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Living Water Church

a St. Nazianz WI (Manitowoc County) un-denominational Christian church

An Easter reading from Revelation chapter 5 written by the apostle John about Jesus, the Lamb of God. John was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, closest to Him during his years of ministry on earth, one of the first to see the empty tomb on Easter Sunday along with Peter, because Jesus was no longer dead. He was resurrected from the dead! Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain but is now alive. Read Revelation chapter 5.

An Easter reading by the apostle Paul from the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul, who hated Christians, jailing and persecuting and murdering them. But having been saved by grace through faith in the Resurrected Savior Jesus, and now the staunchest supporter and champion evangelist, suffering jail and persecution and eventually death because of Jesus and Christianity.  In this reading he mentions Cephas, the Aramaic name for Peter. Read I Corinthians 15:1-26

An Easter reading, Scripture from the book of Acts in the words of Cephas, or Peter, one of Jesus’ closest 12 disciples, another eye witness of the resurrection of Jesus. Read Acts 10:34-43

An Easter reading by Paul to the Romans. Romans chapter 6:1-14. Here we see ourselves as believers linked to Jesus’ death and resurrection. As He is victorious over death and sin, death and sin no longer rule over us. We are under the rule of His Grace, and we have peace and a whole relationship with God again. Read Romans 6:1-14.

An Easter reading from a prophet of God. Read Isaiah 44:21-24.

An Easter reading from the book of Psalms, written by David, a prophet and King of the Lord, the apple of the Lord’s eye, a warrior who as a boy slew a giant that no one in the whole army of God’s people would face, yet he was a very flawed servant of God. Read Psalm 16.

An Easter reading from the book of Job, chapter 19 beginning at verse 25. Chronologically, the book of Job was one of the earliest books of the Bible written, thousands of years before Jesus redeemed us from death and sin. Read Job 19:25-27.

We know the creation story, a true story, and then the fall of Adam and Eve to sin falling to the temptation of a fallen prideful angel, the devil, in serpent’s form. God, in His mercy, did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden thus live forever in our sinful state. So, God allowed his crown of creation, humans, to die, yet He gave the promise of a Redeemer when he cursed the serpent, and this Redeemer of humans, His Son, true God yet fully human in Jesus, would be promised through generations from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Isaac, and his son Jacob, renamed Israel. God’s people, Israel, were rescued from slavery in Egypt through incredible miracles, given their own land, which is now the country of Israel, and protected by God through mighty judges like Samson, warrior and wise kings like David and his son Solomon, and prophets who suffered in their role like Isaiah and Daniel and Malachi. Then, hundreds of years after the prophet Malachi and the Israelites, now more recognized by the name of Jews, were terrorized by the Persians, then the Greeks under Alexander the Great, then the Egyptians again, where to Old Testament was translated into Greek. Then the Syrians took control of the region, persecuting the Jews until they revolted and gained independence, ruled by priests for next 100 years and re-establishing their religious practices. The Romans conquered the region about 60 years before the birth of Jesus, our Redeemers. Through all that, the human ancestral line of Jesus was maintained, recorded in Matthew chapter 1. Go there now. God remembered His promise of a Redeemer to buy back His people from sin and death. And today we celebrate our Redeemer, our new life because Jesus is the One who died in our place so that we could re-establish a relationship with God. God is free of sin. And now, so are we. And we, as believers in our Savior from death and sin, simply by faith, can live forever with God in His dwelling place, upon our death, our escape, designed by God, from a fallen earth. Skip ahead to Matthew 27 verse 62. Let’s read what happened on Saturday and Sunday. Read Matthew 27:62 – 28:15.

And not only the Jews, but now to us, the nonJews, this free gift of God has been given. You are no more under sin and death. You are now under the Grace of God through the same Jesus who died and rose and redeems us all. We just have to accept this free victory gift of God. What are you going to do with His free Easter gift today?

 

In just over 7 months of Living Water Church, we have been privileged to be part of several ways of spreading the Gospel

  • United Ministries, who does outreach of their own, which we support through our rent payments as they provide us a specific gathering place for Sunday worship
  • We support outreach to young adults who go to college in the western part of Wisconsin
  • We support a local camp of an international ministry that hands out Scriptures to over 190 countries – they hand out 1 million Scriptures every 4.5 days
  • We financially support local widows and their children
  • We support the preaching of the Gospel over the radio in NE Wisconsin and South Central Upper Michigan – and not just over radio waves with this family of radio stations, but also online and via smart phone and tablet apps
  • And we are adding causes such as Venture Expedition to raise awareness for She’s My Sister
  • Lastly, we support another young church, by tithing to it, in Antigo, Wisconsin

You can see specific details on our “Our Missionaries” board.

7.

In Revelation chapters 2 & 3 Jesus addresses 7 early churches in 7 different cities in what is now the western part of Turkey.

Living Water Church is an early, or young, church in western Manitowoc County.

Open your Bibles, please, to Jude verse 17. You’ll see there are no chapters in Jude, and we will start at verse 17 where we see a call to perseverance and warnings of what is to come. Warning of scoffers; some of your translations call them mockers.

When we read Jude verses 17 – 25, ask “Is this me? Is this our early church, our young congregation, Living Water Church?”  Read Jude 17 – 25.

Are we building each other up in our faith? Are we praying in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than uselessly praying for our own individual agenda? Are we keeping ourselves in the Love of Jesus, patient in our waiting for the will of God to take shape with eternity in mind? Are we merciful with those who doubt? Do we intentionally act to save unbelievers, who might be scoffers within our midst, who need mercy shown to them without fear? Do we clearly tell them that they as human beings have value, are fearfully and wonderfully made, yet make that clear distinction between loving people yet hating what we all do wrong? That’s what the word picture at the end of verse 23 is pointing out when it says “hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Several phrases before that talk about showing mercy and saving those who need saving. This same theme will be repeated in Revelation 3 verse 4. When we stumble, do we call on Jesus? Do we give Him the glory?

Let’s keep reading. Now go to Revelation 1.

We see John as a firsthand witness of the same Jesus who tells him to write down what He is allowing John to see so that His 7 young congregations can also know about it. The number “7” in the Bible shows God’s completeness. The Holy Spirit is described here as the Seven Spirits. And Jesus is described as the faithful witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of Kings on earth. Verse 7 says He is coming again and everyone will see Him when he does. And some who see Him will wail because of their impending judgment or the grief and guilt felt that is part of leading to faith. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z.

John writes from the island of Patmos. One Sunday he was aware of the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit surrounding him. The description of Jesus here shows His white hair of infinite Divine wisdom, His eyes of flame with the ability to see through facades, His burnished bronze feet with the ability to crush any opponent, and His voice as the sound of the Almighty, described in the same way as in end of Ezekiel chapter 1. His Word is a sharp two-edged sword that searches hearts. The 7 stars are His messengers to His 7 congregations (perhaps human messengers, or actual angels, or the pastors of those 7 congregations). And He holds in His congregations in His right hand, and only He knows the true identity of His 7 churches.

Let’s look at His first congregation. Scholars say these may be listed in this order as a messenger would take a letter to these 7 specific congregations.

Read Revelation 2: 1 – 7. Ephesus

The Ephesian congregation has patiently endured and not grown weary in their dealing with scoffers and unbelievers and even false teachers (the named and the unnamed). However, they need to remember how they started in love, repent, and go back to doing the work they did when they started the church first hearing the Gospel. That love of Jesus that truly allows us all to love people yet hate what they are doing wrong. Repentant Ephesians are promised to eat of the Tree of Life in the paradise of God, something that we cannot do now because God has mercy on us and would not want us to live forever in this sinful state of the world. The same thing He did for Adam and Eve by casting them out of the Garden of Eden and guarding it so no one could get in.

Living Water Church, is this us? I ask you all individually: is this you and me? Do we truly have the Love of Jesus? Are we patiently enduring hardships? If not, repentance is needed.

Read Revelation 2:8 – 11. Smyrna

The Smyrnans (in what is now today the Turkish town of Izmir) were spiritually rich amongst slanderous persecution and physical poverty. And they were about to suffer more by being thrown into prison and potentially martyred. They received no rebuke from Jesus at all but encouragement to their just reward.

Living Water Church, when we are poor, do we realize that we are rich in Jesus? Among slander and suffering, how will we endure?

Read Revelation 2: 12 – 17. Pergamum

The congregation in Pergamum like Ephesus resisted false teaching and like Smyrna endured persecution, even to the point of one martyr in their congregation named Antipas, who Jesus shared His title with of faithful witness. But they didn’t go far enough to confront deceptions of the followers of Balaam (also found in the book of Numbers chapters 25 & 31) and the Nicolaitans (who the Ephesians had successfully handled). And Jesus rebuke is that He will intervene personally if Pergamum will not repent of their allowance of these false teachers in their church. The white stones discussed here have significance in that in those days white stones were given to victors to enter banquets and to jurors who would vote with a white stone for acquittal.

Living Water Church, are we keeping the Gospel of Jesus pure and being careful to not condone behaviors of false teachers and the cultural traditions that surround us and that are in our midst? If we are not taking a stand, do we want Jesus to intervene? He knows our hearts and facades.

Read Revelation 2:18 – 29. Thyatira

The congregation at Thyatira was opposite that of Ephesus. Remember, Ephesus patiently endured persecution but forgot how wonderful the love of Jesus was and no longer produced fruit from it. Thyatira did wonderful works as evidence of that love of Jesus in their hearts but lacked discernment in tolerating some within their congregation who were still part of the surrounding culture of violence and pleasure and luxury (as seen in Revelation chapter 17). Jesus can easily distinguish, though, the believers from the unbelievers in churches. His rebuke to this congregation is only for those who have not repented of not being content with the Gospel. Those not content with the Gospel were seeking deceptive promises of secret spiritual knowledge.

Living Water Church, are we producing fruits of our faith rooted in the love of Jesus in our hearts? Are we content with the Gospel, or are we seeking other things that are obviously wrong when measured against what the Bible says, as some in Thyatira’s congregation were? If so, we need to hold fast to the Truth in the Gospel or we will be given what our unjust works deserve.

Read Revelation 3:1 – 6. Sardis

The city of Sardis in its history had been attacked not once but twice while watchmen were asleep and neglecting their duties. In the same way, the congregation at Sardis had few remaining who were strong with the Word of Truth. They had sleeping watchmen. They looked alive on the outside but were spiritually nearly dead inside. Jesus calls them to wake up and strengthen what is still alive by remembering what they heard and received of the Gospel message. This church needs revival, and that revival will come from the practice of consistent obedience and courageous faith of the few that remained faithful to Jesus.

Living Water Church, do people on the outside see the church sign or the website but find nothing here that moves them to repentance and faith in Jesus? If we were accused of being Christians, would we be found guilty without a shadow of a doubt? Are we spiritually dead or alive in the Gospel? If dead, as Jesus indicated, we can keep what we have heard and received, and repent.

Read Revelation 3:7 – 13. Philadelphia

The congregation at Philadelphia patiently endured hardship by keeping God’s word and not denying His name. They held fast to what they had, Jesus, who was altogether sufficient for them. They lacked nothing so much so that Jesus told them that their persecutors would eventually come to them bowing down at their feet and acknowledging Jesus’ love for them. Like Smyrna, they received no rebuke. And Jesus promised to shield and safeguard them amidst the coming tribulation on earth.

Living Water Church, are we, for others, that portal of hope and patience and prayer that Jesus opens and does not shut? Are we pillars in God’s presence? Will our persecutors come to us acknowledging that Jesus love is real?

Read Revelation 3:14 – 22. Laodicea

Laodicea was prosperous in that it was a business center. The Laodicean congregation may have been physically prosperous but spiritually they were incredibly the opposite: without clothing, bankrupt, and blind! Jesus recommends that they realize that their spiritual clothing, their spiritual sight, and their spiritual wealth comes from Him. Because they felt that they lacked nothing physically, it was much harder for them to realize that they lacked tremendously spiritually, thus they were not zealous for the Lord – they were just lukewarm. Sadly, Jesus had no commendation for them.

Living Water Church, are we just lukewarm and not zealously hot when it comes to the Gospel? Will we be commended by Jesus? Are all our physical needs provided for and then some, but our relationship with God is bankrupt thus we are blind and exposed?

The Lord has undoubtedly blessed this congregation since last summer with resources. Are we using them properly? During Communion right now, let’s reflect on His ever flowing grace because it’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus and what He does through his churches on earth: from these 7 early ones in Revelation…to Living Water Church now.

Please turn back to read Revelation 1:4 as we prepare for Communion. As we participate in Communion together then close this worship service, please reflect humbly on where we each individually have been since this church started last summer and what God can do through us to move His kingdom forward. Let’s worship the Lord together.