Sunday, April 4, 2010

Has God left you alone?

The hardest experience I think I have ever known was when I was in a fiery trial of my faith. Waiting on God and wondering if He was even around was an excruciating and nerve straining experience for me. When I was much younger, patience wasn’t a virtue and it didn’t come easy. Like most of American’s in the rural South, I wanted to grow up in a hurry, and wanted everything I saw. We learn very early what instant gratification is and use it as a weapon of strategy. Little did I know, I was in store to be revamped or reprogrammed, thus the fiery trials lie ahead. As a new child of God, just born into the family of God, I had this preconceived notion that I knew just what God wanted me to do in this life. All I had to do was just look around at the others in my camp and surmise what God was doing in their lives. To be sure, it couldn’t be that much different for me? As time would tell, I was in for a big surprise. For many years to come, I failed at everything I did or touched. I was constantly met with disappointment and sometimes despair, all because of this preconceived notion that I just knew for sure what God wanted me to do. I even had others, even preachers and Sunday school teachers, to tell me what God wanted me to do. I jumped through everybody’s hoop just to meet disappointment. When I didn’t perform well, others were disappointed in me as well. I’ll tell you now; I have disappointed many people in my life just because of that preconceived idea what God has in store me and my life. At times, I felt that God has abandoned me also.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you…” 1Peter 4:12

Whether we are right or wrong, God has a tendency to go into His stealth mode and observe us from a short distance. If the truth were known, God has always been so close to us, He could put His hand on my shoulder at any given time. The problem is we just don’t know it.

When we enter into a test, God will become anonymous and become the observer of our actions and what we say about the situation. In short, it is God that devises tests and grades us upon our decisions, whether they are right or wrong. We can learn a great deal from reading about the experience Job had with his friends, God, and the devil. Yes, God set the stage of events along with all the key players just for Job’s test of faith. The million dollar question is, will we pass or fail the test. That is entirely up to you and me. I have said this many times and I will say it again, bad things happen to good people. But, I want to reiterate, it is for a very good reason despite the fact we might not ever know the reason.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man…” James 1:12-13

The whole point of testing is to develop character, faith, patience, and most of all, love and adoration of the Father, Jehovah God. We can see this as we study every character in the Bible. In short, it is about growing up, spiritually. God, just like your parent, wants and desires us to grow, but not with without stress and strain. For the most part, we all seek the path of least resistance, the easy road. But God in His wonderful wisdom, will place road blocks in our path and deviate us into the unknown and scary. Who is it that knows the path that God will choose for you? That’s just it, nobody knows what God wants you to do, where you are to go, and where you are to spend most of your time, nobody knows. It’s all just, best guess isn’t it?

How desperate Job must have been when his very friends accused him of every conceivable sin he might have committed to bring this fiery trial upon himself, his wife, and children. But it wasn’t what Job had done or not done that mattered, it was what God had chosen for Job. Yes, it was what God desired for Job to strengthen him, to refine him, and polish him, so God could see himself better than before, in Job’s life. So, I guess what I am going through and what you might be going through is just to refine us and bring us to the point that God doesn’t see himself in us as He would like to right now.

Over the many years I have traveled with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, I have learned one thing that I would like to share with you. I feel that if I am going to be tested over and over and over, the best thing I can do is to get determined to pass every test. That’s right, get determined to pass every single test, no matter how intense, no matter how hot, no matter how cold, no matter if it takes my life. If we look at the lives of all the others recorded long before we came into the light, we will see plainly that they went through things that we will probably never be faced with. But by the Grace of God, they persevered by their faith and love for God. God will get you and me through the fire, but if He doesn’t, well, it gets better, let’s go home to be with Him. So as I see it, we can’t lose. We are a winner either way! If God brings us through the fire, it is because He isn’t through with us and we need to go on, plain and simple. On the other hand, if God deems for us to die for the cause, as His Apostles did, as I see it, our time was up anyway, no matter the circumstances. Sooner than later, we must realize we are not on this earth to pursue our fancy. God brought us here to perform that He wills for us and that is our sole purpose for being here. It isn’t for us to like it or not to like it; it is our lot in life that God chooses for us. Complaining about it will get us nowhere with God but just a shorter life on earth. God wants us to trust Him, that’s all. If we don’t ever learn at some point in our lives to trust God, what have we learned? This scenario was played out on the back side of the desert in Arabia when the children of Israel were led out of Egypt by Moses. If they didn’t learn and learn quickly to trust God, well, they died a premature death. That is how it works with God. Do we really know Him like we think we do? I doubt it seriously. The only way we will really get to know Him is to experience Him in the trials of our faith. If we would look close at the Children of Israel, we notice that God was never too far away that He could not respond to them. That’s it! He is never too far away to respond to your call for help in time of need. I’ll guess right now, He is so close to you, He could put His hand on your shoulder, but you just don’t realize it. I feel His presence, don’t you?

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

This is God’s promise to all His children, no matter where you are or what the circumstances. He is right there with you. Acknowledge his presence and He will confirm it with your heart and soul. Jesus lives in our hearts and gives each of us His love and peace of mind, heart, and soul. If something is missing, ask yourself, do you really know Him?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Perverted Church

As far back as I can remember I have always been associated with the Church. I grew up in the Church and was married in the Church. Then one day back in 1974 God called on me to preach the Gospel of Christ for the Church. As I get older and deeper in the Church and its inner workings, I cannot recall when I began to see the Church so enamored with the world and corrupt from within. I’m not looking at just one denomination but all denominations in Christendom. All you have to do is just follow the headlines in the news to see just a small portion of the sin and wickedness being perpetrated behind closed doors. I have never seen the time when so called pastors and evangelists are so filled with lust of power, the lust of fame, and the lust of wealth. They are having a field day with the innocent and unwary souls of the Church. But what can I expect; the Bible says that the last days would produce more and more atrocities committed by the Church. The Book of Revelation has a name for this Church age. It is called the Laodicean Church. It is the last stage the Church will go through on this earth. In Revelation, the Apostle John is given seven letters from Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, to publish. Starting in chapter two it discloses the timely situations of each church. Each one is commended and rebuked by the LORD, but when it comes down to the last church, Christ has nothing to commend it for but only offers a remedy for its demise. The last thing God will perform for the church is to pull its candle after the Rapture has taken place.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold (wisdom) tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:14-19

“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Revelation 18:23-24

We might be thinking right now, but how did this happen, how did this come about? Well, for one thing that I can see, there is no repenting to be had from any denomination or from any pastor, preacher, or evangelist. In short, nobody is wrong in their own eyes and they are all right according to their pride and arrogance. I have been associated with many pastors, preachers, and evangelists, across the years and to this day, I have not found one that teaches and preaches the absolute truth of the Holy Scripture. I know in my heart there must be a man of God out there somewhere that does what is right in the eyes of God. However, you could probably count them on one hand. In some way or other, they will deviate here or there to suit their personal agenda to accommodate worldliness only to add to the numbers racket they play on the Church. By numbers racket I am referring to the gimmicks they employ to draw people into the congregation. They will stoop to any level of beguiling, but claim it is for the cause of Christ that motivates them. The truth of the matter is, in these economic times the church is feeling the pains of recession and the coffers are not what they used to be in much better times. It seems to me that every denomination has succumbed to the power of money. The pastors, preachers, and evangelists of today are like the prophet Balaam, a prophet for hire, sold out to his own gain. It is a sad thing to witness in these days when no preacher can talk without mentioning money in some fashion or form. As I see it, the man of God is already on the road to destruction when he says he has to make a living at preaching. He forgot that the Gospel message is free to one and all and demands no payment, dowry, or indulgences. The Apostle Paul explicitly stated he wanted no part in the collection plates of any of the Churches he established along his journey. Paul foresaw that money could be used of Satan to persuade his message. No doubt, this is a sad day for the Church and the picture it paints to the masses. It is no wonder God fearing people have such a hard time in the world today. We are all classed and stereotyped by the action of the marauders of the Church.

In II Peter chapter two, the Apostle Peter writes about the Laodicean church and its role in the world during the last days.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2Peter 2:1-3

That’s right, false prophets, false preachers, false teachers, that pervert the Gospel of Christ into a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. The Apostle Paul warned us about anyone that taught a different gospel and what would happen to them.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-8

These men and women fulfill their lusts and ambitions when they are in front of congregations. Yes, they are handsome and pretty to look at, but on the inside, they are dead. The truth of the matter is that they do not know God nor do they fear Him. If they really did fear God, they could not perform for the Church in the manner they perform. They will say and do anything to promote them and make more money in the process.

“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;…” 2Peter 2:14-15

They are very easy to spot. They dress themselves very expensively, they drive very expensive cars, they live in expensive homes, and some even have their own jet. You have to be careful; they come in all shapes and sizes and are at different levels of entry of the Church. The buildings they build are lavish and they will lock everyone that ventures into the congregation into financial bondage. I call them the ‘taskmasters of the pulpit.’

“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” 2Peter 2:17-22

I know of a man here in this area that claims that he has just answered the call to preach the Gospel of Christ. I feel sorry for him because he is green and innocent and doesn’t know what he is in store for. Little does he realize if he is truly called by the Holy Spirit of God to preach, he will be in store for extreme testings of fire, some to the point of despair and discouragement. I am speaking from experience, God tests everything by fire, especially His chosen men. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. She has witnessed everything and has been right there with me in the fire just like the three Hebrew children in the King’s furnace.

If you hold great aspirations of being a preacher, as I see it, you have a choice, either become like the prophet Balaam or run for your life from the pulpit. I know from my own personal experience. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. If God truly wants you to carry the Gospel Message exclusively for Him, look no further than the Old Testament prophets. Examine their lives and then tell me it looks promising to be a preacher, pastor, or evangelist. Just remember what happened to all the Apostles of Christ. They gave their lives for Christ and His Gospel Message. No less will be asked for anyone who takes up the cross and follows Christ. Martyrdom is expected and rewarded by Christ Himself. He set the example and expects no less from anyone who claims to be His child or servant.

For myself, I want to say that I am honored to be counted worthy to carry the Gospel Message for Christ, no matter what the others do or say, my calling is from God and His Son, my LORD. I have learned over the years that it costs dearly to be counted worthy of Christ, but it isn’t over yet. Temptations abound for every man of God and it is only by His Grace that I make through each day.