Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
Revelation 3:22 NLT
Seven times, the Holy Spirit has spoken this to us. Are we listening? Only the Holy Spirit can reveal Jesus and His Word to us. “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26 NLT
Paul, speaking to the Corinthian believers about understanding spiritual things, said it this way: “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 NLT Developing the mind of Christ requires us to have our spiritual ears open and ready to hear what Jesus has to say. We can't listen to the rhetoric of the world on the radio, get desensitized by propaganda from television, soak ourselves in social media, and flood our minds with the latest philosophy of secular learning and expect to have the mind of Christ. We must stop the mesmerizing madness of the daily rat race, quiet ourselves before God, and ask Him to speak to us. Let me recommend this pattern:
W - Word (Get in God's Word)
P - Prayer (talk to God and let Him talk to you)
C - Counsel from the Godly
C - Circumstances (ask God to reveal Himself in your daily steps).
I call this God's community college (WPCC).
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I repent of filling my life with voices other than You. Open my ears to hear the voice of Your Holy Spirit. Quiet my soul and speak to me. Help me understand who You are and what You want me to do. In Jesus name, Amen!
Victory Through Jesus Christ
Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21 NLT
Two things here:
1. The overcomers (victors)
2. The reign of the victors
1. The victors - True, genuine born again believers are the victorious ones. Victory can only be achieved through Jesus Christ! “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37 NLT “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:4 NLT The only victory (power to overcome) is through Jesus Christ.
2. The reign - The victors will be granted their rightful place - to reign as kings and priests. “And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”” Revelation 5:9-10 NLT Jesus died to pay the price of sin. His death, burial, and resurrection has restored the lost kingdom that was given to man in Genesis. “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”” Genesis 1:26-28 NLT For those who are born again, we are promised the restoration of these things. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” Romans 8:17-19 NLT Let's be absolutely clear here. We will not be equal to Jesus. He alone is God!!! We are not!
Notwithstanding, because of the atoning work of Jesus, the KING, we will reign with Him as kings and priests. This is why He is called King of kings and Lord of lords “On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” Revelation 19:16 NLT He will, one day soon, in the new heaven and earth (Revelation 21 & 22), restore to us the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34 NLT “The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.” Revelation 21:24 NLT Think about this today and always. Because of Jesus, we are overcomers and victors, not victims! Prayer: Father, in Jesus name, I thank you for washing me in Your blood! Because I have completely trusted in Jesus, I am a victor. Help me live to live again. Take my eyes off of this current world and all that it offers. Place them on the world that's yet to come. Help me stand true to you no matter what!
Jesus, Master of the Church
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT
What a word picture, Jesus standing at the door of the church knocking! So many times, this passage of scripture has been used by preachers as an invitation for the unbeliever to come to salvation. While it can be used as an appeal to the heart of man, the context of this scripture is to the church. This word picture is so emotional to me because it is loving and graceful, yet sad and sobering. What love it takes to patiently beckon the church to open its doors for the One who is it's Lord! What disgrace and disgust for Him to be on the outside having to request entry. Jesus could open the door and walk right in because He's the owner. Instead, He, in His kindness, allows us (like tenants) to willfully open the door and invite Him in. He could kick down the door, because He has the power, but He is gracious and merciful. He could toss us out into the street and be found righteous for doing so, but He grants us space to repent. Interestingly, if you have ever seen, or if you have, the picture of Jesus standing at the door knocking, there is something you ought to pay attention to. There is no door knob on the outside. We must let Him in from the inside. Like tenants that damage the home, don't pay the rent, and have no respect for the owner and His property, we occupy the church and take advantage of the owners kindness. We aren't supposed to be tenants. We are supposed to be His children. Sadly, however, many, within the church, are tenants and not children. To be a child, there must be a birthing process - "born again". Just because we sit on the premises, claim the promises, and play the part, doesn't make us His children. We must be born again!!! Like Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, we are local churches, geographically positioned all over the land. We each have our own characteristics and Jesus has something to say to all of us. Is He standing outside, knocking on our door, waiting for the invitation to come in to the place where He should already reign? Have we found ourselves so engrossed in our own tradition and culture that we have completely lost the very presence of the One who died and rose again? Do we need to ask Jesus to come in, reconcile our hearts to Him, and commune with us? From the time He ate His last supper with His disciples (see Matthew 26:17-30) until He serves the saints at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (see Revelation 19: 5-9), He has commissioned His church to carry the gospel to the world. In many of our churches we don't hardly carry it out the door. In reality, many churches, in the world today, don't even proclaim it in the pulpit anymore. Yes, we call ourselves churches. Yes, we have the religious rhetoric, jargon, and lingo. Yes, we have the social programs. The real question is this: Where is the presence of God that once brought conviction, correction, and consecration? The Master of the church is Jesus! He stands at our church doors, knocking and waiting. Let's invite Him in and give Him His church back. We have hi-jacked it long enough. Pray this prayer with me: Father, in Jesus name, I give myself to you! I want to re-affirm my salvation. Search my heart and know my thoughts. See if there is any wickedness in me and purge me with Your blood. May I know, with certainty, that I am Your child. Forgive me for making the church anything other than what You want it to be. I give myself to you and invite you to dine with me. Help me be the part of Your church that You have called me to be. Help me hear the voice of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to be Your church in this world, at this time, and in this place. In the name of the matchless Lord of the Church, Jesus, we pray! Amen!
The Merciful Hand of Discipline
“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”
Revelation 3:19 NLT
There are two things in this scripture:
1. The discipline of Jesus that comes upon those that are His because He loves them.
2. The prompt response of the child of God to that discipline.
The church belongs to Jesus! Those who are His church (children) are under His righteous hand of discipline. The writer in Hebrews shares this word with us: “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:5-11 NLT It is the love of God that brings discipline to the church. His discipline declares that we are His. Let me give an example: If I were walking in Wal-Mart with my children and one of them was causing a ruckus, it would be my responsibility to take charge of the situation and bring them under my correction. However, if the ruckus did not involve my children, but someone else's, I would have no jurisdiction. My children are my responsibility! Other children aren't. Let me clarify something: Jesus is the Omnipotent ruler of all creation. He has authority over all things and all people. However, He has given man a free will. That free will allows each of us the power to choose. Adam and Eve utilized that free will in Genesis 3:1-7. As a result, we became children of the devil, incarcerated by him in sin and death. In His divine love for us, God gave us (the sons of Adam) the ultimate gift - His One, and Only Begotten Son. (John 3:16, Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 9:15). God became a man to die in our place and to pay the ransom for our sin. Now, we can choose to be His obedient sons and daughters or we can continue to be a child of the devil. Those who have come under the loving Lordship of Jesus Christ, confessed their sins, and have repented, are now His children. We are spiritually birthed into His family (the church). He loves His church! “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
Matthew 16:18 NLT “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” Ephesians 5:25 NLT Jesus is Lord of the Church!!! He has the right and responsibility to discipline the church. “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?”
1 Peter 4:17 NLT The true church of Jesus Christ will experience the disciplining hand of God upon it when it is out of line. God's discipline is always meant to help us. God wants His church to correctly represent Him! Just as earthly children carry the image of their earthly father and mother, so should we, as children of God, bear the image of our Heavenly Father. When we decide to step outside the bounds of His will and way, we can expect His disciplining hand. Finally, we must hear, and promptly heed, His call. His call is intended to save us from the devastation that sin leaves in its path. God isn't a cosmic kill joy! He knows what is right and best for us. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
Romans 2:4 NLT Discipline is always a moment of sorrow, but results in a lifetime of blessing. In His goodness, He calls us to repentance through discipline. The choice is ours - receive the discipline and live or reject it and die. “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT We, the church, need to hear and heed His call. Let's accept God's board of education upon our seat of learning. Take a moment and pray this prayer with me: Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I humbly ask you to help me hear the voice of Your Holy Spirit and heed Your call. Help me trust your loving, merciful hand of discipline. May I develop Your character and display Your likeness as I live on this earth as a member of your church!
What Does He See?
“So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.” Revelation 3:18 NLT
Three things are prescribed by Jesus in this scripture:
1. Gold from Jesus - pure, lasting gold.
2. White Garments - the righteousness of Jesus that can only come through an authentic relationship with Him.
3. Eye ointment - The kind that only the Great Physician can give.
Let's deal with each of these.
1. The "gold" of material and financial wealth may have given the Laodicean church a successful status in the natural, but it had not added one jot or tittle (jot - tenth and smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet; tittle - small stroke of a pen that differentiates letters in the Hebrew) to their spiritual condition. A "church" can have the finest facility that money can buy, be decorated with all of the fancies of artistic architecture, supplied with the most expensive pipe organ in the world, have its own musical orchestra, be operated by an efficient ministry staff, but still be void of the presence of Jesus. Just because there is a impressive structure with a deep, religious tradition of liturgy, in no way does that mean that Jesus is pleased with it all. Often, our practices say more about our own ideology and preferences than it does about Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I stand in awe at the craftsmanship, architecture, and beauty that is on display in many cathedrals around the world. However, my heart sinks when I contemplate how much money, time, and effort go into the building but how little actually goes into the proclamation of the gospel. These religious symbols we call "churches" are, in many respects, dead, dry, and powerless. These buildings we occupy and the "stuff" we have will, one day, be remembered no more. We live in a fallen, temporarily world and the "things" we have will all perish. The only things that will last eternally are:
1. The Word of God
Where we spend eternity is the issue. We will either spend eternity with Christ and live forever or we will spend it in Hell. It won't matter where you went to church, what the buildings looked like, how many generations of your family attended there, or even if you were "Christened" or "confirmed". The only thing that will matter is the condition of your spirit. Were you redeemed or were you lost? Let me be absolutely clear here! I am not advocating churchless Christianity. I believe in His church! True believers in Christ are born again and birthed into the church. We, then, have a responsibility to be a part of a local church. Every child of God needs a family to belong to and a place to receive instruction, correction, direction, and provision. What I am driving at is this: No matter what kind of facilities your church may have, how much money it has, or how much tradition it carries, the only thing that matters is it's spiritual condition. This brings me to the next point.
2. We need the righteousness (garments) of Jesus in order to be covered in God's sight. The only garment that can cover the nakedness of our sin is Jesus complete and atoning work of salvation. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 5:1; 6:23; 10:8-10, 13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; Colossians 1:14; 2:10; I Peter 1:18-19; I John 1:9).
3. The ointment we need to have applied to our eyes is the touch of God. Jesus opened naturally blinded eyes in His earthly ministry. He is the one who restores the sight to the blind. The worst kind of blindness is being able to see naturally but not spiritually. “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” Matthew 6:22-23 NLT Jesus can open our eyes to see the sin that easily besets us. Just as the Laodecian society had an eye salve that was the "state of the art" of its time, Jesus was telling them that they may have had pride in their medical advancements but they were still blind spiritually. We, too, in our time have become like Laodicea. We have our medical advancements and we have become intoxicated with our own success. We think we are self sufficient and yet we can't see the sin that is eating us alive like a cancer. We fancy ourselves as walking in the light but we are actually walking in darkness. The only way we can see our spiritual condition with clarity is for Jesus to open our eyes. The only medical help for the spirit of a man is Jesus! No technology can transform the spirit of a man. That's why we live in a materially and financially prosperous society, like Laodicea, and yet we are drowning in our sin. Only a revival of the church can bring restoration to the land. I am utterly afraid that most of our churches in America are in worse condition, spiritually, than meets the eye. God sees our innermost being. The real question is this: What does He see?? Are we so "satisfied" and comfortable with our religious experience that we are blind to our actual condition? Do we think we are "ok" just because we attend a service, sing the songs, and give a little? Would you pray this prayer with me today? God, please give us pure gold from heaven. Dress us in Your righteous garments. We beg of you, help us see ourselves through your eyes. Open our understanding and reveal Yourself to us once again. I pray that we will have the pure fire of the Holy Ghost burn in our churches once again. I pray that our pulpits will be ablaze with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I pray that we will know, with absolute certainty, that God is in our midst. Then, and only then, will we be Your church. In Jesus Holy Name, Amen!!!
Just Like Laodicea?
“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17 NLT
This sounds eerily similar to the church in America. As Americans, we have fine cars, nice homes, plush yards, restaurants on practically every corner, grocery stores, shopping malls, lake and beach properties, more clothes than we can wear, the latest gadgets of technology, and much more. However, we are #1 in illiteracy, drug use, divorce, violent crime, teenage pregnancy, and approximately 24 million children live in homes without a father. How can this be when we have churches on virtually every corner of our local communities? There is something seriously wrong with this picture. We are giving our children so many toys that we can't walk into their bedroom because of the clutter. We give our children video games, smart phones, and expensive vehicles. It's hard for me to imagine how a parent can give their 16 year old an expensive automobile to drive to school. We have lost our minds! We give them I-Phones and I-Pads but not the I Am. We have fully grown adults that spend more time on Facebook than seeking the face of God. We entertain in our churches rather than intercede. We are playing religion rather than praying for revival. We have supper halls filled with those who want to eat and yet we can't get a half dozen congregants to show up for prayer time. We have padded pews and callous hearts. We have climate controlled environments and out of control character. We have short sermons and long movies. We throw pennies in the offering plate and spend thousands on our pleasures. We say we can't afford to tithe, yet we live so high on the hog. We have plenty in our purse but nothing in our person. We have religion in our head but no salvation in our heart. I submit to you that we are just like Laodicea!! We need immediate and absolute repentance. I, too, have been the recipient of these things, but my heart aches when I see so many classify themselves as followers of Christ and yet I don't see the fruit borne forth in their lives. True followers of Christ don't have to be asked if they are going to church this week or if they are serving the church. Genuine faith results in authentic action. Those who are the church understand that they are a part of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. We are privileged and honored to serve. Are you a church goer or are you the church going? Jesus knows all about each of us and He calls us to so much more than congregate on a certain day of the week and call ourselves the church. The church is not a routine or a tradition. The church is the very institution of God placed here on the earth to represent Him. Our agenda doesn't matter, but His does! Our preferences and traditions are irrelevant if they aren't in line with His Word and under His Lordship. It is high time, in our nation, for the church to take a long, hard look at itself and let Jesus reveal what condition we are truly in. Are we just like Laodicea? In many ways, I believe so. Our only hope is to hear the voice of Jesus and submit to His Word! We must recognize that many churches, cities, and nations have existed in the past, only to lie in ruins in the present. Why? They lost their sight of God! No matter how blessed our nation has been, we are no better than previous generations. We, too, stand in the hour of decision. “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.” Joel 3:14 NLT Just because we suppose ourselves right with God doesn't mean that we are exactly where we need to be. We can't assess ourselves by ourselves. We can even assess ourselves in comparison to the culture. “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12 NASB We must assess ourselves in Christ and Christ alone. Lord Jesus, the church belongs to You! We truly want to be Your church, not ours!! Will you pray this prayer right now? "God, our nation is in deep trouble. Our communities are ravaged by the wickedness of evil men. Our homes are in shambles. Our churches are cold and indifferent. In the name of Jesus, forgive my sin, expose the condition of my heart and the church I attend, and restore us to our holy calling. May I truly know that I am saved through Jesus Christ my Lord. Help me see things through Your eyes, feel them with Your heart, and hear them with Your ears. Help me be the salt and light as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ."
I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16 NLT
Jesus sees everything we do! He knows everything about us! The church in Laodicea was "lukewarm". Lukewarm is an indifferent position between hot or cold. The word "neutral" could be applied as a synonym. The church wasn't hot or cold. Being neutral is a position of indifference. Indifference to doctrinal error and sin is deadly. Personally, I like to drink my milk, orange juice, or sweet tea very cold. For all of you coffee drinkers, I know you prefer your coffee hot. I am not a coffee drinker, personally. I have never drank a cup of coffee in my life. My dad drank it like it was his life's blood. My brother is a lot like my dad. A cup of lukewarm coffee is like sour milk, fit to be thrown out the door! When Jesus declared the condition of the church in Laodicea as lukewarm He was comparing their spiritual condition to the water that fed the city. Lukewarm is fit for nothing but spewing. I can imagine the picture in my mind of Jesus spewing the lukewarm church out of his mouth. Have you ever poured a glass of milk to drink, placed it to your lips and taken a big gulp, only to spit it right back out because it was sour? This is the idea that comes to my mind when I read this passage of scripture. Unfit for consumption. Good for nothing. The church of Laodicea was financially solid, materially overflowing, medically advanced, and educationally privileged. However, they were spiritually unfit. Jesus spoke with strong rebuke to this church. His assessment of their condition was straightforward. When someone is dying, the doctor shouldn't flatter them with words about how well they are. Instead, the doctor should hold a prompt meeting with the patient to discuss the diagnosis, possible treatments, surgery, or other options and then give a medical prognosis. This is exactly what Jesus did (the Great Physician) with the churches. We don't need preachers who are going to flatter the congregants with words of commendation when they are lost and dying. What we need is the straightforward preaching of the Word of God to assess our condition, diagnose it, and give us the cure. Like Laodicea, we, in America, are swimming in our financial success, materially overrun with "stuff", wrapped up in our consumerism, have access to world class medical treatment, have educational opportunities and advantages, yet we are in spiritual trouble. We suppose ourselves blessed by God because we have all of these "things". I once read a sermon by David Wilkerson that was titled "Don't Mistake God's Blessings For His Approval". O how that needs to resonate with us in our time! Just because we have padded pews (or chairs), musical entertainment, fancy buildings, programs of various sorts, and go through the motions of a "church" doesn't make us the church. The church is the body of Christ! We are the redeemed! The born again saints of God are called to be the salt and light of the world! “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-16 NLT If we are only shakers with no salt in them (or full of something we think is salt, but isn't) and if we are a lamp with no bulb, then we are nothing more than useless. We must have the salt and light of Jesus Christ within in order to accomplish our purpose as His Church. We aren't a church just because we occupy a piece of property, have facilities we call a church, and attend them. We are the church when we are alive in Jesus Christ and unashamed of His gospel!! Many buildings, designated as churches, dot the landscape of America. Many of these churches used to be on fire and ablaze with the Holy Spirit of God! Today, many of them are no longer on fire and many of the pulpits are occupied by those who are more concerned about pleasing the people, being culturally and politically correct, and financially prosperous. May God help us! If Jesus spoke at the church you attend, what would He say about its condition? May God open our spiritual ears so we can hear what He has to say to us!
Jesus, the Beginning
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:” Revelation 3:14 NLT
Yesterday, we looked at the history of the city of Laodicea. Today, I want to concentrate on the descriptions of Jesus, the Amen, the Faithful and true witness, and the Beginning of God's Creation. Here, in today's scripture, Jesus is identified in three specific ways. Let's examine them. 1. He is the AMEN! Jesus is the personification of this word. The Hebrew word for truth in Isaiah 65:16 is "AMEN"! “All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.” Isaiah 65:16 NLT Here, in Isaiah, we see that God is called the God of "AMEN" (truth in our translations). Truth, or "AMEN" is understood as "certain" and "affirmed". Jesus is the certain affirmation of God Almighty! "Amen" is very often used in support of a statement made. The word "amen" has to do with veracity. Veracity is defined as "true, correct, and in conformity to fact!" The fact is this: Jesus is Lord! Everything that God is, and has accomplished for us, is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is why He is called the AMEN!!! Take a look at 2 Corinthians 1:20 - “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT Jesus is the AMEN of God!!! Can I get an "amen" from the church?? Shout it out right now! All of our hope is in Jesus Christ. The church must know who He is and what He has done in order to be set right with God! Any church who has lost sight of Jesus is in utter darkness and ripe for judgment. 2. The Faithful and True Witness! Now we must recognize the truthfulness of His Words. Everything Jesus says is faithful and true! He never lies! He cannot lie!!! He is infinitely trustworthy! He is completely accurate! He is eternally reliable!!! Listen to this from John the Baptist in John 3 - “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but He has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what He has seen and heard, but how few believe what He tells them! Anyone who accepts His testimony can affirm that God is true. For He is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives Him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves His Son and has put everything into His hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” John 3:31-36 NLT I purposely capitalized all of the pronouns referring to Jesus in this scripture to emphasize the person of Jesus. Take a look at it again. Re-read it and pay close attention to what is said about Jesus. This passage is monumental stuff!! Jesus will never be proven wrong. He is infinitely right! Listen to the words of the Holy Spirit, through Paul - "Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” Romans 3:4 NLT On Judgment Day, none of us will be able to argue with the assessment of Jesus Christ! The only way we can win is to listen to Him, repent of our sin, and submit to His Lordship! What is He testifying concerning our current state of affairs in the church?? 3. The Beginning of the Creation of God! Jesus was not created. This isn't what the statement means. The opposite is true. He is the Beginning of all of Creation! Everything finds its Beginning in Jesus! Let's look at a couple of scriptures: “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-17 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” John 1:1-4 NLT “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.”
John 1:10 NLT “And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.” Hebrews 1:2 NLT It just don't get any more plain than this!!
The Church In Laodicea
Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:” Revelation 3:14 NLT
The word for angel in this scripture is "angelos" meaning "angel" or "messenger". Each church had an angel (messenger). In Revelation 1 we read about the seven golden lamp stands (Rev. 1:12), that Jesus stood in the middle of, and that He had seven stars in His right hand (Rev. 1:16). The seven golden lamp stands represented the seven churches. The seven stars represented the angels (messengers) of the seven churches. The last church, of the seven, to be addressed was Laodicea. This city was established by Antiochus II in the third century B.C. The name was given for his wife. Laodicea was about 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia and about 100 miles inland, east from Ephesus. The city of Hierapolis lie due north about six miles. Colossae lie about ten miles east, and a bit south. Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis were sister cities. They shared very common traits, such as doctrinal positions. Laodicea was located in the Lycus River Valley, a heavily traveled route from north to south, south to north, east to west, and west to east. This made the city desirable to business entrepreneurs. There was a lot of money to be made there. The only problem was their water supply. The local streams, the Lycus and Maeander rivers, were contaminated and not fit for consumption. In dry times, the streams would dry up. However, the ingenuity of the men of the city led to the development of miles of underground aqueduct that brought water from hot springs outside the city. The water was collected in a central tower and distributed to the city through a series of pipes radiating from the tower. The hot springs, themselves had high levels of calcium carbonate that, eventually, almost choked the aqueducts. By the time the water reached the destination, it was lukewarm, dirty, and impure. This was indicative of the spiritual condition of the city. We'll come back to that another day. Laodicea was a banking powerhouse. The city was so well off that when it was completely flattened by an earthquake in A.D. 60, it refused assistance from Rome to help rebuild it, stating that it was able do so on its own. The water supply, the banking industry, the medical technology, and the wool industry, all four, contributed to this city's condition. Many Jewish people resided in this city. Likely, a large synagogue was there. A Christian church had been established in Laodicea as a result of the Ephesus revival in Acts 19. There was one major problem, however. Their spiritual condition. Jesus has something to say to them and we will look at this more precisely tomorrow.
Listen to the Spirit
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
Revelation 3:13 NLT
There is a definite reason why Jesus is saying this to each church. When He repeats something we should pay close attention to it. What is Jesus trying to say to the church you attend? What is He trying to say to you? Do you have your ears tuned in to heaven or are you so tuned in to the cares of this world that you can't hear what He is saying? He wants to talk with you. He has some things He wants to say to you. He may have some words of encouragement that you need to hear. He may, also, have some words of correction that you need to hear. Are you willing to stop what you are doing right now to take the time to quiet yourself, turn off the radio, turn off the T.V., get off Facebook, and get alone with Jesus? For far too long we have come to Him in prayer, in our times of desperation, only to tell Him what we need or want. We use Him like a vending machine to get what we crave in that moment. Who among us would want our children to call upon us only when they need or want something? Surely we would hope that they would want to spend some time with us. Of course we want to help our children, but we also want a healthy dialogue with them. We would want to share a meal with them, talk over things, laugh together, and cry together. A healthy relationship is reciprocating. No one enjoys a conversation that is one sided. There is a time to speak and a time to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth. Do you think that means something?? We have not taken the time to hear what He has to say. Prayer isn't a one sided conversation. Prayer doesn't end just because we say Amen! Prayer is mutual. Ask Him to speak to you rather than picketing the throne with your wishes. He is waiting to say something to you. Do you have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to you?
Rev. Curtis Norris