by Pastor Rob Benardo
The book of Revelation presents us with seven churches that represent seven periods of time that take us right down to the end. The churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Because they do represent periods of time, the last one Laodicea represents our church today. Its time period began around 1844 and runs up to the present. For a long period of time, our church leadership applied the message to the other churches in their day but did not see themselves in that condition. In the aftermath of the 1888 message that came to our church, Ellen White began to clearly enunciate that the Laodicean church represented us. The statement that I’m going to share is one that she wrote in 1889 when there was a revival taking place in our church. Many people had their hearts transformed by the message of Christ and his righteousness. There was also, at the same time, much resistance to the message from those who thought that they had no need of it.
“At every social meeting, many testimonies were borne as to the peace, comfort, and joy the people had found in receiving light. – We thank the Lord with all the heart that we have precious light to present before the people, and we rejoice that we have a message for this time which is present truth. The tidings that Christ is our righteousness has brought relief to many, many souls, and God says to his people, “Go forward.” The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to our condition. How plainly is pictured the position of those who think they have all the truth, who take pride in their knowledge of the word of God, while its sanctifying power has not been felt in their lives. The fervor of the love of God is wanting in their hearts, but it is this very fervor of love that makes God’s people the light of the world.”
In order to better understand this, let us take a look at Christ’s words to this last day church. He says, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things says the Amen the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say that you are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked: I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire that you may be rich and white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent. nothing and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked: I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire that you may be rich and white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
That is certainly a mouthful and so the next several newsletters will be devoted to covering elements of this Laodicean message. We will start by identifying the One who is sharing this message with his last day church. It is the Amen, the faithful and true Witness the Ruler of God’s creation- none other than Jesus Christ himself. We often say the Amen after a statement is made to indicate that we believe it and that it is true. Jesus Christ is the Amen and is Himself the verification that the message to follow is absolutely accurate. He himself is true and faithful - that is He is full of faith. His faithfulness is to all generations and He, amazingly enough, even has faith in his last day church Laodicea. He is also titled the “beginning” or “Ruler of God’s creation”. Indeed it was Christ, the second person of the Godhead that took the lead role in creation. Because of His character, God would never lie but the truth is He cannot lie. As soon as He speaks it is- it happens and that is the nature of his faithfulness. His Word always comes true.
God Himself, who created us, knows us best and yet loves us most. He tells Laodicea that He “knows their works”. God then goes on to describe three conditions of mankind today- the “hot”, the “cold” and the “Lukewarm” The “hot”, are those on fire for God and His truth- indeed glowing with the effects of the powerful good news, The “cold” are those who have never sat by the fire of the gospel- not just cold but icy cold. They are preferable to the lukewarm in that they, having never felt the warmth of the knowledge of the Son of God and having never walked in a saving relationship with Him, will be more likely to warm to a boil when the gospel is presented. Unfortunately, Laodicea, which represents us today, is “lukewarm”. They have just enough religion to play the game, but not enough to accurately represent Christ. They may know the right “catch phrases” to sound good, but their heart is far from God. The lukewarm aptly represent the condition of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They felt like they had everything and needed nothing. We can become the same way today.
If you had to put yourself in one of the three categories today, where would you rate yourself? Probably not cold- this is a church newsletter and you are reading it. In fact, maybe you would describe yourself as “hot”, one burning with ardent love for Him. I hope that is the case. Surely Jesus deserves our life, our soul and our all! If you are willing to admit that you are in some way “lukewarm” you may be as bad off as you think. In fact, I would venture to say that being “lukewarm” and admitting it may be the best option of all. Make sure and read next week’s article to see why.
Evenings in the Rietman household often find us doing crafts. Charles, unknown to most, is a very good artist who has painted some lovely scenes. He has phases of painting and he also has gotten in to models in the past year. He is currently working on an extremely intricate wooden model of an 18th century ship. For myself I enjoy crocheting, mostly blankets. Recently I finished an anniversary gift for our brother and sister-in-law. It was a labor of love of 56 squares, all joined and bordered. Otherwise I enjoy scrapbooking yearly photo books for the kids, making cards and wreaths. It is fun and fulfilling to make something beautiful and also try something new. It is also therapeutic for both of us. Charles is working with people throughout the day and I am keeping our little humans alive. Both tasks can be draining as well as difficult to always see any sort of accomplishment. Our hobbies, however, give us a visual and immediate sense of progress.
"Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?' says the Lord.’ Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!" Jeremiah 18: 5-6. Just as we enjoy fashioning beautiful works, so does the Lord! However, His means of craft are not yarn or wood, it is hearts and lives. To be molded, clay must be completely pliable, giving no resistance but fully submitting to the potter's hands. Only then can a finished work be made. How great the pleasure God must receive when He sees His people, submitting to His ways and being molded unto His design. How sad He must be when we resist His work.
As the Artist, He knows the gorgeous work which will be the finished masterpiece. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11). As yarn can be fashioned into lovely designs, paint can be brushed to make a stunning landscape, God through His word can shape a life in to a Being full of joy, peace and promise. May our prayer truly be, "But you, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter." Isaiah 64:8.
In February and March the pathfinders learned about Airplanes; the history in advances in aviation, how they operate and what brought about the need for more advanced technology. We visited the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo to get a better understanding of airplanes. While there, they were able to operate a flight simulator to get the full effect of flying for themselves. It's hard to believe how advanced technology has become in less than 100 years. All are signs that Jesus' return is soon! - Brad and Tracey Hall, Directors of the BC Pioneers Pathfinder Club
SACRED CONCERT SERIES 2018: The March 31st concert will be Buddy Houghtaling. Buddy always brings new songs and fresh testimonies to his concerts. His programs are joyful and Christ centered, and we know you will be blessed. Invite a friend and join us for our final concert this season. All concerts are FREE, 7:00 pm in the sanctuary.
LADIES TEA: April 2 at 1:00 p.m. in the church’s dining room. Please join us for fellowship and fun. Feel free to bring a project of your choice such as knitting, crocheting, coloring, card making, et. If you have empty plastic grocery bags, bring them in as we using them to make mats for warmth for those in need. We will have tea, hot cider and hot chocolate. Feel free to bring a small amount of snacks (nuts, relishes, etc.). Please call Pam Metcalf at 269-275-2848 for more information.
BAGS OF LOVE: We will be assembling bags on April 10 at 10:00 a.m. We need the following items: full small shampoo and lotion bottles, new hair brushes for girls, small toys for boys and girls, and stuffed animals that are 12”-15” in size. Please leave your donated items in the cradle in the lounge area downstairs near the elevator by April 7.