Over the course of a week, God has really spoken to my heart through His Word and stirred such a sense of urgency in me regarding the study of His Word in the time we are living. Last Wednesday I shared with the youth group what God had placed on my heart and I asked them this question: "If persecution comes to America, what do you have to stand on?" Daniel 7:25 tells us, "He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws.” This is a prophetic statement of the wearing down of Christians in the last days. The word "oppress" literally means to wear out as one wears out a piece of clothing. I have worn out a piece or two of clothing in my lifetime! Although it may still be a pair of jeans, or a shirt, it becomes useless for us in the purpose we intended for it. As Christians, we become so exhausted from our jobs, family issues, and other stresses that we find ourselves spending very little time in the study of God's Word. Without the life of His Word being poured into us, we are so tired that we simply do not oppose the efforts of the enemy. We are no longer a threat to the powers of darkness, and, although we are still Christian, we become virtually useless for the Kingdom of God. When times of persecution come, we are too weak to stand firm.
Last night we began our first week of our new women's Bible Study, "Faithful, Abundant, True" from the Deeper Still events with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore. Each session, we watch a DVD with a different teacher. Last night was Kay Arthur. I had not had time to preview any of the material or even look ahead at any of the homework. Kay Arthur preached my sermon... just a LOT better! She posed the same question. This is what she asked us, "If persecution should come to America, are you prepared?" Then she preached from the book of Hebrews encouraging us to be faithful to the study of God's Word. She called it our "duty" to understand it. No matter how many kids we are taking care of with little to no breaks... it's still our duty. Then she posed a couple more questions. She asked, "If God has given us 66 books, then how many books do you think He wants us to know?" (I'll help you out... answer is 66.) Then she asked a hard question, "How many of them do you know?" How many of them do you know? I don't know about you, but I've got some studying up to do.
After Bible Study each week, we have a Monday evening service that is an extension of our church. Our senior adult pastor, Pastor Tom preached in that service. His message? Daniel 1. He spoke of how we've become adapted to our culture in such a way that we have allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated with wordly views. We are so numb to our culture that we don't even realize the areas we are deceived. Sadly, so many times Satan wins with us. We are so tired and so numb, we don't turn to God's Word. Rather, we allow the world to indoctrinate us, and we are no longer able to discern the plots of the enemy in our lives.
I know these are not easy things to hear, but we are wise to pay attention. God has spoken in our church the same message in 3 different settings, 3 different personalities, 3 different perspectives. Something I have learned in Bible Study is that there are phrases or passages in which something will be repeated. It's not repeated to make it rhyme or flow, but God always has a distinct purpose in that when He allows a word to repeat. He is giving emphasis. He wants us to pay attention, to take notice. It's my prayer as you read this blog that you will really examine your life, your heart, and your hunger level for God's Word. We hear stories around the world of persecuted Christians, and we somehow think that because this is America we will escape such things. God warns us of the oppression to come in the last days. Right now, we live in a culture where God's Word is readily available. Not just His Word, but He's given us teachers like Kay, Priscilla, and Beth, and many others. With all my heart, I believe He is wanting us to be prepared! We are wise to pay close attention. When I meet my Maker face to face, the success I had on my job will not matter. The house I lived in or how clean I kept it won't matter. The status I attained won't matter. What will matter? The amount of His living Word He sees in me. Let's get Kingdom focused!
"Heavenly Father, forgive us of neglecting your precious Word. Stir a hunger in us like we've never had before. Give us the strength and tenacity to do what we've got to do to be prepared if times of persecution should come. Give us the strength and tenacity to do what we've got to do to fight today's battles, or to be sensitive to someone else's battle that they need someone to fight for them! Do not let us become desensitized to your Spirit, or to the powers that work against you. Help us to wise up to your Word. I love yoiu so much. Thank you for your Word! May it be living and active in me! In Jesus' Precious Name, Amen."