Sermon on the Mount: False Teachers

(Sorry this is a day late, but I hope you are still able to share in this today. Better late than never, right?)

15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” ~Matthew 7

Patterns all over

The face of the earth

Serpents with forked tongues

Make gods out of men

And fear allows them to

Make gold into a glorious

Cow

To worship

.

What is this pattern?

What is the trend?

Swell up our human hearts

Let us hear what we want to hear

Either because of fear

Or for gain

.

There is a pattern

For false teacher to take

They call out ‘Thus says the Lord’

And the weak and the lost

Find solace in those arms

They find they aren’t so bad

That God is too loving

God is not mad

.

What is this pattern?

What is the trend?

Swell up our human hearts

Let us hear what we want to hear

When we are vulnerable

When they can gain

.

By their fruit

You will know them

Yet why is it still so hard

To see them?

You hear words

You see actions perhaps

Lay it all against the Word

Examine the Scriptures

Every day

You will know them

By their fruit

~

‘4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.’ ~Genesis 3

‘1When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

2Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ ~Exodus 32

‘1The word of the Lord came to me: 2“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! 3This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolisha prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. 7Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?’ ~Ezekiel 13

“17These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” ~ 2 Peter 2

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Food For Thought: Repentance

“1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?” ~Genesis 3

God’s perfect creation now crumbles. I don’t know where the serpent came from or how it became wicked, that much God has not disclosed to us, but it was there to deceive mankind. It spoke with Eve, not Adam, although it was obvious that he was there. The serpent asks Eve if it was true that God had commanded they not eat from any tree in the garden. Eve quickly defends God, saying they could eat from any tree except for the tree in the middle. And she adds something that is not mentioned beforehand—they weren’t even allowed to touch it. I’ve heard some people say that Adam had to relate to her the commandment after she was created but he added that to make absolutely sure she wouldn’t go near it. This explanation has never made sense to me, because 1. In chapter one of Genesis, God gives the commission to be fruitful and to subdue the earth to both the man and woman and He also tells them that He’s given them all the plants for food. Granted, when it says that He forbids the eating of the tree of good and evil, it only mentions that Adam is there, but if He gives the commission to both of them then why wouldn’t He mention the tree being forbidden to both of them as well? But the real reason that I don’t agree with this explanation is 2. It is wrong to add to the words of God. In Deuteronomy 4:2 it says, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from I, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”

Why Eve adds to it here I don’t claim to know, but I think perhaps it was because she was trying to defend God. She was trying to make it absolutely clear what He had said so much that she bent the truth a little. I know I’ve done that, felt like someone was attacking something someone said but they didn’t have all the information, and so I try to defend what was said as forcefully as I can, perhaps over exaggerating to do so. Or perhaps it was a sign of her already doubting because of the odd question put to her. In any case, the serpent is quick to reply with both blatant lies and half truths. The lies are, ‘you will not die,’ and ‘you will be like God.’ They certainly would die because God told them they would. And they were already ‘like God’—He’d created them in His image. The half truths are, ‘your eyes will be opened’, ‘knowing good and evil.’ This last one is a half truth because firstly, they already knew what was good and secondly, not only would they know evil but they would become a slave to it. It isn’t the recognizing evil that is sinful, but the committing of it. I think that if God had given them permission, they would not have become slaves to wickedness, but because they committed the sin they did. They had a choice of two masters, obedience or sinfulness, and they chose a side. Both of them did.

When their eyes are opened the first thing they become aware of is their nakedness. At first glance, it might be interpreted that being naked is evil and that’s what their eyes were opened to for the first time. But, if being naked had been wicked then God would not have made them that way. Instead what they saw was their sin and how much it was exposed to both God and to one another. Their remedy is that they attempt to cover themselves. The intimacy they once shared with one another has been marred; they no longer trust one another like they used to. And the joy they once had at hearing God walking in the garden turns to fear and they hide from Him. As God speaks with them we get a sense of God’s gentleness and how He is giving them every opportunity to repent, but neither of them does. Instead they point the finger at one another, at the serpent, at even God, but never admitting their own wrong. And so God curses them and the earth. But even then His love shines through because He gives Eve the promise that one day one of her children will bring salvation to the world.

As we read the rest of the bible, we see that these themes keep reoccurring; command, doubt, sin, shame. But the people that repent and trust again in the Lord are His, like King David or Jonah. And then we learn in the New Testament of Jesus fulfilling that promise to Eve. He breaks the power of sin and death for all who repent and proclaim Jesus as Lord over their lives. How wonderful it is to know that we no longer have to be a slave to the wicked master, but can instead choose to obey God! And that ought to make us all the more long for the day of His return, when all things are made new and sin no longer is in the world.

So be encouraged. You don’t have to be a slave to sin, but even if we do sin we have Jesus interceding on our behalf in the throne room of grace.

Have a blessed week!

~

“5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” ~1 John 1 &2

Sermon on the Mount: Honesty

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” ~Matthew 5

What good

Can the tongue bring?

That thing

Set ablaze with fire?

Mysteries

Perhaps it wields

Wickedness

It surely reveals

The heart

It is desperately evil

I boast of it

Every day

When things are easy

I promise it

And when it’s time

I struggle to obey

.

I remember Jephthah

A mighty man of God

Chosen to lead

Israel in battle

But he didn’t fully trust

God would help him through

So he easily made a vow

To sacrifice what came out

Of his home on his victorious return

And what should it be?

His only child

His only daughter

And he was bound to obey

His tongue had shackled him

To obey

.

If you make a vow

To God

Keep it

But is better not to do at all

Be honest in all you say

And you won’t be condemned

On that last day

Surely we will have to give an account

Even for the empty words we said

Can you remember any of those words

You said? I can’t.

Fall at God’s feet for mercy

Yearn for the good fruit of truth

And say only what you mean

For by it you will be acquitted

Speak always as to the Lord.

Speak always as to the Lord.

~

“12Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.” ~James 5

.

33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~Matthew 12

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“5Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” ~James 3

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“21If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” ~Deuteronomy 23

.

“29Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’

“32Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

“34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.’

36’My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.’

38”’You may go,’ he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.” ~Judges 11

Holy God: My Prayer

Holy
By My people I will be
Regarded as Holy
Thus saith the LORD

And thus shall it ever be
Forbid it, LORD, that Your Name
Your Holy Name
Be profaned by Your people
That they trample it down
Down, down,
Deep into the dust
Forbid it, LORD, forbid it
Let it never be done

Thus saith the LORD
And thus shall it ever be
Forbid it, LORD, that Your ways
That Your ways be declared evil
By the lips of Your people
Your people, Your people,
Whom You have welcomed in Your sanctuary
Forbid it, LORD, forbid it
Let it never be done

Thus saith the LORD
And thus shall it ever be
Forbid it, LORD, that Your love
That Your love be thought cheap and open
By those who claim to bend the knee
Bend the knee, bend the knee
And then they leave and live as they please
Forbid it, LORD, forbid it
Let it never be done

Thus saith the LORD
And thus shall it ever be
Forbid it, LORD, that Your character
Your character be marred and distorted
By those You love
Love, love so deeply
That You call them Your own
Forbid it, LORD, forbid it
Let it never done

~

“1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.” ~Leviticus 10