Dear God, open a door for my message, so that I may proclaim the mystery of Christ. I pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians 4:3-4

R4C

R4C
Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You. ~ Reconciliation and Forgiveness ~ I am Sorry * Please Forgive Me * Thank You * I Love You.
Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Take heed that you are not led astray


How would you respond if someone prophesied that your home, land, or place of worship would be destroyed?
How would you respond if someone prophesied that your home, land, or place of worship would be destroyed? Jesus foretold many signs that would shake peoples and nations. The signs which God uses are meant to point us to a higher spiritual truth and reality of his kingdom which does not perish or fade away, but endures for all eternity. God works through many events and signs to purify and renew us in hope and to help us set our hearts more firmly on him and him alone.

First signs of the end times 
To the great consternation of the Jews, Jesus prophesied the destruction of their great temple at Jerusalem. The Jewish people took great pride in their temple, a marvel of the ancient world. The foretelling of this destruction was a dire warning of spiritual judgment in itself. They asked Jesus for a sign that would indicate when this disastrous event would occur. Jesus admonished them to not look for signs that would indicate the exact timing of impending destruction, but rather to pray for God's intervention of grace and mercy.

Jesus said there would be many signs of impending conflicts and disasters - such as wars, famines, diseases, tidal waves, and earthquakes - which would precede the struggles of the last days when God's anointed King would return to usher in the full reign of God over the earth. In that day when the Lord returns there will be a final judgement of the living and the dead when the secrets of every heart will be brought to light (Luke 12:2-3; Romans 2:16).

Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem
Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem was a two-edged sword, because it pointed not only to God's judgment, but also to his saving action and mercy. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem's temple was determined (it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D.), there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus said: "I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved" (John 10:9). Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about true freedom, peace, and victory over the powers of sin, evil, and death - not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all - both Jew and Gentile alike – who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ?

We need to recognize the signs of God's judgment, mercy, and grace to save us
Sometimes we don't recognize the moral crisis and spiritual conflict of the age in which we live, until something "shakes us up" to the reality of this present condition. God reminds us that a future judgment and outcome awaits every individual who has lived on this earth. The reward for doing what is right and pleasing to God and the penalty for sinful rebellion and rejection of God are not always experienced in this present life - but they are sure to come in the day of final judgment.

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God's invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be your only chance before that final day comes.

Satan destroys and kills - God restores and gives life 
The real enemy of the Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - is Satan (also called Lucifer), the powerful leader of the fallen angels who rebelled against God and who were cast out of heaven. Satan opposes God and all who follow his rule of peace and righteousness (moral goodness) on the earth. Jesus calls Satan a "murderer" who turns brother against brother and the "father of lies" who twists the truth and speaks falsehood (John 8:44). Satan not only opposes God's rule, he seeks to destroy all who would obey God. Satan will use any means possible to turn people away from God. He tempts people through envy, deception, hatred, and fear to provoke hostility towards those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is Jesus' response to hostility and persecution? Love, forbearance, and forgiveness. Only love - the love which is rooted in God's great compassion and faithfulness - can overcome prejudice, hatred, and envy. God's love purifies our heart and mind of all that would divide and tear people apart. Knowing God as our compassionate Father and loving God's word of truth and righteousness (moral goodness) is essential for overcoming evil. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear those who would oppose us or treat us harshly for following the Lord Jesus. He promises to give us supernatural strength, wisdom, and courage as we take a stand for our faith and witness to the truth and love of Christ.

The Gospel is good news for the whole world because it is God's eternal word of truth, love, pardon, and salvation (being set free from sin and evil) through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus has won the victory for us through his atoning death on the cross for our sins and his rising from the grave - his resurrection power that brings abundant life and restoration for us. That is why the Gospel has power to set people free from sin, fear and death, and bring peace, pardon, and new life.

Endurance never gives up hope in God
Jesus tells his disciples that if they endure to the end they will gain their lives - they will inherit abundant life and lasting happiness with God. Endurance is an essential strength which God gives to those who put their trust in him. Endurance is the patience which never gives up hope, never yields to despair or hatred. Patience is long-suffering because it looks beyond the present difficulties and trials and sees the reward which comes to those who persevere with hope and trust in God. That is why godly endurance is more than human effort. It is first and foremost a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to bear up under any trial or temptation.

Endurance is linked with godly hope - the supernatural assurance that we will see God face to face and inherit all the promises he has made. Jesus is our supreme model and pioneer who endured the cross for our sake (Hebrews 12:2). "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus willingly shed his blood for us - to win for us pardon and peace with God. Our joy and privilege is to take up our cross each day to follow the Lord Jesus.

True martyrs live and die as witnesses of Christ and the Gospel of peace
The word "martyr" in the New Testament Greek means "witness". The Book of Revelation says that "Jesus was the faithful witness ...who freed us from our sins by his blood" (Revelation 1:5). Tertullian, a second century lawyer who converted when he saw Christians singing as they went out to die by the hands of their persecutors, exclaimed: "The blood of the martyrs is seed." Their blood is the seed of new Christians, the seed of the church.

The third century bishop, Cyprian said: "When persecution comes, God's soldiers are put to the test, and heaven is open to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army to think of peace and to decline battle, for we see that the Lord has taken first place in the conflict." True martyrs live and die as witnesses of the Gospel. They overcome their enemies through persevering hope and courage, undying love and forbearance, kindness, goodness, and compassion.

God may call some of us to be martyrs who shed their blood for bearing witness to Jesus Christ. But for most of us, our call is to be 'dry' martyrs who bear testimony to the joy and power of the Gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus.

We do not need to fear our adversaries
What will attract others to the truth and power of the Gospel? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. God will give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you ready to lay down your life for Christ and to bear witness to the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

Lord Jesus Christ, by your atoning death on the cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joyful hope, courage, and boldness to witness the truth of your love for sinners and your victory over the powers of sin, Satan, and death.

source: From the desk of Don Schwager, 
hosted by Kairos Europe and the Middle East

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