As I woke up today I had many thoughts going through my mind. The first was; what time is it, as morning comes at many different times for me. As I lay there I started thinking about the many articles I was reading concerning the church and this COVID 19 virus pandemic. While thinking about this another thought went through my mind; oops I didn’t write my blog for today. I usually write it the day before and post it for 12:01am. So as I came down stairs to write, I looked in the back yard and there was this very bright red glow. If you look out the front of our house you can see where this glow is coming from. When I first started seeing this I thought, wow the moon is still really bright and as you know I love looking at the moon as it reminds me of the promises of God to David. If it is cloudy I still know God has promised because the sun and moon still do what they do even if I can’t see them. The interesting thing about this red glow is it is not what you might think it is. It is real; it’s just not the moon. I finally took a drive one morning to see what this glow was and it turned out to be the lights from a very large greenhouse that produces marijuana just outside of Strathroy where I live. So not the moon or the sun, even though it lights up the sky like the moon at night.
                While this may have looked like the glow of the moon it was not, just as there have always been charlatans, swindlers imposters trying to sell you something that really can’t do what it says it will do. It may have the appearance of truth but it is not. This morning I received an email in my spam that was labeled miracle oil; a cure for this virus. You will see more and more of this type of thing take place. You will see this in the church so don’t fall for any of them but seek the truth.
                Yesterday I shared an example of a church where the virus spread unknowingly through their church even though they said they were having a revival meeting and the power of the Holy Spirit was moving with miracles and filling of the Holy Spirit taking place except they went away sick. Now I don’t believe this was done with any ill intent like what I am talking about today, they just didn’t have the power they were promoting they had as they said miracles and the filling of the Holy Spirit were taking place while the virus moved among them. This pandemic as many are writing about, puts the charismatic world into confusion, as is the dispensational world that says they won’t be around for any of this. One writer said “The coronavirus poses a conundrum for many evangelical pastors because healing is a key part of their appeal. After decades of promoting themselves as healers, they now face a global pandemic.” This virus has actually exposed the whole church not just the charismatic.
                As I prepared for the sermon for yesterday I was reading about churches and leaders who believed they were immune. This first example is not just the snake oil but also the snake itself. ABC news reported 2014 “The "snake handling" pastor of a small Pentecostal church in Kentucky died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a weekend church service. It's estimated that 125 churches in the United States use poisonous snakes during services today, with many clustered in the South. In tiny churches tucked away in rural Appalachia, "snake handling" is a long-standing tradition, one that took root in this region more than a century ago. These pastors believe that to "take up serpents" is a form of religious expression. In the King James Bible, Mark 16:18 says, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." Coots and his followers believe that God calls upon them to handle venomous serpents and to drink other poisons. Even if they are bitten, they will refuse medical treatment because they believe that they are worthy of God's faith, and that their fate is in God's hands.” His son almost died the same way. Many have died over the years doing this. In other areas like India, snake charming (you know the cobra in the basket) has been around for centuries. The problem here is these churches base their belief on a faulty interpretation of Mark 16. Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” First of all as Mark continues, you actually need the power of God. 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,” so you had better make sure this is Jesus who is with you. The real illustration of this verse is found in Acts 28:3 “Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. 7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.” This by the way is the power we are praying will return. So many churches have interpreted the bible wrong and just like the snake handlers, this will lead to death.
                Unfortunately the church still does not understand the power of the serpent. Kundalini yoga states its power comes from “a serpent (guess who the serpent is) that lies dormant at the base of the spine until it is activated” The church is filled with not just people who participate in yoga but the same serpent as Kundalini. The serpent is present and they do not even know it. Yes it will rise in people but it is not God. The Apostle Paul said 2 Corinthians 12:12 “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” Some of the following examples is not what Paul demonstrated but this. 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.” 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” God also gets involved as Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 12:11 “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.” Sadly the church is filled with deception and delusion.
                As I was researching these articles, I saw confusion in the church as to how the power of God works and whether the presence of God’s healing power was really there. I know for me I believe with all my heart in the passage in Mark 16. I do believe in the healing power of the Holy Spirit but I also know that power is not yet available to the church because of our disobedience and desolation. Since it is not here this is why we wait. So the decision to go online took a couple of days to come to the decision just to be online and not meet. The only answer for most is social distancing, so for now we are abiding while still praying that God will turn His face to us again. What I am talking about today are leaders in the church who have made claims that this virus is political / conspiracy. There are also many making claims about the power of healing and are also being shown false by their teaching. These charlatans who claim healing powers are basically snake oil salesmen. (Remember Kundalini – same snake, which is satan) This means they “deceive people in order to get money from them and “is a euphemism for deceptive marketing.” This seems to be happening a lot right now as this pandemic sweeps the nation. I believe the church needs to come to terms with its powerlessness but it doesn’t have to stay there. There is power available to all who believe when God finally turns His face back to us and clothes us with His power once again.
                Some church leaders think this is a conspiracy by the government of some sort. Yesterday I read about three pastors who recently died. An article said, “At least three separate pastors have died in recent days after testing positive for the new coronavirus, including two who raised concern that the virus was being used as a tool of the devil to manipulate the masses or silence Christians. One thought God would use His infection to spread the Gospel or give him “a little rest.” One “went on to offer conspiracy theories about coronavirus, suggesting that it was an excuse for the government to create a police state and implant microchips in the population.” This is just sad. The spread of this virus in this US continues to rise. At last look they had 142,793 cases and 2,490 deaths. This virus doesn’t seem to discriminate whom it attacks.
                So while many churches and leaders have been totally caught off guard because their teaching isn’t lining up with what is happening, there are the charlatans who continue to deceive the church. The ones caught off guard need to repent; these others it seems darkest blackness is reserved for them. One of these charlatans is Rodney Howard Browne. We’ve talked about him before. One writer wrote “Rodney Howard-Browne—claims that he cleansed Florida of Zika and says he now plans to do the same with the coronavirus. In a video Howard-Browne says that he “cursed” Zika in the name of Jesus, and this is something he has the power to do in regards to the coronavirus, but just for Florida and nowhere else on Earth. “We are doing the same thing with the coronavirus,” says Howard-Browne.” We do not need it on these shores, and somebody said ‘Well, what about the rest of the world?’ I mean, I can’t be responsible for every city, or whatever.” In another video he said during his sermon, “if people just had faith, God would magically multiply their toilet paper rolls (what is it with the toilet paper?) I believe that this should be a time of supernatural sustenance. Where what you have in your hand will multiply. And every day, there will be multiplication. You’ll look at your toilet paper, and you’ll think, I’m gonna run out of toilet paper, but you have another roll where that other one was! You don’t know. How did that even take place? Are the toilet paper rolls getting together and having families now? What is taking place?” Florida has about 5000 cases and 60 deaths so far.
                Another was “Paula White-Cain also from Florida, was billed as a headline speaker at an Arizona Passover conference that claimed that attendees would get “supernatural protection” from coronavirus. There was an attendance fee of $40. The conference was put on hold on 15 March. But White-Cain has since appealed for money to support her ministry during this trying time via her Facebook page, evoking Psalm 91, which says that God will protect believers against plague and pestilence. “Maybe you’d like to sow a $91 seed, and that’s just putting your faith with Psalm 91. Or maybe $9. Or whatever God tells you to do,” As a White House spiritual advisor (bad choice) She also said, “God made the White House “holy ground” because wherever she goes, God goes with her. I have every right and authority to declare the White House as holy ground because I was standing there and where I stand is holy.”
                Another is Kenneth Copeland. Recently I watched a video of Kenneth Copeland healing through the screen. I always say look at the eyes. Anyways one writer said “A few days back, Copeland dipped his hand into an ointment then held it up to the television screen and told followers to put their hands on the screen and be freed of the virus. Copeland also resorted to Facebook this week, declaring: “No sickness. No disease. NO VIRUS. No curse. Says Who? Isaiah 54:17! Whatever the weapon, you’re already protected! Believe it. Receive it. Speak it in Jesus’ Name!”
                Another is Peter Popoff and his water or you could go to another ministry like Benny Hinn and get a prayer cloth from their website. In this case like the cloth they say on their website, “Miracle Spring Water is a powerful biblical point of contact. There is nothing magical or mystical about it, The Bible uses points of Contact in numerous locations to release miracles. So many people have used the Miracle Spring Water and their lives have been changed! Let me send you the Miracle Spring Water Acts 19:11-12 in the Amplified Bible says And God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, So that handkerchiefs or towels or aprons which had touched his skin were carried away and put upon the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. The anointing of God is transferable and can be imparted from one person to another. This is made evident as the power of God that worked through Paul was transmitted through prayer cloths. Then below is a place to donate with the verse 2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. I then listened to a prophetic word from Him. The heading for this word said URGENT, URGENT!  A prophetic word of direction and blessing for you in these perilous times.  Supernatural direction to experience peace in this turbulent hour as well as divine health and abundant prosperity. Don’t miss this direct word from the Lord! He said “under a heavy anointing that God spoke to him. No sickness no evil shall be able to befall thee, no virus can survive etc.” While his words sound biblical be careful as this is a false prophet. Once again like most they take verses out of context. The context in these verses is that Paul actually had the power of God flowing from him.
                Then you have pastor Guillermo Maldonado another from Florida whose church say “they are called to bring the supernatural power of God to this generation” and they believe it with all their hearts. (Paula White recently spoke at this church – frightening) This would mean the power of the Holy Spirit is already flowing but as we can see it is not. “The pastor Guillermo Maldonado of a megachurch in South Florida warned his parishioners Sunday that fears of exposure to COVID-19 was a “demonic spirit,” and he encouraged his parishioners to show up to worship and not heed warnings from officials to avoid crowded spaces. “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” said pastor Guillermo Maldonado, who goes by the term of “apostle,” at a service on Sunday morning at the King Jesus International Ministry in Kendall. “This service is usually packed. So now they’re home in a cave afraid of the virus, that you want to transmit the virus,” Maldonado said to a venue that appeared half empty, as some churchgoers left seats between them. “If we die, we die for Christ. If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?” “South Florida pastor Guillermo Maldonado painted a stark picture for congregants at his megachurch last Sunday. People who had skipped services that day were caving in to fear of the new coronavirus, he suggested, while the folks who came to services were true and faithful believers.” They have now said, “We will be meeting because now more than ever God is empowering his church to show the world the power of Jesus Christ,” They then said, “Our faith remains in Jesus, and we know that these are times for faith and not fear, so we encourage you to spend time with God daily, read the Word and encourage one another,” the church said in its update. “Join us in praying for an end to this pandemic. We will resume normal weekend services at our campuses as soon as we are able. Therefore, due to the specific requests of the CDC, we will be suspending public gatherings until further notice, and stream our services live”
                So what is the truth here? I myself struggled with the condition of the church as this pandemic exploded across the world. I said a few weeks back before the lockdown last Tuesday that we would be open and I felt other churches should be too. I felt very upset about this weakness we all have against the enemy, not just the virus. I felt and feel that everyone should be calling out to God. To continue was not out of false beliefs or a desire to sell something like holy water or snake oil but a desire to repent and pray before God so that He would hear our cries. The whole church needs to be one in their repentance. Although I have been saying for a long time now the church is not what it is supposed to be, the stark reality of how bad it really is is almost incomprehensible as to how far we really are from God. The good news is that because of God’s promise to David we have hope as we wait on God to fulfill his promise to us. We have hope that what Jesus came to do we will continue. But in order for that to happen we must return to God. God said Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
                I believe what has happened here is that God has asked us if we are listening and are we willing to repent. The church all around the world has different beliefs and follows other gospels. But now the church around the world has come up short. They continue to follow their own ways and refuse to repent and turn from their wicked ways. God has shown that there is only one way to believe and Jesus is the only way truth and life. I do believe that God will move in power just as he said he would and everything we read in the bible will hold true for the church once again. Our only hope and help is God. Psalm 124:1 If the Lord had not been on our side— let Israel say— 2 if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, 3 they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; 4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away. 6 Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
                Everywhere there are false teachers, evangelists, preachers, apostles and prophets who are turning millions away from the truth. You will notice that they use scripture but it is distorted. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” This pandemic has shown us the desperation the church should be in due to its desolation but we have hope as Jesus continues Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” We must make sure the gospel we follow is the truth 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.” If you are following the truth 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”