Jacked Up Trees (Wolves in Sheep's Clothing)
Don't miss the beauty of the forest because you're diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees. (Anonymous)
Years ago, there were several scandals involving some well-known televangelist preacher guys. One was caught with a woman who wasn't his wife and another took the money from his own ministry and used it for himself. I remember those transgressions so clearly because I wasn't a Christian at the time and reasoned that their behavior was indicative of all of those "crazy Jesus freaks."
Their behavior didn't turn me off to Christianity, it confirmed my well-entrenched prejudice against the religion and all that went with it.
Clearly, things have changed. I discovered, with the help of the Holy Spirit and believing friends, that Jesus is real, alive and He is my savior. Everything changed once I developed my own personal relationship with Him.
No matter how far off the beam I've gotten, no matter how great my sin, I know that Jesus loves me. We're human, and even Christians have the capacity to hurt each other. If you've been hurt, don't let that hurt be the reason that you stay away from Jesus.
I will make this message as simple as possible. Don't miss God's love for you because of the sin (or error) of some of the folks that claim to be His messengers.
Jesus warns us about wolves in sheep's clothing in Acts 20:29-30: "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
He tells us to keep our eyes open in Acts 20:31-32: Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."
Monika translation: "There are going to be some bottom-feeding, opportunistic, downright liars that will show up to try to hang out and be your friend. Some may even claim to be godly and cool. Keep your eyes wide open and don't be fooled by the hype. You're with God now and He's got your back, and that's gonna lift you up higher than you've ever been before. Your future's looking bright as long as you keep close to God."
Bottom line--don't judge God by the people that represent Him, even if they're at the pulpit. Grow in your own relationship with the living God and see how good and gracious and loving He is for yourself.
Say out loud, based on Hebrews 12:1-3:
"Since I am surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let me also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let me run with endurance the race that is set before me, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Let me consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that I may not grow weary or fainthearted."