Saturday, August 9, 2014

Live Like That

                As we go through the Book of Acts in our women’s group, I am constantly in awe of the men and women who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel. I see Stephen, stoned to death because he spoke the truth of God’s word. I see Peter and John thrown into prison because they refused to stop sharing the name of Jesus with the world. I see Paul, persecuted, hunted down, and also bound in chains for the sake of the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I read about these men and women who gave their lives for Jesus, who preached the truth no matter what, I wonder about my own life. Am I preaching the truth? Am I willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ?
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                I mean, let’s face it. If you live in the United States of America, there is not a whole lot of persecution. We are free to speak about Christ when we want and however we want. Men and women across the world are being put to death, thrown into prisons and beaten to the point of death because they preach the truth of God’s Word. So, I asked the Lord this morning, where is that in America? Is it because we are the “land of the free and home of the brave”? Or is there another reason? Perhaps we are not being persecuted because we are not living the truth of His Word?
               I guess my point today is to share with you what is on my heart, what has been on my heart for some time. You see, I look at my life and I wonder if this is the life the Lord has called me to live. I have the freedom to go to church on Sunday, listen to music that glorifies Jesus, watch whatever I want to watch and read whatever I want to read. I live in a nation, where my freedom to worship God as I choose is allowed. But, I ask myself, am I living a life that glorifies God? Jesus clearly tells us in His words that if we follow Him we will be persecuted, because they persecuted Him. (John 15:20) Jesus Himself speaks these words. But today, in this nation that I live in, I do not see any persecution.
                So, I ask myself and I asked the Lord, are we truly living for Jesus? Are we not being persecuted because we are not fully and completely following Jesus? Some of you may say that Christians in America are being persecuted. More and more of our rights to proclaim the name of Christ are being taken away. Prayer has been taken out of our schools; we are told we cannot pray in public because it might offend someone, or that we cannot talk about Jesus freely at work because we might upset someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. It is true that more and more of our freedoms and our rights to worship God are being taken away.  But I believe (and this is my opinion only) that the Lord is showing me that there is a time coming for those of us living in the “land of the free” when we are going to be put to the test. Our words, our proclamation that Jesus is Lord and that He has come to give all men salvation and eternal life is going to be tested.
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                I believe (and this is my opinion only) that there is a time coming when those of us in this nation are going to be persecuted, and only those who truly and completely follow Jesus are the ones that are going to remain standing. Today, in America, just about everyone says they go to a church building of some sort. Church has become a social event, a place to take your children for clean and uplifting fellowship. It has become a place where friends gather on Sunday’s and special occasions to fellowship. Modern day church in America has become a country club; the only thing missing is the golf course. That is why I also think there is no persecution in our nation. I mean, we have little battles from time to time, but not a single one of us have been put to death in this nation for proclaiming the gospel. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord all over the world are faced with death every day because they believe in Jesus. Besides that, how many of us would honestly be willing to actually die for Jesus? Seriously, ask yourself, if someone came up to you and put a gun to your head and said, “Renounce Christ or die” what would you do? Would you hesitate and think about the people you would leave behind? I know that most of us would say “Well, I would never renounce Christ.” But if we were truly honest, and open before our God, would that really be our response? Or would we have to think about it first?

                I guess my point today is that, for me, personally, there is a desire in me to live more boldly, to live more courageously, like I see the men and women of Acts living. I don’t want to live a life of safe. I want to live a life that glorifies Jesus Christ, no matter who it may offend, who it may upset, and no matter the consequences. Are we, as Christians is this land of the free willing to live like that?
                There is a song by Sidewalk Prophets called “Live Like That”. This song makes me question and examine my heart before the Lord. ( Every time I hear it, it encourages me to live a life that is completely abandoned to the Lord. What will people say of me when I leave this earth? Will my life have been a reflection of Jesus Christ? When people see me, do they see Jesus? Or am I just pretending? Am I just going through the motions and pretending to follow Jesus? If I was put on trial today for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in my life to convict me? What about you? Are you truly willing to suffer the persecutions, the beatings and the deaths that so many of our brothers and sisters in the Lord are suffering? We say that we are, but are we really?
                I pray that the Lord puts my words to the test. I know that sounds like I am asking for persecution, that I am asking for trials and tribulations, but I am at a point in my walk where I don’t want safe anymore. I don’t want comfortable. I want more of Jesus, and the more I want Him the less people will like me. Jesus said that the world will hate me, because I love Him. (John 17:14) But, unfortunately, I don’t see the world hating that much on the Church in America. I see the Church loving the world more than they love Christ. You may think that I am being hard on the churches in America, and maybe I am. Maybe I am being too hard on them. But when I see brothers and sisters in the Lord being put to death for the name of Jesus Christ, and us here in this nation going about our days in luxury and prosperity, I wonder if we are truly Christians at all.
                I don’t know where you are at while you are reading this. Perhaps you are sitting in your home in one of our 50 states, or perhaps you are one of the brother or sisters in the Lord who is reading this, hoping that no one will see you, scared for your very life if they knew you were a Christian. For us here in America, I think it is time for us, as Christians (if we are truly His) to stand up and start living the life that He has told us to live. I think it is time for us to start preaching the truth, withstanding those who withstand the gospel of Christ, and it is time for us to be willing to die for His name sake, if that is what He asks of us.

                I believe the time of separation has come, the time when the Lord God will separate the wheat from the tares. (Matthew 13)  The time when those who say they are Christians are put to the test. I believe (and this is my opinion only) that time has come for us in this country, the land of the free and the home of the brave, to be put to the test. Are we, His people, ready to die for His name’s sake and the sake of the gospel when it comes to that? It will come to that. Don’t be deceived. The time is coming for you and for me to choose whom we will serve. There may not be a gun pointed to our heads, but the question may still be, “Renounce Christ or die.” Which will you choose?