Leaving Laodicea
428 - The Forgotten Discipline of Remembering

428 - The Forgotten Discipline of Remembering

June 26, 2019

Unfortunately, in our walk with the Lord, Chaucer's ancient adage proves true:  Familiarity Breeds Contempt.  It breeds contempt in the form of apathy, laziness, indifference, lack of honor or respect and, finally, of misplaced love.  It seems to be the curse of Western Christianity that wants for nothing save the things that matter. What can we do when we find our relationship with the Lord boring at best?  What happens when, to quote the classic song by the Righteous Brothers, "we've lost that lovin' feelin'"?  What happens then? How can we recapture what we have a hard time even remembering?  We find the answer in the Lord's letter to His church in Ephesus.


Familiarity Breeds Contempt

The church at Ephesus, when John penned the Revelation, was only one generation removed from the life of the Lord.  They were a hard-working bunch of committed believers who had a resume and doctrinal purity that would be the envy of almost any church today.

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.  And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary" - Revelation 2:2-3.

In fact, they worked for the Lord to the point of sheer exhaustion.

“I know your works (the results of employment, duty, business, something to be done), your labor (to toil to the point of exhaustion, the labor which demands the whole strength of a man exerted to the utmost to accomplish the task), your patience (to remain under, to bear up under), and that you cannot bear (support, stand) those who are evil (bad, worthless, wicked, vicious, harmful, bad in heart, conduct, and character).  And you have tested (tried, to prove either good or bad) those who say (affirm, proclaim) they are apostles (messengers, sent ones) and are not, and have found (by examination, search, or inquiry) them liars (false); and you have persevered (to bear up under patiently) and have patience (to endure, to remain under), and have labored (to be fatigued, worn out, weary, faint) for (what) My name’s sake and have not become weary (faint from constant work)."

I get tired just reading all that they did.  But, like the church today, they had missed the most important part of their relationship with Jesus.  The relationship!

“Nevertheless (in spite of all this) I (Jesus) have this against you, that you have left (to forsake, quit, abandon, desert) your first love ( agapē)" - Revelation 2:4.

Sobering words.  The Lord said He is "against" them... even after all the good they had done.  How could that be?  And what can they do to right their sinking ship? It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things.  Sometimes it is painfully hard.

"Remember (to call to mind, to keep on remembering) therefore from where (why, how) you have fallen (to fall off or from, to fall away, to fail, to be without effect, in vain); repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place— unless you repent" - Revelation 2:5.


Do You Remember?

It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things.  Sometimes it is painfully hard.  Consider the following questions to help begin the process of remembering:

What does it mean to remember? Take a moment and remember your first few weeks as a new creation in Christ. What were you like? Back then, how would you feel about yourself now? Did you make any promises to the Lord that you would not even think of making today? Did you keep whatever promises you made to Him? Has your relationship with Him cooled over time? If so, did it happen gradually, like a slow leak? Or did it happen all at once? What do you remember about that time?

There is so much more to remember.  To find out about the forgotten discipline of remembering, keep listening. The following is a study on Revelation 2:2-3.

403 - God Never Waste an Experience, Good or Bad

403 - God Never Waste an Experience, Good or Bad

May 27, 2017

God never wastes an experience in our life, good or bad.  When we sin, for example, God uses our failure as a ministry to help others struggling with the same sin.  He allows us to share the times we fell flat on our face to encourage others who are doing the same.  It seems that's what Jesus was teaching Peter.

In the upper room, during the last supper, Jesus told Peter He was praying for him.  But His prayer was not to remove the temptation and inevitable fall from Peter.  No, His prayer was that when Peter fell and suffered the consequences of that fall, that once he repented and returned to Jesus, he was to strengthen his brothers by that experience.  Consider the following:

Luke 22:31-32 - And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

Jesus didn't tell Peter he would deliver him from the temptation, the sifting.  He promised Peter that after he fell and recovered and returned to his faith, Jesus would use that experience to encourage and strengthen others who were struggling in the same way.  That's why, in John 21, we see Jesus restoring Peter by saying, "Feed My lambs" (John 21:15).  Even after Peter's epic denial of Jesus, his ministry was not finished.  In fact, it was just beginning.  And so it is with us.

Does this thought encourage you?  It does me.  If you want to learn more about your usefulness after your failure, then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 21:15-23.

388 - The True Intent of the Law

388 - The True Intent of the Law

February 26, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals to us what life is like in His Kingdom, He contrasts the Old Testament Law with its true intent.  And it does this by saying, "You have heard that it was said to those of old... but I say unto you."   Or, to put it another way, "You have an understanding about the Law and what it governs, but I want to show you the true intent of the Law and what it really means."

The Law governed external actions.  Or so it seemed to them and to us.  But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us the true intent of the Law by contrasting it to the human understanding of it.  In other words, only actions matter in the mind of men.  But with God, everything comes from the heart.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Do you want to know more about having a heart that is pleasing to the Lord?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:21.

376 - Stupid is as Stupid Does

376 - Stupid is as Stupid Does

December 5, 2016

When we look at the warnings from the Lord found in the first chapter of Proverbs, we are naturally drawn to the almost prophetic words of Forrest Gump.

"Stupid is as stupid does."

To put it in the words of Solomon:

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?" - Proverbs 1:22.

Or, "How long, you simple (foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic) ones, will you love simplicity (what is foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic)?"

Great question. But what is the object of this question? What exactly are the stupid ones loving stupidly? What can we learn about the wisdom of God from what is being said here? If you want to know more, then keep listening

The following is a study on Proverbs 1:20-33.

348 - Did You Worship Last Sunday?

348 - Did You Worship Last Sunday?

May 25, 2016
We've worked real hard to redefine what worship means today?  And, in doing so, we've made it more about music or style or a feel-good experience than what it has historically meant in the past.  But what does "worship" really mean?

According to Webster's Dictionary (1828) worship means:  "To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.  It means to declare or attribute dignity and worth.  Worship is to show profound reverence and adoration."

And this has nothing to do with a style of music or what I've seen in church most of my life.  Which brings us to the question:  Did you worship last Sunday?  Did you honor your Lord with extravagant love and extreme submission?  Did you boldly declare His dignity and worth among the congregation?  Did you show, by your very actions, your profound reverence and adoration for the Lord last Sunday?  And if you did, what was that like?

And if you didn't, or if you're not sure, then keep listening.

The following is a study on True Worship.

320 - How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

320 - How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

September 2, 2015
In his book, The Baptism With the Holy Spirit, RA Torrey reveals a Scriptural path of seven simple steps anyone can follow to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  All seven steps are found or implied from Acts 2:38.

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The steps include:
  1. You must be saved.  Truly saved.
  2. You must renounce all sin.
  3. You must be baptised.
  4. You must live a life of obedience.
  5. You must have a desire, a thirst for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  6. You must ask.
  7. You must ask in faith and believe.
Do you want to know more about the abundant spiritual life and the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit?  If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

260 - Go and Sin No More

260 - Go and Sin No More

September 17, 2014
Sometimes we accept the forgiveness of Jesus and assume it's simply a one-sided act.  He does all the work and we reap all the benefits.

It's like changing the lyrics to the old song that goes:  "Jesus paid it all."  And with this we agree.  "All to Him I owe."  Uh, not so fast.  I'd rather just take the forgiveness and go home.

But that's not how it works in the Kingdom of God.  In John 8 we see a woman forgiven by Jesus and left with the following command:  "Go and sin no more."   Did you ever wonder why He said that to her?

To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on John 7:53-8:12.

257 - Salvation 101

257 - Salvation 101

August 31, 2014
Jesus, at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, speaks some of the most frightening words in all of Scripture.  He draws a clean distinction between those who are saved and those who are deceived in thinking they are saved.

He begins by explaining the narrow way to life and the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14).  And many, He says, go the way of destruction.

He then tells us we will know those who are deceived by the lack of fruit in their lives.  Spiritual fruit is the only evidence, according to Jesus, of true salvation (Matt. 7:15-20).

Finally Jesus tells us many will be deceived on the Day of Judgment and be cast from the Lord's presence.  Why?  Because they "practiced lawlessness" (Matt. 7:21-23).

Incredibly sobering words.  

Want to hear more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on True Salvation.

254 - The Two Most Important Questions Asked of Jesus

254 - The Two Most Important Questions Asked of Jesus

August 21, 2014
The first of the two most important questions asked of Jesus is:  Who are You?  (John 7:12) 
This question can be asked of Him as long as He is with the crowd, as long as He's at arms length to each of us.  But when He invades our world, everything changes.  

Now we are faced with the second most important question asked of Jesus:  Can we believe what You say?  Are Your words true?  And what exactly are You saying to us? (John 7:16-18).

Or, to summarize CS Lewis' thoughts in Mere Christianity:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 7:15-24.

241 - Playing Spiritual Whac-A-Mole

241 - Playing Spiritual Whac-A-Mole

May 19, 2014
As crazy as it may sound, many of us spend our Christian lives playing Whac-A-Mole with the strongholds of sin and consequences of disobedience that we have allowed to take root in our lives.  And why do we do this?  What's the point?  Where's the payoff for us?

There isn't any.  We strive and struggle again and again, whacking one mole only to have another pop up in its place, with no end in sight.  Our so-called "abundant life" can easily become one of frustration and defeat.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  We can live victorious over the enemy and experience true freedom in Christ.  How?  Keep listening to find out.