Response Needed

If this website is a help to you, I would appreciate hearing from you.  Where do you live?  What would you like for me to address?  How often do you check in?  How can I help?  My curiosity grows with the passing of time.  I have been doing this blog for over 2 years now and I really would like for your input on how I need to improve it. 

I did get one individual to interact with me recently and he told me that he couldn’t find a place to respond in the Q & A.  I looked at it and found he was right so that has been corrected.  You can go to any part of the site that has a response block to contact me and I will get it.  I am the only one that views your comments and I will not post anything that you don’t want posted.  Further, even if I post a comment I will make every effort to protect your confidentiality.  I do not share the information with anyone or any organization that can be hacked and endanger you in any way.  My sole interest in this website is to share things that will be beneficial to you in your faith walk with the Lord Jesus.

I have tried to let you know who I am and what I am about.  Further information is available in the about section or by request if you do not find it there.  You can review all of my post by searching them by topic or you can review them by date.  You can click on the cloud at the top of each post to drop me a note or ask a question.

This blog is for you and your benefit.  I make no money from it and I purposely do not allow popups and adds that waste your time and insult your intelligence.  I do it because I have been given insights that I want to share and I want to be a blessing, rather than seek a blessing.  I will do all I can do to make this site a true blessing to as many as I can.

Brother Vernon

The Gates of Darkness

As I write this blog, I am thinking of the burden that the Lord has placed on my heart about training the church leadership in the Eastern Asia Countries.  It began last year when I made a mission trip to china and saw the hunger for the Bible and also saw the lack of training available for the house church pastor and church leadership.  The sacrifice they were willing to make just to attend a bible training meeting was soul searching. 

Then to be invited to speak at a Bible training conference in Japan this year had another impact on me.  As we were preparing for the conference, we visited a shrine and a temple there in Japan.  We were told that the entrance to the shrine or temple is always through a gate such as the one shown here. 

The entrance through a shrine gate

The purpose of the shrine is that the people have a place to worship and they would go through various exercises in order that the “gods” would bless them.  The gods were somewhat mystical in how they would respond but there was a void in the culture and this was established to fill that void.  It reminded me of Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

My thoughts then turned to Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  If this worship is not of the only true God, then it is not a god at all but one of Satan’s haven of refuge that teaches his false doctrines and holds people in bondage.  Simply put it is the entrance to hell.  Jesus promised that the church would storm the gates of hell and they would not stand against the forces of God that He would bring against the forces of darkness This faith is the power and method of Christ working through the church.

We felt this power all through the conference that was attended by leadership of churches from 6 countries.  The conference was presented in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese.  This may seem odd to some as the Chinese and Japanese have fought each other for a long time, yet about half of the attendees in this Japanese setting, came from China.  The theme of the conference was walking by faith and it extended over 4 days.  One of the features was the session in the evening where those attending the conference would share from their observations, what they had learned from the days events.  The worship sessions were a special blessing as the music was sang in three languages as well.  As we sang and worshiped together there was a unity of spirit that overshadowed all other separations so that we all focused on Christ alone and His presence was especially felt.  The afterglow that followed the day’s events was also a special blessing as it was spent in sharing and counseling as late as midnight and beyond.  This was a tremendous meeting and following it there have been additional results of three additional mission trips, and opened doors to additional possibilities.

This brings me to my burden for a training center in Japan.  I shared it with my pastor who not only endorsed it but also stated that this is where our mission efforts are projected.  He challenged me to write down my vision for such a conference and agreed to work with me in its concepts.  One of the pastors that attended the conference is now moving to Oklahoma to pastor a Chinese church there and we are meeting in December to also pray and plan for this Training Center.  Also, we will be meeting with Dr. Alan Bandy who is the NT professor at Oklahoma Baptist University who I spent a few days with over the Thanksgiving Day holidays.  I have also contacted some other Christian education schools who have also indicated their intentions to work with us on this project.

As my wife and I were returning home on the flight, I was following our progress on the monitor and considering the idea of a training center, I was jolted by what I saw on the monitor.  The route showed a satellite view of the ocean floor and just below the Aleutian Islands and on our route I saw 17:7, below the route and near the center of the picture.  The Aleutian Islands are above the route line and the islands are shown as the white portions.  You can see it also on Google Maps in the satellite view.

It has been there for thousands of years and was truly put there by God when He created the earth.  It was so plain but what did it mean?  I noted that this is the chapter and verse designation used in the Bible of separating the chapter and verse by a colon.  I began to look at each book that has 17 chapters or more and in the 17th chapter has a 7th verse.  There are 23 such verses in the Bible so which one was intended? 

Of the 23 verses in the Bible that have a 17:7 location, one stands out above all the rest because it is the only one that  references sacrifices offered unto devils and it is found in Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. 

So I sense that the message is simply this, Go in faith that God intends to deliver those in bondage to false gods so that they may come to know the only true God, Jesus who is the Christ and He will deliver them.  Satan does not have the power to withstand against the church that walks by faith in Christ alone.

Planning Ahead

Here it is the middle of January, 2020 and already the calendar is starting to fill up. 

The one project that I have every year is filing my taxes so this year I have already started.  I got out my receipts and began to organize them so that I can lay my hands on the necessary information much easier.  I was able to get many of them together and organized and am already feeling less stress.

Another project is to teach a 10 week course on Faith, using my book as the basic of the study.  We had our first meeting last night and I felt it went well.  We covered the first 1 ½ chapters and while that sounds like a lot, the first few chapters are rather short and since there are 11 chapters, we will have to hurry to be able to complete the book in 10 1 hour sessions.

Another project that I hope to complete this year is the translation of my book into Japanese and Spanish.  The Japanese translation is nearing completion while the Spanish translation is stalled and I’m not sure what the problem is.  I know that my translator’s mother is not in good health and takes a lot of time but I sense that there is more to it than that and I need to know how to pray for her that Satan’s schemes can be thwarted. 

My Japanese translator’s oldest daughter is going through a tremendous spiritual battle and really could use your prayers.  She must make a choice that will affect her for the rest of her life and she is being pulled greatly in both directions.  Please pray for her victory.

We are in the planning stage for this year’s mission projects.  As you may know, our church is involved in mission projects all over the world.  It is our task to get our marching orders from the Lord.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between request from others, our own perception and what the Lord is actually directing.  There are many needs and limitations but we are given the ministry of reconciliation so it is a labor of love. 

Today we went to see the doctor for my wife’s three month checkup since her knee replacement.  She was told that everything looks great and that she is progressing very well.  The doctor even commented that they would like for all their patients to do so well.  We have sensed that the Lord has really helped her through this experience.  She now walks like she did years ago and she is mostly pain free.  She will continue to improve for several months yet and could even become better than she was before she started having problems with it.

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday was a day of progress in several ways.  I began my day with sleeping in because I was up past midnight.  I took a leisurely shower got dressed and spent time with my wife as we usually do.  I then spent some time in my office catching up on different projects and miscellaneous paper work. 

My wife had a luncheon with one of the ladies at church so I fixed myself some lunch.  I had a meeting with my pastor at 2:30 in which we discussed the status of the latest developments of the Christian Training Center for Eastern Asia, that I am working on.  I shared with him about my meeting in Oklahoma City with a Chinese pastor and his chairman of deacons.  We considered the establishing of the Christian Training Center and a suggestion was made to consider Taiwan as a central location as it was fairly central and visas would be easier. What do you think?

We then discussed the organization plan and objective.  My pastor had given me an assignment to write out my vision of what that was and I went over it with him.  We then considered the target audience and I shared the need I see from my perspective.  This is where I need your help.  Would you write me and share with me your ideas and needs?  I know that I do not have a complete view of the real need but here is what I have so far.  The main target is the new pastor or church leader with little or no training in his role in the church.  The objective is to assist and enable him in his development so that he can equip his people in Christian living.  He will be charged with self-study within the bounds of the curriculum.  Our task is to provide an environment of support and guidance as well as the resources for him to accomplish that task.  To this end we noted that we need the curriculum of specific courses of study and identified the first as being that of walking by faith.  This is a project that I will begin immediately.

To achieve this end, I need your prayers, ideas and input to provide the best program to meet your needs.  I need individuals who the Lord has placed in this time and space to step forward with wisdom, resources, prayers and a heart to be God’s hands and feet for such a time as this.  I need to be sensitive to what the Lord is doing and keep in step with Him. 

After my meeting with my pastor, I met with our pastor of Discipleship and shared with him our present status of this project.  He then shared with me that we have within our church, two additional resources.  One is a project that our church is already working with and that is a similar project in Africa.  He will be getting me in contact with the leaders of that project to see what we can glean from what they have already done and enable us to avoid wasted motion.  The second is an individual who has worked with Eastern Asia radio and how we might utilize that resource in our efforts.  I continue to see God’s fingerprints on every step of this effort and am continually being amazed at what He is doing.

I think that it is important to remember that this is not my project, nor is it our project but that this is God’s project.  He began it and has led it along the way.  We are finding the different resources that He has provided ahead and we proceed based on His power and provision.  In the final analysis, our own development and transformation is His first objective while in the process we become tools in His hands to build His kingdom.

Seeing the invisible

As I sit here this morning, I am already seeing God at work.  The mission meeting in Oklahoma is starting to take shape and I see God’s fingerprints on each thing that happens.  Each person is key to its success.  God began this work many years ago.  As I consider just how long ago, I find that it began before He created anything.  We were in the mind of God and everything needed for us to become what He intended was provided.  He has been working ever since and I found Him working in my life long before I found out that I was a part of His plan.  You may remember a blog that I wrote recently about HIStory.  That is what history is all about, it is HIS story.  He alone establishes kings and rulers and He alone removes them.  He orders the natural laws that govern the universe and He made mankind, and more specifically, He made me.

He is the one who spoke to my heart and called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light.  He is the one who gave me a burden for the persecuted church.  He directed me to write The Mystery of Faith, then moved me to where I now live, and connected me with all of the ones who have established this vision of equipping the church leaders.  He provided the translators of my book, paid for the mission trips and provided everything to go on these trips.  Now I am beginning to see His plan on equipping the persecuted church leaders to do the work of shepherding their churches.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has some wonderful insights on seeing spiritually.  It begins by listing a number of notable Bible personalities who LOOKED for a city, made by God and SAW it from afar (verse 13).  There is an interesting note in verse 27 concerning Moses which says “for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”  Then based on that vision, they responded by faith which is summarized in verse 33-38.   The chapter concludes with the statement, “having obtained a good report through faith . . .”

As I look ahead I see a vision taking shape.  It is not my vision, but His plan which has it beginning in God, and will see its realization by faith in Him.  The hardest part of such an endeavor is to keep my hands off.  The temptation is to claim it as my vision, my work, my heart, etc. but it is in truth, not mine at all but His.  This is His working so we must not lead but follow, we must not offer our works but our faith in Him.  If I can do it without His involvement then it will not require faith nor His power and will not properly represent Him.  It is precisely because of this impossibility that I can see the invisible.  It is because I see God working on all fronts that I can see His objective.  It is because the devil is working so hard to keep people in darkness that they need God’s light in order to see beyond this world into eternity.

We are much like the 12 spies that Moses sent into the promise land to search it out.  They all came back with a report that the land was a good and rich land and even brought evidence with a bunch of grapes that it took two men to carry.  The difference was in what else they saw.  10 saw the giants and determined that the fight was impossible.  The other two, Joshua and Caleb, also saw the giants, but also saw God who was greater than the giants.  So here you stand, giving your report of the Promised Land.  What do you see, Giants, in the form of an oppressive government or God who is greater than the opposition?  What is your report on what you see?

Having Faith

Yesterday, while my wife and I were shopping for Christmas gifts, I noticed a lady in the store who looked at me as though she knew me and then walked over to me and asked me if there was anything that she could pray for me about.  My immediate reaction was where did this come from?  I don’t know you and this is so out of the ordinary so why do you want to pray for me?  I made no response but knowing that the Lord works in wondrous ways.  I thought about it for a moment and the first thing that came to mind was the Christian Training Center in Japan so I asked her to pray for that.  I specifically asked that she not pray that the Lord would bring it to pass but that we would be sensitive to what the Lord had planned.

I have learned that God is not concerned about the doing of mission projects as He is about our walking by faith in Him.  After all, He is the one doing the work, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.  You see, God’s greatest work is us.  He is completing His image in us so that the world can comprehend what He is like.  He will bring it to pass without our effort if we will “believe in Him”.  Another way to say it is “if we will have faith in Him”.   

In my Bible studies I try to find the exact meaning of the original language in order to accurately understand.  This led me to an amazing discovery and that is that the word we translate as “faith” is pistis, which means to trust, rely on, or follow.  Then I found that the word that we translate as “believe” is also pistis, and has the exact same meaning.  The only difference is that faith is a verb or action, whereas believe is a noun or the act of trusting.  In other words you can substitute one for the other without violating the meaning.  For example, in Mark 9:23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.  This is an amazing promise and most people believe that God can do anything. However, if you substitute the word faith, for the word believe it takes on a whole new dimension.  Now it reads “. . .if thou canst faith, all things are possible.”  Do you see the implication?  What is holding God back from doing, is our unbelief or our non-faith in Him.  In other words we are the limiting factor in God working. 

Most of the time, we focus on the doing, instead of the believing.  That is because the carnal mind is trying to earn God’s favor but God has removed effort from the formula of pleasing him and now all that is required is for us to “believe in Him” or “to have faith in Him”.  God’s part is the doing and our part is the believing.  He works through our faith but He doesn’t work because we work.  God’s power is only exercised upon our position of faith in Him.  This is perfectly aligned with James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Our efforts should first be to know the Lord intimately, and then to discover what He is doing and join Him.  He does not join us to fulfill all our plans and dreams but when our plans and dreams are to see Him magnified here on earth we will see Him do amazing things.

God At Work

As I said in my last blog, I would share some more developments in the training center for Eastern Asia.  The need is growing day by day.  The attempt to stamp out Christianity by several countries only emphasizes the importance of this effort.  I considered why these countries would fight so hard to eliminate the church and I came up with a few considerations.  First, the number of Christians is growing dramatically.  In China alone there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a million or more Christians.  That is one in fourteen of the people in China are professing Christians.  That is a serious block of people who could potentially threaten the government’s power.  This “threat” would make any government uncomfortable by itself.  What the governments fail to recognize is that the Christians will only make the government stronger when they are seeking to do what is right.  Christianity stabilizes the people.  Yet the genocide and persecution of Christians to death , is alarming.  There have been more martyrs in the last 10 years than in all of the previous years of recorded time, and the rate is increasing every year.

Secondly, historically speaking, every government that has set out to destroy the church and its people, have incurred God’s wrath and have fallen as a result of their error.  Governments were established by God to be a blessing to the people but when they reject God and His ways, they are removed by God.  The Christians are not the ones that they should fear but rather, God who set them up to begin with for he sets up kingdoms and also removes them.  If they truly want to do what is right then they should embrace them. 

There is a hunger for Bible Training that must be met.  I saw this in China last year and again in Japan this year.  People are willing to make great sacrifice of time, resources and personal suffering in order to satisfy this hunger.  I saw people endure long sessions on small plastic stools night after night, taking notes as thought their lives depended on it; and do it night after night.  Stories abound of the cost to satisfy this need.  People are crying out for help and God is listening and has already begun to answer their prayers.

My burden is to set in motion the working of a Bible Training Center that will be available for God’s people to get that training that is so needed.  I have already begun to contact key people who are in a position to be a part of supplying this need.  I have talked with at least two different schools that presently have online courses available as well as many of the colleges and universities that also have such opportunities.  I have talked with a couple of individuals that have financial resources that are willing to help.  I am personally in contact with some professors and educational institutions that are willing to step up and be a part of this effort.  I will be in a meeting in December with two key people who will be praying and working with me to outline such a program.

Would you make it a matter of prayer to support this effort?  As I look around I see God’s fingerprints on each part of this work.  I did not choose it but it was placed upon me and I can do nothing but move forward with it as the Lord leads.  Please understand that this is not my project, but the Lord’s.  We are seeing God at work.

Japan Mission Trip Next Week

It seems like just last week I was sharing with you about an opportunity that we have of providing the training classes for a Bible Training Conference in Japan.  Much prayer and preparation has gone into this work and now we are just 5 days from leaving for Japan.  Here is where we stand at this time.

The conference is being hosted by a pastor and church in Japan and is called the Olivet Conference.  Its purpose is for Bible Training and the theme of the conference is Walking by Faith.  The reason for this theme is that the Scripture states in Romans 14:26 that whatsoever is not of Faith is Sin; and in Hebrews 11:6 it states that without faith it is impossible to please Him (God).  Putting these two verses together it is clear that one of the most important things that  a Christian needs to learn is walking by faith; yet, I have never know a church to make this important enough to warrant a class just on living by faith.

After I wrote my book, The Mystery of Faith, I made a trip to Japan to visit my son who lives there and met a Christian pastor that became a close friend and co-laborer in the Lord’s work, who lives there in Japan.  He has made two trips to the US and we have been praying for the Lord to lead us in His will.  The last trip was to meet with our church and to plan for this conference.  He pastors a small church in Japan yet still has made multiple trips into China to train new pastors.  That training is not available in China.  When I went to China last year, I witnessed personally the need for training and it is simply not available there.

My burden for the church is to provide such training and Pastor T shares that same burden.  We are praying for direction beyond this conference.  Right now we have a few of the pieces that could become a training center there in Japan and are simply taking one faith step at a time.  We would covet you prayers and ask that you share with us whatever you believe that the Lord has given you to be a part of this endeavor. 

Right now there are over 30 church leaders from China that plan to attend this conference as well as over 20 from Japan and a few from other countries.    It will be a tri-language conference (that is it will be done in three languages).  It will be taught in English as several will be able to understand it in English.  It will also be translated into Chinese and Japanese so that it will be heard in their own language.  Materials are also being printed in all three languages as well.  The need is there, the hunger is there, the opportunity is there and in less than one week we will be there.  Our church is sending over a team of 4 to conduct this meeting.  I am one of three who will be speaking twice each. 

One of the things that we are doing is that after each session of a lesson, there will be a time for those attending the conference to discuss the material amongst themselves and/or ask us questions that they may have.  One person has even voiced a request about specific problems they are having with the current persecution of the government.   Please pray for us that we can properly represent Christ in our responses and that we can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

My wife and I are leaving on October 1 and we will not return until October 13.  We will get to spend a few days with our son and his family before returning here.  Then I will be going to visit another of our sons for about 3 days, returning on the 17th of October.  Then my wife is scheduled to have a knee replacement on the 25th of October.  There are two reasons that I am sharing this with you and that is to request your prayers and also to let you know that I will not be able to posts  for a few weeks.  At my first opportunity, I will share some of our mission trip upon my return and then continue posting on this website.

I would like to hear from you as well.  Do not be concerned about sending me a response in another language as I have a translator on my computer and will post my response to you.  I will avoid sharing things like cities, names and identifying pictures so as to protect those attending the conference.  I will share all I can to answer your questions so that you can be a part of the experience.  I sense that some of you have found this site and are following along on My Journey.  I want you to be as much a part of it as you can be.

Update 8.4.19

As you may already be aware, a team of 4 from our church are making a mission trip to Japan the first week in October. There are about 50 expected to attend a Bible Training Conference which we will participate in as conference speakers. The theme of the conference is Walking by Faith and we were planning on presenting each participant with a copy of my book, The Mystery of Faith in their own language. There are two major problems at this point and both of them could affect whether or not we can provide the written materials to the attendees. The first is the problem of printing as China has shut down all printing presses to printing anything pertaining to the gospel and is under tight scrutiny. We have an alternate plan that we hope to use that will make it much safer for all of the attendees. The second is the completion of the Japanese translation which is currently underway and is over half completed. Please pray that this work will be completed on time.

A second piece of news is that pastor T was here in the area and met with the team and a lot of the planning for the trip was made. Both the team and Pastor T got many of the answers that were needed and all saw a great spirit of cooperation and fellowship and we all came away with the deep sense that God’s fingerprints were all over this project. This will be our church’s first mission project in Japan and much ground work has been necessary to lay a good foundation. There is the hope that this can be just the beginning of other efforts in Japan and beyond. More on this as it develops.

Our Sunday School class has taken on the task of assisting in the printing of the book, The Mystery of Faith in the Japanese language. We have not reached our goal but have reached 1/4th of it. I am always amazed as to how God works. All of the translators have come forth on their own to volunteer to do the translations and now we see the Lord providing for other facets of the work. I call it the fingerprints of God and I see Him doing what I could never do. Sometimes I marvel out loud, “God, you are good.”

The persecution in China has intensified considerably and since May all Christian churches that have not come under the control of the government are illegal and severe consequences will follow those who are caught operating as an illegal church. Numbers of pastors and church leaders have been imprisoned and their churches disbanded. It has caused much confusion within the underground church and a number of individuals have been forced to sign a paper denouncing their profession of faith and pledging full allegiance to the authority of the government. Further, all printing that has anything to do with the gospel is now strictly forbidden. I would ask you to pray for the government leaders to see that the Christian people are not a threat to their secular position but are an asset to the whole nation and will enrich their lives and secure their nationality. Also, that they too, will discover Christ and claim His new life.

The Russian translation is at a halt for now since my translator has gone on to be with the Lord. I am asking the Lord how to proceed as I do not have a translator to complete this work. As far as the Spanish translation, it is finishing up on chapter 4 and we are ready to begin chapter 5. The work there is going slow as my translator has her mother living with her and that requires many of the hours in a day to care for her. Still she is slowly moving ahead on the Spanish translation.

Persecution

For those of you who follow us on our “Journey Home”, there is some news that is quite important.  I just received an email from Japan on the state of the church in China.  The persecution there is intensifying every day.  I hear regularly about The Chinese government forcing Christians to sign a document that they renounce their profession of faith and pledging to total support the government.  If the document is not signed then there are severe consequences, such as forbidding them to hold a job and they are ostracized from society.   Sometimes they are imprisoned and other means to force them into submission.  I know of one individual who was in his third year of studying medicine and he was forced to leave the school and is not allowed to continue his studies. 

In another situation the pastor and his wife and 70 of the members were put in prison because they would not turn over the control of their church to the government.  The church was then disbanded and the remaining members were then interrogated and required to sign the paper.  In other situations the church is split into several smaller groups and forced underground.  Life for Christians in China is quite difficult,  It is illegal for a church to own property and all of their resources are confiscated.

The government will allow a church to continue if they will allow the government to place faces identification cameras in the church and yield to the government’s full control.  It didn’t work for king Ahasuerus in the book of Ester nor did it work for the Roman government’s requirement of calling Cesar Lord.  Historically, the church has always grown more under persecution than it has at any other time so we should be looking for what God is doing.  It is at the most difficult times that God is seen clearer and works the greatest miracles.  The examples are numerous of atheistic kings discovering God when trying to stamp out His people. 

I often hear the question, why does the Chinese government persecute the church?  I am sure that there is several reasons but the number one reason is probably that they are considered a threat because the church refuses to bow to the government as the ultimate authority.  It makes sense that an atheistic government would fear a people who do not recognize them as the ultimate authority.  After all, they came into power by not recognizing the then current authority so they would want to squash any authority that they couldn’t control.  This is especially true when there are as many as 100 million Christians in China (that is 1 in every 14) which is a large block of people that you don’t control.

Perhaps a more important question is, why does God allow persecution?  It all seems unfair (and it is) but God has good reasons to allow it.  Consider the following reasons as some of the purposes of God in allowing persecution:

  1. To reveal His personage.  The main reason that leaders demand to be acknowledged as the ultimate authority is that they do not know God who is the ultimate authority.  They see God as uninvolved if they even acknowledge His existence.  Often their view of God is in the lives of His professed followers who are not a good representation of Him.  They are unaware of the possibilities and the dangers of defying God.  (Consider Goliath)  God wants us to know Him as He is with all His power, knowledge, love, etc.  He has only good in mind for us but for us to enjoy it we must have our grip on sin broken.
  2. To refocus His people.  God’s people sometimes get out of step with God and become carnal or worldly.  We begin to take the reins out of God’s hands and attempt to justify ourselves and earn our place with God.  This will never be allowed by God.  The Bible states clearly in Romans 14:23 “whatsoever is not of faith (in Him) is sin.” In Hebrews 11:6 “without faith (in Him) it is impossible to please Him.”  Whenever we get on the works system we are setting ourselves up for persecution.  The Lord gave the early church the command to go into all the world and teach all nations . . . (Matt. 28:19-20) but the church stayed in Jerusalem.  The next event that followed was the death of Stephen and a great persecution against the church.  Then the church began preaching Christ after they were scattered everywhere.  We need to learn to follow God’s instructions and not what we think.
  3. To recover and refine His people.  If God did not let us know we were off course we would continue moving out of God’s will and people would perish and we would suffer great consequences.  We desperately need course corrections.  The hardest lessons are often the ones we remember the most and are most apt to turn us from our own self will.  Not only is it His intent to recover us from our error, He wants to refine us in His service and expand our usefulness.  Growing in His grace is essential in our transformation into His image and likeness.
  4. To renounce false gods.  It is important to note that everyone lives by faith all of the time.  Having faith is not our weakness but placing our faith in the Lord and not in anything or anyone else is the biblical faith that causes God to get involved with our situations.  He only responds to faith in Jesus as Lord (boss).  When we trust anything else it is unbelief in Christ and brings its own consequence.  The key to triumphant living is in living by faith in Jesus and renouncing all other options as false gods.  Why is it so important that we get this straight?  Because there is no other Gods and the world needs desperately  to see the truth.
  5. To reach the Lost.  The world will die in their sin unless and until they know the only true God.  We are the illustrated version of this message that God is real and He has revealed Himself in the personage of Jesus.  Romans 10:13-17.  Jesus said we are the light of the world.  (Matt 5:14), and II Corinthians 5:18 states that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  These are but some of the reasons God allows persecution.