Endurance is something we cannot live without! Quitters really never do win. Jesus endured. His church throughout the centuries, has endured. His Bride will endure.
We need to make our minds up ahead of time, that when the going gets rough, that by the grace and strength of God, we will endure. And that if the pre-tribulation mindset that has spread amongst the church is wrong (and it is) and we have to go through some very hard times, before the Lord splits the skies open and callus us up to Him, that we will endure.
Ask any serious athlete or successful entrepreneur how important a strong mindset is and they will tell you. Ask anyone who works at a cancer hospital how important it is. Most will tell you a strong mindset is more than half the battle.
We need to set our minds and hearts that for today and even if the tide turns against us and persecution really steps up, that we will stay true to our faith and God's Word. We need to set our hearts that when the enemy comes with with ear tickling deception, that we will not fall for it. When the evil one comes on the scene, with all manners of charismatic speeches and even if some of our church leaders fail and are oohing and awing over him, that we will not go that direction. We need to truly know our God and His Word now, not just as we have heard of Him, but know Him personally so that as the world goes, we do not. We need to be filled with God's Spirit and His Word. We need to be truly living our faith. We have been called out of this world and to be the true church of Jesus Christ, no matter what our denominations are.
Here are few verses just for thought and mediation, in regard to endurance and perseverance:
“Do not be sad, for your rejoicing in the Lord is the source of your strength”” Nehemiah 8:10b
“No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.” Psalms 33:16-21
“You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Psalms 59:9a-10
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Praise be to You, Lord; teach me Your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your Word.” Psalms 119:9-16
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4
“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:26-31
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13
“To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.” Romans 2:7
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” Romans 15:5
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put “on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--” Ephesians 6:10-18
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
“'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.'" Revelation 2:1-7
“'Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'" Revelation 2:10b-11
“'But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-- 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 2:25-29
“'You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:4-6
“'Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:11-13
“'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:19-22
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:7-8
Living in the last of the last days is an incredible time to be alive. To many it is horrifying and before it is over, many will even have their hearts failing them from fear.
How do we live in peace and confidence in these times? For sure, our strength and confidence is in the Lord just as always, only now we need Him more and as times goes forward, we will need Him even more and more.
Do we want anyone we know and love, to have to go through the trumpets and bowls of God's judgment and wrath that will be poured out after the rapture? Do we want anyone we know and love, to go to the pits and flames of hell and eternal misery? Of course not. So as the time grows shorter and the labor pains of these last days increase, we must increase in living our lives as true servants of the Lord. We must live what we say we believe. Our lives speak louder than our words and we must give the Lord words He can use too. We must do all we can to see those in our own personal mission fields come to the Lord.
If we draw close to God and He will draw close to us. Our God is our Rock. He is our Savior. He is our Strength. He is our Comforter. He is closer than our breath. He is the Word of God and He has given us His Word. We need to be in His Word so that His Word is in us. When the time of grace has passed that we have been given currently, I believe the enemy may be allowed to move forward very fast and when he does, the world including America, will most probably grow very dark, very quickly. God will allow devastations to increase because for so many, that is what is takes to get them to wake up spiritually.
People around us are watching us. Yes, many hate us and will hate us even more as the wicked continue on their paths. But at the same time, some will come to the Lord because of seeing Christ in us and hearing about Him from what we share.
The devil knows his time is short and is giving it all he has. How much more should the body of Christ be doing all it can?
Press in to the Lord dear brother and sister. Be closer to Him than ever and listen with the best hearing possible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are the bride of Christ who has to make herself ready and be the true church that listens to its head, our Lord Jesus.
Oh Lord, help us to hear, trust and obey you today and always. Anoint and use us to the maximum Lord. Save as many souls as possible around us (and all over this earth) from the foolishness of rebelling against You and the price tag of sin. Thank You Lord, in Jesus' Name, amen.
For more thoughts about living in these times, please see the article The Best Biblical Mindset for Living in the Last Days.
Revelation 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”
The Holy Spirit, in His whole complexity and perfection (called by Jesus the seven Spirits), and the angels of the seven churches from Asia Minor (“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” - Revelation 1:20 ) belong to Jesus Christ. He is holding the “seven stars” in His right hand, which means that He not only has authority over the churches but they are also very important to Him.
In the letters to the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus is sending messages of both admonishment and correction to the churches, which to Him is not a list of people that completed a membership form, but are those who were truly born again and faithful to the end. If we judge by what we see in the natural, we might say that those who attend church on regular basis are the ones who are spiritually alive. But Jesus sees beyond “appearances” and knows if we live our lives truly lead by the Holy Spirit or if we are sadly really living it according to our carnal nature. He knows everything about us and nothing is hidden from Him.
The problems that Jesus is calling serious attention throughout the letters to the seven churches, are common to all churches throughout history, including to those in today. Hypocrisy was and still is very present in churches and in many Christians lives. It is so common that most of the time, we do not even realize when are hypocrites or being hypocritical, trying to seem more holy than we really are, making sure we look good to other people. It is really helpful for us to never forget that God knows our true hearts and thoughts and sees all our secrets and that we should be much more concerned about what He sees in us and in our behavior, than what other people see.
Revelation 3:2 “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”
Are we saved by works? No way! We are saved by grace, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Our works and behavior, are the result of our spiritual condition. It is up to us to be watchful, to analyze our spiritual condition and take the necessary measures to strengthen our faith as we walk on God's path. How we are doing spiritually completely dictates what we think and our actions. If most of the time we meditate upon God's Word, His ways, love and care and we live our lives with the leadership of the Holy Spirit then the outcome is pleasing to the Lord and we will stay on the right path. But if choose our thoughts to be mainly about our problems, other people, temptations and all that is worldly and all too-often the disproportional activities of life, then we are choosing to be carnal and we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are on the right track. Dear Lord please help us see the truth about ourselves and correct what needs to be corrected.
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
What can we do? It is important to stop and remember what we received when we came to Jesus and what it means when Jesus is the true Lord of our lives. Faith comes by hearing and so does doubt. Hearing the Word of God, produces faith in our hearts. On the other hand, by hearing and paying attention to what the world say on so many matters, we start to doubt that God's power and miracles can work for us and our faith is easily replaced by doubt.
We need to hold fast to our faith and be quick to repent once we realize we sin. Forgiveness of sin comes only after we sincerely repent. We need to recognize the sin, regret it and oftentimes ask for the Lord's help to not repeat it. What is really spooky is when we “sin” and are no longer “sorry” then this is evidence of a huge problem. Only a hardened heart becomes insensitive to sin and if we find our selves in such a position, it should shake us to our very core. We keep a soft and pliable heart, by being watchful, paying attention to what is going on in our heart. If not, Jesus says that He will come upon us “as a thief” meaning suddenly. None of us know when will leave this earth, so we should stay right with God at all times, keeping a clean, soft heart and a pure conscience. Praise God that through Jesus Christ we have all we need to do that.
James 1:6-8 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Faith is the opposite of doubt and the two, can not co-exist. Doubt causes us to wave between belief and unbelief. We should have faith in God's help, care, love, provision, best solution to every bad situation we are facing and in the truth of His Word and promises. But if we listen to the enemy's voice or human reasoning, instead of the Holy Spirit, our trust might be soon be replaced by uncertainty and lack of confidence that God wants to help us out, heal us or perform any miracle for us. Not even the most powerful men of God can say that they have been completely fearless and have not fallen into doubt, worry or concern, when they faced tough situations. But, the more we mature in the Spirit, the less it will take to strengthen up our faith. We are strengthened by remembering how the Lord saw us through with His help and even miracles previously in desperate situations. When we choose to remember or find the Bible verses that reveal God's will in our situations then we are able to be strong in faith and eliminate the doubt. As we start to pray using God's promises, we are increasing our confidence that we will receive what we are asking for. And as we proclaim God's Word as we know it is still true today, we are producing a more concrete faith that will produce the best results. You may read more on the matter at click here: “How do we know that the old testament promises are valid for the gentiles, too?”
Revelation 3:4-6 “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
God is always has a remnant of sincere believers that serve Him with all their hearts, even when the majority doesn't. Even if God's remnant is greatly outnumbered, they refuse to follow the crowd and are fully committed to the Lord and try their best to live right, following the Bible and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. How is this possible? Their true desire to follow Christ and His leadership in every area of their lives. We can be like them, doing what it takes to keep “our spiritual garments” clean. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to not sin on purpose and to overcome temptation, by staying focused on God's Word and refusing thoughts about the lusts of the flesh. As Paul said about himself:
1 Corinthians 9:27 ”But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Jesus will dress us up in white garments, if we remain in Him and His Word remains in us (John 15:7). We cannot be branches in the vine, that is Jesus, if we live under the leadership of our carnal nature (our flesh) and not the Holy Spirit.
The meaning of “to be worthy” in Revelation 3:4 (according to Thayer's Greek Lexicon), is to deserve Jesus' fellowship and all the blessings connected with it. We will deserve to spend eternal life with Jesus in Heaven, if we live for Him to the end.
Revelation 2:10 b ”Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Jesus says that He will “ not blot out the name from the Book of Life” of the one who is worthy and overcomes. This means that there is “the possibility” to have one's name erased from it. Jesus is talking to born-again Christians that have their names written in the Book if Life and He reaffirms that we have to live right until the end to make it to Heaven. If Jesus will not confess our name before Father God and His angels, then we will not be covered by His righteousness, which means that our sins will not be forgiven. As a result, we will pay for them by being separated from God for eternity, which is the second death. This is serious.
Oh Lord, please help us keep our spiritual ears sincerely open and truly sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling what You tell us to do and living in obedience to You every day, because we want to conclude our journey on this earth, in Your arms.
The Lord has given us all discernment. Without it, we would not last long in this world. We encounter thoughts and circumstances all day, every day. And healthy fear keeps us from trouble. From learning not to play with fire to not playing on a busy street. From not hurting others' feelings unnecessarily to working well with others at our jobs. Discernment and healthy fear are important. However, unhealthy fear is a danger that we need to all be aware of.
Healthy fear keeps us on the wise path but unhealthy fear subtly opens the door to the enemy. When we give more place to fear than to God's ability to help us through our circumstances, it does at least two things. For one, it is a lack of faith in God and that is really bad. Not only is without faith, impossible to please God but to doubt God including His ability to help us, is a sin. Secondly, when we turn our back on God's provision for our circumstances, we open the door to trouble.
Right choices empower God to work in our circumstances and wrong choices empower the devil and his cohorts to work. It is up to us, who we empower. We cannot give place to the devil and expect to see God move in our circumstances. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, has been given to us not only for our defense, but also for our offense; and we must not only stand on His Word, but sometimes we have to apply and wield the Sword. We must pray prayers of faith and eliminate doubt. We must ask the Lord for His wisdom and direction in our challenges.
Wisdom calls out for us to trust God and not fear. All throughout the Bible, we see the Lord exhorting and commanding His people not to have unhealthy fear but rather to put their faith and trust in Him. And just like those who have gone before us, the choice is up to each one of us. Do we listen to the voice of fear or the voice of the Holy Spirit? One is a miserable spring of torment and the other a well-spring of life. Let's choose to truly believe and really trust the Lord, not just in lip service but with all our hearts and in all our ways!
As David, the psalmist, king and giant-slayer, said to the Lord when he was girding himself up:
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. Psalms 56:3
And as the prophet Isaiah recorded the Word of the Lord:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'” Isaiah 41:10
And Jeremiah, the weeping prophet whose assignment was to one of the most stiff-necked generations ever, wrote:
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
And our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, said:
'"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” Luke 12:4-6
Over the years, the Lord has delivered me from sin, the penalty and bondage of it, including from various bad habits. He set me free from all kinds of things such as from smoking cigarettes to frivolously spending money. And lately, He has helped me even more.
Not everyone is born into a Christian home where Jesus is Lord. And while I come from a very hard working and tenacious background, I learned many things that the Lord has had to help me with and show me new ways. We know that when we become born-again, all things are new. This is meant spiritually. In the physical, if we weighed 300 pounds, we are born-again but still weigh 300 pounds. And the habits we had, become affected by the new born-again spirit but we still have to be renewed and transformed in our minds according to God's Word.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
And in this life-long process, Jesus gave me a key to help! I was reading my favorite “rapture chapters” Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 again and while in Luke 21 and meditating on the Lord's words, He said something amazing. He said “By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
Patience for me has been a life-long challenge. While I have been delivered from swearing for many years, patience is something that I have struggled with. And there were these words of Jesus jumping off the page to me; “By your patience possess your souls.”
Wow. And along with it, seemed to come the realization that not only will this key take us through the tribulation that Jesus was warning about but also to help us daily.
I knew all to well that when we lose our cool, that it is when it is the hardest to not judge or criticize or slip to use swear words. And I was always seeking to “praise the Lord at ALL times.” Somehow, suddenly, a realization was sinking into my heart that when we lose our patience, we not only can lose our souls in the long run but also in the immediate when we disappoint the Lord who is trying to lead and direct us. And that, praise God, when we keep our patience, we possess our souls! From studying the Bible over the years, I knew that “souls” does not always necessarily mean “spirits” but can often mean our “minds.” And in this case, in keeping our patience, we can keep it both!
”But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Naturally, this revelation was the beginning of the journey. My personal testimony is found under the testimonies and encouragement section as “Jesus Set Me Free... Again” and also an article called, on our sister website ”By Your Patience Possess Your Souls” co-written together by myself and C. Pușcaș. For more information on the "renewing of the mind," we also have the article ”Renewing the Mind” available there.
If patience and keeping your cool has been a challenge too, please consider one or more of the articles. The Holy Spirit in teaching and shedding His light on this matter, truly helped our “paradigms” and not only are we are not the same, but strength and joy have come from it.
The Lord bless and keep you in 2017 and always,
There really is a war between God and the devil. The devil started it but God will finish it. The devil was created good; he was beautiful to behold and high ranking in heaven but he made the grave mistake of trying to usurp God. He not only is the father of lies but he is also the father of rebellion and mutiny.
No human on earth knows all the details, but we do know that Satan decided he wanted to be like God in his heart. He sold the same lie to a third of the angels in heaven. He entered the Garden to purposely try to usurp the Lord there too with Adam and Eve.
Everyone who sins, no matter what particular sin, commits sin against God. Everyone who sins, buys into the lie from the father of lies, the father of mutiny in that: You can be like God. You can do what you want, when you want, how you want. You do not have to listen to God. Be your own god. That is “the lie.”
The truth is: God is #1. He made everything including the rules. Rule # 1 is God is God. Not you or I and certainly not the devil. Disobedience is expensive; no one can afford it, as it separates us from what we were made for and that is wonderful fellowship with our Father God.
So how does “the war” work since the devil was cast out of heaven to earth and did his dirty-work in the Garden?
There is a constant battle for our souls. God wants us to make heaven and tries to help us while the devil seeks to kill and destroy humans. Every person that falls for the lie that God does not have to be honored and obeyed is a soul for the devil.
Where Christians are, there is Light. Where the lost are, there is darkness. Demonic forces use humans. Demonic forces are empowered by using humans. The devil wants to rid the earth of Christians and as more people choose against God, the earth will grow darker and the devil will be more empowered. We as humans cannot normally see in the spirit, but we sure see the results. The situation is real. Once before, the whole earth grew spiritually dark and had to be cleansed with a Flood and God did a “re-start” with Noah and his family. Today, we are near the End of this Age. This is it. We are approaching final curtain call.
If we choose God and obedience to Him, we are empowered in the Light. If we choose the lie, rooted from the master liar and mutineer, then we belong to darkness.
Righteous decisions and actions empower heaven to work. Disobedience to God empowers evil to work. One might say, I choose neither. To not choose, is still disobedience to God.
The more darkness the devil can develop in people of disobedience, the more power he has. God is all-powerful. But He gave us the option of free will (though the consequences of sin is death, He offers a pardon to those who repent and accept and follow Jesus Christ). So until the “time of choice” is over, God allows a certain amount of choice, even against Him. But there will come a day of reckoning.
The goal of Satan is the end of Christianity on earth and to take heaven by force. He is still full of his rebellious and mutinous self. And the end is still clear. God wins. Even if Christians get caught in the devil's cross hairs, the worst he can do is take our bodies. When handling the thoughts of extreme persecution and possibly death, we need to combat fear by remembering the words of our Lord, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
And take total heart in: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Take heart, hold fast and press in close to the Lord, for the final countdown is approaching fast, ready or not.
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Matthew 14:27-31
Jesus was not surprised by the disciples' cry of terror. He knew they wouldn't believe that He is the one who walks on the water as on solid ground. His gentle and loving voice calmed them so much that Peter not only believed that He is, but he was ready to do what his Lord was doing. At first, Peter BELIEVED that he could walk on water to get to where Jesus was. Therefore, he asked the Lord to call him. After the Lord gave him the "green light," he continued to be positive and excited.
Peter relied on the "Come," calling and stepped out on THE WORD OF JESUS, walking on the water and as long as he did not doubt, he remained on top of the water, living the miracle. Unfortunately, too soon he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the circumstances (the wind and the waves). Instantly, his logic and fear took over and as he lost his support base, he began to sink.
It's easy to have faith to resolve the serious problems that we are going through, as long as we are surrounded by brothers full of faith and we are where the Lord's presence is strong. But what happens when we are alone and begin to think logically, considering our troubles from every angle, and remembering the failures of the past? If we do not stop these thoughts, doubt and unbelief will take control and will cause us to sink into the very problem we are fighting with.
2 Corinthians 10: 4,5
”For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, ”
God has provided spiritual weapons, strengthened by Him, so that they are really effective. The Bible, prayer, praise and worship, keeping a pure heart, without sin are a few of them. The Bible's promises are for those who live in obedience to God and the Christian authority in spiritual warfare is rooted in Jesus, who lives in the heart which is sincerely and completely surrendered to Him.
It is not easy to forget it all and all the real troubles we are going through, but it is not impossible. God does not ask us to do what He does not equip us to do. We can take the thoughts of doubt captive, by proclaiming the truth of God's Word. The more we repeat the truth, the more real it will become for our mind and spirit. By doing so, we will strengthen our faith.
The thoughts that we let to roam free in our minds are those that nourish our faith. Faith in what God can do to solve our problems or fear that we can't get out of the pit we are in.
By focusing on failure and disaster, we are paving our road to destruction.
”Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
How many blessings and wonderful gifts are not received, because of not having the faith for them?
Their lack of faith that “Jesus is the Christ' - deprived the people of Nazareth of the miracles that the Lord could have done for them. Around that city, only a few believed and were healed.
”When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”
What “they thought they knew” in their minds as a result of the physical reality that they thought they knew, canceled all that Holy Spirit showed them during Jesus' ministry. By “reasoning” - they stepped away from the presence of God that had touched them in the synagogue while Jesus taught them. Afterward they chose to doubt Him.
We are called to "WALK BY FAITH and NOT BY SIGHT" (2 Corinthians 5:7)
The Holy Spirit is always ready to help us, once we recognize that we need His help and call on Him!
”But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you”
The true meaning of following Christ;
denying self and taking up our cross daily.
Jesus let people know up front “the way and the cost” to be a true disciple.
Matthew 16:24 -25 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
Let's take a closer look of the meaning of this verse by reading it also in the Gospels of Mark and Luke:
Mark 8:34-35 "When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it."
Luke 9:23 "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."
"If anyone desires to come after Me," shows that only those who are willing to follow Christ can do it. ”Coming after Jesus” means to live a life in obedience to Him. That is the only way to follow Him and walk into His footsteps. We follow The One we love, adore, respect and honor.
"Deny" is the Greek word, aparneomai, which means to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. We all, as believers should utterly separate ourselves from our old carnal nature. When we came to Jesus, we renounced to the old sinful life and decided to live a new righteous life. So, Jesus is telling us to deny what our flesh would like to do and obey the direction of the Holy Spirit. We still live in earthly vessels, so we will not achieve perfect holy lives, but the desire of our heart is to obey God in every way. As we continually have the Holy Spirit to help us to live right and please God in all that we do, think, feel and say; and the more we focus on who we are in Christ Jesus, than on our failures, we will grow and become more like Jesus. God created man into His image. His desire is for us to be more like Him. The more we know Jesus and the more the anointing of the Holy Spirit increases in us, the more we will do better. This process will continue until the Lord takes us home.
Because we love Jesus, we come to a place of surrender to Christ where we no longer reserve the right to do as we will, but only as He wills in all the areas of our lives. The more we let Him rule in our lives, the closer to complete denial of the carnal nature we are.
"Take up the cross," had a very clear meaning to the disciples time. In the cultural context of the time, the Romans had the convicted criminals carry their own cross, as an act of tacit acceptance that their death sentence was just. So, for believers, taking the personal cross daily, means that we accept that our carnal nature has to be put to death daily and crucifying it is an act of justice, in order to live in obedience to Christ and not our own self. Christ died in our place, to pay for our sin. The only way we can live holy lives is in total love and obedience to Him.
"Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it," shows clearly that the redeemed one, is the one who gives up his former life before knowing Christ, renouncing his former ways and chooses Jesus Christ with His ways and plans for his life; loosing this earthly life in favor to eternal life. What a great exchange!
We are not all called to die as martyrs to glorify Jesus, but we are all called to lose our old life style and live as the gospel tells us to, honoring our Lord.
As Paul said in:
Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Our Lord God knows what is best for us and He has the perfect plan for every single one of us. By obeying His will and word, we do ourselves a huge favor, knowing what is best for us. Our Father God loves us way more then we or any human being can. Obeying Him is not something that God needs but it certainly is what we need. This is the kind of life that God had in mind for His creation, a life of obedience that will keep us all under His protection and grace and will allow Him to remain in us and us in Him. This is our ticket to Heaven. And not only that, it is the life that is greatly worth it to be lived! Hallelujah! Thank You Lord Jesus for making it all possible!
There is a peace that cannot compare with anything else. The peace that Jesus brings into our hearts and lives. "The world did not give it and the world cannot take it away," as the old song says. However - We can lose it - by giving it away.
If we let the heartaches of this world and the season we are in, overtake us, we can lose our peace and joy. There is strength "in" peace and joy. We lose our "strength" when depression and despair take their place. Doubt's friends, depression and despair, stay ready to "move in" on anyone, at the blink of an eye.
Can a person be filled with no hope and hope at the same time? We must spit out the negative. We must reject the heaviness of the world and replace it with "girding up" in the confidence that we have in Jesus. We either believe Him or we don't. To despair is to doubt God. And this is a huge mistake (as well as a sin). So what do we do?
We must choose the "positivity of God" and not "the negativity in the world" around us. We have a hope and a future. The Lord loves us and chose us for this day and hour to be here. We can waste time and fail Him (and ourselves); or rise up and encourage ourselves that we have a destiny in the Lord's plan for us at this time. We are the last day messengers. If people do not come to the Lord, they are doomed. And the prophetic clock is ticking. Not only might the people in our paths die lost, but the Antichrist is coming. He will be very, very deceptive and unless people are saved and know the real truth, most likely they will worship him and take his mark.
We must be "the Light" to a dark world. We must keep our faith and peace and joy. It is okay to be hurt or frustrated sometimes, but it is a huge mistake to stay there. The Word of God should come through in us because we choose It, because we believe and trust in His Word and in Him.
Be filled with the trust and confidence in the Lord. Be filled with His Word. Be filled with His praise. Be filled with His Presence.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace."
As the world drains us, we must continuously be refilled. If not, then we find ourselves in desperate need of spiritual fuel. We can "drive around" right above empty or we can keep our "tanks full and even topped off" - Why run drive around almost empty? Yes, it requires more "fill ups" but then on the long stretches, we will find ourselves prepared.
Here are some comforting verses for such days as we are in.
"By your patience possess your souls." Luke 21:19
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28
"Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." Luke 17:32-33
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11-12
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonian 4:16-18
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." 2 Peter 3:13
What verses help you be strong? I love the one, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." 1 Peter 4:12-14
Take heart, the Lord wins, He already won as a matter of fact and in Him, we are winners also. Short term trials, can be endured with His strength because we are heading for long term eternity, free from sin and all its baggage! "Utter wonderful" is our destination.
Hold fast and hold on, because, as another song says,
"It will be worth it all when we see Jesus." It really, really will!
Was Jesus was a Rabbi? Or possibly just called "Rabbi" and "Teacher" by His followers?
Here are a few of my thoughts that I have collected in researching the matter some. In the early first century, there were Jewish customs and laws they lived by. These Judaic systems are very documented. If a "person" "wanted to" or "was chosen" to go into "the ministry" there were certain requirements and processes they had to go through and for most, starting at a young age.
One of which, they could not start Synagogue or Temple service until the age of 30 and even then only for a certain number of years. To become a Rabbi, a young man had to show skill in biblical memorization, knowledge and reasoning. That is part of what Jesus was doing in my opinion, when He stayed behind in Jerusalem at the Temple and His family came looking for Him later.
One also, had to be chosen by an older Rabbi and study under Him until the older Rabbi said the disciple was "ready" and was at least 30. At this point, the "new Rabbi" would be baptized (a "mikvah" to the Jew)... and start teaching in the synagogues and Temple. He would also choose young disciples to learn and grow under his teaching & leadership to one day become Rabbi's also and then teach others and so on.
Jesus is our High Priest in heaven. Hebrews tells us, He is from the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7:17, Ps 110:8). He came to "end the old system" for a "better one". The entire old system was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ who is our priest and the only true solution to our sins. Now we are priests unto the Lord, each in true service to Him.
Some say all the disciples were very young, as in their teens, and that only Peter was old enough to be required to pay the Roman tax. For when Peter asked Jesus about paying the tax or not, Peter only drew 2 coins from the fish's mouth, one for Peter and one for Jesus. If the other "disciples" were old enough to pay taxes, he would have gotten a coin for each of them too.
If you are an American reading this, chances are that you have not known much about Jewish ways and customs of the day much more than me. And without some understanding of the day, how can we realize the full potential of the Gospels?
Jesus worked closely with the Temple leaders. He was no stranger to them at all. He was welcomed to teach in synagogues wherever He went in the land of Israel, as He was "a Rabbi". Was this strange to people that He had 12 disciples under His leadership and training? No! He was a Rabbi!
This was the "norm" of the day for a Rabbi! And just as Jesus came to change the priestly situation, He also came to broaden this situation also! Now we all become students and ministers of the Lord and His Word. Now we are all charged to go out and find the hungry ones for the Truth and show them the Way while being His ambassadors for the Father also. He took the old system and made it better.
Everyone has a right to their own thoughts. As for me, after considering various thoughts on the matter and as I continue to re-read the four Gospels on a regular basis, it seems to me, that Jesus "Yeshua" indeed learned carpentry from Joseph, but also went through "the proper channels" to be "in the ministry" of His day, as a disciple and then Rabbi who truly went about His Father's business and has passed the mantle on to His followers/disciples!