Have we grown comfortable and complacent? As a body of Christ, a soldier in the Army of the Lord, have we grown accustomed to habits that are not pleasing to the Lord? Have we offered strange fire before God? Have we grown to believe that we are untouchable? Do we have the idea that we have arrived? Are we so satisfied with our Christian walk that we turn our heads to the small things that have crept in and defiled the temple?
Church I say today that we need to examine ourselves. We need to turn the microscope of the Word on our own lives, and ask the Holy Spirit to search the depths of our hearts. Yesterday I heard the results of a survey that disturbed me. Fewer people are reading the Bible. Imagine that? Many of the people that were surveyed were Christians. Why would we believe that we could put the Word aside and not look to it for direction? Have we turned to man for wisdom or have we memorized the scripture and no longer need to read it?
Flip through the TV ministries and you will hear ‘sermons’ or motivational speeches given, weekly, where the Word of God is not mentioned once. A scripture is not given, but ideas have been built and the people are being fed ‘man’s’ thoughts. Search the Internet and you can find numerous programs that will supply you with a ready built sermon. This will allow the minister to spend less time on his knees and more time on the golf course spreading the Gospel, right? Now, back down, I am not saying men and women of God shouldn’t golf. But I do wonder if the men and women filling the pulpit, who have taken on the role as shepherd, are hearing the voice of God.
Brothers and sisters, I call out to you today to recognize that we must NOT think too much of ourselves. Woe to the person who believes they can walk through this life without consulting the Word and our Lord. Woe to the person who has ceased praying because there is just not enough time in the day to ‘get everything’ done. Woe to the man or woman who cannot find time to pray or read the Word! Woe to the man or woman that offers strange incense upon the altar. Woe to the man or woman who worships for praise of man or the tickling of his or her own flesh.
Brothers and sisters the day is at hand, the hour is nigh! We must wake from our slumber and recognize that we have contaminated the temple of the Lord! We must rise from our sleep and recognize that the Fire of the Lord is a purifier, refiner, guide, but as much as the Fire of the Lord is each of these things, it is also judgment. Why do we think we are beyond reproach? Why do we think that we can continue our religious games and no harm no foul?
Think I am a doomsday preacher, speaking doom and gloom? Take a look at I Peter 4:17-18 for the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I didn’t make it up folks! It is in black and white in the Word of God.
Many of you will email me and chide me for being so harsh. “Shouldn’t we focus on the good things about God?’ You’re going to turn the sinner away with all the talk about judgment and the fire of God.’ I believe with every fiber in my being that we must fall on our faces before the Lord, humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand and ask for the purifying fire to consume us so that we will not be left consumed by the fire of judgment. We have led many astray with our positive talks and our offering of strange incense in the house of God. You ask what I mean by that?
It’s Plain and simple! When our services are geared to attract a crowd, and the Holy Spirit is not allowed to move so that lives are changed; so that healing is obtained; so that those in bondage are not delivered, we are offering strange incense. When we have a service planned down to how many times we will sing a chorus, and when the offering will be taken and when the announcements will be made, and there is no room for the Holy Spirit to change the order of our service, then we our offering strange incense. Follow me?
Our Praise and Worship has become a cliché’. Try changing the words around. Say it out loud, Worship and Praise. It doesn’t even sound right does it? Think for a minute, who in the world ever told us that we should enter the throne of God without first worshipping the one who gives us the privilege of praise?
Look at two men that were from a lineage of priest. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. (Leviticus 10:1-2) This story is told again in Numbers 3:4 & 26:61. I don’t think it is an accident that it is included in the scripture.
These young men had perhaps grown too sure of themselves. Their position gave them the right to do, as they felt best. Do we see this happening in our lives or in our church? Have we come to believe that we have arrived in such a place that God will accept whatever we offer? Have we come to the place where we think we are beyond reproach?
Have we come to the place where adultery in the pulpit is accepted as a natural instinct? Do we have the spirit of Abihu or Nadab at work in our churches? Have we lost the passion of first love? Have we turned to strange God’s under the name of a denomination or a song? What are you offering the Lord today, when you approach the alter? Are you approaching the alter, or hoping someone else does it for you?
Here were two men ordained to burn the incense before the Lord. They were not just picked out of the crowd, but because of whom their father was, did they have the right to hold this position. Are you following me? Maybe you hold a position in your church because someone in your family has always held it? Maybe you are pasturing a church because your father handed it down to you. Here is what I am getting at, your position in the family, or on the board, or even behind the pulpit does not give you the right to offer a strange fire to the Lord!
Our sermons have changed to attract memberships. Now some of you just felt your feathers ruffle. We hear how we can have bigger cars, a bigger checking account, a better job and everyone will love us and be attracted to us because of our positive outlook on life. There are churches where the members have tied the hands of the pastor and threaten to pull membership and tithe if they preach on or about sin. There are pastors that know if they stand in the pulpit on this coming Sunday and spoke about sin and the detriments of burning strange fire in the presence of the Lord, many would walk out and not return. And then what would happen to our building fund projects? Why are we building bigger tabernacles anyway?
Folks, time is running out. We cannot remain in our current condition much longer. The scripture tells us that we do not know the time or day: for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye brethren are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are little children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:2-6) He is coming back for a body that is without blemish. He is returning for those that do not offer a strange fire. He is returning for a bride that is PURE! He is coming back for a body that is AWAKE & SOBER! Where will you be when the trumpet sounds?
We cannot sugar coat the Word to draw people. By doing so all we have is a number or a crowd. When we stand on the stages of our beautiful tabernacles and sing songs to raise excitement, or preach sermons to make others feel good about, then we are bringing a strange fire into the Holy of Holies and we stand to be consumed by the judgment fire of God. Have we forgotten that just as there is a heaven, that there is a hell? Have we forgotten what the Word of the Lord says, Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Read through the scripture and see the records of men and women who thought they could move out on their own and do things their way. We have grown so accustomed to doing things our way that we no longer consider the fact that maybe we have moved away from God. In fact I dare say, we think we are closer than ever before. But God is not pleased with our churches as they are, filled with strange fire. And the sad part is, many do not even know. Many have found religion under a ministry that does not teach about the holiness of God, but rather that God is an unending candy machine. Many have lost their first love and do not even know it. Many have grown cold and think they are hot.
I’m not here to make you feel good or cause you to have goose bumps. Many will not agree with what I am saying, but I’m speaking from the Word of God. The Word tells us that judgment will begin at the House of God. If there were not a danger of the church body becoming lukewarm, it would have been written differently in the book of Revelation. If there were not a danger of the righteous not being saved (I Peter 4:17-18) then it would have been written differently in the scripture.
It is time the rug is pulled out, and we wake up! It is time that we, as a body, stop murmuring about the pastor and fall on our knees, praying He hears from GOD. Folks, we have allowed the world to creep into our churches. Other religions that serve man-made gods, have a higher respect for their laws than we do the Inspired Word of God. Other religions have dedicated their lives to a continuous prayer, to Holy Wars, and to taking lives if necessary. In fact, they adhere to the laws and regulations set up by these man-made gods. We on the other hand, do a great job of condemning. We spend so much time picking out the faults of others, that we have failed to realize we are like the man that stood in the temple and prayed: God I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as the publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:11-12) I am in no way saying people who serve other gods are on the right track. But it would pay us to look at the fact that they have more reverence for their temples and false gods, than we do for the KING OF KINGS. And by serving a living God we stand to gain eternity in Heaven, while their gods offer them nothing more than eternity in hell. I wonder how we would stand up under the consuming fire of judgment? I wonder if our churches would remain standing if the Holy Fire of judgment were to fall, consuming everything that is not worthy to be called one of God’s?
Am I telling you to go stand on the corner and announce the judgment fire of God is imminent? Only if God tells you to do so! What I’m giving you is a warning that we must fall on our faces and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those things in our lives that would cause our offerings and our sacrifices to God to be contaminated. To ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the idols that we took from the enemies camp and hid, thinking no one would ever find out, but have brought a curse upon our families and churches.
Take a look at what happened after Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire. Then Moses said unto Aaron, this is that the Lord spake, saying I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. Leviticus 10:3-4
When I read the words, and Aaron held his peace, it is very possible that as a father he wanted to justify or say something that would change the situation; maybe even ask God why. That is our natural, human response. As you read these words today, perhaps you want to get defensive. The mother hen rises up in you and you want to defend your church and your pastor and those around you, including yourself. Folks, you can rise up, but I challenge you – no, I plead with you to fall on your face before the Holy God of Israel and recognize that HE is returning.
I believe we have heard the message that Jesus is coming back for so many years that we have grown to believe that it is so far in the future we have time to act and behave, as we will. Well folks, I tell you today, Jesus is coming back! The scripture declares it. The Word of God tells us that He will return. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4: 16-18) The scripture does not lie. The Word of God is infallible.
We have offered strange fires on the altar and are no longer aware that the fire is a stench in the nostrils of our God. We have played games for so long it all seems right! We sing so many fast songs and so many slow songs, and maybe we even feel goose bumps. We hear a good sermon, and we say a prayer of salvation with everyone in the church, just in case we missed something – we want to be covered for the week.
I believe the day of the judgment is at hand, and the consuming fire of the Lord is going to sweep through our churches. I believe that people are going to be knocked off their feet. The unsaved will find themselves on their face, pastors will not be able to stand behind the pulpit, musicians will cease playing and worship leaders will bow! Anyone in the midst of the fire will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God! We will not be able to stand as the consuming Fire of the Lord cleans our houses!
It is no longer enough to assume everything is okay!! It is no longer enough to shake our heads about other religions. It is no longer acceptable to gossip about your pastor or other members of the church. Folks, WAKE UP! Realize the spirit of Nadab and Abihu has entered our pulpits. It occupies the choir! It fills Sunday School Teacher positions! It is in the deacon board! It fills the pews – from front to back! We have offered a strange fire and God does not recognize it as His, and God is not pleased!
It is time we forget what others will think about us. It is time we cease our playing church. I know of churches across this nation that cannot keep a pastor. The minute a new pastor is put in place and he/she begins to preach the Word and declare that we have to surrender to the Lord God Almighty; they decide they no longer want him/her in the pulpit and begin to murmur and complain. This is because we have set up our churches to conform to our needs. We have designed a perfect little playhouse that makes us feel good and we do not want any disturbance. We have taken on the roll of ‘running the pastor out of town.’
I ask you today, after God’s judgment fire sweeps through your life will there be anything remaining? I ask you today after the judgment fire of God sweeps through your church will there be any wall left standing.
Submit today to the refiner’s fire! Malachi 3:2-6 but who shall abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like a fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Again folks, I didn’t make it up! I am aware that this is not a popular message. I understand that there are people who will shrug it off as pessimistic, but it is time that we fall upon the SOLID ROCK of God our Salvation. In the text above, and over and over again throughout the scripture, God let’s us know that He is Still God and HE HAS NOT CHANGED! He still requires from us a pure sacrifice. He still requires from us the same thing that He required from the disciples of the New Testament. He has not swayed; His message has not change. Just because we have conformed to the World, does not mean that the Lord God Almighty has conformed. He will not conform. He despised idol worship then and He despises idol worship today! He despised SIN then and He despises SIN today!
I pray today that the Holy Spirit will sweep through our families and our churches, and as God’s purifying fire rains down, that we will submit to the cleansing and the refining and that we fall upon the stone and are broken before the Lord; lest the stone shall fall upon us and grind us to powder. (Matthew 21:44 my paraphrase)
Dear Heavenly Father, the I Am, the Purifier, all Consuming Fire.
Oh Lord we long to know You, but we recognize that we have sinned and turned from the way in which you planned for us. We have turned serving you into a ritual, and when we study your word, we understand that this is no different than what the Pharisees did. Please forgive us Lord for contaminating worship with our ideas and views. Forgive us Lord for burning a strange fire upon Your alter and for conforming to the world, so much that we can no longer recognize sin. We humble ourselves before You today Lord, and ask that you move through our churches and our families. Lord from the back door to the pulpit. Cleanse us Lord with Your purifying fire. Reveal our shortcomings. Lord we do not want to be weighed in the balances and come up wanting, we want to serve You with a pure heart. We want to be ready when You return. We want to worship You in Spirit and in Truth. We want You to be our God! We realize that You have brought us out of bondage, not so that we could become complacent or murmur and complain, but rather that we would be Your people! People called and chosen; people called to serve you; people that will love the sinner but detest the sin; people that understand that although we have changed, You are the same YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER! Refine us today! We ask in the Mighty Name of Jesus! Amen!
Written by Jounda LaMance
June 14, 2005
All Scripture taken from KJV
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