WHY ARE WE STILL CAPTIVES?

[SW365] 2/9/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Why Are We Still Captives?”

Text: Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:16-30

I opened my Bible to Isaiah 61 last Sunday afternoon, and as I read its wonderful announcement of good news of freedom to humbled captives, this question came to my spirit, “Why are we still captives, Lord?” And He said, “That is a good title for a sermon.” Then He showed me why many believers are still captives.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Verse 1 —

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me! Of whom does Isaiah speak? The LORD anointed him as a prophet. But Isaiah is speaking of a coming one, a Savior to all who will believe into Him, One on and in whom the Spirit remains. 

Isaiah also speaks of those who are no longer captives because they have experienced their own personal Pentecost. Only then were we prepared to carry the good news of Isaiah 61! To whom do we carry the good news? Everyone! But it is received by those who are afflicted (contrite and humble), those who have seen that they are captives and have longed for freedom!

He sent Jesus Christ, and has anointed all who are filled with Him, to proclaim that He will bind up those with broken (shattered) hearts. They are brokenhearted because they mourn over the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts. They have seen that they need to have their hearts changed. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (Matthew 5:4)!

Why do I say, “all those who are filled with Him” are the ones who proclaim such things? I tell you the truth, you cannot proclaim that which you have not experienced.

The Lord Jesus Christ and His messengers proclaim liberty to captives! It is the fulfillment of  God’s promise from Ezekiel 36:27, when the Lord says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” It is freedom from slavery to sin, beloved!

Jesus said this to Jews that had believed Him, but had just told Him that they were not slaves to anyone —

John 8:34   Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

We proclaim freedom to prisoners (bound ones)! From the Hebrew, “complete opening, freedom, rapid movement, spontaneous outflow, purity.” To whom? To captives! By Him, and by His words through us, we proclaim that Jesus Christ will set you free from slavery to sin! He will unlock your chains of sin, if you repent.

“Freedom to prisoners” is translated as “sight to the blind,” in Luke 4:18.  

So we also proclaim that we are all born spiritually blind, but Jesus Christ makes blind eyes see (John 9:7, 25)! I tell you the truth, when you are set free and filled, you cannot stop speaking of what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)!

Praise His name! I was blind but now I see! He opened my blind eyes and unlocked my chains! I am no longer a slave to sin!

Verse 2 — 

Jesus Christ and His messengers proclaim the favorable year of the Lord — the year of liberty when all debts owed are forgiven, the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8! This “year” began with Christ, and continues until the Day of Judgment! 

Oh, what favor! The Father sent His Son as a Savior to 1) reconcile to God everyone who will believe into Him, and 2) and after He rose, ascended and was glorified, to sanctify us through and through (1Thessalonians 5:23), setting us free from the power of sin!

We also proclaim the day of our God’s vengeance. There will come a day of judgment for every human who ever lived, and Jesus will be the Righteous Judge (John 5:22).  

So, we proclaim to the world that today is the day to repent and believe into Jesus Christ. And we proclaim to believers that they must turn from their sin, repent before the Lord, and ask Him to purify their hearts.

We proclaim comfort to all who mourn over their spiritual condition and have repented. What do we offer them?

Verse 3 —

In Isaiah’s day, mourners threw ashes on their heads, as a sign that they were mourning. But we proclaim that the Lord will give something to those who have repented and have mourned over their ruin, having realized that their ruin was the result of their sin nature. He will give them a garland (beauty, honor) instead of ashes — victory over sin! He will crucify the sin nature in them (Galatians 5:24)!

We announce that the Lord will give His repentant people the oil of gladness. What is this oil? The Holy Spirit, who makes us glad, indeed! And the Lord has anointed us so we are able to lay hands on repentant believers so they are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts  8:17, 19:6)!

Jesus Christ promises this to His disciples who obey His command to stay and wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5) —

John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

And He prayed to His Father, on the night before He was crucified —

John 17:13 “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”

Peter was filled with Christ’s divine joy at Pentecost. And we announce that you will be, too, when you experience your own personal Pentecost. It is joy unspeakable (indescribable), and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)!

We announce that the Lord will give His repentant people the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting (darkness)! When they are filled and set free from sin, the darkness in them — the sin nature — is crucified. 

It is replaced by a spiritual robe made of the praise of the Lord. He wraps it around them, and because the mantle is from Him, it never wears out! I tell you the truth, your heart will be filled with praise, continually, and it will be evident to everyone around you!

Then, for all repentant  believers, we announce that they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord. 

You will appear as a a great tree of holiness in the forest He has planted, one that stands strong because He has made you righteous on the inside. And we will proclaim that the Lord does all of these things so that He is glorified! 

Surely, when He has done all of these things, you will proclaim His wonderful work, too. You will give Him all honor and praise for what He has done in you!

But remember that I when read this passage last Sunday afternoon, I asked the Lord, “Why are we still captives?” Jesus answers, in Luke 4.

Luke 4

Verses 14-15 —

Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit. News of His words and His miracles spread throughout the whole district. He went to their synagogues and began teaching. Everyone praised Him for what they heard.

Verses 16-20 —

But then He went to Nazareth, where He was brought up. As was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

The book (scroll) of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, and He opened the scroll and found Isaiah 61, and read it. Then He closed the scroll and gave it back to the attendant. He sat down, and everyone’s eyes were fixed on Him.

Verses 21-22 —

He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (your ears).” All were speaking well of Him, at first, because He announced the good news I have just spoken about. 

The words which proceeded from His mouth were full of grace — announcing God’s favor to His wayward people, if they will mourn over the condition of their hearts, and repent.

But they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Where did Joseph’s son get this teaching ability? He did not go to rabbi school at our synagogue. We know His father. He is just a man. Therefore, they did not understand that His words came from His Father. (See John 12:49, 14:10.)

Verses 23-24 —

Jesus continued, saying, No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me — Physician, heal thyself. They had heard that He had miraculously healed people and set them free from demonic possession in the district of Galilee, and in Capernaum.. He knew they would ask Him to do the same in his hometown, Nazareth! 

But Jesus said, Truly, truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. He knew that they would not believe Him and would turn against Him. He knows the hearts of all humans (John 2:24-25, Hebrews 4:13, Jeremiah 17:10).

Verses 25-27 —

He spoke the truth to them. In the days of Elijah, many women were widowed when the Lord commanded that it not rain on the land for 3-1/2 years, because His people had sinned against Him. A famine resulted. 

But where did the Lord command His servant, the prophet Elijah, to go? Not to any of the widows in Israel, but to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a Gentile widow! He said He would provide for Elijah there. The Lord prophesied through Elijah to the Gentile widow, that the flour and oil would not run out. And it didn’t! Why would He would not bless His people Israel? Because they ALL — even the widows — refused to repent for their sin.

And there were many lepers in Israel in the days of the prophet Elisha, who received Elijah’s mantle when Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11-13). But the Lord did not command Elisha to cleanse the many lepers who were in Israel. Why? They had refused to repent for their sin. Instead, Elisha commanded Naaman, a Gentile, to go and dip in the muddy Jordan seven times. He raged, but then listened to his servants, humbled himself, and obeyed Elijah. He was healed, just as Elisha had instructed (2Kings 5:14)! Then Naaman believed in God!

Verses 28-30 —

At the words of Jesus, everyone in the synagogue was filled with rage! They knew the history of Elijah and Elisha.They knew Israel was not fed and cleansed because they worshiped other gods and forsook the Lord. 

 

How dare He tell us we are sinning! He infers that we will not be healed and cleansed by Him for the same reason Israel was not healed and cleansed by the Lord God in the days of Elijah and Elisha! He says that we do not welcome Him. Doesn’t He hear us say that we want Him to do miracles? Haven’t we said that He speaks graciously? We are offended!

So, they drove Him to the cliff of the mountain on which Nazareth was built. He allowed them to do it. knowing that the hour for Him to die had not yet come (John 8:20). He already knew He would die on a cross. He was sent by the Father for that purpose. 

The people of His hometown intended to kill Him by pushing Him off the cliff! Because He spoke the truth, they deemed Him to be worthy of death! We will kill You because we do not recognize You as one coming from God, and we do not like what You say!

But walking through their midst, He went His way. I believe He was supernaturally protected, as were John Wesley and many other proclaimers of liberty, when they were threatened by Christian mobs.

Again, remember that my question to the Lord was, “Why are we still captives?” Many of today’s believers remain captives and slaves to sin for the same reasons as the people of Nazareth who rejected Him —

They do not understand that the words He and we proclaim come from our Father.

When we tell them the terms for freedom — mourning, contrite, humble hearts — they refuse to repent for their sin. 

They are offended and filled with rage because we proclaim that they are slaves to sin, and that they have not been set free because they have refused to repent for their sin.

Therefore, many believers and entire denominations are enraged, and seek to kill our proclamation of freedom from sin. They say, “We will drive out the proclaimers from our midst because we do not recognize them as God’s messengers and we do not like what they say!”

Untold numbers of believers do these things, beloved. Jesus promised that we who He sends to proclaim freedom from slavery to sin would be persecuted by His people, even the church —

John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

In John Wesley’s day, he was banned from the pulpits of the Church of England, and many members and leaders of the Church of England attempted to kill Wesley and his preachers by drowning them, beating them to death, or stoning them to death. But no one could kill them, and many times, the stones and fists would not even make contact with these faithful proclaimers!

What will you do, having heard the good news I have proclaimed to you today? Will you receive it, and repent for your sin, and ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit, so you are no longer a captive? 

Or will you be like the people of Nazareth, or the Church of England? Many believers and denominations are like them. They do not see that they are calling Jesus a liar, when they claim our message is false. I tell you the truth, He will not receive such ones.

Lord Jesus, You long to be gracious to believers. But many are like the people of Nazareth. Still, I pray that some would hear and heed. I pray that they would see the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts, humble themselves before You and before Your Word, and ask You to set them free by filling them with Your Holy Spirit. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.

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THE LORD, ON YOUR TERMS

[SW364] 2/2/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“The Lord, On Your Terms”

Text: Isaiah 30:9-11, 42:17-25

I see my former self in this passage, beloved. So I must begin with my own testimony of how I received the Lord on my terms. The Lord has shown me that it is the only way the word He has given me will speak to your heart.

After I was saved, I was not influenced by false teachers to receive the Lord on my terms, but I projected the qualities of the false gods I had previously worshiped onto Jesus Christ, and made Him like them. My first pastor listened to my opinions, and then went into private prayer. 

I told him that I believed Jesus came in many ways over thousands of years to many cultures. He was like Buddha and many other gods — just dressed differently. So I made Jesus who I wanted Him to be, not who He really is. So, I had believed in and had received the Lord, on my terms.

The Lord answered my first pastor’s prayer before he and his wife left for missionary work in Africa. I began to seek the Lord on His terms, and even received a song from Him, in the night. Through his teaching, I, caught a glimpse of  the real Jesus, and repented for making Him what I wanted Him to be. When I humbled myself before Him, He truly saved me!

The next pastor brought me the rest of the way. My hunger for holy intimacy with the Lord was stoked by the words the Lord gave him to speak. Over and over, I cried to the Lord, “I want to know you that way!” The Lord answered my prayer by filling me with His Spirit. He made me what He wanted me to be!

Oh, the mercy of God, and His compassion toward such a wayward one as me! He has done great things! Bless His holy name!

Today, many believers do the same as I did — they believe in Jesus Christ, on their terms, not His. And today, many false teachers gladly make Jesus into who they want Him to be, and teach their Jesus to believers. False teachers gladly tell believers what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. 

I am glad my teachers did not do so with me! They taught the truth, despite my objections. Had they not taught the true Jesus, I would still be lost, believing in my own version of Him! 

All that said, now I will speak the rest of the message the Lord has given me. 

Isaiah 30:9-11

Verse 9 —

Just as in the days of Isaiah, many of today’s believers and leaders are like I was — rebellious, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord. They do not want to hear about their need to repent from their sin. They make the Lord what they want Him to be, and receive the Lord on their terms. 

They want to hear what they want to hear, just as I did. By their refusal of some of His truths, they do not see that they are telling the Lord what He can and cannot do (i.e., He cannot cure me of my sin, but He can make me feel good about myself and make me successful and prosperous)! 

And in many congregations, pastors are instructed not to teach all of the truth. But by instructing their pastors, they are telling the Lord what He can and cannot say through His faithful servants! So they do not worship the true Jesus Christ, but simply one they have made according to their own preferences.

Because many of today’s believers want the Lord on their terms, they are false sons, just as I was. Some have made the Lord a blessing machine. False teachers who teach them such things are at fault, but so are the believers who swallow their lies. They have free access to the Word of God, but do not look to see if what they themselves believe, and what their teachers say, is true (Acts 17:11).

Verse 10 —

Those who truly see visions from the Lord cannot help but speak of what they see (Acts 4:20). But the people say, Stop! Why? They do not want to hear the vision, for it conflicts with the terms they have set for the Lord — that is, what they want  Him to be and what they expect their Lord to do for them. They want the Lord on their terms, not His.

And when the Lord’s faithful servants exhort leaders and believers to repent and warn them of the consequences of their sin, many reject their words. They say, Do not prophesy what is right (straightforward truth)! Leave out the words that we do not want to hear! Do not stand before us and speak! 

They say to His faithful servants, We will tell you what we want to hear. We want the Lord, on our terms, not His. So, speak to us the pleasant words — smooth things, words that flatter us. These are the words to which we are accustomed. 

They say, Prophesy illusions! We want to hear delusions and deceitful words, because that is what we like! We want our ears tickled. We want to feel good about ourselves!

The speaker at a women’s conference I attended was a Spirit-filled teacher of God’s Word. She called the women to repentance, and spoke the truth about their spiritual condition. 

There was a great uprising! The women, who had confessed that they sinned regularly against the Lord, said, “No, we do not need to repent. We are princesses!” A false teacher had previously told them what they wanted to hear, and even gave each woman rhinestone-studded crowns, to remind each one of “who you are.” 

Do you see it? They wanted the Lord on their terms, not His! Therefore, they gladly received the words of the false teacher. But they vigorously rejected the words of the Lord’s faithful servant. 

It was the same when Jeff and I studied for ordination. When we took Wesleyan Theology, we knew the opposition to teaching on holiness of heart would be intense — it always is, when this truth is taught. 

But the professor was a Spirit-filled man of God who held back nothing and patiently taught them. He had weathered many an onslaught from Satan, who does not want believers to know the truth.

Several Spirit-filled attendees had interceded for weeks prior to the class, and we joined hands with them throughout the week during which it was taught. As expected, there was an uprising! The truthfulness of his teaching was challenged. 

Satan used those who wanted the Lord on their own terms to attempt to make him back down. But he stood firm! For many years, our professor had taught such rebellious believers who were studying to become reverends.

Verse 11 —

Do you see it? The women and the students said, Get out of the way! Turn aside from the path we want to walk on!

They did not want to hear from those teachers again, nor did they want to hear any more of the Holy One of Israel! They did not want to hear about God’s holy nature, and His call for them to be holy as He is holy, and perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. But listen to the Word of God — 

Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Ephesians 5:27 . . . that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory (glorious, i.e., filled with His glory), having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

1Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

They did not want to hear that their hearts were impure. They did not want to hear that they needed to cry out to the Lord and ask Him to forgive them and give them pure hearts by filling them with His Spirit! 

I tell you the truth, whenever a teacher speaks of the Lord’s command that we have holy hearts, the sin nature rises up in anger that is stoked by Satan. But the reaction of the women and the students cannot not stop His faithful servants from speaking what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)!

We know what it is to obey His command to stay and wait, and receive the promise of the Father the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). We know that we have become partakers of God’s divine nature (2Peter 1:4)! 

And so, we continue to show believers that they have received Jesus Christ on their terms, not His. We continue to call all believers to obey Him by doing as He has commanded them to do! It is the only way any believer can be His witness here (Acts 1:8).

But what will happen to those who reject His truth? What would have happened to me, if I had rejected the truth when it was presented to me by Spirit-filled leaders? What will happen to those who want the Lord, on their terms?

Isaiah 42:17-25

Verse 17 —

Those who want the Lord on their terms will be turned back and utterly put to shame. They trust in idols, and say to molten images, “You are our gods.” 

You may say, I do not worship idols. But if you want the Lord on your terms and not His, what is the operative word? You! I tell  you the truth, when your sin nature is alive and well, you are the idol in your heart. And you want the Lord to meet your desires. It was the same for me, before the Lord did His marvelous work in me!

Verse 18-19 —

What a strange thing His people have become! They are deaf, refusing to hear! They are blind, refusing to see! And I was the same, before I humbled myself and hungered for the Lord!

The Lord asks, Who is blind but My servant? You are called to be My witnesses  here, but you have screwed your eyes shut because you do not want to see what My faithful servants show you! You have stuck your fingers in your ears so you do not hear My words from them! 

But you are supposed to be My messenger whom I send! In the Old Testament, He called His people Israel to be His witnesses here. He called them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). But they refused, just as believers refuse today. But listen to Peter’s exhortation to the church —

1Peter 2:9   But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . .

You cannot proclaim His excellencies while you still willfully disobey Him. You have Him received on your own terms, according to what you want Him to be, and according to what you want Him to do for you! 

So, there is none more blind than those who receive the Lord on their terms. They think they are at peace with Him, but actually profane His name and give Him a black eye by their words and actions!

There is none so deaf as those who are called to be His servants, but refuse His words! They have seen and heard from His faithful servants, but they do not heed what they see and hear, because it conflicts with the Jesus they have made — the one that conforms to their terms, not His!

You become what you worship, just as it was with me (Psalm 115:8)! The god of self is a false god. Ask the Lord to crucify your sin nature, and He will do it! Then you will serve and love and obey the Lord and Him only, on His terms!

Verses 20-21 —

Those who want the Lord on their own terms see many things, but do not take heed of them. Their ears are only open to what they want to hear, so none hear His true words! 

So, the Lord says, Hear, you deaf! Look you blind, that you may see! But who is so blind as My servant, asks the Lord, and who is so deaf but the one who is supposed to be My messenger who I send?

For His righteousness’ sake —in order to reveal His righteousness to the world — He gave the law as His commands to His people. His law is great and glorious! 

He gave the law, and He is surely great and glorious! And second, if you obey Jesus’ command to stay and wait, He will write His law on your heart, just as Paul prays fo the rebellious believers at Corinth will become —

2Corinthians 3:1   Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Verses 22-23 —

But because many refuse to hear and see, and want the Lord on their terms, they will be robbed and destroyed, trapped and imprisoned by their own sin nature, and a will be a prey for Satan, with none to deliver them. They will become one of the spoils of Satan, a captive taken by Satan in his battle against the Lord. And no one will be there to say, Give them back!

Just as Jesus Christ says in John 10:10, Satan has come to steal, robbing you of the truth because your sin nature likes to hear the lies that are his native language (John 8:44). He has come to kill you, because sin carries a death sentence (Romans 6:23). He has come to destroy you so that in the day of judgment, you will be sentenced to everlastingly perish with him (Revelation 20:12, 15). 

But the Lord has come to give you His life, abundantly in you, until it overflows from you! How? All you need to do is repent right now, and cry out to be filled with His Holy Spirit! 

Who hears? Who heeds? Who listens? Will you?

Verses 24-25 —

Who gives rebellious believers up for Satan to spoil and plunder? The Lord against whom they have sinned and whose truth they have rejected, the Lord in whose ways they were not willing to walk, and whom they continued to disobey. He will pour out on them the heat of His anger, and He will battle against them.

Those who continue to sin after coming into the knowledge of the truth are on fire, the fire of the Lord’s judgment. But they do not see it. They are aflame all around, but they do not see it. They are burned, but they do not see it? They did not pay attention to the Lord’s words.

Beloved, humble yourself before His truth and receive it, as I did! Repent, and receive the Lord as He truly is, instead of on your own terms. If you do, He will save you from the flames, just as He did me! 

Lord, you give this word to warn believers who want You on their terms. You have great compassion for them, and long to be gracious to them. But each one must repent and ask You to forgive them, and each one must cry out for You to crucify their sin nature and fill them with Your Spirit, just as I did! May they hear and heed, I pray. Amen.

TRUSTING IN EGYPT

[SW363] 1/26/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Trusting in Egypt”

Text: Jeremiah 42 & 43

Just as in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, many of today’s church leaders and believers trust in and seek Egypt — a type of the world and its wisdom and its ways — instead of trusting in and obeying the Lord. Yet, if they will turn back to Him and obey Him, He will be compassionate toward them!

Jeremiah 42

Verses 1-4

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had invaded Judah, just as the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah.  Many were carried into exile by Babylon. At this point in Jeremiah’s ministry, only a small remnant of Jews remained in the land, in hiding.

The remnant feared Babylon. So, all of the commanders of the remnant of the armies of Judah approached Jeremiah, asking him to pray to his God for the remnant of the people. They asked him to pray that the Lord, Jeremiah’s God, would tell them the way in which to walk and the thing they should do. 

A strange request, indeed! Through Jeremiah, the LORD had warned them to stop following false gods and false prophets for 40 years, but they had not listened. 

But as a prophet of the LORD, Jeremiah was called to petition the LORD, on their behalf. So he promised to pray to the Lord their God, with the words they had spoken to him. He promised to tell them the whole word that the Lord answered, and not keep back a word from them. 

It is the same today. The church is just a shadow of what she was when she began. Disaster threatens both the church and individual believers, for that which they have gone after has failed them. 

The church, and individual believers, have reached or will soon reach the end of their worldly resources. The world’s wisdom and ways have failed or will yet fail, as they always do. So they ask someone who hears from the Lord for a word from Him, and they promise to do what the Lord tells them to do. 

But like Judah’s remnant, the shadow church and many believers have never listened to or heeded the words of those who exhorted them to repent. They have never listened to or heeded the words of those who warned them of the consequences of their sin. Instead, they have trusted in the world and its wisdom and ways.

Their fallen situation testifies against them. Had they listened to the Lord and obeyed Him, they would not be grasping for even the tiniest straw, to save them from drowning. And as for those churches and believers who think they are rich and in need of nothing, Jesus Christ sees them as they truly are —  poor and naked and blind and miserable (Revelation 3:17). 

Yet He stands at the door and knocks, to any believer who hears His voice and opens to Him. To such ones, He promises a holy, intimate relationship where they sup with Him and He with them (Revelation 3:20). He will extend His compassion to them, if they turn back to Him and obey Him

Verses 5-6 —

The leaders of Judah’s remnant continued their petition with a great vow! May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole word Jeremiah will receive from the LORD! When He gives them a word and they continue to disobey, their disobedience will be a faithful witness against them.

Their great vow continued! Whether it was going to be a pleasant word or an unpleasant word, they would listen to the voice of the LORD their God, so it may go well with them when they listen to His voice. By their words, they revealed that their motive was selfish. They wanted it to go well with them. 

The leaders of Judah’s remnant spoke no words of godly sorrow for their rebellion. They did not cry out to the LORD and ask Him to forgive them. But they said that now, when they were in dire straits because of their rebellion against the LORD, they wanted to obey Him, so it would go well with them!

It is the same today. Church leaders and believers who have been brought low by the Lord will vow to obey whatever the Lord tells them through His faithful servants. Whether the word they are given is pleasant or unpleasant, they say, we will listen, so it will go well with us.

Are your motives for seeking Him selfish? Many want to hear that He will save them from the troubles they have caused for themselves, by sinning against the Lord, by looking to the world and its wisdom and ways. Many churches want to hear that He will restore them, though they speak a gospel that is strange to His ears and contrary to His Word!

Do you want to be delivered, and then go your own way? Or do you really want to go the Lord’s way, every moment of every day? Today, in His great compassion, He offers you the way to continually obey and never go astray again, if you will obey just one command from Jesus Christ. I will tell you about it in a few minutes!

Verses 7-12 —

Ten days after the commanders of Judah asked Jeremiah for a word from the Lord, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. He called all the people, both small and great, including the commanders who had come to him. 

And he said, Thus says the LORD your God, “If you will indeed stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down. I will plant you and not uproot you, for I will relent concerning the calamity that I have afflicted you.” What a promise!

O believer, do not seek the world and its ways and wisdom to try to save yourselves. If you will indeed stay with the Lord, He will relent from the calamity you are now experiencing at His hand. Turn, and He will forgive you. Obey, and He will rebuild you. He will plant you.

The LORD continued, Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you are fearing. Do not be afraid of him, for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand. But the condition is that they obey Him.

Church, you fear that unless you become like the world, the world will not like you. But Jesus Christ says the world will hate you, if you are truly His (John 15:19)! You fear the closure of your buildings, the collapse of your denominations. Believer, you fear personal disaster because of the sins you have committed. 

Do not fear such things, but fear the Lord! He will show compassion to you, if you turn back to Him and obey Him and worship Him alone and no other.  That is what it is to fear Him! Many of today’s believers worship the god of self, and serve their own lusts and desires. It always ends in personal ruin. I know from my own experiences, before I was saved and then was filled with His Spirit!

The LORD promised that if the remnant of Judah would obey Him and not try to escape Nebuchadnezzar by fleeing elsewhere, He would show them compassion by making Nebuchadnezzar compassionate toward them! 

If they returned to Him and obeyed Him, they would be delivered! The LORD would restore them to their own soil! Nebuchadnezzar would permit them to remain in Judah! What a promise! But only if they returned to Him and obeyed Him would the promise be fulfilled. 

It is the same today. His promises are Yes, in Christ Jesus, but you must obey Jesus Christ’s command to stay and wait to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5), in order to become the Amen (1Corinthians 1:20). That is when He gives you a new, pure heart and sets you free from slavery to sin by crucifying the sin nature in you! Then you will always obey, and never again go astray!

But you cannot be set free from captivity to sin, and you cannot become the Amen to the Yes of the Lord’s promises, unless and until you obey Him.

Verses 13-14 —

The LORD knew the hearts of those who asked Jeremiah for a word from the LORD. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).

He knew they would say, “We will not stay in this land . . . No, but we will go to the land of Egypt, where we will be safe. We will not hear war or the sound of a trumpet, or hunger for bread. We will stay there.” And He would deal with them severely, because they did not listen to and obey Him.

The Lord knows the hearts of believers and church leaders today who rebel against Him. He knows the hearts of those who come to Him in their troubles and want Him to deliver them. Even though they ask for His guidance, and promise to follow it, even though they are barely a remnant, they will not obey. 

As long as their sin nature is alive and well, they will do what is already in their hearts to do — seek the world’s wisdom and ways to shore up their lives and shore up their churches. The Lord promises calamity to them!

Verses 15-17 —

If the remnant of Judah refused to listen to Him, then the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel had another sure word for them! He told them what would happen if they really set their mind to enter Egypt and reside there! 

O church, O believer, have you really set your mind to seek Him, or will you turn away and seek the world and its wisdom and ways? If you continue to turn away, then hear the word of the Lord!

The sword which the remnant of Judah feared would overtake them in Egypt. The famine about which they were anxious would follow closely after them in Egypt, and they would die there. What you fear will overtake you, unless you return to the Lord, O church, O believer!

The LORD said, “You will die in Egypt, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence (disease), and you will have no survivors or refugees from the calamity I will bring upon you there.” 

Why will He bring calamity on them? If  they go to Egypt, they have again disobeyed Him and have again refused to listen to Him! 

His promises are sure, if you obey. But if you disobey, you nullify them, and He will deal with you just as He did the remnant of Judah.

Verse 18 —

His anger and wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He has used King Nebuchadnezzar as His servant, to discipline and punish His people, so they might return to Him. 

Now, if the remnant in Judah disobeys the Lord and enters Egypt, even after His promise of compassion if they will obey, His anger and wrath will be poured out on them in Egypt. They will become a curse (used as a curse word), an object of horror (a ruin that astonishes) an imprecation (under a curse), and a reproach (a disgrace), and they will never return to Jerusalem.

It is true today. He will pour out His wrath on today’s believers and church leaders, if they continue to chase after the world and its ways. 

If believers refuse to obey when He offers deliverance His way, then they will become an object of horror, they will be spoken of in an abusive way, and they will become a ruin that astonishes everyone who looks at it. Even now, He is doing to believers and churches exactly what He promised He would do to Judah’s disobedient remnant!

Many churches and believers are already a laughingstock, in the world’s eyes — a people who say they belong to the Lord and that He is their King, while they continually sin against Him, chase after the same things the world chases after, and refuse to listen to His Word!

Verses 19-22 —

Jeremiah said, the LORD has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, saying, “Do not go into Egypt.” By the word of the LORD which he spoke, Jeremiah said they should know with certainty that their promise to listen testifies against them.

By trying to deceive the LORD into thinking they will obey Him, they have deceived themselves. The LORD cannot be deceived. But His people foolishly think they can deceive Him.  Therefore, by trying to deceive the One who cannot be deceived, they deceive themselves! He knows their hearts!

O church, O believer, your many promises testify against you, for you continue to chase after the world and its wisdom and its ways, and thus, continue to disobey Him! You deceive yourselves if you think He does not know your hearts!

The LORD already knew they would not listen. And the LORD had shown Jeremiah that they would not listen. 

Throughout Jeremiah’s 40-year ministry, each time he told them the word of the LORD,  they disobeyed, so he knew they would disobey now, even though they were a mere remnant! Hear, O church, for you are barely a shadow of the church in the Book of Acts! 

He knew the hearts of the remnant of Judah, and He knows your heart, for you have revealed your heart by your words and their actions in response to the words the LORD has given you! 

So, through the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD warned them that they should know with certainty that they would die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence in the place where they wished to go to reside. And it is the same for the wayward church and wayward believers today! 

He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Peter speaks this to the churches in 2Peter 3:9, and I speak them to you today!

Jeremiah 43

Verses 1-3

As soon as Jeremiah gave the remnant the answer from the LORD — every word, including the warning that He would punish them if they disobeyed — all the arrogant men said, “You are telling a lie! The LORD your God did not send you to say, “Do not enter Egypt to reside there.” In their arrogance, they refused to acknowledge that Jeremiah’s words were from the LORD!

They blamed Baruch, who was Jeremiah’s scribe, saying, “He’s inciting (seducing) you, Jeremiah, so that we are given over to Babylon, so they can put us to death or exile us.” In their arrogance, they claimed Jeremiah’s words came from his scribe!

They did not hear a word that the LORD said, because their minds were already made up. It is the same today! Many believers and entire denominations arrogantly claim that those who speak the Lord’s words to them are lying, and have been influenced by men. But they themselves are influenced by the world, and have made their minds up to continue to chase after the world!

Verses 4-7 —

So the commanders of the remnant did not obey the voice of the Lord, to stay in Judah. Instead, they took everyone, including Jeremiah and Baruch, into Egypt. Jeremiah and Baruch did not go in disobedience to the LORD. Jeremiah knew He would continue to speak through him there. 

So, in direct disobedience to the word of the LORD, the small remnant of Judah entered the land of Egypt, and arrived at Tahpanhes. Pharaoh had built one of his palaces there.

Verses 8-9 —

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah there. He instructed Jeremiah to take some large stones in his hands, and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace. The LORD further instructed him to make sure he do it in the sight of some of the Jews. 

Verse 10 —

And the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, instructed Jeremiah to say this to His disobedient people — Behold! I am bringing Nebuchadnezzar, My servant, to Egypt! I am going to set his throne right over these stones that Jeremiah has just buried, and he will spread his canopy (royal pavilion) over them. He will conquer Egypt, and rule from this very place!

Verse 11 —

And Nebuchadnezzar will come and strike the land of Egypt. Some Egyptians and the disobedient remnant of Judah will die by trying to escape, some will go into captivity, and some will try to fight Nebuchadnezzar and die in the process.

Everything that the remnant of Judah feared will come upon them because they have disobeyed the LORD! 

It is the same today! That which you fear will come upon you, if you continue to disobey. Despite the Lord’s offer of deliverance if you obey Him, you have sought the world and you have run to it. But it cannot deliver you from the Lord’s punishment for your disobedience.

Verse 12 —

And the LORD will judge the gods of Egypt. He will set fire to them, and they will be burned and carried off to Babylon . 

Church, believer, He will judge the world, its wisdom, and its ways. He will judge that which you have worshiped! He will set fire to everything you rely upon and trust in!

Verse 13 — 

Everything that Egypt trusted in, everything that the world trusts in, will be judged. The sun god’s obelisk will be shattered, and the temples will fall. Everything you have erected in order to worship the world’s wisdom and ways will be burned with fire!

If you chase after the world, and seek the world’s wisdom and ways in order to be saved from the trouble you are in because of your sin, the Lord will do just as He did to the remnant of Judah. You will experience a famine for the word of the Lord, the disease of sin will overcome you, and you will experience spiritual death — separation from the Lord — if you do not repent.

He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! Again, those are Peter’s words to believers, in the New Testament. He speaks this to His sinning people in the Old Testament, as well — 

Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

Jesus Christ called His own people to repent  (Matthew 4:17, 11:20, and 12:41, etc.). He called to repentance those who claimed they knew His Father! He calls you to repentance today!

Turn back to the Lord, O believer, for He will surely have compassion on you, if you do. Turn back to Him, and obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Spirit, and you will never stray again! 

Lord, may Your church both hear and heed Your warning, for You give it out of Your compassion for them. May they return to You! So be it. Amen.

TWELVE MARKS OF FAITHFUL SERVANTS

[SW362] 1/19/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Twelve Marks of Faithful Servants”

Text: 1Samuel 3, etc., and Ezekiel 44:12-16

What are the marks of faithful servants of the Lord? I will show you twelve marks, through the life of Samuel and through the priests of Zadok. There are many more than these twelve, but these are the ones the Lord asked me to speak about.

Why? What I am about to say is important to all believers today. ALL believers are called to be the Lord’s faithful servants. ALL believers are called to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, proclaiming the excellencies of Him who brought them out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1Peter 2:9)!

From 1Samuel 1 and 2

First, I will give you some history regarding Samuel. Hannah, who was Samuel’s mother, vowed to the Lord that she would dedicate him to the Lord’s service, even before she became pregnant (1Samuel 1:11). 

After he was weaned, she brought Samuel, her young child, to the tent of meeting, so Samuel could “appear before the LORD and stay there forever” (1:22). And the just-weaned Samuel worshiped the LORD there (1:28).

Even as a boy, Samuel ministered (sharath) to the LORD, wearing a linen ephod. An ephod is the garment of a priest, so even as a boy, he was a priest (2:18). How did this boy minister to the LORD? Sharath means to worship, serve and wait on the LORD. 

Even as a young boy, Samuel ministered to the LORD in the tent of meeting, where the ark of the LORD was located, while Eli looked on and guided him in the ceremonial priestly tasks.

From 1Samuel 3

Samuel, the young boy-priest, laid down in the tent of meeting, where the ark of the Lord was. The ark is the symbol of the LORD’s presence (3:3). 

That is the first mark of faithful servants of the Lord. Such ones are continually before the Lord, in His presence, and continually minister to Him. It was just as with Joshua, in Exodus 33:11. 

Samuel was positioned to hear from the Lord, because he was continually ministering to Him. That is the second mark of faithful servants of the Lord. They are positioned to hear from the Lord.

Therefore, Samuel heard, when the Lord called Samuel’s name! When the Lord spoke to him the first time, Samuel heard His voice. But Samuel did not yet know Him intimately, so he thought Eli, the chief priest and leader of Israel, was calling to him, and he went to Eli (3:4-7). After the LORD called Samuel’s name three times, Eli realized it was the Lord, and instructed Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (3:9).

That is the third mark of faithful servants of the Lord. Because they are positioned to hear from the Lord, they will hear the Lord call them by name, even before they know Him intimately. And they will say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” And today, when they know Him intimately by being filled with His Holy Spirit, they continually hear Him speak to them.

When Samuel said, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening,” the Lord spoke to Samuel about His judgment of unfaithful Eli and his wicked sons. That is the fourth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. The Lord will speak words of His coming judgment of His disobedient people, through His faithful servants.

The next morning Eli, asked Samuel to tell him what word the Lord had spoken to him. Samuel was just a boy, and Eli was the high priest and the leader over Israel, so Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision and the words the LORD had given him regarding the consequences of the sin of Eli and his sons (3:15). 

But Eli said, do not hide any of the words the LORD had spoken to Samuel. And Samuel told Eli. He hid none of the words that the Lord had spoken to him (3:17-18). 

That is the fifth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. They do not omit any of the Lord’s words, even when He speaks of the dire consequences of His peoples’ sin.

Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him. Because the LORD was with him, none of Samuel’s words failed (fell to the ground) — his words came from the Lord (3:19). Therefore, the people of Israel knew Samuel was a prophet and heard from the Lord (3:20). 

That is the sixth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. Because their words come not from their own imagination, but from the Lord, none of them fall to the ground. They come to pass.Therefore, the people know that faithful servants have heard from the Lord. 

Still, many reject the words of the Lord’s faithful servants. The words He gave Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the words of Jesus Christ Himself, were rejected by many of His people. And even today, many of His people reject the words of those He has appointed — His apostles, His prophets, His evangelists, His pastors, and His teachers — His faithful servants who are not appointed by man, but by Him (see Ephesians 4:11).

Thus, the Lord appeared in Shiloh, where His tent of meeting was located (3:21). He had stood at a distance from His sinning people (Isaiah 59:1-2). But because Samuel ministered to Him continually, the Lord came. And because Samuel was positioned to hear from Him, the Lord spoke to him.

That is the seventh mark of faithful servants of the Lord. Today, He stands at a distance from His sinning people. But today, He comes to fully indwell His faithful servants who stay and wait until He does it (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). Then they minister to Him continually (John 14:23). And they continue to listen, and continue to hear from Him and always speak all that they hear, and do not hide any of His words, exhorting His people to repent, and warning them of the consequences of their sin.

Samuel led Israel for 42 years (13:1). Throughout that time, he faithfully exhorted and warned God’s people 

1Samuel 7:3   Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the LORD alone.

That is the eighth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. They speak the truth, and faithfully warn God’s people to return to the Lord and cast away to the moles and the bats (Isaiah 2:20) the god of self that is behind all of the idols God’s people worship, both then and now.

NOTE: God’s people only obeyed Samuel’s words from the Lord because they wanted to be saved from the hand of the Philistines. They feared the Philistines. So, their reason was selfish, and not done out of the fear (reverential awe AND actual fear) of the Lord. They did not tremble at His words.

It is the same with today’s believers. Few listen to the words of faithful servants of the Lord. It is NOT because His faithful servants speak from their own imagination, or that their words have not come to pass, but believers who are not filled with His Holy Spirit will only obey if they know they are in danger. After the Lord delivers them, they will continue to disobey Him.

As Samuel grew old and gray, his sons did not walk with the Lord like Samuel, but took bribes and perverted justice (8:3). So the people demanded a king. They wanted to be like the nations around them (8:5-6).  So, they rejected the Lord as their king, which grieved Samuel greatly. 

But the Lord told Samuel to anoint a king for them. It was part of His plan! In faithful obedience to the Lord’s instructions, Samuel first anointed Saul, and later, David. The peoples’ rejection of the LORD as king would lead to King David, from whose line His Messiah, the King of kings, would come! 
That is the ninth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. Though they cannot see all of the Lord’s plan, they faithfully carry out the Lord’s instructions. 

Samuel died 1,012 years before Jesus Christ was born. All Israel grieved for him, for they knew he was a prophet of God who had faithfully led them and always told them the truth of the Lord (25:1). 

That is the tenth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. When they die, they are remembered as those who spoke the truth of God and faithfully led His people. During their lives, their words were rejected by God’s people. But when they die, God’s people honor them. Jesus says 

Matthew 23:29   “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.”

Matthew 23:34   “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city . . .

From Ezekiel 44:12–16

Some of the Levitical priests in Jerusalem ministered to the people before their idols. They did not tell them to throw their idols to the moles and the bats and return to the Lord (Isaiah 2:20). They did not exhort God’s sinning people to repent. They did not mention the consequences of their sin. So, they became a stumbling block of sin to the people (44:12-13). 

Hear this! When those who minister to God’s people do not exhort God’s sinning people to repent, and do not warn them of the consequences of their sin, they endorse the sins of the people, and thus participate in their sins. So the people are blind to their sin, and stumble and fall away from the Lord. That is one of the marks of an unfaithful servant of the Lord. 

But the LORD promises those unfaithful servants who repent that He will allow them to minister to the people, but never again will they be permitted to minister to Him, in His presence. He will never again allow such ones to come near to Him, nor any of His holy things. They will no longer be allowed to enter the place where He dwells. It is their punishment for their unfaithfulness (44:12-14).

But it was different for His faithful servants, the sons of Zadok (a name derived from the Hebrew word for righteousness). They remained faithful to the Lord, and did not bow down to God’s idol-worshiping people. These faithful ones kept charge of His sanctuary, faithfully ministering, serving and waiting on Him, while the rest of the Levites went astray. 

That is the eleventh mark of faithful servants to the Lord. They remain faithful, even when their fellow servants go astray.

And the Lord allowed the priests of Zadok to minister to Him and stand before Him, and to offer the peoples’ sin offerings to Him. They were the only priests allowed to enter His sanctuary and come before His table, to minister to Him and keep His charge (44:15-16). They were the only ones who were allowed to come into His holy presence.

That is the twelfth mark of faithful servants of the Lord. But today, such ones are filled with His Holy Spirit. Therefore, they no longer have to “come into His presence,” to personally minister to Him, because His presence has filled them! He makes them His most holy place, temples of the living God (1Corinthians 6:19)! Therefore, they personally minister to Him, continually. And from their ministry to Him, the rest of their ministry flows.

Today, because Jesus Christ came, died, rose, ascended, was glorified and has poured out His Holy Spirit in a new way, today’s faithful servants stay and wait and are filled with His presence (John 14:23). 

So, they do not need to come into His presence, because His presence is in them continually. The Holy Spirit does not come upon them, as in the days of Samuel and the priests of Zadok. The Holy Spirit has filled today’s faithful servants and remains in them. They are filled with His holiness.

Because they are filled with God’s holiness, and the Father and Son dwell in them fully, they have their divine nature in them. So they do not do what Eli’s sons did, as I spoke in my last message. They do not honor their sons above the Lord, as Eli did, again from my last message. Their sin nature is crucified, so they no longer willfully disobey God.

Because they are filled with God’s holiness, they do not minister to God’s people with their idols. They refuse to participate in the sins of God’s people. Instead, they exhort God’s people to repent, and warn them of the consequences of their sin. 

O believer, will you listen to those who join you in worship of your selfish desires? 

Will you listen to those who never speak of the consequences of your sin?

Or will you listen to those who warn you to repent, and warn you of the consequences of your sin? It is a fearful thing to continue to sin, lose your salvation, and fall into the hands of an angry God (Hebrews 10:26-31)!

Will you listen to and obey the words of His faithful servants, or will you reject their words? 

Lord Jesus, I pray that today’s believers not only hear Your Word, but heed what You say, and listen only to the words of Your faithful servants. Amen. So be it!

 

A QUICK “HEADS-UP”

Dear readers, if you follow me on YouTube, you will notice that my last video message, “Eli Leaders and Their Sons,” had a muffled sound quality. It was because of the position of my mic. Jeff, my dear husband, co-minister, and videographer believed it was best to replace that video with one that has clearer sound, but is from a different mic we use as a backup.

So, it is the same content, just clearer sound! Thanks, dear husband!

ELI LEADERS AND THEIR SONS

[SW361] 1/12/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Eli Leaders and Their Sons”

Text: 1Samuel 2, etc.

Eli the priest had the authority to remove his sons, who were priests in Israel, but were sinning greatly against the Lord. But Eli did not remove them from their office as priests. It is the same with Eli leaders and their sons, in today’s church. 

The Lord warns and disciplines those He loves. He warns His church today, so that Eli leaders would repent and do what is right in His eyes. 

Verse 12 —

The LORD called Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, worthless men (literally, wicked sons of Belial — that is, Satan). Sons of Satan! What? They were priests, the son of Eli, the high priest who was the leader of Israel (see 1Samuel 4:18)!

But Eli’s sons did not know the LORD! “Know” is yada, in the Hebrew, and is used to describe the extreme intimacy of a marriage between a man and a woman. (He calls all believers to know Him intimately.) 

So, Eli’s sons had no holy, intimate relationship with Him. Thus, they did not respect Him, nor love Him, nor obey Him. They were wicked sons of Satan.

Jesus spoke this to the Jewish leaders and priests who rejected Him — 

John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.”

Verses 13-14 —

Because they did not know the Lord, but were sons of Satan, Eli’s sons did not “observe the custom of the priest with the people.” In other words, they did not do as priests were required to do, regarding their interactions with the people, and with the LORD’s holy dwelling place. Eli’s sons dishonored the LORD, because they disobeyed Him in every way.

The Law of Moses required blood as atonement for sin. In some cases, instead of burning the slain animal on the altar, blood would be drawn from it and applied to the altar, but the meat was boiled, and a portion was given to the priest. But instead of waiting to be given a portion of the boiled meat, Eli’s sons ordered the priest’s servant to thrust a fork into the pot and take whatever was on the fork. 

Thus, Eli’s sons rejected the LORD’s way, and made their own rules, out of the greed and “lust for the best” in their hearts. And by their actions, they defamed and profaned (soiled) the reputation of the LORD.

Verses 15-16 —

Also, the Law of Moses required that the fat of an animal be offered to the LORD, burned before Him on the altar. But when men came to offer their sacrifices, Eli’s sons sent the priest’s servant to come and demand raw meat for roasting, including the fat.

If the man who brought his offering said, “They (the priests) must surely burn the fat first, and then you can take what you desire,” the priest’s servant would demand it NOW, and threatened to take it by force. The servant did this at the orders of Eli’s sons.

Therefore, by their actions, Eli’s sons kicked at (trampled down) His sacrifice and His offering for sin. But hear this — their actions were also charged to Eli. Why? Eli ate the roasted meat with the fat, and ate the boiled meat that was wrongly taken, and Eli and his sons ate so much that they made themselves physically fat (see Verse 29). Eli himself became fat on the meat of his sons’ greed, instead of removing his sons from ministry.

Verse 17 —

Thus, the sin of Eli’s sons was very great, in the LORD’s eyes. They despised the offering that was His, thereby dishonoring Him. They soiled His reputation, and did not represent His holiness. They did these things because they did not know the LORD at all and because their hearts were full of greed and lust.

But that was not all they did, to despise and dishonor the LORD!

Verse 22 —

Eli’s sons also had sex with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting (Verse 22), using the women as their prostitutes. In doing so, they followed the customs of the false gods in the nations that surrounded them. Thus, they further defamed and profaned the name of the LORD. 

Eli was very old, and heard of the sins of his sons. He must have heard of their sins for a long time, but it was probably the prostitution of the women serving at the doorway of the tent of meeting that finally drove him to speak with them.

Verses 23-25 —

Eli went to his sons and asked, Why do you do these evil things I have heard about “from all these people”? But Eli did not remove them from their priestly office, though he had the authority to do so. 

Eli said to His sons, No, the report is not good which I hear among the people. But Eli did not remove them from the priestly office, though he had the authority to do so. 

If one man sins against another, I can mediate, Eli told his sons. But if you sin against the LORD, my sons, no one can intercede for you. Yet still, he did not remove them, though he had the authority to do so. And his sons continued to defame and profane the name of the LORD.

Thus, Eli the priest honored his sons above the LORD (see Verse 29). And I submit to you that Eli never would have left them in their priestly offices, if Eli himself intimately knew the LORD.

Eli’s sons would not listen to Eli’s voice. Why? The LORD knew their hardened, greedy, lust-filled hearts. The LORD knew they did not know Him. They never would have done such things if they knew Him. And so, He would put them to death, for they had dishonored Him and brought His holy name into disrepute.

Verses 27-28 —

Then a man of God (a prophet) came to Eli. Through this prophet, the LORD reminded Eli of the tribe of Israel whom He chose for His priestly line — the Levites — going all the way back to Aaron, in the days of Moses. They had the awesome responsibility of making atonement for the sins of the people, via the system of sacrifices on the altar, and of ministering to the LORD Himself.

Verses 29-30 —

Then the LORD said through the prophet, Why do you kick at (trample down) My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling? Eli, why do you honor your sons above Me? You and your sons have made yourselves fat with all the choicest (greatest, best) of every offering of My people!

The LORD had said that Eli’s house and all of the Levitical priesthood would walk before Him forever. But now He declared to Eli, Far be it from Me, that I would despise those who honor me; those who honor Me, I will honor. But far be it from me to honor those who despise me. The LORD will despise them!

Verses 31-33 —

Because Eli honored his sons more than the LORD, the LORD said He would break Eli’s strength (his arm) and the strength (arm) of Eli’s father’s house. All of the offspring of Eli’s house would die in the prime of life — none would live to old age — there would not be an old man in Eli’s house.  

The LORD said to Eli, “And you will see the distress of the LORD’s dwelling (literally, “an enemy in My habitation”). He would see the Philistines enter the tent of meeting and take the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence. I will show you the scripture for that shortly.

Until Eli died, the LORD would not remove Eli’s house (his descendants) from serving at the altar, so that Eli would not grieve. But all of Eli’s house would be removed by Him, dying in the prime of life, after Eli died.

Verse 34 —

The sign of the LORD’s judgment of Eli’s sons would be that Eli would see both of his sons die on the same day. Eli’s sons did not know the LORD, or they never would have done such things. And so, He would put them to death, for they had dishonored Him and brought His holy name into disrepute.

It happened just as the LORD said, through the prophet He sent to Eli —

1Samuel 4:10   So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

And Eli died, when he heard the news of his sons —

1Samuel 4:17 Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged (led) Israel forty years.

Verse 35 —

The LORD vowed that He would raise up a faithful priest who would do according to what is in His heart and His soul. And that faithful priest would have an enduring house, and walk before His anointed always. 

And what faithful priest did the LORD raise up? His Son, Jesus Christ —

Hebrews 3:2 He (Jesus Christ) was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.

Hebrews 3:5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house — whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Eli Leaders and Their Sons in Today’s Church

I have no administrative power to restrain and remove sinners who are appointed by their leaders (not the Lord) as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in today’s church. Just as with Eli’s sons, these man-appointed ones do not know the Lord at all. I will call such sinning ones, “today’s sons of Eli.” 

Those who have authority over today’s sons of Eli have the power to remove them, but they do not remove them. I will call them, “Eli leaders.”

The Eli leaders know that today’s sons of Eli are sinning, but they do not remove them. Why? The Eli leaders benefit from their sons, because their sons feed them from the proceeds of what they steal from the people.  Eli leaders partake of the money their sons rake in. They become fat on the meat of their sons’ greed.

How do today’s sons of Eli profane the Lord’s reputation? Today’s sons of Eli sin by their lies regarding the gospel. Many are caught stealing from the offering plate, and many are exposed in the media for sexual sin. Thus, they defame the name of the Lord. If they knew Him intimately, they would never do such things!

Even worse, they kick at  (trample down) the sacrifice and offering of the LORD to atone for sin! Who is the Atonement for our sin? Jesus Christ, whom He offered! They trample down His offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. How?

They trample down His sacrifice and offering for sin by preaching a false gospel that does not speak of sin or repentance or the sin nature that is in every man. They preach that the sin nature is with you forever, and that Paul was wrong to write that the sin nature is crucified in believers, when they are filled with His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:24). They preach that you cannot help but sin. Why would they preach otherwise? They themselves sin!

Do you see it? They dishonor and trample on the sin offering of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

But that is not all! They foolishly attempt to make a liar out of Jesus Christ, who said He would free us from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36), by filling us with His Holy Spirit and purifying our hearts (Acts 15:9)! Again, they trample down, dishonor, and profane the name of Jesus Christ! 

The Spirit-inspired writer of Hebrews says —

Hebrews 10:26   For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 

Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

They dishonor God the Father, but please the ears of their hearers. Again, they do such things because they do not know the Father or the Son at all. 

Today’s sons of Eli lust after money, and after sex — not only physical sex, including homosexual sex and pedophilia, but sex with the world. They love the world and the things of the world, instead of loving God. And they spawn followers who do the same.

Today’s sons of Eli preach that if you give to their ministry, God will give you back 100 times more. It is a popular gospel, one that fills the church coffers. And the Eli leaders receive a portion of the money.

So, the Eli Leaders do not remove today’s sons of Eli. They honor their sons above the LORD whom their sons have defamed! Why do Eli leaders not remove their sons? Again, just as with Eli the priest, Eli leaders and today’s sons of Eli have made themselves fat with all the choicest (greatest, best) of every offering of His people! 

Eli leaders and today’s sons of Eli say (and even boast) that they are rich and have become wealthy and are in need of nothing (Revelation 3:17). So, today’s Eli leaders do not remove them. They simply say, “Why do you sin? That is not good. You are giving us a bad reputation.”

Today’s sons of Eli, who do not know the LORD at all, do not listen to such mild rebukes from the Eli leaders. They disregard such rebukes and continue to trample down the name of the LORD — His reputation and His character. Thus. they sin greatly against the LORD. And He will vomit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). 

I cannot intercede with the Lord on behalf of today’s sons of Eli, nor on behalf of the Eli leaders. I can mediate between one man who has sinned against another. But they have sinned against the Lord, not against another man! 

So, Eli leaders have seen and will continue to see Him remove His presence from their churches, because they did not remove today’s sons of Eli.

Already, many churches overseen by Eli leaders and led by today’s sons of Eli have been closed — a judgment from the Lord. The empty church buildings have been overrun by the unholy. God’s places of worship have become bars, restaurants, Masonic Temples, art galleries, and museums. But that is just the beginning of the Lord’s judgment of Eli leaders and today’s sons of Eli! 

The Lord will further judge them. Today’s sons of Eli are already spiritually dead, because they do not know the Lord at all. But the Eli leaders will watch the Lord strike today’s sons of Eli down, even in the prime of their ministry. 

The Lord has and will continue to expose the sin of today’s sons of Eli. And civil authorities, not Eli leaders, are removing and will yet remove today’s sons of Eli from ministry. Today’s sons of Eli are even now and will yet be arrested and jailed because they have broken man’s laws! Again, this is a judgment from the Lord.

The Lord can no longer call the Eli leaders “faithful priests.” They will no longer be honored by Him, but will be despised by Him, for they did not remove today’s sons of Eli. He will break the strength of the line of Eli’s leaders. Far be it from Him to honor today’s sons of Eli, who despise Him or the Eli leaders, who honor their sons above Him! 

Even after young Samuel told Eli what the LORD had told him, and did not leave out a word, Eli did not repent for honoring his sons above the LORD. The LORD spoke this to Eli, through Samuel —

1Samuel 3:12 “In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 “For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke (remove) them. 14 “Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

This was Eli’s response, after Samuel told him everything —

1Samuel 3:18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.”

Do you see it? Even after Samuel spoke, there is no evidence that Eli removed his sons from their priestly office!

All of today’s sons of Eli who the Eli leaders have carefully groomed for church leadership will be cut off by the Lord. He will destroy them. 

The descendants of Eli leaders will be spiritually poverty-stricken. Some will see their spiritual poverty, and humble themselves before the Lord, repenting for honoring today’s sons of Eli above the Lord, and begging the Lord for a place in ministry. 

Who will be the Leader in place of the Eli leaders who do not repent for honoring today’s sons of Eli above Him?  The LORD’s appointed Leader, Jesus Christ, will rule. 

And those who know Him intimately, those whose sin nature has been crucified, those who are filled with His Holy Spirit, will serve as His ministers. They will honor Him and His Father. 

I believe that few of today’s sons of Eli will heed this warning, for they do not know the Lord at all. They will scoff at it. 

But it is possible that some of the descendants of the Eli leaders will see the poverty of their hearts, and will humble themselves before the Lord and repent. 

And it is possible that some of the Eli leaders may hear and heed these words. The question is, will they repent and remove today’s sons of Eli, or simply say, “So be it,” as Eli did?

Lord Jesus, this is a word for Your church’s leaders. May they hear and heed and repent. Amen. 

CLEANSING THE TEMPLE

[SW360] 1/5/2019 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019

“Cleansing the Temple”

Text: John 2:13-17, etc.

Jesus Christ is compassionate toward you. That is why He warns you today that He has found that many churches have made His house a den of robbers. Therefore, He will come and judge them. 

He would rather have the church agree that she is presenting a perverted form of Christianity, and repent. But if she does not repent, He will judge her, and clear away all that she prizes! Zeal for His Father’s house consumes Him!

Verses 13-14 —

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36) came to the temple for the Passover feast that foreshadowed His coming. But what did He find, in the court just outside the temple itself? 

Oxen, sheep and doves, and their excrement. The noisy bellowing of oxen and bleating of sheep. Why were they there? To be sold as sacrificial animals to those who came from afar and therefore, could not bring their own animal for sacrifice. 

But the bellowing, and the bleating, and the excrement were in the temple, in the court located just outside the sanctuary. It was impossible to enter the sanctuary without wading through the animals and those who sold them. The atmosphere was that of an open-air market, not of reverential awe for the place where God’s presence dwells, and for God Himself.

He also found the money changers in the outer court. The job of the money changer was to convert whatever currency you gave him into temple money, for a fee. The money changers shouted to worshipers, attempting to drown each other out and gather the most fees. It was a heated competition driven by greed. 

As if the circus-like atmosphere was not enough to offend God, cheating abounded among the money changers. They rigged their scales in their favor so they could skim a little off the top. So they cheated God’s people. 

Verses 15-17 —

In response, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove out the animals and the cheaters, and overturned all their tables. Their precious coins and rigged scales flew in every direction! Zeal for His Father’s house consumes Him (see John 2:17)!

The priests were in charge of the temple and had approved this circus. Thus, they were responsible for turning God the Father’s house into a den of robbers (Matthew 21:13). 

By their approval, they revealed that they did not respect the holiness of God the Father, and of His dwelling place. The unholy reached the very threshold of His holy temple.

Today’s Church

What does Jesus find, just outside the sanctuaries of today’s church? As He enters, He finds the same kind of noisy commerce as in the court just outside the temple. Coffee, books, and trinkets are sold in the foyers and bookstores of some churches. Others offer free coffee and doughnuts in their foyers. Some churches even have food courts — just like at the shopping malls — with outside vendors like Starbucks and other eateries. You can’t get to the sanctuary without wading through all of it!

Jesus knows that their goal is to make themselves attractive to newcomers. Church leaders urge all of their pastors to make their churches “attractional,” a word invented by church leaders in the 1990s. Invented by men! Jesus finds that they have not given a thought to the model of the church presented in the Book of Acts. 

He finds that today’s churches are ready to serve newcomers in worldly ways, so they will be satisfied, and return, and occupy the pews or chairs. Oh, yes, and by all means, come back, so the church’s coffers are filled. 

So, Jesus finds a different kind of robbery — not cheating with dishonest scales, but robbery of the very worst kind! Today’s churchgoers are served up a perverted experience of Christianity! 

What does Jesus mean? He sees that churchgoers are taught, through the methods used by today’s church, that God is here to serve you! Jesus came to make your life better! Be our guest! Be sure to get your guest bag of goodies before you leave!

Yes, Jesus Christ was the ultimate servant. How did He serve? He died on a cross, taking your sin upon Him, and reconciled you to God. Then He rose, ascended, and sat down at the right hand of His Father, and poured out His Holy Spirit, at Pentecost. The 120 who obeyed by staying and waiting were filled with His Spirit, and spiritually, they died to their sin nature. Have you done that, beloved?  

It is no wonder that the Lord is not sensed in the sanctuaries of today’s churches — He is not there! If He was, no church would have fallen for the “attractional” scheme, and those who tried to sell it to the churches would be on their faces, repenting! 

Jesus Christ finds that today’s church has become a den of robbers. Because the Lord is not there, churchgoers are robbed of His awesome presence, which brings believers to their knees and causes them to cry out in repentance. God only comes near when He hears the sound of repentance!

In today’s church, Jesus Christ finds that churchgoers are immediately conditioned to expect to be served, not to serve the Lord. They are served in the foyer, in every way possible. Now they are primed to be served in the sanctuary!

He finds that once they enter the sanctuary, they are immediately conditioned to expect that it is a place for socializing, until the entertainment is served to them. So, there is much noise, even in the sanctuary itself. The worship leader must call from the platform to quiet the crowd. 

What entertainment does Jesus find in today’s church? Outstanding worship music from musicians with college degrees in worship leading! And because churchgoers are conditioned to shop and to be served, they go to another church if the worship at one church doesn’t please them.

So, Jesus finds that churchgoers are conditioned to believe that church is about being entertained for an hour (no longer!), while they sit in comfortable chairs. 

Even worse, Jesus finds that they are conditioned to hear a short, user-friendly, ear-candy kind of sermon that does not prick their consciences. They are conditioned to expect nothing more. 

Jesus has sent His servants to today’s churches, to call them to repent. But He knew they would be rejected, because they were conditioned to receive false teaching, and they are upset —

Isaiah 30:9  For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen 

to the instruction of the LORD; 10 Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; and to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right. Speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions. 11 Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

Jesus finds that today’s churchgoers are conditioned by the church leaders to expect that God is supposed to do something for them. Everyone else at the church has served them. Now, they are primed to expect God to serve them by giving them what they want. Pastors of many churches will encourage them that Jesus Christ and God the Father are there to serve their worldly lusts and must give them their blessing by making them wealthy and prosperous. 

Jesus finds that they are being cheated, just as surely as the money changers with their rigged, dishonest scales. They are cheated out of experiencing biblical Christianity. What does Jesus mean? They are cheated out of hearing their need to repent for their sin. But it is the sound of true repentance that quickly brings God near! 

Beware and repent! Jesus is preparing that whip of cords! He is preparing to clean house! 

Jesus finds that because today’s churchgoers are not exhorted to repent and be filled with His Holy Spirit — which He commands — they are cheated out of a personal, intimate encounter with Him! He hears our cries, “We want Your presence,” but He knows we really only want His presents.

They are cheated out of having a personal, inward experience of the power and glory of Jesus Christ, because the price of that is repentance and surrender. Few pastors speak of such things, for fear churchgoers will be offended and leave.

Jesus finds that, in today’s church, few are His witnesses here, because the pastors are instructed that they should never tell churchgoers that they need something they don’t have. But they have a great need to obey Jesus Christ’s command to die to their sin nature and to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5)!

But I was chided by my leader in 2011, after I preached a sermon exhorting believers to repent. He said, “We don’t want to make them feel bad about themselves. They have had a hard week, after all.”  I pray for that leader, for he is not filled with the Holy Spirit, or he would never say such a thing! 

Jesus finds that there is great blindness in today’s church. He sees that leaders are blinded by the desire to fill the pews and keep their individual churches and their denominations going.

Jesus sees that today’s believers are like the blind who are being led by their blind teachers. Both will fall into a pit, beloved (Luke 6:39), not just the teachers who lead them astray. Why? Because all believers are responsible to know the truth, whether or not it is being taught at their church. Unless they take the first step toward Him by blowing the dust off their Bibles and sitting at His feet and hearing His words directly from His Word, they will remain blind. 

Jesus sees that churchgoers blindly serve others. What does Jesus mean? They serve in the same way the world serves — clothing people with natural clothing, feeding them with natural food and giving them natural drink. They do not see that any benevolent organization does such things. They do not see that they are to clothe others with Jesus Christ, and feed them His Word, and give them His living water. 

He fully understands that they have not received His living water into themselves because they do not know the One who offers it —

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 4:14 . . . but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Jesus Christ finds that in today’s church, no one is exhorted to serve the Lord by falling down and worshiping Him. 

They are not exhorted to serve the Lord by offering themselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing, though that is their true spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). 

They are not exhorted to serve the Lord by sitting at His feet, listening to His words.Yet that is the one thing that He requires from all believers. 

Again, the attendees of most of today’s churches do not sense the presence of the Lord in the sanctuary, because His presence is not there! Why would He come amongst the man-made church? It stinks in His nostrils!

Jesus Christ finds that today’s church is like the church at Laodicea. She thinks she is rich and has become wealthy, and is in need of nothing (Revelation 3:14 and forward). 

But Jesus Christ warns the church at Laodicea and today’s church that in His eyes, she is wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. He will vomit her out of His mouth, unless she repents. (See Revelation 3:16-17.)

Yet, in His mercy, He calls out to anyone who might hear His voice over the cacophony of the circus church. What does He call out?  

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Beloved, do you see that He does not call to the church, but to individual believers? He is outside the building, and has no intention of coming into the man-made church of today.

But a day will come when He brings a whip of cords into its foyers and even its sanctuaries, to clear it of all the man-made stuff that keeps God at a distance. He will come to judge it, and many who have made the church a me-centered blessing club will be scattered to the four winds, because of His grief and anger!

But today, He calls to “anyone” who hears His voice and opens up to Him. He will come into such ones. He will come into those who repent and turn back to Him!

What will He do when He comes into you, O believer? He will cleanse the temple of your body, driving away all that is unholy in you, and making your body His dwelling place! 

Then, He says He will sup with you and you with Him. He will fill you with His Holy Spirit, and you will know Him in a holy, intimate way.

He says, I will crucify the sin nature in you (Galatians 5:24), the nature that goes after the things that today’s church offers. And when you die to your sin nature, I will live in you (Galatians 2:20) and give you My divine nature (2Peter 1:4). 

Then, you will be My witnesses here, walking as I walked and being as I am in the world! Then you will have a front-row seat to watch Me work in and through you! 

That is biblical Christianity.

Zeal for His house consumes me, just as it did Jesus Christ when He saw that His Father’s house had been made a den of robbers. I burn just as He burned then and burns now, for much of His church is not even a shadow of the church in the Book of Acts. She has become something entirely foreign to Him!

Why does the Lord call to “anyone” in today’s church, but not to the whole church? All that is in most churches is man-made and man-centered, driven by the sin nature all of us are born with. That is what is “in us.”

The Lord does not entrust Himself to such ones, for He knows all men, and He needs no one to testify concerning man, for He Himself knows what is in man (John 2:24-25). Therefore, He does not entrust Himself to the church. He knows what is in her.

His message to today’s church leaders is this — I am grieved and angered by your man-made methods which rob My sheep of the truth. Unless you repent, I will come in and judge you, and leave you empty.

Amen, Lord. Let it be so.