In this episode, we continue our series on how to be rich. Our society is preoccupied with control and taking charge. The great sin of humanity is when we think we are god rather than vessels to serve God. To become truly rich requires listening to the Lord. There are two ways to improve our experience in hearing what God has to say: read the bible and listen to godly people. Doing this builds a foundation of truth, humility, and spiritual wealth.
God’s Riches come from Listening
We’re going to continue in our series on how to be rich. If you’ll turn to Revelation, we’re actually going to look at a passage that says, “Here’s how to be rich” and encourages us to be rich, in Revelation 3.
It’s a very familiar passage, but actually, I saw a lot of things I’ve never seen before because usually I don’t come to this passage looking for an answer to that question, how do we be rich? It’s the letter to the lukewarm church, the letter to the Laodiceans.
This is the seventh and last of these letters written to the churches in Turkey. All these churches are Greek colonies, so these are Greek cultures receiving these letters.
Buy God’s gold that you may be rich
It says, “And to the angel, or messenger, of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
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—
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;
We’ve got a great contrast here where he says you’re lukewarm.
Cold water/hot water
There’s a lot of debate over what that means. Probably the best explanation that I know is this place, Laodicea, had mineral springs, and people would come for healing. It also had fresh water flowing out of the aquifer-type thing. If you have fresh sparkling water that’s cold, running, what do you do with that? You drink it and enjoy it, right?
If you have the hot mineral water, what do you do with that? You soak in it so you can get better, right?
What do you get when you mix the two? You mix the two, you don’t have anything that’s useful at that point. It’s the idea of “spew you out of my mouth.”
Have you ever thought you were drinking lemonade out of the refrigerator, and it was actually milk or something like that, and you just spit it out? That’s the idea here that you are not useful to me.
Whether or not that’s a true picture, we are actually quite clear here about what it means to be lukewarm. Lukewarm is this attitude of I’m rich, have become wealthy, have need of nothing.
Material riches don’t make you “have need of nothing”
If we’re rich, we have all the money that we can spend, and we’ve bought everything that we want. It’s reasonable to say, “I have need of nothing.” But he contrasts that with something different. Because the “have need of nothing” here is material, right?
In our country, we’ve gone way beyond “have need of nothing,” haven’t we? We now have a whole industry that sells stuff that nobody wants, needs, or will ever use, just to go in garage sales five years later. There’s this whole industry of useless junk.
Then people come to the garage sales and buy it and take it home and never use it. It’s just amazing how much stuff we “have need of nothing” for.
What Jesus says here is, actually, you’re miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked. What a string of adjectives that is!
Have you ever seen that on any advertising? Or, “Hello, have a nice day. I’m miserable, wretched, poor, blind.” This is not a string of adjectives that usually people want to apply to themselves. He’s saying this is what you actually are. You think you’re rich, but you’re actually poor, blind, and naked; but I want you to be rich.
Here’s how you get rich: Buy from Me gold refined in the fire—
How do you buy gold?
This brings up a very interesting question which is, how do you buy gold?
You can actually go buy physical gold, can’t you? It’s pretty cool, really. You give them accounting entries, and they’ll give you actual, physical stuff. The fact that they’ll do that is pretty neat in one respect.
Lee was telling me about Brady who’s five, and he was trying to tell him about work, what work is. He said, “You go pick weeds, and I’ll give you money.”
[Brady]’s like, “Why would I want to do that?” So, what is money?
“Well, it’s paper. You know, you get this piece of paper.”
And he’s like, “Why would I want to do that?”
He said, “Well, you can go to the store, and you give people this paper, and they’ll give you Legos.”
He says, “What?!” You mean I can give them paper, and they’ll give me Legos? All I have to do is go—?” He’s out there pulling weeds!
That’s fairly simple to understand. A five-year-old can understand that. How do you buy gold from God, and not the kind of gold that says “I have need of nothing,” but the kind of gold that makes us not be miserable, poor, blind, and naked. How do you do that?
Let’s go to Isaiah 55. I think the answer is in this passage too. If we go to Isaiah 55 first, it’ll be easier to see it in Revelation 3.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
There’s another paradoxical statement, right? In the ancient world, and really in our current world, for the most part, people spend most of their time, energy, and money doing what? Eating. Yeah, mostly eating. That what most people—
If you’ve been to Uganda on one of the mission trips, you can see what people spend most of their time on. What is it? Raising their corn crop, right? Or farming somehow. That’s what has been going on for generations. For everywhere in all of human history that we know of, except for America and a few other places, your goal in life was to not be hungry. The definition of rich was “have enough to eat.”
Yes! In fact, the real goal is to be Jabba the Hutt.
I saw once a newspaper ad from America from the 1860s or something. It said, you know, “Take this oil,” or whatever it was that they were selling. “It’ll make your children as fat as pigs.” It’s a selling point. Because nobody was.
I’ve had men tell me that when most of the men that went to World War II into the army, it was the first time that they got enough to eat every day, that most of the people—this is not even a hundred years ago—most of the people did not get enough to eat.
They also worked manually all day, and instead of burning 700 calories sitting on a chair looking at a computer screen, they burned 5,000 calories. It’s likely that they actually might have eaten more calories than us and still lost weight. That’s part of the equation there.
This is what the world has been. Come, buy, and eat. This is the goal.
He said, “Come buy without money.” You see the picture that he’s using.
Not only that, come buy wine and milk. We’re not going to stop with food. We’re going to have the best drink you can afford in this economy as well.
Without money and without price.
We get riches from God by listening
Here we’re going to be told how to buy something very precious with no money.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Why are you wasting your money?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
How do you go buy all this stuff from God? How do you buy it? You listen. Isn’t that interesting?
The way that we get great riches from God is by listening. Isn’t that something?
He just keeps on going. Skip down to verse 8. This is more along the lines of the way we would think as Greek thinkers.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
How can we benefit from listening to God? He knows a lot more than we do. He understands how everything works. If we listen to that perspective, then we get that perspective, and that’s where true riches come from.
My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Verse 10. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
He’s going to say as this, then that. As this, this is the water cycle, right? Rivers bring life to humanity; and the rivers come from snow in the mountains. The snow comes on the mountains, the snow melts. Because the snow melts slowly over the summer, the rivers flow all year; or they fill up the lakes, and the lakes cause the river to flow all year. Because the rain comes down, we have crops. OK, this is life. You don’t have agriculture without the water cycle.
He’s saying just like the water cycle comes down, it doesn’t just bounce off the ground and go back; it waters the ground, it stores in the mountains so it can bring life to you, just like that water that brings life to you and food, verse 11,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
You’ve heard that verse many times. My word does not become void. But look at the context that it’s in here. My word is just like rain. It’s just like snow. If you will take these words that are higher than anything you can think and let it water your heart and let it grow food in your heart, now you’re really rich. You can take your paper down and give it to somebody, and they’ll give you a bowl of corn, and that’s OK; but if you want to really be rich, put my words in your life.
Let’s now go back to Revelation 3:18.
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.
Apparently Laodicea had some kind of eye salve thing, and people would come for medicinal purposes. He’s saying not only can you get rich, you can also see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
This is a church here. These are believers he’s talking to. God doesn’t spank other people’s kids. He spanks his own kids. He’s telling them to get with it here. Change your mind.
Then he says the famous verse, and now I think you’ll see it.
How do you buy gold? Hear his voice and open the door.
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.
How do you buy gold refined in the fire? Hear his voice and open the door. Isn’t that something? That’s just really crazy. You want to be rich? Answer the door.
The greatest commandment begins with “Hear, O Israel.”
“Hear, O Israel.” Yes, it does. That’s right. “The Lord, he is one.”
He says this in verse 22: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Every letter ends with, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Because the way to get real riches is listen. Isn’t that something?
We have the answer of, how do I buy gold? Well, open the door and listen to me. Sit down. What do you do when you sit down with somebody at a meal? Always?
Well, you always eat. You always talk, right? There’s an interchange.
This is one of the reasons why one of the modern movements is to try to get families to sit around the table and eat their microwaved food together.
I’ve read some about one of the problems with poverty is that people now don’t cook. They just eat pre-processed food, and all of their eating habits revolve around rummaging through the refrigerator whenever they get—and, as a result, we have obesity as a problem, in part. Which is the ultimate irony, isn’t it?
The wealthy people are the ones in our country that can hire personal trainers to get skinny. It’s just a historical anomaly, a complete historical anomaly.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Open the door; hear my voice. This is the way to riches.
How do you listen to God?
That brings up another question of if true riches is buying what doesn’t take money, which you buy with listening, if that’s what true riches is about, then we have to ask the question of, well, how do you listen to God? What is that?
We got this analogy that says hear my voice, open the door, we’ll sit down and have a meal together. But that’s an allegory. That’s an analogy because there’s not a literal door and a literal meal to have.
So how do we actually do that in everyday life? How do we hear Jesus’s voice, open the door, let him in, and have a meal? How do we actually do that?
When I tell my kids to listen to me, I’m not telling them to hear me, I’m telling them to obey.
OK, that’s right. But how do we do that? Is there is there a hotline? 900 number? How do we actually do that?
Practical ways to obtain God’s riches
I’m going to give four things that I think we can actually do—practical things—to open the door and have a meal with Jesus. This is all about being rich, buying gold refined in the fire so you’re not miserable, naked, poor, and blind. We want to be clothed, well fed, not be ashamed. You know, being in poverty is kind of shameful, right? This is how we’re going to be rich.
Read the Bible
The first one is the easy one. Matt already talked about it. The first one is to read the Bible. So let’s just do Matthew 7:24. Since we’re a Bible church, we have to have this one.
Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, as Matt said, not just listen but do, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
We teach this to our kids from they’re little bitty, right? “The wise man built his house upon the rock.” That is step one. If you hear these sayings of mine and do them.
How do you hear these sayings of Jesus? You read them. Are you listening to somebody that’s saying them? That’s one of the benefits of coming to church.
This is number one. He did give us this book, and he is talking to us all the time, and if we put this in our minds and in our heart and meditate on them… that’s a good way.
We know that people do this without listening, though, right? You can sit at a table with someone through a meal and all their words go into your ears and none of them stick. Sometimes you do that on purpose, right? If only I could tune out the actual audio files and just watch their mouth moving; but I’ll do the best I can not to process anything along the way.
We can do that. Hear these sayings and do them. There’s actually an ingesting taking place here.
That’s number one. The Bible.
There’s a friend of mine that says he always likes to use God’s word rather than just speaking simply because if he can get them to hear God’s word, it’s alive. It will plant a seed inside of them.
You mean like quote scripture in the conversation?
Yeah. In the conversation.
Are you quoting scripture right now doing this?
In some regards, probably not.
Read the Bible. That’s number one.
Numbers two, three, and four might not be so obvious, especially in a Bible church. As a matter of fact, number four is going to make Bible church people really uncomfortable. Ha ha ha.
Listen to godly people
Number two, let’s look at Luke 10:16.
In 10:1 it says, After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also—
He’s got these disciples, his inner core. He had these other 70. It’s actually a pretty large group of people that were surrounding Jesus. He had his development team led by Mary Magdalene, and he had his core zealot guys that are going to die for him. Then he has these other disciples. These are the 70. This is the expanded group.
—and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.
Then He said to them—
This is part of the charge he’s giving these 70 people when he sends them out to learn on their own, basically.
He says to these guys in verse 16, he says, He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
Now this is interesting because this 70 did not go out prophesying and adding to the Bible. These are just godly people that went out sharing their lives with other people. And what he’s saying is if you hear godly people, you’re hearing me. That’s interesting isn’t it?
Let’s look at 1 John 4:4. You are of God, little children—1 John’s written to believers, even disciples of John–– You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
They, the worldly people, are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
If you’re of the world, what happens? The world will hear you. They get you.
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.
If you go through 1 John, this “of God” “not of God” has to do with how you’re living your life. There are two steps to this. First is to be born again and have the Spirit inside. The next is to walk in the Spirit. That’s the way Paul would say it.
The way John says it is different. He says you’re born of the Spirit and then you abide, or you’re of God.
This is people who are living godly lives he’s talking about. When you live godly lives, other people who are living godly lives will hear you; and you will hear them.
The second way to get gold refined in the fire, to hear the words of God, to have our miserable, poor, blind, nakedness, clothed, fed, and the shame taken away because we’ve taken the word of God inside, we’ve taken these riches inside, the second way to do that is to hear what other godly people say.
What do you have to do if you’re going to hear what other godly people say? What’s the one thing for sure you have to do? Yeah. You have to be around godly people, right? You’re not going to hear them unless you’re interacting with them somehow.
You’ve got to have an iPhone.
You’ve got to have an iPhone. If there’s no iPhone, there’s no godly people.
Listen to your podcast.
You could do podcasts. That’s completely fair. The true called of God are here in this room.
Because you’re listening to me, right? That we know for sure.
When you interact with other people that are all about following God and you hear them and they hear you, that’s part of getting rich. That’s how you buy gold refined in the fire. And that has a lot to do with who you spend time with and who you listen to.
What do you read? There are a lot of people that are godly people who have written things or put it on audiobooks or something.
C. S. Lewis is dead, but he was dead all the time I was reading him; and, man, did I get a lot of amazing riches from C. S. Lewis. A lot of other people are nodding your heads.
Listen to godly people. Number two. One, read the Bible. Two, listen to others who are living godly lives.
Now, of course, there’s a little bit of trepidation there, right? What does that mean about all of us? We’re supposed to be bringing riches to other people by what we say. Think about that.
You’ve been sent out two by two to, as you go, make disciples, right? All of us have. That’s not a I’ll-go-to-Uganda-once-and-do-that command. That is every day. As you go make disciples. What you say all day long is supposed to be bringing riches to people. What you say and how you say it.
And we’re talking about life here, how to have a great life, not just about Bible memory. We’re talking about how to have a great life, how to be productive, constructive, in daily life.
Read the Bible, listen to others, hang around godly people.