Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“Therefore with joy shall ye
draw water out of the wells
of salvation.” – Isaiah 12:3  

      The whole world witnessed a miracle on November 8 with the election of Donald J. Trump as President-elect of the United States of America. In our minds, this was no less than the mighty hand of God who, in answer to repentance and prayer, swept aside the evil agendas of ungodly globalists, while mercifully sparing our nation from the lawless, oppressive, “politically correct,” communist agenda that was set to destroy everything our Founding Fathers established in the Constitution by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

      Shock waves from this unexpected, mighty miracle had a two-fold effect: The laughter of the liberal left suddenly turned to weeping, and the weeping of those who cherish righteousness, right thinking and freedom turned to laughter. In Psalm 37 we read of the happy state of the godly, and the short-lived prosperity of the wicked. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass” vs. 1-7. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5.

      Even though this powerful intervention from heaven has turned our mourning into dancing, deep down we also know that this is not “the end” but rather just the beginning. We have been trudging as a nation through the harrowing wilderness of darkness, deceit and lies, only to finally emerge into the sunlit meadow of a new day. However, another mountain to conquer looms before us; we dare not let down our guard, become complacent nor give in to the temptation to lie down and slumber in the warmth of new promises. We dare not allow pride to enter into our hearts, or buy the lie that as Christian Americans we are somehow exempt from God’s righteous judgments upon our iniquities and sins. We dare not return to our former state of apathy, worldliness and nominal Christianity, and we must strive to not only stand against the persistent attacks of the enemy, but gain ground in the great harvest field around us for the glory of God. If we do not return to God as a nation, we will not survive as a nation.

      God has given us a short respite from the battle, and a reprieve from judgment. He has given us a time for honest soul searching, a time of deep reflection on the ways and will of God Almighty, a time to seek the face of the LORD, a time to prepare for prophesied events and judgments yet to come. It is incumbent upon each of us who are called by His name to not turn back to the same ole, same ole business as usual. God has given us a mandate as His people to follow hard after Him, to sink our roots deeper in Christ in order to come higher and do great exploits for God. Time is short. This is not a time to sink back on our laurels and ride the wave of temporary victory, even though it has rocked the world. It’s time to renew our commitment to Christ, put on the armor of God, endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and guard against becoming entangled with the affairs of this life. (See 2 Timothy 2:3, 4)

      This recent victory over the bondage of Marxism’s “political correctness” is a God-given opportunity that carries with it the weighty responsibility for each member of the Body of Christ to reevaluate his or her place in the Church that Jesus is building. This Church is not broken up and divided into fragments because Jesus is the Head of it. Jesus cannot be divided into different denominations, sects, groups, or movements. There is ONE Body with ONE Head. “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” Colossians 1:18. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” Ephesians 1:22, 23. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” Ephesians 4:15. If the connection between you and Christ is blurred, or weakened because you have allowed your particular church, denomination, creed, pastor, celebrity leaders, or religious practices to come between you and the Head, then your personal walk with Christ will be hindered, your love for Him diminished, your discernment dulled, your hunger for the Word absent, your spiritual gifts subdued, your strength in spiritual warfare weakened, your gifts and calling all but forgotten, and your testimony and witness will be dead letter. As Christians, we must be vigilant in guarding and protecting our personal relationship to Jesus as our Head! Anything less can morph into idolatry and make us easy prey for Satan’s devices.

      When Jesus is truly our Head, He is everything to us. Even in the worst of times, His joy is our strength, and we can often discover “a time to laugh” in the face of overwhelming odds. To the Israelites in Nehemiah 8:10 God told the people, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” He is our true and lasting joy—not the fake “joy” that the world offers through worldly entertainment found in sports, theme parks, music festivals, comedy, sensational movies, death-defying stunts, etc. all of which multitudes of people look to in their search for happiness. As we all know, such things are temporary—the thrills, the silliness, the “adrenaline rush,” the laughter vanish like morning mist giving way to summer heat. It’s all meaningless vanity that leaves the soul hauntingly empty and depressed. I think of the first stanza of the old hymn, I Would Be Like Jesus. “Earthly pleasures vainly call me, I would be like Jesus; Nothing worldly shall enthrall me, I would be like Jesus.”

      If Jesus is Your Shepherd, you shall not want—anything! Joy included. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” Psalm 16:11. But we have to get into His presence! How do we come into His presence? Who among us is like Moses and Joshua who entered into the presence of the Lord, and communed with Him? Are you? Is your heart open and humble like that of young Joshua who longed to be in God’s presence so much so that he “departed not out of the tabernacle” Exodus 33:11b, even after Moses had returned to the camp after speaking with the LORD face to face? It is a conscious decision, an act of the will to seek the Lord, “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God” 1 Chronicles 22:19. Seek Him in the Word, seek Him in prayer. Sense His presence in your times of worship and praise. Pour out your heart before Him. “Draw nigh to God, and He shall draw nigh to you” James 4:8a. Seek His will for your life regardless of your age or gender for God says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” Acts 2:17, 18.

      When is it a time for laughter? You cannot program it, plan it, or control it. You cannot mark a day on your calendar as a time for laughter. Instead, you have to experience the spontaneity of it in the moving stream of life. Laughter is a response, not a timed event. Have you ever sat and watched a comedian who, try as he or she might, was anything but funny? You end up with your gut feeling as if you had swallowed a huge hunk of salami, whole.

      True laughter springs from lightheartedness firmly anchored in a state of well-being, secure in the love of God, rejoicing in His faithfulness. When the soul rests in Christ, when His Spirit dwells within, when you rest on His promises, then laughter bubbles forth like springs of living water. Jesus tells us, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” John 16:33. Note that Jesus never said He would spare His people from tribulation, but rather gave us the reason to be of good cheer. Ours is an eternal inheritance that no man can take away, no government can outlaw, no atheist can touch, and no devil can steal.

      Of all the joys that one can list concerning this life, to me the greatest is when a sinner comes to Christ, and is truly born again. Jesus tells us, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” Luke 15:10. Have you ever experienced that heavenly joy by leading a lost soul to Christ? There is no joy like it in the entire world. But, that privilege usually comes with a price. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” Psalm 126:6. [Underlining added.] Jesus sends us into the harvest field, bearing the precious seed of His Word. Led forth by his Spirit, we find ourselves weeping for the multitudes of lost souls, appalled at the lack of understanding, grieved at the enemy’s work of “catching away that which was sown in the heart,” disappointed when those with “no root in themselves” become offended and turn away, saddened when the deceitfulness of riches and cares of this world choke out the Word.

      Most likely there will be strained or broken relationships with those friends, or family, or both who are scornful of your life in Christ. As Christians, must endure mocking, slander, and persecution. The Apostle Paul summed it up well when he wrote to the church at Corinth, concerning his ministry, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned. By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. All of these trials and tribulations may well contribute to a “time to weep,” but then, there follows victory, “a time to laugh.” Consider what Paul wrote in chapter 7 of 2 Corinthians verse 4, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.”

      Surely Robert Moffat, and his wife Mary, “sowed in tears, but reaped in joy.” Robert Moffat (1795-1883) was a Scottish pioneer missionary to South Africa who arrived in Cape Town in 1817. He opened mission stations in the interior, translated the Bible into the language of the Bechuanas, and wrote two missionary books on South Africa: Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa and Rivers of Water in a Dry Place. His oldest daughter Mary, married David Livingstone. From another source we read of this great missionary who worked for years in Bechuanaland, South Africa without seeing a single convert. When some friends in England wrote asking what they might send him as a present, he requested a communion set. Since there were no other believers there, they were surprised, but complied with his wishes. When the set arrived several months later, more than a dozen natives had been won to Christ and were served their first Lord’s Supper. Such is the beauty and courage of faith. (Sources Unknown).

      As we once again approach the time to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us rejoice in Him with all our hearts, for He not only came at the appointed time, but He will return in power and glory at the appointed time. He is faithful and true, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the everlasting Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord God Almighty. Rejoice!

      “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” Luke 2:8-18.

      As God’s redeemed we have reason to rejoice always, to laugh, to praise the Lord in spite of the fact that “the whole world lieth in wickedness” because “.. . we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” 1 John 5:19b, 20. Amen!