Remember Your Early Devotion
It is important for believers to look forward but also to look back. The adventure of faith we have travelled with Jesus is more remarkable than many of us realise. Looking back, the contrast between being in spiritual darkness and receiving the Light of the World is massive (Acts 26:18). The sheer joy and confidence of those early days enabled the new believers to endure suffering. We do not know what the 'great conflict' was but it affected many of the Hebrew-background believers.
The persecution was public and designed to be humiliating. From personal insults to physical beatings, from property theft to imprisonment: those believers endured because of their confidence that Jesus is Lord of all. In the end, He would vindicate them – if not in this life, certainly in heaven (Hebrews 10:30). So, they were glad to stand alongside each other, encouraging and upholding their brothers and sisters in Christ, as they were tested.
So why the call to remember? Surely, they could never forget. No, but with time they became weary. The incessant attacks on them weakened their resolve. The future glimpse of the glorious Jesus calling them to His side became clouded and they longed for relief from the stress and pain. But the Lord had not changed, nor had His promises. Their salvation was still dependent on the grace of Christ alone. Their place in heaven was still assured. But they were weary and wanted to give up – that is why they were encouraged to remember back, and be urged not to change their courageous reaction to persecution (Galatians 6:9).
Idealism and youthful enthusiasm alone cannot sustain endurance. However, when we look back to those early days when we walked with the Lord Jesus, His presence made all the difference; His promises were potent motivators and His love encouraged us to continue in faith. But when the pressures of the world, flesh and devil pummel our spirits, we are tempted to think there must be an easier way. Not so. The Lord does not always remove the problem, but He does supply sustaining grace for those whose hearts are set for heaven. So remember. As the old hymn (O for a closer walk with God: by William Cowper) puts it, "Where is the blessedness I knew, when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view of Jesus and His Word?" The hymn answers the question with, "The dearest idol I have known, whate'er that idol be. Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee." When we cannot endure for Christ's sake it is because someone or something else has become larger to us than Him. So remember, and repent; then endure with courage and joy.
© Dr Paul Adams