Monday, April 29, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Dealing a Death-blow to the Power of Disappointment

          Sometimes, when I am praying about things that I wish would happen, I feel this nagging, sarky, whining voice in my head telling me that it is simply not worth getting my hopes up by asking God to do something a certain way. After all, if he says no, how will I ever live with the disappointment?

          As I was once again facing such thoughts this morning, I decided to ask God this simple question: “What are you teaching me today about the power of disappointment?” Since I know that this is a common malady among Bible-believing Christians, I hope that my place in the body of Christ will help and encourage you in your place in the body of Christ. Why do I say this?

          Because, pastors are 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.[1] (That’s my short answer!)

          With that glorious work of God as our aim, here is the first thing to consider: the context of this question is that the Scriptures make absolutely certain that the believer in Jesus Christ will not be disappointed in the end result of following Jesus Christ. God warns us about all kinds of troubles and hardships that will follow us along our heavenly journey. He tells us that even family members will desert us and leave us abandoned.[2] However, God makes very clear that it is those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who will not be ashamed or disappointed in what we will experience when we arrive in the heavenly presence, once and for all, living there forever.[3]

          Jesus told his disciples that he would be treated shamefully. However, the end of the story would not be shame, but his glorious resurrection.[4] He clarified that, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”[5]Tribulation does not cancel out the believer’s joy. Even though things will happen to cause sorrow, the end will be an eternal life of rejoicing in Jesus Christ.[6]

          Paul told the church that we would be able to rejoice in our sufferings because they would result in us being glorified, not disappointed[7]. He went so far as to say that our “hope does not put us to shame” [8]because of the way God’s love has “been poured into our hearts”, assuring us that our eternal outcome is secure in Jesus Christ.

          For brevity’s sake, I simply want to leave you with this encouragement, that the end of the believer’s life is not going to be disappointment, but eternal joy. As David wrote approximately three millennia ago, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[9]The path we walk, that seems tangled with far too many sorrows, is the path of life itself, and it leads us into the full measure of Jesus’ joy. There will be no disappointment whatsoever at the finish line of the racetrack to heaven.

          Second, I am facing the objective scenario in my life, and in people in the church, that we are so afraid of disappointment that we hesitate to entertain “possibilities” in prayer because of how it feels when they are not fulfilled. If we pray about having connection with people, and we allow our hearts to wish for these things, and long for them, we must then bear the heartache of these people not wanting God, and not wanting us. Paul expressed this so poignantly:

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9)

          This is what we want to avoid at any cost: “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” However, this constant sorrow and anguish was totally consistent with Paul’s joy in the Lord Jesus Christ[10], and all his encouragements to the church to Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.[11]

          Jesus himself was described as, “…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;”[12]  and yet he told his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[13] He could rejoice in the Holy Spirit when he saw evidence of his Father’s work in his disciples,[14] and weep over Jerusalem because they could not see that their Messiah had come to them.[15]

          One of the questions that come to mind when I consider how many Christians have a crippling fear of disappointment is this: “What pain are these people carrying in their hearts that has never been met by God’s healing for the brokenhearted and his binding up of their wounds?”[16]As best I can understand, our reluctance to pray about things that could end up in disappointment arises from our fear of pain. Living with disappointment hurts, we cringe at living with long-term emotional pain, so we try to dissociate from our disappointments.

          The problem with any form of dissociation, avoidance, denial, suppression of our true feelings, or any other synonymous thought, is that this means that some part of our hearts has closed down to Jesus. The background hum of our hurt and disappointment lulls us into a victim-mindset that leaves us feeling justified in keeping Jesus out of our dark, back-of-the-house, storerooms of pain. We become like the lukewarm church that finds Jesus standing on the outside calling and knocking to come back in.[17]

          Why do we become lukewarm when we keep Jesus out of the pain in our hearts? Because we are designed to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[18] When we shut Jesus out of the painful things in our hearts, or the scary things in our souls, or the troubling thoughts of our minds, we do not experience the feeling of fulfillment that comes from knowing him with the totality of our being.

          When we join Paul in praying that God would give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” in the knowledge of Christ, so that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened, and we would know the hope of our calling, and the glorious inheritance that is waiting for us in heaven,[19] we must be willing to open our whole hearts to Jesus. We cannot fill our hearts with the truth of our hope, and calling, and glorious inheritance, while all kinds of messed-up hurts, and doubts, and sarky beliefs, are cluttering the space. We must first bring the heartaches to Jesus, let him heal them, and then give us his thoughts about our lives.

          Paul said, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[20] Part of conforming to this world is using the same coping strategies and self-protection as the world uses because they lack any connection to Jesus Christ. Believers in Jesus Christ have “the renewal of the mind” to change them from fear-based, self-protective Egyptians who are always living in de-Nile, into pure-hearted,[21] sincere,[22]children of God who abandon ourseles to the love of Christ[23] and the brotherhood of believers.[24]

          My aim is to convince scared, self-protective Christians that it is those who mourn who are blessed, because they shall be comforted.”[25]I have put this to the test many times, and now I have a testimony of how it works. When I go to God and mourn out every heartache I can possibly imagine, I come away with comfort I would never have experienced if I were hiding my pain inside.

          The same thing was said a thousand years earlier when David wrote,  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”[26] God will bring us to face our heartaches so that we weep them out to him, but his joy comes in the morning. The painful path does not end in pain, but in healing. The one who “goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”[27]

          Instead of being afraid of pain, and heartache, and tears, let us use them to till and water the ground so that we can grow up in Christ. I am actually at a loss for words to convince my hurting brothers and sisters that facing our pain is the most liberating thing we can do, no matter whether that pain focuses mostly on our own sins, or mostly on the sins of others against us. What the word of God teaches, and my testimony affirms, is that Jesus heals it all.

          So, does anyone want to get growing? Let us walk together in Jesus Christ our Savior. He works everything for our good!

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 4
[2] John 10:16-23
[3] “as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” (Romans 9:23)
[4] 31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’” (Luke 18)
[5] John 16:33
[6]20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16)
[7] 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8)
[8] Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5)
[9] Psalm 16:11
[10] Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice always” (I Thessalonians 5:16) was what he exemplified himself, and expected of the churches. I typed the words “joy, rejoice, rejoicing” in my online concordance and found 49 references in Paul’s letters to the churches.
[11] Philippians 4:4
[12] Isaiah 53:3
[13] John 15:11
[14] “In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21)
[15] 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’” (Luke 19)
[16] “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
[17] Revelation 3:14-22. Verse 20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
[18] Matthew 22:37
[19] “15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1)
[20] Romans 12:2
[21] Matthew 5:8
[22] “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Timothy 1:5)
[23] 1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5)
[24] “Love the brotherhood.” (I Peter 3:17); “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (I Peter 5:9)
[25] Matthew 5:4
[26] Psalm 30:5
[27] Psalm 126:6

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Revelation Videos - Jesus' Love for a Lukewarm Church

Of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, I think that Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church had the greatest impact on our home church. The North American Church has too many examples of lukewarmness to avoid Jesus’ indictment. However, his invitation home has proven to be more loving, and gracious, and hopeful, than I had ever noticed before. Let your heart open up to Jesus’ knocking at the door.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ The Contrast and the Connection of the Conqueror

          After my first few days in Revelation 4, I am fascinated, and overwhelmed. There are such treasures of wisdom and knowledge”[1] hidden in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we cannot expect to speak of them all in only one short breath.

          My attention this week has revolved around this sentence: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!”[2] An open door sounds like an invitation. Here are some encouragements for us to receive this invitation with glad and sincere hearts.

          The first thing that really stood out to me is the contrast between, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”,[3] and, “behold, a door standing open in heaven!”[4]

          This strikes me with a sense of the ridiculousness of the picture. How dare the human heart close a door to our Creator, to our Redeemer, to the King of kings and Lord of lords! How dare the God of heaven have to stand outside a closed door and wait for us to open it! How strange that man would think that we can shut God out of our lives, or that we would even have any desire to do so.

          However, it is equally strange, given the sinfulness of mankind, that there would be an open door into the Holiest of Holies, and an invitation to come up and see what is taking place.

          The second thing that stands out to me is the connection between, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”,[5] and this “door standing open in heaven”,[6] leading to the revelation of the throne-room of God.

          This picture of God’s heavenly throne-room adds another scene to the divine montage (or collage, or tapestry). We now have the glorious picture of Jesus Christ centering the whole mural.[7] And, we have Jesus showing the churches that the condition they are in from his viewpoint, in relation to him, is going to affect whether they go through these next scenes as conquerors, or as victims of sin.[8]

          With the encouragements and rebukes of the letters to the seven churches still ringing in our hearts, it is clear that God wants his people to be conquerors. It is “the one who conquers”[9] who can rest in all the glories of the heavenly throne-room. It is the one who conquers who has the assurance of sharing in the full riches of heaven without fear.

            When the Holy Spirit reveals to your heart that there is a door standing open in heaven, do you want to go through it and find the one who is there? If you were to go through that door to find the one who is there, what would YOU be like in going there?

          This is what is missing: we keep focusing on what God is like, what these scenes tell us about him, whether heaven and his throne room seem good in our eyes. We rarely consider what we are like. Will we seem good to God if we entered his divine presence in the wonders of this revelation?

          What tugs on my soul is that, in the early chapters of Revelation, we first have the vision of Jesus, then we have the vision of ourselves as conquerors, and then we have the vision of God on his throne. This is the theme of Revelation. It is a letter to God’s servants who conquer. It is a letter to the servants of God who are clothed in white because they have conquered.

          “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death”.[10]Believers in Jesus Christ conquer “the great red dragon”, “that ancient serpent”, “the devil”, “Satan”, “the deceiver of the whole world”, “the accuser of the brothers”, “by the blood of the Lamb”, and, “by the word of their testimony”.[11]

          “The blood of the Lamb” refers to the finished, redemptive work of Jesus Christ whereby his sacrifice for sin sets free from sin all those who repent and receive him by faith. “The word of their testimony” refers to the personal experience of the saving, redeeming, regenerating power of the blood of Jesus Christ delivering individuals from their sin, and giving them eternal life.

          Another way of saying this is, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith”.[12] Hebrews chapter 11 gives us examples of those who conquered by faith. Some conquered by great victories in this lifetime. Others conquered by enduring the world’s hatred until the end and entering into the heavenly paradise as beloved children of God.

          Revelation 2 and 3 give us further expressions of what it looks like for believers in Jesus Christ to overcome the world, the flesh, and the red dragon, by faith. They live this faith in direct opposition to the world that calls them to sight, to self, and to sin. The Conqueror is the one who:

1.  Has returned to first love (2:1-7)
2. remains fearless and faithful in tribulation (2:8-11)
3. holds fast to Jesus’ name even where Satan’s throne is; cleanses the church of false teachers (2:12-17)
4. is intolerant of Jezebels and those who follow them (2:18-28)
5. wakes up and strengthens anything that is about to die, and lives in the righteousness of faith (3:1-6)
6. keeps Jesus’ word in weakness, acknowledges Jesus’ name in danger, and patiently endures until the end (3:8-13)
7. receives Jesus’ view of what is lukewarm and returns to the heat of unending zeal walking in fellowship with Jesus (3:14-22).

          For the conqueror, there is no contrast between the door to his heart, and the door to the heavenly throne-room. Both are open. His heart is open to the abiding presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Heaven’s door is open to him, and his life-line of hope is firmly anchored in the Most Holy Place.[13] The conqueror has opened his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, so he draws near to the throne of grace with confidence, receiving all the mercy and grace and help his time of need requires.[14]

          One of my favorite “Big-Picture” Scriptures is the Beatitudes. It tells me that those who experience God’s blessing, otherwise known as “the one who conquers,” are not strong, skillful, powerful, influential people. They are the people who admit their poverty of spirit, who mourn their sinful condition, who meekly accept that they cannot fix themselves, and so they hunger and thirst after the free gift of righteousness offered to them through faith in Jesus Christ.

          This experience of transforming mercy makes them the merciful, who grow to have such a pure hearted love for Jesus that they become fearless peacemakers who seek to lead people to have peace with God. And, as fearless peacemakers, they rejoice even when the many persecute the few, because they know that this is the way the many treated Jesus, and his prophets, and the church.[15]  

          Conquerors will rarely be seen in packs of “many”. However, history will always be affected by small bands of a few conquerors here and there who will persevere at inviting people to know and love the Savior who laid down his life for the lost.

          At the same time, we have the promise of a coming day when the few from here and there will all stand before the throne together, at the same time, conquerors in their victorious Savior. This is what that will look like:

  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[16]

          When you feel like you are standing all alone with your faith in Jesus Christ, remember that Jesus spoke of “the one who conquers”. Be that one now, and look forward to the day that you won’t even be able to count those who are with you.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Colossians 2:3
[2] Revelation 4:1
[3] Revelation 3:20
[4] Revelation 4:1
[5] Revelation 3:21
[6] Revelation 4:1
[7] Revelation 1
[8] Revelation 2-3
[9] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21
[10] Revelation 12:11
[11] Revelation 12 shows the red dragon’s hatred of the church, and the victory of the church against the red dragon.
[12] I John 5:4
[13] We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)
[14] “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
[15] Matthew 5:1-12
[16] Revelation 7:9-10