PODCAST – A Bible Study on the Church of the Laodiceans – Part One. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Thought for Today
“Woman, why weepest thou?”
Weeping expresses some of the deepest emotions of our humanity. It reveals life, empathy and love. Weeping in the valleys of our own life is the precursor to a greater purpose; weeping with and for others. These experiences give us the grace to identify with others.
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
The comfort gained in our own trials brings a depth and capacity to share the comfort of the Lord with others. Compassion is a grace produced by sorrow. It is the press of this sorrow from which the wine of the joy of the Lord flows. His workings in us are not solely for our benefit; God always has a higher end in mind. He is ever looking for the seed of a thing to become a harvest. He sees the harvest and the multiplication of the Christ in each of us into the lives around us. He so desires us to see beyond the limited horizon of our own selves to the “fields which are ripe unto harvest”.
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
2 Corinthians 1:5-6
The cause of Mary’s weeping became the fountain of her greatest joy.
“Why weepest thou?”
Weeping has purpose and as we grow in our walk with Him the why reveals the maturity and depth of our life in Him. At every stage within the disciple’s walk weeping has tremendous purpose and it is as the wine matures and deepens within us that our tears for ourselves are turned into the tears for others.
How good and wise are the ways of God and may we in the valleys see the distant prospects of a harvest unto our God and Father by the very life of the Son arising from the ashes of our own experience.
“Blessed are they who mourn
for they SHALL be comforted”
Thought for Today
The Nature of Love
God’s Love by its very nature is an active and creative power within the soul of man. Creation is proof of God ever seeking, ever desiring to expend and lavish His love in new dimensions. The Word declares that we were “created for His pleasure” and it is His pleasure to pour out Himself in unmeasured and unmerited means. His Love in us seeks, desires and ever works to color everything within its reach; not to own, rule or control but to inspire others to live fully in God.
The infinite and all-encompassing God whom our forefathers sought with passion calls us to depths unknowable and heights unsearchable.
“Deep calleth unto deep”
The Love of God is the call and His Love in man is the response.
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
“He said “Love…as I have loved you.”
We cannot love too much.”
Quote for Today
“God spoke to me and called me to His Service. What form this service was to take the voice did not say”
– Florence Nightingale
Called with Purpose
“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher,
and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles”
2 Timothy 1:11
Those appointed of God know definitively His divine call upon their lives. The “Christian” experience is not to be one of aimless wandering in some religious wilderness. Those who know their God feel the weight of His call; they are not left to their own ways and choices. There is a sense of accountability deep within their being. While others may go and do, seemingly at will, such is not the life of the called.
Paul in his Epistles declares over and over that his apostolic expression is “not by the will of men”. It is a call that requires separation and obedience. It is a call to God Himself and not to an organization, ministry or selfish motives. God’s call leaves room for no one but Himself. Without hearing and responding to His call we will wander in a barren land without a sense of purpose.
It takes little effort, even in casual conversation, to recognize one who knows the Call of God. There is a fire, a passion and a desire for an apprehension of those things to be accomplished in their lives. There is an intensity that transcends the status quo of attending meetings, hearing messages and having casual religious conversations. Paul cries out with this intensity that he might “…apprehend that for which he had been apprehended”. This cry is not the result of a teaching. The cry is the result of the call. Without the call there is no drive to apprehend; no sense of being held accountable to fulfill His call. Meetings, conferences and sermons will easily satisfy those to whom the call has become distant and dim. The fire fades and the need to obtain and fulfill His purpose loses its hold upon the reins of their life. Retirement and comfort becomes more important than fulfilling the call. Those in whom the fire has gone out distance themselves from those who challenge them to rise up and press into their call.
How good and precious is the fear of the Lord! It holds us to our course. It keeps us attentive to the things of Him in our life. We are constantly stirred by the keeping power of His Spirit to stay on task concerning our portion in Him. It is here, as we seek out others with this fire and intensity, that we discover the real purpose of fellowship. The glory of knowing the call of God brings a sense of walking in an appointed way. This brings a certainty of purpose in the challenges of life.
“And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God,
to them who are THE CALLED
according to HIS PURPOSE”
Thought for Today
“For though I preach the gospel,
I have nothing to glory of:
for necessity is laid upon me;
yea, woe is unto me,
if I preach not the gospel!”
1 Corinthians 9:16
The Call brings the sense of necessity. Here the hearts of His own are easily searched out. The inner need to express Him is a fire within their being. Those who know their God cannot be silent concerning His Name in the earth. Though few will listen, and many who use His Name are steeped in apathy, it will not dampen the irrepressible fervor to preach His Word. Jeremiah in the midst of the lethargy and the mockery of his generation tried to refrain from speaking His word but to no avail. How can His people remain silent in this day?
“Then I said, I will not make mention of him,
nor speak any more in his name.
But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire
shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing,
and I could not stay”
“You cannot preach conviction of sin unless you have suffered it.
You cannot preach repentance unless you have practiced it.
You cannot preach faith unless you have exercised it.
True preaching is artesian;
it wells up from the great depths of the soul.
If Christ has not made a well within us,
there will be no outflow from us”
GOD IS LOVE
DISCIPLESHIP THE PATH TO LOVE
“For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son…”
Love is sacrificial. It is its very nature to give and expend itself on behalf of others. The giving is not determined by the worthiness of the receiver; hence God so loved the world. Such sacrificial extravagance lavished on us staggers all reason. Love does not measure its giving based on merit; it measures its gift by the giver. Love motivates all who are held in its sway to show forth the mercy and truth of God. Love is truly the greatest gift for in the giving of it we participate in the sharing of God Himself.
Love is the birthplace of all of God’s expressions. Mercy, truth, exhortation, reproof, forgiveness and judgement all flow from this one source and all are remedial in intention. He seeks relationship with man. We read of the “voice of God” walking in the cool of the evening looking for that fallen Adam. We see Him clothe that fallen one’s nakedness and we hear Him speak of a coming redeemer who would crush the very work of Satan. HE would GIVE HIS only begotten SON to become our עֲזָאזֵל ʽazāʼzēl, sin bearer. That same love is now sent into our hearts that we would manifest it in the world in which we live. Love is not only extravagant but costly. The more we are held within its power the more we become aware of its worth and sacrificial nature.
The radical call to discipleship is the very means by which we are enabled to give and shine forth this costly pearl of great price. It can only find expression to the degree that one has known the breakings and work of the cross. Our Love FOR Him holds us to the cross. The Love OF Him is expressed through the outworking of the Cross in us.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another”
Discipleship and Love cannot be separated.
“The disciple is not above his master:
but every one that is perfect shall be as his master”
Discipleship is the path to becoming like our master. To learn of Him, to discover His heart and His ways one must be yoked (Matthew 11:29-30) with Him in the bonds of love.
“Not what the disciple says in public prayer,
not what he preaches from pulpit or platform,
not what he writes on paper or in letters,
but what he is in his heart which God alone knows,
determines God’s revelation of himself to him.
Character determines revelation”
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)
“…in his temple doth every one
speak of his glory”
The common law of life is that whatever a man loves he speaks of and pursues. Where a man dwells determines what he sees. Every life form in God’s creation has a habitat and an environment with which it is compatible. Whether it is a palm tree or a fir tree it lives and grows in the climate that is conducive to its growth and development. The Polar Bear and the Panther live in the land for which they are most suited. As it is in the natural so also is it in the things of the spirit. The demon possessed man of the Gadarenes lived amongst the tombs for there was the dwelling place consistent with the nature of the spirits that inhabited him. We also read …
“…there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel,
of the tribe of Aser…
which departed not from the temple,
but served God with fastings and prayers night and day”
LUKE 2:35 – 37
Anna’s life was one of focus and a continual desire to serve and worship the ONE that she loved. She “departed not” from the life of prayer and worship which are the means by which we abide and grow in Him. She did not miss HIS appearing. While the multitudes were taken up with their “religious” duties she and Simeon beheld the Promised One and ministered unto HIM! Such are the privileges of those who find their lives “hid with Christ in God”! While many people are looking for a temple to be built in Jerusalem God HAS set HIS TEMPLE, the TRUE ETERNAL TEMPLE made without hands in the very PERSON OF HIS SON…
“I saw no temple therein:
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple”
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building,
and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
But he spoke of the temple of his body”
They who desire to live and dwell in HIM are only able to speak of HIS GLORY! They no longer give nor seek the praises of men. They are not impressed by the extravagant buildings and organizations of men for they have seen glimpses of a GLORY that will not fade away; a GLORY that blinds the eyes, that humbles the heart and becomes the perspective by which all things are weighed. They are not mislead by the teachings and doctrines of men for they have seen the ONE in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells and are freed from the paltry offerings of this world. They are pilgrims in this world of temporal things as they seek that which “fadeth not away” with the passing of time. They have been gripped by the unseen HAND of God and HEARD the ETERNAL CALL; ruined for anything religious or manmade.
“For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also”
MATTHEW 6:19 – 21
Our lives reveal the place where we dwell, by the things we speak and treasure.
“I SHALL NOT WANT…”
“Want” is not, for most of us, a concept with which we are familiar. We live in a land blessed with abundance. While in other parts of the world there is great want and need for the necessities of life, we here see a great want for the EXCESSES of life. When we truly believe that the Lord is our Shepherd and that HE provides our needs we should be free from the lust of things externally and internally. We should be finding rest in HIS PROVISIONS and HIS GREAT PROVIDENCES. So many of us work day and night to pay for the excesses; things that are far from being necessities. “We have to make a living” is our excuse when in reality we have sold ourselves into a life of servitude for the “things” that this world has to offer. We are not talking here of some religious vow of poverty; we are speaking of a contentment in the LORD our Shepherd. We are talking of a freedom from the passion for “things” that would entice and burden us with a life of debt to this world. Our lifestyle should not enslave us but rather free us to serve our God.
I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that is free to follow and serve our Great Shepherd. I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that is free from the lusts, passions and entanglements of this world. I SHALL NOT WANT is a life that has found peace in knowing that HE is our provider; that HE really is all that we need. It is a freedom from the pressure of this world to have and hold more. For in truth those things can have a hold on us. WE ARE ALWAYS THE SERVANT OF THAT WHICH OUR HEART DESIRES. That is why Jesus says….
“Take heed and beware of covetousness,
for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”
Covetousness is a condition of the heart. It steals the affections of our heart with great subtlety, slowly causing our focus to change; the reason that we do something is altered from that which is good and necessary to that which satisfies a lust or a desire. A contented life in this world is the result of seeking, desiring and living within the provision and way of the Lord our Shepherd. As we, in the spirit of thankfulness and praise, make our requests known unto HIM we begin to discover the WAY of HIS PEACE in our lives. It is a battle to keep our eyes focused on the ONE who is OUR PROVISION and our God. We are reminded in John’s Gospel…
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passéth away, and the lust thereof:
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”
I JOHN 2:15
I SHALL NOT WANT is the fruit of a life that is finding its contentment in the LIFE and PROVISION of THE LORD OUR SHEPHERD. May we daily seek this life of simplicity and rest. To abide in the Love OF the Father is to be free from the love of the World. This freedom is found as we displace one love with a GREATER LOVE. Religion is always seeking to do things that appear spiritual and we often hear the scripture misquoted “…I must decrease, He must increase…” The truth is “HE MUST INCREASE, I must decrease…”
“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
I SHALL NOT WANT”
THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL
“Woe is unto me,
if I preach not the gospel!.”
I CORINTHIANS 9:16
The ministration of the Gospel is not for a select few; it is the awesome responsibility of every one of His people. Each one of us is CALLED to a unique and specific ministration of HIS LIFE. The Good News of HIS LIFE IS the Gospel. It is most perplexing that we have relegated the preaching of the Gospel to a select few when in reality each of us may be the only Bible that some people are going to see and hear. It is a DAY to live and preach the Gospel to all of those that are around us; to those who are walking in darkness and to those who are walking in the light! We see our brothers and sisters struggling in sin and defeat; they also need the GOOD NEWS that there IS an answer to their struggles! We need to see that the reality of the LIFE of Christ IS the answer for the world. We need to be bearing within our hearts the eternal flame of HIS CRY for all men.
“For thou shalt be his witness
unto ALL men of what thou hast seen and heard”
The criterion of our witness to others is based on what WE have seen and heard! I am not responsible to preach or declare what someone else has seen or heard. My responsibility is to DECLARE WHAT I HAVE SEEN AND HEARD! The question to each of us now is, WHAT HAVE WE SEE AND HEARD? Men who see little have little to show in their lives of our great God. Men who hear little have little to declare of the goodness and majesty of our God.
We live in a day of information overload; a day in which knowledge has increased. Unfortunately, this knowledge has produced little in the Christian Church in North America of a clear and powerful expression of the risen Christ. Too few have burning within their hearts the passion to EXPRESS HIS LIFE in this world. Too many are content to sit in faithless inactivity as it relates to the ministration of HIS LIFE in this world. The apathy of “if God wants it done He will do it” is the statement of a heart that has not touched the core of God’s heart. If “God so loved the world that HE sent HIS SON” will HE not also send you and me? If Paul cried out “Woe is unto me… if I preach not the Gospel” how can we be excused from our own responsibility? In the midst of all the religious activity around us, where is the burden in the lives of individuals to become an expression of HIS GLORY? Where is the sense of HIS CALL upon our lives? Where is the inescapable desire within our hearts for a life in HIM that completely transcends our present reality? Men who have no vision of God will have no sense of the purpose of the life that God has called them unto. We are to be HIS WITNESSES unto ALL men. We are to BE HIS EXPRESSION of all that HE is to ALL MEN! What that expression in each of us is dependent upon what we “have seen and heard” individually. The lack of a burden to reveal HIM, the absence of a cry within each of us to reveal our portion of HIM in the earth, is an all too common sign of the condition of the Day in which we live.
HIS return is predicated on the preaching of the Gospel…
“And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations;
and THEN shall the end come”