Spirituality and Continuation of the Church of Laodicea

Transcript of the podcast.

Welcome to the Speak Life Church Podcast. Yesterday, I was talking to an entrepreneur/business guy, successful dude, and he was talking about in his guitar business that he’s getting a lot of older people who are buying guitars and delivering their dreams. It reminded me of something: It’s never too late to get started on that new path of success. You can shape your life the way you want to by putting in that work on a daily basis. Even if it feels like nothing makes sense, just remember that you can make a change so that you can also save lives in the future — your life. You can make  change. If you get nothing else out of today’s message, I wanted to start with that. The Old Testament book of Lamentations (3:21-23) says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” This week, I want to remind you that it’s not too late to change. It’s not too late to improve. It’s not too late to make a new way for yourself. You can still make it. I don’t care if you are nine or ninety-nine.

1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst [1] of the sea; 3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6  The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8  Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9  He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

 

I read for you Psalm 46 in its entirety. How are you doing this week? What you got goin’ on? There are some praise reports in the house! Yes, there are. My friend, Tat sent one, and Sarah sent one, and I think you’ve got something to tell me, too. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Send me an email: pastor@speaklifechurch.net I want to hear the good news! Come on and share it. Next I want to talk real quick about the title of spirituality and what that means. And then, we’re going to do our study on the Book of Revelation, alright?

 

Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in Thy Sight, oh, my Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. Amen.

 

Somebody made a comment and I wanted to just respond to it. They said that they were a “spiritual person” already, and they’re comfortable with what they doubt. Why do I insist that people see God from my perspective? I thought, Wow, ok! Uh, let’s start off right about here: You know, a lot of people would agree with that. They’d say that rather than speak about God in specific terms, how about we just handle the ultimate questions of this life and the next, in terms of vague generalities. You ever heard of a guy by the name of C.S. Lewis? He wrote a really cool book called The Screwtape Letters, and in it, the apprentice demon in this story was encouraged to deceive people by keeping their minds off the plain antitheses between true and false. In other words, a potent way to keep people from the truth of the Gospel is to lull them into assuming there is no actual truth to embrace, nor error to avoid. There are only feelings and opinions — mine, yours, and everybody’s, with none being more or less correct than any other. Now, see, that sounds really cool. C.S. Lewis asserted that such “spirituality” is the oldest heresy in Christian history because it denies devils and denies sin. He says, ‘when talking with somebody who is skeptical that there is an objective truth beyond our own subjective opinions, I found it helpful to ask questions like I genuinely want to understand what that person truly believes. Also, is it likely that most people who embrace an unobstructed, undefined spirituality haven’t really evaluated their position in any depth. If you ask good questions, it kind of forces them to do this.’ For instance, is there a difference between spirituality and religion? Discuss people who are known to have been “spiritual” — Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Adolf Hitler, David Koresh, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Morrison, Abraham Lincoln — it’s a big list.

Everybody I named pointed to God, or some transcendent higher power, as the base of their beliefs or behaviors, yet their values and teachings are all very different if not completely incompatible.

 

 Is there a right or wrong way to be spiritual?

Why? Why not? What is our authority on basis for deciding this? You know, the world is full of things that have been described as spiritual: crystal rocks, witches, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, stuff at the art museums, the birth of a baby, youtube concert, yeah, for real. People have said that. So, how are you spiritual, and how is that better than these? Those are the kinds of questions you can ask. How are religion and spirituality different? Do you think objective truth is a religious or a spiritual principle? Why? Or, how about: Do you believe Jesus was spiritual? Why? Jesus made many absolute statements concerning salvation from sin and deliverance from Evil, and He gave warnings about demons and Hell. Was Jesus correct in the things He taught?

What things can hinder a person’s spirituality?

That’s another good question. Sometimes it’s convenient to say, “I’m not into that stuff. I’m just spiritual.” But, see, some religious cults are spiritual, and they are evil. Can you define spiritual goodness without a specific reference point? If there were a specific reference point that determines goodness, wouldn’t that be something above and beyond our individual spirituality? In other words, wouldn’t there be an ultimate standard of the good, i.e. righteousness? The point is that while it may feel good to think of ourselves as spiritual, this means little without specific definitions based on object reality. The cold truth is that many who call themselves spiritual aren’t able to explain what that means — how they became spiritual, how it’s necessary to grow spiritually, or how to meaningfully share this with others. More and more younger Americans say that religious beliefs have no influence on their lives. So, in this context, Christianity offers objective, testable truth claims, corroborated by evidence that may be investigated. So, don’t say you’re spiritual. Alright.

 

Bible Study

Our Bible study this week returns us to the Book of Revelation (3:14-22). We’re talking about Laodicea, that wealthy city forty miles from Ephesus. If we continue like we were doing before, we have the commendation, the condemnation, the counsel, and the challenge of each of these churches. The commendation of Laodicea is that they have the distinction of being the only one whose conduct was so reprehensible that even the Christ of Glory who knew all about her could not find one thing on which to commend her. This was a tragic indictment, indeed, on so-called Christianity in the 20th and approaching 21st century. The condemnation of Laodicea — He said they were lukewarm. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.” God makes it clear that He is fully aware of our neutral position and condition of the church in these last days. It’s not hot — meaning zealous or good works — nor is it cold — meaning lifeless. Instead, it is lukewarm or indifferent. That’s the description of the modern day church. All kinds of organization, programs, committees: activities, but no power.

The Holy Spirit warned through Paul (in 2 Timothy 3:5). It says that in the last days many will be characterized as having a form of godliness, but denying its power having nothing to do with Him. The lukewarm church that he is talking about claims to represent Jesus Christ, but never sees the transformation of a soul from darkness to life, but instead deceives many because they do not have the power of the Gospel of Christ. These churches are usually more interested in social action than gospel action, more interested in reformation than transformation, more interested in planning than praying, and as a consequence, they are sickening to the Lord. He says, “so, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of My Mouth.” The Lord Jesus Christ does not claim this church for Himself even though its members make broad their claim of Him. They are deceived about themselves. They say, “I am rich. I have acquired wealth. I don’t need a thing,” but they don’t realize they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. All deception is evil, but the most devastating deception is self-deception. The Laodicean Church and this age that she represents are about deceiving themselves. This fact can easily be seen by the comparison of Laodicea’s description of herself and the Lord’s description of her. They are two different things. Here’s what Laodicea describes themselves as: “I am rich. I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” Material abundance is not conducive to spiritual vitality. The Laodicean church of today is rich. Her churches are the finest. She has fabulous architecture, million-dollar buildings, fundraising organizations, and a large — though unconsecrated — church membership. In saying, “I have acquired wealth and don’t need a thing,” she does not realize her poverty-stricken spiritual nature. We’re talking about the mega-church here. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” We, humans, can organize. We can build. We can promote. We can preach. We can teach, but only the Spirit of God can convict human souls. And God will use anybody or anything for that purpose. The person who’s standing behind the pulpit can be a babbling idiot, but if God has called him there and the Word is from Him, it can change souls. It can heal. It can do everything Jesus said it can do. Only the Spirit of God can transform the lives of people. Only the Spirit of God can glorify Jesus Christ who said, of the Holy Spirit, “He will bring glory to Me.” (John 16:14) This is a good test of any work claiming to be performed in the Name of Christ. If it glorifies humanity, it is not the work of The Spirit. The unique test of the Spirit is: Does it glorify Jesus Christ? This church age does not, for instead of preaching the Gospel in Jesus’s Name to reach a maximum number of souls in these days, folks spend their time in doctrinal denial of the faith that was once for all and entrusted to the saints. As one mainline church pastor once said, “I don’t want to condemn anyone by telling them Christ is the only way of salvation. That would condemn their belief as wrong.” Instead of grappling with and teaching the truth about The Bible, this guy spent his time on social causes. His sermons were titled in a catchy way so that it looked like they were up-to-date. He was part of the “growing movement.” The Laodicean church of today would be at the forefront of rights and movements and be the leaders of ordinations of people you know shouldn’t be. The plight of the Laodicean church, which, when she stands before Jesus Christ in judgment, will be the same as that of the group of religious folks described by our Lord Himself in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then, I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers.” The true state of the Laodicean Church can be seen by noting in detail what Christ saw in this church. To Him, she was wretched, pitiful, poor, and blind, even though she gave herself lessons on positive thinking and read books on how to have peace. In reality, her people were an unhappy, wretched lot, for riches never satisfy the hungry human heart. Even though rich in material things, the Laodicean church members were poor because they did not know Christ, and this is in accord with Our Lord’s Statement in Mark 8:36 where He said, “For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?” And although the Laodicean church members thought  they knew and understood through their sophisticated education and appropriation of “wisdom,” they did not understand the ways of God. Human nature must be changed internally, and only God can do that. The more people try to solve the problems, socially, without Christ, the more confused the problem will become. He also said they were naked. This 20th-century Ladicean Church is clothed with religion. She wraps her religious robes about her, burns her candles, waves her symbols, offers her chants, and reads her creeds, but Jesus Christ sees her as “naked,” for she is not clothed by faith with the garments of righteousness. I feel like I’m mumbling, but do you understand what I’m saying today? God does give us some counsel. He gives us some recommendations. He counsels the Church of Laodicea to do four things, all of which are part of the salvation experience, indicating that this church is not a born-again church. First, He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich.” Eternal riches are not appropriated by material possessions. Instad, they have been appropriated by Christ and are available by faith. 1 Peter 1:7 indicates that “these have come so that your faith may be more precious than gold.” It is interesting to note that the Laodicean Church labeled “poor” is asked to buy something. How’s this to be understood? You know, in the Book of Isaiah the prophet (55:1), we can read about God’s invitation to human beings to come and buy what they need without money and without cost. Salvation is not purchased through our efforts. It has been purchased for us by the death of Christ on Calvary’s Cross. Therefore, the poorest of the poor can pay the price, which is to: humble oneself, call on the Name of the Lord, and believe in Him.

 

Secondly, He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me white clothes to wear.” This denotes the righteousness required to come into God’s Presence (Revelation 3:5). He knew their nakedness and their need for the “white clothes” to represent righteousness. Back to the prophet Isaiah (61:10); we read of God’s Provision of garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness, as a bride or a groom might wear. Righteousness is imputed to human beings when they call on the Name of the Lord and are saved.

 

Thirdly, “I counsel you to buy from me salve to put on your eyes so you can see.” What this is talking about is an indication of our need of spiritual illumination. No matter how brilliant people are here, unless they are indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, they will never understand the Ways of God. Only the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would be our teacher, can cause human beings to understand the Ways of God. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 

And, finally, the fourth thing is to be earnest and repent. This lukewarm, indifferent, materialistic church is challenged by God on the basis of His Love for them even in that lost state, to repent of their sins and return to Him. You know, no matter how far you go off-track, it only takes one step to turn around. Remember that. What is Christ telling us in this couple to the Laodicean Church? Although the church has excluded Him, those who are willing to receive Jesus are given a special invitation that is also applicable to individuals of all church ages. He says, “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 with him, and he with me.” This verse of Scripture has been beautifully described by one saint of God as the simplest explanation of the plan of salvation encompassed in a brief statement within the lids of God’s Word. The door, referred to here as the door to one’s heart, is the center of one’s being. The Bible says: Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Consequently, we find Christ knocking at the door of this emotional center called the heart asking entrance. He doesn’t force His way. He patiently knocks. If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in. For almost 2,000 years, our Lord has faithfully, patiently, and wonderfully knocked on the doors of our hearts. How does He knock? In many ways.

Four of which I’d like to share with you now.

 

  1. Through His Word. The Lord Jesus said, “I tell you the truth. Whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) We must hear our blessed Lord’s Word to be saved. Many have felt the gentle knock of The Savior at the door of their hearts as they read some portion of the Word of God or maybe even as you are listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth. Sometimes His knocking is evidenced itself by a violent reaction or rejection, but it does not minimize the fact that Christ has knocked. How else does God knock?
  2. Through His people. Sometimes we look at folks and go, “What was I supposed to talk about with that person? I’m not quite sure.” But, the Scripture says, “and how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)” We usually think of the great preachers of the church, the Billy Grahams, the Charles Stanleys….but if the truth were known — and it will be when we stand before The Judgement Seat of Christ — Jesus knocks through the ordinary, everyday, often obscure people, like you and me. How does God knock?
  3. Through His Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus made it clear in John 14:8 that He sent the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of humankind of sin and righteousness and judgment. Many who thought they had escaped the preacher and the Word of God have been awakened in the middle of the night to toss restlessly in bed at the conviction of God’s Spirit, which is the gentle knocking of Jesus at the door of one’s heart.
  4. Through Providence. Yeah, Providence is kind of a funky word. It’s often misused as a rather impersonal reference to God, but I want to use it in the sense to mean God’s gentle alignment on the affairs of a person’s life that continually point him or her to the need of inviting Jesus into their life. Many who have felt the hot breath of death recognize they were saved by the Providence of God. They may not recognize that this was the gentle knock of Jesus at their door, but it was just the same. How it happens sometimes throws us off, but sometimes the reason why we’re still here is because God is still knocking. The reason He hasn’t called us all home is because He’s still trying to reach the one. Perhaps you’ve heard that knock at your heart in some of these ways — through His Word, through His people, through His Holy Spirit, maybe even through Providence. The key question is: Have you opened the door and accepted His Promise? He says, “If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” This indicates fellowship with Jesus. You are incomplete until you have fellowship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Word tells us that in 1 John 1:3 that is only possible by inviting Him into your heart.

 

I’m going to stop right there, and next week, we’ll carry on with the challenge of the Church of Laodicea. I’m hoping that you’re thinking about that question I just asked you. You’ve listened. You’ve been at church. You’ve read some words in The Bible, but you don’t have a personal relationship with God. He is trying to get you to tune in to His Station. He’s been knocking on your heart for, maybe, years. When you open The Book, and you read The Word through even this podcast, or other people, through the Holy Spirit, through divine intervention, there’s been something that has happened that has pointed Him to you, and you still haven’t moved. I’m asking you to consider it right now, not to waste another day. Okay?

 

{Hymn Have Thine Own Way, Lord sung here}

 

Eternal God, our Father, we come before You to say thank You for today. Thank you for The Word. Thank You for this message. Thank You for touching our hearts. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Father, we don’t always know what to pray for. We are quite dumb sometimes. We miss the mark so many times, but thank You for allowing us to come back again to Your Throne. We ask that You forgive us of everything we’ve done contrary to Your Will. Help us to be more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us, Lord God, to understand when You’re there in our presence. Help us to realize the love that You’ve given us, that You’ve sacrificed for us. Help us to be a better light to other people, better ambassadors. Help us, Lord God, to do what You’ve called each one of us to do. Show us the way. Open our eyes and our hearts so we may receive You. Forgive us, Lord God, for that thing, whatever that thing is. We stand before You naked and unashamed. We are Your children. We ask, Lord God, that You would bless our families, that You would keep us safe, that You would watch over us and put that hedge of protection around us anew and afresh. Heal those who are sick right now. Heal those who are brokenhearted. Heal those who are mourning. Somebody is grieving. Somebody is sad. Lift up our eyes, oh, Lord God. Even in the darkest night, You are there. Help us to remember Your Peace that surpasses all understanding. We ask for that Peace right now. We thank you, Lord God, for this time together. It’s in the Name of Your Son Jesus that we praise You and thank You. Amen.

 

Well, that’s it for this week. You’ve made it to the month of November 2020. We’re headed towards Thanksgiving already! I want to thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing, again, to Speak Life Church Podcast. I’m Reverend Kenn Blanchard, and I’m hoping that the Word convicts you and the Word teaches, that the Word does something that the Lord intended it to do. If you want to reach out to me, I can be found at pastor@speaklifechurch.net Yes, I can. You can call me at (202)579-9435. I’m all over Facebook. Look for Kenn with two “N’s,” and you’ll find Kenn Blanchard. I’m there! Let me know what’s on your mind, alright?

 

May the Lord bless and keep you. May heaven’s face continue to shine upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day when there is no dawn, and there is no sunset, my family, my friends, my brother, my sister, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Until then — or next week! — God bless.

 

Are You Spiritual or Religious?

are you spiritual or religious

Titles

How many times have you heard someone describing their faith status as being spiritual but not religious?  What do you identify as in your Christian walk?

As Christians we struggle with titles and identifying words for what we do and what we are.  Words have always been important.  They define us.  In a time where identity is topical.  What do you call yourself as related to Christianity?  Not only do we have goo- gobs of denominations but even more differences internally.

If you think about it, I bet it is because of the shortcomings you have witnessed, lived and survived as a Christian.  Have you heard the podcast?

Are you religious? Religion is our attempt at worshipping God in the manner of our preference. To be spiritual is to recognize the existence of God, angels and demons. That is not saying much, actually. Demons recognize God, they just don’t worship Him.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:19 (KJV)

It is not secret that the concept of organized religion has come short for most people. If the truth be told we have come short of what God wants for us.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23

Our churches are imperfect because we are in it. There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people.

Are You Spiritual or Religious?

One thing about deciding if we are religious or spiritual is from our failing as a religious community is forgetting who the real enemy is. We fight each other. We fight the pastor. We fight the deacons. We fight non-Christians. We fight people that show us our shortcomings. We fight a lot for people trying to be like Jesus. The real enemy is spiritual. It is the unseen forces that inhabit our dwellings, and people in our lives. Being demon possessed sounds horrible but lets move away from the Exorcist type movies and think about what happens to us daily.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

Have you ever had a family event go south (go to hell) after it started off great? There was love and peace in the home and then without warning someone ignites a firestorm of mean spirited conversation that destroys the joy. It is often the family member that doesn’t go to church. Or how about after a guest comes over. It is not the guest necessarily but as if a presence came in with them that changed the dynamic of the event.

This event influences more people than presenting the Gospel. It is why it happens. It is demonic.

How about a home that goes from warm to cold. A day that goes from great to horrible as if a virus of evil passes through it. I submit that this is exactly what happened.
How about the church business meeting? Those are often the worse. Meetings held were we talk about everything but evangelizing, saving people from eternal death or helping someone. They are ripe for evil influences. Meetings were we are more concerned with parliamentary procedure than prayer. Prayer is more important than we realize.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have enemies in the spiritual realms. Satan and his minions hate you. They seek to stop your growth, delay your progress, kill your joy. What’s worse is you accept it on a daily basis as normal. You blame everything and everyone else.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

It doesn’t just happen in church or in the movies.   It happens so often we miss it. Think about family times that turn out to make you NOT want to be around those who love you unconditionally. Think about all the times we have allowed ourselves to be angered, frustrated, or whatever is the opposite of what God would prefer.

You ever had family dinner time destroyed? The family is enjoying themselves and feeling the love and thankful to God about their blessings and then it hits.

How about in the home with a child that all of a sudden disrespects you, hits a hot button of yours.

It happens in church. It splits the church. It undoes the fabric of a church congregation which is actually another family.

Let’s talk about demons in the movies. They often say snarky stuff at first. It’s funny sometimes. It is a diversion. The next level is often hurtful truths. They are not all knowing but having been around longer than we have and able to confer with other demons on stuff about us and our families that appear impressive. They use that information to push your buttons. It came shame us, or fill us up with false pride. And it is always subtle. There is no being in red with horns and a pointed tail to scare us. The monster comes only after your confront it and try to cast it out. Then you get the ugly thing that spits, fights, curses God and blasphemes.

Casting out demons is no joke. It is not for the weak in faith. Not many of us are strong enough to do it. Look at what happened to the posers that tried it in Acts 19:13-16

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

I don’t want you running out of the house naked and wounded.

Reading Scripture the Holy Spirit cautions us that to do it successfully it must be done by someone strong in their faith, cleaned and prepared by fasting and prayer.

In the movies, The Exorcist (spoiler alert) both priest died. Prayer is still crucial for us on a day to day activity before we deal with anyone.

Suggestions:
Before your next conversation with your spouse pray.
Before your next meeting pray.
Before your next event pray.

You want to pray to rid your home of indwelling or wandering evil.
You want to pray to protect your family while home. Think of evil as a roach in your home or church. You need to fumigate it with prayer.

Call the Holy Spirit to replace what is there. That is done through prayer and praise.

Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I want to give you a title if you must have one. Instead of being religious or spiritual, how about being a follower or disciple of Jesus the Christ. There is no ambiguity or gray area there. But I must warn you there is no middle of the road answer. You are either His or you are not…

Matthew 10:33 says “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character.

Amen?

Make Good Choices a sign pointing to choices
Make Good Choices