Today’s sermon is an introduction to our Lenten Journey that will be starting on Wednesday February 17, 2021. Our theme this year is “Remember the Miracles.” Our Lenten journey will be a prompting us to remember the power and authority of Jesus and to remember or to learn that same power and authority is available to His church. Paul told us to remember. He said 1 Corinthians 11:23 “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Don’t forget whenever you eat you can remember the power of God. Since the pandemic has changed how communion is done, when you eat - remember. It really can be that simple. But I ask what are you remembering? Most will say Jesus rose from the dead, which is correct, but at the same time most are missing a key element of the resurrection. Paul gives us that key when he prayed, 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.” Notice this verse “His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead.”
There is great power available to all who believe, but the church has forgotten. We like to talk and sing about the resurrection but have become content with just a form of godliness yet deny the power available to us. Most have adapted to the powerless church while others have adopted doctrines of demons and say the power is no longer available but that is not what scripture tells us. Jesus said to His disciples 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.” Jesus then said Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Now the church has called this the Great Commission and believes that each disciple since is sent out to proclaim the gospel but this is the hoax / fraud I talked about last week; there is no power yet people are still going out without power and authority. Luke 9, Matthew 28 are the same as Mark 16:5 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” We cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ without His power and authority.
Yet this power is missing in the church today especially now more recognizable than ever since this pandemic has exposed the powerlessness of the church. Sadly the church has become so accustomed to this pathetic powerless version of the church; this powerlessness now appears to be the norm. The church has forgotten there is power available to all who believe as scripture tells us. The stories about Jesus have become just that; stories. The bible is no longer the word of God but a book about God. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is no longer present due to the churches rebellion but it is not because this power is no longer available but because the church has rebelled by their disobedience. When you look at the miracles of Jesus you see His power flow everywhere He went. This passage gives a clear description of who Jesus was and the power and authority that He had and how that power changed those He went to. 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.”
During our Lenten Journey we will be looking at these miracles of healing and casting out demons. This journey will be about coming to understand that these miracles could still be happening today if we would believe and obey. But notice what happened to this power when people did not believe. Matthew 13:53 “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 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.” The father of a child with an impure spirit said to Jesus, Mark 9:17 “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!””
This Lenten journey will be a focus on our unbelief. By looking at the miracles of Jesus and comparing them to what we see in His church today, you will realize today’s church is that unbelieving generation and we must repent. 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!” Peter said Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” We too need to be saved from this corrupt generation. As we look at the miracles of Jesus, this should lead us to repentance because nowhere does the bible say this power is no longer available. That means the church should still be the church Jesus started and still should be empowered to do as He did. What the bible does say is that when we disobey, God turns His face from us and the power that is available is removed and we will be defeated. When we rebel against God and turn our backs on His words, we are then powerless to stand against our enemies. Instead of repenting the church has refused to repent by going their own way and rewriting scripture. The church has changed God’s word to fit with their own ideas and plans by removing and adding to which we are clearly warned against doing. Revelation 22:8 “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.” Clearly there is no fear of God in the land as the church continues to go their own way.
What we see in the church today is not what the church was to be. Thankfully Lamentations 3:2 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” We still have hope the remnant will rise up again because of God’s promise to David. This means that the church will once again be the church Jesus intended us to be and the church will once again go out in power and authority. This means as God turns His face back to us, we will once again be clothed with power from on High and go to the ends of the earth. Our only hope is to return and turn from our wicked ways. For most in the church today that will mean renouncing everything man has made with their own hands and trusting in what God plans to make. If we do that we will be able to say Isaiah 25:9 “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” We have hope because Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
Yesterday the month of Adar started, which is known as the month of celebration and happiness on the Jewish calendar. One Jewish website describes this month as, “when the month of Adar arrives, we increase in joy, to welcome a season of miracles. This month denotes strength and power and celebrates the miraculous events that brought about the holiday of Purim.” Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jews from Haman’s plot to destroy them all. Esther 3:12 “Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” But then God intervened and saved them. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.” Esther 9:20 “Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” Esther 10:1 “King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” Last year our Lenten Journey was about the book of Esther. Here is a link to this journey called the “Joy of the Redeemed.” https://therockstrathroy.radiantwebtools.com/blog/lenten-journey-2020-the-joy-of-the-redeemed-day-1/ Today we are looking for that same relief from our enemies, when our sorrow will be turned to joy and our mourning into a day of celebration. Not only will joy return but God will once again and turn His face to shine upon us in our captivity and desolation and set the captives free. We then will go out clothed with power from on High to the ends of the earth. The church will once again look as it should. Matthew 11:5 “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Don’t stumble because you don’t understand the power of God. Don’t stumble because you have been taught or believe God no longer gives us His authority and power so that the kingdom of God will come near.
We should be crying out to God for mercy and compassion because for a moment He has turned His face from us. Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” David describes what we will be doing this Lenten season; remembering His miracles. David said Psalm 77:7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 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.” 13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.” As we take this journey we must mediate on the mighty deeds of God’s word and expect them to happen once again. David did become king and the power of God was displayed among the people with an everlasting promise. As we remember the miracles of Jesus just as David remember the miracles from long ago, we stand on God’s promises and wait because there is hope. Jeremiah 33:20 “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.” Today we have great hope because no matter where you live in this world, day and night come at their appointed time.
David also said 1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 12 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 13 you his servants, the descendants of Israel, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. 14 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 15 He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations.” As we remember, we repent for turning away. During these 46 days, as we remember, we humble ourselves before God in confession that we too have turned our backs and we are full of guilt. This describes the church today 2 Chronicles 29:6 “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.” Nehemiah 9:26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.” Nehemiah 9:29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.” Zechariah 7:11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. 13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’”
As we saw the land of Israel and Judah was left desolate because of their disobedience. This is what it looks like when God turns His face. Deuteronomy 31:6 “And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ 18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.” Habakkuk is told Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.” Jeremiah told the people Jeremiah 18:11 “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 19:3 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods.” Israel was destroyed and then even the remnant Judah was taken into captivity. 2 Chronicles 36:20 “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power.” 2 Chronicles 36:21 “The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.”
When the people rebelled, the enemy was allowed to advance against them. Rebellion against God always leads to defeat and loss. This meant that the enemy destroyed everything and took the few survivors into captivity. As described in Daniel, this has happened to the church just as Judah was destroyed by the king of Babylon. Israel had already been defeated and now the last king of Judah was about to be defeated. Jeremiah said Jeremiah 34:1 “While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.” Jeremiah 39:5 “But the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. 6 There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. 7 Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. 8 The Babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.” All of Israel were warned way back in Deuteronomy 28:15 “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: 25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth.” Leviticus 26:32 “I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34 Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.” They were warned over and over again but refused to listen. 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 these warnings as found in scripture are also warnings for the church but the church has not listened either.
God doesn’t change as Malachi tells us. Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” We must obey but if we do not obey and rebel against God, He will allow our enemies to come against us. Today our enemies are not countries or people like it was with Israel and Judah but as Paul tells us in 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.” You cannot defeat satan in your own strength. Because the church has turned their backs on God’s word and gone their own way, God has allowed the spiritual forces of evil to prevail against the church. Deception is satan’s greatest tool. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” The good news is that satan can be defeated but only in the power and authority of Jesus can that happen. Jesus came to defeat satan. 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” We cannot defeat satan without the power and authority of Jesus yet so many try and wrongly think they have succeeded. Yes Jesus asked Peter Matthew 16:15 “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The response Jesus gave to Peter, as scripture makes clear only occurs when we obey the words of the Messiah. Jesus said 8 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” If we had obeyed and not rebelled, we would have gone to the ends of the earth, clothed with power from on high and sped up the return of Jesus. It only takes a moment to see the powerless church and the chaos that surrounds it. The latest headline was Ravi Zacharias. I will let you Google that if you don’t already know. Others may not fall as he did but they teach false gospels and lead people astray and blackest darkness will be reserved for them. Instead of speeding up the return of Jesus we have slowed it down; the church went backwards not forwards into rebellion and desolation. Even though hundreds of years have past, Jesus will return. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
We have been talking about the desolation the church faces due to our rebellion and unbelief. This desolation of the church has all been laid out in Daniel. Daniel 8:13 “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” It is obvious that the church has been trampled underfoot because it is easy to see its lack of power. Jesus said in Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 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.” Instead of running from it, the church has embraced our desolation to our own demise. The church has fallen just like Israel and Judah did but not completely as there will always be a remnant. Victory only comes by adhering to the word of God, not words about God. The deception of false gospels and false teachers are everywhere. We have talked a lot about false prophets and teachers but know that the church has been led astray. You know this by standing firm on the word of God. God has already told us ahead of time what will happen when we refuse to listen to His words. Jeremiah 19:15 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.’” Jeremiah 22:8 “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ 9 And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’” We like Israel were warned. 2 Chronicles 7:19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’” Jeremiah 44:2 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.” The church today is powerless and has been taken into captivity and lies in desolation. Our enemies have prevailed against us and there is just a remnant left. For those who have already died, they will either hear, Matthew 25:34 “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” or “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” The church today does not fear these words. Jesus warned us over and over not to be deceived, yet the church has been deceived. As we read above in Jeremiah God is angry and yes many will hear I never knew you. Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” Too many so called Christians are listening to the voice that tells them God no longer does miracles and God would never say away from and send them to the eternal fire. The church has followed false gospels and has turned away from the truth. Most in the church today worship gods the early church never knew.
There are false doctrines everywhere in the church. This has caused the anger of the Lord to be against us. Because God is angry and has turned His face from us, we are powerless to defeat our enemies and they prevail against us. Isaiah 1:15 “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!” Why is it like this? 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.” We live in a time of deception and truth has been thrown to the ground just as we were told in Daniel. 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.”
As you look around during this pandemic and the chaos we find ourselves in, where is the power of the church? Isaiah tells us Isaiah 64:5 “You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.” Most in the church today are so deceived they have no idea the enemy has already taken them into captivity. They think what they are seeing in the church is normal. Most have no idea they are following false gospels and when they are told, refuse to turn away from them. The church that most see appears to be okay. Some have the appearance of success but no power as described in scripture so not successful. Other ministries such as Ravi Zacharias will be found out when it is too late, as he has already died. When he got this cancer, he should have repented to the world, after death is too late. People these days are gullible and will follow almost anyone to their death. Why are people gullible? The answer to this question is there is no discernment and most do not know their bibles well enough. Christians around the world believe they are safe and secure because someone said they were, but what does God say. They think they will hear well done only to hear when it is to late I never knew you. This is difficult for some to accept as some will say they know their bibles inside and out. Yet they only know their bible depending on what distinctive they were taught under, meaning they are Baptist, Catholic etc. There are people who have incredible knowledge, both in Hebrew and Greek and they have written hundreds of books. They can quote scripture and tell you what they think every passage means. This is where the deception comes into play. They tell you what they believe to be true doctrine even though many are doctrines of demons. Yes they are prolific in their speech and knowledge about those doctrines, which is why we were told 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.”
As we start this journey we are looking to do two things. The first is to look at the power that is available to us. As we read about the miracles of Jesus and at the same time compare what we read to the church, this will lead to the second, which is to repent and return to God so that He will return to us. Luke 13:35 “Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” We don’t want to continue to be like those who Nehemiah 9:17 “refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.” Because God is forgiving, we have great hope that the church will rise again. Ezekiel describes an army that was raised up. Ezekiel 37:9 “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’” Then Ezekiel says 21 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 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.’” Paul tells us 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.” This is how the church was supposed to be.
The church has been decimated but like during the time of Gideon, we have hope. Judges 6:1 “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. 7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” God as he always does chose Gideon to save them and empowered Him to lead His people. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Gideon then went on to defeat their enemy with the power of God. Thankful for our sake God always sends His prophets. Prophets only speak the word of the Lord not the delusions of their own minds.
We too like Gideon must ask; where are all His wonders. We must accept that our land is desolate and that the church is powerless and humble ourselves before God Almighty in repentance. Isaiah 64:8 “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. 10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. 12 After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?” Zechariah 1:2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? “Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’” Psalm 106:6 “We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. 7 When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. 8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. 12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. 13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.”
As we wait for God’s plan to unfold and to be clothed with power once again, we must remember the miracles. We join with David in saying 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.” As we remember, God will also will remember. Psalm 105:42 “For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. 43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; 44 he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—45 that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the Lord.” Yes satan does not want you to believe because He knows what’s coming. Though the church has been decimated it is not defeated and will rise up again in power. Don’t be afraid to believe. We have this promise from God Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Deuteronomy 4:23 “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” In this warning we have hope so do not give up. Stand firm on God’s word. Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
We do not want to be labeled as an unbelieving generation but a generation that returned to the Lord. Ask and you will receive! Be faithful and wait for God’s perfect timing. Isaiah 8:17 “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Isaiah 59:20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 61:7 “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” Luke 24:49 “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:4 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God’s plan will unfold in the time of His favor; rejoice and be glad.