Back to the Word of the Week
Keep the Fire Burning - The Book of Revelation
Week 52, 2016
The Church of Laodicea
(2006—the end of the age)
As we covered last week, Laodicea means, “judging by the people.” The implication is that this is an age in which men’s opinions are exalted above God’s. In our time, this is called “political correctness.” This results in a people lukewarm to God, and there is nothing more offensive in a relationship than indifference.
We also covered the Lord’s warnings to keep us from falling into this terrible condition, and how He left this church age with a hope and a promise for those who overcome the spirit of this age. These promises are greater than the promises given to any other church. Before we get to these, we need to look at the other things causing most in this church to be lukewarm:
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:17-18 NKJV).
We live in a time of unprecedented earthly wealth. Many considered poor in some countries are better off than kings were a couple of centuries ago because of modern technology and conveniences. We should be thankful for these things and not feel guilty as long as we understand the trap they can be in affecting our devotion to the Lord.
An interesting study on happiness was done over a decade ago. The results were surprising and enlightening. Here are the study’s three main conclusions:
1) Our possessions have zero to do with our happiness and can make us very unhappy.
2) The happiest people on earth tend to be those who live the simplest lives, as long as they have food and shelter.
3) True happiness is always connected to close relationships.
When I read these conclusions, I first protested. I thought about how some of my things, like my motorcycle, make me happy. Yet in truth, I may enjoy it when I ride it, but it really is a means for me to enjoy creation and to fellowship with the Lord or my friends while I do it. So the real happiness I get from it is connected to relationships.
Since we were created to have fellowship with God, there is no other relationship that is as important as that one. Without a growing relationship and love for God, we will have a large, empty hole in our life, regardless of how well our other relationships are doing. If we keep Him first in our life, we are far more likely to have good relationships with others and fulfill the purposes done with Him and for Him.
We recently took into our Heritage facilities almost four hundred people from a retirement community on the coast who had to flee from Hurricane Matthew. These were from a wealthy community. When I asked them after the first day if there was anything we could do to make their stay better, most said that a television in their room would help. Two days later, the same people thanked me for not having television in their room. This had caused them to get out and meet their neighbors and participate in the events we hosted for them. Some said they had lived in the same community for years and yet did not know their neighbors. By the third day, it had turned into a party!
When they left after about ten days, some said it was one of the best times they had ever had. It was also one of the best times we have had as a ministry. Some were Christians, and some met the Lord while staying with us. Some got healed of various things, but I think all ended up bonding with new and deeper friends. It was the beginning of koinonia, the essential element in true church life so rarely found in church today.
So how do we get free and have our love and fire restored? It starts with acknowledging that we are the ones this is talking about, praying for help, and understanding that the rebuke of the Lord is for those He loves: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). As we are told repeatedly in Proverbs, the wise love reproof because it leads to a repentance that keeps us on the path of life. As we are told here, we repent by being “zealous.”
In both the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, the Lord sent fire from His presence to start the fire on the altar. But then He commanded the priests to keep it going. God starts the fire in our hearts, but He expects us to keep it going. What are we doing to intentionally keep the fire blazing in our hearts? The basics are prayer, reading and studying the Word of God, koinonia—requiring a real church life—and witnessing, or doing the work of the Lord.
In Revelation 3:20, He tells us one major thing we must do: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” The Lord is constantly knocking on the door of our life, asking to come in. Do we hear Him? Interestingly, it is not hearing His knock but His voice so that we can open to Him. As He taught in:
John 10, His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him because they know His voice.
This is why we teach knowing the voice of the Lord as one of the most critical requirements for following Him. It is then that we receive the incredible, unfathomable promise of Him giving us our spiritual food directly.
As stated, the Lord gives the second of the greatest promises given to any of the church ages to the overcomers of the Laodicean church. This is likely because the lukewarm spirit of the age is one of the most difficult things to overcome. Now let’s consider this promise:
“To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:21-22).
Those who overcome during this church age will not just be like the great company in Revelation 7 that stands “before the throne,” but they will sit with Him on His throne. There will be overcomers in this time that demonstrate what it really means to be seated with Him on His throne in the heavenly places—unprecedented spiritual authority. These are the ones who will do the works that He did, and even greater ones, because they abide in Him as He is now. This is still available to all who want it so much that they will run the race, laying aside every encumbrance to pursue our God.
next week 2017-1