Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church (Soul On Fire Series Conclusion #8) To hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM
Laodicea Revelation 3:14-21
According to Revelation 1:11, on the Greek island of Patmos, the risen Jesus told the Apostle John to “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” The “churches” in this context referred to the congregations of Christians living in each city throughout Asia, and not merely to the buildings in which they gathered for worship. Each of the seven letters is a prophetic word from Jesus that no doubt described these churches perfectly at that time and also foretold their fate if they did not take heed to the warnings given to them. It has also likely that these churches represent seven types of churches (even seven different types of Christians) which may be found not only in the first century but in any period of church history. For today’s study we will focus on the letter to Laodicea.
Laodicea was a well off city of trade but being down in the valley, they had difficulty getting water. The Laodiceans built an aqueduct to bring cold water down from the mountains. When it left the mountains, it was ice cold, but by the time it made that trip all the way down the mountains to Laodicea, it was lukewarm. Down in the valley where the Lycus River joins the Maeander River, there were hot springs. However, when they would take this hot water up to Laodicea, by the time it got there, it was no longer hot — it had become lukewarm water. That lukewarm water didn’t quench the thirst or sooth the aches and pains of the Laodiceans. The church was as tepid (unenthusiastic, apathetic, halfhearted) as the water! They were not souls on fire!
As we read on we see that the church was deceived. They thought they were rich and didn’t need a thing but they were so distasteful to God that he was about to “spit them out of his mouth”. God warned them to become like refined gold bathed in his fire (Holy Spirit). He also told them to cover their “shameful nakedness” (sin) and put salve on their eyes so they could see. Laodicea was well known for their medical advancements and one of the most celebrated was an eye salve. God was declaring the irony that although they practiced medicine for physical blindness they were spiritually blind. The Remedy for their condition was to repent!
God wants us on fire for him, offering light and warmth in this ice cold dark world. Let us look at ourselves closely by looking at the five check points below. These are signs of impending lukewarmness. Let us guard ourselves and one another from them and stay on fire for God.
The Dead Sea Philippians 2:3-8
The Dead Sea has nothing living in it, and it is too toxic to drink. That’s why it’s called the Dead Sea, but feeding into it, there is the life giving Jordan River, which also feeds the Sea of Galilee. This Sea of Galilee is teeming with life and the waters are abundantly clear. What’s the difference? The Sea of Galilee receives but it also gives, whereas the Dead Sea only receives, and never gives anything. If we begin to only want to “receive” but never give, we may become lukewarm, and lukewarm is not what Christ wants, just as no one wants to drink from the Dead Sea.
The Sin of Silence Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 9:26
Whenever we’re around people we work with, or our friends or family members, do we ever share our faith? We’ve all been given a commission from Christ (Matt 28:19-20). Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). Notice it is Jesus and Jesus’ words that we must not be ashamed of. Let’s not be silent when it comes to sharing our faith. Not only in speaking it, but in living it.
Worldly Living James 4:4
If your friends or co-workers talk to you just like they talk to their own friends, then you might be living too much like the world. Do you laugh at their crude or profane jokes? Do you sit and listen to gossip at work or church? James asked the church, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). James had seen the hypocrisy of believer’s being one way during worship, and acting another way with their friends in the world. That’s definitely lukewarm.
A Guilty Conscience 2 Corinthians 13:5, Romans 12:3-4
Can you think of any indications in your life where you might see a red light on the dashboard? Do you have a guilty conscience? Maybe you’d better check the warning light to see what the problem is. The Apostle Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we’re in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Before we take Communion, Paul says, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). Self-examination should be an occasional practice for the believer, particularly before Communion. Self-examination is important for physical help. It is just as important for your spiritual help.
Hunger & Thirst Matthew 5:6, Psalm 63:1, James 1:22-25, 1 John 1:8-2:6
If you find that you’ve stopped praying, or pray very little, and/or if you have no desire to read the Bible, or do very little reading, then you have a problem with your appetite.. Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt 5:6). The Psalmist compares his desire for God as if he’s in a wasteland with no water. Stay thirsty my friends!
If you should look into God’s “mirror” (James 1:22-25) and see that your fire has diminished then don’t deny it— confess it to Jesus and repent (1 John 1:8-2:6). To keep a fire going we must tend it. Give, Speak out, Be Holy, watch those signs and hunger for righteousness…and if Jesus is knocking on the door to your heart, open it quickly! It’s time to eat!