There was a short season in my life when I was obsessed with owning a Mercedes. It was a ridiculous idea. Kat and I were in seminary in Texas. I was driving a truck for a pick up and delivery service in Ft. Worth and I would often see those beautiful cars while working. Kat was teaching school. Our car at the time was a 1978 Grand Prix and it was many years before we could afford something different. Before we sent the Grand Prix to the junk yard, and while I was still driving it, I had to staple the headliner up regularly. For some of the time I had to get in and out of the vehicle "Dukes of Hazzard" style because the door wouldn’t work. Because of that I often would forget and leave the window down and so it was not unusual for there to be a literal puddle in the back floorboard. Because the windows were down often, there was a bees nest under the headliner. Needless to say, there were a lot of steps between our car and a Mercedes, but I wanted one. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with owning one, but that was not ever going to fit our budget, then or now.
It may be impossible to grow up in this country and not at some time or another struggle with the desire to be wealthy. Perhaps that’s universal, but since I’ve only grown up in this country, I don’t know what its like to grow up elsewhere. But it was particularly absurd for me to want a Mercedes when I was in seminary. I don’t know what was considered the poverty line in terms of income in the late 1980’s but I’m fairly sure we were close to it.
Probably you’ve had seasons in your life where you were struggling financially. Perhaps some reading this are struggling now. This Sunday at Bethany Place we will expose a different sort of poverty. This is a poverty all have experienced at one time or another, all are in danger of it, and some are experiencing it right now. The kind of poverty I’m speaking of is spiritual poverty and Ironically, being reasonably well off can lead to this kind of poverty if specific steps are not taken to combat it. The message from Revelation 3:14-23, will be the last in the series called Ear Training from Revelation 2-3. You can see the text and outline below.
Combatting Spiritual Poverty
Ear Training, Part 7
1. Identify what pleases God
Revelation 3:14–17 (ESV) 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
2. Address problem areas
Revelation 3:17–19 (ESV) 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
3. Develop a keen sense of hearing
Revelation 3:20–22 (ESV)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 eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”