The Church

Listen to God

“Has God indeed said?” These are the very first words spoken by Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:1. They were words not intended to question what God had said, but to manipulate and twist what God had intended in an effort to cast doubt on His love. To clarify, God’s original statement to Adam was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). Yet when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t go to Eve and try and deny that God spoke those words, he just mischaracterized them. He used the very scriptures God had spoken, but he completely twisted what He had said. Cunningly, he questioned whether God had really meant what He had said to Adam. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden, Satan used God’s own words intended for love and protection and distorted them into a negative prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s graciousness. He effectively misrepresented God’s words, which led Adam and Eve to question God’s love for them. Thus, he was able to substitute the truth with his own lie and got Adam and Eve to believe God was holding something back from them. Through his deceptive ways, Satan took God’s positive invitation to eat from every tree, misquoted the Bible, and then turned those elements of truth into a justification for sin; “What a snake!” you might say. No pun intended.

As the story progresses, Adam and Eve having now sinned before God for eating the forbidden fruit, felt shame and tried to hide from the Lord. But as any loving father, God called out to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). As the Bible states, God is an omnipresent God; He’s “All-Knowing.” Therefore, God wasn’t calling out to them because He didn’t know where they were. But His intention was for Adam and Eve to confess what they had done so they could make things right. For God cannot forgive a sin that has not been confessed. Yet this is how many Christians live their lives today.

Have you ever played hide-and-go-seek with a small child? They are so innocent that you can go show them a hiding spot, go back to the tree and begin counting, and what will they do… they’ll literally go hide in the exact spot you just showed them. That’s what it is like when we try and hide from God. Just like in the case of Adam and Eve, God wasn’t looking for them for He already knew where they were. He was looking for them to confess. And like Adam and Eve, when we sin, God already knows what we’ve done and where we are.

Unfortunately today, Satan is still up to his old ways. Now instead of the Garden of Eden, he has infiltrated our pulpits. And once again he has manipulated God’s Word and twisted it into a wayward version of the truth. He has created an epidemic that has saturated the American church for the last twenty to thirty years. It’s an epidemic of “Perverted Grace.” As John Bevere states, “The grace taught and believed by many of our churches is not real grace, but a perversion of it. This is the result of overemphasizing the goodness of God to the neglect of the fear of him” (Bevere 95). When the doctrine of love and grace is overly emphasized and not balanced with the doctrine of obedience and repentance, what we see in the American church today is the result. And it is an error of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We have “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Yet even more frightening, is that while we are still listening to Satan’s old lie, “Has God indeed said?” now we have become even bolder in our disobedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, many Christians today are not even trying to hide their shame and sinful ways anymore. Where Adam and Eve once feared and hid from God, we now see man making brave statements like, “God is my friend, He understands my heart” or “I love Jesus, He’s gonna forgive me anyway, so what’s your problem?” This false sense of grace and goodness has led to “sin rationalization.” A rationalization by which sin is not repented of, but stemming from a group of “Cultural-Christians” that filters “God’s Word and commands through their own culturally influenced thinking” (Bevere 22). And as sin is more rationalized, a false sense of security occurs within the believer. The person trapped in the bondage of sin begins to convince themselves that since they haven’t been caught or punished, then God must be okay with it. But know this, as God showed when looking for Adam and Eve, He is never okay with sin. And no matter how you try and rationalize your actions, God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

I’m often amazed at people that think they are fooling God. They will know that a specific scripture states something is sinful, yet they will try and use a scripture that is taken out of context and try and condone that sinful nature. They will use a scripture like “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). There are two things wrong with this statement. First, it says love covers over, it doesn’t say love covers up your sins. Secondly, when people use this verse, and I have had it used on me, they fail to realize that the verbiage states a multitude of sins, it does not say ALL. If this is you, STOP! You are not fooling anyone, and you are surely not fooling God. If you believe that the Bible is the ‘Infallible Word of God,’ then you can’t believe for a second that it will show you it’s okay to sin. In fact, His Word confirms, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:13-14). It’s that same lie from the devil cropping up all over again…

God doesn’t want your excuses, He just wants YOU. Now don’t get me wrong, God’s plan for your life is not some rigid pathway based upon unrealistic performance in order to receive His blessing. Actually the Bible says all of God’s laws are about righteousness and peace. By righteousness it’s referring to the blessing of things working out right. But it’s not talking about a rigid type of righteousness that if you do one small thing your salvation is at stake. However, it is asking you to do your part. And that begins by His call to alignment. Aligning ourselves with His Word, His ways, and His law. Maybe your sitting there thinking, “Well that seems pretty rigid, and pretty narrow.” The Bible says that, “The gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14). But believe me, it’s not saying that you are just creeping along two narrow walls hoping to get by. God provides us with enough elbowroom to maneuver in. We’re not confined in some straightjacket that makes it impossible to move around. But He does want us to follow His desires. It’s learning to understand that we can’t decide to do whatever we want and expect that things will always work out because they seem right in our own eyes.

In His Word, the Lord has provided guidance, and it clearly shows that God has pointed out the limits. And that’s what He ultimately wants from you… To live life to it’s limits! But to do this, you’re going to have to do your part. God intends for each one of us to use our own judgment, our gifts, our talents; He was the one that gave those things to us. Furthermore, He didn’t set these limits as a way to control your fun. His Word simply points out these limits and says, “Don’t go past this limit, because when you do, things will begin to deteriorate, and life will get a lot messier.” Yet it never fails, there are always those who try and put God to the test. They go about life saying, “Well I think I can navigate through that. I’m an adventuress soul.” And to you I say, “Well lot’s of luck. Go ahead and make the attempt.” Because no matter how long you seem to manage on your own, remember judgment delayed is not judgment denied, and eventually there always comes the place of the back firing.

If you are reading this and feel as if you’ve been allowing Satan to whisper to you, “Has God indeed said?” I want you to fear not. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To “confess” means “to agree with.” So when we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God and His ways. Take the time to pray and humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him know that you repent of your sins and no longer wish to try and hide from Him in the Garden. Just like Eve, you too have a choice. You can either continue listening to the master of all lies, or you can finally reject him and just Listen to God. 

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Bevere, John. The Fear of The Lord. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006. Print.

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Categories: Daily Living, Forgiveness, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flee for Your Life!

Listen to me like you’ve never listened to anything else before. The warnings found in the Bible are upon us, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

We have become a generation that believes in God, but does not fear Him. A generation that has created a fragmented version of who God really is; accompanied by a watered-down version of the Gospel, living by the mantra, “I believe in God, but I’ll do whatever I feel like doing.” This generation wants enough of God to keep them out of hell, but just enough of God to get into heaven. They have created a “god” little “g” that believes they are serving Him, but requires no real change in how they live their lives. And why is this? Because they believe in God, but they do not fear Him.

I’m sure many of you have come across these types of believers; someone who believes in God, yet live life like He doesn’t exist. It’s called, “Cafeteria Christianity.” They’ve taken God from an almighty and powerful God big “G” and reduced Him down to this cute little guy that fits into their pocket. It’s like walking down a cafeteria line and saying, “I’ll take a helping of grace and forgiveness please, but you can keep those requirements of obedience and servanthood.” Sound far-fetched? If you are a devout follower of Christ you will immediately agree that what I’m speaking about is not only true; but running rampant in the American church today. And if you are one of these misled Christians that believe this way, let me tell you, you don’t know God. If you are living your life with no real fear of God, it’s because you truly don’t know Him.

In our society today, so many people claim a belief in God, yet how bad is it when the Bible shows that even the demons are smart enough to fear Him, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror” (James 2:19). Our country has slowly moved from a nation founded upon a biblical worldview to one that has created a generation of “Cultural Christians.” These false converts believe in God but practice a Christianity that requires no real change or obedience. As Christ Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command”  (John 14:15). These are the words that these believers profess they follow; yet their actions say, “I love Christ, as long as I can do whatever I please.”

I used to be one of those lukewarm Christians that shrugged off prophesy being fulfilled and the “We’re living in the last days” comments. But as I’ve come to study and really seek God, he has shown me that we truly are living in the last days. And there is nothing else that is more vital today than laying our lives down for the purposes of God. I shake my head in disbelief as I watch how the Body of Christ has been reduced to nothing more than a Sunday school picnic. But hear me… God is not inviting us to eat Martha’s potato salad or beat Uncle Dave in a sack race. We are in a war… a spiritual war. Not a war about opposing views of Christ or conflicting views of theology. But a war for the souls of mankind; in fact, for many of you, this is a war for your life.

My mind is forever seared by the images and stories of Christian missionaries and leaders who have been martyred for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Story after story of men being murdered, women raped, and children tortured throughout the world, all because someone feels so much hatred for our beloved savior. And in some cases, many of them willfully placing themselves in harms way, because they felt it was their sense of duty. Each time I read about these horrific tragedies it brings me crashing to my knees and crying out to God, “Please God, never let my sense of duty be any less for the purposes of glorying Your Kingdom.”

We live in a perilous climate of false doctrine and deceptive theology. Where those now, “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Universal apostasy has overtaken this earth and false prophets now stand on the pulpit proclaiming a watered down gospel that teaches the doctrines of man, and not God. Where Christians who stand up for biblical morality once where revered, now are persecuted and hated as Christ Himself warned, “You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers” (Matthew 24:9).

Body of Christ… the times in which Jesus warned us about is upon us. We have political leaders sitting in power that not only contradict our biblical beliefs, but also are now taking to the streets and professing that those involved in immoral lifestyles should “forcefully push for equality.” They stand with arrogance and proclaim Christianity, all while spewing out twisted scriptural passages and false theology. And while these cultural Christians are attempting to rewrite God’s law, a small army is beginning to rally once again in this great nation. Mighty men and woman of God who are standing up and declaring, “enough is enough!”

Enough sitting by as we feel God’s heart breaking over immoral practices that are attempting to fall under the guise of a civil right. Enough of allowing millions of abortions take place while being shielded by an agenda that speaks of pro-choice; yet thinks nothing of the choice that the innocent child should have. Enough flooding of television and media outlets with messages condoning pre-marital sex and experimentation with free-love. And enough with treating God’s name as a party joke or a blasphemous acronym. If you really want to know what OMG stands for, rest assured; God’s Word promises a day that we will all “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). And at that moment, I’m sure all that anyone will be able to say is “Oh… My… God…”

The Lord says, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and…pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Beloved church Flee!

Flee from churches where men and not Christ is glorified. Where gospels are preached that only focus on self-gratification, prosperity, and wealth. Flee from those using the name of God to pick your pockets for their own personal gain… Flee!

Flee from churches where no Bible can be found. Where there is no cost in their theology… no repentance from Sin. Flee! They’re not preaching the truth… Flee from churches that do not mention the blood of the cross, where you’re not convicted from your sins. If you can step into the House of the Lord having sin in your life and you still feel comfortable. Run away from it… Flee, it’s unclean!

Flee from churches that are not centered upon prayer, having no reliance on the Holy Spirit. Where more focus goes into big stages, light shows and pyrotechnics in an effort to entertain you like a rock-concert, than where it should be and that’s worshipping the Lord. Flee!

Flee from pulpits filled with men preaching their own political agenda, and not God’s. Preaching ungodly spasmodic movements, and endless empty prophesying. Men more concerned with getting a laugh on the pulpit, than leading their flock back to the foot of the cross. Beloved church Flee!

The Bible is not trivial, but man makes it trivial. God is not trivial, but man makes Him trivial. And His commandments are not trivial, yet man still tries to make it trivial. We as Christ’s followers are bound by an obligation to the objective truth of God’s Word; otherwise how do we dare stand for our Father in Heaven and call ourselves Christians? It’s time for the true Body of Christ to stand up and take our Gospel back. We need to take to the streets and proclaim the truth, no matter the cost. Where is the outcry? Where is the indignation that God’s truth is being trampled upon and twisted to fulfill man’s desires and not Gods? Have we as a community of believers really become more concerned with being labeled “hypocrites” or “out of step with modern principles,” in an effort to avoid conflict? Today I stand and say, NO MORE!

I want to be among those who are standing up and not running away from the conflict, but running into the conflict saying “Flee for your life.” The days of sitting around and just talking about taking action is over. Church, today is the day we begin to take back our great nation. And that begins by fleeing into the streets and declaring His infallible Word to be truth. Get up now and flee… run like you have never run before proclaiming “Flee for your life.” Because in the end, this really is… about your life.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time..

Pastor Steve

Categories: The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

"It's Just Like an iPhone…”

Have you ever heard these words, “It’s just like an iPhone”? It seems that no matter what great product comes on the scene, rival companies quickly snatch it up, duplicate it’s look, and rebrand it so it can be passed off to the American public in a “just like the…” version. First and foremost, you know when it comes to the iPhone, most people know I am an devout junkie. Yes, I stand in line at 3 AM anxiously awaiting the doors to open so I can be one of the first to have the new version in hand. And I openly admit I am one of the people a recent poll referred to when it said that “35% of the people polled would buy a new iPhone version; sight unseen.”

As you read this you’re probably wondering what does this have to do with Christianity? Well, awhile back, I was reading an article on The Christian Post about all the different religions that are available today. All under the guise that they are considered “Christians.” I’d list them here, but as http://www.worldchristiandatabase.org provides, “There are over 9,000 Christian denominations worldwide.” As I was thinking about this, that now famous quote, “It’s just like an iPhone,” started ringing in my head. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of smart phones out there. And to be fair, let’s take the price factor out of the equation for why someone can or cannot afford different smart phones that are available.

A lot of these phones look like an iPhone. They have a touch screen, they run apps, and some are so close that from a distance you would actually start to believe that it’s an iPhone. However, while they may look like an iPhone and seem to work like an iPhone; they are not real iPhones. And just because there is an imitation posing as the “just like” version, doesn’t mean that it comes close to being like the genuine. Like most products, because there are replicas, you can be certain there is a genuine; a benchmark that all imitations can be measured by. Whenever someone says to me, “It’s just like an iPhone,” my response is simple. “If it’s just like an iPhone, why not buy the genuine?” Obviously if someone refers to an item as the “just like” version, by their own admission the genuine article is its purest form; one that others are trying to duplicate.

Which brings me to the question, “Why are there so many different religions and denominations available today? How do we know which belief is true and genuine from all the others? Just like the iPhone, when it comes to religion you can be assured that Satan will come along with his own “just like” replica. As the Apostle Paul confirms, Satan has a plan to confuse and make us believe that the replica is just like the genuine. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

Jesus Himself warned us to be on the lookout for imitations. In Matthew 13, the parable of the wheat and the tares is a great example of what the fake and genuine looks like when they are compared to one another. In His story, Jesus tells the account of the farmer who painstakingly planted a great field of wheat, but when night fell and no one was looking, his enemy snuck in and planted tares; tares is a plant that looked exactly like wheat. In fact, without careful examination, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two while it first begins to grow. Once it matures, the tares begin to uproot the wheat and by the time the farmer can recognize the imitation, his crop has already been affected and dies off.

Today, just look around at what passes off as “Christians.” On the surface with a little lip service it’s hard to tell if they are the genuine deal or the imitated version. As the Bible warns, in the last days, there will be genuine Christians and fake Christians. Jesus Himself told us to be on the lookout, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). At first glance, they might even fool real Christians. They are sporting the NOTW bumper sticker, quote their favorite scriptures to you, and put on a religious front every Sunday; but on Monday they are no different from the rest of the world.

As believers in Christ am I saying that it’s our job to go out and single-out who the fake Christians are? No, as stated earlier Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). Just like the iPhone, the imitations will try and pass off that they are just like the genuine, but spend a little time with the imitation. Soon, how it operates and functions in the real world will be revealed on its own. Anyone that owns an iPhone knows why it’s the standard for other phones to try and imitate. We who call ourselves Christians need only be focused on one thing. We just need to make sure that when people look at us closely, they recognize that we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ; and not Satan’s knock-off version in an attempt to deceive the world.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jeremiah Wasn’t Just a Bullfrog…

This morning I was reading in the book of Jeremiah. As I read, I realized there is a reason that not many sermons are ever preached from this book. In short, who wants to read a book as depressing as this one? Not to mention, Jeremiah does not take that “feel-good” approach to living, but rather it takes an in-your-face call to “do-right” approach. Unfortunately, we are now living in times that it doesn’t take much effort to look around and find the same conditions that Jeremiah was faced with. Our culture has the same, if not more, trappings of religion while showing very little devotion to our Heavenly Father.

From the West Coast to the East, every city, small town, or suburb is filled with churches; and our airwaves and televisions are becoming increasingly more over-crowded with preachers telling us how to live a fulfilled life. More concern seems to go into slick marketing techniques to attract new believers to our worship services; yet, the underlying issue is that while we may convince ourselves that we’re doing God’s will, the reality is that our efforts are more centered on our works and not God’s power. What’s my point? Just like the days that Jeremiah lived, today there is no lack of priests or prophets. A person can hop from one church to the next until they find the right church that tickles their ear and allows them to live with no conviction or accountability.

In today’s dimming society, as a Christian, don’t you just feel like you’re facing an unachievable win in the battle concerning spiritual warfare? It just seems the more we speak out regarding God’s truth, the more defeated we feel. A good example of that was seen a few months back when Kirk Cameron came under-fire for his stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. The reality is, God never tells us that living a Christian life is going to be easy. In fact, the more this culture changes, the more daunting it’s becoming to stand in a fallen world alone. And that’s the depressing part; at times we feel like we’re the only one fighting these battles for Christ.

If you haven’t done so in awhile, I would encourage you to read through the book of Jeremiah; yes, it’s long being the second longest book in the Bible. However, we as Christ’s followers can take a lot away from this book’s underlying messages. For just as we can feel it today, when it came to speaking God’s truth, Jeremiah stood alone as well. As I was reading this morning, I came to realize that there are many similarities that we can discover about our lives today and the life that Jeremiah once lived. In his life, Jeremiah was witness to the moral decay of the nation of Judah and eventually saw its demise firsthand. Jeremiah was a prophet who time after time warned Judah of God’s coming judgment.  Jeremiah stood face to face with the people of Judah conveying the announcement of an upcoming disaster, yet no one would stand with him – except the Lord. It is said he was not afraid to speak to anyone; he spoke to kings and to the common folk; in fact, the Bible states that he held no punches and was forceful with his words. Yet, he felt defeated and went home to weep over their hardness of hearts. Yes, ministry is tough.

But fear not, our Father in heaven is fully aware and by your side. That’s why He proclaims, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). In the days ahead, we have an assignment. God is giving each one of us the same job description He once gave to Jeremiah, “To uproot and teardown, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). Just like Jeremiah, seeing continued disobedience to the Lord is going to be heartbreaking. But the more time we spend with our Heavenly Father in prayer and in His Word, the easier it will be. Let me leave you with this one thought, “The person who has the courage to speak boldly for God does not obtain it quickly. They develop it by spending time alone with God in humility and sometimes in tears…” Never give up! Keep fighting the good fight and remember, don’t worry about the masses. Just concentrate on Building His Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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