PERSECUTION COMES WITH THE TERRITORY

What an entire generation of Christians do not understand is that refusing to align your language, choices, and actions with scripture is a blatant denial of Christ Jesus. Attacks on the doctrine of scripture are attacks on the Kingdom of God. Likewise, if we deny His word, we also deny Him. We cannot claim Jesus as our own and also continue to endorse the world’s philosophies. As the years continue to pile up in our postmodern society, so do the excuses Christians make about why they are willing to deny Jesus and His doctrine.

We would all do well to meditate on Jesus’ warning in Luke 9:62. He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Here, Jesus is reminding us all not to “look back” at the worldly life we left behind. In doing so, we err like Lot’s wife did in Sodom – not trusting God’s provision. When we take our eyes off the prize and look back at the world we left behind, we declare ourselves unfit for the kingdom of God.

Christians, a day is coming when you will be forced to make this very decision: plow forward or look back.

But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

God’s word warns us of many last days false prophets and teachers and apostasy in the church, all evident now and proof we are living in the last days. Prepare your heart now, you will be tempted to deny your Lord and Saviour. You need to consider the cost of following Christ but also the cost if you turn your back on Him. Your eternal destiny is at stake. We need to be prepared to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Remember, that it is “He who endures to the end that shall be saved” Matthew 24:13

Let us meditate on the apostle’s words. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.Philippians 3:8-10

While our current persecution might be light, in comparison to what other brothers and sisters are experiencing in the world, it is still persecution. The doctrine and truth of God’s Word is being put to shame in our culture. It is time for you to decide if you will heed the call. Will you follow Christ or is the cost too much for you to bear? Far too long has the church been idle, ignoring this question. Will you take the yoke and plow the field for the Kingdom of God? Yes, there will be a cost for following Christ. But in such work, you will find joys and wonders of which you never dreamed. Pray that when you are forced to decide between plowing forward or looking back, you will choose the yoke of Christ. Pray that you will be a faithful slave of Christ. It is time for Christians to start owning that title.

Much of this post is taken from the article entitled Doubling-Down on Christian Persecution: The Cost of Following Jesus  JANUARY 19, 2021 by Jack Lee http://www.patheos .com

TOUGH SCRIPTURES ON TRIBULATION AND PERSECUTION BUT

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles Matthew 10:16-18

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.Matthew 13:20-21, Mark 4:16-17

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.Acts 14:22

For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.1 Thessalonians 3:4-5

Here is the BUT

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:35-39

Peter explained how Christians should respond when they suffer because of their beliefs. Called the “apostle of hope,” Peter’s primary message is to trust the Lord, live obediently no matter what your circumstances, and keep your hope fixed on God’s ultimate promise of deliverance. Suffering is to be expected, but it is temporary and yields great blessings for those who remain steadfast. Peter probably wrote 1 & 2 Peter in the mid-60s A.D.

God ordains, or appoints genuine believers to suffer, with the explicit purpose of bringing us to final glorification. It tests our faith, removes the impurities thereof, and produces perseverance in us so that we might behold Him face to face and enter the Kingdom of God. Naturally then, it must be restated that those who do not endure cannot obtain the crown of life. Suffering then not only waves a banner for us to see Christ more clearly and behold Him in faith, it separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 13:20-21).

Remember what Jesus suffered for your salvation and that He made it possible for the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be your Comforter, Counsellor and Teacher. He will uphold you through all trials and tribulations.

GOD’S KINGDOM WILL COME

Christianity initially grew because of the suffering service of its adherents. It had no political power for several centuries yet it continued to gain followers. However, once it hitched its wagon to the Constantine cart it went off the rails because power found in weakness doesn’t gel well with a government that wants to flex its muscle. 

We need to be very careful when we try to use worldly power to promote a Gospel that is inherently about power in weakness. When we take Christianity into the halls of power we are in essence asking Jesus to leave His embarrassing life of suffering service behind and become the poster boy for a political cause. God has always worked through that which the world considered foolishness, yet we seem intent on making Him worldly- wise. We need to take Paul’s exhortation in the second chapter of Philippians seriously because it constitutes the rule of law for the Kingdom of God.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2: 5-8)

We cannot forget that we are citizens of another Kingdom where we render unto God what is God’s and obey God rather than men. We have been saved by a God who did not wield a hammer but yielded to the nails. Maybe we can let more of God’s Kingdom peek through if we practice a bit more yielding and a bit less wielding.

THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF JESUS

The coming Millennial reign of Jesus on this earth is when we will see His Kingdom truly come to earth. Biblical prophecy reveals Jesus will reign with the resurrected saints from a restored Jerusalem, with a rod of iron, for one thousand years. God has unfinished business with Israel, the nation He established to be an example to the other nations of His Kingdom on earth. It is a transitional period before the second resurrection of unbelievers followed by the White Throne Judgement and finally a new heaven and a new earth when Jesus hands authority back to our Heavenly Father. We are told that during Jesus thousand-year reign Satan is bound unable to deceive those born during this time. Sadly, we are also told that when Satan is released at the end of the thousand years, he is still able to convince thousands if not more to join him in rebellion against Jesus and His Kingdom.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years are ended. After that, he must be released for a little while.
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:1-6

Wickedness of the heart of man

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.Genesis 6:5-6

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-3

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.Jeremiah 7:9-10

HOW TO BE PART OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

God is reviving His church, to restore it back to the church as described in the Book of Acts. This is a must watch video for those interested to know what God is doing at this time in the USA. People selling their homes and going as God leads, to make disciples as God instructed. The barriers of the institutional church are being broken down and true, John 17 unity is being restored. It is exciting to hear the testimonies of these transformed Christians. I hope you will be inspired to get in step with what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do in these last days before Jesus returns.

POWER OF KINDNESS TO CHANGE THE WORLD

With all the problems in the world, it’s good to know there are still Christians showing Jesus’ love with simple acts of kindness.

Steve Strang CEO of CHARISMA in his podcast today, interviews Convoy of Hope president and CEO Hal Donaldson. He shares how his organisation has stepped up during the pandemic to distribute more than 10 million meals to families who lost access to food and school lunch programs.

Steve states that he has known Hal since the early 1980’s, since Hal was a beginning journalist and Steve was working to get Charisma off the ground. Steve says, “It’s been great to see Hal develop as a leader over the years. The pivotal moment of his life came when he was given the opportunity to interview Mother Teresa in India, and she asked him what he was doing to help the poor. Her question shook him to the core, and he rose to the challenge it posed.”

ConvoyOfHope-Truck

Hal experienced poverty firsthand as a teen after his father was killed in a car accident and there was no insurance to take care of the family. He also knows how he was affected by the kindness of a woman in the church who bought him a nice pair of tennis shoes.

It’s an amazing story, and Hal explains it much better so listen to his testimony on today’s podcast , and ask yourself what you are doing to make a difference in someone else’s life. One immediate way is to partner with Convoy of Hope, which you can do at the Convoy of Hope website convoyofhope.org.

DO YOU REALLY KNOW FULLY, WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST?

 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of the One having called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.1 Peter 2:9 

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 

Once you enter in the Light of Christ, where everything has meaning, everything is important, everyone has purpose, then, and only then, can you truly love others and live a life that is pleasing to God.  We become keenly aware of the importance of obedience to God and how we perceive and care for others.  This is not simply a gospel of “being nice” but a deep knowledge that the devil is “playing for keeps.”  We must view people as souls either on the path to destruction or walking the straight and narrow.  We are not permitted to “cross the road” or “look away” when we see someone taking a beating by Satan.  Like the Good Samaritan, we are to GET INVOLVED.

Remember, when Jesus sent out the 70 disciples “to heal the sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” they returned saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Luke 10:9,17

Jesus told them not to rejoice in this fact but rejoice instead that their names are written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20), He nevertheless acknowledged the fact that devils MUST obey them. This is TRUTH! When passionate Christians wake up in the morning, Satan should literally SHAKE IN FEAR. We should be a daily reminder to him that his days are numbered. Sadly, how many of us believe and act out this TRUTH!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, It is time for your army of spiritual warriors to be released.  Let us not be bound up with things of this earth but let us set our sights on Your Heavenly Kingdom. Let us never forget the One who died for us so that we may win the spiritual battle with the enemy of our souls.  Already, we are seeing more of our brothers and sisters in Christ being martyred for their faith and we know from end times prophecies, that in the last days before Jesus returns that will only increase. Help us to be fully cognisant of the sacrifices that will need to be made. Please send the power of Your Holy Spirit afresh this Pentecost to equip us so that we may be courageous warriors in Your service. 

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THE VOICE OF TRUTH WILL NOT BE SILENCED

Be bold and truthful says Pastor Shane Idleman. The world wants to silence preachers of God’s Word. Sadly much of the church has abandoned God’s Word, denying its inerrancy, its inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

Fortunately, Jesus told us in Matthew 24:14 that “the major sign of His coming and the close of the age” will be:

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end will come” Matthew 24:14

The climax of the age will not be brought about by the actions of secular government or military power, nor by the floods of satanic deception and lawlessness. The final decisive activity will be the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom accomplished by the church of Jesus Christ.

Quoting from Derek Prince in “Shaping history through prayer and fasting”

Scripture is very precise about the message that will be preached in the last days. It is to be the gospel of the Kingdom. It sets forth Christ in His kingly victory and power. It will be true and effective witness to all nations.

“Where the word of a king is, there is power.” Ecclesiastes 8:4

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20

The kingdom gospel is supernaturally attested “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit ,,, Hebrews 2:4

The “last days church” will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

God will bring together the various resources that are needed: the human resources of Spirit filled people of all ages but particularly young people, and the material resources of wealth and technology.

 

MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER

At Jesus resurrection, the Scriptures clearly reveal that God, our Heavenly Father, enthroned Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all government and authority, all power and dominion, and any title or sovereignty that can be named.

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesian 1:17-21

The amazing thing is we share this position on the throne with Jesus, “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:4-6

Sadly, most have not received this revelation which the Holy Spirit, through the scriptures, makes available to us, so instead of reigning as kings, we find ourselves still toiling as slaves.

Similarly, God declared to Israel in Exodus 19:6, the purpose for which he redeemed them from Egypt; “And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” “A kingdom of priests” speaks of a dominion restored – kingship in place of slavery. God offered Israel a double privilege: to minister as priests and to reign as kings. For the most part , the nation failed to live up to God’s gracious promises. A few of the OT  saints were the exception such as Daniel.

To those redeemed by faith in Christ, God renews the calling He gave to Israel. In 1 Peter 2:5 Christians are called “an holy priesthood” and our ministry is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” In 1 Peter 2:9 Christians are further called “a royal (or kingly) priesthood. In the book of Revelation the same phrase is applied twice to those redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:5-6 and Rev. 5:9-10).

Such is the double ministry that Jesus now exercises at the Father’s right hand. As King, He rules. As Priest, He intercedes: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25

The “spiritual sacrifices” offered up by us are the various forms of prayer – particularly worship and intercession. As priest we share Jesus ministry of prayer and intercession. If we would rule as kings, we must serve as priests. The practice of our priestly ministry is the key to our exercise of our kingly authority. It is through prayer and intercession that we administer the authority that is ours in the name of Jesus.

In Psalm 110: 1-4 David paints a picture of Christ reigning as king and priest together with His believing people. Verse 2 describes the way in which Christ’s kingly authority is exercised: ” The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion; Rule in the midst of Your enemies”.

This is the situation in the world today. The enemies of Christ have not been finally subdued, they are still actively at work opposing His rule and His Kingdom. However Christ has been exalted and given authority over them all. Thus He rules now “in the midst of His enemies.”

In the world the forces of evil are rampant on every hand rejecting the authority of Christ and opposing the work of His kingdom. But “in the midst” Christians (the church) need to assemble in divine order as kings and priests. Out of our assembly the rod of Christ’s authority, exercised in His name “is sent forth” through our prayers. 

Want to be challenged on role of prayer in the lives of Christians then listen to Jim Cymbala on My House Shall Be Called A House Of Prayer.

REPENT IS THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Extract from National Day of repentance http://www.dayofrepentance.org.

“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17

Repent” was the first word Jesus preached (Matthew 4:17). It’s the key to come into His Kingdom. Thereafter repentance is a gift from God, a privilege and a vital spiritual discipline to purify as “a member of His royal priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:9). The Risen Christ calls each of us daily to be zealous to repent so that we can overcome and sit on His throne as He overcame and sits on His Father’s throne. (Revelation 3:19-21).
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
Image result for picture of Scripture on repentance
Repentance, by His people called by His name, is the final step by which the Living God will hear from heaven, forgive sin and heal a nation.
The need for personal and national repentance has never been more obvious. The Lord’s Hand is needed to resolve extreme problems in every nation.  His strategy needs to be followed: IF His people called by His name humble themselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN He will hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal a land. (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Since 2012 in the United States, April 30th has been proclaimed by a growing number of believers as a “National Day of Repentance”. This day was selected for several reasons:  it was the day George Washington (“so help me God”) was inaugurated in 1789; it was the day set aside by Congress and President Lincoln in 1863 for a “National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer”; it was the day picked by Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield for the same purpose in 1973 to address spiritually the national crisis over Watergate; and it precedes, and thus supports, the National Day of Prayer to be held this year on May 2nd.  Placing repentance before prayer adds to the power of the prayers, as iniquity is removed (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2; James 5:16).
Across denominations and boundaries, believers from other nations such as Australia, New Zealand, India and Malawi will join us on April 30th, interceding for us in their own repentance time and prayers that day.
Pray the currently sleeping Body of Christ, His Bride, will be activated.  When anyone repents, ALL BOATS RISE.  Many will experience the Truth and the JOY that follows repentance. The Lord may relent from the judgements we deserve. Proverbs 10:24 tells us: “the desire of the righteous WILL be granted.”  The repentance remnant will grow.  More preachers of repentance will surface.
A National Day of Repentance at the grassroots level on April 30th may also act as a preemptive step to avoid any division in Israel’s boundaries. The Living God states in Joel 3:2 that He will enter into judgement “on account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.”
May “repentance” be spoken among us more than ever before.  Please pass the word.  Ask your pastor to have a National Day of Repentance Service or organise a Bible Study of believers.  Join many of us, and in other nations, on Tuesday, April 30th, to take time to follow the Lord’s call to refocus on Him.

ISRAEL’S PROPHETIC ROLE IN FULFILLING THE PASSOVER RIGHT BEFORE JESUS RETURNS

Jesus gave us a powerful revelation at his last Passover on planet earth. He said that it would not be fulfilled until He established the Kingdom of God. There is a fascinating prophecy in Jeremiah 23:1-8 that helps us unlock the puzzle. I have included an excerpt from verses 5-8.

“The days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. And this is the name by which he will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, surely the days are coming, says the Lord, when they will no more say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel out of the north country and from all countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:5-8).

Just before and during the return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign on planet earth, the children of Israel and Judah who are scattered across the world will return back to the land. It will be so great that in the kingdom of God we will not discuss the Exodus from Egypt. Instead, we will discuss this final return from captivity.

There are parallels between the Exodus from Egypt and the coming return from captivity. For instance, 10 plagues struck Egypt. The first three hit Egyptians and Israelites alike. The last seven only were poured out on the Egyptians.

In Rev. 18:4-6, an event that happens just before the return of Jesus, the people of God are commanded to leave Babylon and not share in her plagues. This refers to the seven plagues of God’s Wrath found in Revelation 16.

Image result for recent picture of Ethiopian jews returning to Israel

Ethiopian Jews are returning back to the land. The prophecy in Jeremiah specifically mentions a return from the north. Just two years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu called for ‘mass immigration’ of European Jews to Israel. Just last year, a report was released detailing how many Jewish people in France are moving to Israel. We are seeing some Jewish people return now. Many more will return home.

So, when we consider the Passover season, let us remember the Lamb that was slain, but also, let us not forget the Lion that is returning to bring Passover to its full meaning.