Monday, August 15, 2011
Reverend Alvin pushed himself to wake up almost every morning. It was Saturday and having a late night Friday’s celebration in a five-star hotel for a member’s new business didn’t help. He had enjoyed all kinds of celebrations over the years as a pastor in this classy church located in a famous boulevard. His favourite theme of all his preaching series was “God is Rich and Able” and he presented them ever so convincingly. It was not a warm church as it used to be when it was first started. As church goers began to prosper and their lifestyle changed, the members began to disassociate themselves with the poorer section of the community. They came only for the positive messages that Alvin expounded with the help of some selected Bible verses to suit their rich and exquisite taste. Reverend Alvin even declared in the pulpit one time that the poor people really had missed God, just a little short in saying that God had judged them for their lack of faith. Some pastors around the vicinity had spoken and advised him but all to no avail. Alvin had a group of powerful rich deacons with him who gave him advice even on what to share on Sundays.
As he was about to freshen up in the bathroom, a bright light shone on him. He quickly covered up his nakedness and knelt down shivering.
A strong voice spoke…
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."*
Alvin clasped his hands to his face in shame. He felt so awful that he cried in repentance. It was more of tears of relieve that God showed him his disastrous faults. He began to confess his sins before God and promised to make it right. That day, he read the Bible to purely build relationship with God again rather than dissecting them for his preaching. And his eyes fell upon Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
*The verses above are taken from Revelation 3:14-22.
This ends the series, The Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. Please feel free to check out the previous stories of the six other churches in this series.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Reverend Kenny came back from a meeting exhausted. He had been the director for “Pastors Fellowship” for many years, planning and coordinating spiritual direction for hundreds of members all across the province. Hailed as the “leader of leaders”, yet he often humbled himself and carefully gave all glory to God. Never once did he boast about his own ability as he knew that everything was from God’s grace!
Lately, there were squabbles in the Fellowship in regards to moral issues. Some leaders had argued away some major principles of the Bible and became bitter towards him. They claimed to stand together with him and his biblical principles but acted very differently outside. He stood firm and endured bitter attacks both from within and without.
Famous for his no nonsense preaching, he implored all his members to suffer like Jesus if need be. His church grew in greater numbers as people saw the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in his ministry. Many doors were open for him and his church to influence VIPs in government circle, even foreign ones. Due to envy from leaders of other faiths and also opposition groups, the pressure to bring him and the church down was immense. Many times Kenny wondered how he could survive such an onslaught if it wasn’t for God!
Kenny bowed before God knowing that whatever he did didn’t belong to him in the first place. It was all about his ultimate BOSS, God Himself! As tiredness began to bear a heavy burden upon him, he saw a bright light shining into his room.
A strong voice spoke….
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.*
He felt like his body being ‘electrocuted’ with strength from on high! Crying unashamedly, he sang softly and slowly, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.”
*These verses are taken from Revelation 3:7-13.
Next: THE CHURCH AT LAODICEA: THE DECAYING CHURCH