Weekly Newsletter – April 15, 2024




The myth of prestige

The pursuit of prestige often ends up on a dead-end street. But you see the chase going on almost everywhere—in social groups, in politics, on the job, and even in the church.

What is success? To succeed implies the favorable outcome of an undertaking, career, etc., or the attainment of a desired goal (to succeed as a businessman or businesswoman). Prestige is the power to command admiration or esteem; or reputation or distinction based on brilliance of achievement, character, etc.; renown.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not implying that it’s wrong to want to be successful. What needs emphasizing is the futility of success just for the sake of making a name for one’s self and achieving a degree of status and prestige.

I read of Dean Jones, a successful film and TV actor with many prestigious credits to his name. Yet, while his beautiful California canyon home was burning, he was able to sit on the front lawn and sing “Amazing Grace,” much to the amazement of the firemen and arson investigators. I imagine even Dean was surprised at himself at the time. Later he was able to say, “I understood, not just at an intellectual level, but in my muscles and bones, that through praise and trusting God we can be triumphant in any circumstance…I never lost the peace of God during the whole episode. It was beautiful.”

Here was a man whose house was going up in smoke, but he knew how to hang loose from it all. His happiness wasn’t tied up in some timbers, brick and mortar—the things his success had purchased for him.

There are many beautiful accounts of those who have experienced that kind of peace. It’s a priceless treasure, and it isn’t dependent upon rave reviews in the morning paper after a performance the night before. It’s not established on the shaky foundation of someone else’s opinion regarding something you’ve said or done. Instead, God’s peace is like an inner ballast which keeps one from tipping over when the storms of life beat against you. My husband and I have experienced it many times. You can experience it, too. You can know what the prophet Isaiah meant when he wrote: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee (Isaiah 26:3).

The roots of the success mentality

This myth of success and prestige is encouraged through what I call the “success mentality” that pervades our culture. We have instilled into us from early childhood that someday we will grow up and be somebody. Of course, we want our children to set high ideals and strive to attain their best, and we should be glad and thankful our parents encouraged us to see fulfillment in occupations and pursuits uniquely suited to our individual capabilities. This is entirely biblical. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well (see Romans 12:6). Succeeding verses mention some of the many different vocations into which men and women are called. Previous verses urge the reader not to copy the behavior and customs of this world but to be a new and different person with a freshness about all we do and think. The promise is that then we can learn from our own experience how God’s ways will really satisfy.

But along with instilling into children the virtues of diligence and a willingness to work to achieve success must be the balance of teaching them that man’s final end is not just to become successful for success’s sake. God has given us whatever abilities we have, and our chief end in life is to bring honor to Him and to glorify Him.

This means, among other things, that we acknowledge that what we have been endowed with in the way of creativity—any special genius or skills—has come from Him. The apostle Paul in many places emphasized that our adequacy is from God (see 2 Corinthians 3:5, for instance). Paul warns about working and doing anything out of selfishness or empty conceit (see Philippians 2:3). Paul had attained status among his contemporaries, but after his encounter with the reality of Christ, he wrote that what had preceded him thus far in his life was as rubbish in order that [he might] gain Christ (Philippians 3:8, NAS).

The supreme goal of Paul’s life was to know Christ better.

This search to be “somebody” can be seen in some of the letters we receive in our office. Every time I join the staff in reading them, I come away with a fresh realization that mankind is on an unending quest—the underlying basis of them is almost always the same. Perhaps a writer has discovered that upon achieving the educational or occupational goals he established earlier in life, he has reached the desired plateau only to discover that the “certain satisfying something” he had anticipated is not there. Thus, despite success, prestige, and even material gain, he finds himself still empty and often devoid of the joy of living. Discouraged, even baffled, bewildered, and befuddled, these individuals are writing, asking, “Why? Why am I not satisfied?”

I found it sadly significant that the half-time headliners for Superbowl XL played in Detroit on Sunday, February 5, 2006, was the legendary rock band, The Rolling Stones. Of course, they performed their signature song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction!” (Their appearance provided eloquent confirmation to the truth of their testimony.) Unfortunately, their anguished anthem has also become the theme song of millions of people today.

I can assure you that if my husband and I were counting on the success we have achieved in our work to fill up the empty gaps in our lives, we would be miserable, unfulfilled individuals. The successes and prestige can be snatched away very quickly. Listen to what the Bible has to say about this—

Do not love the world, nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17, NAS, emphasis added).


Revelation 2: 1 – 11

Chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation contain seven letters to the seven literal, local churches mentioned in chapter 1, verse 11. These letters have a number of applications. First, they are seven actual letters to seven actual churches situated in seven different cities. Second, they are letters to seven individuals within the seven churches. Third, they are messages applicable to all churches in all ages, for the seven churches picture seven periods, or stages, of church history. In each period, the Lord speaks to the churches in a judgmental way, portraying their failures, and then He calls them to repentance and zealousness. We will look at the first four this week.


Verse 1: Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks [or the seven churches represented throughout history];

The first church addressed is the church of Ephesus, covering the time period from approximately 33 A.D. (the birth of the church at Pentecost) until 100 A.D. when John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, died.

The letter is to the angel or, literally, the “messenger” of the church of Ephesus, and is from the One who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who [walks] in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. This, of course, is the glorified Christ, as we learned in chapter 1, verse 20. How thrilling to note that the Lord both holds the churches (all believers) in His hand and walks in the midst of them, as well! This is the Christian’s security. The Saviour’s walk among us is to bring us closer to himself. Next, Christ speaks…

Verse 2: I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Notice that, in each of the seven letters, the Lord begins by commending the local assembly for whatever He can find in them that is good before scolding them for their sins. The Ephesus church began in all purity, as can be observed from a study of the Book of Acts. Then false prophets entered in. This is exactly the warning Paul had sounded during his last gathering in Ephesus: For know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember (Acts 20:29-31). The leaders of the church judged these false prophets in earlier days, but became lax as they lost their first love.

Today many think it is wrong to judge heresy or wickedness. Not so! The same Christ who said, Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1) also declared, Judge righteous judgment (John 7:24). A believer is never to judge a person as far as motives are concerned. However, he should definitely judge one when that individual’s doctrine is heretical or his life is filled with wickedness. This is why John said, Try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1), and why Paul stated in 1 Timothy 5:19 and 20: Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. The church at Ephesus had slipped from its original moorings and was on the way down. Is it any wonder that Mohammedanism swept through the land and destroyed the compromising church that once was mighty under Paul?

Verse 3: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Part of the reason this church (who had borne, and had patience, and for His name’s sake had laboured, and had not fainted) failed may have been that they were too busy serving and not taking time for sweet fellowship at the feet of Jesus. When one is so active that he has no time for the Bible and prayer, he is too busy. Many have fallen to the indictment of…

Verse 4: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

How true of multitudes today! When they were first saved they loved Jesus, loved to pray, loved to read the Word, loved to attend the services at God’s house and loved to witness. Ah, but they have lost that first love!

Verse 5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick (or your local church) out of his place, except thou repent.

It happened! After the conquest of Mohammedanism, the church of Ephesus became nonexistent. Do not let this happen to your church or to you! Before God finishes His pronouncement of commendations and condemnations upon the church of Ephesus, he adds…

Verse 6: But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Who were the Nicolaitans and what was it about them that so angered Almighty God? The term comes from two Greek words which mean “victory over the laity” a religious dictatorship that allowed little or no freedom to its members. This is precisely what the Holy Spirit had in mind when He told the church elders not to be lords over God’s heritage, but… ensamples [examples] to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). How this message needs to be emphasized in our day as religious leaders try to impose their man-made rules on each and every member! After presenting this series of commendations and warnings, the Spirit of God adds…

Verse 7: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

How can one be an overcomer? By trusting in the merits of the shed blood of Jesus Christ: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5).

Verse 8: And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

We saw in chapter 1, verse 11, that this first and the last, or Alpha and Omega, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He now begins His message to the next church.


Verse 9: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

The Smyrna period of church history takes us from 100 A.D. to 312 A.D. These people probably suffered the greatest persecution in all Christianity. Their works, faithfully performed in the name of Jesus, brought great tribulation and accompanying poverty, materially. However, great riches were laid up for them in heaven. In addition, their relentless, dedicated efforts brought the Word of God to the entire Roman Empire. During the second and third centuries, the Smyrna church members were fed to the lions at Rome while multitudes cheered. Church history informs us that five million may have been martyred during this era. Every Christian ought to read Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World. He will quickly discover the foolishness of complaining in this day of luxury and ease.

Believe it or not, the church flourished and grew during the Smyrna period! Perhaps a little persecution would do us some good today. We might learn to love other brothers in Christ who have a different religious label than ours. God forgive us for our sectarianism!

Much of Smyrna’s heartache came through false professors of religion-those who said they were Jews as defined in Romans 2:29 (circumcised of the heart and the spirit rather than the letter) but who, in reality, were not! They did not really believe and were actually members of the synagogue of Satan! Beware of those who claim to be Christians but deny the deity of Christ. They, too, are of the synagogue of Satan: [For] every Spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God (1 John 4:3). The same is true of those who mix law and grace. Paul said, I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

Because of the false brethren propagating false doctrine and despising the true believers, persecution came from within and from without. In the face of such satanic opposition, Christ’s message was…

Verse 10: Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

When the hour of trial arrived, the believers were not to fear. They were to keep their eyes on eternal rewards as mentioned in James 1:12: Blessed is the man that endureth [testing]: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Many Bible scholars believe that the ten days of persecution consisted of ten literal periods of suffering. I agree, since church history emphatically supports this assertion. Still, the church of Smyrna was guaranteed final victory through the Lord’s promises, power, and provision…

Verse 11: He that hath an ear; let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

CHANGED LIVES-one at a time

Interesting watching the immediately current events in the Middle East with Russia (great bear of the north?) involved. Sounds incredibly similar to what I heard a particular televangelist say back in the 60s and 70s. Almost too scary detail level.

Keep on keeping on and looking forward and upward.

John P.

The MESSAGE OF HOPE has truly answered many questions I had on my heart, and has lifted my Faith in Christ Jesus.

Thank You so much,

Bruce M.


The World of the End

We always expected life to be filled with ups and downs. But lately doesn’t it feel like the downs are winning?

Doesn’t it seem as if the hits keep coming harder and closer together? Our world is packed with lies and loss of trust. Wars and rumors of war. Devastation and disaster. Pressure and persecution. Lawlessness and lovelessness.

Some days it seems like bad news all around. And with bad news comes questions: “Why is this happening?” “When will it stop?” “What can we do?”

And perhaps the most pressing of all: “Is this the end?”

In these hope filled pages, bestselling author, pastor, and respected Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah focuses our attention not on the problems at hand, but on the Hand of God. That’s because Jesus Himself told us what to expect from this season of history when He delivered His Olivet Discourse — a significant sermon that scholars have called “the most important single passage of prophecy in all the Bible.”

With his trademark clarity, Dr. Jeremiah reveals exactly what Jesus promised to us — and what He expects from us — as we approach The World of the End.

One Minute After You Die

“One minute after you die you will either be elated or terrified. And it will be too late to reroute your travel plans.”

Death comes to all, and yet death is not the end. For some, death is the beginning of unending bliss, for others, unending despair. In this latest edition of the bestselling book One Minute After You Die, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer weighs the Bible’s words on live after death. He considers:

Channeling, reincarnation, and near-death experiences.

What heaven and hell will be like.

The justice of eternal punishment.

Trusting in God’s providence.

Preparing for your own final moment.

Though the afterlife is shrouded in mystery, the Bible does peel back the curtain. Dr. Lutzer will help you understand what is on the other side.

May the reality of eternity quicken and comfort you today.