Friday, December 7, 2012

WILL YOU ENDURE THE HARDNESS OF GOD'S PEOPLE?


To order your downloadable ebook "Even the Devils Have Religion", the first published collection of the messages of A. Brother, please go to Amazon.com and purchase copies for yourself and your friends.  These messages are not for those who shrink back from truth, but for those who seek the Christ and His Kingdom.  
You can order by going to the Home Page of this blog and clicking on the link for the new book announcement.  Or you can order by using this link: 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

WILL YOU ENDURE THE HARDNESS OF GOD'S PEOPLE?

Today, we are being called out.  Today, the Lord is raising up Ezekiels and Jeremiahs.  God is calling those who will listen.  And God is giving them the hardest task He can, which is to speak to the house of Israel, the spiritual Israel, His people who claim the Name of Jesus.

Our hardness and obstinacy has brought God to this point.  We have ignored His Word, preaching and teaching weak and powerless versions of our own religious thoughts.  We have not clung to the faith handed down to us by Paul, Peter, John, James and the other apostles.  In fact, we have woven beautiful tapestries of our own choosing, lovely garments to wear which are made up of bits and pieces of the Truth, mixed in with the colors that strike our religious fancies.

For those whom God is calling, you will know the hardness of God’s people.  You will experience their anger, their censure, even their direct opposition.  You will be judged for speaking what you have been given to say.  Reference every man or woman who had a prophetic gift in Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments.

Jesus had few who stuck with Him, and many who dropped away when He began teaching harder truths.  He was bucking the religious system, the house of Israel’s traditions.  He was not what they wanted, and when they saw that, they began to turn away and go home.

Those who speak for the Lord will speak from the Word of God, and from the Truth, without defending themselves.  We are not the Word, we are the messengers called out to declare it.  We are not ourselves the Truth, we are only the ‘earthen vessels’ given the honor of speaking it to God’s people.  Never does defense need to be made for speaking out what the Word of God says, nor should we hold back what God gives us to say to accommodate the religious sensibilities of others. 

The whole system of man-made Christianity will be shaken down to the foundations in the coming floods and fires.  Even the foundation will be uprooted, wherever it is not Christ.  The simple Christ-life, devoid of religious trappings and sentimental foolishness, is what Christ is working in His people around the world.  It’s always been His Way.  We have been the ones who’ve strayed into false positions, and now find ourselves without a worthy ship, clinging to the wreckage of the religious system we thought would take us through the storm.

“But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth
and you shall say to them,
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  Whoever
will listen let him listen,
and whoever will refuse will refuse;
for they are a rebellious house.”
Ezekiel 3:27

God’s message is always positive in Christ Jesus.  Those who cling to Christ alone now, and leave behind the religious ways, all that is not foundational in Christ, all that is of the old man, and the old man’s comforts, will be found standing in Christ when all is shaken around them and under them.

In the early centuries of Christ on the earth, when the Romans and other pagan cultures dominated, it was routine for those who followed Jesus to follow Him in His crucifixion.  Today, it is still routine for many in cultures other than our affluent, western societies.

Where will you be when the walls of Jerusalem are destroyed, stone by stone, pulled down by the enemies of your Christian religion?  What will you be left with?  Will you be prepared for the coming tribulations?  Are you today facing trials you never expected or wanted to face?

If you build your life now on Christ, if you spend your time with Him, living in the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, embracing the difficulties and hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, you will be ready for prison.  You will be ready for torture and pain.  You will be battle-hardened, tough-minded in Christ, able to withstand all the slings and arrows that the enemy throws at you.

Rejoice, for your Lord counts you worthy of His Kingdom, and would have you ready, lamp lit, when He comes.  Spend all your time seeking Him.  Work only for your daily bread, which He will provide, not for worldly things.  Let us seek together to become the Body Christ has prepared for Himself, full of His Spirit, rich in good works.  Let’s leave our weak and silly traditions behind, and give ourselves fully, as the martyrs have throughout history, to Christ now, so that we will be prepared when all the foundations are shaken, when all the stones crafted by man are pulled apart.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

THE RESISTANCE FIGHTS ON.


To order your downloadable ebook "Even the Devils Have Religion", the first published collection of the messages of A. Brother, please go to Amazon.com and purchase copies for yourself and your friends.  These messages are not for those who shrink back from truth, but for those who seek the Christ and His Kingdom.  
You can order by going to the Home Page of this blog and clicking on the link for the new book announcement.  Or you can order by using this link: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

THE RESISTANCE FIGHTS ON.
A. Brother

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit,
returned from the Jordan and was
led by the Spirit in the desert,
where for forty days he was
tempted by the devil.”
Luke 4:1,2

“When the devil had finished all this tempting,
he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus returned to Galilee in
the power of the Spirit…”
Luke 4:13,14

Jesus had been baptized in the Jordan River by John, and the Spirit had descended on Him.  He was led by the Spirit of God, and full of the Spirit of God.  He then went out into a deserted wasteland, and for almost a month and a half, he experienced loneliness, hunger, thirst, and constant temptation by Satan. 

The devil had been alert to Jesus’ presence since His birth.  He had followed Jesus’ life, and of course, was well aware of John, who declared the coming of the Messiah to all who met him in the desert.  So when Jesus came to be baptized, guess who was there watching.  He was ready when the Messiah, the prophesied One, walked by Himself out into the empty places to pray and gather strength from His Father for the ministry He was about to take up.  Satan knew enough to know that Jesus was human, all human, as well as God in the flesh.  Satan knew Jesus was no robot, no avatar, no droid formed to walk unimpeded and untouched through the world.  God’s enemy knew that Jesus felt and thought and hungered and got tired.  He knew the Christ had to go through everything man experienced, in order to fulfill the Father’s purpose for Him—to become the perfect High Priest—once for all giving Himself in sacrifice for the sins of the world.  So Satan had an opportunity to bring down God’s plan right at the beginning, before it could get started.

The point for us is this.  When we come to Christ in humility and poverty, willing to give up our lives for His, and ready to go to our Gethsemane for the Father, then Satan will find his greatest opportunity to strike.

You see, Satan is alert to our presence, too.  He has followed our lives, and knows when we submit, truly are baptized in the Spirit, truly walk through the Narrow Gate.  He is ready for us as He was ready for the One we love now.  He wants to derail God’s work in us at every opportune time. 

When we are weak and hungry—hungry for food or hungry for significance, or hungry and thirsty for love and attention, or hungry and thirsty for recognition, or hungry and thirsty for possessions or the things of this world—then he will strike.  When we are tired, not only physically, but mentally, and spiritually, having battled our own feelings, our own bodies, our own minds in the heat of the desert experience, then Satan will tempt us. 

When we are lowly, and poor, and forgotten, then our enemy, Christ’s enemy, will come to us and offer us his sweet things, his comforts, his answers.  Because he wants so much to destroy anything good that God is doing.  He hates God, and He hates Christ Jesus, and He hates and wants to destroy that anointing we have from the Holy Spirit to walk in Christ.  It is Satan’s choicest work to woo away the Chosen, and we must always be aware that he will try.

Jesus resisted, though He was led about by Satan, and offered the world.  Jesus Christ led the Resistance, and we must not fail him in our testing.  Christ Himself was tempted, by all the powers of hell, and He stood and refused to give in. 

Note the important result.  Jesus went out into the desert full of the Spirit, and led by the Spirit.  He came back from this intense, painful, and desperate desert experience “in the power of the Spirit” (v.14).  He was ready for the ministry God had prepared for Him.  He was not operating in His own human power, but the Spirit had intensified in Him to the point He was living only for the will of His Father.

In fact, the first thing Jesus did when He came back was to confront the people in His hometown, in the Synagogue where He grew up, and let them know the Truth straight up.  He told them who He was, and predicted that they would not accept Him.  They were so furious they grabbed this hometown boy and as a raging crowd took Him up on a hill to throw Him down from a cliff and kill Him.  But Jesus, empowered by the Spirit now, “walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Luke 4:30)

When God gets hold of us, and tells us we must enter the Christ-life fully, and we respond to that call, we will have desert experiences similar to those our Lord Jesus Christ went through.  We must go through them, relying only on the sustenance of the Father through the Spirit of God.  We will be alone, as He was.  As Israel was in the desert for forty years, shedding itself of the old men and women—a whole generation of unbelief and doubt dying out—so we, like Jesus, will be in the desert, shedding ourselves of the old man or woman, losing much unbelief and doubt.  If we submit to God, and don’t listen to Satan’s many temptations, then we will emerge from that desert experience with much more of the Spirit’s power, as Jesus did.

It is absolutely essential for us to realize that it is not our power, and not our sufficiency, and not our strength from that point on.  It is all Christ in us by His Spirit, as it was all the Father in Jesus by His Spirit after Christ’s desert time.

We may go through many of these testings in our lives.  Each time, if we submit, and continue to lose our own lives, we will come back more intensely empowered by the Spirit of God, and less and less attached to this world, and the things of this world.

Make no mistake, brother.  The devil will come around again and again.  He’s looking for that opportune time, as he was with Jesus.  Our deserts, our Gesthemanes, will be many, but God will not leave us alone, but will uphold us as we seek Him.

“But when you are tempted, He will also
provide a way out so that you can
stand up under it.”
1 Cor. 10:13

Let’s follow our Lord Jesus willingly, and not reluctantly.  Let’s be part of the Resistance, willing to give our lives over daily for His sake. 

“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

Monday, December 3, 2012

CHRISTIANITY DEFILED: A DECLARATION OF SIN


To order your downloadable ebook "Even the Devils Have Religion", the first published collection of the messages of A. Brother, please go to Amazon.com and purchase copies for yourself and your friends.  These messages are not for those who shrink back from truth, but for those who seek the Christ and His Kingdom.  
You can order by going to the Home Page of this blog and clicking on the link for the new book announcement.  Or you can order by using this link: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9TW5Z

CHRISTIANITY DEFILED:
WHICH PASTORS WILL PRAY 
THIS PRAYER OF CONFESSION
WITH THEIR CONGREGATIONS?
A. Brother

          With the same defiance Jeremiah was given by God, I stand in the "marketplace" of modern Christianity and pray the following prayer.  

Oh, Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth;
I am overwhelmed with grief and sadness over my sins,
and the sins of all those who claim the Name of Christ.

We have departed from Your Word. 
We have not listened to Your prophets.
We have ignored the simple commands of Scripture.

We have left the Narrow Road that our Lord Jesus
asks us to walk with Him, and have built superhighways,
freeways, and high-speed trains with our own hands.

We have left the simple, steep, footpath of Christ that
winds its way through the mountains and valleys,
preferring instead to bulldoze our own wide trails,
flat, smooth and free of obstacles.

We have built enormous, comfortable lodgings for ourselves,
while Your House lies in ruins.
We have designed beautiful, gracious religious buildings,
and built them at great expense
to satisfy our own cravings for recognition,
while our brothers in need go unrecognized and
the poor among us go unfed.

We have taught a gospel that is not a gospel,
which allows us to come to church and participate
without true repentance and renewal in our lives.
We have accepted and embraced the world’s ways,
marketing You like a commodity,
presenting Christ as a product,
selling our way of life like a better mousetrap.

We have given up on You.
We have left the Way, and planned our own trip.

We are captive to the kings and princes of this world,
yet claim we are free.
We are slaves to our own affluence,
rich in land and homes, cars and businesses,
electronic gadgets and leisure time,
yet are grindingly poor in Your eyes.

We have ignored You, and so You ignore us.
Our meetings, our festivals, our celebrations, our banquets,
our concerts, our shouting and loud worship, our solemn
assemblies, our processions, our programs, our curricula, our
advanced degrees, our fine educational institutions, our vast
entertainment industries, our constant activities—all are
an offense to You, and a bore.

Please forgive me, and forgive the sins of Your people.
Have mercy, Oh, Lord, and don’t sweep us away
with the lost on the Day of Christ.

May Your people return to You,
in true repentance,
in true saving faith,
in love for You and one another.
May we leave all other ways behind,
and follow Jesus, the Way.
May we sell all we have to obtain
the pearl of great price,
the Kingdom of God.

May we be willing to lose our own lives
so that we may gain Christ.
May we decrease and become nothing,
so Christ Jesus may become everything in us.

May the churches abandon their own plans
and schemes in favor of your revealed Word.
May our leaders repent of their sins,
leading us to You instead of away.

May you forgive us, and Your great
mercy be upon the modern, affluent,
self-satisfied ‘Christian’ churches.

When you discipline us, remember
to keep a remnant for Yourself, as
Your Word promises.  Have mercy on
us, Lord, and save us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overheard: Religion is a replacement for drugs.

The world as we know it is full of religion.

Do you agree with the journalist who lately said, "Many claim that Christ took them off drugs.  But haven't they just replaced one drug with another?  Isn't religion now their drug of choice?"

Karl Marx said: "Religion is the opiate of the masses."  Through the journalist quoted above, and through many others in the world right now, we are hearing this idea.  That religion is a drug, designed to keep the masses from rising up and taking hold of their own destiny.

Are the social idealists right?  

I'd like to hear your comments.

As a lead in to this conversation, I'll add this morsel of truth.  I believe there is great truth in what the godless are saying.  I'll add this.  I believe Jesus Christ is saying the same to us today.  What do you say?

A. Brother

Thursday, August 16, 2012

DANGER! ARE YOU LOST IN CHRISTIANITY?


DANGEROUS PARALLELS--ANCIENT ISRAEL AND MODERN CHRISTIANS
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.

            

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JESUS' POWER AND AUTHORITY IN US.


JESUS’ POWER AND AUTHORITY IN US.
A. Brother

“They were amazed at His teaching,
because His message had authority.”
--Luke 4:32

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John…
they were astonished and they took note
that these men had been with Jesus.”   
--Acts 4:13

“I have given you authority…
to overcome all the power of the enemy;
nothing will harm you.” 
--Luke 10:19

These passages tell us of Jesus’ power, authority, courage and boldness being handed down to His disciples.

Where have these qualities gone today?

Is God’s arm too short?  Has He lost His power?  His authority?  Where are His courage and His boldness?  Did Jesus abdicate the throne?  Does He no longer possess these attributes?

Or is something wrong in us; in those who claim to belong to Christ?  Is there something missing in those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ?  Something that prevents us from seeing the power, authority, courage and boldness of Jesus from being fulfilled as He promised?

Perhaps we have become as the teachers of the law were in Jesus’ day.  Living by creeds, curriculums, plans, programs, systems, principles, and precepts, instead of by the power of the Spirit of God changing us into the strong, courageous, bold character of Jesus Christ, Lord of all.      

Today many of our pastors, leaders and teachers are “reeds swayed by the wind”…men “dressed in fine clothes”…not prophets and power-filled messengers of God’s Word.  --Luke 7:24-26.  And those of us who inhabit the pews, well, we are worse.  We sit and soak, and savor the aroma of the Word of God without tasting the meat, and without standing to speak in boldness of what Christ shows us.

Jesus tells us that those who truly follow Him will do what He is doing, and more.  That the Spirit will dwell in them with power.  That they will boldly proclaim the Truth, even if it means shaking the foundations of religious institutions and worldly traditions.  That they will be empowered to do the things Jesus did, including showing His love to all those around us.

Brethren, Jesus waits on us.  Are we waiting on Him?  Are we in constant prayer as the early Church was—praying to receive the power of the Spirit that we may do God’s work in His Way?

The promises have never changed.
         
“Jesus Christ is the same—yesterday and today and forever.”  --Heb. 13:8

What in our churches today requires or waits upon the power of God?  What in our daily lives today as Christians requires or waits upon the power of God?  Our church, business and personal lives almost completely rely on our own power and our own authority.

God knows we live and move and do all things in our own power and authority.  We’re not fooling Him.

The world knows we live and move and do all things in our own power and authority.  They see our weakness and dependence on worldly things.  We’re not fooling them.
         
Brethren, I say with sadness, and knowledge of my own failings, that we often live as the pagans do.  There is very little difference.  The proof is this: we depend upon, worry about, and act upon all things around us in the same manner and order in which the pagans depend on them, worry about them, and act upon them.   We worry about jobs, money, homes, cars, possessions, getting ahead, having the good things, fitting in, being respected, being popular, having toys, building bigger and better churches, political issues, sports, music, the latest technology, everything.

Often nothing in our lives as “Christians” differs from the world except the fact that we say we believe in Jesus, and participate in our church activities!

We are religious.  But we don’t shake the world by the power of God’s Spirit.

As Jesus went about His Father’s business, He shook things up.  He caused problems.  Things were never status quo with Jesus around.  He shook up the pagan world, and He shook up the religious world.  Jesus made people uncomfortable.  He spoke Truth where falsehood abounded.  He called out sin when He saw it.  He reached out to help everyone hurting or hungry or thirsty, and spent His time with those in need.
 
To the religious leaders of His day Jesus said, “Are you not in error because you do no know the Scriptures or the power of God?”  --Mark 12:24 

He so troubled the waters of the conventional seas that the religious leaders hated Him.  They challenged His authority continually.
         
“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked.   ”And who gave you authority to do this?”  --Mark 11:28
           
Who challenges our authority today?  Whom do we threaten?  Whose pagan or religious ways do we shake up?  Whose waters do we trouble?  Where is the mighty Kingdom of God today that challenges the power and authority of Satan’s hold upon people and the world?

To all of us in the ekklesia of God—the Body of Christ—I say:  We must seek the Lord God and the power of His Spirit.

We must wait upon Him, hear His Word and obey it, leaving modern worldly or ‘Christian’ convention behind and being willing to live as the Church should live, empowered to speak and act boldly on Jesus’ Truth.

Brethren, we must obey God rather than men!
         
Do we doubt that Jesus is the ultimate “mover and shaker” of all things?  Do we doubt that Jesus is the enemy of religious convention, and comfortable apostasy?
Or do we really down deep, just doubt God completely, and doubt that Jesus will have His Way?

“As He was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Look, Teacher!  What massive stones!  What magnificent buildings!’  ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus.   ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’ “   --Mark 13:1,2

The power and authority of Jesus will throw down every monument we build to religion, and every false god we serve.  He is Lord of all, and is over all, and though the world and the religious don’t recognize it, His Kingdom and His Lordship have already begun.  Either we are members of that world-shaking Kingdom, or we are not.  This is what Scripture teaches.  If we are, then we have His authority and His power within us, and we will live humbly as His servants in love, overcoming all the difficulties and trials in His Name together!  And when He comes for us, we will be ready to receive Him, our lamps lit, dressed, and already rejoicing.
                                                                            

Friday, July 6, 2012

WE CANNOT KNOW WHEN CHRIST WILL RETURN


 IT IS NOT FOR US TO KNOW
A. Brother

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know
the times or the dates the Father has set
by His own authority.  But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.’”
Acts 1:7,8

“They were looking intently up into the sky
as He was going, when suddenly two men in white
stood beside them.  ‘Men of Galilee’, they said,
‘Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you
into heaven, will come back in the same way
you have seen Him go into heaven.’”
Acts 1:10,11

What a lesson for all of us who await the Lord Jesus’ return.  Anyone who knows Christ should be eagerly anticipating His arrival to take us home with Him.  Yet we are given, as the apostles were given, clear instructions about what we’re to do while waiting.

Are we to spend our time speculating on the times and dates of Christ’s return?  Jesus Christ Himself tells us we can’t know those things, because they are set by the Father, and nobody will know before it happens.

Incidentally, this was the last instruction given by Christ before His ascension into heaven!  He knows us so well.  We will tend to “get into” the spectacular, the speculative.  We will tend to want to solve this great mystery of when Christ is returning. 

Our earliest brethren were reproved by the angels immediately when they continued to stand gazing up into the sky after Jesus had been taken up from them.

Our Father tells us to obey Him, and that means doing what we’re to be doing in Christ, without spending our time “stargazing”, and speculating back and forth endlessly about when and how Christ is coming back.  Throughout history, there have been disobedient groups of Christians who, instead of seeking the power of Christ in their lives to be His witnesses, and to bring others to Him, have spent their time focusing on the “when” and “how” of Christ’s return.  So today we have the same happening.

However, brethren, we are to resist and reject those activities.  We are to focus on Christ, and on the work of the Kingdom, as He instructed us.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

IS MANKIND EVIL? DO SPARKS FLY UPWARD?

Man is by nature a liar.  Mankind is prone to lie as much as birds are prone to fly.  We just gravitate to speaking lies, and living lies.  As we get older and wiser, and God works in us to give us some understanding, this fact becomes foundational to the way we live.  We learn not to trust in people, but only in God and His Word.

At least those who listen to the Spirit of God will learn this truth.  When you examine Scripture, start to finish, it is the chronicle of man seeking to avoid responsibility for his own error, by  innuendo, pretense, and outright fabrication.  Whether it is Adam pointing the finger at Eve, Abraham lying about Sarah to save himself, Laban lying to Jacob, or countless other examples, we see that the face of man is fake, and that he lies even to himself about nearly everything.

Today, we live in an incredibly and increasingly naive time.  Weaned on the worldly media, and educated in pretense, the new generations of younger people show the results of the teaching they have received.  They adopt the posture that basically man is good, and if given the right circumstances, and the right environment to thrive, that mankind will pull itself right out of its tendencies to hatred and destruction, and somehow the world will become a good place.  This thinking is paving the way for Satan to deceive whole generations to come with his lies, which will seem like truth to the naive and foolish.

Unfortunately, even many who claim Christ have let this thinking flavor everything they do.

God tells us in His Word, that we can do nothing good within ourselves.  That it is Christ in us who empowers us to good.  Christ says, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing."  And by that He means nothing of eternal significance and rightness before God.  

Man is "prone to evil as the sparks fly upward," according to Job.  And the sparks always fly upward from the campfire.  We are deadly evil, prone to destroy, and steal and kill, as our father the devil is.  

So let's stop pretending, and take the truth head on.  It is the role of the prophet to speak absolute truth, without watering it down or putting a nice face on it.  The prophet speaks of what is wrong, and what must be fixed, else the house fall down.  

Like a home inspector, he tells exactly what is deficient in the home, exactly the state of the home right now, exactly what is in need of quick repair.  There is a show on television called "Holmes on Homes", where a man named Mike Holmes, a construction expert, goes in and takes on people's home construction problems.  These problems are faced  head on, with bad news being nearly the only news that Mike can deliver to these homeowners.  He often must tear out and redo completely whole sections of the house to make it work.  But they accept it, because they want to have a home that won't leak, or have electrical problems, that won't fall down in bad weather, or attract pests that will eat the foundation.  They don't want to live with mold or cold, moisture or excessive heat.  They want a solid, livable home that is correctly constructed, on a strong foundation.

Unfortunately, people are much smarter about their homes than they are about their lives, or their hearts, or even than Christians are about the Church.

It is time for true prophets to speak out.  It is God's time for those who are tired of living with lies, and with glossing over the truth.  We live in a time of terrible sin, but then, so have all other generations throughout history.  Never has man done well with his societies, his worldly pursuits, his business interests, his families, his cultures, his leisure.  Man is prone to evil.  So why are we surprised at the world and what's going on?  What naive assumptions have we adopted that cause us to be shocked at the depravity and evil intentions all around us?  What stupid and foolish thoughts have we entertained about man's good nature?  

Today look Christ in the eye, and accept the reality of His truth.  We will never have a "good world" that is full of right living.  This world is passing away, and is a failed, miserable place, that in God's time will be destroyed.  Instead, we must spend our time living right, focused on Christ, enabled by His Spirit, and humbly accepting what comes to us from His hand.

And we must always, at all times, speak the truth in love to those around us.  I guarantee this is going to produce drama, difficulty, and hardship for you and for me.  Absolutely guaranteed.  But this is the life of the true disciple of Christ.  And today, that truth is more needed than ever.



 


TRUE PROPHETS TELL THE STRAIGHT-UP TRUTH.


 THE DESPERATE NEED FOR TRUE PROPHETS

By Zac Poonen

"If you leave God's paths and go astray
(to the right or to the left),
you will hear a Voice behind you say,
`No, this is the way; walk here'"
Isa. 30:20,21

The Voice referred to here is the voice of the Holy Spirit Who alerts us when we go even slightly astray (to the right or to the left) from the straight and narrow path that leads to the throne of God.   When we look at the churches of believers today, we find that most of them have got into a rut - either to the right or to the left of the straight line of truth.

Consider just one example: Some groups over-emphasize the gifts of the Spirit and are imbalanced in one direction. Others over-emphasize the fruit of the Spirit and neglect the gifts altogether and are thus imbalanced the other way. Neither of these groups seems to be listening to the Voice that is trying to tell them to move to the left/right in order to get back to the centre. Each group has its own favorite verses from the Bible that they keep going back to again and again. They never seem to see other portions of Scripture that could make them balanced, because they are prejudiced against those verses.   Very often their refusal to see those other verses is due to the fact that those other verses have been misused by the groups that have gone astray in the opposite direction. So their understanding of truth has come from a reaction to the extremes that other groups have gone to, and not from a careful study of all of God's Word.

The ministry of the prophets in the Old Testament was always to point out whereIsrael was going astray. They spoke forth the corrective word of the Holy Spirit. They did not seek for a "balanced ministry". They always stressed what was missing. They never wasted time speaking of the matters in Israel that were already according to God's order. In that sense, the Old Testament prophets were all imbalanced in their ministry.

Consider Jeremiah, for example. At one stage, Jeremiah said to God,

"You have NEVER ONCE let me speak
a word of kindness to these people.
Always it is disaster, horror and destruction"
Jer.20:8.

His was certainly not a balanced message, full of grace and truth!! It was just judgment, judgment and more judgment! This message became such a burden to Jeremiah himself at one stage. But he still could not quit preaching it, because every time he thought of changing the message, God's Word of judgment would burn within his heart like a fire and he could not hold it in any longer (Jer. 20:9). And so he continued preaching judgment to the nation of Judah for 46 years.   If Jeremiah had listened to the voice of his own reason or to the advice of other preachers who did not know the mind of God, he would have modified his message. He would then have been more balanced. But he would not have been God's prophet any longer!

Now consider the ministry of the prophet Hosea. His message was totally different from Jeremiah's. God's message through Hosea to Israel was, "O how I love you, even though you have disobeyed me and gone astray."  But Jeremiah, who lived 180 years after Hosea, never sought to imitate Hosea's ministry. These prophets were not imitators of each other. Each of them knew the burden that God had given them.

A New Covenant prophet, too, will always speak of what is lacking in a church, and point out where it is imbalanced. He will have discernment from God about the current need of the people to whom he ministers.  The greatest need in every church today is for prophetic ministry - through which the Spirit speaks saying, "No. Not that way. This way."  Most preachers prepare their sermons by reading books and magazines and by listening to tapes - in order to impress their hearers. They are careful, however, to leave out whatever might offend their hearers, because they seek for honor and for gifts.

Prophets however, are not like that. They listen to God, and tell the people exactly what God wants them to hear. And so a prophet may preach on one theme repeatedly, until the imbalance in a church is corrected. Professional preachers, however, are afraid of preaching the same message even twice to the same congregation. Traveling preachers even have to make a note (in their minds or in their diaries) as to what message they preached in a particular church, so that they don't make the mistake of preaching the same message again when they visit that church a second time - lest they lose their honor as preachers!!

What a desperate need there is for true prophets in our day!
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For more information write to: wftw@cfcindia.com

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"CHRISTIANS" WHO DISTORT THE TRUTH


"Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth..."
Acts 20:30

       I'm writing with a heavy heart today, as I'm overwhelmed by the massive distortions of truth perpetuated by men who call themselves believers in Christ.  Just visiting the blog world, the writings of the people central to all the so-called "Christian industries" such as publishing, and music, and the arts, education, and ministry is a journey into the chaos of self-promotion.
      This is not Christ.  This smorgasbord of self-focus is not Christ.  The name of Christ is not mentioned, except in passing, like a reference on a resume.  
      Of course I serve Christ, so I do this, or that, and look at me, and at my fine, wonderful life of achievements.  Of course I serve Christ, but look at me and my family, and my latest book, or CD, or degree, or conference speaking schedule.  Of course I serve Jesus, that's why I'm so successful, and have a big following on all the social media sites, and why my book is being published, and I have a speaking tour set up.  Of course I am a Christian, and that's why my blog has a community of thousands, and my every word is commented on by hundreds of people a day.  Of course my life is an example, because so many people say nice things about me, and buy my stuff.
      ME, ME, ME, I, I, I, MINE, MINE, MINE!
      How lonely and ignored the Lord Jesus is today among our affluent, modern, fantabulous Christians!  In reading this drivel I'm driven by the Holy Spirit to remember and read in Scripture about my Lord's ministry--how humble it was, and how He never exalted Himself.  I think of Paul and the other apostles--outcasts and hated by the world, persecuted and hunted down, opposed even by many in the religious world.  Rioted over in the marketplace, lowered down city walls to escape mobs, protected from religious zealots by the pagan Roman armies, shipwrecked, beaten, hungry, cold, without permanent homes, and all because of their love for Christ and their refusal to compromise with the world.
      No such life for the modern, fantabulous American Christian.  Why should we live in such a Way?  Why should we not live lusciously delicious lives, full of success, full of ourselves?  After all, we've earned it!  How talented we are, and how brilliant!  We have become all we need, and to boot, we have Christ and the church!  The Christian mob throws its uncritical approval upon us, and garlands of praise, and so stamps us with glory!
      The Lord God stands aside for this procession.  He is not the subject of all this self-adoration.  He does not participate.  His Word stands today as it always has, and we either humble ourselves, giving all, dying to self, following Jesus, or we will be left out on the Day coming, when God's true ekklesia, His scattered, suffering, persecuted, loved, cherished, faithful remnant, will be gathered from the four winds to His arms.
      Other great processions, self-congratulatory parades of so-called 'Christian' religiosity, have marched across the globe at various times in history.  Where are they now?  Dead and buried and forgotten.  Like all man's endeavors, they pass away like the grass.  But the Word of God stands forever, and His Truth will always be, and only those who obey the Lord Jesus and follow Him on the nearly forgotten Narrow Road will be there with Him when He returns.
     Many across the globe have not bowed their knee to the modern, affluent, fantabulous Baal.  Thousands have continued to stand, uncompromised, unbowed, silent before those who ignore them, or accuse them, as our Lord Jesus was silent before the religious Jews and Pilate.
      What will you do when you find out that your celebrity, your achievements in the 'Christian world', your fine plaques and trophies, your long resume, your leadership, your popularity, your self-accomplishments, all mean nothing to Christ?  What will you do when He asks you who you are?  If you can't answer 'I am nothing--my life has been You, and You alone, dear Friend'--then He will have to throw away your press releases, and your framed photos of you and your adoring fans and say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."
      Is all this temporary partying worth that?

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