Monthly Archives: July 2011

Spiritual Lethargy

‘Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep”  (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters )

The Alarm-bell!

James Smith

“I know your works, that 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!” Revelation 3:15-16

Here is a solemn charge: “You are neither cold nor hot!” We profess the latter — to have the fire of love burning in our bosoms; and holy zeal boiling in our hearts. We profess to possess and be influenced by the most pure and powerful principles — to be like Jesus, whose food was to do His Father’s will, and who could say, “Zeal for your house has consumed Me!”

But we are not quite the former — or altogether cold. It cannot be said there is no concern, no attention, no interest manifested. We are not altogether careless and hardened. We are charged with the intermediate state, “You are lukewarm.” You are at ease, instead of . . .
laboring in the Lord’s vineyard,
fighting the Lord’s battles, and
carrying out the Lord’s commands.

You are resting on the bed of sloth — instead of fighting the good fight of faith.

You are formal — instead of being full of life, vigor, and the power of godliness.

You are presuming — instead of attending to the admonition which says, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” And the command, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Fire is lacking. Holy determination, and diligence in the Lord’s cause, are lacking. “You are lukewarm!”

Here is a satisfactory proof of the truth of the change, “I know your works!” Jesus knows not only our profession — but our works. He observes not only our hearts — but our conduct. He expects not only a sound creed and a scriptural profession — but fruit, “much fruit,” fruit that will, “remain,” “fruit that will abound.” He knows all our works — their nature, number, and tendency. He knows them intimately and perfectly. Works are a proof of our real condition — and we should take them as such, for Jesus does.

“Faith without works is dead, being alone.” Professing faith without works answerable thereunto, is hypocrisy! “Show me your faith without your works — and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Here is a serious wish. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” The Lord hates indecision. The Savior declares that those who are not decidedly for Him, are against Him. He condemns half-heartedness in His cause. He desires that all who profess Him — should honor Him. He prefers coldness to lukewarmness in religion. Here we are taught that a little religion is a very bad thing; we had better have none — than be satisfied with a little. Christ would rather have no servants — than cool, selfish, worldly ones; He loves to see His people throw their whole hearts into His cause — burning with love to His name, and boiling with zeal for His glory.

Here is a conditional sentence. “So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” That is, without repentance, as the following verses show. Jesus as the Intercessor takes up our names into His mouth, and even for the fruitless fig-tree pleads for a time, saying, “Let it alone this year also.” But if it remains fruitless, He says, “Now cut it down!” So with the lukewarm — He may bear long with them; but He will reject them at last. He will reject them and their services — as loathsome and disgusting. He has cast away many lukewarm churches — until their places could not be found! And He has cast away many lukewarm professors — and they have been gathered up, cast into the fire and burned! And as sure as His name is jealous, as certain as he hates lukewarmness — He will cast away every cool professor with loathing and disgust!

Many who are now considered respectable professors, whose external conduct is decent, and whose attendance on the means of grace is tolerable regular — will be rejected and disowned by Him at last. Why? They are not hot! There is no fire, no zeal, no self-denial, no determined efforts for the promotion of the Lord’s glory, or for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause!

Professor, examine, are you lukewarm? If so, “look to it — for evil is before you;” and no common evil, the Lord Jesus will disown you, refuse you, reject you as vile, loathsome, and abominable in His sight! Surely, many professors have cause to tremble. Surely, some of our churches must be in a dangerous case. “Let us search and try our ways — and turn again to the Lord.”

See the need of repentance — for professors to repent, lukewarm professors especially. Jesus says, “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” “I rebuke you in the way of chastening — be zealous therefore, in the way of repentance.”

See the importance of a revival of religion in our churches, and in all our hearts! Oh, to keep at a distance from the danger against which we are warned!


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Nine lessons from God Concerning Sickness.


This morning as I woke I noticed the pain I sleep with every night was a little worse.  As I stood in front of the medicine cabinet downing my growing list of prescriptions I realized how little I think about dealing with a Chronic Illness from a spiritual perspective. I try to function as best as I can and get on with my day. I know people who suffer so much every day with so many more problems and pain than I do, so it’s not something I really think about very often unless it’s to be thankful to God that things are not worse.

Lately it’s been a huge battle for me, mentally and physically and the hardest part is having no one to talk to about it, or no one that understands. I have heard this same thing from so many folks in similar situations and it’s tough. “You don’t look sick” does not really make things feel better, even though the person saying that may not necessarily mean to be rude or insensitive, it’s not particularly helpful. I am learning that as a Christian I am so blessed to have a Lord and Savior who has been through every hurt, every overlooked emotion, every struggle and He cares for me.   I am blessed beyond measure to know that He listens to me,  and understands completely. In all my searching I could never find a friend that valuable. Our sermon at Church last night was such a blessing and it discussed these very topics, I hope to post it sometime this week but in the meantime J.C. Ryle shared his thoughts on the subject. They helped me so much this morning and I hope someone else is as blessed by his words as I am today.

Sickness is meant…

1. To make us think—to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body—an immortal soul—a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery—and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.

2. To teach us that there is a world beyond the grave—and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.

3. To make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?

4. To make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.

5. To send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.

6. To make us pray. Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight.

7. To make us repent and break off our sins. If we will not hear the voice of mercies, God sometimes makes us “hear the rod.”

8. To draw us to Christ. Naturally we do not see the full value of that blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail, the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men’s eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, “Simply to Your cross I cling,” as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many—they have found Christ in the sick room.

9. To make us feeling and sympathizing towards others. By nature we are all far below our blessed Master’s example, who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize as those who have never had trouble themselves—and none are so able to feel as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.

Summary: Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise—a good and not an evil—a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Christ in the Sick Room


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