A friend of mine related a modern proverb he had recently heard. It is a lamentable proverb, but one has to recognize the accuracy of it.
“What began as a movement in Jerusalem, became a philosophy in Greece, an institution in Rome, a culture in Europe, and a big wealthy enterprise in America.“
Christianity in America has indeed become a big wealthy enterprise. There are money changers in the temple once again. Believers have fallen from the simplicity of devotion to Christ. The church still espouses her betrothal to Christ, but she does so while clinging to her idols. In our nation, the greatest of our idols is money or mammon.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The scriptures tell us plainly that we cannot serve both God and mammon, but that hasn’t kept us from trying. We have even coined a term for the type of preaching that tries to wed the two together. We call it “the prosperity gospel.”
President Clinton made an astute remark while running for election. Commenting on what the people of the nation were really interested in, he said, “It”s the economy, stupid.” Above issues of personal integrity or morality, the citizens of our nation are concerned about the economy and their own financial well-being. This is true of the church, as well.
In the church, there are whole groups of pastors, from many different denominations, that preach financial blessing, material gain, and a man-centric gospel week after week. The overall impact of this type of preaching is to convince people that God saved them so that He could bless them with the things of this world. A focus on the pursuit of Christ and heavenly reward is entirely missing.
Across this nation the gospel of Yahshua the Messiah has been mixed with the message of prosperity. Passion for Yahshua has been mixed with a passion for things. This causes the world to wonder what the church is really pursuing. By adding other pursuits to our pursuit of Christ, we have lost much of our savor. The world sees the church pursuing the same things she lusts after. The obvious conclusion is that Yahshua the Messiah alone must not satisfy.
Our Heavenly Father is determined to bring purity forth where there has been mixture. One way to refine and test the hearts of those whom God has called to bear His name is to remove the things to which they cling. Judgment is coming upon the whole world, but before God can judge the world, He must judge His children.
I Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
We are told that in the last days God will shake all things that can be shaken (Hebrews 12:26). All of the idols which men cling to will be tested. The stock market, 401K plans, bank accounts, the economy of our nation, the healthcare system, government, and all else that we trust for comfort, security, and safety, will be shaken. Only that which cannot be shaken will stand.
The world, along with those Christians who are clinging to houses built upon the sand, will be devastated. We are told that the day will come when men’s hearts will fail them for fear (Luke 21:26). Fear will grip the hearts of those who have trusted in the false gods of this world. Only those who have learned to lean upon their beloved Lord will be unmoved by the devastation around them.
Yahshua compared the last days before His return to a time of labor when a woman is about to give birth (Matthew 24:8). The world will be shaken by the coming contractions and the contractions will become more and more frequent even as they increase in their intensity. These contractions will follow on the heels of one another until the world is reeling from them.
Only when the idols of the world are cast down will many perceive that Christ is the only thing which cannot be shaken. He is our strong tower. He is our refuge and strength. He alone is worth pursuing.
During this period when it will appear that chaos reigns, those who have made themselves ready will shine forth brightly before all the Earth. When men’s hearts are failing them, these will be unmoved. The Bride will stand in confidence in the day of shaking for she will have hidden herself in the arms of her Beloved.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but Yahweh will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
The days the church is entering into are days of separation. God is calling the church forth out of the world and He is calling a Bride forth for His Son. These will be difficult days even for those who have walked close to the heart of God. Many will doubt and be confused by the intensity of the days ahead. Those who lack confidence in the heart of God will respond as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Many will fall away (Matthew 24:10). But those who have confidence in their God will stand. They will do exploits. They will see the mighty hand of God move on their behalf.
A couple of years ago I was ordained as a pastor and elder among the group of believers I had fellowship with. A pastor from another fellowship attended the service. I had never seen him among our fellowship before, nor have I since. Since he was present, he was invited to participate in the laying on of the hands of the presbytery as I was being ordained. I will never forget his words.
This pastor told me, “God has a reward for you, but it will not be of this Earth. Your reward is in heaven.” He then said, “In heaven, you will be a worshiper in God’s presence.” These words were all the more poignant to me because, just prior to this time, I had been considering what my lot and portion would be in heaven. A greater promise could not have been given to me. The words of David resounded in my heart.
Yahweh is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You do support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I have a promise before me of attaining the highest reward, to stand in God”s presence and to worship Him. This is the joy set before me. This is my reason for enduring hardship. This will keep me standing when all around me is shaken. I am pursuing the prize.
Yahshua the Messiah is my portion. His blood is true drink and His flesh is true meat. I have had but a small taste and I want more. The feast the world sets before me has no flavor in comparison. I choose to pass by the delicacies and rich meats of the world, that I might obtain the true riches which are offered to me by the hand of God.
It is for such a promise that those who comprise the Bride of Christ will choose to live apart from the world. As the sons of Jonadab did and as David did, the Bride will choose the priestly inheritance. Rather than settling for the world, they will choose God as their portion.
In the days ahead, God will display to the sons of men many of His chosen ones, of whom the world is not worthy. These will shine forth in great radiance, for they have chosen as their glory, the glory of God. These understand the purpose of the wilderness and of testing. They will not shrink back from difficulty. They will embrace the cross willingly. They will do this for the joy set before them.
The shaking that is coming upon the Earth holds no threat for the Bride. It will serve only to further refine her as all attachments to the things of the world are stripped away. It will prove the wisdom of the Bride in choosing to lean on her Beloved. The Bride will appear radiant as her purity is manifested and her love for Christ is displayed.
The Bridal Saints will be unveiled before the world and their unveiling will be as startling as that of a butterfly which emerges from the cocoon. No longer a lowly caterpillar, these will be lovely to behold. Having been eternally transformed by their encounter with Christ, they will receive a new name. They will be called the Bride of Christ.
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