August 7

Malachi 3-4, Psalm 65

The world wants us to stay positive and to avoid pointing out faults. In fact, the world will go so far as to say, who are we to point out anyone's faults since there really is no right or wrong, but everyone has the right to choose what is right or wrong to them. Many churches have picked up on this message and have purposely avoided confronting sin in their messages. Parenting now frowns at disciplining but recommends mostly encouraging. All of these thoughts and comments are those of the world but not God. The results of this wide scale change is a society which is self-righteous, feels they are "good" based on their own merits, and has largely replaced the God of the universe with the god of their own making. Without true repentance of one's own sins there can be no entering into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We are looking at a world proudly walking on that wide road to hell and praising each other as they walk together on that path.

We read in Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts." This verse written 400 years in advance is quoted in Mark 1:2 and by Jesus Himself in Matthew 11:10 as referring to John the Baptist. We read in Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist's unwavering message, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Messiah and he did so not by delivering a positive message that they were all innately good. He prepared the way and their hearts by preaching that they were not good and that they were all in desperate need of a savior. Contrast John the Baptist's mission with how Jesus described the mission of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13,15, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in...Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." John the Baptist also did not hold back in his view of the Pharisees in Matthew 7-8, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of Vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,".

So the question we must ask ourselves is which mission do we want to march forward with: that of John the Baptist's leading sinners towards repentance or that of the Pharisees which is a hypocritical message leading to self-righteousness. It truly is that simple. In God's eyes there is no middle road, as we read in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Which path are we leading others to? If we want to be popular and be well respected and received like the Pharisees in Jesus' day then all we have to do is accept and applaud what everyone does and they will love us and we will love them all the way to hell. If we love Jesus and truly believe what He said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.", then we will take the unpopular position of John the Baptist and lead those in our personal mission field towards repentance and into a personal relationship with Jesus. The question really is do we truly love others enough to take this difficult stance or do we truly care more about how they love us.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster