In the World; Not of the World

Over the last month I have been sharing on the seriousness of the times that we are living in and the things that have played out over the past few weeks affirm that these are the last days that Christ spoke of in Matthew 24.
I recently shared out of Second Timothy 3 where Paul told Timothy: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come¦ These perilous times are defined as "fierce times or times that are hard to bear. What is not specifically stated here is what these perilous times will look like which leaves how they will look to the imagination of each person as something that is perilous to you may be a bit different to me.
Something that is perilous is "dangerous, unsafe, risky, terrifying and death defying.
What I'm convinced of is the admonition here is not in reference to how we may view something as being hard to bear or fierce, but in how God views something that is dangerous and terrifying. There are things that are going to be hard to understand and things that are going to happen that will go against the reasoning of men.
Without paying close attention to the Scriptures we can think that there is no God or that God approves of the things that are going on in the world even though they are contrary to the principles and commands that are outlined in His Word.
Most people [including Christians] living today do not see that the world is lining up with the prophetic words that have been decreed by the prophets hundreds and thousands of years ago. Further most people do not understand that the Bible never said that our nation would be one in which the principles and commands of God would be obeyed by the masses, however as we get closer to the end of the age things will undoubtedly get worse.
The behaviors that we are seeing and that are being accepted as normal are not going un-noticed by God. The events of the world that are commonplace are lining the world up so they can meet the Creator in Judgment.
No matter what we are seeing and hearing; no matter what laws may be passed that are contrary to the commands of God we must never forget that we are pilgrims going through this earth. We are in the world but not of the world and because of that there is still a righteous standard that God requires from us and without committing to living as He determines we will find that our lives will fall short of the way God intends.
We don't belong to the world any more than Christ belongs to the world and we must place a guard around our hearts and stay in place until the Lord returns.
Romans 13
11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Pastor Brenda and I have a clarion call from God to give you the things necessary that will save your souls. We are not responsible for the messages the church on television, on the radio or down the street may preach. We are interested in sharing what God gives us and what will have eternal benefits so in the end we will be assured to hear, "Well done thou good and faithful servant.
While we believe in the prosperity of God, the healing power of God, the favor and grace of God, the forgiveness of God and acceptance of God towards all people, we are also conscious of the fact that we are responsible for your souls. The salvation that Christ died to give us is hanging in the balance and we must take this hour we live in more seriously than we ever have before.
We are admonished to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and if we don't consciously apply what God is saying to our life, we risk the very deliverance that God freely gave us. Philippians 2:12
The world is going through great changes on all levels and if the Believer's do not know how to live right and how to respond to the policies and judgments that are being decreed over our land we will lose our effectiveness for Christ.
The end of the times we live in are upon us, not because I say it is or because of a Supreme Court ruling that we may not agree with; but because the Word of God declares that it will come and gives a glimpse of what it will look like. It does not reveal when it will happen and as no man knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Lord; The Bible just tells us that He is coming.
As a pastor and Christian, what I am most concerned with is:
not a ruling of the Supreme Court
not the burning of our church facilities
not the removal of a confederate flag
not the murder of members of a church¦
¦as important as these issues are when it comes to the moral fiber of our nation. I'm more concerned with the state of the people who say they follow Christ.
My heart cries because I see many people who say they love God living as if He does not exist. I see Believer's picking and choosing what part of Scripture they will obey and defend. They condemn a homosexual lifestyle while committing other acts of sexual sin without thinking of the consequences. There is outright disobedience to the commands of God and justified actions that have no real justification.
Living under the manifested grace of God we have all consciously or unconsciously discounted how serious walking with God is. Going to church and having an outward appearance of piety has become a fashion statement that has a high level of social acceptance. The church we attend or the programs in the church have become the standard for what God deems as being right or wrong.
Second Timothy 3 reveal the state of the Church just as much as it does the state of the world.
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
This is not meant to bring guilt and condemnation upon those who are hearing this, but to possibly convict us to take up our proper position so in the end we can all be saved.
The Church cannot have a futuristic mentality where we fall into a stupor and focus so much on this life and the perks of the world that we forget that we have a mandate to get the Gospel out.
We can't be so focused on the fact that Jesus said he was coming back and it's been over two thousand years now and He has still not returned. Because of this many no longer believe that He is coming back in our lifetime.
Second Peter 3
3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The purpose for our following Christ initially was so we could spend eternity with Him. The fact that this entailed our total commitment didn't faze us as we served Him without considering any inconveniences that we may have had to endure.
However through the process of time many Christians allowed the spirit of the world to distract them and they have placed other things before their service to Christ.
It's just not important as it once was and their actions are justified by the society we live in as they give you the freedom to do what you want and when you want to do it.
This shows up in the church as many people serve God just enough to appease their consciences not knowing that God is requiring much more than we have been giving Him.
For many Believer's, there's no evangelizing, there's no commitment to gathering together in the church setting, there's no commitment to walking in Biblical unity, there's no commitment to walking in forgiveness, there's no commitment living out the Word of God and there's no commitment to giving in obedience to the Scriptures. This is not everyone, but many Believers' fall into this category.
When I first got saved there was such an excitement when it came to obeying the Word of God.
  • I couldn't wait to bring my tithe into the storehouse, knowing that this pleased God;
  • I couldn't wait to come to church, knowing that this pleased God;
  • I couldn't wait to tell someone about Jesus, knowing that He was the ONLY Way, the ONLY Truth and the ONLY Life and NO MAN comes to the Father except through Him.
I purposed to learn all I could about this Man that shed His blood and died for me so I could obey him and further my mission was to become a person who learned what it meant to love other unconditionally.
This mindset of walking in love and forgiveness is often mistaken for not caring or accepting the things that are going on in the nation as normal.
However, I've come to know that if God can't change the heart of the people, I certainly can't. My mandate is looking for those that belong to Christ as God knows them that are His and preaching the Gospel to those that God brings into my life. Second Timothy 2:19
I'm looking for those in society that God has ordained for salvation no matter what state in life they may be living.
  • I'm looking for the banker and the poverty stricken
  • the politician and the street sweeper; the doctor and the patient
  • the lawyer and the law-less
  • the policeman and the criminal
  • the homosexual and the straight
  • the married and the single
  • the good and the bad¦
I'm looking for those that do not know Christ and my heart is broken over those who are lost as well as those who walked with God and have been deceived back into the world. My heart is broken over the Christians that have accepted a doctrine that is no Gospel at all.
Having itching ears many have turned from the Truth and in doing so, we've become expert at giving God "lip service while having hearts that hold dearly to the world. This too was prophesied centuries ago as      
 Second Timothy 4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure [bear, tolerate, put up with] sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
 There's a mentality that has saturated the Church that has made many Christians comfortable with giving God minimal service and they give no thought to their relationship with God.
These Believers have developed a relationship with God based on their own terms and without realizing it, many are back-sliding while sitting in the pews each service. They continue to say the right things as they have come to know the Christian vernacular, but their hearts are far from God.
In Matthew 15:7, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah and this is often used to focus your attention on the importance of giving God your heart and not just saying the things that we think are right. He said:
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ˜These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 
Hebrew version, where this statement was originally quoted from in Isaiah reads:
Their worship is a farce {mockery, embarassment, disgrace} for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.]
As much as this Scripture should tug on the hearts of the people of God, I know for some, this is "just another Scripture and because of the hardness of our hearts, we feel that it is for everyone else. I never view this or any other verse in the Word of God with such hypocrisy¦ it ALWAYS applies to me FIRST.
God is going deeper today as I believe that He wants to move us to a place where we are walking in His wisdom and His power that's based on our knowledge of Him living inside us and His desire to accomplish His will through us.
The process of our transformation has already begun and He is preparing us to rule and reign with Him in ways that are unimaginable. But God knows that for us to fully impact the world, we must wake up and see the larger picture.
God also knows that satan is cunning and very deceptive and he is keeping the people of God from seeing just how much power they have in this life. Jesus said that He gave us "¦power over all the power [authority] of the enemy and nothing by any means shall harm us.
Instead of approaching each day with faith and hope, we have seen where people allow the things that life throws at them to suck the very life out of them that God gave them.
God wants you to get your life back. But the only way to move your life consistently forward is by doing it God's way and forsaking the traditions that the religious people of the day have promoted as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are to have a different standard of living that projects trust, hope and confidence. 
Look at the context of Matthew 15 that Jesus quoted.
Isaiah 29 NKJV
9 Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
10 For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.
11 The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, "Read this, please. And he says, "I cannot, for it is sealed.
12 Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, "Read this, please. And he says, "I am not literate.
13 Therefore the Lord said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
[29:13 Hebrew version reads Their worship is a farce {mockery, embarassment, disgrace} for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.]
14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.
I want to finish reading this from the New Living Translation which makes it easier to understand. Verse 14 again
14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.
15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their evil deeds in the dark! "The Lord can't see us, they say. "He doesn't know what's going on!
16 How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, "He didn't make me? Does a jar ever say, "The potter who made me is stupid?
17 Soon”and it will not be very long” the forests of Lebanon [the mountains in your life] will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
Doing it God's way will cause the mountains to eventually become level ground and God is giving you victory that will consistently bring fruit into your life.
Many sermons being preached today have no effect because the disobedience of God's people often begins in the pulpit.
As verse 10 says, "For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers
Because we have produced a generation that wants an easy Christianity with nothing required on our parts, when the Truth of our responsibilities before God comes forth, we don't want it. We don't see the importance of doing what the Bible says even though we know that we are to be doer's of the Word not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.
We pick and choose what part of Scripture we will obey today and if we don't feel like doing something we won't and think nothing of disobeying the God that saved us and gave us eternal hope.
It's not that we're not experiencing victory in some areas¦ it's that we're not going through our challenges with the God kind of faith because we don't know what real Biblical faith is and we are allowing the enemy to steal our joy and ultimately the very hope for tomorrow we are supposed to have.
Many Christians have allowed the culture that we live in to determine what they are going to do, how they are going to live, what they are going to believe and what they are going to say to others.
This erroneous lifestyle is supported by many Christian voices in the world that live from the perspective of carnality and has deafened the ear and deadened the heart of many sincere Christians. The world looks for the real Believer's and because of this, can't find them because we're living behind a wall that has been built by a society that does not know God.
The importance of the Gospel message has diminished while we sit in the pews and although you have been given the most important mandate that anyone could ever have, we have allowed the strategic tactics of the devil to render our walk with God ineffective while our families, friends, relatives and neighbors fend for themselves and risk losing a chance to hear the message of salvation through one of God's chosen vessels.
II Corinthians 2:7 says, "¦we are not ignorant of satans devices; yet many Christians are living as though they are.
If we are Christians, we are also followers of Christ. Being a follower of another, we are to adhere to the orders of our commanding officer.