Who is Lord of Your Life?
Who is Lord of Your Life?
Polycarp (AD70–156) was a bishop during a time of bitter attack against the Christians. At the age of eighty-six, he was arrested for no other crime than being a Christian. All he had to do to avoid torture and death was to proclaim, ‘Caesar is Lord.’
Polycarp responded, ‘Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’ For Polycarp, the fact that ‘Jesus is Lord’ meant that he could not say, ‘Caesar is Lord.’ Steadfast in his stand for Christ, Polycarp refused to compromise his beliefs and was burnt alive at the stake on 22 February AD156.
God is described in the Old Testament as ‘the Lord’. In the New Testament passage for today, we see the background to the extraordinary claim that ‘Jesus is Lord!’
Jesus – the Lord who has come down from heavenPsalm 144:1–8
What battles are you fighting in your life? Temptation? Anxiety? Fear? Depression? Financial battles? Health battles? Work or relationship battles?
This psalm is a plea for help before battle. The original context was probably a physical battle. However, through the lens of the New Testament, you can see it in terms of a spiritual battle. There are times when we seem to be losing ground in a spiritual battle, for example, for our nation. But, never give up!
Perhaps you are facing a frightening battle in your own life. David praises the Lord: ‘my Rock’, ‘fortress’, ‘stronghold’, ‘deliverer’, ‘my shield in whom I take refuge’ (vv.1–2).
The Lord is powerful. He is also ‘my loving God’. He involves you in his plan; ‘he trains me to fight fair and well’ (v.1, MSG). You are a partner with God. God, of course, is the major partner but you have a part to play as well.
David goes on to say, ‘Part your heavens, O Lord, and come down… reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me’ (vv.5a,7). This is exactly what God did, which we celebrate at Christmas. The Lord Jesus came down from heaven and delivered and rescued us.
Whatever battles you are fighting today, spend time with Jesus praising him for who he is, calling on him for help and trusting him to deliver you.
Lord, I cry out to you, my loving God – my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, my rescuer. Help, Lord!
Jesus – the Lord at the centre of worshipRevelation 7:1–17
One of the highlights of every Olympics Games is the opening ceremony, involving 225 nations coming together for a joyful celebration. Yet this pales in significance compared to what is described in this passage, where we see a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language coming together before the throne of God.
The six seals we looked at yesterday gave a general view of history between the first and second comings of Jesus. Tomorrow, we will read of the breaking of the seventh seal.
In the interlude of Revelation chapter 7, there is significant reassurance given to God’s people: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God’ (v.3). Whatever may take place around you, your eternal security is not in doubt, for you have been given ‘the seal of the Living God’ (v.2).
The 144,000 referred to in verses 1–8 and the unnumbered multitude in verses 9–17 are probably not two distinct groups, but pictures of the same group from two different angles. In the first, God’s people are assembled on earth, and, in the second, they are assembled before God in heaven with their struggles and battles behind them in the past.
The people of God are described as those who have washed their clothes and made them white ‘in the blood of the Lamb’ (v.14). This is an example of non-literal metaphorical language of the apocalyptic literature in the book of Revelation and this chapter in particular. Robes would not be made white by being washed in blood! However, metaphorically, you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
The number 144,000 is therefore not literal but is symbolic of the entire people of God throughout history. John sees them as ‘a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb’ (v.9).
The multitude ‘were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands’ (v.9). They are singing songs of worship to the Lord (v.10). The angels join the multitude and worship God (vv.11–12). Finally, the whole church, together with the angelic hosts, worships Jesus. Earthly choirs and orchestras are rehearsing for the heavenly concert.
‘The Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd’ (v.17a). This is an extraordinary reversal of roles. The lamb has become the shepherd! You will never again be hungry or thirsty. You will be satisfied by ‘springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear’ from your eyes (v.17b). There will be no more pain or suffering or bereavement or tragedy.
Lord, thank you that I can look forward to an eternity in the presence of Jesus. Thank you that you will satisfy my hunger and quench my thirst and wipe away every tear from my eyes.
Jesus – the Lord who refines and blessesMalachi 2:17–4:6
The book of Malachi ends with the expectation of the coming of the one who will prepare the way for the Lord: ‘I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents’ (4:5–6).
This is how John the Baptist is described (Luke 1:17). Jesus said that he is the Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:14; see also Matthew 17:12–13; Mark 9:12–13).
In the Christian Bible, the last book of the Old Testament is the book of Malachi. It ends with an expectation of the coming of the Lord and of the one who will prepare the way for the Lord.
The people are called to prepare for the day of the Lord’s coming, which will be ‘like a refiner’s fire’ (Malachi 3:2). God wants to change our attitudes, desires, thoughts and conversations so that we will rid ourselves of selfishness and self-centredness. As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘Believe me, getting rid of selfishness takes some fire (difficult times) – and usually a lot of it – but it is worth it in the end.’
Listen to the call to return to the Lord (v.7). In particular, get your giving sorted out (vv.8–12). Your attitude towards money is a barometer of your whole outlook on life.
The ‘tithe’ was a kind of ecclesiastical income tax that went to the maintenance of the temple and its staff. In addition, people gave in a variety of other ways – through hospitality, gifts to the poor, and ‘free will’ offerings.
The prophet accuses them of robbing God by their failure to get their giving sorted out. He urges them, ‘“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I do not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”’ (v.10).
This shows how important your giving is in God’s eyes. Prioritise giving to the church you attend – which is our equivalent of the temple. If you fail to give generously, you are ‘robbing God’. If as a church community all give generously, then you can expect that God will ‘throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that [we] will not have room enough for it’ (v.10).
It appears that they did get their priorities sorted out: ‘Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name’ (v.16). I love this verse. Sometimes, when you meet together you may not even get around to praying, but still ‘the Lord listened and heard’ because they ‘feared the Lord and honoured his name’ (v.16).
He promises, ‘for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall’ (4:2). Whatever your wounds, hurts and brokenness, God promises to bring healing, restoration and wholeness to your life.
Lord, help us to be a generous community. Thank you that you are with us in our daily battles and that one day we will worship you forever as part of the great multitude, declaring ‘Jesus is Lord’!
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
Thankfully, God makes it all better in the end.
Verse of the Day
‘… God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 7:17).
Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2018) p.1471
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.