After one of the most powerful promises in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul warns us, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
Could I be worshiping idols? Could you? Don’t think so … where do we run for pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape? What are our “if only’s” and “I must’s”? Could there even be “good things” that have become idols in our lives?
How can we be sure that we don’t have false gods, things we’re depending on more than God Himself? Things that have become more important to us than they should?
God warned the nation of Israel over and over to repent and turn from idolatry. Their refusal to do so took them into captivity and cost them the loss of their land, their homes, their freedom, and often their families.
What about our nation? It’s obvious to anyone who understands spiritual truth that we are on a downhill slide morally, but is it possible that idolatry, magic, and witchcraft have gone on behind closed doors in the highest places in our nation?
Some of what I’ll be sharing today may seem far-fetched or even political, but that’s not my intention. We are called to be watchmen and when we see danger coming, the blood of others is on our hands if we refuse to sound the alarm. Continue reading →
Jesus called Satan the father of lies and He warned the religious leaders of His day that they were listening to the wrong voice. In the garden Satan sold Eve a bill of goods and in Jeremiah’s day, he spoke through false prophets who told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad.
False teachers and false prophets are saying much the same things today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice themselves. Each of us is responsible to rightly divide the Word of God, to know how to study it and to examine what we hear in light of it. When we don’t we, too, can fall prey to the enemy’s lies. Continue reading →
Because something is popular, a religious tradition, or “the way we’ve always done it,” doesn’t make it biblical. In today’s Old Testament passage, God condemns the nation of Israel for their false religion and idolatry. Centuries later, when a Samaritan woman met Jesus and pointed out what was popular in her religious tradition, He told her, “… those who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24)—spirit, with the right heart attitude, and truth, according to His commands. Let’s not be among those who have itching ears, wishing to hear only what we want to hear.
I know I run the risk of offending some today. I pray that I don’t, but even more, I pray that if you are you will dig into God’s Word and prayerfully seek the truth for yourself.
Itching Ears, False Worship & the Queen of Heaven
Jeremiah 7 & 8:
The prophet continues along the same lines as yesterday’s reading, even repeating some of the same phrases.
In chapter 8 Jeremiah again speaks specifically to false teachers, priests and prophets:
10 … Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Once again he condemns them for giving the people a false assurance of peace concerning their relationships with God.
He also condemns the people themselves because they were listening to falsehood. Even though our leaders are responsible for what they teach, we are responsible to make sure what we’re hearing and learning lines up with God’s Word! Because something is popular or “the way we’ve always done it” does not make it biblically sound.
Many people form their theological views by listening to preachers and teachers whose style or messages they like without going to God’s Word for themselves. Paul told Timothy:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4.2-4).
Some things that are being taught by very popular teachers are not biblically sound; they are fables. God is not some genie in a bottle waiting to give us everything we want or keep us from going through difficulties.
It’s been said before, but He is more concerned with our character than our comfort and more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. This is not your best life now; this is where He is growing and maturing you into the likeness of His Son. As believers our best life is to come. This world is not our home. Our home is in heaven and the best is yet to come!
It’s not that God wants us beaten down and miserable, but He wants us to find our happiness, our peace, our contentment, and our satisfaction in Him. We will never find happiness in the things of creation, only in our wonderful Creator! As the psalmist invites us in Psalm 34:
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Jeremiah 7 also addresses false religious practices:
16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.
God said have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20.3), that includes the worship of saints and even the Virgin Mary. Jesus honored His mother as a faithful son should. He saw to it that she would be cared for after His death (Jn. 19.24-27), but He did not honor her as someone to be worshiped or who was greater than other believers. Luke 8.20-21: Continue reading →
When Jesus spoke truth to the rich young ruler, he turned and walked away. And Jesus didn’t stop him! If we as individuals, or even as a nation, are determined to continue turning our backs on God and refusing to live His way, He will let us! But the results could be disastrous.
Over and over throughout these passages God is warning His people to not rely on themselves or their own wisdom and not to turn to false prophets who merely tell them what they want to hear. He also warned them not to turn to outsiders, other nations, no matter how strong they look. The message is “I am sovereign—I am in control.”
He warns them that all the false prophets, all the strong nations, all the wisdom of man will ultimately be brought to nothing. With all the problems in our country today many cling to the idea that some leader, some program, some philosophy, some scientific discovery will solve our problems nationally and individually. We are so much like the people in Isaiah’s time (30.9-13):
Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;
10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11 Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us.”
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel.
“ Because you despise this word,
And trust in oppression and perversity,
And rely on them,
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.
The list of things we no longer want to hear as a nation is endless:
That rebellion and disrespect is wrong (1 Sam. 15.23). Consequently, we disrespect police officers and other authority figures. Our children, in turn, disrespect us, their teachers, and anyone else who tries to tell them what to do.
That marriage is to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime (Matt. 19.4-6). Consequently, the rate of divorce and of couples living together without marriage happens across all levels of society in huge numbers and without any shame. And now so-called gay marriage has become the law of the land.
That sex is holy and reserved for the marriage bed (Heb. 13.4; Rom. 1.24-32). Consequently, sex outside of marriage in all of its forms is rampant: adultery, fornication, rape, incest, molestation, homosexuality, pornography and more.
That life is precious and God is the giver and taker (Acts 17.24-25; Ps. 139.13-16). Consequently, abortion is now called a woman’s right, euthanasia has been openly debated and practiced, murder is rampant in many of our cities, and mass shootings because of anger, hate, or political ideology happen all too often.
That work is God-ordained and the way God provides for His people on a day-to-day basis (2 Thess. 3.10; 1 Tim. 5.8). Consequently, we have husbands and fathers who find every excuse possible not to work and provide for their families, people who know how to “work the system” going from agency to agency, organization to organization, even church to church getting every handout they can, and others who live much of their lives dependent on the government. (Bear in mind, that other passages commanded God’s people to care for the genuinely needy and unable to work.)
And if we continue going our way and turning our backs on God, things will get worse, but the answer is the same today as it was thousands of years ago: to return to God, not to become independent, but God dependent: Continue reading →
How should we respond when we’re falsely accused or mistreated? How should we respond to the ordinary, every day hurts that come from living life with other sinners? How can we fight back without sinning?
What a great story! Here are Paul and Silas in pain, mistreated, falsely accused and still praising God!
And as they did, God opened the prison doors with an earthquake. Fearing his prisoners had escaped the jailer prepared to commit suicide, but Paul and Silas cried out to stop him! Romans 2.4 says that it is the goodness of God which leads men to repentance. The goodness of God working through Paul and Silas led the jailer to repentance and he and his whole family were saved!
What If We’re Mistreated or Falsely Accused? How Should We Respond?
We live in a fallen world and there will be times when we suffer. Sometimes we suffer as a result of our own sinful choices and sometimes because of the sins of others. Sometimes we complicate our unfair suffering by our sinful responses.
Other times we suffer because we are doing good and because of the light in us.
1 Peter 3.13-17:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
The future, it’s full of promise, but often mixed with uncertainty. Should I marry this person? Does he or she really love me? Is this the right job? Could my spouse be cheating on me? The temptation to want to know what the future holds can be huge. But what does God say about knowing the future or seeking information about things God has not revealed?
And what about your heart? Do you have a wise heart? Are you teachable? Do you listen to godly counsel? Or do you first make up your own mind and then look for justification to believe and do what you desire? What does it means, “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies”? See today’s Proverbs reading.
Fortune Tellers, Palm Readers, and Other False Prophets
Chapter 13, verses 1-4 talk about the false prophets who predict things that come to pass. So many people assume that such a person must be from God, even though he or she says and does things that contradict biblical truth. Verse 3 says:
“… you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
There are still people out there today, claiming they can predict the future or they can tell you if your husband is cheating or give you a message from a deceased family member. They may even claim to believe in God. James 2.19 says, “… Even the demons believe—and tremble!” And in Matthew 8 when Jesus met two demon possessed men, the demons cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
You can believe in God and not be of God. We are told to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5.11). And Deuteronomy 18.10-12 says:
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.
Just as in Micah’s day, one of the devil’s oldest tricks is to get men and women to put their hope in a lie. Even though it is often what they want to hear, it leads to despair when they realize their hope was fixed on a lie. How could you be misplacing your hope?
And in our New Testament reading …
In Revelation 9 the fifth and sixth trumpets sound! The fifth releases swarming locust-like demons with tails like scorpions. Their stings will leave people begging to die, but not even able to commit suicide. And the sixth is even worse.
Like many in our culture today, the people in Micah’s time rejected God’s truth (2.6). They dismissed the prophets as “prattlers” or babblers. But God said, the real “babblers” are false prophets who tell people what they want to hear (2.11). Furthermore God warned them of a time when their false prophets would be exposed for the fakes they were and discredited, leaving the people with no hope, because they had put their hope in a lie (3.6-7):
6 “Therefore you shall have night without vision,
And you shall have darkness without divination;
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
And the day shall be dark for them.
7 So the seers shall be ashamed,
And the diviners abashed;
Indeed they shall all cover their lips;
For there is no answer from God.”
Deception is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. Jesus said he is the “father of lies” (Jn. 8.44). Just as he did in the garden where Eve put her hope in his lies, he first plants seeds of doubt by implying, “Did God really say …?”
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1).
But sooner or later he simply calls God a liar:
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3.4-5)
There is no end to the lies people place their hope in today. Lies such as: Continue reading →