Jesus was crucified between two criminals. An inscription above Jesus said “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals ridiculed Jesus by telling him that if he were the King of the Jews he should save himself and them (the two criminals).
The other criminal protested, “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong. Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:40-41).
Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.”
By dying on the cross Jesus took away our sins. His blood washes away our sins. All we have to do is reach out to him. The repentant criminal recognized he’d done evil and just asked Jesus to remember him. He didn’t ask for forgiveness. He just asked to be remembered. Just that simple desire was sufficient to receive eternal salvation.
God loves you and wants you to know him. He created man as a companion. “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die” (John 3:16).
God has created each one of us to fulfill his perfect plan, a plan which no one else can accomplish. We have all sinned, however, and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Each of us because of sin is off target. Sin keeps us from realizing God’s perfect plan in our lives. None of us, according to God’s high standard of perfection, is “good.” Only a sinless God is “good.”
Because of sin there is a great gap between us and God (See Page 6 – An Eternal Message). We try to fill that gap through sports, business, religious legalism, religious fanaticism, friends, parties, accumulation of power and earthly palaces, charity work, the doctrines of false prophets, occultism etc…but we remain not satisfied. The emptiness we experience inside, despite all worldly achievements, is the result of turning our back on God. We are incapable through busy-ness or false spirituality of filling a void which only God can fill.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can get to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus has the power to put things right. He died on the cross so that we can be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:21, 22).
Jesus, who was the incarnation of the Living God, has power over death (See Page 5 –
Powerful Evidence for the Deity of Christ
). He gave up his life on the cross. By rising from the dead, he proved he had broken sin’s destructive power. He offers us a bridge back to God and to God’s abundant blessings. The power of God which raised Jesus back to life can restore everyone one of us and wash the taint of sin. Through the power of God we can overcome hate, alcoholism, depression, fear, lust, greed, aggression and every type of sin.
By putting our faith in Jesus and accepting Jesus Christ, he gives us the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
Just like the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to be remembered once Jesus entered his Kingdom we can ask Jesus to come into our lives by simply saying the following prayer: “Jesus, I need you. Come into my life and please take charge. Forgive me for my sins. I turn my life to you and make me the kind of person you want me to be.”
If you have said the preceding prayer you have entered a contractual relationship with the God of the Universe. You may not feel any different. Feelings are deceptive. This isn’t a passing emotional mood, but an eternal contract.
When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, he comes into your life by his Spirit and he will never leave you (Revelation 3:20), (Hebrews 13:5), you have been completely forgiven (Colossians 2:14), you have the power of God in your life enabling you to change for the better (Luke 10:19), and you can begin to experience the type of life God intended for you (John 10:10).
1 John 5:11-13 tells us that if we have God’s son, we have his life. But if we don’t have the Son, we don’t have this life. Once we have accepted Jesus Christ he will never leave us (Romans 8:38,39).
The promises of Jesus are true. You can find out for yourself by reaching out for him and asking him into your life.
I was deeply involved in yoga and mantra meditation
for over six years. These practices did not bring spiritual peace and I still felt empty inside. Only after I accepted Jesus Christ on a dare, as I thought I was already a Christian and did not expect anything from turning my life over to Christ, did I realize that Christ’s promises are indeed life changing.
There is a great yearning for world peace these days, but world peace will not come until our hearts are at peace with God through Jesus Christ. Armies and world utopian scenarios don’t bring lasting peace. Utopia means “no such place.” Only when the creation is redeemed through Christ and it returns to its original, sinless state will there be a lasting peace.
Without Jesus Christ we are all criminals hanging on our respective crosses. With Jesus Christ there is transformation and life.
Solomon, the son of David, the king of Jerusalem, states in the Old Testament “Book of Ecclesiastes (1:9):”
“That which has been is that which shall be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So, there is nothing new under the sun.”
Eastern occultism was brought to the United States at the turn of the century by various societies and by numerous gurus in the 1960’s. Yoga is now resurgent in the first decade of the twenty first century. Sugar coated witchcraft
is being popularized by the Harry Potter books and movies. Gnostic fabrications about Jesus are permeating our culture. There is nothing new under the sun and old deceptions regularly reappear as something “new and exciting.”
Just as insidious is the love of money among the servants of the Lord. In the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament we are told the bizarre story of Balaam (Numbers 22-24), who was offered money by the fearful elders of Moab and Midian to curse the Israelites who were invading the land from Egypt, and had destroyed the Amorites.
Balaam sought the counsel of the Lord, who answered him, “You shall not curse
the people, for they are blessed” (Numbers 22:12). Balaam wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
God's Angel, Balaam &
his talking donkey
Lusting for the riches offered him, Balaam was eager to curse the Israelites. God was angry about Balaam’s eager attitude (Living Bible, Numbers 22:22-23 in context). He assigned an angel to stand in the road and kill him, but Balaam, warned by his talking donkey, repented and acknowledged his sin. This didn’t keep him, at the urging of Balak, the son of the king of Moab, from seeking God’s permission two more times to curse the Israelites. The second time, prodded by Balak, Balaam wanted to find out from God if it was alright to curse a portion of the Israelites rather than all of them. Instead, Balaam blessed the Israelites three times in the presence of Balak, who in anger and disgust, told Balaam he had planned to promote him by giving him great honor. Now he ordered Balaam to go back home.
This strange behavior of Balaam, wanting to curse the Israelites so he could attain fame and fortune while at the same time fearful of God’s wrath, is the delicate balancing act experienced by many of us, especially by leaders in the ministry. Whenever Balaam sought God, God met him and told him what he wanted. Balaam had access to God like we all do and whenever we seek Him God will respond. The problem is that we don’t necessarily want to follow God’s will. Like Balaam we tug and fight God’s leading. We don’t like what God has to say, so we fight Him. We rationalize a course of conduct contrary to God’s will and eventually bring God’s judgment upon us. But for the warning from his talking donkey, Balaam would have been killed by God’s angel. Eventually Balaam was killed by the Israelites during “Jehovah’s war against Midian” (Numbers 31). The footnote reads, “Balaam, the son of Beor, was also killed” (Numbers 31:8). In a similar footnote will read the epitaph of all those who fight God, including politicians, businessmen, Hollywood personalities, preachers and healers.
There are “false prophets” in ministry, as ministry work does not require a lot of overhead, except for those into earthly palaces. All a false prophet needs is a fast tongue and a gullible public. In the US the prosperity gospel was largely discredited in the late 1980’s with a rash of scandals involving religious broadcasters. The prosperity gospel, sometimes in the context of “positive thinking” or a “miracle service”, is basically presented by its proponents as “Give to me and you will be blessed.”
The prosperity gospel puts a heavy reliance on Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithes to the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”
The million dollar question is “What is a suitable “storehouse “in God’s eyes?” Certainly not the temple from which Jesus had to drive out the money changers! “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves (Matthew 21:13).” Jesus confirms tithing as a New Testament practice. You want to tithe to God’s true temple and not the “den of thieves.”
Eli and two sons, Hophni and Phinebas
The book of Samuel identifies the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinebas, both as “priests to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:3) and “worthless men” (1 Samuel 2:12 in context) who “did not know the Lord.” This tells us that priests of the Lord can also be worthless men. When the sacrificial meat, offered to the Lord by well intentioned people, was boiling, they would have their servant steal some of the meat with a three pronged fork and threaten the people into giving them prime cuts for roasting. The sons of Eli lay with the women who served at the doorway of the meeting tent. The sin of Hophni and Phinebas was, “very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:17). Eli knew of their conduct and did nothing. A man of God came to him and told him of God’s impending judgment, a sign of which would be the death of both of Eli’s sons in one day.
Eli himself made himself fat by eating the choicest offerings as well. In an ensuing battle with the Phillistines, God allowed the arc of the covenant to be captured and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinebas, died (1 Samuel 4:11). When he heard the news by the gate Eli fell off his seat backward, breaking his neck, and died. There are some in ministry today who despise the offerings of the Lord made by God’s people. They appropriate these offerings for themselves and are not better than Hophni and Phinebas. Unless they repent, they will also be struck down by the hand of God.
Jesus urges us to be wise, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise …” (Matthew 10:16). We are called to be good stewards of our earthly blessings (Luke 12:43). We should not squander our God given resources by giving them to thieves in religious trappings who are false prophets. A prophet’s gift is to exhort, to encourage, to spur, to prod. A false prophet can bear a false message and often presents himself under false pretenses, using the gospel to achieve personal gain.
How do we recognize such a “false prophet?” Jesus tells us how.
“You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers’ (Matthew 7: 15-23).”
Look at the daily life of the person in ministry. Does the person’s life reflect the teachings of Christ? Is his theology in harmony with the Word? Is he faithful to his church and family? Does he care about his flock? Does he treat them with kindness? Is he generous? Does he make himself available for counseling? Is he greedy, prone to anger, argumentative, insensitive? Is he excessively interested in money? Is his theology sound? Does he return phone calls, letters, e-mails? Does he help others? Does he open his house for ministry? Is he approachable? Is he humble? These are common sense questions which will tell you if you’re dealing with a genuine “man of God” or “woman of God,” or a one dimensional phony.
Don’t believe a false prophet’s promise of blessings if you give to him. If, lusting for earthly blessings or for a miraculous cure not from the Holy Spirit, we financially support a false prophet we incur a curse from God. “The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse …” (Proverbs 29:24). “Partnering” financially or otherwise with a false prophet does not bring a blessing, but a curse. Being naïve is being irresponsible.
You are not giving to God but to a son of hell. Aside from false doctrine, conspicuous consumption paid for by ministry money is a clue to a “false prophet.” Look for the expensive limousines, private jets, mansions, condominiums, Rolex watches, diamond rings, bodyguards, and, for some, prostitutes, all paid for with “ministry” money. Look for the wholesale looting of churches and ministries through mega salaries paid to the founders and directors. Look for the usurpation of ministry financial opportunities by the ministry founders, managers, or directors. Look for all types of “freebies” paid for by ministry funds and ministry heads. In justification of this “insider looting” and these opulent lifestyles you will hear the following verse quoted: “the workman is worthy of his wages” (derived from Matthew 10:10). To which you can reply, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Ask yourself, “How would Jesus act?”
Hard earned money which should have gone to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and for taking care of the poor is wasted in sponsoring profligate lifestyles. Because of indiscriminate giving the Church is robbed of its resources. Unfortunately, church boards all too often rubber stamp the spendthrift habits of these self appointed “men of God.”
Unlike Jesus, who entered humbly into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, many of these “false prophets” seek worldly acclaim and would have entered Jerusalem in a cortege of gilded chariots in the company of the great men of that time, Herod, Pontius Pilate, Caligula,. Dancing girls would have thrown rose petals before them. They would have been accompanied by a large retinue of musicians, similar to those King Nebuchadnezzar had before the golden statue (Daniel 3). All, of course, at ministry expense.
True blessing comes from obeying the will of God by following His moral law. God created you for a purpose, which none other can realize. You are unique. He knows you personally and loves you. He loves you so much that He incarnated as a man to brutally die on a cross, cleansing you of your sins, so that you can have eternal fellowship with Him. Success cannot be measured in monetary terms, but in the degree you achieve the purpose God created you for. Only then will we you fulfilled and satisfied. If you don’t know God’s purpose you should seek Him in prayer and ask Him. Your natural talents, your personality, your likes and dislikes, shed light on God’s purpose for you.
Seeking out a “false prophet” who urges you to give to her/him and his/her ministry that you might be “blessed” cheapens the very expensive grace given to you when the King of the Universe died on a cross to reconcile you to Him. Not using your God given wisdom to discern the deceptive spirits driving the false prophets is evil and sinful. Giving “good money” to lustful, greedy individuals is a travesty. Seeking to be healed from pain or a life threatening situation by a power which is not God’s and hence demonic is also evil and sinful.
A relationship with the personal God of the Universe is the priceless pearl and the source of abundant, eternal joy. Just claim that relationship now by praying, “Jesus, come into my life. Take charge. I turn my life over to you. I thank you for the forgiveness of my sins through your shed blood.” Then start reading the Gospel of John in a good Bible in your own language such as the New International, the Revised Standard, the Revised King James, the Living Bible or La Bible Version Du Semeur (French) and join a strong Christian church which loves the Lord.
Legitimate ministries are going hungry while the church is giving hundreds of millions of dollars a year to phony self-glorifying “stage actors” who may say all the right things to tickle our ears (of dubious theological soundness) but don’t “walk the walk.” Isn’t it about time the church woke up? Pray for discernment and be wise in your giving. God gave us a mind and common sense. Look for ministries that are transparent and disclose what is paid to the “head honchos” and their maintenance and upkeep, including side benefits such as houses, condos, cars, airplanes, vacations. Most ministries are humble and do the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, some are not.
Pray that God direct you where to give. The answer may not come immediately but be patient and the Holy Spirit will show you. You will know it when He leads. Your spirit will be quickened and your God given reason will confirm it.
Only then will Malachi 3:10 be realized and the Lord will “open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”