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Apr8WedApril 8, 2020Today’s church has described themselves as faithful servants of God, though most have gone their own ways. They consider themselves faithful because they have found security in their doctrines and traditions and are faithful to them and adhere to them without veering to the left or right, moving forward with great zeal. Jesus said, Mark 7:6 “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.” Paul said, 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”So here is the problem. Most churches teach their own doctrines and theology to those who attend and so on and so on. They are worshipping in vain because these doctrines are not the sound doctrines as laid out in scripture. For example some churches will say, “We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling enables the Christian to live a godly life.” While this is true, there is so much more. This sounds good on the surface but look closer as it will tell you what they believe. They then quote scripture to back up their doctrines but the scriptures that are not there reveal the truth. The gifts of the Spirit are nowhere to be seen. If you are going to list a bunch of verses about the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:7-12 is crucial but many churches do not believe these gifts are for today. And the ones who supposedly believe have no idea where they are. The interesting part here is that one of the verses they use describes themselves. 1 Corinthians 2:14 “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” If they believed as they say in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, the gifts are crucial. There are all kinds of examples of this in the church where God’s word is set aside for their own beliefs. The gospel becomes a false gospel when the word of God is added to and subtracted from. By changing God’s word, you then are following after other gods and you know these others gods is satan. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” There will always be someone to do the scratching.Meanwhile they believe everything they are doing is by the word of the Lord and if they are successful believe God is blessing them for going their own way. Jeremiah tells us different. Jeremiah 2:1 “Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. 12 Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. 13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. 17 Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way? (John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”) 19 Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. 27 They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’ Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more’? 32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. 34 Yet in spite of all this 35 you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.” Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.” Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”I saw an interview with Franklin Graham who talked about the coronavirus being divine punishment for humanity turning its back against God. He said, “Well, I don’t think it’s God’s plan for this to happen. It’s because of the sin that’s in the world,” Graham answered. “Man has turned his back on God, we have sinned against him, and we need to ask for God’s forgiveness and that’s what Easter’s all about.” After recalling the story of Easter, Graham continued to say “this pandemic, this is the result of a fallen world. A world that has turned its back on God.” Even though he used the word we, he was not talking about himself needing to turn away from his wicked ways. He is not the only spiritual leader saying this kind of thing. One article said, “There has always been a strong temptation among humans to lay the blame for epidemics on more fanciful things than fleas, rats or other carriers of deadly viruses. The idea of divine punishment is almost invariably lurking in the background. The Black Death was seen by many Christians in Europe as divine retribution for human greed, fornication and blasphemy.”I also believe that God is using this virus to get our attention, that is the church and I do believe He has our attention. God sending plagues is throughout the bible. Sadly this virus has shown the world that the church is powerless and this virus is not even as bad as it could be. The church keeps going and saying, we are still the church and we are finding that we are reaching more online; we will come through stronger. While some may turn back to God, it is actually the church that needs to turn back first. What Graham should have said was, I have sinned and our organizations have led millions astray by our teaching. I know, he doesn’t believe that. Any way that deviates from the gospel is false. Malachi 2:8 “But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Peter 2:2 “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” We the church must turn away from our wicked ways but the church just keeps going thinking they are the way. Yes he shared the Easter story but by following false gospels, we then have rejected the Easter story and trample the Son of God underfoot.Jeremiah describes the spirit of prostitution in the church. But first Hosea tells us Hosea 4:12 “My people consult a wooden idol, and a diviner’s rod speaks to them. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” Hosea 5:4 “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” Revelation then tells us what is going on. Revelation 17:1 “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” 3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. 6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.” Revelation 2:20 “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” This Jezebel spirit is everywhere in the church. We are faithless just like Israel because we have disobeyed and this is what has happened.2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”Jeremiah said Jeremiah 3:6 “During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 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,’” declares the Lord. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”Yes I realize most in the church do not want to admit to these grievous sins. When referring to the false prophets God said Jeremiah 14:17 “Speak this word to them: “‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow. Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.” They were taken into captivity just as the church has been taken into captivity and is in desolation. So instead of saying what have we done or I have not sinned against the Lord, we must repent so then the Kingdom will come near just as Jesus said it would. The church has broken covenant with Jesus and has not followed His way.Today is the first day of Passover and this Sunday coming up is Easter, yet the Jews have rejected Jesus the Messiah and the Gentiles have trampled on the Messiah. So return to God faithless church and turn from your wicked ways. 2 Chronicles 30:9 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”So there is hope. Peter said Acts 2:6 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” There is good news for those who turn back God. Jeremiah 3:17 “At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.”Jesus gives us new life and changed everything; the old is gone and the new will come but not if we do not follow His way. John 14:23 “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” This is what Jesus has done for us. Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”The church needs to repent for our sin against God, for going our own way and rejecting His words. Last night there was a super moon that yet again reminded us of God’s promise to David, so there is hope yet for the church. Ezra 9:5 “Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God 6 and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. 8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.” Nehemiah was told Nehemiah 1:3 “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. I was cupbearer to the king.”God will raise us up again but we must return to Him and He will return to us. Psalm 60:1 “You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! 2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. 3 You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. 4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.” Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” Psalm 80:19 “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”I am not going to include all the verses here but take the time to pray these two prayers. Daniel 9:4-19, Nehemiah 9:5-37.