The entire message of Haggai can be summed up in these three words: Consider your ways.
After all, consider this warning given five times in Haggai:
Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” – Haggai 1:5
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” – 1:7
“And now, carefully consider from this day forward.” – 2:15
And again, “And now, carefully consider from this day forward.” – 2:17
There is something – something important – the Lord is trying to tell us through the words of Haggai. Keep listening to find out more.
The following is a study of Haggai 2:1-23.
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In the midst of the current onslaught, the hostile takeover of mainline churches by the seeker-sensitive hoard of mega-church devotees, the following quote rings clear and true. It stands as one of the many unheeded warnings from those a generation ago who looked into their crystal ball and saw the logical outcome of a church who has lost its bearings – a church swimming in the sea of cultural acceptance.
A church living large in the land of Laodicea.
“The world today is laughing at the church, laughing at her attempts to be nice and to make people feel at home. My friends, if you feel at home in any church without believing in Christ as your personal Savior, then that church is no church at all, but a place of entertainment or a social club. For the truth of Christianity and the preaching of the gospel should make a church intolerable and uncomfortable to all except those who believe, and even they should go away feeling chastened and humble.”
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Christian entrepreneurship has infected our seminaries to such an extent that we now mass produce, in assembly line fashion, an army of current and wannabe church CEOs and not Spirit-led men of God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us of just how far we have fallen. For me, it’s sobering to see what we, as the salt and light of the world, will do to prostitute ourselves for the prize of worldly acceptance and cultural relevance. “After all,” we say to the laughing world, “we just want to be loved.”
Pray that you will be different.
Note: This quote is from The First Forty Years 1899-1939; Banner of Truth, p. 142
Good question. What does happen? What does it mean when false prophets actually do what they claim they can do? What does that mean?
What happens when “signs and wonders”— no, real signs and wonders accompany the preaching of a false prophet? What are we to think? What does that say about what they are saying? The implications are mind-boggling.
For example, does it mean that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t false prophets anymore? Maybe they’ve repented and finally seen the light and God is confirming their ministry with “ooo la la” kind of stuff. Or maybe we were too judgmental towards them in the first place and had them all wrong. Worldly logic would conclude, “If God weren’t blessing what they say, then their churches wouldn’t grow so large and they wouldn’t be so popular.”
So, maybe the problem is with us, and not them. After all, as the mantra of false prophets go: “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!” Maybe we’re just too blind and deceived and misguided and don’t recognize that God is moving and doing a new thing in our generation. Or possibly God just lowered His standard of truth so as not to offend the post-modern culture in which we live. Remember the enlightened by-line of most false prophets, “Doctrine divides, but love unites.” Maybe the Scriptures are not the standard of truth today and God is using these men to teach us that He is not the same “yesterday, today and forever” but actually changes with the times and adapts, like a divine chameleon, to whatever culture He finds Himself in. Maybe the false prophets are right. Maybe God is nothing more than a cosmic genie in a bottle waiting to serve us, bless us, prosper us and make us the “head and not the tail.” And maybe, just maybe, these men the Scriptures define as false prophets are really God’s pied pipers to the New, and better, 21st Century Christian.
Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
So, if a false prophet delivers the goods, does it mean that we slide them into the category of “Former False Prophets” or rename them as “Prophets formerly known as False”?
I think not.
Have you ever read the following words from Moses?
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods whom you have not known and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” *
Oh, so it could be a test— a testing from the Lord to see if we love Him more than we love the cool things the false prophets are saying about us, our finances and our future. Looks like another classic battle against our flesh, doesn’t it?
Are you prepared for that battle? Are you prepared to win? Because the age of false prophets is upon us.
A report was just released from the Barna Research Group. Among other things, the new data from Barna shows, based on the most recent stats from a random sampling of more than 1,200 adult respondents across the country, that one of every five households has decreased its giving to churches or religious organizations in recent months.
What does this mean for the future trend of ministry today? Simply this.
For the compromised church, the church living large in the land of Laodicea, this trend could be the beginning of bad times. And I mean, real bad times.
Think about it, the entire modern, mega-church movement was born on the back of unbridled prosperity and rabid consumerism. Only in the land of plenty can masses be coaxed into attending a religious service (or show) where personal accountability and individual relationships are neither fostered nor encouraged. How could they be? How do you build a lasting relationship with someone you really don’t know? With someone you only meet on Sunday? Maybe?
When one group is ushered into the auditorium, like docile cattle, as another quickly exits, where is the format for building relationships, for bearing one another’s burdens, for… well, anything other than… “Here’s your playbill, enjoy the show, pay for your ticket on the way out.”
People become little more than the proverbial ships that pass in the night, totally unaware of each other’s presence. They are like commuter traffic at rush hour. All going in the same direction, they suppose, yet totally disconnected from those in the other cars. A wave, a smile, an occasional nod and relationship building is done. How sad.
Over time, they end up serving the machine, the monster, the professional troop on stage and never each other. Or the Lord, for that matter.
Odds are you won’t even sit next to the person you sat next to last week. So even the patented, “Hey, how are you? Just fine, and you? Great!” type of deep conversation cannot build from week to week.
But what happens when the casual Christian, the core base of most mega-churches, has to sacrifice in order to attend? Oh, one’s true priorities will always rise to the top. Vacations and designer jeans will win, church and non-profits will lose. After all, “Why should we give to the church? We don’t really know anybody there, do we?”
Nope. You really don’t. And that’s been OK with them, thus far.
But as giving declines, tough decisions must be made. Business decisions. Management decisions. Cuts and budget readjustments. Cost and benefit analyses. And they must be made by men who haven’t had to make tough decisions in the past and, quite honestly, are ill-equipped and ill-trained to make them.
“We’ve never had to cut back before? What are we to do?”
“We’ve always budgeted expenses, not income. I thought people would always give.”
“Whaddaya mean no Christmas bonus this year? That’s unfair. It’s not Christ-like!”
“Yada, yada, yada… whatever.”
Enough said. I’ll let you be the judge of what the future may bring.
Just think, the days of unbridled consumerism may soon be over.
I sure hope so. Don’t you?
* Just in case you were wondering, Bad Day at Black Rock is the title of a 1955 movie with Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan. It’s a great little film. If you saw the movie, you’d understand why I chose it for the title of this post.
When John the Baptist saw the sky crack open and the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove all he could utter was, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” And then John sent two of his disciples to follow Jesus.
Did you ever wonder why John didn’t also follow his Lord? Did you wonder why he continued to baptize after he revealed Jesus to the world? And did you ever wonder why his message changed from, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” to “Herod, it is not lawful for you to take your brother’s wife as your own.”
How is that preparing the way for the coming of the Lord?
Want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study of John 1:19-37.
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