Archive for the Category ◊ Signs Of The Church ◊

Author:
• Wednesday, January 07th, 2015

FINAL WARNING?

(The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, the Answer)


The Good.

I cannot save and sanctify myself, I cannot atone for sin, I cannot redeem the world, I cannot make right what is wrong, pure what is impure, Holy what is unholy, That is all the sovereign and mighty work of God and it is already finished. Have faith in what Jesus Christ has already done.  He and He alone has made the perfect atonement.  Jesus purchased a pardon for the entirety of humanity.  It is a free gift.  One need only ask, seek and knock.  Just reach out and claim the free gift of Jesus.  God has specifically promised that if you will diligently seek Him with all your heart (spirit and will) that you shall find Him.

The Bad.

The situation in this nation, the only nation that claims to be “one nation under God. . .” is worse on every level than this watchman could ever have imagined just a few years ago.   This watchman has been sounding the warnings of judgment for many years.  Indeed, all the watchmen have faithfully been delivering warnings.  Sadly, it does not seem that these warnings were heeded by any significant number of believers.  If they had been, circumstances today would be much different than they are.  Remember that the watchmen only deliver the warnings from God.  The rest is up to the recipients – you, that is.

Anyone, that is not blind or drunk with excess of the worldly koolaid, who surveys the existing conditions in America cannot escape the conclusion that America teeters on the edge of complete collapse – on every level of society.  Everywhere you turn the signs are evident.  Even the managed news reveals the sad state of this once Godly nation.  Corruption abounds on every level, economic, political and yes, even religious.  It is like the days of the high priest Eli (who epitomized corruption at the top) when God raised up Samuel to replace him.  In fact, the Bible is replete with history that mirrors the situation in America today.  Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel and most of the prophets are clear on this point.  We would do well to read these historical narratives again looking specifically for what conditions brought down the judgment of God.  And, what brought His mercy.  This watchman believes that without the mercy of God this nation is doomed.

The watchmen say, “the Russians (or pick one) are coming!”  They point to the signs of the times, the beating of the war drums in the press, the demonizing of enemies the elite want to conquer (Iran, Syria, Russia, China), the attacks already carried out against American interests (Oklahoma City, 911, school shootings, etc.) and conclude that WWIII is imminent.

But the false prophets say, “peace and safety.”  The American armed forces are the best, most technologically advanced military in the world.  American has never been defeated.  But do they speak the truth?

The watchmen say, “the economy is collapsing.”  They point out that the dollar is done as a global currency, that the prices of most commodities are dropping at unprecedented levels (except just before war or depression), that more people are on government assistance than have jobs.  They point out the government spin (lies) about the employment rates and statistics.

But the false prophets say, “peace and safety.”  The stock market has not been better, personal portfolios are looking good and some people have even recovered from the last recession.

The watchmen say, “the nation is no longer strong.”   The watchmen note the various violent attacks against this nation (see above), the invasion by an army of tens of thousands across our southern borders for years and note that neither our enemies or our neighbors respect or fear us anymore.  The watchmen say this is what happened to Rome, Greece, Persia, Babylon, Assyria, Egypt and all formerly great nations.  The watchmen show the same pattern of internal corruption in these nations that now is seen in the United States.  They reveal that even within the nation several of the states and other groups speak openly of secession and coups.

But the false prophets continue to cry, “peace and safety.”


The Ugly.

The watchmen say, “most of the church is fast asleep and some are becoming more corrupt, more worldly and even blasphemous by the day.”

But the false prophets say, “peace and safety.  After all, our god is so good and he knows we are but flesh so eat, drink and be merry in order to glorify our god.  Let the world see how we are so prosperous and happy with our god.”

The corporate, visible, church has enlarged its borders but through compromise.  The Truth lies in the streets and is trampled on by the paid, professional, organizers and church builders who only care about the financial bottom line.  Where are the true shepherds who lovingly care for the sheep?  Where is the righteous remnant?  Are they underground as in the days of early Rome?  Those that want to practice a pure religion, trusting entirely in God are treated as leprous outcasts. True believers that refuse to compromise have always been persecuted by the religious leaders willing to compromise with the world system for gain.  Remember it was the high priests and the political, psuedo religious groups (Pharisees and Sadducees) that wanted Jesus dead.  This has never changed.

This false church has convinced many that God is dead.  Unfortunately, the True Church has been largely silent.

God says, “when they say peace and safety, then shall sudden destruction come upon them.”

Whom do you believe?

The Answer

God lays the blame not at the feet of the wicked world leaders or of the leaders of the false, psuedo – church.  God holds the remnant, the true Church, fully accountable for this state of affairs.

So where has the true Church been in all this? Thought you would never ask. The true Church laments the condition of this mighty nation and wonder what has gone wrong.  However, we fold our hands, close our eyes, cross our fingers and simply hope things will get better.  The church has been fast asleep while Satan has been rocking the cradle.

This watchman now gives the Church what may be the final warning.  Return unto God while there is yet time.  It is time to put away the pleasures of sin for a season, being caught up in the cares of this life, and being deceived by riches.  It is time to BE the representatives of God that we were meant to be.

Only the true Church has direct access to God.  Only God can remedy the mess in this nation.  This pattern of problem and solution is throughout the entire Bible.  Let us look only at what Jesus (our Lord and King) did while He walked the earth.  His method of operation, His pattern of living, is abundantly clear.  He did nothing on His own and put no confidence in the flesh including His own abilities or those of His disciples, or the religious leaders or Rome.  A simple example of this is in John 17:11.  Jesus identifies the problem and gives the solution.  What is the solution? I come to thee [Holy Father]!

Why has no one believed our report?  Could it be because we do not practice what we say we believe?  Is it because they see no real faith in God demonstrated in our own lives?  I pray not.  Nevertheless, I say unto you all, the true Church, turn to God while it is yet day for soon the night comes.  Wake up!  Clearly see that all these ills befalling America are the judgment of God.   Remember that God’s judgment always comes with mercy.  Cry out to God in repentance and seek mercy for this nation (the very people you love).  If the true Church will not cry out to Almighty God in this dark hour who will?

I urge you not to wait.  Start today, right now, right where you are.  Set aside some time everyday and intercede for America.  God’s hand of love, mercy and grace is stretched out still.

TRUMPET MINISTRIES.  THE WATCHMAN SPEAKS     God Bless you all.

Author:
• Monday, March 16th, 2009

We would like to share with you something more important than current events and technological facts. We would like to reveal to you what is deep in our hearts. It is our prayer that through this unveiling of the heart of Trumpet Ministries, you might see a small glimpse of Jesus Christ, The One reason for our journeys across the land.
 

What we would like to share is our idea of a “State of the Union” message, or more appropriately, the “State of the American Church.” 

We at Trumpet Ministries have delivered the messages in this book to hundreds of churches throughout the United States. We have spoken to people in many different denominations, non-denominations, faiths, assemblies, groups and gatherings. Looking through these man-made barriers we have seen the true church, the called-out believers, the elect of Jesus Christ. But, we did not find the true church quite as we had expected. What we had expected to find when we were sent out to deliver God’s message, we never found. We have come to no single geographic spot, no single city, no single neighborhood, not even some special building, where all present will be found with names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What did we find?

We found many places where those who answered to the name “Christian” lived lives so intermixed with the world, that we have to wonder how even God will be capable of sorting them out. Yet, they were oh so certain they were saved. We pray that notwithstanding their pollution with the world, somehow, some way, God will find sheep beneath dirtied wool. Somehow, we know better. Yet we hope . . . and we pray.

We found many places where those within the building thought sure they were the only true believers, that only they stood for the truth. We praise their desire to stand for what they believe and to hold it dear (a praise that should be the norm of true Christianity.) But so often, they had only what they held so dear their mutual esteem of one another, but they didn’t have Jesus. But there too, we would also find, a precious few, in love with Jesus, the Saviour of our souls. We saw all too many places where they believed that their doctrine, attire, heritage, ritual or something else made them the true church or the closest to the “New Testament Church” or otherwise made them better than the rest. Again, we praise their desire to interpret and apply some of the more difficult teachings in God’s Word. Yet, these teachings do not make a relationship with Jesus Christ. And all too often, we observed that the following of these teachings somehow got in the way of the following of Jesus Christ.

But not always . . . there we would find that precious few, in love with Jesus, the Saviour of our souls. Yes, we want to share with excitement what we did find. We found a piece of that precious remnant, those who placed their lives in the trust of Jesus, nearly everywhere we went, in nearly all of the places we just described. A remnant of saints living a life of commitment to Jesus Christ. A remnant that rests in Jesus, walks in joy, bears much fruit and looks with excitement to the hope laid up for us in heaven. A remnant that has no desire for things of this world, no time for worldly amusements, and no interest in compromising the truth. This remnant is the church of Jesus Christ. All else is gold- plating laid over a tin faith, which is rusted, decayed, moth eaten. We learned what we should have known the church is not a building or a place. It is not man-made. But the true members of the remnant that walk along the difficult way testify to the truth of scripture. And we want you to know and believe, wherever you are, the word of God is true there is an abundant life that believers can and do live today.

To live the abundant life promised in scripture, we need to focus more on Jesus and less on what makes our gathering places better, different or right. We are not saying to ignore or compromise correct doctrine. We are not saying to tear down the old landmarks set forth in God’s word. But we are saying, spend less time resting in your belief that you have the correct doctrine and more time with Jesus. Let your focus be on Jesus Christ, on running the race with endurance, on perfecting holiness in the fear of God, on being a witness unto Jesus in all aspects of your life. Let your focus and purpose be to know Him. If your life does not line up with the word of God, grasping tighter to a peculiar doctrine won’t change anything.

Growing closer to Jesus will change everything. If somehow Jesus alone is not the answer to all your needs, adequate to fill your life with abundant love, abundant joy and abundant peace, ask yourself this question: have you become so preoccupied with a particular tree that you have set your sights upon the wrong forest? Has your trust in doctrine replaced a trust in Jesus? If Jesus and only Jesus is not enough, something is utterly wrong. Remember Enoch? He was walking with God and then he was no more, because God took him. Like Enoch, we need to spend so much time with God that we are no more. We need to be careful that we don’t spend all of our time studying about Him to the exclusion of actually spending our time with Him. We need to jealously redeem our time so that we have the time to spend with Jesus. And this we will naturally do, if He is our first love. And the result should be plain for the world to see it is no longer I who lives, but Jesus Christ within me who lives (Galatians 2:20). It is sad to see so many throughout this land hanging on so dearly to what they believe, yet living lives that do not testify of Him. When our lives don’t line up with the word of God, something about what we believe is faulty. Or we don’t truthfully believe what we think we believe.

Please don’t accept a Christianity that does not result in your life bearing much fruit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance). This fruit is the testimony of our faith. This fruit is the proof of our faith. This fruit is the unfailing characteristic of a child of God: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20) Yes, we can be sure that we have been with the true church. We have seen the saints and by their fruits we know that they are saints. Maybe we did not find the church where we had at first expected. But, it was our expectation that was in error. The true church of Jesus Christ is alive and well and living as God’s word promises . . . living testimonies of the truth of God’s word.

Respectability versus Holiness: I clutched it to my bosom and vowed we’d never part, Though the Spirit dwelled within me, I had self will in my heart. I wooed vices that I treasured, attitudes that I held fast. Though I claimed God was my master, I stilled lived as in the past. Oh, I knew the Christian “language”, I could fake it with the best, I would don my spiritual vestige till I looked like all the rest. I knew scripture upon scripture, I could quote it by the score, But with all my spiritual know-how, I was living as before. Sure, I fooled a lot of people, even fooled myself sometimes, I could hide behind my talent, writing prose and making rhymes. But when cards were on the table, when it came to push-or-shove, Was my heart so full of scripture that it had no room for LOVE? If my faith were just examined, would I find it true to God? Did I look to Him for self-worth or was my faith a facade? Was I more concerned with how I “looked” to others here below, More concerned with reputation, earthly things and worldly show? O, dear Lord, look deep inside me; bare the things I try to hide; Rip out all my pious nonsense, my self-righteousness and pride. Take my stubborn willful attitudes, old vices that I nurse, blot out hates and hurts and hang-ups, and the complaints I rehearse. Take this mask made of hypocrisy and make me look within, Take my past filled with self-pleasure, Lord, and make me see its sin. Like it says with the scripture, Father, make my spirit new, So that I’ll forget about myself and dwell on pleasing YOU. (Author Unknown)

ARE YOUR EYES DRY?

I read in a book that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been tried and found hard so then it was abandoned.” We hear a lot of talk about revival today. I have often wondered, can we have a revival, if we never had a vival? Some churches actually put up signs that say revival, and an evangelist comes, and there is a series of meetings, and some people get saved, some rededicate their lives, and all this is good. And we praise God for it. But that is not revival. Revival, as was the type seen in the Welch revival, is when the conviction of sin is so strong that local bars close, x-rated video parlors dare not open, alcoholics are led by the spirit of God to repent, and homosexuals and drug addicts know that they can be set free in Jesus Christ.

This kind of revival is not born out of “twist and shout” Chubby Checker type performances or personal instruction on how to roll in laughter. This kind of revival is born out of the coming down of the glory cloud of God. This kind of revival is expensive. It does not depend on lighting systems, screaming guitars, electronic drums, synthesizers, keyboards, special effects and speaker systems that cause your ears to bleed in the third row. No, the cost of this kind of revival that proceeds out of the very heart of God is counted by the tears of saints who are sick and tired of playing church and observing rampant sin and who have a burden, not for programs, but for souls. We need to shed tears and weep for our families, our church and our nation. Get a vision of them standing in flames and you will shed tears and mourn. Get a vision of them in heaven and you will shed tears of joy. It seems to me that the missing ingredient is tears from a caring heart. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).

We cannot have a time of laughing and dancing without a time of weeping and mourning. When we realize that Jesus Christ is the substitute for you and me on the cross, it should cause your eyes to well up with tears and those tears to run down your cheeks like rain. We should be in a time of weeping and mourning for a world that is lost in sin and a people whose lives are ruined, and yet who cannot be reached. Benjamin Beddome wrote: Did Christ o’er sinners weep, And shall our cheeks be dry? Let floods of penitential grief burst forth from every eye. The Son of God in tears. The wondering angels see; Be thou astonished. O my soul: He shed those tears for thee. He wept that we might weep; Each sin demands a tear: In Heaven alone no sin is found, And there’s no weeping there. But this earth is not Heaven: it is a vale of tears. What, then, is the reason we no longer weep? What has become of our tears?

A CALL TO WEEPING

The Son of God exhorted men to weep. He said, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Many in our day have the mistaken notion that the Christian life is “a rose-bordered pathway covered with ease,” or that Christians should carry a “smile at all times.” But this cannot be reconciled with Scripture: Ezra prayed, and confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God (Ezra 10:1). Surely, he must have had reason to do so. Job declared, “Mine eye poureth out tears unto God” (Job 16:20). David prayed, “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Psalms 6:6). The Psalmist wrote, “My tears have been my meat day and night” and declared, “I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping” (Psalms 42:3; 102:9). Jeremiah was known as “the weeping prophet.” He wrote that the Lord called for “mourning women,” women that were “cunning” in their ability to mourn, that they might wail for the people, that “our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters” (Jeremiah 9:18). The prophet himself mourns, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (9:1). Again, he wrote, “Mine eyes do fill with tears” (Lamentations 2:11). Isaiah describes the Son of God as “a man of sorrows” who was “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah. 53:3b). No doubt it was for this reason He was “despised and rejected of men” then, and doubtless for this reason men despise Him in our day. Nevertheless, in the days of His flesh, He offered up “prayers, and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7a).

The apostle Paul declares that from the first day he came into the coasts of Asia, he served the Lord “with many tears” and testifies that by the space of three years he “ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:19,31). And he wrote to the Corinthians, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:4a). Brethren, where is the “anguish of heart”? Have the people of God nothing for which they ought to weep? The saints of God in our day can become angry over sinful deeds committed by wicked men, and they can become politically active, organizing into groups of concerned citizens, writing their congressmen, sending God’s money to defeat unholy legislation, and publicly demonstrating against moral wickedness; but who is moved to weep, to wail, and to howl?

THE DEMAND FOR GODLY SORROW

David, who is described in the New Testament as a man after God’s own heart, tells us the Lord does not desire offerings, but that the “sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 51:17). Yet contrition, or godly sorrow, has no place in modern-day evangelism or worship. Jesus warned, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). Repentance is not merely a change in our manners: it entails godly sorrow. Contrition is an essential element of repentance, and where there is no godly sorrow for sin, there is no repentance. We need to first weep for our own sin. The apostle Paul wrote, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10). Where there is no godly sorrow, there is no repentance.

What has become of our tears? Why is it that the goodness of God evidenced by his providential care, and by his gracious mercy in the forgiveness of our sins why is it that such things do not fill our hearts until our eyes overflow? Should we not weep for ourselves, for our families, for our churches, for our schools and for our nation? Laws cannot change the hearts of men, but the Lord can. Oh, that the fathers in our land had hearts of flesh! Oh, that the hearts of fathers were turned to their children! When king Ahasuerus had letters sent into all Persian provinces “to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both old and young, little children and women, in one day” (Esther 3:13), “in every province whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes” (4:3). It may not be until a similar proclamation is made to destroy all Christians that present-day believers will turn to the Lord with weeping and lamentation. Consider that plague of our own heart! It is easier for us to open our purse than it is to bend our knees. It is easier to bow the head than it is to bow the heart.

The prophet implored, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare the people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God” (Joel 2:17)? James counsels, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” (James 4:9). “Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh;” but “Woe unto you that laugh now? For ye shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:21b, 25b). What has happened to this generation is that our eyes have become dry. We have lost our tears and we don’t know how or where to find them. You can ask the world and they will tell you we need another program. You can ask government and they will tell you we need more taxes. But, if you ask Jesus, He will tell you that you need a heart transplant. You need a heart like that of Jesus, broken because of the sinful state of the world. The only answer is to stand on the rock Christ Jesus, put His burden in your heart and then you will know His tears.

GOD’S VISION OR MAN’S ILLUSION

Previously we discussed “ARE YOUR EYE’S DRY”. The question was “do you weep between the porch and the alter?” Now we want to share with you God’s vision. His vision is revealed in His word and when God’s vision becomes our vision then, as Jesus wept, we too will weep for lost souls. We don’t see much weeping for the lost in the churches today because we don’t have God’s vision for the lost. The problem seems to be that we are unable to discern between God’s vision and man’s illusion.

Christian Illusion: Christians use the term “vision” to speak of something we have seen or expect to see. Or, if we don’t have our own vision, we borrow one from somebody else so that we can tell- a-vision. Many times in our excitement we tell-a-vision that we have seen on television. This reminded me of being on the set of P.T.L. and looking at the little cardboard buildings with blinking lights that made up the background for the set and gave the illusion that we were high in a building overlooking the city. While this didn’t bother me a lot, at the time, I wondered should it be called “television” or “tel-illusion”. Then there was the P.T.L. green room where the makeup was applied. They applied one substance to keep you from sweating and another to take the glare off and spray for your hair. Then they said “act natural”. This creates the illusion that you are comfortable so that they can then give the world their vision. And the tel-illusion suddenly becomes somebody else’s vision.

Confused Vision: A “vision”, generally, can be defined as a mental image or concept which has been perceived by supernatural means such as an apparition or prophetic revelation. Yes, we know that many claim to have received a vision from god. But if it is God’s vision then why is there so much confusion, strife and division in the church? Why are God’s people running to and fro, increasing knowledge but acting without wisdom? Why do we settle for unity brought by man instead of the Holy Spirit? And, why are so many of God’s people disillusioned, downcast, destitute, dull, dry, and dead? . . . Why do so many seem helpless, hapless, hopeless, lifeless and listless? Why are so many in great danger of perishing? God says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

The Bible, which contains God’s vision, should be the authority for Christians. It supersedes Psychology Today, Reader’s Digest, Webster’s Dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica and even the phone book. While none of these are ever questioned as an authority, the Bible is always questioned. Of late, the Bible is regularly rewritten by many authors who suffer from divine indigestion (they couldn’t stomach the truth). You would be appalled if you found your mechanic working on your costly car using, as a manual, a comic book interlaced with pages out of a trash can, with some pages having notes written by as many as ten authors (rather than the pure word written by One Author, the Holy Spirit). It is, however, not uncommon to find people quoting, with great authority, half of a scripture verse. (But then Satan used half-verses in trying to tempt Jesus.) Or they try to complete the verse by mixing with it one of these or other widely acclaimed authorities.

God’s Vision: The Bible tells us in 1 Sam. 2-3 that there was no open vision (3:1) and God’s house had become polluted. Eli the priest had not restrained his sons (3:13) and had allowed the temple to be used by prostitutes which his sons had brought in (2:22). God removed the vision from Eli. However, Samuel received God’s vision as God spoke to him of what was about to happen to Eli’s household (3:11-14). Samuel was faithful to deliver God’s message and to continue to do so all of his days. Can we claim the same? God’s word plainly shows that unrepented sin in the camp prevents God’s vision from being revealed to the people because the prophets no longer hear from the LORD. When this happens, self proclaimed prophets fill the void with false visions (Lam. 2:14;2:9-17). They speak of worthless visions or illusions of their own heart (Jer. 23:16-17) which are lies because God did not send them (Jer. 23:21; 27:15-16). The self-proclaimed prophets and shepherds no longer seek the LORD (Jer. 10:21). So the prophets prophesy falsely out of their own illusions and the pastors rule by man’s power not under God’s authority (Jer. 5:31). But the people have itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3- 4) and love to run after the illusions (Jer. 5:31), instead of seeking the true vision from the mouth of God through His true prophets. The true vision from true prophets always speaks of repentance, obedience and holiness, not smooth words of peace and prosperity (Jer.28:7-9) and directs our steps back to God’s pathway for us (Jer.6:16).

Revival Requires God’s Vision: We talk about vision and the vision of great revival. But it seems we may not be consulting God to see if our vision lines up with His vision. Revivals are planned for, not prayed for. Calculations are made to be sure it will be paid for, but once again not prayed for. The praying must take place first and then the date set by God and the place set by God and then AND ONLY THEN will we see revival..

The Church desperately needs revival. If we expect to reach a lost and dying world, we need to first reach a lost and dying church that continues to compare itself to the world as the world continues to become more and more wicked. The church may say that we are not so bad compared to the world. Eli might have made the same comparison with his childrens’ sins. But my friend, it is not the world that you will be judged by. It is by the word and the righteous judge JESUS CHRIST. When we compare ourselves with the world, rather than the Truth, our vision has become blinded and we have set our eyes upon wrong rather than righteousness. We have for years preached a watered down gospel and a milk-toast Saviour that requires no change in our lifestyle. We have taught that you do not have to deny yourself to have salvation. We have offered the Crown, but failed to mention that the price is the cross. We have diluted the gospel message to the point that the unsaved can slip into most social clubs (churches) without being noticed and slip out the same way and nobody really cares.

We have dishonored God with Instant Salvation: Just blink your eyes or squeeze the hand of the person next to you to let them know you are saved (we don’t want to embarrass anybody). Eli did not take steps acceptable to God for dealing with sin. Will we do any better than Eli? Will we continue to follow the illusion that we create when we measure ourselves by the world’s standards? Will we turn from sin or continue to overlook it hanging on to a hollow gospel which displays a cross on the outside, but does not require the believer to die on the inside? This is an empty gospel filled with man’s illusion, not God’s vision. Folks we are sowing faulty seeds and now are experiencing crop failure. And to make up for this failure, we manufacture plastic fruit and create experiences to give the illusion of the real thing. We may wonder why Eli failed to restrain His children. Yet, we do not restrain our own lives which are “to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). Can we claim to be alive in Christ Jesus when we spend hours watching television, but minutes seeking His direction in prayer? When we are hungry for the sports page, but have no taste for the word? When we spend more money on pet food than on missions or the spread of the gospel? When we welcome God’s blessings, but are weary of His burdens? If you spend more time watching Nintendo’s little Mario run across the screen than you do in prayer, you have no right to call Jesus LORD. If your joy and delight is in perverted soap operas, you are serving another god. You may see an illusion, but you have rejected God’s vision.

We cannot have that vision of heaven and that city four square if we are looking to the world. We need to be so heavenly minded that we are not of this earth. Our citizenship is in heaven. We need to do some soul searching and see what kind of born again experience we have had. If we have had to sacrifice nothing, give up nothing and separate from nothing, and if we have no hatred of sin, can we still believe that we are born again? (Luke 14:33, 2 Cor 6:17, James 4:4.) We sing that “we’re the people of God”, but then are entertained by the devil’s disciples, HBO (Hell’s Best Offer), CINEMAX (sin to the max), and MTV (Music To Vex the righteous soul as Lot was vexed). And, no better than Eli, we allow our children to do the same. Folks look at the fruits of these things.

BAD FRUITS ARE AN INDICATION OF BAD ROOTS: (Matthew 7:16-20.) Seek God’s Vision If the church is to be healed of its backslidden ways before more perish, each of us must seek God’s vision for ourselves and then walk in it. God’s basic vision for man has never changed. It is to obey His voice (Deut. 4:12-13). Jesus said if you love Him you will keep His commandments and that His sheep hear and obey His voice (John 10:4-5, 14, 16, 26-27 and 14:15, 21 and 23-24). Let us judge ourselves, not by the world’s standards, but by His word and His righteousness. Only then will we find God’s true vision and salvation for our souls. If we obey, seeking God with our whole heart, then we will see the vision of the lost that Jesus sees. And we will weep as He weeps.

WHO PULLED THE PLUG?

There is a power that we have been promised “But ye shall receive POWER, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you . . .” (Acts 1:8). These were the words of JESUS. The power was given. However, it is not evident in the visible church. So who or what pulled the plug? We have Christians talking, walking, looking, praying, wearing and even claiming defeated lives. I run into many Christians who act like they are 100 feet from the power source with only a 50 foot extension cord. I have news for you folks. God has a direct connection with each of His children. Either He is in you or He does not exist for you. This direct connection is a fundamental condition of every born again believer. If you are trying to seek a connection to the power of God through some emotional experience or group blessing, you, my friend, have made a faulty connection. And with a faulty connection you may see a lot of sparks and smoke, and even some heat, but no power.

No power? We have GOD the Father, GOD the Son and GOD the Holy Ghost inside of us. Why o why then are so many Christians seemingly unplugged? I believe it can be summed up in one word . . . “FAITH”. Faith is a small word. And like “SIN”, it has that all important “I” in the middle. “FAITH” is an action word. It is “I” that must have a faith that produces action. I must have my own faith. I cannot give you my faith and you cannot give me your faith. I can demonstrate my faith and it could encourage you. Or, I may demonstrate my lack of faith and it could discourage you. However, the fact remains, “FAITH” is the answer.

Hebrews chapter 11 testifies of faith in action. James chapter 2 testifies that without action, it is not faith. If we do not live by faith, acting upon faith, then we are not connected. If we are not connected through faith to the power source, no extension cord will be long enough to make a connection. You might then say that we are guilty of pulling the plug on His power. Faith in Jesus If faith is the answer, then why do so many people who claim to have faith look to the world, the world that they are supposed to be separated from, to find the answer to even the smallest problem? When they need money, they take out a loan at 17% interest (and then balk at 10% tithes). When they have a headache, their first thought is Excedrin Aspirin Tylenol. When they need healing, they call a secular doctor and then pray that God will guide his hand as he practices on them. What happened to prayer and prayer first? Remember Asa (2 Chronicles 16:12)? They get tired and need relaxation, so they go on vacation to a worldly theme park or resort. What happened to entering into His rest (Matthew 11:28-29; Hebrews 4:9-11)? When we live by faith, Jesus is our rest, the only rest. They depend on everything that the world has to offer and still end up with about as much joy as a mashed cat on the freeway? Joy is a promised blessing to those who live by faith.

The joy of faith (Phil 2:23) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a natural result of a connection to the power. The joy of the finished work on the cross is by faith in God. And, “Your joy, no man taketh from you” (John 16:22b). Faith in Jesus results in joy. If you have no joy, you do not have faith in Jesus. Misdirected Faith I have found many Christians who boast of their faith and even claim to have a great faith. But I must wonder what it is that they have faith in? Is it a misdirected faith? Do they have faith in people or things or do they simply have faith in their faith? True faith in Jesus Christ is a faith that leads to a trust in God for everything. It is a misdirected faith that turns first to anything and everything but God. God is not interested in how much faith you have in your savings account, your IRA account, your pension fund, your lawyer, your doctor, your government, or any other people or things of the world. He does not even care about how much faith you have in your pastor, reverend, priest, counselor, co-dependent, prayer group or psychiatrist. God is asking you a question “do you trust and have such faith in me that you walk not by sight but by your faith?” Walking by sight demonstrates a lack of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Yet, if we don t trust Him for our today and the things we can see, how is it that we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we trust Him for our tomorrow and the things we cannot see?

You see folks, a real and active faith in the unseen is God s requirement for the normal Christian walk. A real faith, in Jesus, which moves you to action, is the minimum of a saving faith. It has been said that faith isn t faith until it s all you are hanging on to. Faith in God is a faith in the unseen. It is a faith that does not have to be seen or felt. It is also a faith that we are not ashamed of even when it looks to the world like foolish blind faith. It is a faith that glorifies God, not ourselves, our self esteem or our position in the body of Christ. Active Faith Brings Obedience Acting upon faith includes rejecting sin and selecting obedience. The Christian who selects sin or rejects obedience has chosen not to live by faith. These choices are an abomination to God. Whatever He asks you to do, will you do it and trust Him for your life? Remember, we claim to trust Him for our soul and our eternity.

We show our trust by our obedience. We need to carefully examine ourselves in the light of God s word to see if we, ourselves, live by faith. We have a lot to say about the sin of others. But what do we have to say about our own sin? Jesus in Matthew Chapters 5 through 7 (Sermon on the Mount) calls us to examine our hearts by exposing our hidden murders, adulteries and other sins. Jesus reveals to us that anger towards a brother is murder and thoughts of lust after a women are adultery. Jesus brought out the unvarnished truth of God s message to His people and anything which misses the mark of truth is sin. Oh, we are so quick to point out sin in others. We can even recite two or three of the Ten Commandments and apply them to others. But when we look at ourselves, we merely classify the words of Jesus as Old Testament law nailed to the cross. We are so quick to lump His explanation of murder and adultery as part of the Ten Suggestions. After all didn’t Jesus fulfill all that stuff about THOU SHALT? Our selective obedience exposes a lack of faith or a misdirected faith. “And Samuel said, ‘Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better then sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams ” (1 Samuel 15:22). In the verses that follow we find that King Saul was fearful of the people and because of fear of man, rather than faith in God, chose to obey the people and disobey God. The price to this disobedience was that Saul lost the kingdom. What Saul saw was men. He acted on the seen. But God calls us to put our trust in Him and act upon the unseen.

Choose to Live by Faith: Faith is a choice. Folks, heavenly benefits are not possible when your obedience is based on worldly standards, when you choose to act upon men s desires, rather than faith in God. If you are obedient to Him, He will not allow you to exalt yourself and it may seem, for a time, that God has exalted others at your expense. But don t be concerned with a worldly standard. God is molding and shaping you for a greater task. God is not interested in a Burger King Christianity (note, you can t have it your way). God is only satisfied when it is His way. God s way is always a way of obedience and a choice to act upon our faith. God will call you to a daily sacrifice of self on the altar. This sacrifice of self is an act of faith. It is a choice to select obedience and to trust in God first, last and in between. Only then will you discover that you do not need an extension cord because you are directly plugged in to His power. Only then can you please God. Only then will you know the joy of faith. We sing “Trust and Obey for There Is No Other Way”. Yet, when we are done singing, we forget to live what we sung. We must walk in trust and obedience throughout the day.

Don t Be Deceived: In Ezekiel chapters 10 and 11 we see the glory of God departing from the temple and from Israel and ascending up from the Mount of Olives. What a shock it must have been for the priest to enter into the Holy of Holies and find that somebody turned the lights out. The Glory of God had departed and there was only darkness. What would we do? Would we light some candles or put in a stained glass skylight so no one would know? For a time the deception may work. But only for a time. Do the scriptures say “in vain they do worship Me” (Matthew 15:9)? Do not be deceived. “But without faith it is impossible to please him:” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the Way I want to ask you, has selective obedience caused the glory to depart from your Christian life? Have you grabbed hold of some emotional experience or tied on plastic fruit and put on a mask of self righteousness to cover up a dark Holy of Holies in your temple? Well have I got good news for you. God is waiting for you to surrender to Him through Jesus Christ His Son. He wants you to have a relationship with Him that far surpasses just having knowledge of Him. This relationship does not allow anything, and in the Greek that is “anything,” to come between you and Him. Restore this relationship. Go and confess that your lack of faith pulled the plug. Ask that it be reconnected. Please, let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you in the greatest decision of your life.

OBEDIENCE TO GOD. LIVE BY FAITH. Fifteen Fools 1. Those who do not believe in God (Psalms 14:1) 2. Those whose tongues wag at both ends (Prov. 18:7,8) 3. Those who tell all they know, and more (Prov. 29:11) 4. Those who boast their superior wisdom (Prov. 26:12, Rom. 1:22) 5. Those whose trust is in themselves instead of God (Prov. 28:26) 6. Those who think they can take just one drink (Prov. 20:1) 7. Those who think they can “get away” with crookedness (Jer. 17:11) 8. Those who chase after women (Prov. 7:6-9, 22, 23) 9. Those who meddle in the affairs of others (Prov. 20:3) 10. Those who spend all they get (Prov. 21:20) 11. Those who think money is all they need (Proverbs 1:32; Luke 12:19-21) 12. Those who laugh at the sinful doing of others (Prov. 14:9) 13. Those who invent lies about their neighbors (Prov. 10 :18) 14. Those who cannot control their mouth (Ecc. 7:9, Prov. 18:6, 12:16) 15. Those who make you tired in their presence (Prov. 29:9) Why not be a fool for Christ’s sake (I Corinthians 4:10)?

The 23RD CHANNEL

The T.V. is my shepherd, I shall not want. It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the scriptures. It destroys my soul. It leads me into the paths of sex and violence for the sponsor’s sake. Yea, though I walk in the shadow of my Christian responsibility, There will be no interruption, for the T.V. is with me. Its cable and its remote control, they comfort me. It prepares a commercial before me in the presence of my worldliness. It anoints my head with humanism and consumerism. My covering runneth over. Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of watching T.V. forever. (Author Unknown)

HOLINESS Part 1: THE THREAD

As we travel across America we have the opportunity to meet many people. We meet people from all walks of life, from all economic classes, and nearly every race, creed and color. Yet, we are grieved by what we see and don’t see. We don’t see many holy men and women of God. We see so few who live as holiness unto the Lord. When we travel this land we see many who claim Jesus as Savior. But we find few that know Him as their Lord. Many will wear a cross, but few will pick up their cross and follow Jesus. Few will permit God to make them holy vessels. Most prefer to settle for some form of religion or religious behavior. Many have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. In other words, they deny God the right to be God in them. The Christianity we see is sadly inconsistent with the Biblical record. Yes, there is a pattern that we see in the Bible woven in the pages from Genesis to Revelation. We see a thread which binds together holy men of old Noah, Abram, Joseph and then Moses, Joshua and young King David. So, too, we see this thread in the lives of John, Peter, Paul and Timothy. By this thread, God has woven the lives of men into the very fabric of history as it is recorded in the Bible.

This thread binds these men to their God. This thread can be recognized in these men by the holiness manifested in each of their lives and by their changed lives. The essence of the Biblical record is changed lives. The new testament testifies of the power of Jesus to change lives. Peter was changed. Paul was changed. James was changed. Jude was changed. Once they were religious men. But now they are holy men. Are we holy men? Now, we must understand that holiness is not the thread that God has used to weave the lives of these men into a cohesive story. And holiness is not the tie that binds them to their God. But holiness is a manifestation of that thread. Holiness is the fruit of their right relationship with a Holy God. Only the Holy Unless God weaves this same thread into our lives too, so that we too bear the fruit of holiness, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Without holiness, we may claim faith, but faith, without the works of faith, is dead (James 2:17, 26).

Faith without holiness is a dead faith. We must personally partake of God’s holiness. Unless we walk in His holiness, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Rather, we must be holy, “set apart” unto Him for His use. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). This holiness is essential. This holiness cannot be achieved apart from God. Rather, it is the result of a right relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ our being in Him and He being in us. The Pharisees tried to achieve holiness apart from God. But they could not fool Jesus who said to them: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:25-26).

The Pharisees did not have this right relationship with God; they only had their man-made works of “holiness.” They had refused a right relationship with God, refusing to permit God to weave them into His tapestry. And now, they were to reject the only one who could restore that relationship. Nevertheless, they continued to proclaim their own holiness, as they attempted to weave their own tapestry. They displayed their man-made acts of holiness and flaunted their own tapestry. But man-made holiness is filthy rags to God. Inwardly they had no right relationship with God and therefore they had no God-made holiness. And without God- made holiness, we will stand condemned. The Pharisees of Today Are the churches of America today better than the Pharisees of yesterday? Are we better than they? Do we have a right relationship with God, evidenced by holy conduct? Or, have we gone the way of the Pharisees, rebelling against God, breaking that thread? Have we unsuccessfully tried to tie it all back together with religiosity (our own religious works), by using our wealth as a form of godliness? Have we somehow believed that religious works (even world-wide) could substitute for holiness and obedience to God? Have we worked in the “church” kingdom, without working in God’s kingdom?

No quantity of works can justify abortion, homosexuality, fornication, adultery (both physical and spiritual) and drunkenness. And no quantity of works can justify the less obvious sins of pride, covetousness, lusts, friendship with the world (James 4:4) and other forms of worldliness (I John 2:15-16). We cannot claim God’s holiness as we follow after other gods, including the god of self. God was not impressed with the Pharisees’ self- styled, holier than thou, attitude. Neither is He impressed with such a form of holiness today. God is impressed with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a heart like David’s heart, an obedient heart that has voluntarily surrendered to God’s purposes for his life a holy heart. Without a right relationship with God, we cannot live holy lives. Holiness is not just something that we do. If we could do it, we all would. And then why would we need Him? No, holiness is something that we are because of a right relationship with God through the shed blood of JESUS CHRIST. We must “cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean.” We first must have a right relationship on the inside before we can have anything more than a counterfeit holiness on the outside. We must have His Holy Spirit on the inside in order to bear the fruit of holiness on the outside. It is because of a right relationship with God I in Him and Him in me, that His holiness can be within me.

Are You Holy? I don’t know where you are today in your walk with the Lord. But know this: ultimately, your relationship with God, and my relationship with god, will be exposed for what it truly is. Is it not high time to “make your calling and election sure?” (II Peter 1:10). I ask you this sobering question: “Are you holy?” I ask you this question “because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16). I ask you this question because it is a matter of life and death eternal life and eternal death. I ask you this question, not for you to blindly pass over it, or to assume that you are holy contrary to all external evidence. Rather, I ask you this question to cause you to deeply contemplate it. I urge you: examine it; touch it. Look at the evidence. Consider your relationship. Picture yourself standing before the judgment seat of Christ and then answer the question: Are you holy? If we have a right relationship with God, this is how we will know it: by our holy lives. We must look past our Sunday clothes, our regular church attendance, our daily bible reading, our memorized scripture, our tithes and offerings, our committee assignments, our outreach programs, our church-growth programs, our made-for-every-purpose support groups and our missionary support.

These things are not “holiness.” Rather, they are what the devout members of many false religions do. Even the Pharisees did as much. These are common things, not “holy” things. They may be good things, but they do not make us holy and are not an acceptable substitute for the holiness which is borne by a right relationship with God. God did not accept such form of holiness from the Pharisees of His Israel and we should not expect Him to accept it from the gentile churches of today. Are we holy? Yes, it is that thread which only God can weave through our lives that sets apart a Christian from all others. Holiness is the life of one who is led by the Holy Spirit of the living God. No, I don’t know where you are today. But I do pray that you are walking by faith, living in holiness, woven into God’s tapestry, rather than some “church” tapestry. I pray that your life bears the fruit of a right relationship with the living God. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so beye holy in all manner of conversation” (I Peter 1:15). By this shall we know that we believe. My friends, examine whether your life is truly hidden within the HOLY ROCK, JESUS CHRIST you will know it by a life consecrated and set apart for God’s use in accordance with His will all else is sinking sand.

Dear Friend, This web site is full of important information about end-time events. You have a choice! You can accept or reject the information and it will cost you nothing, financially. However, the real reason I have given you this booklet is that I want to share with you the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. And, I know, this can happen in your life also. If you reject this part, it will cost you everything. I pray that after reading this booklet you will understand that God loves you so much that he has sent signs in the very time that we are living so that you will know of His love and His soon coming. Here is how you can receive all the wonderful things that God has reserved for you. Right now, ask Jesus to make Himself real to you rather than just some words on a page in a booklet! He loves you so much and wants to be a part of your life. Right now, just ask Him. For additional free literature concerning the truths of God’s word, or if you need a bible, free of charge and without obligation, please contact us by the information below. God bless you.

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• Sunday, March 15th, 2009

As we approach the second coming of Jesus Christ, the great falling away is becoming more evident. The professing Christian church is becoming more like the world and the ways of the world are appearing within the church, first by trickery and deceit and ultimately as readily accepted church practice. We must remain steadfast, following Jesus and the written word, refusing to be led away with the error of the wicked. We must approach unity with caution, desiring unity brought about by the Holy Spirit among believers, while refusing to unite with the world, the ways of the world, deceivers and antichrists. Pray that you will know the difference. Unity brought about by man is suspect. Any effort to achieve unity which does not insist that Jesus is the only way, but instead unites believers with unbelievers, is not of the Holy Spirit. Any effort to achieve unity which does not insist that you forsake sin and live a holy life consecrated to Jesus is fatally compromised. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:17)

Jesus is the Focus

The church has one focal point and that is Jesus Christ. The church has one direction and that is to follow Jesus Christ. The church has one purpose and that is to serve Jesus Christ. We are to serve Him here and our service will continue up there. We have a book called the “Bible” which is the standard that we are to lay all we do up against. We must not rewrite the Bible to fit our lifestyle. Rather, we are to conform our lifestyle to what the Bible says. Based upon these elements of our faith, let’s examine what is going on in the church today. Or, should we say, what is going on in the buildings that we call the church today? The church (“eklesia” or “called out ones”) is and always will be the church. The building sometimes houses the church, but not always. The church is not a denomination, although some of the church will assemble in denominations and some will assemble in non-denominations. But then you can get so non-denominational that you become a denomination of non-denominationals.

The church is the body of Christ, made up of believers that cross denominational boundaries. The church has its very existence in Jesus, not in idols, colleges, hospitals, buildings, athletic teams or size. The focus of the church is upon Jesus and reaching the lost. However, when we look into the buildings that we so readily call the church, we are finding many New Age teachings, worldly ways, practices of witchcraft and sleep, creeping in, polluting, deceiving, and shifting our focus away from total dependence upon our Lord Jesus Christ. When we think about the church, our thoughts seem to go first to white buildings with a steeple on top and a bell. Or, if we have gained some theological knowledge, we might think of the church of the book of Acts. However, we might better turn our eyes upon Jesus, and try to understand His view of the church. And rather than to focus upon a building, we should instead take to our heart the message He has for His church. In particular, the church ought to hear, as Jesus commands, the messages He sent to the seven churches of the book of Revelation (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3).

Seven Letters

Some believe that each of the seven churches represent a different church age. That would place us in the Laodicean age, and that would make sense because Jesus described the church in Laodicea as “lukewarm”. Others believe that the seven churches do not represent seven ages, but seven different kinds of churches in this age. And that would also make sense because we see the lukewarm gathering together in a building with a steeple, and we see legalists gathering together in a building with no steeple, and we see those who have lost their first love gathering together when it’s not too inconvenient, and we see people who hate this or that gathering together to discuss someone else’s error, but too often blinded to their own error. But, sometimes we find all of these folks gathering together, in the same building, and they are called the church. And this is why others believe that the seven churches do not represent seven different church gatherings, past or present, but seven different peoples that are found within the church of every age. Perhaps all of the above make sense. But, rather than relying upon other men’s opinions, we should look at Jesus’ opinion, as stated in His word. Let’s look at the seven churches described in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. And when we do so, let us not be too quick to discard what is written in red, simply because it does not fit into other men’s theories of interpretation.

Church at Ephesus:

Revelation 2:1-7 This is a church that had it all together. They had patience and discernment and could not stand evil. And they also used a spiritual polygraph on some who said they were apostles. And they correctly found them to be liars. This church labored in the name of Jesus and hast not fainted. You cannot get a much better report than this. But what else did Jesus say? “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4-5). Jesus was warning that the first love was more important than any of the surface works that were being done. The most important SIGN OF THE CHURCH is that it has intact it’s first LOVE. The church at Ephesus did have that love . . . at one time. And then, as time progressed, and as their works mounted, the church left its first love. When our works, no matter how good and Nobel, become a substitute for that intimate relationship with Jesus, we then are beginning that slow walk away from our first love. The love did not leave the church. Sadly, the church left the first love. My friend it is up to you. Church leader it is up to you. If you have left your first love, Jesus tells you what to do “repent and do the first works.”

Church at Smyrna:

Revelation 2:8-11 What is this tribulation thing that is going on? “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life?” Wait a minute. Isn’t there an easier way? Jesus said “fear none of those things which thou SHALT suffer” (2:10). Jesus makes it sound like suffering comes with church membership. (Like in China and so many other parts of the world is the church in this nation somehow exempt from these words?) Did you notice that Jesus did not say to this church which faced persecution and would suffer, “repent”? Could it be that when you are suffering, prayer and repentance are already the topic of conversation? Jesus said their reward is a crown of life. I ask you my friend, are you willing to pay the price? The SIGN OF THE CHURCH is that those who are members will suffer.

Church at Pergamos:

Revelation 2:12-17 You talk about a church in a tough neighborhood. This is a church which was on Satan’s doorstep (“I know where thou dwellest . . . where Satan’s seat is”). And yet Jesus in verse 13 commends them, noting that “thou holdest fast my name and hast not denied my faith.” We talk a lot about faith and what we would do if we were tested. Here is a church where Antipas, “my faithful martyr,” was slain. This church had faith and held His name. But notice that a false gospel was residing in this church. In fact two groups had come in and were teaching false doctrines: the doctrines of Balaam and of the Nicolaitanes. Now the church at Ephesus had hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes and uncovered the false apostles. But here we find these false doctrines were permitted in the church. Pergamos was a city of wealth and corruption. Jesus said that Satan’s seat, or his throne, was there. This was a tough place to build a church. How does this speak to us today? If your church gathering is located in an area which is upon Satan’s doorstep, you will have, not might have, the modern Balaams and Nicolaitanes, bringing their false doctrine and a pocket full of money to teach you some NEW gospel that does not line up with the word of God. We pray for you shepherds, that you stand strong. And if false teachings have entered in, REPENT and you will be rewarded with hidden manna and a white stone with a new name (verse 17). This SIGN OF THE CHURCH is that wolves will come in sheep’s clothing. And think about it did they have to first kill a sheep to get the clothes?

Church at Thyatira:

Revelation 2:18-29 This is a church that was very active. Works, and Charity (love) and Service and Faith, and Patience, and more WORKS. Big works at the end. This was a works oriented church. But, they were so busy working at WORKS that they had not used discernment at all, and in one of their teaching programs had allowed a self-made Prophetess to teach. And not only did she teach, she was a teacher of spiritual adultery and caused them to commit spiritual fornication. Jesus gave her time to repent. And she did not. And the most tragic thing is that she will take many with her into her bed of false teaching and man-made feel good doctrines of soulish experiences. Now many of you might say, “not me”, because you don’t let women teach and so that solves the problem. But is it so simple? If it were that easy, so many churches where women are not allowed to speak, teach, or preach would not have this very problem. Yet, they still have teachers (men) who have this perverse and seductive pillow prophet teaching that which causes them to eat things sacrificed to idols. This seductive leading away is not about women teachers compared to men teachers. It is about perverted and ear-tickling teaching. The answer once again is to repent. The SIGN OF THIS CHURCH is perverted teaching, but to him who overcomes, power over nations (2:26).

Church at Sardis:

Revelation 3:1-6 This is a church that had a reputation that they were alive. But Jesus knew they were really nearly dead. And what life they had was fading away. History shows us that the richest man living at that time was Croesus. And he lived and reigned in Sardis. The church was built on the doorstep of wealth and wealth can and usually does influence the preaching in a church. The church that gets caught up in the world, and the cares of this world, will not know when Christ is coming. And, one by one, what the church has will fade away. And all that will remain is a church-shaped coffin, full of dead bodies. But still, there are going to be some (3:4) that will walk with Him in white raiment. These are those whose names will not be blotted out of the book of life (3:5). We do not find faith mentioned to this church. And it may well be that the wealth had replaced the faith. Know, however, that wealth is not the problem. It is the reliance on wealth that becomes the problem. And soon, the wealth controls you, instead of you controlling the wealth. The SIGN OF THIS CHURCH is the question, WHO or WHAT is in control?

Church at Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:7-13 This is a church with an open door. A church that no man can shut down. And Jesus in verse 9 promises “I will make them know that I have loved thee.” This was a church that had little strength. Yet, it had powerful love. Love opens doors that cannot be shut. Gossip, backbiting, strife, and your and my sin is exposed by open doors. You cannot darken a room that has an open door. The world can look in to your church and upon your heart when the door is open. And they will worship and bow down with you when what they can see through that open door is the love of Jesus in you. The church that has an open door has no fear of being labeled a cult. No, all can look in and see its inward parts. The church that is built on the love of GOD may be small or it may be large. Love is not measured in numbers. And we should not expect that the God of yesterday and today, who was not real impressed with David’s numbering the people, is any more impressed today. For the church that is built upon love, Jesus promises (3:12), He will make them pillars holding up the temple of GOD. The SIGN OF THIS CHURCH is up over an open door.

Church at Laodicea:

Revelation 3:14-22 The City of Laodicea had a couple of things going for it. First of all, it was a banking center and second it was also the home of a famous medical school. Today, this city is in complete ruins. Laodicia was the city of people’s rights (“laodicea” means people’s rights “let’s vote on it”). And the church followed along, bending to the way of their surroundings, to the point that no matter how hard they tried, they could not heat up a cold congregation. We might say that with great effort, they maintained about 60 . And Jesus warns, in verse 16, that because of lukewarmness “I will spew thee out of My mouth.” (Now, maybe some in the lukewarm church will mistake this for the rapture, and will wonder why they only got to the front sidewalk, and wonder why they smell so bad.) But for those who refuse to follow any doctrine which explains away Jesus’ words (I Timothy 6:3), the call is to be zealous and to be different than the church of Laodicea. Let us today refuse to be the church of relative righteousness, refusing to be comforted because we believe we are more righteous than our relatives, and friends, and other churches, comparing ourselves to others, but not comparing ourselves to the righteousness which the word of God establishes as the standard. Let us not join the ranks of those who will be told by Jesus that they are wretched and miserable and poor, and blind and naked (3:17). Well so much for comparative theology. Jesus tells them that they need His gold and His clothing and His eyesalve that they can see. Folks, it is not by accident that we are compared to the Laodicean church today. We put our faith in the medical community and the banking institutions and VISA and Master charge and all the other neat banking things. In verse 20, we find Jesus standing at the door and knocking, while the church is forming a committee to elect someone to open the door. He tells this church to repent and overcome and sit with Him in His throne. THE SIGN OF THIS CHURCH is that we have always done it this way, and we will continue to do it this way because everyone says that we are okay and most of all, it’s comfortable.

Be an Overcomer

When we look at the seven churches, we can choose to see seven church ages, with six of them past. But, instead, we can open our eyes and ears and hearts, and look to see if we find a noticeable reflection of our own lives. I would pray that you would go to the word, to the book of Revelation, and let GOD speak to you about where you are with Him, revealing to you if you are in one of these churches, and make sure you are an overcomer with Him. Now if we have considered seriously the seven letters which Jesus wrote to His church, we might discover that many of the things which are creeping into the church are worldly ways and adulterous practices disguised as fun and amusement. Consider the following practices which the church is fast grabbing hold of practices commonplace in the world, but that are not of God. Do These Belong in the Church?

Harlequin: Definition: Name of a devil, or troop of demons, a comic pantomime character, usually masked, dressed in colored tights and bearing a wooden sword or magic wand; a buffoon.

Buffoon: Definition: Jester, one who makes a practice of amusing others by tricks, odd gestures and postures, jokes, etc.; a clown; a jester; hence one given to undignified joking.

Clown: Definition: a clumsy boorish fellow; a jester; joker; buffoon; to act in jesting or grotesque manner, as a clown. Magician: Definition: one skilled in magic; an entertainer performing tricks of illusion and deception; an enchanter.

Magic: Definition: pertaining to sorcery, the art of producing effects by seemingly superhuman control over the powers of nature; sorcery; enchantment; any power or influence that proves irresistible or extraordinary; the use of legerdemain to create illusions or perform tricks.

Legerdemain: Definition: slight of hand; a deceptive performance which depends on dexterity of hand, usually magic or juggling; trickery; deception.

Legerdemainist: Definition: one who practices sleight of hand; a juggler or magician.

Society may try to change the name for us, but the church must continue to recognize these practices as witchcraft and an abomination to our Lord: “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesians 5:3-4) We are not to learn the ways of the world (Jeremiah 10:1) or to love the ways of the world or the things in the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2:15-16). Just remember we are in this society but not of it. Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples and for each of us: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:15-16). You can search through the Bible and you will not find a Christian clown, magician or deceptionist. Yet, we are letting them into the church and into our lives, under the guise of innocent fun. There is nothing innocent about Satan. We are deceiving our children and ourselves if we look at these things as innocent fun. God says we are to be a separate, holy people unto Him. We are not to take part in the customs and traditions of the heathens. We cannot allow these abominations to pollute our ways. Changing the name does not cut it, witchcraft is still witchcraft and we remain accountable to God for things we allow. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

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