Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lukewarm and lovin’ it

Synonyms for lukewarm: unenthusiastic, half hearted, and unexcited.

The first question is how do we judge ourselves? Are we hot, lukewarm, or cold in terms of living the gospel of Jesus Christ?

The purpose of this lesson is not to judge anyone or offend anyone. It is simply to remind us of true principles. Although the topic may hit home hard to some, it will not come from me. For this reason we are going to use a lot of scriptures to help us understand these forthcoming principles.

We hear it said that we are a peculiar people. Are we really so weird? Or is it that the rest of the world’s standards are weird to us? It depends on perspective.

Let’s look at the world in general terms. Do we realize that around the world 53 people out of 100 live on an average of just $2 a day? Isn’t that weird? Or are we Canadians weird? Some of us make 100 or even 200 dollars a day. That’s up to 100 times the amount of over 50% of the population of the world. Maybe we are the weird ones!

Let’s face the fact. We are rich! Filthy rich by the world’s standard. We’re loaded. Homes, Cars, Computers, tv’s, nice clothes, plenty to eat, doctors, dentists, all kinds of services and luxuries, vacations, etc. Granted we are not all on the same financial level, but compared to the rest of the world, we’ve got it good.

I say this, but yet many of us would say we are poor, “Oh I’m so poor”, or “I’m broke”. How often do we complain about money? I don’t have enough for this or for that. Can you imagine how most of the world looks at us? They can’t believe how rich we are, yet most of us would say we’re not rich. How often do we stress out about money? We are worried about having enough to buy the things we want or how much we will have 30 years from now. Most of the world is hoping they can get enough to survive the day with food and shelter.

So what is my point? We are rich, and that puts us at a disadvantage. Because we are so blessed above most of the world we are “disadvantaged spiritually”.
We can choose to believe it or not, but it’s the plain fact.

Well what do the scriptures say about all this? Jesus says it’s so hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle. A thousand different interpretations of that! A good one, that Hugh Nibley tells us is simply mistaken, is that the eye is a doorway with a short arch and to get a camel through it you must strip it of all its burdens and then get it to kneel and duck through. Yeah, that’s what Jesus was really saying. No! You see what he was really saying is, that it really is impossible for a man who trusts riches to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s read Mark 10: 17-27

17 ¶ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
23 ¶ And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men that trust in riches, it is impossible; but not impossible with men who trust in God and leave all for my sake, for with such all these things are possible. - JST

So it is possible to be rich and be saved with God. All things are possible with God. It is not bad to be rich if we use it as is described in Jacob 2.

13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.
14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.
15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!
16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!
17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

We tend to think a lot that riches are an advantage and we associate it with blessedness, and so it may be, but not necessarily. Sometimes some of us judge those less fortunate than us and think, “Oh those poor people”. Perhaps we may even judge that they are not keeping the commandments and are therefore not being blessed. This is a wrong and wicked judgment! There are those who do the will of the Lord yet seem to never be able to get ahead financially. They will have a huge credit standing in their favor in the life to come.

Alma 1: 27-31

27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.

“They did not set their hearts upon riches”. This is the key line. Why were they blessed? Because they stood firm in the faith and helped all those who stood in need. So this promise remains true.

The problem is we get so caught up with everything around us. We get so clouded. We are so quick to forget and oh so slow to remember. Wealth and possessions draw us away and take our eyes of the prize.

Luke 19:1-9

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

What was the difference in this story compared to the young ruler in Mark 10?
He was happy to give up his riches. Happy! “Have my money, it means nothing to me, I’ve found Christ, I’ve found truth”. “Jesus just invited me to come dine with him”. He found a treasure far greater didn’t he? Jesus says, “this day salvation has come to this house”. Those are powerful words!

Are we going to be like Zacchaeus or the young man in Mark?

Did Zacchaeus do it with joy or out of guilt? Joy! Are we doing it with joy or because of guilt?

Matt 13:44

44 ¶ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

What is the key word in that scripture? JOY!!! Do it with joy. He doesn’t have to think about it, “Gee… I don’t know, is it worth it?” Treasure is joy. With joy he buys the field.

Matt.6: 19-21
19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

But this Joy seems so rare. Why? Cause money does weird things to people. Ever hear that or say that? We’ve all said it, but I bet I can guess what you haven’t said. “Money does weird things to me”. Face it, money does weird things to us.

Why does it do weird things to us? It gives us a false sense of security. The more we have the more safe we feel. Rather than trusting in God we start to trust in riches. I’m not saying don’t save, don’t prepare, I’m saying don’t trust in riches for security, trust in God and his counsel and wisdom. He will take care of your needs. Do we depend on him for our daily bread? Or do we depend on our money? Are we needy people? We should be needy of the Lord and not for money.

Rev.3: 15-18
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

God is displeased in these verses because they are lukewarm. “One foot in the world and one foot in the gospel”.

Matt 6:24

24 ¶ No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

We so easily become lukewarm, And how does that make him feel? He wants to spue us out of his mouth. He finds it disgusting and unbelievable that we would want to choose other treasures over his.

Are we hot? Are we one fire? I think some of us are. Can we ask ourselves honestly if we are hot or lukewarm? Do some of us consider ourselves lukewarm? I think it fair to say that some of us(meaning members of the church active or less active) want to be lukewarm and we’re lovin’ it! We don’t want to be on fire for the Lord. We might have to sacrifice much more than we are willing to give up. Is that fair? No one is pointing fingers, I’m talking about all of us generally as a whole.

What do we treasure more? Are we choosing things or life style over God’s treasures?

Most of us don’t like it when people challenge us to be on fire. To step outside of comfort and security, to step outside the box.

Can we be spued out and still enter into exaltation? Is it enough to be lukewarm?
If we really get it, and catch the vision, we won’t want to be lukewarm.

Are we swaying back and forth, are we sitting on fences, are we trying to serve two masters? Maybe yes, maybe no. Which one are we?

Perhaps we are on fire most of the time but sometimes we just get blinded by other treasures, whether sin or riches. Do we sometimes debate whether or not it is all worth it? Do we realize what we can have and obtain to? Why is God’s treasure greater than the World’s? We need to be able to clearly answer this.
Most of the time it is a question of faith. We can’t see God and heaven but the world and all it’s glory and pleasure is right in front of our eyes. It’s so easy to have our view clouded. We have to know what we can obtain to and believe it’s true without seeing it. Are #1 priority should be to return to live with God. To be on fire! We need to do all we can to be on fire for Christ. Do whatever it takes! He wants us to be on fire for him. We can’t end our lives lukewarm! Do we get that?
Why are Jesus’ words so strong? What do we think it means to be spued out? How can we compare him to false security, idols, and sin?

It’s sounds so harsh, but Jesus is saying this out of love. Remember the parable of the 10 virgins in Matt 25. Only five were prepared. What does that say about us? Isn’t that scary? I have this fear that many of us are not prepared. Which one of the ten will we be when the bridegroom comes? Are we on fire or are we lukewarm? Are we holding on to sins and worldly security?

Do we want to enter the Celestial kingdom in exaltation or is something lesser than that ok for us? Will we do anything about it? Or will we just leave today and forget about it, trying to pretend it doesn’t apply to us. Are we too clouded and shut out from hearing the warning Jesus has given us?

Some of us cling to our sins that easily beset us. Some of us may have addictions to alcohol, pornography, laziness, riches etc. Have we ever considered we may have an addition to comfort, and false security? We need to look to God for comfort and security and he will give it in abundance, in this life and in the life to come. Remember that men are that they may have Joy. That’s out of 2 Ne. 2:25. Exaltation is all that really matters and the things we must do to get us there. Are we that serious about it?

Rev.3: 19-21

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open 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 in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Jesus is inviting us, and telling us that what he has is so much better than anything the world can offer. The rest is just garbage in comparison.

The scriptures talk about this large wide lukewarm road that leadeth to destruction, and many follow it. Then there is the small narrow road that leads to eternal life and few that follow it. Those on fire are the ones one the narrow road.

Think about and compare Lehi’s dream of the tree of life in 1 Ne. 8. Are we holding fast to the Iron rod? Or because of the great and spacious building which is the pride of the world, are we getting ourselves lost in the mists of darkness? Why, when we can receive all that God has?

Rom. 8:16-18

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What does it mean to become heirs of God?

Can we really look at that kind of reward and than look at the world’s and say, “Well… I don’t know”. Well that is being lukewarm.

Can we really find fulfillment outside of God’s Plan? Wickedness never was happiness.

Let me make it clear, it’s not about being poor or rich, do you get that? It isn’t bad to be either. The fact is, it’s not what matters. We shouldn’t care about being rich or care about the sinful pleasures of the world. God has all the riches and all the pleasure we could ever desire. He wants to give them to us, as a gift!

Are we too busy with other things that take us away from what God would rather have us do? Are we too busy to serve our fellow men? Too busy to attend the temple more often? In which ways are we lukewarm? Are we praying in a lukewarm way? How about scripture study? How about church attendance? What about home teaching and serving and going to activities? What about sustaining our leaders lukewarmly? What about fulfilling family duties? If we are doing any of these things in a lukewarm way and not with joy, doesn’t that make us lukewarm? Are we prefect? No, but we ought to be trying and we ought to be repenting and willing to change. We ought to be working on it sincerely.

Mosiah 3:19

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

What are the areas in our lives where we are lukewarm? Are we ready to change and be on fire?

Study D&C 6:7, D&C 53:2, Alma 39:14,1 Ne. 8, Luke 8:5-15, D&C 121:34-40

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