Cling to Christ Alone (July 28)

Revelation 3:14-22

Comment


William Turner reflects on the church in Laodicea:

“In American sociology there is a phrase that probably describes the church in Laodicea. ‘Folk religion’ is a blend of Bible, tradition, culture, regionalism and usually a little superstition thrown in for good measure. It lives everywhere, but I first knew it in the southeastern United States. In Alabama, where I grew up, we had a lot of religion—Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ—but whatever the denominational stripe, it was often a blend of the Bible and what most of us would have called ‘the Southern way of life.’ That included racism and the denial of basic civil rights to a whole block of people, so when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, it precipitated a faith crisis. We started to find out what we really believed. And for a lot of us white Southerners, it was more our way of life than the Bible. But the civil rights movement forced many of us into determining what was real about the gospel and its implications not only for race relations, but for all kinds of moral and social issues.”

(Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope, Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000, pp. 68).

Reading the Scripture

Begin and/or end the scripture reading with these words from Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it” (Revelation 1:3).

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)

Teaching Suggestions

•    This Sunday, July 28, is Ministry Commitment Sunday. The focus of worship will be Stewardship of Talents. We are called to be good stewards of our money, time, talents, and all that we have. Today we focus on our talents and spiritual gifts, offering them to God, committing ourselves to God’s service and ministry. Please take time to encourage your class members to complete the Ministry Survey and offer them to God this day in worship.

•    Coded (Apocalyptic) Language - See Blevins’ definitions in the introduction of these Supplements:
o    Gold (3:18)
o    White (3:18)

•    The Revelation is meant to be visualized. Show a picture representation of this passage. See this web page for depictions of this scene in Revelation 2-3.

•    Local features of the letters: Making Sense of the Book of Revelation by Laurie Guy (pp. 54-56) has a helpful chart listing each of the seven churches and noting how Revelation utilizes “features of the cities they inhabit.” This book is available in my office. Tommy can help you locate it if I’m not available.

•    Display maps and pictures of the places named in the passage: Laodicea
o    The Seven Churches of Revelation: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) p. 451-452.
o    Seven Churches: Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 158-159, E3.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Maps 15.
o    Seven Churches of Revelation: The Essential Bible Guide: Bible Background with Maps, Charts, and Lists, Menahse Har-El, Paul Wright, and Baruch Sarel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), pp. 113-114.
o    Temple of Artemis (mentioned in the Formations Study Guide, p. 62)

•    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 67) refers to a painting by Holman Hunt, “Light of the World.” The Formations Study Guide mentions Hunt’s painting and another, “Jesus Knocking,” by Warner Stallman. Photos of these paintings have been posted on the webpage.

•    The Formations Teaching Guide (p. 67) recommends “Time with God.”  A number of classics of Christian devotion and other good devotional books are kept in our prayer room down the hall from the offices.
If your class members are looking for suggestions, some of the staff shared their favorite devotional guides:
o    Phil Quinn: Reflections, Smyth & Helwys Publishing
o    Adam Nash: Meet the Bible, Philip Yancy and Brenda Quinn and Beyond Doubt, Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
o    Keith Stillwell: Dialogues With Silence: Prayers and Drawings, Thomas Merton
o    Tara Farmer: I don’t really have a favorite, but I like, Open Windows, Lifeway Publishing
o    Tommy Valentine: 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ron Klug (also online at BibleGateway, http://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/40-day-journey-dietrich-bonhoeffer/ )
o    Andrea East: Reflections, Smyth & Helwys Publishing

Resources

I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

•    Three commentaries in my office may be of interest to you:
o    Making Sense of the Revelation: A Clear Message of Hope, William Turner (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2000)
o    Revelation as Drama, James L. Blevins (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984)
o    Making Sense of the Book of Revelation, Laurie Guy (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2009), pp. 54-56

•    Maps and pictures in the library
o    The Seven Churches of Revelation: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996) p. 451-452.
o    Seven Churches: Oxford Bible Atlas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 158-159, E3.
o    Bible Map Guide (Common English Bible, 2011), Maps 15.
o    Seven Churches of Revelation: The Essential Bible Guide: Bible Background with Maps, Charts, and Lists, Menahse Har-El, Paul Wright, and Baruch Sarel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), pp. 113-114.