Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DAY 792 - Conquering The Evil Forces (請按此處收聼廣東話Cantonese podcast click here)

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                               Today's Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

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     What do you think is the most vibrant and growing church on earth now?You may be thinking of Rick Warren's Saddleback in LA, USA, Bill Hybel's Willow Creek in Chicago, USA, Nicky Gumbel's Holy Trinity Brompton in London or other church I do not know of. Choose one to be the most successful and important. How about Saddleback? Now, if I tell you, in many years time, there won't be any trace of Saddleback Church and there won't be any church at all in LA, USA, can you believe that? Of course you will say that I am crazy, right? But, the Holy Spirit is having a similar prophecy to the Church in Ephesus, the centre of Paul's hard work and the main training centre of the Early Church. And, it happened! 

Let's take a look at what Bishop N.T. Wright says ( ) :
     Ephesus had been one of the major centres of early Christianity.  By the early second century, Christian writers were holding up Ephesus as a great example of Christian faith, life and witness.  For several centuries it held a position of pre-eminence, and one of the great fifth-century church councils was held there (AD 431).  Archaeologists have found a church building in the city, which may be where that council took place.  But there are, to repeat, no active churches there today.  If there are any Christians there, they are in hiding
     this is precisely what Jesus warned the Ephesian church about in verse 5: 'If you don't repent, I will come and remove your lamp stand out of its place.'  Like much in these letters, that is a severe warning
     The Ephesians had fallen into that trap: 'you have abandoned the love you showed at the beginning' (verse 4).  This may refer to their love for Jesus himself, and certainly that must always be kept firm and central.  But here it's clearly a matter of things people actually do: 'Repent.' says Jesus, 'and do the works you did at the beginning.' 'Love', in the early Christian sense, is something you do, giving hospitality and practical help to those in need, particularly to other Christians who are poor, sick or hungry.  That was the chief mark of the early church
     Why do the letters emphasize the importance of 'conquering' (verse 7)?.. The main challenge the young churches face is the threat of pagan persecution…They are to 'conquer', not by fighting back, but by following Jesus himself, who won the victory through his own patient suffering.  Some in these churches will suffer.  Some will die.  All must bear patient witness to Jesus, thereby 'conquering' the evil forces that surround and threaten them.  

N.T. Wright. Revelation for Everyone. Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, p.11, 13, 14.

      Do you think similar situation would happen to you and your church? Fading away, disappear, vaporize… How can you keep on loving Jesus and others and doing those things you have been doing in the beginning stage of your faith and not losing those good works?  

Let's have a time to be still and give the Holy Spirit space to speak through the passage we have just read. Offer this time up to Jesus as you listen to him, while listening to "Gabriel's Oboe":

Spiritual Journal

    The title I heard from Jesus today is: Conquering the evil forces

    What I got from Jesus today is a severe warning to all of us. So severe that we do not think that it would happen in our lifetime. But, John states it well that it all starts when we are not doing the things we did at first when we believed. 

    I am so sad now because the Lord leads me to think of so many people I know in the past many years and they stepped into the same trap as the Ephesians did. They stopped to do the things making them to be vibrant Christians and faithful disciples of Christ.

    Lots of time I really do not know why but everything stopped suddenly. Relationship stopped, spiritual practices stopped, ministries stopped and everything just cut off in a short time. I really don't understand! But, if those faithful Ephesians could be like that, who are we that we think we won't be like that? Pride kills Christians!

    Do you think you can be able to conquer the evil forces that is going to get you and your church? How can you conquer that? Repent is the first thing you need to do. Then, picking up those "beginning" practices that are from Jesus and keep on doing it. Don't let your fire dies! 

Dear Lord Jesus,
Lead us each day that we can be able to conquer the evil forces coming on our way in the near future. Help us to conquer those evil spirits.  In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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