“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.” Proverbs 2:10-12 NLT
I’ve seen something interesting in life: the demon possessed call the righteous demon possessed. Dark minds claim to spread light. The truly racist calls other people racists. The bully plays the role of the victim, and calls others bullies. The true terrorist calls others terrorists. The criminal calls others criminals, etcetera.
I’ve also seen this: If you spread a lie enough times people will believe it. And It is very hard for people to believe in the truth. They willingly follow liars like herds of cattle to the slaughter. They let others (and machines) think for them. It’s so much easier that way. No wonder people fall into so much trouble. The whole world lacks Prudence.
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 NIV
God says the whole world is under Satan’s power. Thus it lacks prudence. Since we know this what should we expect? The world to be wise? The world to be caring, and love us? Of course not:
“And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”
We’re not stupid enough to believe the world loves Jesus followers. That’s why I think there’s a special sting sometimes when a false believer comes in our midst and stabs us in the back. Once it’s been revealed who they really are, and we do the right thing (which is to get rid of them), (Romans 16:17) the Devil whispers in our ears that we were suckers for loving them in the first place. And that is simply not the truth. Love is our mandate:
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
When we follow Jesus’ command to love and others decide to take advantage of us, we’re not stupid, they are. They probably just lost the best friend they will ever have. We must press on in spite of how people treat us:
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 GNT
Don’t let anyone Rob you of your beautiful clothe:
“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time-to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:9 NLT
What generosity! Before the beginning of time God had wonderful plans for us. He saved and called us to a holy life in Him. Not because of anything we did to deserve this, but because He is so gracious. How awesome it will be when we see our Father face to face in heaven. We will be looking directly at Love. (1 John 4:8)
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NLT
God knew all of His sons and daughters before He formed them in their mother’s womb. And he set them all apart for special work to do in His service:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
See? We were all created by God in Jesus Christ to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (before the beginning of time).
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:4-5, 11 NIV
Do you see how special we are to Almighty God and Jesus? And just how generous They are? They didn’t have to do any of this. They foreordained us because They Love us.
“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God-who does not lie-promised them before the world began.” Titus 1:2 NLT
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 NIV
The scripture above is true. A few good friends and relatives do exist. But we are living in a time when a person’s closest family members will turn on him/her. A time when people have no natural affection for one another. Jesus said it would be like this:
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22 NIV
How great it is to have a true friend! How awesome it is to have good relations with one’s relatives. But if you don’t have these it doesn’t mean that you are cursed. It could mean the very opposite (you are blessed). In fact some of the most blessed people in the world and who ever lived have had family and friends turn on them. Today this is the norm:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12 NIV
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. THEY WILL BE UNLOVING and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. THEY WILL BETRAY THEIR FRIENDS, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
This description fits people quite well, wouldn’t you agree? It proves we are living in the last days. So many are lost. If you love God they are going to attack you. The demons living inside of them will see to it. But don’t fret. God explains to us what it all means and how to handle it.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16 NIV
Remember, God’s word says that a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17) Jesus is definitely that kind of friend and brother to us. He loves us so much that he willingly took torture and death to save us. Now that we are being persecuted for Him, what kind of friends will we be to Jesus? Will we quit on Him because things get tough? Are we truly His friend?
How we handle trials is a test of our friendship with God, and it shows who we really are. Hopefully when it’s all said and done we won’t be hypocrites. Hopefully we won’t be those who wanted true friends but were unwilling to give true companionship to God. Hopefully we’re not the type that quits on God or any of our friends or relatives when the going gets tough. May we be the kind of friend who loves at all times, a brother who is there to help bear adversities.
“The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:27-42 NIV
No matter how much persecution the church goes through; whippings, torture, being fed to lions in the Roman coliseum, beheadings, exile, etcetera, it keeps on growing. Why is that? Gamaliel provides the answer in the passage above: “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:39 NIV)
When a thing is from God nothing and no one can stop it. No amount of fear tactics or bullying can bring it to a halt. Believers in Jesus Christ have been and still are being persecuted and killed around the world. And they just won’t quit. Gamaliel told us why: “It is from God.”
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “ ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?’ “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” Acts 7:48-8:1-8 NIV
Here we see Stephen our brother being harassed and murdered for his faith. And great persecution breaks out against believers that same day. Saul (a Pharisee) sets out to destroy the church. He goes from house to house dragging believers off to prison, breaking up families, and scattering them from their homes. Yes, many of our brothers and sisters became homeless fleeing persecution. But they preached the good news about Jesus wherever they went. As a result many more people became believers. How could this be? Why didn’t the persecution make them stop? Because their work is from God and not of human origin. The day is coming when our message will come to an end. Until then lets stay busy.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV