Predicted Perilous Times

Predicted Perilous Times

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come . . .  (2 Tim 3:1)

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  (2 Tim 3:2-5)

Many of you already know that the Bible repeatedly mentions the last days.  This is a term that typically is understood to refer to a period when historical events would reach a final climax.  Whether or not theologians disagree on the terminology, we can all agree that we are living in perilous times. The Scripture passage shown above in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 describes what types of behavior we would see in the last days

If we are very honest, we have to admit that yes, we do see all of these behaviors in evidence in our world today.  So how should we respond to our perilous times?

The Bible shows us the way:

  • Read the Bible. (Josh 1:8; Neh 8:3; Ro 10:17)
  • Obey the Bible. (Joh 14:23; Jas 1:22)
  • Understand that Christians will at some point or other suffer persecution. (Mk 10:30; 2 Tim 3:12)
  • Follow Christ’s example in all things. (Joh 13:13-16; Lk 9:23; 1 Cor 11:1)
  • Allow the Scriptures to read you, correct you, and to transform you. (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Rom 12:2)
  • Love your enemies; pray for those who hurt you or abuse you. (Lk 6:27-28)
  • Resist the devil. (Jas 4:7)

Let us be obedient to the Word of God, and followers of Jesus, our example.

The Weapons of our Warfare

The Weapons of our Warfare

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.  (2 Cor 10:4 – emphasis added)

. . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim 3:14)  As we study the Bible, the Lord helps us to become mature and to equip us for every good work.

Weak men we may be; but it is not as such that we fight our battles. (2 Cor 10:3 NEB)  We don’t have the mindset of being weak; but rather, we fight because we have a supernaturally mighty friend in Jesus, our Savior. 

What are our weapons?  Our weapons are the Word of God; prayer; preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word of God to all who are hungry.

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, and He accesses the power of God on our behalf. (Zech 4:6)

Paul did not use violence; psychological maneuvering; a crusade of lies against his enemies; political power; money; or denominational loyalty as weapons.  Paul used the spiritual weapons that were at his disposal, revealed to Him by God.

The same weapons that were available to the apostle Paul are available to each one of us today.  Pick up the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) and study to show yourself approved as one who “rightly divides the word of truth.”  (2 Tim 2:15)

The Power of God

The Power of God

The Bible has quite a lot to say about the power of God.  Here are some selected verses.

. . . and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  (Rom 1:4)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rom 1:16)

. . . but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (1 Cor 1:24)

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  (1 Cor 2:4-5)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Cor 1:18)

I’m sure that you’ve noticed the recurring theme in these verses that Jesus is called the power of God or the verse may state that power comes through His good news.  How did Jesus access His Father’s power?  He accessed it through the Holy Spirit, for our Lord said:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Ac 1:8)  Jesus spoke this to His disciples, and told them that they would receive power through the Holy Spirit.

Further on in the New Testament, we read:

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.  (1 Thes 1:5)

Each believer receives power in the same way that Jesus did, through the Holy Spirit and His presence in us.  We must learn to cooperate with the Lord and the Holy Spirit through our knowledge of the Word and through our obedience to it.  As we obediently serve Him and allow Him to lead and guide us, we will move and operate in His mighty power.

God Is In Control

God Is In Control

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.  (Pro 19:21)

This article is a meditation upon the concept that our God and Savior is in control of life’s events.  Even in those cases where something that is negative or harmful occurs, the Lord can ultimately bring glory to Himself by delivering us.  He can also cause something that was intended to harm us turn into an opportunity for us to receive a blessing!  (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1) – God is not with us in trouble merely to comfort or strengthen us, but to protect and help us.  Hallelujah!

The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.  (Pro 16:4) – The Lord has created everything for His own purposes, and He gave human beings a free will even though He knew that a percentage of us would rebel against Him and reject Him.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  (Pro 16:9) – We make our own, fleshly plans; but the Lord in His mercy and goodness directs the circumstances of our lives according to His good plan for us. 

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.  (Pro 16:33) – Even the most seemingly accidental, chance, unexpected, or unplanned events are under God’s control. Trust Him and rely upon His love for you.

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.  (Ps 115:3) – Our God is a merciful and loving God, so He will show mercy whenever and wherever He chooses to do so.  Because He can see the end from the beginning, He knows what events need to take place in our lives in order to accomplish His good plans for us.

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand . . . (Isa 14:24) – God’s good purposes and plans for us shall stand for He will bring them to pass.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”  (Jer 32:27) – Whatever our difficulty or challenge or heartache, NOTHING is too difficult for God to turn it around.  Praise the Lord!

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  (Mt 10:29) – We know that God cares for us vastly more than the sparrows, so this verse opens our eyes to the truth that He diligently watches over us in all of the details of our lives.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  (Rom 13:1) – We must recognize that God even determines who will have authority at every level of a nation’s hierarchy.  He determines when and for how long a person will be in authority, even our employers, overseers, or business partners. 

God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.  (Ps 62:11) – All power comes from God because it all belongs to Him.  Therefore, whatever position of power, authority or influence that you may have, be conscientious, kind, respectful and merciful to others.  You will one day give an account of yourself.

. . . not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.  (1 Pet 3:9)

We are called to bless others and to be a blessing.  Living in obedience to God’s will always causes us to inherit blessings.  Recognizing that God is not only in control of all things, but that He watches over us in order to be able to bless and help us will make it quite easy for us to want to help others.

Launch Into the Deep

Launch Into the Deep

4When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  5But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  6And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.  (Lk 5:4-6)

Notice that in verse 4, Jesus tells Simon (Peter) to let down his nets [plural] in order to catch fish.  Simon basically has some skepticism, but says, “Okay!  I’ll put THE net down.”  And that single net was no match for the quantity of fish that filled the net to the breaking point!

This is the result of doubt—not faith.  Jesus was prepared (I believe) to fill every single net that Simon would have put down into the water that day.  If Simon had put down three nets, he would have filled three; if he had put down four, he would have filled four.  But doubt prevented him from truly complying with Jesus’ instructions. 

Now, was Simon still blessed?  Of course, he was!  Do you think his faith was strengthened by this episode?  Undoubtedly, yes.

But, do you think that the plan of Jesus for Simon was much more prosperous than Simon could envision?  I believe that it assuredly was.  But Simon’s sight was limited and narrowed by doubt.

Let us learn a great lesson from this Biblical account, and adjust our own behavior and mindset when reading God’s Word for us.  We must learn to obey God to the last detail of His instructions to us.  If you doubt anything—doubt your own doubt!  Trust God to do impossible (miraculous) things in order to bless you.

Let us learn to launch into the deep of obedience to God with great trust and faith in His plans for us and His vision for us, in Jesus’ Name.

Proclaiming His Death

Proclaiming His Death

. . .  and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.   (1 Cor. 11:24-26)

To proclaim means to announce, declare, make known, broadcast, or state publicly.  In the verse shown above, Jesus tells us to remember Him through the Communion ceremony.  He also says that as often as we take Communion, we proclaim His death till He comes.  Why is it important to proclaim His death?

As often as we announce Jesus’ death, we are making known the New Covenant He established by His blood.  (1 Cor. 11:25)  We are declaring the Good News that we have been reconciled to God through Jesus. 

We are broadcasting Jesus’:

  • Resurrection (Acts 4:33);
  • Triumph over sin and evil (2 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:8-10);
  • Soon return. (1 Cor. 11:26; John 14:3)

We are stating that we:

  • Are united together in the likeness of His death and in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5);
  • Abide in Christ and He abides in us (John 6:56);
  • Are under the covenant of grace (2 Cor. 13:14);
  • Live in covenant with the One who has destroyed the works of the devil.  (1 John 3:1)

The Bible teaches us the importance of declaring the Truth in Christ:

He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.  (Pro 12:17)

A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.  (Pro 18:20)

Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, “It is truth.”  (Isa 43:9)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach) . . . (Rom 10:8)

Partaking of Communion is a prophetic act—a declaration.  Did you know that actions can speak?  They announce our faith, obedience, and allegiance to Jesus Christ.  It’s good to remember when we take communion that in doing so, we proclaim His death in obedience to the Word of God.

PRAISE: The Fruit of Our Lips

PRAISE:  The Fruit of Our Lips

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.  (Heb 13:15 KJV – emphasis added)

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.  (Ps 30:12)

Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard . . . (Ps 66:8)

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  (Ps 104:33)

The Word reminds us in many different Bible passages to praise the Lord, and to praise Him continually.  In Hebrews, we are instructed to offer the “sacrifice of praise,” which may mean that God expects us to praise Him even when we don’t feel well, and even when our life circumstances are difficult and painful to us. 

In these types of situations, praise truly feels like a sacrifice.  But praising God in the midst of difficulty is obedience to His Word, and the Lord appreciates our obedience. 

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”  (1 Sam 15:22)

Our praise to God is the best and highest fruit that our lips can produce!  We all know that words—the harvest of our lips—can be uplifting or hurtful, encouraging or critical.  It’s our job and responsibility to be sure that our words bless all who hear them. 

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  (Eph 4:29)

The test of our words is:  will they edify the hearers?  Edify means to enlighten, inform, educate, or improve.  Will our words improve the hearers?  If not, then they’re best left unsaid.

Words that praise the Lord and bring Him glory will bring us blessings and will edify all who hear them.  Let our lips and our words SERVE us, rather than harm us or anyone else.  Let us determine to guard our words from this moment forward, that we may be blessed!