The Sermon for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost July 31, 2022
Text: Rev.3:14-23 Summer Series: 7 Letters to 7 Churches 22:2336
Theme: Hear What the Spirit Says…To the Church in Laodicea.
It was Sunday morning, a little past 9. A family hurried down the hall in the motel where they were staying – on their way to church. They were just passing through on vacation, but they would take time to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. As they passed down the hallway, they noticed a familiar sign hanging on many doors: “Do not disturb.” In the car they couldn’t help but soberly discuss how accurately that little placard seems to express the spiritual attitude of many toward Christ and the gospel – “Do not disturb our lives!”
The Son of God stands before human hearts everywhere saying, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me.” For many the door is never opened. Too many people have become so preoccupied with a thousand and one other things to do that they have chosen, consciously or unconsciously, not to be bothered. “Please, do not disturb!”
But Christ will not be brushed off that easily. The Son of God is inescapable. No one can remain “undisturbed” by Him, no matter how complacent they may be, for the Savior Himself will not allow it. How they respond is a different matter.
The Church in Laodicea is an example of a tragic response. It grew spiritually complacent, “lukewarm” as the Savior called it. Yet, He had not given up on it. Among the letters He dictated, Jesus made His most emotional appeal to the Church in Laodicea – words of dire warning but also of gracious admonition. Whoever has ears, Hear what the Spirit Says…To the Church in Laodicea. Its members were lukewarm, indifferent; yet, were promised the right to eat with Jesus and sit on His throne if…if they repented. (text & hymn)
I. The city of Laodicea, some 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, where we were last Sunday, is no more. All that you would find of the city today is rubble, the picked through remains of that which was once a great and wealthy city. It had been a center of banking where coins were minted and the changing of currencies took place. It had been the center of a thriving wool cloth industry, sought throughout the Roman world. It had been a health center where the sick flocked to its hot springs and physicians developed an eye salve to treat sight problems. Doctors sent their patients here. Because of these and other economic factors, Laodicea flourished in its day.
Perhaps that contributed to the sin of indifference, which many Christians tragically displayed towards the Savior. The pleasures, treasures, and riches of life dulled their senses to spiritual needs. In love the Savior was greatly concerned. So, He issued one of His sharpest rebukes: “I know your deeds. 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.”
To spit something out of one’s mouth means that it’s disgusting and is rejected. A person expects one thing but gets something quite opposite and doesn’t like it. So, one gets rid of it. He spits it out.
If in the morning one sips at that which he expects to be a nice, hot cup of coffee only to have a lukewarm, unsatisfactory liquid enter his mouth, he might spit it out. It just doesn’t satisfy his desire. Or, on a hot summer’s day, if he comes into the shade after laboring in the hot sun, longing for an ice, cold drink to quench his thirst, and all he receives is tepid water, he might spit it out. It doesn’t satisfy his greatest desire. It might even make him sick to his stomach.
Spitting something out is not a pleasant thought. And to hear the Savior talk in such terms ought to startle us. So, what does He mean by church members being hot or cold towards Him?
In the Bible heat can represent spiritual zeal, interest, devotion, strong feelings, and activity towards God. For example, after Jesus’ revealed Himself to the Emmaus disciples on Easter evening, they remarked with excitement, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us and opened the Scriptures to us?”
On the other hand, coldness can represent the opposite, little to no feelings and activity towards God, falling from faith, and eventually no faith. When Jesus’ spoke of the signs of the End Times, He said, “Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” That’s a bit frightening, don’t you think?
It’s easy to see why the Savior wants people to be “hot” towards Him, zealous, active in faith and not “lukewarm.” But why would “coldness” be preferable?
Certainly, it’s not preferable to being “hot for Him,” for without the Savior one is condemned eternally. Nevertheless, a person who actively opposes Christ and His Gospel at least demonstrates interest in spiritual things and for what he thinks is truth, though misguided.
Think of the Apostle Paul before his conversion, when he was Saul – totally “cold” towards Christ. He persecuted and sought to kill Christians and was grossly mistaken about God and Christ. Cold, totally cold! But those who are frozen in unbelief towards Christ might yet be warmed by the Gospel when the Spirit takes over their lives. Saul became Paul, the Church’s greatest missionary, whose cold heart the Spirit turned hot in his zeal to spread the Gospel.
However, if a person is lukewarm, he is neither hot nor cold. He is indifferent and shows a lack of interest. He could be like Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus, “What is truth?” and failed to pursue it. He simply was not interested in Christ to do something about Him.
People who show little to no concern about heaven or hell, life or death, and just go about their existence make difficult mission prospects. In that way, even cold opposition might be preferable.
But don’t be mistaken! Jesus never condones or encourages coldness toward Him, because if a person remains cold in faith in this life, he will taste the flames of hell in the next. At the end, cold will not be acceptable. And in the present, lukewarm is dangerous for it is on its way down to the point that the Savior will spit such a one out of his mouth. The Bible warns, “It is impossible for those who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace” (Hb.6:4f).
So, it is crucial that we each look at our hearts, our lives, what we are thinking and doing and evaluate truthfully: “Am I hot or cold? Lukewarm or indifferent? Do I think I am something with God, rich towards Christ, when my life reveals something else…lack of faith… lack of activity? Would He have reason to spit me out of His mouth? I shudder to think of that. It ought to lead us to daily repentance.
Only one thing cures indifference, the cross and empty tomb where Jesus was not indifferent towards us but paid the price for such sin, giving forgiveness and life everlasting. In love He rebukes to wake us up to our need. Then He fulfills that need by dying for sin to reconcile and warm us back towards God. In faith worked by the Spirit, He makes us rich again, rich in an active life in Him. (hymn)
II. Dear friends, the Savior speaks with great emotion to our hearts. How could we fail to repent and turn to Him for all His goodness to us? He encourages, “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 go in and eat with him, and he with me.”
What an honor, to have the One who describes Himself as “the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” sitting down to eat with us! Many would be thrilled to have someone of worldly importance eat with them. But in the warmth of faith, you get an “other-worldly” person – a much more important and gracious guest in your home every day. Actually, He is more the “host” to you. You have the Savior, the Creator of all things, sitting at your table. He eats with you, and you eat with Him. You can think of it at home, you can think of it in hearing His Word, you can think of it at the Communion rail. All are taking place as you place Him and His saving Word and Sacrament first in your lives. But I truly think He ultimately means in the banquet hall of heaven. There He promises to all who are faithful: “I will prepare a table before you, in the presence of your enemies. Your cup will run over. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. But, you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
There’s more! He promises, “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.”
Wow! To sit on a throne with Christ! How can that be? Yet, He promises, and all His promises end in a heavenly “Amen!”
We who see our often-lackadaisical faith, our indifferent attitude towards the things of God and His Church, yes, perhaps even a lukewarm spirit towards the Gospel, if we return and do not fall away, will we sit on the same plane as He, ruling in His eternal world with Him? My mind can’t comprehend what that all means! But of this I am certain, the Savior, the faithful and true witness, the great Amen, whose testimony is “Yes!” and “Yes!”, so that He will never break a promise, the One who said He would go to the cross for you and did, He has said it. And it will be so, more wondrous and glorious that we can even now imagine. In the humility and warmth of faith, rejoice in it!
God grant it to us all in faith, for Jesus’ sake. Amen. (hymn)
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find us on Facebook
The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost July 31, 2022
“Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev. 3:22
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. You are God. You turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return.’ Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Valuing True Wealth. Where do people find meaning and purpose in life? In their work? In their intellect and knowledge? In their possessions? In their families and their legacy? Where do people find meaning and purpose in life as they “live under the sun”?
Certainly, such things have great meaning and give us much purpose in life. But if life is not first found in Christ, in the end all will prove meaningless. Only Christ goes beyond the things of life and offers us the blessings of eternal salvation. Such blessings are the only “possessions” that last. All others will pass away. May we find our hearts and minds set on God and the things that are above. Then life will truly have meaning and purpose now and forever.
To that end we pray: O God, You reveal Your mighty power chiefly in showing mercy and kindness in Christ. Grant us the full measure of Your grace that we may obtain Your promises and become partakers of Your heavenly glory. Fill our lives with meaning in You eternally. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:18-26
Chasing after things in order to give purpose to our lives will result in “meaninglessness” for us. Without first finding life in Christ, one’s labor or existence is in vain and brings no lasting satisfaction. Contentment recognizes that true enjoyment comes from God.
The Epistle Lesson: Colossians 3:1-11
The eyes of faith are fixed on things above. Looking to Christ who is our life, we put to death the things of the earthly nature with its evil desires. Christ and His all-surpassing eternal gifts mean everything to us. The Christian’s heart and mind are focused on Him.
The Gospel Lesson: Luke 12:13-21
Jesus’ Parable of the Foolish Rich Man illustrates that our security for the present and for eternity does not rest on earthly things but only on Christ and His eternal treasures.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: Point to Ponder: “No one is rich, be he emperor, king, or ecclesiastical head, except the man who is rich in God.”
Martin Luther on True, Abiding Wealth in God Alone
Behold a Stranger at the door! He gently knocks, has knocked before,
Has waited long, is waiting still; You treat no other friend so ill.
But will He prove a friend indeed? He will; the very Friend you need;
The Friend of sinners – yes, ‘tis He, With garments dyed on Calvary.
Oh, let the heavenly Stranger in, Let in thy heart His reign begin.
Admit Him, open wide the door, And He will bless thee evermore.
(The Lutheran Hymnal #650 st.1,2,5)
Outline of Our Worship: Hymn Sing Service
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Hymn: #612
Confession of Sin: #814 st.1-4
Song of Praise: #627
Prayer of the Day
Lord, Speak To Us
Revelation 3:14-22: Hear What the Lord Says…To the Church in Laodicea
Part 1: Lukewarm & Indifferent
Part 2: Promised to Sit on Jesus’ Throne
Lord, We Respond
Lord, Bless Us
Closing Hymn: #930
The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost – Series C
Old Testament Lesson: Ecclesiastes 1:1-2; 2:18-26 – Chasing the Wind.
1The words of Ecclesiastes, David’s son, king in Jerusalem. 2“Nothing but vapor,” Ecclesiastes said. “Totally vapor. Everything is just vapor that vanishes.”
12I, Ecclesiastes, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I applied my heart to seek out and explore with wisdom everything done under the sky. (What a burdensome task God has given the children of Adam to keep them busy!) 14I have seen all the actions done under the sun, and, look, it is all nothing but vapor. It is all chasing the wind.
2:18I also hated all the results of my hard work, for which I worked so hard under the sun, since I must leave it all to the man who comes after me. 19And who knows—will he be wise, or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the results of my hard work, for which I worked so hard and so wisely, under the sun. This too is vapor that vanishes.
20So I changed my course, and my heart began to despair over all my hard work at which I worked so hard under the sun. 21Sure, there may be a man who has worked hard—wisely, aptly, and skillfully. But he must hand over whatever he accumulated by all his hard work to a man who has not worked hard for it. This too is vapor. It’s so unfair! 22What does a man gain through all his hard work, through all the turmoil in his heart as he works hard under the sun?
23Bah! Pain fills his days. His occupation is frustration. Even at night his heart does not rest. This too is vapor.
24There is nothing better for a man than to eat and to drink and to find joy in his work. This too, I saw, is from God’s hand. 25For who can eat or enjoy himself apart from him? 26Yes, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness to the man whom he considers good, but to the person who goes on sinning God gives the task of gathering and collecting, but only so that he can give it all to a person whom God considers good. This too is vapor, nothing but chasing wind.
Epistle Lesson: Colossians 3:1-11 – Christ Is All. Set Your Mind on Him.
1Therefore, because you were raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5So put to death whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6It is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. 7You too once walked in these things, when you were living in them.
8But now, you too are to rid yourselves of all of these: wrath, anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to each other since you have put off the old self with its practices, 10and put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in knowledge, according to the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but rather Christ is all and is in all.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 12:13-21 – Parable of the Rich Fool – Not Rich Towards God.
13Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me to be a judge or an arbitrator over you?”
15Then he said to them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because a man’s life is not measured by how many possessions he has.”
16He told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced very well. 17He was thinking to himself, ‘What will I do, because I do not have anywhere to store my crops?’ 18He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and goods. 19And I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry.”’
20“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your soul will be demanded from you. Now who will get what you have prepared?’
21“That is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
The 7 Letters to the 7 Churches in Asia Minor: Revelation 2 & 3
Letter 7 The Final Letter – The City of Laodicea stood on a plateau in what today is central Turkey. It stood 100 feet above the Lycus River, 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, and approximately 160 miles east of Ephesus, the major city out of which the existence of all these congregations probably began.
It was undoubtedly a station on the caravan route from west to east, founded by Antiochus II (261-246 B.C.), the Hellenistic (Greek) ruler who controlled Syria in the East. The city was named for his wife (Laodike), who later murdered him. North and west of the town lay the open broadlands that followed the Maeander River down to the Aegean Sea in the west.
As with Philadelphia, frequent earthquakes and the ravages of war checked the development of the city. When it fell to the Roman Empire in the years before Jesus was born, it began to flourish. Under Rome it became a place of luxurious splendor. Today its extensive ruins at Eski Hissar (“old castle”) give silent evidence of its former magnificence. Laodicea no longer exists, but the modern-day village of Eskihisar, with a population of 2,063 in the year 2000, lies near the old site.
Fertile soil, a lucrative wool production, highly developed industries, flourishing trade, and financial institutions were the basis for the city’s prosperity. It was a center of banking and the minting of coins during the time of Rome’s occupation. The wealth was so great that after a serious earthquake shook the city in A.D.60, it was completely rebuilt without Roman help by the private wealth of its local citizens.
A goodly portion of its wealth came from the luxurious wool of its famous black sheep, its production of a poultice widely sought for treatment of eye ailments, and its banking prowess. All of these may be part of the imagery that Jesus used in the letter to the church when He had John write: “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, white clothes to wear, and salve to put on your eyes.” Perhaps, that which made the Laodiceans materially rich also helped to produce spiritual bankruptcy among them. It reminds one of Jesus’ warning, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven”(Mt.19:24). And again, when He warned the rich fool in the Gospel Lesson today: “You fool! This very night your soul will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Lk.11:20).
The wealth attracted many artists and men of learning. A considerable portion of its population was Jewish.
The Church in Laodicea – So it was that the Christian congregation at Laodicea may have been of Jewish origin. Perhaps the inception of the congregation was bound to the mission activity in other congregations of the Lycus Valley, some of which we have heard of in the earlier letters. The city was also quite close to Colossae to the east and is mentioned in Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Epaphras, a companion of Paul, may have started the congregation and Archippus may have been one of its teachers (cf. Col.4:12-17). Paul even wrote a letter to the Laodiceans, which we do not have in existence.
This final letter is viewed as a classic warning against a lukewarm and indifferent spirit towards the Gospel, short-sightedness to those things that are eternally important, and superficiality to the faith which lulls one into spiritual complacency. Jesus’ loving and emotion-charged warning is rarely equaled in drama or finality elsewhere in the Scriptures. Did they listen and change? The Bible does not say. But from early New Testament church history we learn that the city later became the central episcopal seat of Phrygia by the 4th Century A.D., over 200 years after the letter in Revelation was written. However, the place was destroyed and abandoned during the wars with Muslims in the Middle Ages. All that remains of its wealth and luxurious splendor are ruins.
(adapted from the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia and Sermon Study on Rev.3:14-22 by W.H.T Dau)
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
Favorite Hymns Song Service
Fellowship & Bible Study
Divine Worship Service
With Holy Communion online – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Did you know that you are the richest person in the world? You are the richest person in the world, along with all others who put their faith in Jesus as Savior. So where are our riches? They are being stored in heaven for us, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). They may be hidden with God at this very moment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not ours at this very moment. God has promised them to us, and he will deliver!
The Epistle Lesson: Colossians 3:1-11 (answers are found on the back side)
- Upon what does Paul encourage us to set our hearts and minds?
- What attitude does Paul tell Christians to take toward things belonging to our “earthly nature”?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Elizabeth Lisenby; Barbara Long; the family of David Ballou whose Christian funeral was held this past Tuesday; Lois Wiese, hospitalized this past week.
Favorite Hymns Sunday Being the fifth Sunday of the month, today is “Favorite Hymns Sunday.” All the hymns we sing are chosen today by our members. We pray that the singing of some of your favorites will bring much joy, satisfaction, and direction to your life of faith. Thanks to all who submitted some hymns. Everyone had at least 2 favorites included today.
Series Conclusion Today we conclude our 7-week summer series on the Seven Letters sent to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3). The last letter is written to the Christians in the city of Laodicea and is the most emotionally charged letter that the concerned Lord Jesus dictates to the Apostle John. See the insert for more information on the city and Christian congregation there. The letters help us consider what the Lord wants in me and my church? Today’s lesson is very sobering and urges us to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves and our priorities in life lest we fool ourselves as to where we really stand with God. I must put Him first above all things – not maybe or sometimes and so deceive myself into thinking I do when I really don’t. As each does the same, the church, motivated in love for the Gospel of Christ, takes on the characteristics and work that the Lord looks for in His redeemed people.
Tuesday, August 9 – Elders/Trustees Meet Individually at 6:30 pm, Church Council at 7 pm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 28; Bible Class: 14; Midweek Bible Class:3; Offering: $835.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 9: Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16; Luke 12:22-34 (CW-21, Series C)
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- The apostle encourages us to set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things. Christians look forward to the day when Jesus will return and the extent of our richness in him will be revealed. Until that time, our riches are hidden with him.
- While the things of this world and the behaviors of this world might be tempting to our sinful flesh, Paul tells us to put them to death and to put on our new self, “which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” When Jesus returns, the new self will be fully restored.
This week I am praying for……