Seven

Sunday is the highlight of my week, particularly Sunday morning. Because my home church here in Nashville meets on Sunday evenings, my mornings are slow and restful. I sleep in, make a large pot of coffee, and put on my favorite Spotify radio station (The Belonging Co”) while I spend uninterrupted time with the Lord. Sundays are unhurried and unstructured, and these are the mornings where He always speaks something new and fresh to me through the Holy Spirit. (Side note: isn’t it amazing how clearly He speaks when we make room and come ready to receive?)

This morning, I began the book of Revelation. If I’m being honest, I was a bit anxious to read it. I’ve read this particular book of the Bible numerous times, but often feel frustrated because so much of it seems to go over my head. This time, I was determined and made up my mind to approach this seemingly intimidating book with the only method I hadn’t yet tried: let go and listen. Incredibly profound, I know, but that has become more difficult than I care to admit as I often allow my human reasoning and collegiate studies to cloud my ability to approach Scripture with childlike faith. Childlike faith produces bold expectancy that leaves no room for doubt to creep in, and I was committed to trusting that my Father would share with me through this passage.

I prepared to read chapters 1 – 3, and asked the Lord to make this text personal. Boy, did He ever! After the introductory chapter, Christ speaks to seven churches (seven specific areas) through the apostle John about their current state. The Lord gave me a brief phrase for each of the churches regarding their current state and current struggle/downfall during that time:

  • Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) : The trap of PERFORMANCE.
    • Christ states that the church is doing incredible work, but have “abandoned the love” that they first had.
  • Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) : The trap of FEAR & POVERTY SPIRIT.
    • Jesus says while He recognizes their poverty and the hardship they’ve faced, they must realize that they are actually rich because of their faith.
  • Pergamum (Rev. 2:12-17) : The trap of FALSE TEACHING. 
    • Christ states that there are certain members in the church who are holding to false teachings, which have led them into sin (specifically, eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality).
  • Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) The trap of FALSE TEACHERS. 
    • Jesus calls out the church’s tolerance of a false teacher (referred to as “the woman Jezebel”) who practices and teaches others to live in sin.
  • Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) : The trap of DEAD FAITH. 
    • Christ brings to light the dead faith of the church and their incomplete works.
  • Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) : The trap of (feeling) POWERLESSNESS & INADEQUACY. 
    • Jesus speaks to this church about their tribulation and current state, as they “have but little power” and yet have “kept My word and not denied My name.” (v. 8)
  • Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) : The trap of COMPLACENCY. 
    • In this well-known passage, Jesus corrects the church for being “neither cold nor hot”, and calls them back to a place of repentance.

As I read through the state of each of these churches, I was cut to the heart and realized how I have been (and often, still am) just like each of these churches at one time or another…

Difficulties come in life that stir up feelings of fear and inadequacy.

Tragedies occur that cause me to become dull and numb to the truth of Christ’s victory.

Feelings of lack and insecurity cause me to turn to short-term solutions and instant gratification that are not in line with the life of faith.

People-pleasing and the need for approval lead me to become more focused on my performance and production than my intimacy with Jesus.

The day-to-day, mundane details of life lead me to forget the radical power of the Gospel.

My natural inclination to compare myself to others leads me to place my callings and dreams on the shelf.

My desire to befriend others rather than offend causes me to sit back and keep quiet when I see friends who are believers walking down a path of destruction.

As I sat back and let the gravity of my own depravity settle in, one word rung through my mind. Remember. I recognized His voice, picked up my pen, and wrote the truth that the Lord spoke to each church after He highlighted the problem/lack:

  • Ephesus: Remember My authority.
    • I AM the True Vine. (John 15:1)
      • Whenever you begin to rest on your own ability and become focused on what you do/produce, remember Who gives your your strength.
  • Smyrna: Remember My victory. 
    • I AM the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11)
      • Whenever you fear your circumstances and feel a strain on your resources, remember Who takes care of you.
  • Pergamum: Remember My provision.
    • I AM the Bread of Life. (John 6:35)
      • Whenever you feel that you are missing out or are lacking something that you want, remember Who sustains you.
  • Thyatira: Remember My power.
    • I AM the Light of the World. (John 8:12)
      • Whenever you feel tempted to give in to sin or to follow others in rebellion, remember Who is in control.
  • Sardis: Remember My Return.
    • I AM the Resurrection and Life. (John 11:25)
      • Whenever your faith feels dead or you begin to fall into the trap of the false spirit of religion, remember Who is coming back for you.
  • Philadelphia: Remember My protection.
    • I AM the Door/Gate. (John 10:7)
      • Whenever you begin to fear the situations that you’re facing and feel powerless to change them, remember Who you belong to.
  • Laodicea: Remember My presence.
    • I AM the Way, Truth, and Life. (John 14:6)
      • Whenever you become lukewarm or faith in Jesus becomes “familiar” and comfortable, remember Who He is.

As I finished writing, I was overwhelmed by the wisdom and understanding that He provided; how He delights to teach and help us to understand His deep mysteries! 2018 has proven to be dynamic, and in these two and half months I’ve experienced almost every emotion possible. From my family and I facing an unexpected death to seeing a dream come to pass that I had written off, from heavy financial burden and debilitating health issues to God’s miraculous healing in both my body and my spirit, I have been reminded of the true power of Christ. He delights in you, and wants to walk out this life with you. He wants to speak to you, to reveal His rich wisdom and truth to you. He is not finished yet.

Just as the seven churches in Revelation had seven unique circumstances, Christ had seven specific answers for them. The seven “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel, the seven rich facets of Christ’s character, supersede each and every lie that you face. In the Hebrew culture, the number “seven” represents completion and perfection; seven is used to represent God and His perfect, spotless nature. Christ, the fullness of God on earth, speaks completion over you each and every day through Holy Spirit and the Word. Stop, listen, and receive.

Above, below, before, and behind – Christ is all around.

There isn’t a situation, circumstance, feeling, fear, need, or desire that the Truth of Jesus does not address AND reign sovereign over.

 

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