VIDEO Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16

When we ponder this verse, we’re faced with a dilemma. Why is being lukewarm worse than being cold? We can understand how our fervor for Christ should be hot. But if we’re not yet on fire for Him, isn’t it still better to be warmhearted than to be coldhearted?

The notes in the Jeremiah Study Bible help us here. There were three towns in close proximity: Hierapolis, famous for its hot springs, Colossae with its freshly-fed streams; and Laodicea with its piped-in water.

The JSB says, “In this verse, both hot and cold are good things. To first-century readers, they were not measures of spiritual temperature but of vitality and usefulness. The water from the hot springs of Hierapolis was useful for healing and restoration. The cold water at Colossae was refreshing to drink and quenched people’s thirst. But the water that reached Laodicea was distasteful and unsatisfying” (page 1844).

The Lord wants us to be cold—that is, refreshing and thirst-quenching. He wants us to be hot—that is, therapeutic and useful.

But may we never be lukewarm for Christ!

Slow down. Do not get in a rush. Take the needed time to think upon the Scriptures. It will set your life on fire. Ronnie Floyd

The Lord’s Word to His Church: Laodicea (Revelation 3:14–22)

Small Fish

Come, follow me. Matthew 19:21

Over several years, a British couple living in West Africa developed a strong friendship with a man in their town and many times shared the love of Jesus and the story of salvation with him. Their friend, however, was reluctant to relinquish the lifetime of allegiance he had to another religion, even though he came to recognize that faith in Christ was “the greater truth.” His concern was partly financial, since he was a leader in his faith and depended on the compensation he received. He also feared losing his reputation among the people in his community.

With sadness, he explained, “I’m like a man fishing with my hands in a stream. I have caught a small fish in one, but a bigger fish is swimming by. To catch the bigger fish, I have to let go of the smaller one!”

The rich young ruler Matthew wrote about in Matthew 19 had a similar problem. When he approached Jesus, he asked, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (v. 16). He seemed sincere, but he didn’t want to fully surrender his life to Jesus. He was rich, not only in money, but also in his pride of being a rule-follower. Although he desired eternal life, he loved something else more and rejected Christ’s words.

When we humbly surrender our life to Jesus and accept His free gift of salvation, He invites us, “Come, follow me” (v. 21).

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What one thing does Jesus require of us to receive salvation and the promise of eternal life with Him? What’s keeping you from fully surrendering to Him?

Dear Father, thank You for offering Your Son as payment for my sin. Help me to surrender wholly to You.

The Landmine of Unforgiveness

Ephesians 4:25-32

It can be difficult to let go of resentment towards those who have hurt us. But that is exactly what God asks us to do—not only for their good but also for our own. Unforgiveness causes stress and unhappiness that can creep into our relationships with co-workers, friends, and family. But when we choose to forgive, we will find freedom. Here are things to do if you have noticed bitterness in your heart:

• Assume full responsibility for your unforgiving spirit. The other person may be responsible for wrongful actions toward us, but we are nonetheless responsible for the sin of harboring bitterness.

• Confess honestly. It’s appropriate to admit to God when we harbor resentment or wish for someone’s punishment. But since an unforgiving spirit will return unless we can permanently lay down our anger, this is a choice many people must make repeatedly.

• Pray for your wrongdoer. We may not feel like talking to God on behalf of someone who’s hurt us, but doing so is the way to break the hold bitterness has on us.

Even after we have done these things, resentment may still crop up in our hearts. When that happens, we can thank God that we have, in fact, forgiven. We can also refuse Satan’s invitation to rehash the past.

The Lord Is Thy Keeper

“The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand….The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalm 121:5, 8)

One of the most precious doctrines in all of Scripture is that of the secure position of the believer in Christ Jesus. Nothing in creation is “able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

The apostle Peter tells us that we who are born again are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). Nothing we can do can merit salvation; similarly, nothing we do can keep it. This is God’s work, not ours, and extends to all realms of our lives. “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved [usually translated ‘kept’] blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

This keeping aspect of God’s work for us should not be a surprise, for Christ prayed for just this. With His betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death imminent, He prayed for all who would eventually believe on Him (John 17:20). “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me….While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost….I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]” (John 17:11-12, 15). We can be certain the prayer is answered, for God the Father would surely hear the intercessory prayer of His own beloved Son.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25). JDM

Wormy Fruit?

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge. —Psalm 75:6-7

God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.

God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things. We cannot buy God’s favor with crowds or converts or new missionaries sent out or Bibles distributed. All these things can be accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit….

Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is….What greater glory could come to any man? BAM059

Oh, to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,

This is my constant longing and prayer.

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh! to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,

Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!

Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;

Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. HCL231

Saints in Embryo

1 Thessalonians 5:23

John Wesley’s teaching on holiness was both novel and radical—in fact revolutionary. Wesley followed in the wake of Luther’s reformation. In Luther the pendulum had swung from “salvation by works” to “salvation by faith” but, as always the pendulum had swung too far in certain quarters. For some the wine had been too strong! “What a relief,” they had said in effect. “Thank God we have been shown the evil of salvation by works! All we have to do is “believe” and everything will be well on the judgment day.”

In pondering this sorry consequence of Luther’s doctrine, Wesley realized that the fault lay in the narrow meaning which had been given to the word “salvation.” In popular thinking “salvation” was simply a question of getting by on the day of judgment. It was strictly a heavenly matter.

Relentlessly Wesley stressed the need for personal holiness here on earth. Salvation was not a future question but a present concern. It was the duty and privilege of every Christian to live uprightly. Thoughts, motives, actions—all were within God’s sphere of interest and influence. Holiness was not the concern of a handful of religious specialists; it was the very heart of religion—for everyone. Salvation and holiness were but two sides of the same coin. They could not be separated. Every “saved” man was a saint in embryo.

Wesley took Luther’s doctrine one step further. Where Luther had said, “You are saved by faith,” Wesley said, “You are saved and sanctified by faith.”

The emphasis on holy living was long overdue. The preaching of entire sanctification as Wesley had taught it was an outstanding feature in the early revival days of our own movement. The doctrine is especially linked with two names: General Bramwell Booth and Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle. Due to their influence The Salvation Army has maintained a dual emphasis: salvation and holiness. We go so far as to name our Sunday meetings by the doctrines that are taught in them. Wesley’s teaching shook the church of his day, and there is little doubt that in Article 10 (1 Thessalonians 5:23) we have one of the most radical doctrines of holiness within the whole Christian Church.

John Larsson, Doctrine Without Tears

Be Thou Exalted

The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation. —2 Samuel 22:47

God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, “Hosanna in the highest.”   POG101-102

Be Thou exalted in my life. Amen.