Sunday, 30 June 2013

Travelling As Pilgrims To Another Land

My husband was preaching last week from Revelation – the letter to the church of Laodicea. He said this is one of the churches most like Christians in our culture today because they were lukewarm.

'I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth' 
Revelation 3:15,16

One of the biggest points of his message was to ‘Go to the source’, which is Jesus Christ. So many of us are lukewarm, neither hot and passionate or cold and refreshing. The solution is that we need to draw near to God.

Here is a great snippet from his sermon which I underlined in my notes:

‘We’re trying to drink from other wells and find satisfaction from other things. You’re a pilgrim here, travelling to another land. Don’t put down too many roots.’

I think that is one of the biggest problems with our culture as Christians. There is so much busyness and entertainment that it’s very easy to find our satisfaction in other things.

Our life in the Western world is so fun and interesting that we forget we're only pilgrims, and get lost in the enjoyment of it all. We take our eyes off where we're going and who we're following.

I have a couple of examples just from the last few weeks in my own life. For a while we had some nice food in the house: visitors came so I made cakes, then my daughter had a birthday so I made her a cake.

Now none of it is left which is probably a good thing for my waist! But I find then that when I feel tired or down, there’s no cake to go and eat which makes me feel like something is missing!

You see, many times it is the absence of something that makes us realise how much we depend on it.

It has been the same way with books. I have been reading through the Left Behind Series again, which I wrote about here. I don't often read fiction because I get too caught up in it, but it can be a great way of resting for me which is a good thing up to a point.

I think the problem began when I started taking my current book upstairs to read a little before I read my Bible. When I finished the series, I had no more book to read, only the Bible, and suddenly found that I was not looking forward to my devotional time anymore!

It took a few days before I started enjoying my time with God again, and it was almost like a withdrawal! To me that shows how easy it is to find my satisfaction in something other than Christ, and to become lukewarm and no longer passionate as a result. 

But how do we tell what our source is, if it’s not Jesus Christ? Here are some questions I thought of that might help you think it through a little:
  • What do you go to when you feel down, tired or in need of escape?
  • Is there a sin that you’re struggling to give up?
  • What makes you feel empty, discouraged, or sad when you don’t have it? – It could even be approval from someone in particular.
  • What stops you from doing the right thing or obeying God wholeheartedly?
  • What do you desire more than being close to God?
  • How do you feel about your time with the Lord? Is there anything that often takes its place?
These things may not necessarily be wrong in themselves, but they could point to something that we might be going to for satisfaction or to where we’re putting down roots so that it's taking us away from our first love.

Charles Stanley says that the Laodicean church were smug, self-satisfied and complacent and essentially useless to Him. 'They had chosen comfort over spiritual combat.'

We need to get back into the battle and keep going, growing, and getting closer to God!

There is a really challenging chapter in A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God called 'The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing'. Here are some closing thoughts from there:

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight...

But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul...

There is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it "life" and "self," or as we would say, the self-life.

'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Matthew 16:24-26

To give up all for Christ's sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the only effective way to destroy this foe: It is by the cross...

The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty... the blessed ones who possess the kingdom are they who have repudiated
(refused to accept) every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the "poor in spirit..."

They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering.

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