Lukewarm

Today’s reading: Numbers 34; Psalm 78:38–72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

June 1st, 2016

Last Wednesday we studied Satan’s promises and wrestled with whether or not we were trusting in them. Today’s reading brings us to Christ promises in Revelation chapter 3, where we find the last of seven letters to the seven churches. Each letter follows a general outline; a greeting, an ‘I know’ statement, a praise, a rebuke, a command, a warning, and a promise to the one who conquers. The last letter is to the Laodiceans. Their letter is different from all the rest in that it includes no praise. Here is the letter, see if you can pick out the other elements:

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 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. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. – Revelation 3:14–22

The ‘I know’ statement indicted them as neither cold nor hot. The consequence? Being spued out. Translated as vomited. A violent rejection and most fearful woe, to be utterly rejected by Christ as loathsome. A pretty serious consequence in my estimation. Certainly then worth consideration and meditation. Why did this happen? Luckily we have clear answers. They had placed their trust in things of this world (v17). They were deceived (v17b). They had fallen for Satan’s lies. I wonder, if there was one letter that American churches (that is you and me) should mind, which it would be?

While Satan’s promises are empty lies that leave us alone and destitute our LORD’s promises are full of the truth and they lead to our being adopted into His family (Revelation 21:7). After the rebuke they are then counseled to buy true riches that they may begin to see. Take one step and see it true. That their eyes may be opened to their deception (18). Then the way is laid out for us to repent. Restoration to relation with Christ. Believe and abide in Jesus. Let thine eye be single (Matthew 6:22). Trust in Him and Him alone. Reject the world and remain in Christ. Live simply (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Put God at the top of your list of one.

I’ll conclude this entry with an excerpt from Believer’s Rewards by John MacArthur. I Highly encourage you to listen to it in its entirety, perhaps on your way to work this morning;

Did you know the Bible talks about five crowns: the incorruptible crown, crown of righteousness, the crown of rejoicing, the crown of glory, the crown of life. Each a separate reward for faithfulness. There’s going to be wonderful rewards. The incorruptible crown, that’s for the one who obeyed the Lord’s command and made self-sacrifice and disciplined his life to live for God. The crown of righteousness, that’s to all who love His appearing. That means everybody who is so in love with Jesus Christ that the looking for His coming dominates their life. The crown of rejoicing, the soul winner’s crown, the crown of glory, the shepherd’s crown, that’s for the elders, the pastor teachers. The crown of life, that’s for the guy who went through the persecution and martyrdom for Jesus’ sake.

Extra Credit: a quick history lesson as we consider another why from verse 16

Verse 16 tells how lukewarm people will be spued out. In considering why such a violent rejection if the state of the gaze of the follower is not fixed on Christ, consider a bit of history. Why such a harsh consequence? After all why wouldn’t lukewarm be better than cold?

lukewarm

After Jesus died the New Testament outlines the persecution of the early church. All the apostles were martyred except John who was exiled to the Island of Patmos by Emperor Domitian who demanded his subjects worship him as lord and god. He and John didn’t get on. The persecutions that followed through the second, third and fourth centuries were horrific to say the least. Christians were heretics, believing in a religion not ordained by the state. In these times that meant death. Thousands upon thousands of Christians were killed as the state invented new ways to torture people into renouncing Jesus. Yet people continued to choose death. This continued on through the third century until Emperor Constantine installed the Edict of Milan in 313. Emperor Constantine claimed that while in battle he saw a cross in the sky and heard the words “by this symbol conquer.” After he won the battle he converted to Christianity. The Edict of Milan reversed the role of religion in the Roman Empire. Now the pagans were heretics. At first glance you might think this a ‘win’ for the church. However as history played out we see that it was horrendous. Instead of the state going around killing Christians who would not convert to the religion of the state, they now went round killing pagans who would not convert to Christianity. Christianity then became the new tool used by the state to unite the kingdom. This powerful tool then began to attract all the wrong sorts of people. People seeking popular status even power and riches.

Those seeking power and riches sought new found titles in the Catholic Church. Papal power was out of control and trumped the Emperor. In fact, in 800 Pope Leo the third crowned Charles’ Martel’s grandson also called Charles who became Charles the Great or as we know him Charlemagne, as the Holy Roman Emperor. So now we have Pope’s making Emperors. One more quick example on this, and there are several. Pope Gregory VII who lived from 1073-1085 produced the Dictates Papae which was a compilation of 27 statements of powers arrogated to the Pope. So basically he created authority for himself. Here’s a sample of one of them for you to consider; “Only the feet of the Pope shall be kissed by all Princes. His name alone shall be spoken in the churches and this is the only name in the world. The Pope’s judgement may be retracted by no one and he himself cannot be judged. The Roman church has never erred nor will it err throughout eternity.” The current Emperor Henry IV was not too pleased with this and threatened to remove Pope Gregory VII. So Greg exiled Henry and absolved all Greg’s subjects from having to obey him. Henry was eventually reinstated by Greg, but only after performing the penance assigned; walking across the Alps barefoot and waiting outside Greg’s door for three days in sackcloth.

Commoners gave up worshiping several gods for a more convenient single god, not to mention the not dying part, that seemed to swing some folks too. People ‘converted to Christianity’ for seemingly every reason but the love of Christ. A lukewarm Christian state indeed.

While the Christian state was becoming lukewarm and Papal power was raging out of control. There was a man named Mohammed who lived from 570-632 AD. It is my understanding that, in the early 600’s he was in Mecca looking for religion, he had tried Judaism and Christianity but found that neither lived up to what they promised. He found Christians in his hometown to be worldly and didn’t live according to their gospel which meant to him that it was faulty. He was sickened by this and retreated to a cave. He came out of the cave with the book of reservations, the Quran. He then founded the first Muslim community and by the time he died most of Arabia had been converted. He was a warrior king. His successors also took the message by way of massive armies starting in Mecca, conquering Jerusalem in 638, the Persian Empire in 651, Carthage in 695, all of India to North Africa defeating the Vandals 711, the Visigoths and Spain with it in 750.

This way to happiness, trust me – Satan

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Numbers 34; Psalm 78:38–72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

May 25th, 2016

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on thee: Because he trusteth in thee. – Isaiah 26:3

Trust is a fundamental emotion. Here we see its link to perfect peace. Certainly a desirable state of soul and so I would conclude trust is important. I will suggest that everyone trusts. If this is true the key question then becomes, what are we trusting in?

The deceiver would have us trade perfect peace for an endless pursuit of lies. The deceiver promises perfect peace and happiness but they seem to always be just round the bend. Work a little harder now and it will be better later, focus on the future a little more, the present will be there tomorrow. The deceiver’s needs it this way, his promises always just out of reach. For if they were to be within grasp we would realize, when we went to take hold, there is nothing. We would realize the pursuit of his lies were empty and we might look past them, past this world. At a moment of clarity such as this beware of the next thing (1 John 4:1). Trust in yourself, trust in others, the deceiver would have you trust in anything of this world so long as it is not in Christ. One after another lies realized empty after years of toil until hope is lost that this longing in our souls for something we call happiness will never become. What do you long to do each day? What do you look forward to when you wake up each morning?

The truth: the pursuit of happiness by way of trusting in the promises of this world are destitute, they are empty lies. The Good News: there is a way. One true way. All you need do is trust in Jesus. Put God in that place of what you long for in the morning. Have a single eye for Him. Take a step towards Him on Thee path and it will prove sure. The light will shine brighter and brighter. It will become clearer and clearer, this is the true way.

Know this. Trust is linked to worship and there is a battle for your worship. The deceiver is prepared to give you things of this world to trust in so that he can steal your worship from God.  

We know the deceiver’s battle tactics. We’ve seen the war for worship play out through the pages of scripture. One of the largest battles was when Jesus was tempted by the deceiver in the desert. After many failed attacks the deceiver goes in with everything he has. His last assault of this battle. He takes Jesus to an exceeding high place and shows him everything.

Perfect Peace

It is a simple proposition that he still uses today: if you will worship me instead of God I will give you things of this world. The proposition’s underpinning value lies solely in trust. In my estimation, the key question when considering this proposition: where should we place our trust, the promises of this world or the promises of God? We must choose. How often is Satan proposing this to you? Are you aware of it? Of your choice? Jesus showed us the truth. He was tempted with it all. All the kingdoms of the world in all their glory. His response:

Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. – Matthew 4:10

At the end of Matthew chapter 16, just after Jesus tells Satan in Peter to get behind Him, He goes on to talk about taking up your cross daily and losing your life. In my estimation, this is all about looking past this world. The best I can tell from my studies, taking up your cross daily has nothing to do with bearing a burden. It is all about letting go of this world. All about not trusting in this world. If you had taken up your cross in the first century in the Roman Empire it was clear what was about to happen. You were a dead man walking. Literally carrying your cross. At this point thinking on, and trusting in things of this world were over. I believe Jesus is instructing his disciples to trust in him and not in this world by giving them a clear mental picture of the sort of mindset that is needed to stay on the path and not be deceived. Here Satan interjects again to have Peter trust in this world. Peter receives a sharp rebuke and a clear correction with instruction in righteousness. I encourage you to read it now Matthew 16:21–28 and then reflect on these questions from today’s journal entry, talk about them with your friends and family, wrestle with them:

  • Why is Satan proposing things of this world in return for your worship?
  • Are things of this world worthy of your trust? 
  • What do you trust, things of this world or God? 
    • What do you long to do each day? 
    • What do you look forward to when you wake up each morning?
  • How often is Satan proposing that you trust in this world?
    • Where, when, how?
    • Are you aware of it?
    • Of your choice?

May thine eye be single and thy body full of light.  

Extra Credit: 5 min video on simplicity and having a single eye for God.

Scripture references:
Trust in yourself (Genesis 3:4–5, Luke 12:18, Galatians 6:3)
Trust in others (Psalm 118:8, Jeremiah 17:5)

Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth

Today’s reading: Exodus 27; John 6; Proverbs 3; Galatians 2

March 16th, 2016

Worshiping in spirit and in truth

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. – John 6:15

How would you react if a people wanted to make you a king? Would they have to force you?

Just as in the desert, Jesus here dismisses the lure power and status in this world as fake and not to be trusted. In the desert, the tempter showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in all their glory. His offer? If Jesus would worship him, he would give Jesus all the world had to offer. Let us be prudent and ensure we follow Jesus in his response.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. – Matthew 4:10

Worship is such an interesting topic to ponder and meditate on. I have come to believe that it is much more than singing God’s praises at church. I encourage you to consider that we are always worshiping. Do we not worship with our time and attention? Do we not worship with our thoughts and our hearts’ desires? Do we not worship with our money? If the answer is yes, the question then becomes; what are we worshiping? Are we engaging in the tempters value proposition? Are we taking him up on his offer of worshiping him for things of this world; worshiping false idols in return for illusions? A false idol can be anything that takes God’s place. As my good friend often says when it comes to worship, “God wants to be number one on a list of one.”

Pastor Phin Hall talks about some of the more common idols that we are tempted to put in God’s place.  “Work offers to provide for us giving us purpose, value and status. Other people offer us intimacy and self-worth. Entertainment offers us escape from the stresses and worries of everyday life.” Yet, ask anyone who has put their trust in these promises and now knows the truth and they will tell you; these promises are empty. The true offer is full of real things. “[God] gives true purpose, value and status, real intimacy and self-worth, and frees us completely from the stresses and worries of everyday life.“

Pastor Phin encourages us all to ask ourselves these questions regularly:

  • What do I long to do each day?
  • What do I look forward to when I wake up in the morning?
  • What would I rather do than spend time with God?

Dangerous Witness, Love Ridiculous

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Genesis 13; Matthew 12; Nehemiah 2; Acts 12

Summer Sunny Forest Trees And Green Grass. Nature Wood Sunlight

Often when I read God’s living word, I find myself stopping to say something of the sort “Wait, what’s that all about?” Today’s reading started off this way.

Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. -Genesis 13:4

This phrase ‘called on the name of the Lord’ confused me. I thought to myself “that is an interesting way to say Abram worshiped the Lord. What does an old testament sacrifice have to do with God’s Name?” Seeking for answers, I looked for the phrase throughout the Bible. I found it used in several places throughout the Bible, old and new testament, such as; Gen 4:26Gen 13:4, 1 Ki 18:24, 2Ki 5:11, Joe 2:32, Ac 2:21, Ac 22:16To me, it became more clear what this meant with each of the old testament occurrences but none more than in the prophecy of Joel and then later in Acts.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:… -Joel 2:32

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16

I also looked in to the individual words used, which helped me better understand the phrase. The root word for ‘called’, as in Abram called on the Name of the Lord is קרא, which I learned can be used in several different forms. In the form it is used here, it is also used throughout chapter one of Genesis when God is naming his creation: ‘calling the light day’ and so on. Interesting. So not necessarily called as in; Tom called on Jane, but more; Tom called Jane beautiful. Put another way, calling something what it is. 

This phrase ‘calling on the name of the Lord’, in my estimation then, is a proclamation of faith that God is who He reveals Himself to be. Put another way, announcing officially or publicly “God is who He says He is! Jesus is the Christ! I profess my dependence on Him and commit to follow Him.” Perhaps not that specifically, but you get the idea.

Another interesting revelation from this study is that this proclamation of faith is consistent term, if you will, of all the covenants that God graciously enters into with His undeserving people throughout the Bible. Throughout the covenants we are called to be His witnesses.

In the old testament making sacrifices and observing special holidays was a way to be different from the other people of the earth and in so doing the others could see from afar that these people we’re proclaiming God’s Name. Imagine an animal being sacrificed. Such an act would not go unnoticed by the neighbors. It would be loud. The smell, far reaching. Like unto it, many of the rhythms of holiday observances and pilgrimages, people about would take notice; ‘There go God’s people.’ As we adhere to the covenants we proclaim God’s name.

Today, Jesus tells us that love will be the signal to all the world that we are His disciples.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. -John 13:35

Trying to think on why love is the way to proclaim God’s name in the new covenant may be another study entirely. Perhaps receiving the Spirit was the only way we would be capable of sending such a signal? Acts 1:8

I feel this understanding has presented me a most precious opportunity to consider a question. Can the way I live, the way I love, go unnoticed by the neighbors? When I love does it point straight to God? Does it proclaim His name? God help me. 

The vision statement at Eastview names me a dangerous witnesses who has love ridiculous. Perhaps the kind of love that can not go unnoticed? Perhaps the kind of love that is so unself, so supernatural, it can only become through the power of the Spirit? God would you accept my life as a living sacrifice? God would you help me take up my cross daily and focus on things eternal, letting go of the temporal? God would you turn my heart towards Your statues and not toward selfish gain? 

Further reading from past studies: