A few days ago, I wrote about a story I read about a pastor and his wife in San Diego that had been told they had to shut down their Bible study in their home because it was a 'religious' event. I am happy to tell you that San Diego county has backed off from that stand.
After many emails and calls to the county from people concerned that the county was trying to "muzzle religious expression", the county backed off. In the story on K-Love, they said it was one employee that had issued the letter to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain major use permit."
There are several reasons, I'm sure, that this particular letter was issued. One story is because a neighbor complained about the parking on the night of the Bible study. Of course, there is always 'he said, she said', especially when the media is involved. I don't know the real reason, but God does.
I ask you, does it really matter what the reason is? Is the reason important? I tell you, I don't believe it is. Not in the grand scheme of things. Jesus told us that we were going to be persecuted. Yes, this is a mild form, but it is persecution. Look at John 15:18-25.
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’"
Jesus said those words (hence the red) to his disciples, but what are we? Yep, his disciples. Sure, we're living 2000 years after Him, but we still follow Him. And His word is alive today, right? That means He's talking to us, too. However, it's not hopeless. Duh, you might say, but Jesus went on to say in verses 26 and 27, “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry."
We don't have to do it alone! The Spirit of Truth, who is also the Holy Spirit, will testify about Jesus and He will help us in our testimony of Him as well. We may have not been there, alive with Him when He was here on earth, but we have the Bible. We know the stories, from conception to death, from Resurrection to Ascension. The Holy Spirit made it possible for us to have been there, from the beginning of His ministry. Amazing!!!
It seems this battle, small but significant, has been won. But what about the next one? Or the one after that? Just because this battle has been won, for now, doesn't mean we let our guard down. II Corinthians 10:3-6 says "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." It's not people we are waring with, even though it sometimes seems like that, it's the spiritual things behind the scenes. That's why prayer is our best weapon. It works like we can't.
Philippians 4:6-7 "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." I think that says it all. For now, anyway.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.