Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ORNAMENTAL RELIGION MAKES GOD A LAUGHINGSTOCK.


ORNAMENTAL CHRISTIANITY RUNS WILD
A. Brother

"Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.  So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.’  
--Ex. 32:25-29

“Then the Lord said to Moses…’Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.’  When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments….So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.”                                                                                         --Ex. 33:1-6

          Just as in Moses’ day, so today.  The people of God are running wild.  Those who call themselves by Jesus’ Name are out of control, and have become a laughingstock to the world.   His people have risen up to play, consuming themselves with making ornaments to wear.  His chosen people, whom He delivered out of Egypt by His own hand, have grown weary of His simple Ways, and His truth, and carrying out His loving commands, and have cast gods of golden religion, before which they party and carry on like foolish children.
          God’s anger burns against us as it did in Moses’ day against His people.  He is threatening to destroy us, and to find a new people who will listen and obey.
          For the priests--those who are called to minister to God’s people--have become like Aaron, who enabled the sin of the people by offering to take their ornaments and melt them down into an acceptable gospel.  The leaders have become part of the problem.
          Instead of standing firm and teaching the simple Way of Christ, our leaders have taken the ornamental things and festooned the trees and the houses and the buildings with artistic sentiment—creating a golden calf of acceptable religion—and allow and condone the worship of this abomination. 
          Our modern affluent Christianity, whether called Protestant or Catholic, or named by any other name, is this abomination, and bears little or no resemblance to the Good News preached and practiced by the Apostles and the early followers of Jesus.  Our leaders and priests and teachers have become purveyors instead of proclaimers, seeking profit instead of God’s presence.
          What must we do?
          Every man in Christ must go to his knees, and take off the ornaments of this ghastly apostasy, this compromise with the world and its heathen nations, and return to the Lord with weeping.  The ornaments must be stripped away.  These trappings and decorations of modern Christianity actually hide the face of God, and are stumbling blocks to true Christ-like living.  The people of God must repent of their dependence on their worldly ways, their religious ways, and seek the face of God until He relents from sending the calamity He’s planned.
         
          Ornamental Christianity has no place in the Kingdom of God.
         
          What ornamentation did Christ wear?
          A crown of thorns. 
          What religious symbol did Jesus take upon Himself?
          A heavy, rough cross.
          What party did Jesus throw?
          A banquet feast for the poor, the lame, the blind, the sinful.
          What decoration did Jesus wear?
          The imprints of nails in His hands, and the spear wound in His side.
          What joy did Jesus find?
          The true joy in doing His Father’s will.
          What treasure did Jesus save up?
          Riches of love and sacrifice in Heaven.
          Who is our example?
          Jesus.

          God’s true leaders will take Moses’ example and go face to face with God for the people they serve.  Each will intercede for them, praying that God will spare His people in spite of their sin.  And then each must call the people to repentance, just as Moses did.
          God’s true leaders will be willing to take up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and speak the truth in love to His people.  To slay false teaching, and false religion, as Moses and his band of Levites killed throughout the camp.  God’s true leaders will be willing to destroy by His Word the ornamentation and sentimentality that has led God’s people into a false sense of security.  God’s true leaders will be willing to follow Jesus, though it may mean standing up against our own brothers and families, our own mothers and fathers, our own sons and daughters.
          God is deciding the future for us now.

“’Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.”
--Exodus 33:5

            This sobering statement was given to Moses by the Lord.  We must not think that God has changed through the centuries.  He still expects obedience for His chosen ones, and we are responsible for obeying, no matter who we are.
         

         
         

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

MODERN, AFFLUENT, FANTABULOUS CHRISTIANITY. THE LIE.


The Smorgasbord of Self-Focus
A. Brother

"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?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

YOU HAVE FORSAKEN GOD. YOU HAVE DEFILED THE LAND.


WAKE UP.  STRENGTHEN WHAT REMAINS
AND IS ABOUT TO DIE.
A. Brother

“I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved Me,
and followed Me through the desert…
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken Me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
--Jer. 2:2,13

            These words Jeremiah spoke to the people of God are alive today.  The same Spirit who came upon the prophet those years ago is speaking them, and they are coming straight from the heart of God, who never changes.
          Do we pretend, as Israel and Judah did then, to follow the Lord and seek His counsel, yet go our own ways?
          Have we forsaken the only Spring of Living Water, the Lord Jesus, and dug ourselves cisterns (water tanks in the ground) that we hope will hold the runoff from the world to sustain us, yet are full of holes that always leave us dry?
          Oh, people called by God, where are you?

“You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness,
Therefore the showers have been withheld,
and no spring rains have fallen.”
--Jer. 3:2,3

            You are caught up in the world, and its ways.  You have given out your favors to those who worship other gods, who are not gods at all, but idols of wood and stone.  You are drinking from other rivers and other streams, spreading your legs to be taken by anyone who desires you.  You are giving yourselves to adulterous affairs with the world, chasing after what they chase after, hungering and thirsting after what they hunger and thirst for.
         
“How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.”                 
 --Jer. 3:19

            Your Father has not forgotten you.  He has always wanted to treat you as His own sons and daughters, giving you a far greater inheritance than what you think He wants for you.  He is rich, with storehouses of inexhaustible treasures available for you.  Yet you scavenge in the garbage, trying desperately to build a life in the slums.
Your Father has an inheritance waiting, yet you have left Him to seek after crumbs from the world’s table.
          You have forsaken your Family, your Holy Nation, and instead of being set apart for your Father’s purposes, you have run and hidden yourself among a people who don’t care about you, and will abandon you when you most need them.
         
          Come back today.  Your Father will never forget you.  At this moment, He is looking upon you with love, hoping you will come home.

“I thought you would call Me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following Me…
Return, faithless people; I will cure you of your backsliding.” 
 --Jer. 3:19,22

            Your Father is holding out His arms to you.  You are a man or woman who has the form of religion, doing all the right things, being decent, going to church, filling all the obligations of a worldly life, yet having no power, no love, and you are running dry.
          You are in pain, and you suffer every day from the loneliness of being separated from your Father, and long somewhere down inside for the power of the Spirit to break the bonds that hold you to these empty pursuits.
          You long for the true people of God, for true Family with those who are “called out and set apart to be together”.  You long to love and cherish your Lord and King, but have given yourself to others, and feel bound by those loves.
         
          God will break your bonds today if you choose.

“’Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am merciful,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will not be angry forever. 
Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors
to foreign gods under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed Me.’ “ 
--Jer. 3:12,13

            The Lord Himself remembers you.  He formed you and made you to be His own, and will never forget you, though your own parents forget you.  He is not like men, and will not be faithless.  He holds you in high esteem, and His love will never dim for you.  He will not wait forever, but seeks you out to discipline you and challenge you today, so listen and hear.
          You must forsake your life the way you live it.
          You must leave your worldly agendas, and the empty forms of religion you are relying upon, and quit trying to find your protection and peace aside from your Father.  He will never tolerate double-mindedness, and you will not wear Him down with your stubbornness. 
          God is not a man that you can deceive, or twist, or confuse.  He is not a man that you can work to your own desires.  He is God, the eternal, unchanging--the God who Is.  He is the Rock, and you must build upon Him or perish.

“Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God. 
Surely the idolatrous commotion
on the hills and mountains is a deception;
surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel
From our youth shameful gods
have consumed the fruits of our fathers’ labor—
their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our fathers;
from our youth until this day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”                
--Jer. 3:22-25

            Brothers and sisters who claim to be God’s people, this must be our prayer.  We are His people, but we have forsaken Him for other gods.  We have followed the gods of comfort, money and lust.  We have listened to the world and its ideas until we are so caught up in the deceptions and lies we cannot distinguish between them and God’s truth.  We are lost, though we sing, and praise, and do church, and live busy lives. 
          It is we who are faithless, like faithless Israel.  It is our backsliding that must be cured.

“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah
and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath
will break out and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.”                                                
--Jer. 4:3,4

            Will you continue in your worldly ways today?
          Will you resist the Holy Spirit when He talks to you?
          Don’t do that.  God will never force His way upon you.  He is not a man that needs to beg and plead, to cleverly convince, to ‘wheel and deal’ with you.  He is not in business.  He is God, and His Word to you stands forever.  He does not change, but demands that you change, so you can receive what He has for you.
          Circumcise your hearts.  That means be marked with His mark of ownership, forsaking all others and being set apart from the world.  You must not do things the way you’ve done them before.  You must not think you can say a prayer of contrition and then continue on your way.
          Today is the day you are being called to do something entirely new.
          To follow Jesus, no matter the cost.
          God is doing what He’s doing, and you must join Him in it, or be left behind.

          God remembers you.
          Will you be like those who look in the mirror and then walk away forgetting?
          Will you be assigned a place with the hypocrites on that Day?

“I know your deeds, you have a reputation
of being alive, but you are dead. 
Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have not found your deeds complete
in the sight of My God.
Remember therefore,
what you have received and heard;
obey it, and repent. 
But if you do not wake up,
I will come like a thief,
and you will not know
at what time I will come to you.”                                                                                       
--Rev. 3:1-3

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