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Posts Tagged ‘Persecution’

Two weeks ago I replied to a political post on Friday and my reply was shared and agreed to by a multitude, but apparently the social media police didn’t share my followers’ opinions. The next day, with no questions or warning, social media shut me out—for eight days.

I was in jail.

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There was no email address or phone number I could contact to reason or discuss the situation. Someone without a face, or voice, or identity, controlled my access to cyber life. It was if a thief sneaked into my house and sliced my communication to the outside world.

For the next eight days I ping-ponged between irate and grief stricken. My world shaken. I’m a writer. What would I do if I lost all those friends I had worked to gather into my circle of friends? My career would be diminished. And anxious anger multiplied.

Until God spoke to my rebellious, haughty heart and reminded me the number of times I repeated I. Really? Oh my, yes I had. I had taken credit for everything God had set before me. And then the learning part of difficult began. Thoughts rushed through my mind as reality settled in.

This stuff is small potatoes. Five years ago you didn’t know what social media was. If you’re this emotional and out of control over small stuff, what are you going to do when real persecution arrives? Will you deny your testimony? Will you cave? Will you forsake Me?

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I confessed my sin of idol worship and my ignoring the fact God is even in control of cyberspace, and I thanked Him and vowed to take my hands off the whole situation. Eight days after being shut off social media returned to my computer and nothing was lost—after I relinquished control and placed myself in the hands of my Father in heaven.

But in the quiet of the moment that still, small voice in my heart asked what are you going to do now?

I’d love to pontificate some marvelous response and lessons I’ve learned, but every day I’m listening and seeking and hopefully understanding God is sovereign over everything in my life—even the bad stuff. The chaotic crisis. But I don’t like bad stuff or chaos, do you? Strange isn’t it, we only learn when the difficulties grow beyond our ability to manipulate.

I whispered, “Help me, Lord.”

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8 NAS).

This morning as I prayed for revival to sweep across our land and turn our nation back to God, He again stirred my heart.  Revival can’t come unless your cold, hard, disobedient heart is shattered and melted to repent of the evil you are doing.

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Unfortunately, we don’t identify evil as God does. But God’s definition is all that matters.

He reminded me when He brought Ancient Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land. A trip that should have taken a few weeks or month—but it took over twenty years. Why? Because they had cold, hard, disobedient hearts. He called them stiff-necked people. I wonder what He calls our American hearts today?

When Israel stood on the banks of the river about to enter this land of milk and honey, God instructed them to utterly destroy the enemies of God. Why? Because the inhabitants of the land were wicked idol worshipers and He was jealous for His people. He knew they would cave, and they did—desiring to be just like those idol worshipers.

The Israelites had several battles, and as long as they followed God’s instructions they were victorious in battle. But they grew weary and decided it would be much easier to dwell with these idol worshippers rather than destroy them. After all, how wicked could they be? And again we all know the answer and the consequences—Israel adopted the ways of God’s enemies. And to be safe, they worshiped the idols as well as God.

 

And so have we! Their perversion didn’t end well for Israel and our perversion won’t end well for America either.

Jesus gave us one instruction after He suffered, bled, died, and was raised by the power of The Living God. “Go and make disciples. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” But we have decided it’s easier to live with the enemies of Christ than to go make disciples of them.

We’ve adopted their idols. Idols that leave us too busy to care about our spouses, children, or neighbors. But like Israel, we pick up our Bibles and go to church every Sunday, don’t we? Like carrying a Bible is our ticket in Heaven’s door. But have we opened The Word during the week? How do we treat our neighbors? Do we even see them? Or speak to them?

“Oh,” but you say. “We’re both so busy—”

Do you even hear Jesus’ command anymore? “Go and make disciples?”

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Yes, it’s much easier to just live with ’em. No fuss. No bother. No love or ability to think about their future destination—separated from God forever—because we don’t really care. Cold, hard hearts can’t care. If you and I gave serious thought to the eternal reality and torment of living separated from God forever—if we could even grasp that fact—wouldn’t we be banging on their doors, dragging them from the flames to salvation? Or have we grown so comfortable with the message we don’t really believe that stuff about flames and separation anymore? Or the darkness?

Sad thing is, it won’t take but a split second of hell’s fire to change our minds, but then it will be too late.

God tells us in Jeremiah, “If we haven’t given them the message of the truth of the love of God and the message of the gospel, their blood is on our hands.” We are guilty of their deaths.

And folks we’re at that time in America.

We are no longer the land of the brave and the home of the free. Our leaders are corrupt. Our churches are preaching their own version of truth. Our homes and our lives are filled with the lusts and lures of the world. We’ve forgotten or perhaps never known God calls us to love and to be holy.

We have forsaken God. We have decided we’d rather live in the middle of the squalor of the enemy camp than to obey Jesus’ command.

Cold, hard, hearts, Lord, so deceived we don’t even realize we don’t know the Word of God, and we’re too busy with our idols to care or spend the time reading, learning, and applying those Ancient Truths that cost the prophets and disciples their lives. But I’m thinking we’re about to find out.

 

While it’s been so much easier to live with the enemies of God than to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, some are beginning to recognize we’ve given the reins of control to the enemy of God. We’ve looked the other way and overlooked the screaming signs. We’ve paid the bill and looked the other way as our children were sacrificed to the ways of the ungodly. And we’ve become more ungodly than the world…because we knew and held the truth. Knew the truth, but rejected the truth of the necessity to be holy and blameless. And that only comes by faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the price He paid for you and for me.

We’ve allowed lies to petrify the dark caverns of our hearts. Like icebergs of cancer, slowly inching numbness, as the penetrating cold creeps, covers, and steals our heart’s affection from the living God.

What will you do to stem the flow of lies washing over us like a tsunami? Stand firm in the Word or drown?

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“Now hear this oh foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear. Do you not fear Me? Declares the Lord. Do you not tremble in My presence? (Jeremiah 5:21-22 NAS).

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority, and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NAS).

 

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I’ve misplaced the inexpressible great joy and glory of my salvation somewhere between the shredding of our Constitution, legalizing the murder of millions of innocent babies, tossing out God’s commandments about marriage and family, and kicking God to the curb in America.
Allowing myself to become so focused on the rancorous evil going on around me, like Lot, my soul has been vexed. And when I focus on vexness, I’m not talking about the joy of living for Jesus. No, I’m spitting the putrid liquid of frustration on everyone around me. And brother and sister in Christ, sometimes it’s hard to tell you and me from the rest of the world.
Can I get a witness?
Think about Lot. Uncle Abraham raised him…can you imagine being under Abraham’s care? ‘Course Abraham had warts too, but as the head of a family, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness” (James 2:23 NAS).
Yet, when the time came, Lot chose to settle near a booming metropolis where life would be prosperous and his kids could benefit from all the cultural advantages Sodom and Gomorrah could offer. Lot put down roots. Roots that went deep into heathen soil. But Lot didn’t change the culture, the culture changed Lot. And his family.
Scripture is silent about his time there except to let us know Lot sat at the gates. He was a civic leader, maybe on the way to becoming a judge, but apparently his life made absolutely no impact on anyone around him, not even his wife, daughters or would-have-been sons-in-law.
You know the story. He moved in with the heathen, knew they were evil, but lost his perspective and lost his joy. Lost his ability to see beyond his current circumstances to God’s promise and the glory to come. And he dwelt there day after day, year after year, ‘til his ability to think was so distorted he offered his virgin daughters to the homosexual mob, to do with as they pleased, to save his visitors. And God destroyed those cities…forever.
And haven’t we done the same thing with our children? We’ve moved in alongside the godless culture and like those ancient Israelites, we’ve sacrificed our children on pagan altars, refusing to come apart and be different. And we’ve become like the world.
God’s epitaph to Lot in 2 Peter refers to righteous Lot and how God rescued him from Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot still must stand before God to account for his leadership as a husband and father. Will all that’s left for him be wood, hay, and stubble? What about you? What about me?
So what’s the impact of joy? The question was asked in our Precept study this week, “What truth has God revealed to you about yourself in this first chapter of 1 Peter? And verses seven, eight, and nine leaped off the page and punched me in the gut.
“…the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9 NAS).
Inexpressible joy? Me? I’m not even living in the shadow of His joy most of the time. Some days the darkness of evil seems to envelop my world. Do you ever feel that way? Like Lot I’ve put my roots downDSCF1479 deep, like I’m gonna be here forever. My prayer closet gets a few minutes in the morning and in the evening at best, unless trouble, trials, or torment move in for a visit. Then I want everyone to join me in the closet.
Take a gander around you this coming Sunday morning. What do you see? Joy and peace, or sour faces, sitting and soaking in the pews? Faces etched in unattractive arcs because of the yammering of everything gone wrong in our nation. In our world. And we’re not used to things that threaten our farce of happy life, beautiful home, successful kids, or our bellies. And we react.

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We’ve been cellophaned picture-perfect for the world to look at and envy. But we aren’t perfect or pleasing. And Jesus never told us our journey here would be pleasant or peaceful. Especially when we’ve forgotten The Lord God Almighty. As a nation, we’ve thumbed our noses at Him, refused to listen and obey His commandments, and forgotten He provided all those blessings, we didn’t. And He can certainly remove them from rebellious, hateful, spoiled children.
Those early Christians maintained their love and support for Jesus and each other while members of their families and their church were soaked in tar and used as human torches along Nero’s highways, or others were sewn in animal skins and tossed into the arena with wild beasts to entertain the spectators? How did they maintain their faith and joy?
History doesn’t record them leading protests against Nero. Nor did they appear on the local Rome news of the day. But they knew the Giver of Joy—the Lord Jesus Christ. They were trapped in their frailty and depended on Him for everything. They knew their world was not getting better and they knew, that they knew, that they knew to be absent from the body meant being present with the Lord. And they concentrated on an eternal citizenship and relationship with Jesus, refusing to cling to the flesh. They understood their future was with the God of the Universe. Creator. Sustainer. El Shaddai—The Lord God Almighty.
Is God going to have to use a larger board to get our attention? Their joy over God’s promises and their faith in the truth of His word drove them to abide in Jesus. He was their only hope and they carried everything to Him, in spite of the reality of everything playing out in real time.
If there is any hope for America today, we must do the same. We need to cry to God for the fresh wind and fire of His Spirit to blow the doors off stinky sanctuaries allowing the freshness of His grace, His glory, His love, and His joy to cleanse and rejuvenate His people. We need to be revived!
In spite of what the “name it and claim it” folks shout, America is in immediate, grave danger. Danger of God’s judgment.
Imagine this scene—men and women draped in black robes, sitting on the benches of the courts of ourHot in the kitchen 2 land. The gavel slams down and these justices overrule God. Again. And their decision will place us alongside Sodom and Gomorrah in the history books.
Horrendous stories splash the front pages of the newspapers and scream in HD on the nightly news. America is no longer the America of my youth. The deceiver has captured the minds of the majority and they have chosen his lies rather than God’s Truth. The majority desire a king who will stand against God, just like many of our national leaders do every day and that highest court in the land may rule this spring. And then—business as usual? Maybe—maybe not.
Because God is the same God who, when Israel turned away from Him and Judah followed in their steps, sent heathen nations to judge them. To judge them for the purpose of bringing them back to Him.
The Jews are God’s covenant people and He used a really big, bad, bubba board on them. But because of His unconditional covenant with Abraham and His predetermined plan, He will restore a remnant of them in the last days. But at what cost? The Crusades. Two world wars. Genocide. In days to come, scripture tells us two-thirds of that nation will be destroyed. Only one-third will survive—to be saved and restored in a single day.
Contrary to some teaching, America does not have a national covenant with God. God has offered His grace to individual believers under the New Covenant. But this New Covenant is conditional. And subject to the believer’s faith and trust and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ through the predetermined sacrifice of Jesus’ blood and the grace and mercy of God.
So the question I ask you right now, is the melody of Jesus’ glory playing in your heart this morning? Issun and lightning the joy of God’s grace causing your soul to celebrate with inexpressible joy? Is the dawn of His appearing bubbling from within you? Or does the constant clamor from demonic swords drown heaven’s choir and dim the light of His truth?
What will people see in you and me as the darkness of this age squeezes them into the mold of evil—hope and love and the grace of God? Or the horror of a mirror image of themselves?
What will God’s epitaph read about you an me? Will the impact of our “…great rejoicing with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” point others to Jesus before it’s too late?

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DSCF6286Each year about this time caterpillars descend with a vengeance to devour my purple passion vines. They gobble leaves, stems, buds and blossoms and with a full tummy spin themselves DSCF6310into cocoons to await their metamorphosis into butterflies.

My yard has a zippety-do-da kinda feeling today. Splashes of orange, white, and black dance over my zinnias and roses, doing loopedy-looping circles of joy exhibiting their exuberant freedom.

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But do butterflies accomplish anything other than transmitting pollen and giving us a serendipity moment? Their transformation from worm to wonderful speaks to us about the transformation GodDSCF6347 longs to perform in our lives when we surrender to Christ and commit ourselves as bond-slaves to Him.

Other than fly and pollinate—what? What do butterflies do?

They’re pretty. Their flight patterns are exhilarating. They’re always hanging around beautiful flowers. But in essence, they are lightweights in God’s economy. This one wasn’t strong enough to DSCF6368overcome the prison of its confinement. They are creative miracles of life and laughter, but not longevity.

I wonder if God’s people are prone to concentrate on the lightweight, pretty part of living? Patterning ourselves to flitting around pretty people, picturesque piddling toward worship, and reciting presumptuous platitudes.

Yet not being truly transformed.

God has not called us to flutter along the breezes of life. He has called us to be bond-servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. DSCF5983Bond-servants whose purpose is to do the master’s bidding. Nothing more—nothing less. It’s a full-time, life-time job.

Images from Iraq this week have shown people in 2014 dying for their faith in God. Yet, I’ve read comments on FaceBook today from folks who refuse to look at these gruesome horrors. We don’t want to be confronted with the actuality of mothers throwing their babies off a mountain to die, rather than having them live to endure the torture that is certain to come at the hands of evil. We don’t want to see children beheaded. We don’t want to see the reality of the ugliness of life on a planet where the Prince of the Power of the Air rules.

Why?

We’ve grown so accustomed to pretty, clean, and easy we would do DSCF5984anything, serve anyone, even deny the Lord Jesus in order to maintain vanishing beauty, cover up our white-washed hearts, and disguise the lukewarmness of our faith.

Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10 NAS).

He instructed us to stand firm in the faith ‘til He comes and said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24 NAS).

If we choose to live our few years as butterfly Christians doesn’t that make us those folks He refers to in Revelations? Christ said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16 NAS).

But you say, “I live in the USA. What can I do to help people in Syria, Iraq, and other places around the globe? The answer is simple. If we don’t stop them there, they will soon be among us. Then how will you stop them?

First of all, pray diligently. Not just an adult rendition of “now I lay me down to sleep,” before you collapse comatose on your cushy Sleep Number. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered. How will you justify your actions and reactions to those saints and to their Lord in that day?

Write, call, email your congressional representative to demand our government ceases to lag behind the curve. Ceases to send multiplied millions of our tax dollars to countries who persecute, torture, and kill Christians. And ceases to do business with nations who perpetrate violence against its own citizens.

Deprive yourself—of meals out, Starbucks, entertainment so you can contribute to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse. Organizations with boots on the ground relieving physical pain. Organizations who teach the truths of the Word of God—bond servants for the cause of Christ.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40 NAS).

DSCF2349So, dear one, are you a caterpillar, a butterfly, or a bond-servant. Your actions and reactions count for eternity.

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