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Sermons about Laodicea
Chapter 3 Verse 14a - “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write…” • Laodicea was founded by the Seleucids around 250BC and was named for the wife of Antiochus II. • Six miles south of Philadelphia and not far from Colossae, the city of Laodicea was the financial center, the banking hub, the Wall Street of the region. It was a city of great wealth as evidenced by the thirty thousand seat amphitheatre whose ruins still stand today. • The city was well known throughout the region and the ancient world for its black wool (interesting as black wool comes from black sheep which is a term used today for someone who ain’t right). It was also known for the eye salve that was manufactured there, which was highly valued in the ancient world. • They were the do-it-yourselfers…the I-don’t-need thinkers…the I’m just fine folks…the ones who relied upon themselves and their wealth and their ability to influence financially and politically…so much so that around 60 AD the entire city was nearly destroyed by a massive earthquake. Buildings demolished, homes plundered by the disaster. Rome sent resources and a pledge to help them rebuild. They refused. They responded, we need no help, we will rebuild ourselves. And with their great personal wealth, they did. • What’s interesting is that today the site of Laodicea is a deserted heap of ruins that the Turks call Eski Hisar or “old castle.” And that is what always will be the end of pride man…a deserted, lonely, hollow heap of ruins… • Finally, Laodicea was known throughout history as being very tricky politically because the city was built in a way that is could not defend itself militarily, a very unusual trait for an ancient city. The only way Laodicea could survive and flourish was by making deals…compromises with her enemies. • All of these factors figure into what Jesus will say to this group. • Take note before we move on…Jesus does not address His letter to the church at Laodicea, but to the church of the Laodiceans. Do you see that? Of the four end times churches you see “To the angel of the church in Thyatira…to the angel of the church in Sardis…to the angel of the church in Philiadelphia…” But here, now…”to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans.” • Not even to the church of Laodicea…but rather the church of the Laodiceans! What? Why? Well break down the word. The Greek word laos, from which we get our word “laity,” means “people.” Diece means “decision” or “rule.” So you see it wasn’t the church of Jesus in Laodicea, it was the church OF THE people, the people ruled it…the church was directed by the people rather than guided by the Lord. • The Laodicean mentality is alive and well and on the scene today! From the megachurch to the corner chapel whose services regularly include political interviews or celebrity spotlights…people serving as they please and leading as they please without any Godly accountability in their lives. Churches that have not taken a stand against the decay and death associated with sin…that don’t teach on hell…some even deny hell…Jesus didn’t! Positive story lines instead of biblical truth in their teachings and where “feel good today” has replaced a call to repentance. A church where people rule. • This church represents the final church age. The church age that will be blasting off in prominence and popularity right before the Lord calls His church into the clouds. This church age dates from about the mid 1900s until today. The church that will not only compromise with the world but rather will simply be the world…proud and loud, self sufficient, fully infiltrated and utterly pathetic. Chapter 3 Verse 14b - These things says the Amen • Why does Jesus refer to Himself as the “Amen” meaning “so be it,” Jesus indentifies Himself to this group so prone to compromise…saying, “There IS certainty. There IS absolute. It is Me.” Chapter 3 Verse 14c - The faithful and true witness • “The Faithful” here in the Greek is pistos which literally means the one who has shown Himself faithful…and I love that because that is the same word used in Matthew 25 when Jesus was talking about speaking with the wise and faithful servant (pistos) and He said to that servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant…you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” • Why is that so important…because many have a false sense of security, a false doctrine that if I simply believe that God is…if I simply believe that Jesus is the Son of God…then I’m all good. My life, I don’t need any help…I can believe in heaven and still live like I’m going to hell…that’s actually, terrifyingly not the case! Because of this word pistos. • Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach your finger and behold my hands and reach your hand and thrust it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Can you believe the word He used there is pistos? He sure did! • What does it mean to be faithful? Just because April believes that I exist, just because she believes that I’m her husband…doesn’t make her faithful…Jesus says here that He is the One who has shown Himself faithful…which envokes, involves, proves…that He’s speaking about a life lived filled with the Spirit of God…eyes of God…the will of God…and passionate, joyful obedience to the Word of God. That is to be faithful. That is what Jesus is so happy about with the servant as He says, “Well done!” • And Jesus also calls Himself the true witness. Man another remarkable word in the Greek. This time its “martys” which is where we get our word “martyr.” Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”…and Jesus said in John 16:33 that “in this world you will have trouble…because you and I are not of this world…but take heart, I have overcome this world!” There are many that have been martyred for their faith…If the world killed Jesus then we cannot expect less carried out upon those that worship Him, those that follow Him… • But the Laodicean church would say, “don’t talk about suffering! We just want to hear positive and happy and upbeat verses and stories and jokes!” And that’s one mark of this church today. You’ll not hear of suffering or martyrdom or persecution in a Laodicean church. They have no ear for those things! They are deceived, tricked by their flesh and sin into thinking that their best life now is monetary security and a pampered life…a little secret for you…its not! Your best life now, the way to true happiness, fulfillment and freedom…know what…it comes through loving righteousness and hating wickedness!!!! Did you know that! – Hebrews 1:9 > How do you get there? 1 John 1:9! • Read the Sermon on the Mount and replaced “blessed” with “happy” as that is a correct translation of the Greek word “makareos.” But man that is contrary to what this world and this worldly church will teach…and they will totally miss the heart of God…the essence of truth…and just like many today that avoid tough times and suffering for righteousness sake like the plague, they were and are without substance…they’re not even a church of Jesus man! Chapter 3 Verse 14d • And finally Jesus says that He is the beginning of the creation of God. Don’t get this twisted like the cults do…this isn’t the beginning at creation, this is the Greek word “arche” which means He is the origin, the source of the creation. Colossians 1:16 tells us that God the Father created all things through the Son…and what this hints at is that in the last days, the question will be and even is now, “Who is the Creator?” Evolution is most certainly part of the end-time deception. It is no surprise that in the church of the Laodiceans there will be questions concerning creation which have only arisen in the last about 150 years. Chapter 3 Verse 15 – 16 • Jesus is describing unfaithfulness and He’s doing so in a way that the church there in Laodicea will understand. In Laodicea’s sister city of Hieropolis there were hot springs…they’re still there today. To take advantage of this, an aqueduct was constructed that carried hot water from Hieropolis through Laodicea and on to Colossae. Seems like a good idea but by the time the water reached Laodicea it was lukewarm. • Hot water is useful because it can be used for bathing and cleaning. Even cold water is quite refreshing on a hot day…but lukewarm water is really good for nothing. It’s gross to drink and useless in cleaning because as it sat it would be a breeding ground for bacteria. The aqueduct was a waste! • And Jesus would say to them and to us today, “hey, if you’re hot, I can use you! If you’re cold, I can clean you…deal with you. But if you’re lukewarm, you’ll neither be hot enough to use not cold enough to correct…and so you make Me sick.” Why? Like in an angry way Lord? No like in a horrifying way! • Have you ever had a thought about a loved one being hurt? Doesn’t that just immediately make you sick to your stomach! Man that’s what He’s talking about here! His plan for you and for me…so wonderful! The life that is available to us in Jesus…ETERNAL…yet so many choose death and it’s to their own dag-on demise! That makes God sick to the point where you’re lost…you throw YOU out of His mouth! He tries to pull you into Himself but gags ‘cause you tug the uvula ya know!? “We’re fine where we are, we’re not going into Jesus…we’re not pressing in…He’s at arms length…” no you’re at arms length! • What’s caused this state of mold, this bacteria, this lukewarmness… Revelation 3:17 • Money. Stuff. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians in which he directed them to also read at Laodicea, he corrected their thinking and ours by telling them what true riches are…found in Colossians 2:2-3…he said, “your hearts are only encouraged and knit together in love and attaining to all riches (money? Gold? 401k?) not attaining to all riches which is comprised solely of the full assurance of understanding, the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” • Jesus says to this church, you’ve got money and wealth but you have no richness! Your true current state is only seen by understanding what it comes to…where it destinates…and in the light of eternity…at the very throne of God…the door of death…you are wretched, you’ll be miserable as you stand there poor, blind and naked…man how absolutely sorrowful! • My entire fortune for another moment…how many have sung that chorus with their dying breath…the truly rich will sing, in my next moment…an eternal fortune! Chapter 3 Verse 18 • Jesus says to them “I have true richness! True worth! Eternal significance and satisfaction…not your eye salve! What good is that going to be when your eyes no longer see!” • He says I am the one that loves you, not the world…look at the next verse… Chapter 3 Verse 19 • Look I’m calling you out because I love you He says to them! That’s the reason why any of us call you out of some sort of sin…if we didn’t care then we’d see you blind and wrapped in chains and we’d leave you there! Yet so many get so angry and bitter when we say to them look man you gotta repent! Please! We’re trying to save you out of the situation that Jesus just described! • And many hear! Proverbs 9:8 says that if you rebuke a wise man…that he will LOVE YOU!!!! But if you rebuke a mocker, he will hate you. They mocked Jesus that day as they shoved the crown of thorns on HIS head…when it belonged on theirs! If Jesus abides in you then correction, rebuke will be like refreshing water…may cause pain to the teeth…what you use to chew up and rip apart but so excellent and refreshing going down the gullet! • But notice this church…Jesus is not on the inside…He’s on the outside! Chapter 3 Verse 20 • He says to the church! Not to unbelievers! To the church here that He is on the outside still! And many come to church and have gone to church their whole lives and yet Jesus remains on the other side of closed door. But He says, let me in and I will come and dine with you! • I believe this is speaking of oneness with the Lord at the Father’s table. At the communion table! The Lord’s table has a unique was of bringing us into the fullness of spiritual and emotional understanding and response because as we take the cup and take the bread we are sobered by our sin yet impacted by His love in that He has paid our price, washed us clean, set us free…while we yet remain unworthy…He calls us His own… Revelation 3:21 • I love this because what He’s saying is “son, daughter, child…open your heart to Me…and I’ll open heaven to you!” Revelation 3:22 • To all the churches…to the church of the Laodiceans…to the final church…the lukewarm church…even to us…it’s one thing to have Jesus as a Model or a Mascot. That’s what they were doing at Laodicea. It’s a completely different thing to have Him as Master..as My Commander…My Savior AND My Lord. That’s what He’s asking of this congregation…and that’s what He’s asking of you and me. • May this place not be filled with folks that have good mottos and good intentions but may it be filled with people that realize that although we are sinners who have failed miserably, God has provided Jesus to make us right…fix us up…fill us up…and bring us into abundant and eternal life… • If the door is closed today, if the water of your spirit is lukewarm, hear what the Spirit says…you’re heading for misery, shame and poverty…when fullness, fruitfulness…that lasts forever is readily available to you in Jesus.
Jesus told the church to be either hot or cold - exciting or refreshing. Because the church at Laodicea was comfortable with the status quo, Jesus told them that they nauseated Him. Are we living in an age in which the church truely is only lukewarm?
To the angel at the Church in Laodicea
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