Week 6 – Iron Low Heat
[Proverbs 1:32, Revelation 3:14-22]
CARING WITHOUT COMPLACENCY
Romans 12:11 – Do not lack diligence (enthusiasm); be fervent in spirit (hot enough to boil); serve the Lord. [HCSB]
John Stott – The Laodicean church was a halfhearted church. Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth-century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anemic. We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion.
Proverbs 1:32 – For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; [ESV]
Complacency – self-satisfaction, unawareness of deficiencies
Amos – Religion without Repentance (4:6-13), Religion without Reformation / No change (5:11-12)
Revelation 3:14-22 – Church of Laodicea – Had religion, lacking RELATIONSHIP
verse 18 – Buy three things (v. 17 notes “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked”)
- Gold purified in fire – Laodicea banking industry – know Jesus & be truly rich [FAITH]
- White clothes – Laodicea black wool industry – be dressed (shameful nakedness not exposed) [RIGHTEOUS]
- Ointment – Laodicea medical school famous for producing eye salve – spread over eyes to see [WORD OF GOD & ANOINTING OF HOLY SPIRIT]
verse 19 – God’s purpose of discipline – not to punish, to bring us back to Him
ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
Breakout Session Questions
1) Read Psalm 51:10-12. What is the cause of complacency in this passage? What can we do to fight the complacency?
2) Read Ephesians 1:15-16 and Revelation 2:4. What is the cause of complacency in these passages? What can we do to fight the complacency?
3) Read John 17:17 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?
4) Read Jeremiah 29:13. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?
5) Read Acts 2:46-47. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?
Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.
- Week 1 – Stain Removal – Caring for God’s glory
- Week 2 – Do Not Bleach – Caring for Truth
- Week 3 – Add Fabric Softener – Caring like Barnabas
- Week 4 – Fasten the Zipper – Caring for Unity
- Week 5 – Empty Pockets – Caring for Treasures
- Week 6 – Iron Low Heat – Caring without Complacency
Abraham was blessed to be a blessing. Oftentimes I find myself remembering this truth. We too are blessed to be a blessing. When we realize that we have been blessed by God, and that nothing is ours, but rather everything is His, then naturally this blessing should flow through our fingers and bless others. This is not simply a nice idea—it is the way life was meant to be lived.
Jesus makes it clear that we are not to build our kingdom here on earth, because the earth is our temporary residence. Rather, our treasures are heavenly treasures. The world tells us otherwise—the world desires that we max out credit cards to compete with our neighbors for the newest of things, the biggest of houses, the fanciest of cars. The world tells us we should look out for ourselves and water our own flower bed. This verse tells us the “one who waters will himself be watered.”
When we open our hands to another person, we open up the doors for the blessing to be multiplied in a few ways. As we bless someone, this blessing may be paid forward. As we bless someone, this blessing will turn around and bless us. We feel joy when we give to others. We feel joy when we are able to act in lovingkindness. When we don’t cling tightly to the blessings God has bestowed upon us, He continues to rain down blessings so we are enriched, so we are well-watered. Who shall you water today?
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:25 [ESV]
There is a lot of time and energy being spent in the world today just to be taken seriously. People feel like they must fight for attention. Advertising has become more bold and outrageous than ever. It is hard to get people to pay attention. Celebrities do wild stunts. We post odd status updates to social media just hoping to cause someone to listen. At work, we take extra time for a presentation because we want to boss to take us seriously and consider us for the next area of advancement.
Things are different when we look at how we get attention from people and how we get attention from God. We do not have to fight to get His attention. We do not have to outdo another to get His attention. We do not have to be wild and crazy and do something off the collar to get His attention. The Psalmist wrote that He always took him seriously. He always listens. He always is genuine and sincere.
To God, you are important. He ALWAYS takes you seriously. Every prayer. Every need. Every desire. Every hair on your head. Every piece of your life. It all matters to Him. So you can spend your day trying to get attention from someone, or you can recognize that you already have His full attention. His attention is the best.
“You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.”
-Psalm 61:3-5 [MSG]
This past week was a difficult one for me. My routine was missing in action. Sleep escaped me. My level of pain was at its highest. We were relocating. I was working every day, all day. It was draining.
I was standing at work in pain, tired and dreading the end of my shift when I would return home to move more stuff to the new place. I asked a friend if she had some hard candy like a Lifesaver, because my throat was dry. Little did I know, a customer was listening to the conversation. As I finished with his order, he handed me the Lifesavers. I argued that it was against policy to accept things from customers. He then said he would leave them sit for me, that it was his policy to be nice. Jokingly, the lady behind him said she liked Three Musketeers. I was amazed as I spied him picking up yet another small gift to bring another smile around.
My day was not going well. I was exhausted and found myself on the verge of tears, nearly falling asleep standing, and wearing more braces than ever before because my body was feeling the week’s work. Then here came this fellow who became a lifesaver for a moment. His attitude and generosity had a great impact on me and the other customer. One small gesture had a ripple effect. It was a great reminder of our great Lifesaver. The gentleman paid attention to those around him and took action. It did not cost him a lot of money. It did not cost him a lot of time. This reminds me of something Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” – 1 John 4:7 [MSG]
If you are the older sibling, you might have heard the phrase “look after” your brother or sister. If you are in a management position, your job is to “look after” whatever you are managing, and this usually includes a group of people. When you have children, you “look after” them.
Looking after someone requires time and attention. Looking after someone at its best requires love and dedication. Looking after someone or something requires caring. Looking after someone requires being intentional and present.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.” He went on to mention bitterness that leads to trouble and corruption. We spend a lot of time looking after ourselves, looking after our families, looking after our co-workers—let us not forget to look after our brothers and sisters.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15 [NLT]
I have seen people get so angry. They are ready to explode. You can see the look in their face. They are mad. They are ready to fume from their ears. Then something changes. They are face to face with someone who doesn’t yell back. The person doesn’t respond harshly. Instead there is a gentle answer. The person who is angry starts to consider this gentle answer. Wow, I don’t have to be so mad. This person is calm. This person isn’t out to get me. This person is being reasonable. This person is caring. This person is listening to me.
When someone is angry, words can be said. When the listener starts to respond with more harsh words it becomes a war. The two people end up tossing words back and forth. Who can hit the hardest blow? Who can hurt the person worse? Who can one up the person with the worst? It becomes very childish. It becomes very loud. Voices get even louder, as if the loudest voice would win. As if the loudest voice is delivering the truth.
God’s Word says we should provide a “gentle answer.” It says a lot about us to provide a “gentle answer” when we are being pelted with hurtful, harsh words. I have tried both the gentle answer and the harsh words. The gentle answers always have worked out best. I’ve given up on the harsh words.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]
“Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’” – Mark 6:36-37 [NIV]
As I was reading the Book of Mark last night, it was very confrontational. The disciples were with Jesus and a large crowd of people. It’s estimated that there were five thousand men so there were most likely at least ten thousand people if counting women and children. It was getting about the time to eat and the disciples suggested that the large crowd get sent away so they could find themselves some food. In all fairness, the disciples were considering this because they wanted the people to have the time to get food. But Jesus saw things differently because God sees a much bigger picture. While the disciples saw the large crowd and limited food and thought logically that the people would need to leave and hunt for food, Jesus saw what was lacking and did what only He could do to fill the need.
Sometimes we like to send people away because we don’t want to help. Helping might require a sacrifice and time we aren’t willing to lose. Sometimes we see what we are lacking and immediately want to turn in the other direction. But Jesus said to the disciples “YOU give them something to eat” and sometimes He tells us that WE are to do something—not send people away in need, figuring they will find what they need elsewhere.
Today, if God is calling you to do something—do it. Trust He will make the way. Trust He has a bigger picture. You never know what He may do through you unless you allow Him to use you like only He can.
Sample excerpt: “The hardest item to overcome when thinking about having faith is fear. Fear is certainly difficult to cope with at times. Fear and worry can be scary. When we are afraid, it changes how we cope with everything else in life. It is vital to understand that our God is big enough. It’s also important to understand that God gives us everything we need in life to get through each obstacle. We need to have our ears and eyes open to see and to hear. We must have faith that He has it covered, because whether we admit it or not, He has it covered.”