“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? A ND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:15-19 NASB
As I proceed through my life, I have become more and more aware that God begins His corrective work within the body of Christ. As Christians we are to stand above the fray, for we are the representatives of Jesus. The characteristics of the believer are different than those of the world. As I sit and contemplate the church, I am painfully aware that so much is lacking. We have taken on so much of the values of the lost and we are, at times indistinguishable from those who have not called upon the name of the Lord.
The great message of the Gospel: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again, is muted by the lack of contrast shown in the lives of those who profess to know God. The unbelieving world looks at us and does not see anything advantageous in being forgiven. They see the same anger, wrath, and filthy living that they have.
God has worked extensively in my life, addressing the sins that have dulled the glory of that great salvation that has transformed my life. So many things that I held dear, have been taken away, some by force, as I sought to hold on. With the taking away, He has blessed so much more. The things that I thought were so great and so satisfying, have been replaced by His presence, which is more blessed and spectacular than anything I have ever experienced.
As we prepare for the times to come, I suspect we are going to see the Lord purify His church. We are already seeing many self professing Christians fall away. It seems like each week some celebrity Christian declares his unbelief. In reality, he never had it to begin with. It is like we are seeing the separation of the wheat and the chaff happening right before our eyes. He is using various social and cultural issues to create a crisis of faith where we must choose between adherence to the Scriptures and the values of the world.
It has to be that way. Judgement of the world is coming. We who call upon the name of the Lord are called to speak forth the Good News to all who will hear. In order to do that work, we must be clean, purged of sin, purged of attachment to the things of the world. As we are judged, we are made useful to the Lord. I am thankful for all the pain and trial that has come into my life. It has made one once useless, one now useful. Through Christ I am able.
Believers, do not worry when the struggles to come, when the danger looms, know that the Lord is doing good things. Take pleasure in the chastisement, because God only does so to those He loves.
Pray today that the Lord begin to show you the things that need to change to make you more effective in sharing the Gospel. May all the hurdles be brought low, all the stumbling blocks removed. So many need to hear the Gospel. Time is short.
There is coming a time when persecution will come to America. We have been spared this far. In nations around the world, many are suffering for the cause of Christ. It is a cleanser, a purifier of faith. May we suffer for Jesus and not for our sinfulness.
We can confidence that our great Savior Jesus will carry us through it all.
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