409 Ways to Trust God

409 Reasons to Trust God

Revelation 3:7-13

Dr. Jim Denison

Do you know why Formula 409 is so named? Its developers experienced 408 failed attempts before their final product was created.

Edmund Mcilhenny operated a sugar plantation and saltworks in Louisiana before the Civil War. When Yankee troops invaded his area in 1863, he fled. Two years later he returned to find his plantation in ruins. Mcilhenny fell into deep despair. Surveying his once prosperous plantation, the only part he could find undamaged was a small plot of hot peppers growing in the corner of a garden. He made a sauce with the peppers to add to his meager dinner, and thus invented Tabasco Sauce. One hundred years later the Mcilhenny family still produces it.

What about your past still plagues your present and hinders your future? If you could live your life over again, what about the past would you change?

Would you work harder in school? Try for more degrees?

Would you like to go back and make things right with someone? Have another chance to deal with that problem or failure which still plagues you with guilt today? Avoid that ditch you drove into? Say “no” to that serpent whose temptation expelled you from your personal Garden of Eden?


The Cure for Restless Hearts

The Cure for Restless Hearts

Revelation 2:18-28

Dr. Jim Denison

Jesus wrote the longest letter in Revelation to its smallest church, proof that the issue we are studying today is crucial. Thyatira was located 40 miles due east of Pergamum. Its major importance was as a textile manufacturing center. Purple dye, the most coveted in the ancient world, was made from the roots of the madder plant, a species which was abundant in the region. The book of Acts describes Lydia of Philippi as a dealer in purple from Thyatira (Acts 16:14).

If Pergamum was the Washington, D.C. of ancient Asia, Thyatira was their Chicago–a blue-collar workers’ town. And central to her economy and culture were the trade unions which dominated her life.

Every industry had one. Each trade union had its own patron god or goddess. Each week the union would meet together to worship its deity. An animal would be sacrificed on the altar of that god, then eaten in a feast. Drunken orgies would usually follow. If you did not attend the meetings of your trade union, you could not work. You could not support yourself or your family. You might starve to death.


The Cure for the Complacent Souls

The Cure for Complacent Souls

Revelation 3:1-6

Dr. Jim Denison

The church we’ll visit today was located in the most ideal city for Christianity in all of Revelation. If any church should have been alive and exciting, it was this one. And that was indeed their reputation, with everyone but Jesus.

Sardis was located thirty miles southeast of Thyatira and fifty miles east of Ephesus. She had been an important and wealthy city for centuries. Her foundations date to 1500 B.C., when she was the capital of the Lydian Empire.

This was the center of transportation for the entire continent. Major trade routes led from Sardis in five different directions, bringing her citizens commerce and wealth beyond any city in the region.

In addition, the Pactolus River carried gold dust literally into the city’s market place. Croesus, her king in 560 B.C., minted the first modern coins, so that Sardis became the place where money was born.

Dyeing and woolen industries thrived here. Merchants lined her streets with their shops, some of which have been excavated and reconstructed today. Her baths and its columns, swimming pool, and gymnasium have been restored, and are among the most impressive in all of Turkey. Her people were so wealthy that when an earthquake devastated Sardis in A.D. 17 she rebuilt herself without aid from the Empire, in just nine years.


Thermostat of the Soul

The Thermostat of the Soul

Revelation 2:12-17

Dr. Jim Denison

When Janet and I were married in 1980 I became a bigamist. I was already married to a 1966 Ford Mustang coupe. From the beginning we were a marriage of three, much to my new wife’s chagrin.

I had to sell my Mustang a few years later after a neighbor wrecked it while it was parked on the street. I’ve always suspected my wife of complicity in the crime. She was delighted to see her competition drive away. I still miss that car.

My Mustang was perfect in every way except one: the thermostat. This was the device which regulated the temperature of the car’s engine. Unfortunately, the “289″ Ford engine had a thermostat which was too weak, and the car would eventually overheat. So I had to replace it two or three times a year–a small price to pay for love.

I soon became an expert on thermostats, at least for old Mustangs. I learned the basic difference between a thermostat and a thermometer: a thermostat controls temperature, while a thermometer reflects it. One changes its environment, the other becomes like it.