Today we are living in the Last Days. There is a great darkness over the whole earth. As a nation we have undergone a subtle yet insidious decline in morals and values. At the same time, religion has been diminished. The forms and structures are still flourishing, but the substance has been slowly and methodically eroded away, till religious institutions are just that... institutions. Without the truth.. or the true Spirit, power and presence of the Lord... Just the doctrines and teachings of men. This is part of the process however, and God has allowed it to happen. That against this gross darkness His light will shine forth.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].
Isaiah 50:11 Behold, all you [enemies of your own selves] who attempt to kindle your own fires [and work out your own plans of salvation], who surround and gird yourselves with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you set aflame!--walk by the light of your self-made fire and of the sparks that you have kindled [for yourself, if you will]! But this shall you have from My hand: you shall lie down in grief and in torment.
Revelation 3:17 For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Jeremiah 50:6 My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray [to favorite places of idolatry] on mountains [that seduce]. They have gone from [one sin to another] mountain to hill; they have forgotten their [own] resting-place.
Jeremiah 8:8 How can you say, We are wise, and we have the written law of the Lord [and are learned in its language and teachings]? Behold, the truth is, the lying pen of the scribes has made of the law a falsehood (a mere code of ceremonial observances).
Spending an hour or two a week going to a meeting is not going to absolve us of that which the Lord requires of us. In most instances, it only serves to strengthen one's confidence in their own goodness. They've done their duty to God for the week... because that is what they have been taught by their leaders... that "God requires that you support their ministry."
Mark 7:13 Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on. And many things of this kind you are doing.
Matthew 23:13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces; for you neither enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are about to go in to do so.
The prophet Isaiah declared by the unction of the Holy Spirit:
Isaiah 28:13 Therefore the word of the Lord will be to them [merely monotonous repeatings of]: precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule; here a little, there a little, that they may go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and taken.
As born-again believers, we need to closely examine our own hearts. We were born again into Christ, that we might grow up in Him... and be conformed to HIS image and in HIS likeness. He is the standard for comparison... nothing less. His habitation is not a building made with hands.. but the hearts and minds of His people. We are His habitation. We can judge ourselves now... or He will judge us when He comes. How much better that we prepare our hearts now, coming into 'right standing' with Him while we have the opportunity. The Word says..."Judgment begins at the house of God." The time is short... very soon His judgments will fill all the earth.
If we are holding to anything other than Jesus, and every word he spoke, we are going to experience His rod of correction... and it will not be pleasant.
If we are clinging to any teaching we received from man, that is not consistent with the Word, it will be shaken and destroyed. His grace is sufficient... but His grace will not allow us to have it our own way. We will be brought into subjection to Him one way or another.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.
Hebrews 12:26-29 Then [at Mount Sinai] His voice shook the earth, but now He has given a promise: Yet once more I will shake and make tremble not only the earth but also the [starry] heavens. Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken--that is, of that which has been created--in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; For our God [is indeed] a consuming fire.
Recently the Lord spoke to us concerning what is coming. He told us to "Prepare, Prepare, Prepare." This applies to all who call Jesus LORD. He is not playing games. He said, "proving by love, either make the tree good or make the tree evil."
Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit.
We are that tree. We need to examine ourselves; what we believe, what we think, what we speak, how we behave. He also said, "If there be no hell, there be no fear... and fear is the beginning of wisdom." He said to... "Agree with your adversary while you are in the way with Him... I AM THAT ADVERSARY."
Matthew 5:25-26 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last fraction of a penny.
I, for one, had certainly never thought of that portion of scripture as referring to the LORD as being our adversary. Yet now I see that He becomes just that when we walk contrary to His will for us. Our steps are ordered of the Lord, we cannot walk another path and continue to receive His blessing. May we all be stirred to seek His face as never before... That we may be found acceptable and pleasing om His sight.
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.