He holds all, moves among all. What John wants us to understand is Jesus has and is in total control of the WHOLE church. Remember, Jesus tells us the mystery of the stars and the lamp stands in verse 20 of the first chapter. The stars are the angels or the messengers, the lamp stands are the congregations. The messengers are firmly grasped in His hand and the congregations are in His immediate presence. Again, Jesus is in total control, not the messengers or the congregational leadership, not the congregation itself. Only Jesus. The stars are in His right hand. The right hand denotes authority and position. Their position is in His right hand. Their position is under His authority.

In verse 2, Jesus tell the Ephesus congregation what He sees as their accomplishments. He says He knows their works. The Greek for ‘works’ is ergon (pronounced er’-gon) and means the work of a group of people based on doing the right action according to a moral code. In this case, the moral code would be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They labor for the Gospel, they persevere for the Gospel. They have done good works. They have cared for the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, provided shelter for the homeless, and held true to the Gospel.

Their second accomplishment is that they cannot stand or endure those who are evil. The Greek for evil is kakos, (pronounced kak-os’) and is defined as wicked, viscous in conduct, heart, and character.

Their accomplishment was that they had heeded Paul’s warning 30 years earlier. Paul warned them that there would be wolves and liars and false teachers and false apostles who would come in and try to destroy the church – or at least lead them astray. Jesus said that the congregation at Ephesus had tested these teachers and self-appointed apostles to see if they were what they claimed to be. The Greek for tested is peirazo (pronounced pi-rad’-zo). It means to tempt, to prove and put to the test in order to ascertain the true character, views, or feelings of someone. They worked hard and labored long to test those teachers and apostles to make sure that they were true ambassadors of Christ. In verse 3, Jesus repeats that they have persevered and labored and bore up under pressure for the sake of His name, and that in the process of it all they had not become weary. The Greek for weary is kamno (pronounced kam’-no.) It means to be made sick by constant work. Jesus praises them that their continual battle against false teachers, false teachings, and false apostles has not made them weary or sick. They haven’t given up or quit under the pressure but are constant in this battle. I’m sure we all have battled against problems or issues in our lives for such a time that at one point we have seen no end in sight. We become weary, want to say, “Forget it!” And we sometimes do. Jesus praises the Ephesians for not becoming weary of the fight and for keeping on keeping on.

Verse 4 brings us to the charge against them. Jesus tells them they have forgot their first love. The Greek for love is agape – a word we followers of Christ know well. It means selfless love, sacrificial love. I will close tonight’s study with what the Lord means by this.

In verse 5, Jesus exhorts Ephesus to remember from where they were fallen – basically, to remember how they were in the beginning. It is interesting that the Lord is challenging them to remember what in their past it was that brought them unto salvation. What kind of love it was that enabled them to confess Jesus as their Lord. The love that enabled them to to live a life of assurance of forgiveness. Jesus calls on the congregation at Ephesus to repent. The Greek for repent is metanoeo (pronounced met-an-o-eh’-o). It is stated as showing a genuine sorrow for sin and a changing of the mind toward God with the intended action of returning to God. Jesus wants the Ephesians to stop standing on their accomplishments and return to grace, to stop depending on their good works and return to depending on the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus tells them that He wants them to return to their first work, their first ergon. That was proclaiming the Gospel unto salvation.

The Lord ends verse 5 with His punishment if they do not repent and return to their first work. He will remove their lamp stand. They will be cast out, no longer part of the kingdom, no longer under the power of His protection.

In verse 6 Jesus does what people in the business world call a ‘sandwich’. In verses 2 and 3 He praises them, in verses 4 and 5 He tells them what they are doing wrong, and in verse 6 He praises them again. Jesus tells them that, like Himself, they hate the works of the Nicolaitans. These were a group of gnostics who would become a bigger pain in another 50 years, but even at the turn of the first century, their diversive beliefs were rearing an ugly head. These Nicolaitans are identified with the followers of Nicolaus, the proselyte of Antioch, who was one of the seven deacons of that church. The idea is that he went astray and became a heretic. According to an early church father, Irenaeus, the Nicolaitans lived a life of unrestrained indulgence. Hippolytus says that they departed from correct doctrine and were in the habit of inculcating indifference to food and life. They confused Christian liberty with unchristian living. The Nicolaitans saw no reason for a Christian to be separated unto God. Like the church of today, the Nicolaitans believed the Christian should just blend in. There was no such thing as a Christian lifestyle. It was the spirit that mattered, not the body or a life separated unto Christ. Jesus praises the Ephesians that they hated this heresy as much as He did. We must understand that while the Ephesians may have hated the Nicolaitans, in reality Jesus did not. Jesus hated the heresy and what it did and could do to believers and His church. We will deal again with the Nicolaitans in the church at Pergamos, but it will come from less of a Greek viewpoint and more from an Old Testament Hebrew viewpoint.

In verse 7, we have the proclamation, “He who has ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This proclamation is at the end of all seven letters. Many times this verse is misquoted because people say ears. But notice it is in the singular – ‘ear’. What the Lord is saying is let the one who has a heart after God hear, a heart after the truth of the Gospel, a heart to do Jesus’ work and rely upon His grace, His goodness, His righteousness, His mercy, His holiness, and His word. They will hear and repent and return to Christ. As Jesus puts it, they will be overcomers. They will receive the full promise of salvation. Eternal life, life with no end. They will be received into God Paradise and be allowed to do that which Adam and Eve were not allowed to do – that which their exile from the Garden of Eden prevented them from doing: eating from the tree of life. The Greek word for life is zoe (pronounced dzo-ay’). This carries a different meaning in the everyday Greek and Hebrew. To these languages, it just means a life which satisfies; but in Christian texts, it is used to mean life eternal, a life without end. Thus,we get to eat from the tree of eternal life!

Go back to verse 4. What does the Lord mean by the Ephesians leaving their first love (agape)? We read about their good works, their tirelessness, their willingness to protect the Gospel and the name of Jesus, their unwillingness to be fooled by false doctrine and false teachers by constantly testing them to see if they were true or not. Why is Jesus calling them to repent? Because they lost their first love, which was AGAPE LOVE! If we go to the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, verses 1-3 we read, “Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angel but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” Have you ever gone to a church and heard a sermon that was so hell-fire and brimstone it scared you to death? Yet when the service was over, you thought if you went to the altar it wouldn’t really matter, because the people were about as friendly as a provoked rattle snake? They did their duty. Did they do anything wrong? No. Did you feel a need to repent? Yes. Did you feel love? Probably not. Have you ever encountered a person who could quote Scripture like they were reading it from the Bible? And if you mention a problem or make a mistake or ask for prayer, they just spout out a Scripture? These folks are great at quoting Scripture but not so good at living the life of love that Scripture talks about….

The Ephesians had become experts at testing the teachers and the teachings. They had become experts at protecting the name of Jesus. But they had stopped exhorting the name of Jesus. They could tell you what true doctrine was, but they had either forgotten how to proclaim or just ceased to do so. You see, the first love is the understanding of what the first work is. The first work is the conversion of the sinner. The Ephesians wouldn’t have a Gospel to protect if they hadn’t first been converted and brought into a new life in Christ. They had forgot that their first love was to love people and to love them to the point that they wanted to bring them into the kingdom with themselves. The first work was the saving of souls.

Now you are thinking, ‘Well, Dap, you said that they did good works. They fed the hungry, they clothed the naked, they helped find shelter for the homeless, they gave to or provided ministry to the poor. What more could they do?’ Listen here – they could love those people. They could act/behave in love. Be honest. How often do we do the same things merely out of obligation? How often do we do the same works for works’ sake? How often do we perform the same way, thinking, ‘OKAY! Now I have a bargaining chip with God’? How often do we do the same work in order to be seen and to garner praise for what a good person we are? The Ephesians had lost their heart for the sinner, their concern for the lost. You cannot offer salvation to someone you do not love. We need Revival in our world today more than anything else we could pray for. We give it lip service but not a lot of action. For us to be an agent of change, we first must be changed. We have to pray with David, “Create in me a new heart, O Lord.” A new heart that beats in unison with the heart of Christ. A heart which breaks over the same sins that breaks Christ’s heart. The Ephesians had lost that heart of love, that zeal to seek and offer salvation to the lost.

The Ephesians had gotten so caught up in testing the false teachings and teachers that they had become judges instead of evangelists. Remember how I said earlier that Jesus didn’t hate the Nicolaitans, he hated their heresy? The Ephesians had become so judgmental they hated both the Nicolaitans and their heresy. This doesn’t mean that we don’t test spirits, doctrine, teachings, actions, and teachers. These are a must to do. We are allowed and expected to judge and test those. But we are NOT allowed to judge people to the point we condemn them. We are called to love them, offer them the truth, pray for their salvation, and hope for their redemption. The congregation at Ephesus had forgotten that – THEY HAD FORGOTTEN THEIR FIRST LOVE!!


Let’s review:
1. Jesus is writing through John to the congregation at Ephesus.
2. Jesus’ power and Authority is demonstrated by His holding of the seven stars in His Right hand and
His position among the lamp stands.
3. Jesus praises the Ephesians’ works, laboring without growing weary, patience, perseverance, and
testing in order to protect the name of Jesus.
4. The charge against them is that they have lost their first love, agape.
5. They are called upon to repent and return to their first work and their first love.
6. They are told that the punishment if they do not repent and return to their first love is being removed from the kingdom.
7. They are praised again for their not being deceived by the Nicolaitans.
8. When they do repent and return, they will be overcomers and will receive their place in paradise
where they will receive everlasting life.

Be sure to pray the 91st Psalm in the first person. If you want to be even more empowered, pray the 23rd, the 27th, and the 121st Psalms in the first person as well.

Blessings –
The Dap


What Is a Disciple? Continued


What is a disciple? The dictionary says a disciple is a student. This is true, but it is not the whole truth. When I was in seminary, the school was fortunate enough to have Dr. Fred Craddock as their Professor of Preaching and New Testament. I marveled at the man, and I guess you could say that I was a disciple of his. I took every class that he taught and picked his brain at every opportunity. In sharing with other believers, I have found that all believers tend to be a disciple of somebody. We like watching or listening to certain sermons. We read everything certain folks write. I am a big Charles Spurgeon and Oswald Chambers fan. I also like to read Andrew Murray. But when Jesus calls us to be His disciples, He want us to pattern our lives like the original twelve.

You ask, “Okay, Dap, what do you mean?” A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who wants to be with Him at all times. The twelve were always with Jesus. The only exception was when Jesus put them in the boat to go to the other side of the lake. Then He later walked to them in the storm. One other time was when they left Him by Jacob’s well in Samaria to go and buy food. These twelve men went everywhere Jesus went, ate where Jesus ate, ate what Jesus ate, and slept where Jesus slept. They were with Jesus 24/7. They heard every sermon Jesus delivered, every teaching Jesus taught. When they could get away from the crowds, they received additional personal instruction that no one else received. They saw every miracle Jesus performed. The only great action of Jesus that they all were not present for was His crucifixion (only John hung around for that).

But this disciple business is not just a New Testament way of thinking. The same is also found in the Old Testament as well. David was considered a man after God’s own heart. We look at the life of David and how many times he screwed up. We read about all his mistakes from Bathsheba to the census of the people. It seems like David couldn’t get out of his own way…

I have heard it preached, and also held the belief, that the phrase “a man after God’s heart” meant that in spite of how often David failed, he strove to do God’s will and follow God’s law. After reading the Psalms, I now believe that it is a more literal statement. Read David’s Psalms and see how many times he talks about being in God’s Temple. Think about that. Only a couple of times the word tabernacle is used. Most of the time it is the word “temple.” This is David we are talking about. When he was alive there was not a temple!! So what was David saying? He was speaking about being in God’s presence, in GOD’S THRONE ROOM! David is proclaiming to God how his desire to seek and maintain a personal relationship with Him.

David ends the 23rd Psalm in verse 6 with,”Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” The Hebrew word for house is bayith (pronounced bah’-yith). Its meaning can be anything from a hut to a palace. Its common meaning is “a dwelling”. David is proclaiming that he wants to be continually where God dwells forever.

In Psalm 27:4 &5 David says, ”One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion, in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.” Here David uses all three words, house is the same as in Psalm 23, but he also uses Temple. The Hebrew for temple is heykal (pronounced hay-kawl). The term was used for Solomon’s temple as well as the second temple of the returned exiles. But its basic definition is that of a large building which has a huge capacity, and its major use was to describe the dwelling of God. Remember, this is David, and his son Solomon’s temple was yet not in existence. David also uses the word tabernacle. The Hebrew for tabernacle is ohel (pronounced o’-hel). It literally means a tent, a nomadic dwelling. Do you hear what David is saying here? He is saying, ‘Lord I want to be with You, I want to dwell with You. I don’t care, Lord. if it is in a great enormous palace or a tent – I just want to be with you wherever you are, doing what you are doing. Then in verse 8 David says,”When You said, ‘Seek MY Face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek.” David understood and desired being in the presence of God. It was what he wanted more than anything, because in verse 9 David pleads,”Do not hide Your face from me..” David’s biggest desire was dwelling with God, continually being in God’s presence.

In the 91st Psalm verses 1-2, David says,”Because I dwell in the secret place of the Most High, I shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress; my God, in You I will trust’.” David is claiming his protection not on the fact that he is a great warrior or has a great army, but on the fact that he dwells with and in the Lord. He claims his victory because he has made God’s refuge his refuge and God’s fortress his fortress. In verse 4 David says, “God shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I shall take refuge.” For anyone who has grown up on a farm with chickens, you have seen this in reality. If there is a dog or something else that a hen thinks is a danger to her chicks, she gathers them up and covers them with her wings. David coveted the protection Jesus spoke of when He cried over Jerusalem. Later in verses 9-10 David says, “Because I have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, my dwelling place, no evil shall befall me.” Again, just the very presence of the Lord is His refuge. The presence of the Lord is his dwelling.

Psalm 121 is a Psalm of ascent. This means that the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the major feasts would read these Psalms as they approached the temple. In verse 1 the question is asked of Israel, “From whence comes you help?” The answers speak of a relationship that is personal and powerful. Verse 2 states, “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” Verse 3 states, “He will not allow my foot to be moved.” Verse 5, “The LORD is my keeper, The LORD is my shade at my right hand.” Verses 7-8, “The LORD shall preserve me from all evil; He shall preserve my soul. The LORD shall preserve my going out and my coming in from this time forth, and forevermore.” This whole Psalm denotes a close personal relationship with and dwelling with God. How much more of an example do we need of living in the continual presence of God than claiming that the Covenant Keeping God preserves our going out and our coming in??

But now let’s move to the New Testament. As mentioned earlier, the disciples lived with Jesus during His life. Referencing Acts 1:21-23, “Therefore of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection. And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas (surnamed Justus) and Matthias.” To replace Judas (the betrayer) as one of the twelve, the choice had to be someone who had lived and experienced the entire ministry of Jesus. They could only find two. Out of the many followers, the 72 which are mentioned in Luke or the 150 mentioned in other scriptures, only two met the criteria.

Then there is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” The Greek for kingdom is basileia (pronounced bas-il-i’-ah). Like most Greek words, it carries an everyday meaning and a spiritual meaning. The everyday meaning is a kingdom as we think of a kingdom – territories, land, vassal states, and even empires. According to Strong’s Greek dictionary of the New Testament, the spiritual meaning is that of seeking a relationship with God, a kingdom of the heart where God reigns supreme. Jesus is saying here in Matthew we are to seek out God’s Kingdom, which is a personal relationship with God. This can only be done by believing in God’s righteousness. Who is God’s righteousness? Jeremiah tells us in 23:6 and 33:16 that it is the Messiah, which means it is Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus is saying that to be a disciple of His, one must seek first a relationship with God – which can only be had by faith in Jesus Christ! Seek the relationship. Make your dwelling with God through the Son. The emphasis is upon dwelling in the presence of God.

You say, “Well, Dap, maybe a preacher or priest or rabbi has time to do that, but I have to earn a living, I have obligations I must meet, social responsibilities that are important. I don’t have time to just dwell with God!” Listen here – if you dare to tear open that box you think you have God contained in, you will find He is not there. Don’t think God is not present at your job or with your clubs or social organization. Don’t think God is not present at your kids’ sporting events or extracurricular activities. Don’t think God is not present in your workshop or your green house or your garden. A disciple knows God is there, seeks God’s presence there, and asks the question; “Lord, how are you going to use me today?”

We are just scratching the surface on “What is a Disciple?” Look for my next blog – we are going to dive even deeper….

In Christ,
The Dap

Remember to Pray Psalm 91 in the first person each day. And if you want to feel even more empowered, pray Psalms 23, 27, and 121, too.

Monday Night Bible Study

Revelation 2:1-7

Revelation 2:1-7

1) To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things says He who holds the seven stars in
His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands.
2) I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.
And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
3) and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have
not become weary.
4) Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will
come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place unless you repent.
6) But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes
I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

There is a lot to know about the church at Ephesus. This will likely take more than one posting…

At the time John is writing this, Ephesus was considered the greatest city in Asia. It had the biggest and best harbor in Asia, and because it sat at the mouth of the Cayster River, it became a center for trade. Not only did the river provide a route of trade into the interior of Asia, but also the broad river valley provided routes of trade from other parts of the Empire. It was at Ephesus that the trade routes form the Euphrates and Mesopotamia reached the Mediterranean via Colosse and Laodicea. It was at Ephesus where the trade from the interior such as Galatia and produce from rich Maeander Valley reached the markets. For Asia, Ephesus was the Highway to Rome. In 50 to 60 years, when persecutions of Christians occurred daily and were wide-spread, it became known as the highway of the martyrs.

Ephesus was what they called a Free City. Because of special actions the city had afforded the Roman government, they received special benefits. They were totally self-governing within their city limits. They were a seat where the Roman Governor held court, and they did not require Roman troops to be garrisoned within the city. Ephesus was not the capital of the province of Asia, but it was where the governor lived most of the time. Much like Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine, yet the Roman Governors spent most of their time in Caesarea by the sea. Ephesus was also the host to the largest athletic games in Asia.

Ephesus was the center of worship for the goddess Artemis or as she is referred to in the scriptures, Diana. Her temple was considered one of the seven wonders of the world at the time. The temple measured 425 feet long and 220 feet wide. It had 120 columns, each 60 feet high, with 36 columns richly gilded and inlaid with gold and precious stones. One might remember in Acts 19 where Paul got in trouble with the gold, silver, and jewelry guilds of Ephesus, because they thought the young church was cutting into their profits. The cult of Diana was a fertility cult and employed over a 1000 male and female prostitutes.

There were also two large and extensive temples dedicated to emperor worship as well as pagan temples of many kinds in Ephesus. Pagan influence and worship were prevalent here. Ephesus was also know as a place where pagan superstition was very widespread. There was in John and Paul’s day a document called the Ephesian Letters. These included charms to do anything from making someone fall in love with you to healing any kind of illness or malady. People came from all over the empire to buy the charms and amulets.

The population of Ephesus was divided into 6 different groups: 1) those who descended from the original people in the area; 2) direct descendants from the original Greek colonist from Athens; 3-5) three groups consisting of Greeks from other areas of Greece; 6) Jews who had been there awhile since they were brought there by the Assyrians after the conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. As a matter of fact, the Jews may have been the first refugees even before the Greeks ever appeared.

Because of the Temple of Artemis, Ephesus was not only a center of religion and a center of trade, it was also a center for crime. No matter how offensive the crime, a criminal could receive asylum in the temple. Thus, many criminal elements would operate out of the temple grounds.

Paul stayed in Ephesus longer than anywhere else during his missionary journeys. Paul’s apprentice, Timothy, was called the first Bishop of Ephesus. Apollos made his headquarters in Ephesus. Paul wrote some of his letters to other churches from Ephesus. (Both letters to the Corinthians) But Ephesus did not only belong to Paul, it was an important church in the life of the writer of Revelation.
John was as big an influence in Ephesus as Paul, maybe even bigger. While Paul visited no other cities in Asia than Ephesus, as mentioned earlier, John was the Apostle to Asia, going to the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel which had been exiled there by the Assyrians several hundred years prior. Ephesus was John’s base of operations in Asia Minor.

When Revelation was being written, Paul had been dead for over 30 years. The Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed for 23 years. Because the Temple and the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, there was no longer a Jerusalem church. It would be a little over 200 years before Rome, under the rule of Constantine, would begin to ascend as a center of the Christian faith. Therefore, believe it or not, the church in Ephesus along with the church in Alexandria Egypt became the centers of the Christian faith. When John is writing to Ephesus in this Revelation, he is writing to an authoritative center of the Christian faith.

We will stop here for today’s study. I thought it would be good to understand the importance of Ephesus to its world in its day as well as the importance of Ephesus to the church at the time of John’s writing. Both give us a better understanding of why Ephesus was the first of the seven letters.

In Christ,

The Dap

Remember to pray Psalm 91 daily in the first person. If you want to be more empowered, pray Psalm 23, Psalm 27, and Psalm 121 in the first person as well.


Calling All Disciples

Calling All Disciples

I wrote a blog a few days ago called “Ignorant, Stupid, or Just Plain Idiot.” I blew off some steam about something that was very important to me, the feminizing of a word whose roots in the English go directly back to its Hebrew foundation. In the Hebrew it is neither feminine nor masculine, but a Rep. Cleaver from Missouri dishonored it anyway. I probably shouldn’t have written that blog – but not because I am ashamed of it. On the contrary, it was a great piece of Biblical word study. I believe every word I wrote.

I wrote out of a fantasy world belief that one could have a factual discussion with the fascist left. But words, no matter how truthful, correct, or right, are shouted down. Discussions with persons who are in their minds never wrong, will never be wrong, and will shout till your ears bleed or till you crouch away and they can claim victory. Not because they are right, but because they can create a mob real quick and make it where one cannot be heard. The truth is, they are afraid to listen; and they are really afraid for someone to hear it who hasn’t bought into their insanity – because it just might make sense!

I responded to a post by a cousin of mine on Facebook (BIG MISTAKE, I KNEW BETTER. SWORE I WOULD NEVER DO IT.). He is one of those who would vote for a Democrat if they were Satan. He has done it many times. He was very judgmental about what happened at the Capitol in DC (which I had agreed was wrong). I briefly made reference to all the destruction that had gone on since April 2020. His snappy reply was, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” I responded regarding about 7 or 8 of the violent and destructive acts around the country. I didn’t even mention Atlanta and Peachtree Street and the Wendy’s that was burned down. The State patrol headquarters that were attacked and vandalized. The eight year old little girl that was killed because the police, under the orders of the mayor, had let violent gangs get control of the area, while her mother was trying to get her to the doctor. I told him that would be my last statement on the matter and that he could respond if he wanted to. Boy did he, he and about 15 other irrational folks. I thought he would keep it in the family, but I guess he couldn’t handle common sense. He had to bring the mob. Think about this, this is someone who said he loved me the last time we were together. If this is the response of a person who says he loves me, think what the response of a Biden, a Harris, a Pelosi, an Ossoff, or a Warnock is going to be….

I KNEW BETTER. We are simply past the opportunity for courteous discussion. It doesn’t matter what we say. It doesn’t matter what the facts or the reality are. The problem is all us. The only discussion is how to cleanse us. There is no common ground. For this mindset, it is either their way or a call for destruction of any opposition. It is impossible for them to admit that any words they have said, any actions they have done, any bills they have passed are wrong. Only those who disagree with them are wrong and should be cancelled.

It’s frustrating, you know. They own all the news media. Don’t be fooled by Fox – they have proven to be snakes in the grass. The new upstarts will either be bought out or taken off the amazon servers. (I’m purposely not going to capitalize these people – they don’t deserve it.) They own facebook, youtube and twitter. What can we do? WE CAN PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is why I titled this “Calling All Disciples”. I am calling on and inviting every disciple of Christ to joining me in praying for our enemies. Not ABOUT them, but FOR them. Jesus commands His disciple to do this. In Matthew 5:44 He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Dap, what do you mean pray for them? How do we pray for them? Do we pray for their success? NO! WE PRAY FOR THEIR SALVATION!!!!! We come spiritually and if need be physically on our knees and in humility admit that we are powerless in this situation, that the Heavenly Father is our only hope. Ask Him to unleash the Holy Spirit upon them. Please let me be clear about something here. I do not hate these people. I feel great sorrow for them and I am truly trying to love them through the Christ that lives in me. I must admit that I succeed more some days than others. That is why I am trying to stay away from news feeds. I have found I can think of them in a much kinder light the less news I hear. All the news does is make me irritated and gives Satan an opening to foil my Christ-like love for my enemy.

I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but they hate you and me. Their attitude is you either conform to my belief, submit to my oppression, or I will destroy you. There is absolutely no love, compassion, or even the good part of humanity in that. The problem with the organized Church, and many who call themselves Christians, is that they have slowly moved government up the altar ladder to the place where government is almost if not equal with God. We pray for certain outcomes – believing that a certain outcome will protect our freedom and even our faith. We either believe like the fascist leftists that one party is good and the other party is bad, or like myself, that I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. In November my trust was not in the election. And for many years it will not be again. I hate to admit that there have been times when my trust was in an election. But as I have grown in my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus and my Daddy God, all I saw this November was a delaying tactic to what Satan will be doing in the next eight days. The run-off in my home state? I knew the result weeks before it happened. It was two days after the run off before I looked on a news feed to see what I knew those results would be…

You see, brothers and sisters, this has never been a political war. It has always been a spiritual war, but as we believers in Christ took our eyes off the spiritual and focused on the political, the ruler of this world took more and more power right from under our feet. So I am asking you to take your eyes off the political and join me in fighting like the people of God, fighting as a people of God should, fighting on our knees.

I have the last few days been praying for my enemies, and I am going to continue until God brings about an earth-shattering, world-shaking, heart-changing, Holy Spirit fire-breathed revival in this country.

You ask, “Okay, Dap, so what do we pray?” We pray that God will reveal Himself to these people through the power of the Holy Spirit. That God will send people into their lives that have courage in the Lord and can be used by the Spirit to touch their hearts. That if they have any respect for religion at all, the Spirit will use it to break through their hardened hearts. That if perchance they have a Bible in their home or office that even a glance at it, or maybe even a look inside it, gives the Holy Spirit a chance to break through their hardened hearts, heal them, and change them. Reason will not and cannot do it. If your eyes are even half opened, you can see that clear. Only God’s Holy Spirit can change hearts, and we need to turn totally and completely to Him.

“The word of God through the Holy Spirit is creative, not persuasive. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit when we try to persuade people, it put the basis not on Redemptive Reality but on our ingenious reasoning. The Holy Spirit of God working, by God’s decree, through the historic Fact of the Life and Death of Jesus, does not convince a man’s mind: He creates something new in him, makes him a new creation in Christ Jesus!” Oswald Chambers from “God’s Workmanship”

So – I am daily praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to be unleashed upon Rep. Cleaver, the four horsemen (Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden,) Jon Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock. I am also praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to be unleashed on Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp and the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger. And yes, I am now praying for my misled and idiot cousin. (See previous post, and you will understand) Finally, I will continue to pray until I see the great revival and spiritual awakening I mentioned earlier. I am leaving behind the political and placing my faith in the Spiritual. That is where the real battle is, and that is where we as disciples of Jesus Christ should be 100% focused.

I leave you with Isaiah 62:6 & 7, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of The Covenant Keeping God, do not keep silent, and give Him (God) no rest till he establishes and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

Fellow Disciples, we are watchmen on the wall of the United States of America. You are invited by the Father Himself to bug Him and continue to harass Him until He through the power of the Holy Spirit establishes and makes the United States of America a praise in the earth!

In Christ –
The Dap

Further blogs will continue with what it means to be a disciple. That will be followed with many teachings on prayer. Follow the blogs on my website If you have missed one or more, click on BLOGS in the menu, and it will carry you to where they are.

Always remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person.


What Is a Disciple? “The Rule of Ten”

    Everyone who claims to be a Christian is not a disciple.  No.  There basically exist three groups.  The church is made up of believers, committed believers, and disciples.

A believer is one who has done the basics.  They will say they are a Christian.  They may even go to church more often than just Palm Sunday, Easter. and Christmas.  They serve on church committees and support outside church functions.  However, many may not attend.  Their church membership is  the place where they made their confession of faith, or the place where they got married; but the church and their faith is not vitally important to them.  I have had these folks in every church I served.  They are the ones who, if you called them any time, day or night, will come and help out as necessary.  They do anything –  except attend church regularly.  Sometimes when a hardship arises, they return until the emergency in their lives is over, or they decide that church and their faith is no longer providing anything for them.  There is always a good reason (excuse) not to attend.  In all of my pastorates, I have passed by new homes on the way to worship.  When I saw someone had moved in,  I would stop and invite them to church.  Many would tell me they were members of this or that other congregation, but every Sunday morning I would see them washing their car, building something at the house, or cutting the yard.  This group, the believers, usually make up around 90% of a church’s membership.

Then there are the committed believers.  They are committed to Christ, most of them, but I have known many who are more committed to the church than they are to Christ.  Those that are more committed to the church grew up in that church and/or have strong family ties to that church.  Their parents, grandparents, and extended family belong (or belonged) to that church.  This group will be in attendance regularly for worship.  If you have a Wednesday night, a prayer time, a Sunday night service –  they will be there.  The committed Christians make up most of the church leadership:  Sunday School teachers, Bible Study leaders, trustees, ushering captains, etc.  Depending on the size of the church, they may wear many hats.  They do love Jesus.  They love the church and want it to succeed.  The committed Christians make up only around 9% of a church’s membership.  The committed Christian has a desire to know more and be more.  Following the rules and regulations is important to them.  They want God to approve of them.  These are what most of us would call “good people”.


The disciple is the smallest segment of a church body.  They make up about 1% of a church’s membership.  I will go into great detail regarding the difference in a committed Christian and a disciple in future blogs, not here.  Let’s just say one can hear it in their prayers.  The committed believer will ask God to be with them and go with them.  The disciple will ask to go with God, to be used by God, to do God’s work where God leads.  The disciple does not ask, “What would Jesus do?” The disciple asks,  “Lord what are You doing?  How can you use me?  I want to be where you are Lord – work through me where You are doing what You are doing.”  You may be tempted to point out that only a preacher has time to do that.  You are wrong!  In fact, today, very few preacher are disciples.  Most are no more than committed Christians.  Many are committed to something, but it is not necessarily Christ.


This rule of 10 applies to most organizations – not just the church.  I have seen it play out in all kinds of social and community groups.  To keep it simple, let’s say a club has 100 members.  About 90% will be members only, and 45-55% of that group won’t even attend.  Committed members will comprise 10% of the total group.  They will make up most of the leadership of the club.  They will be on the work crews.  That club will be a priority in their life.  Of the committed group, there will be what we will call the disciple  –  the one who lives and breathes that club, because it is their life blood.  So, the club has 100 members.  If it is a positive and exciting organization, they may have 65 people in attendance, 10 will be the major leaders, and for one it will be their life.  This rule has also proven true in every church where I have been a pastor.


I heard a quote the other day that there are 1,000,000,000 Christians in the world.  If we take the rule of ten, that would mean that there would be 100,000,000 committed Christians in the world, and 10,000,000 disciples.  That sounds like a lot, but when you factor in that there are over 7,000,000,000 people in the world, the Christian population is actually shrinking…


During the recent national election, I heard that there were around 330,000,000 American citizens.  The last poll I read indicated that Christianity was ’way down, with only 65% claiming to be a Christian.  This would mean that the Christian population in the USA is 214,500,000.  Using the rule of ten means that there are 21,450,000 committed Christians and 2,145,000 disciples.  The reason there is such a discrepancy in the church in the USA is that it mirrors the church in Ephesus during John’s time.  It has lost its first love.  Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19&20).  We have settled for tallying believers and church members…


Now, taking this rule of ten and using it for a small-membership church, that group (based on just how small the membership is) may not have a disciple in the church…. Again, you say, “What about the pastor or the priest or the preacher?”  Well, that church fellowship may be lucky if they are committed Christians.  I believe the biggest problem in the church as a whole is that we have promoted persons into HIGH church positions who are no more than religious professionals and at best committed believers.  Because of politics, we have elevated these instead of disciples.  Name the denomination or the non-denomination – all are guilty.


If you want to poo-poo this rule of ten, go ahead.  But did you know it is Biblical?  Think about this –  Jesus chose 12 disciples.  While He was hanging on the cross, one had betrayed Him, one had denied Him, and nine had fled into hiding.  Only one, John, was at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother.  I don’t require any further proof.


We have now defined what a disciple is not.  Next blog, I will begin to   share my thoughts on what a disciple is..


Until then,


The Dap

Be sure and pray the 91st Psalm every day in the first person.  If you want to feel even more empowered, pray the 23rd, 27th,, and 121st Psalms in the first person as well.

This is the second in the series “What is a Disciple.”  If you missed my first one just go to my web-site, and click on blogs.  You will find it there.



What Is A Disciple? NOT!



I am beginning a teaching on being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. I figure it will take more that just a few blogs. Especially since we need to understand What Is Not a Disciple.

One of the facts that many people do not understand about Christianity is that it is not a religion. Unfortunately. that is what many believers make it. They hear about a Savior called Jesus. They are told if they receive Jesus into their heart and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they will be “saved” (rescued, preserved). They are taught to accept that Jesus died on the Cross for their sins, that He rose again on the third day, and that if they now confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord – that’s all there is.

All those things are true. Everything listed above is an absolute must. Yet many people treat it like an end point, and it’s not. You may say, “I know! I know! There are certain rules and regulations I must follow, like praying and reading the Bible and being obedient to the Ten Commandments. Right!” Yes, but believe this: There is one thing even more important than the rules and regulations, the reading the Bible, or obeying the Ten Commandments (good luck with that one, by the way….). The fact is that the Christian faith is a RELATIONSHIP, not a religion. When we understand that most important part, that ONE THING, then we realize that everything else listed is just the beginning.

When we look at the Christian Faith as a mere religion, even if we are committed to it, the focus becomes more and more on us, more and more on what we are doing; and it becomes less and less about God and what He did through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. We focus more and more on the rules we are keeping or not keeping. We begin looking around and becoming judgmental about what others are doing or not doing. Even worse, we come to the point where many (even in the church leadership) start prioritizing the rules and their importance based on how good the people are who are breaking them…..When see the Christian faith as merely a religion, we become so self- centered that we could care less and less about the work God wants to do through us. (That is, if we are in fact at all committed).

For many who are marginally committed or not committed at all, when the Christian faith is just a religion, they still call themselves a Christian. When a pollster asks them what their religion is, they may answer, “Christian.” Yet, they actually look around and see that all other religions have so-called leaders, rules, and regulations, and say to themselves, “What’s really the difference?” But they do want to hold on to their fire insurance – just in case.

When we come to the point where we take seriously the fact that our faith in the Resurrected and Living Lord Jesus Christ is a RELATIONSHIP – and that the confession of faith and study of life teachings is just the beginning – we are then at the point of growing, not just in the faith, but into the abundant life that Jesus gives. The Christian faith is a lot like other relationships. It can’t grow unless you hang out with the person in whom you claim to be in relationship.

So, how do you grow? 1) You STUDY His Word, the Bible. The Bible is not a rule book. It is a biography. It tells the love story of a Holy and Righteous God and how He wants His best for His creation. How He works to provide His best for His creation. It is an instruction book on how to have a relationship with a Holy and Just God. Please understand this, it is a relational instruction book on how YOU can have a RELATIONSHIP with GOD! Not on how GOD can have a relationship with you.

From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation it reveals the LOVE, the GRACE, the HOPE, and the MERCY of God toward His creation. 2) You PRAY. I know sometimes this can be more intimidating than reading the Bible. I have been around people who can pray the most beautiful prayers. You feel like your walking in a garden with the Almighty when these people pray. My wife prays some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard. My prayers are simple and methodical, no poetry to them at all. I don’t love the way I sound when I pray aloud. But there is good news here. God loves wondrous variety in prayer – He doesn’t care what it “sounds like.” All He cares about is that you, His beloved, are spending time with Him. 3) You LISTEN. Prayer is not a one-sided conversation, just talking to God. Prayer is also listening to God. Spend a few moments in quiet rest. Listen with your heart. He will guide you. 4) You FOLLOW HIM. Don’t ask, “What would Jesus do?” Ask Jesus what is He doing and then GO WITH HIM! We have too many misled people out there doing what they think Jesus wants them to do. Working really hard to grow and be better for Him. You want to grow? Then grow WITH Him. Because it is impossible to grow without your being in HIS PRESENCE!

AMEN for today. We will pick up next time with the Rule of Ten.

The Dap

Remember to pray Psalm 91 in the first person.