Month 2:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:51 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50, Omer Count - Shabbat #5
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 28 May 2016
Futile Religion I
When Chickens Come Home to Roost
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah - "grace to you and shalom (peace) from Elohim (God) our Father and the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (Rom.1:7b, NRSV).
The Astonishing Stripping is Underway
Something very interesting, frightening and hopeful is happening right now. We are seeing, sometimes starkly, what is left when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) withdraws leaving believers to discover what they really believe and who they really are. Some of the stories I am hearing from you are quite astonishing. Believers you once though were built on the solid rock of Messiah are being suddenly swept away as though they had been standing on sand all along. Once apparently strong Christians and Messianics are suddenly being transformed, literally overnight, into something completely different. I am left shaking my head so many times. People you thought you knew are turning into complete strangers almost overnight. The night of the soul is painful to behold but in this time of stripping, all must be revealed. We are in the fiery midst of the Great Reset and there is more to come...much more.
Once solid, Bible-trusting and Yahweh-fearing men and women, some with active ministries, are suddenly falling apart. And I'm not just speaking of the big-league evangelists out there who are suddenly showing their Illuminati colours in droves, but local pastors, deliverance ministers, and ordinary folk who once seemed so strong. They are falling apart, their personalities changing. Like an exploding comet, they seem to be flying off in every and any theological and philosophical direction you can think of. One day a cutting-edge theologian, the next a ranting shaman. One day a deliverance minister, the next day a ranting Anti-missionary. One day a regular assembly attendee, the next a regular secularist.
Like Chickens Coming to Roost
What is going on? Quite simply, like those chickens in the well known idiom, our unrepented sins are coming come to roost and mankind must face the consequences of its choices. And to make sure that judgment is done properly, Yahweh permits enticing spirits - demons - to go out so that those ordained to fall, because of their stubborn refusal to heed the warnings and make teshuvah (repent), shall fall. This is the Jubilee or Yovel, a once-in-every-50-years event, in which that which we lost is restored through redemption for those who trust in the Redeemer, and for those who had but did nothing, even that is removed from them and given to those who were about multiplying Yahweh's investment in them. You all know the parable of the talents (Mt.25:14ff.). Yes, this is a harvest time, and one the likes of which you will not see for another 50 years unless Yah'shua (Jesus) returns before then. He is the Master of the times and seasons. And remember, the Calendar does not control Him, He controls the Calendar. I hope, therefore, that you are "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph.5:16, KJV).
Some of you have waded in much affliction for many years, so much so that there has not seemed to be any light at the end of the tunnel. Your problems have been many: illnesses, shakey finances, collapsed marriages, failed careers, any number of things. Tiqveh (hope) has been all but exhausted as with the last ounce of energy left, you lift the pickaxe of your faith with a view to bringing it down on that devilish obstacle that has been persistently blocking your way for so long. Every blow has failed up to now and your emunah (faith) is weakening. You just don't have it in you to do any more. You have come to the end of your strength. Yet there is a blow that shatters right at the end and it's a question of whether you'll continue until you can continue no longer. It is when we are down to our very last cruise of oil or handfull of flour that Yahweh rewards the faithful overcomers and begins the miracle of multiplication. He turns the faithful one round just before the moment of death and infuses him with a draught of chayim (life). So don't quit before your time arrives for victory!
Hold Out, Don't Give Up
"My brethren, take the nevi'im (prophets), who spoke in the name of Yahweh, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by Yahweh -- that Yahweh is very compassionate and merciful" (James 5:10-11, NKJV).
All too many give up and let go on the very edge of victory. Their emunah (faith) gave out because they wouldn't wait any longer. They were impatient, lazy or just chose to stop believing. Overcomers hold out, even against the odds, however hopeless they seem, knowing that no problem is too difficult for Yahweh to solve. They are the Spartans of the spiritual domain and by their emunah (faith) and sacrifice whole armies are defeated by these few bave-hearts. This is the mind and heart of the Remnant. Leadership is thus born out of bearing affiction with patience, not out of prosperity.
Discovering What You Have Become
When the Ruach (Spirit) withdraws from you for any reason other than sin, it is to test you. We have to discover, by being away from Yahweh's Presence, what we have become. And we can only know that by standing alone for a while, by having our world uprooted and turned upside down so that we can truly discover and know who we are and what we have turned into. Especially, we can come to know whether our religion was mere play-acting or the real thing. It is easy to 'play' at being a Christian or a Messianic until the masks are stripped away - then we, and everyone else, can see who we really are.
Of Rabbits and Camels
A lot of people hide behind Torah-keeping which becomes their excuse for not grappling with those things which matter the most. Take the kashrut or dietary laws, for example. If Yahweh has commanded that we shall not eat rabbit or camel, then there is a reason for not doing so. Therefore we obey His mitzvot (commandments). However, my not eating rabbit or camel will not result in my getting on with my wife better and will not enable my children to get to know Yah'shua (Jesus) better. Not eating rabbit and camel will not enable me to overcome depression and defeat.
A Special Kind of Saving Truth
That's not to say, as some Evangelicals argue, that we should forget the Kashrut laws because they don't help me get overcome these difficulties. This is not an excuse to be lawless. But it is to recognise that there are different categories of Torah and that some categories operate in different spheres of our lives. A man stopping to eat pork, which is a good and right thing to do both for his health and because Yahweh has told him not to eat swine mat, will not equip him to overcome same-sex attraction or get a better relationship with his boss. We don't, in any case, obey mitzvot (commandments) in order to get saved - we obey them because we are saved. We obey out of ahavah (love) and gratitude. Your not owning a TV, radio, high-heeled shoes, or bright clothes - your speaking in 'tongues', being baptised in the correct manner, pronouncing the Creator's Name in the correct way, or exclusively using one English Bible translation won't fix a broken relationship with either Yahweh, a spouse, a sibling or a friend because none of these things are the Emet (Truth) that Yah'shua (Jesus) spoke about when He said:
Spiritual Issues are Transdenominational
"And you shall know the emet (truth), and the emet (truth) shall make you free" (John 8:32, NKJV).
I meet Messianics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, and people from all denominations, or no denomination at all, who have the same issues. I meet unbelievers with the same issues, Atheists, Hindus, Moslems, New Agers and Buddhists. You see, the emet (truth) that sets a soul free from bondage has nothing to do with the religious or irreligious label you wear as a badge of honour or distinction.
Truth Factoids Do Not Save
Please understand this, and understand it well: knowing and implementing various 'truth factoids' like the correct way to baptise, the best Bible version to use, the correct food to eat, how to pronounce the Creator's true Name the correct way, knowing the true day of the Sabbath and the feasts, avoiding all the paganised holidays like Christmas and Easter, are not the emet (truth) that sets you free. Implemented truth-factoids don't save, don't deliver, don't give you freedom and don't generate the simcha (joy) of the truly saved. Indeed, without the Emet (Truth) that saves they can actually become an unbearably heavy load to carry. But once you have that Chayim (Life), then these implemented Torah-factoids become a real blessing. But not before. Yes, it's good to force yourself to be kind to your neighbour but what you really need is the Spiritual Chayim (Life) that makes being kind natural, spontaneous and joyful even when your neighbour is a horrible person.
I'm addressing today both those who once owned The Emet (Truth) That Saves and have since lost it and are wondering why their religion makes them so miserable, as well as those who have attempted religion for the first time without ever having previously owned The Emet (Truth) That Saves. There is no method, lifestyle or doctrinal picnic basket, church or messianic assembly that is going to deliver you from being outside The Emet (Truth) That Saves. If a comitted Buddhist, Moslem, Atheist, New Ager, Jew or anyone else can accomplish what you have accomplished in your own strength then what you have tried to accomplish is not of the supernatural realm, unless you have been foolish enough to turn to demons, of course, in which case you have the wrong kind of 'supernatural', the supernatural that destroys.
Demon Bashing Doesn't Save Either
A word or warning about the 'demonic' route. Many of you may have been told that the source of your problem is demons. Maybe you have spent hours, weeks, months, even years, casting out demons only to find that you're still in the same bondage you started off with. I used to do a lot of deliverance ministry once only to discover that 95% of it didn't work. Was it because I was praying wrong? Was it because there was no demonic issue? No. The reason that it failed most of the time was because I discovered that most of those who came to me for help didn't want to own The Emet (Truth) That Saves. They wanted truth-factoids about demons that they could use like a magical spell to get rid of their problem without any real desire to have their lives radically transformed and changed. They didn't want to become spiritually-regenerated believers! They wanted deliverance but were unwilling to surrender their lives to Yah'shua (Jesus) truly. Yes, they were willing to surrender for as long as it was necessary to get rid of their demons but once delivered, as they supposed, they had no intention whatsoever of remaining surrendered. They wanted a life of sinning, but demon-free.
Easy and Difficult
It is extremely easy to get baptised by immersion, take a day off on the sabbath, attend worship services, read the Scriptures, eat kosher food, attend the festivals, and do all the things a Messianic Israelite is expected to do. Oh yes, I know, giving up pork, or beer, or going to the races on days when Sabbath falls, quitting fornication, and so on, may seem 'difficult', but really this is the easy stuff. And it won't solve the problem of spiritual bondage. Shipwrecked scholars supplying a never ending stream of interesting truth-factoids are not the solution to broken marriages, rebellious children and a lack of abundance in the spiritual life.
Systematising Yahweh is Impossible
Now don't misunderstand me. I am not saying you shouldn't study the works of scholars. I love them! And I know many of you do too. I love to know my Scriptures in depth and I love to understand what's going on around me and in people. But know this. Yahweh cannot be systematised and understood - that is what unbelievers do! No, Yahweh is to be obeyed and worshipped. Those of you who know me know that I have a vast theological library of thousands of volumes. And I am grateful that I have been able to apply and teach the wisdom I have learned from them. But sometimes it might be better for some people - those religious people still in bondage - to sell their libraries and instead buy a telescope and turn it on the heavens and silently gaze there a while. Spend an evening doing this and you will soon discover how ignorant you truly are in respect of knowing your Heavenly Father. Job did that and soon concluded that he was insignificant (Job 40:3-4). There is a place for learning but when it becomes a substitute for chayim (life) it is a cursed thing.
Learning From Baby Chickens
We have been very much absorbed here with baby chickens, as most of you know. The whole family have spent hours just looking at and handling those little fluff balls of life and simply marvelling. And they are marvelous. It's like having a new baby. Young ones are full of life, they are uncomplicated and haven't had the chance to make the mistakes adults have. I love to watch the chicks scurrying about, fearless, pecking here and there, stretching, falling over, and nodding off on their feet as they slowly bend forwards asleep with their bottoms up in the air. It has been good therapy for me, and all of our family, the screaching at night notwithstanding when they want attention!
Men and Brains
I am not one of those people who says that knowledge is unimportant. Knowledge that leads to chayim (life) is extremely important, so long as it doesn't take the place of The Emet (Truth) That Saves. Once it takes Messiah's place and becomes a solution to daily life, though, it becomes a cursed thing. I have seen so many believers fall by the wayside and perish as pertaining to spiritual life because they pursued knowledge, which puffed them up in their pride, instead of Messiah, who would have kept them humble. They end up either worshipping their thoughts, their feelings or their bodies. They worship themselves all the while 'talking religious'. Braniacs, people with big hearts and beautiful/handsome people are all in danger of comitting idolatry once they turn to one or more facets of themselves and start elevating them above Messiah. I have known so many intellectual believers end up worshipping their own brains and ending up as atheists. They thought they were cleverer than the Most High. By focussing on fault-finding in others and their theologies, they then turned on the Bible itself and like all the 'higher critics', so-called, began to view their intellects as superior to those men who wrote the Scriptures under the power of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). This is a male weakness.
Women and Feelings
Then there are those who worship their feelings, convincing themselves that what feels right is 'truth'. They end up judging everything and everyone by their feelings, as the liberalised world does today, and by a different route also end up worshipping themselves. This is a female weakness. Then there are those who judge by a mixture of thoughs and feelings...which is most of us.
Prayer vs. Psychology
The pursuit of knowledge and emotional highs, by whatever means, can, and does, keep us from prayer. And the reason why people do this is because it is a lot easlier to study or pursue emotional or physical pleasure than it is to seek Yahweh! Much easier! It may surprise you to learn that there are few, if any, Bible Colleges and Seminaries which offer courses in prayer! Yet according to Scripture, Yahweh rules the world through the prayers of the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones), and not through psychological counseling, which offers only self-knowledge without supernatural input! This is one way Satan has neutered the Body of Messiah. True counseling leaves a soul looking to Messiah, not to himself. When you are looking to self for the answers you are, without perhaps realising it, a satanist-in-the-making because the heart of that religion, which rules the world in so many different ways, is all about the worship of self. 6 is the nunmber of self and the mark of the Anti-Messiah (Antichrist) is 666, which is the elevation of self as an elohim (god), the ultimate blasphemy, when the creature worships himself instead of the Creator.
Cast your anxiety on Yahweh, not on psychology.
"Cast your cares on Yahweh and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. But you, O Elohim (God), will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in You" (Ps.55:22-23, NIV).
Three Chapters in Matthew
So where do we start? I recommend Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 as good places to start the core of the spiritual life. For in these three chapters Yah'shua (Jesus) gives us the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, discourses about salt and light and how He came to complete the Torah (Law). He deals with the perennial problems of anger and lust, and how to be rid of them. He addresses the problem of divorce, instructs us not to retaliate and to love our enemies. We are taught about giving to the needy, the Lord's Prayer, how to fast and how to lay up treasures in the heavenly realm. The end of the 6th chapter deals with another of those 'big' issues, namely, how to live an anxiety-free life. Finally, in chapter 7, He instructs us not to judge, we are taught the Golden Rule, and how to build our spiritual house on solid rock.
A Foundation for the Victorious Life
If believers who have lost their way, for whatever reason, could return to these three chapters, and rebuild from there, they would experience huge changes. It's a good place for new believers and seekers to start too. For out of the principles of Saving Emet (Truth) taught in these chapters there is a solid foundation for the victorious life.
The Indian Who Lost His House Key
An Indian Christian tells the story of a man who lost the key to his house and, finding himself locked out, began to look for it under the streetlight. As the neighbours noticed the man they would ask him what he was doing, and one by one they joined him in his search. Finally, one of the neighbours asked the man, 'Exactlty where did you lose the key?' The man answered, 'Over there by the house.' The neighbour responded, 'If you lost your key by your house, why are we all looking under this light?' The man answered, 'I couldn't see well enough where I lost it; I can only see under the light' .
Deliberately Looking in the Wrong Place
We have to look in the place of our defeat and not where unrelated things appear clearest. The fact that we have not overcome certain spiritual issues is precisely because they are bathed in darkness and unclarity. We can't see them. Looking in the wrong places does not give us what we want. Just because there is a measure of light in a particular area where we are looking - a place, say, we are familiar with and have some understandong of - does not mean that that is the correct place to look. And yet that is where we tend to go. To overcome means to go into the unknown, our hand in the hand of Yah'shua (Jesus), trusting Him to show the root of the problem, because we can't see our way to it. As soon as we start telling Him where to take us, by looking under that familiar streetlight in the wrong place, then what we have in effect done is to tell Him, 'No thank you. I don't need Your help. I'll do it my way.'
Dictating the Conversation
Here's the problem. Yahweh is reaching out to you now but you are trying to dictate His conversation. This is another reason I cut deliverance ministry right back because in 90 per cent of the cases coming to me they came telling me how to do the deliverance, as if they already knew! The thing is, if you already know how to do it, why do you need a minister? Do it yourself - don't ask for ministerial help and don't ask Yahweh to do it your way. That's why the vast majority of people get nowhere. They think they know, but they don't. They think they can see, but are blind. They think they can hear, but are deaf.
Is He Really Your Master and Lord?
We cannot come to Yah'shua (Jesus) on our own terms and He cannot solve our difficulties when we've already decided how we're going to get fixed. When you're in darkness you don't have a clue! But pride drives people on, they keep on failing, and they wonder why. Such must come to the end of themselves before they will finally surrender and actually let Yah'shua (Jesus) be their Master and Lord. You see, just declaring that He is so doesn't mean He actually is. Better, of course, if you will humble yourself and stop fighting Him.
Rationalising Sinful Behaviour
I had a man defiantly chastise me the other day for daring to say that something was a sin when he had found the means to rationalise that sinful behaviour. I had been expecting a backlash. Satan is more than happy for us to choose another sin as the solution to the original sin we are grappling with. Then he can have us for breakfast.
Next week, Yah willing, and provided I am not directed to speak about something else, I would like to take this subject further, because it is so important. We are dealing with fundamental things here that so many are missing. I'd like to encourage you to read prayerfully Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 in the meantime and see if any part of them addresses your particular problems or needs.
Are You Afraid of Surrendering?
A final thought for those fearful of surrendering: Total surrender will not bring pain and loss - rather, it is the lack of total surrender which brings actual pain and loss! All you lose is your pride and control. There can be no half-heartedness in our discipleship - we're either in it fully, for all time, or we're pretending to do it His way but in reality trying to do it our own.
Let Go of That Idol
That's why you're seeing so many people running away and doing what seems to us to be crazy things right now. And you're going to see more of it. That's why you must let go of the last of your idols because Satan has already invested a great deal of time and energy in getting you to believe the lie that you need that one thing which has brought you pleasure, given you independence but which has allowed the Enemy that continuing foothold in your life. For some it's intellectual pride, for others it's the worship of feelings as truth or the Ruach (Spirit). Whatever it may be, and in whatever combination, we are somewhere declaring in ourselves the right to be in control, the right not to forgive, the right to keep that one idol, or to have some kind of worldly possession or pleasure.
Dodging the Darts in the Courtyard
So if you really mean it when you say that you want to live for, and serve, Yahweh, and be pleasing to Him, it's important that you ask Him for revelation and clarity, because you really do not want to be carrying this baggage that will either prevent your entry into the Sanctuary or slow you down as you try to dodge the darts flying around in the Courtyard.
Your Opportunity to Be Free
Yahweh will stir you, reminding you of what it is you are still clinging to that must be released. Now is your golden opportunity to be finally free and to walk victoriously in Him. My prayer is that we will all act decisively before the Remnant disembarks from the spiritual Ark in 5 days' time.
Brethren and sisters, "salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day..." (Rom.13:11b-13a, NRSV). "Let ahavah (love) be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve Yahweh. Rejoice in tiqveh (hope), be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer" (Rom.12:9-12, NRSV). Until next time, Yahweh bless you all. Amen.
Continued in Part 2
 As related by Michael Wells in Sidetracked in the Wilderness: Find the Way Back to Victorious, Abundant Life (Devotional Life Press, Littleton, CO: 1991), p.28
Comments from Readers
 "Thank you for sharing such a timely message....I am constantly convicted and challenged by your obedience to the Truth and teaching as Yah leads you in your sermons, but this one really described what is going on right now with me so well. There are so many catchy quotes too: 'Cast your anxiety on Yahweh, not on psychology.' Sometimes I don't even know I was resisting the Holy Spirit and His Grace, as I pursued knowledge to resolce a spiritual weakness. Thanks for this tough but needed teaching" (MG, USA, 28 May 2016)
 "Pastor Chris, in the above sermon, you wrote 'Cast your anxiety on Yahweh, not on psychology.' I was also reading a previous sermon on deliverance (Mountain-Rock: Where Demons are Exposed) and also some general reading about the nature of addiction (which is an idol for some of us). I re-discovered the following explanation by journalist Charles Duhigg about habits. How can a person turn a belief into Duhigg's explanation into a form of idolatry, where one could be 'casting our anxiety on psychology?' I am in prayer about the presence of demonic strongholds but I am also very interested in what is happening to us physically when we willfully sin, like watching too much TV when we know better. So, I like Duhigg's breakdown of how we form habits, but I also don't want to elevate man's knowledge over Yah's. Thanks for your time and help with this issue" (MG, USA, 27 June 2016)