245:  A Warning to the Church and the Nation

245: A Warning to the Church and the Nation

We are living in troubling, turbulent times… but not unlike the times of the prophet Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah’s day his nation was facing destruction and decay both from within and without.  The judicial system had been perverted and compromised.  Infant murder (abortion) was rampant and the people were engulfed in sexual sin.  Does that situation sound familiar?  I thought so.  Sounds much like today, doesn’t it.

So listen to see what Jeremiah would say today to both the church and the nation.

The following is a study on Jeremiah 7:1-34.

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The Outline of the End Times

The Outline of the End Times

“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are,
and the things which will take place after this.”
Revelation 1:19

One of the key truths that explains almost everything pertaining to the Christian life today is found in the second and third chapters of the Revelation.  Here our Lord Jesus writes seven letters to seven churches that are, on the surface, intriguing.  But once you dig deeper into the meanings of these letters, they are breathtaking and prophetic.  In fact, they chronicle all of church history from the days of the Apostles until now.  They are a timeline of church history and, for us, present church life.  And once we come to grips with that fact alone, the meaning and purpose of the life we live, or try to live, or claim to live, or don’t live in Christ today opens up and unfolds like a spring flower.  Everything becomes clear and focused.

But, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me step back and explain.

Seven Letters to Seven Churches

In Revelation 1:19 John is given a command by the risen Lord Jesus.  He is told to, “Write the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”  Here we have the outline from Jesus Himself for the entire book of the Revelation.

First, John is told to write what he has seen— the seven lampstands, the seven stars, the sharp two-edged sword, the Lord Jesus in all His glory, for example.  All this takes place in chapter 1.

Next, John is told to write “the things which are”— the current church situation, the seven letters to seven churches in what we would now call Asia Minor.  He is to write what the Lord says to the churches at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7), Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11), Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17), Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29), Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6), Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13), and Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22).  When we look at these seven letters to these ancient churches with strange sounding names we often see them as something mystical, something confusing, and something that we don’t really need to bother ourselves about except maybe in a purely academic sense.  But that would be a grave mistake on our part.  These seven letters are anything but dry, academic and boring.  As stated before, chapters 2 and 3 reveal to us all of church history, our history, from the Apostles to the coming rapture of the church.  They show us why we do the things we do, good or bad, in the name of Christ.  They show us why we worship the way we worship, why we “do” church the way we do, and why we live the way we live.  These letters show what the Lord commends in His church and what about His church He abhors.  And they also show us what about His church literally makes Him sick on His stomach.  But I am getting ahead of myself again.  We will talk more about that later.

Finally, John is told to write the “things that will take place after this.”  He is to write about events that will take place in the future, the incredible events that make up chapter 4 to the end of the Revelation.  These events speak of great tribulation, of two witnesses, of the throne of God and the scroll sealed with seven seals, it speaks of the Lamb as if slain, the woman and the dragon, the Whore of Babylon and much more.

As you can see, John is given the outline for the entire book of the Revelation and of human history.  In fact, the Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who read it.  It begins with these words, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written in it; for the time is near.”1   Or, as Chuck Missler would say, “Read me, I’m special!”2

Tomorrow we will look at the seven letters in detail and show how they reveal to us past church history and, amazingly, our current church situation.  These letters from the Lord to His church are as timely as any news blog and as prophetic as the book of Daniel or Ezekiel.  In fact, you will learn more about yourself from these letters, especially the last one, than you would have thought possible.  And finally, you will see how God views His church, and you and I, compared to how we view ourselves— and the difference will take your breath away and drive you to your knees.

Are you ready for an incredible journey?  Then let’s begin.

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1.  Revelation 1:3
2.  Missler, Chuck.  2002.  Learn the Bible in 24 Hours.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 271.

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235:  The Man and the Myrtle Trees

235: The Man and the Myrtle Trees

The first of the eight visions revealed to Zechariah tell a harrowing tale of disappointment and disillusionment to those who are waiting for God to keep His promise. But as you dig deeper into the vision of the Man and the Myrtle trees, you find that God has not failed them but gives them incredible promises and declarations of what their future will be like.

In fact, according to Zechariah 1:13 the Lord answered the questions with “good and comforting words.”

I don’t know about you, but I could use some good and comforting words from the Lord. Listen and be encouraged from a prophecy to Zechariah that is just as relevant today as it was 2,500 years ago.

This following is a study of Zechariah 1:7-17.

To download the notes for this message, click – HERE

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The Long Slide from Ephesus to Laodicea

The Long Slide from Ephesus to Laodicea

Ephesus.  The first of seven letters the Lord wrote to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.  Remember?  Do you know what the name Ephesus means?  It means beloved.  It carries with it the sense of love – but not just any kind of love.  Ephesus conveys the kind of love you have for your spouse.  Passionate.  Trusting.  And above all else, faithful.

heart-240Maybe that’s why Jesus said,

“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.” *

Ah, good words.  A very good affirmation to a struggling, but loved church.  Feels good to hear the Lord say that about them, doesn’t it.

But He also said this,

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” *

Uh, now that’s not a very good word from the Lord.  It’s not a very good affirmation for a church that was beginning to slide from the heights where it once stood.  And it doesn’t feel so good either.  It hurts bad.  Down deep.  Down close to the heart.

But there was more…

“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.” *

And from there the letters get, with one exception, progressively worse.  Until we reach the letter to the Laodiceans.

mud-225Laodicea.  Do you know what Laodicea means?  Sadly, it means, “the people rule” or “the rule of the people.”  Far cry from beloved, isn’t it.  And therefore the Lord said to them:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” *

By the way, the term “spit” in our vernacular means something more like vomit.  Projectile vomit.

What happened?  Can what happen to the seven churches also happen to us as individual believers?  You bet your sweet Bible it can!  And it has!

You do know, don’t you, that the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 accurately picture all of church history in startling detail?  But did you also know that the same seven letters also paint a sad, harrowing portrait of a church’s, or an individual Christian’s, slide from spiritual fervency to… well, lukewarmness.  From being the beloved to being what the Lord vomits out of His mouth.  Ouch.

Let me suggest you take the time and study the seven letters of Jesus to the church today.  It will change you life… guaranteed.

* Revelation 2:2-3, 4, 5; 3:15-16

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What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

What happens when false prophets actually deliver?

Good question.  What does happen?  What does it mean when false prophets actually do what they claim they can do?  What does that mean?

What happens when “signs and wonders”— no, real signs and wonders accompany the preaching of a false prophet?  What are we to think?  What does that say about what they are saying?   The implications are mind-boggling.

For example, does it mean that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t false prophets anymore?  Maybe they’ve repented and finally seen the light and God is confirming their ministry with “ooo la la” kind of stuff.  Or maybe we were too judgmental towards them in the first place and had them all wrong.  Worldly logic would conclude, “If God weren’t blessing what they say, then their churches wouldn’t grow so large and they wouldn’t be so popular.”

So, maybe the problem is with us, and not them.  After all, as the mantra of false prophets go: “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!”  Maybe we’re just too blind and deceived and misguided and don’t recognize that God is moving and doing a new thing in our generation.  Or possibly God just lowered His standard of truth so as not to offend the post-modern culture in which we live.  Remember the enlightened by-line of most false prophets, “Doctrine divides, but love unites.”  Maybe the Scriptures are not the standard of truth today and God is using these men to teach us that He is not the same “yesterday, today and forever” but actually changes with the times and adapts, like a divine chameleon, to whatever culture He finds Himself in.  Maybe the false prophets are right.  Maybe God is nothing more than a cosmic genie in a bottle waiting to serve us, bless us, prosper us and make us the “head and not the tail.”  And maybe, just maybe, these men the Scriptures define as false prophets are really God’s pied pipers to the New, and better, 21st Century Christian.

Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

So, if a false prophet delivers the goods, does it mean that we slide them into the category of “Former False Prophets” or rename them as “Prophets formerly known as False”?

I think not.

Have you ever read the following words from Moses?

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods whom you have not known and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” *

Oh, so it could be a test— a testing from the Lord to see if we love Him more than we love the cool things the false prophets are saying about us, our finances and our future. Looks like another classic battle against our flesh, doesn’t it?

Are you prepared for that battle?  Are you prepared to win?  Because the age of false prophets is upon us.

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You want to go grab a grub?

You want to go grab a grub?

Remember the dream Pharaoh had about the seven cattle and the seven ears of grain?  It seems that in Pharaoh’s dreams he saw seven cows, full, fat and healthy, and then seven other cows, gaunt and sickly-looking.  As he watched in his dream, the gaunt cows devoured the fat ones.  Why?  What did this mean?

Then, right on the heels of dream one came dream two.  It was the same principle repeated— only now the characters are seven plump ears of grain and seven thin, sun-scorched ears of grain.  Ah, I see, “second verse, same as the first.”  Now, in dream two, the seven thin, sun-scorched ears of grain swallowed up the fat, plump and healthy ears.

Again, why?  What does this mean?

Enter Joseph.

gauntcows-300Joseph, as you remember, tells Pharaoh that God is revealing to him what He is going to do in the very near future.  God is giving Pharaoh a glimpse into the future, so to speak.  I’ll let Joseph tell you in his own words.

“Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.  The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same.  The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind will be seven years of famine.  It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.  Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land.  So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe.  Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.” *

Get the gist?  Bad times are soon to be upon Egypt like a raging storm and there is nothing Pharaoh can do about it.  And I mean bad times!  Real bad times.  In fact, they were to be so bad that no one will even remember what life was like before the famine. Serious stuff.

What was Pharaoh to do when faced with the certain economic meltdown of their society?  What should he tell his people to do knowing that the collapse of the Egyptian dollar is imminent?  How can he, the ruler of Egypt, prepare his government for hyper-inflation and food and fuel shortages?  What should they do?

For one thing, listen to the advice of Joseph.

“Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.  Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance.  Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it.  Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.” *

In other words, during the times of abundance… prepare!  Get off your rear, take your head out of the sand, quit listening to the pundits who are lying to you and prepare!  It’s not that hard.  Follow this simple rule: If you have today, store for the time when you won’t have.  Like, duh.  Be smart and prudent and wise and prepare for coming uncertain times.  Otherwise… flash forward to gaunt cow.  Get the picture?

And, as you know, Pharaoh took Joseph’s advice and not only survived, but thrived and prospered during the seven years of famine.  Are we at least as smart as Pharaoh?  I sure hope so.

Since we are going to spend a great deal of time talking about how to prepare for the coming collapse of our economy, the unraveling of our society, the possible declaring of martial law and, quite honestly, the greatest ministry opportunity we have ever had in our lifetime— I thought I’d preface all this with a word picture. No, make that more of an object lesson.

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Now, go buy some extra groceries at Wal-Mart the next time you go shopping and we’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

Rest easy… and go grab a grub.

*Genesis 41:25-36

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