Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Revelation 3:14-19To 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.”

Our Wednesday night small group Bible Study found that knowing the geography of the Lycus River valley and the neighboring cities around the Asia Minor (now Turkish) Laodicea makes all the difference in understanding Jesus’ well-known statement of being hot, cold or lukewarm. Only about six miles across the valley from Laodicea was the city of Hierapolis, renowned for its comforting, healing and relaxing hot springs and where the temple of Apollo and the Gates of Hades weres located. The over-flowing mineral pools create white cliffs seen all the way across the valley.

Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Located eleven miles up the valley from Laodicea, at the foot of Mount Cadmus, was the city of Colossea known for its invigorating, ice-cold water that streams down from the snow-covered peak and for the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. Unlike the water of Hierapolis and Colossae, Laodicea had mineral-laden lukewarm water that tasted so bad that it made people sick. Many people think that Jesus’ words in Revelation 3 refer to deeds being “hot” as being good and deeds being “cold” as being bad, but there is another interpretation. In light of the water for which Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossea were known, God’s message to the church of Laodicea may have meant, “If you were hot, like the springs in Hierapolis, you’d bring healing, restoration and comfort to suffering people. If you were cold, like the water in Colossae, you’d refresh and encourage hurting people. Instead, you are lukewarm. You don’t do anybody any good, and you make me sick – just like your own water. Both being hot and cold are good. So the challenge for the Christians in Laodicea was to be both hot and cold.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Lesson teacher Ray Vander Laan taught that like the water of Colossae, which was cold, fresh and invigoration, followers of Christ offer a message that refreshes and encourages the hearts that are weary of sin. Like the warm, healing mineral waters of Hierapolis, followers of Christ offer a message that brings healing to those who are wounded and broken in sin. And like the nauseating, tepid water of Laodicea, followers of Christ who do nothing – who are neither hot nor cold – turn God’s stomach. Think of it! God wants to use you and me to be hot or cold wherever we are so that people who are hurting and needy will see a glimpse of His kingdom and be drawn into a personal relationship with Him.

In Christ, Brian

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