Reflecting on the Faith Walk in 2012, there have been so many small victories with eternal consequences to so many people, that it boggles the mind. There are some things I can't really talk about, because only the Lord should know these things: from the saintly brother who works hands on with the persecuted church worldwide to praying for the lost spouse of a close friend...the work of the Lord MUST pick up in 2013!
We are in a new phase of the battle for souls...the battle which demands us to lead others to realize there is more.
There is more to life than selling your birthright for a bowl of stew....or a fake disability SSI check.
There is more to life than expecting some incompetent politician in a far away city to pay for...(you name it) with borrowed Communist chinese money.
There is more to life than chasing your own tail in pursuit of somebody's definition of success or happiness.
There is a whole lot more than that, my friends!
There is peace
There is joy
There is happiness
There is contentment
There is an oasis in this rathole called the world. No matter how they dress it up, they cain't put lipstick on a pig. This is one corrupt, evil world. No amount of gun confiscation will stop a sicko who saw the same movie stars now campaigning against guns, or playing those video games like Halo etc, no amount of laws; no amount of this or that hand-wringing will stop that natural impulse of men who are out of control - SIN!
So what are we to do? Do we go over the Spiritual, Moral, Societal Cliffs along with the rest of the country and world? Do we participate in their debauchery? Do we get depressed with them at the latest NYSE crash or NASDAQ plunge....or big ticket items plunge? NO NO NO and NO! Amen! As we always tell folks: THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS FOR THE WORLD...AND AS BAD AS IT GETS FOR THE BELIEVER (IN CHRIST)!! That's true!
What does the world have but its systems, through and with which, they have to perform contortions, black magic and sleight of hand to create illusions! They have to lie, cheat, deceive and they have their loudspeakers in the media - news and Hollywood, whose god is their celebrity culture, to assist in that!
WE ON THE OTHER HAND, HAVE A 3500 YEAR OLD DOCUMENT, WITH 66 BOOKS, WRITTEN BY 40 MEN OVER 1500 YEARS. WE HAVE THAT, AND AN INVISIBLE SPIRIT CALLED GOD LIVING INSIDE OF US! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS SAY JUST ONE SIMPLE WORD - AND FOR THAT - THEY HATE US!!!!!
Why? Because that ONE SIMPLE WORD IS - JESUS!!! Ha! They will never understand the Iranian pastors who are beaten and tortured daily by moslem leaders or the teenage girl in Pakistan or the children in this school in Kenya who were protected by huge beings in White with flashing swords.....they will never get it, because we have the HOPE. they DO NOT! THAT HOPE is within - the Peace that passeth ALL their understanding!
So the new Paradigm for 2013 is the same Mission from the Apostle Peter 1960 plus years ago. The only thing "New" about it is the NEW and RENEWED push for Excellence and Evangelism with Energy! Those things were woefully lacking in the past few years across the west! It is flourishing big time in the Persecuted Lands! Here is the Word from the Lord through Peter: "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect...(1 Peter 3:14-15 ESV)
Let's briefly break this down with the KEY WORDS in BOLD BLUE:
SUFFER: Unlike those in other lands who actually physically suffer for our simple Faith in Christ, we suffer from being continually being marginalized, maligned and now mandated by government to give in to unbiblical concepts (gay 'marriage'; free abortion pills etc). But as we know from all through Scripture, suffering is required for the saint's sanctification! This life is the testing ground as well as the training ground, for eternity!
BUT, we see in the next phrase: "we ARE blessed"!
HAVE NO FEAR - A true believer in Christ, powered by faith, prayer and sometimes fasting, is actually fearless in sharping the Hope of all Hopes - Jesus and Eternal Life in heaven! Scripture explains scripture right here "...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control....(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV). That means - the Holy Spirit, Who is both God AND lives in us, knows no fear! How could He? He is God too!!
NOR BE TROUBLED - When we step out fearlessly in faith and get shot down...or we see even so-called Christians falling by the wayside or when our efforts bear no apparent fruit....then, press on....don't even look back; wallow in self-pity or debate it....press on and move on. Leave it alone!
HONOR CHRIST THE LORD AS HOLY - What He is saying here is...if you do all of this (have no fear and even so, when things look bad, move ahead)...and more, it remains imperative to remember ALL we do is not about us, but Christ and the Holiness of God!
ALWAYS BE PREPARED - That means ALWAYS!! We may be called upon at any time to take a stand! They tell Christian pastors and chaplains all the time, in all levels of American government that they cannot pray in the Name of Jesus, if they wish to be part of this or that "Official" prayer service, government oriented breakfast or opening some session of a government meeting etc. Do we sign that death warrant for our souls OR walk away and tell them to file it wherever they wish? A co-worker or distressed cashier or waitress may ask you why you look so happy all the time when we owe $16 Trillion in debt or society is going down the sewer...be prepared - pull out Jesus and give them Heaven...in less than 4-5 minutes! Both sharing the good news of salvation and Jesus and being prepared to take a stand, requires us to be as sharp as a tack and able to give your testimony and how that other person can have one even better, in less than 5 minutes! Any true Christian can tell what Jesus has done for him or her in an instant!
MAKE A DEFENSE - This one requires us to know what we are talking about! Just as we don't run a marathon just from running from our car to the house daily, we don't go into Satan's temporary playground (the World) unarmed; unprepared; unread and under the same sin that they are suffering from. Be knowledgeable on the basics of Christianity and especially the EXCLUSIVITY OF CHRIST! This is the big one which the world - the pluralistic world - wants to hit us with constantly, in order to discredit us! So stay in prayer and the study of the Word...and in fellowship with men of God who are more knowledgeable than you or I!
The rest of the verse rounds off these present tense phrases so we can comprehend WHY we are doing these things. People are going to ask us WHY (should I....); WHERE ( was God when....): WHAT (do I need to do to be saved when I am already a "good" person)....WHO (or WHOM, do I say His Name is?) If we are ready to answer all of this when they ask, about the HOPE which they can see, feel, touch and which is ALL over our faces, we just might be waking again in the Exhortation which this verse has for us for 2014!
Finally, knowing and doing all of this will not work, if we don't do it in love...the same Love that Jesus showed when He would walk up to, or call anyone over. It is that same Love (agape) which led Him down from Heaven to a dirty cold manger/stable. It was the same Love which took him from the Throne of Heaven to the Cross of Calvary. So we are to love and care for people like He did and still does. People don't care to know how much we know, until they know how much we care!
Let's therefore, get back on point in 2013. Let's step into our calling with the fresh oil of a new year and let's do it with verve, passion and energy!
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