Posts Tagged ‘ Apostle ’

Sermon: Completely: Bartholomew and the One Who Sighs – Mark 8:1-21

I preached again. And I had some fun doing it. (And technical issues slowed me from sharing this for over a month! This was preached on April 25, 2021.) (The full service can be seen at The Church Next Door’s YouTube channel right here.)

Please read Mark 8:1-21:

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:1‭-‬21 ESV

SERMON: MARK 8:1-21 – COMPLETELY: BARTHOLOMEW AND THE ONE WHO SIGHS

Bartholomew

Greetings, brothers and sisters. May the grace and shalom of our Lord be with you all.
You may have heard of me. I am Bartholomew, or some of you may know me as Nathanael. I am one of the Lord’s disciples, and I want to tell you about one of our travels with Jesus.

Remembering before:

We had come from Tyre and Sidon where the woman’s daughter was healed, stopped in Capernaum to get Peter’s boat, and headed to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. (South of where the 5,000 men were fed. More into the area where Gentiles live.) This is where Jesus healed the deaf man.

Jesus had been doing so much healing and teaching, and a great crowd came asking Jesus to touch their children and sick. Jesus spent much of the time teaching as He had in other places.

Feeding another crowd.

After three days, the crowd had swelled: 4,000 men and many of their families. Everyone was out of food. Jesus showed His compassion: “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. Some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:2-3)

We talked amongst ourselves, “Sure, he fed the 5,000, but should we expect Him to do it again?” Then we asked, “How can one feed these people with bread way out here in the middle of nowhere?” (Mark 8:4)

Jesus sighed (like a parent who has asked their child to sit down for the fifth time) with a chuckle. “How many loaves do you have?” (8:5) “Seven,” we said.

We were ashamed of ourselves, but we also knew what to do this time. Like with the 5,000, we had them all sit in large groups while Jesus thanked the Father as He broke the bread into pieces and separated some fish. We took the pieces to the people who could each eat their fill. And we had 7 basketfuls at the end, keeping a couple loaves.

The Pharisees’ demand

We then walked back to the sea to ride across to the western shore. The plan was for Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Philip to catch some fish and get it preserved in the Dalmanutha region, and the rest of us would by some bread. This way we could have more provisions for the next area.

Instead, when we arrived, it seems the Pharisees and Sadducees had been watching for us. We were barely on shore when they came to Jesus. We had never seen them quite so confrontational. They had attacked us before, and some of his teaching, sure, but this time they wanted absolute proof of Jesus’ claims. “Give us a mighty sign from heaven! Prove to us you are a great prophet!”

The sigh Jesus gave. It reminded me of the sigh when a tax collector would take all of a father’s income, or when Simon discussed spending a long night fishing with nothing to show for it. It was wearied sigh. A sigh of pain and sorrow.

Jesus seemed to rant. How can they know what the weather can be like by looking at the sky in the evening or morning, but they overlook the obvious? These people would get no sign, except that Jesus would be like Jonah – buried for three days to come back again.

Then we got right back in the boat.

Our own blindness

We soon realized we were distracted by the Pharisees and Sadducees. None of us had done as planned to get more food. We only had one loaf of bread between any of us. We were quietly bickering about not doing our jobs.
Jesus suddenly said, “Watch out. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the Herodians.”
Once again ashamed, we started talking about how upset He must be with us for forgetting to buy bread, being more interested in the conversation He had back on shore.
And then he sighed again. Another deep sigh. He had our attention.

“Why are you still talking about how much bread you have? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts still so hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you get?”
Looking down we all sheepishly answered Him, “12.”
“And the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full did you pick up?”
“7.”
“Do you not yet understand?”

Getting it

We see it now.
The Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees are so focused on retaining their power through laws and tradition. If it doesn’t fit their expectations, they refuse to see it.
How have we been any better? Even after two years, we were still looking for a General King to drive out the Romans and restore true worship in the Temple. Why couldn’t we pay attention to our own ideas and expectations getting in the way. We were still seeing Jesus as the Messiah we dreamed up.

What was Jesus showing us?

He is in control of all things. He controls nature. He heals what medicine and doctors can’t. He divides and multiplies things in impossible ways.

And he loves. He shows compassion on the people focusing on their own desires and fears. He takes time to listen, to touch, to hold, and to feed. He may have gotten tired in His frail human body, but He is the inexhaustible God who loves us even through our sin and conceit.

And what has Jesus shown us?

Remember the twelve baskets of bread? I don’t know how we missed it. At the consecration of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses received the offerings from the leaders of the Twelve Tribes. There were animal sacrifices, yes, but they also brought silver bowls full of the grain offerings to God. Grain offerings that fed the priests tending the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle that was the temporary place of worship of God until a permanent Temple could be built hundreds of years later.

Jesus showed us that He – God – provided the offering for consecration of His Temple. We saw them as bread in baskets. God was consecrating His Temple, the Church, by showing He has provided for all of Israel – the Twelve Tribes – and pointed toward the Church, the true Temple of God.

Remember the seven baskets of bread? Jesus showed us His compassion, His provision, His power is complete. Not just for Israel. The Syrophoenician woman helped show that. Now, feeding people on the edge of Gentile lands, we see that God’s love extends to all people.

Completely.

Jesus has come to those who reject Him, those who misunderstand Him, those who have refused Him, and He shows us the truth of who He is.

He is God. He loves His creation, and He provides for His creation. He has established His living Temple on the Earth to bring that good news. And the cornerstone of that Temple?

Himself. The Giver of bread is our Bread of Life, who was broken for our sinful rebellion, rejection, and refusals. He gave Himself up to die on a cross as that sacrifice needed to consecrate His living Temple. His blood was sprinkled to cleanse us of our sins and consecrate our lives.

Completely.

And He was the first stone to be laid. And now we go into this world and lay our lives down for the same reason: to show this world God has provided for us, has compassion for us, and has made a way into eternal life for us.

Completely.

And we invite others to come in with that same compassion and love.

So, we may sigh in the pains of this life with its struggles, pains, and [dealing with other people], but in Christ we can find that sigh of relief. He has taken compassion on us and taken the burden of sin and death from us.

It does not mean He takes all the pain away in this life, but we have hope for the life to come. Where there is no more pain, no more struggle, no more tears.

He has given us everything, if we only take it.

Sermon: Chasing or Chosen – Mark 3:7-21

I preached again!

This is one in which I do not name names but I do call out bad teachings.

What are we chasing? Are we actually pursuing Jesus?

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/player/audio/21726595?repeat=false&autostart=true

Chasing or Chosen    Mark 3:7-21

It is my Re-Birthday! (Well, yesterday was.)

As of today, it was 21 years [and approximately 1 day, or 15 hours for first service and 16.5 hours for second service] ago that I became a Christian. At 6:46 pm CST on January 9, 2000, at the tender age of 16, I first knelt down to say “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died for my sins.”

I went through some struggles to get there, to be sure.

I was “that kid” in the youth group who had everything figured out, so I challenged the youth leaders and the pastor.

I dealt with chronic anxiety, always worried about trivial things as if they were huge, and I did not need another worry on my plate, like trying to please God.

I even went through a short time of thinking it might be possible I could be Christ (before misunderstanding a text about John the Baptist never touching alcohol, thinking it was about Christ, and that misunderstanding shot down any ideas of me being Christ right away.)

When the Holy Spirit finally finished breaking down my own ideas, fears, and misunderstandings, Jesus grabbed a great big hold of me, and I can guarantee He has not let go. (Not from lack of my own stupidity and running in different directions!)

That is why I make a cake every year on January 9. I celebrate my Re-Birthday, the day I was born again into God’s Chosen family: The Church, grafted into Israel by His blood.

What does this have to do with our passage today?

Well, we will spend most of our time in Mark 3, but I also invite you to be ready to flip back to Deuteronomy 18 and 13.

In Mark chapter 3, we see a transition from Jesus setting the foundation for His ministry to preparing to share His ministry with His disciples in Israel.

MESSAGE:

vv. 7-8:
People were coming from all over Israel. With the areas listed, Mark is letting us know people from all the tribes from the original Promised Land (Time of the Judges) have come to see if the Prophet like Moses – the Messiah – has finally come. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

But what were they chasing? v. 8b: They heard all that He was doing. He was healing paralytics and shriveled hands, He was casting out evil spirits, and He was rebuking and teaching with boldness and authority.

They were chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. As we continue reading in …

vv. 9-10:
They were actually putting their Messiah in danger!

To be fair, we are talking about people who have been hurting, suffering, and worrying about what the government, religious leaders, and spiritual forces were doing to them. And here is someone standing up to the leadership and healing people.

But maybe you are wondering about Jesus’ response: Not just to get a boat ready. We remember from last week that the Jewish leadership were chasing after their own power and plotting to destroy Jesus, and now the crowds are endangering Him. However, we also know He often taught from boats, as we read in many other places in the Gospels.

vv. 11-12:
Spirits know who Christ is. They recognized Jesus as the eternal Son of God, something most people missed, even with miracles.

But why did He tell the spirits “not to make Him known”?

This is not quite like Scott taught a few weeks ago, telling those He healed not to tell anyone. Evil spirits and demons know who He is, and they will tell others truthfully who He is, but they also follow their leader, The Devil, and twist the truth and lie. He doesn’t want these spirits spreading misinformation.

“Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be like God …”

Hold on to that. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

vv. 13-15:
We remember people are expecting the Promised Prophet like Moses, and here is Jesus going up a mountain, just like Moses. But He is not getting God’s Commandments, He is being the Commander commissioning His generals.

Jesus basically chose His representatives for the 12 Tribes. Remember a few verses ago we saw that Mark was pointing to all of the Tribes of the Promised Land coming to see if this was the promised Messiah. Now, He has His representatives for each tribe, those He is sending out in His Name. Apostle means “one sent out.”

And what does He expect His Apostles to do?

First and foremost: They spend time with Him, learning from Him.
Secondly: Preach. They are to share the good news of this Messiah.
Finally: Heal and cast out demons and evil spirits.

Jump back with me for a moment to Moses’ promised Prophet in Deuteronomy 18, in vv. 20-22.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Now back a few chapters, 13:1-4.


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 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. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Many so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles today often start out well, saying we need to spend time with Christ and learn from Him, and it sounds good. Then they spend more time focusing on miracles, signs and wonders, and dreams and visions.

At best, the preach a gospel-lite: You are basically a good person, you have to have dreams and visions or perform miracles, signs and wonders. Essentially, you are little gods. (Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Bishop T.D. Jakes … even starting to hear it from Steven Furtick and his friends.)

Now. Remember what I told us to hold on to for a moment: “Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be … like … God …”

Many of today’s so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles are chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. They are listening to the wrong spirits.

Perhaps you have heard the teaching today that just because someone gets a prophecy wrong does not mean they are a false prophet, they just tried prophesying in their own power and got it wrong. That is the exact opposite of what we read in Deuteronomy. “Did God really say …”

Perhaps you have even heard the rebuttal that those of us who point this out probably want to follow Deuteronomy 13:5, to kill the false prophet. Obviously, we don’t teach that in the slightest, but now we hear that next lie: “You will not surely die …”

All three of Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden are being used even today.

Perhaps, you think, people do make mistakes and come from broken and sinful pasts, but God forgives and changes them.

True. In fact, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, will readily attest to that. He worked for his Uncle Benny for years, and today he preaches the true gospel and the danger of these “prophets and apostles” today. But this also points us back to the next verses in Mark 3 …

vv. 16-19:
Mark, Peter’s disciple and friend (remember Acts 13 and 15, John Mark who abandoned Barnabas and Paul, later causing division between those two), understood Peter well, both having turned on those they loved. Hence, Peter is obviously first in the list, followed immediately by James and John, the Sons of Thunder. (Great preachers!)

These three – with at least four others: Andrew (Peter’s brother), Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), and possibly Philip – were fishermen (Remember they were all together fishing after Jesus’ resurrection – John 21). They were the rough-around-the-edges (probably foul-mouthed) sailors of the day. They were prideful, power-hungry men (Remember the request by James and John to sit at either side of Jesus in His Kingdom!)

We know Matthew/Levi was a tax collector, and possibly Judas Iscariot. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to their people, their money not even allowed in the Temple. They were more interested in money (and power), and obviously not above turning on their brethren. Judas was obviously “the open-minded, social justice” one of the group who was “more concerned about the poor” than all the others. (See his suggestion of selling the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet – John 12.)

That just leaves James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (the other Judas), and Simon the Zealot. James and Other-Judas may have been businessmen of some sort or just farmers. They could be more down to earth, but they also had their opinions on politics and religion. Simon, the Zealot, was definitely involved in politics. The Zealots were constantly trying to make Israel great again (Sorry, not sorry!) and kick out the invading empire.

This was a rag-tag bunch of sinners … who all abandoned their Lord, one even betraying Him.

Yet, I hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes and hallelujah, God can change us. But we should still be wary of those who teach a different gospel – “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:7-9)

No, the calling we all have is not to chase miracles but to realize we have been chosen to spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 –

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

But we also live in a culture that says sharing your faith is bad. (Including from the Pope!)

vv. 20-21:
Went home (most likely to Capernaum), where crowds kept them from eating. (Still missing the point to “love your neighbor as yourself” and that God was literally with them!) Yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

And His mom and half-siblings thought He had lost it.

He now has the Jewish leadership plotting against Him and His family doubting Him.

And yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

We can glean two things from this:We know, as we also read in Matthew 28:20, that God never stops. He keeps working out His plan.We will have people oppose us, either for not following modern understandings of religion and science or for being crazy for believing myths and stories (or even changing our lives so drastically and against societal norms).

And that can scare us, intimidate us, make us want to shy away from sharing our faith.

We might hear those thoughts: “I’m not good enough.”
“Who do I think I am to tell others that they are sinners?”
“If others make fun of me, they won’t hear the message anyway.”

Maybe we are chasing the miracles, the easy parts of Christianity: the power, the prophecies, and the praise of others.

We should realize we are chosen by God. And He has promised to help us by His Holy Spirit.

We can chase miracles that come from touching Christ, or we can realize that being His Chosen people means He has already chased us!

By ourselves, we run from the things of God by chasing our own interests or thinking we need to do something to please God. We seek the mountaintop experience, but God has come down from His mountain to change His Chosen to be more like Christ.

The biggest disease we have is our sin. It can only be removed by the grace we have by faith in the blood of Christ. Without that, we chase whatever we think will make us happy or whole, instead of realizing God’s Chosen One is the only One who can heal.

Let’s not chase after the miracles, but let’s seek the Miracle Maker and His peace and healing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you do not know the peace of Christ, I invite you to seek Him and have your own Re-Birthday, or at least trust in Him more. Put your faith in the Faithful One. Realize your sinfulness – your own breaking of God’s Law – and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brought you forgiveness, that His resurrection gives you the promise of eternal life with Him.

Yes, people may think you are out of your mind, possibly ridicule you or even persecute you, but Jesus it is better to know that is coming and prepare than to begin under the assumption that life will suddenly be the best ever. Jesus promised this life would be hard, but He also promised He is with us.

And He chose us.

Message Series: Malachi 2:1-9

It is about time for a short message series.

For the past few weeks and over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 2:1-9

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

Chapter 1 was about God’s love for His covenant people – those who obey and love Him – versus those who refuse to listen to Him. The priests offered lame, sick, and injured animals as sacrifices, basically taking the Lord’s name in vain by calling it acceptable even though they were worthless gifts.

Now, God rebukes those priests:

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

From verse three we see a reference to Exodus 29:14, that the sacrificial bull’s flesh, skin, and dung were to be taken out of the camp to be burned as an offering.

The unclean parts were taken away from God’s community of people and burned.

The priests were supposed to be keep/teach the life, peace, and fear of the Lord.

Naturally, our Perfect Priest – the teacher and source of life and peace – is Jesus.

Keep in mind: Malachi was written about 430 years before John the Baptist and Jesus came on the scene. He was the last prophet for 430 years, and he lived about 100 years after the end of the Exile and about the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah.

And the priesthood was already falling back into the old patterns that led to the Exile in the first place …

TODAY

We now see the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the hyper-charismatic movement – with people like Kenneth Copeland, Bill Johnson (and the Bethel Church at Redding, CA, leadership and friends), IHOP (Prayer, not Pancakes) with Mike Bickle and friends – who look good at first. They perform many signs and wonders and say we need Jesus, right? They say that Jesus is the Son of God, right?

I mean – we could say – doesn’t 1 John 2:23 say, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also“?

But Jesus (and Paul, Peter, and John, including from the passage just quoted) warn about coming antichrists. “Christ” means “anointed one”, and Jesus warned about the last days in Matthew 24:23-36:

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Almost all of these modern “apostles” and “prophets” and teachers, especially at IHOP, say we should be seeking Jesus in the inner prayer rooms. In and of themselves, prayer rooms are not bad.

However, these people teach that we can be little christs (Yes, I know “christian” means “little christ”!), that we can receive special anointings (“I am the anointed of the Lord,” they say) and perform mighty signs and wonders.

Yet they also teach things like Jesus being the first to be born again, that He did not become the Son of God until [baptism, resurrection, ascension], that we can do literally everything Jesus can because we have His authority to do whatever.

They teach we should all learn to heal people and prophesy.

These are the the people who in March 2020 declared and prophesied that the C-19 virus would not lead to a pandemic, that it would be done by Passover, that a mighty south wind would bring a heatwave (Kenneth Copeland) to kill the virus (literally the day before a days-long cold snap hit the US).

C-19 proved they are all false prophets and teachers.

Some try to claim that a wrong prophecy merely means they got it wrong, that they are not necessarily false prophets. Yet Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says that if someone prophesies and it does not come true, they are a FALSE PROPHET. (And there are more passages.)

These people are not teaching truth. The prophesy life and peace, but they are at best deceived and at worst liars.

And God said in verse 3 that they have the dung of their pathetic offerings all over their faces. They are to be taken out of God’s community and burned.

Do not follow them, or you will follow them to the same eternal destination. (NOT with Jesus!)

As verses 8-9 tell us, God curses their offspring (in this context, those who follow them and even teach others the same things), and they are despised and abased before all people. They have been proven false teachers, prophets, and apostles.

Do not follow them.

Turn to the authority of Jesus Christ who commands us to go into all nations making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all He has commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Follow Jesus.

Test everything I have said (and they teach) with the Word of God.

Message series: Malachi 1:6-14

[This is a little late. We did some remodeling and cleaning, and I forgot to upload on Saturday night! We have more storage area in our garage and a green bathroom, now, though! And this explains why I look tired in this video. I had worked hard all day!]

It is about time for a short message series.

Over the next couple of months, I will upload short messages based on the book of Malachi. It will probably be eight total and based on the section divisions in the English Standard Version of the Bible.

No special titles. Just taking a quick look at what was said.

So read along with me, and let us study what Malachi said to his people about 2,400 years ago.

Malachi 1:6-14

Remember that Malachi literally means “my messenger”, so he is God’s messenger, as all the Prophets were.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor?

God is our heavenly Father, and today we see evidence that He is not given the honor that is due. But Paul reminded us what the times before Christ’s return would be like in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

This certainly describes much of our world today, even within the Church. But especially seeing as, as a world, we barely acknowledge our heavenly Father, let alone give much honor to our earthly parents. We are too busy seeking our own pleasure and thinking we are right about everything.

But back to Malachi:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.

God was talking to the priests of ancient Israel. But we see polluted offerings today.

We see it in the Prosperity gospel or the so-called New Apostolic Reformation with all of these new apostles and prophets and such who say we should be living our best life now and be healthy, wealthy, and happy. If you are not healthy and wealthy and happy, you have weak faith. It is your own fault for not trusting God enough.

It is these people making claims that “thus saith the Lord” when He has not spoken.

Like what?

Like these preachers and prophets who said the C-19 pandemic (at the time of this message) was going to end by Passover. Here I am two weeks after Passover having seen that it not only is not over but hit its worst days AFTER Passover (in the US, at least, which is what most of these people were talking about).

It is people trying to declare the weather act a certain way, such as Kenneth Copeland declaring a heatwave to kill the virus … and a cold snap hitting the very next day. Nationwide.

These are people claiming to be speaking for God, when they make false prophecies and have no actual power. This is blasphemy and taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

It can also be seen in a too-close, buddying up with politics.

It is saying “Our party is the Christian party” or “the Republican party is the party of Christianity.” It is saying that God is not only okay with such-and-such a thing but endorses it, such as saying abortion and gay marriage are godly acts.

I just stepped on the toes of Republicans and Democrats, but they are far from alone in this.

When we let our politics influence our faith, instead of the other way around, we put forth an offering polluted by the world. [Our religion should influence our politics, though!]

Back to Malachi:

And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

Costi Hinn – Benny Hinn’s nephew – worked for his uncle’s ministry. However, he “shut the doors” by walking away from that ministry. Today, he is a pastor – in the Reformed tradition – and speaks out against his uncle’s ministry and other Prosperity Gospel, the NAR, and other hyper-charismatic ministries.

Both in ancient Israel and today, we have horrible sacrifices and offerings.

Today we see churches offering Mountain Dew and Doritos or beer and chips as “communion” so that their congregants can partake of the elements no matter what they have around. Or they change who the communion is done toward while using skittles and iced tea.

Churches say “gay marriage” is okay, when the Bible forbids it.

Churches say “No matter what you believe or how you live, why don’t you lead this bible study or lead this ministry … or become ordained and lead a church.” No repentance nor confirmation of beliefs.

God was not happy with sacrifices and offerings when Israelites offered lame and sick sacrifices.

God is not happy when we offer teachings and leaders that are contrary to His Word.

But there is good news! (And you probably know where this is going …)

God offered the ultimate sacrifice in our place when He offered His own Son, Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins.

Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice.

He endured violence, but it was to redeem our violent nature by being beaten and killed on our behalf. He suffered death at our own hands to redeem our actions and make us holy as He is holy by washing us in His blood.

Our sacrifices and offerings have never been good enough. So He offered Himself.

And all we have to do is believe that and let the Holy Spirit change us to be more like the Son.

And this is the good news that will spread His fame throughout the nations, a pure offering of praise made by His redeemed, as we make His Name known.

And one day, Jesus is returning to renew the world. And all who live on this planet will worship Him.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Next week, we get into chapter 2!

The Acts of the Doctor (Who)

Get some of that old-fashioned wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

I am a fan of Doctor Who. That means I am a Whovian.

I enjoy the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, and Doctor Who covers that in spades (and probably has or will literally).Doctor Who Matt Smith

I have found several devotionals based on Doctor Who, with a common theme of the Doctor as a Christ-like figure and his companions as disciples. There are a few which put the Doctor in a different role, biblically speaking, and within all of these there are times when our circumstances are compared to his and with the Bible.

This is one of those odd-ducks in which I deviate from the Christ-likeness.

Apostle to the World

If I were to compare the Doctor to anyone, it would be the Apostle Paul. Here is why:

The Doctor is a Time Lord who comes from the planet Gallifrey, so he is an alien to Earth. He is not the one who controls time. He is often used by Time to help good win.

He has two hearts, is very clever, and he travels around in a T.A.R.D.I.S. – Time And Relative Dimensions In Space – through all of time and space and occasionally outside. He usually has one, two, or several companions who travel with him (usually from Earth, but not always), whom it is very clear (at least if you pay attention, sometimes) he loves dearly. And he has a sonic screwdriver which helps him get out of and into sticky situations.

The Doctor has a knack for showing people the truth behind circumstances, and he saves the world (and the universe) on a regular basis.

One of the more amazing things about the Doctor is the way he and the Time Lords can escape death: regeneration into a new body.

Now consider Paul:

He was a Jew who was called to preach the Gospel (the truth of Jesus Christ) to the Gentile world (Acts 9:15, Romans 15:15-16).

He had many disciples which he left in cities to lead the church, some of them Jews and some Gentiles. With the help of the Holy Spirit he was saved or revived from sticky situations and helped many people or the glory of God.

All of this was possible because his heart was regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:22-24) (you could argue he, and we as Christians, have two hearts as evidenced by our sinful desires and a new desire for God). We also have the promise of regenerated bodies at the end of the age (2 Corinthians 5).

Paul is not God, but he was used by God to help win over hearts and minds.

I say all this just to say …

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “test everything. Hold onto what is good.” (Technically speaking about prophecy, but it is so applicable in our world.)

It is just as Paul used the pagan god statues in Rome to witness for Christ, or God using secular (non-Christian) songs to pull someone closer to Himself (such as Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me” helping me realize my deep need for unconditional, perfect love).

I also really like G. K. Chesterton’s quote:

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

I enjoy Doctor Who, and other works of Sci-Fi/Fantasy, because they remind us of who we are, who are meant to be, and that we can and should be more than we are.

What is your inspiration? What is your passion in life that moves you?

Mine is God and the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, but Doctor Who reminds me of that!

The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator

For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Conversion of Saul/Paul

All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.

Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.

Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.

There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.

The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.

However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:

“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV

This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.

This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.

Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).

There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.

Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.

But then it all changed.

Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?

This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.

What would send Saul (meaning “prayed for”) into synagogues to preach the Gospel and the desert wilderness for some time to study to eventually come back as Paul (meaning “small”)?

Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.

It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.

In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.

Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Thoughts?