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Archive for September, 2008

In The Midst

“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb…” Revelation 5:6a

 

John has just been told that the Lion has prevailed. He turns to look, and sees a Lamb. Jesus, of course, is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Lamb of God. When John sees Him there, He is in the midst of all John has seen so far in this vision of the heavenly places. He is in the midst of the throne, resplendent with God’s glory. He is in the midst of the four living creatures, ever living to give praise and glory to God. He is in the midst of the elders, who appear in some way to represent those whom God has redeemed from the earth. He isn’t far off, separated from all that is happening, or about to happen, on the earth. He is right there in the midst.

Jesus is in the midst. I love that thought. We’ve recently been hit with frightening events surrounding our economy. Where is Jesus? He’s in the midst. Even if the worst happens, those who belong to Him will not be enduring this crisis alone. But it’s not just the big things, it’s the little things too. Recently, we couldn’t figure out how to fix the drain on our bathtub. After fretting for a little while, I repented of my worry and asked God for his help. Over the next two days, my husband pondered the problem. This morning, he had it figured out. You might say my husband gets the credit for fixing it (I did thank him profusely), but he belongs to Jesus too, and I firmly believe Jesus answered my prayer by helping my husband figure the problem out.

Little or big, simple or complex, minor or life-changing, Jesus is here in our midst of all our circumstances. Never forget we are never alone.

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“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed…” Revelation 5:5b

 

How quick we are to despair in the face of the seemingly impossible. John sees a scroll in heaven, one he understands is very important. When my pastor spoke on this passage, he identified the scroll as the title deed to the earth. Commentaries I have read concur. As the scene unfolds before him, John realizes the devastating news. No one is found who is worthy to open the scroll. Earth will remain in its bondage to death and decay. He weeps at the news. Wouldn’t you? All around us, we see the evidence of the fact that we, mankind, turned the earth over to a cruel, vindictive task master. The prospect of it always remaining the way it is now is heartbreaking indeed. Then John hears the news that changes his perspective. The Lion has prevailed!

What devastating news have you recently received? What impossible situation are you faced with? The Lion has prevailed! Sure, looking around right now it may not seem like it, but it is true nonetheless. Hard times will come. Hard times may last a while. We suffer loss, pain, turmoil. The storm raged for a time while Jesus slept in the boat. But make no mistake, He had prevailed over the storm long before He awoke to put a stop to it. The question isn’t can Jesus overcome whatever it is you are facing. The question is what are you doing while you wait for Him to deal with it. Do you choose despair or faith? Even while you feel the pain, and maybe even weep at its relentless hold on you, do you still hold up your head, knowing that the Lion has prevailed and that He will calm the storm in His time and in His way?

There is no situation that is too much for the Lord we serve. No matter the storm that rages, hold your head high. The Lion has prevailed!

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“The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…’” Revelation 4:10-11a

 

John has now finished taking down Jesus messages to the seven churches and is seeing a vision of heaven. He sees God, seated on the throne, magnificent in radiant glory. He sees the four living creatures who continually cry out in praise to the Lord. And he sees the twenty-four elders. Leave aside, for the moment, all speculation on who exactly those twenty-four elders are or who they represent. Instead, focus on what they are doing. Every time the four living creatures give praise to our God, the elders fall before the Lord, erupting in praise, and casting their crowns before Him. What does a crown represent? Glory, honor and power. Rather than keeping it for themselves, the elders cast their crowns before the Lord, proclaiming that He is the One worthy of glory, honor and power.

God promises crowns to some believers. There is the crown of righteousness, for those who love His appearing, the crown of life, for those who persevere through trial, temptation, and persecution, and the crown of glory, for those who are a faithful shepherd of God’s people. I believe there is nothing wrong with wanting a crown. The question is, why do we want it? Do we want it for our own glory, so others will look at us and proclaim how wonderful we are? Or do we want it for God’s glory, so people can see the mighty power of the Lord working in and through the life of His children. Therein lies the difference. A life truly pleasing to God is one that is lived by and through His power and strength. You may be able to fool fellow humans, but you can never fool God.

I long to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I long to receive a crown so I can give it right back to my Lord, the only one truly worthy to receive glory, honor and power.

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Tuning In

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:22

 

Tuning In

Seven letters, seven churches. Some good, some not so good, but all with a message. Listen! Jesus used to say this frequently when He walked this earth, particularly after telling a parable. Listen! Listen to what He’s saying. Eternity literally hangs in the balance. When the Bible records the words of our Lord, it’s not just reporting idle chatter. If the Lord thinks something is worth saying, and worth recording so those of us who came later can ‘hear’ it too, then we’d best be paying attention. We’d best make sure we’re not just hearing the words, we’re hearing the message. This is God talking, and He never says anything that isn’t important.

It’s so easy to let other things get in the way of really listening to God. There are so many things we think we have to do. We get busy, distracted, have so many things pulling on us, that about the only time we spend in God’s Word is Sunday morning listening to the pastor, and even then our minds are going a million miles an hour. We need to make a conscious, deliberate decision to slow down, make time to meet with our Lord in His Word and in prayer, and actively seek to hear what He’s saying to us. He is our source. If we aren’t vitally connected to Him, we dry up. Stay connected to Him, He tells us, and streams of living water will flow from us.

Today let us tune out all the noises, distractions, and voices vying for our attention. Let us tune in to the only Voice that really matters, and really hear what He has to say.

 

 

 

 

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True Love

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten…” Revelation 3:19a

 

What a wonder of a Savior we have! He’s just finished giving the most scathing of the letters to the seven churches. No commendation for them. They had nothing in their church that Jesus considered worthy of praise. But then what does He say? He says He rebukes and chastens because He loves! Rather than turning away in total disgust, giving up on them as hopeless, He tells them what they need to hear so they might turn away from their lukewarm brand of church and truly be a church after His own heart. The book of Hebrews tells us that no one likes discipline when they’re receiving it. I’m sure the church at Laodicea wasn’t happy to get their letter. Rebuke and chastisement is never fun. Jesus loves us enough to give us what we really need, not what we think we want.

Anyone who has kids understands that they need things they may not want. They loudly protest that what you’re doing isn’t fair, nobody else’s parents are so mean, and you don’t really love them. A good parent knows better. We discipline our kids precisely because we do love them. It certainly isn’t any fun. But to not discipline your kids is to, in effect, fail to be their parent. A parent not only loves, protects and cares for their kids, they also teach them how to be successful, productive, happy adults. And that requires discipline. None of us are naturally disciplined. Somewhere along the way, we have to learn it. True love will give what is needed. True love will say “I know this isn’t pleasant now, but you need to learn and someday you’ll understand.”

Be thankful when you find yourself under the chastening hand of God. Believe me, the alternative – not truly being His to discipline – is by far worse.

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