I am so sad at the state of our world today. There is war and rumors of war on nearly every continent. So many people are displaced and in upheaval this Christmas season. But is this really anything new? When Jesus Christ was born the Romans were in charge and they were ruthless tyrants to their conquered lands. Oh yes, they built massive roads and had regional leaders that were local Kings and Governors. But they ruled with an iron-fist and if you didn’t agree with them and conform, at least on the outside, then you were their enemy and they destroyed you. I think of what Jesus said to His disciples.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:32-42, (New International Version or NIV).
Jesus came to bring salvation to the world and the Jewish nation did not accept this message. This certainly caused division in families. So is what is happening in our world today all that different from past generations? I think that we should realize that there is a price to being a follower of Christ. You can be a follower of God and get along with the Jewish people and the Islamic people even though their God in my opinion is not my God! Even the demons believe in God but they don’t follow Him. But when you speak about Jesus Christ and that you are a follower of Christ then you basically stand at a distance from the rest of the major religions today. The demons know who Jesus was and feared him greatly.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. Mark 5: 6-9, (NIV).
Jesus sent Legion and his demon pals into a herd of about two-thousand pigs who ultimately died after going over a cliff into a lake and drowned. But the point I want you to see is that Legion spoke first to Jesus and not the other way around. Isn’t it interesting that the demons know they will be tortured? Wow! Maybe that is why they work so hard to mess up as much of the world as they can so that the world won’t listen to the gospel!
Jesus knew that there would be some hard times for His followers. Today in my country we are just beginning to wake up to what many in the rest of that world have known for a while now, being a Christian is costly because the world doesn’t like us! Will it get worse?
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45, (NIV).
There is a question we need to ask ourselves, are we a wicked generation? I think we are. We have taken God out of our public institutions, out of our military, out of our educational system and we have basically said that if you don’t believe the world view then you are going to be persecuted until you get on board with politically correct thinking! So we have cleaned out our hearts and left a vacuum where the demons can come and play in unison. Will it get worse?
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:4-25, (NIV).
The short answer is yes. But don’t despair because Christ tells us that the days will be shortened for the elect. Some believe the elect are the Jewish people and some believe that the elect are Christians. It doesn’t really matter to me who the elect are, the point for me is that they will be shortened and I am thankful for that! So why do most people think that Christ came to bring peace? Perhaps this will help answer that question.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Roman 5:1-6, (NIV).
You see Christ brought peace but not to the world, rather He brought peace for Christians between God and people. How does this happen? Through faith because we are justified (made right with God) and when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we enter into peace with God. This peace is what the world hates and that is why Jesus tells us to show love for our enemies because that is what He did in dying on the cross for them. So in the end, I guess Christ did bring peace but unfortunately the world is stubborn and refuses to acknowledge this gift. That is why we will see more wars and rumors of war until Christ returns to judge and we rule with Him in eternity.
This Christmas season don’t be discouraged when you hear of the latest crisis in the world. Pray for our brothers and sisters in harm’s way and pray that we all be strong until the end. The inspired word of Hebrews has one more command for us.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. Hebrews 3:12-14, (NIV).
How do we keep from having a hardened heart? We continue to study and believe and apply what we believe and we do this as a group, serving and encouraging each other. This reminds me of one last scripture I want to share today.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35, (NIV).
So get out there and shop for Christmas cards to send to encourage others, it isn’t too late. Buy some gifts and give them to those who need them. Bring joy to every place you go and enjoy the season because you, if you are a follower of Christ, you are at peace with God and the world needs to see your love! Merry Christmas everyone!
Until next time…Katherine