Our Advent theme is a little different this year as our focus turns from the church doing the same thing over and over with no results to doing what the church has been called to do with power from on High. Last week we talked about getting off the hamster wheel of rituals. With Christmas fast approaching, everything will continue to be the same as last year unless there is a better program or event to go to, but then just as quick as Christmas comes it will be over and Easter will then be fast approaching, and repeat! The church today is dimly lit and powerless but seems content even though, Isaiah 59:1 “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 9 we look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. 11 We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.” Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” As we were told, disobedience brought this on. Deuteronomy 28:29 “At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you. 45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.” These verses describe the powerlessness of the church.

        The church presently and for hundreds of years is nowhere close to being the church Jesus started. Instead it gets further away. It’s been 2000 years since Paul said Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all.” That desertion continued therefore due to this rebellion; the church does not have the power it was supposed to have to do as it was supposed to do. The gospels show us what the church was supposed to look like. 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.” Jesus didn’t just send His disciples out; He sent them out with power and authority to do as He did. 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.” Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” 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.” This should still describe the church, but it doesn’t. That same power Jesus gave to the disciples would be given to the church at Pentecost. John 7:38 “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.” Mark 16:17 “And these signs will accompany those who believe. 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.”
        The disciples were told Luke 24:48 “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.” They obeyed and 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.” In that power the church would continue doing as Jesus did and destroy the work of the devil. 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 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.” The church was supposed to continue that work, but instead rejected God’s word and His power and decided to go with their own words and do everything in their own strength. The church does not have that original power to defeat satan but is instead being defeated by satan.
        The cycle of rituals continue year after year and now for over 2000 years, truth is nowhere to be found and everyone does as they see fit. Isaiah 59:15 “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” The church continues to refuse to repent. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is a beautiful time of year, but it is void of the true meaning of Christmas. Sadly, the church is content running on this wheel of rituals, all the while looking and acting nothing like the church is supposed to be and saying there is nothing wrong. Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” The church thinks all is well with their souls, yet truth is missing. Jeremiah 5:1 “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. 2 Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” 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. 4 I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. 5 So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds.” They say, Jeremiah 16:10 “What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12 But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’”
        The church has followed other gospels (other gods) which has brought on this abomination that causes desolation and the severe famine of hearing the word of God that we are now in. The only way to get off this wheel is to turn from these wicked ways. The reality is that behind the lights and overplayed songs, there is despair and hopelessness. This was not the original message of Christmas. Luke 2:10 “The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
        Jesus came to save His people, not for His people to continue to be defeated by our enemies. Our enemies can only be defeated with power from on High, yet the church continues to try on their own. The ways and strength of humans cannot defeat spiritual forces because Ephesians 6:12 “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” No matter how wise and strong a person thinks they are, how great their programs are, how awesome their church is, how great the leader is, human strength and wisdom cannot defeat satan. We can only defeat our enemies if we stand firm on God’s word and wear His armor which is how it was supposed to be. Ephesians 6:10 “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Because the church refuses to adhere to God’s word, our enemies prevail against us.
        The church chose to turn away from God’s word and go backwards in their own strength and reject God’s word. These words from Jeremiah also apply to the church. Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.” Isaiah 30:9 “For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” The church did not learn from this and continued down the same path. Instead of defeating satan as we were supposed to do and salvation coming to the world, the abomination that causes desolation has decimated the church and the world remains in darkness with millions dying without ever hearing the truth.
        This onslaught has been severe just as Jesus warned us. 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.” Daniel also warned us. Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Once again God’s people have rejected His word and our enemies have prevailed. For over 2000 years the church continues to go the wrong way. The Reformation did not lead to truth, but led to many more wrong ways, not just a few. After the Reformation, the church continued to divide. As Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” The church did not hold firmly to God’s word and continues to veer off the highway of holiness and truth is nowhere to be found. The church continues to follow the so-called success of man and continues to reject the power of God, all the while the church remains deceived and deluded, thinking all is well. As Jesus said, if God did not step in, this onslaught by satan was so severe that there would be no one who survived. Think about all the people who called themselves Christians who died thinking they were secure, but will find out when it is too late that they had been deceived. 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.” 
        Even though our theme for the weeks of advent is not hope, joy, peace and love, there is hope that those can exist in the church once again, but the church must repent and turn from wicked ways. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 33:10 “This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.” Our only hope of survival comes from God’s compassion, not because of anything that we have done. Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Ezra 9:13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this.”
        There is hope, but we must fear God and repent and turn from our wicked ways. The good news that gives us hope is because God gave this promise to David, a promise He will not break. There will always be a remnant of survivors. Jeremiah 33:17 “For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’” 19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” As we saw in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, even the remnant must continue to obey and follow God’s word wholeheartedly.

        The word eradicate means to “destroy completely; put an end to.” Our focus for Advent is eradicating religion from Christianity, as Christianity is not a religion. Yes, for teaching purposes we are still using the terms Advent and these dates on the calendar. When God turns His face back to the church, every day will be Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. It won’t just be Sunday morning or special days on the calendar. Religion can be defined as “a particular system of belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this system.” “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” According to the definition, Christianity as we know it would fit, but that is where the eradication comes into play as it is not supposed to fit and be like all the others. While there are many religions in the world, there is only one way, truth and life. One article listed twelve main religions of the world. “Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.” This next statement shows just how far from the truth the church is; “Christianity is shrinking while others are growing.” Global news reported “Religiosity in Canada is at an all-time low, with recently released data from Statistics Canada showing only 68 per cent of Canadians 15 or older now report having a religious affiliation. It’s the first time that number has dipped below 70 per cent since StatCan began tracking the data in 1985. It’s important to note that this decline is not across the board; the number of Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus is increasing, and StatCan predicts the number of Canadians reporting a non-Christian religious affiliation could double by the year 2036. Christianity, however, is in sharp decline.” Another had a similar list but interestingly there was one that was not included in the above twelve and that was irreligion (indifference or hostility to religion, or lack of religious belief) or as it is being called the nones (those unaffiliated with a religious organization). One writer said, “Religious nones”—those who say they have no religion—are the fastest growing “religious group” in Canada, along with many other modern Western nations.” When looking at Christianity today, yes you could add it to the list of religions but that is not how it is supposed to be. If the church was actually the church Jesus started, no religion could stand against the way, truth and life and the church would look nothing like it does today. If the church wants to wage war against evil, the church has to remove the evil from within before it can wage war on the evil of this world. Jesus made it clear when He said, John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That simply means there is only one way, not many. That means all religions are wrong but this eradication I am talking about today is not about fighting against the religions of the world like the Catholics did during the crusades with Muslims. That was wrong as the battle is spiritual warfare since the New Testament. 

        This eradication is about purifying the church. Malachi 1:10 “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. 14 I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” King Hezekiah said after he, 2 Chronicles 29:3 “opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 and said: “Listen to me, Levites! 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. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” Things were so bad when King Josiah became King he also restored the temple and, in that process, found the book of the Law. That means it was not in use. When they read it and 2 Kings 22:11 “when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” He then said, 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” King Josiah repaired the temple and tore down and removed everything that was not supposed to be in the temple. 2 Kings 23:25 “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” The church needs to do the same.
        This war is spiritual warfare, and it begins in the church. We were told Daniel 9:27 “At the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Now the people are the temple, not the building. 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.” Rebellion brought this desolation in the church. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
        The church cannot change the world when it is has been defiled. So just to be clear, this eradication is not a war against other religions and their beliefs but a war against Christianity itself as a religion. Christianity is just one of the many listed religions of the world and that must change. Like King Hezekiah and Josiah, the temple has to be restored. 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.” The list of differing denominations and doctrinal beliefs in the church is astounding and yes this needs to be eradicated. This eradication removes the religion from Christianity as there are not many ways and truth, but you would not know it by looking at the church. As Paul said 2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” The are many distinct groups with differing beliefs in the church and you could almost say it is basically many religions within one. You have the Catholic religion, the Baptist religion, the Pentecostal religion, the Reformed religion, Anglican religion and so on, but that is not how it was supposed to be. We are told to Deuteronomy 4:39 “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” It is simple; you cannot serve God without serving Jesus and believing His word and committing your life wholeheartedly to Him. There is only one God and His truth is found in His word. Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Every group in the church has done this. His words cannot be added to or removed. Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Zechariah 14:9 “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” There is only one gospel message, not many.
        Many people think that Christianity is one of the world’s religions and that would be right if you just looked at what you see in the church today. But if you look at scripture and how the church is supposed to be, you will see it is not a religion. Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The letters of the New Testament were not written to people of denominations with differing beliefs, but written to the people where they lived with the intent of everyone believe the same. 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” The expectation was to believe one gospel, not many variations of it. Many people today who call themselves christians are religious but not really Christians. You are seeing this a lot in the United States lately, especially in politics. When you read the United States constitution, it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That means any religion is okay. Most in the United States, especially the Christian nationalists assume religion to mean Christianity but that is not what it states. Don’t be deceived for example by the new speaker of the house in the United States who says he is a Christian. He is a person who puts politics first much like the previous Vice President Mike Pence did. It is obvious to see that their political aspirations come before their commitment to God. To say the United States believes in their motto “In God we trust” would be false. Here in Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states “Fundamental freedoms – section 2- Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion; Under section 2 of the Charter, Canadians are free to follow the religion of their choice.” In both countries neither says Christianity but makes it clear that all religions are free to worship. Many try to substitute Christianity for religion but that is wrong.

        As I said, this is not about the eradication of other religions. Many who go to church are not the church, but are just religious as they adhere to the belief system / religion (Baptist Catholic, Pentecostal, Reformed, Methodist etc.) that they were taught. This is not about getting rid of the church but the church doing as the church was supposed to do in the first place. This is not atheism or apostacy which rejects God and religion but this is about adhering to the word of God and completely submitting to God and rejecting the manmade. There is an old song that sort of gets to the point of this. The song says, “Give me that old time religion, Give me that old time religion, Give me that old time religion, It's good enough for me. 1 It was good for Paul and Silas, It's good enough for me.” The problem is it is not an old-time religion that we want. It is the power of the gospel that we need. How many people singing this song actually repented and pleaded with God and waited for God to turn His face back to the church so that power that was present with Paul and Silas returned. Sadly, most were and are content with the powerless religion they adopted as their own. That is part of the delusion and deception of the church. Paul said 1 Corinthians 4:18 “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” It appears that most in the church like the talk instead of the power. Acts 19:11 “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.” Paul cast an evil spirit out of a servant girl and then the crowd turned against them and they were thrown in prison. Acts 16:25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” If they really wanted it, they wouldn’t have just sung the song. It is not an old-time religion we need to return to but a return to God’s living and enduring word so that He will turn His face to shine upon us once again and empower us to defeat our enemies with the same power we just read about. Paul’s prayer for enlightenment is still needed today. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

        Music must be a trigger to buy something at Christmas time as it seems to start earlier each season. I can’t imagine working at a radio station that plays Christmas music over and over until Christmas. This radio station does it early. “98.1 CHFI | CHFI Toronto, Ontario flips to Christmas music - 11/17/2023” Christmas basically turned into songs, shopping and gatherings instead of Isaiah 9:1 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Most of the emphasis in church services these days has become about worship music and people singing their praises to God, but is God really listening the way they think He is listening. Because His people have rebelled against His word, the answer is no, He is not listening. 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.” I think that is hard for people to get their head around. The worship was inspiring, the preaching dynamic yet God says your assemblies are a stench to me. 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! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean.” This is why we need to eradicate the religion out of the church. The church needs to stop going through the motions and thinking all is well. Isaiah goes on to say Isaiah 1:16 “Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

        During these next few weeks, our focus will continue to be on eradicating religion from Christianity. The good news is there is hope and joy can return because of God’s promise to David but we must repent. Solomon said 1 Kings 8:46 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.”  Ezekiel 6:8 “‘I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations. 9 Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. 10 And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them.” 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!”