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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” – Luke 10:41

If we want to keep Christ in any Christmas, then we keep our love of this world’s things out of it (1 John 2:15).  Otherwise, it is just a catchy slogan about Jesus, without much truthful teeth behind it.  Some people may already be encumbered, perhaps even overcome with many misguided worldly thoughts and financial worries about this impending holiday season.

With hearts and heads already wrapped around the earthly hustle and bustle the last few weeks of each year can bring along with them.  Concluding with the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas, when more visit emergency rooms than any other day.  When nerves finally get stretched out too far and too tight like an elastic band until they snap from all the strain.

Holidays can press upon a soul and create internal stress before beginning.  A barrage of Christmas ads before Thanksgiving may have already killed the so-called “holiday spirit” in many.  Still, a lot of people will likely feel they “have” to do all kinds of cooking and cleaning, send out cards, put up decorations, trim trees, and go visit special people – or have them visit.

It all harkens back to a story from Scripture about another special visitor.  No, it was not Jolly Ole St. Nicholas – but Jesus.  Christ had entered a certain village where two sisters named Martha and Mary received and welcomed Jesus into their home.  Right away, Martha set about in a whirlwind of busyness – encumbered with much serving around the house.

Most probably fixing a meal, doing some cleaning, and a bit of straightening up.  In the meantime, Mary simply sat at the feet of Christ, listening to the words God’s only Son had to say.  Well, it did not take long for Martha to get a little upset – because Mary wasn’t helping out.  Martha asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

Christ answered her, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).”  Matthew Henry once wrote, “Martha was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness.  Worldly business is a snare; keeping God’s Word from getting to our souls.”

Every season of Noel can bring mind-numbing and discordant noises not in harmony with heaven, nor in tune with His truth.  Along with laundry lists of what people think they “have” to do – trying to keep as many people pleased as possible (Galatians 1:10).  It can be exhausting if our heart is not right with God. Keeping up appearances; trying to seem “merry.”

Instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary and hearing what God’s Son has to say (Luke 6:46).  So, if we want to keep Christ in each Christmas, we keep the Word in it – and throughout our lives.  Otherwise, we’re always in danger of being overcome by bondage again to worldly clocks and calendars – observing days, months, times, and years (Galatians 4:9-10).

“The Christmas Guest” is a poem by Helen Rice.  It is about an old widowed man who owned a shop … and who almost missed the message of the season.  As the cock was crowing on Christmas morning, he was told by the Lord to expect His visit that day.  He had been busy getting everything “just right” like Martha did for Jesus.  Now, he waited to hear footsteps.

Sitting quietly inside his festively decorated shop, he listened carefully for any noise outside his window – not wanting to miss the knock heralding the arrival of Jesus.  However, Christ never showed up … or did he? The man rose in anticipation each time he heard a sound outdoors, soon followed by a knock.  Each time, he opened the door to three different visitors.

The first was a shabby beggar clad in ragged clothes looking for better shoes and a warm coat.  After he left, an old woman showed up a short time later, cold and looking for some hot food – and a place to rest (Luke 3:11).  The third visitor was a lost child who had wandered away from her home too far.  Each time the old man helped with a joyful and glad heart.

However, it was now getting very late and he was getting very worried.  Where was Jesus?  Heading off to bed thinking he had misunderstood the message about the promised visit, he prayed for an answer. Jesus replied, “Three times my shadow crossed your floor – three times I came to your lonely door.  For I was the beggar, the woman, and the child.”

The old man had not entertained angels disguised as strangers unaware (Hebrews 13:2), but Jesus himself. The cock crowed that Christmas morning.  However, he did not deny Jesus three times like Peter did – but had acknowledged Christ thrice (Matthew 26:34,75). Will we do the same this season, or will our worldly whirlwinds keep getting in the way (Hosea 8:7)?

Keeping Jesus Christ in our life at all times begins with keeping Jesus Christ in our hearts at all times. We can’t do this without being born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  So when times like holidays roll around, we don’t put on a show of Christianity.  Rolling our eyes around in our heads as we put on phony smiles and false fronts, or speak fake words of love.

When we receive the gift of the Spirit from above, we become rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:16-17).  We are returned to the Shepherd of our soul (1 Peter 2:25).  We receive a firm anchor for our spirit (Hebrews 6:19) so we don’t drift to and fro with this world’s motions (Ephesians 4:14) – all entangled in its deceits or cares (Mark 4:19, 1 Peter 5:7).

So production of spiritual fruits He commands begins, as we grow up in His grace (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 3:18).  So we can show all others and God we are learning Christ from the inside out (Ephesians 4:20-32).  So our love is purified as it flows fervently and unfeigned to all, and is no longer purposeful lust (1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Peter 1:22).

So our hospitality is without grudging (1 Peter 4:9). So our charity is cheerful as purposed in our hearts – not out of worldly wants or desires to get something back while on earth (Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:8, Luke 6:35, 2 Corinthians 8:12-14, 2 Corinthians 9:7).  So God’s grace becomes sufficient always; so the power of Jesus may rest upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Otherwise, keeping Christ in Christmas, or any other season is nothing but a catchy slogan about Jesus with little truthful belief of His Word behind it.  This creates spiritual spikes and dips depending on what calendars dictate.  Leaving holes in the heart to fill up again after holidays are over, unless Jesus and God have truly been there all along (Ephesians 3:19).

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. – 2 Timothy 3:1

– The first steps to apostasy are forgetting the true and adoring the false. – from Charles Spurgeon

Apostasy is the willful abandonment or renunciation of a belief.  It comes from the Greek “apostasia.”  It means a defection, departure, revolt, or rebellion.  A person cannot become an apostate without holding some sort of belief to begin with.  God warns about the approaching Christian apostasy of man’s last days in many New Testament verses.  Believers will depart from their faith and rebel once again.

No Christian is ever immune from apostasy; and becoming an apostate does not require any open declaration.  The first step on abandonment’s avenue starts in a heart no longer abiding side-by-side with Him (John 15:1-6).  Despite feigned belief within, apostasy can be masked with public proclamations of love and praise for Him – often to gain or maintain worldly admiration or advantage (Jude 1:16)

Internal apostasy in one Christian may not be noticed by others for years.  The believer may be maintaining such a convincing show of external Christianity – it is never suspected.  Although they might be abounding in several open works, the real work of believing God left their heart long ago (John 6:28-29, Romans 4:5). Such a departure can fool the masses for a long time; but never Him (Hebrews 4:12-13).

A warning signal of apostasy approaching or being present is when ears are dull of hearing about God and His Word (Hebrews 5:11).  A hardened heart is not far behind.  Or, one has already been formed – maybe by God (Exodus 7:13).  In such a state, it’s hard to prick them again with talk about truth (Acts 2:37).  Passive belief permeates the being.  Apathy is soon to follow – with apostasy hot on its heels.

Apostasy has many causes – but the results are always the same.  Evil hearts of unbelief are born. Unbelief is no longer drawing back from one’s faith (Hebrews 10:38), but a departure from the living God (Hebrews 3:12-19).  It might begin by getting too complacent and comfortable with one’s Christianity.   A convenient faith is formed – one fitting in nicely with worldly plans, pursuits, and activities.

Going to church on Sunday and/or attending a weekly Bible study; but following and loving the world for the remainder of the week (1 John 2:15) – is having a convenient faith.  It isn’t consistent with steadfast belief.  Apostasy could be knocking on the door if one approaches belief in God like this.  If the extent of one’s life with Him remains restricted to weekly sermons and Bible studies, it may have been let in.

God does not recommend our committed love of Him. It is commanded before loving anything or anyone else (Matthew 22:36-38).  We can’t sit down to drink and dine with God and Satan at the same time (1 Corinthians 10:21).  This makes us all about the Word one second – all about the world the next.  When the world gets favored, the Word has been temporarily abandoned.  If so, guess what seeds are taking root?

Even if we are completely devoted to God with our heart, mind, and soul – much of what goes on in the world today can make us question many things about God and His heavenly court system.  Apostasy can begin brewing if we don’t know where to find answers in His Word.  We may stew over why evil seems to be on the increase, and why God doesn’t appear to be doing much about it (Exodus 34:7, Nahum 1:3).

With spoiling and rioting abounding all around the globe now – it’s easy for some to see God’s laws as being slack, and wrong judgements proceeding from heaven (Habakkuk 1:3-4).  It is an understandable mindset when the righteous and merciful are taken too soon, while evil ones seem to keep getting away with too much wickedness (Isaiah 57:1, Ecclesiastes 8:11-13, Ezra 9:13, Hebrews 2:2-3).

This can lead even the most devout Christians to doubt the eventual return of Jesus.  Causing some to ask, “Where is this promise of Christ coming back (2 Peter 3:3-4)?  Such uncertainty is the mark of an evil and apostate heart – one saying “My Lord delays His coming (Matthew 24:48).”  Implying God’s prophecies are lies or far off – it permits one to easily justify continuance of sinful living (Ezekiel 12:22-28).

Although inner apostasy is hard to detect by humans – outward apostasy is not.  It is apparent in the lives of Christians just by observing their actions, and listening to their words.  Apostasy appears to be speaking louder and clearer across a wide swath of the Christian landscape lately.  It doesn’t take inner spiritual discernment to decide it is happening, or external guessing or supposing.  It’s plainly exposed.

It comes across in Sunday sermons when preachers strut all over a stage puffed up in pride (1 Corinthians 4:6,19).  It comes across when TV pastors spend portions of a broadcast pitching their latest book and trying to get viewers to buy it (2 Peter 2:3).  It comes across when believers publicly boast about all their amazing works for God (Galatians 6:4) … or call constant attention to their faith (Romans 14:22).

Mostly through Timothy, Jude, and the book of Hebrews, God gives us a preview of all the signs pointing to apostasy’s existence – and proof its roots are being produced.  One of them is pride.  Pride will likely keep anyone lifted up in it – in a destructive state of denial about apostasy.  They will keep falling for Satan’s lies and into his condemnation – and resisted by God (1 Timothy 3:6, James 4:6).

Along with arrogant pride (1 Samuel 2:3), here are some other signs:  Men will be lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, and blasphemers.  They’ll be disobedient to parents, unholy, and unthankful (2 Timothy 3:2).  They will be truce-breakers and false accusers without natural affection.  Incontinent (lacking restraint and self-control), fierce and despisers of those who are good (2 Timothy 3:3).

They will be traitors.  They will be heady and high-minded – loving pleasure more than God (2 Timothy 3:4, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Timothy 5:6, James 5:5). Having a form of godliness – but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5).  Ever learning, and never able to come unto the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7).  Still minding earthly things with their belly as god (Philippians 3:19, Colossians 3:2).

Others will no longer contend for the faith, but will turn God’s grace into a license for lasciviousness (offensively and overt sexual desire) – and denying Him by doing so (Jude 1:3-4).  There will be those despising dominion or speaking evil of dignities (Jude 1:8).  God will be mocked as people walk after their own ungodly lusts (Jude 1:18).  Sensual – having separated from the Spirit in doing so (Jude 1:19).

At a time older and mature Christians should be teachers and speakers of sound doctrine – they will have need of being taught the principles of God’s oracles once again.  Unskilled with Scripture – and still requiring spiritual milk they should have been weaned from long ago (Titus 2:1, Hebrews 5:12-13, 1 Peter 2:2).  Never having their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

All in all, apostasy will cause countless Christians to depart from their inner faith in Jesus – despite any external claims to the contrary.  Giving heed to the doctrine of devils and to seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1).  It’s all part of the falling away to occur on earth prior to the revelation of perdition’s son.  The one who will show he is God to all who did not receive the love of truth (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3,10).

Once faith and belief in life are established in another person – then lost – it is impossible to regain such in any unwavering fashion again.  There’ll always be a level of doubt or distrust.  The same goes with God. We can only fall away so far from our belief in Him before apostasy sets in.  If it does, all that is left to believe in, and be in bondage once again to – is the world (Hebrews 6:4-6, 2 Peter 2:20-22, 1 John 2:15).

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