It seems to me that while evil is advancing around the world, evangelical Christians are becoming the most discriminated group of people.
And in case we think that the times we live in are the hardest ever, let’s remember Paul’s day when Christians were persecuted in the vilest way imaginable. Torn in half….while still alive. Used as human torches to light Nero’s gardens. Used as bait for wild beasts at the gladiators, while people sat in the stands and cheered like it was a football game.
But we are starting to see wide-spread persecution once again. Oh yes, there has always been persecution: in Communist and Islamic countries. But persecution is certainly on the rise; and what we are facing today for our faith in America is nothing in comparison to what we see in other countries around the world.
Just look at what Pastor Saeed is facing – and will likely continue to face now that we’ve made a deal with Iran that did not include his release and the release of the four other prisoners they are holding.
But believe me, there will come a day – and soon – when we will face stronger and harsher persecution for our faith!
Maybe you’re thinking, “Come on, Rosilind! Don’t be so hysterical! Don’t exaggerate things!”. The Bible tells us that there will come a day when we will have to decide whether will we deny Christ or die for Christ.
When we choose to stand for the Word of God in the face of tolerance and political correctness, when we are put in a position where we must speak truth and silence is not an option, when we are presented with a choice to obey God rather than man, this is merely a test for what is come.
And if we can’t stand for Christ and His Word now, how will we ever stand for Him when our very life is on the line?
All of those brave words came so easy back then when Christians were the majority and the media didn’t dare mock us because too many American’s honored God too much to tolerate their cynicism. But the tables are now turned. Now it is we who must cater to them. It is we who are not tolerated and the question is:
Do our words hold weight?
Did we truly mean what we said when we boldly proclaimed that we would stand for God’s Word no matter the cost? Because the stakes are a little higher now that we could lose friends…..our jobs. Oh yes, some are losing their jobs because of their faith.
And it is hard to watch our country deteriorate so quickly. Over the past six months I’ve watched our country morph into something I no longer even recognize. Evil is winning and righteousness is fading fast. And to some it almost doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
But the Proverbs say:
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:17-18
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked;For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.” Proverbs 24:19-20
Dear friend, this world is not our home!!
We can be encouraged, even when we lose it all: our friends, our reputation, our jobs, our homes…everything!
“For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.” There is a reward waiting that is worth so much more if we will remain faithful to the end!
The Word says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” Proverbs 24:10
We cannot afford to have small faith.
How can we strengthen our faith?
1. Renew Our Mind. How do we renew our mind? With the Word of God. But it takes more than just reading the Word. We have to memorize it. Think on it. Meditate on it.
Christian meditation is not like transcendental or New Age meditation. It doesn’t require you to empty your mind, but rather fill your mind with God’s Word until that Word completely changes you.
2. Refocus Our Emotions. Emotions in and of themselves are not wrong. Jesus showed emotion: joy, sorrow, disappointment. The problem is when they lead us, instead of us leading them, or when we believe what they tell us.
How do we refocus our emotions and lead them?
When they lie to us, we combat them with the truth of God’s Word.
God has left me. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5
This is too hard. I can’t walk this Christian life anymore! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13
I have no luck! What did I ever do to deserve this kind of a life with no hope! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
3. Restore Our Vision. Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the water around him.
Whenever we begin to look at the circumstances around us, at how sinners succeed in life while we follow biblical principles and are suffering for it, we will become envious. We need to restore our vision. We need to turn our gaze upward! Being successful isn’t that important, but rather having eternal life! We can be successful and still go to hell where our success wont matter very much!
It would be better to have achieved nothing in this life, while remaining humble and faithful and go to heaven where we will receive a crown of life from Jesus’ hands and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 24:21)
4. Redirect our Defaults I don’t know about you, but when things go wrong I often default back to my old thought life. “Nothing ever goes my way.” “I really have no luck!” “You idiot, you’re so dumb. You can’t do anything right!”
I am really trying to correct those thoughts, because they are not from God, but from Satan! God doesn’t think I’m am idiot and that I can’t do anything right. I don’t believe in luck and a lot of things have “gone my way”, not because of me but because of God who has opened up amazing and miraculous doors!
But those old thought patterns destroy my faith. When I look at the circumstances around me, I take my eyes of Jesus and open the door for the enemy to lie to me with those old thoughts.
How we we redirect our defaults? By doing steps 1-3.
Dear friend, now is the time to strengthen your faith! When you’re presented with the choice to stand for the Word or back down and save your reputation, that is not the time to decide to strengthen your faith. No, we have to do that now so that when the time comes when we’re persecuted for righteousness’ sake we’re ready to leave everything behind and follow Jesus!