Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquakes and false prophets

3/11/11 Friday
It’s an unusual morning. My heart is heavy and my thoughts on the events around the world and what is happening here locally. There is much I see, things others seem blind to yet to me they are clear as day. I finished the hard part of the tree and have only to clean up to finish that job.

This morning I will teach. We start with the words of Jesus and a parable many of us are familiar with, the parable of the wheat and weeds found in Mathew 13

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 28 " 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29 " 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

One must wonder, Why are the weeds and wheat allowed to grow together? On my farm weeds are an enemy for sure and it’s better to pull them up early and not allow them to grow for they choke out the good plants and cause a lot of damage. But here Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven and there are some truths revealed here we need to understand for they certainly apply to our lives today.

Principle number one; It is not easy to be a follower of Christ, and not all who start on that journey will make it to the end. There are many these days who preach an easy gospel and make everything nice and gentle, but the truth is not in them, though they are often unaware of it, being self deceived and having bought into a lie.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping

Here’s another uncomfortable truth, God is picky, He won’t just accept everyone who wants to come in, but only those who pass His tests. There is a weeding out process as illustrated not just in this parable but throughout the scriptures. I told someone once “It’s like applying for a job, there is an application you must fill out and complete in order to be chosen”. Jesus said “Many are invited but few are chosen” when He told the parable in Mathew 22 about a King who was throwing a wedding banquet for his son. In the parable…well please read it for yourself. One of the things I am very uncomfortable with is teachers who pick out sentences from the bible to make a point for in doing so they often twist the scriptures to make it say what they want. So here’s the parable.

1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' 5 "But they paid no attention and went off--one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. 13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

Make note, if you would, that those who were invited and chose not to come were all busy with their businesses, their jobs so to speak, and chose to attend that instead of the wedding banquet. So who did the King get to come? Those on the street, both rich and poor, good and bad, and even then there were standards that had to be met. That standard was to be dressed in the proper wedding clothes. There is a background to this parable Jesus told that most of us are unaware of. Jesus was very up to date on current and historical events of His day and used these events to make His message real to those who heard Him.

Some of you history buffs may be aware of the love affair between Cleopatra and Marc Antony, a Caesar of Rome who was emperor during the time of Herod. His wedding with Cleopatra could well be what Jesus was relating to for in that wedding there are many parallels. For one there were many who were not happy at this union between Marc Anthony and Cleopatra and refused to come to the wedding. It was learned that there was a plot to assassinate Mark Antony at the wedding. The wedding was the grandest most exotic event of the day but when the assignation plot became known Marc devised a means of discovering who the assassins were. He had special clothes made to be worn by all the wedding guests, a uniform so to speak, so that those who came uninvited would be instantly recognized and thus the assassins revealed. It actually worked and the assassins were captured, tied hand and foot, and cast into the dungeon.

That’s interesting but the truth of what Jesus was saying is that only those who are clothed in righteousness, that can only come through the power of Christ in our lives, will be allowed to take part of the wedding feast of the Lamb of God. Here is Jesus’ explanation of the parable of wheat and weeds.

Mathew 13:36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." 37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Jesus had already said in the parable that the reason the weeds weren’t pulled up was to prevent any of the wheat from being pulled up by accident, so it was to protect the wheat. We know that God loves us and His desire is for all to be saved, but the sad reality is that many will not make it. The gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mathew 7:13)

Another parable Jesus told helps us understand these things. It is the parable of the sower and the seed, and is actually the one found right before the Mathew account of the wheat and weeds parable we started out with. I’ll just go straight to where Jesus explains the parable but you can read the whole thing in Mathew 13.

"Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy ; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."

Again we see that not all will make it. Whether you like that or not won’t change the truth of it. The purpose of leaving the weeds in the first parable is not only to prevent wheat from being accidentally removed, but to test the wheat, to make it stronger and to reveal the wheat that is defective. So in the church we find all of these elements, good people, bad people, liars and cheats along with those who care about the things of God and don’t just play Christian, all mixed up together. You usually can’t tell one from the other and it really isn’t our job to even try to do so, for trying to find the weeds will lead to a judgmental spirit, a dangerous thing for Christians. Our desire should be to help our brothers and sisters become stronger and more pure in their faith, to build up and not tear down, to create unity and not division. It’s hard to do, and I fear that sometimes I am guilty of causing division instead of building up. There are so many fine lines to walk and we must be constantly diligent in examining our hearts, the motives we have for doing things.

Part of what has inspired this was the news this morning, the news of the earthquake in Japan. Every day I become more convinced that we are in the last days, that I will see Jesus returning. Jesus made clear what the signs of His eminent return would be. Part of that is a prevalence of false teachings and false doctrines as mentioned by the apostle Peter in the scripture I gave earlier. Read with me the words of Jesus on that.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Mathew 7)

These are people in the church, people active in the ministry, who are by all outward appearances great godly people doing wonderful things for the Lord, BUT…
That folks is a real big BUT that must be examined. These folks are prophesying, casting out demons, and even performing miracles. They are putting on great shows and impressing many people, however their heart is not right and it’s the heart that God judges. In the process of doing these great things and impressing so many, they are also leading others astray and as Peter said “Introducing destructive heresies”

There are so many doctrines and teachings that have crept into the church over the centuries that it’s hard to keep up. Many of them I was taught and had accepted because they were taught by good people who know way more about the bible than I do. Some of them I learned in Bible College and some of them in church, but all things must be examined in the light of the scriptures. In fact even the bibles we have these days, with many different translations, have been polluted somewhat, modified from the originals to fit others agendas so we must be careful in our studies to learn the truth.

I would like to point something out in the parable of the wheat and weeds, something that might disturb some accepted teachings about the return of Jesus. The parable is clear about that final hour, that time when Jesus returns. With the rapture doctrine people are told that all the good Christians will be removed first and only the bad people will be left to go through all the hard times and tribulations but that’s not quite what Jesus said here, or anywhere else for that matter. Jesus said “The harvest is the end of the age” so it is that last day, and the harvesters are the angels. They then pluck out the weeds and the weeds are thrown into the fire so who’s left? Those who are right with God, those who are the good seed and have passed the test are left on the earth and it says in Mathew 13 “Then the righteous shall shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father”. This is a controversial area and requires in depth study to clearly reveal what the scriptures teach.

Just for fun, and to stimulate you to search the scriptures, one of the oft quoted rapture scriptures is found in Mathew 24.36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

When quoted to support the rapture it’s usually just the part that says “One taken and the other left” but it’s important to read carefully and understand the context. The rapture doctrine says those taken are those raptured but look at what it says regarding the days of Noah, “They were eating and drinking up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen till the flood came and TOOK THEM ALL AWAY. The ones taken were the ones who were not with God on the ark. The weeds will be taken in the last day and the wheat left for God’s harvest.

Jeremiah 6:13 "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace. 15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD. 16 This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' 17 I appointed watchmen over you and said, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But you said, 'We will not listen.'

There are many these days, who say they are prophets. We see them come into churches and put on their shows, but they always have good things to say, they always say what people want to hear. They tell the pastor “Your church will be full” and they tell the people “You will be wealthy”, but they don’t warn of the days that are ahead, of the hard times to come. When a prophet only says good things it causes me great concern.

What is a prophet? A prophet isn’t someone who just predicts the future, that’s what psychics and diviners do. A prophet of God is someone who speaks for God, who not only encourages but who’s words bring conviction of the wrongs in someone’s life, who reveals error and thus brings about repentance and holiness. Paul said, when giving instruction of the order of things in the church, that those with the gift of prophesy must have their words judged by the rest of the congregation. Why is this? Because everyone is prone to error, and we all have the possibility of letting our imagination get confused with what the Spirit of God is saying. Ultimately it all must line up with the bible. I don’t care if it’s a preacher on TV or someone who has proclaimed themselves to be apostles or prophets, they must all be judged by the word of God.

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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4)

And so many these days have a message of riches, prosperity. Here again is a fine line, a balance that must exist. God is not against prosperity but the reality is that with riches comes temptations and problems. The biggest problem of all, and the most dangerous one, is pride. 1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Make note on this next scripture of verse 28. Peter said “We left all” and Jesus, in His reply says “No one who has left home or brothers…for Me and the gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much IN THIS PRESENT AGE” It’s clear there is an earthly reward but the priorities must be in order, you leave, you sacrifice, you put God and His kingdom first, and THEN you can be trusted with material things.

Mark 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' " 20 "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" 27 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." 28 Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!" 29 "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

I’ve got to go, it’s late already. Here’s a scripture God led me to a few days ago. It’s heavy but it’s the truth, like it or not.

Ezekiel 13:10 " 'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, "Where is the whitewash you covered it with?" 13 " 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD. 15 So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, "The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it,This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? 19 You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live. 20 " 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. 21 I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 22 Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, 23 therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.' "

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