If American churches are going to be revived, they will have to rid themselves of Convenient Christianity. Christians who are looking for a savior that works like an app on their smartphone are obviously missing the point. As MercyMe sings in their song, â€œWishful Thinking:â€
‘Cause without suffering grace is hard to see
So maybe Iâ€™m right where Iâ€™m supposed to be
Youâ€™re probably not going to find that on any refrigerator magnet or paper weight at your local LifeWay store, but I can personally testify that the greatest moments of realizing Jesusâ€™ grace were in my darkest days of suffering.
One of the greatest Bible verses every written was from the pen of the Apostle Paul while chained to a Roman guard. From prison, Paul wrote what is many a Christianâ€™s life verse. It is my oldest daughterâ€™s life verse:
â€œI can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.â€ (Philippians 4:13)
What I most love about this verse in Paulâ€™s epistle, is that it wraps up a paragraph where Paul is thanking the Philippian church for meeting his needs while he was in prison. But Paul reminds them of the life he has lived for the sake of Christ:
â€œNot that I speak in regard to need, for 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.â€ (Philippians 4:11-12)
Clearly, verse 13 speaks of the abounding and endless grace of Jesus Christ, and yet it is prefaced with a reminder that grace is more apparent when we are suffering. That is why Paul knew he could do all thing through Christ. He knew this because he had experienced so much suffering, and throughout all of it the Lordâ€™s strength carried him.
Suffering doesnâ€™t just come in the form of physical affliction or personal tragedy; it can come in the form of persecution for our faith. I believe we are seeing this in greater numbers and intensity in America. It is nothing new to those who follow Christ.
In his last letter, the Apostle Peter warned of the time we are facing. Peter reminded his reader, as he does us, that scoffers would come questioning the authenticity of the Bible and Christâ€™s return. Peter wanted us to be prepared for this so when the persecution comes, we would be steadfast in the faith. However, not only would we be steadfast, we would also mature in our faith:
â€œYou therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.â€ (2 Peter 3:17-18)
Beloved, I believe 2018 is going to be a year of great opportunity for the church to grow and affect the culture. However, it will be a year of great challenge and ever-increasing persecution. Satan and his minions are not going to give us the year off just because itâ€™s an even-numbered year.
With the congressional midterm elections coming in November, the devil is going to fight to the death to maintain his grip over our nation. We who stand on biblical principles will be painting a large target on our chests, but know this. We have â€œthe shield of faith with which you will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.â€
We not only have the whole armor of God of which Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesian church, we also, and more importantly, have â€œthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.â€
That means if we want to have enduring grace, we are going to have to rely on the enduring Word of God.
Are you ready?
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Copyright Â© 2018 David Jeffers