Saturday, January 23, 2016

It Must be True, It was on the Internet!

   We've been strolling through Jesus' Messages to  the Seven Churches, and have one more villian from His  Biblical Rogues' Gallery to look at, but before we do, I need to address another issue. Christ doesn't specifically mention it in Revelation 2-3, but the Apostles, particularly Paul, bring it up in several epistles. That is, PEOPLE SAYING STUPID THINGS!
   To wit: "...some having swerved, have turn aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." from 1 Timothy 1:6-7, and from Titus 1:10-11, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers....whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."  And it's the same way today, people saying all kinds of stupid things, not knowing what they're talking about nor why they're saying it!
   Don't get me wrong;  I'm all for freedom of speech! Bloggers, redditors, Youtubers, you all have the right to say whatever you want; but with that also comes the responsibility to check your facts and present as honest and accurate information as possible! I regret to state, the Truth Movement,  it seems, has quickly deteriorated and devolved into the Groundless Rumour and Wild Speculation Movement. One lady told me, "Don't access any Youtube video with the word 'truth' in the title; they're all completely insane!" This is unfortunate, cuz if some honest, diligent investigator should uncover the truth, no one will take him seriously!
   The Scriptures foretell the mindset of our generation in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 this way: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
   I'm seeing this every day, as people and even churches go teaching and preaching such nonsense as the Flat Earth and Geocentric Solar System models, and the belief in  Aliens among us. Would to God the Lord's people would learn to think critically! The Bible doesn't enjoin us to check our brains at the church door, brethren!
    Hear what the Scriptures say: " Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men"  (1 Corinthians 14:20) There is a place for child-like faith, but there is also a place for man-sized understanding! Yes, Proverbs says don't lean on your understanding, but he never says not to use it at all! Paul told the Thessalonicans, " Prove all things; hold fast that which is good"  which implies, let go that which is junk! (1 Th 5:21)
   When you see an ad, or a meme, watch a show or a video, listen to a song or read an article, think about what they are telling you! Weigh their words, examine their logic, check their facts! Don't be swayed by images and emotions; don't mistrust authority to the point where you believe anyone claiming a government cover-up!
   If I were a Superintendant of Schools, I would insist that reason & logic be taught no later than the sixth grade! Solomon reminds us, "The simple believeth every word, but the prudent man looketh well to his going." (Proverbs 14:15) Don't just jump on any band-wagon that comes up the pike, folks! Not everyone claiming to tell you the Truth really is! "And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of TRUTH shall be evil spoken of..."  warns the Apostle Peter (2 Pe 2:2). Stupid talkers give the TRUTH a bad name!
   If I could teach the people of this generation just one principle of logic & reasoning, it would be this: EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY PROOF!  A blurry photogragh, the testimony of a sole eyewitness, the confessions of one claiming to be a NASA scientist or Pentagon insider, tabloid articles and fudged statistics are NOT extraordinary proof! Don't believe every word, especially from those trying to tell you everyone has been lying to you your whole life. That's a cue that they're about to lie to you!
   Bottom line, don't say stupid things, don't believe stupid things, don't repeat stupid things: refute stupid things. Peace!
(in your dreams)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Let No Man Take Thy Crown

  "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
   Thus counselled Christ His church at Philadelphia in Asia (Revelation 3:11) I was writing last time about the Nicolaitans, those believers who, rather than building up the faith of the children of God, they tear it down either by their doctrine (Rev 2:15) or by their deeds (2:6).
It is a sad thing indeed to see the man or woman of God, on fire for the Lord, full of the Holy Ghost, and zealous of good works, to be shot down in the faith by another Christian who doesn't recognize that disciple's calling or anointing!
 I have seen it too many times, in too many places. Someone receives a vision and calling for a ministry, and is all excited about it; yet when they go to their elders, or peers, they get slapped down with "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!". Believers can get discouraged when their gift is not received or acknowledged by others, and may hide their light under a bucket rather than face the rejection.
   And I want to say to anyone who's been there, who's gone through that, who's been shut down by others: don't give up! I've been through it myself, as has pretty much anyone who's ever done anything for the Lord. Hold on tight to what you have! If you have tested the spirits, and know in your heart God has truly spoken to you as to how He would have you serve Him, hold fast the vision, and let no one take your crown!
   Joseph's brothers couldn't see God's plan for him, and in their jealousy and resentment, they sold him into slavery. But he remained faithful even when falsely accused and imprisoned. We are told in Psalm 105:19 Joseph was in chains "...until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him".  Jesus' own brothers & sisters thought He was whacked and tried to stop Him. (John 7:5) Jesus answered, "My time is not yet come."
   So I want to encourage you today, who have been so treated by other believers, maybe even your own Pastor: hold onto the vision. The rejection is part of your preparation! Maybe the time isn't now; continue to build up yourself in faith, study to show yourself approved, forgive those who mistreated you. God is faithful, and the work that He began in you, He will continue until the day of Christ. Remember, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. He doesn't change His mind!
   If you haven't been given the green light by your Pastor to begin your ministry, stay faithful. If the call is genuinely from God, He will move on the Pastor's heart. Be faithful in the little things, and you will be trusted with big things. "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." wrote Paul to Timothy .
 Some who have been slapped down may stop attending church, or backslide even further; don't let that happen to you. Let no one take your crown!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap!

   "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate", Jesus commends the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:6. So, who are these Nicolaitans, and just what are their dirty deeds, hated by both the Ephesian church and Christ Himself? You won't find much mention of them, except that they hung out in Pergamos, where Jesus hates their doctrine as well as their deeds. Historically, there was no sect or cult that went by that name, though some link them to "Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch", one of the seven men of God chosen to be deacons in Acts 6:5.
   Literally, nicolaitans means, "those who overthrow the people (laity)" and conveys the notion of church leaders running things a little too tightly, pontificating as it were, and dominating the people's spiritual lives. Where I'm going with this, (and forgive me if this isn't exactly what the Lord had in mind) is with guys like Hymenaeus and Philetus, "who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some."  (2 Timothy 2:17-18) These are teachers and preachers who crush the believers' faith!
   There be those today who fervently deny the literal six-day Creation and teach evolution instead (Pat Robertson, even!). Other churches declare the gifts of the Spirit are not for today, but passed when the last Apostle died, or when the final book of the Bible was written. Still others insist women cannot teach nor preach, or those who have divorced cannot serve in the ministry. And in this way they overthrow the faith of some, and stifle the move of God in their church! I've been in churches that don't wanna know nuthin'  about the Holy Spirit Baptism, nor of spiritual warfare, nor divine healing. [I didn't stay long.]
   One of the things that grieves me to no end, is when a young believer, on fire for the Lord, and full of faith, starts to minister in the power of God and gets shut down by the Pastor or others. It breaks my heart and burns me up! I HATE IT!!!
   Even Joshua, in his early days, fell into this Nicolaitan spirit. We read in Numbers 11 how God anointed men to ease Moses' burden, then this happened: "but there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the Spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out to the tabernacle; and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, 'Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.' And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, 'My lord Moses, forbid them'" But Moses was like, "I wish EVERBODY had the Holy Ghost!"
   Again, John and some of the Apostles did the same thing when this dude was casting out devils in Jesus' name (Mark 9:38-39), but Christ told them to leave the kid alone and let him minister. The best known case of this Nicolaitanism happened when King Saul heard the ladies singing, "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!"  He didn't just discourage David, he actually tried to kill him! (1 Samuel 18:7-8) Another example from the New Testament is Diotrophes "who loves to have the preeminence among them, and receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church!" (3 John 9-10) .
   This guy was a piece of work! And we start to see the mindset behind it: he wanted to be the BIGSHOT. Other passages we looked at mention envy as the motivation for this kind of activity. And it's sad. You know, the intercessors are praying for God to move in the church, and when He raises someone up, the insecure bigshots shut him or her down! The brother or sister who comes to the Pastor with a vision, or calling, or gift, or ministry gets zapped with, "Who do you think YOU are?!" Thus Nicolaitans dump dirty water on the fires of the Spirit.
   I myself was once told, "You are not called to the ministry."
   In the 18th chapter of Acts we're shown how when Apollos came on the scene with limited knowledge of the Gospel, Aquila & Priscilla took him under their wings and taught him. They nurtured him, mentored him. They didn't shut him down, they cranked him up and turned him loose! This is the way it should be, brethren.
   It is so easy to fall into this overthrowing the faith of believers God is raising up! John almost did it; Joshua almost did it. I pray the Lord I never do it to anyone. Many churches are not growing because when the Holy Spirit starts moving they shut it down. Let us search, if we have done this, or are doing this, to cause some to stumble for our own ego's sake. Rather, let us encourage one another more and more as we see the Day approaching.
   And let us repent of our dirty deeds done dirt cheap.
Peace and  love in the Holy Ghost.

The Judge at the Door

   He Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, Who walks among the golden candlesticks, will weigh and judge each church, and hold the church leaders responsible for whatever good, or bad, went on in that church. This is the message I hear as Jesus Christ addresses the Seven Churches in Asia. There are those who believe and teach we shall never see judgement; but Peter tells us "judgement must begin at the house of the Lord" (1 Peter 4:17) Church leaders will be held accountable.
   For what? Not only for what the did, actively, but also for what they allowed, passively. Because what was Jesus' problem with the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira? Read it again: YOU HAVE THEM THERE that hold the doctrine of Balaam; YOU HAVE THEM that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans; YOU SUFFER (allow) that woman Jezebel to teach (Revelation 2:14,15,20). It's not that these nasty people charged into the church and took over, but that the "angel" of the church (pastor and elders) accomodated  them. And church leaders today must look around on the sanctuary of the Most High God and see what spiritual vermin we've allowed to set up house!
   "I have said you are gods, and all of you children of the Most High, but you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."  declares the LORD in Psalm 82:6-7, chiding them, "How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?"  Are we not admonished in Ephesians 4:27, "Neither give place to the Devil"? Did not Christ give to His people the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven? (Matthew 16:19) Did He not set us as watchmen on the wall, to warn the wicked to turn from his ways? (Ezekiel 3:17-21) Have we fallen asleep at the switch?
   "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God" Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders, further warning them to keep an eye out for false teachers rising up in the church.  In Hebrews we are told church leadership watch for our souls, "as they that must give account" (13:17) Not watch how many empty seats are in the back row, or how many minutes over the announcements ran, but to watch for the flocks' souls! 
    Again I say, we believers, both as individuals, and corporately as churches, will be judged, not only for the bad we'll do, but also for the good we don't do.  "Prove it, Matt." OK, hear the words of Jesus Himself in Luke 12:45-47.... "But and if that servant say in his heart, 'My Lord delayeth His coming'; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder , and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes." 
   "Jesus wouldn't do THAT!"  He says He will. This is serious stuff. folks. Pastors, elders, bishops, deacons, and teachers will be held to a higher standard; for to whom much is given is much required! Leaders of mega-churches and denominations will be examined through Christ's eyes of fire, and their rule will be weighed in the balance!
 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore we ought to fear the Lord, and clean up our spiritual houses. Don't know about all you, but I probably got some beatin's coming. Get ready, for, as James says, "Behold, the Judge stands at the door!"

NEXT: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap!