Come as You Are / Be Transformed! 


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Rock Report by Pastor Paul

This is a blog that comes from my personal devotions each day. It will also include sermons as I have to delete them from the audio section of the website. This blog will also keep you up to date with what is happening at the Rock in Strathroy Ontario 

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  •             Men and women seem to want to imitate other men and women and many will go as far as idolizing their heroes. Advertisers will even tell you to “Be like Mike.” If only drinking Gatorade could make you fly like Michael Jordon did. People love to wear what the stars are wearing and advertisers know that. The church also does the same and like the secular world there is a lot of money to be made giving someone the opportunity to be just like them. Church growth gurus have made millions off of others who want to be like them. The reality is that just like drinking Gatorade will never make you as good as Mike, most who follow the church gurus will never succeed as they have done. They will sell you their ideas and visions and many will try to duplicate but it usually doesn’t work. Remember success often comes because many have unknowingly sold out to satan. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus didn’t fall for it but many church leaders have.
                What does work is to imitate Jesus Christ. John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! Luke 6:40 “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” You just need to make sure it is the right teacher you are following so you don’t fall in a pit. When you follow Jesus it won’t matter whether you live in California or Africa or Europe, God’s power will work anywhere.
                An imitator is a “person who copies the words or behavior of another. We already have the manual to work from so the bible doesn’t need any additional help but it seems that every guru has their own how to manual in addition to the bible. If the church spent as much time imitating Jesus as they do their heroes, the church would be a different place. The church has always set people they follow on pedestals and idolize them; even erecting statues of them. You have Luther, Calvin, Wesley then you had Warren, Graham, Swindoll just to name a few. I thought this article from Huffpost said it well, “Christians would never say Billy Graham, John Piper, Joel Osteen or their own church pastors and worship leaders are God. Yet, the influence of charismatic leaders like these is producing a spiritual climate where, instead of following Jesus, some Christians settle for a leader’s personal brand of Christ, valuing the preacher more than the Word itself. If a leader has enough charisma, a tight enough personal brand or has received endorsements from other celebrities, that’s all they need to gather a flock willing to follow them into heaven. Judah Smith, after building a megachurch across multiple campuses in Seattle, attracted the attention of stars like Justin Bieber and Seahawks Russell Wilson. As a result of these endorsements, Smith has become increasingly popular around America. And celebrities following the now-star pastor Smith maintain and expand his influence and authority. A particular pastor’s way of following Jesus becomes the way of Jesus. People usually follow leaders who reflect their own ideas back to them.” He then used the example of Rob Bell. “Rob Bell, named one of the Times 100 in 2011, was largely influential in Evangelical spaces when he founded and pastored Mars Hill Church, which by 2005 boasted around 11,000 on a weekly basis. His books, videos and resources were at the center of many church gatherings because of his unique ability to ask real questions about the Bible and communicate ideas clearly. However, when he began publicly asking questions about (he denied) hell in his NYT bestseller Love Wins, Christians began not only rejecting his book, but his work and integrity as a person.” This is clearly described in 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.”
                The apostle Paul makes this statement in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”(NIV) Other versions use the word imitator. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. You would think that Paul is telling those listening to these words to be just like Him. This is the mistake that many in the church make because they fail to confirm the gospel of those teaching it to them. They do not ask if this is the gospel Paul was preaching. For example Pastor Coates’s (jailed pastor from Alberta) wife said she had a picture in her husbands study to remind him to “Imitate MacArthur as he imitates Christ." On the surface that sounds like what Paul is saying but you need to look closer to se if that person is actually imitating Christ. If they are they will be doing as Jesus did. Paul said to the Thessalonians who were imitating him 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” Paul followed the words of Jesus, and then the Thessalonians followed the words of Paul. They were the same words that were supposed to continue to be passed along. Even though we have all those words many have added to them and taken some of them away to their own liking. Paul said to the Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Paul also said 1 Corinthians 15:1 “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” You need to make sure that you not imitating someone in vain.
                Paul said Philippians 3:17 “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” So you have to ask what happens when you imitate someone who lives as an enemy of the cross. “An imposter is a person who pretends to be someone else, a person who makes deceitful pretenses.” Scripture tells us
    2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” In the article I quoted above, the writer referred to Rob Bell who rejected hell therefore there is no need for Jesus. That one was an easy one to turn from even though some still follow his teaching. The example I used about imitating MacArthur is even more dangerous than imitating Rob Bell. Millions think MacArthur is a servant of God and he will tell you he is God’s slave yet he teaches a different gospel. So those who are imitating MacArthur are imitating an imposter. There are so many false teachers in the church yet people who follow them think they are following truth and are deceived. They are deceived because they did not test the spirits. They did not believe the words of the bible right before their eyes. Instead they listened to man’s teaching that distorts scripture. John MacArthur blatantly denies the gifts of the Spirit even though scripture does not tell you they have ceased, yet his followers believe his false teaching and imitate him. So then his students go out and preach the same false gospel to others and so on and so on. As we saw, Coates rebelled against authority just as MacArthur has and will even take it a step further and go to jail. This story is told over and over again where followers of man attempt to do as they have done but refuse to follow God’s word.
                Even though the bible nowhere states that some of the gifts have ceased, millions have believed they have instead of seeking them as Paul tells us to do. 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” Most in the church today do not even know they can seek and find. They just assume falsely that God no longer gives gifts to man or that God will move in power just as He did through the disciples. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus sent out His disciples to do as He did and they did. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Jesus then appointed seventy-two to go out. Luke 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. 6 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Have you ever stopped to think about how many verses in the bible have to be deleted to fit with the theology of most churches?
                This powerless message is not the message of the gospel. If you are imitating Paul then you are following the words he spoke and if you are following those words he spoke, then you are following Christ and there will be power. 2 Peter 1:21 “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” By rejecting Paul’s word and not doing as he did, you are rejecting the words of God. You then are neither imitating Paul nor Jesus Christ. Don’t fall for a cheap imitation because it is not the real thing. Jesus said Matthew 4:19  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.” Too many people have given everything to follow a man or woman and not our Messiah. They will give of themselves to follow man’s ways but refuse to deny themselves to follow Jesus, the way and the truth and the life. Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Jesus is looking for total commitment and when you do commit, you will be allowed to have authority and power just as His disciples had. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”
                To truly follow Jesus, to imitate Him, we must follow and believe His words. 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 2:3 “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 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.”
                If we are to be true imitators of Jesus, we must follow and obey His words so that God will dwell among us once again. If we follow His words, the church will again look like the church Jesus is the head of. The church will then be able to say like Paul said, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” If those that lead do not adhere to God’s word, those who follow them will be following an imposter and not imitating Christ. As we wait for God to turn His face back to the church and rebuild David’s fallen tent, know that God will bless your obedience and empower the church once again so that we will go out and do as Jesus did. To imitate Christ, we must turn from our wicked ways. When we imitate Christ we then will do as He did just as Paul and the disciples did. Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”