Our Wednesday small group Bible study recently completed a study of the seven churches of Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In these two chapters, God speaks directly to seven actual churches in Asia Minor and by extension to all of the true local fellowships (which are part of the one true church) that have come about since Pentecost.
The church was not man’s idea. The church was given to us by God and is not a building or a denomination, but is made up of those saved by the blood of Jesus Christ; men, women, boys and girls who have come to Christ in faith believing in His finished work for their redemption and have confessed Him as Savior and Lord.
In speaking to the seven churches, God commends what they’re doing correctly and well and condemns error and wrongdoing. Only in one of the churches does God find nothing to rebuke them for and only one has nothing commendable mentioned.
God commends faithfulness, steadfastness, sticking to the truth, love, service to others, being watchful and not allowing false teaching and the current culture to creep in, and holiness, righteousness and purity.
The Lord condemns slothfulness and laziness, allowing false doctrine and listening to false teachers, false professions, letting Satan in the pews, idolatry and spiritual adultery, and other similar problems.
For the churches keeping the main thing the main thing and serving the Lord, God promises reward. For the churches in error and leading others astray, God promises judgment!
The two most scathing rebukes come to two different churches. To the first church mentioned, the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), God says that they have “left their first love”. And the last church, the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-24), God says they are so tepid that they make Him sick to His stomach and so He will “spew them out of His mouth”. Sadly, that is the condition of many local churches and even some denominations today.
To leave the first love means that the church has put Christ “on the back burner”. His Word, His truth, His doctrines have been watered down, ignored, or replaced by manmade lies and fables. His purpose for the church and what it is to do is succinctly and simply shown in Scripture. But too many churches are now social clubs and entertainment venues where ears are tickled and people are told how good they are!
Then there are churches that seem to have fallen into the lie that the size of the church is a sign of spirituality and that the health of a church is shown by how many services and activities the church can have, how many groups the church can divide into; the church becomes program oriented instead of people oriented.
Instead of following God’s simple plan and pattern for church life, church leaders substitute their own opinions, agendas and biases. And instead of Christ being the head of the church, too many churches appoint Diotrephes (III John verses 9-10) as pastor, elder or deacon and he becomes the final word, not the Lord. I recently heard a fairly new pastor say, “Since I have taken over the church…” I’m sure he didn’t intend to say it that way or to mean it that way, but too many of our churches have been taken over by human leadership, not God! Christ and Christ alone is to be the Head of His church.
The church is a wonderful creation by God. He brought it about at a time when persecution was coming and Christians needed the fellowship, love, communion of each other. It is a family bound by love and commitment to Christ and to others. It was set up to equip the saints to fight the fight and take the Great Commission to a lost and dying world. Its activities include teaching the Word of God, completely and without apology and upholding the truth regardless of the culture; fellowship, spending time with others of like precious faith, building relationships and growing in love and service together; breaking of bread, communion, as Jesus commanded His followers at the last supper (this is a reminder of what Christ did for us, is doing for us, and that He is the head of the church); and prayers, the powerhouse of the Christian and the church. (Acts 2:41-47)
The church is God’s gift to His children and to the world. It is not an organization, but an organism, living, breathing and growing. Today the churches in particular in the “freedom” of the Western World are dwindling, wasting away and God is ready to “spew them out”. The churches that are growing and vibrant are in areas of persecution. It’s time for the church in America to wake up, warm up, step up and love and serve Christ and His world…after all, we are the only Light on this dark, decaying planet!
“O Church, arise and put your armor on; hear the call of Christ our Captain. For now the weak can say that they are strong in the strength that God has given. With shield of faith and belt of truth, we’ll stand against the devil’s lies; an army bold whose battle cry is Love, reaching out to those in darkness.
“Our call to war, to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor; and with the sword that makes the wounded whole, we will fight with faith and valor. When faced with trials on every side, we know the outcome is secure. And Christ will have the prize for which He died, an inheritance of nations.
“Come see the cross where love and mercy meet, as the Son of God is stricken. Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet, for the Conqueror has risen! And as the stone is rolled away and Christ emerges from the grave, this victory march continues till the day every eye and heart shall see Him.
“So Spirit come, put strength in every stride, give grace for every hurdle. That we may run with faith to win the prize of a servant good and faithful. As saints of old still line the way, retelling triumphs of His grace; we hear their calls and hunger for the day when with Christ we stand in glory.”
(Written by: Stuart Townend, Keith and Kristyn Getty and Chris Tomlin)
Spring to Life Gala
Dedicated to saving the lives of our most vulnerable yet precious “natural resources”, our unborn boys and girls, and aiding parents in crisis situations, Coastline Women’s Center is one of the most important and essential organizations on the Grand Strand.
This year’s Spring to Life Gala will be an online fundraiser and will be held on April 20 beginning at 7 p.m.
This year’s theme is Abiding in All Circumstances drawn around John 1:4 “In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind.” The guest speaker will be Rebekah Hagen with her beautiful story of redemption and second chances as she shared her own abortion pill reversal story.
Watch at home or host a number of folks in your home or church, but be a part of this wonderful evening. Phone (864) 982-4124, email email@example.com or go online to www.coastlinewomenscenter.org. And make Coastline and all they do a daily part of your prayer life!
CEF Virtual Fundraiser
Child Evangelism Fellowship of the Greater Pee Dee (serving Horry, Marion and Georgetown counties) will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with a virtual program and fundraiser called “E 3: Expanding the Reach”.
This will be held this week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting about a half hour. You can tune in for one, two or all three programs. Go to the CEF website at CEFGPD.org.
You Helped Help4Kids!
We received this nice note from Help4Kids:
“Once again, you, our most generous donors have come together to assure those who are less fortunate will have a wonderful meal on their tables this Easter. Picture a family who rarely has enough food to eat, sitting down to a table with so much food that they are just overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. The smiles on those faces is just priceless and all because of you! Thank you!”
This is what happens when we all come together and show the love of Christ to others. Help4Kids fed more than 800 families, who now feel your love and care. Let’s continue to help this group and others working to meet the basic needs of families in our area.
Help4Kids is located at 2523 Forestbrook Road in Myrtle Beach and their phone number is (843) 651-4310.
are some things that we, as God’s church, can and should be praying about daily:
Your Help is Making a Difference!
The ongoing COVID-19 “pandemic”. The “flu season”. Financial upheaval caused by the current situation. Storm devastation. Wildfire destruction. The list of difficulties and problems seems never-ending.
It seems that each day we add to this list! What can we do? Inventory what you have. Do you have more than enough? (Be honest, God has given to most of us abundantly!) If you do, someone has said that God gives that so you can share with others.
Share your resources (food, clothing), your time, your monetary resources with others. And you don’t have to look far to find the needy or good faithful organizations that are ministering to them. Open your hands and your heart to others! You’ll be blessed as you bless. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”
Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry
■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.
■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”
Please help as you are able. Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.
Myrtle Beach/The Coast
■ You are invited to the following services and activities at The Well By The Sea, 211 Forestbrook Road: In-Person Bible Study/Discussion Group on the “9 Supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, on Mondays at 11 a.m. beginning April 12 (no cost, no RSVP, masks required).
In-Person (or Zoom) Weekly Bereavement/Loss Support Group, every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-Person Hangout for Young Adults (ages 18-30); every Saturday at 7 p.m. Come for a free meal and planned activity. Email email@example.com for information.
■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea; 406 65th Ave. North: Services (Zoom and Temple) Friday 6 p.m., Shabbat 10 a.m. (Masks required!)
Education classes: April 21 and 28: Advanced Hebrew 12:45 p.m. (via Zoom); Adult Education 2 p.m.-3 p.m. (via Zoom) (Book: Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin); Hebrew School, 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in the Rosen Center.
Upcoming: Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day), April 14; Yom Ha-atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), April 15.
Phone (843) 449-5552; website www.mbsynagogue.org.
■ The next New Beginnings drive-thru food distribution will be held Saturday at the Church of the Resurrection, 8901 U.S. 17 Bypass in Surfside Beach. Cars can begin lining up at 7 a.m. and the distribution begins at 8 a.m.
Please bring your ID if you have one. Food will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, one per household represented with a maximum of two per car. There is no cost. This is sponsored by Faith Outreach Ministries of the Grand Strand and Low Country Food Bank. Future dates include: May 15, June 19 and July 17. Phone (843) 215-4500.
■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, invites you to its upcoming Auto Show, a classic old car show, to be held April 24 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
There will also be arts and crafts, lunch, family fun and inflatables and more. (Be sure to register your car or craft now!) Donations will be accepted to support the ministries at MBCC, such as Amanda’s Place, missions in Puerto Rico, Senior Apartments community and so on. Phone (843) 236-1121 or go to www.myrtlebeachchristianchurch.com.
■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday ZOOM Prayer Meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything and you are invited to pray with the mid-week group. Email hgprayer @sccoast.net.
■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave. in Murrells Inlet, has a life chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.
■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.
■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.