Lessons from the Cross

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”

Proverbs 24:11-12

These past few months the Lord has taught me many lessons and I love sharing these little lessons from the Cross. This post includes several. So, after four years of enduring a contentious leader, the disturbing events of 2020, and watching church leaders taking sides… God was merciful. Merciful? Yes. God has been merciful. Praise God! I don’t believe, for me anyway, the last four years have been about whether Republicans, or Democrats were right or wrong in their approach to everything that went on in 2020, or during the reign of Trump. For me, it was to test the strength of my spiritual foundation.

Well, first… let me add this little caveat. This post is long. It may not be for everyone.

God’s Mercy is hard to find

In times of turmoil, unrest, and distrust, it is difficult to see God’s mercy. It has been difficult to see God’s mercy in the middle of pandemic when so many people have died, and are dying, and God’s own people downplay, and so easily dismiss this pandemic as a hoax, and further questioning safety mandates. am completely dismayed by their rebellion. Many of God’s people chose to challenge the mandates. But God, in His infinite mercy did not want me to be dismayed. There was more to learn. And as the man of contention made his exit, his devoted evangelical followers sang his praises, reining in the emotions of a people spiritually unstable, spiritually deceived, spiritually dead. It has been a very disturbing five years. Yet, even then, I saw mercy. Through all this, God has not abandoned His people. And with so many Christians continuing to defend the actions of Trump I wondered if they could turn their heart back to God. Then I got a Twitter notification.

As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ what is our role in directing the heart of the people back to God? Scripture tells us that all things are possible with God. I believe that Christians that were spared from succumbing to the many deceptions of the last four years, have a responsibility to bear this burden.

The sad part about all this, is that many Christians do not realize or recognize the darkness. And even if you tell them, they refuse it, but one tweet confirmed that all was not lost.

God loves me “Here in America” but…

Americans are many things, but on the whole we are known as a Christian nation. That’s been the brunt of many conflicts these last few decades, more so the last four years. We live in a blessed nation. That’s what we /they believe. But that’s not enough for some evangelical Americans.

The Scriptures tell us that man exists in a fallen state. Also, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all men, but in this land that professes to be a Christian nation, not all men/women accept this as true.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

There is a distinction to be made between being American and being a Christian. Can the two walk together with this chasm between believers and unbelievers, and between believers separated by politics and theology? What has history taught us?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28

People at the churches I’ve attended lay all the evil in this country at the foot of democrats, liberals and such, and that is so wrong.

Is it safe to say that both American Christians and Americans w/o religious beliefs are fed up the moral decline in America. Nevertheless, to me it appeared that the people of God were crying out for a king. They were primed for such a time as this, for Trump. Much like the people during the time of the prophet Samuel whose sons did evil in the eyes of the people. They wanted a king. Enter stage left, King X. For decades, some of my Christian friends have been inclined to prophetic extremism and conspiracy theories, but I surely did not expect them to embrace any man’s philosophy. It reminded me of Job.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Lord: “From where do you come?”
Satan: “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
Lord: “Have you considered My servant “fill in your name”, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
Satan: “Does “fill in your name” fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
Lord: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”

Job

Spiritually, what was God’s objective these last four years? Did anyone ask Him?

Job was a righteous man. Why would he be a target for the devil? Well… God asked, “Have you considered My servant…” Why would any Christian be a target for that devil? Dumb question, right? “What does Satan want besides our soul? Well, he wants our peace. Our joy. Our faith in God. He will take whatever we willingly surrender. Some of us are quick to surrender too. Remember the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid”? Ariel had fallen in love with a human and wanted legs so she could walk on land. That “want” came with a huge price tag, yet into the abyss she dove. The names change, the situations change, but I don’t believe the devil has to change his script much when he goes up before God. God, in infinite fashion, always has a plan.

In a recent post I wrote about something the Lord showed me back in October. One man divided a nation, a party and almost destroyed a nation. Did his own rebuke him for his extremism? It doesn’t appear so. Not until it was too late and then his own would not hold him accountable. His evangelical followers ignored his many sins. That is never a good thing. Remember Eli, who prayed and offered sacrifices for his sons, but never rebuked his sons? As believers in Christ, we know that God holds leaders to a higher standard. They will stand before God and give account for every deed done in this body. Christians know this. That’s why I am taken aback by Republicans that don’t seem fearful of such a notion. Don’t they all claim to be Christian, or men/women of faith? But surprisingly, I am not at all surprised that some evangelical leaders have not recanted. And that is not a good thing.

Now, enter Biden. He has been anointed. What will be his task? Well-that will soon be revealed. Some Republicans (a.k.a. Christians) believe that Trump will make a return. They are prepared to fight – in the name of God. For what? That is yet to be seen. I did read an article where some of his more militant followers have severed themselves from him. What does that mean for America? Anyway, the battle between good and evil is not over, but we can be confident the war has already been won.

And, as long as good and evil lives in our heart and spews out our mouth… Scripture says.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45

Truth will always be revealed if one asks

What did I learn in October? Well, there’s a reason why Trump, despite his extreme efforts, did not win re-election. Those that prophesied as much… well… I don’t know who he/she heard from, but I have to doubt that they heard from God. Ready for this?

First, let me say that I associate evangelicals with Pentecostalism. I know there’s other groups, but I was trained to accept Pentecostal, nondenominational believers as the most authentic, spirit filled people of God. I have since changed my mind. Many of these church leaders, mega pastors were front and center these last four years indulging a man of dissension. People that don’t believe in God tend to see those that do as gullible. Well, faith and gullibility are two different things. But the last five years revealed how easily evangelicals can be deceived. Why is that? They have faith. What/who is the object of their faith? Could it be they have not heard the true Gospel – the Gospel that transformed Saul into Paul?

So for evangelicals to dismiss “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” was a huge red flag for me. It’s a very simple, forthright command. When they dismissed it, American ideals usurped Christ’ commands.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence In Congress, July 4, 1776

It’s been decades since I have read the Declaration of Independence. It’s powerful. Everyone should take a read, especially read the grievances against the King. But, when we practice what we believe Scripture is more powerful.

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

1 Peter 2:13-17

Remember Romans 13. Much of Romans can be difficult to understand, but some of its language is very plain. And 1 Corinthians 10 is very straightforward.

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Romans 13

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” v. 23-24

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” v.31-33

1 Corinthians 10

I heard evangelicals preached COVID mandates were outright religious persecution. They gave due diligence to protect “God-given” religious freedoms – in the name of God, but not to the sanctity of life in protecting their congregations, either their physical or spiritual health.

Spiritual consequences of re-electing a man of contention

I wondered if any true believer gave any thought to the re-election of Trump. I believe that his re-election would have given evangelicals a false belief, a false power that this earthly home was theirs to rule – in the name of God, of course. He had already convinced them that he was the only one standing up for Christianity.

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 

2 Timothy 2:3-5

These are two truths that every Christian, knows, or should know. This world is not our home. And In this world, persecution for following Christ, is almost a guarantee. John 16:33 tells us that our peace is found in Jesus Christ, because in this world we will have trouble.

Under the continued leadership of Trump, this deception would have been solidified. Many more evangelicals would have been deceived. Can you see the danger in that? Some evangelicals leaders and their followers cannot, or will not accept that God anointed a democrat to lead this country. These evangelicals would rather believe that democrats stole the election. They would rather believe that American democracy is corrupt. Sincerely, who doesn’t believe that to some degree?

We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. We believe in the Scriptures. We accept that not all men believe as we do, but we are not threatened by their unbelief. They may think us fools, gullible, weak, or worse, but we are not any of those things. In this truth we are challenged.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Matthew 5:44-46

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Romans 8:12-14

We are Americans – We are Christians

As American citizens we give credence and allegiance to the governing bodies. As Christians, we believe in the God of the heavens and that He has blessed this nation. Our allegiance is to the God of the heavens. Listening to the inaugural speeches was a stark reminder of the powerful connectedness between Christian beliefs and American ideals. Separating the two is not an easy thing to do. As believers we are to keep our eyes on God. Our faith must be completely on God, if we are to find that narrow path. Our faith must remain completely on God who will continue to appoint leaders to accomplish His will. And Scripture will always direct us to pray for our leaders and submit to governing authorities.

The poem that Amanda Gorman read at the inauguration was powerful, and indeed a reminder of how our faith in God and American democracy, and its ideals are intertwined – impervious it must be. There are forces that always look for weaknesses in the fabric that tightly bind the two together – for the good and for the bad.

Lessons learned

Living in the last days, or living in the last hour, I will not fear. I will share the message of the Cross as the Holy Spirit prompts. I will be my brother’s keeper as the Lord directs. I will teach my children to test the spirits. I will train my children, that when in doubt turn to Scripture. I am American, but I will trust God, who appoints leaders for my good. I will pray and I will vote for the best candidate.

God sent His Son to save the lost, of which I was once. Churches are being planted to bring in the flock, seemingly to the cross, but in all truths many are being enslaved to a form of godliness. That’s the most powerful truth I had to accept.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Matthew 23:13-15

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

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