Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Learning from 2020 to face the challenges yet to come

What has God has been trying to say to you (and to us – as mortal men, and as churches striving to hear His voice and obey) in light of all that was 2020 and all that is yet come?

I have shared with the Petersburg First Baptist Church one main truth and seven supporting lessons over the past few weeks that I believe God wanted me to say, and thought they might be helpful to you here, as well, in highly summarized form.

First: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). Amid the chaos and confusion all around, we must remember that God is still on His throne and there will never be a transfer of power to another administration. He alone is God, and His name will be exalted. We rest our souls in this truth. 

Under this reality come seven lessons we must believe and embrace. 

1. Jesus calls his followers to make an “all-in” commitment to Him. “How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, follow Him. But if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). You can’t play the part of a Christian on Sunday then live like the devil the rest of the week. You can diversify your financial portfolio, but you’ve got to be sold-out to Jesus.

2. Jesus prepares us to be battle-ready. Yes, we’re in a spiritual war. If you’re all-in following Jesus, then expect to be hated by the world. Expect to be mocked, insulted, threatened, and persecuted. The cancel culture is coming for the church that preaches the gospel. But we are strengthened to stand in the power of His might. See Ephesians 6:10-20.

3. Jesus pleads for the unity of His church. In Christ there is no black or white, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, elephant or donkey. The cross breaks down every dividing wall of hostility. We’re united in Jesus as one body, one in heart and soul, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Our identity is in Him alone, and we must unite.

4. Jesus commands us to love one another. Followers of Christ are marked by their love – loving the Lord wholeheartedly and loving your neighbor as yourself. When the love of God abides in us, we will lay down our lives for the brothers and we will show special care for the widow and the fatherless, the poor and needy, the weak and the oppressed.

5. Jesus commissions us to make disciples of all nations. We have to be much more intentional about teaching our children to follow in the ways of the Lord. We have to teach, train, equip, and encourage one another in the church to be obedient to the commands of Christ. We have to be the example for others to follow in line with the Word of God.

6. Jesus promises He will come again. This truth keeps our eyes fixed on Jesus and motives us in the faith of godly living. In light of His soon and sudden return, we must be ready, be holy, and be hopeful. “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

7. Jesus sends us out as His witness to the world. Speaking the truth with love, we must warn and plead with men to be reconciled to God in Christ, for those who reject Jesus will be eternally condemned, but those who repent and believe He will save. We’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel that brings salvation. We must boldly preach the Word.

Friend, I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I know that now is the time to follow Jesus, the Holy One who became sin for us on the cross, that we might become the righteousness of God, and rose in victory that we might have eternal life.

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