The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Category

Living & Dying Unto the Lord

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 29, 2017

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My husband and I have entered the longest, darkest valley we’ve ever been in. He was diagnosed with cancer. We were told he was cancer-free after surgery, but shortly after that, 5 tumors were spotted in his abdominal soft tissue. We went the all natural route with a very clean diet and supplements, detoxing, etc. But a month ago, the unforeseeable happened. A tumor burst through my husband’s skin. Until then, he was doing very well, even working full time. After this, his health rapidly declined, and the tumors began to grow extremely fast, bursting through the skin one by one. In one month’s time, he went from feeling “normal” to seemingly at death’s door. He spent 8 days in the hospital. We are beginning new treatments this week, along with continuing to try to nourish him with foods like moringa, turmeric, coconut oil, etc.

Nothing can prepare you to watch someone you love lose his strength, his muscle, his size, his energy, his skin (the tumors are eating the skin off his stomach).  Even his voice has been reduced almost to a whisper. I have to remind myself that even “Jesus wept.” It hurts.

But…God has saved him. He is redeemed. He is my brother. He has eternal life. He is committed to Jesus.  How do we assign value to this? Even as I weep off and on during the difficult days, I see the value of my husband’s redemption, and I feel its tremendous comfort.

And so into the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death, a Light shines. A Light bright enough to carry us all the way home if necessary, goodness and mercy trailing behind us. Some truths we understood in part; now we more fully understand. I expect the picture will grow clearer and clearer over time.

Unfortunately, sickness has a way of bringing miserable comforters to your side. They have good intentions, but they don’t understand what God is doing. See the book of Job. His friends insisted Job must have some sin in his life, or he would be healed. God corrected them. I’m so glad that book is in the Bible. Job still speaks comfort to the righteous all over the world who are suffering!

Someone gave us a book that claims physical healing is included in the atonement, and therefore any Christian can demand a physical healing, and God MUST heal them. If they don’t get healed, they must not have the right faith. This doctrine is false.

If we can command God, then we are God, and He is not God. He is God, and we are His sheep. He commands us, and He leads us where He wants because He’s alot wiser than we are. Sometimes He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death because it will bring a greater good whether we are eventually healed or not. Those who love Him follow Him wherever He goes, and He sustains them whether they live or die.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Rom. 14:8)

We will have neither sorrow nor pain nor tears nor death AFTER WE ARE RESURRECTED.The “second death” has no power over us (Rev. 2:11). But all are appointed  to die once in this temporary life, and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27). We have all been dying since we were born.  One day, something–or many things– will quit working, and these bodies will expire. If you have not yet realized that all flesh is like the grass, quickly fading, in time you will see this truth. It is hard to truly grasp until it happens to you.

The doctrine that if you aren’t healed, you lacked faith, very often condemns the just and makes the heart of the righteous sad, whom God has not made sad (Ezek. 13:22). Thankfully we have the Truth upholding us and the presence of Jesus surrounding us like an impregnable fortress. It’s ironic that we have to hold our shields of faith up to stop the fiery darts of the wicked one (that come through professed believers) saying, “You must have no faith.”

He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. 17:15)

Satan has created a false “faith” that says we can, like God Himself, name it and claim it. That’s not faith; it’s paganism.  Faith trusts in God’s promises–all of them–including the ones that promise we will suffer, but one day our sufferings will cease forever.

God has been preparing me for these days for two years. I didn’t understand the preparation time until now.  He’s been tearing away from me all obsession with this life. This life is beautiful even in a sin-cursed world, and yet the redemption of sinners and the building of God’s kingdom is the ultimate goal as we dwell in tents of perishable skin. I haven’t always had the right priorities. The world teaches us to seek after food, clothes, health, wealth, power, beauty. These are nothing but dung compared to knowing Jesus and making Him known. If I knew this before, I know it better now.

I believe God can do anything. He can heal with a Word. He does heal today. And He WILL heal if it brings the most good to the most people. But He alone knows what will bring the most good. I know if it was up to me to wave some magic wand and get everything I thought I needed, I’d be a self-centered narcissist. That’s not good, and it’s not what I need. I would never elect to go through the fire, but God knows we need refining. God values our souls more than our temporary bodies. His ways are higher than our ways. We are invited to have the mind of Christ, and to assign our bodies and souls the same value He does (Matt. 10:28).

I know and confess that God is good even if He doesn’t heal my husband of cancer. He has forgiven us our sins. He has reached through the confusion and pain of this life to give us the truth that healed our rebellious hearts. He has given us such a beautiful marriage, and precious children and grandchildren.  Even now He continues to bless us, but we need our spiritual eyesight sharpened to see it. That’s ok. On the days our eyesight is poor, He sends a godly friend with a word in season, and the picture clears. He is a good Father, our Healer, our Redeemer, our Provider, our Life, our peace, and our joy. The Friend that sticks closer than a brother. The One who wept at the tomb of Lazarus is not forgetting any labor of love we ever did, and our tears are in His bottle. “My soul magnifies the Lord”!

If you love the Lord Jesus, will you please pray for our family? Pray that my husband’s faith does not fail, and that our lights continue to shine brightly no matter what. Pray we glorify Jesus in this trial, as we should. Pray for the unbelievers in our lives that we may influence because of our circumstances. I am asking my Father to touch and heal my husband and give him more years here, but I trust that He knows what is best and will do it.

God bless you!

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Avoiding Persecution at the Expense of the Gospel

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 3, 2016

Ever since I began to read the Voice of the Martyrs magazine* years ago, I have had the conviction that the western Church has much to learn from the Church in the rest of the world, and particularly from the suffering Church. This is not to say that the non-western Church has no errors or weaknesses. We know from reading Revelation 2 & 3 that churches can have both. They need rebukes, exhortations and continual guidance by the Great Shepherd. Sometimes they go so far astray, they are under threat of having their lamps darkened forever.

However the non-western Church has an advantage, in that her faith has survived wars, poverty, social upheaval and persecution. In most cases, she has not learned that persecution must be avoided at all cost, or that Jesus died to give her prosperity and earthly security. Jesus did not lie when He said it was hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, and we in the west are rich. There is a great blindness and apathy that seems to accompany prosperity and ease, unless we are very careful to cast it off. I believe that listening to these foreign disciples–and watching how they live out their faith–is akin to going to Jesus for some much-needed eye medication.  We have much to learn.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a message with you from a Christian evangelist who works in Tyre, Lebanon among 95% Muslims. He was born a Muslim himself, but became a follower of Jesus at a young age, due to the influence of a Christian church in his neighborhood. He lived for some time in the USA, after being flown here when his life was threatened because of his preaching. But he went back, and he opened a mission which openly admits with a sign that it exists to proclaim the gospel.

Mohammad Yamout tells his story and delivers some powerful exhortations to the western Church in the video below. Here is a transcription of part of it:

“Any Christian who thinks he can avoid persecution, I think that is not possible…We’re in the devil’s den. You’re attacking the fortress of the devil. The devil is not going to kiss you if you attack him. He’s going to attack back…

And any time you will try to avoid persecution, you have to do it on the expense of the gospel. You will compromise your stand in order to avoid persecution. I don’t want to compromise my stand. I don’t want to compromise the gospel to avoid persecution.

Many people, under the pretext of wisdom, say, ‘You have to be wise.’ I don’t know how wise you can be. I don’t think you can be more wise than Jesus Christ. He came, and He had to be persecuted. And He had to die. There was no other way.

For the gospel to spread out, and for people to know the truth, we have to die too. For the Muslim people to know Christ, we have to die. There has to be a line of martyrs in the future, I think, before these people understand that there’s a God that loves them. If we’re not ready to pay that cost, I don’t think anything’s going to happen….

Christianity was spread in the first century church by the blood of the martyrs. People died, that’s how Christianity was spread. That’s how we conquered.

Today in order to conquer, we have to be ready to die. People ask me in churches, ‘What makes a good missionary?’ And my answer is always, ‘Are you ready to die?’ If you’re not ready to die, pack it and go home…This was the life theme of every successful missionary–they were ready to die for Jesus.”

I hope you will set aside time to watch the entire video. God bless you.

*Note: While I credit the VOM magazine for helping me to better understand the worldwide church, and I respect its founder Richard Wurmbrand, I can no longer promote the ministry due to some revelations that Richard Wurmbrand’s son brought to light.

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The Way You Know

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 2, 2016

“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” ~Jesus (John 14:4)

Jesus is the Way. If you truly know Him, you know the Way.

There are many voices in this world wanting to be followed as potential “ways.” Entirely false religions as well as false voices claiming to be from Christ, seeking to lead us by degrees to other gods. Prophets and dreamers, false accusers and soothsayers.  Even well-meaning people with blind spots can be used by the enemy to divert us from the course He has given us.  Our own thoughts and feelings can be shifting sand. Don’t be distracted by all the noise. Don’t turn to the right or to the left. Look unto the Word of God, your Redeemer, your Rock of Salvation.

If you know Jesus, if He has saved you, if it is Him–the Living Word–you are following, then the way you know. The way may be hard, but the way you know. There may be people who despise, condemn, or misunderstand you; but the way you know. You may not know exactly how the current trial will play out, but the way you know. You may not know what will happen to your country, your family, or your own body; but the way you know!  If you are truly His, I pray this fills you with holy comfort.

A beloved sister, Patricia White, maintains a faithful witness at the blog Hoshi’ana. She has been enduring trials recently, and shared a testimony with friends of how the Lord has been faithful, and how she will continue to stand in Him. Here it is:

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!

I will follow Jesus until the day I die. No devil in hell, no liar or wicked person, whether they be male or female, family or friend, politician, religious leader or teacher, will cause me to veer off course, will remove me from this Highway of Holiness, or will take my crown; though they try, oh how they try!

Jesus Christ rescued me from the pits of hell; He gave me His Name; He gave me His Holy Spirit; He gave me His Word and His promises. Jesus healed my body in more ways than I can count and opened my barren womb and gave me a son. He taught me the Truth and gave me revelation of the scriptures. He taught me holiness and repentance; faith and endurance; joy and peace.

The best day of my life was when, in a vision, I saw His face and received my calling. That event taught me the fear of the Lord in a greater way than I had already known and caused me to walk even closer to my Savior. Since that day, the trials of my faith appeared and continue to. Sometimes the cross is exceedingly heavy to carry, but He is faithful and comes along and lifts the burden from my heart. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Jesus opened the door to true fellowship and through the years I have been blessed by godly relationships, some near and some far. I have found friends that stick closer than a brother and have taught me through their patience and humility. Thank you for their lives, Lord.

Please let this not be seen as my boasting of self. Let it not be seen as I am anything at all, but that all glory and thanksgiving goes to my Lord. It is He who died for me, and it is He who redeemed me. This is a simple proclamation of faith and testimony to share with you all today – that, as many of you do know – God is good. His mercy endures forever. Keep climbing that Holy Mount friends. The end of our faith isn’t far away.

Peace be with you.

Praise God for the faith of the saints. Though they endure sufferings, they cling unto the One they know! He has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful yet again.

Samuel raised a stone called Ebenezer to remind God’s people of the Lord’s faithfulness thus far:

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (I Sam. 7:12)

“Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.”

From “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Raise your Ebenezer today, saints of the Lord. Recount how the Lord sent His Word to heal you, how He rescued you from Egypt, how He overcame your enemies, how He filled your mouth with truth, and your heart with joy and peace. Between here and eternity are struggles; but we know the Way! Keep to the Way, and you will make it home.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Paul knew that in every city, chains and tribulations awaited him (Acts 20:23), yet he confidently raised his Ebenezer before King Agrippa, a faithful witness to the end–

Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great… (Acts 26:22)

May you always do the same! The Way you know; the Way is Jesus!

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Offering God Service

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 1, 2016

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. (John 16:1-3)

Jesus foretold a time when unbelieving religious people would persecute Christians, throwing them out of their synagogues and even killing them. The crucifixion of Jesus Himself stands as a stark confirmation of His words.

But it’s interesting that these killings will be done in service to God. Think about that.

Jesus said they do these things because they have not known the Father or Himself. They are trying to serve a God they don’t know, or serving a false god.  Beloved, if you ever hear a voice telling you to kill anyone for God, you can know for sure the voice is not the voice of the Shepherd Jesus. I don’t care how politically correct and widely accepted it might be. I don’t care how many churches condone it (to their eternal shame). I don’t care what the justifications are. If a man knows the Father through Jesus, he will not side with the destroyer against other people.

How many killings today are offered as service to God?

When a Muslim shouts “Allahu Akbar!” while killing, he is plainly saying he is killing for God.

When a “Christian” soldier inscribes Scripture on his machine gun, and agrees to use it on other people, he is saying he is killing for God, or at least with His approval.

How many mothers and fathers in the news have killed their little child, claiming the devil was in him. In their demon-possessed madness, they think they did God service.

New Age religion admits that one day all Bible believers will have to be killed, but they too twist their premeditated murder into a service to God by claiming they are in fact saving the Christians they kill.

Demented abortionists claim that God has given them the calling to kill babies. Link here. (Note: I don’t endorse the catholic theology at that link.)

Over the centuries, nation after nation has claimed that God is on its side, while doing the devil’s works for him. False churches have arisen and proudly harnessed the power of the beast to persecute the righteous. The beast and the false prophet like to work side-by-side. And why not?–The same dragon inspires them both.

There have been comparatively few individuals who loved Jesus and obeyed His commands, laying down their lives for others whatever the cost to themselves. But I praise God–there have always been a few! And their testimonies continue to inspire God’s children today, and to bear fruit that lasts.  Dear Lord Jesus, let me be counted among them.

I hope you will take 5 minutes to watch this re-enactment of a true story. Pray for both the persecuted and the persecutor. How will the persecutor know what true service to God looks like, if we aren’t willing to walk in the steps of Jesus?

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Put Up Thy Sword

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 27, 2016

The following is Chapter 18 from Samuel Logan Brengle’s book, When the Holy Ghost is Come.

The Sheathed Sword: A Law of the Spirit
by Samuel Logan Brengle

‘ Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.’

Just as the moss and the oak are higher in the order of creation than the clod of clay and the rock, the bird and beast than the moss and the oak, the man than the bird and the beast, so the spiritual man is a higher being than the natural man. The sons of God are a new order of being. The Christian is a ‘ new creation ‘. just as there are laws governing the life of the plant, and other and higher laws that of the bird and beast, so there art higher laws for man, and still higher for the Christian. It was with regard to one of these higher laws that govern the heavenly life of the Christian that Jesus said to Peter,’ Put up thy sword.’

Jesus said to Pilate, ‘ My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight’ (John xviii. 36). The natural man is a fighter. It is the law of his carnal nature. He fights with fist and sword, tongue and wit. His kingdom is of this world and he fights for it with such weapons as this world furnishes. The Christian is a citizen of Heaven and is subject to its law, which is universal, wholehearted love. In his Kingdom he conquers not by fighting, but by submitting. When an enemy takes his coat, he overcomes him, not by going to law, but by generously giving him his cloak also. When his enemy compels him to go a mile with him, he vanquishes the enemy by cheerfully going two miles with him. When he is smitten on one check, he wins his foe by meekly turning the other cheek. This is the law of the new life from Heaven, and only by recognizing and obeying it can that new life be sustained and passed on to others. This is the narrow way which leads to life eternal, ‘ and few there be that find it’ or, finding it, are willing to walk in it.

A Russian peasant, Sutajeff. could get no help from the religious teachers of his village, so he learned to read; and while studying the Bible he found this narrow way and walked gladly in it. One night neighbours stole some of his grain, but in their haste or carelessness they left a bag. He found it, and ran after them to restore it ‘for ‘, said he, ‘fellows who have to steal must be hard up.’ And by this Christlike spirit he saved both himself and them, for he kept the spirit of love in his own heart and they were converted and became his most ardent disciples.

A beggar woman to whom he gave lodging stole the bedding and ran away with it. She was pursued by the neighbours, and was just about to be put in prison when Sutajeff appeared, became her advocate, secured her acquittal, and gave her food and money for her journey.

He recognized the law of his new life and gladly obeyed it, and so was not overcome of evil, but persistently and triumphantly overcame evil with good (Rom. xii. 2 1). This is the spirit and method of Jesus; and by men filled with this spirit and following this method He will yet win the world.

He came ‘ not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many’ (Mark x. 45) His spirit is not one of selfseeking, but of self-sacrifice. Some mysterious majesty of His presence or voice so awed and overcame His foes that they went back and fell to the ground before Him in the Garden of His agony, but He meekly submitted Himself to them; and when Peter laid to with his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus said to him, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? ‘ (John xviii. 11). This was the spirit of Isaac. When he digged a well the Philistines strove with his servants for it; so he digged another; and when they strove for that, he removed and digged yet another, ‘ and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth (room); and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. . . . And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed’ (Gen. xxvi.22, 24).

This was the spirit of David when Saul was hunting for his life; twice David could have slain him, and when urged to do so, he said, ‘As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed’ (I Sam. xxvi. I 0 I I).

This was the spirit of Paul. He says, ‘Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat’ (I Cor. iv. 12, 13). ‘The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men ‘ (2 Tim. ii. 24). This is the spirit of our King, this is the law of His kingdom.

Is this your spirit? When you are reviled, bemeaned and slandered, and are tempted to retort, He says to you, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath.’ When you are wronged and ill-treated, and men ride rough-shod over you, and you feel it but just to smite back, He says, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath.’ ‘ Live peaceably with all men’ (Rom. xii. 18). Your weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, now that you belong to Him and have your citizenship in Heaven. If you fight with the sword; if you retort and smite back when you are wronged, you quench the Spirit; you get out of the narrow way, and your new life from Heaven will perish.

An officer went to a hard corps, and after a while found that his predecessor was sending back to friends for money which his own corps much needed. He felt it to be an injustice and, losing sight of the spirit of Jesus, he made a complaint about it, and the money was returned. But he got lean in his soul. He had quenched the Spirit. He had broken the law of the Kingdom. He had not only refused to give his cloak, but had fought for and secured the return of the coat. He had lost the smile of Jesus, and his poor heart was sad and heavy within him. He came to me with anxious inquiry as to what I thought of his action. I had to admit that the other man had transgressed and that the money ought to be returned, but that he should have been more grieved over the unchristlike spirit of his brother than over the loss of the five dollars, and that like Sutajeff he should have said, ‘ Poor fellow! He must be hard up; I will send him five dollars myself. He has taken my coat, he shall have my cloak too.’ When I told him that story, he came to himself very quickly and was soon back in the narrow way and rejoicing in the smile of Jesus once again.

‘But will not people walk over us, if we do not stand up for our rights?’ you ask. I do not argue that you are not to stand up for your rights; but that you are to stand up for your higher rather than your lower rights, the rights of your heavenly life rather than your earthly life, and that you are to stand up for your rights in the way and spirit of Jesus rather than in the way and spirit of the world.

If men wrong you intentionally, they wrong themselves far worse than they wrong you; and if you have the spirit of Jesus in your heart you will pity them more than you pity yourself. They nailed Jesus to the Cross and hung Him up to die; they gave Him gall and vinegar to drink; they cast votes for His seamless robe, and divided His garments between them, while the crowd wagged their heads at Him and mocked Him. Great was the injustice and wrong they were inflicting upon Him, but He was not filled with anger, only pity. He thought not of the wrong done Him, but of the wrong they did themselves, and their sin against His heavenly Father, and He prayed not for judgment upon them, but that they might be forgiven, and He won them, and is winning and will win the world. Bless God!

‘By mercy and truth iniquity is purged,’ wrote Solomon (Prov. xvi. 6). ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath ‘, and take mercy and truth for your weapons, and God will be with you and for you, and great shall be your victory and joy. Hallelujah!

‘HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? ‘

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, Christian Life, nationalism, persecution, Suffering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Persecution, Equality, Freedom and Salvation in America

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 3, 2016

Persecution Increasing

There is no doubt that persecution of Christians is on the rise in America, although in comparison to what Christians in other countries experience, we should admit we still have it easy.

The headlines warn us: Christian-owned businesses are under attack. Bow down to the governmental beast, or your buying and selling will be hindered. People who don’t want to fund abortion or contribute to the LGBT lifestyle because of personal and biblical convictions are being fined and threatened. I just saw that a Christian dating site has been told it must allow homosexuals to create accounts looking for same-sex partners. These are all signs that biblical truth has been rejected by the majority in this country, and sin is being protected–even promoted–by law. The foundations have been destroyed, and the righteous are headed for serious trouble–

For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psa. 11:2-3)


The Pursuit of Equality (It’s Not Fair!)

The true equality God has given to men is that each individual has equal opportunity to turn from evil and do good to the glory of God. The redemption in Jesus’ blood was offered to one and all, rich or poor, white or black, male or female.

The world has its own idea of what equality looks like.  As unbelievers embrace the devil’s doctrine, first we see abominations (according to God) being considered equal in moral value to righteousness. Fornication is “normal,” homosexuality or gender-bending is “an option,”  killing a baby in cold blood is a “choice,” and drone-bombing civilians in other countries is “heroism.”  The person who disregards God’s law is considered equal in morality to the person who doesn’t. There is no right or wrong; every man does what is right in his own eyes. That’s the devil’s brand of equality. And it has sold quite well in this country for decades.

It wasn’t long before this moral relativism gave birth to a greater evil yet–now good is called evil, and evil is called good.  The murderer of the innocent is protected by law, and the one who rebukes him is ordered to step off the grass or go to jail. The immoral person is celebrated and paraded down the street naked with police protection, while the person who rebukes this wickedness is put on the terrorist-watch list.

These are the times we live in. They are very dark times. And under pressure, some Christians are saying things like this–

“Why is the government picking on Christians, but not Muslims or atheists? Isn’t that hypocrisy? No fair!” And a chorus of disgruntled voices answers, “Amen, this isn’t fair. We need to fight for our rights.


The Promise of God to Christians:  You Will Suffer Injustice

I truly believe the “Christian right” news is toxic to the spiritual health of American Christians. We are constantly warned that we are victims losing our rights–rights that are nowhere promised us in Scripture. We are urged to fight back, to take our nation back (as if we aren’t pilgrims), etc. There is an underlying culture of fear and anger that works like a poison in our hearts, and sets us up to fight the wrong battle with the wrong weapons for the wrong prize. We fight flesh and blood with carnal weapons for the prize of earthly stuff that is vanishing away, and vainly imagine that we are spiritual warriors.

So why are Christians persecuted, while Muslims and atheists and others are allowed to get away with what they do? Why the hypocrisy? It’s really simple–Because of Jesus. The world hated Him, and the world will hate His disciples. Nowhere did Jesus say that the world will persecute unbelievers, those who are deeply involved in false religions, or lukewarm name-only “Christians.” He said the world will hate disciples of Jesus, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) The world accepts all those who are following a false way.  The world will not accept the True Way, because the god of this world (satan) is at war with Him.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (John 15:18-21)

Notice Jesus did NOT say, “Be outraged at the injustice! Get into a panic-induced hysteria and form a militia and protect your turf! Elect officials who will give you what you deserve!” Instead He spoke often of the other-worldly peace and joy His people would have while suffering. Rather than responding to pain with “This isn’t fair,” the early Christians responded with rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41).

I understand when the heathen seek “equality;” they are trying to appease their guilty conscience which condemns them loudly before a holy God.  But it troubles me to hear Christians complaining about unequal treatment. As much as I agree that persecution of Christians is evil and wrong, it is the very life we are called to. It is exactly what we have been promised. Funny how we like to stand on the promises that sound cheerful and fun, but side-step the promises that we must through tribulation enter the kingdom of God.

The world is always going to do what is evil and wrong, in accordance with its master’s will. And we disciples of Jesus need to endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3), knowing that our current troubles will be eclipsed by the great joy that is coming. Let’s call off the pity-party and get suited up for battle–not a battle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12) Let’s quit allowing the “Christian right” to direct our hearts into angry and fearful reaction, and let the witnesses in Scripture direct our hearts into faith and patient overcoming.

Are we prepared to go the extra mile, not just theoretically, but in actual practice? Are we prepared to endure hardness and injustice, or are we chafing at the unfairness of it all? Many will fall away in the furnace of affliction.


The Pursuit of Freedom

Beware of the pursuit of “freedom,” which unbelievers idolize, because if you seek that first, it will take you far away from God’s kingdom.

 

Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.  For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (I Cor. 7:20-22)

The more you pursue earthly freedoms, the more bondage you will enter into. You will live in constant terror of what you might lose. You will fear and despise the very people God sends you to with His good news, perceiving them as a threat to your freedoms. You will be self-protecting instead of self-denying. You will be carnally minded and abiding in death. And you might even learn to defend your faithless life by twisting Jesus’ words, as so many do. Beware!

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:31-32, 36)

Remember that Jesus spoke these words to Jews who claimed they had never been in bondage to anyone due to their parentage. Jesus insisted they were slaves–not of Rome–but of their own sin! Jesus isn’t impressed with the “freedom” Americans sing about and idolize either. He knows that all but the small remnant is still under complete bondage to sin, from the lowly average working man to the elite politician making false promises to heal what he cannot heal.

Jesus isn’t carrying our silly flags and working for our domination over other people so we can pursue happiness. Jesus isn’t celebrating the bombs bursting in air (what a sick thing to celebrate), or one country’s independence from another. He knows what is in men’s hearts–a desire not only to be free from other people’s control, but also to be free from God’s control. He raises up and He pulls down kingdoms, all with one underlying goal–to turn the hearts of individuals to repentance and faith in Him.

Jesus is actively tearing down all the idols we trusted in, that we may see that He alone gives true freedom.  Like the idol Dagon fell again and again, breaking up into pieces, the idol of earthly freedom is being destroyed that we may see the folly of trusting it. The Christian/religious right (part of the apostasy) keeps setting the idol back up and urging Christians to find their hope in it, rather than in Christ. Do not be led astray by them.


Many False Saviors

Some who profess Christ are so deceived and blinded by their attachment to this world, that they imagine a wicked idolater like Donald Trump can be some type of savior. Savior of what, I must ask?–this pile of ruin our collective sin has brought about? And savior from what?–can this slave of sin Trump save us from judgment? I’m sorry, but he works for the same devil the other politicians work for. Do not be deceived by the many false prophets telling us to support this wicked person. They expose their own apostasy and blindness. If they had stood in the counsel of the Lord, they would turn you from sin to righteousness, rather than from righteousness to sin. If you love God, keep your hands clean. Some trust in chariots (Republican nominee) and some in horses (Democratic nominee), but we [the faithful] will remember the Name of the Lord our God! (Psa. 20:7) To trust in man is to depart from the Lord.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” (Jer. 17:5)

God’s people are set apart, not entangled with the evil of the wicked who attain greatness in the devil’s kingdom. If you are the ambassador for Christ you claim to be, then be about the Father’s business of reconciling people to God, not the business of electing a new Caesar. Do not follow the apostasy; follow Jesus! This kingdom called America, though it reaches far and wide like the Roman kingdom of old, and does so with unceasing pride, will come crashing down like all the rest. And so God humbles all the mighty and the proud.

It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. (Isa. 24:21-22)

The kings of the earth cannot save you. They can’t even save themselves. They too are slaves, ensnared by their own lusts. There is only one who saves–

Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isa. 45:22)

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Do Not Give in to Fear

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 31, 2014

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (I Jn. 3:13)

It seems today that the western church is marveling and fretting because of the hatred of the world toward Christians. But what does Scripture say this will lead to?–

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psa. 37:7-8)

Instead of going the route which will only cause more harm, let us take the road Jesus set before us–the road of resting in Him and waiting for Him. Remembering this:

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (Jn. 15:18-21)

Contrariwise, if the world is accepting of you because you look and act like the world, then you have a problem (and need to repent.) If you are loving what the world loves and fighting in the world’s battles for the world’s treasures with the world’s weapons, the world will accept you. If you are willing to hate your enemies and only love your friends, the world will approve. But when you begin to make the words of Jesus the rule of your life, and your allegiance to His kingdom trumps your allegiance to the world’s kingdoms, everything will change. The world only loves its own. Those who count its countless man-glorifying schemes and monuments as worthless will themselves soon become regarded as the scum of the earth. Jesus said such people will be killed, and that’s not all–in a terrible twist of irony, they will often be killed in the name of God!

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. (Jn. 16:1-4)

The world is very religious, but it does not know God. We are to expect opposition so that we don’t stumble when it comes. Jesus said “WHEN the time comes” not “IF the time comes.” The time is coming and is already here! The world hates and pursues the lovers of God in myriad ways. We WILL have tribulation, but–

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33)

Is it possible to have peace here when the hatred is escalating and people are being beheaded and panic is rising? Yes! You can be “where satan dwells” and still be faithful (Rev. 2:13). This is the glorious, overcoming power of our God. In fact, we are not called to arm ourselves carnally against the growing threats and cower in fear, (figuratively) turning to Egypt or Assyria for help. We are to face the world filled with the Spirit and sanctified by the Truth, spiritually armed and ready to overcome evil with good. Our mission is to turn many to righteousness. God has made sure this mission cannot be thwarted by the violence of satan (Matt. 16:18). When the pressure is on, let us not defect to the enemy’s side by choosing his ways.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (Jn. 17:14-18)

Jesus SENDS us out into the God-hating world as sheep among wolves. He sends us with the instructions we are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). Wisdom is in short supply in the western church today, and harmlessness is ridiculed as either impractical or cowardly. There are pastors (widely praised) calling for actual Crusades and the killing of our enemies (one example here). These men work up their listeners into a frenzy of fear, warning them that their wives will be raped and their children killed before their eyes unless they choose the world’s ways. These men may stand in pulpits and use the Lord’s name, but they do not serve the Lord Jesus. They are not faithful to the Word, and they increase among their listeners a carnal, self-serving attitude that is indignant in the face of the tribulation Jesus promised. They further the apostasy! We need to get away from these peddlers of fear, even if some of what they say (concerning the escalating evils in our world) might be accurate. While in a haze of fear, many evils can seem justified. This is why we are commanded to stop fretting because it only causes harm.

Jesus never hid from us the possibility of our suffering violence. But His instructions regarding how we are to respond are very clear. And these instructions are being largely ignored today by professing Christians. The apostate church today is an adulterous woman (fornicating with the world) astride the beast. She is harnessing the powers of satan’s violent children, hoping to preserve her place in this world, and claiming God approves. She proudly refuses to suffer. But here is what the faithful saints will be careful to obey:

Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matt. 10:21-26)

Many calling themselves disciples want to be above their Teacher. But Jesus said “it is enough” to be like Him.

When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (I Pet. 2: 20-21)

Are we satisfied with being like Him and following in His steps? Or do we demand a fairer wind and an easier road? Unless we settle it in our hearts now that we are content to be like Him, we are likely to stumble. But we could die a violent death?! Yes, we could. Are we content to be like our Master, or aren’t we? We need to count the cost long before the day arrives when hard choices must be walked out. Do not fear them, says Jesus. He doesn’t say this because bad things won’t happen. He says this because they will.

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:27-31)

What kind of faith do we have? Do we have the kind of faith that wilts in the face of a true threat? We need an enduring faith to win the prize. We need a faith that says, “I will obey Jesus to the end, no matter what it costs me.” We need a faith that looks past the persecution Jesus allows to the sure promise that awaits us if we endure. We need the kind of faith that rejects the voices of strangers and false shepherds who urge us to be like the world and to be driven by fear. The voice of Jesus always says, “Do not fear them!”

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32)

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus speaks peace to His seemingly defenseless sheep, many of whom will die at the hands of violent men? We don’t need to seek what the nations of the world seek after, but only seek the otherwordly kingdom of God (Lk. 12:30). He will give us the Kingdom if only we keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon it, not allowing our affections to wander and embrace what is temporary and vain.

God bless you as you follow in Jesus’ steps, being content to be like Him come what may. God bless you as you choose faith and reject fear. And may God put a witness in your mouth that the very gates of hell cannot overcome.

For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. (Psa. 37:9-11; 27-29)

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ISIS, Suffering with Those Who Suffer, and Following Jesus

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 14, 2014

My heart goes out to the Christian victims of ISIS.  They are suffering greatly. It is my hope that many more will be rescued. To be honest, I feel almost guilty that I can sit here in my living room and type out these words without fear of a threat on my life.

 

Yet I cannot hope or ask that someone will bomb their tormentors. This is not of the Spirit that lives in me. I know that He is angry with the wicked every day, and that He will judge in righteousness. But today my hope is that their tormentors can also be saved, and that, like Paul, they too can become the bondservants of Jesus. 

 

It seems that this emergence of ISIS has revved the American Right’s terror of Islam into high gear. Can I say right here, in the beginning, that I believe the American Right–which claims to be Christian–is spiritually adulterous and thoroughly leavened? True Christians, please beware of being swept away in its tide.

 

Islam is a false religion, a religion that was sown with the seeds of violence from the beginning.  It’s more radical adherents are indeed terrifying. But the American Church has been led by fear for so long, and I have to wonder why. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1).

 

I think the American Church is fearful because the American Church is apostate.  I think she is a friend of the world and an enemy of God.  I think she has taken up carnal weapons because she has become a stranger to the real weapon–the Sword of the Spirit. 

 

The American Church has joined with the world for many years in using carnal weapons and warfare to “crusade” against “the enemy”–and the enemy was always flesh and blood.  Because of her adultery, she did not see how the world was able to lead her and use her to pursue its own questionable goals. She is a woman astride a terrible, destroying beast, thinking she has some control.  Once the world and its god is through using her, it will turn against her.

 

In the meantime, she is always fearing lest “the enemy” gain the upper hand. Fearing “the enemy” could bring an abrupt end to the quickly fading American dream, which she holds much more dear than the kingdom of God. Fearing, fearing, fearing. But also hoping–

 

Hoping that she can live by the sword without dying by the sword. Hoping Christ didn’t mean what He so plainly said. Hoping she doesn’t have to love THAT neighbor. Hoping she can turn the other cheek only when there is little at stake, and He will understand. Hoping that by manipulating politicians (if that is even possible), she can create for herself a safe fortress in which to love only those who love her. 

 

And for all this crusading, the violence of “the enemy” has not been stilled. It has not even been lessened. It has only gotten worse. 

 

There is a way to overcome this world. Jesus is that Way, and Jesus demonstrated that Way. His Way is so powerful, that by it He disarmed principalities and made a public spectacle of them, and overcame even death and hell for those who would follow Him. His children lose even their fear of death (Heb. 2:15).  Jesus calls us to that Way, but most refuse to get on that Way because it’s not comfortable to deny yourself and take up the implement of death-to-self. We like to speak of such things only hypothetically, always hoping that actual violence and pain and suffering never show up on our doorsteps and bring before us that terrible choice between self-preservation and Jesus. 

 

But the reality is that many, many have already made that choice. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving NOT their own lives to the death. They did not overcome by twisting Jesus’ words into oblivion. They did not overcome with a secret stash of weapons, or by saving their lives in this world (Matt. 16:25). 

 

We should hurt with those believers who are hurting. We should remember them as if suffering with them (Heb. 13:3). They are body parts in the same Body we belong to, and if they hurt, we also hurt. We need to pray for their peace and their endurance under trial. 

 

But at the same time, we should remember that–like the members of ISIS–we were once blind and without God in this world. We too were once the tools of satan, and through us, he hurt many people–we ourselves hurt many people.  We were enemies of God and alienated from Him in our minds because of our wicked works. But Jesus came to save that which was lost, and He died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS. There is hope even for murderers and people following false religions. 

 

Let us love Jesus and obey His commands. Let us come out from among false, self-centered and earthly-minded religion, which has caused so much harm. Let us return to the simple Way of denying ourselves and obeying all Jesus’ teachings. Let  us not explain them away any more, lest we be condemned with those who “take away from the words of this Book.”  Let us think of no one as unworthy to hear the gospel from our lips, for we are sent to “every creature.”  Let us be the good samaritan, no longer justifying ourselves caring for one and hating another.  Let us be willing to suffer with Christ in this life, and commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously. Let us pray fervently that Christ may give us boldness and confidence under trial, and that His love will be perfected in us so that we do not fear those who can kill the body–but only Him who is able to destroy soul AND body in hell. 

 

As iniquity abounds more and more in this nation, and as our grande illusions of freedom and self-determination crumble into dust, the love of most will grow cold as paranoia and desperation set in. Hopefully some in the church will repent and gather fully with Jesus;  those who do not will be scattered.  The world will be judged, but judgment begins in the House of God.  The Father will examine every branch in the Son, and those which are not producing good fruit will be cut off. TODAY, let’s examine ourselves, our actions, and our motives. Let’s judge ourselves honestly, and change if necessary, lest we be judged!  Never forget that lovers of the world have made themselves enemies of God. The saints shall be hated by ALL nations for Jesus’ sake. But he that endures to the end shall be saved.

 religious 3 Isis

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Compelled to Blaspheme

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 15, 2014

Hoshi’ana has posted an excellent exhortation for the saints. After reading it, the verse that came to my mind was,

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mk. 8:38)

May we never be ashamed of the Lord or His Words, whatever the personal cost!

Hoshi'ana

blash.2

And I (Paul) punished them oft in every synagogue,
and compelled them to blaspheme;
and being exceedingly mad against them,
I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Act_26:11

First Century Christianity

Before his conversion on the Road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul’s life was in great contrast to his life that would follow. He was a Pharisee and was tenacious on hunting down this new sect of Christ followers that was growing in his midst. Paul’s actions led to the imprisonment and execution of many first century saints. He was doing God’s will, or so he thought. Not long after disciple Stephen’s death by stoning, where Paul stood as a participant, he had a supernatural experience. Paul met Jesus and was changed forever more. He committed his life to serving the Messiah, preaching the gospel of salvation and building churches. He never returned to his position in Jerusalem or Temple…

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The Purpose of God’s Power

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 10, 2014

God’s power comes to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ to enable us to “rise from the dead” (spiritually) and walk in newness of life. Both the gospel message and Jesus Himself are called “the power of God.” (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:18, 24) To see a person born again as a new creature is the greatest miracle I can think of–much more amazing than a physical healing.

God’s power is also given to the born again believer to enable him to wage spiritual battle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The believer is given the spiritual armor of truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God (the Sword of the Spirit), and prayer. (Eph. 6:10-18) I note in this passage that while Paul seeks boldness to speak as he ought, he does not seek to be free of his chains! (19-20) While he has an awareness of all the power available to him, he does not try to misuse that power. He would later explain, “I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” (2 Tim. 2:9)

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Col. 1:13-14)

Paul says believers are strengthened by God’s power forall patience and longsuffering with joy.” Isn’t it a bit trite, then, to speak of that glorious power as the means by which we secure some temporal thing? Has His strengthening been provided so we can win the lottery and ensnare our own souls? Or is it provided so that we can be patient in tribulation (Rom. 12:12) and joyful in longsuffering?

How many times have we heard people say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) They often mean that they can get the new job, or buy the new house. But what was Paul’s context in that verse?

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. (Phil. 4:11-14)

Paul did not say that the power of God would shield him from distress, abasement, hunger or need! Rather he said the power of God would strengthen him to be content even when suffering.

Many false teachers have reinterpreted the concept of God’s power through the (very American) filter of materialism, self-preservation, and self-exaltation. These deceivers decree that money will flow into their bank accounts. They have body guards and idolatrous followers who believe whatever they say. They put on circus-like shows where they make people shake or laugh or fall down. Yes, there is a power at work when you can get thousands of people to give you their money after you’ve spent two hours lying to them. And there is a power at work when you can demonize people and they claim it is the Holy Spirit. But this is not God’s power; it’s the power of satan (Acts 26:18; 2 Thess. 2:9).

This false “power” is nothing new. The Old Testament prophets spoke of their lying contemporaries, how they were given to covetousness and were like greedy dogs which never have enough, only looking out for themselves. (Jer. 6:13; Isa. 56:10-11) Jesus warned that we must not give into covetousness (Lk. 12:15), for such will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:10). Jesus also warned us about self-preservation–He said if we love our lives in this world, we will lose them! But if we hate our lives in this world, we will have eternal life. (Jn. 12:25) God’s power was not given to us so that we could have the best of earth. God’s power was given to deliver us from the power of darkness (which rules the earth) into the heavenly kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God. (2 Tim. 1:7-8)

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