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A Prophetic Word for Today

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"Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! - Matthew 6: 22-23 (NLT)


I saw a sermon recently where the preacher correctly said that what passes for prophecy these days is largely clairvoyance. Future-telling with slivers of Christ added to throw off the discernment. Either that or it is largely based on pointing a religious finger at the world and casting the blame for a lack of blessings upon them. If you read the prophets of the Old Testament however they were usually focused on the people of God and turning them away from their sins and back to the Lord. I do not fancy myself a prophet as I see too many nowadays who like the title without the sacrifice. But this Word has been burdened unto me by God for some time now. The prophetic word is found in the above verses. It is God calling out to us in these the last days as believers and asking us what we truly believe. What we truly follow. It was a time for self-examination for me. It was a time for change as well.


These are the Word of Jesus Himself, teaching us about real dangers we will face. I think in these days we can become sloppy in our faith. We can confuse our service unto God with our walk with Him. We can think that as long as we are acting religious, we are assured of our salvation. Take these next verses very carefully and very seriously:


"Not everyone who calls out to me, "Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, "Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, "I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' -- Matthew 7: 21-23 (NLT)


Think about this for a minute. People who spent their lives thinking it was in service to God will discover at the end that He never even knew them! And we are not talking about the obvious deceivers. We are not just talking about the charlatans of Christian media who sell you earthly prosperity or uncontrollable gyrations as genuine moves of the Holy Spirit. We are also talking about people who run mega churches. We are talking about people who lead large swaths of would be believers. We are talking about people who may even have signs and wonders accompany their deception. People who prophesied! People who performed miracles! People who cast out demons! The key word in these verses which strikes me as a bit sarcastic on Jesus' part is the use of the word "actually." Only those that actually do the will of my Father. How frightening for us as believers to consider but how absolutely necessary! Remember what the Bible teaches:


Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, - Philippians 2: 12 (NIV)


It seems that much of the modern American church simply operates without the fear of the Lord. Sure we may pay some lip service to it but the majority of the time is spent on the bless-me theology that permeates so much of what we have become. I hear songs in churches now that make me cringe as they show no reverence whatsoever towards God. They petulantly demand blessings that they feel are somehow due to them as believers. Songs with man-made theology. And this is what is called worship!


We also see preaching that is a hybrid of motivational speaking and self-help. Preaching a bloodless Christianity. Preaching a sinless Christianity. Preaching a Christianity that costs you nothing, except maybe your tithe. I heard preached yesterday that motivational speaking and Gospel preaching are not related; not even distant third cousins. That is because motivational speaking is ultimately about YOU. Gospel preaching must always be about HIM. There is no such thing as self-help. I tried it for many years in the world. It was not until I realized that I could not help myself that I understood the need for a Savior. Today's deep theology is this -- God did not come into your life to help you -- He came to save you! Beloved we have lost sight of this one central fact -- we did not need help, we needed salvation! I know it is not preached enough anymore because it does not lend itself to higher attendance numbers and gaudy offerings but we are sinners before a holy God. Jesus Christ died on an old wooden cross so that we can be reunited with God. So that our sins could be covered by His precious blood.


At the core of the problem is the metrics measurement in the modern church. Success is based upon how many people come forward for altar calls, how much tithing is brought in, and how many ministry workers you can engage. I would rather have a church with 100 truly discipled believers who feared the Lord than a church of 10,000 singing kumbya until they get to the last day and find out they didn't even know Jesus. The Bible says that heaven rejoices when one person gives their life to Christ not when 1,000 people attend church. A regenerated heart and a life changed are the true measurements of success for a church. Take a good look at the letters Jesus sends to the churches in Revelation. This is not a new phenomenon! Take a good look around where you find yourself on Sunday. Are we like the church at Ephesus, whose love for Jesus has waned over time? Becoming more concerned about the execution of ministry than the heart of Jesus? Are we like the church at Pergamum who were turning a blind eye to false teaching and allowing the Gospel to be compromised? Are we like the church at Thyatira who were oblivious to the spiritual warfare going on inside of their own church? Are we like the church at Sardis whose great reputation was a covering for a church that was already dead? A church who was more concerned with appearances than with where they stood with Christ. Are we like the church at Laodicea who had become so lukewarm they confused their darkness for light? Realize that even within the complaints against these churches, Jesus also pointed out some of the things that they were doing right. I think sometimes we incorrectly assume that if we were sitting in apostasy that we would be easily able to identify it but realize that it is more difficult than that. Things may appear right. Leadership will insist that everything is fine. The Word may be brought forth with a sense of power. The Bible tells us to evaluate the fruit. Because while you can intellectually put together the Word of God over long periods of time and you can make sure your worship is crisp over long periods of time -- you cannot fake fruit in the long term. Fruit is based upon the Holy Spirit -- not the works of man.

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