Hearing the Lord 2

  Recently a major Christian magazine, led with and article titled “What is the Holy Spirit Saying to His People?". The article gave the opinions of various church leaders as to their answer to that question. Interestingly enough the editor did not seek to specifically consult those with recognized prophetic ministries, even though God’s word tells us that this is where we will find the answer to that question.
  Amos 3:7NIV. “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets”.
Had he done so, he would have found a multitude of recognized prophetic voices, from all over the world, all saying the same thing. That the Lord is bringing judgment in the Church, causing a separation between those who are following a human agenda, and those who are casting themselves totally on the Lord, for His way forward. I believe that this separation will become more and more apparent over the next few months. Part of the problem is that of discernment. When I was a new Christian in the early 1970’s, I was taught to test everything I heard against the Bible.
Act 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character …, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”.
These days, a vast majority of the Church seem to try to discern the truth by the number of books that the person speaking has sold, or whether they have a certain type of shiver going up and down their spines, few look to the Word of God, to see if what the latest guru says is true. If we are to be guided by what my friend and colleague, Tom Snyder, calls “God’s proceeding word”, then we must be able to test it against His revealed word. Too many of today’s most popular doctrines, just do not stand up to that test. I don’t want to go too far into which doctrines are, and which not biblical. I want to encourage you to be noble, like the Bereans, and check for yourself. As I have already said, some of the most popular teachings in the church today just do not meet the Bible test. You may well ask, how did these doctrines become so popular then? The simple answer is because they pander to our flesh, to our worldly desires. Let me give you just a couple of examples. The word of faith movement, has been largely discredited, we use pejorative terms like “name it and claim it”, to describe their trite teachings. Yet the “word of faith” teachers, are still out there plying their trade, living their multi-million dollar lifestyles, whilst taking donations from those who are in real need, and desperately seeking some blessing in return. Anyone with a most basic understanding of scripture will know that it is impossible for us to buy blessing, in fact it is specifically condemned in the new testament (Acts 8:20). Often the doctrines that these teachers use to back-up their claims have their roots in the “new thought teachings” of the turn of the century, which resulted in such movements as “Christian Science”. Whilst it is most certainly true that God wants to bless us, this movement panders to our flesh in promising economic and health blessings, in return for “seed faith”, which is normally interpreted as offerings to their ministries. These teachers have many other odd doctrines, that don’t measure up to the word of God. But you will have to find them for yourselves. Another example of a popular doctrine that appeals to the flesh, yet does not line up with the word of God, is the whole “Purpose driven movement”. This group has spawned one of the most popular book series of all times. They are a publishers dream. The first book was a sort of “Christianity 101”, little depth, but OK as far as it goes. But from then on, we go deeper and deeper into secular psychology and management theory. Any modern day Berean, looking at the text, would have to ask why in scripture being “driven” is always seen in a negative context. Why this movement in a wish to become “seeker sensitive”, actually ends up preaching a virtually bloodless gospel, where repentance is most definitely on the back burner, and sin is hardly mentioned, being transformed in to “problems” and “wrong choices”. This movement, gives the Church a vision of huge mega-churches, and provides the secular management programs to achieve that goal. Anyone who raises these questions with the group, are told not to touch anointing, and it is obvious that the Lord is blessing this group, as their numbers are growing. Yet a cursory reading of the book of Judges would show that God isn’t interested in the numbers game. Indeed, David lost blessing, when he began to number God’s people. Also, as I will show later, the Lord actually calls us to watch out for false prophets, preachers and teachers; indeed it gives us guidance as to how we should do it! Another word that we are hearing from the prophets is “Harvest”. Just today I received an e-mail from a leading prophetic ministry on this theme. This message too speaks to us of separation; in fact Jesus himself gave us a parable that speaks of this.
Mat 13:24-30 MSG.  … "God's kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too. "The farmhands came to the farmer and said, 'Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles come from?' "He answered, 'Some enemy did this.' "The farmhands asked, 'Should we weed out the thistles?' "He said, 'No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.'"
  Note here that the master says that separation between the good wheat and the weeds will happen before the harvest occurs. We should expect therefore that a precursor of any great end-time harvest should be a weeding out of the false, from within the true. So how is God going to do this? What should we be looking for?   Well, as I have been praying about this the Lord took me to the book of the prophet Hosea. The whole book contains one message, about how God’s people have so often prostituted themselves. The very first chapter gives us an overview of the whole book.  
Hos 1:2-11NIV  2When  the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." 3So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel." 6Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. 7Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them--not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God." 8After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. 9Then the LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God. 10Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' 11The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
  Again and again we see that Gomer goes and prostitutes herself, in the same way that Israel, spiritually prostituted itself, going after foreign Gods.     You may well say that the Church would never go after foreign Gods, that the Church would never be fooled in this way. Let me demonstrate to you, with a little story from the Old Testament, how new ideas of cultural openness can contaminate God’s people.  
2Ki 16:1 NIV  In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. 5Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him. 6At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the men of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day. 7Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, "I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me." 8And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death. 10Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 11So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. 12When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. 13He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. 14The bronze altar that stood before the LORD he brought from the front of the temple--from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD--and put it on the north side of the new altar. 15King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: "On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king's burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Sprinkle on the altar all the blood of the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance." 16And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered. 17King Ahaz took away the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. 18He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria. 19As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.
   Here we see king Ahaz making wrong decisions at every turn. First, too look at other god’s in the first place. Then, when threatened by his neighbors, instead of trusting God, and calling upon him, he calls on the local bully. In his fear he sends a letter to this local thug, together with gold and silver stolen from the Temple. Well, Tiglath-Pileser did beat up the enemy, and then seeing a weak king that he may be able to exploit in the future, invites him to come for a holiday. Whilst doing the tourist sights there, he becomes attracted to an altar at one of the temples that he visits, and sends holiday snaps back home, so that he can enjoy some of the foreign culture that seems so attractive to him. Of course he didn’t stop there, not satisfied with putting a pagan altar in the temple, he presumptuously began to make offerings, usurping the role of the priest, just as in the rebellion of Korah (Num.16, Jude 11). What good did all this do? Nothing (2Chr.28:21). So many folk today are looking in the wrong place for blessing, going after the ideas and attractions of this world, and inadvertently falling into the same trap that king Ahaz did. They end up thinking that they know better than God. Prostituting themselves to “another gospel”. As Hosea’s wife did.   We have a clear choice, we can submit ourselves wholly to God, allowing Him to transform us into His glorious bride, or we can do what seems right to us, just as Ahaz did, submitting to a false religious system. This exactly the choice that Joshua put before the Lord’s people.  
Jos 24:14 MSG.  "So now: Fear GOD. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship GOD. 15  "If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship GOD, then choose a god you'd rather serve--and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you're now living. As for me and my family, we'll worship GOD." 16  The people answered, "We'd never forsake GOD! Never! We'd never leave GOD to worship other gods. 17  "GOD is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we've traveled and among the nations we've passed through. 18  Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land. "Count us in: We too are going to worship GOD. He's our God." 19  Then Joshua told the people: "You can't do it; you're not able to worship GOD. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won't put up with your fooling around and sinning. 20  When you leave GOD and take up the worship of foreign gods, he'll turn right around and come down on you hard. He'll put an end to you--and after all the good he has done for you!"  21  But the people told Joshua: "No! No! We worship GOD!" 22  And so Joshua addressed the people: "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen GOD for yourselves--to worship him." And they said, "We are witnesses." 23  Joshua said, "Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to GOD, the God of Israel." 24  The people answered Joshua, "We will worship GOD. What he says, we'll do." 25  Joshua completed a Covenant for the people that day there at Shechem. He made it official, spelling it out in detail. 26  Joshua wrote out all the directions and regulations into the Book of The Revelation of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak that was in the holy place of GOD. 27  Joshua spoke to all the people: "This stone is a witness against us. It has heard every word that GOD has said to us. It is a standing witness against you lest you cheat on your God."
    Scripture teaches that we should be vigilant, looking out for false prophets, preachers and teachers.  
Mat 7:15  (MSG) Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
  Here we are clearly told how to recognize them, BY THEIR FRUIT! In the letter of Jude, and the  second letter of Peter, we see an even more detailed picture of these false leaders. Let us look at the picture provided by Jude. My comments are interspersed.  
Jude (MSG)  1  I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. [There is something about the humility of this introduction that just screams out that we can trust this brother]. 2  Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way! [What an encouragement. Jesus is coming soon!]. 3  Dear friends, I've dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting--begging!--that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. 4  What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license--which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master. [Here it is, the rotten weeds are sown among the good wheat]. 5  I'm laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn't need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected. 6  And you know the story of the angels who didn't stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day. 7  Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning. 8  This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud. 9  The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, "No you don't. God will take care of you!" 10  But these people sneer at anything they can't understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing--living by animal instinct only--they participate in their own destruction. [look out for those who sneer or dismiss spiritual things]. 11  I'm fed up with them! They've gone down Cain's road [murder, and thinking that he knows better than God]; they've been sucked into Balaam's error by greed {Watch out for those who continually ask for money. You know ministries like that don’t you!]; they're canceled out in Korah's rebellion [ That is those who seek to usurp God authority]. 12  These people are warts on your love feasts as you worship and eat together. They're giving you a black eye--carousing shamelessly, grabbing anything that isn't nailed down. They're-- Puffs of smoke pushed by gusts of wind; late autumn trees stripped clean of leaf and fruit, Doubly dead, pulled up by the roots; 13  wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach but the foam of their shame; Lost stars in outer space on their way to the black hole.[Often they go from place to place, seeking opportunities to minister, but unlike true ministers bare no fruit] 14  Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: "Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels 15  to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth." 16  These are the "grumpers," the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead. 17  But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: 18  "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." 19  These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit! [These are the worse, but oh so common] 20  But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, 21  staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life! [This is for us, life in Jesus]. 22  Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. 23  Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven. [And we can help those who are going the wrong way, just so long as we keep clean ourselves]. 24  And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating-- 25  to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes. [Glory! He’ll keep us to the end].
  Why do I share this? Because the Scriptures warn us that even we could be deceived by these liars and cheats.  
Mar 13:22  For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible.
  The truth is we need to cast ourselves on the Lord, seeking a vision from Him.  
Pro 29:18KJV  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Pro 29:18MSG  If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
  Jesus explained that he only followed the lead of His Father. How can we do less?  
Joh 5:19 (MSG) So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.
Joh 12:49 MSG  I'm not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it.
  Let us call out to our beloved Father, to lead us into all truth. May the Lord bless you. Keith Smith
©Copyright 2015 Keith W. Smith and Jesus Gathering™.  All rights reserved Internationally.

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