"This is Not Our Home"
We are living in extremely dangerous and unsettling times; and it is easy for us to be consumed with what is going on in the world around us! We can become earth-centered and not God-centered. The daily news is full of lies and misinformation to create an atmosphere of fear and hopelessness. John 8:44- "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." The prince of the air (Satan-Ephesians 2:2) is also the father of lies! The world has become hostile to the things of God and of His truth because it is under the spell of Satan.
Harsh persecution of the true church in America is at the door. This is nothing new to planet earth or to the true church. The true church has been under persecution, trials, and tribulation for over two thousand years and has come out victorious every time! Historically, God's true church has thrived during persecution. God has often used it to separate the sheep from the goats. Those who are not truly God's sheep will abandon ship when suffering and persecution come, because of their wicked hypocrisy. Mark 14:17-"and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away."
Today many Christians have become news junkies and search the TV and internet to see what is happening on planet earth. This constant focus on the things below causes us to fear, to doubt, to be anxious and to lose hope which is just what the enemy of God and the enemy of His church wants to happen.
I can tell you what is happening on planet earth without going to the news! How is that? We live on a fallen planet because of Adam and Eve and that same serpent Satan is causing destruction and lies. What is always happening on planet earth is SIN! We do not fight against flesh and blood people -- but rather principalities and powers and wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:10). Everything on planet earth and creation is temporary.
Isaiah 34:4-"And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine, or as one withers from the fig tree." 2 Peter 3:10-"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godlinessâ€¦" We become anxious because we are attached and in love with the things of the world and not with the things of God. We become earthly minded!
This what happened to Lot and his family in Sodom. They became accustomed to the things of this world and its perversion. His wife was so attached to Sodom and the world she could not leave it behind, and she turned to look back and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Matthew 6:19-21-"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
How did the church historically strengthen persecuted believers to endure savage and cruel treatment by a lost and dying world? The answer is an eternal mindset based on God's Word! There is an old and much-used saying: "Some people are so Heavenly-minded that they are of no worldly good". This is an entirely unbiblical quote made by Oliver Wendell Homes Sr. He is hardly a hero of the faith. The quote is often nothing more than justification for our not being heavenly minded enough, or not at all. The real danger is in God's people being caught up with thoughts of this life only!
As Christians, we know that this life is not all there is! Because we have the hope of eternity, we can set our mind on things above -- meaning we focus on Jesus Christ and His kingdom! Jesus said we are not to seek the world but His kingdom (He is the kingdom). Matthew 6:23-"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." The prophet Daniel spoke of this wonderful coming kingdom of Jesus as an eternal everlasting kingdom Daniel 2:44-"In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever." The truly redeemed, regenerated soul knows that God the Father is going to set up an everlasting kingdom for His Son Jesus Christ and for the souls the Father has given Him -- the church. The wicked world that we see around us today will be destroyed; and we, His redeemed, will be members of the kingdom of Christ. Colossians 3:1-4-"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
This earth is not the true home for the true Christian. The Bible says in both the Old and New Testaments that we are but pilgrims and sojourners in this world. 1 Peter 2:11-12-"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." Leviticus 25:23-"The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me." The words pilgrim and sojourner mean one who is traveling through and not staying. Father Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were sojourners in Canaan. The people of Israel were sojourners in the wilderness; and Peter reminds us -- the church -- that we are but travelers on earth. Our true home is heaven! As Pilgrims and Sojourners, we need not be attached to what is very temporary and fleeting!
How can we obtain a heavenly mindset in times of great stress, trials, and persecution? We need to go to God's Word for guidance, comfort, and wisdom. Is there a way to rise above all of these earthly trials and live holy lives amid the craziness and the stress of living in the last days?? Jesus said in Matthew 24 that the whole world is going to go through many trials and tribulations before the Lord's return. What can we -- the church -- do in order to endure, survive, and live victoriously? The self-centered, "all about me", world system is full of self-gratification and living for "self" and for worldly enjoyment.
The answer is to keep our eyes on Christ! We saw in Colossians 3:1-4 that the Apostle Paul is telling us to be "setting our minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth". Paul is referring to Christ and His kingdom. The things of earth are fading and temporary. Why focus on what is going to be destroyed by rust, moths, and corruption (Matthew 6:19-21) when the true sheep (truly regenerated souls) can be part of an everlasting Kingdom?! Isaiah 26:3- "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You". The person whose thoughts are consumed with God and His kingdom will have peace instead of worry and fear.
What are the things our mind should be focused on? What are the benefits of this mindset? Paul gives us a hint in Philippians 4:8-9-"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." All these things listed here (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy) are in God's word, the Bible. Are we putting them into practice?
Christian, are you consumed by the world around you? Are you a news junky constantly listening to the fake news' lies and becoming full of anger, fear, and worry? Are you questioning God for allowing evil to prosper for a season? Are you wanting to live in a bunker and hide from the world? If so, you have become engrossed and consumed by the world and these are the symptoms of not having the heavenly mindset. Remember Lot and his family -- especially his wife!
The truth is: the world has been full of evil for 6000 years; and there is a day of judgment coming on evil. Until then, we are to be focused on God. Keep your mind STEADFAST ON CHRIST, trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Here is the spoiler! If we truly have this heavenly mindset, then we can do the real hard command that Jesus gave us in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:43-48-"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."