The Lord Shall Repay – Surviving Persecution

We have a situation today, where some people – many, our so-called “leaders” – are dividing the people by race, income and other classes. This, people is a form of persecution.

We have the non-believing, coming against the believing – in droves. This, people, is a form of persecution.

It’s not persecution that we see, say, in China, or India, or mostly Muslim African nations, or where the Christians are being brutalized or even killed – it’s more subtle. The Devil is trying to make his way into our lives, through the government and through the church.

It’s, in fact, making many people quite angry, or scared and fearful.

Some look at Jeannie and I and ask, “How can you be so calm?” – or “How can you not be so darned ticked off at what’s going on in the nation?”

We are angry at what’s going on in the world – but God doesn’t call us to obsess over these things – He calls us to prayer and meditation.

We both know that whatever happens – that God will have His way in the situation – one way or the other.

Joel was a prophet that lived about 550-600 years before the birth of Christ, and the book was written about 586 BC. It describes in detail, a national calamity, probably after they returned from Babylonian exile.

There’s a time of judgment, there’s a call for repentance, and there’s restoration – all in vivid detail.

If you read the first chapter – the first 12 verses:

The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.

What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.

Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches are made white.

Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests mourn, the ministers of the Lord. The fields are destroyed, the ground mourns, because the grain is destroyed, the wine dries up, the oil languishes.

Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil; wail, O vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine dries up; the fig tree languishes. Pomegranate, palm, and apple, all the trees of the field are dried up, and gladness dries up from the children of man.

This passage describes the judgment of the nations. Verse 4 describes famine, and verses 5-7 describe an invasion of one nation on another. Verses 8-10 describe natural resources drying up and the destruction of a place of sacrifices. Verses 11-14 describe the sadness of the people in their despair.

We see this being carried out today, famine in various countries – Venezuela and Nicragua for example, and if current policy continues, it will happen here in the United States as well. It’s called Socialism.

Also, when was the last time we could worship in a church without a government mandate to “mask up”? It’s affecting the church – in more ways than this one.

The government interference into church affairs is nothing new – it’s just being ratcheted up. Satan’s been trying to chip away at the church for some time now.

It’s gotten more “in your face” these days, but as early as 1954, here in the United States, the forces of Satan worked through our government to bring about the worship of the idol of money – the tax exemption for the church. Donors could now deduct what they give to the church from their taxes, and churches would no longer have to pay taxes on their religious-related income.

And every one of you who give to your church, look for that tax statement at the end of the year, don’t you? Hey, so did I – for awhile. This is Satan, deflecting your attention away from the work of the church, and to the idol of money. You didn’t even know it. The tax deduction has become so commonplace here in the United States, that no one gives it a second thought – but dive into the “Johnson Amendment” – and you’ll see Satan at work, big time.

(Why do you think that you write a check to the church for a foreign mission? For the favorable tax treatment for you, for the church, and for the mission. If you donated to the mission directly in a foreign country, you probably would not be able to deduct it as there’s no IRS Taxpayer Identification Number associated with it).

Was there a tax deduction in the first century church? No, there wasn’t. That’s why Jesus said that we are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what’s God’s (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25). We give to the church, without expectation of getting anything in return – including a tax deduction.

When we get the annual statement from the church, or the monthly statement from a ministry we support, it goes into the shredder. We don’t take that deduction. We don’t expect anything in return for our gift to a ministry or a church – it’s a gift, we give it freely, and all we look for is a simple, “thank you”.

I do take the deduction for my credentialing each year, and for educational material and books – that’s a “business expense”. It keeps me current with my ability to legally practice my calling, entitle me to perform various tasks such as solemnizing marriages, and to legally keep confidential, anything that anyone may tell me in a counseling session.

I don’t charge a fee for counseling or other officiating acts – and I consider that part of my profession.

This is just the tip of the iceberg where government is concerned. Lately, the so-called “Equality Act” – which has passed in the US House of Representatives, but has, as this writing, has not be voted on in the Senate – but the President has said that he would sign into law if it does pass the Senate – would further infect all areas of life in the United States, not just women’s sports, which is where the focus is in the news – it also includes the church.

This church preaches against homosexuality and transgenderism – under this act, this would become illegal. If this church were to hire anyone, (it currently has no paid staff), it would be required to hire “qualified people” who were homosexual or transgendered – and their “sexual orientation” cannot be used for “qualification” as that would be a discriminatory act, prohibited under this act.

This would also go for volunteers. Now, everyone who participates in any level of volunteer service, cannot be discriminated against due to “sexual orientation”.

Hey, just roll out the red carpet for Satan!

No way! This church will never comply! Every position, right down to prayer warrior, will be vetted from here on out. Everyone will be permitted to participate in church, but homosexuals, transgendered and others who are unrepentant, will no longer be permitted to participate in church leadership.

Anyone who is disruptive in church activities, who attempts to subvert God’s teaching in His Word on these and other topics, will be warned once, then twice, then will be banned from church activities.

No way will we allow Satan into the confines of this church – and every pastor needs to take similar steps to protect their churches. The shepherd is in charge of protecting his flock – yes, I said “his” – 1 Timothy 2:11-12, The Apostle Paul states, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

And in 1 Timothy 1 and Titus 3, Paul states that the Pastor and Elders are the “husband of one wife” – not the “wife of a husband” or the “wife of a wife” or the “husband of a husband” – he is first and foremost, a biological man, and secondly, not homosexual or transgendered.

This means that God’s word trumps man’s law. There’s no ambiguity here.

What’s next?

Verses 13-20 of the first chapter of Joel, are a call for repentance:

Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.

Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.

Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. Is not the food cut of before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?

The seed shrivels under the clods; The storehouses are desolate; the granaries are torn down because the grain has dried up. How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep suffer.

To you, O Lord, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field. Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Here, the Lord is very succinctly calling for repentance – for everyone – including leadership. This, being the Old Testament, sacrifice is being called for in verses 13-14 – and in verse 15, He tells the prophet that judgment is coming!

The prophet is then shown – agriculture is dried up and there is nothing in storage (the term “clods” in Hebrew is מֶגְרְפֹ֣תֵיהֶ֔ם – transliterated as “meg-reh-po-tek-hem” and is translated directly as “shovel” – however since it’s also shown as third person, plural, some translators have translate this as “seed coverings” or “pods” – whatever its meaning, the seeds are no longer producing anything and are no good).

There’s nothing for cattle to feed on, and they are no longer any good for food.

Verses 19-20 are a stark indication of judgment – and reflect on several of the “bowl judgments” in Revelation, where a third of the water is gone, as are a third of the green vegetation.

Look around you – the stores are running low on supplies when they get a run on items. In other nations, there is already famine. If you haven’t prepped and gotten supplies in storage, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you’re cold and hungry – just like people in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other nations today.

God does provide – but we too, need to take His Word and heed it. We didn’t run out of toilet tissue, and were even able to help family, because we prepared a long time ago. God provided in our time of plenty, so we had for our time – and other’s time – of need.

This nation is being called to repent today – because of the very things that they’re enacting into law.

Taxpayer funded abortion and taxpayer funded “gender reassignment surgery” for active duty military personnel. That means that you and I are being forced, through our tax dollars, to fund sin! The nation is embracing sinful lifestyles as right and moral – this is wrong!

There will come a time where people will call “evil” as good. In Isaiah 5:20-24, the prophet writes:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!

2 Timothy 3,:1-9 talks about such people in the last days – and Paul instructs us to stay away from such people. Read that passage for yourselves, and ask yourself, don’t you see them in government and in the public eye today?

The first eleven verses of the second chapter of Joel are more judgments coming on the nation and are quite self-explanatory – read them for yourselves. The Book of Joel is between The Book of Hosea and the Book of Amos, in the Prophets area of the Old Testament.

Verses 12-17 are a call of God to come back to Him. He does indeed love us and gives us a chance to come back and repent – just as in the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son comes back and repents to his father – God was waiting with open arms for us to come back to Him.

Verses 18-27 show how God restores us to right standing with Him. This is where we get our calmness from. No matter what Satan throws at us – no matter what God allows us to go through – and we will go through persecution, expect it – God will judge, and there will be restoration on the other side of it.

Does this mean that we just roll over and take it? No, it doesn’t. But it also means that we don’t obsess over the wrongs being done to us.

How did the apostles handle it? They kept preaching – and endured whatever persecution that God allowed them to go through. Adversity didn’t make them bitter – it made them better.

And yes, most lost their lives for their faith. We all will endure some level of persecution for the faith – it’s how you handle that persecution that’s important.

There’s sin all around us today. I write about it, because I can’t go Washington with a bullhorn and preach on the steps of the Capitol building as I’d like – that’s how I deal with it constructively. I refuse to allow it to get me into all kinds of side theories that may, or may not be correct.

Likewise, you too, need to – no, you are required to – take that bitterness, and turn it into an opportunity to share your faith with someone who needs to hear it.

You never know, those seeds you plant will not be under a clod – they may just produce fruit for the Kingdom.

The phrase “Kill them with kindness” – means a lot in the Kingdom. Kvetching (a Yiddish term meaning to complain bitterly) about the state of affairs doesn’t produce anything but more bitterness and kvetcvhing – and what does that get you? Kill the left with kindness, and watch them squirm.

שַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם
Shabbat Shalom
A Peaceful Sabbath

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