To Live For You

Saturday, June 14, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put this song in mind:

May Christ Be Seen in Me / Percy Crawford​

O Lord, I give myself to Thee, and all that I possess;
I lay aside my sinful pride and claim Thy righteousness,
My will lies shattered at Thy feet, I pray Thy will be done,
My only plea to live for Thee and magnify Thy Son…

May Christ be seen in me, O Lord,
Hear Thou my earnest plea;
O take me, fill me, use me, Lord,
Till Christ be seen in me.

Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV). [I will quote out of consecutive order for the purpose of placing the scriptures into topical categories.] Revelation 2-3 contains seven letters to seven specific churches. Although they were written originally to seven particular church congregations of John’s day, they were intended, as is the entire book of Revelation, for the encouragement, instruction, and warning to the church throughout all time. So, we should read these letters prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit of God to reveal to us what specifically applies to us individually, and what applies to the church of our day particularly, so we know how to pray, and so we know how we are to respond to what the Spirit is saying to the churches of our day, and to us individually, too.

To The Good

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary…

But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate…

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the lampstands are the seven (meaning complete) churches. Jesus walks (lives; moves) among the churches. He is active among us. He dwells within us in the person of the Spirit. He is ever present with us.

He knows us. He sees everything we do, he hears what we say, sees what we watch, and he even knows what we think. There is nothing hidden from his sight. We may fool humans, but we can’t fool God. He knows all about us. He sees our deeds, and he discerns the motivation behind them, too. He recognizes what is in our hearts better than we can identify ourselves. So, he is the best one to speak words of encouragement and correction to us.

He has many good things to say about this congregation. Some of it may apply to us. These are things we are instructed to do in scripture. We are to work hard, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit of God by submitting to his work of grace in our lives and by cooperating with that work. We are encouraged regularly in the importance of perseverance (steadfastness) in the faith. We should not be easily swayed back and forth by various forms of teaching. We should not be slack in our walks with the Lord. But our walks of faith should be continuous, enduring, and persistent, and we should never give up due to hardship or persecution.

We should also not tolerate wickedness, especially within the church, i.e. we should not easily put up with or be easily entertained by wickedness, or be drawn into doing what is evil because we play with sin, or because we mix with the world. We should test everything we hear, see or read against the word of God, because there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing within the church, lying, manipulating and deceiving the people with their clever stories, and with their humanistic teachings, reasoning and philosophies. We should expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, and we should proclaim what is truth. And, we should willingly endure hardship, persecution and suffering for the name of Christ.

To The Bad

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

Yet, it is possible to do all or some of the good things listed above and to still have a charge against us. How so? – Because we can get caught up in the doing and forget the one who saved us by his grace. We can get all caught up in the gifts, and forget the giver. I would think, then, that it would be impossible to operate in the Spirit and that there would be a natural fall back into operating in the flesh, because to function in the Spirit requires that we be in regular fellowship and communion with our Lord, walking in obedience to him. What this would mean, then, is that we could continue doing some of what we know is right to do while still neglecting our personal relationships with Jesus Christ. How sad!

So, what is the love we had at first? Some translators state it this way: “You have forsaken your first love.” That seems to be more true to the original meaning (text). Jesus Christ, as our husband, is our first love. Forsaking him is like committing adultery against our spouse, whether physically, mentally or emotionally. Spiritual adultery appears to include all three of these forms of adultery, as well as it incorporates unfaithfulness in our spiritual relationship with Christ.

Whenever we get caught up in all kinds of other things to the neglect of our Lord and our relationship with him, we are guilty of forsaking our first love. When we are comfortable just “doing” for God, but we do not welcome submitting our all to him, obeying his word, and going where he leads us, then we have forsaken our first love. When we give our hearts, emotions, thoughts, passions, time and energies to “other loves” to the neglect of or in opposition to our “first love” and his plans and purposes for our lives, then we have forsaken our “first love.” Jesus wants our all on the altar of sacrifice laid.

The Call

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches…

We need to listen up and to take this passage seriously, because many are right in the same boat as this congregation. We need to take stock in our attitudes, actions, thoughts, values, behaviors, commitments, etc., and we need to see how far away from God’s plans and purposes for our lives we have drifted. Then we need to turn from our sins of adultery, and we need to turn to or back to our “first love” and to actually make him the “first love” of our lives, desiring what he desires, and willingly following him in his footsteps, being who he wants us to be, and then doing what he desires, which is mainly that we give our all to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world.

The Warning

If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place…

We learned earlier that a lampstand was the church, so this would be like saying, “I will remove your church from its place (home; status; position; situation). There are varied interpretations of what this means, but it is evident that this is some type of divine discipline and correction, i.e. it is a judgment of God against the church, and it is punishable in some form or fashion. It may mean that the church will begin to fall apart due to discord, or that pastors will leave, or that they will fall into some type of disrepute, or that they will lose their standing in the community or their testimony for Christ or whatever God intends by this, but what we know is that it is not good, and we don’t want it. So, we should not play with “fate,” but we should take God seriously, and we should repent of our known sins.

The Promise

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

I am glad that the Lord Jesus always saw fit to give a promise, hope and encouragement to the faithful, to the repentant, and to the ones who take his words seriously and give heed to his warnings. Otherwise it would leave us feeling without hope. Yet, there is always hope! If we are victorious, and we overcome Satan and the sin of spiritual adultery via repentance and submission to God, and by his power and working within us, then we get to partake in our Lord Jesus Christ, in fellowship with him, in his comfort and strengthening, in how he satisfies the deep longings of our souls, and in the benefits of his grace, etc. There is always blessing with obedience, but warning with rebellion. May we be among the obedient.

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.