The Church in Laodicea

Laodicea 1201

Pipes from the ruins at Laodicea.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage is a good example of why we cannot force our modern usage of words onto the Bible. When we say someone is hot or cold about something today, we mean they are either passionate or disinterested. Is that what Jesus means when he tells this church that he wishes they were hot or cold rather than lukewarm? Is he saying he wishes they were either for him or against him rather than riding the fence? Does that not seem odd?

To better understand what Jesus means we need to understand the historical background. Nearby Hierapolis had hot springs while nearby Colosse was known for its cold pure water. What did Laodicea have? It was infamous for the lukewarm water that was piped in via an aqueduct built by the Romans. The hot springs were desirable for bathing. The cold water was great for drinking. And the lukewarm water was good for nothing!

Jesus’ statement about being cold or hot is about being useful for something. Lukewarm water is undesirable and useless. May we never be found useless to our Lord. Let us serve him and have a deep fellowship with him as we await his return.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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The Church in Sardis

Sardis 6613

Gymnasium at Sardis.

Reading the Word

Revelation 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Have you ever heard that saying? Well, you can’t judge a church by its reputation. Often times, what one thinks about a church can be deceiving.

For instance, a church that is growing quickly, or one that has a new building, or another that has a well-known pastor may have a reputation for being the best church around. However, this may not be the case. False teaching or failing to put into practice what the Bible says can be the reality even in a church that looks on the surface to be wonderful.

Here, we are warned that Jesus knows the true condition of our churches and he will judge. May we seek the Lord and his will in all we do. And when we get caught up in doing our will instead of his, may we repent and return to him.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Beware of Deceivers

John 11 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 John 7–13 (ESV)

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

Understanding the Word

This letter is a warning to its recipients about being deceived through false teaching. The false teachers are those who deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. The Apostle John, an eyewitness to Jesus’ life and ministry, has written elsewhere that Jesus is God (John 1:1) and that he become flesh (John 1:14). This means that God came into this world as a man.

However, there were those who denied this truth in John’s day, just as there are people who deny it today. But John warns that believers must remain in the truth that they have received and not be deceived.

Applying the Word

Christians sometimes differ on their beliefs about certain biblical things. That is okay. However, we must never compromise and think it is okay to deny the central teachings of the gospel. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He became a man and entered this world. He lived a perfect, sinless life and then died on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Jesus rose from the dead physically. All who trust in him will be saved from their sins and given eternal life.

May we never depart from these truths as they are the very source of life for those who believe!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Test the Spirits

Open Book Bible

Reading the Word

1 John 4:1–6 (ESV)

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Understanding the Word

John tells his readers that there will be false teachers who will come. Believers need to know how to test the teachings of these teachers so they can avoid them.

How does a person identify a false teacher? Do they affirm or deny the truth regarding Jesus Christ? Specifically, do they hold to the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a man? If not, they are false teachers and should not be listened to.

Applying the Word

Every generation of Christians faces false teaching that claims to be Christian, but is not. For John, Gnosticism and the belief that matter was by nature evil caused many to deny that the Son of God could become a man. How could sinless perfection take on a physical body if the physical world is evil? Of course, the Bible teaches that the physical world is God’s creation. Evil springs from our sinful hearts, not the world outside of us.

Many false teachings that distort the gospel are present today. Many are willing to admit that Jesus was a man, but they deny he was divine. Others teach that everyone will be saved because a loving God would never send anyone to hell, even though Scripture plainly says otherwise. And still others teach that if you just have enough faith nothing bad will ever happen to you. You will have great wealth, and good health, and God will give you your heart’s desires. Again, contrary to what Scripture says about taking up your cross and following Jesus.

We have God’s word as recorded in Scripture so that we may know the truth. May we test the spirits behind every teaching we hear by that word and may we never be deceived by those who would lead us astray.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links to the right to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Life Made Manifest

Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Jesus teaches by the sea.

Reading the Word

1 John 1:1–4 (ESV)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Understanding the Word

The Apostle John begins his letter emphasizing that the gospel he proclaims is real. He heard Jesus speak. He saw him. He touched him. The things that John proclaims are not just rumors or hearsay, but coming from a first-hand witness of the life of Jesus.

The reality of Jesus, the Son of God, being born into the world as a man, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead, means that eternal life is available for all who will hear the Good News and trust in Jesus. John wants all to hear his message and believe so that they might join the fellowship of believers now and for eternity.

Applying the Word

The Christian faith is grounded in history. The events that Christians hold to as the basis of their hope are things that actually happened. Christianity is unique in that it is not simply based on wise sayings or philosophical understandings of the world, as other religious systems. Instead, we look to the cross. We look to the historical events of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection as our hope.

And if Jesus really rose from the dead, we have the answers to all of our questions and the solution to our sin problem.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. You can subscribe to this page using the links to the right. You can also share this post with your friends using the social buttons below. Thanks for reading!