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Tuesday, 26 January 2010 19:19

Lo Laodicea

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THE world, the church and the believers, all want to know from God: what is going on? Like the prophet Habakkuk, some are even demanding! Of course, we face two great problems in receiving any divine messages, and they are both clearly defined in scripture.

Firstly, we all want ear-tickling news; and don’t want to receive anything that doesn’t make us feel better and increase our comfort levels. And secondly, as the promised “end-time deception” increases, we find that spiritual discernment is woefully lacking.
 

But Lord, please! We want a prophetic message! God’s answer, as always, is in His Word. Turn to the book of Revelation. Yes, it is always a prophetic message, as fresh as the morning dew. 
In the opening chapter of Revelation, we are very clearly told that we are blessed if we read it, hear it and keep the words of this prophecy. Read it and believe it! We are commanded to do so in no uncertain terms.
As we look at God’s messages to the Seven Churches, we do know that these “seven” can either represent the “church” down the ages or else be a random cross-section of the “church” at any time. The former would thus have us accepting that the seventh, the last “church,” represents the final end-time “congregation of believers” -- those gathered immediately prior to the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, it is pretty much universally accepted that the Laodiceans are the church of the final showdown! And what does our Lord say to them in Revelation 3:14-22?
I know your works! Maybe they were doing good things, socially, politically and from a humanitarian point of view. No doubt, they were supplying and caring for the widows and orphans.
But God continuously reminds us that despite all our philanthropic efforts, nobody is good. Jesus berated the rich young ruler on this issue for it is an area that spawns much pride, humanism and disillusionment.

Good works have become a misrepresentation. Christianity is not a fruit of good works, but rather good works are a fruit of the spirit and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Intellectually this is subtle; but in the spiritual realm, it is as night and day. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It’s all about Jesus!
The Lord declares that I know you better than you know yourselves. I know your true heart condition and motivation. You can’t fool Me! You are neither hot nor cold. I really wish you were either. But you are neither! You are lukewarm and that is a real problem to Me.

Indeed, it is so repulsive, that it causes Jesus to want to vomit. To spit us out! To spew us out! These are extremely strong words and should bring absolute clarity on our Lord’s feelings and concerns about being lukewarm.
A great revelation to me about lukewarmness was simply this: If you have truly met the Lord Jesus Christ it is well nigh impossible to get lukewarm about Him! Yet, church folk, even among leadership, regularly confess to me that they really battle to put Jesus number one in their lives. Surely, they must be joking? If we are battling to give Jesus top priority in our lives then there must be some doubt about whether we have ever truly met Him?
We might know a lot about Jesus, even preach or write books about Him, but if we are battling to love Him more than anything else in this world, or to submit top spot to Him, then something is definitely missing. Lukewarmness is horrific! So is backsliding. Or losing first love. It is not just a little passing setback like the annual dose of flu. It is a serious state of affairs. Modernly we don’t seem to think it’s a big deal.
Rather we treat it like it’s a small snag that we conveniently cover with the presumption, that all is “covered” by the umbrella of God’s endless grace. Rather arrogantly we just presume that all is okay.

Well, David writing in Psalm 19, tells us that presumption is a great transgression. Taking God for granted and just fitting Him into our wants, desires, politics, cultures and ambitions is treading dangerous ground. Believe it!
Because you say! How profound and disturbing. The Lord Jesus states rather emphatically that because we might say so, it does not mean that it is so! Nothing could be a more direct contradiction of much we hear and say these days in terms of “naming and claiming” things.
Lies and exaggerations are considered okay if they are camouflaged in faith! So many faith claims are just not true. They are false representations. Healings and miracles are part and parcel of the Christian experience and we are to pray for them and expect them. But lies and exaggerations are an absolute abomination, even if veiled in faith expectations.

You do not know! Thus says the Lord, you are spiritually ignorant, lack teaching and are uninformed as you grope around in the kingdom of darkness. In reality and in truth, says the Lord, we are in deception. You say that you are rich, wealthy, blessed and have it all together but you are misguided and in denial! Yes, says the Lord, you do not know what you are doing and saying! You are deceived.
Deception is a major promise of the end times. Even signs and wonders will fool the elite. When huge emphasis is placed on signs and wonders and ministries, we are being very cleverly “antichrist” conditioned because such expectations make us sitting ducks for the devil-in-disguise. The Antichrist is going to be one of the most spectacular “ministries” of all time! Indeed, we may think all is well as we are encouraged to make triumphal claims but Jesus says that we are really “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Phew!

That is laying it on the line. A rock of offence! Spew! Vomit you out! Lose your candlestick! Get your name blotted out! “Surely, that’s not the Lord talking,” says the devil with his all-too-familiar “Garden of Eden” innuendos, cleverly attempting to countermand God’s truth again and again.
But whenever God lays out the truth, He always gives a solution. A way out.
What you need! Desperately! Urgently! God always gives an option.
Firstly: refined gold! Certainly not the glitzy stuff we have manufactured for ourselves. God’s true, pure, refined gold comes out of the fire. Yes, we have not been refined in that fire. There has been no preaching of sin and repentance. We seem to have forgotten about the cross! All we want to talk about is forgiveness, blessings and cheap grace.
“When He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” So said Job and that’s the type of “gold-processing” that the Christian walk is really about. It is most certainly not a procession of triumphal mountaintop experiences. That, very simply is hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. And it’s not the truth!
Secondly: “white garments.” Yes, it is about purity. Holiness. Righteousness. God is awesome, sovereign and to be feared. We need to be working out our salvation with fear and trembling. A desire to be obedient to God’s Word and the fruit of self-effacing humility will be the discernable traits.
Thirdly: “eye salve.” We are still seeing everything in the material and the physical. It is just like Nicodemus, in his humanism, when he asked how anyone gets born again. Must he climb back into his mother’s womb? How ridiculous!

But the man without the spirit always sees everything humanly, in the material and physical. We need discernment. We need spiritual eyes! And all this comes only from a true meeting with our Lord Jesus. As Oswald Chambers writes, we need to give up our independent right to ourselves. We have to die to self at the foot of the Cross.
Those I love I rebuke and chasten! God does not soft-soap. The Holy Spirit never tells us how good we are. Flattery and mutual admiration societies are the devil’s work!
Hebrews 12:5 says: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as His son.” Judgement begins in the house of God...
Be zealous! God does require passion and zeal but these attributes need to be directed not so much to our good works but in our genuine and honest desire to “seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” The Lord stresses repentance because it is a key issue. Repentance, of course, means turning around 180 degrees, a complete about-face on sin, never to do it again. It’s not just remorse.

Yes, feeling sorry for what you have done and the consequences, or feeling sorry for yourself, is NOT repentance. It’s about acknowledging and owning our sin, not rationalising our culpability. And then it is about turning from our wicked ways. That’s where it all falls flat! We are very reluctant to accept guilt and even more loathe to turn our backs on godlessness. No small wonder we see so little change.
Then finally, the greatest indictment. Behold I stand and knock!
I am still outside! I am not inside your place. I am knocking! You need to hear MY voice and open up. Yes, we are not listening. We are so busy with our own comings and goings, all in the name of “kingdom” venture and advancement, but there are no spiritual ears. Yes, we are sitting smugly in our fancy, successful churches, telling each other every day just how successfully we are changing the world, but the truth is a foreigner, an alien, to that type of religious philosophy.
“Laodiceans,” says Jesus, “I am standing outside. I am excluded, ignored, bypassed and/or compromised!”

I do believe that God is telling us to stop editing His Bible and the Lord Jesus is telling us to stop apologising for Him. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through Me! When are we going to believe this, preach this and live this?
Overcomers! “Life without war is impossible in the natural and supernatural realm,” writes Oswald Chambers. It’s a “continuing struggle” in the “spiritual areas of life.” The natural and the spiritual are in constant conflict. There is a huge difference between being active on the front-line or sitting comfortably back home keeping up to date with the TV news. It’s just not the same! And that’s the bottom-line truth.

The more things change the more they stay the same. A famous one-liner! Things are indeed changing rapidly in our world but the true Gospel always stays the same. It is still the same old method of salvation, the preaching of sin, repentance and the cross.
It is all about Jesus. You must get born again. It is still about overcoming on a daily and ongoing basis. It’s an unchangeable message. It requires an individual response. It’s one-to-one. It’s intimate. It’s personal and it’s life-changing!
Lo, Laodicea is staring us in the face! Can you hear the trumpet? Do you have eyes to see?

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