Last week we looked at the view from above. Since our sight is limited, even with all the technology we have, we must trust God to direct our paths and make them straight. Our confidence is in what we read in His word, even if we do not see. This faith is crucial as we wait on God to fulfill His promises to us in the time of His favor. So while we do not see His power as of yet as the early church did, we wait as the early church did for that power to return. If our direction comes from above, then so does our power come from on high. Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” We cannot manufacture our own power.
                Here is the problem we face. The church for centuries have guided themselves to where they think they are going and settle with the power their hands have made to get them where they think they are going. The end result is the wrath of God. 2 Kings 22:17 “Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.” In our day other gods are other gospels. The church has followed in the footsteps of Israel. Isaiah 2:8 “Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” Jeremiah 32:30 “The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; indeed, the people of Israel have done nothing but arouse my anger with what their hands have made, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:16 “I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.” Stephen preached about this also. Acts 7:39 “Our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. 42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. 51 You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! ” They were told Deuteronomy 8:19 “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.” Still the church did not listen as we see in Paul’s astonishment. 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. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” This has been happening in the church since Paul said this.
                The church stubbornly follows in this same course and continues to worship what their hands had made. Jeremiah 11:10 “They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors.” They even worship the men and woman who lead them to follow after other gospels and week after week they continue to lead the church astray. Jeremiah 12:10 “Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample down my field; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland.” 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?” Isaiah 3:2 “My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.” Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding.” Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” 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!” Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” We know this continues because Jesus quotes this verse in Mark. Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” This just isn’t a history lesson as these words also describe the church today. Isaiah 30:9 “For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”
                The church has ended up in desolation because the church stopped following the God above and only worshipped what their eyes could see and what their hands could make. They settled for the empty and powerless way. Because of this, 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” Sadly the empty and powerless church has replaced the church of the New Testament, the one that had the power to defeat satan. The empty and powerless church is also praised for what their hands have made. Romans 1:28 “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” The deception is so great; the description of what the church is supposed to be is ridiculed and mocked just as the prophets were in days of old. 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.” The truth comes across as an untruth and impossible to attain. The church today states that it is the church of Jesus Christ, but it looks nothing like New Testament church, the church He is the head of. Man began to rule the church and doctrines and theology were written to support their views. These doctrines became equivalent to the bible; even replacing God’s word. Men and women gravitated towards a particular set of beliefs by choice and by birth and then through a process of indoctrination (the process of repeating an idea or belief to someone until they accept it without criticism or question) they give their lives to it. Many have also started in one direction and ended up going in another while never comparing what does scripture actually says and they are still off track. These decisions are not usually made based on what scriptures says but based on emotion, comfort and what their eyes can see and their ears hear. Most just absorb what they hear as truth and do not even question what they believe even though every denomination has gone their own way by adding to scripture and subtracting from it so their doctrines and theology work. Many have been deceived by what Paul calls fine-sounding arguments. Also just because someone says they are independent of denominations doesn’t mean there are independent of those same belief systems. You may “do church” differently as they say but in the end you are teaching a certain belief system or lack thereof. Most never test the spirits to make sure, even though the bible contradicts what they believe. If they understood that satan presently has control in the church, they would turn away and seek truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Most teach that this is coming in the future so most people do not even check. Paul says Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Most Christians have no idea what truth actually looks like as they think what they have been taught is truth. Knowing the truth as laid out in scripture will turn their world upside down but they turn a blind eye to it and continue in their wicked ways. Picture if you will those who all their life believed they were eternally secure, only to hear when they die Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” That statement does not even strike fear in most Christians as they are so secure in their delusions (God sends them a powerful delusion as we read earlier) but they never check. So you had better take the time to get this right. But at this point God has turned His face from shining on us which also means the Spirit of truth is not guiding. So we desperately cry out to God so that He will turn His face back to us and the Spirit of truth will once again guide. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” We desperately need this again in the church.
                Jesus warned us not to be deceived. He was asked Matthew 24:3 “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” 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.” Other gospels are being preached which means people are being deceived into believing in the wrong Jesus even though they claim to be serving Jesus. This is happening everywhere in the church and deception has filled the land. Jeremiah 9:6 “You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me, declares the Lord.” The same holds true for us today. We know this because truth has already been thrown down just as Daniel was told. Daniel 8:11 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down.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.” 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”
                Because the church refuses to follow God’s word wholeheartedly, the church stands in desolation and there has been astounding devastation. As Jesus said Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” We have been warned yet the church did not listen and continues to go backwards instead of forwards, charging in the their own direction, all the while claiming Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of kings. The devastation in the church is so astounding that there remains only a remnant and even the remnant like Judah is in captivity. But as Daniel was told, our enemies will be not be destroyed by human power so we desperately need the power of God once again. Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil. He said we would do as He did so we are to continue in that work. Paul was told Acts 26:17 “I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” The church was to continue in that teaching yet they turned away in rebellion. We cannot defeat satan in human power though everyone tries.
                Today the church lies in ruins. If you look around at all the churches there are in the country, they are completely ineffective against the evil one. There is no power. North America especially the United States is falling apart. Where is the power of the church? Where is the church? When this pandemic struck I was very resistant to the closing of the church. I even said I would not close. It took me about two weeks of much struggle to realize closing and going online only was the right thing to do. I struggled because what the church was supposed to be was not happening. The church is supposed to pray for people and see healing. The church is supposed to be powerful but it is not. The good news is that is coming once again. We are supposed to do as Jesus did. Matthew 10:7 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Matthew 11:3 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “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.” This what we are praying for but obviously is not happening across the church. I realized that this pandemic instantly exposed the fallen church around the world. That happening so quickly was amazing. The church was shown to be just like any other business; any other religion and that should have been revelatory. As time has gone by the church has not awakened to this revelation but desires to carry on as normal; powerless and empty!
                Here are a few examples of what is happening in the church. This pandemic has made fools of so called prophets like Kenneth Copeland who said back in March 2020 "In the Name of Jesus, standing in the office of the prophet of God, I execute judgment on you COVID-19. I execute judgment on you, satan, you destroyer, you killer. You get out. I break your power. You get off this nation. I demand judgment on you. I demand. I demand. "I demand a vaccination to come immediately. I call you done. I call you gone. You come down from your place of authority, destroyer. You come down and you crawl on your belly like God commanded you when He put His foot on your head in the Garden of Eden. You will destroy through COVID-19 no more. 'It is finished! It is over! And the United States of America is healed and well again,' saith the mighty Spirit called Peace, who is also the Prince of War, the Lord Jesus Christ." By the way what do you need a vaccination for if you are healed and well! Then basically a week later after he already pronounced the pandemic was over, and then he blew on the virus and rebuked it even though he already said it was finished.
                Now I know it is easy to pick on the likes of the charismatics like Copeland but this shows the virus isn’t listening. He wasn’t speaking in the name of Jesus by the way. I would say this pandemic has been an eye opening experience for the charismatics. Along with the nation, churches and Christians have been hit alike by this pandemic. Countries around the world began to defend themselves the best way they could and shutdowns followed. We watched as this virus ravaged countries like Italy. We listened daily to the plight of the medical profession around the world who were exhausted and beaten down and still are. We also saw the United States become the center of attention as the virus swept through the country (even though rebuked) and then continued to get worse and worse. Here is this country with all the knowhow and power yet unable to defeat this enemy and unable to come together as a people. Division continues to sweep through this country. It seems protesting is the thing to do these days but it doesn’t stop at protesting; riots ensued. Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are protesting and conspiracy theories are rampant bringing confusion to the masses. This confusion is also in the church with many leaders teaching this pandemic is not real. Businesses around the world have been hit hard but at the same time many of the rich are getting richer than ever before. These are crazy times.
                But what about the church? Well the quick answer is the church still refuses to repent and is still powerless. You might disagree on this because the news tells you something different. It seems churches are fighting back and taking a stand. It seems God’s power must be present. Many have sued the government and some are revolting and leading a revolution against the government, although most are submitting and being cautious, as they should. Of course the ones who are revolting are making the news and wouldn’t you know it our friend John MacArthur is one of them who has made a complete flip-flop in a very short time. California is one of the states that has been hit hard by this virus. They have been in lock down and continue to lockdown in an effort to fight this virus. Like everywhere else in the world, guidelines are in place. Churches were told they could not gather and then guidelines were given to open. Around the world people are saying and have seen that large groups are dangerous and cause the virus to spread rapidly. All it will take for these churches that ignore the guidelines is an outbreak as has happened in many churches with some cases resulting in death. “On March 19, 2020, the State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring most Californians to stay at home to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.  For many faith traditions, gathering together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith. But as Americans are now aware, gatherings present a risk for increasing spread of COVID-19 during this Public Health Emergency. CDC offers these suggestions for faith communities to consider and accept, reject, or modify, consistent with their own faith traditions, in the course of preparing to reconvene for in-person gatherings while still working to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This guidance is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The California department of Public health put out guidelines for places of worship and most are following them yet there is opposition, basically saying you can’t tell the church what to do.
        This morning I listened to John MacArthur teach on Romans 13 of submitting to those in authority above you, I have to say it was quite well done. To summarize he stated we are to submit no matter what, whether good or bad with only one exception which was from Acts where Peter and John were told to stop preaching the name of Jesus. Acts 4:16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” So this groundwork had already been laid out and it is said the MacArthur’s church has stuck to this teaching but now this has changed. He said recently “California Gov. Gavin Newsom is overstepping his executive privileges with "draconian" restrictions by shutting down churches and telling believers they cannot worship during the coronavirus pandemic, a prominent pastor (MacArthur) told "Fox News @ Night" Monday.” Draconian is defined as severe and harsh. Think Nazi Germany. Remember at no time have they been told not to preach the name of Jesus, so MacArthur is going against his own beliefs and to make matters worse, Romans 13:2 “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Just a few months ago he talked about following the guidelines and not wanting harm to come to his people. For further understanding, this is worth the listen. But now he is starting a revolution against his government and people like this person who don’t know better think he is a servant of God leading his people. This person commented “Nice to see a Christian leader with an actual backbone, willing to stand up against the persecution. Other cowardly pastors take note.” As you can see people around the country will rise up at the drop of a hat. As time has gone by MacArthur has decided the pandemic is not that bad and even questions the reality of it. He said, “People, without us saying anything, started coming back. They didn’t buy the narrative,” MacArthur said. “They kept coming back, and last Sunday, 3,000 of them came back and they rejoiced. They hugged each other and they didn’t wear masks and they sang songs. They understand the reality of it. I haven’t had to say anything.” He spends a lot of time on stats. He says, “But let’s talk about that danger from the virus. Twenty-seven states have a higher death rate than California, twenty-seven states. (That is inaccurate. New York and New Jersey and then California who has the most cases) California has had about 8,300 persons die (Since that statement, the numbers have increased to 10,197 deaths with over 538000 cases of Covid-19.), and I just got this information from the state sources yesterday, 8,300 persons have died with COVID, not necessarily from it, but with it – at least that’s what we’re told. And for California, the California statistic is that’s 21 people out of every 100,000. That means the death rate is 0.02; 99.98 percent of people will not die from this. But there’s another statistic: half of those people who died are over 80. So if you’re under 80, you have a 99.99 percent chance that you’re going to live through this whole thing. That just does not equate to the response this society has had.” By the way the numbers are lower because society did respond. When MacArthur was on Foxes Tucker Carlson defending reopening he said “first of all and foremost it is a 1st amendment right.” The second argument was Covid-19 stats in California. They stood on the 1st Amendment while in their blog they said they were not making that foremost argument. The church said, “Notice that we are not making a constitutional argument. Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon.” Yet any time I have heard him interviewed he talks about the first amendment. They even brag about not wearing masks and gathering; 3000 gathered. Not only does he downplay the effects of the virus to rebel, he also uses as an excuse for their rebellion the immorality of the government. He said, "Do you know what the great killer in California is? I'll tell you what it is. The most deadly force in this state is death by medical people who do abortions. And I will give you the statistics of this state: 364 abortions a day. About one in four pregnancies in California ends in abortion. So, every infant conceived has a one in four chance of never getting out of the womb. 88% of those abortions are with women who are not married. California has more abortions than any state in the United States — taxpayer funded.” While that is horrible that according to MacArthur himself is not an excuse. The United States is no longer a Christian country, if ever according to the true biblical description of Christianity. Yet the number of Mega-churches (over 2000 sustained) have grown, with the most in California. Where is the power even though people are gathering? You can’t expect them to govern by your own principles but that does not mean you can choose to disobey because you do not like what they do. They have not disallowed the name of Jesus to be proclaimed. Yes we do not like when the country we live is pagan but after all of these years of having churches, whose fault is it really. Yes there are churches everywhere but not the powerhouse church of the New Testament where God said I will dwell among you and empower you. Mark 16:20 “the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” That is not happening. If the church would actually bow to God and return to His word, we wouldn’t not be having this conversation. 2 Peter 3:11 “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
                Yes they say they will not bow to Caesar yet they pick and choose what rules to follow. They say they will no longer obey because this Covid-19 is not worthy of caution yet they enjoy the benefits of not paying property taxes and they like the charitable status and people give to get their tax receipts and sure we will build our building to code and meet all the fire codes and follow all the rules so we can have our buildings, yet they don’t like these lasts few months of someone telling them to do things differently yet not telling them to stop proclaiming the name of Jesus. So if they are not going to bow, then go all the way and give up the charitable status, start paying property taxes and then say we will not bow to Caesar. But the church likes the charitable status and the freebies that come with it. One person opposed to churches and their freebies said, “I don’t hate God. I’m not against America and apple pie,” a city councilman told the Los Angeles Times in 2006. But, he insisted, churches were a problem. For one reason: They don’t pay their share of taxes. “Zero revenue,” the councilman said. “Somebody’s got to pay for police, fire and schools.” I only say this because if you are going to say you will not bow to Caesar, then don’t bow in all areas. Many churches today are multi-million dollar businesses who are getting a free ride. Don’t be surprised when that changes and it should change. Yes I know the definition of charity includes churches but a church is not a charity, as most people who attend are not defined as a charity case. Most of the money that comes in keeps the ship afloat such as buildings and salaries.
                Another example is a group of young people who said very specifically there would be a revival at Huntington Beach California, at least that was the case before the pandemic struck. So they gathered at Huntington Beach lifeguard tower 20 but didn’t follow any of the rules and were shut down and had to move from the place God said would be a revival?? Even though this group said they serve Jesus only, the city responded with this document. “The City has been made aware of Saturate OC events taking place in Huntington Beach by Lifeguard Tower 20. Contrary to claims made by organizers, Saturate OC has not obtained the required City permits needed to hold their event. Furthermore, the Saturate OC event is currently operating in violation of State and County public health orders. Given those factors, the City has already issued a citation to the Saturate OC event organizer today. The Saturate OC program requires City permits, given that the commercialized event includes paid registration tiers (ranging from $0 – $150 for entry), merchandise sales at the event, amplified music, and attracts a mass gathering of participants. Furthermore, Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) officials have declared that the event is operating in violation of existing public health orders. OCHCA has identified that given the current COVID-19 community transmission rate in Orange County, the maximum size of the Saturate OC event should be limited to 100 participants or less. On July 23 and July 24, City officials contacted Saturate OC event promoters, asking that they postpone the event until they obtain the proper permits and institute requisite public health and safety protocols. Despite repeated attempts to resolve the situation, Saturate OC event promoters continue to advertise that their event will occur tonight [Friday, July 24] at 6 p.m. today, despite being informed that the event is not allowed to proceed. The City firmly supports the right of any religious group to worship, and the State has published current safety protocols / guidance for Places of Worship. In addition, the City has established permitting protocols for hosting events on public beaches. Unfortunately, the Saturate OC event promoters have not instituted safety protocols prescribed by the State and County, and they have refused to obtain a permit for their event. Therefore, the City has informed Saturate OC that their event is not allowed to occur.” The organizers said the revival was to be at Huntington Beach. They said God told them "There’s a 50,000 person Harvest in Huntington Beach during Summer 2020.” Another article said, “Hundreds gathered on the sand at Huntington Beach on Friday evening for the fourth week in a row to participate in a revival meeting called Saturate OC despite a city order earlier in the day to cancel the event because officials said organizers failed to obtain permits or follow coronavirus health mandates. At the end of her sermon, Green announced that Saturate OC won’t return to Huntington Beach next week, but will look for another location in Orange County. She assured eager followers they weren’t going to go away. “You can’t cancel Jesus,” she told the crowd, holding a megaphone. They agreed with her, cheering loudly.” They said like MacArthur, “People are far more afraid of losing their civil liberties in the long run than getting sick from something that has a 99.9% recovery rate in California,” Green said. When asked if the group was concerned about the potential of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others, Green said people have faith that they won’t — even though Orange County recently surpassed Riverside County with the second highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the state. They were only told follow the rules but never told don’t preach the name of Jesus. As we have seen this virus doesn’t seem to care if you go to church or not. They also have justified themselves because they do not think the virus is worthy of precaution and they feel their governor is persecuting them. They have no idea what real persecution is.
                You can’t pick and choose the things you want to bow to and benefit from the others. Again the church was not told that they could not preach the name of Jesus. They were told for now we want you do it differently until we have this pandemic under control. For example Harvest Crusade, (also in California) a large-scale evangelistic event that is held in the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Southern California every year, has modified its tradition for the coronavirus pandemic. Laurie expressed the effect of the coronavirus pandemic had on the initial Harvest Crusades event. "It just seemed this was not the right time to do a stadium event. Now, looking back, I realize it was the right decision, and therefore we pivoted and started putting our energy and creativity into something different." "When we can meet in person again, then we'll do that. In the meantime, we're not going to sit around and twiddle our thumbs," Laurie said.”
                On the surface this rebellion by some of these churches looks at if they are following God and He is blessing them by His power but by their own words and God’s word they condemn themselves. The question still remains where is the power of God in the church. Power is not about whether we can gather or not. They have started a rebellion over sitting in comfortable pews. Churches have been gathering for centuries and are still powerless. So what if people can drive to church and sit for an hour and then go home. What difference does it really make in the battle when there is no power in the first place. It just enforces the false teaching that if I simply go to church I am safe and secure from all alarm. Where is the power to heal a nation that continues to get worse? They say they will not serve Caesar but their arguments are man made. They are retaining lawyers to do their bidding and staking everything on the 1st Amendment and their rights and that they feel the governor leadership is immoral. Churches are suing the government and going to court over opening so they can sit and listen to someone preach and in the case of MacArthur he doesn’t even believe there is power available as laid out in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Could it be that finances really are at the heart of this uprising?
                Our strength is not in ourselves but in God. God said he would take care of us if we trusted in Him and in Him alone. Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.” Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 33:16 “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” Please note that not only is there a pandemic happening, we are in the midst of a global famine of hearing the word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11) The church seems to think God is blessing the work of our hands and the direction our eyes have taken us but that simply is not true. We must turn away from the wickedness of the church and return to God.    
                So this is how we start. Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 130:1 “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Psalm 18:1 “I love you, Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.” Man cannot do that.
                So we pray and ask God to hear our cry. He saved them from the blazing furnace and the lion’s den. Daniel 3:13 “Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 6:19 “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”
                We cry out to God because God is the creator of the universe and all-powerful. This is where our focus should be. Daniel 9:2 “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. 7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. 15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. 17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”        Since the church is in the same condition as what Nehemiah saw, we also pray Nehemiah 1:3 “They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
                So we too cry out with Isaiah, Isaiah 64:1 “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. 4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. 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. 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?”
                These churches that are rebelling are not seeking God’s blessing so that His power returns. For that matter most churches are not willing to turn from their wicked ways /other gospels and return to God so that He returns to us. Psalm 81:8 “Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. 13 “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” If we want to defeat the enemy, we need God’s power. Last week we looked at our vision. Sadly most churches have placed their vision on men and woman and have no concept of trusting God to lead them. In order to see change around us, we need the power of God among us. Daniel knew a thing or two about persecution and living under the authority of the world’s leaders. Will there be a time in North America like that? Just maybe but that time is not now but the time is now to return to God so that He will guide us and empower us just as the early church saw. Haggai 1:2 Lord’s house.’” 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” 12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.” Nehemiah 2:17 “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.” Ezra 5:11 “This is the answer they gave us: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.” Acts 4:33 “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”
                Don’t be deceived by satan who masquerades as an angle of light. Don’t be deceived by what looks like power but is not. Turn away from man’s empty and powerless ways and return to God. As Paul tells us 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit. 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.” We are living in the days of great famine of hearing the word of the Lord but there is hope. 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” 2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”