Antichrists in the Church

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What? No way!

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but antichrists exist in every Bible preaching church.

Last night in our small group, we studied 1 John 2:18-27, and I will be preaching from this passage on Sunday. John writes the following, Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour (2:18).

The word antichrist means “against Christ” and is seen by opposing Christ and replacing Christ. Satan, who will be the engine behind the future Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-8), hates Christ, constantly opposes Christ and the body of Christ both individually and corporately. Furthermore, Satan tempts us as believers to replace the preeminence of Christ in all areas of our life with anything of a temporal nature or philosophy, even things that may be good.

So how do antichrists show up in local churches?

  • When repentance and confession of sin has been exchanged for making the congregation comfortable, then the holiness of Christ has been replaced and opposed by fleshly, carnal, proud living. (1 Peter 1:13-16)
  • When programs of the church mean more to the congregation than exalting Christ and personal discipleship, then He is opposed and replaced. (Colossians 1:18) Programs do not change people; Christ does.
  • When church members think that ministry is to done by the “hired staff” because “that’s what we pay them to do,” then genuine gospel ministry has been opposed rather than expanded. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
  • When sports takes the high seat of choice by church members, then Christ has been replaced by temporal goals that amount to nothing in eternity. (Matthew 6:33)
  • When church members criticize the leadership and gossip behind their backs, they are opposing Christ and doing the work of antichrist by their corrupt speech as they seek to gain a following. (Ephesians 4:29, 31)
  • When prayer gatherings are poorly attended, the gospel ministry is being opposed and replaced because prayer is the power behind all ministry. (Matthew 21:13; Acts 4-6)
  • When a consumeristic attitude of felt needs is the determiner of what church to attend, then Christ is being opposed and replaced by human standards and “following your heart.” (Philippians 2:1-11)
  • When the family is more important than Christ, He is opposed and replaced with the attitude that “family is the most important thing.” (Luke 14:26)
  • When staying home and watching the morning service online, because it’s more comfortable, becomes the norm, then Christ is opposed and replaced because He commands us (His Body) to gather and all the more as we see the day of His return drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25).
  • When music and entertainment takes the place of the preeminence of preaching, Christ, the Word (John 1:1) is opposed and replaced.

Friends, the Church is Christ. We are His body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; 5:23) joined to Him in salvation (Ephesians 4:15-16). Christ is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23) and is to be the preeminent One in the Church (Colossians 1:15-18). Therefore, if Christ is not the issue, the goal, the motive, the heart, the reason, the life and the head of the Church, then the spirit of antichrist is at work opposing and replacing Christ.

May we exalt Christ by being Word-filled (2 Timothy 3:16-17), Holy Spirit empowered (Ephesians 5:18), God glorifying (1 Corinthians 10:31), discipleship minded (Matthew 28:19-20) believers who long to make much of Christ (Philippians 1:21) and nothing of ourselves (John 3:30).

Be careful, antichrist may be in the pew or chair behind you next Sunday, or he may even walk in with you. Let’s reject the spirit of antichrists and be all out for Christ!!

How I Began 2021

Sober, silent, sane and secure.

After a good night’s rest, I awoke to 43 degrees and rain. Made the bed and took care of Liza Jane. Then it was time for the morning meeting at the coffee pot. Love the anticipation of that first cup each morning! Glad I was sober and didn’t need it to deal with a hangover due to senseless, undisciplined revelry that included alcohol.

From there, it was time for the best part of the morning . . . the blessing of meeting with the Lord in His Word. Add to that the beginning of a new, yearly journal.

As I read the Word in the silence, Psalm 99 awakened the stillness in my heart with an absolute truth, The LORD reigns (99:1). I paused and let the Holy Spirit speak to me.

That’s it! If I am to have a sane response to all that 2021 will afford, I must live in the truth that The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble! For all of us who are born again believers in Christ, we do not tremble. We dwell securely in the secret place, in the presence of the LORD Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

How did 2021 begin for me? Sober, silent, sane and secure.

What an Evening!!

It happened again last night. Three couples gathered on our back porch and had a special evening of fellowship, exhortation, encouragement, edification, laughter, tears, and sharing.

What made it such an awesome evening? Was it the back porch setting? How about the beautiful sunset? Perhaps the delicious cake and coffee? Could it have been the stories that were told? Indeed, all of these things played an important role.

So, what was the ingredient that made the evening so rich? Simply this . . . three couples gathered around the Word of God.

It happens every week. We open our Bibles, read through a passage of Scripture, and then work our way through the verses letting the Holy Spirit teach us in context, observation, interpretation and application. Never do we share “what we think the passage says,” but as the Author intended for us to understand. As the leader, I simply ask questions, explain some words, and guide the discussion, but it is the Word does the work.

Our lives have been so enriched by the Word! We have come to relish our familial relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word! The honesty and transparency has risen each week because of the Word! Then our time of prayer is one of precious communion prepared by the Word!

Whether you are involved in a small group or it’s just you and your spouse or your family or with your co-worker at lunch or in the church building on Sunday, the best gathering is always around the Word of God!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Already looking forward to the next time we gather . . . around the Word!

The Best Gathering Place

Is it a local restaurant?

Is it a concert venue?

Is it a college campus?

Is it a coffee shop?

Is it a sports stadium?

Is it the break room at work?

Without a doubt, the very best gathering place is anywhere the Word of God is opened, read, taught, explained, discussed, applied, and revered!

Last evening, our small group gathered around 1 Timothy 3:1-7. We prayed, read the passage, and then went through a verse-by-verse, almost word-for-word study of God’s precious Book. Never did we ask, “What do you think it means?” We looked at the passage in its context through observation (What does it say?), interpretation (What does it mean?) and application (How do I respond?).

After one hour, we could say that we had met with the Lord; He had spoken to our hearts; the Holy Spirit had guided us into truth! Our hearts were knitted closer to God and to one another. That then made our prayer time to close out the evening a true gathering around the Throne of Grace!

The dynamic of a Sunday morning service is the gathering around the reading and preaching of the Word of God whether it is inside or outside the building. This gathering is of utmost importance (Hebrews 10:25).

The best part of meeting at a coffee shop is the reading of God’s Word. I highly recommend this resource: https://matthiasmedia.com/products/one-to-one-bible-reading

The most edifying conversation and instruction in the home is when husband and wife gather around the Word to read and pray. (The same for the family.)

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16)

The gathering around the Word should cause us to anticipate the great gathering in the sky at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and then the gatherings around the Throne in Glory (Revelation 4, 7)!!

The best gathering place is around the Word of God!!

Living In a Word-Filled World

Recently I walked into a local hospital room to find the lady whom I had come to visit soundly sleeping. Her daughter, faithfully at her side, filled me in on her current condition.

After awhile, the daughter said, “Go ahead and wake her. She will not want to miss seeing you.” As soon as her name was called, her eyes opened and she said, “Hi, Pastor. It is so good to see you, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

That was just the beginning. As our conversation moved forward, she interspersed scripture from a heart that was settled on its promises and appropriate for praise and trust in our great God. This kind of response was not a surprise because this is what I have heard from her for over twenty years. Her bank of memorized scripture has been her life for over sixty years.

If you were awakened out of sleep, would scripture be on the forefront of your mind? Would a word of truth be ever present on your lips?

Psalm 119 describes the heart of one whose passion, whose world is the Word of God. The following portion, verses 11-18, could be spoken of this dear lady.

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

In a day of unashamed lying, fake news, “who’s telling the truth,” and “what will happen next,” we need to know the Truth, rest in the Truth, speak the Truth, and live the Truth. God’s Word should be the world we live in.

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Ps. 119:97)

Who Will You Be in 2019?

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Dr. Bob Jones, Sr, often said, “There are no stains on the pages of tomorrow!”  That’s a challenge, comfort and encouragement.  Truth is, what I plan today has effect upon my tomorrow which will become yesterday and then collectively a life.

With that in mind, I want to share some resources to help you move forward in your walk with Christ, your growth in the knowledge of God and the application of the Word of God on a daily basis for 2019.

The most important thing you will do in 2019 is keep your eye on Christ and watch what He does through His Word.  I am so intrigued that on His divinely human side Jesus did what we are to do:  Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel (John 5:19-20). I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me (John 8:28).

First of all, what is your plan for reading God’s Word in 2019; His fresh Love Letter to you?  The YouVersion Bible app provides many plans for you to follow.  May I remind you that the goal of reading the Word is not to check off boxes, but to come to know the mind and heart of Christ whereby we think and act biblically (Psalm 119:9-11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12).

Along with reading the Word of God, may I strongly suggest using a journal to record what God says to you each day.  It may be one sentence or a whole paragraph or more.  Think about it!  The God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to you; your Heavenly Father if you are born again (John 14:6)!!  Therefore, it is important to watch Him as Jesus did.  You don’t want to miss it! Then after a few days, read back over what you have written and see how God is leading you, what He is teaching you about Himself, and what He has revealed to you about you.

Use a spiral-bound notebook, a journal, your tablet or a journaling Bible.  I simpley record the day and date, the Scripture passages I am reading, and even what the weather is like on that morning.  Here is what my journal looks like from yesterday:

Tuesday, Jan. 1                                          51 degrees, partly cloudy

Matt. 1:1-17; Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 1; Genesis 1-2

As I read through these passages today, the Lord reminded me that Christ Who was active in creation and came to redeem a genealogy of sin, is the One I am to be a witness of as I delight and walk in His Word, planted by the rivers of living water.

That thought ran through my mind all day.  As Denise and I were enjoying our annual New Year’s Day brunch at Cracker Barrel, I was brought to tears as I looked at all kinds of people in the restaurant and wondered if they knew this Christ, my Savior.  The Word I had read in the morning moved me to see people as Jesus does and softened this old, selfish heart for them.

I will share more tomorrow about some other resources.  Let me close by sharing the following.

Last Sunday morning, a dear, godly lady said to me after the morning gathering, “Pastor, last week I was going through some things and counted 16 spiral-bound notebooks of my Bible study notes.  I don’t want to throw them away.  Perhaps they will be found someday and be an encouragement to my son who needs the Lord.”  I can attest that when you are in conversation with this dear saint of God, you are speaking to a Word–filled believer.

Let’s meet with the Lord today!  He is waiting for you (Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 10:38-42).  Listen to Him (Revelation 2:7).  Start with a clean page.

Just What You Need . . . Everytime!

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My dear wife loves to cook! Often I have heard her say, “Cooking is so much fun especially when you have the right tools.”

Just recently, after baking a few loaves of French bread, she was delighted to pull out her stash of newly purchased double-bag size bread bags from King Arthur Flour. She looked at me, held up a bag and reveled in the size, exclaiming, “See! I can also use these for large loaves of sour dough bread. It’s just what I need!”

This reminds me of God’s Word. The absolute, eternal, always-relevant words of scripture are always “just what you need” in every situation of life every time.

Psalm 119:97-105

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 2:6-11

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;

10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,

So, since the Word is applicable, relevant, and eternal for all situations of life, why do we not avail ourselves to reading the Word, memorizing the Word, meditating on the Word, listening to the Word, and sharing the Word? Why do we take a leisurely approach to attending gatherings where the Word is preached? Why do we too often have a non-committed attitude about attending church, retreats, conferences, small groups, lunches, etc. where the Word will be taught and upheld with high esteem?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, All Scripture is breathed out by God and is PROFITABLE for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Word of God is always profitable; it’s always just what you need!

Buffering

 

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Cell service in my neck of the woods has been an adventure since we moved here almost five years ago.  I am told that we live between two cell towers and therefore, service is sketchy.  We have tried LG, Samsung, Moto, and iphones from Sprint and Verizon.  Used a booster. Talked hours to tech support.   Nothing has changed. Most of the time, I have one bar showing on my phone.  Not to mentioned a gazillion dropped calls.

Continue reading “Buffering”

“I Don’t Have Time.”

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“And in the morning, when I rise . . . .”

Really?

Question is, how does any true born-again believer think he or she can live in this present life without spending time at the feet of He Who created life; He Who gives you the ability to walk, talk, breathe, think, act, speak, etc?

Trust is, there is not a moment in our life that we are not desperate for God.  There is not a moment in our life that we are not dependent upon God.

Continue reading ““I Don’t Have Time.””

What Have You Done With Your Bible?

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This is a question I have been asking my church family and others for the past several weeks.  Usually I add “since last Sunday” or “since last Wednesday,” or “in the past seven days” to the end of the question.

Our daily life in thought, word, and action is a total reflection of our attitude and heart toward the Word of God.

Continue reading “What Have You Done With Your Bible?”