(Continued from last Sunday.)
I think a lot of people will never know my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ because they think that they are too far gone – that they’ve done so many bad things in their lives that God doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. As believers and followers of Christ we know that can’t be further from the Truth. We know that our God loves everyone, and He wants a personal relationship with everyone. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter where you came from. We know that nobody in this world is too far away to be reached by our Almighty God. Don’t underestimate our Almighty God. He can reach you – right where you are. He’s already accepted you. He’s waiting on you to accept Him.
Isaiah Chapter 59 Verse 1:
Listen ! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is His ear too deaf to hear you call.
First Peter Chapter 4 Verses 4 and 5:
Of course your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do, so they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God – who will judge everyone – both the living and the dead.
You know during my reckless teens, 20s, and 30s – I was made fun of – I was slandered here and there and everywhere – for just being myself in the world and of the world. But it doesn’t really compare – not at all – to the slander that I’ve received over the past nearly 14 years as a born-again / evangelical / Christian. I mean that’s a triple-threat right there. (Remember that this is a WWE-inspired sermon.)
I think that most Americans still acknowledge that they are a Christian. I think that we’re still above 50% there – maybe even 60%. Just 30 years ago coming out of the 1980s we were up around 85% identifying as Christians, so the numbers are way down. Our nation has slowly moved away from God.
And then there’s “born again”. I am born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. (My) new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal living word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)
I’m a 100% – all-in – 1 Peter 1:23 believer. About 35% of Americans identify as being “born again”, so a little more than half of all self-described Christians. Personally I don’t understand how one can believe and follow Christ, but not believe in being born again. I really need to explore that concept further. (That can be its own sermon right there.)
Finally – I am an evangelical. I am proud to evangelize – to preach the Good News of the Lord. I proclaim and teach online and offline. I preach to my brothers and sisters of my church family, and I preach to strangers I’ve never met. About 5% of us Americans identify as an evangelical. We’re clearly in the extreme minority. 95 Americans out of 100 are not like us. There’s a lot of slander to go around since we’re so different than most everyone else. We are radicals. We are extremists. Just like Jesus.
The Bible says that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
You’re going to suffer for being a Christian – especially if you proclaim that you are “born again” – and definitely if you preach the Gospel to the world. I’m not one to knock on neighbors’ doors and preach the Gospel to them. You also won’t find me on street corners, or in shopping center parking lots, or inside malls, or outside arenas preaching God’s Word – or trying to convert you. I didn’t like it when I encountered those radical extremists during my teens, 20s, and 30s when I was wild and destructive. I believe that there are times and places for God’s Good News. This blog is one of those many places. This is my online ministry. I thank you for being part of my ministry here.
The First Letter Of Peter is almost entirely about suffering and persecution against Christians. I really like these 2 verses from First Peter Chapter 3 Verses 15 and 16:
Instead – you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope – always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you – they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
That’s something that many of us Christians can do better at – preaching in a gentle and respectful way – towards those who do not yet believe and follow Christ.
I’m going to close Part 2 of this multi-part sermon with this Scripture from First Peter Chapter 4 Verses 7 and 8:
The end of the world is coming soon; therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all – continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
There was once an annual WWE PPV (pay-per-view) titled “Armageddon”. It was the final pay-per-view of the year – held on the middle Sunday of December. In fact I attended “Armageddon” for 2 years in a row in 2002 (Sunrise Florida) and 2003 (Orlando Florida). Part of the stage was literally a blazing fireplace, and you could feel the heat from the fire if you sat close enough to it (which I did).
It was the WWE’s vision of the end of the world – absorbed into its storylines at the time.
The storylines of today’s news cycle suggest that the end of the world is coming soon. Some believe that it’s the end of the world as we know it, (and I feel fine).
I believe that we are in the last days. As such we should be earnest and disciplined in our prayers. We must pray intentionally and specifically during these uncertain times – and at all times. We must continue to show deep love for everyone – including our former friends who slander us because we surrendered to the 3-in-One God we know. We must completely forgive them for what they have said or done to us.
You know that my greatest enemy (happens to be at my workplace) is the one who I consistently pray for the most after my family and church family ? He intentionally damaged my career forever, but he was one of the first that I forgave during the early years of this fantastic journey. And I continue to forgive him. My God commanded me to forgive. He forgave me, so I must forgive others. That’s Grace – a gift from God. It’s a gift that we must never stop giving, for He gave.
(To be continued next Sunday.)
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