Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cure for Lukewarm Christians

Chuckle: "Mama," asked the little girl, "if men go to heaven, too, why don't angels have whiskers?" "Because, dear," her mother answered, "men get to heaven by a very close shave." --Gertrude Pierson

Good Quote: “Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.” --Elie Wiesel


"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are Lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV).

If, after reading yesterday's lesson, you find yourself in a state of "lukewarmness" toward God and His church and you have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of your need to change, how would God have you go about it?

First, we must recognize our lukewarm condition. If we have grown comfortable, self-reliant, content, and without a burning spiritual purpose, we are lukewarm Christians. As I said previously, each one of us, at some point in our Christian life, has experienced times of being lukewarm. However, God does not want us to stay that way.

Second, we must have a sincere desire to change. This desire comes from the Holy Spirit as we yield to His direction. This may be where you are right now. If so, please listen to these words from our Lord to the lukewarm Christians in the church of Laodicea. "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on you eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat (fellowship) with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:18-20 NIV).

Third, we must repent and allow God to change us. Let Him totally rework our attitudes and priorities. Listen to these words with an open heart! "Never be lacking in zeal (lazy in your work), but keep your spiritual fervor (enthusiasm) in serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11 NIV). "Maintain your spiritual glow" (Moffett). Also, the psalmist says, "Zeal (passion) for your (God's) house consumes (burns within) me" (Psalm 69:9 NIV). Repentance and cleansing are the keys to regaining that spiritual fervor. If we allow God to give us renewed zeal, here are some results that we will experience (See Romans 12:12 NIV):

(1) We will be a joyful people. "Be joyful in hope." (2) We will endure difficulties with patience. "Be patient in affliction." (3) We will be faithful in prayer. "Be faithful in prayer." (4) We will serve others. "Share with God's people who are in need." (5) We will be hospitable toward everyone. "Practice hospitality." (6) We will seek opportunities for service. The body of Christ (church) "grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:16 NIV). (7) We will speak boldly about Jesus. "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20 NIV). (8) We will not neglect church attendance and fellowship. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).

God's kingdom, and this church, urgently need God's people to return to the "red-hot" zeal for Him and His work. We need spiritual revival! We need to get excited. We need to get back to the basics of being a Christian: (1) One in whom Jesus dwells; (2) One whose life Jesus controls; and (3) One through whom Jesus is revealed.

"When you become a sports spectator rather than a participant, the wrong things happen to your body. Your weight, blood pressure, resting heart-rate, cholesterol, and triglycerides all go up. Vital capacity, oxygen consumption, flexibility, stamina, and physical strength go down. Conclusion? Only the strongest can survive as spectators." Likewise, if you have slipped into spiritual apathy, indifference, or unconcern, won't you ask God's forgiveness. And ask them to restore the joy and excitement of your salvation and the fervor for His service. Get in the game! Become an excited, contributing, and happy Christian.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Neither Hot Nor Cold

Chuckle: "I wonder why people say 'amen' and not 'awomen'? Bobby questioned. His little friend replied, "Because they sing 'hymns' and not 'hers,' silly?"

Good Quote: “The danger of our becoming lukewarm is not from without—the danger is within.” --Reed Smoot


"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are Lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV). "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11 NIV).

Laodicea was a wealthy city. But it had always had a problem with its water supply. At one time, an aqueduct brought water to the city from some hot springs. But by the time the water reached the city, it was neither hot nor refreshingly cool -- only lukewarm. Using the words of Jesus, the apostle John, used this example of bland and tepid water to describe the Christians in the church at Laodicea. Because they had become lukewarm, they had become distasteful to the Lord - like a lukewarm drink. This metaphor describes not taking a stand for anything: indifference; complacency; and idleness. By neglecting to be devoted and active servants for Christ, the congregation had become hardened and self-satisfied, and was destroying itself. It was content with the status-quo. They saw no need for change or to be concerned.

I believe there is nothing more repugnant to God than a lukewarm, half-hearted, self-sufficient Christian or church. There should be excitement, zeal, and fervor in everything we do for our Lord. When we stop to consider what God has done for us, how can we be anything but zealous? However, sadly, the greatest sickness that plagues the church today is half-hearted complacency by its members. What constitutes a Lukewarm-warm Christian?

First, the lukewarm Christians are not the ones who stay home on Sundays without cause and make no pretense of living for God. No, those, by and large, are the "cold" ones. However, these seem to be more preferable to God than the lukewarm ones because they are not pretending to be something they are not. "I wish you were (hot or cold) one or the other." On the other hand, the "Lukewarm" ones are the ones who may attend church, but give little of their attention, time, and energy in worship or service of our Lord.

A little girl went to church one Sunday morning, but her parents stayed at home because they felt tired. When the little one returned, the father asked, "What did our pastor preach on this morning, dear?" "I don't remember all," said the child, "but I think his text was, Many were cold and a few were frozen." (Matthew 22:14, "Many called, few chosen" KJV).

Second, to the lukewarm Christian, church has become little more than a ritual in their lives. They attend and go through the motions of worship -- and feel they have done their religious duty for the week. They don't give much serious thought to spiritual matters again until the next time they take their Sunday clothes out of the closet. Their lives do not reflect active service for their Lord.

Third, the lukewarm Christian has a sense of contentment and peace about their Christianity. They are unaware of how far they are from where God wants them to be. Jesus said to the Laodiceans, "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17 NIV).

This is a powerful message from our Lord to each of us. Each of us has become "Lukewarm" at some point in our Christian experience. However, this is not a state in which God wants us to remain. The longer we stay in this state, the more hardened and calloused our hearts become to the wooing of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to draw us back into a love relationship with our Lord. He wants us to be happy, excited, active, and participating Christians deeply involved in the fellowship and ministries of the local church.

Love, Jerry & Dotse