Be On Your Guard--Rejoice!*

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from the heart of Sister Maria (from Mozambique; had been imprisoned under severe circumstances. Because of the danger to her at the time of this writing, she has made use of a pseudonym), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Many Christians today live with the false hope that peace will come to this world one day, that famine and persecution will end.

This utopia is not in accordance with God's Word.

When I was arrested, His words immediately came to me: When these things begin to happen, '...be on your guard' (Mark 13:9).

Instead of peace on earth we see hunger, disease and war. This happened in my country too. We were promised food, health and peace, but we soon discovered that there was no room for God in an atheistic environment. Our churches were closed, our Bibles burnt and our pastors arrested. Because I taught children about the Lord, I, too, was arrested. Only when the heavy cell door shut behind me and I was left naked in the cold darkness, did the words of Jesus make real sense to me: 'Be on your guard.'

I do not want to be negative and frighten you. I only say: '...be on your guard."

Even when things look like improving in the world today, we do not have any guarantee of freedom from persecution.

Together with the warning: '...be on your guard' comes this other truth: 'Rejoice'. Peter said it. Paul wrote about it from prison: Jesus exhorts us: 'Rejoice'.

I can only add: you can.

A moment of introspection: On your mark--get set--ready--rejoice! What a strange, yet wonderful sequence of words that reflect preparation and response. Repeatedly, Sister Maria urged each of use to on our mark--in her terms "on your guard". How many of us, when surveying a world out of control, would rather bury our head in the sand and seek peace. That's natural but, as Sister Maria asserts, it "is not in accordance with God's Word." God's Word prods us and pulls us out of the sand, saying (Luke 21:25-28) "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." We are instructed to "straighten up and raise our heads". Be on guard; get right with Christ while the time is still there to do so. We do so gladly, looking to our God and our King who reigns over all. The times are in His hands, and we for our part--rejoice!

Until Christ comes in the sky to claim His church, we are to be on our guard. The incidence of persecution of Christians is at an all-time high (Christian Persecution Reaches Global Historic High, Thanks to Rise of Radical Islam), daily volcanic eruptions (www.prophecyupdate.com), earthquakes are occurring around the world, corrupt science seeks to bridge human and animal DNA, global government looms, societal breakdown continues internationally, and the conditions portended in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 appear with greater and greater frequency and notoriety. False teachers abound and false prophets likewise seek to lure unsuspecting believers into their throngs (http://www.olivetreeviews.org/news/spiritual-deception), and false Christs appear and claim their (wrongful) divinity--e.g., Maitreya. Be on your guard.

As the move toward global governance gathers steam, Christians will see greater and greater restrictions on the free expression of belief in Jesus Christ and God. Agenda 21 (now called "Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030") seeks to reduce the burden of humanity on the earth; "sustainable development" seeks to reduce the population of the world by 95%. Radical Islam similarly seeks to eradicate Christianity and Judaism from the world. Read "Because They Hate" from Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the Act For America non-profit. The principal players of the Gog Magog war are positioning themselves for their roles in that prophesied war against Israel. Russia is threatening Ukraine, North Korea and China are each flexing their military muscles.  

In this troubled world, peace is increasingly a dream, a fantasy, an improbability (if not impossibility). Jesus told us of the persecution that is to be expected (John 15:20), that we Christians would have tribulation or suffering (John 16:33). But He has also given us reason to rejoice (1 Peter 1:3-9). His return is imminent, though we know not the date or time; if we as Christians are persecuted, suffer, experience tribulation, know that our redemption is near. Christ's second coming is near. We are called to persevere (Jude 17-25), and are cautioned to be grounded in the Word lest when we encounter tribulation we fall away (Mark 4:13-17). We are exhorted to endure (cf letters to the Church at Corinth and letters to Paul's co-worker, Timothy). If and when we suffer for Christ's sake and His name, look up--for God is with us, and is beyond our suffering; endure; rejoice in His presence and in His sovereignty that will see us through.

So... be on guard. Remain faithful, no matter what the circumstance; trust the Lord and obey Him through it all. And, rejoice! As Sister Maria encourages, "You can." Remember the words to the song, "Through It All":

I've had many tears and sorrows,

I've had questions for tomorrow,

There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:

But in every situation God gave blessed consolation

That my trials come to only make me strong.

 

Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to trust in Jesus,

I've learned to trust in God;

Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to depend upon His Word.

 

 I've been to lots of places,

And I've seen a lot of faces,

There've been times I felt so all alone;

But in my lonely hours,

Yes, those precious lonely hours,

Jesus let me know that I was His own.

 

 Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to trust in Jesus,

I've learned to trust in God;

Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to depend upon His Word.

 

 I thank God for the mountains,

And I thank Him for the valleys,

I thank Him for the storms

He brought me through;

For if I'd never had a problem

I wouldn't know that He could solve them,

I'd never know what faith in God could do.

 

 Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to trust in Jesus,

I've learned to trust in God;

Through it all, through it all,

I've learned to depend upon His Word.

 

 Through it all, be on your guard and, above all, to the God who also is above all, rejoice! You can!

 

*NOTE: This is an updated devotional ... click here for original "Be on your guard--Rejoice!" from May, 2012 ... In that first edition, I recommended that each of us consider this further, and am doing so in this updated devotional.

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