Sunday, November 8, 2015


“THE DECREASE OF LOVE” Matthew 24:1-13
            A young English duo Peter and Gordon may have imagined a world without love and dreaded to live in it. In February 1964 they recorded a song written by Paul McCartney “A World Without Love". [1] “Please lock me away; And don't allow the day; Here inside where I hide With my loneliness; I don't care what they say I won't stay; In a world without love; Birds sing out of tune; and rain clouds hide the moon; I'm OK, here I'll stay; With my loneliness; I don't care what they say I won't stay; In a world without love”
            Already in the 1960’s in the midst of the sexual revolution, and free love a sense of despair and purposelessness was setting in. Not only Peter and Gordon; no one would like to live in a world without love. It is hard to imagine a world without love. No matter who you are we all have an inherent need to be loved and to love. We all recognize we need love, but we don’t know how to give love and receive love. However, did you know, the essential commodity called love that is necessary for our well-being is gradually but surely decreasing? 
            Jesus gave a number of signs for his disciples, concerning the end of the world. Last week we looked at one of the signs of the End Times, “The great deception.” Today we will look at another sign “The decrease of love.” What causes the decrease of love? What are the consequences of the lack of love? How can we increase in love? Matthew 24:12-13.
I. THE DECREASE OF LOVE: (Matthew 24: 12-13)
            Vs 12-13, “Because of the increase of wickedness (Lawlessness)  the love of most will grow cold, but  he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” The dictionary definition for love: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Other words for love are, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment and endearment. When we look at a baby we are filled with intense feelings of love, why? Because they are beautiful, innocent and pure.  Where there is beauty, innocence and purity there love thrives, in the absence of these things love suffers to an extent it decreases.
            Keeping that in mind let’s read Vs 12-13, “Because of the increase of sin the love of most will grow cold, but he who stand firm to the end will be saved.”  This is one of the end time signs Jesus gave a long time ago. The Scripture calls lawlessness is Sin, more specifically, Idolatry, Adultery, Violence, Lust, Greed, Disrespect, Homosexuality, Theft, Lying, Aggression, and Selfishness. Is this Biblical sign being fulfilled in our day?
            Absolutely! Just go back 50 years and you would not see half the sin and wickedness that we see in people today. Look at what is portrayed on our TV screens and in the movies and video games! Violence, lust and all manner of evil. Jesus, said it in the last days due to the increase of lawlessness most people’s love will grow cold.  Let me talk about the kind of love Jesus was referring to here. We know the Greeks have used four words to describe what we call “love” The love that Jesus was referring to in Vs 12, was, “storge” it is the love and affection that naturally occurs between parents and children, between siblings, between husbands and wives in a good marriage.”  It is simply the kind of love that exists between people.
            In Matt 24: 10, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” Lack of love for each other results in betrayal and hatred of each other. Jesus explicitly showed how this love deficit plays out at a home level. “For from now on, there will be five people divided against each other in one house, three against two, and two against three. It is going to be father against son, and son against father, and mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law!” (Luke 12: 51:53).  Is that not we have been observing these days in most homes, families and marriages and even churches? It will only increase as the end of the world draws near.  What are the consequences of lack of love?
             Can you imagine a world where there is love deficit? How can we describe such a world? It is a world in which everything goes and everyone does whatever he or she feels. Basically it is a world where God seems to be removed. Let me explain the consequences of lack of love. Where there is no love, according to I Corinthians 13 we will find people becoming: Impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking and short tempered. When people do not operate in love, they keep a score of wrong doings, they delight in evil by rejecting the truth, and instead of protecting one another they attack and devour one another.
            They become distrustful of others, and they cannot be trusted. When there is no love there is no fear of God; hence there will be no hope. Paul writing to Timothy warns how people will behave in the end times. “But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words.
            They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this.” (II Timothy 3:1-5)
            This is the current state of our world. But how did we get ourselves to this place? Remember Jesus said it, due to the increase of lawlessness, most people love will grow cold. It is not a sudden realization but a gradual decrease of human love. This gradual decrease has been going on since the early part of the first century reaching its climax in the 19th century, where many philosophers declared that God was dead or at best no longer needed to verify Humanism’s truth or fill the gaps remaining in scientific understanding.”
            What is humanism? It is an “outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.” What was the outcome of humanism? The twentieth century dawned fair, bright and British. With it came two world wars, the great depression, communism, the Jewish holocaust and the atomic bomb.  A ticket arrived, in the form of drugs, rock and roll and eastern mysticism and the new age movement.”[2]
            In recent years humanism made a great impact in the way we think, relate and operate with one another. Everyone born into the Western world, either Christian or not somehow inherits this humanistic world view.  Please do not get me wrong, I value humanity and the incredible potential and the immense capacity that humans have. Who gave us those exceptional qualities to create, produce and solve problems? It was God. What I am against is the system that manipulates us to think that we can do without God. Can we really do without God? History tells us very well what happens to a society or nation that ignores God in all matters of life?
            The scripture tells us in Psalm 14:1-3, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
            In the USA more and more people are claiming to be Atheists. If we ignore God in our country no wonder why we are feeling the love deficit, because God is love. Because of the increase of lawlessness most people love is growing cold. What can we do to reverse this decreasing trend? The only way we can reverse this trend is by us growing in our love for God, for ourselves and for others. In the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Pete Scazero notes, “Loving well is the goal of the Christian life. This is easier in our dreams than in practice. It requires that we grow into emotional adulthood in Christ, the rewards of which are rich beyond measure.” When we become emotionally and spiritually healthy we become a blessing to our immediate family members, our church and to the rest of the world around us. How can we grow in love?
            If we care to admit we all recognize that we have a great need to grow in our love for God, for ourselves and others, right? I John is a very practical book which helps believers to grow in love. It is written by John the beloved apostle.
            John wrote it encourage believers to keep their faith in Christ strong and continue loving one another. He says we can know we are God’s children if we love one another and if we obey God’s commands. 
            Loving one another is not an option but a command from Jesus to his followers. “Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another” John 13:34-35. Remember, love is a verb, therefore it must be demonstrated more than spoken.  How can we practically demonstrate our love?
            Here are a few practical ways to grow in our love. Reading God’s word, praying, and attending church regularly. Respecting others without having the need to change them. Treating people with dignity as they are made in God’s image. Appreciating people for who they are the good, bad, and ugly not for what they give back. Resolving conflicts maturely. Forgiving those who hurt us. Not keeping a record of the wrong doings of others.
            Doing acts of love and mercy for example, removing the trash, cleaning up the cat litter, cleaning the dirty dishes in the sink or cooking a nice meal at home and other million ways we can show our love for others. Let’s be creative and proactive when it comes to expressing our love for one another. So as you leave today, would you ask the Lord how creatively you can grow in your love for God, for yourselves and for others? Amen

[2] James Thwaites, “The Church beyond the Congregation.” page 23

Sunday, November 1, 2015

END TIME ALERTS: Part I: "The Great Deception"

JESUS IS COMING SOON…   how do you read these words? It all depends on how you read these prophetic words. "History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase "Christ is coming" was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand — until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax."[1]

On September 28th the moon has turned into an incredible blood color. Many thought this event will trigger the Rapture and the start of a seven-year-tribulation. In his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Pastor John Hagee noted, “The four blood moons making appearances between April 2014 and September 28, 2015, signify the end of an age, when God comes back to the planet.” Others thought, Pope Francis’s visit in September will trigger the end of the world.

What are we to make of all these failed predictions? The bible does not give us end time predictions but only signs and alerts. The Bible also gives us a road map in regards to how to prepare ourselves and others in the light of the imminent and certain return of Christ, which will indeed trigger the end of the world. Therefore let’s not be afraid at the next apocalyptic event and easily swayed and fooled by the next great and bold predictions.

The word Alert means:  “Being watchful, attentive, observant, wide awake, on the lookout, and to warn (someone) of a danger, threat, or problem.” Keeping that in mind let’s look at a few End Time Alerts in Matthew 24: 1-13. This passage explains Jesus’ lack of interest over material things and disciple’s misplaced identity and lack of discernment in regards to the end of the world matters. As Jesus was walking away from the temple the disciples called his attention to the magnificent structure of the temple. Jesus plainly told them that one day that awesome building will be thrown down.

The disciples must have been surprised and disappointed with that prediction. So in private they came to Jesus asking him to explain what was going to happen in the future. They wanted to know when and how Jesus will return to establish his kingdom. Jesus said to them: Be Alert. He alerted them to three things: The great deception, the grave dangers and the gradual decrease.. Today we will learn about the first Alert: THE GREAT DECEPTION

I THE GREAT DECEPTION: Vs 5, “For many will come in my name claiming, “I am the Christ, and will deceive many.” This deception is in regards to false Christs their claims and teachings. In recent years there have been a number of false Christs arising in different nations in the world. Here are three false messiahs. Australia: Also known as A.J., Alan John Miller in Queensland, Australia with his partner Mary Luck. Miller claims that he remembers details from his “former life” as Jesus, and Luck says that she is the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene.

Siberia: Also known as Vissarion, Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop began proclaiming himself as Jesus reincarnated after he was fired as a traffic officer in Russia in 1990. He went on to found the Church of the Last Testament, which combines various religions together.

Brazil: Alvarro Theiss a 66-year-old Brazilian man also known as INRI Cristo who believes he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He dresses like Jesus, says his mission is to prepare the elect for the formation of the new earthly society, which will strive to fulfill the Creator's will. Most of his followers are women.

“Tragically, those who claim to be Christs are deceived. Their followers will sincerely regard themselves to be genuine believers, actively doing the work of Christ,” That is another form of deception. “They prophesy, cast out demons and even work miracles in the name of Jesus. But they are serving a false Christ—not the real Jesus.”[2]

Many around the world and here in the USA are being deceived by the false messiahs. This is how Daniel calls the master deceiver, “A king will show up, hard-faced, a master trickster. His power will swell enormously. He’ll talk big, high-handedly, doing whatever he pleases, knocking off heroes and holy ones left and right. He’ll plot and scheme to make crime flourish— and oh, how it will flourish! He’ll think he’s invincible and get rid of anyone who gets in his way. But when he takes on the Prince of all princes, he’ll be smashed to bits— but not by human hands.” (Daniel 8:25-26) The Message. 

Unfortunately many in the USA are being exposed to mysticism,paranormal activities and even satanic worship. In May 2014, members of a New York group called the Satanic Temple joined Harvard students to hold a "black mass" at a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Although Harvard did not prohibit the event, allowing it as an expression of student free-speech rights, the campus group - the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club - pulled its support, forcing relocation at the last minute to the nearby Hong Kong Restaurant and Lounge.”[3] 

How tolerant we have become in the name of not upsetting people?  What does the scriptures say about turning to such activities and practices? I Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

On October 26, Monday morning during my quiet time the Lord spoke to me through this scripture. It kind of explains the current state of the American Church. I felt like the Lord wanted me to speak about it this Sunday exposing some of the deceptions of the devil during the end times, moreover it is my responsibility as your pastor.
In Chapter 4, verse 1, Paul was repeating to Timothy the warning he had given many years earlier to the Ephesian elders. Acts 20:28-31, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit had made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”

Here we see the very heart of the Apostle Paul over the Church he planted in Ephesus. He was concerned that after his departure, “some men (savage wolves)” from within their own number will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

The Church of Jesus Christ world over for generations have been attacked by these savage wolves who claimed to be the believers and the followers of Christ but in reality they never were true believers; they were following the commands of their master the devil. As we know his only one aim is to destroy the flock of God. The shepherds have a responsibility to protect the flock. We need discernment not to believe every spirit or everyone who claim to be a Christian but not truly following Christ. They are wolves in sheep’ clothing.

The Holy Spirit throughout the scriptures has repeatedly warned of the dangers of apostasy. (Matt 24:4-12, II Thess 2:3-12; Hebrews 1:1-2). We read in I Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Let me further break this scripture.  “The Spirit clearly says,” means anything that the Holy Spirit says to the Church is absolutely clear. “Later times,” here referring to the period from the first coming of Christ until his return. Apostasy will exist throughout that period, reaching a climax shortly before Christ returns.  “Some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

Who are these some? These are professing or nominal Christians who associate with those who truly believe the gospel. They are the ones when exposed to the teachings of the deceiving spirits and the things taught by demons; (the entire operation of Satan and his demons is deception); because they are not deeply rooted in the truth quickly abandon or depart from their faith. The Greek word for abandon or depart is “apostasia” that is where we get the English word apostasy which means; “the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.” Some abandoning their faith is referring to those who move away from an “original position.”

I Timothy 4:1 in some ways has come into play right in front of  our eyes when the supreme court legalized, gay marriage following the 60% of Americans views. In my opinion many in our country have moved away from their “original position” on marriage. Marriage has been ordained by God from the beginning and it is to be between a man and a woman. I am saddened by how many Christians and even churches have shifted and continuing to shift their position on marriage.

The Great deception, this End Time Alert is one among many alerts that has been abundantly made clear by the Holy Spirit over two thousand years ago through our Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples. Therefore we will have no excuse when we turn away from our faith.

Dear friends; do you know what will happen to the great deceiver and all those who will follow him? “When the thousand years are up, Satan will be let loose from his cell, and will launch again his old work of deceiving the nations, searching out victims in every nook and cranny of earth,…The Devil who deceived them will be hurled into Lake Fire and Brimstone, joining the Beast and False Prophet, the three in torment around the clock for ages without end.” Rev 20:7-10 (The Message) In light of this alert what should be our response? Let’s not play with the devil neither make a pact with him, we are called to ‘resist the devil” by submitting to the Lord and he will flee from us.” Amen