Today we’ll talk about the danger of believing lies, whether about some false religion or about our right to nurse our wounds and refuse to forgive.
We’ll also continue our study in Revelation as the final conflict approaches.
There are only two more days in 2016. Have you set a goal for your Bible reading in 2017? Have you invited someone else to join you? Let’s bring others along as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).
“For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.”
Yesterday we talked about “Babylon the Great,” and how the world’s religious and socioeconomic system will be destroyed at the end of the age. We also talked about the allure of false religions. So often, what makes false religion so alluring is because it tells us what we want to hear.
It tells us we’re “OK” if we just keep these rules. It even enables us to feel self-righteous because all those “other people” outside our group don’t get it!
Or it tells us that god is within us and we just need to reach some higher level of spirituality and that we can do so by meditating on this mantra or using this substance. This appeals to the self-delusion that we are more spiritual than someone else.
The lure of false religion is one of the reasons we get so enthralled with things like “The DaVinci Code” and tales of “lost gospels.” It’s the appeal of Gnosticism, the belief in some hidden knowledge, not available to the “less enlightened.” It’s the appeal of the Masonic Temple and many “secret” organizations.
It’s the appeal of martyrdom for Allah and the reward of “100 virgins” or of giving up your life to live in a monastery forsaking all earthly possessions. It’s the deception of Continue reading →
Verse 3 says, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Just as wine can entice and weaken the resolve of the one drinking it and can blind one to the truth, the wine of false religion can blind, as well. It can be legalism (believing that rules and sacraments can save you), new age spirituality, today’s version of religious tolerance (believing that all roads somehow lead to God), or any kind of religious fanaticism.
Whether a person is fanatically religious in a pseudo-Christian way, fanatically atheistic, fanatically pro-abortion or pro-gay, or a fanatical Muslim or white supremacist, it has an appeal that can be intoxicating. This helps explain why men and women are willing to fly airplanes into buildings, strap on suicide vests or turn a gun on strangers and co-workers alike.
And just as religious idolatry can make a person drunk, so too, wealth, abundance and a focus on material things can drug a person into a materialistic stupor, “the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
Eventually the world’s false systems of religion and economics will come to an end, but we must guard against any vestige of them in our lives even now.
Ephesians 5 says:
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
God does not want us to be drunk with wine or religion or any earthly thing, but rather to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we do, just as drunkenness affects a person’s walk and life, the filling of the Spirit will affect the way we walk and live.
Verse 7.5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests. ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’”
Fasting was a sign of repentance and humility and recognition of sin. God was asking the people if their fasting was merely a religious exercise or done because they were broken over their sin and rebellion against Him.
Oftentimes, we express outward sorrow and regret over our sin, but we must ask ourselves, are we sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin? Are we more like children who are about to be punished for some misdeed, crying, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” Or are we truly broken and repentant?
The first is worldly sorrow. It’s sorrow over the consequences and over the messes we make.
The second is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to changes in our actions, not just outward expressions of sorrow.
It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death (2 Cor. 7.9b-10 NLT).
Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? Have you recently faced a devastating loss or were the holidays especially difficult? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …
Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.
This should be an encouragement to us, as well, when we feel beaten and bruised or when God has called us to some challenge—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.
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14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.
And James 1.2-7 says:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.