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It’s ok to love from a distance!

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Do you struggle with making steady progress in your walk with the Lord because of certain people in your life that keep pulling you away from Him?

Do you ever feel like ‘taking two steps forward and one step backward’ sums up your life?

Do the failures, hurts, and disappointments from your past continually haunt you to the point of nearly paralyzing you, thus rendering you unable to effectively live for Christ?

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If any of this sounds like I’m reading your mind, it’s because almost all of us are in these same predicaments. Let’s face it, the struggle is real, and we are locked in a very real battle with a very real enemy.

I have lived long enough to understand that all of us struggle at times, but not all of us struggle for the same reasons. In addition, we may also find ourselves struggling with situations not of our own choosing, and therefore out of our control.

With that in mind, I want to focus on a particular area of struggle that we can control, which is who we allow into our lives.

This can be a difficult subject to deal with for a Christian, first of all because God is love, and as his children we are taught to love people. The idea of keeping anyone at arms length is not easy for some because they equate that with a lack of love.

It was Jesus after all who said that “no greater love has a man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends”.  From this verse we find the heart of God, and it is only natural for us to desire to emulate that very same love.  [1]

So, again, we who are followers of Jesus Christ must love people because that is the commandment of our Savior.

No doubt you have heard it said that Christians are to “love the sinner but hate the sin”, or some variant of that. That means that we are to look past the sin in a person’s life and see their need for a Savior.

Personally, I believe this to be sound advice. We must be careful however to understand that while we should love without regard to lifestyle choices, habits, etc, we must be very careful as to how much influence we allow these same people to exert over us.

And yes, that includes those who profess Christ but live as though they know nothing about Him. This is made perfectly clear to us in Paul’s second letter to Timothy where he said we were to turn away from such people.   [2]

It is (hopefully) obvious to us as Christians that we cannot permit the enemy to gain a foothold in our homes and in the lives of our family members. We must remain vigilant against the methodology of the adversary, because he routinely transforms himself into something that we would be attracted to.   [3]

In other words, our enemy isn’t likely to appear on your doorstep wearing a red cape, horns, and carrying a pitchfork. He will however appear in such a manner as to put you at ease long enough to deceive you!

This is where loving from a distance comes into play. Instead of opening our hearts to things that might harm us, we should proceed with caution. And yes, it is perfectly alright to say NO to someone!

As a matter of fact, scripture teaches us to keep the world at an arms length from us. Paul actually used a stronger word when he said we should come out from among them and separate ourselves.

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2nd Corinthians 6:16,17

If we are to live victoriously in Christ, it will be because through Christ we have conquered our past failures and disappointments. Through Him we will have buried the demons that used to haunt us.

“You can’t defeat the demons you keep playing with” is a popular internet meme quoted frequently all over the web today by many preachers and Christian entertainers.

It is a very powerful truth as well.

To continue “playing with” them is to invite certain destruction into our lives because having fellowship with darkness is diametrically opposite of what scripture teaches us in Ephesians 5:11.  [4]

As children of the King, we are to love all people simply because everyone, saint and sinner alike, has been created in the image of God. Never forget that while we were yet sinners ,Christ died for us.

Wisdom, however, dictates that loving from a distance until you really get to know a person is not only prudent, it may just save you much heartache.

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

[1] John 15:13

[2] 2nd Timothy 3:5

[3] 2nd Corinthians 11:14

[4] Ephesians 5:11

 

 

The love of many…

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Of all of the different things that Jesus taught his followers while he was here on earth, one that holds significant interest to most Christians today is his teachings on what we now call the “End Times”.

Literally thousands of books have been written by men and women who claim to have unique insight into these teachings, and little wonder because it seems there is an insatiable appetite for all things related to the ‘end of day’s as we know them. Major Christian publishing companies consider these books to be “cash cows” because they sell so well, hence the market saturation of these books.

There are so many books written that they have to be categorized into sub sections such as:

Prophecy

Armageddon

Revelation                       

Coming of the Lord

Tribulation, and many more.

I must admit that while I have read a few of them, I am not a fan of these books for the simple fact that all of them are largely nothing more than the authors own private interpretation of The BOOK. Far too many of them propose theories and ideas that are completely contrary to what the Bible says, and while I enjoy the learning process I cannot go along with teachings that ultimately place less emphasis on God’s word than the author’s opinions.

With that said, I draw your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter 24. This particular chapter is one that most students of prophecy and all things “End Times” recognize as one of the most important of all.

The first seven verses of this chapter find Jesus revealing several things that will be taking place upon the earth prior to his return. He actually refers to these things as “the beginning of sorrows”. It is what Jesus says next that causes people so much anxiety and fear because this is where it gets personal. Read along with me from Matthew 24: 9-13.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

We must ask ourselves who is this “you” that Jesus said will be delivered up to tribulation and killed? We know that Jesus was speaking specifically to his disciples about these matters, so we can easily make the case that it was the disciples who were to be delivered up and killed. History in fact reveals that all of the disciples except John died a martyrs death, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus.

Yet we must also realize that God’s word is eternal, making it applicable for every generation and period of history. Indeed, history shows us that there have been many attempts to purge the world of Christianity. Wars, Inquisitions, laws, etc have all been used over the past two thousand years to try and eliminate Christianity from the earth.

Today, this trend continues at an alarming rate. According to Open Doors USA ,in just the last year* there have been:

  • Over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
  • 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
  • 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

So we see that when Jesus said “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you“,his words are just as applicable today as they were that day when He spoke them to his disciples. What is so problematic about this persecution of the church is that in America we have so far managed to escape the wrath that is being felt by our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and this has left us disinterested at best.

This, however, is about to change. While it is true that we are not facing the prospect of being beheaded or our churches burned to the ground(YET), persecution of Christians in America is alive and well. For those who believe that persecution will never happen here, or that it is some far off generation that will have to deal with it, consider the following:

There is increasing intolerance of traditional Christian values in this country. Those that hold to traditional Biblical values are now seen as bigots, racists, and close-minded.

Let a conservative Christian politician be nominated for a Federal Court position and watch how the nominee’s Christian values are called into question, as if his or hers values would somehow prevent them from rendering a proper verdict.

If you dare to refuse to bake a cake or issue a marriage license for same-sex marriages, you better be prepared to spend your life’s savings on attorney fees.

In addition to the ridicule and hatred that Christian college students face on campus today, a move is underway to remove a college’s accreditation unless they conform to a more secularist ideology. And let us not forget the schools that have banned the pre-game prayer before a Friday night football game.

Aside from the obvious ‘because Jesus said it would’, why are we as a nation headed in this downward trend?

The answer is found in the text from Matthew 24 that I included above.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.

The love of many is growing cold. What happens when love grows cold? We see the answer on the news every night. Another mass shooting. An increase in the suicide rate. The rise of injustice. An ever increasing number of innocent children gunned down. Perversion and child pornography at an all time high.

All of these and so many more are a direct result of hearts grown cold. No feeling for their fellow man. Total indifference to the plight of the unfortunate. Hearts so cold that walking past the homeless draws not an ounce of compassion. No concern for the millions who do not have enough to eat.

This is love grown cold.

Ice cold.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Much, much worse.

Jesus said that ‘he that endured to the end would be saved‘. We must be doing what we can to present Jesus to a cold and indifferent world because He is their only hope.

My prayer is that every Christian takes this seriously and act upon it.

Ron

 

 

 

* 2019 World Watch List reporting period, November 1, 2017-October 31, 2018