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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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  • Apr11Sun

    Sermon: Come Follow Me!

    April 11, 2021
                Today it is very easy to follow someone without actually getting involved in their lives. (Obviously not the creepy kind of following) To follow has many different usages. It can mean, “to go or proceed, to obey, to pursue, to copy after, to watch steadily.” Today there is a lot of watching steadily but not always in a productive sense as you can spend an exorbitant amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube following people lives. Basically if someone is on social media, you can look into their lives; that is as much as they share. There are those like Dude Perfect who have at this point in time 55.8 million followers on YouTube and the videos have 12,763,474,745 views. That seems like a lot but after looking at a list of some Instagram accounts, the numbers are even higher than that. Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer player) (@cristiano) Followers: 261M. He also has 122 million subscribers on Facebook. The Rock (no not our church) Dwayne Johnson (actor) (@therock) Followers: 216M and poor Justin Bieber (singer) (@justinbieber) with only 162M followers. It is very easy to live out your dreams through the lives of those you are watching but for most the reality is that what you are watching and hoping to be like will never happen. These media platforms also provide a wealth of knowledge, which is both good and bad. You have to remember that not everything on the Internet is truth. The problem is every person can have an opinion and there are a lot of opinions on social media.  
                Today I am asking the question who you are following and no I don’t really want to know about who you follow on social media. The reality is that most people are spending all their time following and trying to be like the wrong people. Even so there are only two options to follow: you are either following Jesus Christ or satan. Those are the choices we have and there is no in-between. Who are you spending all your time trying to be like? Right away Christians will answer they follow Jesus Christ but are they actually following Jesus? Most will say I go to church therefore I am a Christian because someone along the way probably told them they were safe and secure because they attended church and had made a confession of faith. That sounds good on the surface but what you need to ask is what are you actually saved into? Yes you go to church but who is your church following? When you say you are following Jesus that means you are following His words not man’s words. You can’t follow Jesus if you don’t know His words, especially if you don’t know when His words have been distorted or negated. Many who follow distorted words think others are following distorted words and even though the negated words have been replaced they approve of their distinctiveness. If you have been deceived, then you are not following Jesus. If you are attending a church that teaches another gospel, you are not saved if you adhere to those false doctrines and false teaching. 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” We saw what happened to Israel and Judah for not obeying. Many are not adhering to the gospel of Jesus Christ yet they think they are because they have replaced God’s word with their own. Yes people will talk about the gospel but the gospel has been changed. God is angry because the church has not adhered to His words yet most who go to church have no idea this has happened. They have been misled to believe all the different teachings are okay. Jesus told us John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 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.” If the church is truly following God’s word, then there will be power flowing in the church. Since there is no power flowing, we need to take very seriously who it is we are actually following. Following Jesus leads to eternal life. John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” If you are knowingly or unknowingly following satan, there will be eternal damnation. Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
                 We see what following Jesus is all about when He calls His disciples. Matthew 4:18 “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Mark 1:20 “Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” Luke 5:27 “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” Here you will notice the words “at once and immediately.” We also see with Levi / Matthew as did the others that he got up and left everything. While they had a lot to learn they were totally committed. Later Mark 10:28 “Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” John 1:40 “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.” Mark 3:13 “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” These were the disciples who were called and who followed.
                Now we have the disciples who walked away from what they knew to follow Jesus. There is a cost to following Jesus but also great reward. The cost of following Jesus is not talked about enough. Most churches lay out the cost of being a member and equate that with following Jesus. Jesus explains the cost to us. Matthew 18:8 “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Even though there is a cost, blessing will follow for following wholeheartedly. Peter went on to say, Mark 10:28 “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
                Have you been taught to go to church and live your life as it was before just make sure church is part of your life? Or are you willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? Many in church are too attached to this world. Jesus wants us separate from the world but satan the prince of the world on the other hand wants to give you the world. Jesus said John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” When you think as the world thinks you are not following Jesus. This is why Jesus said to Peter, Matthew 16:23 “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
                As the disciples followed, Jesus began to teach them and they also witnessed first hand the power that was now available to overcome the world. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” As the disciples followed Jesus, this power was to overcome the world was on display. 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. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Not only did they get to witness the power Jesus had for all His disciples, they were empowered to do as Jesus did. Everything Jesus did was to show the church what they were to continue to do. 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.” 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.” When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He said Luke 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Hebrews 2:3 “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Romans 15:8 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” We must discern whether the signs are from satan or God as Matthew 24:24 “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “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.” This is why we test the spirits.
                This was just the beginning of what the church was to become. The church was to continue to destroy the works of the devil. 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.” To do this God gave the church authority and power. Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “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.” 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.” Pentecost came and the power of the Holy Spirit filled the disciples but this power was not only for a specific few, Acts 2:39 “the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” At Pentecost it wasn’t just the selected disciples who were there. Acts 1:12 “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty). Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 4:29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” As you see the power of the Holy Spirit had its beginning at Pentecost but this power was to continue on not stop. As we saw during our Lenten Journey, there is more to being a Christian than just going to church; there is power available to all who believe. We are supposed to be the church and go out in the power and authority of Jesus name, doing as He did when we are clothed with power from on High.
                The power of the Holy Spirit kept filling and more and more disciples followed. Acts 6:1 “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 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 8:5 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.”
                To follow Jesus means to follow His words wholeheartedly. Jesus makes it clear that you cannot be a His follower and be lukewarm. Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” The church talks about free grace but it is not cheap; there is a cost. That cost is everything you have but as we saw earlier God said he would bless you if you followed wholeheartedly. Mark 10:21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:16 “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 20 All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.” God would have blessed this man but he did not immediately follow Jesus. Many do not like the teaching of Jesus so they make up their own ways, which are easier to follow. John 6:66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
                When we follow Jesus wholeheartedly, His words become our life. Jesus looks at our hearts and knows what we are willing to give up to follow Him. By following at all costs, we will also see the power of His words come to life. If the church were truly following His words, we would see His power but as Malachi tells us what the church should be and what the church has not done. Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” Here is the problem; the church has violated the covenant. 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.” This is what I meant by those who follow satan unknowingly as they have been deceived by false teachers.
                Throughout the church around the world we have false prophets and teachers leading men, woman and children astray. Titus 1:11 “They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” Instead of teaching disciples to follow Jesus, they have introduced them to other gospels and have led them astray. These false teachings spread just like the virus is spreading. Jeremiah 23:20 “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. 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.” Remember following satan leads you away from God’s word and ends in destruction. Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” Paul said he does the opposite. 2 Corinthians 4:2 “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” When speaking about Paul, Peter said, 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.” Paul’s writings have been greatly distorted. We were warned Hebrews 13:9 “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” It can be said about these teachers that 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.” Ezekiel 13:3 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 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? 8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall.” This verse should put the fear of God in everyone who reads it. 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.” People have been taught that all they had to do was Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” They never checked to see what they were saved into. There is a cost to our belief and it is not cheap grace and it is definitely not just the act of going to church.
                There are only two kind of disciples; wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ and followers of satan. Matthew goes on to say, 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!” Luke 13:22 “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 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!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
                There are many in the church who think they are followers of Jesus but have been deceived into following the lies and deceptions of satan. And now there is a stubborn refusal to repent as they are so set in the ways of their deception just like these who refused to repent in the bible. Zechariah 7:11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. 13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Proverbs 30:20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.” Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.” Stephen said Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it. 54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.” They then killed him. Jeremiah 9:14 “Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” Jeremiah 11:8 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’” Zechariah 7:11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.” Romans 2:5 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
                The church today refuses to listen to God’s word and still does not want to hear that they are not following Jesus Christ but satan. We were warned this would happen but the church has been deceived into believing these warnings were always for down the road sometime in the future. This is part of the deception as down the road is too late. Too many are listening to the wrong voice and are being deceived. The voices sound similar thus the deception as you can see with wisdom and folly. Proverbs 9:1 “Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. 2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, 4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” 7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. 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.” One voice offers life, the other death. Do you know the difference?
                There are two kingdoms, the kingdom of this world run by the prince of darkness and the kingdom of God where the Prince of Peace, Jesus reigns on the throne of David. If you are a true Christian, you have a father in heaven and you can appeal to Him. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Romans 15:5 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Earlier we talked about the world but when Jesus came, He overcame the world and the power of the prince of this world but we had to obey and not rebel as the church has done. Because of our rebellion we lost the available power. This is how it was supposed to be. 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.” John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” 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.” Instead John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
                If you have succumbed to the lies then John 8:44 “you belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” You do not want to be a child of this father. 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. 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.” Most people don’t seem to be aware of the power satan has, that is until Jesus came to destroy his works. That destruction of his works was supposed to continue. This is why Jesus told His disciples to wait to be clothed with power from on High. When Jesus was tempted by satan in the desert, 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.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Even though Jesus said John 14:30 “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me.” Yet satan has been given great power (abomination that causes desolation) due to the rebellion of the church and unfortunately for many they have unknowingly made a deal with the devil. Their fame and fortune is not from God but from satan. They think God blesses them but the blessing they think they have will come crashing down just like the whitewashed flimsy walls. Ezekiel 13:14 “I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord.” Here we see satan’s power when Paul talks about how they used to live. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Ephesians 2:2 “in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” This is why we were told to test the spirits. 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.” If the church actually would obey and follow wholeheartedly, we would be doing as Jesus commanded us to do and we would be seeing the power to be changed as Paul described. Instead satan has decimated the church by his deception. Instead of destroying the works of the devil, the church has embraced them as sound doctrine.
                We were supposed to follow this directive. Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” But due to the churches rebellion, satan has been given great power against us just as Babylon was given great power against Israel and Judah. This shouldn’t surprise us as we were warned already. Daniel 8:23 “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.” Daniel 11:21 “He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.” Revelation 13:3 “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.” The church has done this already and continues to do it. There is so much talk about the mark of the beast 666 as some event in the future but most of the church has already accepted the mark by following other gospels. Revelation 14:9 “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” While people are waiting for the mark to come and no it is not the vaccine, they have already taken the mark by rebelling against God’s word and following satan’s calling. They have rebelled by not following the words of Jesus and have gone their own way therefore they are following satan. 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. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people? 14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” The end is coming and the church will be restored and the glory of the Lord will fill His temple (us) once again.
                Now what we have in the church is a free for all. Everyone goes their own way and does their own thing yet powerless to defeat our enemies. Deuteronomy 29:19 “When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way, they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” Proverbs 21:2 “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” There are so many false teachers in the church no one can tell what is real anymore. Sure most talk about Jesus but listen to the words they use that have replaced His words and people are dying not knowing the truth. They have died and followed false gospels to their graves. We were warned over and over again. 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.” Today there is only a remnant left. The church has been decimated because of this great rebellion but as we saw in Daniel, “yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”
                I want to give you an example and there are many to choose from but since this is making headlines, this one will work. As you may be aware there is a pandemic happening and it is getting even deadlier with all the variants. Yes some will stick there head in the sand and believe the pandemic isn’t real, the government has made it up and so the conspiracies grow but when you have the church leading in rebellion against the government we have as serious problem. This is a clue that satan is at work. I am aware that most churches are not doing this but they are not making headlines either. These few churches who are rebelling brag about the growth of their churches during this pandemic as they mock the virus. John MacArthur said, “In the middle of the lawsuit, the Lord has grown our church. So this was a very small tiny local church until COVID. One thousand new members, baptisms. Did you hear the testimonies in baptism Sunday night? There's a new evangelical term. I love it. It's 'Grace refugees'. It's the people who had no other church to go to so they came here as church refugees," MacArthur stated further. He said that he will take everyone in, in his church. He also revealed that people all across the country have flown and driven just to worship with them every Sunday. The pastor concluded his statement by saying that some of the congregants came, not just because it was the only church open, but that it was a church that presents the Gospel and the Word of God.” This church does not actually preach the word of God. This from a man who denies that the pandemic is real, spreads lies and distorts facts from the pulpit, rebels against the government even though he used to preach against doing that, tell others to do the same and rejects the power of the Holy Spirit by teaching ceassationism. Here is an example of following the wrong person. Last week and its about time they did something, GraceLife church was shuttered for breaking the law. The Edmonton Journal’s headline was, “GraceLife Church shuttered by authorities after months of flouting COVID-19 rules” Pure and simple this is rebellion. This pastor even went to jail and made himself out to be a martyr but he is not as he refused to obey the rules set in place. He didn’t go to jail for peaching the gospel so don’t get sucked into believing this is a church fighting for the gospel. It is not. This a church following the rebellion of John MacArthur. As Erin Coates wife of this pastor said “Imitate MacArthur as he imitates Christ.” The problem is that MacArthur is not imitating Jesus.
                Everyone is making disciples but whose disciple are you; satan’s or God’s? John MacArthur is a false teacher and is leading millions astray. You can see the dangers of making disciples who follow false teachers. James Coates is a disciple of John MacArthur, a graduate of The Master’s Seminary (MacArthur’s) and this church is on their trusted churches list. MacArthur has been rebelling and telling others to do the same. Coates preaches the same message to his followers and now they think there is a sinister plot by the government that has brought down these draconian measures. Meanwhile the variants of the Covid -19 have struck Alberta. On Alberta’s website they show how one infected person spread to 42. CBC reported “Highly contagious variants of the coronavirus are now the dominant strains pushing Alberta's third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, says the province's top public health doctor.” According to John MacArthur there is no pandemic but the pandemic says otherwise and this virus doesn’t care if go to church. What these two men are teaching their disciples is to rebel against the government, not teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. After the church was shuttered Coate’s wife again stated, “Erin Coates, the wife of Gracelife pastor James Coates, is sharing the image of fences going up around the church. She argues it's under the guise of a health order, then adds that "the Church isn’t a building, it’s a blood bought people" Me thinks she shouldn’t argue because if the church is not a building then why are they fighting about a building. This is not about the government trying to shut down churches. They can preach all day long and everyday. At no time have they said do not mention the name of Jesus as Peter and John were told. 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.” That day may come but it is not here yet. They have made this into something it is not. I just a saw an article that said in Alberta they called the Alberta Health Services Nazis. This is also teaching that is coming out of some churches in California. Here in Ontario we also a have false apostle in Aylmer saying similar things. I just saw that Aylmer is now considered a hotspot in Ontario for the Covid virus. The London Free Press stated, “Aylmer, the town of about 7,500 southeast of London, has been the site of multiple anti-restrictions, anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests during the pandemic. Controversial Church of God pastor Henry Hildebrandt has become a figurehead for many anti-lockdown groups, appearing at protests throughout the province.” This pastor calls himself an apostle of Christ but he is not but a false apostle. You can see more about him on “W5- Controversial religious sect in small-town Ontario preaches disruption.”
                John MacArthur was a disciple of someone before him. He then has made disciples not only of those in his mega-church and he has been doing this for a very long time but has also influenced a great number of ministers like James Coates and then they go out and influence others with their false teaching. What is sinister is not the government trying to control this virus as it mutates but what is threatening is what is actually happening in the church. Peter tells us 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. 7 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. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” To show how serious this is Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” Luke said it this way. Luke 17:1 “Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.”
                These churches are not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul warned us when he said in 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!” What we were supposed to accept is what Jesus taught and Paul taught. 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. 2 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.” Following Jesus should continue as we just read. This minister in Alberta did not go to jail because he was preaching the gospel; he went to jail and stayed in jail because he refused to follow the law. Oddly if you look up their church you will see they are a registered charity. They will take from the government but at the same time rebel against them. What a testimony. These are not disciples / followers of Jesus Christ. Malachi 2:8 “But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty.”
                Jesus said come follow Me! satan also wants you to follow him. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “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.” But where he is going you don’t want to follow him there. It may appear good until it doesn’t. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Revelation 20:9 “They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” As we saw in Proverbs 9, both are calling out to you. One will lead to eternal life and the other to eternal damnation.
                The choice is yours. Who will you follow? What will you choose? Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
                Are you going to stand firm on the Rock or will the stone cause you to stumble? 1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble    and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
                You many be very committed to your church but are you actually committed to the word of God? Have you been deceived by following false teaching and have been led astray by it? 2 Thessalonians 2:5 “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.” Don’t be afraid to look at what you or your church believes and don’t be afraid to follow Jesus at all cost. Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”