Unlawful to Practice

Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 12:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 16:16-34 (NIV).

Before the Magistrates (vv. 16-21)

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

It is already unlawful to practice the Christian faith, as Jesus taught it, in many countries throughout the world, whether or not that law is actually on the books. And, it is becoming unlawful to do so in America, too. How do I know this? I know this because of the words that our leaders are speaking to the people, and I know it because of the witness of the Holy Spirit within me who gives me understanding to see what these leaders are saying.

For instance, ever since Obama took office, he has made no secret of the fact that he and America are partnering with many other nations across the globe to fight religious extremism. And, he isn’t just talking about people who commit horrible crimes against humanity all in the name of religion, either. Quoting from the vision statement of the UNAOC:

The UN Alliance of Civilizations works toward a more peaceful, more socially inclusive world, by building mutual respect among peoples of different cultural and religious identities, and highlighting the will of the world’s majority to reject extremism and embrace diversity.

The UN, Obama, Pope Francis, the mayor of Akron, Ohio (where I live) and Donald Trump, et al, are all giving the same (or similar) message as one another. The message is loud and clear that we must remove from the earth (or from our nation) all which divides us as the people of the world; that our differences must not define us, for if they do, then that is what sows hatred and conflict. They speak much against individualism, exclusion, differences, division and disagreements. These, they believe, must all come to an end.

They are calling for the people of the world, including in America, to have shared and common ground, goals, resolve, cooperation, integration, purpose and tolerance (permissive indulgence), and, in America, for all of us to “speak with one voice and one heart” (Donald Trump quoting Abe Lincoln). Their goal is purportedly world peace, where all the people of the world live together in harmony, regardless of religion or lifestyle choice.

Yet, Jesus said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. He came to turn family members, one against another (See: Matt. 10). What he meant by this is if we follow him, in the way in which he taught us to follow him, the world will hate us, and they will reject us. And yet, if we love the people of this world more than we love him, then we are not worthy of him, he said. And, if we do not take up our cross daily and follow him, we are not worthy of him, he said. In other words, Jesus called us out of the world. He called us to be holy – separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming like Christ. So, we are not supposed to be united with the world in harmony, having one mind, heart and purpose with them.

From this, we should know that we are going to be facing serious religious persecution, if we are not already, if we do not compromise our faith in Jesus Christ in order to conform to and cooperate with the international community in breaking down all which divides us so that we can live in a more peaceful and socially inclusive world where all the people of the world, regardless of religion or lifestyle join hands and hearts and sing Kumbaya.

Praying and Singing (vv. 22-28)

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Satan hates those who are followers of Jesus Christ, because we do not conform to his ways, and we work against him when we tell people about Jesus and they are set free from their slavery to sin (from their demons). He wants to hold people in bondage to sin so they will not serve Jesus Christ, but so they will serve him and do his bidding, instead. He wants the world to all come together in harmony (a false peace), and to break down all which divides us, because then the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be preached, and people will not be saved, and everyone will all be the same. But, they will all go to hell, too, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of their lives, for they loved their own lives more than they loved Jesus.

But, when they hate us and they persecute us, which they will, we must know that greater is He who lives within us than he who lives in the world. We must believe that our God is completely sovereign and absolutely in control over all that he has made. He is allowing this for a purpose, and it is to make us holy, to revive his wayward church, to spread the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth, and so many will be saved before the day when he returns for his bride. So, we must not let it undo us. We must keep on keeping on sharing Christ and his gospel of salvation, and we must remain steadfast in faith and faithful in purpose and stand strong on the truth of God’s word and against Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, we must keep on singing, and not be silent, even if they take our lives.

What Must I Do? (vv. 29-34)

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Amen! Hallelujah! God is faithful! He will take what Satan meant for evil and he will turn it around for good. If we remain faithful to our Lord, even in the face of great opposition and persecution, and we keep on loving God and the people of this world, and we don’t retaliate, but we live in perfect peace with our Lord and we share his joy and his salvation with others, I believe God will use it to bring people to Jesus Christ. So, hang in there. Don’t let what others do or say get you down. Rejoice in the Lord and in his mighty strength, and shout out his message of salvation for all to hear.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.

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