Week Twenty Nine

Monday

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.  I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardship for my name and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first. Revelation 2:2-5

“Remember Your 1st Love”

This rebuke was written to the church at Ephesus, but it applies to churches and individuals from that time to the present day.  Read the passage carefully: DEEDS, HARD WORK, ACTS OF PERSEVERANCE, WEEDING OUT OF FALSE TEACHES.  The priority should be our hearts, not our deeds.  They were interested in doing works for the “works sake.”  Their motives were not correct and they were rebuked for it.  You should not put the cart before the horse: the inner life must be in order.  God must be #1 in your life.  He must be allowed to direct your life.  Only then will works be properly manifested.  Then James 1:18 can be properly applied: “I will show you my faith by what I do.”  This applies if God’s purposes are our purposes.  Otherwise it is in the Flesh. Obey because of grace of God.

Religious activity does not please God.  Pray that your “worship” is acceptable and your works are supported by proper motives.  “The sacrifices  of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17).  You see, God wants your heart not your works.

# Thoughts from Oswald Chambers: “Most of us are not consistent spiritually because we are more concerned being consistent externally —      WORKS.  Spiritual consistency is rooted in the fundamentals.  The foundation of the cross of Christ – doing away with any belief that is not based on it.  OUR FIRST LOVE – Love and appreciation for Christ and the price He paid for us on the cross!  This made our relationship with God possible!  Nothing is more important – works then naturally follow.”


Tuesday

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10

“Suffering”

This passage was written to the church at Smyra, the persecuted church.  We can draw together issues surrounding suffering and trials using this passage as our springboard.

  • TRIALS ARE INEVITABLE: James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (Not if, but when).
  • TESTING PRODUCES STRENGTH: Testing of our faith strengthens us and develops perseverance. See James 1:12.
  • THERE ARE REWARDS FOR PERSEVERANCE: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
  • JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE: Jesus knows suffering and trials first hand. “These are the words of him who is the FIRST AND THE LAST, who died and came to life again.  I know your afflictions and your poverty.” Revelation 2:8,9
  • DEATH (physical) IS NOT DEFEAT: Even the end of our physical life is just the beginning of eternity. “Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting?” 2 Corinthians 15:55

# IF I LIVE

Let me be steadfast in my faith to the end.
I have no hope of seeing my brethren again in this life.
If they kill me, let me die as a witness to my faith;
If I live, let me go on proclaiming it.
Gabra Michael

Gabra Michael was an Ethiopian convert to the Catholic Church.  Arrested owing to his faith, by Theodore II, he died in his chains on 28 August 1855.


Wednesday

So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

“Lukewarm”

This rebuke was written to the church at Laodicia.  These people lacked passion for the Lord.  They thought that they were sufficient themselves: “You say I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:17).

Passion is ardent affection or love; a strong, intense desire.  The opposite is cool, detached, without feeling.  Lack of passion for spiritual things is common in America and Europe today.  By -words of our time include: “middle of the road, no commitment, situational ethics, denial of absolute truth, it doesn’t matter, etc.”

In order to be “born again,” one must embrace the truth of Jesus and His sacrifice for us.  This is not just “head knowledge.”  God wants us to be passionate about the cross.  We were purchased at a great price!  We need to express our appreciation and live our lives accordingly.  “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24).

GOD DESERVES #1 POSITION IN OUR LIVES AND EXPECTS PASSIONATE COMMITMENT, NOT LUKEWARM DEEDS!

# Ignatius of Antioch is an example to us, in his writing “That I May Attain.”  Here is his passion:

“I know what must be done.  Only now am I beginning to be a disciple.  May nothing of powers visible or invisible prevent me, that I may attain unto Jesus Christ.  Come fire and cross and grapplings with wild beasts, the rending of my bones and body, come all the torments of the wicked one upon me.  Only let it be mine to attain unto Jesus Christ.”

Ignatius was a bishop of that community in Syria.  He met his death in 107 in the Roman arena after being exposed to wild beasts.


Thursday

Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

“Salvation”

God’s love for us is beyond description: He loves us so much that He gave us Jesus to save us from our sins (John 3:16).  This is incomprehensible to us, because we are too self-centered.

Jesus stands at the door of our hearts awaiting access; then thereafter, patiently waits for us to lay aside encumbrances that He may have fellowship with us.  Think of it: no matter what we may do, he awaits with full forgiveness and ready to restore fellowship with us, as soon as we lay aside the sin by confession.

This certainly is beyond human tendency.  We grow tired of people who continue to fail us and eventually we give up.  GOD NEVER GIVES UP!  “To grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:18, 19)

# APPLICATION

  1. If you are not sure that you have the gift of eternal life, ask Christ for eternal life today and know for sure.
  2. If you are a Believer, lay aside sin (confess) and re-establish fellowship with the Lord. He is patiently waiting!

Friday

Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning. Revelation 22:12-13

“Christ Will Come”

“Jesus is coming back someday, No man knows the hour or day; Jesus is coming back I know, for the Bible tells me so!”  There is so much truth wrapped up in this short Bible school chorus.  The Bible teaches Christ’s imminent return!

Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they (the angels) said, “… why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

James 5:8 “Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

2 Peter 3:9-10 “But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief.”

Jesus is the Beginning and the End.  He will return to earth.  There is no doubt.  Jesus said it himself: “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20).  For Believers this will be a blessed day!  We will see Christ face to face.

# Application:

  1. Make sure that you have the gift of eternal life. It’s free.  Just pray and ask God for it.
  2. Make certain that we live everyday as if Christ will return today. Don’t be found in a situation that you wouldn’t want Jesus to find you in!