“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
[Revelation 2:9-10 NKJV]
This letter is the first of only two, where there is nothing said against the church. Instead there is an encouragement that we do not fear any of those things which [we] are about to suffer. There is an honest realism to Scripture, which shows that our Heavenly Father is wholly in touch with us; understands our predicament and indeed says that this is all part of My creative plan for your life.
The second part of The Lord’s reassurance here is that He is well aware of the way that the Devil works in our lives that [we] may be tested. This brings the realisation and confirmation the the Devil is actually working to God’s eternal plan, whether he knows this or not. We must understand that the hardships and trials of life are the testing of our faith. This is perhaps the hardest truth to get to grips with.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
[1 Peter 4:12-14 NKJV]
Finally, we know that the tribulation will end — you will have tribulation ten days — the number ten represents God’s law (as in ten commandments) to show that He has put a legal constraint on any suffering — and there will be the victor’s crown of life, a life eternally with Him, as our reward. There can be no better outcome than this.
There is a path that no fowl knoweth
The vultures eye hath never seen
Where no thorn tree, nor thistle groweth
No hedge to hinder, completely clean
High on the mountain
Above earth’s stormy sphere
Above the heavens coral plain
It’s paved with gold
And precious stones so dear,
It leads to life, the highest gain
To walk this path there is a cross to bear
But in the end there is a crown to wear
A crown of life and love unheard before
When we shall pass o’er on the other shore.
"There Are Trials In Life" -- BLISS ZIMBABWE
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAY’S RACE
Monday 31st August 2020
It does not matter where a man may get to in the way of tribulation or anguish, none of it can wedge in between and separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
“I know your works, your labour, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have laboured for My name's sake and have not become weary.
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
The Church at Ephesus is often called ‘The Loveless Church’, but really that is not strictly accurate. The text says that you have left your first love, not that you do not love. Perhaps it would be better called ‘The Misplaced Love Church’, or ‘The Church That Loved Others Before God’.
Plainly the Ephesians were doing many things aright as verses 2 and 3 reveal — they seem adept at religious observance and ‘doing’ things correctly — but it seems that they did not follow the first and second commandments.
Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Can I lay my hand on my heart and say that my first and foremost love is The Lord: do I love Him more than I love my life, my wife, my children or grandchildren? This first love is not an early infatuation before finding true love; it is a love before all others; it is the agape love that God has for each of us; the highest, purest form of love imaginable.
I did not answer my question, and the truthful answer is I believe so, I hope so, I trust so, but only God can judge. He has evidenced His love for me time and again.
In the final analysis, what we seem to be looking at here is passion. We might be great at the work, persevering in faith, patient and resisting evil, but none of these things reveal a passion for Him, certainly nothing like the passion He pours out on us. Let your life be a passionate expression of The Lord.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Your passion is overwhelming and restoring to me. You lift me up when I fall down. You are always there for me and I need your help to keep me focussed on You, acknowledging You as my first and greatest love.
“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” — Mass of The Rock
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAY’S RACE
Tuesday 25th August 2020
It is easy for me to talk about what I could do with a thousand pounds if I had it; the test is what I do with the 2 pence I have got. It may be hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, but it is just as hard for a poor man to seek first the kingdom of God.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”.
[Revelation 1:10-11 NKJV]
As a fellowship we have looked at the seven churches before and know that John was speaking to the church of Jesus Christ — the fellowship of His saints — and revealing His plan and purpose in this picture.
Christ confirms this by stating at the very beginning that He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last; He is all, and there is no disputing.
The message is to the gathering of His church, but equally to each one as His called out ones who form His body.
“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.
He reassures us that we are secure if we are in Him and goes on to reveal to each one the challenges and trials facing every believer in His company by speaking to the fullness of His church in seven ‘letters’.
These are warnings and encouragements, setting before us a glorious pattern to those who are His overcomers; those who will take the warnings to heart and take joy in the encouragements.
Jesus knows what is in man and His understanding of the depth of us in the letters to the seven churches which are in Asia, reveals an aspect of the Father’s heart which should make us all glad. He wants us to succeed and have the victor’s crown.
DARLENE ZSCHECH —“Victor’s Crown”
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAY’S RACE
Monday 24th August 2020
“Except your righteousness shall exceed”—not be different from but “exceed,” that is, we have to be all they are and infinitely more! We have to be right in our external behaviour, but we have to be as right, and “righter” in our internal behaviour. We have to be right in our words and actions but we have to be right in our thoughts and feelings”
“For I will look on you favourably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.
You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
[Leviticus 26:9-11 NKJV]
With all our here and there activity recently, it might have been easy to put the things of the Spirit on the back-burner, so to speak. We can all get so busy at times that we can readily forget that The Lord is always guiding, illuminating and making the paths straight.
So much stuff (no other word will do) has been thrown away in our mad decluttering of, not only my late mother’s home, but our own as well. 80+ black bin bags sent to the skip from Mum’s house; and today, we began to clear out excess books from Dove Cottage.
Excess books? No such thing I hear you cry, particularly if you are a bibliophile like me, but we feel that The Lord is asking us to de-clutter. He says, in every season, clear out the old because of the new. Our treasures are really ties that bind us, and we need to be free of such encumbrances.
The real danger in holding on to the old is that the old becomes an idol and clouds our relationship with the Almighty. Not in every case of course, but if your possessions take precedence over your life in Christ, you need a fresh infilling from the Holy Spirit to revitalise your faith - and we all need that from time to time.
All of our clearing out work has and continues to be tough, but it is no more than The Lord asks of us. At all times, no matter what the circumstances, we must look to Jesus Christ, first and foremost. Sometimes the choice He asks will be difficult, but His reasoning is always sure and Given in love. Trust in His judgement, for our own is shaky at best. Clear out the old stuff today, so that He can set His tabernacle amongst us.
“Fresh Outpouring” — Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAYS RACE
Sunday 23rd August 2020
The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD.”
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
[Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV]
Paul says there is but one baptism, but in Luke 3, John the Baptist shows us that this one baptism is made up of three; water, Holy Spirit and fire.
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
[Luke 3:16-17 KJV, which gives a clearer distinction between ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘Fire’, than do some other translations]
We know that God has established a principle of three-in-one; He is the Triune God. So just as He is The one true God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; His one baptism is by water, Holy Spirit and fire. (See also Run Today’s Race below).
Paul is not wrong in his declaration to the Ephesians; he is uncovering the deeper truth in three verses packed with three-within-three revelations:
The simple lesson for all of us in our daily walk is to be aware of our God’s threefold working in us through His word, His Spirit and His life.
... And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
[Ecclesiastes 4:12b NKJV]
“Threefold Amen” — Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), from his anthem ‘Great King of Gods’, sung by Milwaukee Chamber Choir.
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAY’S RACE
Saturday 22nd August 2020
Things go by threes in the Bible: Father, Son and Holy Ghost; God, Church, converts; Husband, wife, children. It is God’s order, not man’s. Whenever one of the three is missing, there is something wrong.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART