A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Falling Away. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Falling Away. Show all posts

June 17, 2024

We Must Guard Our Faith; Don't Let Your Love Grow Cold!

I want to make it very clear that this post is not about any one person, or persons. In fact, if anything, it is a self-indictment from my own experiences and how I had to come to terms with my own lack of faith in my process of maturing in Christ. The questions and issues I discuss are the result of where God has taken me in my journey, and I believe are valuable lessons that Christians desperately need to learn today! Perhaps you have had some of the same thoughts or issues. So, I invite you to do a self-examination and shore up your faith in order to stand for these times we are entering. And I hope you will leave this post with the understanding that we can endure because we are not alone!      

I'm already starting to see it. Hard times are beginning to fall on people; believers and nonbelievers alike. I hear the warnings spoken by the prophets, both the true and false ones ... "We are in the End Times". All the signs are there: wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, famines and earthquakes, and the increase in lawlessness. Throughout history there have been seasons that have met these requirements, but somehow this time it feels heightened because the hate and the death of millions across the globe seems particularly calculated by those who bow down to Evil.

It shouldn't surprise us. The Bible says it will happen. But I believe we are only in what Jesus calls "the birth pangs" stage. And because of that, I'm beginning to see doubt and fear -- and as much as I hate to say it ... unbelief is starting to creep into the Christian community. I'm sure we all know someone who is suffering financially. Our economy is on the verge of collapse; the nations are fleeing from the dollar, which has been the world's primary reserve currency since 1944. The result is soaring inflation, and the American people are struggling to meet the rising costs of everything that sustains our physical lives -- food, electricity, gas prices, and the cost of goods that are the underpinnings of business and our economy. 

And just because you are a Christian, it does not mean that you escape these hardships. Jesus tells us we won't! But it's not only our physical life that is under attack, but our spiritual life, as well. And this is where I am deeply concerned. As Christians, we are repeatedly told throughout Scripture that we must prepare to endure and persevere through extremely perilous times! What part of the following admonition from Jesus do we not acknowledge or believe? At that time there will be a great tribulation [consisting of pressure, distress, and oppression), such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will [again]" (Matthew 24:21).

Is it because Christians don't know their Bible? Or do they believe they don't deserve it, and will therefore be spared? Do they think because we are under the New Covenant and declare themselves Christians and go to Church every Sunday, that they will be raptured out of here before the really bad stuff happens? Perhaps it's all of the above. But Jesus says we, who follow Him, will be hated because He was hated. We are not guaranteed to escape what is coming upon the earth. If we truly identify with Christ, then we are baptized into His death and resurrection, and are a target for the Enemy and all who follow him

But back to where my concern lies ... it's the appearance of the spirits of fear, doubt, unbelief and lack of knowledge [in the Scriptures] that I see rearing their ugly heads that has me praying for renewed faith to sweep the land. I know that Christians are being laid off from their jobs and the death count from Covid continues to rise. I know that dreams for the future are being destroyed, and the younger generations are losing hope, while the older generation is fearful of becoming destitute. 

But this is where the rubber meets the road! This is where the depth of your faith comes into play! You say you have faith -- but do you? Are you just saying it, or is your faith active? Having faith is a verb! Can you still praise Jesus and the Father in the midst of your trials? Or do you quickly ask God why He isn't coming to your rescue? Many will declare to Him that they have been good people and don't deserve what is happening to them. And I totally believe that is true in a lot of cases! And they will get angry at Him for allowing them to lose their comfortable life -- whether it is through the loss of health, wealth, or material goods. And they will expect Him to restore it all to them because they didn't do anything wrong. Again, that may be true! But is that asking God to serve them, instead of asking how they can serve Him? And did they make those things an idol? Do Christians covet the things of this world, rather than seek the imperishable eternal rewards that await us in Heaven?

It deeply saddens me to see the depression and despair that are beginning to attack Christians. And, please don't misunderstand me -- I am not making light of the pain and misery that accompanies the loss many are experiencing. When you have worked so hard to achieve things for yourself and family, only to see corrupt and greedy men steal it out from under you, it is only natural to want to blame someone. But we must remember that it is always God's will to bless us. He doesn't "allow" bad things to happen to us. We have an Enemy who is jealous of our position in the Family of God and is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. If your faith is strong, like Job, you just might become his target.

And here's another thought that Holy Spirit has prompted in my own spirit ... what if God has ordained a glorious purpose for your life during your time on earth, and the Enemy is determined to deter you from reaching that divine goal? What if during that trial and oppression from the Enemy, God is also testing the strength and durability of your faith, refining and purifying you in order to see you reach that goal for His Kingdom? Remember, Jesus and the Father want you to reap all the inheritance that has been written on your scroll in Heaven! But we have to sometimes be pruned to become the Conquerors, Over-comers, and Victors we are meant to be. He's not going to move you further along if you aren't mature enough [or strong enough] in your faith to represent Him or achieve your purpose.

I do not want to minimize the struggles that my fellow Christians are going through now, and the physical and spiritual battles we may all soon encounter. But what we are currently seeing is only a blip on the radar screen compared to the scale of trouble and suffering that has never been seen before. These are just the "birth pangs" that precede the intensity, anguish, great discomfort and pain that accompanies the actual labor of giving birth. 

But we can look forward to what this time of crisis will give birth to ... it has a designated purpose on God's timeline that will bring the joy of a new life and the hope of restoration and reconciliation in the fullness of God's plan for His people. So, be mindful of where we are in the history of the world. Be determined to guard your faith against the attacks of the Enemy; be dedicated to your love of God and His Son; and remain unfaltering, unwavering and unshakeable as you persevere and declare your obedience and loyalty to the One who chose you to represent Him in this climactic Age of the world! 

Don't be one of those whom the Bible says will be shaken and "fall away" from their faith when Satan and his lawlessness claim the earth. The Bible says upon His return, Jesus will ask, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth"? Let us be one of the determined Faithful, who is able to stand and say, "Here I am, Lord! I am still standing on my faith and Your promises! My love has not grown cold, and I am still willing and able to serve You for all of eternity"!  

Ephesians 6:13     Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].


December 5, 2023

Are You Spiritually Ready For These Times?

"Brace yourself" could be the watchword for what the world is experiencing these days. And I do mean "the world" -- it seems as if the entire globe is on the verge of imploding. Never has it seemed, at least in my lifetime, that humanity has been closer to the tension and pressure that must surely precede in the days before the Tribulation described in Matthew 24 commences. A warning is coming frequently in dreams and visions and prophetic words to the people of God. Christians at every level of service to the Body of Christ are spreading the alarm they are receiving in their spirits. If you are at all in harmony with your spirit, then you can discern that Evil is increasing on the earth.

Now, not all the prophecies are accurate, nor is God the source of them all. Our Lord warns us that false prophets and false teachers will multiply during the times leading up to His return. Therefore, our spiritual discernment needs to be accurate and in alignment with God's prophetic voice. But, without a doubt, Men's hearts have grown cold. Lawlessness and sin abound. Love for each other is diminishing; our differences fuel the hate this is increasingly evident. The Enemy of the children of God is getting ready to mount his final campaign against us as he plots to defeat Almighty God. 

This pretty much describes our relations with China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and countries around the globe. And if you are unable to see that it illustrates our national crisis, then I'm afraid you're being naive. I know there are counter voices in the Christian culture that promote the religious message that Revival is on the way. And we should most definitely pray and intercede that recognition of God will reawaken in our land, and impassioned worship will sweep the nation -- that we will actually humble ourselves, pray and seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways. Then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. Oh, Lord, how I pray that that becomes our reality. I know one thing for sure -- it is imperative that we do these things. But it is also wise to prepare for what Jesus most emphatically prophesies as our future. And I'm afraid "the Church" doesn't want to hear that message.  

And yes, no one knows what the future brings, or just how close we are to what the Bible calls the Tribulation. But I do believe this -- we cannot escape the tribulation and persecution that Jesus told us will be our experience as the time for His return approaches. Jesus tells us that we will not escape being hated for His Name's sake, and that we must stay awake and be prepared for the hour our faith will be tested. 

In fact, there is a Biblical phrase that is equivalent to our modern expression of Brace Yourself, and it is to Gird up your loins. The meaning of this language is to get ready for service; prepare for a challenge or battle; and in the sense of the Tribulation, to strengthen yourself by putting on the armor of God. And here is where my question posed in the title of this blog comes into focus ... Are you spiritually ready for these times? 

I am reminded of the posture of Job as he endures the persecution by the Devil. As trial after trial mounts against him, we see Job, in chapter 38, feeling abandoned by God. Job has ached for a comforting word from God; for an explanation of why this was happening to him. Job just doesn't understand why he has suffered so severely when he's done everything he could to be a good servant to the Lord. Scripture suggests that Job was struggling with understanding why God hadn't come to his defense, and he [Job] was, in effect, wrestling with his understanding and relationship with God. And what is God's response when Job questions what appears to be a lack of obligation on God's part? Now gird up your loins like a man  [dress for action]! I will question you, and you make it known to Me (Job 28:3).

"Gird up your loins" is an expression often found in the Bible that is an urgent call to get ready for immediate action, or it may be a call to prepare for a coming action or event. The phrase is related to the type of clothing worn in ancient times. To keep from impeding the wearer during any vigorous activity, e.g. battle, exercise, strenuous work, etc., the loose ends of garments (tunics, cloaks, mantles, etc.) had to be gathered up and tucked into the girdle. The girdle was a band about six inches wide that had fasteners in front. It was worn around the loins (the midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the hips). Gird up your mind or gird up your heart are variations of this phrase which call for mental or spiritual preparation for a coming challenge. 

In Job 28, we see what I think the Bible refers to as Christians "falling away" or stumbling in their faith when the tribulation and persecution begin. Like Job, they will begin to question God about His faithfulness, and begin to doubt what they have believed. Because they have been taught that they would somehow not be required to suffer as the Bible prophesies, they will become offended by what they perceive as God's lack of protection and His desertion in their time of need. But like, Job, these Christian believers won't appreciate that there will be aspects of these End Times that are known only to God, and are hidden from man. And I believe that God expects us to "man up", so to speak, and prepare spiritually for the battles ahead. 

I worry that far too many Christians will stumble and be unprepared to pay the cost of being a follower of Christ. We must strengthen our faith and prepare to carry our own cross, just as Jesus did. We must be prepared to lose everything, just as Job did! Sadly, the Church has given lip-service to this concept and shied away from confronting believers with the hard truth that suffering and tribulation will be our temporary circumstances before Jesus's return. We have fallen for the messages of false prophets such as Darby and Scofield, who wrote Bibles promoting a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This doctrine has certainly led people astray, and it was never spoken of by Jesus. Yet, many in the Church choose to believe this false theology, which is only 200 years old, rather than the Word of God spoken by our Lord and Savior 2000 years ago! 

I am being honest when I say that I fear for my fellow Christians. I don't want them to be surprised or in shock when the promised persecution comes. And it will be far worse than anything we have witnessed to date. I want them to be strengthened to endure and persevere during what is coming, and to keep their eyes and hearts and spirits focused on the One who will ultimately deliver us. I want them to be able to reinforce the faith of our fellow Christians who will falter during the satanic oppression, and at the same time, be prepared to share the Good News of [both] Salvation and God's Kingdom on earth with those who have never heard it. I want them to be prepared to declare Jesus Christ even when the sword is at their breast. I want their spirit to rise up in their identity as warriors for the Kingdom, even when their flesh is weak. I want them to be sure of who they are, and just how great is their God, so that even in the midst of persecution like the world has never seen, they will be known for their faith. 

I desire all this for the Body of Christ, and I desire it for myself. I have no great illusions that all Christians will meet this test. But I pray that the Remnant, however large or small it is, is even now preparing itself in all these matters. I pray they see through the dirty veil that the Enemy has placed over the physical eyes of my fellow believers, and that they see clearly [with spiritual eyes] the truth of what Jesus spoke. May God Almighty strengthen us and fortify us to meet the coming tribulation, and may we serve Him with courage and spiritual might, knowing that because we will endure, we will be saved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You have given us Your Word of Truth so that we might not be caught unaware; so that we might train and equip ourselves to be ready when the Evil One comes against us at the end of this age. Lord, we gird up our loins, our minds, and our hearts as we make ourselves spiritually ready for whatever is to come! Amen.

#EndTimes #EndTimesProphecy #GirdYourLoins #BeSpirituallyReady #FallingAway #Apostasy #QuestioningGod #JustLikeJob #BraceYourself #Tribulation #ChristianPersecution

1 Peter 1:13      So prepare your minds for action, be completely sober in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert -- [gird up your loins], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  


June 3, 2021

Why Millennials Identifying as "Exvangelicals" Is A Sign of The Times

I was not particularly shocked to read that the Millennial generation was increasingly leaving the Church and its teachings to pursue the temptations of the world and its permissive, tolerant philosophies. I just didn't know how vehement they were about their objections to Christianity. In some ways, they are no different than those of all generations who have been wounded by the Church and its leaders for their hypocrisy and "un-Christ-like" actions. Just as in Jesus's day, the overtly religious refuse to minister to those who need it the most ... the marginalized of society who do not fit the established "norm" of what is acceptable. Ironically, those are the very people that Jesus went out of His way to set free of their wounds and sins. 

Therefore, we see a growing segment of 20-30 somethings proud to call themselves "exvangelicals". What exactly does this term mean? It means more than just a renunciation of modern Christian evangelicalism, which constitutes a promotion of the doctrines, practices, and history of Biblical Christianity. An "exvangelical" can signify as many definitions as the liberal [and by that, I mean broad-minded] communities with whom they associate determine it means. Here's just a sample of the definitions they use to define themselves: "the universe is our host, and nothing really mattering is the best [philosophy]"; "I believe in the Universal Christ, but I'm deconstructing from my faith and leaving the church"; "I'm reconstructing my faith as I progress in my own understanding [of God]". As you can see, there's expansive opportunity to define your faith in anyway you want. I would say that if you had to come up with a common denominator for this progressive mindset, it is that they are people who have rejected the traditional tenets of Christianity and define themselves by what they are not, and what they no longer believe.

Here are a few of the beliefs that identify exvangelicals : 1) they don't believe in a literal hell;  2) they reject Biblical teachings on sexuality; 3) they reject Biblical conservatism which they identify as politically motivated, aka "Republican"; 4) they recognize personal sovereignty and self-determination over the laws of the Bible; 5) they promote finding a belief system that suits the individual's needs; 6) they are deeply opinionated on racism, sexism, and political issues which all seem to take precedent over God's will for mankind; 7) upholding the rights of LGBTQ individuals runs throughout all their narratives, even when they don't agree on other issues; 8) they self-determine what it means to be a Christian; 9) It's okay to explore other religions; 10) their mantra is to retain the intellectual, and drop the supernatural; 11) they don't like what they perceive to be the legalism in evangelicalism; and finally, 12) it's important to live your own truth.

In several articles I read, there were so many stories of wounds generated by the Church. In fact, that seems to be a common bond among those who identify as "exvangelicals"... they are like a support group for each other; those who have chosen to escape from the traumas caused by so-called "Christians". Some of the stories of their traumas include hearing their parents berated for getting a divorce; not feeling that they could discuss their questions about abortion, or sex, or racism; seeing men in the Church as superior over women; being judged for being raped, and the inability of the Church to know how to handle the situation with compassion; feeling accused for asking questions or seeking a higher knowledge of God; not feeling comfortable coming forth with issues they are confused about, including their sexuality. 

By now you can see what a field day the devil is having with all this. And it is not just those who have  chosen to follow their own rules. It also those who personify hypocritical religion, just as they did when Jesus was ministering and confronting them. But why should we be surprised? It's not only that the Bible specifically warns us that this will come in the latter days. We have no excuse for not recognizing what Scripture has foretold: At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another (Matthew 24:10). But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12).

Men have always thought they could be their own god -- ever since Adam and Eve believed the lie in the Garden. It is the spirit of Pride, when combined with the spirits of Doubt and Unbelief, that lead men and women to stray from the foundations of their faith. And when confronted by legalism, hypocrisy, and the lack of compassion, the young will naturally rebel. Interestingly, there is an ironic twist to this conflict between the "exvangelicals" and the "hyper-religious". Both castigate the other for not meeting their ideas of what Jesus represents. But, as we see in Matthew Chapter 23, and the "woes" the Lord hurls at the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus is thundering against these leaders for pretending to live holy lives, while in reality, they were practicing human religion, rather than serving God with pure hearts. The same could be said of both sides in this debate.

The "exvangelicals" rail against the "narrow-minded" Christians, proclaiming that the Universe doesn't care if Christian rules are followed -- "Nothing really matters, and this is what gives us the freedom to feel our own meaning, and feel it with ease instead of a sense of fear or guilt".  That last statement was made by Abraham Piper, son of well-known evangelical preacher John Piper. The host of an exvangelical podcast had this to say, "What's good for one person may not be healthy for another. For instance, if someone's tradition rejected them for their sexual orientation, it is understandable if they don't want to associate with Christianity anymore. It may not be the most healthy thing for them. Acknowledging personal autonomy [self-determination] and respecting it is a central tenet of the exvangelical community.  It makes things messier, but I believe it's the best thing". 

So, it's all coming true, according to Scripture. The pendulum is swinging from legalism to progressivism. Whatever feels good to you is okay with the universal god. Narrow-mindedness is condemned, while "anything goes" is embraced.  In this messy scenario we see the fruit of a fallen world. Whenever man turns from the pure and simple teachings of God in His Word, he ultimately ends in a state of rebellion and lawlessness. Yes, we must endeavor to follow God's every commandment, but we must not only appear righteous, we must live it in truth. And, yes, God loves it when we ask questions and seek Him, but we must seek His truth, not our own or the world's. So, at this time, I pray that all -- both evangelicals and exvangelicals -- will return to their first love, with pure hearts and a desire to walk in the ways of Jesus Christ. We are quickly nearing the time of Jesus's appearance, and He will be seeking those who have remained true to His commandments. The Father wishes to lose no one, so let us all examine our hearts and strengthen our faith. We're going to need it!

2 Corinthians 11:4     For you seem to gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you preaching a pseudo-Jesus, not the Jesus we have preached. You have accepted a spirit and gospel that is false, rather than the Spirit and gospel you once embraced. How tolerant you have become of these imposters!