Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where Would You Like To Be One Year From Today?

By John Stallings

Elisha said to her, “This time next year you’re going to be nursing an infant son….. 2Kings 4: 16-- The Message

Because we’re created for eternity, all of us have dreams.

A little girl dreams of someday becoming a ballerina. A little boy wants to grow up & be a fireman.A young woman dreams of becoming a lawyer. A stay- at- home mom dreams of running her own business. A single mom dreams of someday being able to stay at home & take care of her kids. A business man dreams of one day owning his own business.Some want a new truck or a piece of land.Still others dream of “making it” in singing, acting or sports.Some want to raise kids to be successful in life.

Each of us has the desire for more of life, to do more, to accomplish more & get more out of our lives.One thing we all have in common; everyone has & needs dreams. Someone has said, “If you have no dream, how you will ever have a dream come true?” Dreams deliver us to a new reality. We need to follow our dreams, and never stop dreaming, though we reach 100 years of age. What dreams languish in your heart today? W.H Murray said, “Whatever your dream began it, for boldness has magic in it.” How true. We are drawn by our dreams.


There seems to be a principle about dreams that they are born, die and then surprisingly they come to life again. Every song and sermon I’ve ever written has gone through a cycle; the birth, - attacks of doubt about its validity, --death, --and resurrection. I write the song, get excited about it, and sleep on it for awhile, and then excitement starts to wane. Then, sometimes almost immediately, sometimes weeks or months later, the feeling I had about the song reignites. The danger of this is that in the cooling period, a lot of worthwhile writing can drop through the cracks and be lost. None the less, this is the way it works with me, and I would guess others.

In the book of Second Kings the fourth chapter there is a great story with just such a dynamic; the birth, death & resurrection of a dream. The story unfolds among four characters; Elisha, God’s prophet, Gehazi, his assistant, the Shunammite woman, a noble, wealthy & pious woman, and her miracle son. Each of these characters has modern day counterparts which makes the story more intriguing & allows it to be instructive for Christian living.Elisha, God’s servant, who was Elijah’s successor, is presented in an extremely positive light in the biblical record & it’s almost impossible to find a word of negativity spoken of him or his actions.

Gehazi, Elisha’s assistant on the other hand seems to be pretty much a hireling. We find his name popping up often & in the next chapter he takes money from Namaan the leper, money Elisha refuses to take as payment for the Syrian commanders healing. For this, God struck Gehazi & his descendants with Namaan’s leprosy. He’s a perfect type of a minister who’s in it for the money.The Shunammite woman is described as “great” or “notable”, a Hebrew word that can speak of wealth, piety, renown or all the above. Elisha periodically passed by her home as he traveled the countryside. As she became acquainted with him she perceived him to be a great man of God so she and her husband built a room or prophet’s chamber in their home for him.

This woman to me is a type of the church.Because of her hitherto childlessness, this woman could have become bitter but she was still reaching out to people & loving them. Because of her lack of children she could have blamed God for it & felt she wanted no man of God to stay in her home. She definitely had the right attitude & there must have been an atmosphere of faith & godliness in her house.

Though the Shunammite woman might not be very familiar today, she served as an important symbol in the 19th & early 20th centuries. There weren’t enough clergy for every town to have their own minister so frontier preachers maintained a circuit & served several communities which meant they were traveling all the time. My grandfather was one of these circuit riding preachers & served Tennessee & Georgia as an evangelist for the Presbyterian Church. He had only one eye, he played the violin & was later a piano teacher.In those days, numerous homes along the preacher’s way were known as “Shunammite Households” because they would maintain a “prophet’s chamber” available on a moments notice to provide food & lodging to those doing the Lord’s work.

Lest we forget the Shunammite woman’s son, he was born as a result of an Abraham-Sarah-like miracle. To me he represents Everyman, a child of the church & the individual Christian.The father in this story seems basically to be only background or “white-noise,” & he plays a “bit part.”Elisha was grateful for the kindness shown him by this Shunammite woman & in turn he wanted to bless her. When He found she had no children & her husband was old, he spoke the blessing of a child into her life.


Elisha gave her a word of prophecy that one year from that time, she and her husband would have a son. She reacted by telling the prophet not to lie to her, showing that her faith was weak in this area. None- the- less, exactly at that time the next year the prophecy came true and she held a son in her arms. Isn’t it great that even when we don’t have enough faith, God is gracious to have mercy on us in spite of our doubts? However God expects our faith to grow so He’ll stretch us & test our faith just as He did in this woman’s case.So this Shunammite woman realized her dream & it came to fruition at the precise time Elisha told her it would happen, exactly one year from the time he prophesied it.


Why not take the long view and believe that one year from now you will be out of debt, greatly blessed, or maybe engaged to a great person, if you’re single, and on your way to a great future. Isn’t that better than believing that you’ve fallen into a black hole and things will never improve? There’s nothing wrong with a one year plan, because a lot can happen in one year. I’m not talking about a New Years resolution, but rather believing God for something great exactly one year from now.When this son was about 12 years old he was with his father in the field one day and suddenly the boy ran to his dad complaining of pains in his head. Though the details are scanty, most commentators believe in all probability he fell victim to a sunstroke because of direct exposure to the sun. Being a child he succumbed quickly because he probably wasn’t wearing any protective head-gear.

This is reminiscent of young Christians who expose themselves to the perils of this worlds system for long periods of time without making sure they're constantly protected by “The whole armor of God.”When the boy fell ill they took him to his mother to be comforted but within a short time he died in her arms. How many former Christian workers have we seen die in the arms of the church in the last two decades? The Shunammite woman knows her son is dead but she does a rather strange thing. She takes him up to Elisha’s room, lays him on the bed, & shuts the door. Then she goes out & shouts to her husband from a distance asking him to send her one of the servants with a donkey, she wants to go see the man of God.So now this woman has seen her dream come true, held the dream in her arms, and then sees the dream shattered & her son die right before her eyes.


This Shunammite woman doesn’t seem to accept that her child is really dead. She tells no one & in effect by putting the child in the prophet’s private room & shutting the door, she’s effectively hiding his condition from her husband, & to an extent, even from herself.Look at some of alternatives she now had: she could go into a rage, start panicking and screaming and cursing the God who had given her the gift and now so cruelly taken it from her. She could have had a melt-down & gone on a tirade saying, “Well I quit. If that’s what God does to you, I want no more to do with him.” Some people blame God when bad things happen to them. I’ve seen folk who never again darkened a church door after life dealt them a disappointment similar to this. But you don’t see those kinds of hysterics with this woman. Look what a paragon of faith she is. She doesn’t even cry or tell her husband what’s happened, probably because she knows he isn’t able to handle the situation spiritually or emotionally.

It would have been understandable if she’d gone into a rage & ranted against God & His man who’d built her up for a letdown. But this woman is a model of level-headedness. She wasn’t going to make a big scene; she was going to seek out the originator of the promise made to her. She wasn’t going to go public against the man of God & malign his character but rather she was going to him privately with her problem.She’s in mission mode now. Nothing would deter her. She climbs on the donkey & says, “Drive & go forward. Don’t slacken the pace unless I tell you to.” The servant is probably running beside her goading the little donkey with a stick. We’re not told how much trouble she had finding Elisha. It probably wasn’t all that easy because he was at Carmel about 15 miles away. But she found him and when she saw him she ran to him & fell at his feet to tell him what had happened. When some folk have trouble, they run from God. They stay out of church and hibernate, but this woman is going in the right direction; God is always the right direction.

Isaiah 55: 6-7 says, Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near……


Elisha must have been eternally vigilant because he wasn’t in bed sleeping; he was outside & saw her coming. He asked her if things were well with her & back at home & she answered, “All is well.” Think about that. No matter how many times I read her words I get chills down my spine. This woman acts like she’s already read Romans 4:17 hundreds of years before Paul ever penned it, by “calling things which were not as if they were.”

It’s interesting that when the Shunammite woman fell at Elisha’s feet Gehazi attempts to push her away from the prophet. The bible has little good to say about Gehazi. Though he takes the commands of the prophet & obeys them well, there’s that sense of unbelief that hovers between the lines when he’s mentioned. We know one thing for sure; he had a greed for money which finally proved his undoing. It’s sad because Gehazi had all the time in the world to soak up righteous principles from his master Elisha but he doesn’t seem to hunger for that.

He’s emblematic of people who are exposed to the church but never internalize the truth for themselves. They [especially the professional hirelings] see the church only as a place to extract dollars.Elisha was so sensitive to her need that he immediately tells Gehazi to run ahead and place his staff on the child. Here again Gehazi shows his inadequacy & spiritual impotence. The narrative doesn’t mention him praying for the boy. Even laying Elisha’s mantle on him does no good.Gehazi simply didn’t have the spiritual goods to get the job done even with Elisha’s mantel. He tried & failed once, & he gave up. Evidently he’d never heard about, “try, try again.”To me this Gehazi fits the description of those Paul speaks of in 2nd Timothy 3:8,….. Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

The boy is stone cold dead.In the bible the euphemism for death is sleep. “For this cause many are weak & sickly among you & many sleep.--1 Cor. 11:30 God’s people need to be awake & alert in these days when sin & darkness abounds. Paul says in Romans 13:11-12….it is high time to wake out of sleep…..When Elisha arrives at the Shunammites house things are still the same & the boy lies dead on his bed. The boy is now with the prophet but he’s still dead.

Many people are “in the church” on a weekly basis but they remain asleep. Parking a lawnmower in a garage doesn’t make it an automobile.Unlike Gehazi, Elisha throws himself into the task of reviving the child. First he shuts the door, putting everyone outside. This is a private matter. I don’t know about you but I think we’ve been remiss in airing the church’s dirty laundry & allowing our business to be put in the streets. We have “Christian Magazines” just for this purpose. However one reason for that is we haven’t had, as the body of Christ, the spiritual power to restore anyone.

Paul told us when a Christian slips,…Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted. Gal.6:

Maybe I’m reading it wrong but it would seem to me if people aren’t restored, it must be because there’s no one around spiritual enough to restore them. We can criticize, we can publicize but we can’t restore. It becomes much easier to just cut the fallen ones loose.Elisha knows he’s the only one that can get the job done & that any hope of life for the boy depends on his relationship with God.

Notice how hard Elisha works to get this boy healed. He stretches himself out on the child eye to eye, mouth to mouth, & hand to hand. We’ll never win the world from behind the four walls of a church. We must “press the flesh” so to speak to ever see the lost won to Christ. There are only two types of institutions that I know of who have stained or clouded glass on their windows & that’s the church & bars.For too long the church has sat behind walls & been entertained with no connection to the lost & dying in our world. Consequently we’ve lost our “street cred.”

Elisha stretches himself out on the boy the second time & this time something happens. The boy sneezes. He not only sneezes, he sneezes seven times. Do you know what a sneeze is? The dictionary defines it as—“a sudden violent, spasmodic audible expiration of breath through the nose & mouth especially as a reflex act.”A sneeze occurs as a reaction to an irritant of some kind; dust, dander, allergen etc.I did some research on sneezing & found that in sneezing, the respiratory system convulses with a blast of air traveling at the speed of 240 mph in its attempt to dislodge and expel the offending particle.

The spiritual counterpart to sneezing is repentance.Listen to 2nd Cor. 7:10-11---For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort what carefulness it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what vehement desire, yea what zeal, yea what revenge. In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

In the analogy of reviving a body to life, sneezing is a perfect picture of the individual Christian’s repentance.Why did the boy sneeze seven times? The number seven in the bible is the number of completion. The book of Revelation has seven churches, seven lampstands, seven spirits, seven eyes, seven seals, trumpets, plagues, bowls, thunders, heads, crowns, mountains, & kings. There are many other lists of seven in the bible.When the child sneezed seven times it was an example of complete repentance. One or two sneezes won’t get the job done; he must sneeze until all the impediments are completely gone.


What a miraculous story. A story that would never have happened if the woman had not been a fighter. What if she had gotten so caught up in the finality of death that she collapsed in despair? She could have allowed a hundred things to divert her that day and her dream would have been over. She could have gotten mad at God for what seemed like a cruel joke played on her by granting her a son and then taking him away. She could have even been angry enough at the man of God that she would never want to see him again. She could have said, “Well, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” She could have said, “Well I’m too old now to see another miracle, that’s it for me, after all, God works in mysterious ways.”It's one thing to bow to Gods will, we haven’t much choice, but it’s another to give up when a little more fight may win the day. The violent take it by force!

If I’m lying on my deathbed I don’t want to hear people praying, “Lord, if it be thy will, heal Him.” I don’t want my wife to pray, “Take him on Jesus, I know heavens a lonely place & you need a few more roses to bloom in your flower garden.” I’ve told Juda [jokingly] if she ever prays for me like that I’ll come back & haunt her for the rest of her life. God didn’t kill this young man, the devil did. It’s my conviction that when someone is facing death, we shouldn’t pray, “if it be they will, heal the person, but according to thy will heal them.”

Let’s look at this story and understand that just because a dream comes, doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t slip away. However, If it does, we need to fight with everything within us to see it resurrected. There may be something in your life today that you need to fight for. Let me ask you about your dream, how much do you want it? Are you going to give up without a fight? You may have laid your dream up on a shelf and it’s been there for years. It perhaps has grown dusty and parched with age but I want to encourage you to take that dream off the shelf today and allow God to breathe life back into it. Do believe it can happen? I know it can.


Friend, don’t settle for shallow living. Maybe you’ve seen some of the dreams you’ve had for yourself turn to nightmares so consequently you’ve began to dream dreams that are always safe & quiet requiring little risk, practically none in fact.But have you considered lately the dreams God has for you?

Listen to 1 Cor.2:9;

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for them who love Him.

In the great New Testament Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:35, the Holy Spirit brings the Shunammite woman back to our remembrance; ---Women received their dead raised to life again.God made sure the story of this woman & her son lived on for a reason. If like her, your promise has died, follow her example & stretch it out before the living God & expect a miracle.Ask the Lord to revive the promise—your life----your ministry---your job. Ask God to remove everything in your path.

Dear friend, dream big with huge faith attached to it. Most of all make sure you’re dreaming never scheming. Know that any dream worth its salt will have some opposition.

If we, like this woman, will stay positive, will keep our eye on the one who placed the dream in us, refuse to quit or become offended, act in faith & keep our love-level high, our future also holds some miraculous surprises...




Monday, October 27, 2014

Seven Marks Of A False Prophet

By John Stallings

Listen to Philippians ...

Beware of dogs; beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision. Phi.3:2

Preach the Word; be instant in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap unto themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. --2 Timothy 4:2-4

We’re in a time when many of God’s people won’t endure sound doctrine. We are here now;

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.—1 Timothy 4:1-2

For among my people are found wicked men; they lay wait as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? ---Jer.5:26/30-31.

When Paul calls someone a dog, he’s speaking of false teachers. Since dogs in our time are called man’s best friend, and loved by most everyone it’s too bad that in the Bible dogs are almost always seen in a negative light. This would be because in that day dogs ran wild, had no masters, and were considered filthy & dangerous.

You and I should be careful that we never brand people as false prophets just because they don’t agree with us on every detail of our theology. When we go there, we get into the harmful judging we’re warned against.

Watch the example Paul sets. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks about meat that was sacrificed to idols. He clearly calls people confused about eating or not eating it. He says they are brothers who just don’t have sufficient knowledge. Paul makes it clear that God loves the people on both sides of the debate. He isn’t calling them false prophets or “dogs.” Paul states what he believes to be the true but says, “an idol is nothing, but not everyone knows this.” Paul isn’t going to get his knickers in a knot about the issue.

If we move to Romans 14 &15 Paul goes further into it. He starts off by telling us to “receive those who are weak in the faith &don’t get embroiled in doubtful disputes.” Too much labeling & line-drawing is done today &God is displeased with it. Certainly we aren’t to compromise the truth or our convictions, but neither are we to be “Holy Ghost juniors” setting ourselves up as judges.

Dogs or false teachers will always be with us. Listen to the words of Jesus;

And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold……For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matt. 24:11-12/24.

Many people love the smooth sayings of false teachers. Listen to Peter;

But there were false prophets among the people even as there will be false prophets among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Peter 2:1-3

Listen to John;

--Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of the anti-Christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.---1 John 4:1-3

Paul told Timothy;

Holding faith and a good conscience which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:19-20

“Who let these dogs out?” I think it’s rather obvious that Satan is the father of all these “dogs” who spew forth lies in the name of God. If we read Revelation we’ll see many other dogs will be released in the end-time.

Seven marks of a false prophet or DOG.


A false prophet will never tell us-inconvenient truths.Micah 23:16-17 says,--Thus saith the Lord, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord.

We wouldn’t go to a doctor who would rub Vaseline on a cancer & we need to be careful listening to a ministry that never rocks the boat or tells us “thus saith the Lord.” Salvation is more than a fire- escape but Jesus had so much to say about sin, it’s consequence & eternal hell, you’d think a man/woman would mention these things at least once or twice every ten years or so. In my view a preacher who doesn’t declare the whole council of God has zero credibility, isn’t scripturally balanced & is probably a people pleaser. Acts 20:26-27.


In Numbers 16 a man named Korah gathered others around him & went to Moses challenging his leadership. The narrative tells us that Moses fell on his face. Moses just collapsed right there. We might interpret it that Moses fell in humility & in a prayerful way but it seems to me Moses was so stunned at his core he fell out from the shock.

Moses may have fallen because he was aghast at these men rebelling against his leadership when they were there all through the wilderness journey. These men saw how God used Moses & the great miracles God wrought to keep these people alive, but they rose up against God’s man anyway. God dealt with this in a harsh way [He opened the earth and it swallowed them] as He will always do at some point when his anointed leaders are assailed.

It’s the mark of a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing to have the unmitigated gall to  rise up against & oppose the work a true man/woman of God is doing.


Then the Lord said unto me, the prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision, and divination, and a thing of naught, and the deceit of their heart.—Jer.14:14

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord. Jer. 23:16

This is sort of funny but I once was a pulpit guest in a church where the pastor (a very fine man) felt he was highly favored & mightily used of God to foresee events. One night after our service he “felt led” to drive across town & pray for a man who was having some difficulties.

It was a cold rainy night & the pastor’s wife was against him going & told him he could pray for the man & go see him the next day. But nothing would make him happy until the brother had me in the car & we headed out into the bleak night to “take care of business.” I was a little embarrassed for my preacher friend when we arrived at the house & the man wasn’t home. Now I didn’t think any less of my friend because of this because in truth, though I loved & respected him, I never had that much confidence in his radar anyway. Even at best, “We prophesy in part.” We need to be careful when we use the words “God told me.”


From which some have swerved and have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.-1 Timothy 1:5-6

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to Godliness. He is proud knowing nothing but doting about questions and strifes of words where cometh envy, strife, railing , evil surmisings, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth supposing that gain is Godliness; from such withdraw thyself. 1 Tim.6:3-5.

Did you notice the words “vain-jangling? That sounds like a good song-title doesn’t it? That’s the best way to describe what you get from a lot of media ministry nowadays, vain-jangling! When someone offers me a miracle wallet telling me if I send them an offering the wallet will never be empty, I wonder why they don’t just keep all those wallets & use the money that’s obviously already in them.

Please don’t misunderstand, I believe strongly in the miraculous power of God who can move in wondrous & supernatural ways. I also believe in giving & remain open to God in the area of giving, even to ministries I don’t personally know. But some things don’t pass the smell test to me.


Now I beseech you brethren mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18.

Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain; and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in their gainsaying of Korah. -- Jude 11

These are murmurers, complainers walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. ---Jude 16


Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte and when he is made ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Matthew 23:15


For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophets even unto the priest everyone dealeth falsely. Jer.6:13

In my reading of the New Testament, no one has a periscope quite like Peter’s. It’s well worth the time to reread the second chapter of his second little letter where he deals with the destructiveness, the doom &  depravity of false teachers.Though this passage was previously used, listen to it again;

Peter says “Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not.-2:4

These false prophets want “your goods,” but not “your good.”

It pains me to turn on my TV or go to a church service & have someone tell the people in essence that EVERYTHING God will do for them is determined on how much money they give. As far as I’m concerned when they do this they cross the line, they go too far. These people to me are the same as spiritual “wife-beaters.” Any time an individual arbitrarily picks out an amount of money he/she wants folk to send them, then turns around and makes it an “obedience” issue, if they don’t respond; IMHO they’ve wandered off the reservation big time. This hard core sell to me is no less than “spiritual rape.”

How are they different than the Catholic Church before the Reformation when they were selling indulgences? Answer; they aren’t different!

How can a God-called individual tell people (as a TV evangelist did) “If you have $79.00 in your bank account that’s not going to help you, I dare you to close that account & send me that money?” The person who bites on that, unless they’ve really heard from God will in all probability be asking their church to pay their household bills in a few days.

How about this one, “I want you to post-mark that offering within three days. If you don’t send it in three days I don’t want it  we won’t accept it. God said three days!” How about this one, “You & I working together are going to be millionaires.” There are TV ministries I believe are sincere & I’ll go so far as to say that the majority are open & honest, but religious charlatans abound today. These people who are on giant ego trips & they’re in it for the money. I can best describe them using my grandmother’s favorite word, “superficiality.”

It’s easy to just turn our ears away and refuse to listen to these evil teachers. We already have seen that we should avoid false teachers. But we also need to stand against some of the excesses that abound today, know about the errors that are being taught and we need to be prepared to defend the truth when it becomes necessary.

Banks train tellers to spot counterfeit money by letting them spend time handling & acquainting themselves with real money. When we come upon these false teachers, we need to be fortified with truth and the best way to do that is to stay in the Word of God.

In Acts 8:18-20, a man named Simon wanted to buy the Holy Spirit’s power from the apostles. He knew if he had that power he could make a fortune with it. But Peter told him his money would perish with him because he thought the gift of God could be purchased with money.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:13-15.

I know thy works, and thy labor and thy patience and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles and are not, and hast found them liars….. Revelation 2:2

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, And idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Rev.2:2

Be careful, be very careful…

The DOGS are out.



Monday, October 20, 2014

A Thirty Minute Overview Of The Bible

By John Stallings

What can you do in 30 minutes? How much can you read? How much TV can you watch? How many projects can you start and finish? How many calls can you return?

Obviously I’m not suggesting that you let a quick-scan, “fly-over” approach take the place of in-depth Bible study-a thousand times no!

Suppose you had 30 minutes. Could you tell the story of the Bible in a half-hour? Most of us would have a hard time doing that.

After all, the Bible is a big book. The numbers are staggering.
66 books written by 40 authors in three languages over 1500 years.
Over 1100 chapters.
Over 31,000 verses.
Over 800,000 words.

Would it be possible to tell the story of the Bible in one message? That’s our goal. Buckle up because we’re going to start in Genesis and end in Revelation and see if we cover the whole book in one message. Here is the story of the Bible, told in six acts.


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In 6 days God made everything. On the 7th day he rested.That’s Genesis 1.

Genesis 2 tells us about Adam and Eve.God created Adam out of the dust of the ground and placed him in the Garden.

Then he fashioned Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side.He presented Eve to Adam who was very pleased indeed.The two became one flesh. They were naked and they were not ashamed.


The serpent appears to Eve and deceives her.She eats the fruit, gives it to Adam, and he eats.
Eve ate the fruit because she was deceived by the serpent.Adam was not deceived as Eve was. He knew it was wrong but ate the fruit anyway. Therefore God holds him accountable.

“Sin entered the world through one man" (Romans 5:12).

This was the decisive moment, the great turning point.Nothing will ever be the same. Suddenly they are ashamed; they try to cover their nakedness. Innocence is gone forever. When confronted by God, Adam makes excuses.

“Who told you that you were naked?” "The woman you gave me."
First he blames Eve, and then he blames God.Eve blames the serpent. Judgment comes quickly.They are cast out of the Garden. God clothed them with garments of skin, a sign of his grace.

Now they are on their own. The world becomes a very unfriendly place.Cain kills Abel. Civilization spreads. Large cities form. Death is everywhere. That’s Genesis 4-5

Things go from bad to worse. In Genesis 6 God intervenes.
The earth had grown corrupt and full of evil. God calls Noah who builds an Ark. When the flood comes covering the whole earth, only 8 people are saved. Thus do we learn of judgment and grace.

Now the line narrows to Noah and his family. After the flood, the three sons of Noah spread out and begin to multiply. Generations come and go.Eventually they build a tower to express their enormous arrogance.God sends the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. People scatter across the face of the earth.


When Adam fell God didn’t “knee jerk” and do anything until in Genesis 12 he calls Abraham. He’s a prosperous, middle-aged, pagan businessman in Ur of the Chaldees. God calls, he responds and becomes the outstanding example of faith in the Bible.

We can divide the whole Old Testament this way:

Genesis 1-11 God creates the human race.Genesis 12-Malachi 4 God creates the Hebrew race. Abraham and Sarah have a son–Isaac. Isaac has a son–Jacob.Jacob has many sons, the most important being Joseph.Joseph ends up serving Pharaoh in Egypt.His family follows him there. They number 70 people.God blesses them until the day comes when a Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph. For 400 years the people suffered in bondage until God raised up a deliverer named Moses.

He goes before Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go." When Pharaoh says, “No!” God sends the 10 plagues. The last one was the death of the firstborn.

So Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and into the desert. At Mount Sinai God gives the Law, starting with the Ten Commandments. You can read that in Exodus 20.

At Kadesh-Barnea they sent out 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan.It was a land filled with milk and honey. But because there were giants in the land, 10 of the spies said, “No, we can’t go.” Because the people did not believe God’s promise, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Then God raised up another leader–Joshua. He leads the people to conquer the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. They divided the land for the twelve tribes.

Then comes the wild period of the Judges where every man did what was right in his own eyes. You know some of them-Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, Samson. The story of Ruth belongs in this period.

God led his people by prophets, priests and judges. But the people wanted a king. So God gave them Saul who started well and ended badly. Then came David whose victory over Goliath made the women sing his praises. But later David’s reign would be tarnished because of his sin with Bathsheba. Then came Solomon, the king who asked God for wisdom.He built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. But he married foreign women who turned his heart away from God. That’s 1 Kings 11.

Meanwhile the priests offered sacrifices day after day, year after year.A river of blood flowed
from the altar. High priests came and went.

After Solomon’s death the nation split into two parts.The northern ten tribes were led by a long string of evil kings.They were taken into captivity in 722 B.C. The southern two tribes had a few good kings. They lasted until 586 BC when the Babylonians took them into captivity.

The prophets brought God’s message of warning and hope. Isaiah spoke of a suffering servant. Jeremiah wept for his people. Daniel explained the handwriting on the wall.

The people of God languished in exile for 70 long years.It was a hard, humiliating time for the Jews.

Finally God raised up two key men. The first was Zerubbabel who led a small group back to Jerusalem at the end of the 70 years. In 445 B.C. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. Sometime after that Malachi the prophet gave his message from the Lord.

The Old Testament closes with a sense of longing and expectation.Promises had been made. The prophets had spoken. The people were waiting. What would God do?


In a most unlikely way, in a most unlikely place, when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary. Not just any baby. But the seed of the woman, the son of David, the one whose name is Immanuel, God with us.

Shepherds glorified him. Angels announced him. The Magi brought him gifts .The angel told Joseph, “Call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins" Matthew 1:21.

He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

He was baptized by John, tempted by the devil, misunderstood by the religious leaders, feared by some, hated by others, but the common people heard him gladly. He was full of grace and truth. He was the fullness of God in bodily form.

The Bible says he went around doing good. He causes the blind to see, makes the deaf to hear, casts out demons, heals the sick and raises the dead.He invites all the weary to come to him for rest. He teaches God’s law, embodies God’s love, and fulfills God’s promises.

He preaches to the masses. He speaks in parables. He is a friend of sinners everywhere.
Repeatedly he tells the 12 that he will be betrayed into the hands of sinful men who will beat him and then crucify him. He tells them that after three days he will rise from the dead. They do not understand.

In the Garden of Gethsemane he prays in agony. Judas betrays him. Peter denies him. The disciples abandon him. Caiaphas accuses him. Herod mocks him. The soldiers beat him, Pilate condemns him to death.

He is crucified between two criminals. He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” And, "It is finished.”Finally, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” Then he breathed his last breath.
He was buried in a borrowed tomb. One day he was dead.Two days he was dead. But on the third day . . .

Two women went to the tomb to anoint his dead body.They found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.An angel said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!" Luke 24:5-6.

The word began to spread. “He’s alive!” Over 40 days Jesus appeared to his disciples many times.

His message is . . . “God is glorified. I am alive. Redemption is accomplished.” “Go and tell everyone!” Then he ascended into heaven.


For ten days the disciples waited and prayed. That’s Acts 1.On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came in great power. With the sound of a rushing wind. With tongues of fire. The disciples speak in foreign languages they did not know. They were worshipping, not preaching. Peter stood up and spoke in Aramaic, a language they all understood and 3000 are saved in one day. This was the first gospel sermon.

The church is born in Jerusalem and grows amid much opposition. The message spreads throughout Judea and Samaria. Then to Galilee.

It moves across the Roman Empire as Peter, Paul and the other disciples preach the Good News. The church faces growing opposition and rising heresy. There are troubles on every hand.
James writes. Paul writes. Peter writes. John writes. The New Testament is completed.
So the Word of the Lord spread, the disciples multiplied, and the church grew.

Even in the face of intense opposition, the first Christians proclaimed this message: Jesus is Lord! He is risen from the dead!They said to anyone would listen, “If you will repent and believe the gospel, Jesus will give you power over sin, over death, over hell, and over the world, the flesh and the devil.”

Jesus Christ is Lord!


If you go all the way to the end of the New Testament, to the book of Revelation, there we find pictured the final act of history–the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

It begins this way:

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.”

If it was soon 2000 years ago, how much longer can it be? Jesus Christ is coming again! That’s an amazing thought. Magnificent! Thrilling!

Acts 1:11 says that “this same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
This same Jesus."

Not someone like Jesus. Not a group of Jesus scholars. But Jesus himself is coming again.

Coming soon to this planet!!
Coming soon to Montreal.
Coming soon to Calcutta.Coming soon to Beijing.Coming soon to Edmonton.
Coming soon to Auckland.
Coming soon to Miami.
Coming soon to New York.
Coming soon to a city, a town, a village, a street, a home near you.

When he comes the second time, it will not be as Savior. It will be as judge. He came the first time as the Lamb of God. He comes again as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. When Christ finally appears the second time, -every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The best is yet to come. No wonder the Bible ends with these words:

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen." (Revelation 22:20-21).

That is the Bible.God creates man.Man rebels.God initiates redemption.God accomplishes redemption.God gives birth to the church.God completes redemption.

If we imagine the Bible as a great sanctuary and every book in the Bible as a seat in the sanctuary, then we can say wherever you go in the Bible, you’ve got a great view because you can see Jesus everywhere.

The following is in no way original with me;

In Genesis he’s the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus he’s the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus he’s the Scapegoat.
In Numbers he’s the Serpent lifted up in the Wilderness.
In Deuteronomy he’s the Cities of Refuge.
In Joshua he’s the Scarlet thread on Rahab’s house.
In Judges he’s the Perfect Judge.
In Ruth he’s the Kinsman Redeemer.
In I Samuel he’s the Trusted Prophet.In 2 Samuel he’s the True Son of David.
In 1 Kings he’s the Promise Keeper.
In 2 Kings he’s the Jealous God.In 1 Chronicles he’s our Reigning King.
In 2 Chronicles he’s our Deliverer.
In Ezra he’s the Faithful Scribe.
In Nehemiah he’s the Rebuilder of Broken Walls.
In Esther he’s Mordecai at the Gate.
In Job he’s My Redeemer Who Lives Today.
In Psalms he’s the Lord who is my Shepherd.
In Proverbs he’s our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes he’s our True Satisfaction.
In Song of Solomon he’s the Beautiful Bridegroom.
In Isaiah he’s the Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah he’s the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations he’s the Weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel he’s the Son of Man.
In Daniel he’s the Fourth Man in the Furnace.
In Hosea he’s the Faithful Husband.
In Joel he’s the One Who Restores.
In Amos he’s the Burden Bearer.
In Obadiah he’s the Mighty Judge.
In Jonah he’s the Foreign Missionary.
In Micah he’s our Peace.
In Nahum he’s the Avenger.
In Habakkuk he’s the Lord in His Holy Temple.
In Zephaniah he’s the Lord Mighty to Save.
In Haggai he’s the Lord of Hosts.In Zechariah he’s the Fountain of Cleansing.
In Malachi he’s the Sun of Righteousness.
In Matthew he’s the Promised Messiah.
In Mark he’s the Faithful Servant.
In Luke he’s Friend of Sinners.
In John he’s the Son of God.
In Acts he’s the Ascended Lord.
In Romans he’s the Justifier.
In 1 Corinthians he’s our Righteousness.
In 2 Corinthians he’s the God of All Comfort.
In Galatians he’s the Redeemer from the Curse of the Law.
In Ephesians he’s the Head of the Church.
In Philippians he’s the All-Sufficient Christ.
In Colossians he’s the Fullness of God.
In 1 Thessalonians he’s the Lord Coming Down from Heaven.
In 2 Thessalonians he’s the Judge coming with Blazing Fire.
In 1 Timothy he’s our Mediator.In 2 Timothy he’s our Master.In Titus he’s the Blessed Hope.
In Philemon he’s the One Who Paid Our Debt.
In Hebrews he’s Our Great High Priest.In James he’s the Judge Standing at the Door.
In 1 Peter he’s the Chief Shepherd.
In 2 Peter he’s the Morning Star.
In 1 John he’s the Word of Life.
In 2 John he’s the Son of the Father.
In 3 John he’s the Truth.
In Jude he’s the Lord Coming with countless thousands of his saints.
In Revelation he’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He’s the Theme of the Bible. The whole book is about him. If you’ve read the Bible but you don’t know Jesus, you’ve missed the point.

Of his kingdom there will be no end.He shall reign forever and ever and ever.King of Kings and Lord of Lords.



Friday, October 17, 2014


By John Stallings

Charles Lindbergh told of his lonely flight to Paris in 1927… the first man to cross the Atlantic alone in a plane.


Lindberg reported running into a blinding storm out of whose thick clouds lightening flashed. The flier looked to his right, but the clouds and the storm seemed to extend as far as he could see to the right. He looked to his left, but, again, the storm seemed to extend as far as he could see to his left. The clouds seemed to sink ever lower. The pilot said that he knew his little plane wouldn’t stand that buffeting wind and those sharp lightening bolts for long. There was just one thing to do. Lindbergh tilted the controls upward. The little plane trembled and shivered and climbed until it shot through the clouds and out into the bright sunshine of a cloudless sky.


 The guide leading his tour group on some narrow ledge of the Alps, or some other high place, will say every so often, "Do not look down." Those of us who suffer from fear of heights find it the hardest thing in the world not to look down.

Movie-makers have many ways to build suspense and instill terror through their pictures. One time-honored device is to appeal to our fear of heights which comes from looking down. They will picture someone perched on the narrow ledge of a skyscraper, seventy or a hundred stories from the ground. This doesn’t frighten us as much if the ledge is wide enough to stand on. 


We get chills down our spines seeing the person up on the ledge and then panning the camera down all the way to the street where traffic is moving. This makes some of us want to scream. It is the downward look which is so terrifying, so chilling, and so unbearable.

Recently I was watching a T.V show where some young adventurous folk were laughingly throwing things off a sky scraper in New York. I’m sure they’d gotten permission from the city and had the area roped off. Nonetheless, as I watched, with the camera panning down then going back to the people on a roof doing the throwing, I was surprised at how nervous and squeamish I got. I’ve never had that much of a problem with fear but my body couldn’t survive the amount of medication it would take to get me to even go to the rooftop where this was going on.

Life can be pretty dreadful if we spend our time looking down. I’m not saying for a moment that there’s not the strong temptation to look down, to look for the worst. Heaven knows there’s more than enough that is low, distasteful, destructive and discouraging to look at these days.

An honest and Godly faith will not deny that there are awful realities in life. We know that the faith of Christ stated honestly isn’t “pie in the sky” descriptions of life. Jesus never claimed that things cannot be horrific and tragic. He rather made plenty of space for the things that are destructive and harmful, the devilish, demonic powers that are loose in the world

In all reality there’s a frightening, chilling list, of ruthless forces coming against our lives and playing havoc with our dreams and our hopes. In these words of Jesus, we can hear the roar of a great storm with its screaming winds leaving a fearful and empty silence in its wake.

Let Jesus speak. He says … "ye shall hear of wars and commotion, nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, great earthquakes shall be in diverse places." Luke 21:9

On and on He goes about outside conditions, "signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars." How apropos a description this is for our times!

Jesus does not stop with His recitation of our day. He probes at the internal struggle of our souls. Jesus says that under the pressure of outside forces a man's spiritual defenses may feel as if they’re crumbling. And they indeed can crumble. But the facts are; you and I can stand anything if our faith holds fast. If an anchor holds, then never mind how strong and contrary the winds might be. If, on the other hand, our faith fails and our spiritual fortress is overrun, then all hope is lost.

Jesus spoke of it in these awesome words: "Men's hearts failing them for fear." Fear has an awesome mortality rate. Things can go so awfully wrong that the confidence upon which life is built can begin to totter. The night of sorrow or pain can be so long and so lonely that it seems that all about us there is only insanity, and ugliness.

The temptation is to look down. That is what we are seeing all around us. We see such violations of honor in places of public trust and responsibility. Many people have decided that everybody is a crook in public life. The temptation is to look down. Those of us who love the church and the gospel and are in the role of the leadership see so much that is discouraging. So many of our churches are little more than social clubs, or places to vent emotional energy.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed at some things I see being done in the name of God. I blush at some of the schemes and methods some folk practice who’re supposed to be the shepherds of the people of God. Is it any wonder that men and women give up on the church?

It’s easy to look down, but Jesus says that at such a time, "Look up. Lift up your head." Do not look down where all is ugly and corrupt and the world around us seems so low, so conniving and so selfish.

On the other hand, you and I know people whose hearts beat not just for themselves? Fix your mind and heart on them, not on the low-lifes. Look up!

The divorce rate seems to always be climbing and many people seem not to take seriously the vow "till death do us part." Sometimes I almost choke on those words in marriage ceremonies. Don't look down! I know of couples who’ve celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries in joy and happiness. Don't look down! Look up!

You and I need to be one of those examples upon which others may look and take strength. There are such people. I have known, still know, scores of folk whose example gives us courage, whose dauntless faith inspires our faith. Look up toward such examples. I have known people who lived such giant lives in God that I can hardly hope to have all of their gifts and graces. As in Elijah’s day, God still has thousands who “haven’t bowed their knee to Baal.”

Look up! Lift up your heads! Your redemption dreweth nigh

Jesus still lives; the Holy Spirit is still at work; the God of all comfort is still on the throne. Things may go so terribly wrong that everything seems defiled and spoiled. Look up. This is the worst and most sinister danger- that we, looking down, will be content to live in the lowlands of doubt, fear and defeat.

Some may have come to that really desperate and terrible place, to that awful night of the soul where you suspect that there is no God anywhere in all the thick and starless night through which you are passing. Some may be at the place where they wonder if trying to be decent and honest is still worthwhile, that right and wrong are just words that people use. When that kind of terrible doubt grips you by the throat and starts choking you, shake yourself loose and look up! God no doubt is on His way to rescue you right now.

Like Lindbergh, by looking up you can climb above the clouds and mists and rains which have now blinded your view.

The clouds may be heavy where you’re traveling. Look up, and by faith face skyward. Above the clouds the sun is shining, somewhere warm winds are blowing, and the skies are cloudless and clear. 

Up above the clouds of gossip and slander there is –A fellowship, and a joy divine.

My good friend Gordon Jensen wrote a beautiful song that comes to mind.

Redemption Draweth Nigh

Years of time have come and gone. Since I first heard it told

How Jesus would come again some day
If back then it seemed so real
Then I just can’t help but feel
How much closer His coming is today
Signs of the times are everywhere
There’s a brand new feeling in the air
Keep your eyes upon the eastern sky
Lift up your head redemption draweth nigh.

 Look up! 



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Man Who Kissed Heaven's Door & Went To Hell

By John Stallings

It is said that when Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece, The last Supper, he needed a sitter for the figure of Christ. 

He finally found a man in one of the churches of Rome of fine character & fine features who agreed to sit for the painting.

He then looked for models for the disciples. Years went by, gradually the picture progressed, more faces were added, until one remained—Judas Iscariot.

Leonardo had a vision of what he wanted. He went into the backstreets of Rome, where he finally found a beggar on the streets with a face so villainous he shuddered everytime he looked at it.

He paid the man who sat for Judas’ likeness & when he was finished, Leonardo asked his name. - “Pietro Bandinelli,” he replied, “Fifty years ago I sat for your picture of Christ.”

Obviously sin had taken its toll in the life & on the face of this man. Sin is progressive. No sinful act is just a simple sin. Unless we repent, sin becomes a stepping-stone that leads us deeper into rebellion against God.

I’ll be candid; when I read the story of Judas Iscariot I feel a level of revulsion & disgust that I don’t feel when I read the stories of any other traitor in history.

The actions of traitors like Brutus, Booth, and Benedict Arnold pale into insignificance when compared to Judas. He didn’t betray a nation, an emperor or a president, he betrayed Jesus Christ, one third of all God is who came to earth so that all people—including Judas himself-could be saved from their sins & experience the love of God in a personal way.

Have you noticed that many of the alleged murders who are currently in the news have something in common? They don’t look like murderers. Once in a while one will appear that we can look at & just see the hate dripping from them, but it seems to be rare these days. Even the people who are close to these accused criminals can’t believe they’re guilt of what they’re accused of because they never saw their violent side.

Dante drew a word picture of the circles of hell & put Judas at the very deepest point---the epitome of evil. Over the centuries people have shunned even the shadow of Judas. From what I’ve heard people the world over will only name their pigs after Judas.


The very name Judas comes down the centuries as a tragic figure that is synonymous with treachery & deceit. Why is it that twenty centuries later we still feel contempt for Judas but a contempt that’s mixed with confusion about why he acted as he did? If he’d been a simple traitor/ low-life/ scum-bag, why didn’t he just take his money & run? Why did he return the money & then hang himself? What do we know about him? He doesn’t say much. He seems to be slightly nervous & jumpy & definitely very secretive.

At first glance, Judas didn’t look like a traitor. Judas got a good start in life. Even after he came to be part of the twelve, he must have had a good honest face because he was trusted with being the treasurer of Jesus’ & the disciple’s meager finances.

We can infer from reading the New Testament that Judas had no obvious vices. He didn’t have a bad past, like Matthew the tax-collector. Most of the other disciples were known for some weakness prior to following Jesus. Thomas was a skeptic, Peter was famous for impulsiveness, & James & John were known as “sons of thunder,” but, at least in the early years nothing uncomplimentary is said about Judas’ character.

Judas was a man of great promise, there can be no doubt of that. Jesus saw qualities in Judas that could be mightily used in the Kingdom of God. Think what we will, Judas was called to be an apostle, called to follow Jesus & called to be one of those who’d lay the foundation of the church.

Let’s be real. The more we learn about Judas, the more he suddenly begins to be alarmingly human, alarmingly like us; a mixture of complex emotions, hopes, fears, sins & failings. Not at all the devil, but a sinful man, & more than we’d like to confess, like the rest of us. Of course at some point the devil entered into Judas.


In the early days of Judas’ tenure with the Lord, you’d have been proud to have him as a member of your church. He seemed to be a model citizen. The Bible never gives us a hint that he was in any way a problem to Jesus. He was never pushy as were James & John & we hear nothing of his making rash statements & boasting like Peter. He seemed to be quiet, businesslike, self-possessed & respectable. Yet the perplexing truth is he of his own free will chose to sell out the Messiah…the only Son of God!!! As the old saying goes, “You never can tell.”

Why would Judas follow Jesus in the first place? How could a likeable, respectful man like this with such a good beginning spend three years in the company of Jesus Christ & then do what he did? I mean, he listened daily to Jesus’ teachings…he saw Him work His miracles. He let Jesus wash his feet at the last supper. Judas was right there to hear Him teach, preach & tell parables. He saw Christ’s’ compassion, the healings & diverse miracles. He helped pass out food during the feeding of the 5,000 & was there to see Lazarus raised from the dead. He was even sitting in the boat when Jesus calmed the stormy sea.

…but then he betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver.

One thing that seemed to trigger Judas was-- he saw what he thought was a waste of money when Mary poured a pound of expensive perfume on Jesus' feet so he “went off the reservation.” He tried to cover it by saying the money should have been given to the poor but John tells us he was just greedy. He'd already been skimming off the top of the Disciples' treasury & wanted his share of the loot. When his betrayal plan came to fruition, he even went so far as to arrange a signal by which he would identify Jesus as one customarily greeted his rabbi, with a kiss.Jesus said-I am the door of in that moment Judas kissed heaven's door. How could he, why would he do this?

I’ve heard people say that Judas was predestined to betray Jesus. I don’t believe that for a minute. If Judas was predestined to do this deed then he had no choice & we’d be wrong in blaming him for doing something over which he had no control. It would be an odd & capricious God who’d predestine a man to such a fate & then condemn him for eternity for simply fulfilling his destiny. This violates everything I know about God & everything the Bible teaches about Him. Ezekiel 33:11 God says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked…& in 2 Peter 3:9 he says- He’s not willing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance.

No, just like you & me, Judas had free choice. He had just as much possibility of becoming what the eleven others became as he had of becoming history’s best-know traitor. Judas wasn’t doomed from birth but was doomed by his own choices.


If a prosecutor hopes to win a conviction then he has to offer a reasonable motive for why the defendant did it. A jury expects to hear why the accused committed the crime. Am I right? Call it what you may, we human beings expect some rational explanation for an individuals behavior.

Why do you suppose Judas did it? How could he do such a thing? After all, the Bible is very explicit; it was Judas who sold Jesus out. He had a choice. All the four gospel writers hold him responsible for his decision & they agree he wasn’t a patsy or a pawn or forced to betray Jesus.

Even at the last hour it seems that Jesus was holding the door open for Judas not to go through with the terrible arrangement. His motive to betray Jesus has long fueled speculation & conjecture & imaginative attempts to explain his reasons & motives.


More evil is done behind the cloak of jealousy than the world could ever dream. I’ve heard people say,-“Me? Jealous? Why there’s not a jealous bone in my body!” Maybe not- but there’s an awful lot of jealous flesh hanging on those bones. As a pastor I’ve heard people admit to things that would make a drunken sailor blush but I’ve never heard a person admit to jealousy. The hardest thing for an individual to do in this life is admit their true motives, & I think that’s the case because so often the motive for our actions is a pathetic, petty little jealous spirit.

Judas was from Kerioth, a village in southern Judea, so he was the only Judean in the original 12. Maybe this made him feel like the odd-man out. Judas was definitely not one of the inner circle with Jesus like Peter, John & James. It’s not difficult to imagine that Judas slowly grew jealous & embittered because in his opinion the Galileans had a higher place of authority than he.

“The outsider complex” has caused many people to go off the deep end. This complex causes people to feel left-out & that can lead to some strange behavior. From what I’ve read & heard, the main reason the teens in Columbine High School did what they did was the feeling of being estranged from everyone else.


When people say, “Its not about the money, what they are really saying is “It’s about the money.” During a dispute over money, people will often bring great righteous principles into the discussion, but in reality the fact is they are hung up about money. They will try to say with a straight face, “You know, it’s not just about the money here, there’s right & wrong to consider,” but in reality the bottom line is…….money!!!

Many a family that was once a close knit unit has been shredded in battles over disputed inheritances. Money will do it when nothing else can. If the heartbreak of a divorce or death wasn’t enough, the bloodbath & bitterness over money & divided assets will finish the job in fine fashion. The corrupt love of money is a powerful & terrible motivator. Just think of what people will do for money.

Consider the impact of money on our political woes in America at the present moment. Business leaders have gone along with immoral & unethical decisions & greedy stockholders demanding higher profits. This ought to get our attention. This ought to concern us very much.

Judas was most likely the son of a poor peasant & had never had the opportunity to handle money & it was a heady experience to feel those drachmas jingling in the money bag. Maybe Judas said to himself, “Hey, I’ve gone to some degree of trouble for these guys & these Galileans don’t appreciate me… they really owe me a few bucks at least.”

I read somewhere that banking officials say that 60% of the individuals who regularly handle money take money at some point. I’ve heard dozens of stories over the years about the men who count churches offerings being caught pilfering money. Judas’ position as group treasurer not only provided him with the irresistible temptation to have “sticky fingers” it also provided him with the opportunity. Thirty pieces of silver wasn’t all that much money but it probably represented more than was in the entire disciples’ treasury.

It’s possible if not probable that greed & the feeling of being an outsider played a big part in Judas’ act of betrayal & gave the devil the opportunity to tempt him, but I think the biggest causative factor was….


There was a great movement who wanted, with good cause, to drive the Romans from Israel so that their national glory could be restored. It’s probable that from the get-go Judas expected Jesus to lead an insurrection against Rome & set up His own earthly kingdom. Jesus definitely had the power & ability to do this & Judas knew it. He joined the disciples when he saw Jesus’ power demonstrated & he saw this as an opportunity to fulfill his dreams for Israel.

Judas sincerely believed that Jesus was the culmination of all the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah who would deliver Israel from bondage & make it the head of all the nations. Judas may have read all the prophecies, but ignored the passages that spoke of the suffering Messiah. He hopped on the disciples’ bandwagon with the anticipation & expectation the he’d be in the inner circle of the coming kingdom.

I believe the seeds of Judas’ betrayal plans were most likely conceived after the feeding of the 5,000. After that miracle, the people wanted to crown Jesus king of Israel but Jesus stopped them, foretelling his death on the cross.


Just when things were looking up,& the momentum was there to catapult Him up into power, He goes & pulls out the strangest sermon anyone has ever heard. He says, unless you eat my flesh & drink my blood you have no life in you. John 6:56

I can imagine Peter seeing the people leaving & he comes to Jesus & whispers, “Now, Lord, the multitudes are leaving like rats from a sinking ship. Why don’t you pull out that sermon you preached the other day on happiness or something, anything except this strange new sermon about people eating your flesh & drinking your blood. The folks don’t understand it & as a matter of fact neither do I.”

But Jesus continued to speak about the cross. When Judas saw Him offending the leaders of the Jews & he saw the growing opposition of the Pharisees toward Jesus, Judas knew that his dream was fading so he took matters into his own hands.

Judas didn’t have much more patience. He’d been waiting for three years for Jesus to act…to use His great powers to run Rome out of Israel. His impatience led him to something he later regretted.

It’s entirely possible that Judas didn’t think Jesus would allow Himself to be arrested. He was going to manipulate Jesus into a corner & make Him fit into his plans but it all went disastrously wrong. Judas must have been horrified. He made a terrible mistake & feels he must hang himself as a failure.

Maybe we should ask ourselves if we’ve ever made plans & expected God to just follow us. Do we ever ask ourselves if what we do fits in with what God might expect from us?

Because of Judas’ attitude toward the Roman occupation of Israel, he began to see Jesus as a Cause not The Christ. His self involved, self-focused attitude caused him to miss Jesus’ main mission & that was to die for the sins of the entire world. Like so many people he couldn’t see that money wouldn’t give him what he wanted & in the end would lead him to do something that brought him unbearable guilt & shame.

Jesus said—You can’t serve God & money. He didn’t say, you can’t serve God & the Devil. The reason He said it that way is that mammon or money is the God of this world. If a person isn’t worshipping the Lord you can be sure they are money worshippers.

Judas is a perfect example of the fact that sin always tricks us. As James 1;14 says—Sinful desire causes us to be dragged away & enticed. Satan will always package things in such a way as to appeal to our natural desires. He is a master at hiding the fact that yielding to the desire will eventually bring us sorrow & grief as it certainly did Judas.

Are you ready for a real shocker? Judas’ biggest sin wasn’t his betrayal of Jesus. His biggest mistake was that he didn’t repent & receive forgiveness from the Lord.

There’s not a lot of difference between what Judas & Peter did on that fateful night. Both of these disciples sank to an unbelievable low. It was indeed a bad night for them both. Each in his own way totally forsook Jesus. Yet one died & the other lived. One was lost & the other was saved. What was the difference? Peter repented & Judas didn’t. Yes Judas felt great remorse for his sin but remorse alone isn’t repentance. Judas should have gone to Jesus but instead he went back to “religion,” or the religious leaders & religion won’t save us will it? Religion was what got Judas in trouble in the first place.

If Judas had only waited for a few days instead of hanging himself, if he had asked for forgiveness, if he’d had gotten the revelation of what the cross was all about like Peter did, when the resurrected Jesus came back, instead of calling Peter’s name alone, He’d have called for both Peter & Judas.

Dear friend, this is something the world needs to hear. God can & will forgive any sin, but only if we ask Him to do so. As Jesus said,

--Unless you repent, you too will perish.—Luke 13:3


John Stallings

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

America's Greatest Sin

By John Stallings

Recently I heard an economist explaining how America got into the financial trouble we’re now in.

Toward the end of his rather lengthy presentation, he said something that I wasn’t expecting to hear. I was shocked. He said, - “Abortion is at the root of all our problems. America could come out of this current dilemma in a few years but the one thing that would stop us from getting the American dream back would be -soon there won’t be enough people alive to have a robust work force. We’ve killed too many.”

This man wasn’t on an “anti-abortion rant,” as a matter of fact he only mentioned Abortion in passing. His field of expertise is economics.

He said something else that almost floored me; -“our only hope for a future is the Latin-Americans & other ethnic groups who are still having lots of children.” I might add Muslims to that list, because they’ve always had large families.

 For every person who’s retired today & drawing Social Security, there are several working people, forced to pay the bill, though they themselves will never collect Social Security. The government has been up front about the fact that S.S in all likelihood won’t be there for anyone who’s presently under fifty-five. Why? Not enough people in the work force to support it.

According to a government accounting office report, every human being that is born and lives in America has the average potential of contributing more than $250,000 to the tax base during their working years. An abortion robs this nation of not only significant tax revenue for the next 40 years, but it also depletes millions of dollars worth of consumption of goods and services that make up the base economy of this country.

If you don’t believe in the Biblical principle of sowing & reaping, then you could say the Karma Wagon is about to back up on our collective heads.

Can you see how America has fallen for a big lie from hell- that we needed to stop having children? The motive in most cases has been selfishness and obviously it resulted in a lack of new Americans being born. What follows naturally then is the promotion of Abortion as essentially a method of birth control to bring zero population growth into fruition. The thought Satan has in mind is the destruction of America’s future.


God’s words are simple…I have set before you life & death, blessings & curses…..CHOOSE LIFE!-Duet.30:20

This message isn’t intended to go back into anyone’s past and condemn them. Thank God he forgives and forgets. The reason I deal with this issue is because I honestly believe that we need to refresh our minds about exactly what Abortion is.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, we are talking about a willful decision to evacuate the womb for the sake of convenience and the happiness of the woman with end result being a dead child.

On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that unborn human beings are not legal persons according to the U.S. Constitution. An unborn baby is the property of the owner (mother) and she can have the child killed at her request, even up to the time of birth if her doctor agrees.

If you’d had an Abortion, just remember we’ve all made serious mistakes in our past. It would be my prayer that anyone who’s been involved with an Abortion would simply ask God for forgiveness and purpose by His grace never to do it again.

Also keep in mind that you’ll meet that innocent creation of God someday in heaven.

I spoke in a church a while back & made the remark - “An election is coming & I’d like to tell you how to vote!” That got their attention. The good folk grew so pale you’d have thought five double-hump Camels had just walked into the room. I almost considered not making my next statement for fear that someone would have a stroke.

I was certain I’d wounded if not killed one of their sacred cows by mentioning politics from the pulpit but I forged on; “First of all VOTE! Then I added- “VOTE CHRISTIANITY! No man ever has nor ever will get my vote who believes in abortion.” What happened next really stunned me. The congregation en masse gave those statements a healthy ovation.

I later learned that the church leadership never mentioned civic issues nor gave the people any inkling of how to vote. To me it’s simple; vote your convictions. Yes, how you vote is between you & God & God is never going to tell you to vote to kill babies.

Who in the world could be offended at us when we say we’re going to vote Christianity to the best of our ability? We can’t always know everything there is to know about a candidate, unless they have a voting record, & sometimes people will change. But as much as is possible, we as Christians should vote our Christian principles.

When speaking of Abortion,

I’ve heard people say; --“There isn’t enough food to feed multitudes of new people! All those babies could someday starve.” That’s not only a lie, it’s a ridiculous lie!! There’s plenty of food & we can grow more if we need it. Let me qualify that statement. Having a food surplus isn’t really a big deal; that is if the government will get out of the way & let farmers do what they do best.

If we say it’s O.K to snuff out the lives of young Americans because we “can’t afford,” or choose not to feed them, maybe we should remember what we call people who put economics above morality; among other things we call them prostitutes, thieves and drug dealers.

At present one of the most fertile areas of farm land in California has had vital water supplies shut down leaving farmers with little or no work because the Liberals in Washington are afraid of doing harm to a small fish. The last time this happened I believe it was a snail-darter & or a frog or Spotted Owl. May God help us!!

I’ve heard people say—“We’re running out of room on the planet.” That’s the silliest lie yet. Have you driven around the U.S lately? Have you ever driven through Texas? In some parts of Texas there’s so much space if you get a good pair of glasses you can see next week’s train coming today.

Have you been to Australia, or New Zealand? I haven’t but they tell me these places are sparsely populated. I went to China in 1981 & as I remember there were lots of open spaces there. Have you done any flying lately in the U.S or oversees? In some places the cities are crowded but mostly what you see as you look out the window is open space. Yes there probably are unlivable areas but certainly there’s still plenty of room on this earth.

Al Gore’s movie about Climate Change is another ridiculous lie. I believe we should be good stewards of the beautiful planet God has given us but the Polar Bears are doing fine & will continue to as long as we respect them as God’s creatures. In reality, the biggest source of pollution in many ways is the earth itself. In the middle of our oceans oil can be seen seeping up from the bottom where it’s leaking out. There are places on the planet where you can walk along & see ponds of oil just lying on the top-soil. You can’t walk the countryside without getting oil on your shoes.

Again this doesn’t mean we should squander our natural resources. Common sense tells us fossil fuels will probably run out someday but not someday soon. If & when that happens we can start building engines that can run on water, air, cooking oil, animal dung & a myriad of other substances. You will no doubt remember that the bomb Timothy McVeigh used to flatten the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City was made partially of cow dung. Who’d have thunk it?

I’ve heard people say— “if we said anything about abortion in our church people would leave.” That’s o.k. There are other places they could go where they won't take a stand on anything.

I’ve heard people say—“churches should stick to preaching the gospel.” Well, the gospel is based on truth & sometimes we must expose the sins that make the gospel necessary.

I’ve heard people ask--- “if we preach this, won’t we offend people?” Maybe; but we need to hear the bad news or we’ll never appreciate the good news.

I’ve heard people say—“If we preach against the sins of our day we just might lose our tax exempt status.” Well then we could do what the vast majority of churches do around the world that never had a tax exemption in the first place.

We’ve slaughtered over 50 million Americans through Abortion since 1973. How many great musicians, scientists, ministers, architects, economists, inventors etc. were in that great multitude? The sad thing is, we’ve killed our answers & thereby we may just have killed our future. Sometimes we forget that blood has a voice. If God could hear Abel’s voice crying out to Him from the ground where his brother Cain had murdered him, I wonder what the voices of over 50,000,000 babies would sound like to Him.


Most of us approach various candidates by saying, -What are his/her qualifications for office? I’m not at all sure that’s the best way to do it. What about asking,--What, if anything disqualifies this person from holding office? Is there any issue he/she stands for that is so wrongheaded that I wouldn’t vote for them no matter what else he does or doesn’t believe?

What if a candidate were to say, -“I’m running on a platform that supports bribery as a matter of public policy?” Would we say that man is disqualified for office no matter what else he might believe? What if a candidate said rape isn’t so bad & we should repeal the rape laws? Would you vote for that man? What if a candidate says he is a racist & says that black people should be denied the right to vote & he believes slavery should be legal in America? Would you vote for that man? Would it matter if he added that he was pro-life? I don’t think so, do you?

What if a woman were to marry a man & the day before the marriage he told her he believes adultery is O.K & while he does love her he intends to cheat on her? Wouldn’t you agree that if a man told his sweetheart that it would be a deal-breaker no matter what other good qualities he brings to the table?

Here’s a question; what do you feel disqualifies a man from holding public office? I believe a man who stands up & says he’ll do everything in his power to promote Abortion here in America & in other parts of the world disqualifies himself from any position of public office. It’s the same as the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery, except that abortion, or child-killing is more serious than those.

There are laws against intentionally maiming dogs & cats. Thank God!! And there are laws that protect a wide range of endangered species. But what about the unborn? Jesus said…

….whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.—Matt.18:6

These are solemn words telling us that those who deliberately hurt little children will someday face the Lord.


Psalm 139:13-14 says;- For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee for I am fearfully & wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works & that my soul knoweth right well.

How much does God know about the unborn baby growing in the womb? Everything! Like a skillful weaver God takes the tiny hands & legs & joins them together. He forms the heart & then sets it beating. He watches out for the little thumb to make sure it finds the mouth.

Who makes babies? God does!

What else but satanic can we call a law the kills an eight week fetus? An eight-week old fetus has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger grasping, & genetic humanity. But under our present laws an unborn baby isn’t a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment which says that “no state shall deprive any person of life without due process of law.” Why then is it that it’s illegal to maim, or mutilate an animal [who would want to?] but the sensitive unborn baby has no rights at all?

Isn’t it strange that there are quotas on porpoises & whales but it’s always open season on unborn babies? If you destroy the egg of a bald eagle you can be fined $5000: if you destroy an unborn baby you’ll make about $350. Do you think that our ghettos or crime ridden streets are the most dangerous places in America? Think again. A baby in its mother’s womb has a one in three chance of making it out alive. Isn’t it a little schizophrenic that today in America a 14 year old girl may not buy cigarettes or alcohol or attend an x-rated movie; in some places she can’t even get her ears pierced without her mother’s permission? But she can have an Abortion. Again doesn’t this sound like “an evil plan” a satanic plot to you?

If you took a pregnant female dog and abused her like a woman is abused in an abortion clinic and then evacuated her womb of the pups she was carrying and the law found out about it you would be arrested and marked as an unreasonably cruel person. You would no doubt be treated by the news media and liberal justice system as the scum of the earth.


If you were sitting at your computer and one of your kids came up behind you and said, “Hey, mom/dad, can I kill this? The first question you’d ask without looking up would be, “what is it?” If it’s a roach or some other ugly bug you’d immediately say, “Yes, please kill that thing immediately. You can’t kill it quickly enough.” If it’s the four year old kid from next door of course your answers going to be entirely different. [I hope]

When the question of either drowning an unborn baby in salt water in the womb or vacuuming it almost out of its mother’s womb and than slitting the throat, our question must be-“What is it you’re killing?” The only truthful answer to that question is, “It’s a living breathing baby made in God’s image."

This may surprise you but I actually agree with Marlo Thomas &; Barbara Streisand on an important issue. During the last election they said-“One candidate should be elected because of his position on abortion & one defeated for the same reason.” They were right of course but they weren’t thinking exactly as I was. They had the candidates backward.


I’m not wondering if they lack intelligence. I just wonder if they close their eyes to the truth like some do with tobacco, gluttony, drunkenness, or other dangerous substances. They’re not going to expose themselves to in-depth information on the subject.

An encouraging bit of information is that there are actually fewer abortions since the sonogram became available, probably because the future mom can see the little person growing inside her. From the moment of conception a baby has as individual identity. The baby has its own set of genes &; chromosomes. At 19 days after conception the eyes begin to develop. At 24 days the heart begins beating. At 30 days the unborn baby is an inch long yet he has a brain, eyes, ears, mouth, kidneys, & liver. At 35 days his fingers have formed & at 40 days brain waves can be detected & recorded. In the tenth week after conception the baby squints, swallows & hiccups & has fingerprints that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

By the fourth month his ears are functioning, he begins to suck his thumb & he can hear his mother’s voice for the first time. By the seventh month he can see & hear & taste & touch. He recognizes his mother’s voice when he hears it. By the ninth month the baby weights between six & nine pounds & his heart pumps 300 gallons of blood per day. He is now capable of life outside the womb if only he gets the chance.


Abortion is as simple yet profound as that, & I know of no other conclusion that’s consistent with the Christian faith. I made up my mind where I stood on the abortion issue a long time ago but I can’t nor would I compel your conscience. You have to make up your own mind.

I have always been & will continue to be a thorn in the devils side on this subject. There are many who are ambivalent about abortion because they don’t want to be “crusaders.” They say things like “I’m against Abortion but I don’t want to impose my views on others.”

Let’s use that logic in other areas of moral values. How would you respond to someone who said;

“I’m against slavery but I don’t think we should go overboard & make it illegal?” Or;

“I’m against slavery but I’m not offended if you still own a few slaves. After all I’m not going to be a radical on the subject."-Or;

“I’m against slavery but other issues are much more important.”

If a person said that & then added, “Oh, by the way, I’m pro-life,” would that matter? No it wouldn’t & shouldn’t. Support for slavery is an absolute disqualifying issue for any leader, it doesn’t matter how good his other positions might be. Don’t you agree? I feel the same way about abortion & as I said, I will not nor have I ever voted for anyone who believes it permissible to kill the unborn.


We live fairly close to an abortion clinic & almost every day when we pass we see people outside on the sidewalk with signs engaged in peaceful demonstrations. Once in a while we see a large refrigerated truck backing up to the building; as a matter of fact the truck is so large it usually blocks traffic for some time.

Knowing some things I know, that I won’t drag your mind into, I always get a queasy feeling because in my heart I know the cargo that truck has backed up to load on. This whole business is the work of Satan & those who profit from it. The people who traffic in this awful enterprise will someday face God in judgment.

Especially despicable in my view are politicians who use words such as “Freedom” & “choice” & are doing it for crass political gain. A verse comes to mind that seems appropriate here;

The thief comes to steal kill & destroy: I have come that they might have life & have it to the full. John 10:10.

One more verse; the one we started with;

…..Chose life!

God commands us to choose life. This is a command for individuals, families, churches, cities, states & nations.