[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand. — Revelation 2:5
I love it when churches have names like “King of Glory Lutheran Church” or “Alpha and Omega Missionary Baptist Church.” If the church in Ephesus were still around, maybe we’d call them something nifty like “First Church of the Lampstand.”
We often miss the significance of John’s glorious vision in Revelation 1 of Jesus standing among the seven golden lampstands. These weren’t just decorative candelabras but substantial sources of light. How significant, then, that the lampstands represent the seven churches who were called to bring the light of Jesus into a very dark world.
We live in a dark world that desperately needs the candlepower of Christ shining through us. Let’s be careful, then, not to repeat the mistake of the Ephesians who “left [their] first love” (Revelation. 2:4). Although praised for doing many things well, they had failed to keep Jesus in first place.
It’s easy to let things crowd Jesus out until soon we’re doing “church work” for all the wrong reasons. What then? We lose our impact. Jesus warned, “Repent and do the first works, or else I will . . . remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev. 2:5). We can’t afford to let that happen. Keep Jesus in first place so that His light will continue to shine brightly in this dark world.
Lord, help us always put You first
In everything we say and do
So that Your light will shine through us
And show the world their need of You. —Sper
Works that are done out of love for Jesus shine brightest in a dark world.
Fret not thyself (Psalms 37:1).
Do not get into a perilous heat about things. If ever heat were justified, it was surely justified in the circumstances outlined in the Psalm. Evil-doers were moving about clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. “Workers of iniquity” were climbing into the supreme places of power, and were tyrannizing their less fortunate brethren. Sinful men and women were stalking through the land in the pride of life and basking in the light and comfort of great prosperity, and good men were becoming heated and fretful.
“Fret not thyself.” Do not get unduly heated! Keep cool! Even in a good cause, fretfulness is not a wise help-meet. Fretting only heats the bearings; it does not generate the steam. It is no help to a train for the axles to get hot; their heat is only a hindrance. When the axles get heated, it is because of unnecessary friction; dry surfaces are grinding together, which ought to be kept in smooth co-operation by a delicate cushion of oil.
And is it not a suggestive fact that this word “fret” is closely akin to the word “friction,” and is an indication of absence of the anointing oil of the grace of God? In fretfulness, a little bit of grit gets into the bearings–some slight disappointment, some ingratitude, some discourtesy–and the smooth working of the life is checked. Friction begets heat; and with the heat, most dangerous conditions are created.
Do not let thy bearings get hot. Let the oil of the Lord keep thee cool, lest by reason of an unholy heat thou be reckoned among the evil-doers.
–The Silver Lining
Dear restless heart, be still; don’t fret and worry so;
God has a thousand ways His love and help to show;
Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.
Dear restless heart, be still, for peace is God’s own smile,
His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;
Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.
Dear restless heart, be brave; don’t moan and sorrow so,
He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow;
Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.
Dear restless heart, repose upon His breast this hour,
His grace is strength and life, His love is bloom and flower;
Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.
Dear restless heart, be still! Don’t struggle to be free;
God’s life is in your life, from Him you may not flee;
Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.
–Edith Willis Linn