A couple of weeks ago we looked at having a “little faith”. This had two meanings. Jesus said Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That is the little faith we want to have. Jesus also described little faith when He admonished His disciples when Matthew 8:26 “He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” That little faith is what we do not want. Last week we saw that Jesus asked the question if He would find faith on earth upon His return. Luke 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” How did you answer? For the most part those who go to church and call themselves Christians will answer yes Jesus will find me faithful but will He? There are many Christians and non-christian alike who are fearlessly faithful to what they believe. Many Christians who would say they are fearlessly faithful are faithful to other gospels. They are so faithful, they would and will die for what they believe, only to hear depart from me I don’t know who you are!

        Being fearlessly faithful can also have two meanings. The first, like little faith, means you are faithful because you believe in God and trust and believe His word and follow wholeheartedly and this leads to eternal life. The second is fearlessly faithful in yourself, to the doctrines that you have been taught and the church or denomination you have been brought up in. You may say I don’t belong to a denomination; I am independent. Even independents belong to one distinction or another. You also follow with great zeal and you probably will die believing what you have been taught but are not actually following the truth. This is the deception caused by rebellion against God’s word. The problem is most of these zealots have turned away from God’s word to follow other gospels. (Most do not know this, thus the deception that Jesus warned us about. Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many 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.) and this does not lead to eternal life. At this point pause and ponder the millions of people who have died thinking they were faithful, even fearlessly faithful, only to hear Matthew 25:12 “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” The problem is they did not test the spirits. 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.”

        One day, everyone past, present and future will stand before God and give account. Romans 14:10 “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15 “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Now if you have been taught that caught up means rapture, you have been greatly deceived by those who taught you and no matter how faithful you think you are, you have followed another gospel and have been deceived. satan is the master deceiver and this one has turned millions from the truth because along with the rapture always comes false teaching about tribulation and millennial kingdom. The deception here is to get the church to turn from God’s word to follow man’s word and doctrines of demons. That is what satan has done from Genesis till now. Instead of following the teaching of scripture, the church turned to the teaching of man. They also turned form the power of God to the power they think their own hands have. This teaching (rapture, tribulation and millennial kingdom) is always something in the future but meanwhile the abomination that causes desolation has already decimated the church, leaving only a remnant left. The tribulation is already here, and the church has been left desolate. Daniel 9:27 “At the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” As we saw earlier if this time had not been cut short, we would have all died. Even though Daniel 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.” The good news is 26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”

        Today the church is filled with false prophets and teachers (2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.) and yes there are many fearlessly faithful (wrong kind) followers of those false gospels but are they prepared / ready to meet their God? They think they are. It really is quite amazing how many people there are who call themselves Christians, yet who have no idea who God is or what He requires. This can be seen in Kings. 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. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” 16 They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. (This description is the same as following other gospels) 18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.” Most people do not believe God would actually do that but the same has happened to the church because of the rebellion, so the abomination that causes desolation was allowed to decimate the church. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Jesus warned us that day would come and that day has come! 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. When you look at Kings, we saw that Samaria was resettled. 2 Kings 17:26 “It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.” 27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 32 They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. 34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” This describes today’s church and just like these just described, the church even though we have God’s word, have no idea who He is or what He requires. This is simply because the church has rebelled against God’s word and followed the ways of man. Amos 8:1 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”

        I’m sure you have heard someone say prepare to meet thy God which is usually a reference when someone is about to be killed. Hopefully someone has not said this to you in this manner, but God is saying this, and it is important to listen to His words. This actually comes from the book of Amos and is describing Israel’s refusal to return to God. Many examples were given such as empty stomachs, withheld rain, vineyards destroyed and plagues, yet they all end with “you have not returned to me, declares the Lord.” After this Amos says Amos 4:12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.” 13 He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name.” Like Israel, the church refuses to repent. Today the church has not returned to God and refuses to turn from their wicked ways even though God said 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!” This verse also describes the church. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 4 I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. 5 So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds. 6 their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.” 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.” 

        Oddly in today’s desolate church, most are excited to meet their God and are completely fearless about doing so but not because they have followed God’s word wholeheartedly, but because they have been deceived into believing they have nothing to fear. There is so much deception in the church that there is no fear of standing before God. Many think they are on a train bound for glory and singing when we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! They can only imagine oh what a day that will be and think the train will end up in Beulah land. I once heard a minister (false teacher) talking about all the people who did not buy into their (false) teaching who would have missed the train. They would then wave at them as they left the station, but the problem was that train was not bound for glory. Yes, they would meet their God but they were unprepared and they would be turned away. The rampant spread of false teaching throughout the church has left the church unprepared to meet God. 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!”

         When Israel was conquered, those who survived were taken to Babylon. Daniel 1:1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. 6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.” All four were tested even though God blessed them with knowledge and understanding. They would prove to be fearlessly faithful and ready to die. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego later would refuse to bow before an idol, infuriating the king. The king had said Daniel 3:6 “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” The king then gave them another chance and said 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?” Now these men knew whom they believed without question. Earlier God showed them the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 2:19 “During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” So the music played and they refused to bow knowing there was certain death ahead. 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.” They were willing to die for their beliefs, but God rescued them. After being thrown into the fire, those watching said “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.”

        It is important to also understand that not everyone will live as some will suffer and some will die. Hebrews 10:32 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” In the great faith chapter Hebrews 11:35 “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them.” Paul said to the Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.” We have to be prepared to live or die. We saw this with Paul when he said Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We also saw this kind of faith when Job said to his friends, Job 27:5 “I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” Why could he say that? Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” David said Psalm 27:3 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

        If this is going to happen, it is really important to know who it is you are suffering for; satan or God. You really need to know whose voice it is you are listening to. John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” One of the sayings that has always bothered me was the steps of Alcoholic Anonymous and others like it. Here are the first three steps. Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Then from there the higher power is referred to as God. Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” And the finally “Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” One time at a church I was pastoring, someone in the church wanted the church to support Al-Anon meetings. I said they would have to change the steps but to no avail. Here is why I asked for this. This is from their website. When asked if AL-Anon is religious this is the answer given.  “Al-Anon Family Groups is a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one. We avoid discussion of specific religious doctrine, and members of all faiths (or of none) are welcome. Our Twelve Steps ask us to find a "Power greater than ourselves" who can help us solve our problems and find serenity. Each member is free to define that power in his or her own way.”

        So, we have people with addiction looking to be set free by themselves, by the god of their understanding, of which they cannot break free nor are they ever free. I am sure you have heard it said, once an alcoholic always an alcoholic or one drink away. This website described it this way. “Alcoholism is a chronic disease and needs to be treated like one. Therefore, people who have AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) will always have to maintain it. Just as people with type 1 diabetes have to manage their chronic illness their whole lives, so do those who struggle with AUD; maintenance is a factor in all chronic diseases, and alcoholism is no different.” So, let’s go back to the higher power, the god of your understanding. Here is the problem; there is only one God and our understanding of God comes from scripture. Since they refuse to acknowledge the one true God, how in the world do they think they are going to be healed? So these groups put you in charge as to who you think this higher power is and as all these programs have shown, most don’t know who God is. They have no idea the healing power of the Lord God Almighty. One article answered this question, “Do you have to be religious in order to follow the twelve steps?” They said “No. While it's true that the 12 Steps were originally based on the principles of a spiritual organization (not biblical - remember spiritual and biblical are not the same), the world isn't the same as it was in 1935 when AA and the 12 Step program was founded. The word "God" was eventually replaced with "Higher Power" to be more accessible to everyone, regardless of faith traditions or beliefs. A Higher Power doesn't have to be God; it could be nature, the universe, fate, karma, your support system, the recovery group itself, medical professionals or whatever you feel is outside of and greater than yourself/your ego. What you believe to be a Higher Power is a very personal thing.” Well, that is ridiculous when you compare those words to the true God. Just read what God said to Job - Job 38-41 or Psalm 89:8 “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. 10 with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. 11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. 12 You created the north and the south 13 Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.” 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.” Rick Warren duplicated the twelve steps with his own called Celebrate Recovery but has the same lack of power problem, as it looks nothing like scripture even though they use scripture. They even refer to the higher power but where is the power?

        Can you imagine Jesus using a 12 Step program? You actually have to imagine that since Mr. Warren says it is biblical. It is not by the way. Step 1- (Celebrate recovery) 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.” Step 1 (AA) 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.” Okay so I am adding blind but that would count as unmanageable I would think. Now you have Jesus ready to implement His twelve steps as blind men approached Him. He must have been so excited to use his 12-step program. Okay that was sarcasm. Here is what actually happened. Matthew 9:27 “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. 32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” Actually, Jesus only used a one step program so while Warren wants you to believe his program is biblically sound, it is not at all because like all other 12 step programs, they are powerless to completely heal and restore. 

        When you say the god of your understanding, you negate the power of God. Today most either don’t know or disagree with scripture as to who God is and the power available to all who believe. Most actually refuse to listen and the church is filled with people who do not understand who God is as is the world. Here is the problem Isaiah 56:10 “Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. 11 They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.” Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 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 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding.” Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. 14 a people without understanding will come to ruin!” When you do not understand who God is, you perish. How do you get understanding? You read the bible, believe what it states and you ask God for it. Proverbs 2:1 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for  understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. God gave understanding to Shadrack. Daniel 1:17 “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”

        Let’s go back to Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego. When we fear God, we gain understanding of who God is. Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” When we fear God, there is nothing to fear. Psalm 34:1 “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” They refused to bow and were willing to die. They had fearless faith but so do a lot of people. There are missionaries willing to die. They go to the ends of the earth and spread what they think to be the gospel. They are so convinced that they are willing to sacrifice everything, even life itself. They too have fearless faith but to what end. We talked about the founder of the People’s church, Oswald Jeffrey Smith, in Toronto Canada being a missionary advocate and did so with great zeal but he also promoted false teaching around the world as do those who believed in what they were taught. It is crucial to understand that having fearless faith must be the right kind because if you die, you want to hear from Jesus well done good and faithful servant, not “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Yes, many are going to give their all to the doctrines and beliefs systems they have been taught. I was watching a YouTube video and it turned out the young man was a Mormon who had spent his two years as a missionary promoting everything he had been taught. Yes, this is a cult, but they don’t think so. He talks about God and prays, yet he is going to hear away from me I don’t know you. We saw earlier in the description of AA, “what you believe to be a Higher Power is a very personal thing.” Actually, it is not. It is not you believe this, and I believe that and some believe nature and others believe idols and on and on. Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is only one way and one God. Ephesians 4:5 “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

        So where is this power that saved Shadrack Meshach and Abednego? The church rebelled against God’s ways and sought man’s ways instead. Thus, you have 12 -step programs and other ideas man’s hands have made. God turned His face from us and the church was powerless against our enemies. Just as God allowed Israel’s enemies to defeat them, God has allowed satan to defeat the church. No that was not supposed to happen, just like Israel was not supposed to be defeated in the Promised Land. We were supposed to heal and cast out demons just as Jesus did but instead the church celebrated the ideas of men and turned one step into 12 and there was no higher power. There was no power from on high and those twelve steps were powerless to heal. The church is the same with no power to heal and cast out demons but the church refuses to turn away from the own empty and powerless ways. Even though the bible is clear on the fact that there is power available to all who believe, many have given up and refuse to wait. Isaiah 57:11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?” Others say 2 Peter 3:4 “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Since most in the church have been deceived, they do not understand that the abomination that causes desolation has decimated the church. What we read in the Gospels and Acts is not happening because of it. We were warned in scripture this would happen, but the church did not heed those warnings and now the church is not prepared to meet their God and the church is not preparing others to do the same. In fact, 2 Peter 2:2 “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” Titus 1:11 “They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

        We are not waiting for a millennial kingdom, as that kingdom was already here. Jesus said, Luke 11:20 “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus drove out demons! The power is available, but the church must turn from its wicked ways and return to the way of God in order to see it once again. When God turns His face back to the church, the church will once again be clothed with power and go to the ends of the earth doing as Jesus did. This time of desolation is coming to an end and the church will once again be clothed with power. This is a time where we should be getting ready and prepared to meet our God. 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 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. 11 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. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

        I think it is fair to say that most who call themselves Christians are not prepared to meet their God. Even if you are faithful, there should be fear thinking about standing before God. This is a passage the church today should take to heart. Amos 5:8 “Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house     and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. 20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? 21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” When talking about the rich fool Jesus said Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” 

        What have you spent your life preparing for? Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Are you prepared to meet your God? Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.”

        We serve the King of kings and Lord of lords. Malachi 1:14 “For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Even king Nebuchadnezzar finally bowed before His maker. Daniel 4:2 “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.” After his dream came to past and he lost everything, he said Daniel 4:34 “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases     with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

        Are you prepared to meet your God? Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Psalms 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice, 8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” Hebrews 10:37 “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”