Tag Archive: Emergent


Robber or Redeemer

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“Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to releasing unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will you that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” Matthew 27:15-17

Pilate said, “But you have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will you therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:39-40

From the cereal isle at the grocery store to the food court at the mall, there’s no doubt this world is inundated with an almost endless amount of choices. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements featuring the “latest and greatest” of everything. It’s no wonder we’ve almost become completely desensitized to the daunting amount of decisions staring at us day after day. Yet, in spite of this mountainous menagerie, our choices really don’t have to be that complicated. You see, when it’s all said and done, we are left with only two simple, but absolutely crucial decisions in all that we believe, do, say, and think – the robber or the Redeemer.

When Christ was led before the people, Pilate gave them a choice, Barabbas or Jesus.  The people had arguably made hundreds of thousands of choices in their life times, yet all those decisions could all be boiled down into one of these two categories, the robber or the Redeemer.  The same can be said for all of mankind throughout time. Although material is not necessarily good or bad, our hearts, being stubbornly self-willed, tend to allow us to become completely distracted by the lusts, pleasures, and pain of this planet. In a very real sense, we are often more than willing to be robbed of the joy and peace and wonderful knowledge of Christ for what is, at best, a measly bowl of stew. (Genesis 25:29-34). When examining the presence and power of the robber and the glorious reality of the Redeemer, there are definitely some things worth carefully considering. Here are just a few.

The Robber: Destroying the Foundation
This sin-soaked world, comprised of the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, only has one goal, one aim… to steal all the glory from God!  Jesus called Satan a thief and a murderer and reminds us that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  Even though he is the thief of all thieves, the devil obviously cannot actually steal the Lord. Nor can he kill the truth. And he most certainly cannot destroy the Word of God.  Some might wonder about Psalm 11:3… If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Doesn’t this verse teach that the foundations can be destroyed?

There are two vantage points to consider when examining this verse, man’s and the Lord’s. Considering the Lord, we know there is nothing that can stand against Him, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Since this is the case, we can logically and biblically conclude that this verse is not saying that God’s Word can actually be destroyed. However, mankind’s love for and access to God’s Word can most definitely be rotted, replaced, and ruined.  I have absolutely no power to actually destroy God, but I most certainly have the capacity to infect and influence the hearts and minds of myself and others, causing a lost desire and direction for the truth, in essence, stealing away the one true foundation. So although the foundation, that is to say, God’s Word, endures forever, we do know that our appropriation, understanding, and application of that foundation can assuredly be robbed from us.

One example of this is found in the parable of the soils (Luke 8). The “birds” (the devil) snatched the Word from the hardened heart, therefore removing the only foundation that will endure forever. Did the Word actually get destroy? No. But the Word was robbed from taking root in the hardened heart.  So, it might be better to say the robber’s strategy is an attack of the heart, an attack designed to prevent us from seeking and being satisfied in the Lord and the truth of His everlasting Word. This attack often involves offering us deceptive distractions and distorted doctrines in an effort to keep our hearts calloused and “dull of hearing”. (Matthew 13:15-16, Hebrews 5:11)

The Redeemer: All Things New
So many have said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill, and while this is true, it is not completely the case. Jesus does not come to simply fill the hole in our old, selfish hearts. No, He comes to remove the stony heart and transplant a new and living heart, His love and life, in its place.  God’s Word calls this the new birth. (John 3) Jesus does not simply fill our old, prideful, flesh-driven and glory-gleaning hearts. He does something much more amazing! He gives a total and spiritual heart transplant. God’s promise to Israel through Ezekiel is also a promise to all who desire to receive His full and free forgiveness in Jesus –  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.

Not only do we receive a new heart, we also receive a renewed mind. The Bible calls this the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Jesus does not desire to fill a portion of our self-centered, “me, myself, and I” preoccupied mind. No, He instead gives us a renewed mind. Being born again means we receive a new heart and a new mind.  This is the truth of the new birth only made possible by the righteous Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Reality: Being Born Again is Just the Beginning
Jesus represented all of humanity and as that perfect representation, the Last Adam walked the walk mankind (the first Adam’s race) was always supposed to walk. Just as Jesus fully and freely laid down His life to the will of His Heavenly Father, so too are we to do the same. Jesus does not steal our old nature. He is no robber! He truly is the remarkable Redeemer! He paid our sinful price in full, offering all who are willing to come to Him. He purchased us from the slave market of sin, self, and Satan and in its place, He offers us new life in Him. Jesus freely offers His Spirit, His nature, as the great exchange for all who are willing to turn to Him, all who choose to be redeemed. But this exchange is not the end. Actually, it’s just the beginning. Just as in all births, being born again means there’s a lot of growth to come.

Even though those who have been born again have passed from death to life, having received a new heart and new mind, there is still the presence of the old man and of this broken, sinful world. That is why, for our good and His glory, the Lord requires us to bury the old man by daily turning from ourselves and this rebellious world to the True and Living God, Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever and ever, amen!

My Reasonable Responsibility: Wearing the Redeemer’s Clothes
Although the old, selfish, and rebellious man has been dethroned, he will not be completely eradicated until the rapture or in death. Oh, what a day that will be, to see without the fleshly veil, my great and glorious King! Oh, what a day that will be!!! So, in order to keep myself from being robbed by the riches and cares of this world; if I am to prevent myself from having my love of Jesus and His Word stolen through subtlety, then burying the old man daily is a must! (1 Corinthians 15:31, Colossians 3:4-11)

Great, but what are practical means necessary to keep from being robbed of the depth and beauty and glory of the Lord? “Just give me a list,” says the baby Christian. “Tell me the things of this world that Satan will use to rob me of the knowledge of Christ. Then I will be prepared.” The Bible definitely gives us some broad and sometimes even detailed lists of what we should “take off/mortify”, however it is interesting to note that God’s Word does not account for every single, specific danger we will face in the world. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but arguably one of the main reasons has to do with our hearts.

I’m sure we’d all agree that even good, godly things have the potential of robbing the throne of the new heart, the throne only Jesus deserves to sit upon.  So, it’s not necessarily just about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s more about diligently guarding our hearts daily. (Proverbs 4:23) It’s about putting on the full armor of God so we can daily stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11-24) Mortify the old man, yes!  Make no provision to the flesh, yes! But we have the privilege and responsibility of putting on the new man by clothing ourselves everyday with Christ. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” Romans 13:14.

Get to know the Good Shepherd’s voice by reading His Word often, praying fervently, knowing our righteousness is in Christ, and obeying our Heavenly Father willingly and wholeheartedly.  Then, and only then, will we be able to prevent our hearts from being robbed of the amazing beauty and joy found solely in Jesus Christ, our great and glorious Redeemer!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.” Job 19:25

Jesus said, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:8-11

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Whether in a novel, a crime show, or while at work, we have all heard this phrase borrowed by the world time and time again. However, as they understandably do so often, those who  use it strip the phrase from of its actual and powerful meaning. Sadly, many in the church have heard it said so often, they too have perhaps forgotten what Jesus is really teaching His disciples.

Early on in my Christian walk, John 8:31-32 were two verses that had a tremendous and even life changing impact on me. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. It occurred to me that Christianity, although filled with an amazing testimony regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a story that changed my life. It wasn’t one religion among many which just happened to be the one that worked for me. No, Christianity was and is and always will be built upon the bedrock of the truth.

So often people get saved and are then brought into a local church body. They are quickly put to work, staying busy with activity after activity. Soon Christianity is solely defined by the activities and friendships and the Word is marginalized in place of the work. Although there is an important place for the work, unless the Word of God is put first, the work we are doing might very well end up being the work of men, not the Lord.

Once a born again believer realizes, truly realizes that Christianity isn’t merely about a changed life or the work one does; once the Christian really begins to see that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father of Life because He is the truth, then that believer has finally begun standing upon the solid ground.

Undeniably, our firm foundation is Jesus, yet as He reveals in John 8:31-32, our faith becomes solid when it is exercised with the understanding that God’s Word is uniquely and unequivocally true. We need not run to the popular preacher nor to the pop-psychologist, but to the Word of God to know the truth. There is no college, no institution, no religion on the planet that can offer what the Bible can.

Jesus didn’t say that facts will set men free. He said the truth found in God’s Word alone would bring real and eternal freedom to the souls of men. Christianity is one hundred percent based on the truth and nothing but the truth, period.

Unfortunately we tend to wander from the Word, leaning instead upon the words of men. The natural man loves the “all natural” flavors produced and peddled by other men. Yet, there are those who long for something more, something better. There are those who, perhaps for years, have done the “church” thing, yet now realize men and their activities can never truly satisfy. Only the truth will do!

In these two amazing verses, Jesus tells us many things. First, He declares that He is God. He does not say, “If you remain in God’s Word.” He says, “If you remain in My Word.” He is saying the Word spoken to the faithful followers of the LORD from the beginning of time has always been His Word. Jesus truly is God.

He also teaches us that His Word is not simply true, but that it is sufficiently so. Jesus does not say, “If you stay in My Word, you will know part of the truth.” We are promised to know ALL of the truth pertaining to everlasting freedom. God’s Word is truly sufficient. One of Satan’s greatest strategies among believers is not to deny the truth of God’s Word, but instead to deny its sole sufficiency. Once people buy into this horrific lie, they will then be willing to drink from all sorts of muddied streams, all in hopes of discovering some drop of pure water.

As strange as this sounds, this one strategy has literally and repeatedly crippled the body of Christ from walking in the true power and victory God has intended for her. May we not be ensnared any longer!

True freedom comes exclusively from God’s Word. Despite their many claims, absolutely nothing this world offers can produce eternal freedom, nothing. Neither psychology nor religion, neither education nor entertainment will do. The ways of man will always fall short of eternity and often lead to temporal destruction as well.

Those reading these two verses should also inquire about the freedom offered by Jesus. Freedom yes, but freedom from what? Jesus is not providing freedom to go live our own lives independent of divine authority. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Simply put, God’s Word promises to sufficiently bring freedom from sin, from self, and from the power of our first father, Satan.

God’s promise also ensures freedom to finally love and serve the One we were made to worship; the Living and True God, the Creator and Savior of the world. This is the freedom found exclusively in the Word of God, the Word not based on the sinking sands of man’s opinions or Satan’s devices, but rather the Word which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

On this Lord’s day, may we praise and thank Him for His wonderful reminder to stop feeding the flesh. May we cease from fearing and following the words and ways of men. Instead let us wholeheartedly love the truth of God revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we remain in the glorious, eternal, and sufficient Word of Truth!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

A Palette of Pageantry

Church EventWhy do we get so excited about the outward business and activity of the visible church yet often have so little thought or joy concerning the Lord’s eternal work within the inner man?

In the unseen heart and mind the Lord continues transforming and renewing the broken and weak into His victorious and sanctified saints. He mysteriously and gloriously plants His Eternal Word into all who are willing, breathes His breath within, and by His power, the Seed grows and grows, producing eternal fruit to both nourish that very person and those hungry and weary travelers he meets along the way.

Much of this amazing work takes place in the unseen realm, only becoming visible over periods of time. This is the godly life made known in and through true believers! This is what Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called the mystery of godliness, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is truly the marvelous work of the invisible God, yet instead of joyfully walking by faith, we too often choose to walk by sight; becoming enamored with the outward accouterments and pomp now calling itself the (post)modern church.

Sadly, many have traded the desire to marvel and rejoice over the inward work of the Holy Spirit for a palette filled with the pleasantries of outward pageantry. Instead, let us return to the old paths. Let us truly taste and see that the Lord is good! (Jeremiah 6:16; Psalm 34:8)Bible Light Bulb Image

“Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:22-25

acquire-the-fireSadly, there is a very real spiritual battle that many are too happy to gloss right over. Many Christian parents and teachers earnestly desire to see their children interested in the things of the Lord, but sometimes feel like they don’t have the right tools to keep their interest once children have reached a certain age. So the search begins.  It’s at this point that priorities shift in the criteria for resources and church fellowships that are sought after.  “We need a church and materials that will hold my child’s interest, ones that he will really like.”  Of course this isn’t in and of itself completely bad, but there is definitely more to the story.

If a young teenager has only been lightly trained in his understanding of God’s Word, what kind of youth group will he most likely be drawn to?  As parents of young children, we don’t turn and say to our children, “What would you prefer to eat first, dessert or the main meal?”  No, we hopefully train our children to understand that there are priorities in eating.  First we eat our main course, including the vegetables, then go from there.  Although, perhaps a simple example, the same can be said for training our children in their activities with the Lord.

When looking for a church, our first priority ought always be to pray for the Lord’s leading.  Then there should be an honest desire to find a fellowship that has a strong emphasis on teaching the Word of God in such a way that promotes discernment, building the youth’s understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If this is done correctly, the rest should really work itself out.  Even if it means missing out on church once and a while, parents should also stop in to visit their children’s Sunday school and/or youth group meetings on a semi-regular basis.  Also, keep an open communication with your children and their teachers to see what they’re really learning from week to week. After all, you’re to ones the Lord has made most responsible for training your family. Don’t pass that privilege off to someone else!  Lastly, pray some more!  Never forget there is a very real battle to influence the hearts and minds of this upcoming generation.  Children are much easier to influence and once they are trained, it is difficult (albeit not impossible) to retrain them later.

While millions of young people around the world are staying busy week by week being entertained “in the name of Jesus”, there is a very real push to rewrite the messages they are hearing.  Regardless of what many of them profess, too many Sunday schools and youth groups rely much more on some company’s curriculum or training materials than the Word of God.  This is why it is important to know what your children are learning.  Many so-called Christian curriculum companies understand the money that can be made on selling their products to a large audience, so naturally in order to continue increasing their sales base, the message will have to appeal to as many as possible. And ever deeper than this, there is a very real desire to creatively and carefully move this generation off the firm foundation of the Word of God to the shifting sands of this world’s ecumenical doctrines.

We would be fools to believe the church is immune to the direction this world is headed.  It really is up to every parent and Godly teacher to become informed, exercising Christ-centered discernment in training the youth of today!  Below is a short, but very insightful article which gives a little background of one such group.  Youth Specialties has been around for 40 years and is involved in publishing books, organizing youth training and music events and camps around the world, as well as developing youth curriculum for churches and youth groups. Please take a few minutes to prayerfully read over this article.

Article:   SHAPING THE MINDS OF YOUTH   by Roger Oakland

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. ” 1 John 5:20-21

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Then the little children were brought to [Jesus] that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

Market Driven or Manna Fed?

Open BibleIs it more than a coincidence that the early 21st century’s economic bust also marked an exponential rise in market driven methodology within the church? As donations began to dry up throughout the non-profit world, market driven philosophies were primed to take center stage. Most ministries took a huge financial hit during that time, perhaps motivating many to openly embrace pragmatic and psychological methodologies exclusively designed for the business world, not the body of Christ.

Pragmatically speaking, these marketplace methodologies actually do produce results, bringing people in and gaining their resources. Unfortunately their practices also prevent the saints from sincerely seeking the Lord for their daily manna, developing a whole generation dependent on the ways of the world instead of the Word of God.

Jesus said, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:49-51

Bible Light Bulb ImageGod’s Word is literally a never ending subject designed to perform a vast array of functions.  Ultimately it’s THE unique love letter from the Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, who is by no coincidence called the Word of God. John 1:1.  It is the only pure and sufficiently perfect revelation of God to mankind and is filled with eternal instruction for righteousness. It is the true and complete map leading every humble seeking sinner to the Righteous One- Jesus Christ.  In 2 Timothy, the Lord, through Paul, also reminds us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  The Word of God is most definitely and eternally profitable, but it is also most assuredly practical!

One of the very practical purposes it serves is to remind mankind that there really is nothing new under the sun. God’s Word is a historical reminder of His love and justice, mankind’s arrogance and pride, and Satan’s repeated attempts to kill, steal, and destroy. This historical and prophetic record we call the Bible is a very practical guide, revealing past and future accounts all for our benefit. The Holy Spirit reminds us in Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  God went to great lengths to not only preserve His Word, but also to make sure certain historical events were meticulously recorded.  And since it is God who inspired the men who wrote His Word, not only are the events revealed accurately, but also those unseen areas, the intentions of men’s hearts.  May we take careful heed to what has been recorded and preserved for every generation! 

The Old Testament is filled with Israel’s choices, both godly and ungodly.  Sadly, many were the latter.  Their decisions, though, serve two very important purposes for us today.  First, they remind us that godly choices always lead to a beautiful walk with the Lord.  Second, they remind us that ungodly choices are deceptive and common to every generation, even in our’s today.

After reading through 2 Kings 17 the last few days, I couldn’t help but think of the constant barrage of today’s false doctrines, namely the purpose driven and emergent teachings not only infiltrating churches, but being warmly embraced and taught, all in the name of the Lord.  It seems just as Israel had sought out so many false doctrines from the world around them, fearing men instead of God, so the same  is being repeated today.  Perhaps a bit repackaged, Satan’s strategies are actually all too familiar, promising something new, but in the end always leading men further and further into darkness.

I’ve chosen to include a few comments below in brackets. Just a disclaimer and loving reminder- the comments are not inspired.  May we truly take heed to God’s Word, letting it thoroughly transform and renew us, bringing eternal patience and comfort, all for our hope and His glory!

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2 Kings 17:7-17

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,  

[God brought His people out of Egypt, never desiring to lead them back.  Egypt serves as a continual and clear example of man’s empty and dangerous philosophies and methodologies, teachings derived many times through sorcery and other occult practices. Exodus 7:112 Timothy 3:8.]

8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.  

[Not only did they fear other gods, the gods the Lord cast out, they also walked in the statutes or philosophies of the heathen. Today it’s even easier for professing saints and true believers to pick up the latest psychology and church growth books without even “walking” anywhere.  Now we can simply google the information in our own homes.]

9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

[Even though their false deeds were done in secret, they weren’t hidden from God. The Lord knew what was going on.  Also, it’s more than a bit ironic that the people built high places starting with the tower of the watchmen.]

10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:

11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:  

[This generation wasn’t the first to provoke the Lord to anger.  May we consider carefully our actions against our loving God, never provoking Him to anger! Let us not forget that one of God’s names is Jealous. Exodus 34:4.]

12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

[God spoke plainly.  No means no, no matter what a relativistic society says. God was not merely addressing a belief system or He would have said, “Ye shall not believe these things.”  God is clear.  Whatever one believes will be practiced. It’s not enough to just say we don’t believe something.  We must also stop doing those things as well.  May we seek the Lord in giving us the power to overcome those areas that hold us close to this world.]

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.  

[Be encouraged, in every generation, there are always a few willing to speak God’s Word. May we choose to be among the minority desiring to earnestly stand upon the Rock, boldly and faithfully proclaiming His truth, not willing to embrace this world’s evils.]

14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.

[It was their desire, not God’s, to harden their necks.  A stiff neck is very painful, preventing a man from ever looking up.]

15 And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.  

[This one verse speaks of God 6 times, 5 in pronoun form, all pointing to God’s strong desire to be faithful, just, and true with Israel.  Yet despite the Lord’s pursuing love, they chose to follow after vanity, which ultimately led to becoming altogether vain.  We’ve all heard it said you are what you eat.  A true saying from 2 Kings 17:15 would be, “You become what (or who) you follow.”  As men followed after vanity they became vain.  Just like Adam and Eve’s desire for knowledge apart from God, Israel diligently sought the God-hating, idol worshiping nations around them for earthly wisdom and methods to conduct both their lives and the nation as a whole.  This verse speaks loudly of the dangerous potential of every unchecked heart, even of those born again.  The vain doctrines of Satan have been passed along to foolish unbelievers seeking ungodly knowledge, power, glory,and honor.  Sadly, many of these doctrines have been embraced and even taught in today’s professing church. Today’s relativistic, sight-walking emergent church movement is a prime example.  Despite the many clear warnings from Scripture not to run after the world’s teachings, the emergent movement has willingly become a mixture of New Age philosophies and Catholicism wrapped in church growth methodologies.  Just as Israel ran after other methods and doctrines, so the warning from God for our generation stands- “We should not do like them.”]

16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.

[They didn’t leave some of God’s commandments, but all.  To run after the world, one must turn his back altogether on God and His Word.]

17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.  

[Many of the false doctrines of witchcraft have been deceptively introduced into the professing church through the idea of methodology.  Yoga isn’t a form of occultism. Rather it is now simply a method for centering one’s mind to know God better.  Vain, repetitious prayers are nothing more than methods for helping one be still and know God. On and on go the lies.  Yoga isn’t just a neutral method. It is a Hinduistic practice centered around worshiping many of their false gods, serving as a means to attain freedom from the wheel of reincarnation. And although vain, repetition prayers are strictly forbidden by Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 6:7), many of those in emergent churches, and even other churches, have begun practicing and teaching people this awful doctrine rooted in Eastern mysticism.]

2 Kings 17:20-29

20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.  

[Praise God for His correction.  God does not behave like many of today’s parents.  He didn’t just turn a blind eye on Israel’s actions, rather He lovingly and justly corrected them.  Even though Israel was disobedient, God promised Abraham that He would preserve Israel.  Just like them, all who have been truly born again can rest assured, confident in the faithfulness of God.  He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.  We have the Holy Spirit in us as a deposit, sealing us to the day of redemption.  (2 Corinthians 1:22. Although we stumble, we can have confidence that He who began a good work in us will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6.  God’s Word of course will by no means serve as a cloak for those false prophets who are deceiving and being deceived.  Nothing is hid from God.  May we carefully examine ourselves to be sure we are truly in the faith, to be sure we truly understand the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 13:5.]

21 For He rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.  

[Here is a perfect example of a people driven from following the Lord.  The flock of God ought never be “driven”, rather a good shepherd leads the sheep. As examples of Christ, we should first be good followers of Him, then choosing to intentionally lead others to Jesus.  It’s been said that cattle are driven, but sheep are led.  To do this correctly, we need God’s love, both for the lost and for His bride.  Driving people implies forcing them to do something against their wills.  Jeroboam drove people from following the Lord and made them sin a great sin.  May it never be said of us today!]

22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;  

[Although we sometimes may step into the sins of this world, we can choose to depart at any time.  May we choose to depart quickly, remembering the longer we stay ensnared, the more difficult departure becomes.]

23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.  

[God told them what would happen before it happened so that men might know that He is God. John 13:19.]

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.  

[When God’s Word is abandoned the world will always fill the vacuum in abundance.  So it is in many of today’s professing churches.]

25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore He hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.  

[God’s expectation is that all people would seek after Him.  His judgment here would be foolish if the people from these nations could not choose to turn to the True and Living God.]

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.  

[What an opportunity to teach God’s Word!  God truly desires that all men would understand and know Him!]

28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.  

[The faithfulness of the few. May we seek to teach men the fear of the Lord wherever the Lord sends us.]

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

2 Kings 17:32-40

32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.

[What a curious statement.  They feared the Lord, yet sacrificed to false gods.  This reminds me of Jesus’ statement, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8.)  How is it that men can fear God, but not truly follow Him?  There is only one way. They have no true knowledge of the Holy One.  They lack true understanding of God and their own sinfulness. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Perhaps these people feared God like a bug fears the light.  It runs away from the light, fleeing into the darkness in hopes of preserving its own life.  These men outwardly feared the Lord God, recognizing His authority, yet chose to flee from God instead of to Him.  This is so true today. Too many people in churches profess to know God, yet run to the world’s teachings in psychology and occult methodologies in hopes of staying far from the true Light of the World.  One of the sad things here is young believers, ignorant of some of the dangers, have the potential of getting driven down these roads, and, as we all know, the longer someone goes down the wrong road the longer it takes to get back.  Secondly, it’s interesting that the people chose to make the lowest of them priests.  In 1 Timothy 3:6 God warns us that a leader in church should, “not [be] a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”  Choosing immature, weak men to be priests would guarantee less discernment and conviction, as well as easy manipulation.]

33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel;

[Israel was and continues to be God’s property.  By giving them a new name, God signifies His rightful authority over Israel.  They are truly God’s chosen nation.  Just as Jacob was given a new name, so it is with everyone who’s turned from his sinful self to receive God’s full and free forgiveness found in Christ alone.  A new name not only signifies ownership by the one who names us, but also the reality of a new life.  Jesus says in John 12:46, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, “You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6.]

35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:

36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, Him shall ye fear, and Him shall ye worship, and to Him shall ye do sacrifice.  

[Lest we forget, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17.  God led them out of sorcery, witchcraft, idol worship, and the wisdom of men.  We are called to fear God because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of true, eternal wisdom, and this wisdom is foolishness to the world. The world has nothing to offer Israel, and the world has nothing good to offer the true church of God!]

37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which He wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.  

[We shouldn’t revere or fear the ways of the world.  Too often the successes of the world become a snare.  We wonder why the world is doing so good.  We become enticed as did Lot’s wife.  May we never look back.]

38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.

[One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to help us never forget the truth found in Jesus Christ and revealed in His Word. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26.]

39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.  

[God is not only the Lord their God, but the Lord your God.  He is personal and intimate.  We can each have a deep, everlasting relationship with Him. Not only does the fear of God bring wisdom, it also brings true deliverance from our greatest enemies – sin, self, and Satan.]

40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.

41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.  

[If the Lord tarries, the choices of today’s church, both godly and ungodly, will have eternal repercussions for many generations.  Let us never forget that our faithfulness unto the Lord to walk after His ways will not only bless us. Like a tree bearing much fruit, heartfelt obedience to the Lord will bring eternal nourishment to many others for years to come, bringing all the glory to the One who brings the increase.  “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.]

Many of today’s churches are seeking something new, fresh, and ever changing.  By doing so, they are choosing to abandon the old paths of God’s sound and secure Word.  They are choosing to fill themselves with empty, dangerous, and foolish doctrines instead of allowing the power of God transform and renew God’s people.  May Israel’s history be a very real reminder of just how dangerous it is to play with the world and it’s doctrines taught by the god of this world.  Instead of dabbling with this world, why not be sold out for the truth of God?  After all, what could be more profitable, and what could be more practical?

“Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Should Christians be thinkers?  Sadly, too many have hijacked the phrase “Be still and know that I’m God” (Psalm 46:10), in hopes of teaching a method of learning about God that involves letting the mind go blank, but simply stated, Psalm 46:10 does not mean “stop thinking”.  

The person selling a false bill of goods might want someone to stop thinking, but no where in the Bible does God want people to be ignorant. Instead, we are commanded to let Jesus be our new mind by yield to the Holy Spirit’s teaching through His Word so that our minds can become renewed after Him. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (Also: Romans 6:13Colossians 3:10)

To let our personal ideas and vain philosophies dictate our understanding of God and actions towards those around us is what we are commanded to cease.  Instead of believing that we should be still from thinking, we should:

  • “Be still from trusting our own ways of doing things,”  
  • “Cease from approaching the Lord on our own terms,”  
  • “Be still from worry and from the love of this world,”
  • “Be still from loving ourselves!”
  • “Be still from selfish pride, arrogance, and vain conversation.”
  • Simply said, “We should be still (dead) to self and alive in Christ.” (Romans 6:11)

People who are alive don’t stop thinking, rather they start thinking correctly. Too many professing Christian authors, musicians, and even film-makers have embraced contemplative (non-thinking) forms of prayer, i.e. breath prayers, etc. as the biblical manner in which God’s people are to “be still”.  Not only will these eastern mystic practices lead to ignorant sheep, they may also open dangerous doors of deception from the enemy of our souls.

Instead of not thinking, may we start letting God’s Word plainly and clearly teach our hearts and minds in hopes of producing in us and through us the glorious light and love of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

Jesus Christ did not simply call His followers to go make a difference. He said to go out to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20)  The overshadowed drive of church organizations for social agendas of world PEACE plans, hunger drives, helping the needy, etc. only serves at best as a social band-aid, but in the end lead to eternal darkness. Mankind, and sadly much of today’s “Christianity”, has demonstrated an overwhelming desire to join together in godless unity in hopes of turning this fallen world back into the Garden of Eden.

Sadly, it is foolish arrogance that has clouded the fact that it was there in the perfect Garden that sinful pride was planted in the heart of man. Making the world a perfect place will NEVER change the condition of our sinful hearts. Jesus Christ did NOT come to “make the world right” as taught by Eugene Peterson his book The Message. “He [Jesus] came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:17 (The Message). Jesus came to call men out of this world, redeeming lost sinners and translating them from this world’s kingdom of darkness into His marvelous Light! (1 Peter 2:9)

Dear strangers and pilgrims, may all those who have been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lamb simply choose to understand and know Jesus, grow in His knowledge and grace, and faithfully go in His power to make disciples of all nations, all for the glory of our great God and Savior!

A Shortcut to the Truth

What if you stopped at the ice cream shop on a hot summer day only to discover a single flavor for sale?  I know I would not be too excited, and I’m sure the shop would probably go out of business within a week.

When it comes to ice cream, picking your favorite flavor it great; however when it comes to eternal matters, reality is not like a fancy ice cream shop with 67 flavors.  The truth of eternity is not based on my taste or opinions. The truth is true no matter what I want it to be; no matter what I feel.

“But”, argues the skeptic, “There are all kinds of religions to choose from.”  While this is true, having a variety of religions doesn’t mean that all lead to the truth of God.  “But”, responds the skeptic again, “If we are to try to figure out which is true, wouldn’t it take more than a lifetime to thoroughly study every religion?”

Absolutely!

One might then sincerely wonder, “How could we possibly figure out which one is correct?”

The quickest way is to start with Bible.  Not only does it claim to be God’s Word, but it also makes the bold claim that all other religions, including their writings are false.  Not only does the Bible make these amazing claims, but it backs them prophetically, historically, archaeologically, and scientifically. Since the Bible is true, we can assuredly say that it is exclusively and solely God’s Word, making it the shortcut to eternal truth, bypassing all other religions. 

As we all go about our days, may we never forget that God’s Word is more precious than fine gold, revealing the truth of  the one and only blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 “Your Word is true from the beginning.” Psalm 119:160a  KJV

 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6

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