Make no mistake: Jesus has WON the spiritual war. Bludgeoning Satan to a smear, which as a smear he continues to mar every disciple’s role as Christ’s servant.
We lose personal battles, sometimes repeatedly. The very struggle to overcome our sins, and failing, can weaken our resolve to persevere in faith.
How shall we respond when life in Christ isn’t as joyous as we desire and God guarantees? When we find ourselves in spiritual doldrums, no fair breeze moving us forward? In a stillness that chokes our commitment to continue?
Persevere despite any desire to quit. Convictions, not feelings, are the basis of faith and discipleship. Persevere in obedience to Jesus. His fair winds will yet again blow over our life.
God may be more silent than we’d like. When we need his encouragement. When we think we can’t continue without it. When we want something he doesn’t. Or, like Jesus for a brief sentence in Gethsemane, don’t want something God does. When in 13 brief words he wanted to avoid the Cross—a perfectly understandable desire. But...more than release, in 9 brief words, declared his desire for God’s will to be done.
Point of fact. God sent angels to strengthen Jesus as he struggled to obey. We can trust God in our despair—through Scripture, Christian friends or circumstances—to help us when we MUST have it...MUST.... For we can never be more desirous of success in discipleship than God! Fini
The enormously essential day for Christians is the Savior’s return from Heaven as LORD. His entire life, ministry, sacrifice, resurrection and authority make that DAY inevitable.
UNTIL towering iridescent Cloud-Chariots ferry him into sight, accompanied by millions of angels to harvest history. UNTIL loud trumpet blasts tear time and space apart, accompanied by Christ’s stentorian summons that awakens all the dead and changes all the living, Christians face the same uncertainty as Nelson’s sailors at Trafalgar: they pay the price of shooting and being shot; harming and being harmed; killing and being killed. While the national cause seemed sure to succeed, individual sailors could suffer exponentially. Indeed, no one considered the ultimate price would be Nelson’s own death at the hand of a sharp shooter.
Would they survive the battle?, English sailors wondered. Christians also wonder: will our service for Jesus succeed; will we make a difference in any one else’s life; will we leave any situation better, or worse, for having been involved?
We can no more eliminate the price we pay to serve Jesus than he escaped the price paid to forgive us. We can no more reach everyone, convince everyone, be popular with everyone than he.
As an encouragement, first, we may not be alive to witness Christ’s return. If not, we shall be among those first raised with new bodies. Second, remember that it’s God’s nature to bring to completion all that’s incomplete. He took 1500 years to complete what he began with Moses. He has taken over 2000 years to complete what he began when Jesus rose from the dead. Let us celebrate what we know is coming from God by delighting in what has already come.
End Part II
British personnel, from the least tarheel to Admiral Nelson, felt confident of national victory over the enemy at Trafalgar. Common sailors, however, couldn’t know their personal fate in the battle.
The Master’s Conquest of every enemy of God won the Spiritual War between him and Satan. Like the English sailors at Trafalgar, Christians know that many battles remain in discipleship: within self, with external foes; overcoming satanic falsehoods and our own self-deceit. The conflict never ends, as Paul said in Romans 7:7-25, Galatians 5:16-18. Self-denial, the very first requirement of discipleship, Matthew 16:24-25, is the last barrier we seek to overcome. Instead of being a contesting counter-culture, we adapt culture to our worship services. Instead of preaching the Gospel as written, whoever objects to or accepts it, we seek common ground that won’t offend. We easily forget that we are God’s friends and, therefore, enemy of all that opposes him. End Part I
Jesus personalized Bodily Resurrection from the dead to prove himself the FIRST FRUITS of resurrection, not the sole possessor of it.
That’s the power of example. No white men had traversed the continent east to west before
Lewis and Clark pioneered the concept. And, sure enough, as they descended the Missouri River on their return trip, up the Missouri came the first mountain men. No human had flown non-stop across the Atlantic until 1927 when Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis into Paris. No human had catapulted into space and returned to tell the story before Yuri Gagarin in April, 1961.
Once an idea is actualized, others replicate it. Thus, Jesus offered the most powerful argument of bodily resurrection of all believers by his OWN conquest of death. Think of Francis Bacon saying that a testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow: its force depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. When God’s hand drew back the bow that SHOT Jesus alive from the tomb he awakened all humanity in history, for all time, to the promise of bodily resurrection for every believer in Christ. The War is Won. End Part II
Around 6 AM 21 October, 1805, sailors of British and French/Spanish men of war gazed through early morning haze at each other. The following battle off Cape Trafalgar would decide dominance at sea for the next two centuries.
A confidence built by victory at sea gave the British a sense of destiny, the lack of which shrouded the enemy with dread. An Admiral clothed in conquest spurred the British tars to heroism denied the enemy by their distrust of top leadership.
The leisure of two years waiting would be shattered by the violence of six hours of conclusion. When it had passed, British renown soared, French and Spanish reputation plummeted. Trafalgar – The Nelson Touch, 19-20
Jesus Christ died at 3 PM Good Friday afternoon. Before 6 PM he had been lowered from the cross by gentle hands, washed and wrapped in linen grave clothes, into which 75 pounds of spices had been folded, before being placed in a borrowed tomb.
Unbeknownst to every grieving believer, and every gloating enemy, Jesus perfectly fulfilled God’s purpose for his incarnation: to be SAVIOR, forgiving the sins of every mortal from Adam to the last Day. That victory had earlier been resoundingly won: in God’s protection of his infant Son from Herod’s rage; in that same adult Son’s wilderness triumph over Satan’s every machination; in Christ’s every ministry contest with Satan in teaching, miracles and exorcisms; in determining when he would die and how. The Enemy of God dreaded Calvary because he knew it meant the shattering of his pretensions into the illusion it had always been. End Part I
New Vintage, a secular-religious organization, has purchased the old Bijou/Ritz Theater in downtown Escondido, California. They held a formal ground-breaking Saturday, March 30, 2019. “Secular-religious” because, according to The Times Advocate, March 28, 2019, the Pastor of New Vintage wasn’t concerned if the church “does well”, but only if the city improves by the project. Indeed, if correctly quoted, he said, “What goes on there doesn’t have to be distinctly Christian”.
Ignore the self-serving explanation that Hidden Valley Christian Church “dissolved and tossed us the keys”. But consider the failure built into their downtown plan: they don’t want it to be “distinctly Christian”. That depends on whether they want to be New Testament Christians or merely a secular-religious body. New Testament Christianity isn’t an educational movement, though it always educates people to literacy so they can read God’s word. It isn’t an entertainment venue, though it always produces positive, uplifting entertainment. It has no environmental message except to declare creation’s desire to be incinerated so it can be renewed as the eternal home of God’s people. And it makes no mention of physical properties, though it never fails to upgrade any rural, urban, suburban or downtown milieu.
New Testament Christianity is first, foremost and only evangelistic. It is always “distinctly Christian”, as in Christ-like, with his teachings applied to individual lives. The most basic teaching being God’s insistence that all mortals are sinful and need forgiveness. Then, in conversion are re-created in Christ’s image. And, being changed people, change human life for the better.
Every apostolic effort in Acts began with, continued as and never stopped being “distinctly Christian”. Whatever political environment they entered. However depraved the morals of people. In whatever economic condition they found people living. Every Christian preacher entered every city and town of the Empire preaching Jesus Christ as Savior by dying and Lord by rising from the grave. In turn, he demanded every human to repent of his self-will and be immersed for the forgiveness of his sins.
Why would Christians satisfy themselves with renewing a city’s buildings when we can renew its soul? We can do the former by not being “distinctly Christian”. We can do the latter only by being “distinctly Christian”.