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A journey I never expected to take

I want to take a brief break from our series on Revelation to invite you to watch a video I posted on YouTube: A message to the middle class.

Many years ago I started on a journey that I never expected to take. I’ve kept the details of that journey mostly to myself for reasons that may or may not be clear to you. But I have sensed that God has wanted me to make public this journey I have been on, even though it’s honestly difficult for me to do.

The video is a start. You can access it here.

Thanks.

Dwight

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God’s remedy (Laodicea 5-5)

 

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth, and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”—Revelation 3:14-22

 

Jesus offers a prescription for the Laodicean church. It is a powerful remedy designed to cure our arrogant self sufficiency.

He begins by telling us to buy. There is a cost, and here it is: We must give up our warped view of ourselves. We must see how needy we truly are apart from Jesus Christ. We must hand over to Him all that we hold dear. That will look different for each of us. For the rich young ruler, the price was too great. His missed out on true wealth and power because He clung to an illusion, a fading dream.

Gold refined in the fire signifies true riches, things that cannot be shaken, the good that emerges from our trials, the finished work of God in our lives. Like you, I could give you a long list of things that have gone wrong in my life. I would not have chosen any of these trials. But now, looking back on them, I smile. I have wealth now that I never had before. I have a settled peace now that I never had before. Yes, I am still a work in progress as all of us are. But some of the gold is there. God’s work, not mine.

White clothes signify the righteousness that does not come by pretension or pretending. When it comes to righteousness, you cannot fake it ’til you make it. True righteousness comes when we own up to what is inside—not just to our sin, but to our deception, our corrupted motivations, our helplessness to ever change even one thing about ourselves apart from Christ. Then the Spirit of God sweeps in and the Lord washes us clean.

Jesus offers us salve for our eyes so that we can see. I used to think “seeing” meant knowing your Bible. While that’s important, I think Jesus is getting at something else. We need to “see” with our hearts how God sees. We need to see through His eyes. This is why Jesus instructs us to repent.

We tend to think of repentance as this: I stop doing wrong and start doing right. But this is just the fruit of repentance. Repentance at its core is a change of thinking, a reversal of mindset. It’s gaining God’s perspective at a deep, deep level.

How do we repent? Jesus answers this for us. Open the door! Find the door where Jesus is knocking and open it. This is a message to a church—it is not just a word to unbelievers, it is a word to us all. All of us have places inside us where Jesus is knocking, wanting to come in to replace our darkness with His light.

Can we hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches? Can we hear Jesus knocking at our door?

Dwight

PS. How do we break the sin-confess-sin cycle? That will be our Inner Wealth topic on Saturday, August 10, 2019.

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How do you spell love? (Laodicea 4-5)

 

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth, and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”—Revelation 3:14-22

 

I want to focus here on the love God has for us. It is God’s love, not our own spirituality, that gives us hope.

How do you spell love? In this case, Jesus spells love with r-e-b-u-k-e. In this case, God’s love is expressed as rebuke and discipline.

Does that strike you as a little strange? It does me. I don’t like being rebuked. I don’t like being disciplined. I hide from those things. I avoid those things.

But Jesus says, “Come here. You are in great danger, and you don’t know it. I need to wake you up.”

There are some things we must know about a rebuke from Jesus: First, it is always restorative. Jesus doesn’t cut us down to make us miserable. He redirects us to make us whole. Second, as we embrace His rebuke, He embraces us. Third, His rebuke is aimed at His eternal plan to lavish good on us. He wants to get us lined up with the right runway so we can land in the right place.

Each person is different. Some respond to a gentle word. Some need something more. Jesus knows exactly what you need, and He won’t use somebody else’s discipline on you.

Dwight

PS. Can we trust our feelings? What role does emotion play in our faith? Does God care how we feel? What are our feelings good for? We’ll be addressing these questions and more on 8/3/2019 in Inner Wealth.

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We can stop hiding (Laodicea 3-5)

 

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth, and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”—Revelation 3:14-22

 

Why was the Laodicean church lukewarm?

Stop and think about it for a minute and see what you come up with.

They were lukewarm because they were apathetic. They didn’t care. And why didn’t they care? Because, deep inside, Jesus was irrelevant to them. Oh, on the surface, they seemed like devoted followers of Jesus. But, deep inside, they didn’t need Him.

Why? Because they were able to do it all on their own with a little “help from God.” They saw themselves as spiritually wealthy and not needing a thing. They had forgotten the beatitude which reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

In great pity, Jesus looks on our destitute condition. He sees that we are wretched and needy. He knows that we are poor; our spiritual accomplishments have no eternal value. He knows when we are blind—when we are theologically muscular, but spiritually blind. And He understands that just like in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, we may think we’re covered, when we’re not.

At first glance, this seems like an assault, an affront, a slap in the face. It is an insult to all that we have accomplished for God.

But we must not take it that way. For it is a great comfort that God sees us as we really are. He sees us and He still loves us. He sees us and He still designs to spend eternity with us.

Because He sees us we can stop hiding. We can come out into the light. We can throw ourselves to the mercy of God.

Dwight

PS. Can we trust our feelings? What role does emotion play in our faith? Does God care how we feel? What are our feelings good for? We’ll be addressing these questions and more on 8/3/2019 in Inner Wealth.

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God’s plan for us (Laodicea 2-5)

 

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth, and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”—Revelation 3:14-22

 

Jesus has a plan for the Laodicean church. The Alpha and Omega looks beyond our arrogance, our blindness, our independence and sees far into the future. He envisions what can be, what is still possible, what He deeply desires for us.

What does Jesus mean when He says that He will give us the right to sit with Him on His throne?

Let’s be real. If you had a choice between having lots of power and not having any, what would you choose? If you had a choice between having plenty of influence and having none, what would you choose?

I’ll tell you what Jesus chooses for us. He chooses power. He chooses influence. God’s plan is for us to rule with Him. God’s plan is for us to be in that place of wonder—in the very throne room of God—seeing the face of Christ—being in on the counsel of God—filled with wisdom—offering ideas and suggestions that will flavor all of eternity. Jesus wants us with Him. He doesn’t just want to play catch with us in the back yard once a week. He wants us where He is. He wants us in on everything that is important to Him. He wants to give us the place of greatest honor.

I don’t know where you are in your Christian life. You might think you’re pretty hot stuff. Or you might think you have failed miserably. But I can tell you this: God has an eternal plan for you. Take the most generous, the most wonderful future you can imagine. Multiply it by a thousand. And it doesn’t even come close.

This is the place we need to start. If we don’t know how good it is, we’ll never pay the price to get it.

Dwight

PS. Can we trust our feelings? What role does emotion play in our faith? Does God care how we feel? What are our feelings good for? We’ll be addressing these questions and more on 8/3/2019 in Inner Wealth.

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No inkling (Laodicea 1-5)

 

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth, and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”—Revelation 3:14-22

 

The Laodicean church is a pleasant place. The greeters smile. Beautiful music fills the plush sanctuary. Orthodox and inspiring preaching can be heard every Sunday. Everything is in place, running smoothly under the direction of a competent church board and a pastor with vision. The ushers almost sing as they work their way through the crowd collecting cash for the Kingdom. The Laodicean church is Bible-based, conservative, liberal, Catholic, Protestant, evangelical, charismatic, and purpose-driven.

So perfectly disguised is this church that they themselves have no inkling as to their identity.

Few can match their accomplishments. They’ve sent missionaries around the globe. They’ve fed the poor. They’ve marched to save whales, and they’ve marched to save babies. Theologically strong, they churn out intellectual giants who dazzle us with their knowledge. They set goals and achieve them. Their parking lots are filled with shiny new cars. They have it made.

It takes a lot of courage to look at these verses. But if we are willing to take the risk, I believe we will find that this is one of the most powerful and relevant passages in all of scripture. I want to spend the next few days looking at it and discovering the wonderful hope that Jesus offers when we finally become willing to get real with ourselves and real with Him.

Dwight

PS. Can we trust our feelings? What role does emotion play in our faith? Does God care how we feel? What are our feelings good for? We’ll be addressing these questions and more on 8/3/2019 in Inner Wealth.

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The yes/no line in our hearts

 

I stand at the door and knock… Revelation 3:20

 

There is an imaginary line that runs through the middle of our hearts. On one side of the line, we find “yes,” and on the other side of the line we find “no.” This heart represents your inner self and mine. Each of us have places in our hearts where we have said “yes” to Jesus. And each of us have places in our hearts where we have not yet said “yes” to Jesus.

There are two main ways to live the Christian life. Both have some validity. We can live on the “yes” side. Or we can take Jesus to the “no” side.

The first way—living on the “yes” side—is comparatively easy. Here we build on what we have already agreed to with Jesus. Here we say, “Sin is bad. I don’t want to sin. I want to worship God. I want to do what’s right. I want to please God. I will avoid temptations.” And so on.

The only problem with this is that we have a whole other side of our heart that is saying things that are very much the opposite. And, since we can’t cut ourselves in half and throw away the bad half, we are stuck living with it. That creates a problem.

That’s why we need the second way to live the Christian life. We need to find the part of our hearts that is saying “no” to Jesus and bring Jesus into that part of our lives. This is not so easy. Most of us would rather face a firing squad than get honest with ourselves. It’s scary, and we don’t like being scared. It’s humbling. But, when we do it, when Jesus comes into those darkened places in our hearts, it is life changing. It is transformational.

That’s why God invests a great deal of time and energy getting each of us to the place where we are willing to “go there” with Him. We must find those “no’s”—those refusals—and ask ourselves why. Why are we saying “no” to Jesus? That’s what God needs to get at. The reason why. Behind each reason is a lie. It’s when we bring those reasons to God that He is able to reason with us, and bring to us the life-giving truth that melts away the disabling lies we believe.

Dwight

PS. What is spiritual maturity? I pondered over this for a long time, and then I asked the Lord. The answer I got was surprisingly simple, yet it changes everything. That’s our Inner Wealth topic on 7/27/2019.

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A visit from Jesus

 

If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in… Revelation 3:20

 

When we have visitors at our home, my wife and I want to have it all cleaned up and nice before our guests arrive. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes we don’t get all the cleaning done we want to. Our guests must see our home as it really is.

Deep inside we want to clean up for Jesus. But somehow that never works. We want Jesus in the nice clean living room, but He walks right in and asks to open the closet, or make a trip down into the basement.

It’s the way things are, folks.

Why is Jesus so willing to humble us? Because He knows that the Real Thing is so much better than the fantasy.

In humility and desperate neediness we turn to God. But when Jesus walks into a room, everything changes. Darkness gives way to light. Chaos turns to order. Grief turns to joy. And all is at peace.

Life-changing encounters with Jesus. We don’t outgrow them. We need them even if we’ve been a saint for fifty years. And Jesus is at work to enter our world and turn it upside down.

Dwight

PS. What is spiritual maturity? I pondered over this for a long time, and then I asked the Lord. The answer I got was surprisingly simple, yet it changes everything. That’s our Inner Wealth topic on 7/27/2019.

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When was the last time?

 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock… Revelation 3:20

 

When was the last time you had a life-changing encounter with God?

Today? A week ago? A year ago? 30 years? Never?

Let me define my terms. By “life-changing” I don’t mean that you were hyped. TV commercials can get us hyped. Slick motivational speakers can get us hyped. Shallow evangelists who know how to work a crowd can get us hyped. Neither do I mean that you ended up sinlessly perfect. But I do mean that you walked away a different person.

This is not another spiritual chore. It is not: I go to church, I read my Bible, I pray, I share my faith, and, oh, no, now I have to do something else too…

But rather: When was the last time Jesus met with you and you walked away changed?

Dwight

PS. What is spiritual maturity? I pondered over this for a long time, and then I asked the Lord. The answer I got was surprisingly simple, yet it changes everything. That’s our Inner Wealth topic on 7/27/2019.

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Our one power

 

If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in… Revelation 3:20

 

We human beings really have only one power: to say “yes” or “no” to God. If we are righteous, why are we righteous? Not because we did righteous things, but because we said “yes” to God. If we are unrighteous, look around inside. Somewhere we closed the door in God’s face. Somewhere we said “no.”

We like to use Revelation 3:20 as a salvation verse. Open the door of your heart and let Jesus in. But it is also a Christian life verse. Once Jesus comes in the front door, He starts knocking at the other doors inside our hearts. There are many closets in our hearts that Jesus wants to clean out. Either we say “yes” or we say “no.”

It’s very important to understand that we don’t clean out the closet first and then open the door. Many sad and discouraged people are trying to do this. We can’t do this. We don’t have the power to do this. All we have the power to do is to say “yes” or “no” to God.

This is bad news for the self righteous, but it is wonderful news for the desperate among us who realize that we have no hope unless God comes in and cleans us up. And that is exactly what He will do, one “yes” at a time.

Dwight

PS. What is spiritual maturity? I pondered over this for a long time, and then I asked the Lord. The answer I got was surprisingly simple, yet it changes everything. That’s our Inner Wealth topic on 7/27/2019.

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