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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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  • Oct16Sun

    Sermon: "Shepherds After My Own Heart"

    October 16, 2022

        Many church goers who call themselves Christians are Christians mostly by way of osmosis which is a “passive process and happens without any expenditure of energy.” Many were just born into what they think is Christianity. I myself was born into church. It really wasn’t until my adult life that I truly understood what it meant to commit my life to God’s word. Up until then I just accepted what was taught which is a form of indoctrination. This is “the process of repeating an idea or belief to someone until they accept it without criticism or question.” Thankfully for me I was part of the why generation and started asking questions. I was raised in the Methodist tradition, and you were taught the ways of that tradition but in my case there was also Baptist and dispensationalism influences mixed with it and a hard no to anything charismatic. Church was a way of life. Sundays meant going to Sunday school, and then Sunday worship would follow and then Sunday evening service plus a midweek event and maybe another social event on the weekend. Basically, the saying look busy Jesus is coming seemed to apply. Later in life I felt led into ministry which was odd because I said I would never do that. Let’s just say I saw the behind the scenes of church life and it is not pretty. I then would need to meet the requirements of becoming a minister which meant schooling but it mostly meant I would agree to carry on the distinct teaching of the church. My college education had already counted as I had gone to an approved school and then later in life off to a Methodist seminary I went. I am not a fan of school, but I made it through in three years instead of four not because I was smart but because I went through summers. Then I went to my first church and suddenly found out people like things the way they are and there was strong opposition to making the bible central once again. I did not last very long. I also saw those that lead wee not spiritually led. Then something strange happened and the hard no to anything charismatic became a possibility as I was searching for the power of God. So, I took a look and took a journey into the charismatic world. I saw people slain in the spirit, tongues, people who had God sitting on their shoulder like a parrot, prophets and others who would speak messages from God or so they said. People would say God was speaking to them, but it was not like scripture. Remember we are told to test the spirits. I started to ask questions and that did not go well. For example, the bible makes it clear that falling on the ground on your back is not submission before God. Instead, it is a sexual submission like animals. This is how it was in scripture. Leviticus 9:24 “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” It’s facedown! I don’t like to compare it to royalty because people think you have to dress up but think about people lining the streets to see the queen and now king. How odd it would be for all those people to be lying on their backs as they went by. I learned that what was supposed to be God moving in power, was actually satan. That came as quite a shock. By the way, satan was moving in the non-charismatic church I was in previously in, just in a different way. This really opened my eyes to how satan had infiltrated the church. After I bit of time passed, I planted a church and then linked up with another Methodist denomination. I had hoped this was the final semester of my education, but it was not. I started to see that like the others, the Holy Spirit was not present as it was just another manmade organization disguised as a church. As I preached the gospel, people would move on. I learned that most who call themselves Christians really don’t want to hear what the bible actually states, nor do they know what the bible actually states. They simply wanted their ears to be tickled. Thankfully I have never been a tickler of the ears. 

        This Methodist tradition followed John Wesley, even to the extent of idolatry. I thought this was interesting. On the Wesleyan website it states this; “As with all Christian denominations, the Wesleyan church traces its roots to the person and ministry of Jesus Christ,” yet names itself after John Wesley? It’s hard to believe but some even erected statues of him like at the seminary I attended. The first denomination I was involved with was Free Methodist and the second was Wesleyan. There was much I struggled with and left both. Both of those traditions were supposed to be in the holiness movement but there was nothing holy or moving about them. When I was younger, I saw a lot of legalism but instead of returning to the word of God, which I would call centre, the pendulum swung past centre and people basically were christians in name only. (Legalism and fundamentalism are still around.) People simply wanted to be entertained on Sunday and yes some have done that really well and call it worship but herein lies the problem. I would have called myself a Methodist Christian, but from what I know now, I would not have seen eternal life. There is no such thing as a denominational (fill in the blank) Christian. Instead, I was following an empty way of life handed down from those who have gone before us. I was not taught the truth of God’s word, and most could not even explain what they were supposed to believe. I saw so-called successful people elevated to positions of authority with basically a minimal understanding of God’s word and definitely did not have power from on High. They would then promote the ways of other men. 

        Even though these empty ways were handed down, I and we are still accountable to seek truth and follow the one way as laid out by the Word of God. Hezekiah said 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.” Hezekiah also said, 2 Chronicles 29:5 “Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity.” The church has done this by following other gospels taught by false teachers. 

        This is just one brief story but anyone who goes to church will have a similar story. You will have been taught certain doctrines and theology depending on where you go and like the Wesleyans you will have followed the theology of man, even though you may not realize it. I would say that many people don’t actually know what the beliefs of the church they attend are or where they came from. If they like the Sunday morning service allis good. Most do not know they are in captivity and powerless against their enemies. These three groups sum up the church and the divisions go from there. First you had “The Great Schism which split the main faction of Christianity into two divisions, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.” There was nothing great about it as they went from one group being off track to two. Then you had the Protestant Reformation which left you with your Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox. Now what you had was one Protestant group dividing over and over and still is dividing to this day. There was nothing good about that schism either because instead of going back to the word of God, the ways of man were followed. The Protestants have many groups as one person described “Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Restorationist, Episcopalian/Anglican, Holiness, Congregationalist, Adventist, and Nondenominational branches of Protestantism.” Then within all of these there are many divisions. Another person wrote “there are also significant dogmatic differences among churches within each denomination. For example, I know Charismatic Catholics, and I know Charismatic churches that act like Baptists. I know there is a great deal of diversity in the United Methodist Church. And Presbyterians have been divided on homosexuality issues. (my words - Many are divided on this issues but they shouldn’t be as scripture is very clear on the subject) The list could go on. For Protestant churches, asking “What denomination are you?” seems increasingly irrelevant as more churches own their own unique theological DNA. The real question is: What does your specific church believe?” 

        Talking about each one’s theological distinctives could go on for days which is absurd as your DNA should look like Jesus, not man. Jesus said John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Jesus also said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is only one way according to scripture but according to man there are many ways especially when you follow man. Jesus made it clear when He said John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” That is what the Holy Spirit was supposed to do but due to the church’s rebellion against God and His word, He has turned His face and now man goes in whatever way they see fit just like in the days of the judges. Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” You will notice in the next book, Ruth starts with Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.” Today we have the same issue. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Those days are already here.

        Now I have not counted all the different churches, organizations and denominations out there, nor will I, but all you have to do is take a look at where you live and see all the differences. Just in our little location on the map, I counted six Reformed churches and no it is not six churches all believing the same thing spreading the gospel. This page on Wikipedia gives a pretty good idea of how many differing groups there are. Yes, some of the differences are minor but many are major. Since I used those two words, the saying agree to disagree is ridiculous. They say focus on the major and not the minor. They say they all believe in Jesus, but most do not believe His words as they put their own experience, reason and traditions above them. So no not everyone believes in Jesus. We were warned Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” No denomination actually believes the other is right because they each think they are the ones with the way, truth and life. Since they all believe something different, Jesus is not actually who they are following, nor is the Holy Spirit teaching. Just look at end-time belief. Some don’t talk about it, some don’t know, others teach one way, while others teach another, yet Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will tell you what is yet to come.” Therefore we have man teaching in their own spirit.  Instead of following God’s word, it is man most churches have dedicated their lives to and there are thousands of differing groups out there. Large churches have now become their own denominations and other churches follow them hoping to do the same. As I was looking back in history at all the division, it makes your head spin. So many said God blessed this and God ordained this to happen, yet as time went by each group was further from the truth than before and powerless. Most churches did not go back to God’s word but instead they tried to do church better and some were very good at it and today attending church is like going to a concert every Sunday. Take a look at a Sunday at most churches and compare it with a Sunday with Jesus. Whenever you are with Jesus it is Sunday. Most services have put worship front and centre with some preaching. Yes, most everyone loves good music, myself included but here is a Sunday with Jesus. 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.” Here is an evening service. 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.” There is no comparison. I was at charismatic evening services that were basically people lining up at the front and falling down. I heard one minister say let’s get this preaching done so we can get to the good stuff. 

        Even though music is good, God says Isaiah 1:12 “When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!” Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” It is not that worshipping God with song is bad, it is what worship has turned into that creates the stench. Instead of churches turning from wicked ways, they looked to man for ideas. They looked to the world for ideas on how to run a business but did not look to God nor did they follow His way. They did not seek God, nor do they fear Him. Now for most they refuse to change as they think, this is what church is. 

        Today most have been taught to believe a certain way and they like it that way. Most will die completely committed to a certain way and will not know they have been deceived until too late. That way may be Calvinist, Orthodox, Catholic, Dispensational, Wesleyan, Reformed and so on. Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” I don’t believe for a moment that teachers and preachers for the most part are standing at the front planning on deceiving you. Yes, there are many that want your money and many that will give it to them. For the most part they are convinced what they are teaching is God’s way, as that is the way they have been taught so when they read scripture they are already set in their ways and even if scripture contradicts their learning, they refuse to turn from it. What they don’t realize is that they have been deceived. 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.” Earlier I talked about itchy ears. 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.” That time is already here and there are lots of people with itchy ears and just as many who will do the scratching.

        When the bible is read, most people don’t read expecting God to speak to them as they read the bible as a book. It is amazing that people can read the Gospels and Acts and still be satisfied with the church they go to. They can read about power but be content with powerlessness. They can read about light but be content to live in darkness. The bible is the living word of God, so yes God will speak to us as we see in scripture but are you listening? When God reveals something different from your denominational distinctives, will you listen? God will also speak sometimes alongside scripture. Let me be clear here that it is not additional scripture, and everything must be tested. Acts 11:27 “During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world.” John 4:29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” Most people who go to church never think to question what is being taught. They just assume that the person at the front is telling them the truth. Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The problem is the church is filled with men and women who follow their own spirits. Ezekiel 13:3 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5 You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?” Jeremiah 50:6 “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. 7 Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture, the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.” Jeremiah 10:21 “The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered.” Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? 19 See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down  on the heads of the wicked. 20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. 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.” Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Today they don’t even have to travel as the internet connects the whole world, so instead of false teaching being contained in one community it spreads like wildfire. 2 Timothy 2:17 “Their teaching will spread like gangrene.” 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.” 

        These next verses talk about the punishment God will bring on these leaders. 2 Peter 2:17 “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.” Jude 1:11 “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” In the midst of God dealing with these people, there is hope. Zechariah 10:3 “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the people of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle.” Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.”

        The church is filled with men and women who follow their own spirits for profit. They continue to teach the false teaching that has been handed down for generations and today the church is biblically illiterate. Lamentations 2:4 “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.” While many know their bibles, they don’t know Jesus and the power that is available to those who believe. Jeremiah 5:11 “The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” 20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence?I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ 25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.”

        We need to be a faithful people of God, but you may say how can I be faithful when I am being taught wrong. Sadly, many have been and will be lost to the enemy and will not see eternal life because of these false teachers. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” While these men and women lead people in the wrong direction, many are following them. As we read earlier, people love it this way. Most are content with spending a little time at church on Sunday but don’t tell me I need to change. Since the pandemic many found that they could do without the physical church and still feel they have kept their commitment. The problem is that what we know as the church is not really the church. It really is not the building. Church became something you attend, not something you were. The church is supposed to be going out into the world, not sitting in a pew for an hour and calling it good. We are all supposed to be priests. Revelation 1:4 “John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Yes, hearing a sermon is part of it but being a disciple is a bigger part of it. Jesus empowered His disciples and sent them out. 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.” The church has been taught that the person at the front is responsible to win souls, so week after week people listen but never go out in power. The problem is those they are listening to don’t have authority and power to give you. You have the blind leading the blind. Matthew 15:7 “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 

        You will be accountable for who you follow, even if it is unintentionally. This applies to both priest and follower. Leviticus 4:1 “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands— 3 “‘If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. 13 “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt 14 and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting. 22 “‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guilt 23 and the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect. 27 “‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt 28 and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect.” Leviticus 5:1 “‘If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible. 14 The Lord said to Moses: 15 “When anyone is unfaithful to the Lord by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, they are to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. 17 “If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible. 18 They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the wrong they have committed unintentionally, and they will be forgiven. 19 It is a guilt offering; they have been guilty of wrongdoing against the Lord.”

        Today thankfully we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Hebrews 7:23 “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. “26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Hebrews 8:6 “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Intentional sin is a whole different story. Hebrews 10:26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

        No, we do not have to offer sacrifices, but we do have to repent and serve God wholeheartedly. Malachi talked about blemished sacrifices as the people came before God and withheld their best from Him. Malachi 1:6 “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty. 10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Today people do not give Jesus their everything. Sure they may go to church for an hour, maybe volunteer but their focus is on their own lives. Their offering is blemished. Jesus said 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.” Most people are too focused on their own lives to live for Jesus. They also do not fear God enough to worry about where they spend eternity. Someone told them they were secure so there is no need to worry but they should because they have brought a blemished sacrifice before God. Whether intentional or unintentional, you must repent. Ezekiel 33:11 “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!”

        My experience has shown me that most people will not repent and turn from their wicked ways but that shouldn’t be a surprise as the church has followed in Israel’s footsteps. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Revelation 16:9 “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” People today are like Jesus disciples who stubbornly refused to believe. Even though we have His word, people still do not believe. Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” We are all accountable before God to follow the truth. God said Proverbs 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. 34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. 35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” Psalm 112:1 “Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

        Because the church rebelled against God’s word, satan was allowed to decimate the church as we have seen today. Truth has been thrown down and the church stands desolate and powerless but there is hope. Ezekiel 39:21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay on them. 22 From that day forward the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them. 25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Not only will God be zealous for His holy name, truth will be made known once again. Isaiah 30:20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”       

      The good news is that the oppressor is coming to an end. Jeremiah 52:24 “Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord.” Isaiah 13:19 “Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.” Jeremiah 50:31 “See, I am against you, you arrogant one,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty, “for your day has come, the time for you to be punished. 33 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. 34 Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon. “A sword against the Babylonians!” declares the Lord— “against those who live in Babylon and against her officials and wise men! 36 A sword against her false prophets! They will become fools. A sword against her warriors! They will be filled with terror.” Isaiah 14:1 “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. 3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 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!” Revelation 14:8 “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” Revelation 18:18 “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. 20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Revelation 19:1 “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants. 6 “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” Jeremiah 51:10 “‘The Lord has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the Lord our God has done.”

        Even though the church has almost been destroyed completely, there is still hope. Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” We have seen the work of false teachers and their gospels. We have seen the work of satan and the doctrines of demons throughout the church. We have seen the power of God replaced by the power of man’s hand but as we read above those days are coming to an end. 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.” The church will once again rise up and do as Jesus did in the power and authority of Jesus name. The message will no longer tickle the ears of those who hear it but leave people amazed. Exodus 34:10 “Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Mark 1:27 “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” Matthew 9:6 “So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” Luke 4:33 “In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.” Acts 3:2 “Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

            Jesus sent out His disciples in power and authority. The church was to continue in this power and authority. 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: Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 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.” 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.” Matthew 28:18 “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.” We were supposed to continue to go out in power. Yes, the false teachers will tell you that power is not possible for today but scripture has not changed, the church has. God said Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Because we have turned away, we must wait for God to turn His face back to shine on us once again just like the disciples were told to do at Pentecost. Luke 24:49 “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 1:8 “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.” That power did come at Pentecost. 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.” That power was supposed to continue till Jesus returns to take us into eternity 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.” Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Acts 19:2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

        That power was supposed to be the power that the church would go to the ends of the earth with. The church today does not have that power not because it is not available but because the church has rebelled and turned away from God’s word. Ezekiel 15:8 “And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the Lord. 8 I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord.” The false teaching and deception of satan is so powerful that people can read God’s word and still be satisfied sitting in darkness and powerless even though all around us are people are desperate to be touched by God. People are not looking to go sit in a building somewhere but are looking for God to dwell in them. Yes, most teachers are saying come and hear me and stay awhile but Jesus is saying come and I will make you fishers of men. You are accountable, so make sure of your salvation. The way it is now most are not saved because they have been led astray by false teachers. Jesus gave us power to go out in the authority of His name clothed in power from on high, not sit in captivity and darkness and desolation. Zechariah 1:16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 17 “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’” Acts 15:16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ 18 things known from long ago.” Isaiah 58:12 “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” But we must repent and turn from wicked ways. Isaiah 58:1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” So, make sure you have truly repented, not to join a church but to be saved from the wrath of God. If the church repents, then once again God will dwell among us. Ephesians 2:19 “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.” We then can Zechariah 2:10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord.”