17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. – Romans 16:17
From the first century church until now, there have been those who use the Gospel for their own benefit. No matter what size the congregation, satan seems to always have one of his minions involved. Whether they are misleading people for financial gain, power or popularity, the reason really doesn’t matter. We must be aware of anyone whose message doesn’t quite align with the scriptures. Even more dangerous are those whose words ring true but their actions do not agree with what they say. These people are usually easy on the eyes and their speech is very eloquent. It is extremely hard for the flesh to resist them. But, as we have learned, following them leads to death. Sometimes spiritual death, other times both spiritual and physical death. We need to pray for discernment so that we will be aware of these deceivers. We are warned over and over in the Bible that these people will abound more and more as the second coming of our Lord and Savior grows ever nearer.12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.— Jude 12-13
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. – 1 Cor. 1:8 NLT
Paul reminds the Corinthians and us of what God has done for and is doing for all of us. Because Jesus died for them and us, we are saved by grace. Not only have we been saved, we have already been given access to heavenly knowledge and speech. All this to confirm the testimony that Christ is alive and lives in us. Just as the Corinthians had access to every spiritual gift they needed, so do we. As they waited and we wait for the return of Jesus, there is nothing we need that is not available to us now. And we can add to all that, the fact that Jesus has the power to keep us blameless until He returns. That is His promise to us and God has never failed to deliver on His promises.
12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.—2 Tim. 1:12 (NIV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” — Luke 1:34
Can you imagine the thoughts that must have gone through Mary’s mind at this announcement? The thoughts of the shame of being unmarried and pregnant? She would be ridiculed and possibly put away by Joseph, her betrothed. What faith it took for Mary to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you have said happen to me”. And, then, Joseph, how could he accept this? Surely, Mary had been unfaithful and gotten herself in this condition. But God!
But God had a plan and a purpose. Can we even imagine what God could do through us, if we had even a hint of the faith that Mary and Joseph displayed in carrying out God’s marvelous plan. How many times has God spoken to us and we have responded with “How can this be?” Will we say “let everything happen to me” to God, even when it doesn’t make sense to us? Do we believe or do we just mouth the words? But God!!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
We are so blessed to live in a country where we can still worship as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be concerned about being persecuted for our beliefs. We try to avoid those situations where witnessing for Jesus might embarrass us much less those where we might be physically abused. But, we are living in an age right now where Christians are being beaten and imprisoned for their loyalty and obedience to Jesus. We need to prepare ourselves for those times even here in our own country. Our Savior and Lord, the prophets, the apostles and all of those that have gone before us suffered very much. We are not better than our Creator, so we should expect to suffer as well. There are over one-hundred scriptures in the Bible that speak about rejoicing in the sufferings. We are to “count it all joy”.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2-4 NKJV
Will it be easy to suffer for Jesus? No, but God does send His angels to strengthen us, just as He did for His Son.
42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.– Luke 22:42, 43 NIV
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”—1 Cor. 1:26-31 (NIV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
What do we have to offer Jesus to purchase our salvation? Wisdom? Our wisdom is foolishness to him. Power? He has power to move heaven and earth. Position? He is the King of Kings and the ruler of the universe. Beauty? He is the bright and morning star. Righteousness? Our righteousness is as filthy rags. The only thing we have to offer is our will and our life. All of it. He deserves more and will accept nothing less. He, alone, is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, redemption and our Lord. As Paul said, our only boast is in Jesus Christ. His blood was the price agreed upon to cover the sin of the whole world, Nothing less would be sufficient and nothing more is needed. Our only boast is to look upon Jesus, agree with Him, and proclaim “It is finished”!
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God..—Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)
***Borrowed from Walter Brennan in “Guns of Will Sonnett” I know, that was way before your time.
7 It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
God is waiting to show you the way.
that shame has covered my face.
8 I have become a stranger to my kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.–Psalm 69:7,8 (NRSV)
This prophecy found in Psalms is repeated in Isaiah 53:3 and fulfilled in John 1:11. Jesus gave up all His glory in heaven and became obedient even unto death on a cross. All of this because of God’s incredible love for us. As humans, we cannot understand or duplicate the depth of that love. But we still have the responsibility of doing our best to show that love to those that Jesus puts in our path each day. We can do this by showing unexpected kindness and benevolence. Most of us are familiar with the quote that says “witness wherever you go and, if necessary, use words”*. “Let your little light shine” is more than a children’s song, it is a message from the heart of God.
*Most attribute this quote to St Francis of Assisi, but there is some disagreement about the author.