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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  •             Last week we looked at the perilous and rebellious times we are living in. The pandemic we are living is just not going away and has now taken a turn for the worse. There are protests around the world and added to that there are fires and floods, hurricanes and earthquakes taking place and to make matters worse there is another US election! It appears life, as we know it is changing before our eyes. Most thought or think that their lives would just continue on in the same direction never thinking the world might shut down. There is a sense of frustration and hopelessness in the air. The same goes for the church as there are many unknowns ahead.
                This weekend on the Jewish calendar is Rosh Hashanah; it was to be a happy New Year! But not in Israel as there has been a rise in Covid-19 cases and another national lockdown has started. One report stated that Israel has one of the highest daily rates of infection in the world at around 5000+ per day. In spite of this recent lockdown it is interesting to look at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “Rosh Hashanah (Rosh Hashanah 2020 began in the evening of Friday, September 18 and ends in the evening of Sunday, September 20) is the Jewish New Year; it is a fall holiday, taking place at the beginning of the month of Tishrei, which is actually the seventh month of the Jewish year (counting from Nisan in the spring). It is both a time of rejoicing and of serious introspection, a time to celebrate the completion of another year while also taking stock of one’s life. “The period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is known as the Ten Days of Repentance. The Ten Days of Repentance are seen as an opportunity for change. Rosh Hashanah functions, for the majority of people, as the opening of a trial that extends until Yom Kippur. It is an unusual trial. Most trials are intended to determine responsibility for past deeds. This one, however, has an added dimension: determining what can be done about future deeds. The Ten Days of Repentance are crucial to the outcome of the trial, since our verdict is determined both by our attitude toward our misdeeds and by our attempts to rectify them by changing ourselves.” “Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur 2020 will begin in the evening of Sunday, September 27 and ends in the evening of Monday, September 28) is the Day of Atonement, when we ask forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed over the past year. Jewish tradition believes that on this day God places a seal upon the divine decrees affecting each person for the coming year. Traditionally, Jews fast on this somber day and also refrain from other bodily pleasures.”
                Now these holidays are celebrated yearly. This time of intense introspection is ongoing and never ends until the Messiah comes but here is the problem; the Messiah Jesus Christ already came and reigns on David’s throne. 2 Corinthians 3:12 “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The truth is these high holy days only give the appearance of being holy but year after year there is a continued rejection of our Messiah and King. These holy days give a false sense of security to the Jews who follow them. The problem is that the Jews are still waiting for their king, as Jesus did not meet their qualifications for the Messiah.
                One Jewish website said this. “The question “was Jesus the messiah?” requires a prior question: “What is the definition of messiah?” The Prophets (Nevi’im), who wrote hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, envisioned a messianic age as a period of universal peace, in which war and hunger are eradicated, and humanity accepts God’s sovereignty. By the first century, the view developed that the messianic age would witness a general resurrection of the dead, the in-gathering of all the Jews, including the 10 lost tribes, to the land of Israel, a final judgment and universal peace. Some Jews expected the messiah to be a descendant of King David (based on an interpretation of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 of an eternal kingdom). The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of two messiahs: one a military leader and the other a priest. Still other Jews expected the prophet Elijah, or the angel Michael, or Enoch, or any number of other figures to usher in the messianic age. Stories in the Gospels about Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, and proclaiming the imminence of the kingdom of heaven suggest that his followers regarded him as appointed by God to bring about the messianic age. More than 1,000 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, the medieval sage Maimonides (also known as Rambam) laid out in his Mishneh Torah specific things Jews believe the messiah must accomplish in order to confirm his identity — among them restoring the kingdom of David to its former glory, achieving victory in battle against Israel’s enemies, rebuilding the temple (which the Romans destroyed in 70 CE) and ingathering the exiles to the land of Israel. “And if he’s not successful with this, or if he is killed, it’s known that he is not the one that was promised by the Torah,” Maimonides wrote.” Another Jewish site rejected Jesus this way “Specifically, the Bible says he will: Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28), Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6), Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4) Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world – on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9). If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be the Messiah.” And so for over 2000 years the Jews continue to reject their Messiah because they refuse to adhere to God’s word just as they have always done. John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
                Now oddly many in the church today have adopted the Jewish end time belief of the Millennium as they too do not believe Jesus has fulfilled all that he said he would and that His kingdom is not yet here. This allows the church to normalize its powerlessness. He did fulfill the prophecies about himself just not to their liking and understanding. Obviously adopting the Jewish beliefs about the Messiah is ridiculous as you are aware the Jews rejected and murdered their Messiah. Some Jews repented but most continue to reject Jesus as their Messiah. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” When Peter said corrupt generation, Jesus said Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation. 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
                As we have talked about, Jesus already reigns on David’s throne and His kingdom was upon us. Luke 11:20 “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” 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.” 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 then sent out His disciples to do the same.” 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. Freely you have received; freely give.” Most in today’s church do not believe this and are waiting for the reign of Jesus over this world. 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.” Revelation 12:10 “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.” John 12:31 “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”  1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
                This reign already started but because of the churches disobedience, this rebellion started even while the disciples taught. Because of this rebellion we the church are in desolation. It started because men decided to go their own way and reject the word of God. The church we see today is not the church of Jesus Christ and like the Jews have rejected the Messiah and all that He came to give us. 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!” Peter said 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.” Jesus warned us to not be deceived. Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 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.” Paul also warned us in 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. 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 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 8:1 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 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.” 23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” The church has been devastated.
                Today we have false teachers making headlines. They give the appearance of godliness but that is not who they are. Many in the church have fallen to dispensationalism (one source defined it as an evangelical theological system that addresses issues concerning the biblical covenants, Israel, the church, and end times), which spreads like cancer, which is a doctrine of demons. 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.” This doctrine is just one of many false teachings in the church. Because man has rejected God’s word, God has turned His face from the church and the church remains in desolation and powerless. We were told 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.” 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. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” If John said it was the last hour, then we must be getting really close to the end. We have antichrists / false teachers and false prophets standing in the pulpits leading people astray about who Jesus is and what His word states. They change his words to accommodate their own views thus denying Jesus as the Messiah. 1 John 2:22 “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” This denial of scripture has eternal consequences. No it is not another view where the church has agreed to disagree; there is only one way. To be on that way we must follow the words of Jesus and remember those words are from beginning to end not just the red ones. Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 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.” It is strange that today there is very little fear of doing this even though these changes happen all the time.  Sometimes these changes are subtle; sometimes they are just a blatant distortion of scripture. As we have talked about before cessationism is another doctrine of demons. The teachers tell their listeners what is written does not apply to you but scripture does not say that, yet people listen to these false teachers anyways. As John said in 1 John 2 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” Many use this verse to describe a person who was a Christian but no longer professes their faith because that would go against their own doctrinal beliefs (eternal security). Really it describes those without the Spirit, especially those who falsely teach. If they did have the Spirit of God in them they would not be teaching other gospels and changing scripture. John goes on to say 1 John 2:20 “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.” Changing the meaning, adding to and subtracting from the words of God is denying Christ.
                Paul describes it this way. He said to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “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.” 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.” This is what it means to remain. Jesus said, John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We are all supposed to follow God’s word just as Thessalonians did. They even followed in intense persecution. There is only one way and that way is Jesus. We must remain in Him. That means we must follow His words, not the words of man. Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
                Since God has turned His face from shining on us, the power from on high is gone and the enemy prevails against us. Peter answered Jesus when Matthew 16:15 “He asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This power is no more due to our rebellion as a church. You cannot go your own way and expect to be blessed by God. 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?” This is why satan has used his doctrines to deceive people in the church. He tells them once you are saved you are good to go no matter what. He tells them there is no longer power available for you. The problem is scripture does not say that. What it does say is 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. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” 1 Corinthians 12 tell us all the gifts are available. Very few are asking what happens when the church turns away. Yes we have differing belief systems condemning each other such as charismatic and non-charismatic, Catholics and evangelicals but both are wrong and there is not a true repentance taking place. Yes people will repent to be part of a certain distinctive whether it be Baptist, Methodist, Catholic to name a few but the question is what are people being saved into and most do not stop to check. People will be told congratulations you are a Christian now and going to heaven and if you are attending a rapture believing church, then you are on your way without judgment. Not true by the way as there is no rapture as they describe. They may have made a confession of faith or baptized and now all is well. The problem is most churches today are teaching other gospels in one form or the other. So again what have you been saved into? Just because you said Lord, Lord doesn’t mean the Jesus you confessed is the true Jesus, as there are many counterfeit Jesus being taught.
                It is almost too much to think what it would take for true repentance to take place. Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” We all have the same words yet no one repents from their wicked ways. Yes there are difference in translations but when you read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you should be saying; why doesn’t the church look like this and what do we have to do to have the power that Jesus made available to the early church. The flow of power should have kept going from Jesus to the apostles, to Stephen and Phillip. This power was suppose to continue yet it did not. The easy / wrong answer is to say it stopped but that is why cessationism is a doctrine of demons. If you say this is how it is, no one repents and satan wins; thus a false teaching. The church needs to be in intense introspection and listen clearly to God’s word just as Nineveh did. Picture Jonah going to the great city of Nineveh. Jonah was told Jonah 1:1 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” After rebelling Jonah finally did as he was told and went to Nineveh. Jonah 3:3 “Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” After God relented Jonah was angry that he did and said Jonah 4:2 “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Then God responded, 11 “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
                Think about this kind of compassion from God that he would relent. It really was amazing what happened. Jonah 3:5 “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” They heard and repented and were saved. Then we see Jesus speaking to wicked and adulterous generation. He said Matthew 12:41 “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.” Jesus was there and they still rejected Him and today He is still being rejected but this time it is not by the Pharisees and teachers of the law but by the church itself because true repentance has been rejected. Most denominations, independents and churches refuse to turn away from their own ways. 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.” We have been told over and over again 2 Chronicles 7:3 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” But as Solomon said we must walk faithfully. 1 Kings 8:25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.” The church has not been careful nor has the church followed the word of God. There has been a great rebellion and truth has been thrown to the ground. So it would appear that there is no hope for us but as we saw in Jonah, God is a “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”
                It is at this point you may be wondering if there is any hope, that is if you haven’t written this off as the writings of a lunatic. There is hope because God’s word gives us hope. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” As I have said before just look around where you live. You will see church after church teaching there own doctrines and going their own ways and refusing to live by God’s word alone. God’s word makes it very clear that this can’t happen and we will not get away with it, so we must repent and wait on God’s amazing grace. The amazing part of this is that God has allowed us to live. Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  We do not deserve this kind of love. Ezra 9:15 “Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” He has even allowed the church to fall apart but has saved a remnant for Himself. 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.” As Paul told us, God even brings delusion on those who refuse to obey. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “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.” The church today is made up of the deceived and delusional who follow the denominational (doctrinal) distinctives and the leaders of their liking, all the while going backwards and not forwards to where the dead are. Many have died and are dying because of this great famine of hearing the word of the Lord. The delusion and deception has caused great devastation in the church.
                The church today has followed the wrong voice. They have followed folly not wisdom. Proverbs 9:13 “Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. 14 She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, 15 calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, 16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” Everywhere you look there are false prophets and teachers calling out to all who pass by and some of them have very loud voices. People by the millions flock to them as if they were the Messiah yet we have been warned. Luke 20:45 “While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” We also have those who John 12:42 “at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” Too many are focused on human praise and earthly kingdoms. The false teachers and prophets just tell people what they what to hear. Jeremiah 29:8 “Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.”
                We must turn away from these false teachers and return to the word of God. If we do there is great hope as God is compassionate and is waiting for us to seek Him with everything we have. Peter warned us that 2 Peter 3:16 “ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Paul warned us Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” Jeremiah said in a chapter about false prophets Jeremiah 23:36 “each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. 37 This is what you keep saying to a prophet: ‘What is the Lord’s answer to you?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 38 Although you claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ this is what the Lord says: You used the words, ‘This is a message from the Lord,’ even though I told you that you must not claim, ‘This is a message from the Lord.’ 39 Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your ancestors. 40 I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.” You will often hear those words “This is a message from the Lord or this is what the Lord says yet it is not what scripture states.
                We are seeing this a lot in the past months as churches rebel against the government’s pandemic orders. People are praising the likes of John MacArthur (Grace Community Church California) and Jack Hibbs (Calvary Chapel Chino Hills California) and others for opening and stating the government has no power over the church. They believe with everything they have that they are in the right, even going so far as stating there is no pandemic and it is all a conspiracy / hoax. Sadly it is the supposed bearers of truth that have been duped. This is not God speaking because God Himself states NASB Romans 13:1 “ Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Last week John MacArthur used these verses from this very text except left out verse two. He also said President Trump and the constitution say they can meet yet left out God’s word. This is how false teachers operate. They love the praise of men and woman. Remember counterfeit is very close to being real, except it is not. They will then condemn others who do not follow them. People are flocking to these churches thinking they are on the side of God yet they have been deceived and are under delusion that is until God reveals His truth. 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.” They have created a war that really isn’t there. They can still preach the gospel online or meet the regulations they have mocked. Not only have they mocked the regulations, they have mocked the judge and ultimately God. They have got caught up in the election and conspiracy theories and have rebelled against God. One thing they may not have considered is that God allowed this pandemic to expose the powerless church. They are not fighting the government but God. Hebrews 10:31 “It is a dreadful / terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” but they don’t seem to care.
                We must be appalled at the condition of the church. Jeremiah 2:12 “Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. 13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 7:2 “‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” Because of this the church has been taken captive. Even though we were warned just like Israel was, we did not listen just like Israel. 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.” Ezekiel 21:24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.” Ezekiel 33:10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
               Even though the church has been taken captive, there is hope of returning to the land. Jeremiah 3:12 “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord.” If we want God to be gracious to us, we must acknowledge our guilt. Jeremiah 14:20 “We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you. 21 For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonor your glorious throne. Remember your covenant with us and do not break it.” Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” So even though we do not deserve God’s amazing compassion, He will forgive us. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” We serve a compassionate God. Deuteronomy 30:1 “When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. 6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. 8 You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. 9 Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
                King Hezekiah said to his people, 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 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!” Isaiah 51:3 “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.”
                Even though the church has been decimated because of its disobedience by following other gospels, we have hope that once again God will turn His face to shine on us before the final return of Jesus. Jeremiah 33:6 “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. 7 I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. 8 I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. 9 Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’ There will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord  Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.” The church will once again be a place where God dwells. No not in a building built by human hands but in each of us. This is what God wanted for us but we rejected this for buildings and programs and other gospels. Revelation 21:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Jesus said John 14:23 “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.” Paul also said in Ephesians 2:9 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
                There is great hope that God will do as He has said. We also must be aware that because God will do as He said, blessings will fall along with curses. You can read about those in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. One of the most well known verses in the bible is 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.” While most stop at verse sixteen John goes on to say 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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.” The church does not spend a lot of time on the question about what happens when we disobey but we should. Even though Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Repentance leading to Yom Kippur are Jewish and they have rejected their own Messiah, we can still take from this time for some intense introspection. No you do not meditate (new age emptying your mind) or go out and buy a self-help book to understand yourself better; you submit yourself to the Living God and His words. When Israel was to take the land Joshua 3:9 “Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.” We will know the Living God is dwelling among us when the church begins to once again look like the early church in the New Testament and there is power from on high. As of now it does not. Verses such as these will be common once again in the church.  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.” Mark 6:56 “And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 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 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.” This amazing power was supposed to continue. The only time power stopped and the enemy prevailed against Israel was when they disobeyed the word of God.
                Joshua was given this promise. Joshua 1:2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Jesus gave us this command Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” There is much more to this great commission verse than the church has stood on. Unfortunately the church made this verse powerless and began to go to the ends of the earth in their own power to make disciples. Sadly they did make disciples but the wrong kind. This has brought disaster on the church. What the verse actually meant was. 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.” 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.
                God’s compassion is amazing.” Stephen and Philip were the type of disciples that were made. The key was the filling of the Holy Spirit. Acts 6:3 “Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Acts 8:13 “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
                This is the problem with today’s church. We are missing the power of the Holy Spirit and the church is powerless. satan wants to keep it this way but his time is coming to an end. Isaiah 14:4 “You will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!” So with sincere introspection, return to God’s word, repent and wait for Him to act just as he said he would. Luke 24:45 “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
                Please continue to pray for the remnant. Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.” Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Psalm 67:1 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— 2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
    Habakkuk 3:2 “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”