May 20 – The Confession that is Real


“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)


God saves us because He chose to do so. Our salvation happens when we believe that truth and confess with repentance to God. Our verse of promise says, “Confession is made unto salvation.” We are not saved by our mouth’s confession, but rather, our mouth testifies readily of the grace of God in Christ which we received by a gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8). This is not a simple acknowledgment that He is God and the Lord of the universe, since even demons acknowledge that to be true (James 2:19). This is the deep personal conviction, without reservation, that Jesus is our own master or sovereign. Paul emphasizes the importance that this comes from our heart. The heart is not merely the seat of affection or emotion. As used in the Bible, our heart is the hub of the wheel of human existence and life – intellectual, emotional, and volitional. First of all there must be faith in our heart. Without such faith a confession with the mouth would be mockery. But even if there is faith in our heart, confession with our mouth is altogether natural when our faith is genuine.

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May 13 – Eyes Opened Through Faith


“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NASB)


Peter, the disciple of Jesus, became one of the foremost apostles who helped spread the news of the early Christian Church. He also was used by the Holy Spirit to write some of the books in the New Testament. Peter walked with Jesus and heard him teach and watched him do miracles and heal all who came to Him with physical or spiritual need. Many times Peter ate meals with Jesus and talked with him face to face while breaking bread together. Peter wrote these words in his first letter to believers in the new Church. In the same way we have never seen Jesus as Peter did but we love him and we believe in him. These words are also given to us and can be applied to us personally. We can experience the “inexpressible joy and be filled with glory” because we have believed in Jesus the Christ – even though we have never seen him. Our faith has opened the eyes of our hearts and minds to believe in Him as our Savior and Lord. It is hard to express sometimes but in our hearts we know He is true. It’s a joy to have that assurance.

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February 10 – “When Needing Wisdom”

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” – James 1:5-8 (NIV)

Because context is important, our promises are sometimes in more than one or two verses – that is the case today.  The promise today is boundless. “If any…should ask…gives generously…without fault…will be given.” But the promise has a requirement and a caution – “must believe and not doubt.”  When a friend asks for prayer, how do you respond? Do you say you will pray but actually, rarely remember to pray? Do you send folded hands emoticons suggesting that you are indeed praying?  When you are sincerely praying is it more than a feel-good acknowledgement.  We might ask God for wisdom to help us choose our right path. When we need wisdom we ask God; He promises to give richly without humiliating us⸺that’s important. God promises we will receive wisdom when we ask in faith believing.  Those who ask with doubt are double-minded people. No wishy-washing doubting allowed. Faith in God that He will hear our request for wisdom and provide what we need is essential. If you do not believe God can or will answer and if conviction is not truly in your heart, then like a rudderless boat being tossed by the wind and waves.

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January 5 – As Many As…

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” John 1:11-12 (NASB)

Our verse and promise today may be familiar to many but is also may be new to others. The Apostle John tells us what happened when Jesus Christ came to live as a human on this earth. As many as received Him⸺take notice John does not say dogma, creed, myth, but a person. This person in the previous verse is identified as the creator of everything that exists. Christ is the Son of God and He brought the world and all creatures into being, they were His own. This is not limited to Israel but it is Israel who represented the world which Christ came to. Our promise is in verse 12. The expression “as many as” amounts to “whosoever” whether Jew or Gentile. It might be rendered “as many of them,”⸺of those He came to. As many as did accept him; as many as acknowledged Him; and welcomed Him as the Light which enlightens every one of us; as many as have embraced him by a living faith in his name, to them he gave—it is ever a gift of God’s sovereign grace—the right, the authority, to become children of God.

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Thanks in part to: A Living Daily Message From The Words of D. L. Moody selected by Emma Moody Fitt, Copyright, 1900, by Fleming H. Revell Company, now in public domain.

Faith Walking or Fear Walking

Take a moment to read this verse. If the English Standard Version is not your favorite version, find the verse in your version and read it there.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (ESV)

A packed verse, I’d say. To fully understand and to fully appreciate the truth and promises in this passage would take some time. We are not, at this time trying to do an exhaustive exposition of the verses – but we want to go in for a close-up on one powerful truth, one very powerful promise. We want to consider how then we should live today. Focus on this — for we walk by faith, not by sight— and consider how we conform to it.

Do we?

Sometimes we do, right?

How about the other times? No so much. Why not?

The process of being transformed by the renewing of our mind[i] is anything but an instantaneous process.  It is indeed a process full of victories and failures, of successes and disappointments. It is a cycle of being on track and then off again as we continue the journey from where we are to where God has planned for us to be. It is good to know that on the days we think we have made no progress; we actually have because we have persevered to that day. God has been with us and we have learned something, we have exercised some spiritual muscles and they have gained some strength. We have been in the battle, in the war and it is there we have found rest and peace in the midst of trial, tribulation and even persecution. The war just happens to be the process of finding our rest.[ii]

When it seems the progress has waned it is still there.  We grow as we keep our gaze fixed straight in front of us.  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but we have this commitment, keep our eye on the goal which is the one God has directed for us—to Jesus and to maturity. We are expectantly in this together and I’m all in – I’m off and running and I’m not turning back.[iii]

The proposition is this, “Our progress comes when we actively choose to live by faith and not by sight.”

Walking by sight is, in effect, walking by fear. Walking by sight includes more than the sense of vision, it includes what we hear and what we read.  As we walk by sight we will make decisions that are influenced by what we see and hear and what we see generates fear, anxiety, doubt, and hesitation. It blinds us to the places of rest and it keeps us agitated trying to fix things. In the bigger scope we fear what we do not actually see but what we imagine in our mind’s eye. We create scenarios of what is going to happen in the world or in our country. Our imagination ultimately spawns fear. This reinforces our perception and shapes our understanding. The old worn out saying “perception is reality” is a horrid axiom but we tend to live as if it is absolute. We desperately grab and cling to what we see around us (sight again) and what we believe will protect us. When we find no lifesavers or escape routes we despair and lose hope. Fear Walking, as we are going to call it is the way to hopeless ness because it robs us of hope. Hope that will not disappoint us is hope that we acquire when we walk by faith. Faith Walking is rewarded by hope and produces more hope.[iv]

This is where we might get a bit far afield in this discussion – and we might get distracted from what we need to learn about walking by faith. But we need to understand what is driving our thought process. We need to know that what we consider important is what our treasure is. Learning where our treasure is will reveal to us where our heart is. This is a point of significant conflict, it is a battle ground. You know that war we mentioned previously?  Some will see and recognize the potential that exists and threatens a way of life that they hold dear – a life they want to continue enjoying.  This life has brought pleasures, comforts and rewards. It has been enjoyed for so long that we have failed to even notice the existence of a rot that has been taking place within it for decades.

By now, the rot has reached deep into the roots and far up into the branches. It has invaded and poisoned practices and commitments that once were sacred and holy. The rot is so very perverse and has so deeply imbedded itself into our society that it is spoiling the true treasures we should hold dear. The rot has caused our own reasoning, our own understanding to replace the precepts and commandments given to us by God. We stop agreeing with God because such agreement costs us something we do not want to give up or do.

We can now identify traces of it everywhere as it sends out its runners to pollute and establish what is false as truth. The arguments for embracing the rot will always end up at a point where the meaning of God’s word is reassigned, redefined, and even rewritten to support the rot. The rot rejects anything from God that holds our life accountable to Him and makes us uncomfortable or requires us to give up some pleasure or presumed liberty. And because we do not want to totally jettison God all together, we must recast our understanding of God so that instead of being created in the image of God, we recreate God in the image of the rot. This is handled well by leaders of our assemblies, the ones set over us to shepherd us become the ones leading us away from the truth and faith and into a place of living fully by sight and reason. If our faith conflicts with the way we see things, the faith must change. We must adjust what we believe our faith to be suitable with what we see.  We are dressing ourselves up for destruction and judgement and we do not care. Instead of growing together in the Spirit, we have given over to the rot which has been infecting and splitting the gatherings of believers. Some believers, Fear Walkers, merge into the world to protect what they fear they will lose, and others choose to remain Faith Walkers, to be set apart and not succumb to the rot.

Here we will parenthetically set out some historical facts to help us understand why believers are set apart for specific purpose.

[ To set the identity of those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ apart from common labels, we will avoid the common label “Christians” and will identify believers by the term first used for them. They were known first as followers of Jesus, it was a true Jesus movement and officials and themselves referred to them as “Belonging to The Way” or “of The Way.” Because at the very beginning all believers were Jews who were still a part of Judaism, The Way was considered a Jewish sect or a part of the Jewish religion.[v]  Those that belonged to The Way gathered together in private homes. It was the pagans in Antioch that first used the adjective “Christian” to describe and identify the believers of Jesus.[vi] It was intended as a derogatory term.[vii]

The word “church” was used to identify a body of believers of The Way much before any building was constructed as a specific meeting place. It may well have been in the mid-3rd century that first building was exclusively set aside to be used as a gathering place for meetings of The Way.[viii]   It was hardly the intent of the early churches to become what they have today with the gatherings splitting into varieties with distinctive affections method and hierarchy. For God called first out a people to purify for himself, a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. We were all the church and the church was whoever was meeting together in homes at Philippi, and at Ephesus, and at Galatia, and at Thessalonica and eventually at New York and at Chicago, and at Longview. Wherever a gathering of believers were, that was where the church was. For some perspective on the early church and how it transformed when it became government approved see this blog post[ix] ]

The result of the rot has been worse than a wrecking ball as this malformation of what God calls us to let rot come in. Sometimes it has done its damage without the gathering even being aware. Can it be imagined that today any minister or leader in a gathering of believers, perhaps the gathering you are a part of, would stand up and say, “Where do y’all think all these dreadful fights and arguments come from? Do y’all think they just happen? Well, think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. Y’all get all lustful for what you don’t have and some are even willing to kill to get it. Y’all want what isn’t yours and mean enough risk violence to get your hands on it. Y’all wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? No, you wouldn’t, and just why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. Y’all spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” James 4:1-4

Our Faith Walking and our confessions quickly fade away when we switch to Sight Walking or Fear Walking. What we with our own eyes we believe more than what we might just have experienced because of faith. Our great example is our brother Peter who saw Jesus walking on the surface of the Sea of Galilee. It was by sight and it generated fear. This had to be a ghost for no person could stand on and walk on water – especially the surface of a tumultuous body of water. The disciples were in a boat crossing to the other side of this lake which was about 5 miles across. Jesus had not come with them this time as he wanted to spend time in prayer. The wind is against them and pretty strong. The waves were significant but not dangerous. It was sometime after 3 a.m. and the boat was about three fourths of the way across. When they see this what they think is an apparition. Peter recognizes Jesus approaching the boat, he is overcome with awe and to make sure that this person walking on the unsettled surface of the lake was Jesus he says, “If it’s really you Lord, tell me to come to you, right now.” Jesus had just confirmed that it was him but Peter wants more assurance because what he sees has actually put fear into him. Jesus says just one word, “Come.”

Peter is out of the boat and making his way on the surface of the water toward Jesus. His walk has suddenly become a walk by faith. We have no idea how many yards he walked. He is actually doing the impossible because he has faith. Jesus called him to come and he believed and he was Faith Walking…right up until he switches back to Fear Walking. He looks around and is astounded and recognizes that he is now attempting the impossible and he fears the outcome. He sinks. Jesus has to save his sorry soul or Peter would have drowned.  That is the way it always is. When we depend on what we see we become not Faith Walkers but Sight Walkers which become almost immediately Fear Walkers.

Is it faith or is it fear that directs our path these days. Fear, I’m afraid has many by the throat and is choking the life out of them. The reaction to the fear is to rush to solutions that seem tangible and embrace them without consideration of their faith. Fear walkers will strive to find a solution that will make things great again, will restore the life they have enjoyed and is now crumbling around them. Some will not even see the crumbling and although they will still be driven by Fear, “Fear is one of the most primal of all motivations.  It drives people to do things they would never even consider under normal circumstances.  It blinds them to truth, makes them cling in desperation to any hope that presents itself (even hopes that, in clearer-headed times, they would recognize as dangerous), and lash out viciously at any perceived threat to that hope.  It makes them see friends as enemies and not realize enemies are pretending to be friends.”[x]

Their solution is to hold fast to their confession of hope without wavering and trust Him who promised because He who promised is faithful. He Himself has promised that He will never leave us or desert us.

[Now, let me make it clear, that these comments are made for the benefit and in the context of those who are believers and followers of The Way – those who believe the Truth and have the Life because they have the Son of God. Those who have chosen to not believe have no real faith there is no one to put their faith in until they recognize their need, repent, confess, believe and receive the free gift of eternal life offered by Jesus Christ. He is the only Way, to God the Father.]

The danger we face when Fear is the motivator of our thoughts and decisions because we are not walking by Faith is that we fall into the trap (set by the devil himself) of believing that God cannot fix our world by Himself. Fear walkers believe that fixing the world and ridding it of all its wanton evils requires our involvement because for some truly ungodly reason Fear walkers believe God is not inclined or able to accomplish their will and what they (the Fear Walkers) want and believe they need. Fear Walkers fail to understand that with or without them, God’s will is always accomplished without fail. What He promises, He will do, what he has spoken He will deliver on.

Fear Walkers may cling to a way of life and a way of government and to a country that they believe has been established by God especially for their pleasure and blessing. They believe this because the establishers were, for the most part believers in God. Some were even quite devout followers of The Way. And because the establishers believed that a Creator God was responsible for all things and believe that God governed the affairs of mankind and because this belief was evident in the sayings and writing of our country’s establishers, our country, the United States of America was therefore established as a Christian nation. The degree, to which that assumption is true, or not true, depends on so many other assumptions and presumptions and interpretations it is safe to conclude that the question is not settled. We can be fairly certain that while America’s establishers were not pagan atheists and likely not even agnostics, they were not all devout men of strong spiritual character. It is unlikely that the majority were any more Faith walkers than much of us are today.

So with these conclusions what responsibility does the body of people of The Way have to their country? Does The Way in America have a different responsibility to American than The Way in France? How about The Way in Japan or Korea? Perhaps the responsibility of The Way in China, Venezuela, Congo or Argentina to their respective country is different because of the history of those countries. Certainly we would be a bit amiss to think that Japan or China or Congo are Christian nations or had a Christian beginning.

Would it be so very horrible to think that The Way in America is special with a special calling to preserve a special way of life because it had such a special beginning?

Yes, it would be very horribly wrong to think that.  For in truth we are more bound in our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters in Korea and Venezuela than we are to the reprobates who lead this United States of America. We have a greater responsibility to serve and help followers of The Way in Syria, Iraq, and Iran than we do to preserve our own way of life. When has The Way in American ever been excused from the responsibility given to it by the Lord Jesus Himself when he said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

It never has.

 


[i]  Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

[ii] http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-the-christian-life-peace-or-war

[iii] Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

[iv] Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

[v] Acts 9:1-2 (ESV) But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

[vi] Lexham Bible Dictionary, Copyright 2016, Lexham Press.

[vii] http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/christian.html

[viii] http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/november/why-and-when-did-christians-start-constructing-special.html

[ix] https://prandersonblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/from-the-setting-of-the-sun-it-will-always-rise-again/

[x] From The Five Pilgrims “Fear: A Path to the Trump-side for Evangelicals”, C Phillips, August 19, 2016 http://thefivepilgrims.com/2016/08/19/fear-a-path-to-the-trump-side-for-evangelicals/

There Is No Good Reason to Despair.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord – Psalm 27:13-14

There is no good reason to despair.

God has promised that he will take care of us. In the middle of the worst conditions, in the middle of the most sever persecution, even if we are giving up our earthly lives because of our belief and confession in Christ Jesus, he will take care of us. If the time comes to choose between our head and our heart for God, He will be there to take us to a place of eternal comfort.

Too many times it is my physical condition and my comfort that matter most and if they are out of sorts, then my life is out of sorts. If my life goals are thwarted I become frustrated (another way to say angry).  This is not the way it is to be. Not in the land of the living.

So the world we have enjoyed is drying up and the freedoms we have enjoyed are evaporating. Our sense of security which is built on law and order is bring ripped away and we are feeling exposed, at risk and in danger. Those willing to be our protectors have become the hunted.   Pay attention to what is happening in the world and understand the result is fear and again anger. This fear and anger develops into hate against what we identify as our enemy.  Out of fear, anger and hate we create defenses to protect what we hold dear, our way of life.  What is our way of life? Is it liberty and freedom? Is it opportunity for all who work hard? Is it the pursuit of excellence and greatness? Is the the ability to succeed if we work hard enough and are smart enough?  Is it gathering together in buildings we call church or in the open square and lifting our voice in worship and praise?  Is it the ability to dress as we wish without fear of assault, rape and death?  Is this the American Dream? And, without this American way of life, we are what? Lost? Finished? In trouble? Hopeless?

The way of life which we have come to expect because it was given to use – often at the expense of the lives of others – and we have worked hard for it and because it has been considered our birthright in this country for so long, we see it eroding away beneath our feet. Be on your guard, has God indeed promised his children what so many today believe they are entitled to?  Have we been deceived by the siren song as it has been delivered from the pulpits of our church?  God Bless America, we sing while in truth, and for a long time, America has been forgetting God and replacing worship of the Creator God with worship of the creature’s desire.

What God has promised is found in his Word, not in the documents that formed and governed this country.  As wonderful those documents are in their original intent, and as dedicated to God as many of the those who formed those documents, the fact is, the Word of God has been discarded and we have placed our faith in the words of this country’s founding fathers. Some have their faith in the reinterpretation of those words by leaders who have never believed in God.

We have become confused about who it is that we are supposed to listen to and draw our hope from. We have placed our hope for security and greatness into the hands of people who impress us with their performance, or success, or promises and our hope is built on nothing less than what they say they will do for us.

In whom should we place our trust? It is God Almighty, not the President of the United States. Our faith is to be in what God has given us, not in what the White House, or Senate, or House of Representatives, or Supreme Court has given us or what our founding fathers have given and entrusted to us.  Take a look at what we have from these and consider again what political party or ideology is greater than the Lord God and his Word. Stop believing in might and power – believe instead in the power and promise of the Spirit of God.  It is time to unhook your political party from your faith and rest on faith alone. God can and will do everything he has promised and he does not need your particular political ideology to accomplish it.

What Drives You?

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Proverbs 30:5 (ESV)

Imagine, something is coming at you, something you know you are not going to like. You know you will be disturbed, upset, or even angered after you are forced to encounter it. How do you prepare for it? What is it that drives your reaction?  

Fear? 

Worry?

Faith?

Trust?

This is tough. We all want to avoid the battle and the pain that comes with it but we all know that we cannot escape from all of it. Sometimes in our lives we simply have to endure unpleasant encounters and the resulting consequences. Those are the times in our words and professions prove themselves; it is when the “rubber truly hits the road” and our faith is tested.

You have to believe that this is really difficult for me to even write about because I wrestle with it a great deal. It is what I am coming to call my own personal thorn in the flesh. I fear and I worry far too much about things that I have no control over. But I do have control over what I choose to believe and I do have control over what I say to myself and I do have control over what I ultimately put my trust in.  

I fear and worry about what is happening in our country and in the world. But that fear and worry have no effect on changing that – it only tears me down.  There is what seems to be an overwhelming shift toward evil – even among those who, in my opinion should know better. What once was commonly held as unacceptable – things to avoid and not accept or believe because they are just not right.  These things are being embraced because of the utter lack of reason and thoughtful consideration. Leaders and want-to-be leaders are embracing this change because of the uproar from those advocating the change for their own selfish and sinful passions and greed.

Everyday, there is more and more evidence and examples of Christ haters, God haters speaking out. Whole programs on television are dedicated to pronouncing the the hate of the program host.  It is no longer a matter of stepping aside and letting those who are corrupt in their thinking to pass by in the “live and let live” attitude.  Letting them have their opinion and freedom of speech is not enough any more.  No, that is not far enough anymore. Now, what is demanded that all people actually accept as good and proper what is fundamentally contrary to Christ’s teaching. In fact Christ’s teachings must now be changed so that they show acceptance and not offend those who hate Him.  

If this is not afforded by you or by me, then we must pay the consequences. Those consequences currently are mostly ridicule and scorn and hateful messaging but they will become more. It will become required by law not only to allow but to adopt. It already has been in some cases and standing on the Word of Christ as we believe it will be come unlawful. Those who expose evil and unlawful practices will be silenced by the very courts and legal system that should be holding the lawbreakers accountable. Lawbreakers are using the courts to protect and shield their activities.

But wait.

There is a reason the Word of God is crammed packed with promises and encouragement to not be afraid, to not fear those who can hurt the body but can do nothing to the soul. There is good cause to trust in what God says and be deaf to the accusation and temptations from the devil.

You see, in the final analysis, when the dust has cleared, the last man standing will be the Son of Man who gave his life for all who will believe. He will reconcile His word and His every word has been tested. It has never failed – it always proves to be true.  God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him – His word, His promise, we can count on it no matter what happens. 

Care for a Second Chance?

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15

How many times has you wanted a “do-over”? 

How many times have you wished for a mulligan in your life – and I do not mean on the golf course where mulligans are actually possible.  The idea might be attractive but really?  Do you really want to do it again – especially in view of the state we are in in this world?  

I find it interesting when I hear people say “the times are changing and we just have to get used to it.”  Well it isn’t really the times that are changing but the people who are changing as time goes by. Of course this has always been the normal course of history for humans. There has been no time in history that society has not experienced changes.  

Perhaps in the past the change came more slowly but it always came. Today the speed of change seems to have accelerated but that may just be a matter of perspective. Perhaps change, as it has come has always seemed to come too fast for some and not fast enough for others. For those who believe it is too fast, they want to roll back to a time when things were more comfortable. They are seeking a rewind of our morals to a time when respect of each other and of God was dominate. The want the time when being a Christian did not make them a target of scorn and ridicule. But that is not what is happening. Persecution will be and is a part of our lives. If they persecuted Christ, they will persecute Christ-followers also. If they hated Christ, the will hate believers in Christ also. It has been promised.

The times are perilous and for most of us it looks like they are only getting worse.  The days of mutual respect and acceptance of people of faith are fading away. Now, today, a celebrity will receive a police escort to the Super Bowl where she will preform in a way that trashes the Police and honors organizations that support criminal behavior.  The celebrity will be praised and applauded and go on her way making millions from people who never stop to think about the disconnect in their lives. 

And when it comes to change and second chances there is nothing like what God has offered. First, He never changes. What he said thousands of years ago to Adam and Eve is still true and has never changed. So he says to us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go. He will never leave you or desert you. The only do-over we need is the one Jesus Christ has provided for us through his death and resurrection.  We do not have to face the wrath of God if we choose to believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Believe, accept and receive a new life that is eternal and all things in the past are forgiven and forgotten, separated as far as the east is from the west. 

Fear not. Trust in the Lord God. Ask Him for the grace and faith to live the do-over life he has made available for you completely free.  Nothing we can do can result in our earning it.  It is a gift – it really is that simple but it simply is not easy, it cost something it cost Jesus his life and people hated him for it. They still do.

What Is With All This Hate?

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19

May I see a show of hands of those who seek to be hated?

No?

None?

I didn’t think so.

None of us want to be hated. We pretty much want to be liked at least, if not loved at most. It’s not going to happen – at least not from this society.  There is a world of people out there and around us and trying to be loved or liked by them just might be one of the most dangerous goals we can set for ourselves.

Do I really have to explain that I am not suggesting we make ourselves unlikable? Do  I really need to say that I am not recommending that we make an effort to be disliked or hated? I hope that is understood.

Oh we can be liked and loved by the world if we want to but the cost is going to be pretty high. You see, all it takes to be hated by the world is to say that we love God and that we believe in Jesus Christ and have received eternal life. If his life is now in us – we are promised that we will be hated once the world finds out. And for a true believer, keeping Christ in us a secret is not our objective.

No wonder we are seeing a dramatic rise of intolerance for Christians and the principles of Christian life in our world today. No longer is persecution happening just “over there” in some country we may never go.  I has moved right here into our own back yard, and front yard and in our living rooms.  Just listen to what is said on the programs and not just a few, many.  Just read comments to posts on websites and on Facebook.  The hate is here because it has been promised.

We are not of this world, we have been chosen out of the world and the world is dead set on hating us because we love Jesus and the world ruler hates Jesus. It is and unacceptable situation to the world that we love Jesus and follow Him.

Where is the comfort in that? What is the remedy?

The comfort comes from the words Jesus spoke just a little earlier than the words he spoke above. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10  

And the promise of a Comforter that he had just given and which was fulfilled just a short time later,  “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter), that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17.

Jesus did not pull any punches that last night he had supper and talked with all the disciples – he told them just the way it was going to be and for the past nearly 2000 years the truth of His words has never changed, never been withdrawn and has always been fulfilled.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Then the joy begins because then we began to see the hand of God, keeping his promises.

Trials, tribulation, persecution, hate, scorn, ridicule, even in your face pain and death cannot keep His promises of final redemption and life with Him from being fulfilled.  The challenge for us today here in America as we emerge  from the cocoon of comfortable, acceptable and easy Churchianity is to know the truth and still trust and obey. The world and its message is no place to form your beliefs; it is no place to anchor your soul; it is no place to put your trust.

There  is a very good reason that we are told to not lean on our own understanding – our own understanding comes from the world, a world that hates us. It does not tell us the truth, and it leads us down the wrong path.