Monday, August 30, 2010
"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:" Revelation 3:17
I hesitate to write on this verse because I know I've addressed it before, but maybe it is needful, at least for myself if not for others. We are living in the Laodicean Church age, there's no doubt about that. The description that Jesus gives of them fits the general church it a tee.
" I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing:" While, in general, people will not say this, the actions betray themselves. When the church can get more excited about a sporting event, a sale, a dinner, or anything else that may amuse and excite the flesh than the things of God, the above statement is being said, only not outloud. When we seem to place the things of God such as reading his Word, prayer, doing his work, at the lower end of our list and important things to do, we are saying the above.
" knowest not that thou art wretched," Christ then goes on to say, "Don't you realize what shape you are in?" Wretched means " enduring toils and troubles" but in this sense, not in persecutions but in problems brought on by over involvement and entanglement in this world. Paul told Timothy, " No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4 While we have to live and work in this world, we must keep our affections on things above as Paul stated, " Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2 Because of lukewarmness, the church is cumbered about details and problems that perhaps, in many ways, could be solved by Christ if the affections were on him instead of on our own ambitions.
He then says they were "miserable." How many people attend church today only to wait for the service to end. They set their timers and their watches and woe to the preacher who may preach a few minutes over his allotted timeframe! People do not enjoy church, or it becomes nothing but an entertainment center simply because there is no spirit, no Holy Ghost moving, and no unction from the preaching and singing. They leave the same way they came and are never stirred.
For a church to be "poor" as Christ describes it, is not that it lacks money. No, that's wasn't and still isn't the problem in most cases. It means that it has little to offer in the spiritual realm. Oh yes, it can offer a great deal of amenities and even do some good things in the community but there is no deliverance, no families restored, sin is not stopped and the love of Christ is not growing. This is what "poor" is.
To be "blind" does not mean to have poor vision, but to not be aware of one's own spiritual poverty and need. Today, much of the church simply cannot see their condition and cannot understand the scriptures. While we have some very brilliant people handling the Word of God, it is only in intellectual experience to the hearer but it takes Christ and the Holy Ghost to put it all together and apply it to our lives. This takes prayer, experience, and study. " But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4
The last word to describe the church is to be "naked." With the immodest dress these days this could probably be taken literal but no doubt he means that to be "naked" implies that they were without defense. Another words, they could not defend themselves against Satan's attacks. Again, today, in many cases, the church as a whole seems to be defenseless against Satan. Yet, this should not be.
So, Jesus did not leave them or us hanging but told them as well as us what to do. He said in the following verse to " buy of me gold tried in the fire," This gold is faith that is tried and can only be purchased or gotten from Him, yet, he wants us to ask him for it. Remember what is written in Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." He longs for us to ask and seek for that faith that will be like gold so he can use us in greater ways for him.
His next advise was to buy of him " white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear." This is holiness and separation from the world. Today, the general church is almost a laughing stock of the world. If you don't believe it, just look how it is treated in the media and Hollywood. When people become holy on the inside and out, then they may be scorned for being a Christian, but not laughed at for having a double standard. We may be the only Bible that some will read so let's make sure they get a good and accurate reading. I'll pray for you if you pray for me.
Finally, he advises them to " anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" which would allow them to have spiritual enlightenment. It is one thing to intellectually understand the Word but another to apply it to one's life and heart. God would like to show the church greater truths but will not unless we are meeting his qualifications and have that gold that is tried, the white raiment, as well as that special spiritual eye salve that will help us see. So, in closing, let me just say, " If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31b Let's get out of the lukewarm state and get on fire for Christ!!
Friday, August 27, 2010
" And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." Revelation 3:1
Christ was speaking to the seven churches and had addressed four already. When he got to the church of Sardis, he gave a chilling description saying that they had a name that seemed to indicate they were alive and well but in reality were dead in spirit. Sardis represents the dispensation that covers the historic time of the Reformation or what secular history refers as the Renaissance period. During this period of history, there were truly great men of God such as Luther, Knox, and others however when one looks at the period closely, it was a period that was, in most cases, the church being merged with the world. For instance, Samuel Wesley, father of John Wesley who was later a powerhouse for God, commented that the strongest witness of the Christian faith was that small inner witness. Of course, we know that out of this period, the great period of the Philadelphia church rose boasting such men as John Wesley, D. L. Moody, Jonathan Edwards just to name a few.
But what about the church today with all of it's offerings that t can offer - all of the amenities and activities? What about us who claim even to be Pentecostal yet haven't spoken in tongues for several days and even weeks? What about us if we haven't felt the power of the Holy Ghost in our services or our prayer closets? It's easy to look at another age or people and say, "Glad I'm not like that" but when we examine ourselves, we can bare that same description - that people think we are lively, full of power, lover of Christ, yet really dead in spirit.
We have to constantly keep up our prayer life. It's a battle. The devil will see to that. As one man put it, "He wouldn't be a good devil if he didn't." But we must not give up and we must strive forward in prayer. Not only that, but I believe that God wants us to enjoy his presence. This is not a drudgery but it should be a joy to serve him. In Psalm 37:4 we read, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." The word "delight" means to be soft, delicate, be happy about, make merry over. It constitutes a pleasure that nothing in the world can replace but too often we rob ourselves of this pleasure, but it's delighting ourselves in him that can give us life. It gives us courage and strength to go on and joy when in every circumstance. This the life that Christ wants for us. Let him look at us and say, "They are alive and well."
Saturday, August 21, 2010
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Hebrews 11:5
The church anxiously awaits what we refer to as the rapture or "catching away" of its members into heaven to be with Christ for eternity. When this will happen is not known because Jesus even said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.": Matthew 24:36 It is therefore not wise to fix dates even though we are prone to try to place it in various scenarios and times. We do know, however, that the fig tree, which is Israel, has blossomed as it has again been restored as a nation so the signs point to Christ's coming as near. Most are in agreement about that.
What much of the church is having problem with is the question as to who will be taken and who will be left behind. It appears that during the middle of the tribulation, during the great flight of Israel, that some will be taken and others left, if that is what is ment but who will actually go int he rapture? I believe we can find the answer in Enoch. He had a testimony that he pleased God! We are going to have to have this same testimony if we expect to be taken up. In Hebrews 11:6 it says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." We must have the faith to please him and to live for him. How can we expect to have the faith to go in the rapture when we don't seem to be abe to muster enough faith to make it our 100% effort to please him. Sadly, much of the church is lukewarm and Jesus said he would spew them out of his mouth. We must take care that we are not one of those rejected by Christ due to a lackluster, half-hearted Christian life.
It was said of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24, "And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Notice Moses records that Enoch "walked with God" two times. The word walk in the Hebrew basically means "to go with, come, depart, die, live, and manner of life." This shows that he walked with God 24/7, doing as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." While Enoch didn't have the Holy Ghost like we now have today, he still could walk with God. So how do we walk with him, the answer is that we strive to please him. We cannot do this alone, but we must have his help which can be obtained by living in the Spirit. In Galatians 5:16 the Apostle Paul writes, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." This means we are continually "in tune" or in fellowship with Christ through the Holy Ghost. We obtain this, we are ready for the rapture. Can this be done? Of course, but there are times when we seem to get side tracked and things of the world drown this out. Do we give up and say, "I've lost my tender relationship with the Master so there's no use in trying to get it back." No way! We climb back up the mountain and partake of his blessings so we can continue to fight the battle against sin and see souls saved. We will always have hindrances and distractions but so did all the saints before us. We will always have responsibilities such as family, work, and other essentials of life but when walking in the spirit, God can help us bear fruit in these for his glory! Keep in there! Don't give up! God is on your side if you are on his and he'll help you even if you think you've failed. Remember what Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:12, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
In closing, there is also a very good devotion regarding Enoch by David Wilkerson and I urge you to read that as well. Walking With God - David Wilkerson