I suspect that the effects of my short trip to Jerusalem will be with me for a long time. Part of it of course, is due to the fact that I am now actively trying to help the missionary/pastor that we came into contact with. Every dollar that comes in goes straight to helping him purchase more Bibles in order to get them distributed to every area God lays on this man’s heart. I have also had quite a number of people express that they are going to faithfully pray for R_____ and his volunteers. Every single Bible gets passed from person to person because there are not near enough to go around to all the people that desire to have one.
I think one of the things that is changing me more day after day is the fact that these people are being killed, just for sharing God’s love. These young believers are also so anxious to be active in reaching out to those around them, that the danger involved means nothing at all. Within one week, 10 volunteers experienced violent death at the hands of extremists. Then of course there was the Mullah who became a believer in Jesus one day; the next, he was beaten to death within the very mosque he had taught his people in for the last 40 years. We here in the west are not used to anything remotely like this. Here in America, we live in the land of the free—at least for now. We are people that know what our rights are, and we demand them if they are withheld from us! These young Christians find that when they are caught by those that hate them, they have no rights.
This leads me into doing some personal introspection. What would I do if I had the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these brave people? Could I really walk it out the way they are? Would the cause of Christ mean more to me than anything else? How about you? We all ought to ask ourselves that question. We quite often say off the top of our heads that we would be happy to die for Christ. Would we really? Here’s a tougher question: Can I live for Him? Can you? We quickly respond and say, “Of course!” But…maybe we should take a look at what that really means.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus would say the harsh things that He said to the Church addressed in Revelation 3: 14-22? He really says some tough things! This particular church existed in the first century but also represents the church on this earth just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus accused them of living a “religious” life that was nauseating to Him! He said that this church sees itself as rich, having acquired much wealth, and in need of nothing! Unfortunately, that is the condition of most of the church today. We have self-help books for everything including how to use Biblical passages, many of them used out of context, as a formula to enrich ourselves—at the expense of others, of course. Look around and see how most church organizations have horded enormous wealth. Yet, how many are really fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus laid out before He ascended.
I really have no interest in criticizing church organizations in this post though. My responsibility (and yours also by the way), is to see to it that I am living out my life bringing honor and glory to the God who set me free and has promised me an inheritance in heaven. The days we are living in are troublesome, and becoming increasingly more so. Here in the west, we do not really have a clear picture of what all is transpiring around the world. Our view of reality does not fit how things really are. Most of the news we get is softened, so as not to upset us. When news articles from around the world are compared with those we have access to, it is pretty easy to see that we get a watered down version of what is really happening. Most of us don’t really have a clue of what is really happening around the globe. We hear the news and we can tell there are problems, but we have confidence that everything is going to work out, and all will be well. The Bible tells us just the opposite. Things are not going to fix! We are in the middle of the birth-pangs that Jesus spoke of. The harsh realities spoken of by the prophets of the Old Testament are now coming about. This is the world we live in. Trying to pretend that it is not so is senseless, besides psychologically dishonest. You and I can’t fix the world, but if you are a God-chaser, you walk with the One that is in total control—no matter how bad it gets. The Bible says it is going to get worse than any time in earth’s history. Time to commune with the One that takes care of His own!
I’m afraid that much of our Christian teaching is designed to be a “happy Gospel”. I hear comments by Christian people saying that they prefer not to hear anything negative. They are not interested in “scare tactics”. They would rather stick to the positive things found in the scriptures and avoid the anything less than positive. The problem with that is that it is not an accurate representation of the true Gospel. One would have to ask if God Himself is using “scare-tactics”! Is He? Hmmm.
Seeing how people in another location of the world are killed for daring to do something like distribute Bibles, really makes me think. I’ve already questioned this in this post, but…would I be so willing to give my life up for Christ? Would you? We all say the words. We claim that we would gladly die for Him. Here is what makes me wonder though. I first of all need to prove that I can LIVE for Him! Many Christians today cannot even do that—or are not willing to pay the price necessary to do so.
Many may wonder, how I can say that? Here is part of our problem in western society. We have been blessed beyond the imagination of most of the population of the world. We have so much stuff! I won’t even go into all of the things that we have due to our being in a wealthy nation and having money to spend. Here’s the thing: None of what we have been able to accumulate is a sin in itself. It becomes a problem when it becomes more important to us than what our Christian life is all about. Each of us has been given life for a specific reason.
1 Peter 4: 1&2 reads this way in the Amplified version: “So, since Christ suffered in the flesh (for us, for you), arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose (patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God). For whoever has suffered in the flesh (having the mind of Christ), has done with (intentional) sin—has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God. So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by human appetites and desires, but (he lives) for what God wills.”
In the next verse of course, it gives a list of things that Christians should not be involved with anymore. Most of us know and accept the fact that living a Christian life in an increasingly evil world is not popular, and it takes making decisions every day to keep our spiritual life maintained. We need to align ourselves closer and closer to how God would have us live. This means that we need to take care how we entertain ourselves, and what we allow ourselves to spend time watching on TV. It means that we will not allow certain things to be a part of our lives.
I have no interest in going into detail because each person needs to take this serious and make sure that Jesus would not be offended if he were to happen in on our day. Actually, He never leaves us! What a thought. There is much that comes out of Hollywood that is designed to take the human race down the path of destruction. Is TV wrong? No. It’s just a device. But, it can become a god in my life—as can anything else. Golfing is not wrong, yet it can become a god in my life, as can sports in general. How important is fame, status, money, or power in my life? We need to rule these things rather than be ruled by them.
I believe there is something more to see in this scripture though. A person that has a true intimate walk with God will have his whole life and everything it is composed of, at God’s disposal. Could God ask you for anything and you would respond? What if He asked you to leave everything and join a team that does nothing but travel to places that need the love of Jesus shared? Could you do it? God does not ask this of most of us, yet He is God and our lives must be totally at His disposal.
Does God have control of how we spend our money? Spending money on ourselves is not wrong. It becomes a problem when we ignore God’s still small voice on the inside. He may be telling us that we should participate in some need that He has made us aware of. Obviously, there are more needs than any of us can get involved in. I find that everyone is asking for money! What makes it really hard is that so many needs really are legitimate. God has many good works that people are needing aid with. We just need to listen to what He wants us to do, and when. Obedience is the key. So what if we find ourselves having to wait an extra year to buy that new car, or maybe look into a different price range with something else that we want. I believe that is something that is strongly taught by Scripture. Everything that we have is only temporary! Eternity however, is just that—it lasts forever. My new car will never help someone find the love of God, whereas some of the money I might have spent does aid those that are willing to lay their lives down for the cause of Christ. God does not condemn someone buying a new car. God does emphasize that we need to be listening to that still small voice on the inside that will guide us in how to use the assets that have been given to us on loan from the Creator Himself.
Most of us may not be aware of it, but today God is pouring His Spirit out all over the world. Millions are being brought into the Kingdom of God and faster than ever in history. Hundreds of thousands are being reached each year in China alone. This is also the case in India, the Muslim world, Africa, and most every other place you can name. But, it is not without cost. At least 165,000 people or more are martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ every year. I can’t hardly get my head around that. Yet, the people that God has put Anne and I in contact with in Jerusalem lost 10 volunteers in one week! Yet, those deaths have brought life to a great many people already. It happened very fast. Now all the Bibles have been distributed and more need to be bought. Amazing!! After hearing testimony after testimony of what God is doing through this work, I will never be the same again. It is not for me to lay my burden on anyone else, but if you find yourself needing to be involved in something that is bringing results in a very bad area, this is certainly one. Pray. Pray for these people like their very lives depend on your prayers—because they really do. If God asks you to get involved in helping them to purchase more Bibles, don’t wait for a more convenient time. This is the time. Time is running out.
Allow me to finish with these thoughts: 1 Peter 4: 5 tells us that everyone’s life will be examined by the Judge one day. I want to make sure that He finds that I finished well! How about you? In verse 10 it says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.”
I believe that God is speaking in a strong way in our day and age. We are now at the very last part of the last days that Jesus foretold. You may look out the window and see nothing out of the ordinary, but the world is far from being ordinary today. We are at the brink of World War, worldwide economic collapse, and massive geophysical catastrophes which are increasing exponentially. Scientists cannot explain much of what is happening. They can only guess because the times are unprecedented. The Bible however explains it in great detail; so much so that many people want to avoid it! As for me, I want to know what time it is that I am living in! Don’t you? Why else would God have spent such a large portion of the Holy Scriptures to lay out the events of the days we have entered into? God had no intention of the world not knowing when they are nearing the midnight hour. He is not willing that any perish!
I am not finding an easy way to close this post, so I’ll just say that there is more to come…
A thought for the day might be this: “Lord, help me to live today like it may be my last, yet being able to keep in mind the need to continue on the path that God has put me on…until I really do arrive at that day.”
Keep Looking Up,