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Archive for August, 2008

Staying Needy

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, poor, blind, and naked…” Revelation 3:17

 

The church of Laodicea had it made. Located in one of the wealthiest, most important commercial centers of the region, they were wealthy. Some may consider wealth to be a blessing – and sometimes it is – but in their case it turned out to be anything but a blessing. They didn’t think they needed anything, and apparently that included the Lord. What did this attitude produce? Indifference. Jesus said He would rather they be outright cold towards Him. Those who are hot love the Lord without reservation and follow Him without condition. Those who are cold don’t pretend to love the Lord at all and have no desire to follow Him. But the ones in between, well Jesus said He finds them sickening. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I never want my Lord to say about me.

It seems to me that it can be harder to remain faithful and strong in the Lord when things are going well than when everything is falling apart. When life is pressing you on all sides, you know you desperately need the strength of the Lord to endure. Clinging to the Lord is an act of self-preservation. But when life is comfortable, it’s all too easy to fool yourself into believing you no longer need to cling to Him. The fact of the matter is that without Christ, we are always wretched, poor, blind and naked. In ourselves, there dwells no good thing. I think that’s why both Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon (among many others, I’m sure) believed it was a blessing to be afflicted. It kept them from pretending they could get by without total dependence on the Lord.

May God’s gracious blessings never blind us to how much we do, and always will, need Him in every moment of every day. May we never be found in that terrible state of being lukewarm.

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“I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God…and I will write on him My new name.” Revelation 3:12b

 

Names don’t have the significance that they used to have. In Biblical times, a name spoke of someone’s character. Jesus name, Yeshua, means “the Lord is salvation.” Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, signifying the change of character He would make in Peter. When Jesus says He will write the name of God and of the New Jerusalem on us, He’s saying He will imprint His character on us, identifying us as belonging to Him and the place where He dwells. John, in one of his epistles, says when we see Jesus will become like Him. The dichotomy of our old character – a constant fight between our old sin nature and our new righteous nature – will forever be gone. God will personally and permanently identify us as His.

The Christian lives a “right now/not yet” paradox. The moment we surrender our lives to Christ, we are made new in Him. And yet, we battle daily with our fleshly nature that just doesn’t want to die. Oh, what a relief it will be to have God’s character fully formed in me once and for all! I often imagine what it will feel like to never have to fight my sin nature again. The first thing I imagine when I think of that day is a huge sigh of relief. Finally, at long last, I am fully and completely identified with God. Everything about me that I hate is gone! Everything that I love about Him is mine forever! That’s the day I long for more and more as the days go by.

What’s in a name? If it’s the name of God, everything. And for all who are called by His name, all that His name means will one day be forever ours.

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Waiting

“Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10

 

Revelation 3:10 is an oft quoted passage, particularly among those who, like me, believe the rapture of the church will take place before the seven year time period known as the Tribulation. I love the promise implied in this passage. One day, our waiting will be rewarded. He said He was coming back to get us. We believe Him. We watch for Him and we wait. Generation after generation has come and gone. Still, we watch and we wait. Some people say that Christians have been expecting the Lord to return in their lifetimes since generation that witnessed His first coming. So? Of course we’ve been waiting a long time. Perseverance isn’t perseverance if you don’t have to wait. Just because He didn’t come before, doesn’t mean He’s not coming at all.

Wait, He says, and someday your hope will be realized. The world is falling apart at the seams. Wait. Immorality is rampant. Wait. Your people are suffering, Lord. Wait. How much longer can it possibly go on? Wait. Keep His command to persevere, no matter how things look. He is coming back to get us. Some days, I feel so impatient. I just want to get home and get on with real life. Even as I remind myself that for the true Christian, real life begins the moment we surrender ourselves to Christ, I also remind myself that as much as I want to be with my Lord, there are those I care about who aren’t ready for Him to come back. I’m sure glad He waited until I was ready. I’m also sure those who come to Him between now and the day He does rapture His church will be equally happy He waited for them.

God knows when the time is right for Jesus to return for His bride. In the meantime, may our waiting be filled with our Father’s business.

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“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it, for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:8

 

Jesus has just finished saying that when He opens a door, no one can shut it. Now, He takes a general attribute and applies it specifically to the Philadelphia believers. He knows these are believers who have stayed true to the Word of God. They haven’t denied His name, whether by word or deed. So, He’s opened a door for them, a door that no one can shut. What is this door? J. Vernon McGee believes it is most likely a door to the knowledge of the Scriptures, which in turn leads to an open door of opportunity for witnessing and proclaiming the Scriptures. John MacArthur believes similarly, that the open door is opportunity for service.

For those who stay true to the Word of God, the door is open. God opens His Word to us, and then opens the door for us to spread His Word to others. The more we learn and grow, the more God can use us to help others learn and grow. The more prepared we are, through study and application of God’s Word, to give an answer for the hope we have, the more God will place us in the paths of those who need to hear that answer. We should be a conduit, not a reservoir. God reveals Himself to us, we in turn reveal Him to others. That’s the opportunity He gives to those who stay true to His Word and don’t deny His name.

The door is open. No one can shut it. The only question remaining is this: Will we step through?

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