Normally, I do not blog more than once a week, but in my personal devotional time today the Lord gave me a pre-Thanksgiving message today. Let me stress, this was given to me, which means it was for me. I have no idea if this is anything anyone else needs to hear, but I will publicly process this and if it’s a blessing to anyone else, so be it.
Revelation 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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. 21 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. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”
In the book of Revelation, Jesus spoke directly to seven different church communities, and there was a pattern:
- He introduced Himself
- He commends the church
- He rebukes the church
- He offers a solution
- He warns
- He promises
Oddly, this last church on the list (Laodicea) is missing one of these elements… a commendation.
Apparently, what Jesus has to say to the church at Laodicea has to differ from the way He talked to others because He has nothing good to say about them.
Again, I say, ouch.
What is weird is is that the community of Laodicea was a blessed place, or at least, it appeared so.
- The community was wealthy and self sufficient to the degree that they denied imperial aid after a devastating earthquake in 60 AD… they could take care of themselves.
- They were a tourist hot spot because of thermal hot springs that drew people in from miles around. They had healing waters in their DNA.
- They were a cultural and economic pivot point. In fact, they were a center for the worship of the greatest of the Greek gods Zeus and even minted their own coins with his image on them.
Jesus, uses that realtime political/sociological reality as a backdrop for the condition of the church in that same city: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
As a church, they were saying they were blessed, happy and comfortable, but Jesus was saying you can’t even see how broke you are!
I wonder if this is not how the Lord will see some of our holiday gatherings.
We will gather with family and friends, celebrate with our great affluence and even use words like “blessed” and “thankful.” But, are we spiritual blind? Are we spiritually ignorant? Are we so numbed by our stuff, our safety and comfort that we mistake it for God’s approval?
If Jesus sat at our Thanksgiving table, would He say, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
I am not calling anyone else out, but I know the Lord is asking me this question? And, I really want to take it seriously. If I am blind, ignorant and numb to a reality… I want to know!
The good news is, I think the test for our spiritual accumen is right here in the same passage (God is awesome that way). At the very beginning of His word to this church, He says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
We often wrongly interpret this verse in our culture. We think hot is good and cold is bad. But, read it again, cold water is good and refreshing and hot water is healing and medicinal. Both hot and cold were awesome. What is not good are waters that are lukewarm, tepid and neither hot nor cold.
Remember the last time you drank from a bottle of water that was room temperature, or a cup of coffee that had set out way too long… nasty right? That’s why Jesus said he would spit them out; I actually love some of the older versions that use the word vomit… seems to work better at youth camp.
This message is not unique, Jesus spoke it in the Gospels when He said a branch that does not bear fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire. When the Lord looks at His church, He expects it to be good for something.
Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter, just don’t be lukewarm!
A church that is comfortable, secure and happy is really only a blessing to itself. That’s not pleasing to the Lord, and this passage depicts clearly that He won’t stand for that. Don’t forget, the church isn’t an institution. We are the church.
So pick what you want to be, hot or cold. WHAT you do for others and to make an impact really isn’t the issue. THAT you do something for the sake of others is the issue.
Pour yourself into another life, a church ministry, a community program, a needy family, or into wherever the Lord opens your eyes… just don’t be lukewarm.
A warm house, a full table and a gathering of family and friends are truly worth being thankful for, but if that’s where it ends…?
This holiday season make it your mission to be the blessing, as you have already been blessed, as an ambassador of Christ .
I pray that our church, your church, the church will be remembered for its hot and cold running, living water.
And, may the Lord be blessed by us in our thanksgiving.