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The 7 Love Letters of Jesus to His Church | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2021 3:00 am

The 7 Love Letters of Jesus to His Church | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 14, 2021 3:00 am

God’s love for you motivates His words and actions toward you. In this episode, Pastor Greg Laurie describes the lengths to which God goes to pursue fellowship with you. Find out more from the Book of Revelation in this message, “The 7 Love Letters of Jesus to His Church.”

It’s the latest in Revelation: A Book of Promises.

Notes

The Bible tells us simply that God is love.

God wants a relationship with you.

Ephesus was the church leaving its first love. 

Smyrna was the suffering church.

A sign of the End Times is an increase in persecution.

Pergamum was tolerating sin (Revelation 2:14).

The church of Thyatira had grown tolerant of sin. 

The church of Sardis looked good on the outside but were dead on the inside.

“Him who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.”

What the church of Sardis desperately needed was the power of the Holy Spirit.

All Christians need to ask God to fill them with the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus has given to us an unprecedented open door (Revelation 3:7).

God has given us enough strength to do what He has called us to do. 

Jesus promises to keep us from the Great Tribulation Period. 

Some churches make the Lord weep; other churches make Him angry.

The Laodicean church makes him sick.

Read: Revelation 3:14–16

“You are neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15).

Laodicea was a church that was neither cold nor hot, merely lukewarm.

Lukewarmness makes Jesus sick.

The word cold means frozen or icy cold.

The word hot means to be boiling hot.

Lukewarm people are usually the last to know (Revelation 3:17).

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).  

You need to enter into a relationship with Christ.

Scripture Referenced

Ephesians 1:4

Matthew 5:11–12

2 Corinthians 2:12

Colossians 4:3

Matthew 24:12

Hebrews 12:6

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website, harvest.org.

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. Well, let me tell you what the Bible says about love. The Bible says God is love. Is there any better definition of love than that? God is love.

And guess what? God loves you. And he proved it by sending his own son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you. Jesus said in John 3 16, For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, and whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

That's it. God wants a relationship with you. Coming back to Valentine's Day for a moment, I remember when I was in elementary school, we had to give Valentine's Day cards to everyone in the class so no one would feel left out. That reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons cartoon TV show in which little Lisa Simpson gave a Valentine's card to the nerdy and unpopular Ralph Wiggum, because no one else was giving him any, and it was a cute little card on the front of it. It was a little train, and the words were there. I choo, choo, choose you.

Ralph took this personally and thought Lisa had chosen him and pursued her for the rest of the episode. But I want you to know something. God has chosen you. He cho, cho, chose you. And we're told in Ephesians 1 for he loves us, and because of this, he chose us and picked us out for himself as his own children before the foundation of the world. So God loves you. He chose you.

He wants a relationship with you, and he doesn't want anything to break that relationship. And sometimes in his love, he has to correct us, and that's what we see in these love letters of Jesus to the seven churches. Enter the devil. Just as surely as there is a God in heaven who loves you, there is a devil who hates you and wants to destroy you. Satan wants to entice you and get you to break your fellowship with God. In fact, that is the devil's goal each and every day.

He wants to get you distracted, defeated, and ultimately destroyed. Jesus summed it up this way in John 10, 10. Speaking of the devil, he said, he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.

So we have to understand that there is a God in heaven who loves us, wants a relationship with us. There is a devil headed to hell that wants to distract us and destroy us. And by the way, the devil never takes a day off. Wouldn't that be nice if we found out that Satan takes Mondays off?

I think we'd still get ourselves into trouble, by the way, even without him tempting us. But be that as it may, the devil never takes a day off. He doesn't take an hour off.

He doesn't take five minutes off. In fact, Revelation 12, 12 says, the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing he has a little time. Listen to this. Even if some Christians don't necessarily believe it, the devil believes that Jesus is coming back. Now that should motivate us to live a godly life, but knowing his time is limited, knowing his days are numbered, Satan is trying to wreak as much havoc as he possibly can.

But don't let that scare you because the Bible reminds us, greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. We need to be aware and we need to be prepared. So we're looking together at the book of Revelation. Remember, Revelation, it's singular, not plural, right?

So don't call it revelations. Revelation reveals, it unveils a lot of things. It unveils the afterlife. It unveils the future. It shows us a God who is in control of everything that is happening and is in control of everything that is coming. Revelation reveals the future to us, but Revelation also reveals us to us. It shows us what Jesus thinks of us in the church today and what we must be avoiding. In the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus identifies himself as walking in the midst of the church. So he's with each one of us as you're gathering together, watching this wherever you are.

Jesus is there with you and he has something he wants to say to you. Now, seven churches are what we're looking at. That's four, five, six, seven. There we go, seven. Seven churches are addressed by Jesus.

He sends these love letters, if you will. We already looked at two of them. We looked at the church of Ephesus and the church of Smyrna. Remember, in Revelation 2, the church of Ephesus was a church leaving its first love, not losing it because they knew where it was so they could return to it again.

And maybe that describes you right now. You've had a passion that has been replaced by passivity. Your worship has been replaced by works.

Your inspiration has been replaced by perspiration. Remember what Jesus said to the church of Ephesus. Remember from where you have fallen, repent and do the first works quickly.

I've summed it up this way. The three R's of getting right with God, remember, repent, repeat. But then we come to the church of Smyrna, which is a suffering church. This time of church history when millions of believers gave their lives for the Lord because they would not say, Caesar is Lord, but instead said, Jesus is Lord. But rather than weakening them, persecution actually strengthened them. Know this, the church has never been stronger historically than when it has been persecuted. When believers are persecuted, it seems they have almost a refining effect on them. I mean, I think if the believers weren't persecuted, they would have stayed in Jerusalem forever. The Holy Spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost.

It was awesome. And they would have just had a nice little holy huddle. But persecution began against the church, led in many ways by a man known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus later became the great apostle Paul when he came to faith on the Damascus road. But they spread out everywhere preaching the gospel. And so to the persecuted believer, Jesus says, be faithful unto death and I'll give you the crown of life.

Listen to this. One of the signs of the end times is persecution. The most persecuted people on the earth today are followers of Jesus Christ. And we even see persecution happening in the United States.

So what should we do? How should we react when persecution comes our way? You might be surprised by my answer. If you're being persecuted, be happy about it. You're saying, what?

Yes. That's what Jesus told us. Jesus says in Matthew 5-11, God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you're my followers. Be happy about it, says Jesus. Be very glad for a great award awaits you in heaven.

Isn't that great? Persecution is actually a confirmation you're a child of God. So now we come to a different kind of problem in the church. Satan realizes that he can't destroy the church through persecution. Instead of weakening them, they've turned into this lean, mean preaching machine. So he changes his tactics and he decides to infiltrate the church.

You've heard of the old expression, if you can't beat them, join them. As we come now to our next church called the Church of Pergamos, the devil effectively joins the church. Revelation chapter 2, verse 12.

Read with me if you would. And to the angel of the Church of Pergamos write, These things says he that has a sharp two-edged sword. I know your works, where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and you deny my faith, even in the days in which Antibas, my faithful martyr, was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

You know it's interesting, that's mentioned twice, where Satan dwells. Listen, the devil is not the equal of God. God is omniscient, which means he knows everything. The devil is limited in his knowledge. God is omnipotent, which means all powerful. The devil has limitations to his power. And God is omnipresent, which means present everywhere. But the devil can only be in one place at one time. So if the devil's in San Francisco, he can't be in Moscow.

And if he's in Moscow, he can't be in wherever. So the point is, he seemed to have set his seat up in this city where the church was. And what's happening here with this church is they're starting to compromise. It starts with little things, and it ends up in big things.

That's the way sin works. Little things turn into big things. Have you ever noticed that some animals are really cute when they're little? And then they look kind of weird, sometimes even creepy, when they get bigger?

Take for instance a little gulabi goat. I mean, what a cute little guy he is. But then as he gets older, he looks like this. I hope I'm not going to be getting emails from gulabi goats, or maybe they'll text me, Hey man, what's up with the diss?

I don't know, but they're not as attractive when they're older as they were when they were younger. How about this adorable little elephant seal? I mean, look at him. You want to give him a hug.

But then he grows up into this. That's a weird looking creature. And what about this cute little duckling? He's a Muscovy duck, but then as an adult, he ends up looking like this. Then there's the baby sloth, the slowest animal in the world.

I think you see them at the DMV sometimes. If you saw the movie Zootopia, you know what I'm talking about. I have grandkids, so I've seen it many times. So they're cute when they're little, not so cute when they're larger. And by the way, that smile is a little bit alarming to me. And what's more adorable than a baby platypus? I mean, look at it. It looks like a little stuffed animal. You want to set it up on your bed, but then it ends up looking like this.

What is with that? That is a weird looking creature. And finally, we have this little monkey, cute little monkey, who grows up into an adult and ends up looking like this. So the point of this all is to say little sins turn into big sins.

Little compromises turn into big problems. Did you know that the venom of a baby rattler is more potent drop per drop than an adult rattler? I've seen baby rattlers in the wild and they're just little. They have a little rattle, little fangs. You know, you want to pick them and go, look at the baby rattler. And he's just going to, oh, he bit me. It didn't even hurt.

Feeling weak, feeling faint. You know, don't mess around with sin. This is the problem with the church of Pergamos is they were tolerant of sin. Look at verse 14. I have a few things against you because you have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. Okay, so who's Balaam and who's Balaam? Balak was the king of the Moabites, the enemies of Israel. He wanted to destroy the nation Israel, so he hired Balaam the prophet. Now, I don't know where he found Balaam the prophet.

I think you could have spelled prophet, P-R-O-F-I-T. Instead of the biblical spelling, Balaam seemed to be a prophet for hire. So Balak says, look, man, I want you to curse these Israelites.

Curse them in the name of God so we don't have to deal with them on the battlefield. Incredibly, Balaam the prophet agrees, yes, I will do that. Well, the Lord comes to Balaam and says, I don't want you to do that, but Balaam decides to do it anyway. So the next day he gets his donkey and he's riding along and all of a sudden his donkey just stops and it steps. Balaam is like, come on, let's go, let's go. And the donkey stops and then the donkey walks a little further and they're in between two rock walls and the donkey slams up against the wall, hitting Balaam's leg. Now he's angry. Balaam pulls out his dick and he's beating his donkey.

He's so angry. And the Bible says, the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey who said, why are you beating me? That's amazing. What's more amazing to me is without missing a beat, Balaam says, because you're not doing what I want you to do. And the donkey says, haven't I been a good donkey?

Haven't I always done what you wanted me to do? Balaam says, yeah, you know, I have to agree. You've been a very good donkey.

They're having this conversation. Well, here's what Balaam didn't know. The donkey seemed to have more sense than Balaam did because the donkey saw an angel of the Lord was sword drawn.

The angel's probably thinking, oy vey, I mean this guy's talking to his donkey. Finally, the angel makes himself visible and Balaam sees what's going on, but the angel was trying to stop him. So Balaam didn't do exactly what Balak wanted him to do, but he came up with a little plan. He said, listen, Balaam, look, I have an idea.

Here's what you need to do. Get your really foxy babes from Moab to go sexually entice those young Israeli boys to come into their tents and make them worship at your little altars and you worship your false gods and they'll go for it and God will judge them. And that's exactly what happened. So what is this saying to us? Well, Balaam, the sin of Balaam is compromise. He wanted to do something even when God told him not to do it. And there are people like this today.

They say, well, I'm a Christian. I want to go to heaven, but I kind of want to live like hell. I still want to party. I still want to cheat. I still want to lie.

I still want to do whatever I need to do or whatever I want to do. They say, no, that's compromise. That is the doctrine of Balaam.

Don't live that way. So we need to follow the advice Jesus gives here to Pergamos, verse 16. Repent or I'll come to you quickly and fight against those with a sword of my mouth. He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying. It says God's wake up call.

Let me just say this. Am I talking to somebody right now who's a Christian, but you're sleeping with your boyfriend or your girlfriend? You say you're a Christian, but you're having an affair on your spouse. You say you're a Christian, but you're lying on your tax returns. You say you're a Christian and you regularly tear others down and denigrate them and slander them.

Hold on now. You're like the people in the church of Pergamos and you're like Balaam. You're compromising and that is not what God wants, bringing us to our fourth church identified as Thyatira.

So they go from compromise with Pergamos to full-blown acceptance of sin in the church of Thyatira, Revelation 2, verse 19. God, or Jesus says, I know your works, your love, your servants, your faith, and your patience. And as to your works, you are more than your first, so hey, commence them.

There's some of you doing pretty well. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. So who's Jezebel? Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab. She was a wicked woman who was the queen of Israel and she believed in the worship of the false god of Baal.

Jezebel was the one to put the contract out on the prophet Elijah and said I'm gonna put that man to death and she actually influenced the whole nation. So the church of Thyatira had grown tolerant of sin. Have you grown tolerant of sin in your life? Are the things you know you should not be doing but your conscience doesn't seem to be kicking in anymore? You know we have a little smoke alarm in our kitchen and it's overly sensitive. Well just this morning Kathy was cooking something and the alarm goes off all throughout the house. There's smoke in your house. There's smoke and you go down to the kitchen there's like hardly any smoke at all. Fortunately the fire department did not come. An overly sensitive smoke alarm.

Better to have that than one that doesn't work. Maybe you have a very tender heart, a sensitive conscience and when you do something wrong, when you think something wrong, you feel guilt and remorse over it. Rejoice. That means your conscience is working but if you can go and sin, if you can go and do things that the Bible says are wrong before God and not feel any pain of guilt or any remorse, something isn't working. Pray that God will resense itself and it isn't working.

Pray that God will resensitize your conscience. Jesus tells them to repent. Now we come to the church of Sardis in Revelation chapter three verse one to the angel of the church in Sardis write, these things says he that has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works.

You have a name that you are alive but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die for I have not found your works perfect before God. Here with these churches we've looked on, we see the natural regression of sin. Sin always pulls you down. So you begin to lose your passion like the believers in the church of Ephesus.

Instead of moving forward, you're starting to move backwards and you start compromising like the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira and you end up dead like Sardis. As I've said before, no one generally plans on backsliding but one day you wake up and you say what happened? What happened to my life? What happened to my marriage?

What happened to my health? I made all these bad decisions. How did I get here? I never wanted to go to this place but here I am.

It started through little compromises that led to this slippery slope of sin. Sardis is a church that looks good on the outside but they're dead on the inside. Have you ever been to a Hollywood set? You realize that when you watch these movies and TV shows that a lot of times they're not real buildings, they're just the facade of a building and behind it are pieces of wood holding it up. And so in many ways this is a church that looked good on the outside but they were dead on the inside.

Is that a description of someone I'm talking to right now? Everyone thinks you're just the greatest Christian of all time but there's a deadness inside of you. That's what was happening with this church. So what can a dead church do?

Or let me personalize it. What can a believer do if they feel that they're in a deadened state? Well the great physician, the Lord himself, gives us prescription for recovery. You know if you're not feeling well and you go to the doctor, if you don't do what the doctor says, that's not on him, it's on you. Heard about a patient who went to his doctor and said you know doc it's been one month since I saw you and I feel worse than I felt on the day I came to your office. The doctor said well did you follow the instructions on the medicine I gave you? And the person said yes I did. The bottle said keep tightly closed. Yeah well you close it after you're done but open it and take the medicine. And so Jesus is giving his medicine.

Here's what he's saying, here's what you need to do. If you find yourself feeling spiritually dead, it's all found in his description of himself. In verse one of chapter three he says he's the one who holds the seven spirits of God and seven stars. The seven spirits are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in his fullness.

What many believers need is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let's say you bought a brand new car, you drove it off the lot, you were loving it, ran perfectly for a week, maybe a week and a half, and then one day it just stopped. So you have it towed back to the dealer.

You say what's wrong with this car you sold me? You ripped me off and they look inside of your car and they turn on the ignition and you're on empty. Your fuel is gone. They said did you fill it up with gas? What, you have to fill this up with gas?

Yes you do. Sometimes in our life as Christians we're going along, we're starting to sputter and we're starting to stall and we don't know what's wrong. You need a refill. You need to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians chapter five says be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord and that phrase be filled means be filled over and over again. So God wants to fill you with the Spirit and he wants to refill you.

That's what they needed. They needed a refill of the Holy Spirit. Now we come to the church of the last days as we will discover in the book of Revelation.

I believe personally we're in the last days. I'll make a case for that and by that I mean I believe Jesus could come for us in our lifetime so we want to be ready. You don't want to be a part of the church of Thyatira. You don't want to be a part of the church of Pergamos. You definitely don't want to be in the church of Sardis but you do want to be in this church because really you choose what church you're going to go to. You decide what church you're going to be.

It's really up to you. This is the church now of Philadelphia that's alive. Look at Revelation 3 verse 7. To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, these things says he that is holy and is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens.

I know your works. I have set before you an open door and no man can shut it for you have a little strength and you've kept my word and you have not denied my name. Here's some takeaway truths from the church of the last days. The church we should all be a part of. Number one, Jesus has given to us an unprecedented open door.

Let me say that again. Jesus has given to us as the church today an unprecedented open door. Do you know that we have the ability for the first time ever to literally fulfill the great commission in our lifetime?

I mean think of all the technology we have at our disposal. I mean even what we're doing here at Harvest at Home and then this is on our YouTube channel and these messages are heard on our radio broadcasts and on our website and there's so many ways we can communicate now through films and other ways getting the gospel to people in unexpected ways. The door here is a symbol of opportunity and the key is a symbol of his authority. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2, 12, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, a door was opened unto me by the Lord. We should pray for these open doors. Colossians 4, Paul says pray for us too that God will open a door and give us many opportunities to speak about Christ. So God opens doors up. There might be an open door in your life right now with a neighbor. They were closed, closed to the gospel, closed to anything spiritual and suddenly they're open or you just met somebody or an opportunity came up. Look for open doors. They're out there.

Pay attention. You know COVID hit our country and the world and was devastated. It's changed the world.

That's not an understatement when we're not beyond it yet. For a time we had to shut down our church building. Now it's open again when we're having live services following protocols provided by the CDC but COVID closed one door and opened another. What I'm doing right now I wasn't doing before. We would have our services and we would film them and broadcast them but this is something we started since COVID hit which is a special online worship service. You all who are watching Harvest at Home have become a part of our extended church family.

So I have to rejoice that I'm speaking to many people I wasn't speaking to before and we rejoice in that. Number two God has given us enough strength to do what he has called us to do. God has given us enough strength to do what he has called us to do. We read that this church was making a comeback and verse eight Jesus says you have a little strength.

By the way that's not a negative criticism it's a commendation that he is giving to this church. The picture here is of a sick person coming back to life. As you may know I got COVID a number of months ago and I started with you know congestion and a little bit of a fever. I had a mild case thankfully but one thing that stayed with me for a while was fatigue. It took me a while to get my energy back. I would get up and do something and I'd be tired and just go sit for like an hour. That's not me I'm a very busy active person but thankfully my strength has come back again.

But that's the picture here of the church of Philadelphia. It's like a sick person coming back to life. They're not at full health yet but they're getting there. They're out of the bed now. They're standing up again.

They're starting to move around again. This would appear to say that the church of the end times is going to experience revival. What is revival? It's returning to original condition.

What is original condition? It's the church of the first century. The church that changed the world. The church that turned the world upside down. So this last days church of Philadelphia is coming back. They're making a comeback.

Their strength is returning. A church that is going through open doors of opportunity. He gives them a promise and this shows this is a church of the last days. In verse 10 he promises to keep them. He promises to keep us from the great tribulation period. Verse 10 says, Jesus speaking, I'll keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world to test those that dwell on the earth. Now we're all gonna go through trials and tribulation in life as followers of Jesus. Jesus even said, in this world you will have tribulation.

But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. But there's a difference between personal tribulation and what we call the great tribulation period. The great tribulation period is a global event. Look at verse 10, he says, I'll keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world to test those that dwell on the earth.

This is a global event that will affect everybody. Secondly, it's a specific period of time. Jesus calls it an hour of trial.

It's not 60 minutes, it's seven years in total. So he says, I'll keep you from that. It is my firm belief that the Lord will call us home to heaven before the tribulation period begins. I believe the church will not go through the tribulation period. I don't even think the tribulation period can begin until the church is removed. Now we come to our final church in the book of Revelation, the seven of seven churches. Remember I said in the beginning, we start with an apostolic church and we end up with an apostate church. Some churches make the Lord weep. Other churches make the Lord angry. This church makes the Lord sick. But he loved them anyway. Look at Revelation three, verse 14.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, these things saith the amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know your works. You're neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Now if you have a King James Version, we have Jesus saying, I will spew you.

Well, that's a very nice way of putting it. I will spew you. You know, you're feeling nauseated. Oh, excuse me, I think I have to go spew. I don't know why you'd have a British accent, but I'm gonna go spew. Well, this translation says I'll vomit you and that's exactly the word. I will regurgitate you. It makes me sick to my stomach.

This is a pretty harsh criticism that Jesus is giving of this church. And he says, I'd rather you be hot, I'd rather you be cold, but if you're lukewarm, it turns my stomach. Now stop and think about it. Most things that you eat are generally good hot or cold. For instance, coffee is great hot, coffee is great cold. Tea is great hot, tea is great cold as well. Milk the same, I like hot milk. You put a little cocoa in it.

That really helps. Milk is cold, that's very good as well. Same with fish. Fish is great, grilled or boiled or poached. And I love it sushi style. I don't know if you like sushi. I love sushi myself.

But who wants fish that has gone mushy, that was once warm and now has cooled down? Jesus is saying lukewarmness makes me want to throw up. I hate to throw up. I mean, I don't know who likes to, but like when my wife is nauseated, she goes, I'm feeling sick. She'll just go in the bathroom.

I shouldn't even have done that. She does it in such a ladylike way, you don't even know it happened. She comes out, I feel much better. I'm like, oh, I have to throw up. I don't want to throw up.

I hate it, oh no, it's like a big thing to me that I dread every moment, but then you finally do it and you get that poison out of your system. But I don't know about you, but I don't want to make Jesus throw up. So it's lukewarmness.

Now let me ask you a question. What is your spiritual temperature right now? According to the Bible, you're either boiling hot, you're freezing cold, or you're miserably lukewarm.

One of those three. And it's actually better, according to Jesus, to be cold than it is to be lukewarm. Let me explain. The word cold here means frozen or icy cold. Jesus would rather we either boil or freeze rather than simmering down to a tepid tastelessness. One of the signs of the last days is people would have cold hearts. Matthew 24, 12 says, sin will be rampant everywhere and the love of many will grow cold.

What does this mean? To be cold means you're not a believer. You don't have a heart for God. You don't want to talk about spiritual things. You're just a non-believer.

You say, oh, that's the worst state of all. According to Jesus, lukewarmness is worse. Because see, if you're cold, if you're not a believer, there's still hope that you will come to Christ, but the problem with the lukewarm person is they know enough to get them into trouble. Okay, so there's cold, then there's hot, and the word hot means to be boiling hot.

It comes from the Greek word zestos, where we get our English word zest from. The Bible says in Romans 12, 10, we should be fervent or hot in spirit. Another translation says we should maintain that spiritual glow, and so it's good to be on fire for the Lord and sometimes our hearts begin to cool down. Remember those two disciples on the Emmaus road and the gospel of Luke, who left Jerusalem discouraged after Jesus had been crucified, and Jesus, of course, joined them on their journey, but they didn't know it was Jesus, and he opened to them the scripture, all the things concerning himself, and as they're walking along, they're thinking, man, this guy really knows the Bible. I mean, the way he describes these stories in the Bible, you would think he was there.

You'd think he wrote it. Getting warm, guys. But they didn't know it was Jesus. As they came to the end of their journey, they sat down to have a meal, and Jesus acted as though he would leave, and they said, no, stay with us, and then he revealed himself, and they realized it was Jesus, and then he disappeared, and I love what they said after that. They said, did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us? You want to have a burning heart. You want to be on fire for the Lord.

Open up God's word. But see, lukewarm people, they're not hot, hot following the Lord. They're not cold, complete nonbelievers.

In fact, they're usually the last to know they're even lukewarm. Look at verse 17. Jesus says, you see, I'm rich. I've become wealthy. I have need of nothing. Don't you know you're miserable, wretched, bored, blind, and naked?

You see, here's the thing. You may be lukewarm and not even know it. You may be lukewarm if you're completely bored right now, and I'm not implying that everyone who is bored with my sermons is lukewarm, but as I'm talking about these things, you're disinterested.

If you're on fire, you're like, tell me more. You're leaning in. If you're lukewarm, you're like, come on, just wrap this up, aren't you done yet? I'm gonna do the broken thing and watch this sermon.

I have other things to do. No, don't be a lukewarm person, but listen to what Jesus says. He says, as many as I love, verse 19, I rebuke and chasten.

That can be translated as many as I dearly, tenderly love. I started by talking about love, and the way that God shows us He loves us, among other things, is to tell us the truth. Hebrews 12 says the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He chastens those He accepts as His children. If the Lord has chastened you, and by chastened, I mean He's convicted you of your sin, and by convicting you, I mean there's a sense of guilt that I alluded to earlier.

Oh, I shouldn't be doing this. That's a reminder that God loves you, you see. He chastens the one He loves.

I love how David wrote in Psalm 23 of the Lord, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. So what do you do if you become lukewarm? What is the answer to come out of lukewarmness? And I'll close with this. You have to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. See, you can be a religious person and have no relationship with God. You can go to church and not have Christ living inside of you. Going to a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going into a donut shop makes you a cop.

That's a joke, but you get what I'm saying. Some people go to church, they do the things outwardly, but Christ is not living inside of them. Now look at the words of the Lord. A very familiar verse.

Many of us have committed it to memory. Revelation 3.20. Jesus says to the church of Laodicea, behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any men hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with me. Now you've heard me quote this verse before if you've ever seen me speak. I address it to non-believers and you say, well, it was given to the church, great guy. It was given to people in the church and needed to get Jesus in their heart.

Isn't that ironic? We start with the church Ephesus that's leaving their first love and we end with the church of Laodicea where Christ is on the outside trying to get in. Is he on the outside of your life trying to get in? Everybody needs to ask Jesus to come into their life.

John 1.12 says, for as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God. But notice what he wants to do. He says, and I will dine with him.

Dine with him. This is a very important Greek word that is speaking of the evening meal or the last meal of the day. Now, this is lost on us who live in a fast food culture. You know, they didn't have drive-through restaurants back in those days.

There wasn't a McDavid's or In-N-Out Falafel or whatever it is. No, the meal was a big deal. The meal was like a form of entertainment, especially the final meal of the day.

You would relax in cushions, a low-tech, a high-tech, a high-tech meal. Especially the final meal of the day, you would relax in cushions, a low table, and you would have a meal and communicate. And you wanna have this meal with people you're comfortable with. Nobody wants to go out and have a meal with someone who's trying to sell them something or someone that wants to debate about something. No, you wanna spend time eating with people that you're close to, people that you can be yourself around.

People, well, people that you can steal food from. That's a mark of true friendship when you're sitting down with family or friends and they have fries and you don't even ask. You just take a fry and eat it, right? My wife does this all the time. She takes my food and starts eating it.

What are you doing? This is my food. Men are very territorial about food, by the way. Think of a dog with a food dish. You ever watch a dog eat? They're like eating. If it's a friendly dog, he might growl at you.

That's how men are. But Kathy will say, can I have a bite of what you're eating? And the thing I'm eating, I'm at the end and I've saved the one bite, the one I'm looking forward to. Can I have a bite? And there's that final bite. I'm like, huh, here, and then she eats it. But I get my revenge at dessert because when we're having dessert, she'll sometimes put it on her fork and be talking, not paying attention to the kill, finish the dessert.

It's gone. But anyway, when you're with family, when you're with friends, you know, you share food together. Here's what Jesus is saying. Let's take time together. Let's hang out, you and me. You open your heart to me and I'll open mine to you. Let's have long conversations. Let's spend time together. Do you wanna do that?

I mean, what an offer. You open his door and instead he's knocking at ours and he's asking permission. He could say, look, I stand at the door, knock, if you don't open it, I'll kick it in. No, he doesn't say that.

Jesus is a gentleman. He won't force his way into any person's life. He says, I stand at the door and I knock and if you'll hear my voice then open the door. So you have a choice. You either open that door or you leave it closed and by not opening it, you're leaving it closed.

Let me put it another way. By not saying yes, you're saying no. Is that what you wanna say to Jesus Christ right now? Jesus said, you're either for me or against me.

You're either with me or you're opposed to me. Some of you, if you think back, you'll realize that Christ has been knocking at the door of your life, going back to your childhood. Maybe you heard that knock recently to the death of a loved one or you heard that knock again when you got a bad report from a doctor or again you heard that knock when you were having marital problems, something that sort of awakened you to your need for Christ. He's knocking, open the door because if you open the door to him now, he'll open the door to you then.

The door to heaven. You see, you're gonna go to heaven because you put your faith in Christ. If you stand up for Christ now, he'll stand up for you in heaven then. If you say yes to him now, he'll say yes to you then. If you say no to him now, he'll say no to you then.

You decide where you will spend eternity by what you do with Jesus Christ who is knocking at the door of your life. Would you like him to come in? Would you like to be forgiven of your sins? Would you like a fresh start? Am I talking to somebody right now who has never asked Jesus to come into their life?

Or I may be talking to someone who did it as a younger person or at some stage of their life but you have a lot of other things to crowd him out and you've made these compromises and you're in a miserable web of compromise. Would you like to recommit your life to Christ? You can do it right here, right now. I'd like to close with a prayer and in this prayer, I wanna give you an opportunity to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. So listen, if you want your sin forgiven, if you wanna know that you'll go to heaven when you die, if you wanna fill that big hole in your heart, if you wanna get rid of your guilt and start a relationship with God, stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me right now. Again, as I pray, you pray. In fact, you could pray these words and I'm about to pray out loud after me. This is a simple prayer but if you mean it from your heart, God will hear you and God will answer it. So if you want Jesus in your life right now or you wanna recommit your life to him, pray this prayer with me. Let's pray. Father, speak to every person watching.

Help them to see their need for you and help them to come to you. Now we pray. Just pray these words after me. Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner but I know that you are the savior. I turn from that sin now. I repent of it and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast and to learn more about Harvest Ministries, please subscribe and consider supporting this show, just go to harvest.org. And by the way, if you wanna find out how to come into a personal relationship with God, go to knowgod.org. That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-24 21:13:40 / 2023-12-24 21:33:03 / 19

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