Forever OLS — Week Three #1

The Basilica di San Francesco (St. Francis) was built in honor of Brother Francis in Assisi, Italy in the year 1230. Francis lived a simple life of poverty, abstinence, and renunciation of worldly goods in his desire for a life of deep spiritual devotion to God. Thousands travel on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, each year just to visit this grandiose church edifice, hoping to get closer to God and experience a more meaningful spiritual life. And for many, the church is a beautiful building with artfully created stained glass windows, altars for worship, and candles for meditation.

And while all of these physical objects can be helpful in turning one’s thoughts to God, the Bible speaks of a church of another kind. The New Testament church is more than a building. The church is the people of God, indwelt by the Spirit of God, joined together forever to the Lord Jesus Christ, and created for God’s great glory. If you know Jesus and are His child, then YOU are part of the Church. And I am part of the Church. According to Paul, the Lord Jesus is the cornerstone of a building that is being fitted together into a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-21). The Lord Jesus loves the Church and nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:28-29). He desires to present the church to Himself in all her glory, “having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).

This week in Part 1, The Message of Eternity, A Heart To See Forever, we see the love and concern of Christ for His beloved church. As we read through these letters and note His revelation of Himself, what He knows of each church, and His encouragements for each church, we can’t help but think of ourselves. Not only did He know those churches, He knows our church. And not only does He know our church, He knows me! And He knows you! He knows every moment of your day. He knows your weaknesses. He knows the special needs you have and the impossible challenges you face. He does not intend for you to go it alone in life. No, He is in your midst, as He was walking in the midst of the seven churches of western Asia Minor. He is with you even now.

I thought about the picture of Jesus walking among the lamp stands (Revelation 2:1) and realized the intimate, personal closeness and relationship Jesus desires from each one of us in the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ, then, was set up and prepared to be a husband to his saints, his church. He undertook the work of Mediator for which he was especially filled with the Spirit. As Mediator he purchased for his people grace and glory. Now he offers himself to them in the promises of the gospel, making himself desirable to them. He convinces them of his good will, and that he is sufficient for all their needs. And when they agree to receive him, which is all he requires or expects from them, he enters into a marriage contract to be theirs for ever. On the saints’ part, all that is required is their free, willing agreement to receive, embrace and submit to the Lord Jesus as Husband, Lord and Saviour, to abide with him, subject their souls to him to be ruled by him for ever.
John Owen, Communion with God

I believe this is what the Lord Jesus is asking for in all the letters to the churches — full submission and surrender to Him. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. The Basilica di San Francesco is a memorial to Francis of Assisi, a simple man who longed to follow Christ. Do you desire to follow Jesus? Will you surrender to Jesus today and wholeheartedly follow Him in love and devotion? For some churches in western Asia Minor, surrender involved repenting of sin. For others, it meant holding fast and enduring in the midst of the fiery trial. And for others still, it meant drawing near to Christ, opening the door of their hearts to commune with Him. Each church had its own set of unique challenges.

Where are you today and will you follow Christ?

♥ God bless you as you continue this great adventure of knowing Him!


Sola Scriptura

When you finish Week 3, Days 1-3, will you share how these letters to the churches of western Asia Minor impacted your life? Did the Lord bring you to a special commitment or surrender to Him as a result of His letters to the churches? What church did you identify with the most? And how are those churches like the church today?
Please comment.

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Cover and Interior Photography for The Quiet Time Notebooks Series by Catherine Martin. — Devotional Photography
Luke 5:16 NASB — But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
A Heart To See Forever has been an incredible study. … God has given me so much to ponder and the time to meander through His Word. … I find that Catherine’s studies are so thought-provoking and give me the opportunity to spend time with the Lord in ways that I have never done before. There are so many places within each day’s session where I can stop, ponder, pray, journal and return to or go on ahead. For the first time, I actually want to do a study over again.
Linda, Being Woven, QuietTimeCafé
A Heart to See Forever was my first real Bible study. Studying the revelation of the glorious new heaven and new earth motivated me to turn back to Genesis and begin an in depth study from there. With this perspective, I can see every book [of the Bible] through the lens of eternity.
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