Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Steps Down the Road

A simple ministry
Please visit my new blog - Steps Down the Road
This blog is a travelogue of the journey  faith takes us on.  It is my hope that sharing will help you realize you aren’t traveling alone.  Everyone has a brother (or sister) in the Lord that can help and encourage.  More importantly, everyone has a Friend – His name is Jesus.  You can get to know Him by reading His Word and prayerfully asking His Holy Spirit to teach you about God.  This is the beginning and conclusion of true worship – you will be transformed by His Word.
Into what?  Into His image; “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Roman’s 12:1,2)
We just need to be honest and open before God; “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:17,18)
Sometimes we wish we could do  better – be more like other people we think have it all together.  We forget the the truth is we are born of God! His creations! And He knows what He wants us to do and it isn’t what the ‘other guy’ is doing.  Oh, sometimes God calls us along side others to help and support people for a time but He has work for each one of us; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) .  And it’s not mysterious or hard to find out. Listen to God.  Look for Him and get to know Him.  How?
Prayer, reading His Word and being in fellowship with His people will open up your heart to God.  His Holy Spirit will make your eyes see and ears hear His will for your life.  This is called the journey of faith.  It’s a simple yet profound journey of following Jesus and like all journeys we walk it one step at a time.  And no one else can walk it for us!
Scripture tells us simply; “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) And as we listen we walk; “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Born into Wisdom!

Daniel 12:10 "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."

   
In the end God's Word will accomplish His purpose; "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)  God sent His Word to us in person; "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

     God speaks to us through His Word and we understand by His Holy Spirit; " For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)  And there is the issue and the divide - without the Holy Spirit the message is meaningless and empty - it cannot be understood.

     Paul tells us; "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) What's missing in those who are perishing? Paul explains; "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." (1 Corinthians 2:11,12)

     Daniel had God's Spirit when he was given the wisdom to understand and interpret dreams.  Even the wise and powerful men of his day recognized the true source of his wisdom; "The king spoke, and said to Daniel, 'Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing.'" (Daniel 5:13-15)  In those days, God's wisdom was acknowledged as superior even by wicked men.  But not today!

     What has changed?  The battle lines are drawn.  With Jesus' coming and the Holy Spirit there is a clear separation between light and dark for those who have eyes to see it with.  Those without eyes to see with find the light scalding to their worldly sensitivities; "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19,20)  Like brutish beasts the wicked avoid the Light not because they understand but because they hate how the Light feels on their flesh!

      How can you become wise and live in the Light?  How do you receive the Holy Spirit? You're born into it!  This is a work entirely of God; "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13)

     Jesus tells us; "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. . . . You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)  You'll never be the same. When you're born again, there's no going back.

    Come Lord Jesus!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A New Day!

Jeremiah 31:33,34 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

     This new covenant means a new day for all people.  It heralds a closeness with God that hasn't existed since the Garden of Eden.  We won't need to talk and teach about God because we will know Him.  At last we will be free and clean and live like it!

    Matthew Henry describes this new day and new deal accordingly; "In Hebrews 8:8,9 , this place is quoted as the sum of the covenant of grace made with believers in Jesus Christ. Not, I will give them a new law; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it; but the law shall be written in their hearts by the finger of the Spirit, as formerly written in the tables of stone. The Lord will, by his grace, make his people willing people in the day of his power. All shall know the Lord; all shall be welcome to the knowledge of God, and shall have the means of that knowledge. There shall be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, at the time the gospel is published. No man shall finally perish, but for his own sins; none, who is willing to accept of Christ's salvation."

     What kind of church would reflect the glory of this new covenant?  What kind of fellowship would  arise out of the character of the new covenant?  What would this church's ministry be to a hurt and broken world?  There would be unity and universality.  Every member in this congregation would agree because the agreement is written by the very hand of God in every heart.  There would be no need to minister within as God himself has restored each and every member of His body. Every assembly under the new covenant would be an outward church - ministering and teaching the poor, the broken and the fallen in the world.

     Matthew Henry depicts the power and outreach of the church under God's new covenant; "This is the foundation of the covenant; and when this is laid, duty will be done wisely, sincerely, readily, easily, resolutely, constantly, and with comfort. A plentiful outpouring of the Spirit of God will make the ministration of the gospel so effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts. Oh that this promise might be fulfilled in our days, that the hand of God may be with his ministers so that great numbers may believe, and be turned to the Lord! The pardon of sin will always be found to accompany the true knowledge of God. Notice the freeness of this pardon; its fulness; its fixedness."

     Sadly, there can be  a contrast between the church we know and the church God has made.  Worldly and carnal churches still preach to the old covenant order of priestly classes and externals in ritual and doctrine.  Far too often priests step in and place themselves between the people and their legitimate leader - Jesus Christ.  The worldly priests are taught by academics and become academics and teach the academics of religiosity.  It doesn't work very well.  When a broken prideful world makes it's own church and religion we should not be surprised when it is broken as well.  How can we contend with it?

     We find good advice in Matthew Henry's directions for self-assessment regarding the ministrations of the church we sit in; "Let us search whether we are taught by the Holy Spirit to know Christ, so as uprightly to love, fear, trust, and obey him. All worldly vanities, outward privileges, or mere notions of religion, will soon vanish away, and leave those who trust in them miserable for ever."  Take a good look around - do you see defeat and misery where there should be joy and overcoming?  Do you see privilege and vanity where there should be humility and service?  Are the teachers at the front or is He established firmly in the heart of each and every believer in the pews?

     If this self-assessment finds your assembly missing the mark, rejoice you have found your mission field.  If you find yourself lacking, rejoice the Holy Spirit is always there to teach and give you what you need to step into the new covenant.  Jesus promised us no less; "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:26)


     Come Lord Jesus
 

Friday, 10 April 2015

My people love it this way

Jeremiah 5:30,31 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority,and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?"

     There is a story that illustrates how slow change can bring about radical unexpected transformation in a system and not always for the good.  In this story a mild mannered frog finds himself in a pan of cool water.  Being a frog he doesn't realize that the pan of water is sitting on a stove.  The frog is comfortable - he likes water.  He is unaware that someone has turned up the heat and the water temperature is slowly rising.  The poor frog is not capable of sensing the incremental change in the water temperature - he's just comfortable sitting in his water.  Eventually the water boils and the frog dies, never the wiser about his dangerous predicament.  Had the frog just been tossed into the  boiling water he would have immediately jumped out but the slow changes lulled him as he was boiled alive.  Something the poor frog never expected.

     In Jeremiah's day 'the water was boiling' and people didn't notice.  They liked things the way they were; ". . . the basic lie was religious. It was Baalism, to use a general term. It began when the priesthood deceived itself into allowing a bit of falseness to creep into their preaching, and they convinced themselves that a little bit would not hurt at all. It would be all right. What they did over time was to gradually severe their mooring to God's law and the restraints contained in it." (Forerunner Commentary)  The commentary goes on to explain why the people didn't notice; "When a society gets this corrupt, they have no idea what truth is anymore, and God says they had come to the point that people loved to be lied to."

     Today so called Christian priests of all kinds rule and speak by their own authority.  Shocking things are said by clerics and accepted by their flock and tolerated by the wider Christian fellowship as a matter of course.  This has been going on for a long time now.  Around the turn of  this century the Archbishop of Canterbury was quoted as saying; "'While we can be absolutely sure that Jesus lived and that he was certainly crucified on the cross, we cannot with the same certainty say that we know he was raised by God from the dead.' The Mail newspaper 1999-AUG-04."  (Religious Tolerance)  Bishop Spong has pronounced; "Jesus ... was ... placed into a common grave, and covered over...in a very short time only some unmarked bones remained. Even the bones were gone before too long. Nature rather efficiently reclaims its own resources." and "A deceased man did not walk out of his grave physically alive three days after his execution by crucifixion." (quoted in Religious Tolerance)

     Paul tells us that without belief in the resurrection our faith is useless; "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (1 Corinthians 15:12-17)

 'If Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile' - this is what the Bible says and a false futile faith is being pushed on us every day by many false clerics dressed up in pretty vestments as they self-importantly prance across the stage provided for them with their flock's tithes and offerings.  Yet we still feel good in our churches, there is no discomfort.  Like the frog we don't notice (or care) that the water is boiling and we are dying still in our sins.   Popular churches and preaching avoid the hard steps of faith.  It feels so good to be scientific, modern and up-to-date in your beliefs even if they are completely futile.  Sadly, some honest clergy are silent and walk hand in hand with impostors lending legitimacy to the fakes and inadvertently heating the 'water' by yet another increment.

     Today, fakes usurp the legitimate authority of God's Word; "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." (Hebrews 1:1,2)  The Bible tells us that this has been slowly going on for a long time; "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping." (2 Peter 2:1-3)  Why can we not notice the water is boiling?

     Post-modern Christianity is killing us; "Post-modern Christianity falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking. It is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward. Are these things good? Sure. Are these things bad? Sure. It all depends on how far from biblical truth each reaction against modernity takes one's faith. This, of course, is up to each believer. However, when groups form under such thinking, theology and doctrine tend to lean more towards liberalism." (gotQuestions?org)  Who reads the Bible anymore and who would take the Bible's word over a well educated professional cleric's? These are important questions for us - our salvation depends upon it.

     But what will you do in the end?

     Save us, Lord Jesus!

   

   

Monday, 6 April 2015

Is your cistern leaking?

Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water."

     Do we do that today?  How can you forsake God and 'hew a leaking cistern'?

     Rejecting any part of the Bible on the basis that it doesn't apply to us today would be forsaking God.  Why?  God tells us; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)  The Word is Jesus and He is our light;  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
   
The entire testimony of the Holy Bible is a  complete whole - a spiritual unity - embodied in Jesus Christ.  Jesus tells us; "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35) And the God tells us; "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)  To discount any part of God's Word while claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to worship a lesser god.  Creating the idol of the post-modern acceptable 'Jesus-lite' who just loves and doesn't require holiness is to forsake God!

     God doesn't require any complicated theologies - His Word is necessary and sufficient.  But the new age 'Jesus-lite' does require a very sophisticated theology of deception.  Sadly there is no shortage of clerics and seminaries that hew these 'broken cisterns' that hold no water.  I'll simply quote one such 'scholar' to illustrate my point;
If a person calls Jesus Lord then I personally am happy to call them a brother or sister in Christ. If they are pro-gay marriage, don’t believe in the resurrection, if they believe someone other than Paul wrote 2 Timothy then I will agree to disagree and do my best to understand why they believe what they do. However, I will also stand firmly on the things I believe to be true of our faith but I will endeavour to respectfully dialogue with folks about those beliefs.
What I will not do is, and what I think is bad Christian practice, is to allow my beliefs to define another person’s faith. Our tradition, in my case conservative, should define what we think not whether another person is saved or a Christian.

Detecting Liberal Seminaries, Sep 4, 2013 @ 0:08 by Scot McKnight

     Notice the intellectual 'slight of hand' - the authority of the Word is replaced with the authority of a person's belief.   Jesus tells us that being a Christian isn't about our claim to Christianity or any other person's claims but rather on the claim His Word has on our hearts and minds; "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." (Luke 6:46,47,48)  Indeed the real Jesus tells us how to recognize His true followers; "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31.32)   People who don't believe in the resurrection or marriage being the union of a man and woman, don't abide in Jesus' teachings.  They are not followers of Jesus according to Jesus. It's that simple but many who prefer a fake 'Jesus-lite' make it complicated.


     The Bible tells us; "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)  Many look at this scripture only within the context of marriage but it's wider application is just as important.  When we countenance fake claims to Christianity not only do we allow rampant brand hi-jacking of Jesus by fakes but  we also yoke ourselves to these impostors spiritually.

     Ecumenism is a stealth idolatry that is destroying Bible believing churches.  Well meaning pastors and their congregations who desire to be loving to others give recognition and the authority that goes with it to 'Jesus-lite' idolatry and the worldly fake-Christianity that has grown up like a cancer.  The Bible tells us how it works; "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4:3,4)  It's a natural human desire to be liked by all - even fakes.  And it doesn't take long before you start listening to them.

     When fear of man  replaces the fear of God, the seed of accommodation and tolerance for false doctrine takes root.  Even Bible believing churches decline because they are yoked with darkness. How so?  In the name of false unity, of ecumenism, we countenance their lies with our silence, thereby giving them an authority that God does not!  And in so doing we lose the authority of God's Word and His blessing as a church fellowship, bit by inevitable bit. What is the result of this stealth idolatry seeping into believing churches - decline.  People are not taught the difference between what is fake and what isn't so they come to see no difference.   Our cistern starts to leak and people fall away.  The church ages and children see no need to attend.  The latest statistics in Canada attest to this decline.

     Come Lord Jesus!


   

Friday, 27 March 2015

No more go-betweens!

Jeremiah 31:33,34 "'This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the Lord. 'For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'”

     What covenant? After what time?  And With what people. - only Israel?

     Matthew Henry answers these questions succinctly; "The people of God shall become numerous and prosperous. In Hebrews 8:8,9 , this place is quoted as the sum of the covenant of grace made with believers in Jesus Christ. Not, I will give them a new law; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it; but the law shall be written in their hearts by the finger of the Spirit, as formerly written in the tables of stone. The Lord will, by his grace, make his people willing people in the day of his power. All shall know the Lord; all shall be welcome to the knowledge of God, and shall have the means of that knowledge. There shall be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, at the time the gospel is published. No man shall finally perish, but for his own sins; none, who is willing to accept of Christ's salvation"

   The new covenant is Jesus.  This covenant was established when His work on the cross was finished.  His people are believers who accept His rule and all know the Lord personally.  There won't be any further need for 'go-betweens'.  Every person will be taught by the Holy Spirit and God's mark will be on our hearts!  But how exactly did we become part of this great covenant?

     How did we become part of God's great covenant with Israel?  The apostle Paul explains it to us; " I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in. Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either." (Romans 11:13-21)

     An in-grafted branch doesn't replace the root.  It is nourished by the root which is why the Old Testament speaks to us with such Holy Spirit power.  We aren't special but the nourishment that now courses through our spiritual body is precious beyond all the riches in the world, transforming us and our fruit.  Unbelief is the killer of the 'broken off branches' and potentially for us should be become prideful  or casual about our 'new status'.  Jesus said; "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

     John Wesley says our natures have changed; "With - That is, with those who are Jews inwardly. And write it - The prophet's design is here to express the difference betwixt the law and the gospel. The first shews duty, the latter brings the grace of regeneration, by which the heart is changed, and enabled for duty. All under the time of the law that came to salvation, were saved by this new covenant; but this was not evidently exhibited; neither was the regenerating grace of God so common under the time of the law, as it hath been under the gospel."   John Wesley could read the sign of the times in his day and ours.  When hierarchy, duty and works are emphasized in any assembly, those caught up in it are under the law.  When grace, new life and real change are celebrated in any assembly, those caught up in it are under the rule of Jesus Christ.

     According to John Wesley, the regenerating grace of God is a telling mark of the New Covenant gospel.  The apostle Paul confirms; "The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20,21) The old covenant required the law and lots of priests to police it.  The New Covenant is perfect and only requires Jesus; "But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." (Hebrews 8:6,7)

     Why then do we hang on to the trappings of the old covenant.  Scripture tells us clearly; "Now the point in what we are saying is this: We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, 'See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.'” (Hebrews 8:1-6)

     All believers have a ministry calling direct from God in heaven.  Scripture tells us; "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)   Jesus' great commission was given to His disciples - those that actually decided to follow Him; "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)  This commission came with a promise that He would be with us.

     Sadly we cling to shadows of the past where we leave the preaching to others and many like it that way.  It takes the 'pressure' of the people in the pews and elevates the priests in the pulpit.  Go-betweens make for a lot of 'buck passing' and avoidance of real issues by those in the pews and in the pulpit.  And in the push and shove, Jesus all too often gets squeezed out by other more 'pressing concerns' like budgets and membership.

     Church organization built on the shadow of what God actually ordains has created a terrible problem.  Ed Stetzer says; "My fear is that we have created a class system in the body of Christ comprised of the 'called' and the 'not so much called.' Nothing could be further from the truth." Stetzer comes to a shocking conclusion; "The clergy-laity caste system is killing churches and hindering the mission of God. Let's kill it. Next time I will talk about why some pastors should resign and become full-time Christians, but in the mean time, how is your church empowering ALL God's people 'for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ'" (Eph 4:12 HCSB)?"

     Actually there is something potentially far more shocking.  As Christians we never want to hear it;  "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:21-23)

     Jesus, have mercy on us all!
   
   

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Can't stop speaking His Word!

Jeremiah 20: 9 "But if I say, 'I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

     Jeremiah was in a bad way.  He had taken a lot of punishment for speaking God's Word to his people and was sick and tired of it.  He had just been beaten and put in stocks for prophesying on the orders of a popular false prophet.  Jeremiah cried out to God in anger and discouragement; "You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long" (Jeremiah 20:7,8)

     Jeremiah was a perceived to be a  'Negative Ned' by those in power and those who followed the popular prophets of his day.  To make matters worse for Jeremiah - he couldn't shut up.  He tried and God's Word would burn in his heart like a fire.  The conventional wisdom, 'If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all', just wouldn't work for poor Jeremiah.  He just couldn't shut up.  This is just as  big a problem for Christians today as it was for Jeremiah in his day.

     The Gospel message is one of repentance, hope and redemption. It isn't popular.  It isn't well liked because it upsets people.  Individually a persons prideful view of himself or herself has to be deflated for repentance to work.  Collectively our society believes that we are our own masters - our bodies belong to ourselves, we have a fundamental right to do as we please and be happy.  We hope for the wrong things and demand the freedom to pursue useless dreams of plenty and luxury.  As a society of affluence we want no redemption from our condition.  Nobody likes Negative Neds and Nellies who call for repentance to people who are successful and lack nothing.

     Peter and John were put in a similar position when they were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the Gospel message;  "Jesus is the stone you builders rejected,which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11,12)  The religious establishment, keen to preserve the 'status quo' and their place in it deliberated; "'What are we going to do with these men?' they asked. 'Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.'” (Acts 4:16, 17)

     Peter gave the only response possible for a people of God; "Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20)  They were not beaten for saying this; not because the Sanhedrin saw the light but because they were undecided as to what punishment to mete out because of the miraculous healing that no one could deny.(v. 21,22)  Later, filled with jealousy the Sanhedrin imprisoned the Apostles for their preaching and work in God's Name (Acts 5:17,18)  Again God worked miracles (Acts 5:19,20)
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     Why don't people see the miracles?  Why didn't the Sanhedrin see the miracles?  They were to busy looking out for their own interests.  Selfishness is a world class blindness!  Why don't we see the miracles of repentance, hope and redemption today?  We're too busy watching TV, playing video games and paying down on the new car, the mortgage and our last luxury cruise in the Caribbean. All the Negative Ned's just cramp our style, drive people from our churches and always have to be contrary.  Why can't they just SHUT UP!

     Jesus said; "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11,12)

     Come Lord Jesus!