Month: August 2014

The Rise of Persecution

Trials and tribulations should be expected by all who choose to follow Jesus. The Christian walk is not an easy one. We must realize that we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, spiritual wickedness in high places. It is fortunate when our worst days of “spiritual warfare” are when we are faced with temptation, fight the urge to use vulgar language, want to lie, or refrain from doing good when we should. These are very real circumstances, and submission to these things are sin. If this is the worst we face, and I know at times these are bad enough, I also know it could be so much worse.

I am afraid that we will indeed see worse. There is a storm on the horizon gaining momentum, speed, and strength. That coming storm is persecution. In the headlines of media and news, and across the globe on television we see a very open and violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Men, women, and children are being kidnapped, crucified, tortured, beheaded, and gunned down because of their Christian faith. I feel a strong burden to pray for those people and the horrible situation they face. Please remember those people in your prayers.

These situations should not take us by surprise. As we see prophecy being fulfilled, we should know that it will continue to get worse. These things have been foretold:

Matthew:24:9: Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Luke:21:12: But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

2nd Timothy:3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

I believe we are seeing the very beginnings of those verses taking place. I also believe we are witnessing a very strong faith in Jesus Christ by those people who are more willing to die than deny the Savior. We often read of martyrs from the history of the church and their valiant fight of faith, yet, do we realize that we are also now seeing it in the present?

It is easy to say “well, it isn’t happening here” and carry on with our lives because we do not see it affecting us directly. Those people are our brothers and sisters in Christ, we better care! Their faith to the death should be a witness to you, it doesn’t show their strength, it shows His strength within them.

Luke:21:13: And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

Don’t be fooled though, the storm is coming to you also. The persecution of the church has already begun. Prayer in schools or at school functions has been forbidden. City and state governments must now speak the name of Jesus in whispered voices or behind closed doors for fear of who might hear. Your beliefs may now exclude you from jobs, positions of authority, or show you as impartial or biased. Speaking your belief of Jesus as Lord and Savior could next lead to belief that you are a radical or guilty of a hate crime. You could be taken to court and found guilty simply because you stand on ideas and principles found in the Bible.

Right now, our government tolerates Christianity. We were once a government of the people, by the people, for the people, but we are soon to be a people under a government, unlike what we know today. If you understand Bible prophecy, you already know a change in government is coming. I believe that change is already taking place, but we still see the illusion of what we had. That veil will soon be removed and the persecution we see today will be a fond memory, because Christian persecution will be multiplied exponentially.

Please pray, pray for those suffering persecution to the death, pray for their safety and their lives, that their testimony speak to those who do not yet believe in Jesus. Pray for our churches, our national, state, and local leaders. Pray, if not for deliverance from these things, for strength, patience, comfort, and protection. Remember God’s word for those who suffer persecution:

Matthew:5:10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew:5:12: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

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The Apostate Church

Are the conditions right for a true, apostate church? Before you can answer that, you must first define and understand what “apostate” or “apostasy” really is. Apostasy defined is leaving, or a departure from, your principles or beliefs. You could also say it is to CHANGE your principles or beliefs.

The church, and I am referring to the true church, is facing a raging, unforgiving, deceitful, world that preaches tolerance, but is intolerant of the church. In case you missed it, that would be the world being hypocritical. The world is not agreeable with the absolutes of Christianity, and I must say that Christianity should not be agreeable with the world. Don’t take my word for it, this is what Jesus said:

Matthew:10:34: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

The church cannot, indeed must not, attempt to please the world and God. The bible clearly states you cannot serve two masters. We, the church (which is to say, the body of Christ), have a duty to pursue a relationship with Jesus, first, foremost, while forsaking all other things. It is not possible to seek worldly advice on spiritual matters and expect truth, and due to the rising apostasy, we need even more discernment when seeking direction from different congregations and denominations!

So, what does an apostate church look like? It looks just like the church down the street from you, but it probably has more members. There is probably a lot less talk about sin, maybe sin isn’t mentioned. There also stands a good chance many sermons and teachings revolve around prosperity, love, being a good person, having success, and overcoming obstacles in life. The name of Jesus is probably favorably mentioned, but no talk of blood (because that may be considered a bit harsh), suffering persecution, or seeking first God and His kingdom.

Those are just my thoughts, but let me give you the source of my thoughts and even greater words and thoughts from the Word of God. Here are the conditions God said would exist:

Acts:20:29: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts:20:30: Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Matthew:24:11: And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

2nd Timothy:3:5: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2nd Timothy:4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2nd Timothy:4:4: And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

There are many other verses that could be added to this, but for the sake of time, we will stop with those. The more verses you add, the more complete the picture of the coming apostasy. This is just another reason that we, as individuals, must study to show ourselves approved. We have a responsibility to Jesus, and our relationship with Him, to pursue absolute truth, and that is found in His word.

We must be diligent and always on guard for what is coming into the church, especially in the form of “change”. The true church stands on the word of God, not the reasoning of men. The church is to be set apart from the world, not mixed into to it. The Bible is not made to become agreeable to man, man was made to become agreeable to God and His word. God’s word is absolute, it is truth, it is the straight and narrow path. It is law and grace, love and redemption, judgment and punishment, blood and life, it is His Word and eternal. Read it, study it, know it and give yourself to it completely, for it is the Word of Life, His covenant to you, covered in His blood that you might have life everlasting and fellowship with Him. Pray for the church, pray for the leaders of the church, and pray for those already falling into apostasy, for apostasy isn’t coming, it’s here.

I Stand with Israel

We all have opinions, and we base those opinions on our beliefs, don’t we? As a professing Christian your beliefs must stem from the Bible, the Word of God. Accepting Jesus as your Savior is an act of salvation, yet, there is more to it than “just salvation”. If you are born again, you (the old man) has died to this world and your new life is found in Jesus. You are transformed, made new, and begin a new walk, not for yourself but for the One who died for you. Old things have passed away. This should include old habits, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs. Unless it is found in the Bible, what is the basis for your belief?

Your Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Son of God. Do you understand He was also a Jew? Not only was He a Jew, He was crucified as King of the Jews. If you have a prejudice against the Jewish people, how can you profess a Savior who is also Jewish? I know there is a school of thought called “Replacement Theology” that attempts (poorly I might add) to remove “Israel” and replace it with the “church”. This is another anti-semitic tactic used to attack the Jewish people and their land, Israel.

In the book of Matthew you can trace the Jewish heritage of Jesus, and be assured that He is Jewish. It is written He and His family participated in Jewish feasts, He taught in the Jewish temple, was born in Bethlehem (a town in Israel), and was referred to as the Passover Lamb. It does not get more Jewish than that. The Bible further states that Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

God, from the very beginning, chose a sacred place where His Son would give a sacrifice that all who believed on Him would be saved. Of all the lands in the world, God chose the land of Israel. He gave that land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their seed (the Jewish people) forever. History will tell you the Jewish people have been taken into captivity, have been scattered from that land, and the land has been divided, which is true. Many people have inhabited that land, have ruled over that land, but the land has never belonged to anyone but the Jewish people. It is there in that land of Israel, from the capital city of Jerusalem, where the King of kings, Jesus will rule and reign. This is why we should continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

God stated in His Word whoever touches the Jewish people touches the apple of His eye. He also said though the land would appear to be dead, He would once again bring His people into their own land. That happened in 1948. This should be enough to show that Israel and the Jewish people are important to God and they are still in His plans. Some of those plans include wars. There is the Psalm 83 war. There is the war of Gog/Magog. There is the battle of Armageddon. War has been a very real part of their history and a very sure part of their future. All of these wars will work to accomplish God’s purpose, not just for Israel, but the world also.

Israel is becoming a cup of trembling to the nations of the world. They are becoming a burdensome stone, not just to the world, but their allies also. All of this has been foretold in the Word of God. So, it should be no surprise to see the lack of support they are receiving. What is surprising, to me, is the swiftness in which Israels allies are distancing themselves and the boldness many people are showing by supporting the enemies of Israel. There is a very important verse from Genesis each person should keep in mind:

Genesis:12:3: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

For me, it does not matter what the worlds opinions of Israel are. Throughout the Bible you find that God favors Israel and the Jewish people. God said in His Word that He is married to the nation Israel. God also says the Jewish people are His chosen people. These reasons alone should be enough for you to support Israel. The plans God has for His people, and their land should tell you where your support should be. Today, I tell you that I stand with Israel and the Jewish people, do you?

Not of this World

Throughout the Bible we find many interesting passages and phrases, and some of these send our hearts and thoughts wandering in amazement toward a truth we cannot yet comprehend. The Word of God is in many ways so much more than we can comprehend. The carnal, the human, the fleshly things we understand. The spiritual truths are often a lengthy pursuit, a quest for deeper understanding and riches beyond our imagination. Those truths are given by the Author to those who seek Him and His kingdom first.

Other times we find statements, phrases, and verses that lead us to meditate on Him. Jesus has prepared for us so much more than this world, this life, can show. While in this flesh, many of the spiritual things of God are veiled to us, for what more is this flesh than a veil? Yet, there are times, places, and people that have been given the privilege to see beyond this veil and glimpse the glory of God.

One of those verses, for me, is found in the book of John:

John:17:16: They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

This verse, for me, is an awesome statement. Jesus says that we are not of the world just as He is not of the world. He makes a direct connection between Himself and us. The fact that the King of kings mentions us in the same breath as Himself is incredible. Does that fill you with awe? With wonder? Does that move you in any way? To know that we are like Him, in any way, because of Him and all He has done and given is indescribable.

Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we die to this world. Just as we die to this world, our life is then in Him. Our citizenship here, in this world, is temporary. We gain a new, permanent address and become citizens of His kingdom. One verse, so many thoughts.

This verse can also be a way to live, a mantra, a battle cry. We live in this world, but do we live TO this world? We cannot serve two masters, nor should we try!

The reason I decided to write this article and the many thoughts that the verse brought to mind is as simple as a bumper sticker. On the back glass of a vehicle I seen a sticker with “NoTW” (Not of This World). If you are not familiar with this brand, maybe you should check them out. Their website is http://www.notw.com

I met some of the NOTW staff at a Seventh Day Slumber concert. While at their clothing booth my wife and I made a couple of purchases. I cannot tell you how good it is to truly deal with a Christian business that is not afraid of the name Jesus, nor are they ashamed of the gospel. It is my privilege to relay what a great brand they are building on the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have to say, I like their brand and I am not afraid to let people know that I may be in this world, but I am Not of This World!

It is a great verse, a great message, and in the day and time in which we live, I feel as though we should support Christian business and the message they are sending. It has been said “you may be the only Bible a person reads”, and I find that to be true, so let Christ be seen in you. Live as though you are not of this world, and let Jesus be glorified in all that you are and do.