Warning Sign #3: Twisting the Meaning of Bible Stories to Suit a Private “Revelation”

May 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 10 Comments
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Whether a preacher is a “good preacher” is not really based on how funny he is, how enthusiastically he can scream, or even how well he communicates his own personal beliefs. When a preacher is a father and husband, he must also be evaluated on how he manages his household, marriage, and children.

Beware of this false teaching found in “prosperity” preaching: Parents like to spoil their children. Therefore, God – the perfect parent – must REALLY like to spoil His children.

Here are some of the justifications used by prosperity preachers when they don’t have the inclination or courage to properly chastise and train their own children:

1. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11) Prosperity preachers with spoiled children use this verse to say that God sanctions showering your children with the vain things of this world, and to claim that the way to manipulate God into giving us material possessions is to “claim them by faith” by which they mean demanding them from Him like a selfish brat.

The truth is that this verse teaches that God loves to give His children good gifts. God’s definition of “good” is seldom the same as ours. God’s definition of good includes those things which glorify Him, aid in the sanctification of believers, and strengthen us spiritually, not necessarily materially. Now, if I don’t like to spend time with my kids because they annoy me, or I’m “too busy,” or because I think that’s my wife’s job or the job of other family members or church members, then I can use this verse in an evil way to claim that I’m doing a good God imitation because I’ve given them a new iPod, a new laptop, a good television set for their bedroom, and I make sure they see all the newest movies and have all the most popular CDs. And, as a bonus, I can justify my own big-screen TV, my new motorcycle, and all my high-tech gadgets by proclaiming myself “favored of God,” due to my bold faith in using the “power of my tongue” to speak blessings on myself. It’s a two-for-one heresy special!

2. “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” (Matthew 20:20-21) Now, you may have read this portion of Scripture before and thought that this mom was being presumptuous, greedy, and prideful, and that her sons were pretty callous and selfish, too. After all, Jesus had just been explaining how He was going to be mocked, scourged, and crucified! If you thought that, then you would have about 2000 years worth of Christian scholarship and Biblical commentary on your side, as well as the context of the passage to back you up. But, oh no, says the prosperity preacher! Those scholars and commentators were bound up in dead religion! They had a spirit of fear and didn’t want you to know that this was a good mother who only wanted to spoil her children (like any good parent). After all, you are going to get a mansion in Heaven one day anyway! Why wait? Name it and claim it now – and get your mama to front you while you’re at it. Otherwise you might wind up spending eternity on the back side of nowhere, and you are a child of the King – you deserve better than that.

If your preacher is heading in this direction, beware of these false teachings, and remember: to “spoil” something is to make it “go bad.” Loving parents strive to avoid spoiling their children. True Christian faith is not demanding what you deserve. It is enduring with patience, courage, and dependence upon God, knowing that this world is not your home, and that your citizenship is in a Heavenly city, where your greatest treasure will not be gold, silver, mansions, dominion, or possessions, but the eternal presence of the One Who alone is worthy to be adored. Teach your children that true Christian love involves discipline, chastening, contentment, and the fear of the Lord.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Matthew 6:19

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Exodus 18:21

And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

Deuteronomy 17:19

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Proverbs 19:18

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Deuteronomy 8:5

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 13:24

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Hebrews 12:5-8

Real Joy Vs. Fake Joy

May 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Romans, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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The worldly person who has no real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is, by necessity, dependent upon external things for proper behavior, peace, and joy. When circumstances happen to bring about his comfort, he feels magnanimous and wants to be nice to others. He feels temporarily at peace, and even experiences a counterfeit joy.

However, those who intimately know Christ Jesus and reign with Him in life know righteousness, peace, and joy that surpass physical and external circumstances.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

When true Christians get together, regardless of their level of spiritual maturity, there should be an atmosphere of peace and love, similar to that which should exist among a loving family, which is made up, not only of grown parents, but also of young children. Children grow physically because they are fed and exercised. They grow emotionally and spiritually because they are trained in love.

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 14:19

Advancing

May 7, 2010 at 10:04 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 11 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.
C.
H.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

The life of a Christian servant is a life of walking, of moving forward. Elisha was moving. He was passing by continually. If you are of the age when your flesh, this world, and our enemy, Satan, is telling you that you need to retire, to rest – then I exhort you, by the mercies of God, to reject this lie. As Christians, God has called us to a position of active service. He would not call you, and then fail to give you the strength and the energy to walk in His calling.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Ephesians 4:1, emphasis added

Keep passing by. Stay busy for the Lord until He comes back or calls you home.

Next time, the “T” in P.A.T.C.H.

Anybody Can Be Profane

May 6, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Genesis | 11 Comments
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Genesis 24 explains how Isaac and Rebekah wound up married:
A Match Made in Heaven Part 1
A Match Made in Heaven Part 2

Maybe when you were in junior high school teachers would warn students against “P.D.A.” This meant they didn’t want kids hugging and kissing in the hallways. You could make the argument that “public displays of affection” were not a good idea in Bible times, either.

And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

Genesis 26:6-12

Isaac seems to have had a significantly different personality from Abraham. Abraham was more a man of action; Isaac was contemplative.

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

Genesis 24:63

In modern Christianity, we need more Isaacs. They are a little strange, but they have a great desire to know God. Who you are before God is more important than what you can do for God. We must be careful of our motives. If I say that I want to serve God and be used of Him in a great way, is it because I really want to make a name for myself? Is it because I want a reward? Is it because I secretly think God “needs” help? I think Isaac would have made a good theologian. We need theologians. Isaac wanted to know God.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

My wife doesn’t love me, I can assure you, for what I can buy for her (and it’s a good thing, because I’m broke!) She doesn’t love me because of what I can do for her. What would please her is to think that I am devoting my life to getting to know her more intimately. It’s somewhat of a crude analogy, but that is how God wants to feel about us.

Isaac valued God, but contrast the view of his son, Esau:

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 25:29-34

Esau sold his birthright cheaply. He sold it for fleshly satisfaction. Esau was capable of doing many things for God: hunting, fighting, caring for his father. But he didn’t care about being something for God. He didn’t care about being a man with a hunger to know God. He hungered for a little pot of beans more than he hungered for God.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:19

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23

Don’t sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate.

And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Genesis 25:27-28

Jacob was more like Isaac, but Isaac liked Esau better. He probably lived vicariously through him. Rebekah loved Jacob better. It’s a shame when families are divided. Children will look for opportunities to cause division. That’s one reason why it’s so important for parents to support each other.

In Genesis Chapter 25 we see some similarities between Isaac and Abraham. Both had to wait to have their first child. Both were men of prayer.

And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Genesis 25:21

Abraham quickly learned that his first son, Ishmael, would not receive God’s inheritance. Isaac and Rebekah found out the same thing, but their first-born couldn’t just be sent away. In fact, he came out with his little brother holding on to his heel.

And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Genesis 25:24-26

Esau means hairy. Edom means red. Isaac admired Esau’s abilities and courage, but ignored his worldliness.

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Malachi 1:2-3

The shocking thing for most people is that God hated Esau. However, when you truly understand the Gospel, you begin to be more amazed that God loved Jacob.

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Hebrews 12:16

Profane is the opposite of sanctified, and, in some ways, the opposite of holy. “Holy” means “different from everybody else.” “Profane” means just like everything else: common or ordinary or “vulgar.”

Forgetting To Remember – Part 2

May 5, 2010 at 11:16 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24

It’s somewhat of a cliche’ to say, “Sometimes we just need to be reminded.” But it is true that sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to forget. We forget we are breathing – but we don’t forget to breathe. We don’t spend a lot of time intentionally remembering to eat – but we usually find that, when the day is over, we have done plenty of it.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:22

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

We tend to forget things that are good – but we have little trouble remembering that which is evil. We remember every wrong done to us. Even if we remember not to get “hysterical,” we usually have good enough memories to be able to get “historical.”

We forget to remember the ways of Christ; we should remember to forget everything else.
The devil would like to remind you of your sin. But God remembers His people and forgets their sins.

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 43:25

Remember Christ when the devil attacks. Remember how Christ defeated Satan with Scripture. We must imitate Jesus in saying, “It is finished.

Remember Christ when you encounter daily temptations. He was jeered, mocked, scorned, and ridiculed. Frivolous arguments were thrown at Him.

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

I Peter 2:23

When we eat and drink at the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper, we will remember Christ – but we must remember every day to commit ourselves to the One Who judges righteously. In general, we shouldn’t seek to imitate Pontius Pilate – the Roman governor involved in Jesus’s crucifixion – but one thing he did do right was to make sure people were confronted. He brought Jesus right out in front of His accusers and said,

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

John 19:5

Remember – not just what He has done (thorns) – but who He is (the purple robe). Remember His Person.

Sanctification is becoming conformed to the image of Christ. Remembering what He was like will help us. Be what God wants you to be, and you will find it easy to do what He wants you to do.

The Bible is specific about the places where Jesus did the things He did. One reason why I want people to be in church (other than the fact that it tends to be a place where people can more easily stay out of mischief) is that it is an excellent place to remember Christ.

Jesus said, when you partake of the Lord’s supper, “This do in remembrance of Me.

Perceived

May 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 6 Comments
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And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A patch is something that repairs a breach, or stops up a gap. Patches are used for protection and for restoration. In the Bible this is referred to as “making up the hedge” or “standing in the gap.” A Christian leader should be someone who is willing to stand in the gap and be a “patch.” He should be willing to stand in a place of protection and service.

Elisha was the protégé of Elijah the prophet. When Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot, in a whirlwind of fire, Elisha received his greatest wish: a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was a great gift – and a great opportunity to serve – and a great responsibility.

The P. in P.A.T.C.H. is perceived: “I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.”

If you aspire to the responsibility of Christian leadership, you will be watched. You will be observed. Your job, as a servant leader, will be to watch for the needs of others, and, while you are not to be overly self-conscious, you must be aware that God’s people will be watching you. Many will be looking for encouragement as they watch, and, sadly, a few will be watching for faults. There is a requirement that you be found “blameless” – without fault. This is primarily between you and God, but, because people whom you serve will form a “perception” of you, you must, according to I Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

You have freedom in Christ Jesus, but it would be better to forgo the exercise of your freedom if it will cause another person to stumble.

Next time: The “A” in P.A.T.C.H.

The True Shepherd Vs. The Evil Shepherd

May 3, 2010 at 10:27 am | Posted in Zechariah | 10 Comments
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In Chapter 10 Zechariah revealed the image of the flock and the evil shepherd.

For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

Zechariah 10:2-3

In Chapter 11 he preached an “action sermon” about the true Shepherd.

Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Zechariah 11:8

He got rid of three unfaithful shepherds. Shepherds carry a crook (for guiding) and a rod (for protecting).

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Zechariah 11:10-13

When Zechariah quit, they only paid him 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. He got disgusted and gave it to a potter in the temple. This reminds us of Judas who sold out the Great and True Shepherd for the same price, and wound up buried in a potter’s field.

Matthew attributes this prophecy to Jeremiah.

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

Matthew 27:9

The reason may be that Jeremiah is the major prophet and Zechariah was a minor prophet, or it may be that Zechariah referred to Jeremiah’s prophecy when he did what he did.

A foolish shepherd does not feed his flock.

And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

Zechariah 11:15-16

Instead he feeds himself with the flock, which is a mark of the Antichrist.

Contrast the true Shepherd:

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

Zechariah 13:7

This prophecy is fulfilled when Jesus is referred to as equal with God.

Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Matthew 26:31

But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Matthew 26:56

This also refers to the scattering of the Jews after A.D. 70 when Rome destroyed the temple.

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