Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Classroom note taking was not something I learned before graduating from high school. That is not to say it wasn't taught or that I shouldn't have learned to take notes, just that I didn't. I learned to write notes and pass notes to fellow students, but not how to take class notes. However, in work after high school, I learned the value of hearing and transcribing at least a part of what the instructor said. One point that became obvious was this: When an instructor repeats a statement, especially if it is repeated a number of times, it is important and will be on the test!
It could be argued that everything our Lord said was important, but it is also true that some things were more important than others. There were some phrases that Jesus repeated, and there were a few that were repeated over and over again. Today's message involves just such a phrase. It is found in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation and it is a part of seven short letters that Jesus sent via John to the seven churches of Asia. The phrase is copied exactly in the title of today's message; it reads, “I know your works.” It appears seven times and only seven times in the Bible (see Revelation 2.2,2.9,2.13,2.19,3.1,3.8, and 3.15).
This is an important phrase and it will be on the test! But the test that will hinge on the fact that God knows our works is not one that anyone would want to fail; it is the test of all tests and it will determine our eternal destinies. Later in the book of Revelation, John wrote the following: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.'” (Revelation 14.13). The works of those who “die in the Lord” follow them, and by implication, so do the works of those who do not die in the Lord. The difference, however, is one of eternal importance. On the one hand, the redeemed are promised rest from their labors, while those who die apart from Christ have no such promise. Their works follow them, but the reward is far different.
The fact that Jesus said seven times that He knows our works should give us pause – at least to reflect and determine the implications of the statement. In a recorded theatrical performance I heard recently, a couple happened upon a man who had been killed by a hit and run driver. Upon looking at the situation more closely, the man and woman discovered that the deceased had a large sum of money partially exposed in his pocket. Reasoning that the man wouldn't be needing the money any more, and finding no one looking, the man and woman agreed to take the money secretly and use it for their own purposes. In short, they decided to steal the money. However, in looking around to see if anyone might be wise to their antics, they failed to look upward! How frequently we do this same type of thing! We might consider what the neighbors will think, what the boss would think, and what everyone involved might think, but we frequently fail to note that God knows our works and what He will think about the matter.
The wise man, Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes considered life from every possible perspective. After all had been done, he wrote, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12.13-14). Jeremiah asked a couple of telling rhetorical questions for God; they read, “'Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?' says the LORD; 'Do I not fill heaven and earth?' says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23.24).
The fact that God knows our works is either a comfort or a curse depending upon how we live our lives!
1. What works did Solomon say God would bring into judgment?
2. Is the fact that God knows our works a source of comfort or fear? Who decides which?
3. “Can anyone hide himself in secret places?” What is the sobering answer to this question?
4. A popular phrase asks the question, “What would Jesus do?” Perhaps we could ask another question before we do any deed or think any thought; that question would be, “What would I do if Jesus knew?” Is this a valid way to approach life's deeds and decisions? Why or why not?
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