So today me and Becca landed at the Scottish OMF Conference, to be greeted by many large hugs, great quantities of carbohydrate and a LOT of introductions.
At least 5 people have greeted me today with the statement, ‘Are you Peta? I heard you were going to Japan this summer and I wanted to talk to you/pray for you/stand with you…’
I never cease to be amazed by the way word spreads in these circles.
And I have had some amazingly encouraging chats with retired Japanese missionaries, learning, gaining insight, talking about loving people and contextualising the Gospel.
It’s also been a day of amusingly bizarre experiences… but they will just keep us privately amused.
And this morning’s teaching, by Peter White, was just brilliant.
Looking at Revelation 2 and 3 and Jesus being the walker among the lamp stands.
What is God saying to us through His letters to the churches?
It is not just a history lesson.
These letters relate to the experiences we have has Christians throughout our lifetime, or describe our experiences as churches.
We all go through aspects of this, so these letters have something to do with where the rubber hits the road in our Christian life.
Jesus walks among us. He is constantly concerned about us. He loves us.
Our identity is being people of His Presence.
Jesus is with us, overseeing us, rooting for our best, in all circumstances.
We are the lamp stand.
It is our calling to be distinct, and to shine brightly in a dark world.
His burning eyes see right through our activities and into our motives.
And Jesus gives words of commendation and warning.
He gives us a kind of checklist.
Because He wants us to overcome.
Is there a problem stopping His power from reaching us?
We have to be discerning about ourselves.
Holy Spirit help us.
1. Hard work
In Chapter 2 v 2-3. Jesus commends hard work and perseverance. Even if no body else sees. It is not unseen by Him. He values our commitment to intercession, tithing and the spiritual disciplines.
Jesus values our diligence and unseen effort. It’s not about being like the Pharisees and wanting other people to know. It’s enough that Jesus knows.
Jesus loves the you that you are.
Even if our work is unfruitful, or goes unacknowledged, He values it.
Hard work is the labour unto weariness.
Jesus also loves our perseverance. Steadfastness that keeps going in difficultly. Long term commitment that is faithful to the end.
It is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Jesus values our commitment, when we endure hardships, when he turns our suffering to His glory.
We can be victorious amidst suffering.
There is a reason.
When I am at the end of myself, there is more room for God to move.
2 v 19 You are doing more now than you did at first.
Keep growing in the things of God.
3 v 1-2 But when the opposite is true, when our reputation is alive but our heart is dead, it makes Jesus incredibly sad.
There is a hell to be fled from. We can’t keep our head down. We are called to be salt and light.
If you are going to count for Christ you have to be willing to be unpopular with the world so that Jesus can delight in you.
Jesus, make our deeds complete in Your sight.
3 v 15-17 God hates lukewarmness. It wasn’t ‘serious sin’, it wouldn’t be something we point the finger at, but it made God want to vomit. It was serious to God.
2 v 13 Jesus wants us to confess Him alone as Lord.
He loves it who we confess Him with our mouth.
Over 100,000 Christians a year are martyred for their faith. We need to count the cost.
Jesus says that He loves it when His dear people stick up for Him and don’t deny His name.
3. Guard the Gospel
Guard the theory and practice of the Gospel. Do not tolerate wicked men.
Hate the practices of sin and guard the Gospel.
Jesus hates it when wickedness is tolerated and accepted.
2 v 14 The sin of Balaam is tolerated. Balaam was called to curse the Israelites, but God would only let Him bless them. But Balaam came up with another idea: he couldn’t curse them, so he enticed them into worshipping the god’s of Moab and committing sexual immorality. He advertised ‘fun’ religion that was false and sinful, and based on man’s pleasure and the worship of idols.
They had one foot it in the world and one foot in God.
Jesus doesn’t like it when we tolerate heresy or immorality. And this includes the ‘sins’ that we so often tolerate, like gossip, and pride and covetousness.
Balaam’s teaching is that which is in contrast with the teaching of Jesus.
And Jesus warns against this way of living. He wants us to be wholehearted in our pursuit of Him and to run within the boundaries He sets.
4. Faith and love.
Remember our first love.
Falling out of love with Jesus is heartbreaking. Because loving Him is everything.
He is the husband of my soul and I am His forever.
I want to know His tender love forever.
Make me patient and kind as well as upright.
It’s more than a checklist. It’s a heart ablaze and a reality rather than a perception.
Oh God, I am so challenged to never lose the mission-centred-Jesus-centred-mindset-heartset-lifeset that You call us to keep. I love You.
We are now back in Dundee for a chillaxed evening with large mugs of tea, before driving back through to Arbroath tomorrow… Looking a bit tired too –>
This is another one of those epic weekends where it feels like we’ve been away for a month already!!