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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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"A Grave Word Of Caution"
"Watch out that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:4).
Have you ever bought a large box of crackers or cereal only to open it and find that the contents fill no more than 1/3 of the packaging? Brooksyne brought home a large box of Calla bulbs she purchased for gardening this year. She is so excited to start her spring gardening! I curiously opened the box expecting to find it full of bulbs, but was amazed to find the box nearly empty as the bulbs didn’t even cover the base of the box. I initially felt somewhat deceived in the oversized packaging of the product, though to be fair, it was advertised by the count of the bulbs not the size of the large box!
Today's message about deception may seem a bit unusual for this week when we especially focus on the sacrificial death of Christ, but I believe it is fitting since it is a major part of Christ's teaching only days before His death.
After the Triumphal Entry and just before Jesus went to the Cross He shared two lengthy teachings recorded in our Bibles. All three synoptic Gospels record a teaching known as the Olivet Discourse that was likely given on Wednesday of Holy Week. The Olivet Discourse is so named because the Lord shared this as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives. The other lengthy teaching is found in John's Gospel which records our Lord’s close personal instruction to the disciples in the Upper Room (John 13-17). This likely took place on Thursday of Holy Week.
The Olivet Discourse is a long message that has a lot to say about the Church Age and the end times. However Jesus begins with a solemn warning: "Watch out that no one deceives you." Although I believe we do well to listen and heed this in a general sense concerning all forms of deception, Jesus goes on and expounds with a description of a very specific form of deception: "For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." Thus foundationally we need to be on guard so that we are not falsely indoctrinated into believing in a counterfeit Christ. Instead we are indeed following and serving the genuine Christ.
Deception abounds in our world today. Actually it was first introduced in the Garden of Eden when Satan planted doubt in Eve’s heart causing her to question God’s ruling regarding the forbidden fruit. I read a letter to the editor written by an avowed secularist who asserted that a person holding a Bible-based outlook on life such as myself is deceived. Indeed from his perspective and belief system (worldview) he feels that he is right and anyone holding a view contrary to his is deceived. Of course I would assert that it is the other way around. He is the one deceived!
Since Christ gave His loving and instructive caution to the disciples many false christs have appeared all through the ages of the Church. And this is still true today. This may be a self-proclaimed individual or a belief system contrary to revealed Biblical truth. In my own lifetime false christs have come and gone and surely more will be coming, culminating with the antichrist.
Today we need to not only listen but heed the words of the one and only genuine Christ. We have in the Holy Scriptures a most certain and dependable record of His life and His call to each one of us. Let us ever be on our guard, watching out that no one deceives us. This is a grave word of caution that believers all through the Church age should solemnly take to heart. "Watch out that no one deceives you."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we are confronted with deception on many fronts every day, so much so, that we can be deceived without even realizing it. Would You help us to watch out and be on our guard so that we are not deceived by man’s words, no matter how convincing they are, how charming their personality, or how cunning their craft. Help us not to fall for Satan’s deceptive tactics that have brought down believers throughout the church age. We seek You for strength and discipline. We search the Scriptures for discernment and the true revelation of who Jesus is; the Son of the Living God. It is in His name that we pray, Amen.
PS: Here's an interesting observation that I like to share each year at this time: The gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! The critical historian might say this is surely way out of balance, but in the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.
Further reading: 2 Peter 1:12-21
photo the other day of her parents, Mike and Joann, at their wedding three years ago.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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