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Discover Our Marriage to Jesus

Discover Our Marriage to Jesus
LHC: Message Forty-Seven (980920AM)

LHC-60
Week 47: Discover Our Marriage to Jesus
(Revelation 21:1–8)

As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you discover our marriage to Jesus!
SUNDAY: The Bride’s Perfect Home “I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” —Revelation 21:2, emphasis added Last week, you got to have a taste of the joys of heaven! I hope that you will now savor learning even more about the glories of heaven—just as an amazingly brilliant scientist, Dr. Harry Rimmer, did in his lifetime. In 1953, only a week before his death, he shared his unique perspective of the City of Gold in a letter to the great radio Bible teacher, Dr. Charles Fuller, who was just starting a series on heaven. As you read Dr. Rimmer’s letter, ask yourself: Is my confidence as firm as his? Next Sunday you are to talk about Heaven. I am interested in that land, because I have held a clear title to a bit of property there for more than fifty-five years. I did not buy it. It was given to me “without money and without price.” But the donor purchased it for me at a tremendous sacrifice. I am not holding it for speculation, since the title is not transferable. It is not a vacant lot. For more than half a century I have been sending materials, out of which the Great Architect and Builder of the Universe has been building a home for me, a home which will never be remodeled nor repaired, because it will suit me perfectly, individually, and will never grow old. Termites can never undermine its foundations, for they rest upon the Rock of Ages. Fire cannot destroy it. Floods cannot wash it away. No locks nor bolts will ever be placed on its doors, for no vicious person can ever enter that Land where my dwelling stands, now almost completed and almost ready for me to enter in and abide in peace eternally, without fear of being ejected. There is a valley of deep shadows between the place where I live in California and that to which I shall journey in a very short time. I cannot reach my home in that City of Gold without passing through this dark valley of shadows; but I am not afraid, because the best Friend I ever had went through the same valley long, long, ago and drove away all its gloom. He has stuck by me through thick and thin since we first became acquainted fifty-five years ago, and I hold His promise in printed form that He will never forsake me nor leave me alone. He will be with
me as I walk through the valley of shadows, and I shall not lose my way when He is with me. In Revelation 21 we find Jesus taking His bride home to a world that is perfect— just as God wants it to be. What will heaven be like? It certainly won’t be that of sitting around on clouds playing harps for eternity, as some would have us think. No, God paints an entirely different picture in His Word: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’ ” —Revelation 21:1–8 Didn’t God paint a beautiful picture of heaven for us? Are you longing for the time when we will all be together with Him forever? My Prayer for You This Week: Oh Lord God, our Father, Creator, and Builder of that glorious home You are preparing for us, we love You! Thank You that You are going to make all things new so that we need not despair about our body getting old or our world decaying. Nothing is enduring here because our pilgrimage is heading us to the Celestial City, to a building not made with hands, to a place that has foundations that shall never be moved. We praise You, Lord Jesus, for purchasing our place of abode forever with Your own blood! We pray that by Your grace we will enjoy discovering more of the wonders of heaven—the mansions of Jesus to which we are headed, and where we long to be. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. As we wait, may we not be ashamed before You when You come. Thank You for what great things You will do in our lives today as we bow before You. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
MONDAY: What Will the New Heaven Be Like? “ ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” —1 Corinthians 2:9, emphasis added
In Revelation 21, I want you to understand these points in particular: heaven is made of new materials; heaven includes the New Jerusalem; and heaven is inhabited by new people. So then, let us look at these aspects of the new heaven. The heavens and the earth will be made of new materials (21:1). In verse 1, God says that there will be “no more sea.” To the ancients, the seas were dangerous, unpredictable, and caused separation. So it is a glorious thought that God is going to make everything new—including us! Everything will be affected right down to the atomic level. There is a dissonance in the core of every atom—an atomic flux. Paul said that the whole universe is groaning, waiting for the redemption, because Satan, his rebellion, and evil have infected the universe. Look at what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:10–13: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements [at an atomic level] will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God . . . ? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10–13, emphasis added). This passage is not describing the Rapture, because the Rapture does not come as a thief in the night. That has a negative connotation, but the coming of Christ to take His own to be with Him is a positive thing. The “day of the Lord” (the major theme of Old Testament prophetic writings) speaks of His return in glory and judgment at the Second Coming. Peter (who wrote after Paul explained the two-part Second Coming of Christ to the Thessalonians and Corinthians) merely lumps all the Old Testament and New Testament prophetic events together; he truncates the whole thing into the “day of the Lord.” Peter envisioned what we see in Revelation 21:1a: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” That which Peter and all the Old Testament prophets longed for is what finally comes about in Revelation 21—the heavens and the earth will be made new. The original was not a failure; rather, God is going to correct and triumph over His initial creation where He allowed man to go into sin and then redeemed him. The place where God intersected with time, winning the victory and paying the price for man’s salvation, will be redeemed and made brand new. Heaven includes a New Jerusalem (21:2, 10): “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God . . . And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city.” The concept here is like that of a John Wayne western movie in which the hero conquers all the bad guys, and then takes his bride up to the top of the hill to show her his ranch. We are the bride on the honeymoon, and our glorious Husband, who paid a great price for us, will take us to a mountain top to show off the gorgeous lay of His land. The One crucified in the old Jerusalem will now be crowned in the New Jerusalem. The gospel message is that the Lamb is the Foundation “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets [the church], Jesus Christ Himself being the
Chief Cornerstone ” (Ephesians 2:20). The foundation of the New Jerusalem is the Lamb. Heaven is founded on the Lamb and His sacrifice. The New Jerusalem is the city that all saints of all time have been waiting and longing for: “[Abraham] waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . These all [the heroes of the faith] died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them [the promises of God] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . . . They desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:10, 13–16). Born in 2166 B.C., Abraham was looking for this city. He knew what it was because God had revealed it to him. All of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 lived their lives with it being “very far off.” Isaiah said, “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off” (Isaiah 33:17). In spite of that, they embraced the promises of God and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (a rare attitude today). When we desire a better country, a heavenly one, God is pleased to be called our God, and He has prepared a city for us: it is a holy city (Revelation 21:27); it is a prepared city (John 14:1–6); and it is a gorgeous city (Revelation 21:10–21). Heaven is inhabited by new people (21:3–8). At last, Christ’s High Priestly prayer “that they may be as one” will be fulfilled (John 17:11). His prayer was not only for His twelve disciples but also for those in the future who would believe. Until this point in Revelation, the church will never have been truly united. Some in the Old Testament were in “the waiting room” of Abraham’s bosom, but after His resurrection Jesus took them to be with Him. However, they presently are still waiting for all the redeemed to come home too. The people yet to be redeemed will be gathered together in Revelation 21. John 17 will then be fulfilled when we are all finally united as one—from Eden’s first redeemed to the last of every kindred, nation, and tribe. All repentant sinners, transformed by grace, will live together in this new heaven. Will you be among them?
TUESDAY: What Will and Will Not Be in Heaven “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, . . . but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” —Revelation 21:27, emphasis added What will be in heaven? Fellowship: visible, face-to-face communion with Christ for we “shall see His face, and His name shall be on [our] foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). That is what I long for! First Corinthians 13:12 says that “for now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.” Now look at this great passage: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . . It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1–2).
That is what we are waiting for. All that God has when we see Him face to face will then come into fruition. At that time, we will have full and complete knowledge: “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12b). We will have abundance without charge, restrictions, or restraint: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 21:6). Christ said that He is the Initiator and the Satisfier. We will possess all that God has promised us, and no longer be limited by our frailties and flesh. We will have meaningful service: “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). We’ll be able to do what we have always wanted to do, with no restraints. We can totally serve God the way we long to! We will have worship—the main activity in heaven: “The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people” (Revelation 21:3). The redeemed will follow the Lamb wherever He goes (Revelation 14:4). We will experience the completion of our worship. In fact, our entire service for Him will be one of worship! All of these possessions will be joyously treasured as we live together in the Celestial City—a place of unbelievable, shining, brilliant beauty (Revelation 21:10–21)! What will not be in heaven? To begin with, there will be no time in the sense of yesterday, tomorrow, early, or late. But in Revelation 22:2, there seems to be an allusion to time: “each tree yielding its fruit every month.” And now comes a great part! Look at all that God will be doing for us! There will be: no seas (21:1); no tears (21:4); no death (21:4); no crying (21:4); no pain (21:4); no temple or church building (21:22); no sun, moon, or night (21:23); no sin, unbelievers, or evil forces (21:27); no sickness (22:2); and no curse (22:3). Hallelujah! Praise God!
WEDNESDAY: Heaven Will Fulfill Us Forever “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” —Psalm 23:6b, emphasis added God says that we “shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). How long will we be in heaven? Forever—all because of faith in the Lamb who sacrificed Himself for us (Revelation 7:4; 22:14)! In Revelation 21:1–8 we discover the husbandly love of Jesus unveiling Paradise for His bride. Picture it: standing on the hill, with the rising sun, Jesus says, “Here it is, My beloved!” Let us look to the fair land of our pilgrimage and see that city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God! And in the wonders that we shall behold, let us see Him who has made it our home-to-be, for the Lamb is the glory of Emmanuel’s land. God Himself should be our greatest desire for reaching heaven! The founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, A. B. Simpson wrote: Himself
Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord; Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word; Once His gifts I wanted, now the giver owns; Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone. Once ‘twas painful trying, now ‘tis perfect trust; Once a half salvation, now the uttermost; Once ‘twas ceaseless holding, now He holds me fast; Once ‘twas constant drifting, now my anchor’s cast. Once ‘twas busy planning, now ‘tis trustful prayers, Once ‘twas anxious caring, now He has the care; Once ‘twas what I wanted, now what Jesus says; Once ‘twas constant asking, now ‘tis ceaseless praise. Once it was my working, His it hence shall be, Once I tried to use Him, now He uses me; Once the power I wanted, now the Mighty One; Once for self I labored, now for Him alone. —A. B. Simpson (1843–1919) Modern advertisements mesmerize us into thinking we are to be amused, comforted, and secure in this world. But God says that true satisfaction and fulfillment can only be obtained through Him!
THURSDAY: The Best Part of Heaven “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” —John 14:3, emphasis added Although I can’t wait to see the gates made of pearl, the precious stones of heaven, and the city’s numerous other glories, that is not what I am looking forward to most. I can’t wait to see Christ face to face! Jesus is the best part of heaven! The Seven Perfections of Jesus: The subject of heaven is often spoken of as “the sweet by and by,” and images of harps, clouds, angel wings, and a seemingly ethereal world of misty spirit form in the mind. But, in reality, heaven is a glorious place of wonder and beauty. Of all its indescribable beauties and unending glories, there is, above all else, Jesus, who is the most beautiful aspect of heaven. And there are seven wonderful facets of the love of Jesus for all the saints, His bride. Facet 1—Jesus will be with us: “God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3, NAS). First, there will be the unbroken presence of Emmanuel, “God with us.” Secondly, there will be the fulfillment of all that He has promised. The Bible contains all the promises of God, but one day we will get to experience the Person behind the promises. Facet 2—Jesus will comfort us: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying . . . nor pain” (Revelation 21:4. NAS). Even though we know Jesus and His promises are with us, this present life is hard. However, the sadness of current disappointments will end with the security of
divine appointment; the dread of death will end with the Lord of Life; the frailties of the flesh will end when entering our heavenly habitation. The future, like the past, is kept securely by Him with whom our anchor is cast. Facet 3—Jesus will refresh us: “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Revelation 21:6, NAS). A life of dryness will be gone; the refreshing Spring of Life will be ever with us. Although He can comfort and be with us in this present life, heaven is the ultimate comfort: “He who believes in Me, . . . out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). This is an endless supply, for He within us shall be that Fountain. Facet 4—Jesus will captivate us: “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22, NAS). This is the culmination of all the types from which they were fashioned: the True One showing facets of His image by His holiness, His character, and His redemption. We are to not make images of Him, but we are to see Him through the types of the tabernacle and the temple. Which satisfies you most—the picture or the Person? The figures have been there for time, but the fullness will be for all eternity. Worship will be unbounded by location or proximity; it will be unending and all-present because our worship will be focused on Him as He captivates us. Facet 5—Jesus will keep us secure: “And nothing unclean . . . shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (21:27, NAS). The wonder of heaven is that He will keep us secure, just as He has here on earth. There will now be an exclusion of all evil forever. At last, our freedom will be completed! At Calvary, we were freed from both the penalty and power of sin; at the Celestial City, we will forever be removed from the presence of sin. All the washed ones, those washed in the Lamb’s blood and written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, will be welcomed there. Facet 6—Jesus will lead us: “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bondservants shall serve Him” (22:3, NAS). He is the Master; we are the servants who will follow Him. The return of Christ’s rule as King of the kingdom will be unhindered—and He wants complete dedication, not mere compliments. He never simply said, “Accept Me!” Rather, He declared: “Leave all and follow Me, or you can’t be My disciple.” Jesus wants glad and unhindered service forever. After the complete destruction of the curse’s doom, we will no longer struggle with the weeds of sin so that we can fully follow the Lamb’s wishes. Facet 7—Jesus will light us: “There shall be no night there: . . . for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5, NAS). The Source of light in the new heaven will be the Savior, the Lamb, who is the Light. And in that glow we shall walk in unbroken communion. The denial of dark deeds will be consigned to the blackness of darkness forever, but we shall rule by submission to Him forever. The despair of darkness will be ended; there will be no more unfinished plans, for He is the completion of all. This is the fulfillment of Christ’s First Coming: “The Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78–79).
FRIDAY: Three Worms That Spoil the Fruit “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’— and do not know that you are . . . blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments . . . that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” —Revelation 3:17–18, emphasis added Jesus promised that He would get all His children home safely, and we will live with Him forever. Although that is exciting news, what we often forget is the need to be sending treasures on ahead because there are only pre-paid treasures in heaven. Our mission on earth therefore is to be transmuting earthly treasures into heavenly currency. When we take that final trip with Jesus—through the valley of the shadow of death or in the skies through the clouds at the voice of the archangel and the trump of God—no baggage left here can accompany us. Only what we have sent on ahead will make it to heaven. Transmuted wealth is all that will be worth anything in heaven. Pastor Jan Hettinga wrote a book on this subject that is so good that I just have to share a portion of it with you. Except for the Bible, Hettinga’s Follow Me is one of the few books I’ve read more than once. What struck me most when I read it is this: there are three terrible dangers that can rob anyone of finishing well and earning Christ’s “Well done!” Afterward, I thought: Wow! I don’t want to be robbed of Christ’s “Well done—good and faithful servant!” Here are the three dangers that should concern all who seek Christ’s full rewards in heaven:1 Danger 1—Beware of the sins of old age. These sins (which can occur at any age) can erase Christ’s “Well done!” Remember Solomon: he began by sacrificing thousands of animals and building the most beautiful worship place for the Lord, but he failed to finish well. He got to heaven “yet so as by fire.” (In today’s language, we’d say that Solomon got into heaven “by the skin of his teeth.”) What are these sins of old age? The Lust for Comfort and Convenience: This sin is epidemic. We continually lust for comfort. People read magazines on how to make their home or car even more comfortable. We are guilty of lust, which is to have a strong desire for comfort and convenience. Do you know how I know that occurs even in the church? Every time it rains or snows heavily, attendance is down. And excuses like this are common: “It’s just too inconvenient in bad weather to load everybody into the car, slosh through puddles and mud in the parking lot, and then have to deal with all the wet coats once we get into the building.” A life consumed with a lust for comfort and convenience like that won’t finish well. Greed for Recognition: Older people usually want to receive recognition of some sort. In fact, it seems that almost everyone lusts for the applause of others. We must beware of seeking approval from people and instead seek approval only from God. Covetousness for Security: Our whole country has become security-obsessed. People want to know how to best secure retirement funds, how to secure college
education funds, how to get job security, and how to secure their homes and other possessions. We are caught up in the pursuit of security and are wasting valuable time and energy to protect things we cannot keep. These sins of old age—the lust for comfort, greed for recognition, and covetousness for security—can erase Christ’s “Well done!” Danger 2—Beware of the problem of exceptionism. What is exceptionism? It is thinking that your life is an exception to God’s Word. Thus you excuse yourself from doing anything for heaven because of things like your past, pain, poverty, or poor self-image. The reason exceptionism can erase Christ’s “Well done!” is because when we hear an exhortation to “Go into all the world, speak to every creature, and live your life looking for Christ”—many excuse themselves saying, “Oh, I can’t do that just now. At this time in my life I can’t spare a minute—not even for reading the Word, ministering, praying, or evangelizing.” Think carefully on this: you will never be in the future what you are not becoming today. If you are not responding to and obeying God’s Word now, and you feel like you’re always an exception, that attitude will stay with you till the end. Consider Annanias and Sapphira, who thought they were exceptions to the rule. Since everybody else was sacrificing, and they felt that they couldn’t, they decided to at least look like they did. That bad decision not only cost them their lives but also erased Christ’s “Well done!” Danger 3—Beware of unmortified pockets of pride. “Unmortified pockets of pride” sounds like abscesses in the body, but that is really what he is talking about. Allowing such pockets of pride to grow can make you secretly, inwardly proud of your intellect (thinking you are smarter than others), or proud of your achievements, or proud of your giftedness (even in the church), or proud of your goodness (“I’m not as bad as they are”). Sin, in the light of sin, never does look bad, but sin in the light of God’s holiness always looks bad. Pockets of pride in your life can erase Christ’s “Well done!” The cure is to allow the power of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit to deal with even the slightest prideful “abscess” at the moment it begins to erupt. To avoid these dangers and to help you get ready for Christ’s “Well done!” in heaven, you must listen carefully to what Jesus has to say about what He expects when He comes back for us. What does He want to see cultivated in our lives? I have located twelve expectations, and we will go over them in tomorrow’s devotional.
SATURDAY: Will You Hear Christ’s Well Done? “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” —Matthew 25:21, 23; emphasis added Don’t you long to hear Christ say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master’s home!”? A “Well done!” from Him will make this life on earth all worthwhile. What does God expect from us so that we can faithfully earn His “Well done!”?
Expectation 1—Dream about winning the ultimate prize. (See Matthew 25:14–30.) When people have something on their mind, it shapes the whole direction of their life. Jesus has told us that when He returns for us He expects to find us doing what He asked us to do. Keeping that utmost in your mind is a strong motivator. It will shape your life if you dream about winning the ultimate prize—Christ’s “Well done!” You must want it, and long for it. In fact, that is one of the marks of salvation. Expectation 2—Seek to be the greatest Christlike servant. (See Matthew 20:28–30.) Imitation is one of the highest forms of compliments. The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Is your life worth imitating? Do you reflect your Lord in all that you do? William Barclay has succinctly commented: “Out in the world,” said Jesus, “it is quite true that the great man is the man who controls others; the man to whose word of command others must leap; the man who with a wave of his hand can have his slightest need supplied. Out in the world there was the Roman governor with his retinue and the eastern potentate with his slaves. The world counts them great. But among my followers service alone is the badge of greatness. Greatness does not consist in commanding others to do things for you; it consists in doing things for others; and the greater the service, the greater the honor.” Jesus uses a kind of gradation. “If you wish to be great,” he says, “be a servant; if you wish to be first of all, be a slave.” Here is the Christian revolution; here is the complete reversal of all the world’s standards. A complete new set of values has been brought into life.2 Those who are most Christlike in their servanthood are the greatest in His kingdom and will hear His “Well done!” Expectation 3—Love to sacrifice for Him through financial generosity. (See Luke 21:1–4.) Jesus said that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The key to sacrifice is to do it now. Don’t wait. Be sure that while you do have something and can sacrifice, do it! Some day, every dollar, every piece of gold, and every jewel will be devalued, wiped out forever (2 Peter 3:10). You are sending ahead either “wood, hay, and stubble” or “gold, silver, and precious stones” for building your mansion. What are you sending? Those who are financially generous for Christ will reap an everlasting treasure Jesus says will never be lost. Expectation 4—Love trials by joyfully accepting injustice. (See Matthew 5:11–12.) When you are mistreated for Christ’s sake, and accept it graciously “because of conscience toward God,” Jesus says that you will be rewarded in heaven with His “Well done!” Expectation 5—Love strangers through biblical hospitality. (See Matthew 10:40–41; 18:27; 25:40–45.) There is a wonderful insight from an outsider named Aristeides who looked at the early church. He wrote this note to the Roman Emperor in A.D. 155: “Now the Christians, O King . . . if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food. For Christ’s sake they are
ready to lay down their lives.” How does that spirit line up with your own life? If you minister Christ’s love to those in need, you will hear His “Well done!” Expectation 6—Restrain your flesh by seeking spiritual disciplines. (See Matthew 6:5.) In his book Intimacy with the Almighty, Charles Swindoll writes: “We have reared a generation of strong-willed, belligerent, independent young men and women. Surrender is not a word in their vocabulary. Too bad since it is the key that unlocks the vault of God’s best and deepest treasures. He patiently waits for us to yield, to quit fighting Him, to allow His plan to run its course, to turn to Him for our security and significance. As He witnesses our doing that, He begins to reveal Himself and His will in greater depth.”3 Swindoll also sets forth the need to cultivate these spiritual disciplines: “The decision to reorder one’s private world is the spiritual discipline of simplicity. The decision to be still is the spiritual discipline of silence. The decision to cultivate serenity is the spiritual discipline of solitude. The decision to trust the Lord completely is the spiritual discipline of surrender.”4 Pursuing these spiritual disciplines will earn Christ’s “Well done!” Expectation 7—Love your lot in life through vocational faithfulness. (See Colossians 3:22–24; Philippians 2:8–9; 1 Peter 5:6.) You should serve your masters (authorities) in the same manner that you serve Christ, for God has promised that if you humble yourself under His mighty hand that He will exalt you in due time. Being faithful in your vocation or service for His sake will earn His “Well done!” Expectation 8—Love the hard to love. (See Luke 6:27–28.) When others have revealed themselves to be enemies, Jesus expects you to do good to them, and to bless rather than curse them—for His sake. Loving the hard to love will earn Christ’s “Well done!” Expectation 9—Love God’s Truth. (See 2 John 1–2, 4, 8; Colossians 3:16.) Jesus wants you to love His Word so much that you are literally filled to overflowing with it! Living the Word-filled life will earn Christ’s “Well done!” Expectation 10—Love to take people to heaven with you. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Corinthians 3:6–8.) Paul says that your hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing should be to see others to whom you’ve witnessed be in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming. Loving to be a soul winner will earn Christ’s “Well done!” Expectation 11—Love Jesus’ return. (See Luke 12:35–38; 2 Timothy 4:8.) God says that you are a blessed servant if you faithfully watch for His return! In fact, He will give you the crown of righteousness if you love His appearing. This spirit will earn Christ’s “Well done!” Expectation 12—Love Jesus’ refinement of you through trials. (See 1 Peter 1:7; Hebrews 6:10.) God is greatly pleased when He sees you loving Jesus so much that when He leads you through further refinement, you view it as a blessing. He will not forget your work and labor of love, for you will hear His “Well done!” Make a Choice to Live in Hope: Are you dreaming about winning the ultimate prize? Are you Christlike? Are you investing in heaven now? Are you suffering joyfully for Him? Are you welcoming strangers? Are you saying no to sin? Are you living
contentedly? Are you loving others with Christ’s love? Do you love God’s Word? Are you taking others to heaven with you? Are you waiting and watching for Christ’s return? Are you letting Him prune you? If your heart’s longing is to be able to positively affirm each of these questions, even though you can’t do so perfectly, then you are choosing to live in hope—and you will taste of the joys of heaven and discover the ecstasies of honeymooning with Jesus! May this song be symbolic of the deepest desire for your life here on earth! I’d Rather Have Jesus I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold: I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause; I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame. I’d rather be true to His holy name. He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom; He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb; He’s all that my hungering spirit needs. I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead. Refrain: Than to be the king of a vast domain Or be held in sin’s dread sway. I’d rather have Jesus than anything This world affords today. —Rhea F. Miller (1894–1966) 1 Adapted from Jan David Hettinga, Follow Me (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996), pp. 83, 189, 190–194.
2 William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew. Vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), Chapters 11–18. Emphasis added.
3 Charles Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996), pp. 66–71.
4 Ibid, p. 28.

 
 
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