The Midst of Much Conflict

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV

“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.”

When God calls us to a specific area of ministry, provided that it is indeed of him, and not of our flesh, we should obey without hesitation. And we should do what he has called us to do even if all forsake us and turn away from us, and even if we are despised and rejected of man, and even if we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and even if presently we are not seeing a lot of fruit for our labors. For that is what Jesus faced.

I remember when God called me to this ministry of writing down what he teaches me from my times with him in his word each day and to place these writings on the internet. I didn’t have much moral support at all back then, and for the longest time I had little to no responses, and in some cases I didn’t even know if people were reading these or not. And I also faced a lot of opposition, too, and yet I persevered, convinced that this is what God called me to do and that he was using it for his purposes and for his glory.

When I began, I had a lot to learn, and I didn’t have everything right, for there were things I had been taught wrongly, plus I was doing something I had never done before, so there was much to learn. But with each step that I took by faith in Jesus Christ he taught me what I needed to learn and I grew in my walk of faith in him and in my knowledge and understanding of the Word of God and even in how to write. I’m certainly not saying that I have now arrived but that I can see how much I’ve grown in my faith.

And one of the primary things I learned was to trust God fully and to keep persevering even if I faced strong opposition and even if I didn’t see much fruit for my labor. But if I did face strong opposition, that only led me back to the Scriptures where I tested what I was hearing against the Word of God to make certain that what I was sharing was the truth of the Scriptures. And that is critical that we make certain that we are sharing the truth. And then, over time, I began to see how God is using these writings for his glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 ESV

“For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

This is very critical that we make certain of where our own hearts are and of our own motivation for doing what we do so that as we minister to people according to God’s callings on our individual lives we remain people of integrity, and so that our hearts are always in the right place. And if our ministry is writing devotions then we need to make certain that what we are teaching is indeed the truth, to the best of our understanding, and that we are being led of the Spirit of God and not of our own flesh.

And we need to check our hearts regularly to make certain that we are obeying the Lord despite all opposition, and that we are not altering what we teach in order to appeal to or to please human flesh. For it is human nature to want to be approved and accepted by other humans, but we must resist wanting to be approved by other humans. And our goal must be to want to please God in all that we are and do and say. And if we are being led by the Spirit, and not by our flesh, we will then be pleasing to God who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 ESV

“For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.”

When we share the Scriptures and the gospel message, we need to keep our flesh out of it. We just need to follow the Lord and say (or write) what he gives us to say even if we get rejected in return. But it needs to be the truth of the Scriptures, taught in context. And we need to have pure hearts not given over to the flesh and not given over to pleasing the flesh. Yes, those who are charmers and who know how to be winsome and flattering do get a lot more followers and more “likes”. But what are they then following? The flesh of man? Or God?

So many “churches” today are seeking to please the flesh of man and not God, and so they are altering the gospel to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh and to the people of the world. And so they have removed God’s requirements for repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord. And they are not teaching that we must walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, nor that if we walk according to the flesh that we will not inherit eternal life with God.

And that is because they want to please human flesh, and they want to attract people to their gatherings, and so they don’t want to tell people what will offend them or what might keep them from coming back to their meetings. Thus, they do so for greedy purposes without concern for the people and for where they will spend eternity. But they will try to convince you that they are being loving and that those who are teaching the truths of the Scriptures are not being loving.

And so try to find a gathering of the church today in America that teaches the whole counsel of God. Very few even come close. And even if their statement of faith has the elements of the truth of the gospel, it is no guarantee that they are actually teaching the truth. And even if they teach repentance, it may be more of an acknowledgment of sin and nothing more. And even if they teach obedience, they may teach it more as something you should do but not as a requirement for eternal salvation.

So, please be those who test everything you hear against the Scriptures (in context) for many Scriptures are taken out of context and are twisted to say something they don’t say and in order to lead people to believing lies rather than the truth. Many charlatans are in our pulpits today teaching lies disguised as truth, and they are leading many people straight to hell on the promise of heaven when they die. So please know that if you live to please the flesh and not to obey God, you will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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