Most people want to be optimistic, and many of us are. In the West we have enjoyed unequaled prosperity and freedom. As Christians we have been blessed with the privilege to exercise religious freedom and follow Christ with little or no resistance. In the U.S.A., Christianity has been comfortable.
But what if there is a dramatic shift in the cultural, political, and religious climate? What if our comfortable form of Christianity disappears and Biblical Christians become the intolerated minority? What if following Christ cost your job, your family, or even your life? What if being a Christian becomes costly?
I am an optimist, and have enjoyed the privileges of American Christianity as much as anyone. I do not look forward to the persecutions that could come with such a scenario nor do I relish the possibility of discomfort and inconvenience. I want my descendants to live peaceful lives “in all godliness and integrity.” (1 Timothy 3:2) I want a safe world.
But this is not a safe world. It is fragile at best and dangerous at its worst. There is an uncertainty about this life that should keep us looking to our God and holding fast to Him. We do not want to anticipate a world that not only rejects us but seeks to do us harm. We have an attachment to this life and its enjoyments. All of this is part of being human.
But it is best if we confront ourselves with the possibilities of a hostile world before it becomes a reality and ask ourselves what really matters most. In the world it is often believed that everyone has a price. We must ask ourselves if that is true of us. Are you willing to suffer severely for Christ’s sake? Will you suffer loss for Christ sake? Are you willing to forsake all for Christ?
These were the questions that faced the rich young ruler. He sadly answered them in the negative. They are also the questions that faced the Apostle Paul. Faced with the very real possibility of persecution and even assassination, this was Paul’s resolute response.
But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.
I have no crystal ball nor an inside scoop on what the future holds for us. But it does not take much insight to see how things are trending. Let all of us who bear the name of Christ be realistic, resolute, and ready to face the future with Christ and be faithful until we inherit the eternal blessings He has prepared for those who know and love Him. Hold this world loosely, and hold fast to Christ in all things, for He is our all.
To His glory,
The will of God and how it is determined has more misconceptions than any other aspect of the Christian walk. Because the determination of God’s will is the one aspect that allows us to know how we are to walk in obedience to God, we are comfortable in making this bold statement. When we boil it down: our view of God determines how we understand His will. Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss these misconceptions…
How often have we fretted about the future? How often have we questioned what should be done? How often have we prayed with uncertainty as to the will of God? How often has our faith been weak?
There is much about this life that is uncertain from our perspective. We struggle to reconcile our trust in God with the unfolding nature of God’s plan. We see in a mirror dimly. We often struggle day by day to know and to walk in God’s will, sometimes fearful that we will miss it. We find some comfort in thinking what is to be will be. Then it seems that what should not be comes to pass.
What are we to make of the will of God? Can it be thwarted or limited? Do we live in a time when God has stepped back, removed His hand, and left things to the will of others? A lot of questions to answer….
The starting point is in the nature of God Himself. Men and women are often more comfortable with a manlike god; one who seems more explainable and less out of reach. A high and holy God can be daunting and frankly unbelievable. We are hesitant and even unwilling to give God too much control; too much sovereignty.
But let those of us who claim the name of Christ be careful lest we create God in our own image. The ancient Greeks created a host of such gods who were mere improvements over mortal men but had many of the same weaknesses as mortals. This left their lives uncertain and caused them to take matters into their own hands.
This is not how life should be lived, because this is not the kind of God who rules our lives. Yes, God’s plan is unfolding, but it is sure. The future is unknown to us, but it is not so with our God. Those who know and follow Christ are assured that The Lord is bringing His will to pass in their lives. (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:6) Questions about wrong decisions and wrong paths taken are difficult to be sure, but this we know. “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) It is the nature of Biblical faith to lay hold of God’s Word and trust in what we do not yet see, for “we walk by faith not by sight.” So let us hope, walk, and rest in the will of our God, and “may the world stand back and wonder.”
To God alone be glory.
We have talked a lot of about dating over the last few week, but when we boil it down what is the purpose of dating? Why pursue a biblically committed relationship with the opposite sex? Daniel and Charles discuss this purpose in the final episode in their series on dating…
Scrolling on Facebook I found this quote from Jerry Bridges posted by a friend: “It’s a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold of the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us. It often seems more difficult to trust God than to obey Him… Obeying God is worked out within well-defined boundaries of God’s will. But trusting God is worked out in an arena that has no boundaries.”
My boundaries have been tested the last few weeks. Several issues have caused me to lay hold of the promises of God and cling to them. There was also a picture on this Facebook post of a climbing vine clinging to the side of a brick wall. This is such a beautiful picture of how our life should be in Christ. In the last to weeks, I have literally felt like a vine clinging to a brick wall. Has your soul ever felt assaulted in every part?
I have also learned through these trials that I am not called to live a religion in which I can call the shots. “Though He was a son, yet He learned obedience through the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation into all those who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9) The power to live in the overwhelming events of our lives is not our own. It is the power of Christ crucified on the cross and risen again. He sits at the right hand of God. Believers have just celebrated this awesome power; the power of the resurrection.
Is the proof of the resurrection power of Christ an overwhelming thought for your soul? It certainly is for my soul. This is the driving motivation, by the Holy Spirit, to trust and cling to the Vine; to Christ.
“I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples.” (John 15:5, 8)
Here are some encouraging words from John Newton that I keep on a card in my Bible:
“These Inward Trials“
I ask The Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request,
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling
‘Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?’
‘Tis in this way,’ The Lord replied,
‘I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ
From sin and pride to set you free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in Me.’
The crucifixion of Christ was a travesty of justice; a tragic event of false accusations and inhumane treatment. No one was less deserving of such things and more deserving of worship and obedience. On the first day of the week (our Sunday) after the crucifixion, Christ’s disciples were understandably disappointed, distraught, and dismayed. The One to Whom they had given their lives was gone, and the vision He had planted in their hearts seemed a foolish hope. Huddled in a room, attempting to avoid their own martyrdom, they sought to figure out what to do next. They were an unimpressive lot.
What happened in the early hours of that morning had an immediate impact on their lives. The promises of Jesus seemed a faint and incredible dream: until they saw the empty tomb. Heads spinning with doubt were now captivated by hope. Those hapless men and women were transformed by the resurrection of the Son of God. Seeing the risen Lord was much more than exciting. It was revolutionary.
As weeks past and the promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled, the followers of Christ lived in the reality and power of the resurrection. Resurrection realities became more to them than “Sunday morning” excitement. These realities were the foundation and impetus for the growth of Christ’s church and a new life; life in Christ. For what they found was that the resurrection of Christ was not only something done for them. It happened to them.
They were crucified with Christ and raised to walk in a new life with Him. Water baptism (not an entirely new concept) was given as a vivid act of confession that these things are true and that life is lived by every believer in the reality of them.
These Gospel truths became the foundation of the entire New Testament and are referred to directly in Colossians 3:1ff. The Apostle Paul had no doubts regarding the state of his fellow-believers. We were crucified with Christ. We were raised with Christ. How can our affections not be captivated by the risen Lord? We are men and women “in Christ”. We are new creations. The old has past. The new has come!
I am not particularly fond of the term Easter, since it is a direct transliteration of the pagan word “Ishtar”. We celebrate Resurrection Day every Sunday and, more specifically, once a year in the spring. On this Resurrection Day, may the Spirit of our risen Lord stir our affections anew for things above and display His reality to our fellow-believers and a Christless world. Yes, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
Happy Resurrection Day,
When it comes to adult children who are dating, how do you parent during this dating process? What is your position? There is the necessity of community when it comes to dating but we must also remember that our children – if believers – are capable of discerning the will of God. Charles and Daniel discuss this tension from a biblical perspective…