A favorite Scripture of mine is Psalm 90:12 which states, “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” As world events unfold and division in America increases, Christians need discernment today more than ever. With all that’s happening around us, it is so easy to want to avoid reality or become comfortable and complacent in life, but we must not.
At the end of each calendar year, it is reasonable and wise to look back and acknowledge God’s faithfulness, evaluate where we are as individuals and as a church, and learn from any mistakes. It is also imperative we have a sense of urgency and recognize the spiritually desperate condition of many around us. One priority should be to consider how we can be more effective in advancing the kingdom of God by sharing the gospel and living out our faith as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
We don’t need to be news junkies, but we should be informed and knowledgeable so we can watch, pray, and be ready for whatever the Lord will bring. In no particular order, here are some key subjects to consider:
- Keep your eyes on Israel.
After decades of little change in the “peace process” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Trump decided to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Of course, the UN Security Council rejected this resolution, and the U.S. took a bold stand for Israel and against the United Nations. This is yet another sign we are living in the most prophetic times in history.
Around this same time, Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel would follow the United States in withdrawing from UNESCO. Along with signs including earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars, 2018 will see increased opposition to Israel and America. Intensifying spiritual warfare is a given, and just as predicted, a coalition of nations is ready to attack Israel. For students of the Bible, times are exciting indeed.
- Religious Freedom teetering on the brink.
The Supreme Court case of Colorado baker, Jack Phillips will be a catalyst for future decisions as well as the direction of free speech in America. Many on the extreme Left would make it illegal to practice Christianity if they could, but that is essentially what is happening with nondiscrimination laws and “inclusive” policies giving special rights to protected classes (LGBTQ). And when Christians refuse to play the game and celebrate what is considered sin, activists and radicals often bully, intimidate, or sue them into silent compliance.
In a breaking story, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Thursday in favor of activists that sued Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa for not baking a cake for their gay wedding ceremony. Aaron and Melissa Klein are now forced to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for alleged “emotional distress.” Justice was not found here.
3. Sex outside of marriage the new norm?
Seeing the increase of abortion, cohabitation, divorce, homosexuality, the gender identity debate, and sex trafficking, it’s no wonder some of us believe we are a nation in crisis. Nearly 70% of Americans now say it’s acceptable to live with their partner before getting married. In addition, only about half of professing evangelical Christians think abortion and sex outside of traditional marriage are sins. This should greatly alarm us. Hollywood has played a leading role in the promotion of promiscuity, sexual deviance and the normalization of homosexuality; government schools have co-starred, but we often forget so-called “higher education.”
Commenting on Young America’s Foundation survey of new courses offered at 50 top colleges in America, author Frank Turek said they “promote a dogmatic secularism with a kind of religious fervor intent on urging students to abandon reality and live in their own sexual fantasy world.” He concludes the article by saying “professors who teach these courses may have the best of intentions. They may think that what they are doing is right and true (all the while declaring truth and gender are relative). But you don’t have to support their dogmatic delusions.”
4. The Critical Fight For Life
There was some good news in 2017. Survey’s indicate today’s youth are more pro-life than the previous generation. Abortion clinic closures far outpaced newly opened abortion facilities, and forty-nine abortion facilities — 35 surgical and 14 medication only clinics — closed or halted abortion services. The common sense “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” passed in the House 237-189, and Trump promised to sign the bill into law. We are told the Senate will vote as well. The bill bans abortion at the point that science increasingly shows that unborn children feel pain.
America is just one of only 7 (out of 198 nations) that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
President Trump did sign a bill allowing states to withhold money from Planned Parenthood, and the DOJ recently launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices and the sale of fetal tissue. But perhaps one of the most interesting pro-life moves the president made was a three-word change to an obscure HHS document that defines life as “beginning at conception.” According to Al Perotta, the Trump administration added that phrase and:
“HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” If the U.S. government says life begins at conception and its job is “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life” then it has a duty to protect the unborn by any legal means necessary.
5. The American (Laodicean) Church will keep conforming to culture.
New research not only indicates liberalism has infected Christianity, but more people now prefer to consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Abandoning the institutional, traditional church, some claim they love Jesus but not the church. Since the church is the bride of Christ, is it biblical to love one and not the other? Surveys also show more professing Christians accepting moral relativism while pursuing comfort and self-fulfillment.
Just as disturbing, there is a segment of Americans who consider their faith important and attend church regularly, but do not hold to biblical perspectives such as the inerrancy of Scripture and essentials of the faith. Abandoning truth, they prefer to be “inclusive and welcoming.” Because of this hypocrisy, the Christian worldview has been distorted and confusing to a watching world.
- Christians will continue to be hated and discriminated against.
We cannot and should not compare the treatment of American believers with persecuted Christians in restricted nations around the world, but things are intensifying. Bullying and discrimination are wrong no matter who is involved, but often overlooked is the blatant intolerance toward Christians by the very people touting inclusion, diversity, and “tolerance.” Public opinion has shifted revealing an acceptance of this double standard. Jesus told His followers that since the world hated Him they will hate us as well (John 15:18).
While Christians recently celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, atheists and scrooges took their rebellion up a notch this year attacking nativity scenes and putting up billboards. Books have been written with examples, but I’ll mention one. The liberal Washington Post came out with an article for Christmas suggesting Jesus didn’t really exist because the evidence doesn’t add up. (What evidence could he possibly be looking at?) The Post didn’t even bother to fact check nor did they provide any new research – so – why do you think they happened to publish the anti-Christian piece on Christmas?
- Media Malpractice: epidemic and rampant.
All through 2017, the liberal media consistently and irresponsibly parroted negative news angles on President Trump, the GOP tax cuts, the economy, borders and immigration, national defense, transgender rights, etc. The average for the year was 91% negative coverage of Trump. We’ve never seen anything like this; liberals are not even trying to hide their allegiance to the Democrat Party any longer.
That same media ignored most positive news including job growth, the Dow rising 5,000 points in a year for first time in history, unemployment for African Americans dropping to a 17-year low, and Christians freely celebrated Christmas in parts of Iraq and Syria formerly under ISIS control. But all this generally isn’t good news to the mainstream media because we have a Republican president.
- Lawlessness and worldliness will increase even more.
Character, integrity, and morality took a hit in 2017 as sexual assaults, misconduct and scandals rocked the headlines. Billionaire George Soros shifted $18 billion from his hedge fund to his network of godless liberal foundations. Media silence. Ready to ramp up the chaos and division, “the resistance” increased via professional protests with Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and even pro athletes protesting (Trump) the National Anthem.
Finally, our obsession with technology is in danger of becoming an addiction. Today’s kids know more about social media, gaming, entertainment, and technology than they do the Bible, the Constitution, and American history, but they sure can take great selfies! These are tomorrow’s leaders of our nation. Sadly, many adults are not far behind. It is true technology can be used for good purposes, but it is often used for meaningless, mindless entertainment. We must not conform to the world’s ways (Romans 12:2). The Internet has seduced many within the church as well.
Overall, 2017 was a faith-testing year for many of us. Good will continue being called evil and truth will continue to be attacked and redefined. If America stays on course down this destructive road where there is no longer an objective truth or fixed standards of morality, we’re in big trouble. But thank God He always causes us to triumph in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)! Christians have an eternal, secure hope which anchors our soul (Heb. 6:19) as well as a true peace found only in Jesus Christ. We serve a Mighty God, and we can be confident no matter what happens, God will be faithful to the promises in His word.