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In the mid nineteen seventies, I was experiencing a wonderful renewal of my faith. In fact, it was so wonderful that none of the painful circumstances of that time discouraged me. I was also greatly blessed by believing members of my family and the people of the little country church that surrounded me with love and enthusiasm for our Lord! We were mostly at the bottom of the economic ladder but on top of the world with the joy of the Lord! I felt as though nothing could stop this movement of the Holy Spirit, and had already seen great miracles in the lives of those who loved Jesus.
Little consideration was given in my mind at the time of another force that was also actively at work but against us. Subtle efforts were often made by our adversary to discourage us, and sometimes humiliate us. Even some of our fellow Christians attempted to dampen our joy with prophecies of doom and gloom. We have seen many healings and miracles, but we have also seen those we love fail in health and even die at a young age. We have seen individuals rise to heights of faith and victory but later to fall into sin, bitterness, addiction and poverty. However the presence of Christ has never left us and the vision of a brighter future has kept us alive in our faith.
If I let my thoughts drift very long from the powerful word of God that He Himself has instilled in my heart, I begin to feel as if I can hear the enemy laughing and mocking me for believing the things that I have expressed here. Recently I was reminded of the weakness of short-term thinking. In our modern world we want everything now. All of my life I have been told that the coming of Christ is very near, and only then will we see things change. For now our part is simply to wait for that day to come. What do you suppose the devil thinks about that concept? I suspect he is pleased with our inactivity and complacency. It amounts to a sort of truce between us and him that he is not obligated to honor. I am not saying that those who hold this view stop praying and serving Christ. But I do expect that their expectation is lower than the Lord would have it to be.
Think of it! Jesus declared that we could have mountain moving faith! He even said that all things were possible if we could only believe! Could it be that the limit of what God can and will do is only in our minds?
In the past few years we have seen many signs that our society is in serious trouble. Christian values are constantly under attack, which in turn affects all families. The believing community is the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When we become hopeless and disillusioned, how can we inspire hope in others? Lately I am realizing that my fight is not so much with the world but with my own despair. Defeatist attitudes among Christians do not help either. There are far too many who have given up on fulfilling the purpose of God for their lives to light up the world. Their hope is only in an escape from it. There are also those who would rather join the world in the current downward spiral and indulge in the many pleasures (and pain) it has to offer. Both These are paths that offer the least resistance to our human nature.
Jesus called His disciples to courage and sacrifice. He challenged both religious and secular leaders to face the immanent rule of God over all. He proved that none of us have what it takes to overcome sin and death but also that we can do just that by holding on to Him.
Over time a deep pessimism has crept into our hearts, our churches and especially our biblical understanding. As much as I try to dance around this issue, I am forced after all to face it head on. Yes there are dire predictions in the scripture about the fate of humanity. Yes, Jesus Himself said there would be great trouble such as the world had never known. We already know that the past 2,000 years have been filled with godlessness, apostasy, plagues wiping out large portions of the population and wars killing even more. Today technology has provided the means to wipe out every living thing on the planet. It is a major miracle that we are all still here now. But that is my point. The world and its history belongs to God. It is the miracle of faith in Him that preserves our hope.
This hope involves eternity with Him in another dimension of course. But it also involves this material creation which He created for His pleasure and His glory. We neglect the ancient passages of scripture to our detriment. The great New Testament story and those who preserved that story for us were deeply indebted to those who had gone before. Their faith could be strong because they witnessed the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies with their very own eyes. They also knew there was more to come. At this point I would like to plead with those of you who have come this far in our journey through the history of our faith. I am confident that if you can continue walking with us through this sweeping panoramic view of God’s eternal purpose, that this undying hope can stir your hearts to a fresh vision of His work in this very hour and in this very existence!
If like me, you desire to fully live in the moment as did the early Christians, you must first believe that this is even possible. These followers of Christ only had their Hebrew bible and the stories of their heroes of faith to look back upon. We have both the experiences of those who lived before Christ appeared and those who came afterward. If they could embrace the faith and miracle-working power of the older days, we might find we can embrace the lessons of both eras. Certainly those ancient believers can make us a bit uncomfortable as they were much less “civilized” than we think we are today. In some cases they seem even barbaric to us. Yet that very discomfort might be just what we need today in modern Christianity.
My hat goes off to the many pastors and teachers today who pray and exhort other believers to help fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. I am all for that! It is in fact, my belief that a greater understanding of what God has done and plans to do through us now can help empower us to find our place in that great mission! However when we only have short term thinking and look for quick fixes we can get easily discouraged and disillusioned. What God began with Adam and Eve He continued in the lives of untold millions after them. Four thousand years of preparation led up to the “fullness of time” when Jesus came preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. God is patient and not running out of time to work out His plan. (2 Peter 3:9). My hope is to live to see the greatest turning to God that has ever happened in history. Yet, I can live and work in the expectancy of it today. Because of the Word of God that cannot fail, I can already see it, even if it is several lifetimes away!
May God shake us free from our complacency and apathy! What ever it takes! There is an adventure, a quest that is already underway for you and I to join! Underneath the decay and decline of society we see all around us, there is an undercurrent of faith and hope bubbling up. It is the Holy Spirit stirring hearts to believe in the impossible for the glory of God. The Gospel of the Kingdom is going out into all the world even now. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ and His reign over all, that begins in the hearts of you and I!
17 For they (evil men) eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day.
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