The ROCK
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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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  •             Unless you have had zero contact with this world, you would see that the world is crumbling as this pandemic has brought the world to its knees. Just when man thinks they have it figured out, the virus changes and gets worse and continues to ravage the land. Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center shows that globally there have been 140,772,908 cases and 3,012,084 deaths. Over a year later here in Ontario we are in lockdown once again as the virus rages through the land now effecting even younger age groups. This unseen enemy continues to spread even with all the hope placed in the vaccines. This pandemic has also brought about great division and inequality among people. Conspiracy theories rage and untrained people now know more than epidemiologists when it comes to this pandemic. You have people pleading with communities to follow the guidelines and then in those communities you have protestors protesting vaccines, wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns and rebelling against authority. You also have those who still ignorantly say this pandemic is fake news and the same as getting the flu; meanwhile our hospitals are overrun.
                The sad part of this as we have talked about before are those who call themselves christians (little c) who are contributing to this ignorance. I heard a minister from Louisiana preaching against the vaccines. He said, “I'll just tell you today, if being anti-mask and anti-vaccine is anti-government, then I'm proud to be anti-government," Tony Spell, who has made a national name for himself protesting Covid-19 rules in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told Life Tabernacle Church congregants.” Last year John MacArthur claimed this was not a pandemic and continues to lead many in protest against the government and as we see one of his followers here in Canada continues to rebel. Last year “Kenneth Copeland declared that he could blow the virus away with hot air last week, in a bizarre moment broadcast to his followers. “COVID-19!” he shouted, “I blow the wind of God on you! You are destroyed forever and you will never be back!” Oops! There is no difference between Tony Spell, Kenneth Copeland, John MacArthur and James Coates as they are false prophets leading their flocks and all who listen to them astray just as Jesus warned us would happen. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
                There has always been talk of World War 3 happening but the world was not prepared for this war. One person said, “World War III has started. You may not have noticed it's a war to the death, because this is combat without bombs or bullets. Our enemy is the SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. It has exactly one purpose: conquering your cells and turning them into factories to make more viruses. This virus attacks on all fronts.” It reminds me of Judges 6:1 “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.” The problem is that not only does the world not know enough to cry out to God but the church absolutely refuses to cry out and repent and turn from its wicked ways. The church should be leading in repentance but like the Jews stand and shout against Jesus saying John 12:15 “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.” Hebrews 10:29 “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?” This is what we are doing when we reject God’s words.
              Instead we should be praising God saying, Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” John 12:13 “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Revelation 19:6 “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad     and give him glory!” If we would turn back to God and follow His ways instead of our own ways, the church would once again have the power and authority we were intended to have. Psalm 81:8 “Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. 13 “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Stephen preached his final words but they still apply today. He 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.” And yes these same words can be said today as people still refuse to listen to God’s words. Mark 14:61 “The high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.” Matthew 12:39 “He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.” Jonah preached repent and the people repented because they feared God yet today people refuse to repent. Matthew 13:13 “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Not only has the pandemic greatly divided people across the globe but has exposed the powerless church.
                As we have seen by the churches who are rebelling against the government’s health orders, there is a strong rebellion against authority. It isn't the government they are rebelling against but God Himself. Yes they will explain away their rebellion but it is simple; they are denying the word of God. Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Titus 3:1 “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Yes they say the government has gone to far (even though there is a global pandemic of which they have to downplay to fit their narrative they are telling) but what the government hasn’t said is stop proclaiming the name of Jesus as they said to John and Peter. Acts 4:17 “But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name. 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.” As you can plainly see this is not happening. It has not happened at MacArthur’s church in California nor has it happened at Coates church in Alberta. They have deceived their followers into believing they are standing for God but in fact they are rebelling against God and His wrath will come as the people cheer for them. 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. 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.” They won’t be cheering when God’s wrath falls upon them.
                You also will notice that Peter and John had great power just as Jesus said they would have. Luke 24:46 “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 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.” Then we saw Peter and John heal the lame man in Jesus name, which is why they were so angry with them. Acts 3:1 “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 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. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
                Before this happened we go back before Pentecost to when Jesus gave His disciples power and authority to do as He did. This was a prelude to the power from on High that would come on them at Pentecost, but not just for those who waited but to all those who wait and believe. Thankfully that was to include us today. Acts 2:37 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” The problem today is that people are not being cut to the heart, as they do not think they are a corrupt generation. Jesus had given his disciples great power. 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. Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 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.” 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.” Jesus tells us in John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
                The disciples went out and did exactly what Jesus said they could do. Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luke 9:10 “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.” Can you imagine that conversation? Jesus said I give you power and authority to go and do as I have done. The report would have been, we healed the sick, cast out demons and proclaimed the kingdom of God. Later we see that Paul reported what God had done among the Gentiles. Acts 15:2 “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” Acts 21:17 “When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. 18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.” This power and authority was to continue as we see in Mark 16:5 “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.” 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.” 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.” I find it interesting that the church always talks about the great commission, which is Matthew 28 yet there is no power to report. Here is the reason why there is no power to report. Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.”
                Today we have millions dying of hunger and thirst and I am not just talking about food and water but a spiritual famine. 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.” When I talked about the prelude to Pentecost, the disciples were given power but they still did not get the power of the gospel that was coming to all who believed. After they reported to Jesus all they had done and don’t even think for a moment they had nothing to report. Can you imagine Jesus giving you power and telling you that you could do as He did and then report nothing? The disciples reported even the demons submitted to them. Actually you can imagine doing nothing because that is the state of the church today but that is not what happened with His disciples. Jesus wanted to send us out just like His disciples, which is what Pentecost is about but through a stubborn refusal to believe, there is no power. Jesus told this parable when describing the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 25:14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
                We can learn from the stubbornness of the disciples. 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.” After Jesus had given the disciples His authority and they went out and healed the sick and casted out demons, they reported to Jesus and Luke 9:10 “Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” Remember He has just given them power and authority and they reported to Him about it. Now you have a massive crowd who had gathered. This was the disciples response. Luke 9:2 “Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” Then we see Jesus make this amazing statement to His disciples. 13 “He replied, You give them something to eat.” John describes it this way. John 6:5 “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” Jesus said to His disciples Matthew 16:8 “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?”
                The power and authority to heal the sick and cast out demons was available for them to feed the five thousand just as there was power for Elisha to feed the one hundred. 2 Kings 4:42 “A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. 43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.” Just like the feeding of the 4000 and 5000, they ate with leftovers. Later in James when talking about the power available to the church and the power given to Elijah, James said, James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
                Today people are starving for the word of God yet most do not know it and are looking elsewhere to be fed. Unfortunately what most are finding to eat is killing them or they are slowly starving of malnutrition. As we read in Isaiah, Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.” People need to hear and know the truth once again so they will be nourished. 1 Timothy 4:6 “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.” Look at those around us today. People are starving, afraid, sick, dying, controlled by demons, prisoners and in darkness and desolation. They are worried, anxious, depressed, mourning and in despair and that is the church I am talking about. Like in Gideon’s time, the nations were ravaging the land because of their disobediance. Habakkuk told us what would happen to Israel for their stubborn refusal to believe and obey. Habakkuk 3:17 “The fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, (though) the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, (though) there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.” Habakkuk was told Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; 9 they all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 “They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on— guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” This is what has happened to the church. Paul even warned us when he said to the Jews Acts 13:40 “Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.” He goes on to say, 46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
                The church was to continue in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. He would confirm His word with signs and wonders just as He said He would. What happened in the gospels and in the early church was to continue. We were supposed to continue doing as Paul did. Acts 26:17 “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” The church was to continue what Jesus started and do as He did in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what the church should look like. Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
                Jesus said to the disciples “you give them something to eat” and they could have just as they reported healing and casting out demons. Notice that Jesus tested Philip. What would your answer have been? When Pentecost came the church was given the same power and authority the disciples were given to go to the ends of the earth proclaiming the kingdom of God. The reports should still be the same, as God should still be confirming His words with power and authority but instead the message has not been received. Isaiah 53:1 “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Romans 10:16 “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” 20 And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” 21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” John 12:37 “Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” The church like the Jews still doesn’t believe.
                Today instead of giving our report to Jesus of healing and casting out demons, freeing those in captivity and bringing light to where there is darkness, we have hidden what God has so freely given to us like the one who received one bag of gold. By rejecting God’s way and going our own way, we reject Jesus as the way, truth and life. By rejecting Jesus we loose the power and authority available to all who believe and eternal life. The church has been without this power for a very long time and this has eternal consequences. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” The only way for this power to return is to turn from our wicked ways but the church is so set in their own ways, they refuse to repent. 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. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.” 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?” Most today listen to someone preach and think they are telling the truth and are deceived because they have not tested what they are saying with what the bible says.  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.” This is happening throughout the church. Ezekiel 13:1 “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! 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 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. 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. 30 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.” Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.”
                People in the church are listening to the wrong voices and will pay an eternal price for their ignorance. satan wants the masses to be with him, to go where he is going and they joyfully rush through the wide gate. 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.” He will deceive you into believing God did not say what He has clearly stated and many will believe his lies. He will entice you to eat delicacies that lead to death. He wants you to seek after food that will not fill you. 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.” Ezekiel 7:3 “The end is now upon you, and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. 4 I will not look on you with pity; I will not spare you. I will surely repay you for your conduct and for the detestable practices among you. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin.” The church has hungered after the wrong food. Psalm 141:4 “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.”  Proverbs 23:3 “Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.” Numbers 11:4 “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.” Psalm 18:18 “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. 19 They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?” 29 They ate till they were gorged— he had given them what they craved. 30 But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths, 31 God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel.” Proverbs 9:16 “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.” The church has gorged itself on these delicacies that lead to death and has paid a severe price.
                Some of these churches who brag about standing against the government during this pandemic say the pandemic has caused them great growth yet they have rebelled against God’s word and they will feel His wrath. They also say that God is blessing them. God doesn’t bless disobedience and all will eventually see. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” People are craving other food just as many craved the lies of many false revivals like the Toronto Blessing and others like it. Most do not know their bibles well enough to know they are being deceived. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Instead of turning away from sin, they are being led into sin by the distortion of God’s word. The food they crave is not the word of God but man’s distortion of God’s words. These are not the words Jesus told us to feed the people with.
                In this midst of all this chaos we are presently surrounded with, there is hope. God gave us a promise that there would always be a remnant and the church will rise up from the ruins and desolation we are presently in. Just like Israel was freed from Egypt and just like they were released from Babylon, God will Acts 15:16 “rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it.” Instead of the hopelessness we are surrounded with, God in His great mercy will restore us to Himself once again. Jeremiah 23:2 “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.” 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.”
                Daniel knew they were in captivity because of their disobedience and repented for it. Daniel 9:7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.”  Habakkuk knew the devastation that was coming to them for their disobedience yet like Daniel trusted in God’s word even though great devastation would come upon them. Habakkuk 3:16 “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
                What Jesus has to offer is not the delicacies craved by so many? That food lacks truth and will not lead to life but death. That food will never satisfy you and you will always crave for more. Week after week, year after year men, women and children in the church have been fed a steady diet of food they have craved. Some were actually seeking truth but were fed delicacies instead. Ministers tell them what was on their menu and fed you their own beliefs. Others told you what your itching ears want to hear because they were afraid to loose people to somewhere else. Both are not giving you the bread of life as they Jeremiah 23:36 “distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” Paul said Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” This has been happening ever since Paul said these words and these delicacies are not the food you want to eat.
                After Jesus gave the disciples His power, he told them to give the crowd something to eat. Their response was Mark 6:37 “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” After Pentecost we saw that the disciples were completely different than when Jesus asked them this question as they had been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 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 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
                You do not want to crave other foods but you want to hunger after the Bread of Life. John 6:26 “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” You have a choice to believe or not to believe. 36 “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” We have the word’s of Jesus before us; listen, believe and be filled.
                People are hungry and thirsty in this severe famine we are in but Jesus is our hope of eternal life. John 4:13 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 7:37 “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” If we seek the bread of life Revelation 7:16 “Never again will they (we) hunger; never again will they (we) thirst. The sun will not beat down on them (us),’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their (our) shepherd; ‘he will lead them (us) to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their (our) eyes.” Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Are you hungry and thirsty for truth? This was supposed to be the church and will be when the remnant rises up. Revelation 21:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
                Today there are many who teach an empty and powerless way but that is not the way of Jesus as He said He would confirm His words with power. And no we are not talking about powerful men and women with masses following them but the power described in scripture. 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.” Matthew 11:5 “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 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.” Our only hope today is to believe in the word of God once again not the words men and women have distorted about God. Power follows God’s word which lead to life. All other words lead to death. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” John 12:44 “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
                Jesus told His disciples to give the people something to eat for a reason. Jesus was always teaching them what to do. What Jesus taught His disciples was the teaching the church would follow after Pentecost. Because the church has not following Jesus teaching, the power to feed is unavailable and the church spends its time trying to figure out how to get the masses fed through man-made means. There will always be people who will flock to these buffets but don’t be those people. Be seekers of truth and live. 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?” Jesus says to us, Mark 1:15 “The time has come, The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”