Archive for August, 2012

Rainy Days

Some see rainy days as a disruption in their schedule and an obstacle, but not farmers. They see them as part of the natural cycle. God doesn’t take off on rainy days. He’s still there to bless, forgive, and guide us. So don’t overlook the value of a rainy day. Once while sitting through several days of a hurricane with no electricity, I used the time to catch up on some books I wanted to read and to spend time in prayer. The effect of a rainy day on us is determined more by our attitude than by the weather report. In the book of Acts, God used storms in the life of Paul in several unusual ways. The sailors saw it as their worst nightmare, Paul saw it as God’s hand at work. Be encouraged. He’s the God of the sunshine and the rain.


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There was a movement called gnosticism in the early church.  They taught an extreme view that everything physical is evil and everything spiritual is good.  The book of 1 John was written to counter their false teaching that taught that Jesus did not have a physical body.  They also believed that they did not have to confess their sins since Jesus had already paid for them.  This doctrine is being promoted today internationally by a popular television minister.  It saddens me to see God’s people deceived so easily.  This is what Jesus describes as lawlessness in Matthew 7.  The antichrist is known by the title, “The Man of Lawlessness.”  I’ve been asking the Lord, “Could this be the great falling away?”

Believers are freed from the ceremonial and governmental Old Testament Laws, but we have a responsibility to obey God’s moral laws.  That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “…forgive us…”

How can good, well-meaning believers, even leaders and ministers of the Gospel be so easily deceived by the enemy?  Listed below are the steps that lead to false teaching and an unbalanced church.

Step #1.   A De-emphasis of God’s Word.  Experience begins to take priority over the teaching of God’s word.  In the beginning it sounds like this, “We had such a good service, the preacher didn’t even get to preach.”    The subtle message communicated to the people is that the study of God’s word is not that important.  For many believers today, the only scripture they get is spoon-fed to them through the pulpit.  We all need to dig God’s word out for ourselves on a daily basis.  Christians who know their bibles are not easily deceived.  The teaching of the entire counsel of God’s word brings spiritual balance to churches and individuals.

Step#2.  Extremism.  Because experience has become the priority, each experience must be greater than the last or the people will lose their fascination with what is happening.  Truths are pushed to unbiblical extremes.  If this means this, then this means that, and so on.  The Pharisees were extremists:  legalists in some matters, lawless in others.  They strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.  Every demonic false doctrine that deceives and sends people to hell began as a biblical truth taken to an extreme.  People who do not drink the proverbial Kool-Aid the false teacher is giving out are considered lukewarm believers or modern-day Pharisees.  If you attend a church that has primarily taught exclusively on one topic for many months or more than a year, you are in an unbalanced spiritual environment.  We need the entire counsel of God’s word to be spiritually healthy and discerning.

Step#3.  A Spirit of Deception.  In this phase, the new “revelation” replaces the simple understanding of God’s word.  Scriptures that conflict with the new “revelation” are explained away.  Church members who don’t “get it” are looked at with suspicion.  The peer pressure to conform pushes those with honest questions out of the church.  People who don’t adopt the new “revelation” are pronounced to be under a curse from God.  The inner circle of the spiritual leaders becomes smaller and smaller and they become paranoid of anyone who questions their direction.  Those who stay and conform get on a euphoric emotional high to think that God would choose them to deliver this special message from Heaven.  Wise counsel from the outside is shrugged off and rejected.   This group has become what sociologists call a closed social group.  They live in their own reality, distrust other believers, and despise any who question the “revelation.”

Return to a simple walk with God.  Jesus is the standard.  In the Great Commission in Matthew 28, the apostles were commanded by our risen Lord Jesus to go to the whole world and teach everything Jesus taught them during His earthly ministry.  Part of Jesus’ commands is the Lord’s model prayer…. “Forgive us as we forgive …….”    –Jeff Burke

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In the Sermon On The Mount, (Matthew 5:1-7:27), Jesus contrasts the New Covenant values with the Pharisee’s misuse of the Old Covenant Laws.  Jesus corrects two un-biblical extremes:  legalism and lawlessness.  You can take any valid truth to an extreme and it can become a falsehood.

Both the Jews and the heathen were operating in some faulty values concerning prayer.  The Jews had made prayer a religious show to impress others.  The heathen had turned prayer into a long series of repetitions in their attempt to impress God with their works.  Jesus taught that our focus in prayer should be on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Some have argued that this model prayer is Jesus’ teaching on how to operate in the Old Covenant and is not for believers today because it happened before the cross.  This view is in direct conflict with the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18…..Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NLT.  Part of Jesus’ commandments to the disciples is found in the model prayer that He gave us as a guide to praying.

Jesus was not teaching an old wineskin message.  The greatest evidence of that is the reaction of those living under the Old Covenant – after listening to His teaching they conspired to have Him crucified.  I’ve found that the gospel is very simple because Jesus Himself is the standard we live by, not the latest fad of the TV preachers.  This prayer contains new wineskin principles spoken to New Covenant believers.

Matthew 6: 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[c] NKJV.    We know from the term “daily bread” that this prayer is a daily prayer.

When we do not confess our sins to the Father, our hearts become hardened to the Holy Spirit and we can become open to deception and false teaching.  In the next chapter Jesus concludes this sermon with a warning against lawlessness.  When we ignore God’s moral laws and say we have no sin, we commit the sin of lawlessness.  While we are free from the ceremonial laws and national laws of the Old Testament, we still have a responsibility to follow God’s moral laws and principles.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Build on the Rock

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  NKJV

Jeff Burke

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