One of my favourite comedy programmes is Everybody Loves Raymond.
There is an episode where an Italian aunt comes to stay and she makes a big difference to the dynamics of the family.
They become united, even loving, have singalongs and joyful meal times. Everyone agrees that she is the best thing to happen to them.
But then they discover that she is not their aunt after all and their Italian heritage may not even be genuine! And so, without the aunt’s good influence, they slip back into their old dysfunctional ways.
I wonder, do you recall how you felt when you first gave your life to the Lord… when you invited Jesus to come into your heart… and the difference he made with regard to the way you previously felt about, and lived your life?
Compare those days to your relationship with God now. As time has passed, have you lost that “loving feeling”?
In the book of Revelation, Jesus sent several messages to various churches in different regions.
In particular, I’d like to draw your attention to his message to the Laodicean church. He said:
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…
…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.
(Revelation 3:15-16, 20 NIV)
Again, in another passage of the Bible, God takes issue with his covenant family, the Children of Israel, because they’d abandoned him as their God and started adopting the practices of the heathen nations around them.
In no uncertain words, He tells them:
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
(Isaiah 55:6 NIV)
Friends and followers, may I ask you where you are at in your relationship with God?
Since around March this year, what we once perceived as normality in our individual lives, in our nations, indeed in the entire world, changed overnight. And we are still endeavouring to negotiate the new paths of uncertainty and change.
Who knew at the beginning of 2020, when we celebrated the New Year and the ushering in of a new decade that, just a few months down the line, our everyday lives would be changed beyond recognition?
Who knew that our liberties would be curtailed? Who knew that our health would be threatened, indeed many lives lost, as a result of an unknown and deadly virus, which hit us out of the blue? Who knew?
Jesus! That’s who!
Our Father God in Heaven. That’s who!
Now I believe that this pandemic is an opportunity for those of us who know the Lord, who confess to be his followers, to examine our lives and our hearts and see whether we are truly abiding in a position of faith and integrity.
It is an opportunity, to draw closer to the three members of the Godhead because they (along with the Word of God), are the only stable and unchanging aspects within a changing and troublesome world. And, if we’ve allowed our relationship with Christ to grow lukewarm, it’s also an opportunity to rectify this, before it is too late!
Now, whilst the Enemy would like to fill our hearts with fear, despair, and perhaps even resentment over lost liberties and livelihoods, as children of God, we can hold onto hope for our future and that hope (the God-type of hope), acts as an anchor for our soul (our mind, will and emotions).
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…
(Hebrews 6:17-19 NIV)
The Laodicean church is an example of God’s people who may believe they are in the right place with God but they have somehow lost their way. The Laodicean church is often considered to be a picture of the Body of Christ during the “Last Days”, i.e. the days before Jesus is expected to return.
If this is the case, are we paying heed to Jesus’ warning? If we examine our hearts and our lives and compare them to how we used to be at the beginning of our salvation, have our hearts grown lukewarm?
Has our commitment waned? Have we allowed compromise or other priorities to creep into our lives? Have we, like the Children of Israel, adopted secular practices, entertained worldly desires and worshipped at the shrine of self-gratification?
If the Lord were to weigh us in his scales and balances today, would we come up short?
Unlike the family in Everyone Loves Raymond, if you are born-again (i.e. you’ve committed your life to Christ), there should be no question mark in your heart on whether you are a true member of God’s family.
And unlike the aunt, who turned out not to be a true relative, Jesus our brother, and God our heavenly Father, will never turn out to be of questionable origin. We can be absolutely sure that any confidence we have, based on our relationship with them, will never, ever, turn out to be unfounded.
So let me ask you, even if you were to wake up tomorrow to find the world you know has turned completely upside down, is your relationship with God such that you share the confidence of Habukkuk?
Listen to his uncompromising confession:
Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)
Now whilst I am not happy that the pandemic has altered the way I live my life, such that I don’t feel at liberty to enjoy normal pursuits such as shopping, entertaining family and friends, and taking trips abroad, I recognise that there is a bigger picture here.
My future is in God’s hands. He’s not only in control of my life, he’s in control of my nation, he’s in control of the entire world, regardless of whether events seem to indicate otherwise.
And there’s an even bigger picture beyond the concerns of this present world. There’s the issue of eternity and where I, and others spend it, once our days on earth are ended.
And there’s also my responsibility to tell others about Jesus, to let them know that he alone is able to offer them peace and safety in this present unstable world, plus a glorious future in the world to come.
And it’s my responsibility through prayer, to invite God into the affairs of my nation and this world, and to pray for his will and purpose to be done.
Now, if you are a member of God’s family, then it is your responsibility too!
Carol (aka Lady Cee)
A Student in His Secret Place (Psalm 91:1)
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Are you familiar with the good news of God’s Gospel?
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