For a good while now...Something which has become almost a motto or war cry for us in this Church...Is to encourage one another to, "Hold The Line!"
Meaning simply: Never give in, never give up, & never back down...
From what you know is God's Truth...
From what you know you were called to do...
No matter the cost or consequences...
But always do so in absolute, real love and concern...
For those attacking or condemning you!
I really believe this mentality...Encompasses true love and obedience to Christ...
In a world which has turned against Him! But prayerfully watching and considering…Where many of us are in this very church... And in many churches across America...Many are having difficulty "Holding the Line"...
For one very blatant reason...You have never, "Drawn the Line" in the FIRST PLACE!
You have NEVER looked at this world...And the way you live your own life within it...And made a CLEAR DISTINCTION...As to EXACTLY WHAT CHRIST has called you to...In complete Love and loyalty to Him!
You have never genuinely decided...To turn from the world and it's ways...
To pick up your Cross... And follow Him!! You've never drawn that, "definitive line in the sand"...To live differently... Really... To separate yourself for Him...To purpose to Stand Firm... In servitude and love!
Because our self-serving…Sugar-coated belief system of today...Teaches that "Jesus Did it ALL!" And therefore we are under NO obligation or expectation...
To do anything in return! And He just looks at us with nothing but Mercy and Grace...In all of our laziness, selfishness, and sin...So grateful that WE would even choose Him...In a world that has turned their backs on Him!
Don't misunderstand... Jesus IS THRILLED and EXCITED to have us! He literally has Given the Blood from His Veins to have us! And THAT BLOOD did it ALL...There is NOTHING we can do…To add or take away from His Gift!
But that Blood was ONLY GIVEN for those who want, love and need Him BACK... Just as passionately...For those who see THE TREASURE they have in Him…The Treasure worth losing all they have... For this ONE THING... Him!
Philippians 3:8 (NKJV)
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...
Jesus DID NOT DIE on the Cross…Just for greedy, unloving, unrepentant people...To call on His Name... For a free ticket punch...Caring only for their own lives...Just to continue living for themselves in every way...Jesus repeatedly and passionately... IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS...Told those who followed Him around...Of the love He required from the ones who would join with Him!
Luke 14:25-27, 33-35 (NKJV)
25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me CANNOT be My disciple... 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 34 "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
Luke 14:16-18, 24 (NKJV)
16 Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses... 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.' "
He illustrated that HE... Had done all the Work...HE... Had set the Table already...But WE… Had to make the REAL CHOICE to JOIN HIM THERE!!
AT HIS TABLE...NOT... MAKE EXCUSES…TO CONTINUE LIVING THE WAY WE WANTED...RATHER THAN BE WITH HIM IN FELLOWSHIP! Jesus gave a very definitive LINE He expected those to walk...Who would truly love Him back...
John 14:15, 21, 23-24 (NKJV)
15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments... 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."... 23 "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
He Commanded this... NOT so we could EARN Salvation!!! But in PROOF that LOVE for Him IS REAL... In proof of OUR longing for HIS WAYS... HIS GOODNESS...In proof of OUR TRUST in HIS WORDS...In proof of OUR REPENTANCE OF SELFISH WAYS! NOT IN PROOF OF OUR ABILITY FOR PERFECTION...He knew that in our flesh and sin...We would falter and let Him down...But if He could see our heart for Him... When we come to the Table...
He would cover our guilt with His Loss!!
So YES... Jesus Himself Says...There is a very definite LINE…He requires us to strive for in our Love for HIM! And if we are not even interested...We were never real... Never serious about Him anyway...Just what He offered us... That we couldn't get for ourselves!
So... What should that LINE... Which we are supposed to HOLD...LOOK LIKE TODAY? What would Jesus Expect of us in this day and culture...If we were to follow His Commands…In show of our Love and Commitment?
The Answer is clearly given in His Word...But it just seems that oftentimes... It is too easy to miss or explain away...Unless it is spelled out clearly and unmistakably!
Drawing The Line!
Let's consider some powerful and applicable comparisons: When all of the Jews of the Medo-Persian Empire...Were condemned and sentenced to extermination from society...Did Queen Ester risk losing all of her social, material, and legal comforts...Even possibly forfeiting her very life...For her God and her people? Absolutely!
Do you think God expects any less from every one of us? Then do you think… Something as trivial…As your social status on Facebook or Twitter...
Are more valuable than Queen Ester's Social Status...Over the Largest Empire in the world at that time? Do you live for the God of the Universe...Who literally Died for YOU, or NOT?!
If you do... WHY… Do you post some of the most...Self-focused, self-pitying, attention screaming posts...All for the praise and notice of the world...Why do you have to obsess over the acceptance and approval of a backwards, lost world?
Why do you even post things…Which are contrary to, and hurtful of God and His Word? If you want to be accepted by the world so badly... Then GO FOR IT!
But I'll just tell you straight forward...If you say you have CHOSEN to follow Christ... LISTEN....YOU... DON'T... HAVE... THE... RIGHT...To disrespect... Embarrass... And even counter… God's Glory and Love...In the eyes of the entire lost world…On media platforms!
Either put God first... As His Servant... Or STOP proclaiming His Name!
DRAW THE LINE!
Because He DESERVES and EXPECTS BETTER! Did Daniel keep God's Word... God's Ways...And Prayer to his God... Even when it should have taken his life?!
Do you think God expects any less from us…In this culture? But most of us do not even have the habit to break...Of reading His Word...Of praying daily no matter what else happens!
Countless lives have been given and even sacrificed for...Preserving and teaching God's Words...And yet we do not even feel they are important enough to study!! But we are enthralled by the entertainment and education of this world! While being blindly led by false teachings of those who hate Truth!
Do you THINK God sees this…As giving up our lives for Him? Do you think God sees this as forsaking the world? Do you think you are seen…As one who loves Him more than your own life?
IT'S TIME TO DRAW THE LINE... BECAUSE HE DESERVES BETTER!
Listen to Paul & Luke describe the early church meetings...
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV)
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
"Holding The Line" should be considered in large part today...As not letting anyone or anything…STOP us from meeting together as a Church Family!
But unfortunately... Many, many need to "DRAW THE LINE" here FIRST...And finally conclude that attending church…Should really even BE an expectation or priority!
Many feel that coming together as a church…Is OPTIONAL for their Christian Faith... And is taken flippantly! We constantly hear that...
"It isn't necessary for me to go to church to be a Christian."
"I can praise God over Facebook, YouTube or Television."
"I don't need those hypocrites to worship God."
And even those who DO BELIEVE COMING TO CHURCH is the right and expected action... Attendance is often a very low priority...After priorities of… OT, good weather, catch-up sleep, & attitude issues!
LISTEN AND BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF!!!
This is one of the most glaring PROOFS…That we are NOT interested in...
Lifting Our God in Worship...Being used of God to help anyone else...Caring if anyone finds their way to Christ's Salvation...Truly loving others above self!
Let's recap what Paul and Luke said...Were the reasons the Church met in the First Century:
Consider one another above selves... Come together to meet other's needs! To stir up love in those who may not feel it or deserve it...To stir up good works in others... Encourage them in the Way...Encourage one another in tough times when they want to quit...To Study about God together...To share in fellowship, intimacy and even suffering together...To join strength in prayer... And give Glory and recognition in prayer...To join as one in Praising God...To add to His Church daily!!
That sounds like a major, daily, joyful commitment…To serving, praising and praying... That was Commanded… NOT to be ignored! Just a few years after the death of the Disciple John...Christianity had already exploded so powerfully...A Governor named Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger)...Wrote to the Roman Emperor Trajan...About how to handle the overwhelming number of Christian converts..Which had already permeated the Empire...He was having to kill so many men, women, boys and girls claiming Christianity...He asked should he begin killing only certain ones! Listen to HIS SECULAR, HISTORICAL description about the early Christian Church under his rule... (Written in 107AD)
PLINIUS SECUNDUS - Governor in Asia Minor (A.D. 112)
"They affirmed that the whole of their fault or error lay in this— that they were wont to meet together on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn— to Christ, as to God, and bind themselves by an oath, not to the commission of any wickedness, but not to be guilty of theft, or robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor to deny a pledge committed to them when called upon to return it. When these things we performed, it was their custom to separate, and then to come together again to a meal, which they ate in common without any disorder; but this they had forborne since the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I prohibited assemblies. After receiving this account, I judged it the more necessary to examine, and that by torture, two maidservants, which were called ministers; but I have discovered nothing besides a bad and excessive superstition. Suspending, therefore, all judicial proceedings, 1 have recourse to you for advice, for it has appeared to me a matter highly deserving consideration, especially upon account of the great number of persons who are in danger of suffering, for many of all ages and every rank, of both sexes likewise, are accused, and will be accused. Nor has the contagion of this superstition seized cities only, but the lesser towns also, and the open country; nevertheless, it seems to me that it may be restrained and corrected." - Epistles X.96
Just decades after Christ's Death and Resurrection...When faced with torture... And the killing of even their own children...Christians not only risked everything for their faith...But for the opportunity…To meet together in worship and prayer! Even when forbidden by the government! WHY… Was it so important? Because it was Commanded in Scriptures...Because they needed one another in the fight...For support and love... Drawing strength from those who were like minded in Christ...Against the ways of the world!!
Because they were so overwhelmed by Jesus...They wanted to corporately lift Him and worship Him!
Forget what the world says... Forget what clueless Christians say...
Forget what you might think you know!
Scriptures Command…That we meet together in support, worship and prayer! It is NOT an option... For good reason!
Meeting as a Family... Helps us fulfill OUR role in the Body of Christ...Growing and teaching us to serve others above self...Not just be served, entertained or praised! Encouraging us in hope and righteousness…When we are weak...Rather than only having fellowship with those who live contrary to Christ!
Letting us have the privilege of Worshiping…Our Saving God and King...Openly, unashamedly... Among our brothers and sisters...Giving us an avenue to introduce lost souls…To the Truth of Our Savior... In an atmosphere of True Love and Fellowship...They may not see or feel anywhere else! Does anyone here even consider this anymore?!
We are not selflessly one... As the Father and Jesus are One... Until we are committed to serving and loving one another... FIRST!
Before… You and I can "HOLD THE LINE!" for Jesus...We all first must... "DRAW THE LINE"...By committing ourselves to the FACT...That... As a Fellow Disciple of Christ...It is not my option... Not my choice... As to whether I make CHURCH Priority in life...IT IS MY HONOR, CALLING AND
Your calling to worship God... And serve others... And bring lost people into the House of God...Should take precedent over anything else when absolutely possible! The value placed on this Family of Christ... On bringing lost souls here to know more of Him...IS… The value placed on God's Will for your life!
What if teachers, workers, pastors just showed up when they felt like it?When it was convenient? Could we function and serve? According to Scriptures... Everyone has a place in the Body of Christ…Just like them!
IF SOMEONE ASKS YOU CAN YOU DO THEM A FAVOR...THE USUAL RESPONSE IS: "TELL ME WHAT THE FAVOR IS FIRST!" Because you need to weigh whether or not you can commit…To what they are asking before you answer...That is natural and good. But when it comes to following God's Commands...Jesus tells us, "If you Love Me, you will Obey!" NOT... "Listen and tell me if you are willing to follow!"
You and I are not expected to give up anymore... Or do anymore...In love for our God...Than any disciple of previous generations! We are not being asked to do anymore... Or give up anymore...Than Our God hasn't already given a million-fold more for us...We are not being asked to do anymore... Or give up anymore...Than is deserved by Our Jesus... And that will show the world the TRUE WORTH of Our God!
You and I are NOT somehow…"Exceptions" to the expectations...Which God Commanded of all believers...Who would forsake the world and follow Him! So...If you are serious about Christ... Face this glaring FACT! Check your heart...
AND DRAW THE LINE!
Commit... Right NOW... Here in His House...To being, living, loving, AND dying...
DIFFERENTLY FROM THE WORLD...FOR HIM ALONE!
DRAW THE LINE... AND THEN STAND FAST ON IT...The world has had no problem "Drawing their Line" against Him! Stand for what your Jesus Loves unapologetically... At any cost! Represent Him above all to the world... Media, friends, family, work! Remove yourself from the sins of the world!
Make time and priority to know His Words... No matter what you give up! Make time for Intimacy with Him in Prayer... First... Above the world!!
Make this church... Or any church you join... More important & cherished... Than anything of this world!! In attendance... Above all else...To worship, praise and love HIM corporately as HE Deserves!To show the world HE is worth your time... As they commit their lives!
To get support and encouragement...As we stand firm against the flow and ways of the world! To GIVE knowledge, support, encouragement and fellowship...To serve and give to those in need...AND TO ACTIVELY PURSUE LOST AND BROKEN PEOPLE...TO A PLACE OF TRUTH AND ACCEPTANCE!
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