Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Emiliano Zapata in Mexican Presidential Palace, Villa enthroned, c. Dec. 1914
According to one story of this encounter, Villa iinsisted they take turns sitting in the presidential chair for the photographer. Zapata replied: “I didn’t fight for that. We should burn that chair to end all ambitions.” You can really get a sense of their personalities in this photograph.
Sometimes the day-to-day pressures of life can cause unnecessary stress. In fact, many people lose sleep worrying about things or people in their lives. But God doesn’t want us to live stressed out and overwhelmed. He wants us to live a life of rest and peace.
When Jesus walked on this earth, He took time for Himself. He got away from the crowds. He spent time with the Father. That’s how He found rest. He was gentle and humble in heart. Do you ever notice that when you are stressed out or worrying about something, you’re less tolerant of others? You’re more likely to say something you don’t really mean. Today, God wants you to cast your cares on Him and live with a gentle and humble attitude. When you release your burdens and follow the example of Jesus, you will find rest for your soul. You will be rejuvenated and refreshed! You will find peace in your heart, and you will move forward in the abundant life God has for you!
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
2 Corinthians 11:14-15
But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
2 Peter 2:1-2
But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.
For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.
For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!
1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
There will always be false prophets and false brothers and sisters in the world. The Devil doesn’t want people going to Heaven so he manipulates people into doing his bidding. People might not even noticed they’re doing the Devil’s work and in their blindness they will mislead millions/billions of other people as well.
Why follow any religion or religious leader that isn’t following the Bible? The Bible is God’s rules and regulations to which every single person should live by. We will always be sinful creatures, that’s why the Lord in all His mercy has given us the Bible. We now know how we should be living our lives despite of how we “feel” towards one issue or the other. What we feel is right might actually be what God knows for a fact to be wrong. You are not superior to God, you are His creation so always obey the Lord and His Word.
How many people are deceived by “Christian” denominations that tells us that it’s okay to pray for the intercession of angels or saints; or it’s okay to worship idols; or tell their members the Bible is “incomplete” hence they should read additional books; or misleading their members by telling them it’s perfectly okay to live a gay lifestyle; or telling women can be pastors/ministers; or tell their members that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah; or trying to convince people that aliens made the human race; or tell them that humans evolved over millions of years from animals and so on? Beware of following any religion that doesn’t tell you exactly what the Bible instructs us to do in life and what the Bible tells us what to believe and how to behave in this life. Beware of any religion that allows you to live your life the way you want to live rather than the way God wants you to live your life.
Some within the Christian community only see other religions as the enemy, such as Islam, Buddhism, Atheism and so on, but look how fragmented the Christian faith is. With so many denominations and many “celebrity” preachers nowadays misleading millions of Christians around the world, we should be as worried about our own religion as we are of other false religions. This is something Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 when he spoke about the fragmentation of the Church.
Some religious leaders will mislead you on purpose or without even knowing. It’s up to you to make sure to read His Word and see if what that religious leader is teaching goes against His Word or not. Don’t blindly follow any human being. They might trick you by saying all the right things that you want to hear, saying you could go to Heaven if you sin, and some even go as far as saying that you don’t even need to believe in God and Christ to enter Heaven, such is the case for the Catholic Church when Pope Francis said last year that Atheists can go to Heaven even if they die in disbelief of Jesus, as long as they “obey their conscience”. We know that being a good person and doing great works and deeds in this life means absolutely nothing at all without true faith in Christ which will bring forth true repentance of sin. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
But following just one tiny bit of sin doesn’t really matter right? Wrong! Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5 when it comes to just a “little” sin in your life: “Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?" Sin is like an infectious disease, it will spread. It will spread throughout your body and soul and throughout your community if you let it.
Beware of false teachings! Hebrews 13:7 says “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith." Our "leaders" must always be teaching the Word of God, otherwise you will be following a false doctrine. Beware of religions and religious leaders leading you astray. Don’t just get used to a certain preacher’s way of teaching, nor settle for the message of acceptance that they might teach if it goes against the Word of God. Trust in the Bible, always, regardless what those religious leaders tell you. Make sure whatever they are saying is true to the Word of God.
Matthew 4 and Luke 4 are the biggest eye openers when it comes to false teachings because we learn that the Devil himself is capable of quoting Scripture, as he quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to try to tempt Jesus and it was not so much an incorrect citation as a use in a wrong context (a misapplication of the passage). We can be sure that the devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Sadly, many are willing to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible these days. A preacher can pretty much say whatever he wants if he quotes a few proof-texts, and people will assume that he really speaks from the Bible. It is important for each Christian to know the Bible for themselves and not to be deceived by someone who quotes the Bible but not accurately or with correct application. When in doubt, test the preaching to see if it matches Scripture AND to see if it matches the context of Scripture, as 1 John 4:1 tells us: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." It’s important that every Christian read their Bibles and memorize it and learn from it.
People imagine the Devil as being ugly and having horns and a pointy tail, but remember that he was a powerful angel of God before he fell from Heaven. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 11 that the Devil and other demons can even masquerade as angels of the light: “But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” He will be in the Church, misquoting Scripture and leading millions of people away from righteousness. The Devil isn’t against religion or righteousness, he is against Jesus! A person can be very religious and very righteous and still be misled if they choose to follow a path that lead them away from the Bible and its truths. Christian Atheists as they are called these days are the people believing in God but living their lives as if He doesn’t exist. You can’t be a true Christian if you aren’t willing to follow God’s Word, which is the Bible.
In Mark 5:7, the demons demonstrated that they knew who Jesus was. The demons demonstrate that they can “pray” to Jesus when they “begged Him earnestly”. This shows that you can know who Jesus is and not surrender to Him. You can pray to Him and not surrender to Him. Having faith and knowing who the Lord truly is doesn’t mean you are saved. Surrendering your old life to Him and accepting Him into you heart and following His perfect rules and regulations is what sets you apart from demons.
We must guard ourselves against false prophets by taking heed to the fruit coming from their tree. This means paying attention to several aspects of their life and ministry:
- We should pay attention to the manner of living a teacher shows. Do they show righteousness, humility and faithfulness in the way they live?
- We should pay attention to the content of their teaching. Is it true fruit from God’s Word, or is it man-centered, appealing to ears that want to be tickled?
- We should pay attention to the effect of their teaching. Are people growing in Jesus or merely being entertained, and eventually falling away?
This fruit is the inevitable result of who we are. Eventually - though it may take some time for the harvest to come - the good or bad fruit is evident, revealing what sort of “tree” they are.
Remember the harsh truth that Jesus told us about the difference between the road to Hell and the road to Heaven:
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Remember that “only a few ever find it”! Heaven isn’t for everyone, Hell is. Every single one of us deserve Hell, but because of God’s love towards us He will spare the ones that seek Him and repent of their sins. This is something that absolutely breaks my heart whenever I think of how the vast majority of the planet will choose to go to Hell rather than go to Heaven. People mock and scoff Christianity and once they die they’ll realize the error of their ways but by then it’ll be too late because there are no second chances after death. That’s the whole point of faith! Faith is believing rather than knowing. As Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I can only imagine if John the Baptist was around preaching these days. I can only imagine him preaching to people in today’s world as he did in Luke 3. Starting a sermon with “you brood of vipers, why are you here anyways?” would cause a lot of people in that church to be mad at him. But John wasn’t interested in preaching a soft message or in tickling ears. Jesus’ ministry was no picnic either. Jesus Himself was not afraid to discourage potential disciples, as we learn from Luke 9:57-62. At one point the crowd Jesus was preaching to wanted to kill Him because of the truths He spoke about (Luke 4). Unlike many modern evangelists, John the Baptist and our Lord were more interested in quality than in quantity. Not everyone will make it as a disciple and as a follower of Christ and the sad truth is that the vast majority of the people on the planet will go to Hell as our Lord said in Matthew 7:13-14.
How’s the health of people’s faith these days? Would people nowadays be one along the many in the crowd bumping into Jesus and not being healed, or would they be like the woman from Luke 8 that touched the tassel of His clothes and was healed? When the woman’s miracle was revealed, the people that might have bumped into Jesus probably said, “I bumped into Jesus, I touched Him - yet I was not healed.” But there is a huge difference between bumping into Jesus here and there and reaching out to touch Him in faith. You can come to church week after week and just “bump into” Jesus. That isn’t the same as reaching out to touch Him in faith.
Accept Jesus into your life and follow His commandments and be saved. God died on the cross for you! He died on the cross so you can be saved! Accept Him and His Word into your life and be saved. Trust in His Word to guide you in life. It’s never too late to repent. It doesn’t matter what you might have done in life because once you truly accept Jesus as your savior, you will be a new person and all the wrongdoings you have done in the past are washed clean.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
If you want a new life in Christ Jesus, ask Him into your heart today. Pray to Him and ask for guidance, wisdom and discernment to know the difference between right and wrong. Only by accepting His perfect rules and regulations you can be saved.
Accept Jesus in your life while you still can. And follow Christ and only Christ. Trust in the Word of God. Trust in His timing. Build a close relationship with with the Lord Jesus Christ and pray to have the Holy Spirit convict you of your sins and guide you in life. As the Lord told us in Matthew 3, “Repent of your sins and turn to God.”