Friday, March 29, 2013

WOE TO YOU WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING.



FALSE TEACHERS DOMINATE THE MEDIA
A. Brother

“But there were false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you.”
2 Peter 2:1

A quick flip through the Christian television channels will provide anyone who cares to watch a catalogue of false and misleading teachings.  I just finished watching a man named Mike Murdock preach a false gospel, misleading the thousands watching him, and bringing many to destruction.  Right here in broad daylight, in America, on a professionally-produced program that airs on a major Christian network.

This man preaches a false gospel that is not of Christ in any way.  He uses the name of Christ once every half hour or so, and the rest of the time twists and distorts the Word of God for his own ends.  He preaches a false gospel that is not new, but in fact a false gospel that was introduced by false teachers while the apostles were still preaching and teaching the true gospel of Christ.

Christ calls this man to step down or be brought down at the judgment seat of Christ.  Like so many before him in a long line of deceiving wolves, he tells the sheep they can have unlimited prosperity, money, and blessings in their lives if they just “hold God to His promises”.  He tells his own story, a blasphemous and ridiculous tale of poverty, and crying out to God, and telling God that if He didn’t keep His promises, then He was a liar.  And He didn’t want to serve a liar.  So Murdock challenged God, and came up with a smooth and complete doctrinal system that purports to be the true gospel.  Murdock’s gospel is a phony, man-made list of principles that claim to obligate God to make everyone prosperous.  He is a manipulator, a master salesman, and a liar.  It is time he and others who declare these preposterous lies in the name of Christ be called out.

“Many will follow their shameful ways
and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
In their greed, these teachers will exploit you
with stories they have made up.”
2 Peter 2:2,3

This man and others like him tell masterfully-crafted stories, scripted perfectly to grab at the heartstrings and the pocketbooks of their audience.  This audience is made up of the lower part of the population in terms of education and success.  The sheep are hungry, and he promises wealth and prosperity.  He plays on their greed and their desperate need to be somebody.  He plays on their fears, and exploits their desires for a better life.  He never mentions Christ, or the cross, or the Way of Christ, of love and sacrifice for others.  He instead plants dreams of multiple homes, fancy cars, lots of money, and great respect from God based on the “faith to plant seeds” and to give to his ministry and to others.  He represents himself as a model, having been poverty-stricken, and in dire need (“no kitchen table, no kitchen chairs”), and having then gone to his knees to find the truth in Scripture. 

He challenges God in his story, building himself up as a pure and honest man.  He said to God, “God, if you are not a God who keeps His Word, then I don’t want to serve you.  If you are a liar, then I won’t be part of this, because I don’t want to be with a liar. But if you keep  your promises, I’ll be willing to do anything for you.”  In other words, Mike Murdock is honest and dependable, but God may not be.  If Mike doesn’t get what Mike wants from God, then God is a liar.  What boastful arrogance and sinful pride.  What Satanlike character displayed brazenly and openly on “Christian” television! 

He was claiming a Scripture that talks about God giving good gifts to his children, and that if they gave up all they had for God, He would give them “a hundredfold back, in this life, and in the life to come.” (His interpretation, not what Jesus said or meant).  He used this Scripture, along with a few others, as a basis to teach that God rewards those who sow upon the principle of the Seed Gospel.  That anything good we sow will reap rewards in this life, now, for us.  That God is obligated to keep that promise.  That this principle guides us in giving, so that we receive material blessings in this life in proportion to the material giving we do in this life.

All of this is bunk.  It is pure and simple false teaching, out of accord with the entire Word of God from beginning to end.  Yet stupid and ignorant sheep follow these men and are led astray, because they look, talk and act like men of ministry, and they are teaching on a major Christian network.  So the networks are equally at fault for carrying men like these, and for advancing their false teachings.  Not only the teacher, but those who promote him and “send him on his way” will all be held accountable at the judgment seat of Christ for misleading many in His name.

I say about Mike Murdock and all others involved in promoting these teachings:

“They will be paid back with harm
for the harm they have done…
they are blots and blemishes,
reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning;
they seduce the unstable;
they are experts in greed—
an accursed brood.”
2 Peter 2:13,14

These men and women, who are Satan in disguise, call men and women away from the narrow road of discipleship to Jesus, and onto the broad way that leads to destruction.

I have seen them my entire life, and know their excesses.  They use the giving of poor sheep to fund an extravagant lifestyle, with private jets, large homes, luxury cars, huge wardrobes, travel and the finest in everything.  These men and women exhibit the perfect blend of public humility and private greed and corruption. 

The empire of Oral Roberts, and his son Richard, are perfect examples.  Their personal wealth, amassed to not only build “prayer towers” and a university, has been used to buy a fleet of private jets, and luxury palaces in several places.  In the twentieth century alone, and now following into the twenty-first, we have dozens who live this way off their twisted gospels.

It is time, brothers and sisters, that we had the courage in Christ to call these men and women out. 

“These men are springs without water
and mists driven by a storm. 
Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
For they mouth empty, boastful words,
and, by appealing to the lustful desires
of sinful human nature,
they entice people who are just escaping
from those who live in error.”
2 Peter 2:18

This is serous business, brethren.  These people lead others astray.  They betray the very Lord who bought them with His sacrifice on the cross.  They take others to hell with them.

Remember Jesus’ Words about Judas, on the night of His betrayal.

Jesus replied, “The one who had dipped his hand
into the bowl with Me will betray Me.
The Son of Man will go just as it is
written about Him.
But woe to that man who betrays
The Son of Man.
It would be better for him
if he had not been born.”
Matt. 26:23,24

Judas was one of the twelve, chosen by Christ Himself.  Yet he betrayed His Lord for money.
These men, the Mike Murdocks, betray the Christ who called them and gave His life for them.  So these men follow the way of Judas.

Woe to you, Murdock, and the others who mislead the sheep across the globe today.  Woe to you from Christ, who says it would be better for you if you had not been born than to lead astray even one of His little ones.  It is time you found judgment at the hand of God.

I counsel all who hear these words today.  Stay in Christ.  Stay close to Him.  Never accept or promote the false teachings of these self-glorified men.  As John says in his first letter to the churches, so I say to you:

“I am writing these things to you about those
who are trying to lead you astray.
As for you, the anointing your received from Him
remains in you, and you do not
need anyone to teach you.
But as His anointing teaches you about all things
and as that anointing is real, and not counterfeit—
just as it has taught you,
remain in Him.”
1 John 2:26,27

The Holy Spirit, God’s anointing in your life, will teach you the truth from His Word as you remain in Jesus.  He will remain in you as He promises, through poverty, trouble, disease, danger, famine, the sword, and all other trials.  He will be your strength and your shield.  You need no material rewards in this life when you know and serve the living Christ.  He will take care of you, with food, clothing and shelter, and so be content with that.

Resist these false teachers, and take every opportunity to speak out against them and their deceptions.  Perhaps the Lord will save some of His own who are among the deceived.

Monday, March 25, 2013

LIVING IN STYLE WHILE GOD'S HOUSE IS IN RUINS.


MY HOUSE LIES IN RUINS
A. Brother

“Then the Word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 
‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses,
while this house remains a ruin?”
Haggai 1:3,4

“…and the whole remnant of the people
obeyed the voice of the Lord their God
and the message of the prophet Haggai…
and the people feared the Lord.”
Haggai 1:12

“This is what the Lord says:
‘Stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s house
and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah
who come to worship in the house of the Lord. 
Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. 
Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way.’
 Jer. 26:2,3

“The priests, the prophets, and all the people
heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord. 
But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people
everything the Lord had commanded him to say,
the priests, the prophets, and all the people seized him
and said, ‘You must die!’ 
Jer. 26:7,8

            The situation in the affluent societies of AmericaCanadaEnglandAustraliaNew Zealand and Europe today is as in the time of Haggai.
            God’s House, His people, are held captive by their idolatry to the gods of pleasure and profit.  They are living contentedly in their big, fine, paneled houses, seeking their own desires, their own agendas, and ignoring the clear commands of Scripture regarding His House.  They are seeking their own good first, and God’s Kingdom last, after all other things have been taken care of.

            God is angry, and is giving us a choice.
            Will we obey His Word to us?
            Or will we kill those He sends, and ignore Him?
            Historically, God gives us examples of both—Haggai, whom the people listened to, and ended up repenting, changing their priorities, and following God’s Word; and Jeremiah, whom the people angrily defied, and ended up broken, destroyed, and in exile by the hand of their own Lord, who disciplined the remnant severely so that some might be saved.

            While Jesus speaks to His called out people in vain through His life, through the written Word of God, through the voices of a few prophets here and there, they ignore Him and pursue the world and its conveniences.
            True discipleship to Jesus is forgotten.  An easy, casual Christianity has taken over in the past three or four generations in America, and God’s tough, narrow road is overgrown with weeds and left empty of travelers.  We opt for the life of 10% discipleship, instead of the 100%.  By our tithe, we represent to God what we’re really willing to give.  By ignoring the New Testament standard of giving all, we flaunt our disobedience in the face of God. 
            The poor, the lame, the blind, the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the lonely, the struggling—all are outcasts, not invited to our weekly worship feasts where we shallowly lift our hands and try to get our religious fixes while the shepherds feed us milk from a bottle.
            The cult of individualism has gripped our comfortable sanctuaries. 
            No longer is Christ’s ekklesia, His “called out to be together” people, made up of those who’ve given all to follow Jesus. 
            No longer do we think of God’s family as our one true family.  No longer are God’s chosen our refuge, nor do we love and help one another daily, banding and bonding together in unity and love as if our lives depended on it.
            No longer do we think of ourselves as one in Christ, hourly, daily laying down our lives for one another as Jesus instructed His followers to do.  No longer are we part of a living, breathing, loving, dynamic Body for Christ on earth, His passions and compassion consuming us to the exclusion of all other loves. 
            We instead have opted for a gospel that is no gospel, which emphasizes the individual’s relationship to God, and ignores the Kingdom Citizenship we share together. 
            We are to be one in heart and mind, as were the earliest disciples, and share everything, including our very lives, with one another.  Yet we persist in our sin of ignoring these commands from God’s Word, and instead, pursue our individual destinies apart from one another.

            LISTEN AND HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD:
            Obey me or perish along with the world.  Seek my face, call upon Me, and I will hear you and answer you.  Come out from the great crowd, who follow Me only to leave Me at the cross.  Come out and join together with others who will hear My voice and obey My Word.  Come out and be together, to live My life in this present evil hour.       Be My hands and feet, My heart, and give My love to one another and even to your enemies.  I am with you to save you and deliver you.  Know Me, from the least to the greatest, and live generously and kindly with one another, meeting one another’s needs, bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfill My Word. 
          You are to stop pursuing your own agendas.  Put down your frantic life, your busy ways, and turn to Me in repentance.  Pray and listen.  Look to My Word yourselves, and ignore the shepherds I have not sent, who speak words of their own that are not My Words.  I call you back to Me today.
          Do not ignore Me, or I will discipline you with My love, to save you from being lost along with those who hate Me.  If you truly follow Me, the world will hate you as it hated Me, and you will suffer many things for My sake.  All for My Kingdom, all for My Love, all for Me.  I will be with you always, and will never leave you.  You will find your life if you lose it willingly for My sake.
          My wrath is coming to rest upon all the deceivers.  All those who follow Me from afar, their hearts consumed with themselves and their own lives.  All those who teach from pulpit and podium their own brand of religion, not My Word.  They may speak peace, but I came to bring a sword, and they don’t speak for Me.
          I am calling YOU today.  Are you listening and will you obey?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE NEW CROSS IS NO CROSS AT ALL.


Brothers and Sisters in Christ:  This is the best analysis of what has happened to the truth of the gospel in our times that I’ve ever read.  It is straight from Scripture, and straight from the heart of God.  We would do well to take this to our hearts, give this to others whom we care about deeply, and spread this powerful word to all who claim Christ today.
A. Brother

THE OLD CROSS & the NEW
A.W. Tozer.

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has
come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles.
It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial;
the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a
new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy
has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and
a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same
language as the old, but its content is not the same and its
emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's
proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect
the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not
opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if
understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and
innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life
motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only
now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious
movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.
The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher
plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic
approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old
life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts
but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing
that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers
the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever
the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment
is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the
religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears
him into a cleaner and a jollier way of living and saves his self-
respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself
for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting
in the Lord." To the thrill-seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the
thrill of Christian fellowship."

The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current
vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public. The philosophy
back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not
save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses
completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a
symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human
being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started
down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was
not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.

The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing;
it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep
on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it
had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is
under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape.

God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they
may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the
individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness
of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the
ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to
the souls of its hearers.

The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In
coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane;
we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground
and die. We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as
public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ
and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to
make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of
sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets,
and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life
out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever
would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate
himself and concur in God's just sentence against him. What does
this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life
in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?
Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and
then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing,
excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let
him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and
acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this let him gaze
with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come
life and rebirth and cleansing and power.

The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to
the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now
raises him to a new life along with Christ. To any who may object
to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me
say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from
Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words
or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought
life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics,
the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and
signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave
witness to God's approval. Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of
power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase
the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount?
May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the
old power.  (-A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

THE GREAT DIVIDE. CAUSING DIVISION WITH JESUS.


DIVIDING WITH JESUS
A. Brother

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?
No, I tell you, but division. 
From now on, there will be five in one family
divided against each other…”
--Luke 12:51,52

          A great dividing began with Christ, and continues unabated today.  His work was to do what He saw His Father doing, no matter what the religious establishment thought about Him, or told Him, or taught the people.
          So with true disciples of Christ throughout the centuries since.
          God’s called out people become Jesus to the world.  By the Spirit of God living in us, we become the Plumb Line, and we become Living Stones over whom the people stumble.  We, as true, obedient followers of the Lord, cause division wherever we go.  As we live out the Word of God, we each become a double-edged sword that divides men soul from spirit, and causes them discomfort, if only by the lives we lead that run counter to theirs.
          Like Jesus, His true disciples will be persecuted by both the pagan and religious worlds.  The God-haters will be united over only one issue—that of hating Christ and His followers.
         
          “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also…If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin…”
                                                                                                  --John 15:20-22

            Our obedient lives become the dividing line between men.  Notice I said, “obedient lives”.  As long as we live with one foot in the world, and the other in the Kingdom of God, we will not divide anyone.  We are serving Satan, and his purposes.
          Once we decide that Jesus is All, and that we will obey Him completely, then we become an asset to the Kingdom, and a liability to the worlds of paganism and religion.  We are a danger to both systems, and therefore, will be hated by each.
          Then, when we speak, Christ is speaking.  When we act, Christ is acting.  When we become Christ to the world, and stop playing in the religious sandbox with those who are content to remain in that sheltered place, then we are Christ, and we will be hated and persecuted because of His Word.

          I am saying these things for one purpose, the same purpose Jesus had when He taught these things to His disciples:

          “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.”  --John 16:1

            If we think that following Jesus is going to make us popular, we are mistaken.  If we think that life is going to be easy, and that we will live lives of uninterrupted peace, and that our purpose is to live a pleasing, religious, calm, unifying life, then we will certainly be led astray from the Truth.  Jesus prepared the original disciples for the conflict and division that lay ahead. 
          So must we prepare, brothers, or we will be pulled away from the Way.

         

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TROUBLE IS OUR FRIEND. EMBRACE IT.


TROUBLE IS OUR FRIEND
A. Brother

“Is any one of you in trouble? 
He should pray.”
James 5:13

“Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.”
James 5:16

Many of those who claim to be Christians today refuse to acknowledge trouble.  Many refuse to acknowledge that trial and hardship come into our lives for a purpose.  Many believe that it is important to cover up trouble, and to pretend that it doesn’t exist, and so we ignore our own trouble, smooth it over, and we do the same with the trials and troubles that come into our brother’s lives.

In particular, we have many today in the Body of Christ, those who sincerely want to know the Lord, and to serve Him, who are in trouble.  They are experiencing terrible crises, of finance, of marriage, of family, of work, or of health.  Hundreds of thousands of sincere, “Bible-believing” Christians today suffer from all these hard things, and many are on the edge of despair daily.

We’re suffering in our hearts because we don’t get why these things are happening.  We don’t understand the purpose of trouble in our lives.  Modern Christianity teaches a false version of discipleship, and many of us feel down deep that these troubles all come as God’s judgment on people who are living in some way out of God’s will.

What a foolish sentiment.  Don’t we understand Christ at all?  Don’t we hear the Scriptures, which abound with God’s truth about trouble?

Trouble and trial and tribulation, the “Triple-T Brand” on God’s flock of sheep, means He loves us so much He wants the depth and genuineness of our faith to be tested, and He wants to be our salvation in the midst of it.  This does not mean God will miraculously lift us out of it.  Many times in the Word of God we are shown that we must go through the fire, and go through the deep waters of suffering, not around them.  Yet He will deliver us.

But trouble is in many ways the wonderful mercy of God in action.  He must have our full attention, and He will not allow us to be distracted by complacency or lukewarmness.  He will not allow us to bask in the glory of our own strength, which we often do. 

James knew trouble well.  And the believers in Christ he was writing to knew trouble and trial, and James wrote to that situation. 

For my brothers this morning who face deep trouble, as I do, let’s take heart in the truths of James’ Word from the Lord.  What are we to do if we are in trouble?

PRAY.  Pray and pray and pray.  Seek the Lord at every moment you can.  He is the One who wants to guide you and keep you through this trouble.  Not for the purpose of getting you out of it, but to teach you His power in your life.  You must learn from it.  You and I must learn the Presence of God, as Israel learned the Presence of God when He delivered them from the clutches of Pharoah, and brought them out of Egypt.  How else would we learn God’s power and love but through great trouble and trial—so great that we cannot deliver ourselves!

Listen to what James says.  He says that we are to pray, but he also says we are to confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, and seek God’s healing.  This is completely abandoned in our day.  Who can we trust?  Does brother trust brother to love, and not to condemn?  So we hide ourselves and our troubles, and go to church and pretend, and so the Body is sickly and full of hidden pain and sorrow.

But for my brother and sister who grieve, who sorrow, who are so afraid that you will not make it through whatever trial faces you, James has another simple instruction for us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever 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.
If any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God, who gives generously
without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
James 1:2-5

You see trouble is not about blame.  God looks at you “without finding fault” and comes to you in your trouble to teach you His love and grace and mercy, and His power.  This isn’t about you.  It’s about Christ in you, and learning the Presence of God, even in your worst circumstances.

This is our simple haven.  We are to lean on the Lord, talk with Him continually about our troubles, share our troubles with brothers and sisters we can trust, pray together, confess our sins to one another if we’ve sinned, and pray for healing.  We must turn to the Lord only, not the world.  He must answer us with His wisdom, as He has promised. 

These are our instructions in times of trouble and trial.

And woe to those among us who condemn and look down their noses at the Lord’s own who are experiencing terrible afflictions.  Woe to those who look at others and see their many sins, yet who don’t see their own.  We know what Jesus said to the Pharisees, and the religious people who believed that holy people didn’t see trouble.  We know how He feels about judgmental people.

God’s best is for those who seek Him in these terrible times.  Trouble is our friend.  God will give us wisdom, and we will learn perseverance and faith, and become mighty in the Spirit of God if we do these things and don’t give up.

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