“Consider This An Invitation”

Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like a roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

Then the angel said to me,  

“Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'”

And he added,

“These are the true words of God.”

 

R.S.V.P.
R.S.V.P.

 

How Important Are Relationships of the “bride-to-be” and  the “Husband-to-be” Before Marriage?

In this passage of Scripture, Revelation 16:6-9, we can picture the RELATIONSHIP of JESUS with His Church, the Bride.

The Bride and Groom…

There is the theme/idea repeated in several places in the Bible, particularly in the N. Testament with Jesus portrayed as the coming groom, and the church as His expectant bride  [Ref:  Matthew 25:1-13].

In the Old Testament, the relationship between the shepherd/king and the Shulamite maiden in Song of Solomon as an allegory; portrays the love relationship between God and Israel.

THE BANQUETING HOUSE – (See Footnotes [i])

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [Song 2:4].

In this story of the Shulamite girl whose heart was won by a shepherd who later came as King Solomon to claim her and who took her back to the palace in Jerusalem.  Now he takes her to the “banqueting house.”

In this there is a beautiful picture of the church which will be the bride of Christ.  It also reveals the personal relationship which is possible between the Lord Jesus Christ and each individual believer.

Believer’s Anticipation

One day in an event described as the “RAPTURE”…the taking up of the church, Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) will return for the church (His bride).

In that given moment, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,  “…the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

THE GREAT EVENT!!!

The “CATCHING UP,” or the “RAPTURE” will be followed at some point, with the event we just look at together in Revelation 19, called “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

It’s an “Invitation Only” Event…

…but you’ve all received an INVITATION!  “Blessed are those who are invited”

Unfortunately, many who have been invited, received the WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT, will not be in attendance.  That’s right, the WEDDING is quickly approaching, the arrangements have been made, the guest list is almost finalized, and the Bridegroom is coming soon!

Preparations Made
Preparations Made

PROPOSITION:

Many people who consider themselves part of the “BRIDE OF CHRIST” are not ready for JESUS the Bridegroom to come.

A QUESTIONING SENTENCE:

How do I know that a lot of people are going to miss out on God’s great “WEDDING RECEPTION” in heaven?

Allow me, if I may, to now serve as your “Wedding Coordinator.”  I have briefly prepared a “CHECKLIST” to help the prospective bride prepare for her wedding day.

I know,  “Why is a guy preparing a “checklist” for the ‘big day’?”

I was BLESSED with two daughters who went through all the wedding day preparations.  But to refresh my memory, I decided to ask some general questions to the ladies on my Facebook account about WEDDING PREPARATIONS:

THE QUESTION:  “How does a BRIDE prepare herself before the wedding?  How did you prepare personally for your wedding day, or, did you even prepare?”

I’d like to SHARE some comments:

“Pre-marriage counseling with our pastor”

“Spent time together as a couple discussing the vows, decorations, guest list…relaxed and took a bath.”

“We knew each other for only 1 month, 2 days.  Didn’t have much time to prepare for anything. And then after 14 days of marriage together, the Lord took him home.”

“Sent out R.S.V.P. cards so we knew how much food we needed and the table settings.”

THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS you must pay attention to if you are going to be prepared: 

These THREE THINGS will keep you out of God’s Eternal Wedding Party in Heaven– So please, for your sake, don’t be unprepared!

#1.  TURNING DOWN THE PROPOSAL…THE INVITATION.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  ~ Revelation 22:17 NIV

A Public Proposal…

I love it when a guy makes one of those bold public marriage proposals on YouTube; in the middle of a crowded restaurant, at half-time of a big game.

One guy took his girl up in a hot air balloon to see what he had written on the field below:  “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”  It was all caught on camera.  I would hope a guy is pretty sure of himself before taking that kind of risk   (Can you imagine getting turned down on national TV? – “Nah! Not interested” or “Could I have some time to think about it?”).

JESUS’ PROPOSAL TO YOU AND ME WAS A PUBLIC SPECTACLE–

He fell to his knees several different times…on the way to the place where He proposed.

He nailed His LOVE for you and me to the CROSS, signing His intentions with His own blood, spread His arms out wide and said,

“I want you for my own.

I want you all!

Whosoever will may come.”

This official PROPOSAL reads like this,

“For God so greatly LOVED and dearly prized the world

that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son,

so that whoever believes in

(trusts in, clings to, relies on)

Him shall not perish 

(come to destruction, be lost)

but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

-John 3:16-

You can trust me on this:  YOU’LL NOT RECEIVE A BETTER OFFER!

The world will try to sell you the idea that something better will come along; “You can reject God’s offer and still get into heaven your own way.”

That you can SUBMIT YOU OWN PROPOSAL:

…based on good deeds,

…church attendance,

…by giving to charities…etc.

BUT…you can’t BUY your way into heaven!  JESUS already paid the price.  The PROPOSAL is on the table.  He’s already “popped the question!”

WHAT THEN IS YOUR ANSWER TO HIS PROPOSAL?

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”  [John 3:35-36 NIV].

#2.  THE SECOND THING THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF GOD’S ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY IS…

Being TARDY for the CEREMONY–

You hear all kinds of crazy stories of people who were late at their own wedding (usually the groom).  They got lost trying to find the church; they overslept; they missed their flight, etc.

READ Matthew 25:1-13: “THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (verse 1).

“FIVE WERE FOOLISH…FIVE WERE WISE…”

THE “FOOLISH” — “…when the foolish took their lamps (nighttime wedding), they did not take any [extra] oil with them” [verse 3];  “While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they ALL began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep” [verse 5].

THE “WISE” — “…took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps” [verse 4].

The girls we read about, the “foolish” girls, missed the “ultimate” WEDDING BANQUET because the procrastinated.  They were like so many people in the world who think there is “plenty of time” to get things right with God when they’re ready.

So, they keep putting off their INVITATION, keep asking for an EXTENDED R.S.V.P. DATE.

THERE’S ONE LAST THING…

There is one last thing that will keep you out of god’s ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY:

#3.  Two-timing the “GROOM” (II Corinthians 11:2).

For I am zealous for you with godly eagerness and 

a divine jealousy,  for I have betrothed you

to one Husband, to present you as

a chaste virgin t Christ.

Here’s a thought that just might scare some to death:

JESUS CHRIST, the Savior of your eternal soul.  THE ONE who suffered and bled and died for you.  THE ONE you pledged your life to serve. THE HOLY SON of the living GOD…could come for His Bride at any moment…and many of you are off living on “Temptation Island.”

You once made the commitment to Him and said, “no other gods”, and “you’re the only one Jesus!”, and yet, you’ve been caught on camera with other lovers.

The WEDDING DATE is closer than you think and you’re out “two-timing” Jesus.

SIN might get you a “first date” with JESUS, but once you accepted His proposal, you agreed to keep yourself pure until the wedding.  You’ve been FLIRTING with lust; FOOLING AROUND with compromise; COURTING OTHER LOVERS behind His back.

The only way you and I can stand SPOTLESS before the Bridegroom…

Is being washed in the sinless blood of the Lamb and dressed in His righteousness.

“SCOTCHGARD” won’t work.

Scotch-garding or...WON'T WORK!
Scotch-garding or…WON’T WORK!

Some Christians act like their wedding clothes were treated.  They say they love JESUS but… keep rolling around on the couch (or chair) with sin pretending like they’re protected from any stain on them.

The STAIN of sin was removed at a great cost!  So don’t try to sew yourself up in a holy “cover up.”

JESUS is coming for a HOLY BRIDE.  If the WEDDING were held at 1:00 PM, or at Midnight, would you be ready?  You HOPE so or you KNOW so!  

I HOPE it’s the latter!

bride4christ

 

 

Footnotes and References:

[i]  “Banqueting House” – Thru the Bible Commentary Series; Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, pg. 137, by J. Vernon McGee.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible; New International Version.

Photo Credits:

“Scotch-garding” – Getting Prepared @ http://www.travelblog.org/ 

Invitation Photo by Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

JESUS Loving the Unlovable

REVELATION 3:19:

JESUS is talking to a church and saying,

“Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them].  So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]”  ~ Amplified Bible.

I seldom hear about the CHASTISEMENT OF THE LORD from today’s pulpits.  In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing about God’s discipline for people in the church.  But it is an issue that all Christians should learn about, and sooner or later, most of us will probably discover what it is to be chastened of the Lord.

The Purpose for Chastening is…?  

“The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death”  (Psalm 118:18).

The PURPOSE is not to destroy but to LEAD to repentance.

“…You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; bring me back, that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.  Surely after I was turned [from You], I repented; and after I was instructed, I penitently smote my thigh.  I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth [as a nation]”  (Jeremiah 31:18-19).

And to RESTORE God’s blessing.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct,  O Lord, and teach out of Your law (Word)”  (Psalm 94:12).

I must admit, I’ve never been fond of the idea of spanking–on the receiving end, or the giving end.  Probably because as a kid I received quite a few spankings.  And by the way, hiding under my parents bed to escape punishment never worked [It doesn’t work for God either.].

Mom would have an ever-present tree switch nearby, and would shout to me in my hiding,  “If you don’t come out right now, the punishment will be much worse!”

Looking back now, I recognize that the discipline of my parents was necessary in keeping me out of trouble–and in many cases to spare me from greater pain and suffering.  Of course back in those days, because of my immaturity, that reasoning wouldn’t make sense to a youngster.

Furthermore, I realize now what my parents went through during those years.  I too experienced the same in the raising our three children– the ordeals of correcting–not because my parents dislike us, but because they love us.  I don’t think my children understood that reasoning either while growing up, but its application was the same never-the-less.

That realization reminded me of God’s word in The Letter to the Hebrews– 12:9-11:

[9]    Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?

[10] For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.

[11] For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 

God’s Word Exposes the Church’s Hypocrisy…

 “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold or hot. Would that your were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing, and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”  (Revelation 3:15-17).

Though JESUS has just exposed church hypocrisy, and has implied that many are pretending to know Him, yet don’t, His reasons are not because He hates them for falling in such a state but because He deeply loves them; He wants to come into their lives.

He reminds the church that He is impartial, always consistent while confronting and discipline.  That is the way GOD treats everyone He loves when they get off course, and believe me…I have certainly gotten ‘off course’ during my 42 years of Christian Life.

Proverbs 3:11, 12:

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastising of the Lord  [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

[Other Scripture to meditate on:  Hebrews 12:5-11; Job 5:17; Psalm 39:11; Proverbs 15:10]

JESUS’ Harsh Assessment…Revelation 3:19.

His harsh assessment of this particular church wasn’t for the purpose of driving them away from Him, but rather serve to put them on notice–YOU MUST BE ZEALOUS–they must be “HOT” (verse 16) and “REPENT” [changing your mind and attitude].

God Wants What Is Best For Us–

He wants us to have SPIRITUAL LIFE, not death.  All this language, the language of LOVE;

–  it’s the treatment of LOVE

– it’s LOVE rebuking, chastising, and exhorting.

JESUS wants to see you restored.

For this very reason, He will discipline us who persist in sin; will even deal out correction if we show signs of APATHY or SPIRITUAL INDIFFERENCE.

“Spiritual Indifference”:

Indifference robs a church of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP POTENTIAL-

It shows itself through…

…NEGLECTED ATTENDANCE…PREPARATION…PARTICIPATION…

Enthusiasm to Worship King of kings, Lord of lords, the Almighty living God will be missing (Psalm 122:1).  Violation of God’s Word will rob the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION in the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:11-12).

Our interest must increase for our worship to be a blessing– “I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!

AGAIN, Revelation 3:19, [The New Living Bible]:

“I continually discipline and punish everyone I love, so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God.”

“I Hear You Knocking…”

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova
Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Since I’m a product of the 50’s, and  remembering listening to the music of the day on my old Silvertone Radio, the Fats Domino song rang out in my ear.  Although the rest of the lyrics certainly don’t fit the topic, the title certainly does.

“I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”

Revelation 3:20:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and be [will eat] with Me.

JESUS IS THE DOOR! – John 10:7.

Restoration is Made…

What a telling image Jesus gives.  JESUS pictures Himself standing outside the DOOR of the repentive heart.

So often this famous verse is used to invite UNBELIEVERS to accept Jesus into their lives.  And of course, that is the message.  BUT the fact that He needs to ask to be let into the hearts of supposed Christians found in the church of Laodicea is a horrible assessment of their condition.

They, like the unbelievers around them, need to repent and welcome Him to come in and take control of their lives–to RESTORE the relationship they once demonstrated

Proverbs 15:10 says,  “The HEART knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

Psalm 39:11:  “When with rebukes You correct and chasten man for sin, You waste his beauty like a moth and what is dear to him consumes away; surely every man is a mere breath.”

Indifference Robs A Church!

Robs it of what?  Of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP  POTENTIAL.

It shows itself through neglected attendance, preparation and participation.  My ENTHUSIASM to worship will be missing (Psalm 122:1):

“I WAS glad when they said to me,  Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Violation of God’s Word will always ROB the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION: The meaning “edification” in the sense of “being built up, strengthened in one’s faith” [Expository Dictionary of Bible Words].

Our interest must increase for our WORSHIP to be a blessing;

“I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!   [ [i] Referenced].

While Christ is Knocking at Our Door…(3:20)

He is directing some of us to knock at Him; “knock and it shall be opened.”

He will certainly hear our voice and open the door to us.  He will not be DEAF to our voice, nor bar the door, nor keep us standing in the hallway, nor send us empty away.

Christ’s Church When He Comes…

The body (the church) will be found in different circumstances then, as well as now, and with many kinds of knocking; yet in all, it’s the same earnest desire on His part to be let in.  He will not force the door; but still wants to be let in.

Don’t find yourselves repeating the lyrics to a song that was popular in the 50’s: “I hear you knocking, but You can’t come in!” How much you will lose out on!

In His Absence…

—  NO outward prosperity,

—  NO riches,

—  NOR numbers can compensate…

IF HE IS KEPT OUT–all is sadness, and leanness, and poverty.

IF He is admitted, ALL IS WELL…

—  HAPPY is the church where Christ is daily feasting…

—  HAPPY the soul in which He has come to live…and who, is in daily communion by Faith and ENJOY the TASTES the Bridegroom’s LOVE!.

“I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.”

 

 

 

 Reference:  [i]  www.bibleanswer.com/indiffrn.htm

Bible Translation Used: Amplified except where noted.

 

 

“Marriage Counseling” Might Be In Order

I have been reading and studying God’s Word in the book of Revelation as of late.  I decided to focus more on God’s LOVE for us all, rather than only emphasize the aspect of PROPHECY–although that issue is also of importance.

EPHESUS - The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh
EPHESUS – The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh

Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV):

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

[1] These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:  [2] 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.  [3] You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

[4] Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken your first love.  [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent,  I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.  [6] But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

[7] He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Ephesians 5:21-23 (AMP):

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [22] Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.  [23] For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.” 

My 50th Wedding Anniversary is approaching…

Last year on my 49th Wedding Anniversary, a much younger friend asked for me to give a brief account of the BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE with such a long duration and I’m sure this year, on our 50th, we will be asked the same question once more:

“Tell us, Mel, just what is it you have learned from those wonderful years with Dianne?”

“Honestly, I’ve learned that MARRIAGE is the best teacher of all.  It teaches you loyalty, patience with one another, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness…and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need to know if you were single.”

GOD LOVES MARRIAGE–

Transforming Lives
Transforming Lives

God performed THE FIRST MARRIAGE in the garden between Adam and Eve.  In fact, the main reason God created Eve from Adam’s side was because (as He said),

“It is not good for man to be alone”  (Genesis 2:18)

Some reasons God didn’t want man to be alone…

MARRIAGE changes us!

Marriage improves our lives, transforming us into something we could never become alone.

MARRIAGE can make you wise!

And after being married for almost 50 years, I can certainly testify it can IF…we do it God’s way!

We can learn all kinds of things as we GROW in Love!

Several years before John wrote the book of Revelation, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus (which we call Ephesians).

In that letter, Paul told the Christians about marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33).

In Ephesians 5, God is telling them, and us, how highly He regards MARRIAGE.  In fact, God regards marriage so highly–He compares a HEALTHY MAN to a HEALTHY CHURCH.

Husbands and wives should do the same things, to have a healthy marriage as you would if you wanted a healthy congregational church.

So, what does a person do when they have an unhealthy marriage?  

How would you go about in healing a relationship between a husband and wife that appears to have gone to the breaking point?

Well, apparently you’d do the same thing you’d do if you had an unhealthy church.

In Revelation 2, Jesus is telling Ephesus that their relationship with Him had become unhealthy, uncomfortable, and strained.  Something needed to be “fixed.”

Jesus diagnoses the problem with Spiritual Advice!

He gives them [and us too] some “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” in Revelation 2:5:

“REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when you first knew the Lord]”

REPENT means to “turn around”, to “go back”!  Go back to the beginning and do what you did at the beginning-again!  That will bring healing to the strained relationship they were experiencing.

So what had the Ephesians done back at the beginning?

If you haven’t already, you will need to grab your Bible and turn back to ACTS 19:17-20:

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor ~ verse 17.

Once the assembly of believers in Ephesus began to LOVE JESUS…

—  they openly confessed their evil deeds,

—  they publicly burned their books of sorcery,

—  AND this all resulted in the Word of the Lord spreading widely and powerfully in the surrounding communities.

Another way of putting it:  “they changed their ways”.

Their NEW RELATIONSHIP with Jesus changed them so much that they…THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY…BEHAVED DIFFERENTLY…THREW OUT EVERYTHING standing between them and Jesus!

As a result, everybody around knew of this great LOVE they had for JESUS.

MARRIAGE is never a 50/50 percent relationship.  It’s a 100/100 percent relationship.

 – 40 YEARS PASSES BY IN THE CONGREGATION OF BELIEVERS…

…AND THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Their LOVE for Jesus had grown stale and empty and their RELATIONSHIP is on life support.  Unless they do something drastic, Jesus is going to take His “candlestick” with Him (Revelation 2:5).

And so JESUS says:

TURN AROUND

GO BACK

LOVE ME LIKE YOU USED TO!

That’s the way to FIX a broken church…a broken relationship.  It is also the way you FIX a broken marriage…before the separation can occur.

Going Back…it’s never to late!

Doing the things you used to do when you first got married can rekindle a closer relationship.

I can remember when I was dating my wife,  how important it was to open car doors, to be well-groomed before picking her up on a date, having the right cologne splashed all over, the one she had mentioned she liked.  I wanted to impress her, to make her notice how interested I was in her and no one else.

As the years passed by all to quickly, honestly, I let things slip.  Now Dianne never said, “How come you never do those things anymore!”  God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit,  “Mel, to show your wife how much you value her, as a suggestion, start opening car doors and build on that.”  I’m still in a daily “building” process even after 50 years.  It never stops.

Redirecting Our Focus…

When your total FOCUS is on pleasing the other person (100%), and if someone asks you about that person you LOVE…you only say good things about them.

It’s NOT about you…

“If only they would”….

“…if only I could get my spouse to do that…everything would be just fine.”

“…if only my husband would say he loved me like he used to, then…”

“…if only my wife treated me the way she did at the beginning we wouldn’t be in this MESS!”

Sharing My Little Secret…

Allow me to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned in 50 years:

GOD NEVER SAID  “Husbands love your wives IF they deserve it.”

GOD NEVER SAID  “Wives submit to your husbands IF they deserve it.” 

A MARRIAGE CAN’T BE FIXED by saying:

“If only they would do this then…”

“If only they would do that!”

You can’t FIX marriages like that.  You can only FIX a marriage by deciding that YOU will do what it needs to be done.

AND it works.  Sometimes–even if you do it for the wrong reasons–it still works!

ILLUSTRATION:  (See References [i])

GEORGE CRANE, a Newspaper columnist and minister tells of a wife who came to his office full of hatred toward her husband.

“I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even before I divorce him!”

Thinking for a minute, Dr. Crane came up with an ingenious plan:

“Go home and act as if you really loved your husband,” he told her.

“Tell him how much he means to you. praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind and considerate and generous as possible. After you have convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him…then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”

And she followed his instructions with enthusiasm.

Two months went by…and she didn’t return to her counselor, so Dr. Crane called her.

“Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”

“DIVORCE?” she exclaimed.

“Never!  I discovered, I really do love him.”

Without realizing it–in OBEYING God–her marriage healed.  She didn’t realize she’d “REPENTED” and done the things she’d done at first.  But when she did, she fell in love all over again.

This is what JESUS is explaining to the church at Ephesus:  Remember then from what heights you have fallen.  REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else…(Rev. 2:5 AMP).

“You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”–

A DEEPER KIND OF LOVE is more than just “feelings.”  It’s a heartfelt, deepened relationship as your marriage progresses and in the same manner, a closer relationship with Christ.

“Your happiness is going to be based on who you decide to share the rest of your life with.”  [ii]

One of the reasons many marriages fail today is they’ve forgotten what the attraction was about.

–  You got bored with the old routine.

–  You’ve become complacent in the everyday things in life.

JESUS says, “I have this one charge to make against you:  that you have LEFT the love that you had at first”  (verse 4).

It wasn’t that the ‘church people’ no longer had any LOVE of Jesus at all, rather it was the QUALITY of their love for Him had weakened; grown stale over a period of time.

The GREEK word translated “LEFT” means “to depart, leave alone, forsake, and neglect.”  It can also be used of DIVORCE and the image it gave me is powerful.  [iii]

When you lose your keys, where are they?  When you lose your sunglasses, they are right where you left them.  I sometimes find them on my head.

That’s the way it is with your FIRST LOVE.  If you’ve lost it, guess where it can be found.  It’s wherever you left it.

Wherever it is, it’s still there because God hasn’t moved!  He’s waiting for you to come back.

Invaluable Relationships…

Imagine ladies, that your husband comes home and says,  “I don’t love you anymore.  But nothing will change.  I’ll still earn a living and pay the bills.  We’ll still sit together and sleep together.  I’ll still father our children.  I just don’t love you anymore.”

Would that reasoning set well with you?  No way!  You’d be devastated.

Yet we say that to the Lord.

“Jesus, I don’t love You like I did in the beginning.  I’ll still come to church every week.  I’ll still serve You.  I’ll still witness for You.  I just don’t love You like I used too.”

That’s NOT good enough for Jesus either.

Overcomers!

This brings back to Revelation 2:7 in conclusion:

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).  To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.  [Gen. 2:9; 3:24.]”

THE “LAMPSTAND’ REMOVAL:

Jesus tells us, unless we rediscover our FIRST LOVE and repent, He will remove the LAMPSTAND (verse 5 b.).  

No way is the Lord saying that the people of the church (we are the “church”) have lost their salvation.  For the OVERCOMERS will be granted to eat of the tree of life, which is in paradise.

Removing the “LAMPSTAND” means that your light, your uplifted TORCH LIGHT, has been extinguished in the surrounding communities.

So if you find that “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” is in order, in your marriage or in your spiritual relationship, you may need to return to a relationship of FIRST LOVE…then REPENT of your negligence, complacency and go back to the beginning.

REFERENCES:

[i]  Tests 1939 “For Husbands and Wives” The chicago Daily Tribune January 1-12, 1940.

[ii]  “Winning in Troubled Times” by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

PHOTOS:

EPHESUS – “The Church With No Doors” by Van Gogh atwww.christimages.org/biblebooks/Book of Revelation.html

Photo Pin – Free Photos for Bloggers.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:

The New International Version.

The Amplified Bible.

Imitators or Impostors?

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10  (NIV):

[6] You became IMITATORS of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  [7] And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  [8] The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,  [9] for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,  [10] and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

charlescalebcolton203963

 

MAKING AN IMPRESSION:

Sometimes I hear a new song, read a book, or see something that so grabs my attention, I can’t help myself.  As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to tell someone I meet or share my experience on Social Media, “I gotta tell you about this book I’m reading…” or whatever it is.

That’s when it is CLEAR…it really made an impression.

And what happened when Paul and his fellow evangelists came to Thessalonica made that kind of IMPRESSION?  Not only impressing the local church people, but also on people all over the place.

Conversation was “buzzing” all around Greece and neighboring countries.  Nobody had to ask,  “Have you heard about those strange Jews going around talking about someone called JESUS?” because everybody who had heard about them, were telling someone else without being asked.

That’s the meaning of what Paul says in VERSE 8:  “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

And what people were talking about wasn’t just the new church down at “The Corner of Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road” ([i]Footnote). but the way it had come into being.

People were talking about the amazing and instantaneous effect the Gospel had effecting their lives.

At the heart of it all…

At the heart of it all was the call to WORSHIP…of the One True God rather than the surrounding idols.

It would be like asking the people of today, to give up using their cars, computers, tv’s and cell phones.

The gods of Greek and Roman paganism were everywhere.

For example, if you or your son or daughter were getting married this Summer, a serious and expensive worship of a deity would be expected of you.

At every turn in the road the gods were there; unpredictable, possibly mean and dangerous, and sometimes at war among themselves…there was really no way in appeasing them, making sure you had them on your side.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy…

Right smack dad into this wacky world came three unknown Jews: Paul, Silas and Timothy, telling these pagans there was only One True God and this God had a Son, and that Son had been raised from the dead!!! Nobody had ever said anything like that before!!!

And the people in Thessalonica, knowing right from the start, the huge risk they would be taking in the community–turned away from their idols to this Living God, and in doing this…discovered both suffering and great JOY at the same moment!!!

That’s what CONVERSION is all about–

The word “TURNED” in verse 9 of the text, is as close as Paul gets to the technical term of conversion or being SAVED:

“They tell how you turned to God…”

It’s what happens when someone stops going in one direction, turns around and begins going in the opposite direction.

Has this happened to you?

“Changing Beer Into Furniture”

In preparation for studying and meditating on the verses presented in this blog-post, I ran across a story told of a group of old friends hanging out and having conversation.  One of the men had recently become a Christian:

His old buddies were giving him a bit of a hard time about his conversion experience.

“You don’t really believe all those miracle stories in the Bible, do you?”

In response, his friend replied,

“I don’t know about the miracle stories in the Bible, but I do know about the miracle story in my own life.  Since giving my life over to the Lord, Jesus has changed beer into furniture!”  ([ii] See Footnote)

It’s a sight to see when someone gives their life to Christ!  I did so on August 15th, 1972–my spiritual birthday!!!

Transformation–

As we become more involved in a community of faith,

Volunteering our time,

Learning the JOY of GIVING to God,

Becoming friends–like a family with our brothers and sisters in the FAITH.

[In growing up, I had a brother who was seven years younger than I.  But when I became a BELIEVER, my family grew.  Now I have FAITH SISTERS in the Lord–and my wife, is also my sister in Christ!]

Christian Living in Thessalonica…

Christians had been true BELIEVERS for a very short time; we don’t know exactly how long, but it can’t have been more than a year.

They were very ordinary people doing something extraordinary in response to an unexpected MESSAGE and people from hundreds of miles around were talking about it.

The only explanation…the Living God at work through the MESSAGE of Jesus Christ!

“IMITATORS”/IMPERSONATORS – Verse 6 a.

“And you [set yourselves to] become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself”  (Amplified Bible).

Even in the face of “severe suffering”, the Thessalonian believers of the day, talked about…

—  GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN OF SOCIETY!!!

—  COURAGE!

—  COMMITMENT

—  ABOUT A MIGHTY GOD!

It wasn’t about them.  It was about HIM!!!

Even in the midst of their suffering and persecution, they were filled with JOY and the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

And so, other people became curious and wanted to know what they had discovered:  “What have they got that I don’t have?”  I wonder myself, if my neighbors are asking the same question about my life:  “Who is he, really?”

Or, is the only thing they notice–my car parked along side of the house on Sunday mornings with the engine at idle–waiting for my wife to get out of the house– then rushing off to Sunday morning services and back home by noon.

“Are the Thompson Family IMPOSTERS or what?”

The people  of First Church of Thessalonica had become Imitators…

 The church as a whole, through their IMITATION OF CHRIST, others began to imitate them…Macedonia and Achaia:

“Your FAITH has become known everywhere” Paul exclaims.

And when something is GOOD…something is REAL, and the word gets around to those who need to hear the Word.

When Christians begin to “LIVE OUT” with…

DEEP CONVICTION,

THE CALLING OF CHRIST JESUS,

THE LIFE OF JESUS,

THE WAY OF LOVE, and

GENEROSITY THROUGH CHRIST, and

the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT…

…people can’t help notice that THE REAL THING HAS ARRIVED!

Living in a CULTURE engulfed in idols.

We may not call them idols, or call them gods, nor pray to them, but our ACTIONS speak volumes.

When we concentrate our efforts on building a better church buildings for ourselves rather than spending time, talent, money on going out to those who don’t know Christ…we’re WORSHIPPING IDOLS.

But when we give sacrificially so others can eat…

…when we knock on doors and offer a free cup of water or whatever…

…when we become peacemakers and reconcilers…

…when we make an effort in random acts of kindness…

…when we become lovers and not judgers…

–when we seek to heal, help and restore…

…when we offer Christ in these ways…

WE ARE TRULY WORSHIPPING THE ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD.

And that’s exciting!!!  It’s exciting not only for us, but for those who hear about us.

No wonder the apostle Paul was delighted to write a letter to them,

“We continually remember before our God and Father

your work produced by faith, your labor

prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope”

“Imitators” are Contagious!!!

Bill Hybels says, “God wants us to become contagious [believers]…who will first catch His love and then urgently and infectiously offer it to all who are willing to consider it…”  [See Footnotes – iii]

Are you living your life in such a way as to cause people to want what you have in Jesus?

Paul concludes the opening paragraph in his letter:

“And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven.  Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath  [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah]”  (verse 10 – Amplified Bible).

Jesus is coming again!

There is no “if’s” in Paul’s wording here.  And being “left behind” as an RELIGIOUS IMPOSTER when He does return… is not a good thing.

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  Charles H. Spurgeon.

JESUS' Social Media Post

AN “IMPOSTOR’S” IDENTITY:

IMPOSTERS have religious activity that is not connected to a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  They love to look religious–in a “form of godliness.”

“FORM” refers to an outward shape or appearance, putting style over substance.  Read what JESUS SAYS about some impostors of His day:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence”   (Matthew 23:25).

The Separating of Christ’s IMITATORS and the IMPOSTERS:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry…feed you…or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

And the IMPOSTERS…the “goats” on the left response?

“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”  (V. 44)

“He will reply,  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did NOT DO for one of the least of these, you DID NOT DO FOR ME”  (V. 45).

The “impostor’s” destiny…

“…they will go away to eternal punishment”

The “imitators” outcome…

“but the righteous to eternal life”  (V. 46).

So where do you belong in your community?

A Imitator…or an Impostor?

Footnotes:

[i]  Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics @ http://elyrics.net > Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics to Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road.

[ii] Story from Kenneth Sauer.

[iii]  Bill Hybels, Contagious Christian, pg. 23

 

What We Believe Determines How We Behave

A Lesson Learned From My Grandfather–

When I was young and impressible growing up, my grandfather had a habit when outside–always walking with his head down–as if he was looking for something that he might have lost.

My grandparents lived in a different part of Southern California than my parents, so visiting them on holidays and weekends during the Summer were a real treat for me.  That was where I first learned to ride a  bicycle which was stored in the garage just for my use–and learning to roller skate on the miles of sidewalks surrounding my grandparents home[no sidewalks to skate on where I lived].  All because it was something to do while not getting in someone elses hair.

Eventually, as the Summer days grew hotter and physical activity for even a young became uneventful,  I would watch my “granddad” puttering in his carpentry shop attached to the homesteads garage.

Now I never learned much from watching, because of my impatience.  But it was still a treat to see how granddad could fix anything with his hands!

One day I decided to ask him why he always walked around the yard and side patio with his head down.

“Well son, that’s a good question.”  And I waited, and waited, and waited for his answer.

Keeping my FOCUS set!
Keeping my FOCUS set!

“If you keep your eyes on where you are walking, you will never know what you might find.”

I immediately followed up the question with a question:  “Like what granddad?”

He pointed his aged and well calloused finger to a small crack in the paved walkway.

“Look over there Mel.  What do you see?”

“NOTHING,” I replied.

And then, slowly bending over, he proceeded to pick up an old, weathered copper penny and placed it in his open palm.

“Do you see what you been missing all this time?” he asked.

After our conversation, he walked back to his small little workshop while I wondered if there was a deeper lesson here.

I hesitated for a minute, not wanting him to see what I was about to do.  Getting down on my knees, I began searching intently, in every cranny and crack in the payment.  There must be more TREASURE out here…more COINS hidden… if I just keep looking and watching with my head down like granddad.

What We Believe Determines How We Behave:

The story I shared becomes a good picture of how many people live in our society today.  They are constantly searching for something because they know there’s got to be more to life.   But they never find it if they don’t know what it is they are missing.

Breaking away from the past…

If you want to break away from your past, then where you put your eyes is very important.  Although my grandfather never wanted to break away from his past, at least I don’t think he did.  Where he put his eyes was of importance to him.

Colossians 3:1-4:

Instead of looking down, the apostle Paul challenges us to LOOK UP! :

[1] IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

[2] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

[3] For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.

[4] When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [splendor of His] glory.

LOOKING UP! 

Colossians 3:1 establishes the TRUTH…

Since we have been RAISED WITH JESUS…we have a new status and therefore A NEW LIFE.  We now have a POWER SOURCE for living.

I remember at the age of 20, driving home from work after a  graveyard shift; getting out of my car and kicking the rear tire, hurting my foot in desperation cry, “There’s got to be more to life than this!”  It wouldn’t be until 10 years later would I discover the POWER SOURCE.

Being positioned to LOOK UP.

BELIEVERS have died with Christ Jesus, been buried with Him, have been raised with Him, and as Ephesians 2:6 states, we have been seated with Him in heavenly places.  This is our position, but we must assume these truths on a daily basis to break free from the past.

That’s why Paul writes,  “set your minds and keep them set on what is above”–

I’m sure you heard the phrase, “He/she so heavenly minded that he.she no earthly good.”  Personally, I would consider that phrase if directed to me, as a compliment.

It’s more likely that people today are so worldly-minded that they’re no heavenly or earthly good!

IF WE TRULY SET OUR HEARTS AND MINDS on things above…

We will experience POWER and FREEDOM here on earth.

The word “SET” means to seek something out with a desire to possess it [i] Footnote–like a dutiful grandson on his hands and knees while seeking a penny with great desire in the cracks of cement.

The word Paul uses is in the present tense, which implies that we’re to continue to SEEK the things above.  It’s NOT a one-time decision, but a daily activity.

JESUS puts it this way in Matthew 6:21:  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When I was a youngster, the TREASURE I sought–where my heart was–was to be found with my head downward.  Even as a spiritually immature Christian, my FOCUS was directed to what was in my wallet.

If our FOCUS is on things that will ultimately rust, tarnish, break down, or burn up…our energy and emotions will be misplaced.

If we SEEK JESUS–allow Him to become our ultimate treasure, then our hearts will follow.

Our knowing “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

This is a reminder to us all.  JESUS is supreme and in control of all we have, all we do, and where we go on earth.  Christ is exalted (lifted up!) and sits at the right hand of the Father; He is sitting down, not standing up.

One of the most often quoted Old Testament Bible verse is Psalm 110:1:  “The Lord says to my Lord:  Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  The word shows that His redemptive work is now complete.  “IT IS FINISHED!”

BELIEVERS HAVE TWO RESPONSIBILITIES:

Our FIRST RESPONSIBILITY–

To “set our hearts on things above.”

Our SECOND is to…

“set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

This literally translates,  “Keep on thinking, as a matter of habit, on the things above, and not on things on the earth.”  Our FEET must be on earth, but our MINDS must be in heaven.

So thoughts can, and will influence our actions…

So, if we place our THOUGHTS ABOVE and not on earth, our BEHAVIOR will reflect those things that matter to our Father in heaven.  This is not an easy thing to accomplish.  We are bombarded by outside influences–the worlds way of thinking about world events around us, material obsessions, etc.

PLACING OUR MINDS ABOVE…

This requires a never-ending effort on our part because by NATURE, we have a tendency to LOOK DOWN as my grandfather’s habit transpired, instead of LOOKING UP!

But if we fix our eyes on the things above, GOD will change our desires; and if we change our mind, GOD will change our heart.

FIVE REASONS TO “LOOK UP”:

#1.  We’ve died (verse 3 a.).

When looking back at the CROSS where we DIED POSITIONALLY in Christ Jesus, we have no obligation to live like we used to live.

This parallels the verse in Galatians 2:20, where Paul share his current spiritual position by saying “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

#2.  Our life is hidden with Christ (v. 3 b.).

The image I get here is a large BANK VAULT.  My TREASURE is stored away in my account–SECURED in trust for eternity.

#3.  Christ is our life (v. 4 a.).

By realizing that Christ is our life today, we should have a new attitude towards anything that may happen to us.  There should be nothing to fear!

#4.  JESUS will come again! (v. 4 b.).

When I was growing up and getting the news that my grandparents were coming, I would be so excited…I would wait looking through the front screen door with excitable anticipation:  Are they here yet?

Since JESUS is coming again, it makes sense perfect sense we should be looking up continually…not knowing the exact time of His arrival, but knowing that He will soon be here.

The phrase “WHEN” is better translated “WHENEVER Christ appears”.  The FACT of His return is certain but the time is indefinite.

#5.  We will appear with Him in glory (v. 4 c.).

The verb “APPEAR” means to make visible what is invisible – [ii] Footnotes.

When JESUS returns, the real position of the BELIEVER, which has been hidden to the world, will be made known.  Better translated, “whenever Christ appears.”

CREDIT: jonathanselby.com
CREDIT: jonathanselby.com

1 John 3:2 (Amplified Bible):

“Beloved, we are [even here and now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.”

REMEMBERING WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS:

Paul has been urging us to LOOK UP and REMEMBER:

—  Who we are now…

—  Who we once were…

—  Who we will be when Christ returns.

Some QUESTIONS to ask ourselves after reading and meditation on God’s Word today:

—  “Where am I looking?”

—  “What does my mind focus on?”

—  “What gets my hearts attention?”

READERS, we must all make a conscious effort, a deliberate daily decision to LOOK UP!  Set our minds and hearts on heavenly things.  Our outlook determines our outcome.  Keeping our minds and hearts in the right place will often determine where we end up.

HAVE YOU MADE THE DECISION?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]…[ii] Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

PHOTO CREDITS:

 “Keeping my focus set” – Photo Pin  and jonathanselby.com/pg25pics html

SOURCED COMMENTARY:

Brian Hill’s “Breaking Freedom From the Past.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS USED:

Amplified Bible and New International Version.