This Psalm is such an amazing song of relief and hope. It is credited as a psalm of David. Many believe that it is written when David and his men were delivered from Achish the king of Gath in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. In this situation that David found himself in; David was on the run from King Saul. He ran to the Gath. Why he would do this? I am not sure. Gath is where Goliath was from. If you recall when David was still a boy, he killed Goliath from Gath when King Saul confronted the intruding Philistine armies. In this story in 1st Samuel, David had went to the Philistines for a place to hide. When David understood that they Philistines knew who he was he fear they would kill him and his men, so he acted like he was insane. The king wanted nothing to do with him and kicked him out.
Thus David saw this as protection from the Lord, and from this we get this Psalm. But really this Psalm comes from a culmination of a life that has been delivered over and over by the Lord God. God had made David victorious over a lion, a bear, and over the giant Goliath when David was just a youth. Then the Lord brought David into the palace of the king. The Lord protected David through many battles and gave him great fame and glory. When King Saul became jealous of David the Lord protected David from the entrapment of the king. He protected him, and fed him while he evaded Saul. Then here God protected David from his own foolishness and delivered him from his enemies.
David opens this Psalm like so many others. He starts by declaring that he has chosen to praise the Lord, and that he will continue in such a manner. David says that he will continue to boast on the Lord. David is not being quiet. He is proud of God who had delivered him from death. David knows by the past events that God is truly with him. He can have confidence that when he proclaims the name of the Lord, he will not be ashamed for doing it. The Lord is his protector. David calls for others who believe on the Lord to magnify the name of the Lord. This is a calling for others to expand upon the name of the Lord wherever they are, and in whatever situation they find themselves in. David calls others who believe on the Lord to give a loud witness, and glorify God.
Then David testifies on the faithfulness of God towards those that love him. He says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (v.4) What a great thing it is to remember the things the Lord has done for us and to give thanks. So much better is it for us to give open praise to the Lord for his deliverances. David said that he “sought the Lord and he heard me”. That would indicate that the Lord was already listening for David’s cry for help. What an awesome God we love. He loves us so much the when we are in trouble, he is standing by for us to call out to him. He waits to hear us seeking him. The prophet Isaiah said, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6).
What a great reassurance. The Lord tells us in his scripture to seek him while he may be found. He has a sense of urgency. The Lord is expectant of you calling to him in your time of need. Isn’t that awesome? David then tells us that those who call on the name of the Lord; they were lightened and were not ashamed. They were relieved and blessed by the presence of the Lord and were not let down. (v.5) The poor cry and the Lord hears them and saves them out of their troubles. (v.6) David even goes further and tell us that the angel of the Lord makes his camp around, and delivers those who fear the Lord; and he fulfills their needs. (v.7)
Who are those who fear the Lord? Those who listen to instruction (v.11); those who keep their tongue from evil; those who seek peace, and to do good. It is these whose the Lords ears are open to, to hear their cry. (v.16) We are blessed who love the Lord and who seek to do what is right in his eyes. “Evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate” (V.20) The redemption of the soul of the righteous is a promise made by God and fulfilled in the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Since he is God, nothing can separate us from his love. Not failure, death, or even an illness like the Corona Virus. We too can sing out to the Lord without being ashamed. We have no need of fear. The Lord God who has delivered us in the past will deliver us again. We are not alone. He is waiting for you to cry to him. He is waiting for you to seek him. He is waiting to hear you declare your faith in him, that he is faithful, that he is love, that he loves you also. Make your boast in the Lord and call on others to be so proud, not of themselves, but in the Lord who delivers them. Give praise to the Most High! Give praise to the God who heals! Give praise to the God who encamps his angle about you, to keep watch over you, and to deliver you! Give praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.
After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
After these things is referring to the previous chapter where a great war had happened between many powerful kings. In the process Abram’s cousin Lot was taken captive. This spurred Abram to get involved. He rallied an army and went an defeated the evil king and set the captives free. When the King of Sodom and the other kings came to pay tribute to Abram, Abram gave glory to God, and took no rewards from the kings for himself, because it was God who delivered the enemy to Abram.
God now reaffirms Abram. I know, why should Abram have to worry after such a great victory and the adulation of the surrounding kingdoms? Well this undoubtedly would make the surrounding kings a bit cautious of Abram and to possibility that if Abram so decided he might take their kingdoms. After all by this time God promised to Abram, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3) I don’t know about you, but if God told me those things, I would probably tell others about it. That is some pretty exciting news.
No matter is the other kings knew why Abram had journeyed so far away from home, it was easy to see that he was a great leader of men and soldiers. He had a clear head for tactics, he was unafraid, and people from all over the region would now look to him for safety. You can see how a king would want him for an ally or would see him as a possible enemy to their own heads.
So God reassures Abram. “I am thy shield”. God lets Abram know that he is his protector. It is more than just that. The shield for a warrior is the brunt of the battle. It is close at hand. The shield absorbs impact, protects from missiles and other unforeseen dangers. Often a shield was worn on the back and allowed for protection from an attack from the rear, and allowed the warrior to concentrate on what was in front of him.
I think this is very important. God is not telling Abram that there will not be trials, or unforeseen dangers ahead. God is not telling Abram that he is going to do for Abram what Abram is called to do. Instead God is telling him to “Fear not”, because he is there with him in the battle, and he will protect him in his fight. Abram is expected to stand, fight, and have faith in the LORD.
God further encourages Abram when he says that he (the LORD) is Abram’s “exceeding great reward”. Abram can have faith in God to fulfill his promise. Abram can have confidence in God to stand by him, and see him through all of his afflictions. Even more important is the expectation of God towards Abram. Abram is encouraged that he will see the faithfulness of God in his life, and will be greatly rewarded for walking in faith. Walking in faith is something that Abram had done from the first time the LORD called him. If we take a study of Abram’s life, we will see that every success Abram had in his life is when he walked in faith. God was true to this promise to Abram. It is funny, because when most of us study the life of Abram, and the Promises of Abraham, this promise is often overlooked. This one little promise is the picture of faith in action and the expectant results.
Fear not, is what God told Abram. Fear not, I am your protector when harm is upon you. I am your protector when you see the danger, and when you do not see the danger. I am a rewarded of those who love me. Great is that reward for those who have faith in me to keep the promises I have made. I tell you of one thing. If you look at the New Testament and study the history of the saints, that some took ill. Paul had to be nursed back to health, after getting so ill he almost perished. Other saints in the New Testament and in missionary positions throughout history have fallen ill, and some have died after being exposed to diseases as they ministered for Christ.
It distresses my heart to hear those who say, “I thought you had faith…”, as if faith is what is used to keep you well. The faith we have is not to keep ourselves well. If is not even to heal others. Miracles and healing was not why Jesus came here and died, and rose again. It is not the reason we are left here after we have believed on Christ. Jesus came to save that which was lost and to disciple others to know God, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why we are here. You want to be like Christ? Then live for Christ, as Christ lived for his Father in Heaven. Seek those who are lost, share the Gospel of Christ, and disciple others to do the same. Fear not, the LORD is with you. The LORD is your shield. The LORD is your exceeding and great reward. We are not immune to the tragedies of this world, but we are harbingers of the hope in the next. Walk in the faith that the LORD has risen, and HE said that HE will raise us up! We do not fear death, because our lives here are already forfeit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah the Lord gives reassurance to the prophet and reaffirms the Davidic covenant. In this he says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (v.3) and later the Lord states, “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” (v.6). This is such an awesome chapter of hope and reconciliation, and of the healing of the land and the people. We can see the care that God has for his people. He loves and cares, he is a shield and protector to his people. He loves so much that he not only delivers, but he reals and restores.
This is the hope that we have. That Jesus Christ came and died for us to pay the debt of death that we owe. He was buried and took the keys to hell and death. He then rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father. Now he makes intercession for us as our advocate. We who believe in him are no longer tied to this earth, or this body. We have a great hope inside that gives us joy. This hope is in the resurrection of life. Even as Jesus was raised from the dead and received a glorified by, so shall we.
We are no longer trapped here in this existence. We, followers of Christ Jesus, have been given a new life. This new life is one of the spirit. We have been set free from the bonds of the flesh. We know that the few things we posses here in this world are worthless and will eventually rot, and decay. The things we look forward to are everlasting. We now are pilgrims on our way to the promises of God, to be reconciled with him in Jesus Christ. We will soon be glorified, although we do not yet fully understand what that entails, we will understand when we finally see him face to face. This is the gift of God. We have received unmerited favor from God as demonstrated in the grace he bestowed upon us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death has no hold on us, no bind is there to keep us in the grave.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:6-11)
Look to Jesus, as the Lord says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee”. Hope is right here waiting for you to call out! Life is right here waiting for you to seek Him! Love is right here waiting for you to open your heart! Peace is right here waiting for you to rest within. There is no fear in Love. You do not need to fear the Lord. He has demonstrated his love towards us.
In Pasadena Texas there used to be a huge Baptist Church on Vista Blvd. This is the church that I made my public confession of faith in. The attendance there was probably close to 200 on a Sunday morning, and at least half of that on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services. Later I moved to the state of Washington and attended a Baptist church in Roy. This little country church was packed every service, and even had a radio tower that they used to broadcast their services our over the radio station. A few year later I moved back to Texas and wound up briefly attending several churches that also had high attendance and great outreaches and ties into the surrounding communities. In between these churches, I attended several other churches, as I tended to move quite a bit. I have also had the opportunity to preach at several different churches of various sizes. In looking back over these churches I could see something that seems insignificant to most, but stands out to me. There was a difference in the churches that were growing and involved in the community and those who were dying, or at least in peaceful slumber. The churches that had a fervent men’s ministry were the ones that were growing.
When we look at what makes a church not only survive, but to thrive in an area, we can look at a lot of different factors. Many studies go into looking at the local demographics of the area. What is the income level? What is the major ethnic population? What is the major health or poverty driven issue? What is the current and projected economic climate? Are jobs on the increase or the decrease? How many children per home? How many single mother homes are in the populace? All of these are good questions, and can help to develop outreach opportunities and meet the needs of the people surrounding the church. However; this information does little to spur the motivation of the church to do anything. We often look at aging churches and try to find ways to get youth programs off the ground. The idea is that without youth in the church, the church will silently die of old age. This is true in more than one way. But what I am speaking of is something more fundamental. We need men in the church to have a heart for, and to be, active in sharing the Gospel of Christ.
I heard a story one time concerning Charles Spurgeon and his boiler room. The story goes that some college students came to see Charles Spurgeon preach. They had arrived early and as they waited, a man from the church offered to give them a tour. The guide took them into one room, referred to as the “heating plant”. In this room were an estimated 700 saints praying. The guide, who turned out to be Charles Spurgeon himself, explained that the secret to his success is not him at all. Mr. Spurgeon explained that the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in answering the prayers of these saints that desire another soul would be saved. The secret to these successful churches was the presence of an active, praying Men’s Ministry.
I want to make something clear. Men’s Ministry is not an event driven service. It is great to have the Men’s Ministry around to do all of the heavy lifting at an events like VBS or at a Kid’s Festival or a Fall Festival, however; that is not the only way the men should be of value in the church ministry. They should be intimately involved in every aspect of the ministry of the local church and their families.
Each of these churches I attended that were growing had an active men’s ministry that prayed before, during, and after every service. They arrived hours ahead of time, and remained as long as needed. They painted, moved furniture, worked the plumbing, cut the grass and did many other things. In fact, in the church in Roy, Washington we all met one Saturday morning and worked all day spreading truckloads of rocks around to make a new parking lot and did other landscaping items. We were there from before the sun came up, until the sun went down. The ladies brought us food and water as we worked. In all of these churched, men were subject to the Spirit of God and had a desire to see one more soul saved. Men are the leaders in the church. When I was in the Army, I learned that Leaders lead by example, and from the front, not the rear. A leader does not sit in an office and dictate to others what needs to be done. A leader teaches, demonstrates, and then supervises what needs to be accomplished. A leader takes personal responsibility in the accomplishment of the mission. This is what an effective Men’s Ministry does.
These men, of the Men’s Ministry, lead by active service. John 13:12-15 says, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” This shows us how important this principle of leadership in the church is to Christ. He himself made a point to ensure the disciples understood that in order to be a leader in the kingdom they must lead in service of the kingdom. We forget that Jesus actively disciple all of these men. I know what you’re saying, “Of course he did, that’s why we call them ’the disciples’”. However, when we get a young man in the church we do not grow them into elders. Instead we just hope that they will eventually figure it out, stay long enough, or the Lord will instruct them himself. We forget that we, as men have been given a ministry towards other men. Men need to be disciple in the church. Men need to be held to a standard and accountability. These effective Men’s Ministries that I witness did not wait for some young or new male church member to approach them. These men actively recruited all men in attendance at the church. To be honest, most did not even care if you were a member of the church, they just wanted to get you active in spiritual growth.
I showed up at one of these churches early one morning. While waiting for the rest of my family to arrive, an elder from the church came up and asked me my name. I told him, and he smiled and said, “Well, Mr. Harvey, you’re just in time for the prayer meeting.” Then he conducted me to an upstairs room where 12 other men were already praying. The Pastor ducked his head in right before the door closed and told them some names to add to the list and disappeared. Just like that I was in the Men’s Ministry. I joined the church that service. That was all it took.
Men’s ministry assists the church, as the men in the church are disciple to mature faith and understanding of the scriptures, their roles in the family, local church, the Kingdom of God, and community. The Men’s Ministry is the place where this close discipleship can occur through fellowship, study, accountability, counsel. Most of all the Men’s Ministry servers through men fervently praying for their families, the church, community, and one another in the unity of group prayer meetings. There is nothing the devil can defeat a church with that has a group of righteous men praying in earnest for the spreading of the gospel.
Men, the apostle James tell us in his epistle that we should confess our sins to one another. We should also pray for one another. Then James tell us that the powerful passionate prayer of a righteous man is very advantageous to the plea being made. (James 5:16) Wow! Now imagine how powerful a whole group of such men praying together in agreement before the Almighty God would be, especially with the Spirit of God praying right along beside them, in perfect communion with the God, the Creator of the universe. Prayer then is the foundation of the men’s ministry. However, it also includes mentorship in Christ. Group study of the Word, and proper fellowship.
Fellowship in scripture is not just having coffee before services, or having a lunch after Sunday morning services. I includes, but is not limited to Men’s Breakfasts, prayer groups, and bible studies. The word for fellowship in the Greek has a deeper meaning. It means to share on one’s self. This means that we should be living in fellowship. We should be involved in one another’s lives. We should be giving towards one another. We should be living with one another on a daily basis. Giving time, money, food, encouragement, advice, and emotional and spiritual support to one another. This is what happened in the early church, they gave sacrificially to one another, even to other churches. Another thing to consider is spiritual leadership.
The man is to be a spiritual leader in the church and in the home. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong”. This means that we should be like men of wisdom who have understanding. We should act like mature men, not like children. We should be strong in doctrine, not carried away by every spirit. We should search the scriptures to test what we have been told and what we interpret concerning scripture. We should be proficient and able to identify truth from error. We, men, should be able to instruct others on the meaning of the scriptures. We should have the backbone to stand up for what is good and right before God. In this age of effeminized men we need men who can show themselves as men. Men who set the example of righteousness, no matter what the cost. Men who lead. If a woman goes to church, she will undoubtable drag her children with her. The husband may not go. She has no authority to make him. The children, especially the boys will have a divided desire.
The boys will develop a resentment with one parent or the other, and the church. This is because, boys want to be like their fathers. The hidden message in their heart will be on of, “If dad doesn’t have to go, why should I?” In all honesty, that is a very good question. If the father does not put any emphasis on church attendance then their children will fail to realize the importance of the church, Sunday school, or even Christ himself. However; if the father goes to church then everyone goes to church. He has that authority. The wife who wishes to please her husband will go. The children who see that both parents are in attendance will desire to go, because the importance of the church is recognized by both parents. More so if the father is actively involved in the church. Then the children see that a relationship with Christ is of most importance. The child who understands the importance of a relationship with Christ will tell their friends, and invite them to church to meet Christ. A family who worships Christ together, grows in love towards one another, the church, and in Christ Jesus.
The Church does not need to change its culture to make themselves more attractive to society. To much of that nonsense has already happened. We don’t need men that are effeminate, unsure of scripture, afraid to confront evil, or not daring enough to step on a few toes for Christ. What the church needs is a culture where men are righteous, caring, and active in their families, the church and community. Men that are bold in their profession of faith. Men that stand up for what is right. Men who confront evil no matter what the personal cost. Men who would rather step on a toe or two in love, rather than see someone waist their life and die and go to hell.
When God made mankind, he first made a male and put him to have dominion over all of his creation. When Jesus selected his apostles, out of thousands of men, women, and children; he chose men. When the disciples gathered together to replace Judas Iscariot, out of over a hundred men and women gathered together, the Holy Spirit chose a man. When the first deacons for the church were chosen, the Holy Spirit of God chose men. The first recorded martyr was also a man. The Holy Spirit moves through righteous men. I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not use women also, however; there seems to be no shortage of active women in the church today. That being said, this is why scripture encourages men saying, “if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1 Timothy 3:1) You see the Lord wants men to desire to be of service. He says that it is a good thing to have a desire to be of service; teaching, preaching, caring for the flock. Then he gives some criteria.
I know what you are most likely thinking. This is the criteria that he gives for pastors and deacons, however; shouldn’t all Christian men strive for these? He says that a man of God should be blameless. There should be no cause for accusation in his life. He should have a clean witness both in and out of the church. He should be the husband of one wife. This man should have no eyes for any other woman than his wife. He should have no mistresses, or practice polygamy. He should be vigilant. This means he should be aware of his surroundings. Attentive to the needs of others. Aware of the dangers of the enemy about him. He should be sober. He should be of a good nature and not into mischief. He is temperate, not into brawling, or striking others. He does not boast or throw his weight around trying to impress himself. The list goes on, and then includes some very specific things for the bishop. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9)
These are the things that we should be shepherding and disciplining young men in the way. This is the culture that we should seek to have in the men of our churches. Real men who stand up for God and that do not let anything stop them from seeking the will of the Lord. Men like this who pray together have a great effect on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a church. In Ezekiel 34 we can read that there are dire consequences for Israel because the shepherds of Israel failed their duties. Israel became scattered having no leadership. The people became the victims of wolves and beasts of prey. They were weak and sickly. This sounds like some churches you may know, does it not?
Something else to be aware of in Ezekiel 34:1-10, the Lord says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock”. Now let us move to Revelation chapter 3. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-17) Remember the Lord is talking to the members of the church. He says that they have become self-sufficient and think that they have everything and that they have lost their zeal. They are not doing the things of the Lord. Because of this they are worthless to him, and he will spew them out. Ever wonder if a church closed because God wished them to close? They had become slipshod and non-responsive to the Spirit and the Lord simply pulled their charter.
Men of God you must understand that you are important to the ministry of your local Church. In fact, you are an invaluable asset to your church. Your skills and craftsmanship are a great asset to the church, but your leadership and compassion for others has a far more reaching effect. You have knowledge and understanding that some young man needs to tap into to see the working of Christ in his life. We need men of God engaged in the fight for what is good, and right, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8) These are the things that we should be doing. We should learn to do well, seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, and protect the orphans and widows. (Isaiah 1:17) This is the work that God has for men.
When you speak with people about the Book of the Revelation they almost always have a dark, mystic view. They see the events described in the text as worrisome events that haunt their minds and cause dread and fear to lurk in their hearts. Revelation however is meant as an encouragement to the believer.
How many times have we sat and asked the Lord. “Why do the bad guys always seem to win?”, or “Do you even care what is going on down here?” Even David wrote. “Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.” (Psalm 94:3-7)
Revelation is an answer to these questions, you see God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7). The Lord has had a plan of redemption from the very beginning of time. You see when man fell, God was not surprised by the Adam’s choice to rebel against him. He instituted his plan of salvation (Genesis 3:15). Revelation is God’s message of love to those who have been faithful. Those who have suffered for Christ. Those who have been obedient. In fact throughout Revelation you find seven blessings that are given to the faithful. They are referred to as the Seven Beatitudes of Revelation.
The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation
Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Revelation 14:13 – And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Revelation 16:15 – Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Revelation 19:9 – And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Revelation 20:6 – Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Revelation 22:7 – Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates in to the city.
You see my fellow believer you have nothing to fear in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the Lord revealing the end game. He is giving this as a means of encouragement to the persecuted. Yes there are warnings to the unfaithful, and to the enemies of Christ. However, to the believer there are strong words of encouragement. We get to see how the Lord, does in fact, have a plan to conquer the enemy. So then read Revelation with joy and thanksgiving in your hearts!
The Christian Post reported on a study that was released by Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity; which said,that over 900,000 Christians were Martyred for their faith in the last 10 years. This plays out to an average of one Christian being martyred every 4-6 minutes. In America we would like to think that the martyrdom of the saints is a thing of ancient past.
We have books in our bookshelf that give descriptions of the early church and other time periods where Christians were martyred, sometimes by other christian sects. We pull the book down and haphazardly read an account and say, wow, I would have stood up just like that Christian. We then pat ourselves on the back, because we are such a good christian and then put the book back on the shelf, and sit into our lazy chair to watch some comedian on TV made fun of Christians or God. In truth, persecution of Christians world wide is higher than it has ever been.
In the 20th and 21st Centuries, more Christians were martyred than any other time in history. That means that more Christians have died, for their faith, in the last 118 years than in the preceding 19 Centuries. The numbers are growing, while we sit and grow fat. We bury our heads in the sand and tell ourselves it does not concern us. Yet this relentless murder of Christians is pandemic of the entire world, including in America, where violent and legal attacks are carried out on a routine basis against Christians. NE News Now reported that across the globe there are more than 200 million Christians that are threatened because of their faith. This is a consensus revealed in 105 of the 190 nations in the world.
All of this goes on while,in American church, we have watered down gospel. A gospel that actually is not the gospel is preached instead. We have become a nation of Christians who have ears that itch to have pleasing self-centered, even devilish doctrines entreated to us. World know preachers of mega churches go on interview after interview and openly proclaim that they do not teach the gospel, because there is no money in it. Instead, the church in America had been inundated with a “name it and claim it” gospel. Sin and consequences are not discussed in the pulpit. American churches have desecrated themselves before God and man, and no longer stand for the truth. Instead of confronting sexual immortality, and infant murder, they welcome it into their churches and in some- even ordain that which should be expelled.
Self-help and the way to financial happiness have become the mantra of the mainstream American church. We are so absorbed and praying for that new house, or new car, or other ways of pleasing our own covetous desires that we have left God out or our churches, schools, business, legislation, families, and our own hearts. We no longer care to reach the lost, instead we try not to offend them and try to act like them, to show how accepting we are. We have lost the love that gives us the need to be objective and warn the lost that they will die in their sin without accepting the truth of Jesus. We have become the ones that the Lord said, “In that day, I will say, depart from me for I never knew you.”
You know how I know this? Take a look at John 15:18-27. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Here Jesus says that the world will hate you. We can expect this because it hates Jesus. A young Pakistani Christian invited some friends and family to his home after he was converted from Islam to Christianity. He showed them the Jesus movie. They told him that if he didn’t stop showing that movie he would be killed. He continued his mission, and invited another small group to his home and showed them the Jesus movie. Two nights later, a group of men stole into his home and cut him to pieces. Stabbing this young Christian to death because of his love for Jesus.
Jesus said that if you were of the world the would would love it’s own. But because you are of the Kingdom of Heaven, the world doesn’t know you. Because they do not know you, they hate you. You are reminder to them of sin that they are guilty of. You are a reminder that there is a just and righteous God who will judge sin, and who will destroy all who live in sin. They hate you because you have spoken to them and revealed sin. This is the same reason they hated Jesus.
But Jesus said that he has sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit. Who indwells all who believe. The Spirit of God in Christ is who gives us the ability and courage to speak the truth. We, who believe, are not concerned with these worldly issues. Who cares who said what? Who cares about that new car, or new house? We are not of this world. We are just passing through while on mission. We are missionaries of Jesus, each one of us. We are here to do exactly what Jesus did, bear witness to the truth. We are here to tell the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are here to expose the lie of the false teachers and false prophets who teach that God will give you a new boat if you just pray hard enough or give enough money to their false religion. We are here to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. People are dying for Christ. However, allot more are dying without Christ. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Maybe we need to stand up, before there are none of us left to bring the message.
The Book of Isaiah has always fascinated me. There is so much to discover in these pages. Isaiah among other things discusses the future tribulation and the millennial kingdom; the salvation of the Servant-Messiah and God’s plan for peace. There has been allot of debate over who authored the Isaiah scrolls and when they were made. The debate is very important because it either validates or lays to naught the prophetic aspects of the book of Isaiah. The prophetic nature of Isaiah is extremely important to Judaism and Christianity alike.
For Christianity the importance of Isaiah can be revealed in
the number of times it is references.
The prophet Isaiah is referred to approximately eighty-five times in the
New Testament. While some of these are repeated references
there are still at least sixty-one passages in Isaiah that are used as a single
Jesus launched his ministry by reading from the school of
Isaiah. This shows the necessity of the
accuracy of the book of Isaiah. Jesus
could not have said that he is fulfilling this scripture if it was not already
accepted as scripture by the Jews of his time. Here is the portrayal recorded
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his
custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to
read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when
he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of
the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the
poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are
bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and
he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that
were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This
day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 10:416-21).
The New Testament the Book of Acts chapter 8 refers to a
Eunuch that was converted to Christianity by the use of the scriptures recorded
in Isaiah and how they related to prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Lord sent Phillip to meet with this man
to teach him from Isaiah all the things concerning Jesus. The man believe and
was subsequently baptized.
How great a find was discovered in 1947 among the Dead Sea
Scrolls. In this archeological find was
located an intact and in “perfect” condition, 2nd Century BC scroll
of the text of Isaiah. It has been
compared to the oldest know text, about 980 AD and is astonishingly
accurate. In fact, scholars have
concluded that it is an exact copy. This lays waist to claims that the
prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Servant-Messiah, the Millennial Kingdom,
and God’s Plan of Peace were added later in time by editors of the text. You see if you believe in divine inspiration
then you must also believe in divine preservation. If God cared enough to inspire the writers of
the Bible then surely he would preserve that message also.
If he preserved it then we can trust what is written. We can trust the prophecies. We can trust the fulfillment of the
prophecy. We can look forward to the
restoration of Israel. We know that
Jerusalem will be the capital of the world because we know the prophecy of our
Lord establishing his kingdom here on earth in Jerusalem for 1000 years. Through the seed of Abraham the whole world, every
nation, all of creation will be blessed.
We know this because the scripture has been preserved by God
We also know this.
That Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53. When it says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and
afflicted. But he was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our
peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
That means that Jesus did actually take
our burdens of sin and he carried our sorrows and despairs to the cross. It also means that we witnessed the
chastisement of God that he took for us.
He was beaten, and mocked, and died for his love of mankind. Jesus took our punishment like a loving older
brother takes the blame for his siblings.
He died for us. We know this
because scripture prophesied this. We
know this because the New Testament recorded it for us. We can trust it because God himself preserved
the witness in the accuracy of the text.
This is the truth that sets you free.
Jesus was sacrificed to pay the debt of sin for you and for me. We are indebted to Jesus for our very lives. By
accepting this truth he promises to give us a life that we cannot
comprehend. He said a more abundant
life! More life than we know of. That is amazing love.