Sunday, November 29, 2015

That Woman Jezebel

   Eve, Delilah, Jezebel! Of all the women in the Bible, none is more notorious than Jezebel, the very embodiment of all that's wrong with women! No other name conjures up her sheer wickedness and opposition to the kingdom of God. She is the worst of the worst, and the name used by Christ to describe an enemy within His church.
"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."  Revelation  2:20-21
   Who or what is Jezebel? The literal, historic person was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, who became the wife of King Ahab of Israel. Of course, that Jezzy was thrown out a window, run over by a chariot, and eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37) so it isn't her, but someone or something that acts just like her. She isn't one specific woman, nor all women in general as some preach.
   There are three other "women" mentioned in Revelation: the Sun-Clothed Woman (ch 12), the Whore of Babylon (ch 17), and the Bride of Christ (ch 19). Each of these is an allegory representing a group or class of people all in their own spiritual boat: the persecuted Church, the apostate Church, and the redeemed & resurrected Church. So it stands to reason Jezebel is also an allegory representing a class of people in the same spiritual condition. These are false prophets and teachers leading the people of God away from the truth of the Gospel and back into carnality and paganism.
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, speaking lies in hypocrisy: having their conscience seared with a hot iron..."  1 Timothy 4:1-2
   So why do I say Jezebel is the people and not the spirit? Because Jesus said He gave her the chance to repent, an option not open to demons. Now when Jesus says Jezebel is teaching His servants to commit fornication, that doesn't mean she's demonstrating the positions! It means, she's justifying that behavior, saying God understands and it's OK and you were born that way and Jesus loves you that way, blahblahblah. It  also means she's encouraging fornication through the culture and her spells.
   When Joram asked Jehu if he came in peace, he replied, "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" Jezebel is all about two things: sex & magic. Idolatry, occultism, witchcraft, and fornication all go together. The media are constantly pushing both on the servants of the Lord from daycare onward. Disney is one of the biggest channels of Jezebel! Their children's films are loaded with overt and subliminal messages encouraging sex and the occult. 
   And it's something the church allows to go on. Instead of boycotting Starbucks' snowflakeless cups, we ought to boycott Disney's mind control programming that prepares our children for the age of the antichrist. You don't believe Disney is doing Jezebel's work? Do a little research, there's some good stuff out there. Just google the video "In Upendi" (i.e. "In Your Panty") and see for yourself. Remember the name Jezebel literally means "chaste", so we're talking about those with a name or reputation of being pure and wholesome.
   How far has Jezebel gotten in the church? You need only view the Buzzfeed video "I'm a Christian, but I'm not"   to witness the attitude toward sexuality that's taken hold of our youth.
And idolatry? Superheroes are our new gods & goddesses, while ancient deities from  Egyptian and Canaanite fertility cults and Greco-Roman mystery religions are being resurrected in our culture as well.
    Why do you care? Because Jesus Christ our Lord has decreed this punishment on all churches that allow her witchcraft and fornication classes: "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and those that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I AM He that searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give every one of you according to your works."
   The world is always lowering her standards of sexual morality, and the Church continues to follow suit. The push for "tolerance" and pluralism have also taken hold. It would be easy to blame the church leaders, but we all have a part in this. We need to shut off Jezebel's song and listen to the voice of the Spirit of Christ. He is telling us to repent!

Next: Prophet For Hire!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Good Church, Bad Choice

   What makes a good church? Good preachin' & moving worship? Great fellowship, a voice in the community, support for missions & orphanages? How about strong leadership and organization, or diligent financial stewardship?  Revelation tells us of a church that had so much going for them, yet Jesus threatens to send them through the Great Tribulation! Just what was going in Thyatira that was so serious it made Jesus (who loves the little children) say He would kill their children if they didn't knock it off????
   "I know thy works, and charity, and service,  and faith, and thy patience, and thy works, and the last to be more than the first..." (Revelation 2:19) I want you to see, this was a really good church! They had a lot of really awesome stuff in that congregation! Faith! Love! Service! Good works! Patience, too. (But there is one thing I notice is missing: can anyone guess?) Man, these guys were rockin' it! What pastor wouldn't love to have a group like the Thyatiran believers? Yet! Jesus has a problem with them that merits severe punishment if it isn't corrected.
"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols..."  (Rev 2:20)
   So, though they had all this they were doing right, they got one thing wrong: they let the wrong person teach. Works, charity, patience, service, even better works, what was missing? How about sound doctrine? Jesus said He has "a few things" against them, not just one. IMHO, it was the lack of solid Biblical doctrine that opened the door for Sleazebel to creep in and seduce that church with her witchcrafts. Had they been taught strong, sound doctrine, they would not so easily have been led astray by her siren song. Paul's epistles to Timothy & Titus stress the importance of sound doctrine. Notice the Ephesian church, whom Paul had warned with tears about false teachers creeping in, did a much better job screening their ministers (Revelation 2:2).
   I cannot emphasize enough just how vital it is for church leadership to thoroughly check out teachers, worship team members, ministry heads, and anyone else with influence in the church! A little leaven leavens the whole lump, and if Satan can slip even one of his servants into your core group, he can spoil your whole church. I've personally seen churches destroyed by just one person in the right place. Lay hands on no man suddenly! Let them first be proved! (1 Timothy 5:22)
   "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death..."  (Rev 2:22-23) 
Now I know some wanna say "children" here isn't literal, but means "followers". Moot point. Who do you think Satan is going to go after first? Have you watched any kids' cartoons lately? He starts working on them from the time they're babies. So many of Jezebel's followers would be children anyway. You say, "JESUS wouldn't literally kill children!" Well, He wouldn't literally make idle threats either. Did not God say through the prophet Hosea  "I will forget thy children"? 
   Can you see how important it is to monitor what our children are exposed to? Notice Jesus calls these kids "her children", not "your children"! This is no joke, folks. Are we making the same mistake Thyatira did in letting our children be so hypnotized, socialized, and bewitched that they become Jezebel's children? Listen to what Christ is saying; it's so easy to gloss over a passage we've read or heard so many times, we totally miss what He's saying.
   We need to talk more about just who or what Princess Jezebel is. Because those believers who whore around with her will be severely chastized. I'm not saying they will lose their salvation, but if they listen to her long enough, she could deceive them into taking the mark of the beast--then they will be stricken from the Lamb's Book of Life. And do we want to lose any of our children to her?

Grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Next: That Woman Jezebel!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Do You See What I See?

  " God is watching us from a distance" claims a recent pop song, as if He were disinterested and uninvolved. Yet Christ's  Messages to the Seven Churches reveals a God Who sees to the very core of our beings, and is deeply concerned with what He finds there. A recurrent theme in the messages (Revelation 2-3) is the difference in how we see ourselves and how God sees us.
   For example, the church of Laodicea thought they were all that, but Jesus informs them they were really "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"! He's not pulling any punches! To Sardis, which had a name or reputation they were alive and thriving, Jesus says simply, "You are dead". While Smyrna, a church stricken with poverty, is praised and encouraged by Jesus, "You are rich"!
   Remember when Samuel was reviewing Jesse's sons, and assumed he knew which God had chosen to be king? The Holy Spirit told him, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7)  In Isaiah 55:9, God reminds us all, "...My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith 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."  And to the self-righteous wicked, God says, "...thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." (Psalm 50:21) How presumptuous we are, to suppose the Most High God has the same ethical standards we do!
   This problem affects not only individuals, but cities, nations, --and churches. Why? What I call Isaiah's curse, this phenomenon that we see without really seeing, and hear without understanding (Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13:14-15, Mark 4:11-12, Luke 8:16, John 12:39-40, and Acts 28:25-27) The authors of the epistle to the Hebrews lament they cannot teach us all they'd like to "seeing ye are dull of hearing" (He 5:11) And Paul grieves over the veil untaken away from peoples' hearts when they read or hear the Scriptures (2 Cor 3:14-15).
   The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Are we blind also?" (John 9:39-40) And Jesus counsels the Laodiceans to "anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (Rev 3:18) This is something we need to keep in mind, lest we make the same mistake of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to, both as individuals, and as churches. No matter how good we may look on the outside, Jesus searches the hearts and reins: our innermost, true selves.
   I'd hate to go around thinking I'm God's gift to the world when really Jesus says I suck. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord! May we see You as You truly are, and ouselves as You see us!
Next: Good Church, Bad Choice

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The D-Files

   "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy."  Revelation 3:4

   What jumps out at you in this verse? As we go through our informal study of Jesus' Messages to the Seven Churches, it's important to really pay attention (though we've read the passage numerous times) to what the Spirit of God is saying. Don't fall asleep, folks! The part of this promise of the Lord that slaps me & shakes me up, is that in this whole church there were only A FEW who had not defiled themselves. 
   Let that sink in! Sardis was not some little store-front church with the Pastor, his family, a couple friends, and dissatisfied believers who left other churches. We didn't have 40 denominations back then: when He says "the church at Sardis", He means THE church--every believer in the city!  And just a few of them were clean!
   So what was up with the rest of them? Do you suppose they realized how filthy they were? Or did they think they were cleaner than everyone else? What about you? What about me? Am I the guy who checks himself out on the mirror, then goes & forgets what a mess he is?
   When was the last time you heard a sermon about defiling yourself? Never mind what's on the Starbucks red cup, what's on you? What's that on me?
   James tells us, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27) Are we doing this, or are we bringing the world right into our homes, our hearts, and even the Sanctuary of God? But what defiles?
   In the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews, we are told,  "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."  The Sexual Revolution hasn't reached Heaven, folks! Back in Hebrews 12:15-16, we are admonished to be "looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright..." 
   Remember the matter of Baal-Peor, when 23,000 fornicators died in one day? I'm not saying He's gonna, but what if, what if Jesus walked through His church decimating all the fornicators? Imagine!  What are you selling your birthright for?
   Besides fornication & bitterness, what else defiles us? It ain't our diet, Jesus taught, but, "those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man..."
   The profanity coming out of my mouth, Jesus? My evil thoughts that no one knows about but You? When Abraham pled with God for Sodom, the Lord told him, "If I find ten righteous there, I will not do it." How many did He find? 3 1/2???? We in America today, are we too lenient, too easy on ourselves? Do we turn the grace of God into lasciviousness? As the world lowers her standards of profanity & vulgarity, do we lower ours?
   Jesus is looking for a church not having spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it be holy and without blemish! (Ephesians 5: 27) In Sardis there were only a few like that. If you ain't nervous yet, ain't worried yet, I don't know what else to say to ya! 
   I wanna walk with Jesus in white! I don't wanna miss out on that! Let's work out our salvation with fear & trembling,  'cuz many are called, but few are chosen. We need to get outta Sardis like Lot & the girls got outta Sodom! No turnin' back, no turnin' back!
Next: Do You  See What I See?
Peace, & God bless!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Messenger of the Covenant

   "And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people...." Ezra 3:11-13
   Me, I guess I'm Old School (or should I say, Old Temple). For the Church has changed, and not all for the better. And not all the changes were approved by the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ the Righteous. We are looking at the messages to the Seven Churches in Asia, but before we take a look at what's in the messages, I'd like to take a minute to behold the Messenger. 
   Hear John's descrption from Revelation 1:12-17....
"And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword; and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead."
   How different from the namby-pamby wimp so popular with the carnal christians of today, who accepts everyone, tolerates everything, judges no one, and makes no call to repentance! The Church has lost her fear of God, and now sees Him as a cuddly Teddy bear or their Best Bud. True, in past generations Christ was seen as a stern and angry Judge; and maybe that view was out of line with Scripture. But now we have gone too far in the other direction and completely emasculated  Him.
   Behold, the Messenger of the Covenant! His feet are like brass. Brass in the Bible symbolizes divine judgement, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness. And His eyes, like fire:  a refiner's fire, melting away all the dross so that only the purest gold may remain (Malachi 3:1-3) Out of His mouth, a sharp, two-edged sword  (Hebrews 4:12). A sword divides (Matthew 10:34-35) And the fact that He holds in His hands the stars (leadership of the churches) means simply, He can do whatever He wants to with them.
   John, "the Apostle whom Jesus loved", who knew Christ personally and spent his life serving Him faithfully, fell at His feet as dead. If anyone had a right to see Jesus as his "best bud" it would have been John. But John responded with fear, and respect, and a sense of his own unworthiness.
   If there was one thing I could change in the Church today, it would be our view of Jesus Christ. He ain't Mr. Rogers, and he ain't Big Bird! He is the Lord of Sabaoth, the Commander of the armies of Heaven. "If then I be a Father, where is Mine honour?  and if I be a Master, where is My fear?" asks God through Malachi.
   You saw that cop grab that impudent little High School girl and flip her desk right over with her in it? You think Jesus won't do the same to His Church????? Do some homework, read Revelation chapters 1-3, and meet me back here next time. We'll get into some specifics...if you dare!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What If Churches Got Report Cards?

   While on the Isle of Patmos, the aged apostle John received a visit from Jesus Himself, Who asked His servant to deliver a series of messages "to the seven churches which are in Asia".  Each message contained a review of the church's strengths and weaknesses, with the promise of rewards for excellent service, and corrective actions for failures. A "report card", if you will, on each of the pastors & congregations of select cities in Asia Minor!
   The first three chapters of Revelation present Jesus's assessment of the overall health, attitude, priorities, faithfulness, and effectiveness of the seven churches. He doesn't pull any punches, and He doesn't sugar-coat any issues! Roughly speaking, the grades Christ gives are:

  • A+    Philadelphia (not PA!)
  • A-     Ephesus
  • A      Smyrna
  • B-     Thyatira 
  • B-     Pergamos
  • D      Laodicea
  • F      Sardis
   So how would your church stack up? It's time we dig a little deeper and really try to get a handle on what Jesus loves, what He hates; what He's glad we do, what He wishes we'd do; what He'd like us to stop doing, what He'd like us to continue doing, what He'd like us to resume doing. What's in our churches that Christ wants out? What's out that He wants in?
   Why study the report cards of churches that have long since faded into history? Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever! The problems He had with them are the same problems He'll have with us when we do what they did, when we allow what they allowed, when we ignore what they ignored.
   And the rewards for obedience and constant faithfulness will be the same for us, if we continue in well-doing. Likewise, the judgements and punishments will be the same for us if we continue on in sin and compromise. Yes, Jesus punishes His church!  Did not our Lord say, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" ?  God is good all the time, but sometimes chastening is the good thing to do!
   So if you have "ears to hear", let's dive into this: it won't always be easy, won't always be fun.....toes will get stepped on, faces will get slapped! But these are the last of the last days, my brethren, and on that day, you wanna hear, "Well done thou good & faithful servant" or "Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you" ?
    * * * * *
   Rend your hearts and not your garments! See ya next time.....Peace!