Several summers ago, while our family was vacationing at the beach, I got up early to meet the Lord before the family awakened. As I sat on the porch, watching the sun come up over the ocean and listening to the gentle crash of the waves, I seemed to hear the Lord whisper to my heart, “Anne, what do you see?”
As I looked more closely at the scene before me, I answered: “Lord, I see little sandpipers running along the edge of the water, making sure they keep out of reach of the waves and don’t get their feet wet. I see the skimmers flying down the beach, just above the surf, skimming the surface of the water with their long beaks. I see seagulls standing in the tide up to their knees. And then I see the pelicans who circle, then dive headfirst into the waves, coming up with fish they seemed to swallow whole.”
Then the Lord seemed to say to me, “Anne, the Bible is like the ocean. And the people who read My Word are very much like those birds. Some will dance around the Scriptures, not really wanting to step in and get their feet wet in Bible study, but are satisfied to just listen to their preacher or Bible teacher tell them what the Bible says.
Others will read their Bibles, just skimming the surface for facts and information. Some will get in knee-deep, reading the Bible each day with a devotional or commentary close by for reference. And then there are some like the pelicans, who dive in over their heads, going deep in Bible study, applying and living out what they learn. Which bird are you most like?”
And I answered with whole-hearted passion, “Lord, I’m not sure which one I am from Your perspective. But I know which one I want to be. I want to be like the pelican who dives in deep. Please take me deeper into Your Word.” And He has.
Which bird most accurately describes you? Will you resolve to be more like the pelican and go deeper into the Word?
Read Revelation 2:12–17
The ancient city of Pergamum was located in what is now Turkey. Built on a rather flat plain, it was dominated by one hill located at the center, on top of which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: a spectacular white marble temple to Zeus. It also had a medical complex and a university that housed over 200,000 volumes.
A church had been planted in the city with the high hopes of impacting this major religious, medical and intellectual center with the Gospel.
I. GOING DEEPER AS YOU LOOK INTO HIS WORD: REVELATION 2:12
- In Revelation 2:12, how does Jesus identify Himself to the church at Pergamum?
- On what was He trying to get them to focus? Read Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; and Revelation 19:11-13.
- From the following verses, give phrases that indicate He wants us to focus on the same thing: 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2:2; 2:15; 3:14-17; and Hebrews 12:2.
- What is hindering you from focusing on God’s living and written Word for yourself? Apply Hebrews 12:1 to your daily discipline of Bible reading.
- What can you do to make sure that you will be deeper into the Word a month from now than you are today?
II. GOING DEEPER AS YOU LEARN FROM HIS WORD:
- What did Jesus commend the church at Pergamum for?
- Give phrases from the following verses that reveal God knows “where you live” and how faithful you are to Him: Psalm 139:1, 23; 142:3; Job 23:10; John 1:48; 2:25; 4:29; 10:14.
- What did Jesus have “against” the church?
- Without knowing the details of who the Balaamites and Nicolaitans were, what does Jesus imply that they did? How is it possible for a church leader or a church member to entice others to sin? Give examples from the following verses: Acts 5:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:5-9; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; 5:9-11; 1 John 2:9; 2:15-16; Revelation 2:20. Give examples from church life today.
- What does Jesus tell the church members—not just the deceptive false teachers within the church—to do?
- Do you think God holds you and me accountable for the church leadership we place ourselves under? Explain.
- What are you and I to do to protect ourselves from this kind of deception and temptation? See 1 John 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:33; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:17; 11:13-15; Ephesians 6:10-11, 17-18.
- Based on the above verses, how susceptible are you to deception—from within the church?
- Do you think, because of our increased sophistication and knowledge, that we can stand in judgment over God’s Word?
- How does verse 16 and Revelation 19:11-16 emphatically reveal that God’s Word stands in judgment over us?
III. GOING DEEPER AS YOU LISTEN TO HIS WORD: REVELATION 2:17
- Do you think it’s possible to read God’s Word without really “hearing” what the Spirit has to say? What is one evidence from this verse that you have listened to what He has to say?
- Describe manna from the following verses: Exodus 16:4, 31 and John 6:31.
- How was the manna “hidden”? Read Exodus 16:3, 31-32 and Hebrews 9:4.
- What did manna symbolize? Read Deuteronomy 8:3 and John 6:32-35.
- What do you think Jesus meant when He promised to give “hidden manna” to the one who goes deeper into His Word? See Psalm 119:18; Luke 24:45; Matthew 11:27; and John 14:21.
The church at Pergamum refused to go deeper into God’s Word. Instead of the church making an impact on the world, the world impacted the church. Several years ago, I visited the ruins of the old city.
The ancient church was actually attached to a pagan temple. It became irrelevant, powerless, and in the end, non-existent.
Are you listening to what the Spirit is saying? If every church member was like you, would the church be more powerful in its witness—making more of an impact on our world for the Kingdom of God—because it is deeper in the Word? Or would it be more like the church at Pergamum?
This article was originally published in September 2017.