Today I want to look at opposites. The word opposite can be defined as “moving or facing away from each other.” It can be “characterized by opposite extremes; completely opposed.” Another definition says, “being directly across from each other; facing.” They say opposites attract but the opposites I am talking about today are not attractive and will not lead to eternal life. Words can say a lot as that is their purpose. Words also have synonyms and antonyms. A synonym means “a word that has almost the same meaning as another word” and antonyms mean “opposite.” Lately there have been lots of words flying around that we definitely need to see the opposite of like draconian, sycophant, fascist, fraudulent, disinformation and malfeasance. Sadly where I have heard some of these words used most often are coming from many of the pastors in the United States rebelling against authority. The church must once again stand on the word of God as the true word. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” If the church would stand firm on God’s word, then truth would go into the world once again. The government does not give us this word, so the church globally must turn from their wicked ways and go in the opposite direction so that the word of God will dwell among us once again. Paul tells us to Colossians 3:16 “Let the message / word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
                I am sure you can look back to last year before this global pandemic changed everything and picture great crowds as a common occurrence, at least it should have. Yes there are those who believed they should gather anyways and continue to gather in large numbers but in the end this virus spreads very rapidly and will continue to spread if those crowds continue. Narcissism has raised its ugly head as many will say we don’t have it or I have not seen anyone with the virus so what’s the big deal. It may not affect you or if you have it your symptoms may be minor or even non-existent but the person you affect may be prone to some devastating health consequences, even death. They still do not know the long term affects of this virus. As you have seen in the United States, this pandemic is out of control and around the world cases are rising. During this U.S. Presidential election, we saw two approaches. Trump wanted large crowds while Biden followed the rules and kept crowds minimal. The results were quite different as one literally sped up the spread of this virus as some studies seemed to show. Unfortunately the pandemic became politicized. Even in Canada there is a similar level of ignorance but on a far smaller scale. There is even a group called Hugs over Masks speaking out against mask wearing. Well that makes sense; at least until something serious happens. As I have gone out and see those around me wearing masks and it seems relatively simple yet there are those like I shared last week in Aylmer, Ontario who seem to think they should not be told to wear a mask. As my wife mentioned, do these people take advantage of our health care system for their own needs. Or do they benefit from their charitable status if part of a church. Thankfully our numbers are lower but all you have to do is take a look south of us and see what happens when you hug over wearing a mask or ignore it.
                So let’s get back to the crowds gathering. Yes there are people protesting everything these days even during the pandemic. For some reason the protestors’ think the virus will give them a pass for their cause. They gather hoping to see change and then they go home, meanwhile the virus spreads. We also have churches saying they have the right to gather. In the United States the say it is our constitutional right to gather so we will gather no matter what the government says which is in violation to scripture. They replace God’s word with man’s word. In the end when God’s judgment falls upon them, the constitution they have put their faith in will not help. 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.” I’ve noticed that most who are rebelling leave out verse two when they rework the verse to their own liking. So many churches gather, listen and then go home and then do it again the next week. As we have seen, this virus doesn’t care if you go to church. One writer listed over 600 houses of worship that have spread the virus. This pandemic has exposed the powerless church. Gathering on Sundays is not all there is to church even though you would think that to be the case from what you have seen all your life. Sure the service may leave you feeling empowered to make it through another week but are you actually empowered from on High to change the world as described in scripture, not just getting people to gather and to listen to the person at the front. Jesus said, Luke 24:49 “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
                Today’s church is not clothed with this power but naked and should be ashamed. Jeremiah describes the church today. Jeremiah 3:3 “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.” This is a reference to adultery when we turn away from God. Jeremiah 6:15 “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” Most in the church today are sitting there naked and completely unaware of their nakedness. Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Not only are you naked, you are wretched, pitiful, poor and blind. So lets pick naked. For some reason if you have a fear of public speaking, it has been said to picture the audience naked so that you will feel at ease when speaking. This doesn’t work by the way but for the purpose of making a point, many congregations are sitting their naked as Revelation described yet they are not repenting.  Sadly so many have been utterly deceived they don’t even know they need to repent. Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” The person who is speaking should be pointing to the fact that the congregation is naked but in their own nakedness they don’t see anything wrong. Most in the church have come to believe this is how it is supposed to be. Just in case you are wondering where these churches are that have naked congregations, I am talking about spiritual nakedness. Most people who attend church really just don’t want to admit there is a problem because they would have to change. Unfortunately this is exactly what the enemy wants. Just as the king was deceived in the tale The Emperors New Clothes, the church is unaware of its own nakedness. The story is summarized like this. “Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they set up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought a fool. Finally, the weavers report that the emperor's suit is finished. They mime dressing him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled. Although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever.”
                The church should be the one confronting the nakedness, but when everyone is naked it doesn’t seem so out of place. Instead we have false prophets and teachers leading the masses astray. As you have seen in the news the masses can be easily led astray. Instead church leaders should have made the necessary repairs. Ezekiel 13:5 “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.” 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.” So now whether you want to or not you have this vision of the naked church but it doesn’t have to be that way. As we are told in Revelation 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” This is how it was to be but the problem is the church cannot see the devastation of the desolation we are in. Jeremiah 5:31 “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?” Ephesians 5:6 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
                The changes start with a simple proclamation - hey the church is naked and yes this will take the faith of child. Repentance should come in response to our shame. Job said Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Today the church refuses to despise itself and repent. So far we have seen the difference between great crowds and just a few gathered and the difference between clothed and naked. Today I want to talk about opposites and yes I will get back to the crowds but unfortunately they are still naked. I think this last week was obvious to see that the 45th and 46th presidents of the United States are complete opposites from one another. I will let the news cover that comparison. Opposites are quite easy to see but not always at first. One person said, “This is why identical twins look so much alike -- they share the same DNA. And yet, they aren't exactly alike. They can be hard to tell apart but if you look closely, you see differences.” I thought this described prophets / teachers and false prophets / teachers. At first you may not see it but if you look closely through the eyes of scripture you will see how eternally opposite they are. Most in the church are not seeing or hearing because they do not seek the kingdom of God through repentance. They have been fooled into believing they have nothing to repent for so they remain naked and unashamed. 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.” We are told in Malachi that the people responded, “How are we to return?’ ‘How are we robbing you?’ What have we said against you?” As if they had done nothing wrong.
                Crowds can tell us a lot when we look at them. Some are peaceful and some are violent. Some are quiet while others are loud. Some have joined the crowd and have no idea why they are there other than there was a crowd, while others have given themselves for a cause. If we look at scripture, we see crowds. Obviously there were severe health issues in these crowds. Jesus did not tell them to come back when you are not sick or possessed. Here we are in a severe global pandemic and churches want to meet but at the same time are telling the sick to stay home?? Here is what the head of the church did. Matthew 8:1 “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” Please take the time to ponder these verses so that you can see how far the church is from the church Jesus started. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Just because this verse said the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus did not mean this was to stop as Jesus empowered his disciples to do as He did. Matthew 15:29 “Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” Luke 4:36 “All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.”
                The crowds heard what Jesus was doing and they gathered. But look at this example where there is a large crowd but different from the examples above. Mark 5:24 “A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me? 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” With all those people, one reached out and was healed. We also see great crowds shouting Matthew 21:9 “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” But then the crowd’s praise changed to rage. Mark 15:8 “The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
                I trust you were struck with awe when you read about Jesus healing everyone but filled with remorse as His healing power is not flowing today and sorrow as the crowds shouted to crucify Him. Here is another verse. Matthew 14:34 “When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Jesus showed and told us what the church should look like. Matthew 11:4 “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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.”  We are even given this directive in James. James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 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.” Since we were given this directive, this means healing should be common in the church, yet it is not. There are many who walk with Jesus but have no idea the power available to them by reaching out. The church has turned away and is powerless to do as Jesus did. Instead of confessing our sins and turning away from our wickedness, the church has accepted the pathetic state it is in as normal Christianity.
                Many have stumbled because they do not believe. Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” We are still supposed to be able to say Jesus took up our infirmities, as Jesus is alive. This is the foundation of the church, as we do not serve a dead king. 1 Corinthians 15:1 “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” We have no excuse not to believe as we have all that we need written down for us. John 20:30 “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Even if we have not see, we believe because God’s word has shown us truth. Psalm 77:10 “Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” If we do not follow the gospel Paul was talking about, we will have believed in vain. That gospel included signs and wonders, healing and casting out demons. Paul even made not back then how the church had turned away. Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” The church has followed other gods and like the twins, the church may look like the church but it is not the same church Jesus started and died for and would empower all who would believe. But due to our disobedience the church is the exact opposite and is just a form of godliness but denies the power and worships in vain. The church gathers week after week and some with great crowds yet we do not see what we read in scripture.
                In this example we see too many questions and no faith. Matthew 13:54 “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Mark tells us Mark 6:4 “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Many charismatics will tell you that you did not have enough faith therefore you were not healed but the truth of the matter is they don’t have power from on High to heal you in the first place. Can you imagine today Jesus healing the crowds? Can you imagine with me what the church would look like with the authority and power from on high. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” Crowds go to church and remain unchanged. Even the church is desperate for a vaccine yet how many believe God could heal the crowds just as he did when He walked the earth? Yes satan will tell you it is not possible as will many in the church but scripture tells us it is. God said He doesn’t change nor does His word return void. What has changed is the power that is available. If we disobey and refuse to believe, there is no power. So who do you believe? Jesus said, repent and the kingdom will come near or many who say there is no longer power available. Don’t be deceived by what your eyes see or don’t see. Don’t deny scripture to follow a naked emperor out of fear. Jesus showed us what the kingdom looked like, then said do the same. 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 church has no power even though great crowds gather. One person said, “They come for the show but refuse to grow.” I am sure in those crowds there are a few children who are saying the emperor is naked or are saying as Gideon said, Judges 6:13 “Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about” but they are hushed. Many won’t ask because they will be made to feel stupid, so they keep quiet. They are told don’t say anything; don’t speak out about the emptiness or the powerlessness or the untruths. We don’t want to upset the emperor. Most are afraid to say something but inside they know the power from on High is missing.
                If you are one of those people, search for truth and do not be afraid. Do not settle for darkness but search for the light. Jeremiah 51:6 “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves.” During this pandemic you have heard Kenneth Copeland shout at the virus to no effect. You have heard John MacArthur say, “there is no pandemic while one report states as of Friday 13, 2020, “The United States set COVID-19 records for a fourth consecutive day, with more than 184,000 cases reported Friday and over 68,000 people hospitalized with the virus. An average of over 1,100 Americans have died per day of the virus over the last week.” Other pastors praised Trump as their savior and continue to talk of a rigged election, yet Trump has been voted out still people remain and continue to be deceived by these pastors. They still send money. They still attend with the masses and they are still naked. The truth is you need to run for your lives. Your eternal life depends on it.
                Sadly many will not believe. John 12:37 “Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” Don’t be afraid to stand up for truth. You should be asking yourself why when you read the bible your experience of church is completely different. Most in the church really don’t know their bibles; they only know what they have been told about their bibles. So many have been deceived by the words of man and doctrines of demons. We were told in 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.” This tells us two things: the church is being crushed and the end is coming to the crusher. Daniel 7:26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”
                Just because there is a crowd at a building with a sign saying this is the church doesn’t mean that it is the true church. We must always test the spirits to see which spirits are there. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” We see an example of these opposite spirits in 1 Kings 22:19 “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” Most have no idea this is even possible but 1 Timothy 4:1 “the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (doctrines of demons).” 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.” Today there are many with itching ears.
                Not only is there a difference in spirits, as I said earlier there is a difference in prophets / teachers and false prophets / teachers. They may look the same but what comes out their mouths is completely different. Jeremiah 5:12 “They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” The opposite is Jeremiah 5:14 “I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.” Jeremiah 23:29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” 2 Kings 17:13 “The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God.” All throughout scripture we see the difference between false prophets and God’s prophets. We have been warned to listen carefully to the truth. Jesus also warned us to not be deceived. While the church is constantly saying these false teachers are coming, many of the false teachers are the ones saying they are coming. You need to know the difference and to understand they are already here. These teachers are not wearing signs that say I am a false prophet but by their fruit you will know them. Mathew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” We will either have prophets of light or darkness. Jeremiah 23:11 “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the Lord. 12 “Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,” declares the Lord. 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.”
                The opposite of darkness is light. Jesus said John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” We are supposed to warriors of the light not darkness. Romans 13:12 “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
                If we follow the light of life we then end up with either a house of prayer or a den of thieves. Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”8 The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.” Thankfully God will keep His promise to David and there will always be a remnant. Matthew 21:12 “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers. 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.” They knew exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said den of robbers. Jeremiah 7:2 “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”
                All this happens when we do the opposite of what Jesus commands us to do. There is no middle ground as you are either all in or out. Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” We obey or we disobey. Scripture makes it clear that when we obey, God dwells among us and when we disobey, God turns His face from us. This covers two opposites; God dwelling and not dwelling and obedience and disobedience. Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’” Instead of dwelling within us, our disobedience causes God to turn His face from us.  Deuteronomy 31:18 “And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.” (other gospels)
                When God turns His face, we feel His wrath. Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” When He turns back, He blesses us. Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.” Psalm 80:19 “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” 2 Corinthians 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Ezekiel 34:26 “I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”
                These showers of blessing will cause us to bear fruit and take root if we obey. John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” When Hezekiah was under attack by King Sennacherib, Isaiah spoke the word of the Lord and gave them this promise. Isaiah 37:31 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 35 “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!” Psalm 92:12 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” But then Judah disobeyed and was taken into captivity to Babylon. Ezekiel describes this rebellion in this riddle or parable. Ezekiel 17:22 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 34:27 “The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land.”
                Jesus also spoke a parable to the people. Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “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. 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” When we take root, the church will produce a harvest.
                You can refuse to repent like King Zedekiah when Jeremiah 37:17 “Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. 18 But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from them.’” He did not repent. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Revelation 16:9 “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” Or you can listen to God’s word and turn from your wicked ways so the kingdom of God will come near. Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” He also said Matthew 12:28 “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” He drove out demons. Matthew 12:22 “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” When we return to God’s word and turn away from our wicked ways, the church will once again be the church as described in the gospels.
                So choose this day. Will you be a servant of the Most High? Will your heart be far from God or near? Will you follow other gospels or this gospel as Paul said? Will you humble yourself or remain willfully proud? Will you repent or remain in stubborn opposition to God’s word that gives us eternal life. There is only way. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” You cannot go your own way and expect to be blessed, as there is only one way that leads to eternal life. 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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” 1 John 2:24 “As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.” We have a choice to obey or disobey. There is no kind of obeying! Jeremiah 11:11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ 12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’” Jeremiah tell us in Jeremiah 3:12 “Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
                We can remain desolate and deserted or we can be fortified and delivered. We can be a holy people or we can stand against God and be destroyed. We must humble ourselves and submit to the Lord God Almighty if we are to be a holy people. Because of God’s promise to David we have hope if we return to Him who gives us hope. Hosea 2:23 “I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.” We can have broken down walls or Isaiah 58:12 “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” Isaiah 61:4 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Ezra 3:11 “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” Today’s temple is not a building but just like Pentecost He will fill us with His glory once again. 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.” Haggai 2:2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ 6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
                Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”