The ROCK
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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  •    Today the world is in turmoil. Covid is not going away with omicron spreading like wildfire. We also see tornadoes, fires, famines, droughts and rumors of war and war. We are also seeing racism manifesting its ugly head and the list could go on. Ignorance also seems to be at an all-time high, as the most ignorant always seem to be making news. 

        In all of this, the church seems to be making no difference and sadly also fuels the fires of ignorance. After all these years since Jesus walked the earth, there is a staggering lack of knowledge / truth in the church. As we are told in scripture Hosea 4: 6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. 7 The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful. 8 They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. 9 And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” You would think with all the so-called knowledge that men and women think they have in the church, these verses in Hosea would not apply to the present-day church but they do. Millions of books have been written and millions of lectures and sermons have been taught and preached. Churches have been built and the masses have flocked yet the church is further from the truth than even before. People have been turning away from the church for year but don’t be deceived by the churches still cashing in on the crowds. One writer said, “The decline of American Christianity is continuing apace. The Pew Research Center reports today that the number of self-identified Christians has declined by 12 percentage points since 2012, while religious "nones" have grown by 10 points during that time. (Other surveys have shown similar drops.) Christians are still the dominant cultural group in America — at 63 percent of the population, they still have a two-to-one advantage over the non-religious — but they're not quite as dominant as they used to be.” Pew research said “About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated. Self-identified Christians make up 63% of U.S. population in 2021, down from 75% a decade ago.” The problem with these stats is that in reality, the actual numbers are much worse as most who identify as Christians really have no idea what identifying as a true Christian actually is nor are they filled with the Holy Spirit. The reality is that after these last 2000 years there is only a remnant left, which is probably less than 10% of all who call themselves Christians. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

        Many call themselves Christians but the Christianity they understand is not found in the bible but in the volumes of books written by men and women and in the doctrines of the church that they attend. Present day theology is made up of doctrines of demons which are eagerly taught by man. 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 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Not only do we have the false teachers teaching but the listeners who listen to them. 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.” That time has been here since the Apostle Paul preached. The bible should be placed above reason, tradition and experience but is not as the bible has been set aside for the words of men. Our reasoning, our experiences and our traditions are in direct conflict with the bible but instead of changing to adhere to scripture, theology is built around reason, tradition and experience while the bible is distorted and cast aside.

        The problem for most is that the bible is just another best-selling book on the shelf. For most the bible is just a book that is read and memorized, studied and dissected and distorted. Peter said about Paul’s writings (which is the bible), 2 Peter 3:16 “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Jeremiah 23:36 “But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” The bible has been added to and subtracted from and every church does it, even though we were warned all through scripture not to do that. Revelation 21:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Those who read the bible come up with their own interpretations as if it is up to us to decide what God is saying. The New Testament did not leave out plans for the temple, so we don’t need plans to build things from men and women who say the plans God gave them are from God. The plans are already there. By the way it is the Holy Spirit’s job to lead the way. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 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. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” There is only one way, truth and life; not many ways. As I have said before, there is no such thing as Catholic, Methodist, Reformed, Pentecostal or Baptist Christians, to name a few. The reason that there are so many views is because the bible has been set aside for the empty and powerless ways of man. 

        The bible is not a book but the living words of God. Peter also said 2 Peter 1:19 “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 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.” Moses said Deuteronomy 32:46 “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. 47 They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” These living words are words of life. Jesus said John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” But the problem for many is that they have no idea what these words of life actually are, as they have been taught by teachers who shouldn’t be teaching. 1 Timothy 1:7 “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” Jesus said, John 5:36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” The good news is Isaiah 30:20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.”

        We were told 2 Timothy 3:1 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” Most people in church have spent their whole lives trying to disprove or ignoring the miracles of Jesus. They are content to be told the old, old stories but do not believe them for today. Most in the church have been raised with these stories but have not believed them possible for today even though the bible tells us they are. I have a soft spot for Hallmark Christmas movies, and it is amazing how many of them involve some sort of miracle. They also usually involve Santa Claus in one way or another. Judy even tells us in the Santa Clause – “Seeing isn’t believing; Believing is seeing.” The world wants to believe but the church doesn’t want to give them anything to believe mainly because the church doesn’t actually believe itself. Instead of repenting, the church simply comes up with new beliefs that attempt to cover their ignorance, but it is just whitewash. The church today is just a form of godliness but continues to deny the power of the Holy Spirit. You also are denying the power of God if you have not tested the spirits, just in case you are a charismatic reading this. The power you think you see is not God but satan masquerading.

        On this last Sunday of Advent, I hope you believe that there has to be so much more to church than what we have been led to believe is the church. This yearly event called Christmas is not what the first Christmas was about. Jesus came and showed us the way, but He also came to empower us. Many in the church have been led to believe that the war against satan was over when Jesus rose from the dead, which is why so many do not acknowledge the presence of evil spirits. This is why most don’t test the spirits, but we are told 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Jesus then showed us how. Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Them Jesus empowered the disciples who then went out and did the same. Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The Apostle Paul was told Acts 26:17 “I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Paul would not have been sent out if we did not have to free people from satan’s power. We were supposed to continue doing just as Paul was doing.  It could be said about the church Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.”

        I hope that when you looked in the mirror you came away very unsatisfied with who you saw reflecting back. Were you unsatisfied with the preachers and gurus you have been following? You should be! If you are content to continue with your reflection and that of those you follow reflecting back to you, you are probably not reading this anyways but if you are still reading, I trust that you would like to be part of so much more than what man can produce with their hands and turn away from the man-made. Hosea 14:1 “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” This journey is about seeing Jesus in our reflection but in order for that to happen, we must believe His words not the words from man about His words. As I said too many people have spent their lives believing what the bible doesn’t say and convincing themselves that the powerless church is all there is and continue contentedly to sit in darkness. Most in the church have accepted the traditions handed down to them. While there are those who have sought other traditions, they still end up missing the truth. You cannot read the bible and miss the power of Jesus and His disciples. Most will acknowledge the bible as true but just not true for today. It is true people love the old, old stories but when it comes to doing as Jesus did, that is a different story. 

        The bible is not just stories of what God did in the Old Testament and what Jesus did in the new. The power and authority Jesus had was given to the church at Pentecost. Today we have the same choice to make. Peter said to the people listening, Acts 2:38 “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.” If you believe that only certain gifts are given, then you have been deceived by your teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:4 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” So when you look in the mirror and that person tells you these power gifts have ceased, turn and run as that is a doctrine of demons! What you read above are the words of life. Anything different is another gospel.

        So the question is still; do you believe the words of God? This really is not as complicated as the church has made it out to be. It is complicated because God has turned His face from us, and the church is in desolation due to our rebellion against His word. Do you remember this little song that said, “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, The B-I-B-L-E. The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone, The B-I-B-L-E.” Then people added but you should see my library! Then another version added a few verses. “The B-I-B-L-E yeah that's the book for me. I have a book it teaches me everything that I know. And in this book it shows me how I need to grow. In my life, I read it every single day. It is the truth, it is my life, and it's my way. It is how God speaks to me. Sometimes my friends they sing a different song, and I'm not sure if they're right or if they're wrong. So I go and get this book off of the shelf and learn from God the Creator of Life Himself. It is his letter to me.” Jesus said Matthew 18:3 “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” There are people today who call themselves Christians who do not even believe the bible is God’s complete word and they decide which words to accept and which to toss. Many barely read the bible so they don’t know the voice of Jesus. The largest number of people who don’t really believe are those who have accepted the reasoning, tradition and experience of those who went before them. They have accepted the powerless and empty gospel as truth and do not seek for more. Many in the church love their bibles but do not believe. Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

        When you say you believe; do you really? Do you really depend on God’s word? Do you follow Him with everything you have? I will be the first to admit I don’t understand everything but when I am asked a question, I love looking for the answer in God’s word. I have learned God will teach you as needed, so I don’t worry too much about it. I read my bible every day and seek God’s direction from my bible. I went to seminary but thankfully God fixed that. My journey has been about keeping my eyes on God’s word. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” 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.” If we keep our eyes on the word of God, then we compare our lives to what we see in scripture. So when people think you are nuts for following God (honestly they don’t really think you are following God), you look to scripture and God directs your path. Job shows us what happens in the end when we persevere. James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” This was not just a story about a man named Job but anyone who perseveres can have this same hope.

        When you put your hope in God’s word, then your reasoning changes, your experience change as do your traditions. I see churches celebrating 150-year anniversaries but what is the point? Let’s just say they really should not be celebrating. While they kept their building alive, that’s pretty much all that is alive. My experience and reasoning when it came to weight loss was pretty dismal. The harder I tried, the more I gained and then I gave up. But then I tried again and then gained some more. I did this for years. This was not something I could do on my own, trust me when I say I have tried before. I have always believed God would heal me because I knew that was the only way this would be defeated. God gave me a promise a long time ago and yes it was not happening, so it became frustrating, but I did not give up. I continued to believe that God would free me even though I struggled with my weight. Then on February 9, 2021 it happened and my life changed. I started losing weight and exercising and eating less. The pounds came off and are still off. I started riding my bike and rode 5000 km. I live in an area where there are so many choices, as long as you like fields of corn and beans. Now I ride indoors on my bike but on a trainer. I love my back yard but looking out the window is not the same as riding outside but at least I can keep going. As of late I leveled off at an average of 225lbs. I was 319 on February 9. I have been in negotiations with my body as it seems to think this is good enough, so for three months this conversation has been taking place. Recently I hurt my back and for a month a pinched nerve could drop me to my knees. I say this because in the past when my weight leveled out or I got hurt and I gave up, but not this time. God is so good but how can I say it is God. Easy the B-I-B-L-E tells me so. I know that I am part of a desolate church just like everyone else, but God said He would remove my prison clothes and He did. Let me tell you it feels great. I put my hope in God’s word and did not give up just as I will not give up believing that there is more to the church than what we presently see. I believe the desolation and delusion is coming to an end because that is what the B-I-B-L-E tells me. satan is fighting hard but His time is coming to an end. Daniel 7:25 “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. 26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.

        Yes I worked out, rode long distances on my bike and ate better and no I did not go from 319 -225 overnight but I believe that can happen just as the dead could be raised or an incurable disease cured. There is a time coming when God’s power will flow and the gospel will look like the gospel truth once again. We will see things never seen before. Moses was told Exodus 34:10 “Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.” Are you anticipating the power of God to flow once again? Do you expect the church to look like this? Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” Jesus said Matthew 11:4 “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” If not; why? Notice what happened when Jesus preached the good news. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Look what happened when a disciple of the disciples preached the good news. Acts 8:5 “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” Jesus said Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” What exactly are people preaching today?

            While most churches say they are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, most are not. They are preaching a version of it which is really not the gospel as Paul said. 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!” Other gospels have been preached for centuries and truth is nowhere to be found and because other gospels are being preached and believed there is no power. 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.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

            Most people don’t really want to look in the mirror because it will mean repentance but that is where we must start. It is interesting how much resistance there is to true repentance. Most people who call themselves Christians absolutely refuse to turn from their wicked ways. We are told 1 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Wicked ways are any way other than the Way as scripture describes. Why would you not want to be healed? Why don’t you want to be saved from the wrath of God? Why would you want to give up eternal life for eternal damnation? The problem is that so many in the church have a false sense of security and don’t think they need to repent because they think they are already saved and secure or they have done nothing wrong yet all this is based on a false gospel. When the true gospel is preached, the world changes as the church will go out in the power and authority of Jesus name. Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

        At this Christmas season, remember what happened and why we celebrate but don’t stay there. Yes, Jesus came as a baby, but He is the King of kings. Jesus was born in a manger, grew up, died, rose from the dead and sits on the throne of David just as promised. His kingdom will not end. Isaiah 9:7 “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” If we want this kingdom to come near, we must repent and turn from our own wicked ways. Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” At this point there is only a remnant of the church left and we should be crying out for God to save us. Jesus did not come to save a few but to save the world. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Mary was told Luke 1:30 “you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Joseph was told Matthew 1:20 “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Zechariah was told Luke 1:68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” 

        This all comes down to whether we believe God at His word. Remember this is not about believing men at their word but believing the word of God. You have to approach this with great care because your eternity depends on it. Do you believe the word of God or do you believe what you have been told about the word of God? What reasoning, experiences, traditions, theology and doctrines have you replaced the truth of God’s word with? What exactly do you think you have been saved into that you are willing to reject the truth of God’s word? You do not want to die and find out after you were deceived by other gospels. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” We need to get this right because as Jesus said, John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

            The book of John (NIV) uses a form of the word believe 84 times. Then in Acts we see the term believers used 28 times and we see the word believed used 17 times. People who believed were described as followers of the Way. Then we see that Acts 11:26 “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” To be called a Christian you must believe the truth of God’s word and be a follower of Jesus, which means you must follow His words, the bible. You then will see His reflection in the mirror instead of your own or the gurus. There is a war raging that most people either don’t know about or are ignoring because it doesn’t line up with their theology. We were warned this desolation in the church would happen because of our disobedience to God’s word. Paul said 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 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. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” This is a war you cannot win on your own or with the doctrines or programs of your church; we must be clothed with power. Jesus told us do not be deceived yet the church refused to listen. It is only by the grace of God that we are alive. Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” satan has great power and has decimated the church because the church refuses to follow God’s word. We were told Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much s to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” But there is good news Revelation 17:14 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

        As I said previously talked about, the promised Messiah came at time of disobedience. Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Following this passage Isaiah goes on to say “Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. 13 But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. 14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; 15 the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. 16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. 17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”  Sadly the church has followed in their footsteps and God is angry but there is still hope.

            This is still happening today, but the promise will survive. God gave David a promise that will never end. Jeremiah 33:17 “For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’” 19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” There is hope but we must return to God’s word and serve Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 31:7 “This is what the Lord says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.” Israel was not supposed to end up with just a remnant but they disobeyed and were destroyed but not completely. The church was not supposed to end up as a remnant but like Israel and Judah disobeyed and has been decimated. Disobedience changes everything just as we saw at the beginning in the garden. John goes on to say, John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

            Today darkness is everywhere but it doesn’t have to be as there is still hope. 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.” This is the Christmas story, but it is also the story of Easter and Pentecost; you can’t have one without the other. Jeremiah 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Acts 2:16 “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 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.”

        The story of the prodigal son is a story of a restored family, but it also can be the story of the church coming to its senses. Luke 15:11 “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. 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. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

        Today there is a severe famine of hearing the word of God but will you turn back like the son? 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.” There are many voices trying to get you to continue in the wrong direction and most are listening to those loud voices, but if you repent and turn from your wicked ways and listen carefully, you will hear God’s voice. Don’t be these people. Isaiah 65:2 “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations— 3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face.” Matthew 13:15 “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.” God speaks through His word and a prophet only speaks the words of God, nothing added or taken away. We desperately need God to dwell among us once again. Revelation 21:3 “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.” Be very careful who you listen too. 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.” When you realize how hungry and thirsty you really are, you will call out to be saved from this desolation. I talked to a man the other day who had almost died because he did not know how sick he actually was. The church is sick and we must continue to cry out. Don’t wait till it is too late. Jonah 2:2 “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 4:14 “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” We must persevere through this desolation and not give up. Revelation 7:14 “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”      As we approach yet another year, who is it that you are seeing in the mirror? Are you content or are you willing to cry out for God to come near and save you? God is calling out to you but are you listening? God told us Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” We need to make every effort to find and follow the right way. Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” So today Hebrews 4:7 “if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Daniel 9:17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” 2 Peter 3:14 “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”