BREAK THE HEAVINESS

The constant barrage of terrifying headlines and mainstreaming of perversion vexes the child of God.  These verses from Second Peter have never been more relevant than now: “and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment…” 2 Peter 2:7-9

Angry debates, violent rioting, filth paraded in the streets, Christian leaders renouncing their faith, persecution, and constant bad news can drain the sanity from our souls.

Not only this, but we are forced to keep all our enormous frustrations inside of us. While stupidity and wickedness get a megaphone—wisdom and righteousness get duct tape over their mouths.

These are the times that rob inner peace—that bring intense restlessness—that drain all the color and enjoyment from our life.

These are the times Jesus warned us of—and that He gave us direction for.

First He said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.” – Luke 21:17-19

Talk about mindless hate! Both the liberals and the feminists have incredible bias for Islam and sheer hatred for Christ and Christianity. It is mind-bending.  It makes zero sense.  Yet that is exactly the kind of irrational hatred our Lord predicted. It is weariness to believers who share their faith openly.

Then Jesus said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34)

The dumbest thing anyone ever said to me was, “When you come to Jesus, your problems are over.”  I never had problems until I met Jesus!  I kept wondering, “Why am I being attacked?  Why am I being shot at from all directions?  Why do I meet stiff resistance every time I try to do something meaningful for Jesus?”

Does this sound familiar? You walk through life, minding your own business and wham!  A co-worker rages at you for no reason. Money evaporates.  Your health fails.  Loved ones abandon God.  Someone makes an irrational defense for wickedness. A confluence of demonic attacks falls on you.  Life has never felt so cruel and unfair.

At the apex of one of these attacks, something happened to me.  A terrifying thought became a glorious thought, “SOMEBODY IS MAD AT JESUS, AND THEY ARE TAKING IT OUT ON ME!”  Suddenly, I felt qualified to fight back. And I felt profoundly honored.

Think about it!  A soldier does not go to war because he has a personal grudge against the enemy.  He didn’t declare war—his nation did.  He is not responsible for the battle plan—the military is.  He is not paying his own way to the war—his government is.

Let’s take a look at the things that are not the soldier’s responsibility:  The training he needs; the weapons he uses; the food and shelter he requires; the assignments he receives—these, and a host of other things, are not his responsibility.

“What soldier ever serves at his own expense?” (1 Cor. 9:7) “…No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Tim. 2:4)

The soldier does not create the organized army.  He does not carry the weight of how the war will be won. If he sits in the foxhole feeling alone and unfairly attacked, it is because he has forgotten who he is and why he is being attacked.  He has taken the battle into his own hands!

But when he remembers that he was recruited—when he recalls that he is not alone, but part of a victorious army, and all he is called to do is obey orders, it changes everything!

When we take the attack personally, we lose hope.  But, when we say, “The battle is not mine, it’s God’s,” we cannot be defeated.  Let’s stay out of things that do not concern us.  Let’s keep our conflict in the hands of God.  We must discern when we are operating in our own strength and by our own wits.

Remembering your attacks are not personal is plainly seen in these verses where Jesus speaks about conditions in the last days:  Luke 21:12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of special persecution, and you will be dragged into synagogues and prisons and before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 But as a result, the Messiah will be widely known and honored.  14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

newspaper headlines

When they were arrested, it felt personal. When they were dragged to court, it felt personal.  But when they were asked to speak, it became God’s battle and Christ was glorified!  He gave them the words and the courage to speak.  He even told them not to prepare words beforehand.  That means that we are not to devise ways of fighting back.  It means we will get what we need, when we need it.

Paul experienced the same thing: Philippians 1:12 “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…”

Right now we have a presidential election that embodies everything that is wrong with our nation.  It is a hair-pulling, maddening, terrifying, and draining moment for believers. We must put the battle back in God’s hands and let Him replenish our peace and our joy.

Never forget! We have the best message humanity has ever heard, and the best Book ever written.   We have the best Captain in the universe!  We have the all-powerful Holy Spirit, Who has been sent to aid us.   We have access to power, strategy, and wisdom.  All of this, and more, will direct our fighting.

Is someone mad at Jesus, and are they taking it out on you?  What an honor!  What an opportunity!  Whenever Satan comes at you, let Jesus come at him!

The first time an angel stares at you in heaven with wonder and admiration for your service to Christ, you will know why your trials were worth it all.  The first time you hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” you won’t remember the suffering, the trials, or the battles.

No wonder Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  -Romans 8:18

Hallelujah!  –

A WORD

You held on to your integrity.  When the trendy shortcuts for having a big church were offered to you—the Holy Spirit told you to stay out. Somehow, you never had the stomach for big screens, skinny jeans, and fog machines. Silly you! You wanted to keep singing some of the old songs—songs about the Blood of Jesus!

The devil tried to make you feel like a fool. You poured blood, sweat and tears into a community for many years. Along comes a slick marketer who creates a buzz. Overnight, they get a crowd.  The enemy attacks you and says, “They are blessed, and you are not!”

Let me be so bold as to appropriate Psalm 73 to describe the emotions you faced:

Psalm 73:2 “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

The evil one whispered to you, “if you had left out those negative verses, like they do—if you would finish your sermon in twelve minutes—if you would only tell people to quit raising their hands—if you would only…” Well, you know the spiel.

Suddenly, envy tries to grip you and these words from Psalm 73 fit your turmoil and temptation:

Psalm 73:4 “For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish.”

But these are the words that apply most: verse 13, “Surely, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.”

The devil again whispers, “What have you got to show for all your diligence and integrity? All your prayers, all your faithful preaching of the Word of God no longer works. You have stayed pure for no reason.”

Then people you’ve known for years turned on you. Like the Israelites who begged for a king—prominent people in your congregation told you they want the bells and whistles of modern church marketing.  “We want to be like all the other churches.” And when you wouldn’t change, they left and took their tithe with them.

It all became too much.  You and your family were broken hearted. Still you did not speak out loud what you were feeling. Verse 15 says, If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.”

You, like David, thought about the young pastors who are coming up. You thought, “They can’t hear us saying the Word of God no longer works!”

It has all become too painful! How can you try so hard, for so little result, while those who cheapen the message are booming? Here is the Word of the Lord, beloved pastor: 16 “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. 18 Surely, You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.”

Hold on, men and women of God! America is changing! A nightmare of anxiety and emptiness is changing appetites!  When a nation gorges on sin, they begin to yearn for purity and cleansing.  Nothing can protect the sin-sick soul from disgust, nausea, and the unholy hangover.

A convicted heart can reach the point where a slick church concert, outfitted with lights and fog, or a canned motivational spiel, can repulse them just as much as the sin they are trying to escape.

A soul soaked in the sludge of our current time can yearn to collapse at a simple wooden altar, sob deep tears of remorse, and welcome the warm hand of a true pastor on their shoulder.

In fact, at this moment, heaven is releasing power for miracles, words of prophetic might, and great resources to do the work of God.  Those who have kept their integrity, who have labored in obscurity and have not seen any results, will receive great power and multiplication.

Americans will want to come in from the storm. They won’t feel safe in a shallow church. In a hurricane, you don’t rush to a flimsy building. Many man-made worship centers will collapse like a house of cards. They are the ‘slippery place’ that God spoke of. They will be too easily damaged by the coming storm.

Daniel refused to change—even when they threatened his life. When magicians and false seers were all the rage—Daniel held to his convictions. Then King Nebuchadnezzar has a nightmare and loses his appetite for half-baked entertainment.  Now he desperately needs an answer—and so will America.

The most attractive force on earth is about to flood your church building: THE PRESENCE OF GOD! His Spirit not only attracts better than entertainment—it does something infinitely more valuable—it brings people in for the right reason! They will become disciples! They will not be fickle ‘lookie-loos’—the kind that leave as soon as they find something more interesting.

The same preaching that the devil mocks today will be the right preaching in the coming hour! Don’t change! The way you pray, the way you love people, the way you raise holy hands and worship the Lord − everything they make fun of now, will be perfect for the coming harvest!

Hold on! Hold tight to every promise God gave you! Tell the devil he is a liar! Confess to your people, “God has His hour of power, and even now it is at the door!”

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