THE CROSS OF CHRIST

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.Matthew 16:24-27

Jesus spoke these words before He went to His death on The Cross and in fact the Bible tells us that He spoke about His coming death often “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Matthew 16:21 So often did Jesus speak of His coming death and resurrection that Peter got annoyed. “And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:22-23

These were shocking words for Peter to hear but read what Jesus has to say about the reality of us taking up our cross and following Him: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:34-39

Immediately following these tough words: Jesus spoke of the rewards that await those that serve Him. Note both the prophet and the one who receives the prophet get the same reward.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Matthew 10:40-41

PERSECUTION WILL INTENSIFY

Pro-Abortion Doctor Accuses Lila Rose of ‘Domestic Terrorism’ for Posting Pro-Life Tweet

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Late last week, Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, tweeted: “Abortion is violence.” In response, Torres condemned Rose, accusing her of “domestic terrorism.”

Torres said Rose’s three-word tweet “is objectively false and meant to incite others to commit crimes against clinics, patients, and health care providers.”

Dr. Leah Torres — the OB-GYN who had her medical license suspended in 2020 following a controversy over a since-deleted tweet in which she seemingly bragged about cutting unborn babies’ vocal cords — is now accusing pro-life leader Lila Rose of publishing “violent rhetoric.”

Rose’s tweet is, of course, not intended to “incite” violence. Rather, she was simply posting a tweet with a message foundational to those who oppose abortion, which is that, scientifically, life begins at conception. As such, Rose and other pro-lifers have argued, abortion is violent because it has the intention of ending of viable human life.

Torres’ claims against Rose’s tweet comes on the heels of Twitter’s decision to permanently ban outgoing President Donald Trump from its platform “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” referring to potential future tweets by the Republican leader.

Additionally, as CBN News reported Sunday night, the conservative Twitter alternative, Parler, has been removed from the Apple App Store, Google Play, as well as Amazon’s cloud hosting apparatus, Amazon Web Services, essentially scrubbing the website from the internet altogether. The AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler’s chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff, the Twitter alternative, which prioritizes speech freedom over censorship, hosted content on its site that didn’t adhere to Amazon’s terms of service.

As for Torres, while one tweet isn’t likely to spark action against Rose, it is worth noting one post was all it took to get Abigail Shrier’s book critical of the transgender agenda briefly removed from Target’s shelves.

Most of big tech is led by progressives, and Democrats are just days away from assuming control of every level of the federal government — two realities that have many conservatives concerned about the restriction of free speech and the flow of information.

In just a matter of days, it seems, we’ve found ourselves at the beginning of a very slippery slope that could lead to the censoring and silencing of those who simply hold to differing perspectives, beliefs, and world views. This is “end times” stuff folks.

IN WHOM IS YOUR HOPE PLACED?

Acts 5.40-41,when they (Sadducees) had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”

After being beaten, Peter and the other apostles were rejoicing.

The same spirit in the Apostles is in us. So, we have the power to stay faithful and rejoice, if we acknowledge His presence and ask Him.

1 Peter 4.12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.

Our hope is in the knowledge that Christ has already won the victory over Satan and that He made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to be all we need to be overcomers during the coming tribulation and trials. Also, we know that His glory will be revealed at His second coming and that Biblical prophecy reveals we are in the “last days” prior to the final seven years before Jesus’ return, spoken of first in Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy.

First coming in the clouds to raise the dead Saints and rapture the Saints on the earth
Second coming to earth, after God’s wrath has been poured out on an unrepentant earth with the trumpet and bowl judgements. Jesus returns with the Saints to redeem Israel and rule and reign for 1000 years

END TIMES PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

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

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS BEHEAD IN MOZAMBIQUE REIGN OF TERROR

Islamic extremists have unleashed a reign of terror in northern Mozambique leaving churches burned to the ground, people beheaded, and tens of thousands displaced and traumatized. There have been reports that the militants beheaded 15 people in one week. Earlier in Holy Week, 52 young people who refused to join the Islamic terrorists were killed. Since 2017, more than 1,100 people have been killed in attacks after extremists launched a violent campaign to persecute Christians and recruit young soldiers.

OVER 8,000 MEMBERS OF ONE NIGERIAN CHURCH KILLED

One church in northeast Nigeria has revealed extremist group, Boko Haram, has taken the lives of 8,370 of its members. In a press conference, Reverend Joel Billi, from the Church of the Brethren, stressed the far-reaching and systematic persecution by Boko Haram.  “Over 700,000 members have been displaced, with only seven out of 60 District Church Councils not directly affected,” he said. According to Rev Billi, 300 branches of the church have either been burned or destroyed. As well as countless homes and properties. This has forced at least 25,000 church members into refugee camps in neighbouring Cameroon.

POLICE SHUT HOUSE CHURCHES IN CHINA AND ORDER CHRISTIANS TO STOP BELIEVING IN GOD

House churches across China have experienced intensified persecution in recent months. Bitter Winter, a publication produced by the Centre for Studies on New Religion which covers human rights issues in China, documented numerous instances where Christians were threatened by Chinese Communist Party officials. Recently a group of officials in the city of Leiyang, in the central province of Hunan, raided a house church. The Religious Affairs Bureau in Yongzhou city shut down a house church for “holding illegal gatherings without permits” and confiscated computers, a photocopier, and Bibles. Police in Dengzhou city raided a house church, confiscating its Bibles and hymnbooks, and took 8 members away for interrogation. Officers warned them that they would be sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison if they gather again. “The government wants to eliminate all religions and force us to give up our belief.” Christian churches that refuse to register with the government, known as “house churches,” are illegal. However, even Three-Self churches, those registered with the government, have also experienced an uptick in persecution in recent months. Regardless, according to estimates, there are more Christians in China than Communist Party members.

COVID 19 STOPS CHRISTIANS FROM ESCAPING NORTH KOREA

With borders closed and security increased, COVID-19 has made it harder than ever for North Korean refugees to escape. Between April and June 2019, 320 refugees fled to South Korea. In 2020, the number of those who made it across the border amounted to only 12. According to South Korea, these numbers are the lowest ever.

TAKEN CAPTIVE THROUGH PHILOSOPHY AND EMPTY DECEPTION

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truththe teachings of] Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]” (Colossians 2:8 -9 AMP).

Political correctness is a control issue and a bullying tactic, used by the politically left special interest groups, and their fake news media outlets, to oppose and oppress free speech and religious freedom. They quickly label anyone and everyone who disagrees with their unnatural, crazy worldview, as a bigot, racist, and every other derogatory name they can come up with.  

You know we live in a mad, crazy, politically correct world, when the natural is unnatural and the unnatural is natural; when right is wrong and wrong is right; when normal is abnormal and abnormal is normal. In this world, God does not exist or if acknowledged is powerless and homosexuality, trans genders, same sex marriage are all acceptable lifestyle choices. God’s laws on sexuality and morality are unacceptable.

The further down the political correctness road you go, the further away you get from common sense. God has given each of us a conscience. In our hearts we know what is right and wrong but a rebellious spirit is increasingly evident in society. This should not come as a surprise to Christians that rightly discern the Word of God. Godlessness, lawlessness will abound in the last days before Jesus returns. Moreover, even though Jesus and glorified saints are ruling here on the earth during the Millennium. Scripture tells us they need to do so with a “rod of iron”. People, at least some, will still be rebellious not wanting to submit to God’s laws, God’s commandments. It appears the Millennium is a transitional period, the curse has not been totally lifted off the earth as people still die and people will still need to repent and accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour in order to inherit eternal life. We know Satan is bound for most of the thousand years but he is released at the end and is still able to assemble a great army to come against Jesus. The following Scripture reveals the outcome.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.Revelation 20:7-10

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

The New Heaven and the New Earth

​” Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATES IN LAST DAYS

Over 4,000 people were killed in Islamic extremist attacks in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali in 2019, according to the U.N.’s envoy for West Africa and the Sahel Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Since 2016, extremist groups including the Islamic State West Africa Province and Ansaroul Islam have carried out attacks throughout the Sahel region of West Africa. But attacks increased fivefold in 2019 — deaths rose from 80 in 2016 to 1,800 in 2019.

A Nigerian organisation claims that more than 350 Christians have been killed across the West African country since the start of 2020 and estimates that about 11,500 Christians have been killed since 2015.  “Nigeria has become a killing field of defenceless Christians,” the non-governmental organisation, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, said in a new special report.”

IS and al-Qaeda's JNIM are both active in the Sahel region where they compete for power
IS and al-Qaeda’s JNIM are both active in the Sahel region where they compete for power

Jihadist violence has now spread from the country’s north to the western Boucle du Mouhoun region where rice and maize are produced and transported to other areas, resulting in a food shortages and might cut off food for millions more in the region, according to the Associated Press.

It is feared that the COVID-19 pandemic might exacerbate the situation at a time when 2 million people in the country are already facing food insecurity.

“If production goes down in this area and if movement restrictions due to the coronavirus drive up food prices in the markets, it could push numbers of severely vulnerable people to double or triple,” Julia Wanjiru, communications coordinator for the Sahel and West Africa Club, an intergovernmental economic group, was quoted as saying.

According to the U.N., the number of people displaced in Burkina Faso rose 1,200 percent in 2019. There are about 600,000 internally displaced people in the country as it is becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises. 

Authorities in the Borno state of Nigeria said Wednesday that at least 81 people were killed in an attack on a nomadic community believed to have been carried out by militants aligned with the Islamic extremist groups Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa Province. 

Signs of the End of the Age

Jesus said, “And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Luke 13:7-8

NATIONS RAGE AGAINST GOD AND HIS VALUES

Biblical prophecy is accurate, God has told us how events will unfold prior to His return to rule and reign from Jerusalem.

PSALM 2 gives us an accurate picture of the nations today, the rulers have taken counsel together against God and His people. They have cast away God’s values and commands. We can make up our own rules about sex, marriage and gender.

Look what God says and what He will do. They will face His wrath and Jesus will rule and reign from Zion’s Hill (Jerusalem). Notice what Jesus will do to the nations “break them with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel”.

Fortunately, Christians have been given a detailed picture of the “last days” and know that God is going to first refine His church with tribulation. Sadly, Jesus told us that many church goers will fall away from the true faith and compromise with the world and its values. This is already happening as gay marriage and homosexual pastors are being accepted in some denominational churches.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, you are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.
PSALM 2

PERSECUTION AIDS THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL

Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4

We can see it played out in the death of Stephen. The religious communities’ rejection of Stephen, to the point of stoning him, caused the believers to run for their lives. If not for this rejection, Philip would never have ended up in Samaria. And what happened there? Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.

Image result for picture of Phillip being stoned for preaching the Gospel

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” Acts 8:5-8

A great revival broke out. The more the believers were persecuted, the more they spread out, fulfilling the words of Yeshua to start in Jerusalem, and then go to the ends of the Earth .

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)

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).

And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

Of course, we can see it played out in the Middle East and Africa where the church is under intense persecution by the greatest antichrist spirit of all, Islam. On this website, on a recent post, “Church Grows Under Persecution” I record the story of the rapidly growing church in Iran. Check it out if you haven’t already done so.

May we be like Paul who said:

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11

PASTORS – PREPARE FOR THE COMING TRIBULATION

There are thousands of pastors out there that should be preparing the bride of Christ for the coming tribulation, but instead they are taking the easy road.  Since most American and many Australian Christians have embraced the Pre Tribulation position due to best selling books such as The Left Behind Series it is comforting for them to get confirmation from their pastors that they won’t face the Antichrist nor the great tribulation spoken of in Revelation. And yet Scripture is replete with warnings such as Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  2 Timothy 3:12

Moreover, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27 Luke 21:25-28 clearly teach that the Rapture takes place “immediately after the tribulation of those days

Paul confirms itLet no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one anotherThen many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. Matt. 24: 9-12

It was granted to him (Antichrist) to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. Revelation 13:7

All of the apostles were killed for their faith.  Some early Christian leaders were stoned, others were killed by sword or spear, and some were even reportedly crucified upside down. Later on, the Roman Empire invented even more sadistic ways to kill Christians.  Entire families were fed to lions, and one emperor even lit the roads with the burning bodies of Christians that he had killed. During the Dark Ages, the popes of Roman Catholicism tortured and killed millions that did not submit to their authority.  Great men of God were burned at the stake for “crimes” such as translating the Bible into English and preaching a gospel of salvation by faith. Even today, Christians are being raped, tortured, beheaded and crucified by radical Islamic groups in the Middle East such as ISIS. Once again, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.2 Timothy 3:10-12

Paul to the church at Thessalonica: “and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.” 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4

It is sad to contemplate that many Christians will be faced with horrors that they have never been prepared for.  Perhaps many will deeply question their faith or give in to despair and depression. Even of more concern, some may commit suicide so that they can get the “escape” that they were promised.

Ultimately, it really will come down to whether you will trust God regardless of your circumstances, knowing He is in control and will be with you every step of the way, just as He was with the early martyrs. Be encouraged, read some of their stories in Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs (updated 2006).

In fact, knowing Jesus return is not too far off we should be excited and committed to making sure we are in the centre of His will for the short time we have left on this planet and prior to meeting Him at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb – Revelation 19:7.

 

 

REJOICE AND BE GLAD WHEN PERSECUTION COMES

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.” 1 Pet 4:12–14

Peter does not want Christians to lose hope in the midst of adversity, which is the reason he exhorts them to keep perspective and look ahead and even rejoice of that future day when Christ’s glory is revealed.

Jesus gave the disciples the following warnings about the time of His second coming so we will be prepared for persecution in the “last days”.

“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And many will be offended , will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up to deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:7-13

These are tough words and only those who truly know God, who trust God with all their heart will endure to the end.

We need to be able to say like David: ” You are my strength and shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7

You will be helped by God. He will be with you through the coming times of trouble, persecution. You need to keep an eternal focus. Hence the title of this blog: living eternal now.