Sunday, June 17, 2012
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.
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'"
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 where
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. Israel
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"
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
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! Judah
Now consider the ministry of the prophet Hosea. His message was totally different from Jeremiah's. God's message through Hosea to
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. Israel
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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Sunday, June 10, 2012
"Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth..."
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?
Saturday, June 2, 2012
LIVING LIKE THE TIME IS SHORT
“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.
From now on, those who have wives
Should live as if they had none;
those who mourn, as if they did not;
those who are happy as if they were not;
those who buy something as if it were not theirs to keep;
those who use the things of the world,
as if not engrossed in them.
For this world in its present form is passing away.
I would like you to be free from concern.”
1 Corinthians 7:29-32
What an important and overlooked instruction for all of us today.
The time is short. It was short for our brothers in the 1st century, and it is short for you and me in the 21st century. We have a very brief time in which to do the work of Christ on the earth, and then we pass into eternity with Him.
Where does our passion lie? Is it with the “dailies”? Those myriad of concerns we busy ourselves with? Our husbands, wives, children, our jobs and careers, our health, our jobs and careers, the things we buy or sell, the things that will crumble into dust or become someone else’s property as soon as you and I depart this temporary shell of a body?
Where does our treasure lie? Is it in the paycheck we receive each week, every two weeks, each month? The government check that covers the bills? The investments we’ve carefully planned? The house we’ve bought and spent so many loving hours caring for and keeping clean? The cars we’ve got in the driveway? The schools our children attend?
Where does our heart reside? In this world that is passing away? With our friends and biological families, our neighborhood, community, even our earthly nation?
Many of us, probably all of us, can answer yes to these pointed questions, squirming uncomfortably in our chairs, and reluctantly admitting to having affairs of the heart to some extent with this world.
Paul was giving us a powerful lesson in a few short sentences here.
If we want to be free from concern, and to live without fear, then we must live with less, and learn to hold loosely onto what we do have.
The man or woman of God is married to Christ first, and so Christ must have our primary attention and allegiance, not our spouse. We belong to Christ, bought and paid for, and our bondservant’s heart must cling to Him first. We must always obey Him above all others. We must always cling to Him before earthly love, money, possessions, family, and even national heritage.
Too many of us get up in the morning and set about a busy schedule fulfilling the expectations of a dying world.
We’ve been taught that we are to please our earthly “masters”, such as job, or education, or money, or family, or taking care of our possessions, or….whatever controls your actions is your master. You are a slave to whatever determines your decisions.
Christ would have us take back the ownership issue and put it in His hands. As I brought out in another recent teaching, Christ came to bring fire and division on earth, not peace, according to His stated Word. This means, in reality, that many today who are living to please others would experience instant heat and displeasure from the world if they were to start living as if Christ were Lord, not only of them, but of this world.
I see this as my challenge. To live wholly in Christ, to let Christ live wholly in me, and to let go of my “clinging” nature that wants to have a smooth, peaceful, earthly existence. To let the dynamic and fearless Spirit of God fill me, and to become that strong rock, that shadow in a weary land, that powerful warrior in Christ He wants me to be.
Witness Christ, and His earthly family. He had to ignore their opinions regularly, because they didn’t believe in Him. He still took care of them, and loved them, but didn’t let them come between Him and work the Father had for Him to do. So we must love and take care of our families and be a positive influence and friend to our co-workers, our neighbors, and all those God brings to us. Yet in the end, some will hate us, as they hated and turned on the Lord Jesus, and try to throw us off cliffs, or get us crucified.
We belong to Christ, and His work, the work the Father gives Him, is our work. He will order our days, and He will be Lord of the details for us. We must obey Him first, and stop trying to please men, or women, or children, first. Christ is first, and then all others.
Because if we don’t show them Christ, and His love, and His priorities in this life, then we have led them by example down the wrong path, and instead have become their enemies, though they will love us in this life for that bad decision.
Remember, the time is short. Live lightly on this earth, and you will be like a deer on the mountains, walking and leaping and praising God, having concern for only His Kingdom, as He takes care of you and yours, and gives you the strength to work and love in this world.
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