Be Strong and Have Courage
In the last few months we have been studying about the Millennium and what it will be like. The Bible paints a glorious picture of a planet with all evil doers banished; Satan and his cohorts are locked away; and peace and prosperity have enveloped the whole earth. Those called of God to be a part of the future restoration team (those who remain faithful to God until death and therefore qualify to be resurrected to eternal life) have a fabulous future ahead of them.
But sometimes that day can seem like a long way off especially if we have been in the Ekklesia for decades and decades and we have waited for it to arrive but it just has not happened yet. Here we are still in a world that is getting more violent and more insane by the day.
Most of our leaders and politicians are corrupt and even lawless; we are losing our religious liberties that we have had for over 200 years here in America; our food supply is tainted with pesticides and GMO’s; horrible acts of terrorism and mass shootings are happening on a near-weekly basis; racial tensions are increasing; the LGBA agenda is being pushed into the very fabric of our society against our will; we hear of ISIS atrocities in Europe and the Middle East; the coming election is a mess, our country is a mess, and the world is a mess.
We can look out at the madness that is going on and it can be very depressing! But as God’s called-out who believe all God’s promises, we must never let depression and discouragement take hold of our hearts when we see the bad things that are happening in the world.
What Do We Do Between Now and the Millennium?
So what do we do while we are waiting for Christ to return and waiting for Him to set up a holy, righteous kingdom here on earth?
Toward the end of His ministry on earth, just before He was crucified, Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding the very time we are living in. The disciples had questions for Christ as to when they could expect Him to return to earth, and what kind of signs to look for.
Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Jesus’ message to His first disciples is also directed, and even more so, to His end time disciples, for He describes the times when these things would be intensifying.
Later in verse 37 Jesus stated that the condition on earth in those days would be the same as they were in the days of Noah just before the Flood.
Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
What were those days like?
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Back to Matthew 24; after giving them more signs of the end times, Jesus then told His disciples what their attitudes should be like and what they should be doing as they waited for their Lord to return.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
24:46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
24:47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
In Luke Jesus tells us that we must “occupy” until His return, which means to take very god care of the priceless things that He has given to us.
Luke 19:12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
Jesus warns us to watch for the signs of the times, and when certain things begin to happen we could know that the end is close. Then He warns to be sure we are not caught unprepared, and not to be distracted with the pleasures and [excessive] cares of this world.
So as His return draws near we are to watch and pray. Watching and praying are two more things we are to be doing as we see the world swirling into a moral cesspool and more and more of the signs that Jesus spoke of come about.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
In Your Patience Possess Ye Your Souls (Luke 21:19)
Another thing we are to be doing is to endure whatever trials come our way, right up until Christ’s return, and at the same time exercising patience.
Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Hebrews 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
As God’s called-out people we must not turn back when life gets hard when we are going through various tribulations. This does not just happen at the end time for we read in Scripture about all the servants of God who were tested with many trials and persecutions; and it is the same for all modern day believers.
Our forefathers serve as our examples, our role models, as ones who have gone before us who all suffered severe trials, yet kept their sights on the world that is coming and not on this present evil world.
Hebrews 12:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
12:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
12:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
12:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
12:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
12:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
12:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
12:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
12:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
What did they keep utmost as their focus?
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Why does God allow us to be tested with severe trials in this life? God wants us to develop genuine, lasting faith which is much more precious than any perishable material thing, even the finest gold.
It is through overcoming trials, including the trial of opposition, rejection, and persecution, that strengthens our faith; and if we endure these things and overcome them in our lives, the end result will be more than we could ever imagine.
The apostle Peter says we will be rewarded with true honor and with eternal life when Christ returns, if we see our trials as only temporary and hang on to our faith in spite of them until the very end.
1st Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
The apostle Paul knew from his own hardships in life how difficult it was to live as a follower of Christ. As we read about his story in the Book of Acts and then read his epistles, we learn about the many trials that he had to endure as he did God’s work of preaching and teaching the Gospel.
In Acts 14 we read that when Paul and the disciples went about the various towns to visit the brethren they would comfort them by telling them to expect tribulation, implying that it is by trials and opposition that God’s people are fitted and qualified to enter God’s glorious kingdom, and they exhorted them to remain faithful even as they go through difficult times.
Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
19:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
19:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
19:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to follow Him, they would have to deny themselves and take up their own cross and that if we seek to save our life, we will lose it, but if we lose our life for Jesus’ sake we will find it.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
The things that we see happening all around us is showing us that this is not really our home, but is temporary and that we are not to put our trust in the things and the people in this world for our security and happiness. At the same time we run with patience putting our trust in God and looking unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.
1st Corinthians 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
For a believer, running with patience and laying every weight that holds us back, is a life-long marathon; it is a race of endurance! Yes, we get very tired and discouraged at times but we can always go to God for more strength and endurance, for in fact, we must go to Him for we cannot make it on our own.
If we want the prize, our crown that God’s holds out to us, we must finish the race set before us. And we look to our Lord and Savior, our Scout who has gone before us, who endured more than anyone else in this world and set for us an example. He loves us immensely and it is His utmost desire that we make it as well and finish as victors at the end of the race.
One thing we know for sure, if we do give up we will never be able to finish the race set before us! It is one thing to start a race but quite an accomplishment to finish it, and that is when we will receive the incorruptible crown that Paul talks about in 1st Corinthians 9:25.
Never Give In To The Enemy
From: wikisource.org: (A speech given by Winston Churchill MP, British Prime Minister, at Harrow School on 29 October 1941.)
Here is an excerpt of Winston Churchhill’s speech who was a very secular leader of the UK during World War 2. I had always heard that it was “never, never, never give up” that he had said, but the truth is that he said “never, never, never, give in…. “
We can apply his sound words of exhortation in the face of our trials and temptations in our Christian walk just as he encouraged his nation in the dark years during World War 2.
I found this very inspiring even though he was a carnal man who made many mistakes. These were good words of encouragement as they were going through desperate times during the War.
We, too, are in a spiritual war and we, too, must have the courage to never give in to the enemy by giving up or compromising God’s Word.
“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done.
Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.
Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.”
If we become weary (and we all become weary at times) Jesus says we are to go to Him to find our strength in Him, but we must never give up the race to the finish line which will only end when we reach the Promised Land [the Kingdom of God].
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
As believers we must be strong and have courage! Never give up and never give in to the temptations that Satan throws at us even in these trying, perilous times we are living in. To be a true follower of Christ is very difficult, but with God all things are possible and He promises to help us when we lack the strength in our own power to endure until the end.
Paul gives us very timely advice on how we are to defeat the fiery darts of the enemy and stay spiritually strong. We all know these Scriptures by heart, but it is a good reminder for us to read them again from time to time when we are feeling discouraged and defeated.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
God knows how weak we are for He made us. David tells of the Lord’s incredible, everlasting mercy for His people if we are keeping His Covenant which we made with Him when we were called.
Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
103:15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
103:16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
103:18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
In Isaiah 40 the prophet gives us God’s marvelous promise: that He (not we ourselves) will renew our strength when we feel like we are weak and are going to faint and we feel like giving up.
Think of a mighty eagle as it bursts up out of the water with a huge fish in its talons, and imagine God giving us that kind of strength to continue our race to the finish line, helping us to get through all the hoops and giving us the energy to jump over all the high hurdles.
Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
God Tells His Servants to Be Strong
Joshua was told by God to be strong and to be courageous as he was about to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land.
This is the same advice God gives to us for, we, too, are about to enter the Promised Land of God’s Kingdom in just a few short years. God tells us to observe to do according to ALL His laws and not to turn from them to the right hand or to the left hand.
God assures Joshua [and modern day Joshua’s] that He will be with him as He was with Moses. This was Joshua’s commission and this is our commission even in our times, for we must cross over the perilous times that we face in our day, just as our ancestors had to cross over the turbulent Jordan River to receive their inheritance in the days of Joshua.
Joshua 1:1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
The Hebrew word for “be strong” in this verse is chazaq (Strong’s #2388) and means: aid, amend, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, A primitive root; to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer — aid, amend, X calker, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, continue, be of good (take) courage(-ous, -ly), encourage (self), be established, fasten, force, fortify, make hard, harden, help, (lay) hold (fast), lean, maintain, play the man, mend, become (wax) mighty, prevail, be recovered, repair, retain, seize, be (wax) sore, strengthen (self), be stout, be (make, shew, wax) strong(-er), be sure, take (hold), be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
The Hebrew word for “have courage” is amets (Strong’s #553) and means: confirm, be courageous of good courage, steadfastly minded, strong, stronger, establish, fortify, harden, A primitive root; to be alert, physically (on foot) or mentally (in courage) — confirm, be courageous (of good courage, stedfastly minded, strong, stronger), establish, fortify, harden, increase, prevail, strengthen (self), make strong (obstinate, speed). (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
Paul, too, gives a similar promise of what we have in Christ in his letter to the Romans: that if we ask for the things we need and if we are for Him, He will be for us, and nothing can separate us from His love; nothing can be against us or harm us; for if we belong to Him, even in death, we will be raised to everlasting life.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Bible is God’s instruction Book on how to live and what God expects of His people, but it is also a Book that provides hope and comfort for those who obey it and then keep their minds on the promises that it contains. That is another reason Bible Study and mediation on God’s truth and promises is so important; for it keeps our mind on what is really important and on the whole plan that God has purposed for us, and eventually the whole world.
Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Run to God for Courage and Strength
The early Ekklesia is our model of what we are to do when we face tribulation and persecution for they sought out their Lord as their Deliverer and Protector and we can learn from them by reading about how they came together as a body and they prayed for boldness and POWER.
Oh, if all God’s people would seek the Lord with all their hearts, faithfully obeying all of His commandments and asking for all BOLDNESS to do ALL His will and to speak His Word to others.
Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
4:30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
Jesus tells His disciples that He will be with them right up to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus came to Paul by vision and spoke words of comfort to him when Paul was facing opposition and persecution and told him to not be afraid to speak and not to hold back.
Acts 18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
18:10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
God’s Servants in the Old Testament also ran to God for the strength they needed when facing obstacles and challenges and God gave them His words of comfort and reassurance as well.
Deuteronomy 1:29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
1:30 The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
1:31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. 55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
43:3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
43:4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
43:5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
Daniel 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
The Courage to Stand By Our Convictions
Paul encountered much opposition and life was very difficult at times for him, in fact it seems that he went from one crisis to another crisis throughout the Book of Acts in his efforts to preach the Gospel and in his many travels to the various congregations.
In Paul’s defense of his preaching of the Gospel when brought before king Agrippa, he told the king of his mission and what He taught about why Christ came to earth.
Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
Paul was not only physically attacked with arrests, beatings, and one time even stoned; but he was often vehemently maligned and accused of ulterior motives; and as we see in this incident, king Agrippa accused him of being crazy.
But Paul had a special calling to preach the Gospel no matter what others thought of him and no matter how they reacted to what he had to say.
This present evil world has never made it easy for true followers of Jesus to stand firm in sound doctrine. We have to fight to stay true to God on a constant basis, and even in the midst of those who call themselves God’s people.
It is a sinful world and there is so much deception; most people do not want to hear God’s truth. Just as it was in Isaiah’s day so it is in modern day Israel.
Isaiah 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 30:11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
A few months ago one commenter on TheShiningLight wrote: “It is better to walk alone with God, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction!”
This is so true; and is what God is calling each one of His called-out to do. When He first called us and we made the decision to follow Him, we had to disembark from the path that the whole world is taking, including our unconverted friends and family.
And then it does not stop there; but now many of us are being called to be willing to walk alone with God, rather than go the way of others when we see that they are in error. This brings to mind the verse in Exodus:
Exodus 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:
In more modern terms it is basically saying: You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you bear witness at a trial so as to side with a multitude to pervert justice.
When we are willing to follow Christ “wither-soever He goes” (even when that path diverges from friends who will not accept that they are wrong and that they are leading others astray) we are taking a stand for the truth and thereby we refuse to “pervert justice”.
We, in the Ekklesia, are called to remain faithful and righteous in an ever-increasing wicked society. We live in an evil society where most of the people do not believe in moral absolutes, nor do they believe in the true God of the Bible who has given mankind His law that if a man would live by, would bring prosperity and blessings.
Instead of wanting to do what God says is right, just as the people did in ancient times, all of humanity still wants do whatever seems “right in his own eyes.”
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Proverbs 21:22 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.
Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
The world, and even some who call themselves true believers (yet do not have real faith to obey every word of God), will do all they can to discourage God’s people from staying true to God’s Word and from solidly standing on all of God’s sound doctrines.
These people will become defensive when true followers of Christ (who want to be faithful to the whole word of God) point out error, false doctrines, and the abuses that are going on in their assemblies.
They will say that those who stand for the truth are unloving, cold, harsh, self-righteous, intolerant, uncaring, murmurers, rebels against “God’s church government” etc. etc.
These misguided individuals will attempt to play on our emotions, trying to make us see how wrong and self-righteous we are for wanting to follow God’s teachings rather than their teachings.
They will say anything to us to try to put doubt in our minds, and in the minds of others, by insinuating that we have departed from the faith when we refuse to go along with their watered-down teachings and false traditions of men.
But we must be strong and not allow ourselves to cave into the schemes of carnal men and the god of this world who is influencing them.
We must never compromise what God says is true and tolerate those who are watering down sound doctrines just because we fear what they will do to us or may think of us.
We must set our hearts to always obey God rather than to fear and obey men. And those who want watered down doctrine and false traditions of men are not in obedience to God and to His Word. They are not following the way of righteousness and have lost their way. They need to be told of their error by concerned brethren and they need to be given the chance to repent.
We need to have the courage to keep standing firm in God’s Word and all God’s truth no matter what others do or believe. In other words, we must not allow ourselves to become fearful in the face of hard-hearted men who will not receive any kind of correction.
Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Both Jesus and Paul admonishes God’s people to not be ashamed to live and to speak God’s truth and His whole Word. (This includes speaking God’s truth to even our brethren who are straying from the faith that was delivered to the saints. Please see Jude)
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed or afraid and to hold fast to the “form” of sound words (doctrine) and to guard it through the power of God and His Spirit. This is speaking to those of us who are the modern day Ekklesia as well. At this time when there is so much apostasy rampant in the COG’s the following advice in this passage will help us to hold on to God’s truth and guard it so that no one is able to lead us astray.
2nd Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
1:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
The people who oppose sound doctrine have been ingrained with teachings that we must obey human church leaders above all else, and so they have lost their grasp of the Word of God and what it actually says. They may have some understanding of God’s Word but they have lost the form (or pattern) of sound words that were spoken by the apostles, the prophets, and by the words of Jesus Christ in His written Word.
Brethren, there are so many doctrines and traditions based on the mind of mere men in the Ekklesia today that need to be corrected and God’s true doctrines restored for most of the COG groups that came out of the WCG are not following the “pattern” of the apostles’ sound doctrine.
Look at what was said of the early believers who were being called in the time of original apostles which is written to be examples for us who would come along later.
Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
These verses make it absolutely clear that God’s commandments and the doctrines handed down to us by the prophets and the apostles are the things that we are to embrace and keep; and to remove from our minds any other doctrine or philosophies of men. We must abscond all things in our lives that are contrary to the Word of God and His sound doctrine and this takes courage as well as conviction.
Paul is telling Timothy that doctrine does matter and that we must have courage to guard it and keep it intact even in the face of opposition and persecution. That means we are to embrace and obey the totality of God’s Word and not some weak or watered-down version of His teachings.
As God’s very children we should rigorously want to follow the teachings that were handed down to us and never depart from what God says is true.
2nd Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Does Sound Doctrine Really Matter?
Do we as called-out disciples of Christ really believe what Paul is saying in these passages? Is the keeping of true doctrine important to us? These verses are saying that all of God’s Word is important and that we must keep it just as He has said to keep it (for instance in keeping the Sabbath and not polluting it by buying and selling food on this day and on the annual Holy Days, and then insisting that our way is right).
As believers we are not to cherry pick only the sections which seem to prove what we want to believe and what seems right to us, but in actuality are not in alignment with the Word of God.
How many times have we heard so-called Christians, or even whole groups, say “we are not going to make doctrine an issue,” or “God just wants us all to get along”? When these individuals and group leaders say these kinds of things or think this way, they are saying that it is alright to refuse to submit to God and His authority over them. These people and these groups NEED to be rebuked and challenged in their lack of obedience and of their teaching of error.
So do we have the courage and conviction to stand up to our elders when they depart from the sound doctrines as taught by the inspired Word of God?
It is not wrong to speak out and let our leaders and the brethren who are following them know when they are wrong. There has always been, and even in our recent times, a subtle and sometimes not so subtle, agenda to subvert the truth and to get the brethren to abandon truth and therefore lose our crowns, our inheritance that awaits us if we will just be strong and cling to God and His truth with all of our might.
Just as the Lord told Joshua, so Paul is similarly instructing Timothy and all who will read and heed his epistle.
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest“. (Joshua 1:7-9)
In verse 14 of 2nd Timothy 3, Paul tells us that it is by the power of God that we can hold on to God’s sound doctrines by the Holy Spirit that dwells in believers.
God gives us the power to hold on to God’s truth and it is by this same power that we can draw the strength and courage to stand up to those who try to convince us to give up God’s clear commands and want to cause us to forsake our faith.
We need to be strong and step out in faith knowing that God will bless us if we stay true to what we have come to see that is right from diligent study and proving God’s true doctrines from the Scriptures. God can and will give us the strength to do it.
The Apostles’ Warnings
2nd John 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
The apostle John also spoke out in warning of those who would subvert the truth of God and he, just as Paul, wrote letters of those who posed real spiritual danger.
3rd John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
As the Bible warns us, it is absolutely necessary to know who is teaching the truth and who is not; and then as Paul said, follow only those who are teaching and living the truth as they genuinely follow Christ.
1st Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Paul did not hesitate to warn the brethren of certain ones who were dangerous to their spiritual lives.
2nd Timothy 3:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
It is imperative that we are told when certain people or certain ministers (or whole groups) are not teaching sound doctrine. God wants us to be strong and come out from among them and if we know for sure that they are in error, He wants us to be strong in alerting others that they may be spared.
From the many examples of Paul, John, Peter ,and others, it is biblically correct to speak up and warn the people and not just sit back and let our brothers and sisters fall off a cliff because we are afraid to speak up for the truth.
1st Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
God’s people are not called to an easy life, but called to live a life of overcoming the world, Satan and our own human nature through the power of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. If we are on the right path that is moving toward the direction of God’s kingdom and we are living according to God’s laws, then we WILL encounter opposition in this world, for this world and the people in it hate God’s law, and they hate to be told that God is the ultimate authority over their lives.
The Courage of Noah
After Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s rule over their lives, sin was introduced into the world and grew exponentially. By the time of Noah the intensity and lawlessness of man’s sin had reached epic heights.
The wickedness has spread throughout the earth to the point that it grieved God’s heart immensely. The earth was filled with violence, and mankind was consumed by sin and immorality for “…every imagination [intent] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In following after Satan’s rule and by giving themselves over to their sinful desires, mankind had descended into utmost immorality and depravity.
In the beginning, the Lord created a beautiful earth for mankind to enjoy and to live on. He had provided everything men needed to live a good and functional life. But approximately 1600 years after the creation of Adam and Eve, human society had become over-run with wickedness and the earth had become thoroughly contaminated by man’s evil.
Because the entire earth had become corrupt over those 1600 years, the Lord decided to send a worldwide flood to wipe out every human on earth except Noah and his family.
“But God is loving, how could He possibly want to destroy all living beings if He is a kind and merciful God?” is the contention of many in today’s society and so most people have no fear that their wicked ways will have any detrimental consequences. If they are told that their country is going to collapse and that there is going to be a world-wide tribulation soon, they think “but that cannot happen”. They think God’s prophets are kooks for saying such things.
Yes, God is loving, kind, and merciful, but He is also holy, righteous, and just. He cannot tolerate evil, nor will He allow unrepentant human beings into His kingdom.
After giving mankind time to repent, He will finally say “its enough” and render His judgments upon the earth to clean it up of its corruption in these latter days just like He did in Noah’s day. Jesus said that just as the days of Noah were, so will be the days of Christ’s return. If God did not spare the world back then because of man’s extreme wickedness, then we can know that God is not going to withhold judgment on the world of our day that is going in the very exact direction.
God said to Noah to build an ark, a huge ship that would sustain him and his family and two of every kind of animal (seven of the clean animals). God wanted to save Noah and his family from the flood and so had provided a way of escape (a place of safety) from the devastation that God would bring upon the earth.
In our mind’s eye we can place ourselves in Noah’s shoes and imagine what it must have been like for him. The Bible just simply says that Noah did all that God commanded him to do.
Although the story about Noah and the flood in Genesis does not mention anything about Noah’s courage to obey God, we can imagine that it must have taken a lot of courage to do as God had said. Noah must have been very brave to do what God said even though it made no sense at the time for there was no sign of any kind of water disaster. But Noah believed God and did as the Lord told him to do.
Noah went about the task of obeying the Lord’s instructions and worked for many years to build the ark while knowing that the world, as he had always known it and all the people that he knew except for his immediate family, was going to come to a complete destruction.
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Scripture does not give us any details about the obstacles and challenges that Noah faced while doing what God had commanded of him, but knowing the condition of the society that he was living in and the condition of the human heart, he must have had many obstacles and challenges just as we do living in our modern evil society when we strive to obey God’s commands.
Just as God spared Noah and his family because of the righteousness of Noah, by instructing him to build an ark to protect his family from the destruction of the coming flood, God will spare us and give us life everlasting if, we, like Noah, trust God’s Word and do as God commands us.
We think of the faith and courage that Noah needed in order to obey God during that godless time and to complete the daunting task of building a huge ship and then entering it just before the flood waters were released and the rains came down. The job that God laid out before Noah was great but Noah simply trusted God, obeyed His instructions, and left the outcome to the Lord….just as we must do as we face the future and what is coming.
Obeying God in everything is always the right thing to do, but as we know it is not always easy. We need to have courage with a special set mind and spirit that enables us to face danger, opposition, and all the challenges of life. This, too, is not easy for in our carnal state, we often have many fears and easily become anxious over the unknown; or we may fear the consequences that we will face when we have to go against other peoples wishes or demands of us. And as human beings, we naturally fear pain and death.
God’s Word teaches us that we will ultimately be blessed if we step out on faith and seek to obey all of God’s commandments, statutes, and ordinances contained in His Word, regardless of our fears, seeking His help as we do so. That is why we must have courage and when we lack courage we must run to God and ask Him to supply us with the courage we need.
So what are we to be doing as we wait for our Lord’s return?
- We are to watch and pray.
- We are to exercise patience.
- We are to be keeping God’s commandments, not going astray to the right hand or the left hand.
- We are to have the courage to stand by our convictions.
- We are to let no man deceive us with false doctrine and their false teachings [and not let any man or organization take our crown], seeking to please and obey God above anything or anyone else.
- We are to run to God when we feel like we are going to faint from our hard trials and ask Him for HIS strength and boldness; to have courage to do all His will in spite of the obstacles and challenges.
- We are to keep our focus on God’s promise of a heavenly city that He has prepared for those who love Him and obey Him. (John 14:2-3)
- We must endure to the end, running with patience the marathon set before us until we reach the finish line.
- We must never give in to the enemy, and we must never give up.
- We must have courage when God commands us to do what may seem to us a daunting task.
Noah trusted and obeyed and he, too, like Joshua (Joshua 1:1- 9) must have been told by God to “be strong and have courage” even in the face of an impending catastrophic global flood upon the earth.
Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
And this is what God is saying to His end-time people; He will be with us if we cling to Him with all our hearts, doing all His commandments and putting our trust in Him to get us to the Promised Land.
Have a wonderful Sabbath everyone,