Hot or Cold? – Letter to Laodicea

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On Sunday we explored the letter to Laodicea in Revelation. The letter begins by Jesus saying, “I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

His point here isn’t connected with passion or enthusiasm (as is often thought in our “feeling” orientated culture) but with usefulness. The two major towns nearby Laodicea were each known for their unique water properties. One town had naturally occurring hot springs that was thought to be a source of healing. The other town had natural cold springs from the mountains, which is incredibly useful in the hot middle east. And what would happen is the water that would travel to Laodicea would become lukewarm by the time it got there, and because it picked up many of the minerals along the way in the aqueducts it would become undrinkable. You’d have to spit out the lukewarm water.

So what is Jesus’ point? It’s simple, he would rather the church be useful like hot water, or useful like coldwater, but right now they are like the water in Laodicea lukewarm and useless. Jesus continues that because of their wealth, their style, and their dreams of grandeur they have become indifferent towards him. And Jesus says “I stand at the door and knock” asking to be invited in. Their indifference and lack of action has actually expelled Jesus from the church. He stands at the door, on the outside, asking to be let in. So he says repent, start following me and not wealth, start focusing on my kingdom and not your standing, stop focusing on your style and focus on being faithful. This is the message of the letter to Laodicea. It’s not about passion for Jesus per say, it’s really about being useful for Christ. This is a letter that encourages action. Jesus encourages us to buy gold from him, to buy ointment, and to buy white cloths. These are all things connected to action.

So on Sunday we landed on the main idea of what is Jesus asking us to do? How can we be active in spreading his grace and revealing his Kingdom? How can we be either hot water or cold water actively demonstrating his gospel rather than being listless and lazy lukewarm water?

And I think these are questions worth asking during Lent because they reveal a remarkabel truth. God wants to use you to spread his grace. God wants to partner with you in his Kingdom. God wants to reveal himself through you. That is an amazing calling. So this week focus on revealing God in all things, focus on being hot or cold, focus on actively following and watch what God might do in and through you.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Be useful for Jesus

Take Aways…

  • The Jesus Test: if a passage doesn’t look, sound, or love like Jesus…dig deeper
  • Jesus is always more concerned with action than passion
  • Jesus is saying…be useful
  • Jesus isn’t judging their enthusiasm but their usefulness
  • They have focused on what they have, rather than what they are called to do
  • Long-term indifference can push Jesus aside and out of the church
  • Jesus wants to partner and use you
  • You might not be called to change the world for everyone, but you are called to change the world of someone around you

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What would Jesus see if he examined your actions? How are you being useful for God’s kingdom? What gifts has he given you? What abilities? What talents? How does it feel to have Jesus actually want to partner and use you in his Kingdom?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk with your kids about how not only does Jesus love us, but he wants to use us to make the world a better place. Ask them if they have any ideas how to make the world a better place…and no matter how out there or amazing, act on their ideas and try them out!

Challenge for this Week

Let Jesus use you to grow his Kingdom

A Difficult Passage to Preach

Here is a confession. I didn’t want to preach on Sunday.1344258_74138164

I know, weird right, because preaching is kinda my thing. And I don’t have a lot of other “things”. I can’t really build anything, play sports, or have any musical skill. But what I can do is preach, and I love to preach…well except I didn’t want to.

In fact, I thought of skipping Sunday’s passage, of making Dave preach on it, or calling in sick. The reason is because the letter out of Revelation for this Sunday – is just plain difficult. I was tempted to skip it or to just focus on the parts I liked. But that’s not preaching, and that’s not my calling. To get a sense of what I’m talking about take a read of Revelation 2:18-29

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze: “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality. “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve. “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations They will rule the nations with an iron rod  and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Do you see the reason why I wasn’t excited to preach? I mean this text is so harsh, so difficult, and…judgey.

But here is what I realized…that the portions of the Bible that I react strongly against…often have the most to teach me. That my reactions reveal more about me, and what I need to learn.

So while I wasn’t initially excited (more like dreading) preaching this passage I now know better. That in the difficult passages we have the most to learn, and sometimes the learning can be tough. But often the tough things in life pay off most at the end…

So read the passage, take notes of your feelings, think about how you would preach it and come Sunday we’ll see what God has to speak through it.