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Mar22ThuMarch 22, 2018Yesterday we looked at famine throughout the bible. I know it is hard to process in our country Canada with all its wealth but the famine we are talking about today is of a different kind. Nehemiah 9:36 “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” But here is the problem; most in the church do not know they should be in distress. You may be thinking that our life looks nothing like those under siege and in famine or does it. I talked to someone one time about the end times and the tribulation (the one that happens down the road). I said it is not happening down the road, we are already in it; we are not waiting for it to happen. I really liked his answer as he said, “well that was easy.” Or was it? Since there is only a remnant left, that means most of the church has fallen away leaving the church left desolate and most do not even know it. All you have to do is look at how many are following false gospels and the lack of the power of the Holy Spirit. That means this famine has been severe with eternal consequence.So what kind of famine are we talking about? Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” This famine has been severe, as people in the church just are not hearing the words of the Lord. Sure everyone has a bible but they just don’t hear what the God is saying to them. We all have his word but how many are actually following His words. How many are seeking Him. How many are asking where are all the wonders. Most follow their traditions thinking they are following God’s word. Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Isaiah was told, Isaiah 6:9 “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” We have this exact problem in the church today. Jesus said in Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Unbelief leads to a calloused heart.Because of our disobedience there is famine in the land along with great deception and delusion. People who call themselves christians seem to believe about anything. If someone says thus sayeth the Lord, or the Lord told me etc., they follow blindly. Oddly they will listen to falseness but not to truth. They don’t or don’t know how to test the spirits. This famine of hearing has brought the same results as the famine and drought we looked at yesterday. The people of the land are under siege or they have already been taken into captivity. Ezekiel 12:16 “But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” So yes a few, the remnant will be spared because of God’s promise to David. Thankfully God has let some have understanding. Luke 8:8 “When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”Though here in Canada we do not see the famines other places in the world are seeing so I think this is hard to process but that does not mean there are not famines. Last year the New York Times reported “UNITED NATIONS — In a world filled with excess food, 20 million people are on the brink of famine, including 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death. In the face of such grim numbers, a stark question confronts the world’s most powerful: Why in 2017 can’t they avert such a seemingly archaic and preventable catastrophe?” The World Health Organization states that, “When there is severe lack of food, people suffer from starvation, which weakens immune system. The body becomes more susceptible to diseases that can be fatal if left untreated.” Mark 13:8 “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.” So yes we do have examples of famine to draw from. WHO’s description of the lack of food describes the church today. They are starving for God’s word but refuse to turn to Him. Revelation 6:8 “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 16:9 “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.”Think about this famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Most will say what famine, I hear perfectly fine. Jeremiah 29:15 “You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— 17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,” declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord. 20 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares the Lord.”So if you will, the church of North America and other countries who have listened to it’s teaching, are in a severe crisis. WHO said that, “Eight countries in the Greater Horn of Africa are in grave food security situation, with famine declared in parts of South Sudan. Very high levels of malnutrition, cholera, and acute watery diarrhea have been reported from some of the countries.” Take a look at some of these pictures of famine around the world and then overlay those with the church and that will give you a better idea of what the desolation of the church actually looks like. Don’t be deceived by buildings, crowds and programs. Look past those and see what Jesus described, Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. This famine of hearing the word of the Lord is severe and we must realize how terrible our situation so that we will call out to be saved.To understand what we must do, take a look at the parable of the lost son. Luke 15:11 “Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” This is where we are at. Famine has struck and our wealth has led us to our poverty. We were warned not to forget. Deuteronomy 8:10 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.” Hence we have the famine of hearing the word of the Lord.We must come to our senses and realize how destitute our situation is and return to the Lord. Luke 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”So we too confess our sins before God. Leviticus 26:40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’” We are guilty of turning away from God’s commands and just as Daniel confessed we must too. Daniel 9:4 “I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. 7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you.” The church has sinned before God so we need to confess. 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”1 Kings 18:44 “The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” God will hear us when we call.