Call to Worship:      Psalm 100:1 “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
    Opening Songs:   My Soul Magnifies The Lord - Chris Tomlin
    Praise to the Lord, The Almighty - Christy Nockels                                           
    Shout to the Lord  -  Hillsong
    Scripture: Psalm 95
    Songs: We Fall Down  - Chris Tomlin
    We Adore You  -Paul Baloche           
    Come Let Us Worship And Bow Down - WOW Worship: Blue
    Sermon:  “We Bow Down”
    Closing Song:  O, Come All Ye Faithful  - Chris Tomlin
    Benediction:      Nehemiah 9:5 “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
    Nehemiah 8:6 “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”
    Sermon:       “We Bow Down”
                Today we are talking about bowing before our King Jesus. Have we come to the manger as the Shepherds did, proclaiming they had seen the Messiah. Have you brought your gift as the Magi did? Have you repented before your king so his kingdom would come near? Have you bowed before the cross thanking Jesus for  your salvation? Have you stood at the empty tomb rejoicing that He lives? Have you bowed before Him by living by his word? Will you wait for the advocate, the Holy Spirit to return in power? Are you anticipating with great expectation His return to take us home? But the biggest question at this Christmas season is, who are you bowing to? You may have gone to church your whole life or just beginning but you need to ask yourself what you have been saved into? Who is it that you have bowed to? Have you given your all to the god of your understanding or to the word of God, Jesus? What spirit have you been filled with and on and on these questions could go. Today you need to make sure, as your eternal life depends on it.
                Each year during this Christmas season some will put out signs on their lawns to let others know that Jesus is the reason for the season or to Keep Christ in Christmas. While this is true we have to ask what do they know about Jesus and who do they think he is. You also have to ask what it means to keep Christ in Christmas. I agree that there is nothing worse than seeing X-mass. Since we do not use the greek letter X, take the time to keep Christ in Christmas as it is not a short form but a rejection of the atoning blood of Jesus. In today’s world not only is Jesus the perfector of our faith rejected, so is the Spirit of truth. Taking Christ out is a rejection of the Holy Spirit. I can understand the secular world doing this but never in the church. So if you have a sign do you actually know what you are saying? Do you really understand the anointing of the Holy Spirit? How can we keep Christ in Christmas if God has turned his face from shining on us?
               So this is why our theme this year for advent is “Awaiting the power of the Holy Spirit.” For that to happen we must do as Jesus said. Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” We are also told 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.” God said to Solomon “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.” If we truly repent we then can say “Emmanuel God with us!” Solomon had prayed 2 Chronicles 6:36 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.” This was just part of what Solomon prayed but God responded, if we repent and humble ourselves, we will find him and he will shine His face on us once again. So we plead Psalm 79:8 “Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God? Before our eyes, make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.”
                So why would we be in the situation Solomon described and why would God have displeasure towards us. Why is he angry? Psalm 85:4 “Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.” The answer is simple; God is angry at us for disobeying His word and following other gospels. He has responded as he said he would. David said to Solomon 1 Kings 2:2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.” Solomon also said in his prayer 1 Kings 8:25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.” 1 Kings 9:6 “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 8 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.’” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
                Therein lies the problem. Most are worshipping in vain because they have followed other gods. Ask yourself what gospel are you worshipping? We were told Jesus was the Messiah but then men and woman changed his word. What Jesus are you bowing down to? Most in the church do not know this verse applies to them, Jesus said in Mark 7:6 “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.” Now it is not just traditions but teachings that are being passed down. Most just assume everything is from God but because they fail to test the spirits they are deceived; even when we were warned by Jesus himself. Luke 21:8 “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.” So we were warned this would happen yet the church did not heed the warning and this is what we have 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “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.” 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.” People say God would never do that but he just said he would. Paul describes what is happening in 2 Corinthians 11:3 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” This is why I ask; who are you bowing to? Again we are warned to follow the gospel. Paul said to the Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 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 1:13 “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.” Following God’s word is how we know who it is we bow to.
                So back to the Christmas signs. Who is it that most think they are imitating. As I said last week most don’t know the scriptures well enough to know the voice of Jesus. Most are only imitating what they have been taught because they do not know the words of Jesus. Yet here is the scary part as there are people in the church that know the bible frontwards and backwards yet have no idea of the truth in it as they look at what they know through the lens of how they have been taught, meaning they have a Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Reformed, Brethren, bible. Most have bowed down to the Jesus they think they know and because of this, the power of the Holy Spirit is removed and our prayers go unanswered as Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!” Why have our hands been full of blood? It is because we abandoned the word of God for the teachings of men. Jeremiah 7:2 “‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.” Most do not know they are following other gods. Deuteronomy 32:15 “Jeshurun (people of Israel) grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior.” 16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. 17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. 18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. 19 The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. 21 They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.” 2 Kings 17 describes how the people abandoned the Lord as they did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. 12 They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.” 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. 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.”
                Today the church has done the same thing by abandoning the word of the Lord and going their own way. Matthew 28 says Jesus said to teach them to obey and He would be with us always. Because the church taught other gospels, we worship in vain and we have been given into the hands of plunders. The church did not hold to the gospel, followed other gospels and now worship in vain. The church has felt the same results as Israel when God abandoned them. Now remember God said he would never take His love away as he did Saul yet they all went into captivity, even the remnant. But as God promised David there would always be a remnant so you see the story of Esther and Mordecai, Shadrack Meshack and Abednego. Daniel even saw this present future while in captivity. He also pleaded with God concerning the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that after seventy years they would be freed. But today we live in the midst of what Daniel saw and the abomination that now fills the church. Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Jesus said Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 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.” This is seen across the church and around the world. The church lies in desolation and delusion and God has turned his face from shining on us yet the church refuse to repent.
                Today many think they have bowed before the king but don’t know who He is, as they only know what they have been told. One of the great deceptions is that people don’t test the spirits because they don’t want to judge. If you don’t test the spirits, you will be deceived. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” One of the gifts of the Spirit is “distinguishing between spirits” No wonder satan has deceived many into not believing the gifts are not for today. Yes I talk about people specifically and no I am not judging. How will you know when someone follows the teaching of some of the big names and teaches the same thing. Yes you will hear the teaching from some guru but you will also see the followers teach it whether big or small. You will see false teaching somewhere in a big church in the states and right here in Strathroy. It is better to find out now than later when Jesus will say I don’t know you.
                I am going to talk about someone specific today as this will show the utter devastation the church is in. Recently December 7th a man by the name Reinhard Bonnke died. This man is in the same category as John MacArthur but from a charismatic perspective except now he now longer has a voice to share the truths he is about to find out. No-one will know what he now knows except for those who wholeheartedly follow God’s word. He can’t go back and warn people as the rich man wanted to do from Hades.  Luke 16:27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
                Now the same can be said about Reinhard Bonnke as it can John MacArthur. One is a ceasationist and the other believed the Holy Spirit was moving in power yet they are both deceived. I have given you this quote from Bonnke before. He said “to wait on God is an Old Testament concept. The last ones who waited were the 120 in the upper room. Green means go. When the light turns green you do not need a permit form the secretary of transport You just go.” When you do that you fall prey to deceiving spirits just as he did. Neither of these men teach the truth. Yes the power of the Holy Spirit is available as scripture states it is but it will look like Jesus not what came from Bonnke. Reinhard Bonnke started Christ for all Nations but remember which Christ are you keeping in Christmas? Which Christ has gone into the nations? Here is an article from their website from the year 2000. “Lagos, Nigeria was not just another event, nor even a milestone Campaign in the history of CfaN; it was world history in the making. For when, if ever, have 1.6 million people gathered into one place to hear the Gospel? When in human history have 1.3 million people simultaneously cried out to God in new tongues? Who but God alone had heard the worship of such a multitude until that moment? When have nearly 4 million books been given away at one time? When before, in a single week and a single city, have over 3.4 million souls recorded decisions to follow Christ?” On their website they claim 78,800,704 salvation decision cards. That’s astounding but what have they been saved into or have they all been deceived? Bonnke did his work in Africa. There, men can tap into a dark power, the same power a Sharman has yet they call it God. So these poor people see a power they think is God and flock towards the light but it is only satan masquerading as an angel of light. As I read earlier 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” I am not going to spend a lot of time on this but this will help you understand better. You have heard me talk about the false revivals called the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville and you can see the likes of them all over the place. Bonnke goes to Africa. Now another character referred to as the Bartender of the Holy Spirit because people get drunk in the Spirit, Rodney Howard Browne comes from Africa to the United States. Again you have to ask which spirit? The two, Bonnke and Browne are connected as are the leaders of the Toronto Blessing. Some would call this a transferable anointing but not in a good way. The church is now called Catch the Fire, a fire you want nothing to do with. You can look at the chaos that surrounds those two names but then you have the Toronto blessing and Brownsville where laughter and drunkenness falling on the their backs, barking, roaring and other chaos happened. You can still see the chaos happening around the country.
                So people submit to these men and the spirit that controls them and think they are bowing to Jesus because they saw manifestations yet they did not test the spirits and were deceived. The same thing happens when you follow the likes of MacArthur. He teaches something, people say okay and they too are deceived. The strange thing is that these two Bonnke and MacArthur are miles apart in their theology yet they believe the rapture, the blessed hope. Here is what one author said.
    This person believed in a pre-tribulation rapture. I share this because this is a fallacy many follow. Not only is the pretrib rapture a fallacy, him saying it doesn’t matter what you believe about Jesus just as long as you believe in Jesus is also a fallacy. To say Jesus is returning to set up His kingdom is different than saying Jesus is returning to take those of His kingdom home. So with this line of thinking you can believe whatever you want. I can believe something all together different but we still all serve Jesus. No! That is not the truth of God’s word. Someone is seriously wrong. So how do we know what truth is? The answer is you test the spirits and see if they line up with the real Jesus. For example we have Baptists and Pentecostals. One says cessation and the other says anything goes yet both are wrong. One says pray a prayer be filled with the spirit while the others says pray a second prayer and be filled and to verify you have been filled, you speak in tongues as a sign. Yet they both believe in the rapture. You can’t have truth and falseness when talking about Jesus. If they truly had the Spirit as they say they do, then we would have the Spirit of truth. Think about this way. Jesus said in John 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. I am pretty sure Jesus said there was only one way, one truth and one life. John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” John 16:3 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. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:8 “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” Unfortunately what Jesus said about the world applies to the church because we have rejected his words. John 14:17 “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” So if these groups are not teaching truth, who is the Jesus they follow and what spirits are in them.
                So according the church Jesus is confused and according to our writer it doesn’t matter what you believe about the end. Yet according to Jesus, by His Spirit we will know the end. Why then is it so confusing? Why are there so many views? I think you can see that the answer is simple. God has turned His face from us and we no longer have his power. Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the obstinate children, declares the Lord, to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin. 8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 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!” 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
                If you tell people in the church they are following wrong, they will not listen. It will only be when the Holy Spirit is poured out on us once again that conviction will come. Stephen said Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” As we read in Deuteronomy 32 the church has sought after other gods. “gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear.” The enemy has infiltrated the church and we sit in desolation. At this point we are not seeing God’s power because God has given us over to our enemies. Is there power available? Yes as Paul said the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to all who believe. The holy laughter, the slaying in the spirit, the barking, the roaring, the convulsing, the gold dust, the angel feathers even healings and visions seen in these false revivals are all part of the deception. Still today they believe with all their heart this was God. Here are the words of two of the leaders. “Clark recalled, "John Arnott and I would sometimes see something happening and I'd say, 'Ever seen that?' And he'd say, 'No, I haven't. Have you ever seen it?' 'No, I haven't.'" Arnott remembered praying, "'I'm pretty sure this is You, Lord, but what's going on here? Because it seems like it's chaos.' But then we started hearing the testimonies. Those testimonies were always about God healing, touching or transforming lives for the better in this revival.” They went on to describe the fruit of people going into the world and spreading the gospel. But what gospel are they spreading. For example you can listen to the testimonies of Bill Johnson’s (pastor of Redding Bethel) and Heidi Baker’s (I can’t even begin to describe her) about how the Toronto Blessing changing their lives. Johnson said he saw what he was going to give the rest of his life to. Thus 78 million people and counting are being deceived and that’s just from one website.
                It is interesting when I looked at Bonnke’s website under bible studies, the first one I saw was Enemy #5 The Witchcraft of Rebellion. I am sure that they had a different meaning than mine but the power they think they have from God is witchcraft. So from Bonnke to MacArthur to Johnson and Baker, they have been deceived as well as all who follow them. Deuteronomy 18:9 “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” Now I believe the fire from heaven is going to once again fall as at Pentecost but I guarantee you you it will look like scripture. Until the fire falls from heaven once again there will not be peace. 2 Kings 9:22 “When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?” “How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” I remember when God opened my eyes to all of this. I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t blessing me with all the same that was going on around me. At the time we were at a very charismatic church. God simply said, it is not me. From then on I started to see. I have talked about this before. You don’t want yoga in the church or have anything to do with it and for that matter nothing new age or eastern mediation but sadly the same power has already infiltrated the church. The Kundalini serpent has already been awakened.
                The good news is found in Isaiah 27:1 “In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword—Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.” God will reveal himself once again. For all those who have taught other gospels Jude 1:11 “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” 2 Peter 2:17 “These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
                That is not the beautiful image I left you with last week when we talked about the beauty God has for us. This is not what Christmas is about.Isaiah 1:18
    “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Not dogs returning to their vomit. Our land is supposed to be beautiful. Isaiah 28:5 “In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” So while we sit in desolation, God has promised to free his remnant just as Daniel talked about. Not only is Jesus returning to take us to be with Him just as he said, he will free us from captivity as we return to him. The true fire and glory will fall again just as in the dedication of the temple 2 Chronicles 7:1 “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” We want his glory once again. Psalm 60:1 “You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us! 2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. 3 You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. 4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.” Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old 22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” Psalm 80:4 “How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. 6 You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us. 7 Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”
                Most people in church today will not test the spirits and in fact they will be offended that you suggested they should. So day after day people will die only to find out they offered their lives as a living sacrifice and bowed down to the wrong god. Exodus 32:8 “They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Paul said 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.” Exodus 34:15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. If you are involved in any of this that I have talked about run away! 2 Kings 17:34 “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.”
                We only have this life to bow down to Jesus. You don’t know how long that is, so make it right as we read earlier “Today, if only you would hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts.” Trust his word and seek truth. John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Acts 2:40 “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Now is the time to bow before our King. Don’t wait till it’s to late. You won’t get a second chance and there won’t be time to change your mind. 1 Corinthians 15:51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” Jesus said in Revelation 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” When Jesus does return Romans 14:11 “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.” This does not mean every person will become a Christian. It means everyone will know that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of Kings whether in heaven or hell.
                We were warned many times that there would be false teachers and prophets that would lead the church astray. Paul said in Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” This has happened already. The only way to survive is to bow down and humble ourselves, repenting of our wicked ways so that the Kingdom would once again come near. Yes Jesus is the reason for the season as the angels said to the shepherds Luke 2:10 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” As we bow before our Saviour, know that God is with us we do not need to be afraid and once again Christ will be not only in Christmas but in the church.