Thumbs Up from Heaven
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY….. “I know your works…” Revelation 2:2 ESV
The Book of Revelation is a letter written to the seven churches of Asia Minor by the Apostle John. These churches are not just mentioned as the recipient of the letter, but with each church there is a message from the resurrected Christ.
Of the seven, one is not given any words of correction (Smyrna) and one is given no commendation (Laodicea). Smyrna is known as the “persecuted” church and Laodicea is known as the “lukewarm” church.
Two important words are in the address to all seven churches, “I know…” At times, especially in difficult times, we can question whether the Lord, “knows.” And we question if He knows, does He care? In Revelation and in many other accounts in the Old and New Testaments we see that He does know and He does care. Just because He doesn’t do what we would like or reveal Himself like we would desire, is not evidence that He is absent and removed from the affairs of this world and our life.
The word to these churches can be both comforting and convicting. Because we see in these messages, the Lord sees the “good” and the “bad.” But we see His support and promise for that which is good and we see His words of correction and invitation that address shortcomings.
We see the Lord “knows” our commitment to His truth and our faithful labors in His name. To the church at Ephesus He says, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.” (Revelation 2:2 ESV)
The words, “you cannot bear with those who are evil…” get my attention. Dennis Prager, the Jewish political and cultural commentator, says that he observes in scripture that to truly love God one must “hate” evil.
To the church in Smyrna John writes, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not…” (Revelation 2:9 ESV) In these words, I observe that the Lord sees our condition differently than the world does. We can be “poor” in this world, but “rich” when it comes to heaven.
Suffering creates the greatest questions in our hearts and minds. It challenges us to see beyond the temporary to the eternal. As a result we read, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10 ESV)
To the church in Pergamum, the Lord says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name…” (Revelation 2:13 ESV) Living in the midst of evil, is not excuse to give into evil. I am reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy, “But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught.” (2 Timothy 3:13,14 NLT)
To the church at Thyatira the Lord says, “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.” (Revelation 2:19 ESV) The Lord knows what we do and the motivation behind our “doing.” In the midst of our walk with the Lord may our lives reflected a growing dedication, not a lessening one to the Lord. We read, “your latter works exceed your first.”
All too often our zeal that can characterize our faith when it is new becomes dampened over the course of time. What a great commendation for any life or church for the Lord to say, “you are finishing strong!”
The sampling of these church provides opportunity for considerable contemplation about what is important to the Lord in our service to Him in good times and in times of testing. May we all be found faithful to the end. May our love for the Lord continue to fuel our labor for the Lord and our faithfulness to Him.
Prayer for today…. Lord we know that You know everything. But as we study Your Word, we can be challenged in what we read as standing our to You in these churches. You know what we do, You know why we do it and You know our consistency in our service to You. Help us to know that Your desire is for to work in us and through us.