A Time to Flee

Matthew 10:23   (NLT)   When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

There’s a time to stay, and there’s a time to flee. Protecting our lives, ensuring our safety isn’t wrong. It can be more fruitful, not just in self-protection or family-preservation, but even in fulfilling our mission.

Matthew 10.23 - A Time to FleeWe don’t need unnecessary or avoidable martyrdom—that’s a waste of life. Life is precious—even the physical and temporal. Although it’s far less valuable compared to our eternal spiritual existence, it is important nonetheless. That’s probably one of the reasons why self-preservation and survival is innate in each of us. That doesn’t change for us who have been born again—who have received and are assured of eternal life; we just have a much better and proper perspective of them.

Dear God and heavenly Father, Giver and Sustainer of life, we thank You so much for Your gift of life—both the temporal and the extremely more important eternal life. Please give us wisdom and discernment when a time comes for us to flee. But help us do so not in cowardice, but in obedience to your leading. Lead us to a mission-minded escape when it becomes necessary, and only when it’s necessary and more beneficial to our calling and mission. It’s not always easy to explain such action; there will always be those not open to reason. But we pray that if ever we flee, it’s because the persecution is real—not imagined. And as we go, lead us to better grounds where we can sow the seed of the Gospel, where it will have a greater yield and harvest—in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Godly Silence

Mark 15:5 (NLT)  But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

There is wisdom in silence. Our Lord Jesus, in the middle of unjust arrest and very phony trial, in the middle of much insults, false accusations, and horrible persecutions, spoke very little. He didn’t find it a need to justify Himself in front of an already prejudiced Mark 15.5 - Godly Silencecrowd. He knew truth didn’t matter to them; truth wouldn’t have changed their minds. Besides, He knew His mission; He knew He had to die. Extreme persecutions and excruciating torture may not have been necessary, but He welcomed them anyway.

Even while on the cross, people turned on Him, tempting Him, even challenging Him to perform a miracle to save Himself. Our Lord Jesus could have just easily spoken a word and immediately escaped death. But that could have caused the hostile crowd to have a sudden change of conviction and forcibly crowned Him as Messiah and king. That would have derailed the very mission He came to accomplish. He came to serve. He came to give His life as a ransom payment for our sins.

We don’t always have to speak up. It is not always necessary to defend ourselves. It is wise to speak up only when it matters, only when it makes a difference. It isn’t necessary for us to convince everyone. The pleasure of all is never our aim; we are not called to be liked by everyone. We have a mission to fulfill, a destiny to pursue, and there are those who disagree with us. They stand on our way; they try to oppose us, stop us, silence us, and even destroy us. It doesn’t matter; as long as we are on God’s side, we are on the right track. When our dear God is pleased, we’re pleased.

We are not advocating complete silence, passivity, and inaction. There is a time to speak, but there is also time to keep quiet. Our very task of declaring the Gospel requires speech. We need to lovingly and passionately persuade people with the Good News, but we also recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice when He impresses in our hearts enough is enough–when the time has come for silence to be the best option.

We speak with wisdom. When it’s beneficial, we speak. When it edifies others, we speak. When it gives God glory, we speak; otherwise, we say nothing. And silence can be the godliest thing we do.

Fear Not! Speak Out!

Acts 18:9   (NLT)   One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!

The Lord wants His people to be fearless; He wants us to be bold. He has commissioned us to proclaim the glorious message of salvation to the entire world. He does not want us to be intimidated into silence. The message is too important not to share. The need is too big not to be answered. God loves us so much and cares for us so much to leave us in the path of destruction and sure damnation.

There are reasons for fear: persecutions are real; threats are real—they can even be life threatening. But none of these have evaded God’s attention. Our loving heavenly Father is fully aware of all the challenges before us. He is fully aware that our journey as believers won’t be a walk in the park. That’s why He has provided everything to effectively accomplish our mission.

First, He changed us from the inside. He has given us the experience of what he wants us to share. He does not want us to preach the Good News of Salvation hypocritically; He wants us to live what we preach.  We are to preach salvation so He saved us first. Then He gave us His Spirit—not spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind. Those unseen changes radiates to the seen. We shine with the light of God through the fruit of good works, giving credence to the message we share, demonstrating God’s glory to others.

God empowers us to the detail—from the spiritual to the physical, from the invisible to the visible. He gave us his blood and His Spirit. He gave us His light. He has prepared divine connections—people who will be instrumental for us to faithfully, fearlessly and boldly proclaim the Gospel. His provision will come from many different angles, many different faces, many different places, even from very unexpected sources. They will come in different forms, people with different personalities, different status in society, of varying levels of maturity.

If needed, our precious Lord Jesus won’t have any problem appearing personally to strengthen us, to embolden us, to encourage and to comfort us. Now, we go without fear; that’s why we won’t be silenced; that’s why more people are saved.

 

No Worry; No Fear

Matthew 10:31   (KJV)   31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Fear not! Those are very reassuring and comforting words from our loving and beloved Lord and Savior. He told us that as His followers, we will be treated extremely badly; that’s for sure. For others who don’t have a personal, loving, saving relationship with Matthew 10.31 - Sparrows Don't Fear; More So UsHim, that’s really dreadful. But for us, He also gave the reason not be scared: we are very valuable to Him.

We have a mission to accomplish. Our mission involves people. We are sheep among wolves. And the pack of wolves that devoured our Master will do us no less. We are rejected, accused, and some of us have been arrested, and punished unjustly. We are betrayed, at times, even by those very close to us—hard to believe—but it happens. We are hated by the rich, famous, and the powerful influencers of culture.

We don’t cower to and withdraw to fruitlessness. God turns our worst experiences to great opportunities. God has worked through them for those in high places to see and hear the witness of God-loving and neighbor-loving people. We see how real God is, how present He is, how wise and powerful He is. So we continue to lovingly shine His light. We hear from Him in the silence of our “date;” we boldly shout His words “from the housetops.” Others don’t like what they hear. They try to harm us. But they can only touch our bodies. None can touch our eternal beings. Only God can do that, and we’re happy because the only One Who has the power to decide where we spend our eternal destiny—He Who values the sparrows—values us way much more, loves us, and cares for us. With all that, why fear?

We continue to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. We freely receive; we freely give. We’re threatened with prison and sword; we respond with the gentle force of God’s love—nothing to fear with that.

Prison/Freedom House

Acts 28:30   (KJV)   And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him.

Acts 28.30 - Prison-Freedom HousePaul was on house arrest—it was a house he rented himself. That “prison house” also became a “teaching house.” The house had the apostle kept in it, but the apostle had the Lord and the Lord’s Word in him. The place that represented bondage also became a house where many found freedom.

No one can fully imprison those born of God’s Spirit. Our freedom isn’t rescinded by geography. We’re free wherever we are. Our ultimate mission is to tell others about the Good News of Salvation found in our Lord Jesus, and to teach His commands to everyone. No person, no place, no time, nothing can stop us from accomplishing our mission. We of course use wisdom in all these. The highest purpose and greatest profitability of our resources–love, knowledge and wisdom, strength, finances are served in living out our ultimate mission. That explains our zealous willingness to be totally “poured out” for God.

Our dear heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom you’ve given us—freedom that no one and nothing can take away. May we as Your people always be excited for the privilege, opportunity, and honor of using our resources for their highest purpose—freedom/salvation of the lost, and growth of Your people.

Zeal for Good Works

Titus 2:14   (KJV)   14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Is this Scripture in the New Testament? Is it in the age of grace? The answer to both questions is obviously “yes.” Under the New Covenant in the age of grace, good works Titus 2.14 - Zealous for Good Worksstill matter to God. Being zealous of good works is an attitude that characterizes those who are truly His.

The passage is explicit: the reasons or at least two of the reasons why our precious Lord Jesus gave Himself  for us is  to redeem us—pay for—our freed from all iniquity, lawlessness, or wickedness, and to purify us being His peculiar, unique or special people.

Why is this very important—to me at least? Why do I want to address these supposedly obvious issues? It’s because preaching, teaching, or exhortations on obedience, holiness, purity, and good works are criticized in some circles, as if right understanding of grace necessitates discarding of these necessary pursuits.

God’s love, God’s grace, and believers’ good works and uprightness aren’t enemies: “11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:1-13).

Go in Peace

John 20:21   (KJV)   21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

One of man’s greatest pursuits is peace, and peace is one of the greatest gifts from our precious Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Sadly, it’s something the world does not have. It’s available, bJohn 20.21 - Go in Peaceut many haven’t yet availed of it. It’s so close, and yet so far. Wherever we look, we see hostilities, arguments, fights, and wars. Wherever we go, there are huge potentials for trouble, even harm. We no longer feel safe even just strolling down our neighborhood streets. But we don’t live in a bubble; we don’t have to; our peace comes from our Savior’s decree. His Words matter; He spoke all of creation into existence.

Our peace is untouchable, but we aren’t hid away from the world. We are sent out to a very troubled world. God’s people are targets of spite, persecution, and even death. We are agents of peace. People can experience and enjoy peace with God and the peace of God—the inner peace that God alone gives. It’s what keeps us calm and unafraid in the midst of most horrifying storms. It’s paramount that everyone hears and learns about this. Not everyone will welcome us and our message, but there are hearts that sincerely search and cry out for this; each one who shares in this experience is a sufficient reason for us to face all necessary risks and dangers.

Even the most troubling experience for our Lord’s disciples turned into one that’s gloriously life-changing. Jesus Who was horribly tortured, crucified, murdered, and buried, rose on the third day and showed Himself alive to His followers. It was a fast-paced transition from sadness, to fear, to peace; it was a sudden change from unbelief, to doubt, to faith. But it was a phenomenon that made our Lord’s declaration of peace more easily received. It had more than sufficient evidences to be found real. With a worldwide mission, and personal struggles, peace is a real help. We’ll have occasions of sadness; we’ll have surprises; we’ll have powerful forces attacking us, but in and through all this, we continue our journey with peace, joy, and love.