Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Than These?

"Did you ever have to make up your mind? did you ever have to finally decide?" asked the Lovin' Spoonful. After His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?" These what, Jesus? These fish? These other disciples? I believe the Holy Spirit intentionally left this space blank; I believe He's asking each of us, you & me, "My child, do you love Jesus more than ____________?"
    Remember that movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory? Six kids each won a Golden Ticket, but one by one they forfeited their prize as they gave in to the temptation of their own peculiar obsessions. The Bible is full of stories of characters just like them: Esau, who sold his birthright for one bowl of soup; Eli, who honored his sons above God; Achan, who siezed plunder from Jericho; Gehazi, who claimed the offering meant for Elisha, to name a few.
   How about King Herod? At his birthday bash, his little step-daughter starts prancing around like some slut in an MTV music video. He gets such a kick out of it, he offers her half his kingdom! When she asks for the head of John the Baptist, what does he do? He chooses sex & entertainment over the kingdom of God. Have you heard that 78% of Pastors admit to regularly viewing internet porn? That means, if we sat five pastors down here, there's just ONE who doesn't! (I hope your pastor is that one.)
   Have you ever gone to download & install some software and just clicked that little accept box without actually reading the Terms and Conditions? Well, newsflash, Jesus has some Terms & Conditions too. Such as:

  •     Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
  •    I am He which searches the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Amos prophesied, "Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols." (Amos 5:23) What if, what if, the Holy Spirit told your church, "I hate Contemporary Christian  music! I hate Christian Rock!" What would you do?
   I believe the days are coming, and are here now, when the Lord is calling for a deeper dedication and commitment from His chosen people. And I believe He is asking us, as He asked Peter, "Do you love Me more than your: parents/ children/ spouse/  friends/ career/ money/ reputation/ entertainment/ internet/ political party/ cigarettes/ alcohol/ pornography/ popularity/church affiliation/ pet doctrine/ music/ Halloween/ Disney/  country / your very life itself?"
   Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, sink from the service of their country." Well these are the times that try the faithful's souls, and the summer Christians and sunshine believer will also sink from service to their Lord. The Apostasy is upon us, and "many shall depart from the faith".
   The old church chorus, based on Proverbs 8, affirms," Lord, You are more precious than silver; Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, and nothing I desire compares with You."  May this genuinely be the cry of our hearts.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Keep Calm and........

   We've been studying the warnings of Jesus to His church, and to balance that out, we'd just like to look at some passages of assurance. Without further commentary from me, here we go!

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." 1 Peter 5:7

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." Isaiah 26:3-4

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." Isaiah 32:17

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:1-5 

"I have been young, and now am old;  yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."  Psalm 37:25

   "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD." John 16:33

   Amen and amen. Thank you, Lord Jesus.  Let us never forget. Next time. : )

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Divine Warning: Leave it all Behind!

   You've heard the warnings: the geeks warned us the computers would meltdown in Y2K; Nostradamus predicted the AntiChrist would rise to power in AD 2000; the Mayan calendar said time would run out in 2012. And people listened. If we listened to the prophets of this world, ought we not listen to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ? Ought not a people listen to their God?
   Therefore, we are taking a fresh look at the warnings of Jesus to His disciples. Today's warning: you may have to evacuate! Tom Petty sang, "You don't have to live like a refugee". Jesus said you might have to!
"Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes." (Matthew 24: 16-18)
   You say, "That's nice, but I ain't in Judea & won't see the Abomination of Desolation." True! But the principle's the same. See, no one can buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast: means you can't pay your bills, rent, mortgage, taxes, insurance, or whatever! You're gonna have to leave! Because they're going to kill anyone who refuses to take the mark! Jesus instructed us: "...when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another..." Matthew 10:23
  The Lord said not to go back and get anything out of your home. May I add, don't bring your devices either? Cell phones, Ipads, nav systems; your credit & debit cards as well: anything they can track you with!
Escape! Question is, could you do it? Would you? Will you? Could you leave your house & all your stuff for Jesus? Or would you keep your stuff & take the mark of the Beast?
"Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's,  the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, 
and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Mark 8: 34-37
   Remember, many are called but few are chosen. What is the criteria? Jesus asked Peter three questions- really the same question each time:
   This is what it comes down to, folks. One day, you'll have to choose between your stuff and your Saviour! Settle it in your hearts now, what matters more to you? You've been warned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Divine Warning: You Will Be Hated!

   Warning! Objects in mirror are closer than they appear! Warning: the Surgeon General has determined cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health! Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger! Everyone, it seems, is warning us about something. I have a smoke detector that goes off any time I make toast! I just get annoyed with it and turn it off. It's practically human nature to ignore warnings; in fact that's how Adam & Eve screwed things up in the first place.
   Well, Jesus gave His followers some warnings, too, and we would do well to listen to what He's said, and not shut Him off like some noisy smoke detector. "And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake..." Jesus told us in Matthew 10:22. Why? Because we tell them their gods AIN'T God, their ethics AIN'T righteous, their way AIN'T the way, and, BTW, they're going to Hell when they die. Pretty sure it's that last part that bugs them the most.
   Now, these people: your family, friends, classmates, co-workers; they're gonna play a little game, and say, like the Doobie Brothers, "Jesus is all right with me." See, you da problem; you're the jerk, the hypocrite, the legalist, the narrow-minded bigot, the homophobic self-righteous, pontificating, judgemental hater.  It isn't Jesus they have a problem with, it's you.
   But Christ said, "If the world hate you,  you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:18-19) Like everything else the Bible says, they're going to turn this upside down and say it's not Jesus they hate, just you. After all, they'll say, Jesus never called their habit a sin, nor said their sin of choice was evil, nor called their deeds wicked. (as if they know what He said from reading the Bible perfunctorily once or twice.)
   The Apostle Peter wrote, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when Hs glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye..." 1 Peter 4:12-14
    If I may so say, we've had things relatively easy in this country up 'til now; we haven't seen hatred like we're going to see! As the darkness spreads and deepens more and more, their hatred for us will grow even as their love for Lucifer grows. The Duck Dynasty brothers, for example,  took flack for statements they made against homosexuality; we should expect more of the same if we want to live for Christ.
"For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Hebrews 12: 3-4 "Not yet"? Means one day it will cost us some blood! Be prepared.
   Brothers and sisters, let us take seriously the warnings of Jesus. He's not a bubble-headed booby.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Divine Warning, part 2

   Is anyone listening? We get warnings from the FDA, CDC, FAA,FCC, the AMA, the FBI; isn't it time we harkened to the LJC? The Lord Jesus Christ has issued serious warnings in the Sermon on the Mount, the Olivet Discourse, and the Messages to the 7 Churches, as well as other places. He has forewarned us what the world shall do to us when we obey Him, and what He shall do when we don't!

  • You will be hated.
  • You could be deceived.
  • You may need to evacuate.
  • You will be betrayed.
  • You will be persecuted, slandered, stereotyped, ridiculed.
  • You may have to kill someone! (God forbid. )

  • I will remove your candlestick (church).
  • I will spit you out.
  • I will come on you like a thief.
  • I will kill your children!
  • I will take what you have, and give it to someone more faithful.
   Some of these are very disturbing, and you may be thinking, "Jesus would never say that!" May I remind you, when John sees Christ at the opening of Revelation, He's armed with a sword, and has fire in His eyes: He doesn't show up in a white sports coat and a pink carnation! He's not picking us up to drive us to a party!!! We will be looking at each warning in more detail, and I'll give you the Scripture references to meditate upon.
   We hear so many alarms from so many sources, we can grow numb to them; but it's crucial we hear what the Lord Himself has warned us about. You don't want to take HIM lightly! He doesn't speak just to hear Himself talk! When Jesus speaks, it's what you need to hear!
Fight the Good Fight. Peace.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Divine Warning, part 1

   We live in an age of alarm. Global warming, Y2K, 2012, the Right Wing Conservatives are taking over, the Left Wing Liberals are taking over, this causes cancer, that causes cancer, Ebola, H1N1, ISIS, on and on and on.Every day Dr. Oz says something else is bad for you. We hear so many warnings we stop listening after a while.
   Well Jesus gave some warnings, too. The time is come to pay attention and give heed to the warnings the Son of God gave us. As one playwright put it, "A lion may speak if many asses do."  The warnings of Jesus are of three kinds:

  • Precautions to would-be converts that there is a price to pay for following the Lord, and He requires nothing less than 100% commitment;
  • Assurance to His followers that when we stray, He will send chastisement to correct our course;
  • Solemn warnings to those who turn back from Him of severe consequences in this life and in that to come!
    Jesus told His audience to count the cost of discipleship before joining up! He told us, " the world you shall have tribulation" and that if they hated Him, they'll hate you also. On the one hand, if we obey Christ and walk close to Him, the world will hate us and try to make our lives miserable (because we make them look bad). On the other hand, when we disobey, the Lord Himself will punish us because He loves us.
   "Great!", you say, "either way we suffer, so what's the difference?" The apostle Peter says it's better to suffer for well-doing (like the 90-year old pastor feeding the homeless) than for evil-doing. There are rewards for obedience! In fact, Christ assures us that whatever we lose on His account, He will give us back a hundred times over. (Matthew 19:29 & Mark 10:29-30) Don't worry, I'm not getting all Prosperity Gospel on you, for the things Jesus speaks of here are not of financial value, but of sentimental value: your family, friends, homeland, loved ones: stuff you can't put a price tag on! Oh, and btw, something comes with that hundredfold return: persecutions.
   I tell you emphatically that Jesus says what He means and means what He says. And He has this annoying habit of being right all the time. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" 2 Peter 1:19
   We will look more closely at the warnings Christ gives His church. That's not just jib-jab, fear-mongering, nor sensationalism. It's words to live by. Peace. FTGF!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

As in the Days of Noah

   LORD, who has believed our report? Back in '98-'99, when the buzz about the Y2K bug was all around, people heeded the warnings, and stockpiled food & other necessities. (Yours truly took no action, but assured viewers of Reality Calling [the public access program I had in those days] all would be well.) Again, when the Mayan Calendar prophecies came into vogue, people were alarmed enough to take action, some more than others (I was telling my folks it was nothing). Now rumors are going around that NASA predicts the sun will blackout for three days this December; and I'm telling you now- "NO!"
   The points I'm making here are A) I'm no Chicken Little, sounding false alarms; and B) People believe the false prophets of the world.  Bottom line, if you believed the reports of the world, should you not take seriously the warnings of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself? Ought not we, His church, take action on what He told us? Ought we not to prepare for the calamities He says are coming our way?
   "...And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all."
Luke 17: 26-29
   Now some have said that "as in the days of Noah" refers to Genesis 6:1, and the interbreeding between humans and fallen angels/ Nephilim/aliens. I'm not debating that. But that's not the main point Jesus was making here. He's talking about the complacency that characterizes this generation. They'll listen to the babblings of Nostradamus, or the news media, or Hollywood, or the Internet; but try to warn them about the Mark of the Beast and they'll  brand you a conspiracy nut!
* * * * *
   I am starting a series on the warnings of Jesus to His church. It's time we take seriously what He says is heading our way. Generations of Christians have been deluded by the likes of Hal Lindsay and his school of "prophets" (or, profits) to believe Christ's warnings are not for us, because we'll be raptured before the Tribulation.
   It's time to open our Bibles and see what the Spirit of Truth actually said through His apostles & prophets- not to mention Christ Himself! We can no longer pretend it will be business as usual for the rest of our lives. The people of Lot's days & Noah's days couldn't care less what God was saying to them, and they all perished for it! Let us not be like them. Peace.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Judgement and the Church

   Will Christ judge His church in these last days? You say, "God reserves wrath for His enemies". True! But what about His children? Can we do no wrong in His eyes? Are we beyond reproach? Or will we be called on the carpet? "For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:17-18) Ooops! Looks like ol' Pete didn't get that memo about the pre-trib rapture and the 7-year party for all Christians!
   Notice the apostle tells us God's judgement will start with us! No, no, no! you say: "we're redeemed by the blood!". So, that means we'll be held to a lower standard than the scribes & Pharisses?  "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment , suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:28-29) It will be worse for those of us who go off after the world's ways!
   "You don't understand, Matt: God is GOOD! All the time!" God IS good all the time, but we ain't humble all the time, and when we get into pride, we step out of grace! We've got to get rid of this image of God like He's some big cuddly Teddy Bear that just loves everybody all the time no matter what! " For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." (Romans 11:21-22) Think the Roman Church missed it just a little bit???
   If we do what the scribes & Pharisees did, we'll get what they got. And if we do what the Roman Catholic Church did, we'll get what they get!  Moreover, church leaders & teachers will be held accountable for what we allow: see Hebrews 13:17, and James 3:1 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account..." "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
   It amazes me the people who think they're qualified to teach the Body of Christ! Like internet access is all that's required! I know I will give account for every idle word I blog or comment! (Matthew 12:36) It's no joke, folks! Still don't think the Church will be judged? Ask Ananias & Sapphira!
   I'll have more on this next time! Peace!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's About Choices

   When God determined there weren't enough righteous persons in Sodom & Gomorrha to justify sparing those cities, He called Lot & his famiy out. Lot dilly-dallied, but he & his daughters decided to go. HIs sons-in-law thought it was all a big joke, and stayed behind. Lot's wife couldn't make up her mind to stay or go; she was walking this way while looking that way, her heart divided. Only three survived.
   When God showed Noah His judgement was coming on the earth, Noah & his family obeyed and built the ark, stocked it, brought the animals in, and went aboard themselves. They chose God. Enoch chose God every day of his life, and preached against the wickedness of his generation constantly.  Because of his devotion  and committment to the Lord, God took him home.
   Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
   Jesus said he that saves his life will lose it, but he that loses it for Jesus & the Gospel will be saved. We all have to make that choice, folks; God is not taking that out of your hands. Each of us must decide between the world and the kingdom of God. As Bob Dylan put it, "It may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody." You can't have both, and ya can't pick neither "He that is not with Me is against Me" Jesus said.
   Many churches give an altar call, and exhort the congregation, "Every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around!" so that people can choose Christ without being self-conscious, as if choosing Jesus was something to be ashamed of. Well I got news for you: When the servants of AntiChrist demand you take the mark of the beast, or lose your head, it won't be "every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking". It's going to be broadcast nationally on every channel: everyone will be watching to see what choice you make.
   Many have deceived the church into thinking we shall never have to make that choice between our lives and our Lord, but we shall all be raptured before it comes to that. Wake up, church! If it could happen in Syria & Iraq, it could happen here. God didn't take those precious brothers & sister's out of ISIS's way, what makes you think He'll let you off the hook? Why are you special? Did not Jesus say, "the servant is not above his master"?
   "Let us go forth therefore unto Him, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Hebrews 13:13-14 settle it in your hearts: there is nothing in this world worth losing your salvation.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Counterfeit Christians! part 2

"Just because the mouse is in the cookie jar, doesn't make him a cookie!"
   People around us may not always be what they seem! And not everyone in your congregation is a washed-in-the-Blood, born again, Spirit-filled believer! There are enemies among us- moles, if you would, planted in our churches by Satan to mess things up. Our review of Jesus' Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13) showed us Satan planted bad seed in the same field with God's good seed. "Tares" are weeds that look like wheat, and represent sinners that look like saints.
   We saw numerous warnings in the Epistles of such people. So, how can you tell if the "brother" or "sister" sitting next to you in the pew is a counterfeit? Sad news is, often, we can't until the damage is done! Remember the O.T. story of Achan, who skimmed some loot from the conquest of Jericho? He brought trouble on his whole nation, and one bad apple could bring trouble on a whole church!
   I've seen my share of "tares" (Don't worry, I won't name names or describe situations), and I can tell you by experience, it takes just one or two in the right postion to hinder the work of the Kingdom. They can keep a pioneer work from ever getting established, break up an established church, or just get a Pastor off his God-given vision and mission.
   Let me tell you any city that has a Masonic Temple around doubtless has Freemasons sitting on the board of directors of basically all the denominational churches in town, and has had them there for decades, if not centuries. They may bring in counterfeit Bibles, such as NIV and newer "translations" that distort God's Word. They may turn churches away from the work of the Great Commission and turn them onto other social agendas (Green Movement, Ecumenical Movement, etc.).
   A really weird and creepy phenomenon is MPD. Bear with me, I have trouble wrapping my head around this one myself. When a child is exposed to Sexual Ritual Abuse, they crack up, literally, their minds split up into separate compartments. It's possible for one part of their mind to think they're Christian while the other personalities are stil under demonic control. "That's blaphemous!", you say, "how could a person be only partly saved?" I don't claim to know.But just because I can't explain it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
   I'll leave that to the experts. But I have known people who I thought were strong believers, 'til one day something triggered a transformation, and they got all weird. Don't believe counterfeit Christians exist? What then did Jesus mean when He said, "Not everyone who saith unto Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7: 21-23)
   SCAR-RY! Is it possible some of the people we know and love and admire can be counterfeits? Only God knows a person's true heart. Let us pray the the LORD will expose and remove any false believers from our midst! A heads-up, here Pastors: the Devil seems especially fond of hiding his counterfeits right in the worship team. Screen your musicians & singers carefully & prayerfully! And watch who you place in leadership & youth ministry: "Lay hands on no man suddenly!" Peace.