Clouds Parting Revealing the Heavens

A daily devotion for July 20th

Wake Up!

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Rev 3:2-3

What does a dead church like Sardis need? Our Lord wastes no time in telling them. It is interesting that he still owns this church. He does not say, I have nothing to do with you. He gives them a way of recovery, and he still reveals himself as Lord of the church. As we look at these steps to recovery, they will also help us to identify a condition of death in a church.

The first thing a dead church needs is to wake up. These words in Greek are staccato commands, like a slap in the face. This was the need of the church in Sardis. Wake up! Face your failure! Feel the dullness of your services! Smell the deadness of your life! Ask yourself, What has gone wrong? Why are our services so dreary, so dull, so unattractive? Why do people not want to come? A church in this state needs to ask itself some very serious questions.

Second, Strengthen what remains. What was that? Jesus has already told them what there is of value in the church. I know your works, he says. They were good works, but they were incomplete. The actions were right, but the motives were wrong. They were not doing them for the right reason; they were doing them to impress people. They were trying to display and enhance a reputation they had. They were concerned as to whether people around would see what they were doing. But Jesus says even those good deeds were about to die.

All through the Scriptures we are told that God judges not the things we do, but the reason we do them. He is judging whether our work is done out of love for him and gratitude for what he has done for us, and not caring whether we are praised for them or not. Mother Teresa, who did such a wonderful work in Calcutta, said, We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved — they are Jesus in disguise. What a wonderful spirit! That is what this church in Sardis so desperately needed.

Third, they needed to remember what they received and heard; to obey it, and to repent. The idea in Greek is not what they heard but how they heard. He is referring to the ministry of the Spirit. When these people first heard the gospel, they had heard it by the Spirit. The Word came to them in the power of the Spirit. How do you bring the Spirit's life back into a church? Scripture only suggests one way. In its briefest form it is, Repent and believe. Repent! Look at yourself and see your wrong attitudes, your wrong outlook, your self-appraisal as unacceptable before God. Then believe! Cast yourself upon the grace of Jesus. Receive from him the word of grace. He will impart to you the life of the Spirit of God.

Lord, I desire to be awake and alive to the presence of your Spirit in my life. Reveal those areas where my motives are impure. Amen.

Life Application

Ask the Father to renew the fullness of the Spirit in you. Evaluate your motives and repent of that which might grieve the Holy Spirit within you.

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Church of the Zombies

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