WHY DID JESUS SPEAK SO STRONGLY AGAINST LUKEWARM FAITH?

To this day, I remember the message that brought me to Christ. The message was so strong that it still brings tears to my eyes because of the reverence and urgency in the speakers delivery…”What if Jesus were to come RIGHT NOW? Would you be ready?” Honestly, I felt so unworthy of God’s omnipresent love that I couldn’t even fathom that I, a lowly human being, could be forgiven of my sins through confession that Jesus is the Son of God and by being baptized into the watery grave. I have been a Christian for 11 years and I haven’t looked back.

It has not always been easy. Attending college and the need to fit in –  to surrounding myself with people who very likely did not have my best interest at heart… I became victim of being a lukewarm Christian. Because of my self-righteous complacency, my stubbornness and wanting to do things the “Kiara way.”

Over the years, I have realized how important having a relationship with God was. Not only that, but the guy that I would marry needed to have the same tenacity and longing for God as much as I do (iron sharpens iron). As Trey and I continue to court and seek out marriage, my dad suggested that before we get hitched, we go through spiritual relationship counseling. As direction given by our counselor at the end of our session, he challenged the both of us to read the Bible everyday. It wasn’t until I started reading the Bible not out of need because of something negative going on in my life, but out of necessity to feed my soul everyday was that I realized that everything I need as far as direction on what to do is in the Bible and is still applicable today.

I have found that for most of my Christian life, I have been a lukewarm Christian… until  recently. I don’t have much friends anymore. I enjoy attending church service and really try to hear, understand and apply the lessons taught and see how and where I can apply it in my daily life. But for so long, I was a lukewarm Christian. The beauty of it, is that you don’t have to be!

Read the devotion below and see how it can be applied in your daily life to boil in The Spirit!

DEVOTION

In Revelation 3:14–21, the Lord is describing the “lukewarm” heart attitude of those in the Laodicean church, an attitude manifested by their deeds. The Laodiceans were neither cold nor hot in relation to God, just lukewarm. Hot water can cleanse and purify; cold water can refresh and enliven. But lukewarm water carries no similar value. The Laodiceans understood the Lord’s analogy because their city drinking water came over an aqueduct from a spring six miles to the south, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. Laodicean water was not hot like the nearby hot springs that people bathed in, nor was it refreshingly cold for drinking. It was lukewarm, good for nothing. In fact, it was nauseating, and that was the Lord’s response to the Laodiceans—they sickened Him, and He said, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (verse 16).

The letter to the church at Laodicea is the harshest of the seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor. By His indictment of their “deeds” (Revelation 3:15), Jesus makes it clear that this is a dead church. The members of this church see themselves as “rich” and self-sufficient, but the Lord sees them as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (verse 17). Their lukewarm faith was hypocritical; their church was full of unconverted, pretend Christians.

Jesus frequently equates deeds with a person’s true spiritual state: “By their fruit you will recognize them,” and “Every good tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:16–17). Clearly, the lukewarm deeds of the Laodiceans were not in keeping with true salvation. The deeds of the true believer will be “hot” or “cold”—that is, they will benefit the world in some way and reflect the spiritual passion of a life transformed. Lukewarm deeds, however—those done without joy, without love, and without the fire of the Spirit—do harm to the watching world. The lukewarm are those who claim to know God but live as though He doesn’t exist. They may go to church and practice a form of religion, but their inner state is one of self-righteous complacency. They claim to be Christians, but their hearts are unchanged, and their hypocrisy is sickening to God.

The fact that the lukewarm individuals to whom Christ speaks are not saved is seen in the picture of Jesus standing outside of the church (Revelation 3:20). He has not yet been welcomed into their midst. In love, the Lord rebukes and disciplines them, commanding them to repent (verse 19). He sees their lukewarm attitudes as “shameful nakedness” that needs to be clothed in the white garments of true righteousness (verse 18). He urges them to be earnest, or zealous, and commit themselves totally to Him. Our Lord is gracious and long-suffering and gives the lukewarm time to repent.

The Laodiceans enjoyed material prosperity that, coupled with a semblance of true religion, led them to a false sense of security and independence (see Mark 10:23). The expression “I am rich; I have acquired wealth” (Revelation 3:17) stresses that the wealth attained came though self-exertion. Spiritually, they had great needs. A self-sufficient attitude and lukewarm faith are constant dangers when people live lives of ease and prosperity.

PRAYER

 Oh, Father, You have created me with the capacity for deep affections —  and You made me this way that I may glorify You by finding you my Supreme Satisfaction and the Fountain of everything delightful.

But I confess that my affections for You are often grievously tepid while my selfish interests steam.

  • I am bold to defend my own honor and reputation and often timid to defend Yours.
  • I am quick to satisfy my bodily appetites and often slow to feed my soul with the Bread of Life.
  • I squander moments devoted to communing with You while carefully protecting moments devoted to banal entertainment.
  • I am distracted from speaking with you by books that need straightening, email that needs answering, and a bald spot in the yard that needs seeding.

I am easily and foolishly concerned with worldly success and prosperity while languid and unmoved about the greater things of another world!

And I know that my errant affections are most offensive to You when I hear of the infinite height, depth, and length, and breadth of your love for me in Christ Jesus,

O gracious Father, thank you that your Son’s great sacrifice is so great and so sufficient that it pays even for such sins as mine.

Father, I am humbled to the dust that I am not more affected at what affects you! I repent of being “slothful in zeal”! No more, Father! Make me boil in spirit as I serve you (Romans 12:11)! To be moved by your glorious gospel and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4) is why you gave me affections! Nothing in earth or heaven is greater or more important.

Today, I take to heart Your Son’s warning: “Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm… I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15–16). Merciful Father, make me hot! Whatever it takes, whatever it costs me, give me the Spirit-salve for my heart-eyes (Revelation 3:18) so that I may see what is Real, believe what is True, treasure what is Valuable, and forsake what is worthless.

In the name of Jesus, amen.

This prayer was inspired by and adapted from a portion of Jonathan Edwards’s book, Religious Affections (the last three paragraphs of Part 1).

 

SIgnature

Advertisements

GOD HELPS THE HELPLESS

BIBLE THOUGHT: “THE LORD IS WITH YOU WHEN YOU ARE WITH HIM. IF YOU SEEK HIM, HE WILL BE FOUND BY YOU” (2 CHRONICLES 15:2, NASB)

READ 2 CHRONICLES 14:9-15 for a better understanding of the lesson.

HAVE YOU ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders? Have you felt alone in the fight for the right or that you are weak and the forces of evil around you are so strong? Have you feared that the big bully down the street is always going to get the best of you?

To most eyes, Asa and his army were greatly outnumbered on the battlefield that day. However, with God on their side they greatly outnumbered the enemy.

No matter how weak we seem to be, no matter how strong the evil forces around us seem to be, there is no one like God to help the powerless against the mighty.

When we rely on God and draw our strength from Him, then we will overcome the difficulties of our lives.

When we are on God’s side, we are always in the majority, no matter how many are against us.

Give me a task too big,

Too hard for human hands.

Then I shall come at length

To lean on Thee;

An leaning, find my strength.

-Wilbur Humphrey Fowler

Sing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Prayer: Lord, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, for we rely on You. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– NANCY FERGUSON, Abilene, Texas

This lesson is brought to you by POWER, a daily devotion magazine.

WHY ARE YOU HERE?

BIBLE THOUGHT: “I SOUGHT THE LORD, AND HE ANSWERED ME; HE DELIVERED ME FROM ALL MY FEARS. THOSE WHO LOOK TO HIM ARE RADIANT; THEIR FACES ARE NEVER COVERED WITH SHAME” (PSALM 34:4-5, NASB)

READ 1 KINGS 19:1-9 for an application of this lesson.

TRUE ISRAELITE prophets were often fiercely opposed by monarchs and the religious rich–sometimes threatened, beaten, and driven into hiding. Some lamented and complained. Some, like Jonah, fled. Consider Elijah, whose early prophetic career was sensational, miraculous, and heroic, was later seen hiding in the cave at Horeb. What happened?

At Horeb Elijah sought the safety of a sacred place, not God. Shamefully, it wasn’t where God told him to go. Elijah’s only prayers, motivated by fear, was, “Take my life!” Then he ran extreme distances. Horeb is 250 miles from Mt. Carmel. Damascus, where God finally sent him, is 540 miles north.

Before God commanded Elijah to “Go!” God pressed him with a disorienting question: “Why are you here?” Elijah responded defensively, never answering God’s question.

What are you doing wherever you are? Why? God is asking. His plan is good, His delivery is sure!

Sing “Take My Life and Let It Be

Prayer: O Lord, may Your calling and claim on my life give it clear meaning and direction. Daily, may I faithfully seek You, Your help, and Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– CRAIG BOWMAN, Rochester, Michigan

Today’s lesson has been brought to you by POWER, a daily devotion magazine.

POWER IN SERVICE

BIBLE THOUGHT: “YOU KNOW THAT THE RULERS OF THE GENTILES LORD IT OVER THEM, AND THEIR HIGH OFFICIALS EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THEM. NOT SO WITH YOU. INSTEAD, WHOEVER WANTS TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU MUST BE YOUR SERVANT” (MATTHEW 20:25-26, NASB).

READ 1 KINGS 12:1-19 to gain a better understanding of this lesson.

THERE IS a paradox inherent in leadership. The more we attempt to control people the less control we have over them. Those who rule with a heavy hand, issuing edicts from on high, then sitting back to critique the labor of their subjects, will soon find rebellion and desertion among the ranks. However, those who lead by rolling up their sleeves and joining the workforce will win the loyalty and respect of their followers.

Peter understood this principle when he exhorted elders to be “eager to serve, of lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3). Although we may not hold an official position of leadership, likely we serve as leaders in some capacity. As parents, do we work alongside our children as they perform their chores, or do we sit in our easy chairs, barking out orders while reading the newspaper or watching TV? As Bible class teachers, do we learn the memory verses along with our students, or peek in our Bibles as they recite to be sure it’s right? As coaches, do we play alongside our athletes or watch our athletes suffer in pain and smirk?

Let’s resolve today to follow the example of Jesus, our ultimate leader, who “…did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Matthew 20:28).

Sing “Lord, Make Me a Servant

Prayer: Father, please give us the heart of a servant and help us not to ask or expect anyone to do anything that we are not ready and willing to do ourselves. In the name of Your Servant, Jesus. Amen.

– JAN KNOX, Granbury, Texas

This lesson was brought to you by POWER, a daily devotion magazine.

PRAYER IS A LIFESAVER

BIBLE THOUGHT: “THEREFORE CONFESS YOUR SINS TO EACH OTHER AND PRAY FOR EACH OTHER SO THAT YOU MAY BE HEALED. THE PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN IS POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE” (JAMES 5:16, NASB)

READ 1 SAMUEL 12:16-25 for a better application of the lesson.

I HEARD a story about a bald eagle soaring over a lake. The eagle sent his talons deep into the lake for a fish, but his catch was far too heavy! The eagle began to sink when two other eagles appeared. Each one went under one of the wings of their comrade and carried him to safety. What a beautiful picture of prayer.

I like to think that prayers build walls of love around those prayed for. The walls are built with sincere concern, promoting healing and well being in Christ.

Make a wall of love and prayers for someone today. You may not know the results of your prayers, but God knows. You can be strong, lifting wings for a friend in need.

Sing “Pray All the Time

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for answering our prayers. We worship, adore and glorify You in every way. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

– JOAN CLAYTON, Clovis, New Mexico

Devotion pulled from POWER, a daily devotional magazine.

A POWER-FULL LIFE

BIBLE THOUGHT: “‘MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR POWER IS PERFECTED IN WEAKNESS'” (2 CORINTHIANS 12:9, NASB)

READ 1 SAMUEL 1:9-20 for a better application of this lesson.

I REMEMBER driving nervously to the hospital on the day our baby girl was born, being so fearful that she would not be healthy. I prayed through my fears, “God I’m so afraid that she will not be healthy, happy, and all that we want her to be! If she isn’t… I can’t sustain that thought!” Then I knew the only hope was to give her to Him, “She is Yours, God.” I prayed that prayer with all the sincerity that Hannah prayed in her prayer to God. I knew that He agreed, “Yes. She is mine.”

Four years later, we learned that our precious little one had Type I diabetes. I held her tiny, trusting finger as they stabbed it for a blood test. Tears welled in both of us. What will this mean for her life? There is no cure. And every blood-lancing day since, she has battled that disease.

But every day since she has also exuded God’s beauty, His goodness. She sees life as God’s art. We could not change a single thing about her including her disease. And she agrees. She often quotes the full passage of our Bible thought as she testifies to God’s grace to her in her weakness. She is thankful even for this weakness and its pointing to God’s power.

Sing “The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Prayer: Lord of life, help us today to see the glory of Christ shine in our weaknesses. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– PHIL PHILLIPS, Westlake Village, California

This lesson was brought to you by POWER, a daily devotion magazine.

STIRRED TO GIVE

BIBLE THOUGHT: “BUT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE NEITHER MOTH NOR RUST DESTROYS, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK IN OR STEAL; FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO” (MATTHEW 6:20-21, NASB).

READ EXODUS 35:20-29 for a better application of this lesson.

HAS YOUR heart ever swelled with such love for someone that you were overwhelmed with a need to give that person a wonderful gift? The Israelites had been given a second chance! Even after they had given their jewelry to be shaped into a golden calf, even after they had worshiped the calf, turning their backs on the One who had delivered them from bondage, the Lord God had forgiven them and renewed His covenant with them. No wonder their hearts were stirred to bring gifts for His tabernacle.

At times I am filled with the same emotions that the Israelites felt. How many times have you experienced peace from God and been keenly reminded of His forgiveness? How many times have you been given a second chance? Like the Israelites, my heart swells with the need to give Him gifts. But at other times, I am tempted to worship the gift rather than the Giver. I begin to think of the gifts I am been given. My heart is stirred more by the pain of giving up the gift than the joy of expressing love to the Giver. We can learn from Israel’s generosity.

Sing “We Give Thee But Thine Own

Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me and for Your eternal patience with me. Forgive me for loving Your gifts too much and loving You too little. Please accept my life as a gift to You today. Through Jesus, my example, I pray. Amen. 

– BEVERLY LOGUE, Mercred, California

Devotion pulled from POWER, a daily devotional magazine.

PRAYING ALL THE TIME

BIBLE THOUGHT: “THEY ALL JOINED TOGETHER CONSTANTLY IN PRAYER, ALONG WITH THE WOMEN AND MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS, AND WITH HIS BROTHERS” (ACTS 1:14, NASB).

READ 2 TIMOTHY 1:3-12 for a better application of this lesson.

WHAT BRINGS you to your knees before the Father? Usually, it is a deeply felt need for God’s deliverance and direction. We can’t live life on our knees physically, but we can always be on our knees spiritually — in our heart and in our head.

Do you talk to yourself? You don’t have to admit it. But it has its uses; we can cultivate talking to ourselves about God. Say to yourself, “I need the LORD.” “Jesus is with me.” “God’s mercy covers me.” “He weeps with me.” Small sentences that can be said in our heads to remind us of the unseen truth. It can become a habitual response to life. It is spiritual kneeling before the Father.

You also have memorized verses that you can bring to mind… even if you haven’t, why not start now? “The LORD is my shepherd.” This is another way of kneeling, of keeping things straight. Focusing on Christ prevents loneliness and hopelessness. Walking, waiting on a ride, waiting on a meeting to end, waiting on the waiter– we can be saying our small truths silently so we know where we are, who we are, whose we are.

Sing “Into My Heart”

Prayer: LORD of heaven and earth, I cannot organize or purify my life. I need Your LOVE, Your BLOOD, Your LEADERSHIP to do anything good with this day. Help me focus my mind and heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– EMILY Y. LEMLEY, co-editor

Devotion pulled from POWER, a daily devotional magazine.

LOVE THAT ISN’T EASY

BIBLE THOUGHT: “DO TO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO TO YOU” (LUKE 6:31, NASB)

READ LUKE 6:27-36 for a better application of this lesson.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE sounds like something Jesus might have taught. But the term doesn’t appear in scripture. It comes to us from the discipline of psychology and implies acceptance and affection toward others.

That’s not a bad thing. But Jesus points us beyond attitude and emotion, calling us to an act of the will, loving our enemies in a way that is like God, Himself, who is “kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”

Examples? Doing good to the hateful, blessing those who curse you, praying for those who abuse you. Don’t hit back, don’t withhold anything from those who take without asking, lend to those who ask without expecting anything back. Difficult? True, it’s not that easy being like God, behaving like Jesus did, is it?

Over the years, I have grown up. I have changed. I have evolved. However, those who have not taken the time to know me now, may use my past poor and immature behavior against me to this day. It can be hard to get through, especially if the individual is unforgiving. Whenever I see something on social media or hear that someone has been talking poorly behind my back, I just want to lash out show them a piece of my mind (that’s the Bajan in me haha). But, the bible teaches in Matthew 5:44, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Man, that is hard. 

Imagine being Jesus… he had so many haters and people that simply hated him for the simple fact that he was our Savior. Many thought that he was full of himself and just didn’t believe in what He had to say. Others wanted to bring him down to see how far they could take him. In the same way, your foes may mistreat you and will want to bring you down, just to bring you down.

On the contrary, maybe you’re the one who is hating. Stop that. Take a look at yourself and reflect on why you think you’re acting negatively. Keep a journal to vent and it will help you deal with real life a little better.

His kind of unconditional love is an act, doing something good for someone who may not have been good to us, expecting nothing in return.

Most of us haven’t quite achieved this level of perfection. Let’s begin (again) thinking about how we can bless those who have no intention of blessing us. The result? We will bear His image. We will be His children. We are one step closer to inheriting the Kingdom of God.

Sing “The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases”

Prayer: Dear Father, you have loved me when I was unlovable, given freely to me when I was selfish, let Your Son die for us when we were in sin. Thank you. Please give me Your spirit of mercy and help me extend it even to those who ignore me or hurt me. 

– STEVEN S LEMLEY, Co-editor

This lesson is pulled from POWER, a daily devotional magazine.