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The Church That Made God Sick

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2021 8:00 am

The Church That Made God Sick

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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May 28, 2021 8:00 am

An examination of the message God gave John for the church at Laodicea. (Included in the 7-part series You’ve Got Mail.)

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Music Playing Hello and welcome to Destined for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd, who is Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Today we come to the last of God's messages to the seven first century churches in Asia Minor as listed in the book of Revelation chapter 3.

The church in Laodicea had grown complacent in their belief, compromising in their behavior, and God, much like he does to us from time to time, offered a few choice words to his members. Pastor Paul explores this letter today. Be sure to visit pastorpaul.net to hear any recent Destined for Victory message on demand. That's pastorpaul.net.

You can also subscribe to the Destined for Victory podcast at Apple Podcasts or at Google Podcasts or wherever you get yours. Now, here's Pastor Paul with today's message, The Church That Made God Sick. My subject is The Church That Made God Sick. We now come to the seventh and final word to the churches of Asia Minor, and this word is to the church of Laodicea. Notice how the Lord introduces himself to this church. He not only describes himself as the faithful and true witness, which we've seen earlier, he not only describes himself as the ruler of God's creation, which is a fairly common description of God throughout the scripture, but here he describes himself also as the amen. I love that because the word amen, as you probably know, means so let it be, or it means it is so. It is a word of affirmation. It is a word of aligning yourself with truth.

It is a word that verifies that what has been spoken is so and is established, and God said, tell him that I am the amen. What that means is because he embodies truth, the Bible says that the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus described himself as the truth. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. He is truth.

There is no lie in him. Everything he says is right, and he said, I am the amen. Not only am I right, but I don't need you to sanction that I'm right. I say my own amen.

I like that. I like that you don't have to get in agreement with God for him to be right. He's right whether you think so or not.

Well, I just don't believe it takes all that. Well, he's right, so that makes you wrong. He said, I am the amen. I sanction the truth by virtue of who I am.

There is nothing in me. He is the God of light. In him, one writer says there is no shadow at all. He is completely the embodiment of truth, and therefore he describes himself as the amen. We often say God says it, I believe it, that settles it. Well, if you believe it, you can be blessed by the truth. If you walk in truth, acknowledge it, then you can be blessed by the truth. But make no mistake, whether you believe it or not, he's true. And we need to acknowledge him as the amen, the final word, the affirmation of all that is true. He begins to move into what it is that he wants to say to them.

Notice that here is another church, as we've seen earlier in our study of these letters. Here is another church that receives no commendation at all. He has no affirming words to say about the way they are living their lives.

He only has admonishment and rebuke. This is like getting a bad report card. You all remember growing up that not all of your report cards were wonderful.

And that's what this is. This church is getting a bad report card. But you've got to remember, as it was in our lives, so it is true here, a bad report card only says here's what you're doing so far. It does not seal your doom. It doesn't make you a bad student for life. It simply means I want you to know you're not doing too well right now.

There are some things that have to change. Always remember that when the Lord sends a word like this, it is a word of correction and admonishment. It is not a word of condemnation. God is not condemning us. He is trying to rebuke and discipline us.

In fact, we just read it. He said it's only out of my love that I'm rebuking you and that I'm disciplining you. So when the word beats you up, you've got to know it's only because the Lord loves me that he wants me to come up to a place where I can experience his highest and his best for my life. And then he moves into helping them to understand what is wrong with their walk before him. Notice what he says. He says, verse 15, I know your deeds.

That's been common throughout the study of these letters. I know your deeds. God knows exactly where you are. He doesn't just look at what we do. He knows who we are. I know your deeds. And then he says, I know that you are neither cold nor hot.

I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, he says, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Now, what is he talking about here? This rebuke centers on the state, the condition of this church as being self-satisfied, as being complacent, as being a church that is neither cold nor hot.

He describes it as lukewarm. What does this have to do with? Well, we have seen that often as God has spoken to a church in Asia Minor, he has used something about that city itself to help the church understand the way it looks to him. So he uses the fact that this city was very wealthy.

It was a very self-satisfied, self-congratulating city. Laodicea was a city that was known for its wealth. It was a city that was known through one of the medical breakthroughs that came out of Laodicea was they had a med school, ancient med school that invented an eye salve that became very popular to help people treat eye conditions. That came out of that city, which is why God mentions it as he talks about the state of the church.

It was also a city that was known for manufacturing a rare black wool that people would come there to get. And so they were a self-satisfied, self-congratulating kind of city, but they had a natural problem. The problem was the city was also known for having a very poor water supply. Now here's why their water was so bad, because they had to build an ancient aqueduct from another city that was known for its hot springs, hot springs of mineral water. And so there was this ancient aqueduct where the water from the mineral springs would flow miles and miles to Laodicea.

Here's the problem. By the time it got there, it was no longer hot. It was lukewarm, and it was full of not only mineral deposits, it was full of all kinds of other impurities. So when the water gets to Laodicea, Laodicea is rich and they are popular for some of their manufacturing and their medical school, but the water is lousy. And the water is lukewarm, it is tepid, it is full of impurities.

And when you drink it, it is not uncommon for those, especially those whose systems had not adapted to such a poor type of water, their reaction would be to throw up. And look at what God says as he describes this church. Up next, the second half of today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd. We want to thank all of you whose prayers and financial support helped Pastor Paul share the gospel all over the world. And right now, as we recover from the challenges of the past year, your support is even more critical today, because more people than ever before are looking for answers that only Jesus can give. So as God leads, prayerfully consider making a gift to Destined for Victory. You can give a secure donation in just a few moments at our website, pastorpaul.net. That's pastorpaul.net. When God said to the church at Laodicea, I wish you were either hot or cold, what did he mean?

Well, stay tuned to find out because the answer might surprise you. Here's Pastor Paul with the rest of today's message, the church that made God sick. He says, you, like your water supply, are neither hot nor cold. You are lukewarm. And he says, when I look at you, when I see your spiritual condition, if I were human, it would make me want to throw up. Isn't that a powerful statement from God about the condition of some people's walk with God?

Now, let's explore it. He says, I wish you were hot or cold. I used to believe and I used to preach that the hot represented I wish you were spiritually on fire or cold.

I wish you were spiritually cold. In other words, I thought that this passage was saying to people, you need to get off the fence. Either be all the way in Christ or if you're going to hell, go first class. Don't go from the church, you know what I mean?

Now, that point could be made from other passages quite legitimately. You remember back in Joshua, Joshua said as he was telling the people what they needed to know before he passed off the scene, he said, choose you this day whom you will serve. The Bible clearly tells you to get off the fence. And he said, choose this day whom you're going to serve. And if you think it's evil to serve the Lord, then go on and pick who you're going to serve and do it. He pretty much was saying if you're going to hell, go first class. Don't fool around in the church and miss God from the church. That's the worst place to miss God is among God's people.

So you could make that point from some other passages. And by the way, that doesn't mean that people who are seekers of truth should not continue to seek truth. Absolutely those whose hearts are open and say, God, I want to know who you really are.

I want to embrace your truth. Churches ought to be open to those who seek truth. The folk that ought to have the hard time in church are hypocrites. Folk who know they're not right, not trying to get right.

Come on. Who just want to sit up and pretend but don't have a legitimate walk with God. Give me a seeker of truth. I don't care how unchurched you've been. I don't care how much of a pagan you were raised with pagan values.

That's fine. Because truth can set you free if your heart is open to God. In fact, you know my philosophy. Give me unchurched people any day who are open to truth and let the power of the gospel hit their lives. The church is full of folk who have a testimony that before I got here, I didn't know anything about Christ.

I wasn't raised in a Christian home. Now I'm experiencing God. Now I am coming to know Him for myself and their lives are being transformed. Give me those folk any day. I love pastoring ex-pagans. I love it.

Absolutely love it. You know why? Because you can teach them.

It's part of the great commission. Teach them to observe all things that Christ commanded. You know who are the worst folk to lead? Folk who've been in everybody's church.

Been in everybody's church just hopped from one place to the other. I don't like this about them. I don't like that about them. They're going around looking for a perfect church. And they criticize all the imperfections and they don't walk into truth they already know.

Come in there and try to tell you how to run it. Those are the people that work my nerves. Those are the people that have put all this gray in my beard because they are self-satisfied. They are complacent. They're not trying to grow because they think they've made it already. What they're trying to do is wait for the rest of the church to catch up with them.

They are deceived. Don't go around looking for a perfect church for two reasons. Number one, there isn't one.

Number two, if there was one and you joined. So no need of looking for the perfect church. Just be a growing Christian. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to have a heart that's open to God. To say, Lord, I want to walk with you. And so I used to think that this was telling folk get off the fence like Joshua and be all the way in Christ all the way out in the world.

That is not what is being said here. As you focus in on the fact that the analogy is based on the water system in the city. He is saying water can be wonderfully helpful if it is hot or if it is cold.

He says, I wish you were hot. The Greek word translated hot, there's a common word. It means boiling. It means so hot that the water is jumping. See, the water tells you when it's boiling. You don't have to tell, but I want it to boil. I wonder if it's hot. You don't have to wonder when you see it jumping.

Isn't that right? You know, don't stick your hand in there because the elements are so heated until they are responding. And God said to this church, I wish you were like the hot springs you're drawing your water supply from. I wish you were hot.

You know why? Because hot water is being purified just by virtue of the heat. Hot water, you know that if you need to ensure that your water is clear, that your water is safe, you know the old-fashioned way. They'd say, put that on the stove.

Long before they had all this fancy distillers and all that stuff, they would just boil it and try to boil some impurities out of there. And so hot represents that it is, number one, fervent and that it is secondly having a purifying effect. God said, I wish the church was fervent about its walk with me. God says to this church, I am sickened by the fact that I have been so good to you and you have nothing but self-satisfaction in response. And you know, you and I have to look at our lives sometimes and say, you know, God has been too good for me to be casual about my walk with him. He has called me to be a person who has a fervent life in Christ. You ought to be excited about Jesus and his place in your life and growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.

The fact is God has been too good to us for us to be anything other than boiling with the excitement and joy of the Lord. You can tell what a person's really bored about because you see it has that jumping element of boiling water. You know what they're excited about? Because you can see it in their life.

You know when you have a sports enthusiast on your hands? You can tell by the way they dress, they put on their team stuff. You can tell by the way they talk. You can tell by their priorities and the way they live life.

It is based around that and they're excited. You can tell when a person's all about their career because they spend all of their time and energy and passion making a living and sometimes they're so busy making a living until they don't make a life. Not you, not you, but somebody on your row.

Have you ever seen that? A person making a living but not a life. A person climbing the ladder of success not even stopping to realize it's leaning against the wrong building. And God says, I don't want you being more excited about mundane things than you are about me. Paul said to the church at Colossae, set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth. You've got to make up your mind to be fervent about spiritual things, to be wholehearted about spiritual things.

You know why? Because that is the truest way to live your life. When you live about the things you can accumulate, you are setting your affections on things below.

And you can't do that. That's not living a quality life. We're not going to be here forever. Life is not about your career. In the large eternal scheme of things, who cares what your career was?

When you pass off the scene, that's it. In the larger scheme of things, who cares whose book your name was in? How many people knew you and referenced your life's work? It's all mundane. So, God blesses us to live a quality life, including to have a quality career. He doesn't mind that our career is impactful and helps a lot of other people. That is wonderful.

You can use that to glorify God. But do not set your affections on things below, such as your career. If you haven't noticed, your career doesn't love you as much as you love it. If you haven't noticed, your job doesn't love you as much as you love your job. Because they will downsize you right out the door.

Oh, come on now. They'll downsize you right out the door. They don't need a whole lot of excuse, whole lot of reason.

Just have a few bad quarters. The bottom line is going in the wrong direction. And some folk will sit up in a boardroom and swirl around in big fancy chairs and make a quick decision. And the next thing you know, you're getting yourself a pink slip. And if you're higher up and all that, well, no, they can't just, you know, they have to give me a parachute and all of that.

That's fine. They'll strap it on your back and kick you out the plane. Your 401 will turn into a 201 just like that. So you cannot give yourself impassion to things that are not eternal. You ought to be wholehearted about your work, but your work shouldn't consume you. It shouldn't be your identity. Your job shouldn't be the essence of who you are.

They will get you out of there in a hurry. Told you when I was single, I was running a department of a car leasing company. We went to work one morning thinking all was well. Found ourselves in a boardroom with the big shots from headquarters. And in a few minutes time, we were all notified that they were shutting down this whole part of their business.

We sat there. One lady broke out in tears. One of the other department heads broke out in tears. She said, I just bought a house.

How in the world am I going to take care of that? That wasn't their problem. They said, you're all out. And this was a car leasing company. So all of us who ran departments were driving demos. And we had driven demos to work.

Guess what? We all had to find a way home. Because somebody was brave enough after they were saying, we're shutting this down. They said, we'll keep a few of you on just for a few days to clean up some things and get the records together and all of that. But for most of you, today is your last day. Somebody was brave enough to say, now those of us who are leading the departments and have demos, what's the longest period of time?

They said, park it. Thanks so much for being here for today's message, the church that made God sick. It's been another great week here on Destined for Victory and we're so glad you were a part of it. But before we say so long for the weekend, I want to thank you on behalf of Pastor Paul Shepherd and the entire ministry team for all you do to make the Destined for Victory ministry possible. As a listener supported ministry, we're counting on your continued prayers and financial support because so many people out there need the saving grace that only Jesus Christ can give.

Your donations do make a difference. So please consider making a special gift today to help share the truth of God's word with a growing audience. For your gift this month, we have a gift of our own to share with you, Pastor Paul's booklet, Traits of a Virtuous Woman. Based on Proverbs 31, this booklet dives into some of the ways that godly women can have a profound impact in the lives of her family and all those around her. Women will find biblical instruction on what a godly woman looks like and others will be strongly encouraged to honor those women who have sown seeds of wisdom and grace into their lives. That's Traits of a Virtuous Woman, a booklet from Pastor Paul, our gift to you today by request for your generous gift to Destined for Victory. Call 855-339-5500 to give over the phone or visit pastorpaul.net to make a safe and secure donation online.

You can also mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. Don't build it on your money, your portfolio, how diversified your portfolio is. The wrong things happen and you got to figure out how long you can work beyond when you hope to retire. Why?

Because the things of this earth are so fickle, so easily changing. That's next time in Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, The Church That Made God Sick. Until then, enjoy your holiday weekend and remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-12 11:55:51 / 2023-11-12 12:05:16 / 9

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