The other day on Facebook a friend posted a picture of a Topiary Cat sleeping by a lake. Through the comments we talked about wanting to see this bush for real as it was so beautiful. But the more I looked at the picture of the bush cut and trimmed to look like a sleeping cat the more I saw the detail and began to question if it was real or not. I decided to do a little research to find out where this amazing cat bush was. I went online and found the image and the name of the photographer. Then I went on his website to find out where the picture was taken. In doing this I found out the truth about the picture. It was a picture of a sort of cat shaped bush, which the photographer had put a picture of his own sleeping cat on to, to make the bush look like a giant sleeping cat. Whilst it was very clever, with an amazing effect, we had all been deceived.
As I pondered this, I realised how easily I`d been deceived and I started to think about other ways that I might get caught out by deception. And more importantly how I can prevent being caught out in the first place. We`re living in days when deception is all around us, from very simple and seemingly insignificant ways to much more serious ones. How many of us have been drawn into `buy one get one free` in the supermarket with things that we don`t usually buy. Or maybe we`ve bought a mobile phone, or even an insurance, because we get cash back with the purchase. And yet, if we`d looked carefully, it hasn`t been the best deal, and we could have got it cheaper in another store! How many of us listen to `Christian` teaching without checking the scriptures, and how many of us can spot when someone slightly misquotes a verse?
We might think this is a new problem but, as our scripture today clearly shows, it was a problem Paul was concerned about in the church at Thessalonica. Many people get caught up in the theological debate about these verses and try to be specific about the timing of the events and their meaning. Paul talks of a great rebellion or turning away from God, and the coming of one who tries to gain the worship that belongs to God alone. It seems in these present days that what Paul wrote about is what we`re seeing around us today. There`s such a lack of truth and integrity, and what God would call sin seems right and good in the eyes of man. And it seems as though society is becoming more and more lost, and further away from God, even laughing and mocking those who put their trust in Him.
We, as believers in the body of Christ, have the responsibility to hold fast to the hope of Jesus` second coming, and to be willing to not believe everything we hear, no matter how like the truth it might sound. `Test all things: hold fast what is good` (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and `Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world` (1 John 4:1). It may seem there`s no hope, but we can be sure that the day`s coming when Jesus will come again and take His bride to be with Him.
Prayer: Father, I recognise that I`ve not always sought Your truth and I`ve been taken in by what`s not if You. Please forgive me for when I`ve not tested the things that caused me to question. Please, Lord, help me to discern the things that are from You, and be willing to speak Your truth. The world around me declares sin as good, but I declare You as God, the true and living God. In Jesus` name, Amen.
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