Beloved, DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR!
I have to admit…this is a huge problem for me. I get so excited when I hear about something that will make all my wildest dreams come true!
Whether it’s a vitamin that guarantee’s my health, or the latest government policy that will make my community a better place or a church initiative all wrapped up in clever marketing and appeasing color schemes…I am definitely the one who will open my mind to it.
I will even excuse my initial reservations by saying, “Well there’s more good than bad” keeping a positive outlook on the forefront.
As Marcy likes to say, “Marc is in his la la land where everything is just fine fine fine!”
Usually it’s harmless…generally I won’t spend money for the miracle pill, or I’m not willing to vote for tax increases, and I never commit the church to sign on, choosing the, “Let’s just wait and see how this goes” approach, after my initial excitement that is.
But if the temptation persists; Elder John’s inspiration from the Holy Spirit helps us to see the dangers that remain…and…the reality…that said dangers are often from the pastors themselves!
So my beloved Faith members…don’t believe every spirit…definitely test it…make sure of it…and even trial it by fire if you have to!
Some will come with a notion they are channeling the spirit of God. Usually they are distinguished by their lack of knowledge concerning God’s Word.
But when they can cleverly quote out of context; we must be biblically prepared to test their metal in the court of theological discourse.
The sad reality is; they are rarely from outside the church. More often than not, they come from within the church.
1 John 2:18-19 tells us,
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
You see it’s easy to get excited about that compelling and interesting pastor. We just need to make sure were not excited only about how they say it, but with what they actually say.
If what they say does not stand the test of God’s Holy Word, then how they say it doesn’t even matter.
The time is too short to get caught up with people that charismatically carry you away from Christ.
Rather…get caught up with those unabashedly for Christ.
Those who preach the Holy Spirit of God in full and utter contrast to the spirit of the antichrist, and those who know Jesus in the flesh is God from above.
Then and only then are we under the Prophets who prepare us for any manipulation the evil one may portion out.
By this know; YOU are of God and you are greater than any false prophet.
In the Old Testament the true Prophet Elisha was actively pursued by the King of Syria.
Elisha’s prophesies from God twice saved the King of Israel from the Syrian Armies. The frustration was so great at one point the Syrian King’s Advisors told their king, “…Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel tells the King of Israel the words you speak in your bedroom!” And he(the king) said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him!”
2 Kings 6:12b
The advisors replied that Elisha was at Dothan just about 20 miles west of the Jordan River. The Syrian King sent a great army of horses and chariots and surrounded Elisha’s camp.
What can only be described as one of the top 10 revelations in all of Scripture is printed in your bulletin for us to read responsively. Let’s take it out and read that aloud now.
2 Kings 6:15–17
P When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said,
C “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
P He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”
C So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Psalm 35:7 says,
“…the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them”
"Christ does not want us to be alone on the road of death, from which all men shrink. Indeed, we set out upon the road of suffering and death accompanied by the entire church…All that remains for us not is to pray that our eyes, that is, the eyes of our faith, may be opened that we may see the church around us. Then there will be nothing for us to fear. (AE 42:163)
And that’s not just and Old Testament Anecdote or a Reformation Reminder…it’s right here, right now!
It’s in the eyes of Joy when a shut-in receives a crayon colored construction paper card from our school children sending words of love to grandparents with no grandchildren near bye.
It’s families struggling with cancer but comforted with the love and support of the church family.
It’s individuals who having lost their spouse found a whole other life in devotion fellowship and volunteering at church.
It’s in small groups that meet off campus and become fast friends and even camp together.
It’s in widowers and widows that find new life in Holy Matrimony with each other.
Psalm 34:7 explains why this all works; for when it says, “…the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.”
This is no ordinary angel; this is the pre-incarnate redeeming God appearing, in other words, this is Jesus Christ!
Jesus’ words comforting that shut-in on the crayon colored construction paper care card.
Christ’s arms embracing the families struggling with cancer and understanding that pain like no person possibly could.
Christ inviting those who lost loved ones so he could speak tenderly to them through devotion and serving at church.
Christ at the center of every small group for Jesus says, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them” Matthew 18:20
And all of those marriages are a reaffirmation of the church as the Bride and Jesus as the Groom.
The love we express through Church is Christ’s love for us, flowing to others.
As John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”
No doubt we have all seen plenty examples of this from the war torn battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq; Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines laying down their lives for their beloved brothers in arms.
As worthy of respect as this is, as venerated as it should always be, it is just a matter of time before nobody remembers those hollowed names on the memorial stones.
But Christ’s love, was memorialized on a cross with the scars on his feet, hands, side and brow of His head, serving as an eternal reminder of what His love will always be for His beloved.
There is an old story told of a little boy in the old south who had hideous scarring on his arms.
A stranger to the town came upon him one day and inquired as to the reason for the scarring.
The little boy replied that his mother did it to him with her fingernails.
Horrified the man exclaimed, “What monstrous person would do such a thing to a boy?”
The little boy answered saying, “You don’t understand sir, these are love scars. You see a gator caught my feet by the river, and my mother had me by the arms. She held me so tight that her nails dug into my arms, keeping the gator from dragging me under. The gator finally let go when he grew too tired to pull. My mother would never let me go.”
That’s your savior Jesus and His scars are your eternal proof that He loved you so much He would never let you go. That’s beloved by Jesus. AMEN