We Are But We are Not

“we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

As we approach the end of this calendar year (2015) and the beginning of the next (2016), are you intimidated by the prospect ahead? I know that I am. I struggled every day with fear and worry because of how drastically our culture is changing. What has been comfortable is going away and what is coming in its place is a culture that despises God and all things that honor God.

What changes will take place in 2016 and in one year from now, what changes will be be reflecting upon? The forces of wickedness in this world are building and godly wisdom and reason are being shunted aside. What do we as Christians expect? Remembering again that the disciples of Christ, when he was here on the earth and when he was crucified and died though that it was over. Some actually believed that Christ had failed in His mission and that they had wasted about three years of their lives following Him around. Then, suddenly there is the rumor that Christ has risen from the grave. Some had seen him and others had only heard the story. The followers of Jesus had only the Jewish scriptures, there was no “new” testament available yet to guide them. No wonder they were lost. Even today, we can be confused about the life of Christ and His teaching, His purpose, His call to believe and accept His offer of salvation.

Consider the changes that they faced and were going to face as they are appointed to go into all the world.

What is going to happen in our world? What in your life will change as the evil one gains momentum for the moment? The only one who knows the answer to that question is the one who holds our lives in his hand. I do know that we do not need to fear. God has promised and He will keep His promise. God does not keep His promises because he cannot lie. He does not keep His promises against His will. God keeps His promises because it is His will to do so. And it is His will because that is His character – God loves us. Because of His great love for us, he sacrificed His only begotten Son and sent Him to the cross in our place.

These truths are amazing. They are hard to understand but God gives us the grace and faith so that we can believe them. Believing the truth is not really that hard to understand but it often is that hard to do in the face of trials and testing and persecutions. As a human, it is easier to believe what we think we see than what we know but do not see. I know that I am that way. So I continue to press on and return again and again to the Word of God which is the source of truth revealed. “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Live Even If You Die

The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6

What can man do to me? Good question.

If we think along our normal temporal plane we would say “Man can do a lot to me.” After all, have we not seen the Christians who are beheaded because they would not reject Christ and convert to Islam? Have we not seen the reports of women and children being raped with impunity? Have we not seen those who have be caged and burned alive because they did not agree with the militant Islamists? 

Yes, we have, and it is natural and normal to react to these things with fear.  We fear that this will be us, it will come to our door and sooner rather than later. We fear that our government does not have a plan or strategy to protect us. We fear that we are looking at a future that is in control of the evil one and there is little we can do about it. 

But the Word of God is this; “The Lord is for me; I will not fear;” whatever man can do to me is of little consequence because I am already dead and my life is hidden with Christ in God. This is according to Colossians 3:3.

We either believe that or we do not. 

We either live in the truth of this short verse or we live in fear of what can happen to our physical life. 

Understand this, we can die but we are alive and will yet live even if we die. Dying for those who have found refuge in Christ, for those who have put their trust in God is simply a transition from the temporal to the eternal.  Right now, this very minute every child of God, every one who has received the spirit of adoption as sons and daughters of God possesses a life that cannot end. Nothing can bring it to and end because it is the life of Christ in us – an eternal life. 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

This is truth. “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies…Do your believe this?”

How Far Do You Believe?

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb. Psalm 37:1-2


Do you believe this? 

In view of the increasing violence and acts of terror in our country and the world, is this piece of the Word of God something you can take refuge in? 

I know that it is difficult for me to not fret because of evildoers. First of all I have a black belt of many degrees in fretting.  I don’t find myself being very envious toward wrongdoers – that caution is given for those who wish they could be rich like the wrongdoers are rich. No, that’s not really me. But I do fret the doers of evil, the ones that walk into a concert hall and kill nearly 100 people against whom they have no specific complaint.  

But we know they are coming our way. It is only a matter of time and over that time we will see a progression of evil that will come closer and closer to our safe place. And when it does, no one will care about our hurt feelings and only some will care about the blood shed. 

So now what? What, is that we are not to fret because of evil surrounding us. God’s angels encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them. We can take refuge in God and we can rest in the truth of His promises. Even if we are physically harmed we do not lose what God has given to us. 

Prepare yourself by trusting in the only Word that will not pass away. Prepare yourself by deciding today to believe what God has said. He has said that tribulation and persecution will be part of our lives and he has said that we overwhelmingly conquer through Him. 

Do not look for a life of ease and comfort – not in this world anyway. Look for a safe place within the hands of God and take up the whole armor of God. Be ready to stand firm when the onslaught comes. 

Oh Absolutely I Will…or Will Not!

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

If anyone was qualified to make this statement based on personal experience, it was certainly Peter. Peter, who had, of his own accord falling down under the attack of the devil and failed to keep his bold promise. Peter had promised in the most explosive terms his unfailing allegiance for Jesus Christ. 

At their last supper together Jesus spoke to Peter about what he (Peter) was going to go through and they had this exchange.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”  And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:31-34 (NASB) 

Jesus knew. Peter didn’t. Jesus cared. Peter didn’t understand.

The time may come for each of us to be tested just as Peter was and likely we will fail just as Peter did. But we don’t have to.  We will if we try, like Peter to be strong in our own ability. Because, we do not have the ability to stand up to and face the enemy of our soul and the enemy of God on our own effort.

You know, that soft buffer than has kept us comfortable in our country? That soft buffer called “A Christian Nation” which has made us soft. That buffer is gone. It simply is no longer there. Atheists are getting bold and striking out.  Just now we are waking up to the fact that being a Christian, a believer of Jesus Christ actually means some people will hate us and will persecute us and say false and evil things about us because of our faith because we say we believe the words of Jesus Christ.

It is only by the grace and power of God that we will ever be able to respond to the hater of God when we are their mark. It may never get as severe as having to refuse to deny God and risk death but such things are happening and the occurrences will increase. John Piper said in one of his podcasts the following when answering a question of whether one will have the courage to not deny God if threatened with death: Of course this is beyond us. None of us in ourselves will die for Jesus. This is a gift of grace if we are able to trust him and love him in that moment. So pray. That is the main thing here. Pray that you will not be like Peter who boldly said: I will never deny you (Matthew 26:35) and then he fails three times (Matthew 26:75). We need to pray: O God, don’t let me boast as though I could do this. Help me to depend utterly on you. http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/gun-to-your-head-will-you-deny-christ

There is so much in the word of God that can give us the confidence that whatever we may face because of our faith, God is always there. He never leaves us, He never fails us, He never forsakes us or deserts us, He is with us wherever we go and we do not need to be afraid.

Tough assignment but nevertheless absolute truth because it comes from God.

Evaluate

If you are a Christian. 

If you have believed and placed your faith in the words of Christ.

If you have accepted the free gift of eternal life that was purchased for you on the cross by the death of Christ and secured through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Then the path of your life will include testing of your faith. It is simply a promise given to us by Jesus and in His Word, the Bible. And it is not always easy to understand.

When your speak out about your belief, you will encounter disbelief – sometimes in the form of ridicule and hate.

But be encouraged. God is your refuge. He will never fail you or forsake you. You can believe this. 

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33)

A great truth is this: No matter how difficult life becomes in this world, it will be overcome in an instant. Present difficulties will be replaced with eternal joy.