Wolves Disguised As Sheep: False Prophets In the House

They have corrupted themselves terribly as in the days of Gibeah; he will remember their wickedness; he will punish their sins.  -Hosea 9:9

Is it possible that we have leaders in the house of God who are deeply corrupt, who are leading people to destruction?  That is what happened in the days of Hosea, with the false prophets.

The Hebrew idea of corruption here is not only a dishonest person, but a depraved, perverted, and destructive person.  The notorious example of Gibeah that Hosea cites, is the story, recorded in Judges 19, where a woman was raped to death, by a band of men, who first demanded sex with her priest husband.  Hosea says that the false prophets were like those men.

Are there today, some ministers and leaders in the church, the false prophets of our day, that have not just let us down, but been deeply corrupted?  Instead of protecting God's people from snares, they have become snares.  These corrupted leaders have become antichrist, leading God's people away from Christ.  How can this be?

A church father wrote that, "no one doth wider injury than one who acteth perversely, while he hath a name or an order of holiness."  "God endureth no greater prejudice from any than from priests, when He seeth those whom He has set for the correction of others, give from themselves examples of perverseness, when "we" sin, who ought to restrain sin. What shall become of the flock, when the pastors become wolves?"

What shall become of the flock, when the pastors become wolves?

Do you think that what happened in the times of Hosea are an aberration, never to happen again, just history; or a warning?  Jesus warned of this happening.  I believe that Jesus knew that false prophets in the church is a part of Satan's playbook against the church and to watch out:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves."  -Matthew 7:15

"The false prophets," is probably best understood generally rather than specifically...  "False prophets" are persons who appear on the surface to be something they are not.  It is of the essence of false prophets that they pretend to have and proclaim the truth while their lives evidence that they themselves do not follow the truth... "in sheeps' clothing", means appearing to be proper members of the people of God.  -Matthew, Donald Hagner

False prophets are destroyers.  They destroy God's people, like wolves destroy sheep.

Hosea writes that, "he (God) will remember their wickedness; he (God) will punish their sins."

Watch out!  How can you discern?  Check out the person's, deeds, the fruit in their life.  The fruit of the Spirit in their life.  The fruit of godliness.  Learn Biblical values and the Biblical worldview.  Are they leading in that?   Are they preaching the Christ in the four gospels or is Christ a hood ornament on their ministry?  Are their words under the Word?  Is their preaching and teaching of the Bible interpreted by the Bible?  The test of the truth of a person is to watch what these people do, how they live and behave in life.

Corruptio optimi est pessima-The best things, when corrupted, become the worst.

Lessons Learned From The Check Engine Light

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.
-Philippians 4:6

Suddenly, the check engine light came on and I was anxious.  How much is this going to cost?  My car was just in the shop a week ago.  I was anxious, but I prayed.

I found out that if the problem that caused the light to go on is not constant, then the light will clear in about 2 to 4 days, and it did.  Then, it came on again and cleared again, after a few days.  I tried some fuel system cleaner (Red Line), but the light kept cycling on and off.  Each time, my anxiety was less, until it was at zero.

I had learned that a loose fuel cap can cause the light to come on, but I am always careful to tighten it.  When it kept happening after the fuel system cleaning and the car is running very smooth, I realized that fuel caps can just plain wear out.  Most likely the rubber sealing mechanism and the click, click, click; tightener wears out.  Caps can also crack. I realized that my gas cap was worn out and ordered a new one.

To be anxious for something, with over-focus means to, "go to pieces", or, "to pull apart".  The same issue can be important, but our concern for it needs to be assimilated into the larger picture.  The light on the dashboard reminds us that we live in a broken world.  The light may stay off for years, but we realize that the engine or transmission can suddenly fail one day, because we live in a broken world.

We have to learn to differentiate between a real crisis and an interruption that is an issue that needs attention, but is not a full crisis.

A flat tire or a check engine light is an important problem.  The flat must be immediately attended to and the light can be put off a bit.  It may re-set and stay off.  Some people don't know that, and take the car in immediately, erring on the side of caution, which is not a bad thing.

The administrator at a school I went to had this sign on her desk: "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine."  She had many experiences with students coming to her in crisis mode when it was a case of poor planning and interruption.  We often create our own "mini-crises".  People who constantly run late and speed through traffic, endangering everyone else, do this.

The check engine light is a signal that attention is required, or things could get worse.  The flashing check engine light does mean to pull over and get service immediately.  Neither of these are reasons to get on all fours and breathe into a paper bag.

When my light went on recently, I was surprised at my high level of anxiety about it and prayed about it and through it.  I went through the cycles I mentioned and it was an exercise each time to see if I could be less anxious, which I hated at first; but it did get better.  Now, that light has no anxious affect.
It is just a reminder of an unsolved problem, giving me no distress, just like the low fuel light.
Added on November 25th :. It turned out to be some air leaks. My garage repaired it last week.

Are You Being Taught and Reminded by the Holy Spirit?

The Companion (the advocate), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.  -John 14:26 (ESB)

Have you been taught everything (all things) by the Holy Spirit?  Have you been reminded of everything Jesus said, by the Holy Spirit?  Did you even know that this was available to you?  It's easy to read Jesus' words to the disciples as historical and not apply them and "sign up for them", yourself. But these words do apply to all of Jesus' disciples, including us.

Some have called the Holy Spirit, "the forgotten member of the Trinity".  Like today, there were Christians in the Bible who loved Jesus, but had not heard of or experienced the Holy Spirit.  He is a distinct person.  He may be in your life and you do not recognize him.

Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in Jesus name.  Jesus revealed the Father, by revealing God's name.  The Father sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus name.  The Holy Spirit is authorized and comes in Jesus' authority.  The Holy Spirit comes in the spirit of Jesus.  He is all about Jesus!

The Holy Spirit is the great remembrancer(1) .  He reminds us of things we've already been taught. We all need to know the whole Bible by reading it and studying it. The Holy Spirit will teach you, guiding you into all truth; and he will remind you of what you have already learned. Do you have Bible verses that come to mind when you are helping someone towards God or when you are praying? The Holy Spirit might be reminding you of what you have already learned.

As Christians, we are all about Christ, but we have to remember that we have the Holy Spirit now, in each of our lives to help us in the school of Christ. The Holy Spirit was not sent just for the original disciples, but He is here for us today too. The original blue-print (Jesus) for the church, for Christians, is in the four Gospel books. The promises to the original people are promises to us today as well. Don't make the mistake of reading Jesus' words (the red letters in some versions) as, "just to them, back there". The reason they are there is for you and me. You get to have the life of being taught by the Holy Spirit and you also get to receive the ministry of The Companion, The Advocate, The Helper(2).

1. The Holy Ghost a Remembrancer by Bishop Woodford, M.A. 
2. The Helper by Catherine Marshall is a wonderful, readable, little book that will introduce you to The Holy Spirit.
A reviewer on Amazon.com wrote, "This easy to read book is a must for any Christian seeking more information on the Holy Spirit. Mrs. Marshall quotes scripture and gives practical information on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity and efficacy of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She takes you through all aspects of the Holy Spirit in only 230 pages. It will bring you to a new level in your walk with Christ. My minister says it is the best practical book written on the Holy Spirit."
A. W. Tozer's books are very helpful for those who want to learn more about how to receive the Holy Spirit:
How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit by A. W. Tozer
A review on Amazon.com says, "This book is written with such a passionate aim: to help God's children experience the fulness that His Holy Spirit has to offer. How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit is written in a very balanced Charismatic viewpoint. It reveals how to receive the Holy Spirit in a way that changes one's life and one's life for Christ. This is one of the best books written on the subject."

Learning Contentment

I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance.  I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.  I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:11-13

Are you content? Contentment, for the Christian, means having all you need through the indwelling Christ. The content Christian is happy with less or more, because their happiness is not dependent on exterior things. It is an inside job.

Discontentment manifests in us through complaining, grumbling, and general unhappiness or depression in our life. Contentment is connected to faith and faith is manifested through faithfulness and empowered through God's faithfulness.

Non-believers practiced contentment in Paul's time as well as today by being self-sufficient and independent. Christians then and today are completely dependent on God and Christ-sufficient.  Christians are adequate in Christ. The Greek Stoics saw contentment as self-mastery.  Christians have self-mastery unselfishly through the Master, by dying to self and living in Christ.

We learn contentment in the school of Christ.  Paul was in that school and learned.  God put him in that school and he attended.  Are you in the school of Christ?  Are you learning contentment?

Paul said that he, a Bible writing Apostle, learned contentment. He learned it and we have to learn it too. How did Paul learn contentment, which is being sufficient in Christ, no matter what your external circumstances? He learned through suffering. If we don't redeem our suffering, we can't learn contentment.

In our culture, in the West, we avoid pain at all costs and if at all possible. Facing pain, in Christ, yields spiritual growth. "No pain, no gain." If you avoid pain, you avoid growth. Paul embraced pain and learned contentment. Are you learning contentment by finding Jesus in your personal trials?

I have been referring to the trials of scarcity.  As hard as scarcity is, you might not realize that abundance is even harder. The person in scarcity struggles, feeling like Job, in the Bible, saying, "where's God?" God says, "I'm right here, commune with me in your scarcity and let me redeem it." That's your challenge and you get the reward of seeing God turn your trials into Gold.

In abundance, one's challenge is, "will you forget God?". Another challenge is, "can you handle it?". Like growing children, God is always seeking to prepare us to handle more. Great miracles happened through Paul's ministry and he seems to not have let it, "go to his head". Are we learning this kind of contentment?

God Graciously Sends Prophetic Words To Unbelieving Believers

But Ahaz said, "I won't ask: I won't test the LORD."  Isaiah 7:12

God cares enough about his people to send a prophet to them even when they are involved in idolatry and any sin.  God loves hypocrites, but he does not like hypocrisy and exposes it.  Ahaz was a leader who was in trouble and who was leading bady, not godly.

In spite of Ahaz's shortcomings, God sent Isaiah to give him a word that challenged Ahaz to express his faith in God.  God gave Ahaz a detailed prophetic word, to encourage him in a time of trouble, through Isaiah.  The end of the word said that Ahaz must have faith.  Then, to encourage and empower Ahaz's faith in the word, God says, through Isaiah to ask for a sign, big or small: "make it as deep as the grave or as high as the heaven", said the Lord directly to him through Isaiah.

Ahaz's response to a direct invitation, some people might call it a command because it was so authoritative and clear, was, "no thanks, that wouldn't be right", in today's English.

Imagine a person or a leader, even yourself; in crisis.  You are rattled, you are afraid, and your mind is racing.  In your crisis, gripped by fear, you make plans to save yourself and the people you lead, but what if these are ungodly plans?  You might be planning on lying, cheating, or aligning with people that are openly enemies of God.

In the midst of the crisis and these ungodly plans, God's prophet comes to you.  God does not use the prophet to expose your sin, your idolatry, or your evil alliances.  Instead God, gives you prophetic intelligence about the plans of your enemies and God's plan to help you.  That's all very encouraging.  But then there is a direct word to you:  You must believe this, if you want to make it personally.  Then you are told to ask for a sign.

When Ahaz says, "no thanks", he reveals himself as not being a follower of God, not being God's partner, not being submitted to God, and not a believer.  He is a "pseudo-believer", a believer "in name only".  Believers believe and Ahaz is not believing.  Followers follow and Ahaz is not following.  Children of God listen to and obey God.  Ahaz does not obey.  Ahaz does not have a relationship with the real, living God.

A person can act religious & pious, but be in contempt of God.  Walking with and under God is manifested in trust, obedience, and faith.  God tested Ahaz through a gracious offer of doing a sign, any sign, for him; to bolster his faith and the faith of the people who looked to him for leadership, in a time of crisis.

If Ahaz had said yes, it does not mean that everything would have suddenly been ok with Ahaz's life.  It could have led him to repentance.  He would still need to repent and get right with God.  But he chose not to go that way.

Receiving a prophecy does not mean you are in a good place in your walk with God.  It means God is gracious and merciful.

Prophetic ministry to a sinful idolatrous person who is religious and pious on the outside, does not have to only be a rebuke and a revealing of the person's sins.  God may call that person back to the path, that will lead to repentance, through grace.
Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life? -Romans 2:4
We may have witnessed or heard about a person who we believe to a pretending believer, unbelieving believer, backsliden person, or flat-out heretic who teaches false doctrine get a big prophetic word.  We might say, "not fair", or "false prophet", or just shake our heads as we judge the misguided prophetic person and judge the recipient as unworthy of a prophetic word.

If, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us", why would God not give a prophecy to a "sinner"?  Prophetic words are not earned, nor is getting one a sign of holiness.  The gift says something about the giver, not the recipient.

God is not fooled by the sinner's sin, even if they are a professing Christian.  God sends prophetic ministry to the sinning believer and the professing believer who really is a sinner.  There are people today that are in the church, but not in Christ.  They may be like Ahaz and involved in gross idolatry and disobedience, while feigning religiosity.  Or, they might just be lukewarm.
Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me.   -Revelation 3:20
Jesus was calling Ahaz through his prophet and Jesus is knocking on the door today of his church. The book of Revelation is a prophetic letter containing prophetic words for 7 specific churches, one of which was the church of Laodicea. God uses the picture of Jesus outside his own church, asking for entry to show us how it can be when he is graciously speaking a word to his people who are off the path. Jesus' knocking on the door is the prophetic word to the people he is speaking to.

Today, similarly to the day of Ahaz, God is sending prophets, and giving prophetic words through prophets, New Testament prophets; to errant Christians to invite them to the way in Christ that they are not on.  Those that receive, respond to, and obey are those who have dinner with Jesus, and get their lives on track.  Those that don't answer the door will just continue off track, going down the wrong path, and be Christians "in name only" and have no relationship with God.

Sky Links, 9-27-17