This Far, And No Further

Thursday, November 07, 2013, 3:00 a.m. – I woke up around 2:30 a.m. because I was cold. I added a blanket and crawled back underneath the covers, but I could not fall back asleep, so I began praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world, in particular for those who are suffering persecution for their testimony for Jesus Christ. Then, close to 3:00 a.m. the song “My Cry For Mercy” began playing in my mind, so I got up to hear from the Lord. I read Philippians 1 (NIV), and then I asked the Lord to show me how this applies to me or to my world today. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

Not Christian

I went back to sleep at 4:30 and then got back up at 6:13 a.m. The Lord Jesus led me to read two news stories – one concerning political talks going on in Geneva, supposedly concerning Iran’s nuclear activities, and another concerning the US Supreme Court deciding a case on the appropriate use of prayer at government meetings, in particular with regard to a case in Greece, NY. [News references are at end of this writing.]

There was another song going through my mind at this point, but this one was not a Christian song. This one is called “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and is taken from the 1945 musical “Carousel” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The song sounds Christian in nature, but is very ecumenical, has been sung by numerous famous artists, adopted by sports teams, in particular in Liverpool, England in the early 1960’s, and is accepted by people of many faiths because it makes no declaration of any particular faith or God.

The talks in Geneva were between Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Apparently, as reported, there is discussion going on there with regard to the US asking Tehran to “agree on a first step to stop advancing its programme further.” And, then in the story about the Supreme Court case on prayer, the concern mainly seems to revolve around the concern that the prayers are mainly Christian. So, the court is examining the situation by asking several questions. For one, they are asking if it might be possible to construct a prayer designed to interest followers of all faiths, “including Wiccans and Baha’i.” One thing being considered here is allowing the town of Greece to continue its practice of prayer at government meetings, but what needs to be examined, evidently, “is whether the prayer proselytizes for or denounces any particular religion.”

What the Lord Jesus was showing me here, in combining the thoughts presented in both news articles, is that what is really going on here, in both cases, is a global effort to suppress Christian proselytizing, i.e. Christians sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others in an effort to win people over to faith in Jesus Christ. I agree with the separation of church and state. I agree that not one religion should be forced on anyone, yet I believe the very thing they are contending is exactly what they have in mind to do globally, and that includes here in America, too. In other words, the plan here is to go toward a global one-world religion, similar in nature to Baha’i, which is all-inclusive. And, it will be forced on everyone. We can still keep the very basics of our individual faiths, at least for now, as long as we don’t try to preach Jesus only, or as long as we don’t try to win people to faith in Jesus Christ. It is ok to say we are Christian as long as we don’t get too radical about it, in other words, i.e. as long as we don’t advance our beliefs any further than beyond ourselves. Even the new Pope is speaking out against proselytizing and for oneness and unity of faith.

So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. ~ Rev. 12:17 NASB
Partnership in the Gospel

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Phil. 1:3-6
Paul was thankful for the believers’ partnership in the gospel from the beginning of their decision to receive Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives up to and including the time when he wrote that letter. A partnership is “a relationship between two or more people or organizations that are involved in the same activity; or cooperation between people or groups working together” (Encarta). So, if we are partners with the gospel, it means we are in agreement with it, we are actively involved in it, and we are cooperating with it by how we live our lives in the power and working of the Holy Spirit within us. These were not just professing Christians or church goers. These believers were actively involved in living, believing and in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, this is where we all need to be - understanding that Jesus Christ is the one who began this work in our hearts and lives, and he will carry it on to completion until the day he returns. He will not allow the true gospel or the true church to be completely destroyed. Amen! His word endures forever!

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. ~ Phil. 1:9-11
Advancing the Gospel

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. ~ Phil. 1:12-14
These news stories I shared above both had to do with not advancing some belief or practice. The second one was definitely concerning not advancing in the proselytizing of Christianity in public prayers in government meetings, yet the other was speaking of not advancing a nuclear weapons program. I believe these leaders are acting hypocritically, because the US definitely has advanced in its nuclear weapons program, and apparently so has Israel. As well, I believe very much so that the Lord Jesus has been showing me for some time that the US and its allies are truly guilty of doing what they accuse other nations of doing. Also, it appears they (the global government) are coming against the proselytizing of Christianity, yet that does not keep them from proselytizing their various beliefs and practices which they are forcing on the nations and people of this world. So, this is truly about the persecution of believers in Jesus who are actively advancing the gospel of Christ.

Yet, we are to be encouraged! I believe the Lord Jesus is saying to us, even today, that the persecution we are facing or will yet face will only serve to advance the gospel even more; that the persecution will serve only as a tested and proven testimony to the unbelieving world; and that the persecuted believers’ faith and perseverance will serve only to encourage other brothers and sisters in Christ to become more confident in the Lord Jesus to dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Amen! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!

Life and Death

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. ~ Phil. 1:18b-26
Wow! Don’t you just love these words? First of all, we need to be encouraged here to pray for one another, not just over trivial matters or even over matters of this temporal world, but we need to pray for courage and strength and boldness for each other in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we are or wherever God places us. And, we need to pray that we would all have this attitude of Paul that while we are on this earth, our lives should be lived by, through and for Jesus Christ, while holding on to the promise of eternity with God in glory one day. Yet, we must be willing to remain, if God wills, for the spiritual growth and development of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, even if it means we will be here during the tribulation period and we will have to suffer, as Christians throughout the world are presently suffering for their testimony for Christ. We should do all for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, and we should not give way to fear to those who oppose us.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. ~ Phil. 1:27-30
My Cry For Mercy / An Original Work / October 31, 2013

Based off Psalm 86

Hear my prayer, Lord, I am needy.
Guard my life, for I’m devoted to You.
Save me! I’m Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.

O, Lord, have mercy on me,
For I call to You.
Bring joy to me, for to You
I will lift up my soul.

You are giving and forgiving.
You abound in love to all who
Call upon You. Hear my prayer, Lord.
Listen to my cry for mercy.

In days of trouble I call to You,
Knowing that You will
Do marvelous things,
Because You are my God.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Turn to me, Lord, and grant
Strength to Your servant.
O, Lord, You are my help,
For You love and You comfort me.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

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