PODCAST – A Bible Study on the Church of the Laodiceans – Part One. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Thought for Today
Union in Christ
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us,
and his love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:12
Love is the bond, the ligaments as it were, of the Body of Christ. Love is never content with shallow religious affiliations. It seeks out, pursues and ever desires full knowledge of another. Within its own heart is the flame of relationship and union in Christ. Its reach into another heart is for the purpose of apprehending oneness; the same oneness for which Christ prayed unto the Father. This union of hearts is the very essence and heartbeat of His Spirit within His own. It is a cry which can only be fulfilled in the purity and wonder of His Holiness becoming in truth our holiness. Many fear such depths of fellowship for in the intimacy of holy bonds there is no room for the hypocrisy and pretense of an insincere heart. Holiness in Christ is the fearful abode in which only the authentic can live and be at home. The depth of our abiding in Him corresponds with the depth of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The measure of our own partaking of His resurrection life is revealed in the love we have for our brothers and sisters. Only the deceived can find rest in a life lived outside of the love of God.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren.”
1 John 3:14
There are many in this day who find refuge in obscurity where the true inner condition remains hidden from the view of others. It is a refuge of darkness and in this hiding place men and women live a life of duplicity and bondage. The light of God does not penetrate the self-made cloak of iniquity to bring healing, freedom and life. This dark place becomes a habitation of judgment and unreality. Those who choose such a place will never know the freedom and glory that the ministration of truth brings to the soul of man.
The natural outflow of a healthy heart seeks depths of relationship with others. It is free from the need to hide and conceal the true, secret life within. Indifference to the true condition of the lives of those around us is the fruit of a life lived within the obscurity of its own making. The Love of God differs greatly from the love of self. The Love of God seeks purity within for only the “pure in heart” can see God. The blazing light of God shining within the human heart exposes the falseness and perversity of our very being; it pierces the deception of our own selfishness.
The relationship which God has called us to is one of union and oneness, not worldly and distant.
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ,
and every one members one of another.”
The relationship that Jesus has called us to is not a casual one. The depth of relationship we are called to is of the same nature and power as “He is with the Father”. There will be no real change in the paradigm of the Body of Christ until the desire for true relationship is the cry of our hearts. The unity of the faith will never be realized outside of our being ONE in Him. A shallow relationship with HIM will be evident in our relationship with our brothers and sisters. To be ONE with Him is to desire and pursue the same depth of relationship with the other members of His Body.
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light,
and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”
1 John 2:10
“Holy Father, keep through thine own name
those whom thou hast given me,
that they may be one, as we are”
He Will Rest in His Love
“He will rest in his love”
We see and feel the unrest and turmoil in the world today as men seek to rule by the lust for power and the desire for pre-eminence. The sense of the growing disrespect for one another, the clamour of voices and mounting hatred eroding the last bit of civility left is the precursor of the things to come. The voices for calm and deference are being drowned out in the escalating animosity against all that is good and descent. The pride and arrogance of men and the vanity of the nations all seek to conspire against God and His Anointed. The conferences, peace treaties and all of the political scheming of our day will avail them nothing.
“Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed…”
Psalm 2:1-2, Acts 4:25-26
In the Book of Revelation, we read the fulfillment of this Psalmic prophecy.
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb…”
God’s response to these things?
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision”
The Great I AM, sits enthroned in glory, majesty and power. The hand-breadth of the universe is merely the created marvel of the One who set man within its vast domain. He who rules all things and is the matrix of all things remains reposed within the power of the greatest of all powers… Love. Love cannot be conquered and it cannot be denied. It forbears the evil, wrath and blind rage of those who spend themselves beating upon its tender breast. It will outlast them all. Let the heathen rage, let men conjure up evil beyond imagination. The Eternal One will triumph in the end. The Cross of Christ still stands to declare its edict against the malice of wicked men and spiritual principalities in high places. It stands triumphant against their seeming victory and the Lamb’s resurrection exposes their weakness and their shame.
Even now in many places His own are hunted out, trampled and murdered for simply loving Him who is Love. These enemies mock and once again declare their seeming victory over the weak and helpless lambs of God. We can hear the taunts and the blasphemous cries of victory and feel the hatred of a world gone mad. Yet God will have His way. It is as we see and touch the eternal purposes of God that we too can rejoice; by the living faith of Christ we feel the certainty of His victory and the triumph of Good over evil. The eternal things of God remain unmoved. His promises are sure and the judgement of the wicked is as certain as the very resurrection of Christ.
God is at Rest in His Love
God is at rest in His Love. His throne is immovable and so are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Take comfort oh tossed ones; stay true in fervent love, hold fast to Him and His promises for the storm will pass and the expanse of His Kingdom will be seen. His Banner of Love will wave freely over all who remain true.
“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell, Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away”
Song of songs 2:11-13
“His banner over me was love”
Song of songs 2:4
Like All the Nations
“Now make us a king (a leader) to judge us
like all the nations”
1 Samuel 8:4
Samuel, the holy man of God, was very displeased with this request. He knew instinctively how power corrupts the weak and wayward hearts of men. In praying and seeking God over this grave matter God spoke with clarity:
“Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you;
for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me,
that I should not reign over them”
1 Samuel 8:7
The desire for human authority within the Body of Christ is a rejection of God’s authority. His purpose and design is for each member to be led by His Spirit; to come to the place of hearing and knowing God within the sanctuary of their own hearts. The whole purpose of ministry is to bring His people to this one place. This vital task has been committed to His five-fold ministry for the purpose of ushering in the “unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:11-13)! When the ministry becomes the end of the thing, instead of the means to God’s end, confusion, strife and competition replace the beauty of the unity of His Spirit. Men invariably hold on to the functions of His ministrations rather than the purpose of the ministrations.
“…for you are still carnal.
For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you,
are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
For when one says, “I am of Paul,”
and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”
1 Corinthians 3:3-4
The operation and organization of the general “church” today resembles the carnal business model of the corporate structures of this world. Financially and administratively there is very little distinction. Is this not enough to testify of our condition and the reason for the conflicts and agendas which have corrupted and separated the true Body of Christ? We must reconsider our ways! Is not our innate desire to have someone over us to take away the responsibility of hearing God for ourselves? Is this not a rejection of His Lordship over us?
“And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou near and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it.”
Deuteronomy 5:24 – 27
The reason for this sad dilemma is that His people generally do not really want to hear His voice for themselves; that would bring accountability and responsibility. We prefer to hear His word from the pulpit, a minister or a book for the impact is decreased. We can reject words from another person but who can run from the voice of the Almighty? In functioning like the world we drown out the voice of God in our lives. The invitation of God is always to the person; the individual. His work of salvation is to bring us to the hearing of His voice and the doing of His will. The purpose of all true and valid ministrations in the Body of Christ is to that one end. A personal knowing of Him, hearing of Him and a walking with Him.
The Body of Christ is unlike anything in or of this world. It is not an organization it is an organism which lives and breathes by the very Life of Christ within. It cannot be contained within the confines of a corporate entity; it seeks no affiliation with this present world, for it is a heavenly truth.
“But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…”
David speaking prophetically of the true Jerusalem, the heavenly Zion (Psalm 48 and 87); a united people fused in the holiness and the purity of His Love. A Body which is bone of His bone and the very expression of His heart and His will; freed from the agendas of men to serve the living God. It is to this end we have been redeemed, forgiven and washed in His blood. While the unbelieving say this is a dream and an unrealistic goal, let us be reminded that Jesus prayed to this end and it is unconscionable to allow the damnable unbelief of the age to even consider the prayer of Jesus to go unanswered.
“Glorious things are spoken of thee,
O city of God.
“Be ye not conformed to this world,
But be ye transformed…”
Quote for Today
“One thing must be avoided at all costs. We must not let the world seep into the Church. When we let the world dilute our Gospel and water down our values, we’ll disappear from sight. Let’s keep the Church holy – and wholly committed to Scripture”
Thought for Today
The Fire of God
“For our God is a consuming fire”
The Fire of God is not only a Holy Fire it is a consuming Fire. It consumes the wood, hay and stubble of men’s works and offerings. It consumes anything which is not of Him within the life of His own. Though eternal, like the natural fire in this world it consumes until there is nothing left.
Many in our day minister out of the precious gifts of the Spirit yet few there be who know of the true Baptism of the Holy Spirit which fell upon the early church accompanied by the Fire of God Himself. The selfish ways of men were consumed in the fire which fell, every life touched by the fire became living sacrifices unto God. They lived for His Glory, they sought no following or faction of their own disciples, they were mortified if any attention was diverted from Christ unto themselves. The Fire of God is His answer for the Church in this day. His fire will not only consume the dross of self in our midst it will also be the very flame which welds us into One Body and One Loaf.
His Fire falls on the sacrificial hearts of those who live in the desire and life of the Lamb. There is only one fire accepted by the Father and there is only One sacrifice which pleases Him and it is in the Living Christ where we discover both!
“For of him, and through him, and to him,
are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen”
Offerings by fire,
from lives aflame,
hearts lifted by holy hands,
To worship His Glorious Name.
God’s House or A Religious System
“For they are an uncontrolled people, false-hearted,
who will not give ear to the teaching of the Lord:
Who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets,
Do not give us word of what is true,
but say false things to give us pleasure”
Isaiah 30:10 (BBE)
Most people would not blatantly say such things but God sees the heart. Many religious people do not want to hear truth. They do not want to concern themselves with the condition of their hearts, God’s house, nor the gravity of the day in which we are living. There is only the desire for positive words and good things to bolster our carnal ways. We have not come to this state of apathy by embracing His truth and walking in His Spirit. We are here because of our choices. We have a “church” where the people elect who would minister to them rather than whom God may send. We have our own agendas for how we want “our” church to look. It is not about God; it is about an atmosphere where we can feel comfortable, accepted and in control.
Truth has become something that fortifies our “doctrine”, our way of doing things and conducting our church/fellowship business. The ministration of the Word is no longer a fearful thing. It is not something which holds up the light, wonder and holiness of God; it has become tepid and impotent. Rather than bringing conviction it soothes our failures to live righteously. It makes light of sin and our carnal and worldly ways. Pastors and preachers who want to hold on to their “jobs” need to stay within the comfort zone or their replacement will easily be found. Those who love truth will speak it. These ones do not seek the approval of men for there is a knowledge deep within their hearts of a holy accountability unto Him who will judge all things. This is nothing new as noted by Francis Bacon in his day.
“In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found. “The master of superstition is the people, and in all superstition wise men follow fools” (Bacon, Ess. 17).
There is always a “priesthood” quick to provide whatever the people want:
“…the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron,
and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us…”
Aaron quickly responded:
“…and fashioned it with a graving tool,
after he had made it a molten calf:
and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel,
which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”.
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it;
and Aaron made proclamation, and said,
Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord”
Notice how quickly they took the “new” and made it appear as if it was unto the Lord! Religion has not changed. There is nothing new under the sun. Surely this is a generation who loves to hear smooth and nice words. Whenever and wherever God’s people choose their own ministers the results will be the same.
It is during these times that God raises up true men and women who seek to live truth, speak truth and to confront the horror of such things. In God’s House the ministrations of His Spirit are not chosen by the people they are called…
“Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man,
but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father…”
Thought for Today
Leadership and the New Wine Skin
In Moses’ day there was a moving of God’s Spirit among the people and Joshua was moved by jealousy for Moses’ position because others were prophesying.
“And Moses said unto him,
Enviest thou for my sake?
would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets,
and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”
The envy, jealously and all of the other works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) must be dealt with in God’s house. It is the horror of our ways which keep His glory from falling upon us. The works of the flesh prevent the fruit of the Spirit. God’s house is a spiritual house and He will not mingle the ways of men with the Holiness of the Lord. The lordship of man must be cast down and the ways of men must cease so that there may be true mercy, goodness, kindness and love between His people. The Lord alone will be exalted in this day. True leaders desire the glory of God in HIS people, they are willing to decrease to see the increase of God. The purpose and the heart of the New Covenant is that we would so selflessly minister to one another to see the end of ministry. For the purpose of ministry is to bring God’s people to know HIM fully for themselves. They who love the preeminence and places of control will have no place within the New Wine Skin.
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel…
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord:
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord”
Let the prophets speak, let the intercessors pour out their hearts unto Him, let those who aspire to preeminence humble themselves and turn from the job descriptions of “positions” and seek the callings and purposes of God. It is a day to prepare the Way of the Lord. Every high place will be brought low and those of humble hearts will be exalted. Receive His words from those who seek His honor in this day.
Let the people of God humble themselves with one another that we may behold, taste and see God’s provisions for us in one another.
“Submitting yourselves one to another
in the fear of God”
“See, I have this day set thee
over the nations and over the kingdoms,
to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy,
and to throw down, to build, and to plant”
The people of God become weary with the words of His prophets. They perceive the negativity and the sharp words as antagonistic. The desire for only encouraging and comfortable words is human nature. The thinking is that the world, the trials, the heartache and troubles of this life are more than enough for us to bear. This would be fine if God had no other purpose in His house than to bless us and comfort us in our situations. But God has a purpose and He sent His Son to bring about the thing He has purposed. God is intent upon His end and He sends His word to bring it to pass. God is a wise builder He is not going to patch up an old thing (see the parable of the wine skin). He must make everything new. It is the New Wine-skin which receives the new wine. He is not going to pour out Himself (the New Wine) into the Old. While men cling to their sins, former ways and institutions God withholds Himself; and He, as a loving Father suffers while He withholds. Joseph had to keep himself hidden from his brothers until there was a change of heart. At one point he had to leave the room as the desire to embrace them had to be restrained because of the hardness of their hearts.
The words of true prophets are not harsh for the sake of being harsh; they speak words necessary for God to finish His work. God cannot build until He tears down. He cannot plant until He roots up the evil and self-seeking ways of men. He cannot and will not sully His ways with the methods of men; the overlooking of sin to populate their churches and accomplish their agendas. He must tear down the lofty pursuits of those who seek the preeminence in His house.
God’s end is to prosper, bless and reveal Himself to His own. He never wavers in His faithfulness to us. It is we who need to change. It is we who need to give heed to His word and His purposes in this day. God is Holy and as such He requires us to be holy, pure and set apart as purchased possessions. It is the joy of the Lord we pursue not our own. His joy becomes our strength to do the things which please Him.
“Therefore, have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me” Hosea 6:5
The hard words and God’s judgements were as “light” going forth. righteousness is the result of light. It is a light which proceeds from God to give light unto His people concerning their ways and their condition. He desires mercy, not religious sacrifices. He desires that His people know Him rather than all the programs, religious prayer meetings and traditions of men. His people become content with tepid offerings of lukewarm hearts. They become satisfied with elaborate events and magnificent buildings even though Jesus said there would not be left one stone upon another when He is finished! The true building of God is made up of living stones built together as a holy habitation wherein He alone has the preeminence; One Lord, One faith and One body. It is to this end His prophets speak, weep and anguish over the blindness and stubbornness of the day.
“We are not diplomats but prophets,
and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum”