There was no gross immorality at Laodicea. If thee were adulterers – murderers – thieves etc. the Lord does not mention it. The charges against them were that they were lukewarm v. 16 – proud v. 17 – needy without knowing it v. 17. They had a form of godliness – but possessed no power (2 Tim 3:5). They possessed a great indifference to their Lord.
The Laodicean Christians were like apostate Israel in many ways. To be more pointed they are like many assemblies of the present day. They hold rigidly to scriptural truths – priding themselves in correctness of form. Mentioning frequently the great teachers and evangelists who went in and out among them during the past century.
But where are their hearts? Where is their power?
We need to issue the call to repentance, individually and corporately. Individuals must repent – assemblies must repent.
Fellowship (Lack of)
The person in love longs to be with the one he loves. A young man will make opportunities to fellowship with his girl friends. True love is strengthened by being together in companionship and fellowship/partnership. How barren and meaningless human love is when lovers are content to be apart. Bringing this thought into the spiritual sphere – remember how strong our desire was while in our first love to be constantly in the Lords presence. (see sheet no. 1). There was a longing for God’s presence – an unsatisfied longing an unfulfilled yearning.
Psalm 42:1-2 Longing for God
“As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee oh God. My soul thirsteth for God, the living God; when shall I come and appear before Him.”
With subdued heart you poured over the Word. We emptied our very soul in prayer, in thanksgiving, and in worship, reveling in the glory of the Lord’s presence. (see Sheet no. 2) We rejoiced exultant with David when he said in Psalm 63 Oh Lord Thou art my God, my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee as a dry and thirsty land. My soul shall be satisfied with Thee. My soul will follow close behind Thee.
Not only had you a longing for God, but there was also a deep thirsting for Him.
We experienced the happiness of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 18-20). Also, as we drank from Christ, the living fountain, there flowed from our life rivers of living water (John 7-38).
Remember when we realized and appreciated the truth of Matt. 18-20; that where two or three were gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus, He would be in their midst.
As we sat in His presence, our heart was filled with joy unspeakable and your desire and delight was with the Lord in the midst of His people. (Psalm 22-22)
Like David, your soul fainted for the courts of the Lord, your heart and your flesh cried out for the living God (Psalm 84).
With the psalmist you would say; truthfully and sincerely, “My heart breaketh because for the longing it has at all times for the Lord.” (Psalm 119-20).
Your desire for God was insatiable, your whole being cried out – “One thing have I desired of the Lord and that will I seek after that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
For many believers the pristine joy and the ardent craving for the Lord’s presence is a thing of the past.
Paul says to such what he said to the Galatians: “Where is the blessedness you once spoke of.” (Gal. 4-15). “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you” (Gal. 3-1). Today, there is a dreadful absence among believers of the burning desire to fellowship with the Lover of their souls.
Burning desire “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was a burning and a shining light. Emmaus disciples “did not our hearts burn within us” etc. (see sheet no. 3)
May we in repentance return to our first love and say with the godly Israelite. Psalm 137:5-6 “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee – if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”
The majority of us must admit to the lack of real fellowship with the Father and Son and with one another. Confession restores fellowship. Verse 9. If we confess our sin.
1. Christ for me…For me to live is Christ. “Oh Christ Thou art enough the heart and mind to fill”
“O fix our honest gaze so wholly Lord on Thee that with Thy beauty occupied we no one else may see”
What is thy beloved more than another beloved? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefant among ten thousand. Yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, this is my friend. S of S 5:9, 10, 16
Thou art fairer than the children of men. Grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed Thee forever. (Psalm 45-2)
2. Like Daniel we opened our windows toward heaven kneeled upon our knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before God.
Or like the Psalmist, we called upon God, evening, morning and noon knowing that He heard our voice. (Dan 6:10 and Psalm 55:17)
3. “Behold God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord, even the Lord, is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the well of salvation.” (Isa. 12:2-3).
“And He walked with me, and He talked with me, and He told me, I was His own. And the joy we shared, as we gathered there, none other has ever known.”
Lack Of Desire To Serve
One of the greatest indications of strong human love is the desire to serve. No task is too great. The greater the effort – the more demanding the sacrifice, the greater the satisfaction.
Written on the pages of time are stories which show the immeasurable sacrifice to which some have gone to serve God, their fellow man, and thereby demonstrated their great love.
Mary’s box of precious – costly perfume. 300 pence – a year’s wages. David’s mighty men (2 Sam 23:15-17). Lady Grimbold.
Many a young believer has the overwhelming desire to serve the Lord. In the zeal of their first love they would gladly rise from the altar and go directly to the martyrs stake, for Christ’s sake.
These would present their bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). Alex Moore – The Moravians – The five missionaries in Ecuador (see sheet)
Oh that we all could recapture the burning desire to serve that we once had (Rom. 1:15). To say as Paul said: To the fullest extent of my ability, so as much as in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also. (see sheet)
Alas, alas, the fires of service for most of us are almost extinguished. Acts 21:13. How far short of God’s standards we have fallen. Then Paul answered “What mean ye to weep and break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The torch of Christ which we once held high, has fallen in complacency and lethargy.
The reason for this condition is that we have lost our first love – lost our enthusiasm – lost our desire to serve - lost our fellowship – and in doing so we have forsaken the source of power.
Today, there is a lack of deep conviction as to the principles of scriptural gathering. Consequently, there is a lack of loyalty to the Lord and His service. Many times God challenges us to greater effort – just as He did Peter. The Lord put Peter to the final test of loyalty when He asked him, Simon, son of James, lovest thou Me more than these? (describe this incident in detail)
With this question our Lord, once for all, placed personal love for Himself beyond all else. (see Matt. 10:37-39) “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of me.”
First love is sometimes called “foremost love”. It is complete devotion to Christ – not merely religious duty. It is heart devotion that has no thought of self. Isaiah – Paul – the Lord.
This is self-denying love that abandons all for Christ. This kind of love defies analysis, but it can be expressed through us because it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
As the Lord looked at the Ephesians church He saw them occupied with past accomplishments, present works and future plans, more than with Himself.
He commended them for being doctrinally sound – very faithful – extremely patient (Their works – labors – judging of evil – endurance) – but He condemned them for leaving the love for Him that they once had.
Brethren, if we have been more enthusiastic about the Lord than we are now; if we have experienced a greater longing for the Lord’s presence than we now have; if we have had a greater desire to serve the Lord than we now possess; while we may still love the Lord, undoubtedly, we have left our first love, and stand in need of revival.
Unless we repent and return to our first love there is no hope of renewal. On the contrary there is the warning “I will remove the lampstand.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by My Name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”