Revelation – Laodicea

The Letter to the Church in Laodicea in a Nutshell:

Jesus the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation tells the church in Laodicea that He knows their works. They are neither hot nor cold and, therefore, useless. They think they are rich but in reality, they are wretched, pitiful, poor, and naked. If they really want to be well off then they should buy the gold He has. He is telling them this because he loves them. They need to repent and He will dine with them. He will give the victor the right to sit down with Him on His throne.

I know I say this each time but it is true there is just so much here. Knowing where to go on this one is a little hard for me because I love to explain the history of things and two parts of this letter have been abused or misused so often. Let’s deal with one real quick. The mentioning of hot, cold and lukewarm is not about being hot for Jesus or cold for Jesus. Instead, it was a reference the Laodiceans would understand. They had their water brought in via aqueducts so by the time it reached them it was not cold which is good for refreshment, or hot which is good for things hot water is good for. However, it was lukewarm which has no value.

What are we supposed to do with this letter? Well, this letter like Sardis does not have an “atta boy” instead, it is a letter of rebuke. Rebuke just means correction or disapproval; Jesus was correcting them because they thought themselves something they were not. The church thought it was all that and a bag of chips because they could afford all that and a bag of chips. They thought because they had money they were doing all right but the truth is they were in bad shape. Jesus does not rebuke them because they had money. He rebukes them because they lacked spiritual truth.

In general, we should not use our physical standing to judge our spiritual health. Just because you have money does not mean you are following God’s will, and just because you are broke does not mean you are being punished. This comes from a misunderstanding of the Deuteronomic formula which is the same problem Job’s friends had. They assumed that because Job suffered he was being punished but we need to get rid of that thinking. Maybe you have money because you are good with money, maybe you are poor because you make bad choices. Maybe society is just trying to keep you down I don’t know and I don’t really care. I want to make sure you are spiritually healthy.

Material possessions are fine. I have some, and I would like more but want I really want is Jesus. I want more Jesus in my life. I know I have access to all of Him but I still want more of Him. The closer I get to Him the more I want. The more I see Him for who He is the more I want. He is Lord, Saviour, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and I want more of Him in my life. Whether I have a lot so I am blessed in the physical and can bless others or am in need I want more Jesus. There is no greater treasure than Him, and that is what He is saying to the church in Laodicea and that is what He is saying to you; “You have stuff that’s fine but you need Me” get that and understand that. I have lived without Him, and I will never go back. Jesus is not a fad or a thing that is in style or out of style. He has been around since the beginning you and is not going anywhere. So get some good water and live a rich, full, and abundant life in Christ.

Just a thought,

Mike

Born Again….Wait What?

Preface:

I have been going back and forth on John 3:1-21 for a little over a week now and I think I finally understand why.  The problem I have with sharing from this particular section of John is it makes me emotional so sharing my gleanings from it keep coming from an emotional place.  So rather than fight that I am just going to go with it.

Jesus declares in verse 3 “no one can see the the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” But what does it mean to be born again?  This is the question Nicodemus asks Jesus and I think many of us have asked that same question.  I would imagine any non-Christians reading this or any other writings would ask the same question.  I mean after all it sounds very new agey and hokey pokey.  It sounds like something people say when they reach the end of their logic and cannot think of anything else to say “Well you just have to be born again.”  My question is what do we do with a statement like that?  Where do we go with something like that?  How do I put that into my daily life?

The simple and easy way to understand this is that God wants to be in a close and personal relationship with you.  He does not just want to be your Father He wants to be your Daddy.  That is mind blowing!  Maybe you read that last statement and went “OK and”…. But let me tell you why that is so powerful.  What Jesus is saying by be born again is God the all powerful, Creator, Maker of all, Master of the Universe wants to be your Dad.  He wants you to be His child.  This is so beyond amazing that I want to just stop typing because I cannot think of how to expound on that.

Jesus has changed the entire paradigm with the born again statement.  He has shifted everything.  So many of us have this idea about God that He does not care and has left us to our own devices.  But that is so beyond wrong that it make me almost cry.  God loves you, God the Father wants you to call Him Daddy.  He wants you to run to Him and let Him hold you.  He wants you to be with Him.  That is the Gospel message.  You want the Gospel here it is: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to be the sacrifice so that you can believe in His name and be born again as a child of the Most High and call Him Daddy.

There it is.  It really is that simple.  What does it mean to be born again, how do I apply that to my life?  I understand that God wants me.  I understand that God chose me.  I did not chose Him, but He reached down when I could do nothing and chose to love me and give everything for me.

When I came to Christ I did not do it in a church building, or with someone standing there giving me a prayer to pray (I am not saying anything bad about any of that), or after or during some tragedy.  I accepted Him when I was doing the dishes.  It was not an emotional event.  It was not a pressured event. It was simple and to the point.  I had a million questions about God and I was told I have to have faith.  I had enough faith to believe that God was real.  That was it no more no less.  I told Jesus in a very plain and clear way that I had destroyed my life by 22, taken drugs, tried to kill myself, and hated everything about me and most people.  If He wanted me and could use my life He could have it.  That was it.  He said yes and now I am no longer my own.  I am a son of God.  I was born again.  How do I apply what Jesus says in John 3:1-21 to my life I remember that my Daddy loves me.  I remember I am His.  That no matter what comes it is well with my soul.

Oh to feel the love of God, to feel His presence.  I cannot express it but I so badly want everyone to know it.  You don’t need to understand it all, you don’t need to “feel” it.  You need to accept it.  That is the reason we are reading though John together.  I want you to take a chance and say “Jesus I give you a try.”  I want everyone believer and nonbeliever to try Jesus.  If you know Him give Him another area of your life, if you don’t know Him then tell Him you would like to.  I did not feel it when I gave Him my life, but I was willing to try Him.

Just a thought,

Mike

Nothing, I gots nothin

This is draft number three for John 2.  I have so far written about the history of what happened using a most excellent Bill and Ted reference.  I have also written about how we need to go through our own lives and flip over tables.  The tables representing the sin and other things in our life that we allow in our lives.  But alas you will never read these because they have been deleted and I could not form a single cohesive thought out of them.

I really want to say something profound and deep, and I think that is the problem.  I want to be thoughtful but lately I cannot seem to put a thought together and I am not sure why.  So instead of trying to do anything I am going to just throw something out there.  It might be a mess and less than I want but it will be honest.

John 2 Summary:

We are going to do an overview of Chapter 2.  Why an overview?  Just because…..

The Wedding (verses 1-12).

So a couple of things here, first of course is the wedding.  The wedding was held on the third day.  This is interesting to take notice of because the third day (Tuesday) is the day of double blessing.  It is called this because during creation God says it is good twice on Tuesday.  This was the day he created land and seas which is called good, and then He created vegetation which He also called good.  This is the only day He calls good twice, so this is the day of double blessings and in ancient times (and to some extent still) Jewish people prefered to married on this day.  Just a little background for you there.

Next is the wine…..OK before my ultra conservative friends go absolutely nuts I am not telling people to start drinking, but I am going to let everyone in on a little secret.  When the Bible calls a drink wine it actually means wine like you think.  It’s not grape juice.  Show of hands who has heard of Thomas Bramwell Welch?  You are correct he is the Welch’s grape juice guy.  He became famous for pasteurizing grape juice so it did not ferment and become wine.  Grape juice was not invented until the 19th century.  Some reports mention a possibility of others doing this before Dr Welch but nothing out of the 19th century.  So lets do math…..Jesus somewhere about AD 30-50, grape juice somewhere about AD 1849-1869.  That gives us about 1819 years between Jesus turning water into wine and Welch making juice.  Sorry but it was wine.

Now do not think I am saying everyone should start drinking wine or other drink.  The Bible speaks on this topic many times and no one should be a drunkard.  Some are called to completely abstain and that is great my only point is let the Bible be.  Don’t start saying it says something it doesn’t say.  Jesus made wine and that’s OK He is God He is allowed to do that if He wants.

OK next on our trip we find ourselves traveling from Galilee to Capernaum (probably to stop at Peters house) to Jerusalem (does everyone still have their traveling buddy).  It is so exciting this time of year.  Everyone coming in for the required Passover festival.  Oh look pony rides….  OK lets focus we need to hurry or we will never pass our history test (see a Bill and Ted’s reference).

As we make our way to the temple we stop in the outer courtyard, and we have to stop because we are Gentiles (I assume we do not have any Messianic Jews in the group if we do you are free to wonder).  This is where verses 13 and on take place.  This one area.

Money Changers

The money changers were converting foreign money like the Roman Denarius to the proper currency for Temple Tax the Shekel.  This was a good thing because the Temple Tax had to be paid in Shekel or third or half at times.  The money changers were the equivalent of the teller at the bank changing currency from US Dollar to Canadian.  Only they were charging a fee and using dishonest scales.  That is always a bad idea. God HATES dishonest scales.  He never approves of that.

Animal Sales

Here is the deal with the selling of animals.  It was not so much like the outside of a Tractor Supply in the spring.  You had to have sacrifice and offering at the temple, and it could be BYOS but the priest had to approve of your offering.  Don’t get me wrong I very much approve of the practice that there be an approval process however like so many other things it became corrupt.  You could typically count on someone finding something wrong with your offering.  They would also point out that they had animals for sale, quality merchandise too.  For a small handling fee, convenience fee, fair market value charge, and so on you could purchase one of these fine animals.

Jesus was not happy to say the least.  He got table flippin mad.  He let them have it, flipping tables, running animals out of the courts, and whippin folks.  He never lost His cool though.  He was angry but always in control (read verse 16 and take notice to what he did).  We can learn from Him here to be angry at things that deserve anger do not become rageful.  I get this one to a point because false teaching really makes me mad.  I hate it and a fire starts to burn in me that causes me to spend a lot a time in prayer to react Christ like.

Moving on now to 18-21.  Jesus upset a lot of people and they demanded a sign.  He tells them to destroy this Temple and He will raise it up in three days.  He was referring to His death and resurrection but they did not get it.  Before you get all “well that just shows how blind they were, and I tell you what” you wouldn’t have gotten it either.  You and I have already read the end of the book and probably watched the movie.  There are so many times when Jesus is telling us something and woosh we miss it until later (verse 22).

Lastly verses 22-25.  Mostly all I want to point out here is verse 24.  Jesus did not commit himself to them because He knew all men.  This idea comes up a few times in John (at least once more) so be looking out for it.  Remember Jesus knows you and what you desire/want.

So my friends we just blew through John chapter 2.  Next week I am leading chapel at the prison so we will be out of John for a week and either be in 1 Cor 15 or Rom 8.  Please do me a favor and throw out a prayer for me as I have no idea which or what to speak on.  Also be excellent to each other.

Just a thought,
Mike

Who are you? or Who do you think you are?

It’s funny how the question of ‘who are you’ can be asked differently depending on the inflection of your voice.  Or you can add a few words and the question takes on a whole new meaning.

I think that is what we need to keep in mind when we read John 1:19-23 and yes I realize I am never going to finish reading John if I keep stopping every couple of verses but there is so much here.

Here is the abridged version.  The priest and Levites sent men to ask who this John fellow was.  They asked him first who are you and also tried to interject who they thought he might be.  John answered them each time simply saying no I’m not that guy.  He knew who he was not.  Finally they reached a point where they asked one last time but I think the tone was more of a ‘Who do you think you are?’  Simply put they were probably getting a little frustrated with the locus eating hippie.  After all he was out here baptizing people talking about the Christ, but says he is not the Christ, or the Prophet, or Elijah.  Just who does he think he is then.  Come on man we have got to bring answers to people who do not like surprises.  John knew who he was though.  John told them he was simply the one calling out in the wilderness “make straight the path of the LORD.”

John knew who he was, he knew who sent him, and he knew what he was supposed to do.  I notice from reading these verses (and the ones after) that John also knew who he wasn’t and what he wasn’t supposed to do.  It is easy to try to become someone you are not when you don’t know who you are.  When you are unsure of what you are supposed to do you can easily do what your not supposed to.  But what happens when you know who you are supposed to be and when you know what you are supposed to be doing?  What happens when you can stop all the noise and only do what you are supposed to do?  I’ll tell you what happens….something happens.  Yeah that’s right something happens.  That something is also far better than the nothing that happens when we don’t know who we are or what we’re doing.

How’s that for some profound insight; something.  I am not going to say something ridiculous like the earth shakes, money rains, and AIDS is healed.  I’m also not saying that cannot happen.  But what I think does happen is you become something new, something great in the hands of God.  I believe that when you know who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing you becomes a great mom, or dad, or son or daughter, or teacher, or technician, or librarian, or preacher, or whatever you are and do.  When we get rid of the noise, and stop trying to let people tell us who we are then we can become something different.

When these men came to John notice again that they did not just ask who are you.  They asked who are you, are you…..  They thought they knew who he might be and they decided to fill in the blank.  Many people (and good natured ones at that) do this to you and I.  They think they know who we are or should be and if we are not confident then we can fall into what I like to call the OH CRAP I DID IT AGAIN hotel.  Yeah been there and I have a room on reserve.

We forget sometimes who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing and start doing what others think we should be doing.  But I want to encourage you that if you know your supposed to’s then hold on to them and return to them if you need to.  If you do not then I cannot tell you even if you wanted me to.  Are you supposed to work there?  Are you supposed to live there?  Marry them?  School there?  How would I know?  I don’t write your plans and supposed to’s.

Here is what I do know: God loves you.  God has a plan for you?  God has a wonderful supposed to for you that He wants you to know too.  He will not tell you the whole plan but He will give you enough direction to get started and hold on to.  He will give you just enough so that you do not have to check into the OH CRAP I DID IT AGAIN hotel.  All you have to do is ask Him.

Just a thought,

Mike

Can you see me?

No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only who is at the Fathers side has made Him known. John 1:18 (NIV)

In this first part of the verse, it says that no one has ever seen God but some verses in the Old Testament talk about so and so seeing the Lord on High and seeing the appearance of God. This catches my attention because both statements cannot be true. What I mean is you cannot both see and never have seen someone at the same time.

If we do some digging we find that Greek definition for the word eōraken (stay with me here I promise not to use anymore Greek right now) means to see, perceive, and attend to. I like to give analogies so here is one. My bride can see me like no one else does. You can see me and you can know me to a point but no one knows me like her, no one sees me like she does. She can look at me and know what I am thinking or feeling. In a similar way, others may have seen a part of the Father or part of His glory but none have seen Him like Jesus sees Him.

Jesus and the Father are one and that means that Christ has and does see the Father in a way that we never can. We are redeemed and saved but I think we will spend eternity in heaven always seeing something new about God. However, Jesus sees the Father completely and wholly.

This brings me to the second point and I will keep it brief. Jesus is God, He is not the first creation, not the most important creation but He is God in flesh. He has always been and will always be. He is part of the Holy Trinity. If someone tries and get you to believe anything other than that about Jesus they are not preaching the Jesus of the Bible.