Posts Tagged ‘standing up for Jesus’

Judges 18:1-31 (Part 1 of 3)
Idolatry in the Tribe of Dan

How many people would be in church on Sundays in the South if we would be persecuted for having gone? What would our churches look like if there were a real consequence for us claiming to be Christian and going to church? What if going to church on Sunday could cost your life, or even just your job, or cost you contact with your entire family? What if being a Christian really cost us something? How many of us would risk being seen at church? Think about it.

In China, in North Korea, in predominantly Muslim countries, that is the case. For Chinese and North Korean Christians, they meet in secret in house churches. According to one news article, “The Chinese government’s persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house churches as ‘cult’ organizations.” Although China is easing its persecutions of Christians as China tries to modernize its culture to stay competitive in the global marketplace, it is still no easy thing to be a Christian there. In order to become a state-sponsored religion, Christianity would have to submit Jesus to the authority of the government so it is inevitable without a government change in China that persecution will continue with varying levels of intensity (depending on who is in power in Beijing).

North Korea is probably the worst current offender of Christians right now outside of the Middle East. Human rights groups are reporting on new grim statistics from North Korea and its treatment of religious minorities, including Christians, revealing that more than 75 percent of those subjected to torture, imprisonment, and other punishments do not survive. International Christian Concern, Open Doors USA, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) are just some of the persecution watchdog groups that have documented the horrific treatment of minorities in North Korea. CSW’s report on the North Korean regime released in September noted that the government tortures, mutilates, and kills Christians. The report added that some of the documented incidents against believers include “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot.” As the watchdog group also explained, religious belief is seen as a major threat to North Korea’s leadership, with Christians often accused of being imperialists seeking to undermine the rule of the ‘supreme leader,’ as Kim Jong-un is known.

The most persecution historically has occurred in Middle East where the majority of countries are predominantly Muslim. The top country where Christians suffer, for the 12th consecutive year, remained communist North Korea, though the nine following countries in the top ten were Islamic: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen. Open Doors said earlier this month that it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings over the year, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said. In predominantly Muslim countries, those who die may see it as a welcome relief. Because in many cases, Christians are excommunicated from their families, cut off from the social fabric of their communities so it is difficult to have any semblance of family or home life. Christians are forced to pay a higher tax rate than Muslims. That is, if they can find work. Often Christians are forced into a lifestyles of begging for food on the street. Just a politically incorrect statement here – Why are not the people you clamor against Islamophobia here in the US as equally outraged at the more severe treatment of Christians in the home countries of many Islamic Americans? Back to the Middle East though…recent news footage of Christians being raped, tortured and killed by ISIS in the Middle East brought the plight of Middle Eastern Christians to the national news.

It’s tough being a Christian out there? It just begs the question of myself and of my friends and American Christians in general. What if there comes a day when being a Christian here in the United States really, really costs us something? Sure, we complain about how our culture has changed and how we are often marginalized and vilified by the liberal leanings of our culture. We may complain about being seen as archaic and out of step with the current state of our cultural values. But, as of yet, we still can go to church on Sunday without it costing us a daggum thing. We might be seen as square but it does not cost us anything…really….other than maybe some hurt feelings and maybe it will cost us a few friends. But that’s peanuts folks. That is not real persecution. Will we have what it takes when the time comes to stand up for Jesus Christ in the face of death, imprisonment, or being a complete social outcast. Will we stand up for Jesus if it will cost us our jobs? How willing are you and I to go the mat for Jesus?

That’s the thing that I thought of today when I read through Judges 18 for the first of three reads today. Here, we see the tribe of Dan taking the easy way out. They did the easy thing instead of the God thing. God called them to something difficult but they whiffed. God called them to something hard and they chose to go against God’s will because it was too hard:

18 Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the men of Dan chose from their clans five capable warriors from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol to scout out a land for them to settle in.

When these warriors arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they came to Micah’s house and spent the night there. 3 While at Micah’s house, they recognized the young Levite’s accent, so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?” 4 He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he had been hired as Micah’s personal priest.

5 Then they said, “Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.”

6 “Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.”

7 So the five men went on to the town of Laish, where they noticed the people living carefree lives, like the Sidonians; they were peaceful and secure.[a] The people were also wealthy because their land was very fertile. And they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby.

8 When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you find?”

9 The men replied, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. What are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to go and take possession of it. 10 When you get there, you will find the people living carefree lives. God has given us a spacious and fertile land, lacking in nothing!”

11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan[b] to this day. 13 Then they went on from there into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.

14 The five men who had scouted out the land around Laish explained to the others, “These buildings contain a sacred ephod, as well as some household idols, a carved image, and a cast idol. What do you think you should do?” 15 Then the five men turned off the road and went over to Micah’s house, where the young Levite lived, and greeted him kindly. 16 As the 600 armed warriors from the tribe of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate, 17 the five scouts entered the shrine and removed the carved image, the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the cast idol. Meanwhile, the priest was standing at the gate with the 600 armed warriors.

18 When the priest saw the men carrying all the sacred objects out of Micah’s shrine, he said, “What are you doing?”

19 “Be quiet and come with us,” they said. “Be a father and priest to all of us. Isn’t it better to be a priest for an entire tribe and clan of Israel than for the household of just one man?”

20 The young priest was quite happy to go with them, so he took along the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the carved image. 21 They turned and started on their way again, placing their children, livestock, and possessions in front of them.

22 When the people from the tribe of Dan were quite a distance from Micah’s house, the people who lived near Micah came chasing after them. 23 They were shouting as they caught up with them. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter? Why have you called these men together and chased after us like this?”

24 “What do you mean, ‘What’s the matter?’” Micah replied. “You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!”

25 The men of Dan said, “Watch what you say! There are some short-tempered men around here who might get angry and kill you and your family.” 26 So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home.

27 Then, with Micah’s idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked with swords and burned the town to the ground. 28 There was no one to rescue the people, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob.

Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there. 29 They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel’s son, but it had originally been called Laish.

30 Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses,[c] as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile. 31 So Micah’s carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh.

Here, in this passage, we see that the Danites had been assigned enough land to mee their needs (see Joshua 19:40-48). However, because they had failed to trust God to help them conquer their territory, the Amorites forced them into the hill county and wouldn’t let them settle into the plains (Judges 1:34). Rather than fight for their allotted territory, they preferred to look for new land in the north where resistance from the enemy would not be so tough. How often do we live our lives in this manner – doing the easy thing instead of the God thing? Sometimes, God calls us to work that will be hard (going against cultural norms) and we would rather not stand out but rather fit in and do what is easiest.

How do we develop that North Korean or Middle Eastern Christian toughness? How do we develop that willingness to die rather than renounce or compromise our Christian faith? It starts in the small things. Instead of being quiet when Christian bashing begins at the water cooler, speak up for Jesus. Instead of compromising our values just to fit in at work, or in our neighborhood, etc., stand up for Jesus. Instead of being quiet about our faith, share it. Instead of fearing rejection for sharing your faith, overcome it. We start by crediting Jesus Christ’s grace in our lives for when we act with integrity. We start by showing uncommon love to people that have screwed us over so that people will ask us why we did that. We start by being sacrificial with our money – eschewing the need for the newest and best toys, cars, and homes so that we can be a generous people. We start by giving to others when they are in need without any real reason to do it than show them love. We give without expectation of payback. We start by not taking shortcuts around biblical values. We start by loving those who make fun of us.

There will be a day in America when we have to choose the easy way out or being Christian. Will you have the guts to stand up for Jesus with your last dying breath or will you take the easy road and compromise your values just to preserve this earthly existence? Will I have the guts? Will you?

Amen and Amen.

Judges 8:1-21 (Part 3 of 4)
Gideon Kills Zebah and Zalmunna

Back in the day when my brother and I lived at home with our parents, we moved around a lot as sons of a United Methodist Church minister and his wife. Before I left home and got married (the first time) in 1980, we sure had lived a few different places. I was born on August 25, 1962 while my dad was pastoring churches in Lamar, SC. That was my dad’s first appointment and my family lived there from June 1960-June 1963. We lived in Anderson, SC the first time from June 1963-June 1966. We moved to Walhalla, SC in June 1966 and lived there until June 1968. From there, we moved to Rembert, SC and lived there from June 1968-June 1970. Rolling on, we lived in Hartsville, SC from June 1970 to June 1972. Still with the moving, we then went on to Elgin, SC where we lived from June 1972 through June 1974. After that, the United Methodist Church in South Carolina moved us once more to Anderson, SC where we lived from June 1974-June 1976. Finally, after moving every two years for a good while, we moved to Travelers Rest, SC in June 1976 and dad served churches there until my parents were moved to Charleston, SC in June 1980. In the fall of ’78, my brother was off at college and by the summer of 1980 I had finished my freshman year in college and was about to be married to my high school sweetheart. For me, it was the end of the moving merry-go-round. From that point, I lived in the Greenville, SC area (of which Travelers Rest is a part) from June 1976-January 2006 during which I became a dad twice, married twice and divorced twice. From there, I moved to Rock Hill, SC just outside of Charlotte, NC and lived there from January 2006-May 2008. While there, I met the woman to whom I would be married later. In May 2008, I moved to the San Francisco Bay area where I lived until August 2010. Elena and I were married while out there. Finally, in 2010, we moved to the Lyman-Duncan, SC area where we have been living now since August 2010. I have lived a lot of places over these 55 years. But one of the most vivid memories that is still fresh in my mind takes me back to Hartsville, SC. That’s when my brother and I started drifting apart.

Up until we moved to Hartsville, SC, we were kind of inseparable. We were only 18 months different in age with my brother being the elder of us two. But it was in Hartsville that we began to have our own friends and doing different things. Sure, we still did stuff together like playing football against two of our buddies every Saturday morning in the fall, but it was in Hartsville, that we began seeing that we were independent of each other. While there my brother was ages 9 – 11 and I was aged almost 8 through almost 10 when we moved. He was in fourth and fifth grade there while was in third and fourth grades while there. Prior to Hartsville, we were less socially oriented and more attached to our parents than we were to the kids that we know. In the other towns, we were just little kids with no real concept of what school age social pressure was. But in Hartsville, we began to understand a world without the attachment of parents. It was there that we began to hang out with kids our age more than we hung out with our parents. It was there that we would tear out in the summer mornings and ride bikes all over town with our friends (Lanny Melton, Steve Peavey, and the two Johnson boys, Johnny and Robert) and would not be home til dark. We had great adventures the six of us. If you remember the movie, The Sandlot, or the movie, Stand By Me, that was kind of like us in our summertimes there in Hartsville in the Summer of 1970 and the Summer of 1971 (and part of the summer of 1972 before we moved that June). Fun times. Adventures at Lake Robinson. Riding through Coker College watching the girls like we were such studs…on our bicycles. Riding through the railyards at the mill. We did everything together. Hartsville in the early 70’s was just so like the towns that the guys in the Sandlot and Stand by Me grew up in.

As it was in Stand by Me, there was an ugly side to it as well. Not a murder like in that movie, but it was the fact that my brother was becoming more and more socially awkward. My brother is a brilliant guy. He always has been. He has an eidetic memory. He can remember yesterday’s baseball standings verbatim. He can remember the USC Gamecocks offensive linemen from 1980 by name and what they ended up doing after college by recall. With that kind of memory, you can suspect that he excelled at school. It was always easy for him and he dove into it. He beginning in Hartsville became more and more of a geek. His social problems began there, worsened with the geek squad he ran with in Elgin, was exacerbated in Anderson, and came to full flower in Travelers Rest. Hartsville was pretty much the last time we would spend any time together. From Elgin forward, we had separate groups of friends (what friends my brother would have) that did not intermingle with one another. I was with the non-braniac cool kids and my brother would always gravitate by the force of the social caste system of school age kids to the less popular, let’s say, kids. It all began in Hartsville though for us. That ripping of the bond between us as brothers from which we still have not fully recovered today. Sure, today, my brother and I love each other, but it is not like some brothers who talk every day. There is still that distance between us caused by years of eidetic memory Ralph vs. social chameleon but still worked hard and made good grades Mark. There was a world of difference in our social skills that started becoming apparent in Hartsville that it took us getting married, having kids, and living apart from one another for several years before we began to reconcile our relationship with one another when we were in our mid-twenties.

One of the memories that I have there was one night the Lanny, the Johnson boys, Steve, my brother and me where split up in teams of three playing war around and through the buildings of one of my dad’s churches, Twitty Memorial UMC. The parsonage was right next door and was in the middle of the mill village in which we all lived. Something happened that night. Something was said that offended my brother and he retaliated with some harsh words (for a 9 year old) toward everybody else. Maybe, my brother didn’t get his way about something, because his way was always the best way. Whatever it was, all of them (not me at first) turned on my brother and started calling him names and making fun of him. Because of the social pressure of the situation, I joined in the name calling. It got so bad that my brother ran in the parsonage crying and, of course, as he did it we questioned his 9 year old “manhood” by calling him a “crybaby”. It was within 30 minutes after my dad heard my brother’s story that I was called into the house. I remember Dad giving me the business about not defending my brother. In my defense, I tried telling dad what an ass my brother was being before all the name calling started. But my dad was big on family. He came from a family where his parents were big on family. He told me in no uncertain terms that when you have nothing else you have family. He told me that it does not matter if your brother is right or wrong you defend family. I guess that was where my resentment toward my brother began because my brother over the next decade made it so easy for people to pick on him with his need to show everyone how intelligent he was. He was like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. Like Sheldon’s character, he has softened over the years but back in the day it was like Sheldon at the beginning of that TV series.

However, my dad was right. There are times when we must stand up for our families regardless of what the cost to us might be. When we have nothing else we have our families. We don’t throw our families under the bus just to satisfy the madding crowd. We must sometimes stand up for what is not the socially popular thing to do. I threw my brother under the bus that night in the haze of social pressure. I was a social chameleon and it began there. Fitting in. Getting along. Seeking approval.

 

That’s what I thought of this morning as we read about the town leaders that refused to help Gideon because it would have required going against the odds, going against what was the norm. They did not want to take a chance and stand out for possible ridicule or retaliation themselves. They threw Gideon under the bus. Let’s read the passage now:

8 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.

2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.

4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. 5 He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

6 But the officials of Sukkoth said, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?”

7 Then Gideon replied, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”

8 From there he went up to Peniel[a] and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Sukkoth had. 9 So he said to the men of Peniel, “When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.”

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.

 

21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

In this passage, we see that, in vv. 15-17, Gideon carried ou the threats that he had made in Judges 8:7 and 8:9. It is difficult to determine whether this act of revenge was justified or whether he should have left the punishment up to God. Gideon was God’s appointed leader, but the officials of Succoth and Peniel refused to help him in any way because they feared the enemy. They showed neither faith nor respect for God or the man God had chosen to save them. We should help others because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether we benefit from it personally or not.

Sometimes, being a Christ follower is like my story and like the story of these town leaders. There will come a day when all of us have to decide to be a Christ follower or throw Christ under the bus to keep our social seal of approval or at least not to stand out for ridicule. Have you ever hid the fact that you are a Christ follower so as not to be ridiculed? Have you ever went along with the crowd doing something that was against what Christ followers believe just to fit in with the culture? There will come a day when Jesus has to decide whether we are a sheep or goat or whether, though we said, “Lord, Lord!”, he knows us or not. How often are we ashamed our faith? How often do we not share the gospel truth with others because it is uncomfortable and might cause us to stick out like a sore thumb? How often are we silent on social issues that we should be speaking out on because they are against what God teaches us in His Word? How often do we not stand up for Jesus? How often do we throw Jesus under the bus just to fit in and go along and seek approval from others. How often do we fail to realize that it is Jesus’ approval that matters and not the world’s. We sure will be spending a whole lot more time in eternity than the fleeting moments on this side of eternity. Yet, we act as if this side is the one that counts. Let us begin living to please Jesus rather than pleasing our social acceptance rating. Let us stand up for Jesus when it counts. He is our family. He is our blood. Let us live for Him and stop throwing Him under the bus to gain acceptance from that which is fleeting and temporary.

Amen and Amen.

Luke 23:13-25 — There are two things that strike you when you read this passage, Luke 23:13-25. The first thing is about Pilate and the second is about Barrabas. All of it having to do with Jesus. Today, let’s look at Pilate and tomorrow we will look at Barabbas.

The first thing we notice is how Pilate handled this situation and what it teaches us. What does it teach us? At my church, we have bracelets that say “Everyday Jesus” and on the other side it has our church verse, Luke 10:27. Everyday Jesus means that we should be more like Jesus everyday. We should be His witness everyday, not just during LifeSong events in the community but in everything we do. It should be evident to the world that we do indeed live out Luke 10:27 by loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and by loving our neighbors as ourselves. That’s everyday Jesus. That’s how He lived his earthly life. However, how often are we more like Pilate than we are like Jesus? We see a glimpse of ourselves in Pilate in Luke 23:13-25.

The amazing thing here is Pilate is a representative of one of the most powerful civilizations known ever in human history. The Roman Empire lasted longer than any empire in the history of man. Yet, for all the power and the might that backed up Pilate, it seems here that he is afraid. He buckles to the will of the crowd. From the histories of the times written extrabiblically such as Josephus and others, Pilate was for the most part an arrogant, ruthless leader that was quick to let the Jews know that Rome was in charge. Most believe that Jesus’ crucifixion occurred in 33AD, which was during the last few years of Pilate’s governorship. He was called back to Rome in 36AD.

Because of the history of constant military intervention in the area, Rome was growing tired of the incindiary tactics used by Pilate. He was as we say today on shaky ground. Rome’s desire was to conquer but then assimilate conquered lands into their tax and legal system. Rome did not want to constantly have to have a large military presence in conquered land. It was disruptive to commerce and thus disruptive to taxation. Rome’s longevity as an empire was built on “conquer and assimilate.” Thus, the constant political turmoil in Palestine was a problem to Rome. If Pilate couldn’t handle it, Rome would find someone who could. Ultimately, by 70AD, the turmoil was so out of hand that Titus, the future emperor and at that time a general in the army, finally sacked Jerusalem and destroyed everything in it.

So, although Pilate was the local presence of the Roman Empire, he could not afford a major rebellion on his hands under his watch in Palestine. He argued with the crowd but they would not hear of it. They wanted Jesus crucified and Barabbas released. Regardless of the fact that Jesus had done nothing wrong, they wanted their insurrrectionist hero released rather than what they considered to be a blasphemous false prophet. Pilate held the power to have Jesus released. He knew that Jesus was an irritation to the Jewish religious power elite but, based on what he saw, Jesus had violated no Roman laws and certainly had committed no crime that warranted death, according to Roman law. He was the representative of the most powerful government on earth at the time, but he caves to popular opinion. He gives the people what they want because of political expediency. He did not stand up against the crowd because he feared rebellion and high military intervention would be needed. He did not stand up against crowd because he knew that if Palestine blew up on his watch, he would be sent back to Rome in shame. He caved when it mattered most. He did not stand up for Jesus because he was more concerned about his own hide than ultimately whether Jesus was innocent or guilty.

How often do we not stand up for biblical principles? How often do we not stand up for Jesus? When I think of how our Christian brothers are dying daily at the hands of ISIS in the Middle East? I wonder if you or I in our comfort here in the US would stand up for Jesus and be counted as Christian when it really counted? Often here we are just like Pilate when it comes to Jesus over less things that our lives and livelihoods. We cave just like Pilate to popular opinion whereas our friends in Iraq and Syria stand firm in the cross and give their lives rather than renounce their faith in Christ. We stand around the water cooler at work and do not mention our faith when the opportunity presents itself. We cover up our Christianity at work so that we will fit in rather than being a witness for Christ one on one with others at work. In our world today, the tolerance of any behaviors is sweeping the nation but we are quiet. We do not want to be singled out as standing against the new normal. We bemoan privately about the godlessness of our country but yet we sit at home on election day. Worse yet, we accept candidates for office and bemoan the lack of Christian leadership in our country but yet none of us want to run for office because we don’t want to be singled out. We condemn Pilate for having no backbone. Yet, we do the same thing with our silence and inaction. In the absence of Christian leadership, the nation will continue to drift further and further away from the Bible. In the absence of leadership from us, the world will continue to rewrite Scripture and call it right and good.

Until we are willing as Christians to be like our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, North Korea, China, etc. to stand up and be singled out, we are right there with Pilate. We must be willing to be ridiculed as being old fashioned. We must be willing to be marginalized to the edges of society. We must be willing to work to change our society rather than being consumed with our houses, boats and cars. We must be willing to take risks rather than sit behind our comfortable possessions. How much like Pilate we are today. We consider our loss of comfort and position first before we consider being singled out by the mob. What are you and I willing to risk to stand up for Jesus?

Father, give us the strength today and tomorrow to be willing to die for our Savior. Give us the strength to be your witnesses in a world that knows your Son less and less. Give us the strength to trust in you and our eternity with you because of your Son to be willing to be singled out by the mob mentality of our world. Help us to stand on your Word and not be willing to rewrite it just to fit into a world that is seeking ways to justify its antibiblical choices. Father, help us to be brave and stand up for Jesus no matter what the cost is to us personally. Amen.