A Word from Bill
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:10-11)
The issue Peter addresses is this: since we know that God will fulfill His Word spoken through prophets, the Messiah, and the apostles concerning the end of the age and the destruction of wickedness, how should His people be conducting themselves. We know that wicked people will continue being wicked. We know that they will scoff at the belief in the return of Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth. We know that the days will become increasingly violent as men’s hearts are hardened toward righteousness. Still, the primary issue is – what kind of people are we to be?
It’s really easy to look at developments in the world and focus on mankind’s evil words and deeds. Just this week, the governor of Virginia seemed to indicate that a bill before the Virginia state house, if passed, would allow a child to be aborted AFTER birth. This came on the heels of New York’s governor signing into law the right for a woman to abort her baby right up until the time of birth, seemingly for any reason. This is infanticide and it is pure evil. Unfortunately, it is also pervasive; more states are following the lead of New York and Virginia in this regard.
There are other developments in the world that are just as evil as these recent events; more and more, humanity is becoming inhumane. It requires very little effort to recognize evil and point it out for all to see, BUT the question is, “what manner of persons ought you to be?” What kind of example am I going to set for others to observe in the face of unrelenting evil? For a moment, forget about what the world is doing and let’s focus on what we are doing.
Fish and Loaves People
Of those that followed the Messiah at one time or another, I’ll suggest that they could be categorized into three groups of people. The first group is what we’ll call the “fish and loaves” people. These are the ones who were always there for the message and the food but not so much for the “real food” Yeshua was offering. In other words, these are people who will be there as long as there is something in it for them. They want the rewards but are hesitant to embrace any kind of responsibility.
For instance, after feeding thousands of people, Yeshua went with His disciples to Capernaum. The crowds He had fed previously followed Him there to see what was going to happen next. When they showed up, He said:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26)
The weren’t really interested in Him as much as what He could do for them. Unfortunately, this is a problem that we still see today. There are people who will go from meeting to meeting, fellowship to fellowship, ministry to ministry, looking for what others have to offer to them. They’ll be there for the excitement, the miracles and the “fish and loaves” but no so much for the hard work involved with laboring for the Kingdom. As soon as they are “full” they tend to move on to the next happening.
I think its fair to say that most of us, at one time or the other, have been guilty of this but, as followers of the Messiah, we cannot afford to remain in this pattern. We must be willing to follow Him if He never performs another miracle for us. We must be selfless and not selfish if we are going to be disciples of the Master. To that same group of people, Yeshua said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn. 6:27). We must “labor” for what the Messiah wishes to offer us which is far more valuable than fish and loaves.
The Easily Offended
The second group of people if what we’ll call the “easily offended.” These were people that took great offense to things Yeshua said but who never really tried to understand what He was saying. Many of the things He taught, He did so in parables because, as He said, most people wouldn’t really hear what He was saying because their hearts were dull and their ears were closed to the truth (Matt. 13:13-15). When these types of people heard something “offensive” they tended to turn against Him or just disappear. One such example is found in John’s gospel when Messiah said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:56). Upon hearing this many of those people who had been following Him were offended and “walked with Him no more” (Jn. 6:66).
Again, I believe that most of us have fallen into this category at some point in our walk. Often, it is our zeal for “the truth” that sets us up to be offended at something someone said or taught. True, there are times when truly offensive things are said or taught but, remember, many were offended at Messiah because their heart was dull. They heard Him say one thing when in fact He was saying something quite different. In one particular situation, people heard Him say He could rebuild Herod’s temple in three days when He said nothing of the kind (Jn. 2:19-21). They were offended at His words and wouldn’t hear Him because their heart condition couldn’t receive it.
My point is, that as His people, we must make certain that our hearts are tender and pliable before Him, because it is going to be critical that we are prepared to hear what He has to say in these last days. Over and again, Yeshua admonished us with these words, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He also said: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matt. 11:6).
It is incredibly important that we not be the type of person who is easily offended, even when we believe that our offense is for the cause of Messiah. A couple of His disciples were quickly rebuked for this very thing when they, offended on Yeshua’s behalf, were ready to call fire down upon a Samaritan village (Lk. 9:51-56). They were offended and were, consequently, prepared to destroy men’s lives. Messiah made it very clear that they were of a different and unwanted spirit – He had come to save lives. So then, rather than being easily offended, let’s be quick to go on the offensive against the powers of darkness – people’s lives are at stake.
The Sheep That Scatter
The third group is what we’ll call the “scattered sheep.” Messiah provides us with the basis for this category.
Then Yeshua said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’” (Mark 14:27).
The bottom line is, though it was prophesied to occur, those who had been closest to Him abandoned Him when they thought their life was on the line. They had stuck with Him through a lot but even Peter, the one who had pledged to die for Him, fled when he felt threatened. Rather than finding fault with them, I would argue that most of us would have done the same thing. In fact, in some form or fashion, most of us have already done the same thing.
It doesn’t necessarily require a life and death situation to fall into this category; sometimes all it takes is for some uncomfortable situation to happen for people to decide it’s time to leave. Years ago, Beth and I served as associate pastors in a fairly large church. In that capacity, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “We feel the LORD is leading us to go somewhere else” when just weeks before the same people had said, “We feel the LORD is leading us here.” Usually, this occurred when something had happened that required people with conviction to take a stand.
My point is, unfortunately, too many believers are ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. It should not be this way. If we are in covenant with Messiah, then we are in covenant with the Body of Messiah – that is, one another. Therefore, we must learn to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) and to “bear with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). Furthermore, we are promised trials and tribulations in this life and particularly if we have determined to follow the Messiah. Yet it is trials and tribulations that God uses to temper us, to shape us and to encourage us to become the people He has called us to be. That point now leads me to this one – there is one last group that I need to address.
Most all of us have, at least for a season, lived in the groups that I mentioned above. All three categories describe us from time to time but they shouldn’t define us for all time. We are called to be overcomers – this is the term that should define the disciples of Messiah. He overcame the world and has given us the authority to do likewise. It is the overcomers who, under His Kingship, will be given authority over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27). This is the group that will be saved because they have endured to the end (Mat. 24:13). This is the group who get victory over the Adversary as it is written:
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11).
Look around you. Observe what is going on in the world and in our nation. Look at how aggressive and uncompromising the wicked of this world have become. Most likely, we haven’t seen the whole of it yet. So then, knowing the nature of the times in which we live, what manner of persons ought the followers of Messiah to be? The answer: We must be the salt and light in this world and, to do so, means we must overcome. We must overcome the internal foe that compels us to seek out temporal things or to be easily offended at one another. We must overcome the selfish inclination to flee when things get tough. To the contrary, if we are to be overcomers, then we must possess the courage to stand against the evil of this day and to stand together. In short, we must become those who view their life as being secondary to the cause of the Kingdom. It is time for this group to arise from their slumber and take their place on the battle line.
I wanted to remind everyone that we are closing out all of the individual DVD albums, Returning To Our Roots. These are all of the programs we recorded for Son Broadcasting several years ago and released through DVD. Each album contains a minimum of 90 minutes of teaching (some are 2 hours and more) plus a data disc that contains my teaching outlines in PDF. These DVD albums are great for Bible studies and home fellowships, especially since the outlines can be printed off to share with everyone in the group. They are going pretty quickly so make sure to check out what is still available here.
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