Friday, September 30, 2011

NOT LACKING ANYTHING MEANS BEING MATURE AND COMPLETE

NOT LACKING ANYTHING
A. Brother

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith 
develops perseverance.  
Perseverance must finish its work 
so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything.”                                                                          
James 1:2-4

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test, 
he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love Him.” 
James 1:12

            Do I want to be mature and complete in Christ?  Then I will be willing to take my trials with joy, facing them boldly and confidently in our Lord Jesus.
            Perseverance is the character trait we often lack.  We are not complete and mature because we don’t persevere under trial.  We don’t face our trials in love and hope and joy, because we’ve been taught wrongly.  We’ve been taught, either by direct words, or by default attitudes around us, that trials come to those who are disobedient to God, and that severe trials especially are signs of sin, and are avoided by the godly.  After all, are we not judged righteous by the results of our actions?  Do we not reap what we sow? 
            These misuses of Scripture are rampant today among some Christians.  They judge in a worldly way, which is according to appearances, and not God’s way, which is to discern the attitudes and intentions of the heart.  Only God can judge these inner things, and that’s why God doesn’t require judgment on our part, only grace and mercy. 
            We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), not judge each other in our trials.  The source and the manifestation of the trials are not our concern.  Our concern is toward our brother or sister, no matter what the trial they go through.  One of the commonly held misconceptions is that I should judge the validity of the needs that people have before I give to them when they ask for help.  That flies directly in the face of Jesus’ own Word:

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.   Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
--Luke 6:30,31

            Love is the answer to every question.  Love is the guiding principle for us, whether we are the recipient of the trial, or the observer of a brother’s trial.  We are going to be held accountable for our own attitudes and intentions, and God, who sends His rain on the just and the unjust, will worry about our brother’s attitudes and intentions.  We just love, as God loves us, and it takes care of our part.
            When we are going through trials, we are to turn to our brothers in Christ for help.  The “rugged individualism” which has captured many people as a result of its lionization in modern American society is hogwash, and unscriptural.  God never created us to be independent, selfish, and living alone.  We were never intended to “find ourselves,” we were created and called by God to be found in Him, and in the Body of Christ together.  We are “called out to be together” (Ekklesia), the Greek word given us over a hundred times in the New Testament to describe the people of God.  Emphasis is on the word TOGETHER.  We were not meant to face our trials  alone, which was taught faithfully throughout the New Testament by Paul, James, John, and Peter.  They were with the Lord Jesus personally, who taught them these things before and after His resurrection, and instructed them to follow His Way.  It was to the be Way of Love, and especially centered around the love of the brothers, which meant they would stand by one another in their trials. 
            That meant they were to be together, living as citizens of a New Kingdom, established by Jesus, and based upon the principle of love, mercy and grace, not judgment, rules and regulations.
            Today, brother, you may face “trials of many kinds.”  Together, we must help each other to persevere, so that we can, together, receive the crown of life. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MODERN AFFLUENT CHRISTIANITY IS A DEAD RELIGION

MODERN AFFLUENT CHRISTIANITY IS A DEAD RELIGION
A. Brother

          “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”  --Romans 9:1-3

          Paul is speaking through the Holy Spirit to us today in these passages in Romans.  The entire evangelical Christian world, the millions who call various churches their own, who inhabit the membership rolls and pews and chairs of the thousands of church buildings throughout our affluent and modern countries, must look at these powerful and important Words from the Lord again.  For we, the privileged, the entitled---those who call themselves Christians and consider ourselves lights to the world and leading the procession of God’s people—may be lost ourselves, and in danger of being cut off from the Kingdom when Christ comes to call His own from the four winds.
            How can I say this?  The parallels between the situation in Israel during Paul’s time and the situation of the modern western affluent churches in our time are striking and frightening.
            The Jews relied on their spiritual pedigrees, their traditions, their adherence to principles and religious laws for their salvation. 
            So our modern churches talk about salvation by faith, but in actuality, practice a salvation that it earned by church attendance, Bible study, tithing, and “having a personal relationship with God”.  There is little understanding of what salvation really is, and much unbelief among those who are claiming to follow Christ.  There is the problem of sin hidden--sin not confessed and forsaken--and the Body of Christ is weak because of these things. 
            We trust in our creative worship, thinking that somehow if we just present ourselves with better music, and take up artistic endeavors for God with more gusto, and sing louder and hold our hands up higher, that He will be pleased with us. 
            We trust in our well-crafted and delivered sermons, our well-designed and acoustically-pleasing sanctuaries, our well-trained and well-paid staff, our well-striped parking lots and well-lit meeting rooms. 
            We trust in our many books, and our vast curricula, and our audio tapes and our media.
            In other words, we trust in our own work—the work of our hands—to bring us closer to God.
            This sin is the essential sin of Adam and Eve, and of Cain.  It is as old as man.  It is not new to God, and He is never fooled by such clever little pretenses. 
            Just as it didn’t fool Him when the Jews tried it, over and over and over again through thousands of years of history, so He is not fooled by modern affluent Christians, who try to bamboozle Him with this religious nonsense. 
            It is just another way of earning salvation.  It is just another way of creating a religious front that covers up the inside of the cup and dish that are filthy and full of greed and corruption.

            Why are we in this situation?  How did we progress to this point?
            Brethren, many of us have been seduced by the world and its charms, and have adopted the world’s ways into the churches.  Just as the Jews had succumbed to their ideas of what would impress God and earn them His favor, so have we.
            But in the meantime, we are disobedient to the most basic commands of Christ. 
            We don’t love others, and we don’t take care of one another’s needs in the Body.  We don’t give up our lives for Jesus, and walk the narrow, unpopular road, taking up our crosses daily to live against the current of godlessness and evil within our society.  We don’t understand salvation as obedience to Christ, but we think of it as license to live a good life now, and to have all the things we’ve wanted. 
            We are like the Israel of Paul’s day, who prided themselves on looking good, on doing the right things, on being regarded as spiritual in the eyes of the world, yet who were spiritually bankrupt in God’s eyes, having the form of religion without God’s power and glory being revealed.
            This is a call to repentance from dead religion.  Many are estranged from the churches now because they see nothing in them that differs from the world.  And so they have more discernment than many who inhabit the pews.  Perhaps they are more honest than we are. 
            God’s salvation is by faith alone.  Is there anything in your life today that requires faith?  Does anything in your church life reflect complete and utter dependence on our Father and His power?  Or is it all about us?  Is it all about presentation, and performance?  Is it all about making ourselves feel good about how spiritual we are?
            God’s true believers, those who trust Christ, are dependent wholly on Him for everything.  The do not trust in themselves or their religion.  Even if that “religion” happens to be what we consider enlightened, entitled, and privileged modern, affluent Christianity.
            The time has come to separate ourselves from this charade.  God’s chosen are “children of the promise” –Rom. 9:8 
          A promise is future.  We live now in daily dying, dying to ourselves, our religious ways, our ideas and plans and goals and dreams.  We live now looking forward to the City whose Builder and Maker is God.
            God’s chosen live in tents now, preferring to suffer with the children of God than to live lives of luxury and comfort on earth.  Children of the promise do not look for their best life now.  They look to let Christ live His best in us now.  His chosen live by faith, and walk by faith, not relying on religious pretenses or pedigrees. 
            Leave your own efforts, and the ridiculous and embarrassing parade of evangelical religion. 
            Be saved and obey the Lord Jesus, coming out of the world, not striving to copy and emulate its ways.

            

Sunday, September 25, 2011

ARE YOU CALLED TO PREPARE GOD'S PEOPLE?

THE CALL TO PREPARE GOD’S PEOPLE
A. Brother

“Many of the people of Israel
will he bring back to the Lord their God.
And he will go on…to make ready a people
prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:16,17


            There are those God is calling as John the Baptist was called.  The Spirit of God is searching the hearts of men now, to find those who will obey the Lord God in this call.
         
          God’s choices will be startling to many, because these called ones will be lowly and discarded by the world.  They will have no earthly pedigree, no outward signs that give an indication why God would choose them. 

          But these men and women will be branded with the brand marks of Christ, His wounds, His scars, His fullness of the Spirit.  They will walk in obscurity, but their cries will be heard by many of God’s lost ones.

          God’s chosen vessels will be purified through fire, and be tested beyond their own limits by flood and famine and war.  They will know the Lord, and will have His Word written in their hearts.  They will be as the apostles were, expending themselves physically and mentally, their bodies broken for the Christ who was broken for them.  They will not worry about food, clothing and shelter, but will seek the Kingdom first.  Their knees will be calloused, their hearts will be soft.

          These men and women will make ready the people of God for the Lord’s Coming.  They will speak anything they hear from the Father, and they will do His will, walk His Way, love with His love, and give with His unlimited grace.  They will speak only the Truth of Scripture, and not defend the ways of men. 

          These men and women will go to the cross for Jesus, as He went to the cross for them.  They will not hold onto worldly goals, nor fight for anything less than Christ in His people.  These prophets and leaders, unrecognized and unappreciated by many, will nevertheless bring back the ‘ekklesia’—the ‘called out to be together’ people of God—to readiness to receive the Kingdom of Christ. 

“And he will go on before the Lord,
in the Spirit and power of Elijah…”
Luke 1:17

          These called ones will be filled with the Spirit of God, not just in word, but in deed, and will exhibit the love of God, the fearlessness of Jesus, the power of the Spirit to call men and women to repentance out of their lives of compromise and sin.

“And the child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he lived in the desert
until he appeared publicly to Israel.” 
Luke 1:80

            These men and women, like Moses, like John, like many of the prophets before them, and like their Lord Jesus Christ, will be nothing in the eyes of the world.  They will be veterans of the desert, long periods of obscurity and suffering.  They will have been forgotten by almost everyone, but not by their God.  The Lord will call them out, and they will witness of what they know by experience—what they have learned in the furnaces of affliction—and teach others to persevere in Christ to the end.
          The truth of God, from His Word, will be their primary concern.  They will not be swayed by religious tradition and weak and miserable principles of this world.  They will be “eyewitnesses and servants of the Word.”  --Luke 1:2

            The results of their lives, though given up freely for others, will be life in Christ for many.  The fruit of their hearts will be love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, faith, and self control.  They will call many to repentance, and example the life of Jesus among His people.  They will build up the Bride prepared for Christ, which looks ugly, poor, and in rags to the world, but is beautiful to her Betrothed, who looks on the inside, not the outside. 

          Today, there are those reading this who are called to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  To bring the Word of repentance to the modern, affluent, self-satisfied churches who are really “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  --Rev. 3:17

            You know who you are.  God is calling you, as he has called from the beginning of time for those who will obey Him.  As the apostles, after being filled with power and the Spirit of God to bring the Word of Christ, experienced opposition and hardship, so God has been preparing you in the desert trials of your life to stand up and shout from the rooftops what God has whispered in your ear.

          Today, we must obey the Lord, and not men.

          Let us obey His voice, no matter how full of fear and trembling we are at what might happen—at the opposition and the anger, the abandonment of others, the worldly hatred that will come our way.  Let us speak out, as Peter, James, John, Stephen, Andrew, and the others did, whether it means a painful death, or exile.  Let us go outside the gates of comfortable, self-satisfied churchianity, preaching the true gospel of Christ, and our Lord, by His power, will lead many out of bondage to dead religion, and worldly evils.

“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said,
“and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 
Acts 5:20

 
          

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

THE INFANTILE CHURCHES DEMAND MILK, NOT SOLID FOOD.

THE INFANTILE CHURCHES
A. Brother

            “We have much to say about this, but…you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil.”
                                                                                                         --Hebrews 5:11-14

            True prophets of the Word of God do not abridge or water down God’s Word to His People.  Listen to this, modern churches who claim to serve Christ.
            We have ignored the commands of the Lord Jesus in order to play around in the spiritual nursery.  We are slow to learn about the true righteousness that Jesus requires of His disciples because we are busy slopping about in the milk on our
high-chair tray.
            We would rather stay babies in Christ, letting our Father watch over us as we splash safely around in our wading pool at the park, then to “go on to maturity.” –Heb. 6:1
          Not content with the solid food He places before us, we demand the milk bottle instead, wanting to hear over and over again about the basics. 
            “Tell us again,” we cry, “about Jesus dying for my sins, and about His wonderful sacrifice for me, and how He loves me, and tell me again, Daddy, the stories from the Bible about David and Goliath, and Joshua, and let’s sing another song about faith, and about joy.  And let’s have cookies with our milk, today!”

            The Father is waiting impatiently for us to embark on the journey of spiritual maturity.  We have played around long enough.
            Brothers, God is not pleased.  Our Father is weary of our infantile demands for milk, and our spiritual “Peter Pan” complex.
            He has called us out from the world to obey Him, not to play church. 
            As our own children grow up in this world, we expect them to become more serious students, understanding that an education is meant to help them live competent, useful lives in the world.  When they reach adulthood, we hope they will then use all that education to go out and live, having been trained to function within society, and to bear their own burdens and be able to help others, also.
            How much more, in the Kingdom of God, is it of eternal importance that we become mature and serious about living as our Father commands us?  Our example is Jesus, who at the age of 12 was already discussing the deep things of God with the rabbis and teachers in Jerusalem, while the other children played in the dusty road with the caravan on its way home.  He was getting ready for God’s Kingdom.
            Are you still playing church?
            Does your heart still demand milk from God, and are you refusing to move on to maturity by your constant need for “the elementary truths of God’s Word?” (5:12)

          And how about our pastors, preachers, teachers, leaders?  Are you still coddling your flock?  Are you enabling and permitting their infancy to continue by catering to their whims?  Or are you truly called and chosen to lead by Jesus Christ, who has given you the responsibility to speak the truth in love to His Sheep?
            Are you leading your flock to maturity in Christ by treading the narrow road with them, teaching them to obey the Lord God in everything, and to give up all to follow Him?  Or are you content to play in the shallows, avoiding the deep end with all its difficulties, trials, opposition, and hardships?

            You, the ones who claim to lead God’s people, are most responsible.  You have claimed the head of the table, and have the platform, and the position.  You are the ones who are looked up to, and seated in the place of honor.  Do you follow the Pharisees and their ilk, who love those seats, and the position of prominence, and so heap on yourselves judgment by refusing to lead your flock as your Good Shepherd did—on the road to self-denial and sacrifice—the narrow road upon which He carried His cross and laid down His life for His friends?

            “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things?”  --John 3:10

          If you don’t understand true discipleship, how can you teach it to others?
            If you haven’t moved on into maturity, learning to distinguish between good and evil by experience in the trenches of life, how can you lead anyone else into maturity?

            We have ignored the basic commands of Scripture, and so do not lead lives of obedience and power.  We do not obey, and thus we do not have righteous lives.  We do not have righteous people in our churches, and so our churches have been weak and ineffectual in the world.  Our leaders play around, trying to find ways to make the hard gospel truth seem more friendly and palatable to their followers, instead of preaching Truth and the Way that has never changed.
            Like irresponsible parents we continue to blend up the food into creamy pablum for our children, instead of encouraging them to eat solid food and become mature. 
            Maybe we like it that way, because we don’t want to go to the trouble of fixing and feeding them full meals, and sitting down together and working out adult ways of living.  Being a family is a messy business, full of trial and error, and the working out of many tough things. 
            Being the ekklesia, the “called out to be together” people of God, the Family of God, is also a messy business.  It requires tough men who will lead like Jesus did, out and among His disciples every day, imparting that toughness and spiritual maturity to them that He possessed.
            And notice what Jesus made the prime focus of His ministry.  To train and teach His Sheep to lead others.  He prepared them to serve others, to lay down their lives for each other, and to teach each other His Ways.  He encouraged them, and strengthened them toward becoming leaders themselves. 
            The Lord Jesus taught us what was important, yet we choose to ignore the simple truths He gave us, in order to follow our man-made rules and traditions of the churches.

            It is our responsibility, as followers of Jesus, whether we are lowly and without position or power within the current churches, or whether we are highly placed and have a pulpit, to obey and follow the Lord, not men.

            Jesus Christ is Head of His Chosen People.  He is our Lord, and no religious institution, no denomination, no organization made by men, is to circumvent His authority over us by demanding we disobey Him.  Yet we allow this every day, and we compromise the very heart of the gospel to man-made tradition.

            We cannot rest on our claims of religious leadership.  They mean nothing.  We cannot rest on the fact that we have built signs outside our buildings that say we are Christian churches.  We cannot rest on our busy schedules, and our fancy services.  We cannot rest on our participation in the life of the temples we have built.  We cannot rest on any of our own worship times and good music.

            “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.  This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says:  Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.  Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!’
          “While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you but you did not answer.  Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears My Name, the temple you trust in…”  --Jeremiah 7:2-4,12-14

            As God used the Philistines to destroy the temple in which His people had put their false hopes, so He will use the destructive forces of the world to destroy our disobedient churches.  He will not put up with our childish desires to stay infants, but will force us to go out into the world and live dependent on Him only.
            We will not be allowed to hold to our delusions that God will protect us because we have built for ourselves fancy and comfortable temples in which to worship.  God disciplines those He loves, and because He loves those He calls, we will be disciplined, severely if necessary, in order to become mature.

            “For we are the temple of the living God.”  --2 Cor. 6:16

          We are the temple, the ekklesia, those called by God in Jesus Christ.  We are to live out the life of Jesus, and not hide in our temples made with hands. 
            Sell your buildings and give the money to the poor people in your own neighborhoods, and share it with your Christian brothers who are in need.  Become like the New Testament believers, who gave all they had, and shared all God gave them, and loved each other, devoting themselves to the Kingdom of God as Jesus had taught them.  Take care of each other and protect each other and love your brothers, above all.  Begin the process of going on to maturity, along with all those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Leave behind the elementary milk, and move into the hard, tough life of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  If you lead, then lead with faith, and love and perseverance, and be willing to face opposition when you give out the Truth.  You will become like your Teacher, like your Master, and you Friend, the Lord Jesus, who faced such opposition from sinful men.

            “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart.”  --Heb. 12:2,3

          Are you willing, dear brother or sister, to endure opposition, and be shamed for Jesus Christ?  Or are you so comfortable in your pew or your position that you will not stand up for the truth you know?

            Stand up today, and begin standing for the real gospel, and going on to maturity in Christ, before sin hardens your heart to the point you are lost along with the religious multitude.

            “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received a knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, and again, ‘The Lord will judge His people’.  It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  --Heb. 10:26-31

           
           

Monday, September 19, 2011

RELIGION IS SATAN'S BEST DECEPTION

NOTE:  This is such an important teaching.  Read it over a few times if necessary to have the Lord Christ open your eyes to its truth.  This needs to be shouted from the rooftops in this age.  We are blinded by our traditions, no matter how holy they seem, and how well-intentioned they be.  We must call out these deceptions, these "mannish" things we bring to the throne of God.  He never asked for them, and He doesn't regard them.

RELIGION IS THE BEST DECEPTION
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS

“The Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.”
 Acts 7:48

Christendom is largely constituted by this sense—its architecture, its ritual, its music, its adornment, its lighting (or lack of it), its tone, its atmosphere, its vestments and so forth. All are of the soul...(meaning of "humanity", the "mannishness" of life is in the soul)

[NOTE:  think about our modern evangelical churches, even the ‘charismatic’ churches, and the rituals and particular music, tone, atmosphere, and how they are also of the soul, how they are also of "man" and his comfort levels…A. Brother.]

Spiritual death marks that realm, and while there may be intense emotions which make for resolves, 'high' thoughts and desires, there is no genuine change in the nature of those concerned, and repeated doses of this must be taken to maintain any measure of soul-self-satisfaction which makes them feel good.

All religions have this soulish feature in common, more or less, and it is here that the fatal blunder has been made by many religious people who contend that other religions, which are undoubtedly devout and sincere, should not be interfered with, but the good in them should be recognized and accepted.

It is the confusing of religion with what the Bible means by being spiritual. Religion can rise to high levels and sink to terrible depths. It is the same thing which does both.

But that thing never rises above the human level; it never really reaches God.

Religion can be the greatest enemy of God's true thought, because it is Satan's best deception.

Asceticism is no more truly spiritual than aestheticism. There is no more a brief with God for rigours, denials, fastings, puritanic iciness, etc., as such, than for the opposite. Simplicity may give God a chance, but it is not necessarily spiritual. It may be a matter of taste...

How near to the truth in perception and interpretation can the mystical go! What wonderful things can the imagination see, even in the Bible!

What thrills of awe, amazement, ecstasy, can be shot through an audience or congregation by a master soul! But it may all be a false world with no Divine and eternal issues. It may all go to make up this life here, and relieve it of its drabness, but it ends there.

What an artificial world we live in! When the music is progressing and the romantic elements are in evidence—the dress and tinsel—and human personalities are parading, see how pride and rivalry assert themselves, and what a power of make believe enters the atmosphere! Yes, an artificial world...

The tragedy in this melodrama is that it is 'real life' to so many. This soul-world is the devil's imitation. It is all false, wherever we may find it, whether associated with religion or not...

'The Christian Faith' embraced as a religion, a philosophy, or as a system of truth, a moral or ethical doctrine, may carry the temporary stimulus of a great ideal; but this will not result in the regeneration of the life, or the new birth of the spirit. There are multitudes of such 'Christians' in the world today, but their spiritual effectiveness is nil.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR TRUE DISCIPLES


THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD
FOR TRUE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
A. Brother

For those Christ calls to stay within the borders of the Christian religion:

It's the most dangerous place in the world, there in the heart of the large, modern, affluent churches.  Be aware, be on guard, and be seeking Christ without the bells and whistles at all times.  He will keep you, He will meet you.  But stay focused on Him alone, and be ever vigilant to be the watchman on the walls of Jerusalem, telling the truth in love, no matter how uncomfortable some people are.  With humility, my brother or sister. 

You have a high calling--being in the modern churches, but not of the fluff and worldly puff--and it's one that will create huge tension and pain in you in Christ very often. 

But Christ is absolute Sovereign, and if He has called you to it, He will keep you in it. 

I have no faith at all in myself, or in the churches, or even in you (no offense), but only in Christ, and the John 15 life. 

We true disciples trust ultimately in Christ our Rock, and know that all we see will pass away, when He chooses.  So all we have that will last is Christ, and His Kingdom, which He will reveal when He comes.

Warning:

What will happen is this:  you will be challenged at every turn to compromise.  To accept religious things that distract people from seeking Christ as "just the way things are".  To accept new ideas from people on how to run "church" that have nothing to do with what you see in the Word of God.  To accept the status quo because "it's not a big deal" or "but we've done this particular thing for 28 years this way" or "how could all these godly people who do this be wrong?" or "who do you think you are, anyway, the apostle Paul?"

Thousands will be swaying to the music of modern, affluent, self-driven, self-satisfied Christian pomposity, while you sit alone, with the Word of God pounding in your heart, pounding in your ears, telling you it's not the Way.  Christ whispering in your soul that He is not found in the parade, the clanging cymbal, this man-made religious sub-culture that has copied the world in so many ways.  And the sure thought that this is part of the wood, hay and stubble God directed Paul to teach about only 30 years after Christ's resurrection. 

While hundreds and thousands of Christ-followers died as martyrs at the hands of religious zealots in those early years, and every generation of true disciples from then on suffered the same, yet we believe we are different.  That we can have our religious cake and eat it, too.  That Christ promises us health, wealth, and a wonderful life here among the heathen.  That we can marry ourselves to more than one bride.  That Christ will overlook our slide into self-focus, self-aggrandizement, self-congratulatory evangelical fleshianity.  That somehow He will be impressed at our slick marketing and technological savvy.  Our state-of-the-art this and that. 

The modern, affluent, self-focused, self-worshiping churches are the most dangerous place in the world for true disciples of Christ.  For they pull us off the Narrow Road, and put us on Broadway. 

Be aware, be on your guard.  If Christ calls you to stay there, He will keep you there.  You need not fear.  But have the healthy understanding that ultimately, those people who smile and greet you now, may at some point, when tables have turned and the heat is on, be the ones who deny you at your trial before the heathen. 

Go to the Word of God, go to Christ.  May all who seek Him be satisfied in Him.

A. Brother

Thursday, September 15, 2011

RELIGION HATES CHRIST

A. Brother

For those who seek truth, and not religion, there is Christ.
Christ alone brings us to the Father.
Religion is the enemy, and would keep us from truth.

From the beginning of time, religion has fought God.
Religions are man's attempts to reach God on man's own terms.
Religion sets up barriers on the road to God.
Religion demands things that God never required.
Religion hates Christ, and it was religion that nailed him to the cross.

Today when we hear men defending the "Christian religion", or "Christianity",
remember they are not defending Christ.  They are defending their own way.

Nothing has changed.  It's always been this way.
The early Christ-followers were persecuted by all other religions.
The earliest believers in Christ faced fierce opposition from the Jews,
God's own chosen people.
Throughout history, Satan has used religion more than any other vehicle
to distract and destroy the faith of men.

Witness the world today.
Islam seeks to dominate the world with its sick blend of supposed
God-worship, male-superiority, hatred of Jews, Christians, and all other
infidels, strict cultural imperatives, and warring ways.
Hinduism and Buddhism and all other "isms" keep a billion or more
enslaved in ancestor worship, and other forms of idolatry.
Mormonism is like Islam, a deceptive and warlike religion that seeks
nothing less than a world kingdom and domination.
Communism is still alive and well, which is the worship of the state.
Yes, communism is a religion, and it still seeks world domination.
Anything we believe brings salvation for mankind, even if it is a political
or social cause, is a religion.
And Christianity fits the bill.

For those of you seeking Christ today, you won't find Him in religion.
He is on the narrow road, and He is found only through the cross and
resurrection for the individual.  You must follow Him, and not man-made
religions, which always, the moment they are created, cause us to stumble.

Many seek alternatives to Satan's religions.
Atheists and agnostics are all created by contact with religion.
These labels simply apply to people who hate what they've seen of
those who claim to know God, but who really just represent their own
religious ideas of what it means to know God.

Those who want Christ must seek Him.
Forsaking all others, cling to Christ, and know the Father.
As He did with the earliest followers, He will  meet with you in
hidden rooms and gardens of the heart.  He will show you Himself,
and in doing so will show you the Father, and give you His Spirit.
And then He will give you others who know Him, and who walk
with Him outside religion.

The religious will come with their torches and swords to find you.
They will call you out one day, and you will face your own trial as
He did.  They will drag you before courts and magistrates to accuse
you as they did Christ.  Jesus warned us.  What He suffered at the hands
of religious people, we will suffer, if we truly follow our Lord.

Blessings on all who heed these words today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GOD HATES ALL RELIGION


A. BROTHER

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
Even though you bring Me burnt offerings,
and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
--Amos 5:21-24


          These are hard words, but they must be spoken today, to the modern churches.  God is speaking, and we must listen.
          The Lord God Almighty is fed up with our religious posturing and our self-seeking modern Christianity.  We have hewn for ourselves cisterns that cannot hold Living Water, but have made sure we have plenty to eat, and plenty of music, and great religious feasts and assemblies.  We bring what we consider our ‘offerings’ of carefully crafted entertainments, the choicest of programs and talents to display.
          God has no regard for them.  He is not listening to our noisy and insistent sounds of self-satisfied worship.
          There is no obedience to the Word of God among His chosen.  We have abandoned simple obedience in favor of flowery songs.  We have crafted a fine and beautiful religious world with our own hands, and our leaders tell us constantly how fine and good it is.  They proclaim the favor of the Lord, and encourage us to keep on with this religious life.
          God is turning His back.
          God wants our obedience.  He wants our love, which is proven by our obedience to what He commands.  And as Jesus told us, His commands are simple.
         
“As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you.
Now remain in My love.
If you obey My commands,
You will remain in My love,
just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands,
and remain in His love…
My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.”
--John 15:9,10,12

          Like the religious Jews of Amos’ time, we choose instead to make a lot of noise, and ignore the commands of God.
          We don’t love one another, and sacrifice for one another.  We don’t even know each other.  We don’t obey, so we are not in Christ.  As the apostle John said, we claim to be Christ’s, but our disobedience shows we don’t belong to the light.
          God is furious.  We think because of our affluence, and our pleasant lives, and our wonderful worship music, and our fine pastors and teachers, and our great buildings and busy programs we can get Him to ignore the Truth.
          The problem is this:  God is not a man, and we can’t fool Him like we try to fool ourselves and other people.  He is God, and He made us, and He knows us, and He will not tolerate our trickery and deceit.
          Almighty God is going to sift us and that sifting has begun.  But it is just started.  He will discipline those He loves.  If you are without testing, without severe trials, without difficulty and opposition for your walk with Christ, then you are an illegitimate child of God, and not the real thing.  If you claim to be in Christ, then you will eventually meet great tribulation, which will prove either the validity or the invalidity of your claim.
          God says today, to American Christians:

“I will pronounce My judgments on My people
Because of their wickedness in forsaking Me,
in burning incense to other gods
and in worshiping what their hands have made.”
--Jeremiah 1:16

          God will bring judgment.  He is bringing it now.
          Give up the worship of what your own hands have made.  Your wonderful religion is a stench in the nostrils of the Lord.  Learn true humility, practice love for others, including your enemies, and justice for others, including the poor and the needy.  Don’t ignore the needs around you any more.  Go to your knees and repent, deeply, and grieve over your sins and the sins of your so-called Christian brothers.  Those who claim Christ must confess and turn away from sin, not just give lip service to belonging to the Lord Jesus.  We must live lives of love, as He did, and lay down our life for His Body, which is the ekklesia, the ‘called out to be together’ people of God.  We must call the world to true repentance and tell them the Kingdom of God is among us. 
          No more compromise.
          If you hear this, and you are offended, then you are one of the problems that God will deal with.  You must understand that this Word is His Word, not our own.  You must understand that though men stand against this Word, and they always will, as they did throughout history, God will honor His Word, and it will prevail.  Modern American society, including the compromised, ugly, comfortable, religious sub-culture we call modern American Christianity, is judged already.  We have fallen, and cannot get up.  The foundations are rotten, and the building is flawed, and in the tough times to come, it will come crashing down.  Our religious observances and man-made traditions, whether originally born in the first century, or the twenty-first century, will be brought low and become dust.  No man-made extra-biblical or anti-biblical tradition, no matter how long it’s been in practice, will make it through the pruning process in God’s Vineyard.
          God has weighed us in the balances and found us wanting.
          The Kingdom is not in our hands, though we think we have commandeered it and made it in our image.  Our fancy churches, great pulpits, smooth sermons, easy curricula, rich and comfortable buildings, busy programs for every age, great music and worship services—all of it will disappear when the trials and testing come.  There is no room for these things in the fiery furnace.  Only Jesus, and His Spirit, and His will, and not our own fancy ideas about what His church is supposed to be doing.
          Christ came to break us out of old religious molds, but we have fashioned our own, to replace them.

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken Me,
the Spring of Living Water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jeremiah 2:13

          Do you understand that this means us?  God wasn’t working fast enough so we have created our own marketing for the churches.  God wasn’t teaching us fast enough so we have taken it upon ourselves to created thousands of books, and hundreds of seminars and meetings to speed up our knowledge.  God wasn’t giving us a regimented church life at all, so we have created our own solid traditions of time, place, and church life.  There was too much flexibility and lack of religious form in the New Testament church, so we have replaced the simple Truth with our great ideas about church.  God designed things to messy, and we like order.  God designed things to be dynamic, and we like steady ‘you can count on sameness’ religion.
          The old wineskins we create by our own efforts cannot possibly hold God’s powerful New Wine, and God will not pour the New Wine of His Holy Spirit into man-made religious systems.  So the impasse is:  God’s Way from Scripture, or our way that does not please Him.  Which will we choose?  It is our choice alone.

          Let’s give up our own ways.  Go to our knees.  Repent, and seek theKingdom of God, not our religious ways.  Before the darkness overtakes us, and because we have lived in the light of our own torches so long, we cannot negotiate the narrow, dark Way with only the light of Christ to keep us.
          Learn to walk in the darkness, with only His Hand, and His Spirit to guide you.  He is faithful, and He will never leave you, though you give up everything--all your comfort and safety--to walk the mountains with Him. Make the decision to take the dangerous, difficult road with Jesus and His small band of true disciples, the ekklesia,
the ‘called out to be together’ people of God, surrounded by love, hope, and empowered to live the life of Christ by the Holy Spirit.

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