Jesus said there'd be days like this.
The disciples came to Jesus asking: "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matt 24:3)
Jesus answered: "...many will come in My Name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places ... because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved..." (Matt 24).
Things are going to get worse here on the 3rd rock from the sun before they ever get better. Count on it. That's why it is the acme of foolishness to spend all our resources trying to get comfortable down here. We don't belong here, folks! We're citizens of Heaven, as Christians, just passing through. We are "seated in heavenly places.." (Eph 1:3). We're are good as there as followers of Christ. That's either true for right now, or it's a lie. But we've been given a job description to make as many disciples for Christ as we can while we inhabit these earth suits. How's that going, by the way?
Count the cost before you dare to become a radical disciple of Christ because, as things worsen, the persecution of Christians will increase. Are you SURE you want to make yourself conspicuous? If we're fortunate enough that we're not living among those who are suffering the worst of the anti-Christian persecution, you'd better believe we're going to be held accountable for all that we could have done/should be doing with the many resources the Western Church has at its disposal. We can, and MUST, support the work of the Kingdom, with prayer, time, talent and finances. NOTE:the purchase of new playground equipment, repaving a parking lot, or buying a new gargoyle for the cathedral is probably NOT what the Kingdom requires from us at this time. Finances may be the most difficult to part with because our hearts are so tied to our purse strings. Think about that next time you make an impulse purchase or stick your head into that basement, attic, closet, or garage full of important stuff God has "blessed" you with. How much we trust God is evidenced by how much we trust him with our money. Fact is, we have nothing God hasn't given us, not as some sort of reward, but as a steward.
DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH?
Why is it that so many Christians seem more ready to support military action against the Islamic world than we seem willing to adhere to the commission of Christ, all the while playing the "tolerance card" with our Muslim neighbors in the states, attempting to maintain status quo? It's BECAUSE of our tendency toward self-preservation as well as our greater faith in the government than we have in our God. Doesn't our support of violence against anyone in retaliation for their violence toward us make us their lowlife equals? My Mom taught me that as a boy. Is this the way of the Lord Jesus? He said "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matt 5:44).
Surely we don't believe that the duty of the Western Church is to protect the Gospel through force! God no more needs our military might to protect and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ than He needed Peter to slice the ear off of poor Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Repeat! God no more needs our military might to protect and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ than He needed Peter to slice the ear off of poor Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Folks, any religion or philosophy that intends to advance by way of military might is no better than Islam. Such a gospel would be, in fact, a religion of lies straight from the pit of Hell. Might does NOT make right! In fact,it's in great part because our faith WAS once promoted by the tip of the sword that there remains such resistance to it today. That plus the fact that we aren't making anyone jealous for what we've supposedly found through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The world is rarely impressed with us
In a nutshell, there will not be ... can NOT be ... peace without Christ. Violence will get worse, and the disciples of Christ will suffer increased global persecution.
People of Planet Earth, I have two words for you: Jesus Christ. Hope is in Him alone, and in submitting to the Father in accordance with His Word. Though Christians may not be kept from the effects of war, for it rains upon the just and the unjust, we must come to the point where we openly, in front of God and everybody, abide in the Peace of Christ. THAT they WILL notice!
God is more concerned with the character of His kids than He is in our carnal comfort. Despite all the "stuff" that's happening and is GOING to happen on planet Earth, we are an army and must not lose the focus of our objective. Soldiers of the Cross, there's a Kingdom to advance in the Name of the King we love.
A CALL TO ARMS!
We see and hear so much about Christian political activism. Prayer in school, gay rights, women's right, abortion, gun laws...what does all this have to do with the Great Commission of Matthew 28 to 'go and make disciples'? Where is the saint who travails in prayer for souls? Even Muslim souls? And Chinese souls (6 of 11 Christian converts are Asian or East Indian)? Where are the people of God who will cry out to Heaven for the revival that will have a greater impact than a thousand years of political and social activism?
Jesus never taught that His followers should attempt to change the social or political order of things. We are not another special interest group. Not another subculture. If anything, we're a COUNTER culture - IN the world, not OF the world.
The word for the Church right now is "Repent!" In this instance, repentance begins when we turn from the solutions offered by this world, and put our trust in God. Some men trust in chariots, some in horses ... will WE trust in the Name of our God? (Ps 20:17)
There is a war of the worlds going on. It's not physical. Despite its appearances, it's not REALLY Islam vs. the West at all. It's SPIRITUAL, for our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the hordes of hell... a demonic force that, for the moment, seems to be making dramatic progress (Eph 6).
Some are saying that we are currently living in a Post-Chrsitian age; that the Church as the world has known it, is a relic of the past. The present religious situation in Europe and North America is often described as becoming secular, where many people no longer believe, and therefore are defined as post-Christians. Post-Christianity is an expression to describe a 'secular' status in which Christianity is losing its central role in shaping the lives of the people. More and more, trends seem to be pointig toward a time when only the minority of those calling themselves 'Chrsitian' retain meaningful ties with traditional Churches. It's already here. Most people - Christians included - are living their lives independently of the Christian faith and the teachings of the Churches they (used to) belong to. Church-life has become extraneous to them.
The days are getting darker. What if there IS coming an end to Christianity? If that were the case, that certainly does NOT mean there has come an end to Christ, nor to His remnant of True believers.
I contend that it's "CHURCH-ianity" that is lying sick upon its deathbed, gasping for air, and NOT the glorious Bride of Christ, at all.
The Lord is with us, saints of God! Let us seek first God's Kingdom and His righteousness. Now, let's lock 'n load! The war is with Hell ... on OUR turf and by OUR GOD's rules! Drop to your knees in fervent prayer, reconcile people to the God of the Bible, wield your checkbook, get your passport up to date so you can mobilize if called to overseas duty as a missionary. Quit waffling about, wondering when God will put you into the game. You're already IN the game. It's time to get your uniform dirty. The call to serve is REALLY a call to PREPARE! Get prepared.
Look around ... each of us is surrounded by resources that could be used to advance the cause of Christ! I know elderly people, children and cripples that are giving the devil a black eye on a daily basis by doing all they can. There are others, for example, who forward these weekly messages from t.e.a.m. ministries to hundreds of others within their scope of influence. My goodness, if we would ALL do at least THAT!
Fear not, Army of the Lord! The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us! Let's make it really hard to go to Hell from your sector of influence. Give till it helps! Don't worry, you cannot outgive God.
Remember this: all it takes for evil to continue to prosper is for good Christians to do nothing. It's a statistical fact that a soldier in battle will miss 100% of the shots he never dares to take.
So, how's YOUR aim lately?
Pastor Michael is founder of t.e.a.m. ministries (email@example.com). His eMail broadcasts, known as "Your Town for Jesus" (SEARCH it!) are reaching tens of thousands WEEKLY. Log on at http://www.PlanetaryMinistry.org
Michael's mission is to bring Discipleship and Encouragement to the Body of Christ. Michael is the author of numerous booklets on a subjects that will interest the thinking Christian. Since 1999, he has written and broadcast nearly 500 inspirational articles and a dozen booklets, al designed to accelerate the process of spiritual development in God's people.