Monday, August 11, 2014
Hear the Heart of God
Matthew 24:21 - For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of time, no, nor ever shall be.
Why does he have to be in jail for loving Jesus? These were the tearful words spoken by a little girl whose father, Saeed Abedini, an American pastor, is in an Iranian jail because He is Christian. A headline states: AMID ETHNIC CLEANSING OF CHRISTIANS, ISIS NOW MASSACRES IRAQ'S YEZIDI MINORITY (Breitbart, August 5). They are imprisoned and dying in the mountains with little food or water because ISIS has deemed they are a minority religion. Christians in Mosul told to leave, convert or die. Children being beheaded. The heartache and tears. The fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. How about the crime, moral degradation and societal standards, political correctness, corruption, squelching of God and His name in the US?
All we see happening in the Middle East and around the world does not come as a surprise to God. What causes it is sin and evil that has run rampant. It grows worse. We have seen it in the Bible, but it grows like leaven in today's world. It will have to come to God's end someday because it is all about Him and I believe it will happen soon. How much more can we take? And do we dare think that it won't come to the US? What about this bit of news: In 2009 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS leader, said See you in New York when he was released from a US detention center in Iraq. Shouldn't that cause some concern over here?
What is it going to take for people to understand? Just because it isn't affecting our day to day lives because it's "over there," doesn't mean we are immune. We may have killed bin Laden, but it's not the end...it's like that leaven...growing.
It still is so all about God. It's about His desire that all would look to Him. While others believe all religious roads lead to heaven, He has told us for thousands of years that there is only one way and one truth to that one life and that is through His Son, Jesus.
My heart goes out to those who dismiss this. My heart aches that there is truth in the scripture that says ...narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:14) There are few who find it. And even then there are those who think they are on that narrow road and yet He says Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21) Not everyone...but he who does the will of the Father. And yes, it is a difficult way because those who do dismiss this scoff and persecute those who do.
Yet Jesus told us He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18) I'd rather be on the right side on the right path and suffer the consequences of this world's persecution than to not see Jesus in the end. He died for my sins. He died for all men's sins.
We cannot stick our heads in the sand. It has always been through conflict or oppression that God showed His mercy upon His people...and those who have called on the name of Jesus are part of His people today. Not that we say, Yeah, I know who He is. But that we actively seek Him daily. That we put aside religious differences and denominations and know the one, true God who died for all. That we put aside all the things we deem so important in life and pay heed to Him daily. Not that we ignore family and friends, or stop life as usual, but that as we go about our lives we keep Him in the center of our lives.
Everything I see happening I see through His eyes. Like Israel when they were in captivity in Egypt, it was that they would see who He was through the oppression, through the plagues, through their freedom, through their wilderness wandering, through their eventual end in the land God promised them. He was with them all along. They grumbled and complained but every so often they would recognize by Whose hand they were being saved and they would repent of their ways.
By Whose hand they were being saved...it's the same hand we are being saved even today. Many understand why Jesus came. Many should be more thankful in their lives for this. Many should be more interested in the things of God than the things of the world. People go to church--or not--and think God will just put up with their lifestyles of the world, that they can live in any way they wish without regard for Him. And that heaven is the ultimate end...for all...no matter what. Not so.
None of us is perfect. Life goes on and it has to. But if God is not the center we will find out which path we are on some day...the wide one or the narrow one. Remember, the narrow one has very few on it. There is only one way to know for sure who Jesus is. It does not come with the territory of going to church, a certain religion, but through a relationship.
But we need to understand what that relationship entails. It starts when we realize we have a need for Jesus. It starts with dropping our pride. We must admit we are sinful, which really means dropping the pride. We must admit we need a Savior...who is Jesus Christ alone. Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden until they sinned, separating us from God. He wants to bring that same relationship back and it only happens through Jesus. We must drop the idea that we can, in our own strength and wisdom, do all things. Instead we must believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
I realize not everyone wants this and will reject it. I realize many will still cling to their original beliefs. I realize the road will remain narrow until Christ returns. I also realize that time is short. What we see in this world has been told to us will happen before Jesus returns. I also realize that many will continue life until the disaster hits too close to home...and I guess if that's what it takes... But we are told to seek Him while He still can be found (Isaiah 55:6). None of us knows when we will die. We might think we are invincible but what about those who die instantly in vehicle accidents, heart attacks, drownings, drive by shootings, or just stumbling, falling and hitting one's head? Even golf balls kill!
Why does this pastor need to be in jail for loving Jesus? Why does anyone who loves the Lord need to be criticized? Like I said, what we see happening in the world is setting the stage for Christ's return. We should all be ready. It is not God's desire that all perish but that none should. He is a God of judgment as well as love. Too many believe only in the love half of Him. It's time to understand this. Have you heard my heart? It is God's heart too.
Lord, turn hearts toward You. Open blind eyes that they may see You. Let them seek You while You may still be found. Oh the joy and peace amid the wreckage of this world's troubles one can have. It so saddens me that worldly devices keep people from You. That's the enemy's plan...he makes it so sweet a deal one cannot refuse. Open blind eyes that they may see You and give them the hope You offer.
John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.