Revelation 3:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 3:15

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.” – Revelation 3:15

This verse is found in the list of the seven churches of Asia Minor and speaks specifically of the last one mentioned, the church in Laodicea.  Here we see Christ saying to the church that He knows their deeds, that they are neither hot or cold.  What He is essentially saying is that what He sees there is ambivalence and irresolution.

If they had been hot, they would have burned with passion for the truth and God.  They would have desired do to all they could for the Lord to bring the gospel to the lost and to give God the glory for all He has done for them, their salvation, sanctification and future glorification.  There is a general order of service, but open to whatever is needed by the people.

If they had been cold, they would do things for formality’s sake; because it is the way things are done.  Not much is accomplished because the service is more important than the outcome.  A successfully formal church is the desired outcome, a service pleasing to the Lord, not necessarily the effect on the parishioners.

We can easily see how hot is very much desired over cold, but why is cold preferred over lukewarm?  Because, in the end they are endeavoring to please God without really understanding how.  They believe that at least they are giving to God what He desires, formal services which do not deviate from the norm.  Lukewarm has the idea of indifference; ‘I do not really care what happens.’  They are essentially Christian in name only.

Let’s look at a classic example of cold and hot, The apostle Paul.  Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he would be considered cold.  What He did was because the Law told him to.  He was passionate that the Law be completely and totally obeyed. The Law was what was preached, obeyed and therefore important.  This was the only way to please God.  He went as far as to arrest anyone who belonged to the cult of Christianity.  However, after His conversion he became hot.  He was fervent for the word, and he had a passion for Christ like no other.   He preached Christ for what He did on the cross to provide salvation to as many as received; to the point that he suffered and eventually died for the cause of Christ.

My question to all who are reading this is, are you hot, cold or lukewarm?  If you are lukewarm, He will spew you out of His mouth.  For, just as lukewarm water is a place where germs and bacteria can thrive; ultimately infecting the body, so is the lukewarm Christian capable of infecting the church body with ambivalence, they profess Christianity without really living it out.  Here is what Christ said about the lukewarm, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” Revelation 3:15-18.  Note what He said, “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” The lukewarm believe they are just fine; they do not need Him.

We need to understand we need Christ, for He is the way of salvation.  We must, in everything we do and think, please Him. We must never, as Christians, get to the point that we believe we have all we need, and therefore, we do need Him.  Do we really want to be vomited (the actual idea of spit here) out of Christ and the kingdom?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Revelation 3:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Revelation 3:1 

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” – Revelation 3:1 

Over seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor.  In these seven letters, God gives a message that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history.  It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these. 

Next, Jesus writes to the fifth Church in this list, the Church of Sardis.  Sardis was located about forty miles southeast the Thyatira and around fifty miles east of Smyrna.  It had been the capital of the kingdom of Lydia in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.  Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, the city came under Hellenistic rule and was the capital of the Seleucid kingdom in the third century BCE. After 133 BCE Sardis became part of Roman Asia, where it was a judicial center. Because they were part of the area ruled by the Seleucids, they have a Greek bent in their religious lives which focused on Greek gods including Artemis of Sardis and Zeus Polieus, the guardian of civic welfare. Sardis had a cult of the goddess Roma, a female deity who personified the Roman state before the end of the second century BCE.

Note the first part of our focus verse.  “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this:” Revelation 3:1a. Only Jesus has the seven spirits (or “seven-fold Spirit,” meaning the complete or perfect Spirit of God), and only Jesus holds the seven stars, i.e., the seven angels (or pastors) of the seven churches. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20.  He then says, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1b.  This church had a good reputation; however, they did not live up to that reputation.  The church appeared to be full of people, but the majority of those coming probably were not Christians but were simply going through the motions.  As Jesus had said when discussing this issue, “He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25. 

He then tells the Church, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” Revelation 3:2. Jesus then calls for them to repent of their sin. The idea of wake up is they need to start paying attention to what is going on there and stop pretending to be Christians but make it real; to turn from the sins and live as God desires. They needed to stop looking carelessly about what their real situation was before God. And if they do not repent, then things will not go well for them. “Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” Matthew 24:42-44.

After this He adds.  “But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4. The idea of soiled garments are clothes that were defiled, physically unclean and ritually unsuitable to be worn in God’s presence. “The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments:” and then “So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments.” Exodus 19:10, 14. The promised reward accords with the character of those to be rewarded: keeping their garments undefiled and white through the blood of the Lamb now, they shall walk with Him in white hereafter.  

Then in closing His message to the Church in Sardis He writes this.  “He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5. Here He reiterates the idea of walking in garments of white, denoting being clean before God.  But then He adds two additional blessings.  First, they will not have their names removed from the Lambs book of life.  This is interesting wording.  This denotes the idea of condemnation, but in a way that people could understand. Our names are written in the Lambs Book of Life from the foundations of the world.  “And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8. God knew who would accept His Son from the foundations of the earth. Jesus, through John uses this idea to urge the Church of Sardis to remain faithful and true, using a method or idea they would understand. And not only will their name remain in the Book of Life, but Jesus also acknowledges their name before the Father and His angels.  Acknowledging someone means affirming a relationship with that person in a way that shows loyalty and favor. Since Jesus has a place of honor before the Father and the angels, those he acknowledges share in the honor that belongs to Him. And this refers to someone who does not shy away from acknowledging Christ.  “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33. 

Therefore, never shy away from declaring Jesus in this world, and acknowledging your relationship with Him.  He loves you more than you can know, and is worthy of all the honor we can give Him.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Jeremiah 17:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 17:10 

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:10 

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke much in their prophetic writings regarding the sins of Israel and Judah.  Isaiah began his role as prophet a couple years after the death of King Uzziah, around 740 BC.  Jeremiah began as a prophet in Judah around 627 BC in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah.    Isaiah wrote in chapter six of his writings about the future of Israel where they would be taken captive by both Babylon and Assyria, and ultimately Rome.  Jeremiah speaks out against the sins of Judah, and in chapter 17 where he addresses their idolatry.  “As they remember their children, So they remember their altars and their Asherim By green trees on the high hills.” Jeremiah 17:2. This speaks of the children remembering the worship of idols and continuing the practice, showing that this sin has been passed down and is firmly engraved on Judah’s heart and altars.  

Then in verses 7 and 8, he writes of the blessing extended to them that trust in the lord.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8.  Blessings follow those who trust in God, and not the world or their false gods. 

Therefore, because of this truth, Jeremiah asks the Lord the following. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9. First, the heart here refers to the mind, the ultimate source of his thoughts and actions.  He is essentially asking God, if trusting in you results in blessings, and Judah is not trusting you but is following idols, how can this be?  Who can understand this?  This is a good question posited by Jeremiah.  If blessing come only from trusting God, how can you not trust God and expect to be blessed?  How can we allow our heart to lead us astray?  We cannot understand it, but there is one who can.  And God gives him that answer.

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10. He says He searches the heart of man; He tests their minds.  The idea here is that only He can do this.  We cannot.  This is shown by Jeremiah’s question.  He cannot understand why Judah would follow their own ways, that being the ways of idolatry, and expect to be blessed.  It appears that the people did not believe God had made any promises to them or would keep the promises. Or nothing was said to them about their going after idols, for Jeremiah says “Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” Jeremiah 17:15. They would not believe what the Lord had said, no doubt due to the span of time that passed from the prophetic statement to the present.

Today, we see the same thing.  Peter said very similarly the following.  “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 2 Peter 3:4-6.  Just as the people in Judah did not trust God’s word regarding the blessings of God, figuring they had other options to attain blessings from other so-called gods, we are seeing a world which sees the attainment of power and wealth more desirable than understanding and following God’s Word.  Man’s heart is becoming more deceitful as the days go by, being more interested in personal gain than obedience to God.  Let us not become complacent, but always seek after God and His word to and for us.  We must always humble ourselves, knowing that God’s way is the only way, regardless of what our heart and desires speak to us. 

Like Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We must never let our thoughts and desires take precedence over God and His will and ways, not trusting ourselves and what we believe is right.  Israel chose to follow their heart and it cost them greatly.  God knows our heart and how it can draw us away.  We must put our complete trust in Him, and when we do all will go well.  Remember what Paul said.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. It truly is the only way.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Psalm 14:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 14:1 

“For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.” – Psalm 14:1      

This is a verse where, if it is read in the way our modern society understands it, we would miss the true meaning.  The Hebrew word fool has the idea of a wicked, vile, or contemptable individual: one who has an unclean heart and who rejects the idea of a loving, infinite, and all powerful being.  They do this by claiming, ‘There is no God, and only a fool or ignorant person would think there is.’    

Now, the word fool is not to be used in the same way we use the word atheist.  For it has a broader meaning than this.  An atheist is one who denies the very existence of God.  There are some who totally deny He exists, and this is the main thought communicated here.  However, there are other ways to look at this.  For instance, there are some who acknowledge the existence of a god, but not the true God.  The idea here is that they do not necessarily deny an infinite God, however they do not believe He has any role in their lives. They do not accept it as having anything to do here.  This is the idea of deism, which rejects revelation from God as a source of religious knowledge, for He simply created everything and then left it alone.  They assert that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to establish the idea that God exists.  However, there is no communication with God.  Then, there are those who choose a god with attributes that are more pleasing then the attributes of the true God.  Basically, they accept the idea there is a god, but they pick or create it based on what makes them feel good, or what they can accept.   

Isaiah states the following regarding the fool or unbeliever.  “For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the LORD, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty.” Isaiah 32:6.  According to Isaiah, the vile person speaks of things that can be labeled nonsense.  He tends toward ungodliness, speaking falsehoods against the true God, and does not help those who need their assistance, but ignores their plight. 

Going back to our focus verse, David ends by saying ‘There is no one who is good.’  And he is correct.  Paul essentially quotes this verse in his letter to the Romans.  “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”   Romans 3:10.  None of us are perfect.  Paul again says it better than I can.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23.  But Christ paid the penalty for our sins, and by accepting what He has done and living our lives fully devoted to Him, we are no longer a fool as David said above, but we are His handiwork.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.  And one of the good works God called us to and prepared us for, is to live in such a way that we can be a witness to those who, in our focus verse were denoted as fools, so they can become His handiwork as well. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.