Brothers and sisters, we need to stay strong. The things we see happening today are very trying on the nerves and emotions. The propaganda we’re fed by the news media can make us feel as if all hope is gone. There’s a feeling in the air as if something big is about to happen. All of this puts us on an emotional rollercoaster that affects everything we do. The signs of the times are flashing in big neon lights, and we know the Rapture can happen at any moment. This gives us a feeling of expectation and joy, but it also gives a sense of disappointment that it hasn’t happened yet. It’s good to yearn for the Rapture.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Add to this the concern we have for friends and family who haven’t come to know Jesus yet, and if you have a true heart for God, you’re also concerned for strangers who haven’t heard the Gospel. We do live in trying times. This isn’t the time to be discouraged or to give up. Christ will soon call us Home, and that’s encouraging. Arm yourself with the power of God by studying Scripture and applying it to your life. This will give you strength to face each day.
Christianity is under strong attack. The powers of evil are using weak-minded people to mock God and bring Biblical truth into question. Remember, the persecution and mockery aren’t against you. It’s against Jesus. As we face persecution and are tempted to give up, study the life of Saul and see what can happen when an evildoer meets Jesus. Saul was a very zealous man… a Pharisee among Pharisees. His goal was to arrest or kill everyone who turned from the Jewish life to Christianity. On his way to Damascus with orders to arrest all who had faith in Christ, Saul met Jesus. Jesus had a question for him.
“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4b).
Saul thought he was serving God, but in truth, he was persecuting God by persecuting Christians. Although he was used by Satan, Jesus had great plans for this man who was filled with anger and hate. Saul was blinded by the light he saw, and his companions led him to Damascus and got him lodging. He was blind and took no food or water for three days. The Christians in Damascus knew of Saul’s reputation and had much to fear from him. Then one of them, Ananias, had a vision from the Lord telling him to go to Straight Street and ask for Saul of Tarsus. Ananias wasn’t sure he understood correctly.
“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9:13-14).
Ananias had been persecuted but hadn’t given up. He was strong in his faith, but when the Lord directed him to go and find the man who had done so much evil, he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. He was much like us. Instead of witnessing to anyone who mocks us or causes us harm, we want them punished by God. Armed with the strength of the Lord, Ananias found Saul, laid hands on him, and Saul’s eyes were opened.
What if Ananias had given up in despair because of the persecution? What if he had refused to visit Saul?
God would have used someone else, but it was the privilege of Ananias to be the one to set Saul’s feet on the path of spreading the Gospel. We know Saul better as the Apostle Paul. Every Christian needs to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We also need to be equipped to give answers and mentor new Christians without fear. All of Scripture will strengthen our faith, and studying Biblical prophecy gives answers about the events of today.
“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Peter 3:13-16).
The word “conversation” isn’t just your manner of speech but the way you conduct your life. Live your life for Christ, never give in to fear, and never keep silent when God asks you to speak boldly. If we give up, souls will be lost.
After his conversion, Paul did exactly what he should. He began to serve Christ. Paul conformed his life to Christ instead of trying to make Christ conform to his. He began contending for the faith by preaching the Gospel in spite of all personal hardships, as did all of the Apostles. They all faced imprisonment, and torture, and brutal death. In spite of that, they never gave up. Because of their faith and desire to serve Jesus, God’s truth has been passed down through time to us.
Let me ask you this question, what are you going to do with the treasure of eternal life you possess? Are you going to hide your faith, or are you going to share it?
As Paul shared the Gospel, he established congregations of believers and left capable men to lead those congregations. One such man was Timothy, a young man with deep faith. Paul wrote two letters to encourage Timothy to stand strong and lead the Ephesian believers in the ways of God.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Paul didn’t mean for Timothy to start fistfights for the faith but to contend with all struggles for the Christian faith. So must we. We have many examples in the New Testament of the persecution Peter, John, Paul and the others faced as they shared their faith. Shortly before his death, Paul wrote a final letter to Timothy. In it, Paul was able to look back on his life as a Christian and know that he had contended for the faith and that he had lived for Christ. There was a crown awaiting him.
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
How about you? Can you look back over your life and say you’ve contended for the faith? It’s not too late to start the good fight. All you have to do is surrender your life to Christ and stand firm upon Scripture…and never give up.
Those of us who have been watching prophecy unfold know that the Rapture will happen very soon. From pestilence to threats of wars to false teachers, we’re watching signs of the times unfolding just as Scripture says it will. Politicians are following the Satanic lead to a one-world government, one-world currency, and one-world religion. We can see how short time is, and many Christians who look forward to the Rapture are getting discouraged that it hasn’t happened yet. News headlines can strike fear into the hearts of non-believers as well as believers.
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
That isn’t talking about evolution but speaks of the patience of God. If you’ve accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for your salvation, then whether you die or the Rapture takes you Home, your salvation is secure. On the other hand, there are millions of people in the world who haven’t accepted Jesus Christ for salvation. God loves them and doesn’t want them to spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Think back to the day you finally realized that you were a sinner in need of salvation. What if Jesus had called Christians Home one minute before you placed your faith in Him. Your eternal destiny would be eternal damnation. God doesn’t condemn people, but we all make our own choice to either accept or reject Him. Time is short, and we need to share the Gospel with friends, family, and even strangers. Eternity is at stake. Instead of being discouraged because you think God is slow in bringing this all to an end, rejoice that He is giving us time to witness to the lost and share the Gospel.
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
Live your life to honor Christ, but use words to share the Gospel. Don’t give up. We will be called home very soon, and we need to be about the Father’s business and serve Him daily.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
The people of the world are watching. Believers and non-believers alike can see the world is becoming darker. The end of all things is indeed coming quickly, and Christians need to be a beacon of hope to those around us. Live your life without hypocrisy so people will know you serve Christ.
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:14).
It’s not easy to be mocked and persecuted, but if it comes because Christ shines in your life, rejoice. Glorify God in all you do, and don’t allow the attitude of scoffers to discourage you.
Brothers and sisters, remember we all serve Christ. He gave His life so we can live with Him for eternity. Keep your mind on eternal matters, and don’t allow the problems of today to hinder your walk with the Lord. Study Scripture to gain knowledge and understanding of God’s love. Share that love with others. Encourage fellow Christians, but always be ready to give answers to the lost souls around who will perish without faith in Christ. Keep Christ first in your heart, and don’t give up.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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