"How Convicted Are We?"

We are living in perilous times. We hear of suicide bombings in Israel on a weekly basis. We hear of wars and rumors of wars at the India-Pakistani border. In following the news carefully, we realize that the relationship between the United States and Europe is steadily deteriorating. We recognize the grim reality — for example, that large arsenals of nuclear weapons are stored, many of them undetected, around the world. We hear of increasing earthquakes, wild fires, hurricanes and tornados. Understanding prophecy, we know that all of these, however, are just the beginning of sorrows.

What is our responsibility in the face of coming disaster? Since God showed us what is to come, He wants us to respond! We are to warn our fellow man of the evil times ahead of us. But, in order to do so effectively, we ourselves must be convinced and convicted that God does in fact mean what He says.

Notice Abraham’s conviction! He is the father of the faithful — one whose faith we are to imitate. We read in Romans 4:21 that Abraham was “fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

Sometimes, we may want to give up. We may think that we have done all that we can do, and that it does not really make a difference. But it does. God would not give us a job to do, if it were hopeless. At least at one time in his life, Paul was ready to die. But, he realized that it was needful for the brethren that he stay alive and continue to do his job. He explains in Philippians 1:21-25 (NIV):

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith…”

And so, we, too, must be “fully convinced” in our own minds (Romans 14:5) that God still wants us to preach the gospel and to feed the flock, and that we have a part in this commission. And while doing God’s will, let us, too, be convinced that our labor is not in vain and that we, with God’s help, will succeed. Notice these encouraging words of Paul, a deeply convicted apostle:

— “For this reason I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Paul knew that he would succeed — because he knew something about God, which kept him going. Paul wants all of us to come to that same conviction and persuasion:

— “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28, 38-39)

The righteous men and women of old had strong convictions. These convictions motivated and inspired them to accomplish mighty deeds. They knew that God’s word was true. They had no doubt about that:

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…” (Hebrews 11:13).

God gave all of us very powerful and encouraging promises. They should motivate us to actively respond to God’s love. But they only will, if we are convicted that those promises are for real.

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