Exposed: Robbers and Thieves in the Church

Daily Devotional: Day 124

And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5, NKJV).

In John chapter 10, Jesus describes the relationship between Him, the Good Shepherd, and His sheep. Today’s Scripture captures a portion of what Jesus taught. As you look carefully at the Bible text above, I want us to focus on one vital point Jesus raises in the passage. He speaks of two different voices: the voice of Jesus and the voice of strangers. First, Jesus says He goes before His own sheep as their Leader and Shepherd. Then, He says something important about the sheep. He says that His sheep follow Him. Why? Because they know His voice. In other words, if the sheep didn’t know Jesus’ voice, they couldn’t follow Him. This raises another important point. Recognizing Jesus’ voice is necessary, if you want to follow Him. But to recognize Jesus’ voice you must stay close to Him; because there are many voices out there claiming to be the voice of Jesus. You can’t tell Jesus’ voice if you don’t stay close to Him through diligent study and meditation of the Scriptures (cf. John 5:39).

Now let’s look at the second point of Jesus’ message. He talks about the voice of strangers. Who are these strangers? They are agents of satan who have infiltrated the house of God, appearing to be shepherds, prophets and apostles. But they are no shepherds at all. Jesus calls them thieves and robbers (cf. John 10:1, 8, 10). They seem to come in the name of Christ, but they cleverly capitalize on people’s ignorance, hurt, desperation and spiritual vacuum to keep them in their grip. Using various sophisticated techniques of smooth talk and religious hypnosis, they can keep the unsuspecting under their spell for as long as they wish – robbing them of money, light, truth and freedom. Like vampires, they are adept at squeezing the life out of their victims. This phenomenon is widespread and can be detected if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Again, Jesus calls the perpetrators thieves and robbers. But watch this: Jesus says His sheep will not follow these robbers and thieves; instead, they will flee from them.

What is Jesus telling us? His point is, there is the voice of Jesus, and there is the voice of strangers. It’s our responsibility to recognize the difference. The strangers Jesus is referring to are not fictional characters. They are actual ‘church people’ with real faces, real names and real stories. They are inside the places we fellowship. They appear on ‘Christian’ television and radio. They publish ‘Christian’ books and other materials. They have religious titles ranging from Pope, Priest or Pastor to Apostle, Elder or Prophet. They may be popular or not. But, it doesn’t matter. Popular or not, a robber is a robber, and a thief is a thief. Jesus does not want us to ignore them or put up with them. No, He expects us to flee from them, precisely because they are thieves and robbers.

False teaching is one of the hallmarks of thieves and robbers in the Church. As a Christian, you should not follow a false teacher, for he is a stranger. Jesus wants you to flee from him. This also means you should not be part of a ‘church’ where you know for a fact that they are misleading people through false teachings and practices. It doesn’t matter if the ‘church’ calls itself Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Evangelical or Charismatic. If you follow the voice of strangers, this may be a sign that you are not part of Jesus’ sheep; for Jesus Himself has stated that His sheep know His voice and will not follow the voice of strangers. 

Furthermore, do not buy into the popular but naïve idea that says, “Chew the meat and spit out the bones.” This is the wisdom of men, not the wisdom of God. If the bone is bad, why risk chewing the meat around it? The Holy Spirit will never give us that advice. Jesus wants us to flee from strangers altogether. He doesn’t say, “It’s ok to follow false teachers, false prophets and false apostles. Just make sure you carefully  chew the meat and spit out the bones.” Let us follow Jesus’ voice of truth and He will lead us to green pastures and fresh waters. Amen.

Pray to our Father in heaven about the message you’ve heard today.

For further study: Ezekiel 34:1-31

Exposing the Thief of God’s Word

Daily Devotional: Day 111

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1NKJV, emphasis added).

As you walk with the Lord, it is important to be well grounded in His Word. “Well grounded” means you understand, are rootedsecure and sound in God’s Word. It is not enough to learn a few catchy phrases and passages. This point is important for several reasons. We will talk about one of the reasons today.

There is something you need to understand about satan. He is a thief of God’s Word.

The most precious thing satan wants to steal from you is not your health or your money, but the Word of God. Please remember this point always. One of his chief weapons is to rob you of God’s Word either completely or at least by distorting (and diluting) the Word so that you miss out on vital supernatural nutrition. Subsequently, his victims become spiritually malnourished and become vulnerable to satanic manipulation. The devil has been doing this since the time of Adam and Eve.

After creating Adam and Eve, God gave them His Word – the commandment to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Holding on to this word would keep them alive and save them from death. But notice what happened when the serpent (satan) tempted Eve. His first move was to attack the word which God had entrusted to Adam and Eve. Why didn’t he attack their health or something else? As one author put it (I don’t recall who it was): “The Bible calls satan a lot of things. Fool is not one of them.” Satan’s strategy for defeating man works like this: “First, attack the Word; then the rest will be easy.” In our time, he has found even more crafty ways to corrupt the purity of God’s Word, thereby depriving men and women of the blessings contained in the Word.

Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 13:19: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [Word of God], and does not understand it, then the wicked one [satan] comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart . . .” (emphasis added). Satan is not after your money or your health. If he attacks any of these, it is a ploy. His primary target is to steal the Word of God from you or to give you a distorted-diluted version of it. Once he notices that you are not grounded in the Word, the rest is easy business. He will launch a full assault to keep you bound. Be alert, dear reader. The times are evil. Don’t make light of the Bible. Hold on to it for dear life. Read it, study it, meditate it, and obey the Father’s instructions in it. May the Lord bless you now and forever. Amen.

Pray to the Father about His Word that has come to you today.

For further study: Mark 4:1-20

Time To Wake Up

Daily Devotional: Day 64

“Watch therefore – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch” (Mark 13:35-37, RSV).

Jesus shall surely return to judge the living and the dead, and inaugurate a new heaven and a new earth. Throughout the Bible, he has given us clear signs to look for, indicating that his coming is near. He gave us these signs because he loves us and doesn’t want to find us unprepared. Staying awake is, therefore, part of being a Christian. Today’s Bible text is taken from an extended passage in which Jesus instructs his disciples about what to expect regarding the end of this world and the ushering in of the new heaven and new earth. After giving them details about signs of the end, he commands them to watch. Note what Jesus says at the end: “And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” This means that the message he gave to the disciples is addressed to us also. And the keyword is watch. I looked up the verb “to watch” in Google and this is the definition it gave, “look at or observe attentively, typically over a period of time.” This means Jesus wants you to be attentive, alert and vigilant, carefully observing the signs of the times, so that you can discern their implication for the end times.

Jesus’ return will be sudden. How do you stay awake and keep watch? The “sleep” Jesus speaks about is a metaphor. It refers to the state of mind where people go about their normal lives without paying attention to the events occurring around them. It further refers to people’s inability to interpret the signs of the times in light of the Scriptures. Due to this inability, many people shall be caught off guard by the Second Coming of Christ. But God wants his children, Christians, to heed the words of Jesus. He wants us to pray and be spiritually sensitive to our environment. We live in world where many people are distracted by the cares of life, the obsession and fascination with electronic devises, and the glamor of entertainment; in addition to the increasing attack on Jesus, the Church, and the Bible. This development has made it even harder for Christians to be spiritually vigilant and alert. But today, God wants you to examine your state of readiness for the return of Christ. Study the Bible and look out for the signs of the end times. Stay awake and be ready to greet Jesus when he appears suddenly.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for giving us the signs of the end times. Dispel every darkness from my life. Enable me to watch and be ready to welcome your Son anytime he appears. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28

Heaven Bank Savings

Daily Devotional: Day 56

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21, KJV).

Jesus didn’t come into the world to discourage us from building the human family on earth. In fact, on the contrary, he empowered us to bless the world with the love and truth of God. That said, Jesus wants us to understand priorities.  He wants us to avoid the danger of prioritizing this temporary world over matters of eternity. Every human being is first and foremost a spirit. So, it’ll be a mistake to invest in this passing world to the detriment of your spiritual health. As Jesus stated, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Knowing the distinction between eternal realities and temporal realities is an essential part of walking with God. As in the day of Jesus, so it is today. People can get so caught up with the material things of this world that they forget that they have a higher supernatural calling in Christ Jesus.

In today’s Bible passage, Jesus exhorts us to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven’s bank. You have an account opened for you in heaven. And Jesus says you have the responsibility to increase your treasure in heaven. You see, our decisions have consequences. Everything we do or fail to do affects our heaven bank account. Your true treasure is in heaven, where there’s no corruption. As you go about your normal life, obeying Jesus and walking in the Father’s Word, you’re building up eternal treasure for yourself. Where your heart is, says a lot about what matters to you. Keep your heart in heaven, your heart’s true home.

Prayer:

Dear Daddy, glory to you for giving us heaven. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to lay up treasure in heaven. Let your Holy Spirit always remind me of heaven. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 12:13-21

Guard Your Heart

Daily Devotional: Day 

“And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts” (Mark 4:15, KJV).

God’s Word is like seeds. Each time you hear the Word, the seeds enter your heart. These seeds are power seeds. They’re filled with God’s power and purpose, designed to heal, restore, save, warn, encourage, convict and equip you to fulfill the Father’s will for your life. When the word enters your heart, it begins a process of accomplishing the purpose for which the word was sent (Read Isaiah 55:10-11). You may not notice any immediate observable change, but if the word stays long enough in your heart, it shall accomplish its mission, and the results will be there for all to see: love, wholeness, integrity, humility, peace, patience, joy, godliness, healing, deliverance, illumination, wisdom, etc.  Once the words enter your heart, they’ll target and purge you of everything in your life that’s impeding your progress in God. At the same time, the words will strengthen you, renew you and prepare you for a greater degree of God’s glory.

Look again at today’s Bible verse. Jesus says that there’s a group of people who hear the Word and Satan comes immediately to take away the word that was sown in their hearts. By making this statement, Jesus is declaring that Satan is a thief of God’s Word. He knows that if the Word matures in your heart, it’ll produce fruit and give you power over him. Jesus says Satan wastes no time in removing the Word from some people’s hearts. A thief is only successful if you’re not vigilant. This means that you must guard your heart and consciously retain the Father’s Word in your heart. You’re the gatekeeper of your heart. You decide what enters and stays in your heart. The Bible is right to say, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This means life springs from your heart, and it’s important to watch over it, lest the Enemy takes away God’s Word sown in it. Don’t let Satan rob you of blessings. Retain in your heart the seeds of God’s Word, and watch the Father transform you.

Pray:

Daddy, thank you for your Word. I know that you sow your Word in me, because you love me. Let your Word in my heart accomplish the purposes for which you sent it. By your grace, I’m covered by the blood of Jesus. By the same blood, I forbid Satan from coming near my heart. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 119:1-18; John 15:7-17