By Rev Bill Woods
That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
Picture old Paul sitting there in his jail cell waiting for the executioner.
– He was cold, hungry, lonely….he’d been beaten, stoned, left for dead………..
2 Corinthians 11:25-29
25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.
26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.
27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
Paul had been through it all because of his love for Christ, but Paul wasn’t complaining!
– Anyone else would be wallowing in self-pity — Not old Paul!
– He was instructing young Timothy to “hang in there” because whatever he had to face was minor in comparison to his relationship with Christ.
– Satan tried to discourage Paul, he’d tried to destroy Paul, but he couldn’t stop Paul.
Listen to what the Old Apostle is saying — 2 Timothy 1:12
12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
He was about to die for something he believed in! — JESUS CHRIST!
We need convictions like that — we need to be grounded so completely nothing will shake us.
– We especially need to be grounded in our faith as things develop in our near future.
I need to tell you, “Hang in there because you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
I’ve a sign in my office: “I’ve been beaten, kicked, lied to, cussed at, swindled, taken advantage of and laughed at, BUT the only reason I hang around this crazy place is to see what will happen next!!!”
The world’s getting less and less tolerant of genuine Christians.
– We’re coming under more and more pressure to compromise our faith.
– It’s happened before in history — it’s happening now in other countries — It’s building in the USA!
Religious liberties in the U.S. are in the cross-hairs of the militant, secular agenda following the election and inauguration of the Democrat regime pushing their Marxist schemes.
Why? John 3:19 — And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.
You must choose a side because “you can’t stand strong on top of a fence.”
God’s purification of our faith isn’t new. – Millions of Christians before us have suffered persecution – or pressure, like is happening in America – and God’s still God, we’re still His children.
So our Father will take care of us if we’ll be faithful and willing to stand.
“Throughout history God’s people have been forced to bow to godless agendas, decrees, ordinances, laws, yet they’ve refused to bow, and suffered intense persecution.
At the same time God’s people have been forced not to bow to God, His boundaries, His laws, His words – yet they chose to bow in reverence and faced the fires of persecution as well.
“Either way, persecutors want God’s faithful obey man, not God – to bow or not to bow.
And their easiest targets are the fence sitters.
So if you’re straddling the fence, please move to God’s side and trust that He’s got your back.
We’ve nothing to fear, and we can’t forget Jesus is in Heaven speaking about our courage to the Father – Matthew 10:32-33 — “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”
We need to be grounded so completely in our faith and convictions that we’re unshakeable.
That’s the attitude of the Christians in the Middle East.
ISIS is freaked out by Christians in the Middle East because they can’t get them to break.
– They keep doing worse and worse things to them and nobody’s crying, nobody’s begging for their lives.
. They’re all going quietly, and ISIS can’t figure it out.
– It’s because these martyrs have found something they believe in enough to die for!
If we can get to where we can look another man in the eyes and say “I’m not moving, I won’t compromise my beliefs or my Savior — I don’t wish you ill, I don’t have any problems with you personally, but I’m not moving!”
– There ought to be something in us that makes an enemy say, they’re serious!
We’re watching our Nation build towards the same intolerant treatment to Christians.
Does faith precede courage or courage precede faith in being willing to die for what you believe in?
Elijah Lovejoy was active in Missouri in the 1820s, 1830s, during the Missouri Compromise when the federal Congress said, we’re going to allow slavery.
He opposed slavery. He was a preacher. His brother, Owen, was a preacher. He didn’t consider himself an abolitionist, but he was a preacher.
He had a weekly magazine called The Observer, that featured religious articles.
He started touching on the slavery issue and writing about what he thought of slavery.
His press was smashed and burned 3 times.
Each time, he put it back — in those circumstances you come face to face with what you believe in! Is it enough to die for?
He wrote in The Observer , “I shall come out openly, fearlessly, and as I hope in such a manner as becomes a servant of Jesus Christ when defending His cause, and whatever may be the consequences, I think, I trust, that through the Grace of God, I’m prepared to meet them—even unto death itself.”
He said, “My friends are trembling. My enemies, numerous and influential, are open and fiercer in their threats, but I can truly say I was never more calm. I have fasted and prayed. I have earnestly sought the path of duty and think, I am assured, that I have found it, and now I am determined that not all the fury of men or devils shall drive me from it. Yet you need not be disappointed to hear that I have fallen a victim, at least to the lash or the tar barrel.”
He said, “If they content themselves with whipping, I will not run until I have been whipped as often, at least, as Paul was — 8 times.”
He prepared himself for what was coming, except the next time, they killed him — they shot him. They assassinated him and burned his press down over his head.
He found something he believed in enough to die for!
John Hus was one of the key forerunners of the Reformation. He devoted himself to Scripture and taught that Christ, not the Pope, is Head of the Church. – In 1414, Hus was hauled before the Council of Constance to defend his beliefs. – He was convicted of heresy and sentenced to be burned at the stake unless he recanted.
Hus stood firm. On the day of his martyrdom he said: “God is my witness that the evidence against me is false.… In the truth of the Gospel I have written, taught, and preached, today I will gladly die.” As the crackling flames consumed him, he joyfully sang a hymn.
He found something he believed in enough to die for!
We need strong convictions so we can say with Paul — 2 Timothy 1:12 — “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”
1. WE NEED CONVICTIONS ABOUT THE AWFULNESS OF SIN
Galatians 6:7 — “Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”
Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today’s Churches and Christians for the most part have become so soft on sin that they don’t even recognize sin when it’s flaunted in our faces.
– We’ve softened terms…….Sin is still sin!–And all sinners will still go to Hell!
– However they don’t have to because God’s provided a way for them to escape Hell.
Today, everybody claims to be Christians. When I was a kid, God may not have gotten the recognition He deserves, but today He gets more publicity than He deserves. People used to hide their light under a bushel; today it’d be good if some had the sense not to share their testimony — too many politicians claim to be Christians, but there’s no fruit!
2. WE NEED TO BE CONVINCED THERE’S A LITERAL, ETERNAL, BURNING HELL AND
JUDGMENT FOR SIN – Luke 16:23 —KJV —And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Charlie Peace, a criminal in England, was being taken to his execution, he listened to a minister reading from the Bible.
– When he found he was reading about Heaven and Hell, he looked at the preacher and said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the Church say, and even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I’d walk over it on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that.”
Who do you know who’s going to Hell unless they accept Jesus Christ?
– What are you doing to win them to Jesus and His Salvation?
3. WE MUST BE CONVINCED OF GOD’S LOVE FOR SINNERS.
John 3:16 — KJV-For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:8 — But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
2 Corinthians 5:14 — Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.
Officer Tori Matthews of the Southern California Humane Society got an emergency call:
– A boy’s pet iguana had been scared up a tree by a neighbor’s dog. It then fell from the tree into a swimming pool, where it sank like a brick.
– Officer Matthews came with her net. She dived into the pool, emerging seconds later with the pet’s limp body.
As the Arizona Republic (2/14/95) reported, she thought, “Well, you do CPR on a person and a dog, why not an iguana?” So she put her lips to the iguana’s.
– “Now that I look back on it,” she said, “it was a pretty ugly animal to be kissing, but the last thing I wanted to do was tell that little boy his iguana had died.”
The lizard responded to her efforts and made a full recovery.
– Tori Matthews didn’t see a water-logged reptile; she saw a little boy’s beloved pet.
– We may never see the beauty in some people, but when we realize how much they mean to
God, we’ll do what we can to keep them from drowning.
4. WE MUST BE CONVINCED IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO WITNESS FOR CHRIST
Acts 1:8 — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 5:41-42 — The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.
Many believers are “rabbit hole” Christians.
– In the morning they pop out of their safe Christian homes, hold their breath at work, scurry home to their families and then off to their Bible studies, and finally end the day praying for the unbelievers they safely avoided all day.
– It’s easy to sit and wait for somebody else to do the job Christ has called us to do.
5. WE NEED TO BE CONVICTED OF THE NEARNESS OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
Titus 2:12—13 — And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
Matthew 24:44 — You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.
– We’ve a lot of work to do, but not a lot of time to get it done.
– Grandpa asking me and Dennis Mayhew to clean mess in Fellowship Hall — we got to playing instead and he came — OOPS!
6. WE NEED TO KNOW THAT WE’LL BE PART OF THE 1ST RESURRECTION
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 — But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!
52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.
53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.
57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
One day an assistant of the chemist Michael Faraday accidentally knocked a little silver cup into a beaker of very strong acid – In no time the silver cup disappeared.
The chemist was summoned.
– He quickly put a certain chemical into the jar, and in a moment every particle of silver came together at the bottom.- Removing the shapeless mass, he sent it to a silversmith, who recreated a cup that shone as bright as ever.
What Michael Faraday did in his laboratory is a small picture of what God will do on resurrection day for all His saints.
He’ll miraculously restore the bodies of all who have died in Christ.
This is the mystery Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 15:51 – 55
– He said when Christ returns, the living saints will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and the dead will be raised with incorruptible bodies.
The apostle wrote, “Then shall be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
I think Paul imagined hearing the triumphant voices of the saints on that great day. – Those who don’t die will be instantly changed, and will exclaim, “O death, where is thy sting?”
Those who rise from the grave in resurrected bodies will shout: ”O grave, where is thy victory?”
What a picture of triumph!
How the saints will radiate the glory of the Lord on Resurrection Day as they’re changed into His perfect likeness!
In an age of doubt and skepticism, let’s affirm with joyful confidence the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body!”
Those are the Convictions we need to have in order to have something we believe so strongly we’d be willing to die for — I’m willing to die for something I believe in — JESUS CHRIST!
To sum up, I have strong convictions about:
The awfulness of sin.
The fact that Hell exists.
The truth that God loves sinners.
We must tell them or they’ll miss out.
Jesus is coming soon — we have no time to waste!
We can be part of the First Resurrection.
I’ll close with this story.
When the Texas rangers were organized, Texas was a home for all sorts of lawless folks.
The Texas Rangers were tough guys that had to take on all the outlaws and the Santa Anna dictators and all the stuff they did.
Capt. Bill McDonald ran the rangers.- He taught the Rangers, “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”
That’s the deal, you stand up, and don’t back down.
Whether it’s in negotiations, whether it’s in the American Revolution, whether it’s in the anti-slavery cause, whether it’s ISIS, or anything else, you stand up, even if it’s by yourself.
You don’t back down, and you keep on coming.
– That overcomes them! Because you found something you believe in so much you’d die for it!