God's Prescription for Overcoming Spiritual Anemia

Bible Book: Revelation  3 : 14-22
Subject: Power; Weakness; Pride; Effectivenss
Series: God's Prescriptions for Life

God's Prescription for Overcoming Spiritual Anemia

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

We come now to the third message in our series regarding God's Perscriptions for Life. In this series we are looking at God’s prescription for overcoming problems that affect our health, happiness, home, heart and service for Christ.

Today we are looking at spiritual anemia. Many Christians experience spiritual anemia which results in their feeling weak, losing the desire to serve God, and not being excited about worship and praise.

A revival took place some years ago and the people were deeply moved by God. A man stood up one night and said, "I have been drinking three beers a day and I'm giving it up this very night!" The people all shouted, "Amen." Another man stood and shouted, "I've been smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and I'm quitting on the spot." The congregation yelled, "Praise the Lord!" Yet another man stood up and said, "I've been cussing a lot lately, and here and now I am cleaning up my language." Once again the congregation rejoiced. Then a woman caught up in a moment sheer joy stood to her feet and shouted, "I ain't been doing nothing and I'm quitting that tonight."

Sometimes the greatest evil may be the sin of doing nothing, or at best trying to do something in our own anemic spiritual strength. One of the terrible perils of the Christian life is that of growing lukewarm or being spiritually anemic. It plagues every believer at some point in his or her walk with God. Sometimes the reason is apparent, and at other times it is unknown, but worse than that it is possible to be lukewarm and unaware of it. Today we are going to look at a cure for spiritual anemia as prescriped by Dr. Jesus, the Great Physician.

In Revelation 3:15-22 we read what ther Lord said to the Laodicean Christians. Look at this text with me ...

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore 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 dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

This church had become an indifferent congregation and were totally unaware of the true nature of their condition. Let's note how the Savior addressed it and what this can mean to us.

I. The Divine Observation

Jesus walks among His children. Each church is His and He takes note of our spiritual health or lack thereof on a regular basis. He sees those who are true members of His Body – the Church - and He sees thoses who are not true, born again members. We see that clearly in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

One man asked another, "What do you think of God?" The man considered the question for a moment and responded, "That is not the question; the question is what does God think of me?" That was a very thoughtful man, for what God thinks of us is extremely important, especially as it regards our spiritual temperature? Are we on fire for Him or merely here in body but not in spirit.

A. A Lukewarm Christian is Strange

Everywhere you look people are red-hot for their causes. In the streets of our cities in America we see people who are willing to die for their position or belief, no matter how ridiculous or even illegal the cause may be. In some nations people are in the streets are dying for good causes. How is it that God’s people can become anemic in the worship and work of Christ? How is it possible to become indifferent to the greatest truth on earth - the truth that Jesus is real, Jesus saves, Jesus forgives sin, and for us who are saved,Jesus is present in our lives!

The world thinks nothing of advertising its products, regardless of what the product is or how damaging it may be. While alcohol kills more people due to drunk driving than all the guns in America, the industry keeps advertising their products every day as something that will make people happy. Sexually explicit movies are advertised openly. Those who made them and those who starred in them are proud of their work. Yet, many Christians are lukewarm about the gospel - about Christ as the only hope in this world. Some are ashamed to even speak up for the Lord outside the church buildings.

It is a shame for the world to be more excited about what they are doing than God’s people are about what God has done, is doing and will do? Indeed, it is strange for Christians to be lukewarm. Sadly, however, it is not rare. Many Christians are anemic about their faith.

B. A Lukewarm Christian is Stale

The idea of being neither hot nor cold means that you have settled to room temperature. You are not affecting your environment in any way. In science the idea of falling or rising only to the temperature around you is known as being “noiseless.” Noise is that state of changing something by increasing or decreasing the temperature. The natural state of things in nature is to be noiseless. For example, hot water running into a tub will not become cold as long as the hot water is running. Cold water in the bathtub will not become hot unless something hot is added to it. It is never noiseless as long as hot or cold water is being added. If the water is static, unaffected by the temperature in the room, it is said to be noiseless in nature. No Christian is to be noiseless in this world. We are to make a noise - a difference, if you please, for Christ. We are to do this wherever we are, whatever we are doing, and whoever we are with.

The Church at Laodicea was neither hot nor cold. The church was making no difference whatsoever in the society where it existed. It was a "noiseless" church in the culture where it had been established. It was not that the church was wicked and evil, but the church was meaningless. That, in itself, is an evil position to occupy for a Christian or a church. A stale church is a shame and a sham!

On the inside, the church members at Laodicea felt good about themselves, but the Lord was dissatisfied with them. Christ placed them in the city to make a difference, yet they had settled down to the lukewarm temperature of the society in which they lived. He did not put a church there so that people could attend and feel good each week. He meant for them to change the atmosphere in that city. A church is completely stale unless it is changing the atmosphere in the area where it exists. Patting each other on the back each week in church is good, and unity is a wonderful thing, however, if we are not touching our community, village or city, we are simply lukewarm and stale - meaningless and noiseless.

C. A Lukewarm Christian is Sickening

It does not make sense for a Christian or a church to be insipid, wishy-washy, unexciting, tame and unappetizing. The believer and the congregation are to represent the Lord. How can one who knows Him - Jesus - and has the nature of heaven in himself or herself, be lukewarm? The fact that this church was lukewarm made Jesus sick! He was ready to spew them out of his mouth, like an unHappy Meal! Seriously, that is the way this passage reads. The church made Jesus sick to His stomach.

Have you ever tried to drink a cup of lukewarm coffee? Have you ever bought a soft drink at a convenience store and found that it was lukewarm – that it was probably just placed in the cooler a few moments before you bought it? Did you enjoy that? No, you certainly did not, and God is not satisfied with a lukewarm Christian either. After all He did to redeem us, He expects us to have a temperature that alters the society in which we exist.

Let me ask you something today: Does our inability or unwillingness to change the atmosphere in our place of existence make Jesus sick? Does He look at us in our church and wonder why we are not moving and shaking the world around us? It is a question every Christian must ask.

No wonder the Bible records in Amos 6:1 these words ...

"Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria...."

Surely it is dangerous to be one who makes God sick through indifference. When God starts “woe-ing” we better get “going."

Somewhere I read the story years ago about two ministerial students who walked by a used clothing store. They looked in the window and saw a sign on a suit that read, “Slightly Soiled – Greatly Reduced In Price.” One student said to the other, “What an illustration. When we are not really living for the Lord we are slightly soiled but greatly reduced in price.”

Jesus pointed out that the value of the Church of Laodicea had dropped so drastically that it might be a good idea just to shut it down. The church was doing more harm than good.

I believe that an unhealthy church tends to create unhealthy members, and unexcited members create lukewarm churches. Too many people join the church and they soon drift down to the level of the “noiseless” membership. The joy is gone and the effectiveness is nil. What a sad state of affairs in the kindgom.

 Now note ...

II. The Divine Revelation

Jesus revealed the nature of the problem at the Church of Laodicea. He spoke to this church and made it clear that He might just have to “spew” them out – get rid of that Anemic Congregation. After all, wouldn't it be a sad thing to have a sign outside your church that reads: The Anemic Baptist Church (of the Laodicean faction)!

After a violent storm one night, a tree which had over the years become a large and stately tree, was discovered lying on the ground. The tree had fallen over so that no part of the trunk was attached to the splintered stump. When the tree was examined it became clear that the tree was rotten on the inside. Insects had eaten away from the core and destroyed the tree. All it took to bring it down was a stormy wind.

We must be strong in order to stand the storms that come our way as God's people and as individual Christians. This begins with each Christian being “on fire” for God - alive on he inside. If we allow ourselves to become anemic spiritually, we will soon face a storm that brings us down. Jesus was revealing to the church at Laodicea that they were weak on the inside. Listen, it doesn’t matter how bad the world is on the outside as long as we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might on the inside. Often the church is complaining about how bad society is today, but the Lord is complaining about how lukewarm the church is today. The world, no matter how foolish or wicked it may be, is any match for the power of God. A weak church is the problem in an evil world.

What caused the problem at this church? We need to consider three problems at Laodicea.

A. Pride

The first problem the people had at Laodicea was the sin of pride. They saw themselves through standards they themselves had established. You see, God doesn’t ask us what we think of ourselves, rather He is determined to place us alongside Jesus for our measurement to take place.

Pride can be a real problem in the church. I heard it said about one noteworthy preacher that he was so full of pride he could strut sitting down! Now that is real pride.

Yet, I have seen that among church members through the years as well. Some think they have all the answers and are constantly trying to straighten out everyone else. Others want to control everything that happens in the fellowship. If they don’t get their way, they will do all they can to cause trouble. Others demand constant attention.

Listen, pride is something the Lord will not tolerate. He keeps the proud far from Him. If you wish to be close to God, you better get rid of pride.

B. Possessions

They bragged about their possessions. Most Christians and churches don’t have this problem, but some of them do. They base the worth of their Christian service on the amount of money and things they have. Some churches are more proud of their stained glass windows than they are of the number of people coming to Christ in their services.

C. Perception

What causes a misunderstanding of one’s true image before God? Matthew 24:12 states ...

"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."

The sins of the world become the habits of God’s people. There are some things today that we accept in our lives that our predecessors would not have imaged being part of their lives. We must remember that we are not to judge ourselves by what the world rejects or accepts but by the Word of God and the smile of Christ.

We come now to ...

III. The Divine Expectation

A. Omit

"Buy from me..."

Jesus was telling the people at the Church of Laodicea to omit the judgment of the world, or better still, to stop judging themselves as compared to one another. Judge yourself compared to Christ. "Buy" in this sentence means that we can only get what we need to live the Christian life from the author of it.

Omit worldliness! John said in one of his epistles that those who love the world cannot also have within them the love for God. That is interesting and sometimes condemning.

To be a faithful Christian, we must “omit” some things. These may not be evil things, but they are not expedient to our edification. In other words, they don’t help us grow to be more like Christ. A child eating cake is not necessarily a bad thing, but if he does so to the point that he doesn’t eat any vegetables he is harming himself. Sports might not be evil, but if you become so engrossed in sports that it keeps you from serving God you are failing. Shopping may not be an evil thing, but if you use God’s tithe to shop, you are harming yourself. In order to serve God properly we must omit some things. A child who only eats cake will become anemic. And a Christian who watches so much television or spends too time on Facebook that he or she has no time for the Word of God or prayer will be anemic spiritually.

B. Submit

"Buy from me..."

We must submit anew to Christ. Like the Ephesians, we must return to our first love. Then we shall receive a garment of purity from Him.

When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. He ordered his men to halt on the edge of the Cliffs of Dover. He commanded them to look down at the water below, where to their amazement they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar cut off any way of escape or retreat for his men. There was nothing left for them to do but win a decisive victory in Britain or die in the process. It is little wonder that they had such great success.

We must submit to God in total obedience. This restores our spiritual strength. An anemic believer is one who always has an escape route ready so he can depart from doing God’s will if things don't go the way he desires.

All of us remember the story of Jonah. When God called Jonah, this anemic believer sought to escape. He took a ship to get away from God’s will and ended up in the belly of a great fish. Once he was ensconced in the digestive tract of that sea creature, he decided it was time to pray, and pray he did. The fish spit him up on dry ground at Nineveh. It has been said that even a fish can’t stomach a backslidden preacher! Well, God is not fond of backslidden Christians – period!

The Christians at Laodicea were anemic because they had failed to fully and totally submit to the Lord. Friends, I say that today the church is anemic for the same reason. We are losing influence in our generation because we are spiritually weak. Until we fully submit to our Lord, we will continue to watch the modern church decline.

C. Admit

Not only must we omit some things and submit in every way, but we must admit that we need Jesus to open our eyes to our own condition. We cannot see our condition unless we are willing to admit that there is something wrong.

The story is told of a Jewish woman who had been converted. The friend who led her to the Lord suggested that she begin her Bible reading in the Gospels. She did this joyfully and she started to grow in our walk with the Lord. When she was finished reading the gospels, she told her friend she wanted to read a book on church history. The lady who had led her to Christ asked why she wanted to read a book on church history. The new Christian answered, “Oh, I'm just curious. I've been wondering when it was that Christians started to become so unlike Christ."

Do we really know how far some of us are from the kind of Christian you find in the Book of Acts and in the early history of the church? We must admit that there is a need before we have any hope of getting God’s answer.

D. Commit

Lastly, we must commit ourselves to Him in repentance and we must return to our Lord wholeheartedly. There are those who have served faithfully, but they began to drift away. Demas was one. Paul wrote to the Galatians in Galatians 5:7 and asked ...

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"

O, Christian, commit your way to the Lord. Return to Him! Be renewed in your soul.

We need to be committed so that we do not undo all that we have done for Christ. When the English explorer Sir Frances Drake returned from his fifth voyage around the world, he was caught in a storm on the River Thames. As his vessel was tossed about and appeared ready to run aground, the old mariner clenched his fist and said, "Can it be that I who have braved the dangers of the seven seas must now come home and be drowned in a ditch?"

It is possible for the Christian who has served God faithfully to drown in a ditch of pride, selfishness or indifference. Those who have seen great victories can be overcome with simple pleasures.

Conclusion

Can God’s people overcome anemia? Yes! What will happen to us if we become stirred, excited and thrilled in our service, worship and walk with Christ?

1. Power to Serve

In this passage we read that Christ is willing to give us gold. He is not talking about gold dug from mines. After all, the church at Laodicea was already rich. This gold in this passage speaks of divine power. Gold is powerful among men, but divine gold is powerful in the spiritual world. God has gold to give us in our souls that this world knows nothing about. He can grant us power to affect the society where we live no matter how difficult it may seem. In fact, God often does His greatest work in the worst of places.

2. Purity to Preserve

The white garment mentioned here means that we can be pure in an evil world. We do not have to be sullied by the world in which we live. If we return to Him, He will grant us a newfound purity that this world knows nothing about. God will enable us to change the culture around us rather than having the culture change us into its image.

3. Perception to Observe

He will grant us eyes to see the truth. He will open our eyes with a salve that causes us to know when we are drifting from Him. He will help us to see the ways that His work is to be done in this generation. Where there is no vision, the people perish. We lack vision because we are not close enough to God to see the world the way He sees it, nor are we close enough to see His vision for our personal service.

Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of Asia. Sadly, they formed the anemic church. Let that not be said of us.

If you are physically anemic, you go a doctor. You feel weak and unable to accomplish simple tasks. Now, I want to ask you to be honest today. Do you feel we really have the power to affect our world as Christians? Are we making a dent in the devil’s control of our generation? What is missing? Spiritual power! That is the one thing we can’t produce without God. We can create a church program. We can put together a Bible study. We can arrange a worship service. We can have a youth pizza night. But, we can’t produce the power to make a difference in any of these things. We need – no, we must have – God’s power. That begins when we admit our need.