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Lenten Journey Day 25: "Prophets for Hire.March 18, 2023
In the church today, the role of a pastor comes with a paycheck and benefits. Churches hire a minister to guide and shepherd them but since they were being paid, they would also control them to some extent, as the minister probably did not want to get fired. Minsters would be trained, and they would preach the word according to the distinctives they were trained in, and they were expected by those in authority over them to teach and preach the doctrines and theology of that particular denomination. I also remember when there was a lot of emphasis on dressing for success. The power suit and tie were crucial. At conferences, everyone would basically look the same, then the fashion change came, and you could pretty much wear anything from suits to jeans and t-shirt. I personally like the trend away from the power suit nor does dressing in jeans, as dressing a certain way does not always mean the gospel was being preached, as God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Many ministers have the mentality that they had to dress the part so that people would respect them and they could reach them with the gospel. Some went the route of high-end suits, while others dressed in jeans and t-shirts, showing their tattoos as to be relevant to reach a certain age group. The mentality is that more people would be reached if they as a person were more relevant to the culture as opposed to scripture being relevant through all generations. Power from on High is relevant through all generations. This mentality happened because there is no power, so reason and experience took over and scripture was set aside, as were some of the traditions. In doing so the church became irrelevant to God.
Just a side note, when talking about wealth of ministers, this definitely does not apply to all, as many are just scraping by. The problem is you have not heard of those and are probably not following them anyways but are following the ones who are front and centre. The income of many minsters has increased, as did their possessions and worth. You even have those who say they don’t take a salary, but the books and materials they have sold, because of the church they are at, pays them well. You also have the prosperity gospel (doctrines of demon’s), where ministers told people God wanted to make them rich. It turns out they were just referring to themselves. They had and have extravagant lifestyles with fancy cars, massive houses, vacation homes, planes etc. Now if a televangelist tells you God told him he needs a new place; it is not God. Yet people falsely believe that God wanted it this way and continue to give. Not everyone could be robbed of a million dollars worth of jewelry while preaching as we saw in the news. Interestingly this pastor said, “I felt the demonic force,” he said, adding, “I felt it push through the door.” The demonic force was already standing behind the pulpit. While some of it is extreme, many have made a fortune from the business of preaching and teaching
The business of church has really negated and distorted the gospel message. Prophets and teachers are for hire and will tell people what they want to hear. Ezekiel 13:3 “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5 You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?” Many of these prophets / ministers run their churches like Fortune 500 companies and the money flows and it is not just churches. For example Samaritan Purse pays out a huge amount to their CEO Franklin Graham ($722,403) and to their VPs (mostly in the $300,000s) as one site listed. I won’t list them, but just look up some of the mega church minsters net worth, ranging from 300 million down. Today, everything is for sale, from books, music, clothing, sermons, church growth plans etc. People have been led to believe this is good for the church and part of God’s plan to reach the lost. Leaders crave success and satan plays off that desire. Leaders and their churches these days are considered successful if they are growing, building new buildings and starting satellite locations, yet they look nothing like the church Jesus started. The definition of success comes from the world not scripture. satan who even tried to tempt Jesus with the offer of worldly power has been very successful in the church with the same offer. 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.” One person said, “Far too often, we determine success according to a business model rather than a biblical model.” The almighty dollar becomes the bottom line, instead of the gospel and minsters are preachers for hire. If you look at where all the money goes, most of it will go into salaries and buildings. If people are not kept satisfied, they will go somewhere else, as will their money, so most, even ministers who make a whole lot less than the mega church pastors, do this. Most church buildings sit empty for the week, other than for a few hours. If that were a business, they would be done but since it is to the glory of God, it is acceptable, but not really.
Money is at the heart of the CEO driven church. When it comes to money, most who call themselves Christians hold on to it pretty tight. The leader’s job is to free it up. Tithing has become a tool to generate funds out of guilt as the church needs people to tithe to keep going, with some needing millions a month to keep going. Prosperity preachers need your money to continue their extravagant lifestyles. They also need you to buy their books. With all the books being written for profit, you would think God really messed up when He wrote the bible as it seems He left out a lot. Most churches / charities need your money to pay salaries and keep buildings standing or new ones built. The church and tithing as taught today, go hand in hand. If you are going to have the church as it stands today, you need lots of money. Many churches today make up the shortfall with music sales, which generates income for the church, such as Hillsong and others.
For the most part a small percentage of people give the most when it comes to tithing. One statistic showed that the average person gives less than 3% of their income. A while ago, someone called me and told me they could guarantee an increase in tithing by so many percentages. I don’t remember the amount, but I said that is not even closes to 10%. As technology increased, so do the ways of tithing. I always thought it would be neat if at the door of a church there was a tithing generator. It would automatically calculate the proper tithe per your income but not based on what you have left over, although that may cause the church to dwindle in a hurry. Yes, people ask do I tithe on gross or net, but it really is about the heart. You could have a billionaire give a million dollars and yes that sounds like a lot but that is only 0.1 % of a billion dollars. Jesus said Mark 12:41 “Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Yes, there are people who give above and beyond but for the most part, but most don’t.
But for most churches, the money actually going out is minimal compared to the amount coming in. When you think of a charity you usually think how much of what they take in is actually going out to those of whom it was intended. While the church fits the definition of a charity, it is not a charity; just look at the parking lot on a Sunday morning. It is just feeding those who should be able to feed themselves week after week and year after year. 1 Corinthians 3:1 “I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” Hebrews 5:12 “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!” Truthfully ministers should be preaching themselves out of a job. In Canada, a registered charity “refers to a charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. A registered charity is issued a Registration Number once approved. It is exempt from paying income tax, and can issue tax receipts for donations it receives. It must be established and resident in Canada, operate for charitable purposes, and devote its resources to charitable activities.” A church fits with this definition. “It’s purposes were (1) the relief of poverty, (2) the advancement of education, (3) the advancement of religion, and (4) other purposes beneficial to the community not falling under any of the preceding heads.” But ask this question. Take the church out of the community and what difference does it make? The hospital will continue to take care of the sick, all the agencies will continue to take care of the poor and others who cannot get by without assistance, the homeless, the addicted and the list could go on and on as to why the church would not be missed. Take away a hospital, it would be missed. Luke 5:31 “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” When covid struck, it really upset me that they called the church non-essential, but the reality is that is what it was. Covid magnified the powerless church. If it wasn’t gathering, what was it and no it was not missed by the sick. When Jesus walked the earth, Matthew 4:23 “He 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.”
As I said praise and worship music at church should be shut down and so should tithing as we know it today. I do not believe the church is a charity. This is something a prophet for hire is not going to like. For the most part people give to get a tax receipt. They may say I give because I love Jesus, and the tax receipt is a bonus, but take it away and what would they say and do? That day could be coming where the advancement of the religion no longer is part of charitable work. Christianity is not a religion. This would be a good test. Tell people in your church that God can bless you more than the government. There should be a separation of church and state. People in the church complain about the government but at the same time they want their charitable refund. If you have a building or property, pay your taxes to the town or city and stop taking the free ride. One Canadian study I looked at said, “The preferential GST/HST and property tax treatment for religious charities costs Canadian governments over $1.2 billion annually. The special status of churches and religious charities in Canadian tax law allows them to enjoy the services and benefits paid for through taxation while minimizing their contributions (or avoiding them entirely). All levels of government— federal, provincial, and municipal— must all absorb the loss of these revenues from religious charities by increasing taxes on all Canadians, growing government debt, or reducing funding of governmental programs.” Think about all the churches in your town or city and then think about the lost revenue for those cities and towns especially since most would not be missed if they disappeared. If this change in charitable status took place, most churches would not make it.
The problem is, the church today is not the church of the New Testament and leaders are not pushing to have it return because everything will have to change. Paul said to Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:9 “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Money in itself is not evil, but the love of money is. Jesus said Luke 18:22 “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The model that we have followed as a church is powerless to defeat our enemies, even though many appear to be successful. Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says:“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” It is time to repent and go back to the New Testament church and do as Jesus did. Here is what it might look like but remember the power of the Holy Spirit was flowing. After healing the lame beggar, they tried to stop them from preaching. Acts 4:17 “But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were serving Jesus, not themselves. Then we see the early church in action and remember this is the New Testament after Pentecost. Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
Then it is here that even then, the heart was evil in some people. I really do not think that the church actually wants the true church to return and here is why. Here is the account of a couple who wanted their gesture of giving to look bigger than it actually was. If they had been honest, there would have been no problem, but they were deceitful. Cyrus sold the field and gave the money. These two made it look like they did the same and since the Holy Spirit was present, they did not get away with it. Acts 5:1 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” Yes, great fear would seize the church but that is the church we need today.
When serving God, we never have to worry about money. In Malachi, even though it is more important to give your life, God said they were robbing Him. Malachi 3:8 “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.” The government cannot do that for you. We also see a conversation about taxes. Jesus said Luke 20:25 “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they were talking about paying the temple tax, Jesus said to him. Matthew 17:27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Do we really need to worry about money?
This is the instruction Paul gave to the church. 1 Corinthians 16:1 “Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” The reality is, if everyone tithed with a pure heart and trusted God who gave them the ability to make money in the first place. Deuteronomy 8:17 “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,” then church would have more money than it knows what to do with. It really isn’t the money that is the problem it is the heart. Paul sums it up here. 2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” Here is the Apostle Paul saying, others do, but we do not. The business model we see in the church today is not a biblical model. Success is defined as the world see it, not as Jesus sees it. There are wealthy people throughout the bible but that is not the problem. The problem is what Jesus encountered even when He walked the face of the earth. Mark 11:15 “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.” Look at the church today and all the merchandise for sale.
The church is a business and many are really good at it, but powerless to change the world. This is an age-old problem. Jeremiah said, Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 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?” Jeremiah 6:13 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. 15 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:10 “The land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land lies parched and the pastures in the wilderness are withered. The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. 11 “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the Lord.” Isaiah said, Isaiah 30:9 ‘For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Jeremiah 5:12 “They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” Zephaniah 3:1 “Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! 2 She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God. 3 Her officials within her are roaring lions; her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. 4 Her prophets are unprincipled; they are treacherous people. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law. 5 The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame.” Micah 3:5 “This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them. 6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. (Peter and Jude both said the same -blackest darkness is reserved for them) 7 The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” 8 “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” We saw how it was supposed to be. “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.” The same declaration to prophets for hire, “despise justice and distort all that is right” should be made again.
I saw an article from a false teacher who teaches other gospels, the rapture being one, talking about how to spot a false prophet. There was even a picture of a wolf on the article. Their day will come to an end. Isaiah 44:24 “This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself, 25 who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, 26 who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,” The good news is when we call for help and repent God will hear our cry. Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 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. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”