Tag Archives: God’s Word

False Prophets; Then & Now

Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the LORD.’ ” So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month. ~ Jeremiah 28:15-17

The notion of false prophets and teachers is nothing new. Such people are tools of the devil, intended to distract God’s people from the truth as revealed in His Word.

Here, a prophet named Hananiah prophesies in the temple that within two years God will break the yoke of the king of Babylon, returning the articles of the temple along with the Judean rulers who had been taken into exile. This, of course, contradicts God’s words through Jeremiah. Jeremiah reminds the crowd that many before him, and Jeremiah himself, have prophesied war, disaster and plague. The one who prophesies peace, as Hananiah has done, “will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true” (28:9). Hananiah continues to argue his point, and Jeremiah tells him that the Lord has not sent him, he is persuading the people to believe lies, and that the Lord is about to remove him from the face of the earth. Jeremiah’s prophecy comes true seven months later when the false prophet dies.

In Jeremiah’s time false prophets like Hananiah misled God’s people as they defied the Word of God and instead told the people what they wanted to hear. Sadly, this continues today as many modern-day churches are whittling away at the truth of God’s Word as they bend to the whimsies of human thought and wisdom. Supporters call this “enlightenment”; in reality it is embracing darkness.

God has revealed His eternal truth through His Holy Word – the Bible. His Word is as relevant and true today as it has ever been, and it will remain relevant and true for all eternity. I take great comfort in that fact. It is a beautiful thing to serve the sovereign God, for through Him the work of redemption has been completed. Rather than reject His Word and sit at the feet of modern day false teachers, let us stand firmly upon it as we share the good news of the Gospel with those who are unsaved.

Ponder this: I recently heard a preacher say, “If you tell me you don’t agree with a particular passage of Scripture, I’ll simply tell you ‘you’re wrong, God’s right’ and direct you to reconsider your position.” He was speaking to his congregation, a group of believers, of God’s sovereignty and the eternal truth of His Word. That is what standing on God’s Truth looks like! Society cringes at the phrase “you’re wrong”, but in the context of a human being supplanting God’s word with his own personal opinion it is entirely appropriate. We believers are to hold one another accountable as we seek accountability from one another. Through such accountability offered in the spirit of Christian love, we help one another stay true to God’s Word as the enemy seeks to turn our heads.

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, You are the one true God, sovereign over all Your creation. I pray that you would keep me focused on Your Word, and that you would bring Christians into my life to hold me accountable for anything I might say or write that is not fully aligned with You. Help me to deal with all I meet with an attitude of Christian love, that You would be glorified through my words and actions. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Perseverance and Wisdom ~ James 1:1-5

I remember when I purchased my MacBook Air that it came with a Quick Start Guide while offering the full user’s manual online. I purchased my Mac; I made that commitment. To learn the essentials I referred to the Quick Start Guide; but to master it I must read the user’s manual.

I have read James’ Epistle in its entirety several times. The Book of James is sort of like the Christian’s Quick Start Guide. You’ve come to faith in Christ and you want a quick, easy to understand overview of what your life in Christ should look like – read the Book of James. To work towards “mastering” the Christian life (“mastering” in quotes because we will not “master” the Christian life until we are reunited with Jesus in Heaven) we must study the entirety of His Word as He revealed it to us in The Holy Bible.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

From the moment we come to faith in Jesus, we Christians face a barrage of challenges. We often find ourselves in situations and discussions that pit our faith in Christ and our knowledge about God’s ways against worldly views that seek to usurp His sovereignty. Proponents of worldly values forcefully argue their position and challenge the faithful to overcome them. Persecution abounds and is quick to raise its head when we who are faithful share views grounded in Scripture that are against the grain of modern societal thought. The path of least resistance is to be quiet; to shrink back and let the prince of the power of the air (see Ephesians 2:2) have his way. Sadly, we even see this phenomenon in the church as some churches have adopted worldly views and watered down teachings so as to avoid offending the “seeker” that might wander inside on any given Sunday morning.

The world’s arguments can be persuasive. But they are not grounded in Truth.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Our only source of true wisdom is God Himself. We seek His wisdom through study of His Word and through prayer. Only when we seek God’s wisdom are we properly equipped to discern His Truth and stand firmly upon it. Only with God’s help are we equipped to witness to the truth in a world that is increasingly rejecting it. On our own, this is an insurmountable task. But by trusting God for wisdom, and armed with the true wisdom that comes only from Him, we can persevere.

A Quiet Witness

I often ponder what my outward life says to those around me. When people look at me, who or what do they see? In this age of social media, the question is even more impactful as I consider what every Tweet, every Facebook post and every Yelp review conveys to the world about who I am and what I stand for. I confess, I can have a quick tongue, or in the case of social media, a quick hit to the “Post” button before really considering how what I’m about to say will impact those who hear or read it.

But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

As I was leafing through my prayer book this morning, this passage that I wrote down a few years ago jumped off the page. What is this “quiet life” that Paul speaks of? What does it look like, and what does it convey to those “outsiders” he mentions?

Taken in context, Paul is praising the Thessalonians for living a life that honors God by loving their neighbors and sanctifying themselves by avoiding sexual immorality and other sins that tarnish the soul as they mislead unbelievers about what the Christian life is really supposed to look like. As Paul encourages them with this praise, he exhorts them to “excel still more” – to continue to strive to live holy lives as God instructed.

I know Christians who lead the “quiet life” Paul speaks about. These men and women are not recluses; they do not hide from the world. Indeed, they walk among us. Their very faith, their very resolve to seek to live for the Lord emanates from their being. The Christian who lives in this manner witnesses to the world (“outsiders”) without uttering a single word; the world sees Christ through these people. These people are not perfect; they sin just as I do. But they are so tuned in to the Savior that they have a sense of peace about them that draws others to them, often opening the door to a dialogue about sin, death, and the forgiveness and everlasting life that is available only through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls each believer to witness for Him; to share the Good News of salvation that only He offers. By honoring Him with my life I am as available to witness as I can be. To dishonor Him by how I live or what I say discredits me and my witness is called into question.

I’ve taken a hiatus from Facebook during Lent. I’m using this time to reflect on my own life and what it conveys to the “outsiders” I meet every day. I pray that God will forgive my shortcomings as He leads me to that quiet life that speaks volumes to the world. Amen.

Beginning at the Beginning ~ John 1:1-5

Imagine that you have been asked to introduce someone to a group of your coworkers. He has been retained to help your work team build improved work habits to increase efficiency and productivity. The person you’ve been asked to introduce is a true expert in his field, yet you know that some will be skeptical. They’re not sure who this person is, or why he’s here. They don’t feel the need for expert counsel or advice; they know their jobs. In fact, many will feel threatened by his presence as they wonder, “What does he have to do with me?” In introducing this person, you want to immediately establish his credentials; you want your group to realize quickly that this person is one to whom they should listen.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. ~ John 1:1-5

The opening sentences of John’s Gospel provide such an introduction. My analogy is a bit flawed, for John isn’t just introducing an expert on life; John is introducing the Creator and Savior of the world. In these five sentences John tells us everything we need to know about the credentials of this Jesus of whom he writes. Indeed, these five verses of Scripture present a simultaneously succinct and thorough introduction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Many tend to perceive Jesus as the middle of the story of man. We mark history according to His birth (Before Christ; Anno Domini). Some shy away from the Old Testament and its books of history, poetry, and prophecy incorrectly presuming that it has nothing to do with Christ; after all, He is not formally introduced until the Gospels, right? Some view Jesus as God’s “Plan B” with the Old Testament describing God’s failed “Plan A”. It is this flawed human logic that leads some skeptics to ask why I place my faith and trust in this Jesus. It is this flawed human logic that leads many believers in Christ to the conclusion that God’s Word is subject to amendment at man’s will and whimsy.

John introduces us to Jesus by making these points abundantly clear:

  1. Jesus is eternal. He didn’t ride in on his heavenly white horse to solve an unforeseen problem; His act of redemption was planned from the beginning of eternity. When does eternity begin? It doesn’t – see what I mean? Jesus has been here all along.
  2. Jesus is God. That’s the only way He can be eternal, after all. As God, Jesus has all power, authority, and dominion. What He says goes. What He wills happens.
  3. Jesus created all things. Hence His eternal existence. Jesus is the Author of Creation. Nothing exists that He didn’t will to exist. It’s that simple.
  4. Jesus is the source of life itself. Science cannot explain the genesis of life. Here, John is introducing Life Himself. As Jesus authored creation, He breathed life into all living things, including man.
  5. Jesus lights the only way to life as He, life’s source and creator, intended it to be. On his own, man wallows in the dark depths of sin. By grace, Jesus came that we might have life as He intended it to be. His Light pierces the darkness of sin, and sin cannot overcome His Light. Jesus, The Word, is the only source for knowing how to live life on earth as well as what we believers can look forward to for eternity.

I take great comfort in the reality of my Savior. Man’s theories are full of holes. They’re based on supposition and hypothesis. But, ultimately, whether you believe in the True God of the Bible or whether you place your trust in something or someone else, it ultimately boils down to faith, does it not? Either you place your trust in God’s Word or you place your trust in man’s conjecture. Friends, there is much, much more to life and our existence than any man can possibly fathom. Knowledge of that Truth begins right here with these opening verses of John’s Gospel.

As I embark on my Journey through the Gospel of John, I’m looking forward to broadening my relationship with the Savior of the World – my Savior and yours, Jesus Christ. As I journey through this great account of Jesus, I will be sharing my thoughts and insights right here on my blog. I hope you’ll join me.

My Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for revealing Your Truth through Your Holy Word. As I embark on this study of the Gospel of John I pray that You would open my ears and my heart as you give me the gift of discernment. As I record my thoughts and insights, I pray that they would be helpful to any who might choose to join me in this study. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

Trivialized Faith ~ Jeremiah 7:1 – 8:3

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” ~ Jeremiah 7:3-4

English: The lake you see in the picture is no...

English: The lake you see in the picture is not real. It is an inferior mirage that sometimes are seen in deserts. Photographed by Mila Zinkova in Primm, Nevada on April 4, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this passage, God spells out His wrath against Israel for having abandoned His ways in exchange for worship of foreign Gods. Israel is living a fearless and carefree life, and feels safe doing so as long as the temple is standing. They think they can do what they want, as long as they have the temple to go to and offer trivial praise to God at their convenience. They have bought into deceptive teachings and serve foreign gods to the point of putting God in the background.

God reminds Israel that He has already destroyed His first dwelling place in Shiloh and tells them He will also destroy the temple in Jerusalem – removing their security blanket sewn with words of deception and foreign gods of no truth. He will leave their bones exposed to the elements to rot. Unless Israel returns to the true God, she will not enjoy the benefits of the covenant carved out so many years ago.

As I read the book of Jeremiah I become increasingly aware of the inconsistencies in my own life. Have I trivialized my faith to the point at which I am a different person on Sunday morning than I am the rest of the week? And what about the church at large – have we become so enamored with society’s ways of thinking that we are crafting our doctrine around humanist “wisdom” rather than God’s eternal truth? Is the church becoming nothing more than a security blanket – something to turn to when the inevitable happens after we’ve abandoned God’s truth?

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

As we Christians ponder these questions, take heart: God still raises up faithful preachers and teachers of the Word! We must seek them out and stand with them on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word. Let us lift them up in prayer, but let us also lift up in prayer those that are preaching and teaching deception and those who sit in their pews.

Ponder this: Has my church succumbed to the whims of societal viewpoints? Do I live out my faith each and every day?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the consequences of our sins. And thank you for faithful preachers and teachers of Your Word. Give us the gift of discernment, that we may recognize false and deceptive teachings when we hear them and instead seek preachers and teachers who stand firmly on Your good and perfect Word. We also pray for those who have succumbed to false teachings: show them their error and move them to seek Your truth as You’ve revealed it in Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Remaining Steadfast ~ Acts 22:30-23:35

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” ~ Acts 23:11

The Roman government takes some rather extraordinary measures to protect Paul, a Roman citizen. Seeking an understanding of the charges of the Jews, the commander brings Paul before the Sanhedrin so they can explain the charges and question Paul. But before they ask their very first question, Paul declares, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” (23:1) The chief priest orders another to slap Paul in the mouth, and Paul rebukes the chief priest. Paul then artfully turns the group on itself, Pharisee versus Sadducee, declaring, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” (23:6) The session erupts into a “great uproar” with Pharisees declaring they find nothing wrong with Paul as a group of 40 form a conspiracy and take an oath not to eat or drink until they kill Paul.

Paul’s nephew learns of the conspiracy, reports it to Paul, and then at Paul’s request to the Roman commander. The commander sends Paul to Caesarea under cover of night with military protection to be tried by Governor Felix. The journey to Caesarea is successful, and Governor Felix places Paul in protective custody until his accusers arrive to present their case against him.

I continue to be struck by Paul’s steadfast faith. Standing before the Sanhedrin, he does not waiver. In the face of a conspiracy against his life, he does not waiver. Paul knows that God is with him, and he knows that the Gospel is worth dying for, should that be God’s will.

Christians today face pressure from a different source. Our society scorns the Gospel. Believers are expected to mute the message of Scripture in order to fit into a secular system of norms and values. Those who resist or refuse face persecution, sometimes intense persecution. There are Christian churches that have given in to this pressure to various degrees. Others, like Paul, remain steadfastly faithful to God and His good and perfect will as revealed through Scripture. The divisions within the Church on these matters concern me deeply. False and watered-down doctrine gives the enemy a foothold as many believers and would-be believers are led down a dangerous road of deceitful false teaching. Jesus warned about this when He said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

Christians, we must faithfully pray for the Church, for fellow Christians who have been led astray by false or watered-down doctrine, and for our nation. As we pray, we must seize opportunities to share God’s Truth – the Gospel – as the Lord presents such opportunities to us.

Ponder this: Although the battle is ongoing, Jesus Christ has already won the war. How is God calling me to serve?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I lift up Your church and those in leadership within it. I pray that Your Word would be the sole authority for preaching and teaching, and that false teaching would be exposed and removed. I pray specifically for my pastor, our staff, and our teachers. Guide, direct, and bless them so that the Gospel is always at the forefront of our teachings. Help us, Lord, to stand steadfast on Your Word when persecution comes our way. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God’s Will be Done ~ Acts 21:1-36

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” ~ Acts 21:13-14

When I consider the concept of placing God’s will above my own, it is not in the context of dying for Him, for I am not facing that threat. In Caesarea, the prophet Agabus predicts Paul’s arrest and demise in Jerusalem. The believers beg Paul not to go there, and he offers the response above. Knowing what is to come, Paul presses on.

Upon arrival in Jerusalem, the disciples tell Paul that word has spread among the Jews that Paul is converting Gentiles, and teaching the Jews that live among the Gentiles to “turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (verse 22). The disciples introduce four men who have taken a vow to follow Judaism. They ask Paul to participate with these men in their rites of cleansing believing that this would demonstrate to the Jews that Paul had not abandoned Jewish law. Paul agrees.

As the period of cleansing draws to its end, some Jews from Asia publicly accuse Paul, claiming he “brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place” (verse 28). An uproar ensues, and Paul is arrested with the crowd shouting, “Get rid of him!” (verse 36). Here in Jerusalem, the Jews who have been hounding Paul all along the way finally succeed in having him arrested.  Although he knows his demise is imminent, Paul presses on; he continues to preach the Gospel.

Satan uses all sorts of things to distract our attention away from Christ. For me, in this place in my life, it’s a question of priorities. These past few days have been very busy and I’ve neglected to read God’s word as a result. It’s not the fault of my “busy-ness”; it’s a case of misaligned priorities. Satan sometimes wins small battles; thank God that through Jesus the war is already won! Today I pray that God would give me that same degree of focus on Him.

Ponder this: What distracts me from God’s will for my life? Are my priorities distracting me from opportunities to serve Him?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending faithful servants like Paul to share Your Gospel and inspire us with their dedication to You. Thank you for modern-day believers who unwaveringly preach, teach, and live Your Truth. Help me, Lord, to continuously seek and follow Your will. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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