Sunday, March 23, 2014

He's Noticed Your Deeds

I dig my church. I get love, teaching from the Bible, and no-punches-pulled exhortation to live my life well for Christ. I wouldn't have it any other way.

But I've found the enemy has a strategy for a lot of things and a lot of situations. He likes to put his spin on things. What he pulls with me (disclaimer: this is not the church's fault) when I listen to sermons at my church is this:

You're not doing good enough. There's always something else for you to work on. God's never satisfied with anything you do.

It's not exactly words, just like a vague feeling. The bugger is that it's true that there's always something for me to work on. Pursuit of Christ is a constant striving. The apostle Paul keeps calling it a race. We're never perfect.

But the strongest lies always have a grain of truth in them. We work, we serve, we fight, and it gets exhausting. Maybe we grew up in critical homes or we're just the self-critical kind of person - sometimes that vague accusation creeps up. God never notices what I do. It doesn't matter, certainly doesn't stack up next to my failures. Isn't it more spiritual to just zero in solely on my shortcomings?

Some people get sick of this feeling and leave good churches. Others just wind up mired in inadequacy before a God who made us more than adequate through his Son, Jesus.

Then you read Revelation.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary." - Revelation 2:1-3

Those are some pretty big compliments, and they come from God himself.

I read this and something in me sighs with relief. God notices!

God looks down on the Ephesians, sees the hard battles they've fought, sees how they've clung to the truth in the face of hardship, and lets them know he's pleased. He treasures their deeds enough to record them for all time in the Bible.

And it's not like he's calling them perfect. He spends the next three verses handing down a dire warning about their diminishing passion.

But read through Revelation chapters 2 and 3 some time. God speaks through letters to six other churches besides Ephesus, and most of the time he opens with praise. It's a pattern. He wants his people to know that he's seen their deeds.

And he's seen yours. Nothing good you've done goes unnoticed. When we arrive before the throne, he'll remember a lot more than we have.

You. Yeah, you. You're doing great. If you're hanging in there and living well for Christ, he's noticed and he's going to reward you for it. I hope that gets your Monday off to a good start.

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