Beware the False Prophets

By Patrick Hawthorne

false-teachers

 

Some may ask, “Why must I read my Bible?  Can’t I just listen to someone preach the Bible to me?  After all, they are more learned than me.”  To that, let me ask you this one question.  “How do you know they are speaking the truth?”  Consider the words of Jesus.

 

 

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV)

Notice the words of Jesus. He said, “You will know them.”  By what means?  By their fruit, by the way they conduct themselves.  Jesus said that we, as individuals,  can be the fruit inspectors.

Understand this, in order to be a inspector of fruit we need a standard by which to make that determination.  Without that standard, it would be easy to be manipulated, to be seduced by words or actions that appear on the outside to be sweeter than honey but on the inside death and decay.  This is especially true for those who are hungry for a sense of belonging or who are searching for meaning in this crazy life.

Let me give you a real life example.  If you are a born again child of God,  the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – resides in you. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 among many others.)  Now, think about cult leader David Koresh (Branch Davidian – Waco Texas).  From what I understand through reading about this man, Koresh never claimed to be Jesus incarnate.  And, as a part of his teachings, he stated that the Holy Spirit dwelt in him.  Sounds somewhat Biblical doesn’t it?

Now, for the deception.  Koresh made the claim that the Holy Spirit resided in him in a special way that directly linked him to the Old Testament prophets.  Furthermore, Koresh claimed to be the final prophet of God based on teachings from the Book of Revelation. By combining a portion of the truth with a lie…a little manipulation of God’s Word here and a little manipulation there…he was able to sway the hearts of many.

In the days to come, there will be many who will try to turn the hearts of man away from God through deception.  These are not my words, but those of Jesus.

23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. Matthew 24:23-25 NLT)

Be prepared.  Test the words of man to see that they line up with the Word of God.  Read, study, absorb God’s Word for yourselves.  Be blessed.

 

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Clinging to that Old Rugged Cross

By Patrick Hawthorne

old-rugged-cross

If you have read many of my posts, you will notice that I write, in a large portion, to the Church – the body of Jesus Christ – as a whole.  I don’t mean to step on toes; honestly, I don’t.  Yet, when my thoughts lead me in a certain direction, I tend to follow through with a, “Damn the torpedo’s, full speed ahead” type attitude.  My prayer, as I write this, is that my words are received with the good intent for which they are meant.

There is a hymn that has been around for many a year.  It is a beloved hymn, a cherished hymn, a hymn that pulls on the heart strings of singers and listeners alike.  It is “The Old Rugged Cross.”  I have tried to like this hymn but as one who tends to walk more along the lines of a literal thinker, I have – as far back as I can remember – had issue with one portion of the lyrics, “I will cling to the old rugged cross.”

Do we need to think about the cross?  Yes.  Do we need to meditate on the cross?  Yes.  Do we need to remember the cross?  Absolutely.  To those I agree.  However, do we need to cling to the cross?  Not if your desire is to progress in your faith!  Why?  Because Jesus is no longer on the cross.  “We were crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20) but were also raised up together with Him (Eph 2:6).

Yet, at the foot of the cross is where many of the Body of Christ remain.  They never grow beyond the foundation of the salvation message.  They never learn that if they want to grow in their walk with the Lord, there must come a time when they let go of the Old Rugged Cross in order to pick up their cross and walk in the victory of the resurrection of Jesus (Matt 16:24-26).

The Old Rugged Cross is surely our foundation.  Without a firm grasp on the knowledge and the power of the cross and on the shed blood of Jesus, we are on shaky ground.  However, the foundation alone offers no protection from the storms that are sure to come.  For that, solid Biblical instruction must be built upon the foundation as directed by the Holy Spirit.  For then, we will be in a position to learn the lessons of denying ungodliness and worldly lusts so that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).  Be blessed.

 

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We have Been Taken From Rust Bucket to Restored!

By Patrick Hawthorne

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23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:23-24 KJV)

 

 

Romans 3:23 is very popular among the Body of Christ.  On the same token, it is one of the most misunderstood verses among the Body of Christ. Most read it as, “Ah yes dear brother and sisters, we are all nothing but poor old sinners…mere worms, saved by God’s grace alone.”

While I’m all for true humility, many use this verse as a “See me…See what a poor wretched excuse of a person I am for Jesus.”  I know that is a bit extreme but that is how I often feel when I hear some of the comments made from professing Christian’s. No offense, but if I wasn’t already saved, I sure wouldn’t want to meet your Jesus if that is how you expect me to behave.

Ah…but I don’t believe that is the implication of this verse?  Let’s dig deeper and see, shall we?

Looking at this verse according to the New Living Translation, it reads,  “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. (Romans 3:23-24 NLT).”  I want you to pay particular attention to that one small portion, “Yet God.”

“Yet God.”  Let that sink in for a moment.  Remember, in the previous verse it is we who fall short of God’s glorious standard because of our sins, “Yet God!”  “Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right (righteous – right with Him) in His sight.”  In other words,  how we see ourselves in Christ Jesus (compared to how God sees us) tends to be skewed by our sin.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this point.   Suppose you are driving along an old country road and spot the shell of a Sixty’s model muscle car.  If you are the type person who does not appreciate vintage cars you will most likely see an old rust bucket  and think nothing of it.  However, a vintage car guy can drive by the same field and see a beauty ready to be restored.  Well…You and I are that old rust bucket and God is the vintage car guy.

As the vintage car guy in this illustration, God sees us not for what we are but for what we will be through His completed work.  While we may see ourselves as old rust buckets who God took mercy upon, He sees us as that metallic blue muscle car with more horse power under the hood than should be thought legal.  He takes delight in restoring us not for our glory but for His.  We are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. We are restored to be used by Him and for Him.

So, the next time you are tempted to down yourself by confessing, “I’m just an old sinner saved by grace,” rethink who you are. Yes, we all sin.  There is no doubt about that.   However, don’t insult the Mechanic.  You were once was an old sinner but now you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.  God has made you ready to hit the open road, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Begin to see yourself as He sees you.  Be blessed.

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Getting back to work

I enjoyed this lesson from Dawn. Consider her words, “I hasten to add that this isn’t about “God helps those who help themselves.” No, God actually helps those who can’t help themselves; that’s the whole point. But there comes a time when He says to me, “Grab it.”

INSPIRATION with an ATTITUDE

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One indisputable characteristic about the Old Testament prophets—they were weird.  I don’t say that disparagingly, but c’mon, they were not always the kind of people you’d invite to a office picnic.  Calling down fire from heaven, tying themselves in knots, and all that. 

Of course, they were good to have around when something needed fixed.

Case in point, the prophet Elisha has been persuaded to come with some of his students to build a new meeting place.  In the course of events, there was a problem:

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Lead Me Not Into Temptation…I’ve Been There Too Many Times!

By Patrick Hawthorne

the-temptation

KEEP GATE CLOSED!

 

Raise your hand if you have ever had moments when you were tempted, tried, tested or tortured by a sin thought.  It doesn’t have to be big.  Maybe you had the overwhelming desire to thump your least favorite co-worker in the head.

 

Ok, keep that hand raised if you have ever thought of intentionally sinning today so you can ask for forgiveness tomorrow.  No, it does not have to be a flagrant sin of sex, drugs, or rock-and-roll.  It can be the desirous sin of yearning to talk to Sister Shame-a-lot about your concerns over the holiness of Sister Slutzy.

If you raised your hand – which hopefully everyone did –  I have good news for you. I have found a tried and true method for dealing with such temptations.  Instead of counting to ten, I recite my favorite Bible verses.  One of them happens to be Psalms 103:1-5.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases,Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:1-5)

As I speak – yes speak – God’s Word, the thoughts of wrong doing begin to fade.  I call this my, “Being transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I walk in the Spirit and do not fulfill the lust of my flesh,”method. What happens is that I allow God’s power, through His Word, to override the thoughts that are bombarding the confines of my cranium.  Before you know it, I am a temptation free happy camper.

TAKE NOTE!!  Notice that I do not pray and ask God to remove the temptation.  He has already done that through Christ Jesus.  I simply follow the example of Jesus by speaking the Word to the temptation.

Am I perfect at this?  Awww heck no!  Just ask the Jehovah Witness who dared tell me I was outside of the will of God because I did not go door to door preaching.  Anywho…try this method before giving into your desire.  Trust me, it works if you do it.  And, if the temptation does get the better of you – which it will – ask for forgiveness, dust yourself off, and get back on the path leading to the end of your race.  Be blessed.

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Johnny, Sally, and Grandma’s Duck

By Patrick Hawthorne

Ducks

Last week I heard this story for the first time.  Some say it is a story of forgiveness.  While it does speak of forgiveness, to me it is more of an illustration of how we – born-again Christian’s –  will allow the devil a foot hold in our lives to keep us in bondage not only to our past but to him in the present.

 

A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot.  He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target.  As he came back to Grandma’s back yard, he spied her pet duck.  On an impulse he took aim and let fly.  The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.

The boy panicked.  Desperately he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to look up and see his sister watching.  Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.”  But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today.  Didn’t you Johnny?”  And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!”  So Johnny did the dishes.

Later, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing.  Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help me make supper.”  Sally smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of.  Johnny wants to do it.”  Again she whispered, “Remember the duck.”  Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he couldn’t stand it.  He confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck.

“I know, Johnny,” she said, giving him a hug.  “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing.  Because I love you, I forgave you.  But I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”

– Author Unknown

 

If you have been struggling with condemnation, first know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  If you sin, understand that Forgiveness (Heavenly Father) was standing at the window and saw the whole thing.  However, because He loves you so much, He forgave you.  Now, the question remains… “How long are you going to let the devil make a slave of you?”  Be blessed.

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A Friday Thought…Tough Love

By Patrick Hawthorne

 

lazyguy

 

“If they had a social gospel in the days of the prodigal son, somebody would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he never would have gone home.” ~ Vance Havner

 

 

Seeing this quote posted on Facebook the other day, I read through it several times to ensure that I was fully comprehending the heart behind the message.  If I understand Mr. Havner correctly, he is saying that sometimes well meaning Christian’s may actually become an obstacle rather than a light because of their service to others.

There are times when we, the Body of Jesus Christ, need to forgo the act of providing excessive comfort to some in order for them to realize just how much they need to be saved from the muck they have been wallowing in.  To this, I definitely agree.  It’s called, “Tough Love.”  Or, as Paul said, “Ya don’t work, ya don’t eat.” (2 Thess 3:10).  What do you think?  Be blessed

 

 

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