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Archive for May, 2008

“I know your works, your labor…Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:2a,4

 

The church of Ephesus was doing good things.  You know you’re doing good things when the Lord Himself commends you for them. They patiently endured. They couldn’t bear evil in their midst, and actively rooted it out. They labored for Jesus name, and didn’t grow weary. And yet, Jesus called them to repentance.  Why? Because they’d left their first love. They still were doing all the right things, but the implication is they’d begun to do them for the wrong reasons. The things they did were important, but the Lord looks beyond the ‘what’ to the ‘why.’

When I was a child, I did my chores because my parents compelled me to, and often only when I had to in order to avoid discipline. As a wife, I work because I love my husband and want his home to be a pleasant place for him to come home to. In a similar way, I’ve found the Lord has been maturing my relationship with Him. At first, I worked hard at obeying because that’s what a good Christian is ‘supposed’ to do. But I’m not only God’s daughter, I’m the bride of Christ. I believe He wants us to serve Him because we love Him, not because we feel like we have to or we’ll get into trouble. Don’t get me wrong. We need to obey whether we ‘feel’ like it or not, but isn’t it so much more joyful to freely offer our service as a response of love than begrudgingly offer our service out of a sense of obligation?

The things we do are important, but the reasons we do them are imperative. May Jesus always be our first love, and the things we do the natural outflow of our relationship with Him.

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“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead…’” Revelation 1:17a

 

John was one of Jesus most intimate associates while He walked this earth. John, in his gospel, refers to himself as ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’ It was John, along with his brother James and Peter, who stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. At the last supper, he was the one who reclined against Jesus chest. And yet, when he saw Jesus in his vision, he fell at Jesus feet as though dead. Clearly his intimate connection with Jesus didn’t preclude absolute awe and holy fear at being confronted with Him in His glory. He didn’t turn around, see Jesus, and say, “Oh, hi Jesus. Good to see you again. How’s heaven?” No, he fell at His feet.

I sometimes wonder if we haven’t become overly familiar with our Lord. I’m frankly disturbed at references to Jesus as our ‘bff’ or our ‘homey.’ Make no mistake, He is the best, most intimate friend we will ever have. But He is also God, unimaginably holy and magnificent. Were it not for Him doing what is necessary to allow us into His presence, we would not just fall at His feet as though dead, we really would die. Were it not for Him reaching out to me, there is no possible way that I could live, let alone stand, in the presence of this holy, righteous, glorious Son of God. The fact that He did reach out to me, that He does want to have an intimate, personal relationship with me, in no way negates the fact that He is a holy God worthy of holy fear.

Someday, maybe soon, I’m going to see Him face to face. Until then, may my deepening intimacy with Him inspire continually more, not less, respect, awe, and yes, holy fear.

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“’I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’, says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”  Revelation 1:8

 

Jesus is presenting His credentials for the revelation He is about to give to John.  He says He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  Lest we not understand what He is saying, He goes on to call Himself the beginning and the end.  Everything began in Christ, and everything will culminate in Christ.  Let me skip to the last name He calls Himself, the Almighty.  He has the power to bring about every single thing He says He will.  He isn’t giving John guesswork; He’s giving John history in advance.  Then there is the title I love; the title that reminds me I am never alone, never have been alone, and never will be alone.  He is the One who is, who was, and who is to come.

There have been very difficult days in my past.  As I look back on them now, I remember that Jesus was there with me.  I wasn’t alone, no matter how alone I may have felt at the time.  Believing that, I can see how He worked in my life, and the pain is replaced with praise.  Tomorrow is filled with questions.  I see upheaval looming on the horizon and wonder what the future holds.  On a more personal level, I have health issues that aren’t terribly bad now but can develop into something far worse in time.  Will they?  I don’t know.  I do know who holds my future in His hands, though, so I can rest knowing that whatever may come, I won’t face it alone.  And today?  Today is the only day that I can live a life of glory for my Lord.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is never guaranteed.  Today, I can know He is here with me and live accordingly.

Jesus redeems our yesterdays, empowers our todays, and knows all of our tomorrows.  Whatever lies behind, whatever is before us, whatever awaits us in the days to come, we are never alone.

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“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place.” Revelation 1:1a

 

From our side of heaven, it sure seems like the things that were supposed to ‘shortly take place’ are a long time in coming. Nearly two thousand years have come and gone. All translations of the Greek word used for ‘shortly’ aside, it’s good to remember that God has a perspective we don’t have. He sees the whole picture, we only see the tiniest sliver of it.  God understands all the myriad of details involved. The wisest of us know that the more we learn, the more we realize we need to learn. As for time, God is eternal. We are finite.  Of course He will have a different perspective on time than we do.

Nothing illustrates this better, I think, than the difference between parents and children. I remember taking a road trip when my older daughter was young. “How long until we get there?” Any parent who has taken a trip with a child has probably heard this question. It didn’t matter how many times I told her it wouldn’t be much longer, it was always far too long for her. We’d been on the road for two days. From my perspective, a couple more hours was nothing. From hers, it was forever. Then there was my younger daughter, successfully completing her sixth-grade year, lamenting the six more years she had before completing high school. I was lamenting how quickly she’d be finished with school and off on her own.

When we don’t understand what’s going on or why it’s taking so long for God to fulfill His promises, may we at least remember to trust the perspective of the One who sees the beginning from the end.

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