During the past couple of decades televangelism has exploded. There are so many “preaching” the Word of God. Some are closer to self-help gurus who espouse a life filled with positive attitudes and bookshelves full of books to buy and read. They will tell you that you have a great life and that all you need to do is buy the next book. After buying book after book, people become disillusioned and will sell those books to a used bookstore. They no longer see the great life to come and things didn’t change for them. They bought all the books, “attended” every Sunday televised service and donated all the money they could spare. When things didn’t change, that’s when they began to question not the preachers, but God. They fell into the trap of listening to individuals who were clearly not preaching the Word of God.
I am not going to tell you that your life will be “roses and rainbows” when you accept Jesus as your personal Savior and the Lord of your life. The difficulties of this fallen world don’t melt away for God’s children. What will change is how you handle adversity and the difficulties of life. You will realize that you are nothing without God in your life and that you must depend on Him daily. It is your faith in Him that will keep you from falling.
When my mother had cancer back in the late 1990s, it was a very difficult time for our family. Mom was getting almost ready to retire and life seemed good for her. She had seen her two sons graduate from college and have lives of their own. Life was sweet for her. Then, one day she developed a persistent cough that just wouldn’t go away. After a couple of weeks of treatment, the doctor sent her for a chest x-ray and then a CAT scan. There, in the images, was a mass about, at the time, the size of a baseball. It was a tumor. After a few more tests, we found out what it was. Mom was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer. When trouble does come, it sometimes sneaks in quietly and then quickly makes itself known to all.
Mom struggled for almost three years with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. At one point, she went into remission and we all thought she had turned the corner. Then, one day, things went from bad to worse. In just a couple of hours, our whole world crashed. Mom had succumbed to her cancer.
In all of the time we spent together, I saw my mother’s faith challenged daily. Cancer was very difficult on her and I feel for all who are or have gone through it. Their families fight daily for just one more day. They struggle together and, at times, cry together. There are good moments, but there is always a shadow that is right around the next corner.
The one thing that helped her the most was her faith. There were times when her faith was challenged and shaken to the core. But, she managed to get through those times by returning to God’s Word for comfort, strength and encouragement. It was that faith that carried her through some of the most difficult times. She truly was an example of faith under fire.
There are those who are reading this message who are going through some tough times. I, too, have been in your place a couple of times. Your faith will be challenged and there will be times when someone tells you that life will be easier for you only if you read his or her book. Those preachers are the ones that are there only to pick your pockets and leave you more empty than you were before.
John, in chapter four of his first epistle, writes, “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. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.”
If people start to tell you something that just doesn’t seem right to you, there is a reason. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you at that moment. He is warning you about the words being spoken. If they don’t acknowledge the truth of Jesus and tell you something else, then you need to question their knowledge and claims of being a preacher or prophet of God. They will preach a gospel that is false and that will lead only to disappointment and, ultimately, destruction. Their worldly words will be soothing at first and lull you into a false sense of peace and comfort. They will make you feel good and then they will set the trap. All they are interested in is money and filling their coffers with wealth and power.
What they provide is a peace that this world has to offer, but it is not the peace offered by God. The peace that God offers is free and is beyond all human understanding. It is a peace that only the heart and soul can truly understand. Many will tell you that they can give you peace of mind for a small donation or if you buy their book. The Good News comes freely. Don’t be deceived by what they are peddling to the world.
Jesus, in chapter twenty-four of the Gospel of Matthew, said, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.”
The false prophets will seem, at first, a breath of fresh air and tell you exactly what you want to hear. Their words will seep into your mind and begin to make you feel better about yourself. They will work to convince you that you are really a god and in control of your own destiny. You won’t need anything else to improve your life. It is within your power to do more.
Like the old adage goes, “if it’s too good to be true, it often is.”
At first, what they say may give you some comfort and make you feel a lot better, but that’s all that they offer. It only feels better for a short period of time. Like a narcotic, you want more and they know that you will come back for more. This is the time when they ask you for a small donation or to buy their book. They will claim to be able to perform a miracle in your life. Don’t be deceived.
Jesus, later in chapter twenty-four of the Gospel of Matthew, says, “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 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. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.”
There will always be those who preach a false gospel or tell you something just to make you feel good when you face adversity. It is at those times when you must remain firm in your faith and seek God’s will in your life. Jesus never preached that life will be easier for those who believed in him. What he taught is that God is always there to provide for your needs and give you the strength to take that next step. Each day and each moment of each day can be filled with joy or sorrow. But, it’s all up to you as to how you will live.
Will you live in true faith and continue to follow God’s will or will you simply give into the words of those who are only interested in fleecing the flock for their own gain? The choice is yours to make.
If you seek God and ask Him for wisdom, He will give it to you in great abundance. He will never leave nor forsake you. When you live that type of faith and walk daily with the Lord, you will, most assuredly, stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.