Arise and Speak

Saturday, June 17, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Appointed by God (vv. 4-8)

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

We read in Psalm 139:

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

And, we read in 2 Tim. 1:8-9 & Eph. 1:3-4 (respectively):

“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”

And, we read in 1 Pet. 2:9 & Matt. 28:18-20 (respectively):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all called (chosen, appointed) by God to a holy calling, which includes proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Christ of people throughout the world. And, we, too, were called of God to this even before the creation of the world; even before we were formed in our mother’s wombs. So, we should not neglect our calling out of fear of what others may think of us, or what they might do to us, or out of complacency and apathy, thinking this is only for those God calls to be preachers or teachers. But, we should be purposeful and intentional in sharing the gospel so that others might hear, and so they may be saved before our Lord Jesus returns to judge and to take us home.

Pluck Up and Build (vv. 9-12)

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”
The word of the Lord came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The truth of the gospel of our salvation involves this plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing, yet also building and planting. How so, you say? Well, the truth of the gospel is that we are all born sinners (Ro. 3:23), and we all, thus, come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. So, Jesus died on a cross for our sins so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might have new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, how does this take place? Well, first of all God draws us to Jesus, and then he gives us the faith to believe in him, but we have to take ownership of that faith and apply it to our lives. We have to receive Jesus by faith. And, this faith involves turning from our sins, and turning to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. When we believe in Jesus, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with him to newness of life, to be lived to him and to his righteousness. The old has gone, the new has come. We no longer live our lives to gratify our sinful desires, but by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and we are conducting our lives in accordance with the Spirit of God.

But, this does not mean we will never sin again, or that we won’t ever wander off the path and get off track, and need to be reminded of our calling and prompted to throw off those sins which so easily entangle, and the weight of all that is hindering our walks of faith, so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us that we should follow (run). So, sometimes God calls certain people to speak his words of correction and instruction to us, in order to get us back on track with God, and this involves, too, this breaking down of stubborn hearts, and the plucking up of what is causing closed ears, and the overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes so that God may revive us, restore (build) us, and use us again.

A Fortified City (vv. 13-19)

The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.

One of the ways in which God accomplishes this plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing of sinful behaviors and attitudes, stubborn hearts and wills, and blocked (stopped up) ears, which are unwilling to obey him, is via divine discipline and correction (judgment; reproving; scourging). He does this for our good, that we may share in his holiness, and that we might be trained (taught) by the discipline, in order that it might produce in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness (holiness, godliness, decency). And, this is a painful process (See: Heb. 12:1-11; cf. Rev. 2-3).

Sometimes God will use trials, tribulations and difficulties in our lives as his instruments of divine discipline and correction. Other times, if this is widespread, i.e. if a large percentage of his children are living in stubborn rebellion and/or complacency and apathy, he will use foreign powers or even our own nations’ leaders to come against us, and to war against us – God’s people, his saints – in order to revive and restore (build and plant) us. And, this is where much of the church, at least here in America, is today. So many have gone the way of the world and have gotten off the “straight and narrow” path of righteousness and holiness, and they have wandered off to follow after the flesh and the gods of this world. So, God is going to discipline them in order to bring them back to him.

These “kingdoms of the north,” in our world today, is an alliance of nations, CEOs of corporations, big banks, the Elite (wealthy and powerful) of the world, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, et al. They are called “The New World Order,” and they are definitely coming against the saints of God BIG TIME! They want to break down all which divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together in unity – with one voice and one heart. They want us all to accept all religions as viable, and to tolerate (be lenient toward) sinful lifestyles. So, they are going after “religious extremism,” which, by definition, includes all those who are preaching the full gospel message. So, they are declaring the gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, to be intolerant, bigoted and hateful speech, although they have not yet, to my knowledge, said that directly, but it is implied over and over again.

Yet, we are not to fear their threats, but we are to rely on the strength of the Lord, and we are to keep on speaking, and not be silent, for our God is in control. They will fight against us, but God will help us through it all.

God Be with You till We Meet Again
Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

Testing Your Faith

Sunday, June 4, 2017, 8:15 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When Pretty Things Get Broken.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (select vv. ESV).

Various Trials (vv. 2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What is joy? Joy is “grace recognized,” i.e. “the awareness of God’s grace, his favor” (biblehub.com). Jesus, for the joy set before him, “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). What was the joy set before him? His grace, which he was to extend to all the world via his death on a cross for our sins, and via his resurrection from the dead. It was the knowledge that his death and resurrection would mean life everlasting, and freedom from slavery to sin, to everyone who trusted in him as Lord, and as Savior of their lives.

So, can we be joyful and sad at the same time? Yes, I believe we can, because joy is not dependent on our circumstances. It is not conditional to our human emotions. Even in times of severe trial and great sadness, we can prayerfully and thankfully be appreciative of God’s grace to us, in its various forms, calling on him to help us in our time of need, even with tears streaming down our cheeks. And, that can be joy, because it focuses on Jesus, who is our compassionate and merciful high priest. So, we should “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3). We need to just rest in him.

Yet, what does it mean to count it all joy when we go through trials? It means to recognize God’s grace in our lives, i.e. that he is doing things in and through us way beyond what we could even imagine. It means trusting in his sovereignty over our lives, believing that, “in all things, he works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Ro. 8:28). Yet, “good” is not necessarily what we want or desire, but it is what God knows is best for us, i.e. what we truly need for us to mature in our faith, and to have steadfastness (persistence) of spirit, and for us to be Christ-like in heart, mind, attitude, faith, word and in action. So, we need to believe him, submit to his Lordship over our lives, and trust him to work it all out according to his plans and purposes, and for his glory.

Need Wisdom? (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

When we go through difficulties and trials, we definitely need wisdom to know how to respond with grace, and to not let our circumstances or what others do or say to “ruffle our feathers,” i.e. “to cause confusion, agitation, irritation or annoyance” (yourdictionary.com). There are probably always going to be people in our lives who will try to “get our goat,” i.e. who will attempt to irritate us. But, we can’t let them. We need to rise above these situations, by the grace of God, and by exercising godly wisdom. We must put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), as well, in order to fight off the temptation to give way to our circumstances and to not trust our Lord.

Yet, when we pray for wisdom to know how to respond with grace and godliness to difficult trials, and to people who want nothing more than to trip us up, and God shows us what to do, then we need to apply to our lives what he shows us, otherwise it was pointless to even ask him.

Remain Steadfast (vv. 12-15)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Some days are better than others. Some days we feel stronger, and other days we feel weak emotionally or physically, and it is more difficult during those times when the trials come. Yet, we don’t endure and persevere in our own strength or willpower. The steadfastness of spirit doesn’t come from within our own flesh. It is supernatural. And, it comes as we yield to our God, cry out to him in our suffering, and trust him to work in and through our lives for his purposes and for his glory. It comes when we learn to rest in him, and we don’t feel like we have to make things happen ourselves, and when we lean on him for understanding and trust in him for his strength.

When we are tempted to give in, give up, blow up, or clam up, that doesn’t come from God. Now, there will be times when God will tell us to be silent, but that will not be all the time, for he has given us mouths to sing his praises, to proclaim his excellencies, to share his gospel, and to call people to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ. It is Satan who wants to silence us, and to get us to give up, and to yield to pressure to compromise our faith so that people will like us, and so we won’t face persecution. Yet, Jesus said if we are ashamed of him and his gospel, he will be ashamed of us (Mk. 8:38). The devil will also send people along in our lives to try to trip us up, and to try to get us to blow it. We can’t give in to them for a second!

Yet, the devil is not the only force in our lives which tempts us to sin against God. We can be lured and enticed by our own sinful desires. For example, we may be tempted to compromise our faith, or to not speak to people about Jesus, or to dilute the gospel, because we want to be liked by others, and not hated. And, when the Spirit within us prompts us that we need to speak, and not keep silent, or he impresses on our hearts that we need to say something to someone, and we know we will be hated and rejected, we may be tempted to rationalize our way out of it. This is because we know it will mean, not only that this particular person is going to now reject us, but that they are probably going to convince many others to hate us, too. Yet, we have to obey God, even if it costs us our reputations or our very lives.

When Pretty Things Get Broken
By Joni Eareckson Tada

I have a piece of China, a pretty porcelain vase –
It holds such lovely flowers; captures everybody’s gaze.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my vase came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

My life was just like China, a lovely thing to me;
Full of porcelain promises of all that I might be.
But fragile things do slip and fall, as everybody knows.
And when my life came crashing down, those tears began to flow.

Now Jesus is no porcelain Prince. His promises won’t break.
His holy word holds fast and sure. His love, no one can shake.
So, if your life is shattered by sorrow, pain, or sin –
His healing love will reach right down and make you whole again.

Now don’t we all cry when pretty things get broken?
Don’t we all sigh at such an awful loss?
But Jesus will dry your tears, as He has spoken;
‘Cause He was the one broken on the cross.

https://www.joniandfriends.org/media/uploads/downloads/when_pretty_things_get_broken.pdf

Our Loved Ones

Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 31:15-22a (NASB).

Bitter Weeping (v. 15)

Thus says the Lord,
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

Do you have loved ones who do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior of their lives? Do you have people you care about in your life who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, but their lifestyles speak just the opposite? And, or do you have friends, neighbors or family members who have believed in Jesus Christ, who once walked with him in sweet fellowship, but have since fallen back into some of their old sinful patterns of behavior? If you do, there is still hope they will turn around, and will come to their senses, and will repent of their sins and trust Jesus, so we should never give up praying for them.

Do you, as well, have a burden for the part of the church, the body of Christ, who is living in spiritual adultery against her Lord, who is fleshly, sensual, worldly, and idolatrous; who is following after human desire instead of after the Lord? She partnered with the US government in an unholy alliance, which God forbids, and she turned the Lord’s house into a marketplace, which Jesus spoke strongly against (That is why he cleansed the temple). She incorporated the body of Christ and turned the church into a business of men, and she is marketing it just like any other business, and thus bases a lot of what she does after human desire, rather than after what God desires.

She gives honor to the government via a pledge (vow) of allegiance (fidelity) to the republic of the USA, via the singing of patriotic songs, and via the honoring of our soldiers who are fighting in all these other countries, and by trusting in the news media and believing their stories, without even testing to see if they are true. And, she gives honor to the world by making the church and the gospel more attractive and appealing so that the world will want to come to the meetings of the church. So, she entertains the world, and makes the church fun, comfortable, and non-threatening, as well as she dilutes the gospel to where it is no longer a narrow road but a broad path that just about anyone can travel, regardless of lifestyle or other beliefs.

And, yet she pushes God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – into a corner, and she does not give him the honor, respect, value, submission, obedience and reverence he so deserves. This Sunday we honor our earthly mothers who birthed us, but so many who call themselves Christians do not truly honor the ONE who gave them the breath of life, as well as who gave them eternal life. They do not honor the ONE who died on the cross for our sins, and who gave his life up for us to free us from the punishment of sin, and from slavery to sin, and to free us to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. Instead, they teach a gospel absent of death to sin and walking in righteousness. They teach a gospel which requires no repentance, obedience or submission to Christ, and they think it is ok for them to live in sensuality and to indulge in the flesh, and yet still claim heaven as their eternal home.

Because this fleshly, sensual and worldly church has pushed God into a corner, and has pretty much all but pushed the Holy Spirit out the door, she also rejects the Lord’s servants who do still hold to the tenets of the faith as taught by Jesus, and by his NT apostles. Even her leaders are being trained in how to “sift out” certain people with “strong convictions,” and in how to encourage them to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit.” And, many of them are even coming against the Lord’s servants by accusing them of teaching “works-based salvation,” even though they teach what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. Some even go so far as to accuse the Lord’s servants and messengers of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, and may even refer to them as “dangerous,” too, because they preach the gospel.

This worldly and sensual church may not realize it, but they are under the influence (spell) of Satan and his many false shepherds (wolves in sheep’s clothing), who have deceived naïve minds into believing lies, rather than truth. They are being held emotionally and spiritually captive by clever manipulators of truth who say what itching ears want to hear. These false shepherds have convinced much of the church to unify with them in their marketing goals and objectives for the church, thinking they are obeying God, since the Bible says much about unity, although it is unity with Christ first of all, which then is what unifies us together as the body of Christ. They are convincing many of them to be like-minded with these “dogs” in ridding themselves of all which divides us as a nation, so that we can join hands and hearts with all the people of the world in singing “Kumbaya.”

In some places of the world, our government is even literally taking Christians captive, and is rounding them up like cattle, and is placing them in camps with horrible conditions where many of them will die off, if they are not killed first by all the bombs our nation drops on them. I believe this is coming to America, too, because this is all part of this New World Order beast conquering nations, peoples and the saints of God (See: Rev. 13). And, this should bring us to tears – all of this! We should grieve over the spiritual condition of much of today’s church here in America, and over what our nation (the USA) is doing to innocent people throughout the world, in the name of democracy, and we should lament over all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Work Rewarded (vv. 16-20)

Thus says the Lord,

“Restrain your voice from weeping
And your eyes from tears;
For your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord,
“And they will return from the land of the enemy.
“There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord,
“And your children will return to their own territory.
“I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
“Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.

The encouragement here, I believe, is not that we should show no concern. We should (1 Co. 5:1-2; Jas. 4:8-10; Lu. 6:21). But, the encouragement is rather that we should not feel without hope. We should not be so caught up in lamenting over our loved ones, or over the worldly church, or over the persecution much of the church worldwide is enduring, that we forget that God is absolutely sovereign, that he is in control over all things, and that he cares about his children, too. We need to believe that our labors of love in the Lord, and our service in ministry, and in sharing the truths of the gospel of our salvation, and our prayers for the church and for our loved ones will be rewarded. We need to believe God for the salvation of loved ones, for the revival of the church, and for the strengthening of his persecuted saints.

What may look bad, from a human perspective, may be a blessing in disguise. I believe God will chastise his wandering saints who have been duped by master deceivers and manipulators, and in order to open their eyes to the truth, and so they will repent of their sins and turn their hearts back to God and truly honor him with their lives. Yet, this, too, is God’s grace to us. It is called “tough love,” and its goal is to bring his wandering ones back into pure fellowship with him, and also to get us ready for his return and for the consummation of our marriage to Jesus Christ, our husband. It is to purify us in heart and mind, and to restore them to God. God’s heart yearns for his wandering ones to return to him, for he loves his children, and so he will have mercy on them, but the mercy will come in the form of divine discipline and correction, but the results will be for our good.

Direct Your Mind (vv. 21-22a)

“Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities.
“How long will you go here and there,
O faithless daughter?”

So, the counsel here for us is to turn our thinking (our minds) toward the way of holiness and righteousness, i.e. the way of the cross of Christ. We, as the people of God, need to get our minds away from the things of this world and its values, philosophies, attitudes and behaviors, and we need to fix our thoughts firmly on Jesus Christ and on his Word (the whole counsel of God). I believe God is also calling the body of Christ to come out from underneath this unholy union with the US government (here in America), and to return to Jesus as her ONLY Lord (head). I believe he wants her to also forsake following the schemes of humans for how to conduct church meetings, and to put her focus back on Christ and on the purity of his Word (his truth).

As well, I believe that we, as the body of Christ, need to get away from this diluted gospel which so many are following, and we need to read scriptures in context so we can see what the gospel is that Jesus and his NT apostles taught, rather than putting our trust in humans to tell us the truth. We need to know that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that faith in Jesus Christ means we now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our flesh, for if we live according to the flesh, it will result in eternal death, not life (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 8:1-14).

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

Stand and Obey

Sunday, May 7, 2017, 8:08 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 5:17-33 (Select vv. NIV).

Go, Stand! (vv. 17-20)

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

In this world we are going to have trials, tribulation and persecutions. We will face opposition from the enemy, and from those who have fallen under his deception; under his spell. Some of these enemies have infiltrated the church, and some are even the pastors, elders, deacons or otherwise spiritual leaders within the church. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, or else they are the naïve who have been duped by a clever adversary.

Today’s modern church movement has brought worldliness into the church as a way to market the church to the world. So, they entertain the world rather than proclaim God’s plan of salvation from bondage to sin; rather than make calls for repentance – turning from sin to Christ and to his righteousness. In fact, many of them teach God requires no repentance, no submission to Christ and to his cross, and no obedience to God. They teach a grace, instead, which gives free license to lasciviousness (immorality/sin).

Because of this, many of these churches have embraced ecumenicalism or even syncretism, i.e. the blending or merging of different religions and beliefs. Their bible, in practice, rather than being the word of God, has often become marketing books on how to grow their churches (businesses). And, many of these leaders and their followers are followers of humans, rather than followers of God. Thus, the Holy Spirit has been pushed out of many of these churches, because he does not fit with their marketing plans.

Thus, many of these church leaders are being trained in how to choose their targeted audience, and in how to discourage participation from those with “strong convictions,” i.e. from those who still teach the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it. They don’t want to offend the world with the true gospel, so they create one which is less offensive and more acceptable to the world. And, for many of them, the gospel has been reduced to “good deed doing” rather than confronting sin, warning of judgment, calling for repentance, and promising the hope of eternal life with God for the repentant and the obedient (to Christ and to his commands).

Because of this, many Christians who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, who are living separated lives from the world, who still hold to the tenets of the Christian faith and practice, as taught in scripture, and who stand on the Word of God, and on his gospel message, are being persecuted, even within the worldly church. Some of them, I am sure, are being told to “go someplace else” where they will be a “better fit,” because many of these pastors are saying this, so this is their training. And, not only that, but Christ’s followers are being accused of teaching works-based salvation, even though they are teaching what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. And, beyond that, they are also being accused wrongfully of being hateful, bigoted, intolerant, judgmental, unkind, and even dangerous.

Yet, the Lord Jesus is saying to his persecuted saints to “Go, stand on the Word of Truth, and tell the people about this new life in Christ Jesus.” We are to tell them that Jesus didn’t die just so they could be rescued from hell and have the hope of heaven when they die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and that we might no longer walk (in lifestyle) according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25).

Obey God! (vv. 25-33)

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

When we obey God, and we do what he tells us to do, according to (in agreement with) the teachings and biblical principles of scripture, there are going to be people who will not like us, who will object to what we are doing, and who may even kick us to the curb. Some of these may be pastors. Some may be elders in churches. Some may even be moderators or owners of Christian websites. As well, they may also be government enforcers whose job it is to stop the gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading further, so they may clamp down on what can be said on the internet or in person with people. They may even declare it to be a hate crime to confront sin in sinful humans, to tell them that faith in Jesus Christ is the only path to God and to heaven, and to warn of judgment and to call for repentance.

In the Western World, in particular, it is not the name of Jesus that is an offense, for many make Jesus out to be whatever fits with their lifestyles. What is an offense is the cross of Christ, but not just that he gave his life up for us on the cross, but that he requires that we die with him in death to sin and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and in order for us to have eternal life with God (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25). For, this is what it means to be born again; to be born anew of the Spirit of God.

Yet, when we face opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even if we are commanded to stop teaching the whole counsel of God, and if we are instructed to take it down a notch, i.e. to remove the offense of the cross, we must obey God rather than men. Always God’s Word trumps! Yes, we are told in scripture to obey our leaders, but NOT if they are commanding us to disobey God, to deny our Lord, and to stop preaching the truth. We need to be men and women of God who stand strong on the Word, who do not compromise with the world of sin, and who do not dilute the gospel message either to be liked by people or out of fear of what humans might do to us.

So, keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement set in, either. God has a plan and a purpose for it all. He is still sovereign over all he has made, and he is still in control over all things. Trust him! Do what he says, and leave the results to him. His word will never return empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it.

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for.

When This Hits

Saturday, May 6, 2017, 9:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 4 (Select vv. NIV).

Proclaiming Jesus (vv. 1-2)

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

The Lord Jesus is giving me a picture here of today’s modernized institutional church here in America, which is in partnership – an unholy alliance – with the U.S. government, via the 501c3 tax code. Via this unholy alliance with the U.S. government, the church has incorporated the body of Christ, and has turned God’s house into a marketplace (a business) where it is marketed to the public just like any other human-based business, with all the trappings of the world as its base, i.e. its foundation is marketing schemes and techniques for how to grow their “churches” (businesses). And, the world and the naive are its customer base, i.e. its targeted audience. In addition, the government is its head, i.e. this unholy alliance has been added on top of our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, so this church is, thus, in a spiritually adulterous relationship with the U.S. government.

Because the restructured institutional church has turned God’s house into a marketplace, it has also diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world. The gospel message, thus, has been altered to fit with the felt needs of the customer base who clamor for feel-good messages which tickle itching ears. So, largely they teach that all one has to do is pray some words after someone else, or else they just have to have a human belief in Jesus Christ and in what he did for us in becoming our substitutionary sacrifice on a cross for our sins, but which does not require repentance, submission or obedience to Christ and to his Word. Thus, the adherent to this faith has the impression that God’s grace gives free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse.

So, if any followers of Christ teach the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God), teaching what Jesus and his NT apostles taught with regard to our salvation, which includes the necessary requirements of repentance, submission and obedience to Christ and to his Word, then the contemporary and worldly institutional church leaders are upset by this, and so is the U.S. government, and the New World Order beast, or the shadow government, which is the de facto government of these United States.

And, if we call to people’s attention the adulterous relationship the church is having with the U.S. government/shadow government, and if we call the church to come out of her (to separate), and/or if we confront sin, warn of judgment, call for repentance (and obedience), yet promise hope for the repentant, we are being singled out as intolerant, bigoted, and hateful, etc. The same applies if we oppose the plans of this fashionable institutional church movement and the plans of our government to get all people to agree to ridding ourselves of all which divides us (the gospel divides), and to unifying with the world in being accepting of all religions and of all chosen lifestyles. They are unhappy with us, and so they tag us as dangerous.

Against the Lord (vv. 25b-28)

“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

Here the Lord Jesus is giving me a picture of this New World Order beast, in particular in relation to the USA, but to the world, as a whole, too. The U.S. government is not the true power in America. There is a shadow government of the elite of the world (the wealthy and powerful) who are the de facto government of these United States, and who are the ones truly ruling the world. Our government works for them, i.e. they are in subjection to them, and serve as their right-hand man and military force throughout the world in conquering nations, peoples and Christians; in raping, pillaging, and murdering innocents, confiscating and destroying property, and in taking over sovereign nations, and in bringing them into subjection to the beast New World Order of the Elite of this world. And, then they deceive the American public into believing that the US government is the “good guys.”

This New World Order beast is in the process of taking over America, too, and bringing our nation into full subjection to this beast, as well. And, our government is party to this takeover. Just as we have done to other countries in the world, so is being done to us in order that the New World Order beast may rule supreme over all the world, and that we might be under a one-world totalitarian government and one-world religion, unless, of course, we refuse to bow to this beast, but then we can expect to be persecuted and/or imprisoned or even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ and for our testimonies for him and for his gospel of salvation.

This New World Order is being built upon the graves of the dead, including upon the graves of our sons and daughters in the military. All these wars and political upheavals are all part of the plot of this beast to take over sovereign nations and to bring them under the authority of this beast (New World Order). So, this beast is also being built upon the deaths of independent nations. From the ashes of the old order of things a new order of the ages is dawning (rising), which is this beast New World Order. A new holocaust is in the works, but this time it is the extermination of Christians who hold to the tenets of the Christian faith and who hold strong to the teachings of Jesus and those of the NT apostles. We are being strongly opposed both in this modernized institutional church and by the government.

Yet, this time was prophesied in scripture, in particular in Revelation 13. So, it must take place. Our God is going to allow evil to reign for a short period of time, and he is allowing this beast to conquer peoples, nations and the saints of God. So, things are going to get much worse, and this world is going to get even more evil and immoral than it already is. Yet, I believe that scripture teaches that during this time our Lord is going to revive his adulterous church, spread his gospel to all nations, and bring many people to faith in Jesus Christ. He is going to purify his people (his bride) in order to prepare her for the consummation of her marriage to Jesus Christ. And, all this must take place before our Lord returns and takes us to be with him forever. God’s purposes will prevail, and Satan and his hordes are defeated already. They plot evil against us in vain, for we belong to God.

Consider Their Threats (vv. 29-31)

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

When the reality of all this hits, particularly in America, and we are under serious persecution, we need to pray for strength and courage to keep speaking boldly for our Lord and for his gospel, and to keep following him wherever he leads us, and to never compromise with the enemy.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

Born for This

Friday, May 5, 2017, 7:03 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 18 (quoting select vv. NASB).

Prophecy Fulfilled (summary chapters 13:1-18:18)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God) had just been betrayed by one of his closest companions, Judas, who turned him over to the authorities to be arrested and to be put on trial, as though he was guilty of committing a crime. As well, Jesus had just predicted the denial of another one of his disciples, Peter. Then, he spoke words of encouragement, hope, comfort and instruction to his disciples (the 11 who were left), in order to prepare them for what was coming next. Following this he prayed to the Father for his disciples, and for all who would yet believe in him as Lord and as Savior.

When Jesus had finished praying, Judas came with a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees, who then arrested Jesus and took him away. In the midst of all this, Peter fulfilled Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus, by denying his Lord three times.

Why Strike Me? (vv. 19-24)

The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Jesus Christ had done no wrong. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and delivered people from demons. He performed miracle after miracle in people’s lives and hearts. Although he was tempted of Satan, he never once sinned in all that he did. Yet, he also confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of divine judgment, and called for repentance and for faith in him as their Messiah and Lord, and promised hope, healing and eternal life for the penitent and the obedient (to him).

And, for this, plus his healing of people on the Sabbath, and his refusal to follow the traditions of men, and because he claimed to be who he is, he was hated, persecuted, falsely accused, arrested, put on trial, and put to death. Yet, while on trial, Jesus defended his ministry, and he questioned the authorities as to the legitimacy of their actions. Yes, there were moments when he kept silent, but he also answered his accusers by telling the truth. He didn’t mince words, either, but he was direct in what he said, and he got right to the point of the matter. He was never wishy-washy at all.

Jesus told us that we would be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted, and eventually put to death, so he is our example for how we should respond when we are falsely accused, arrested on trumped up charges, and put on trial for believing in him and for sharing with others the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not resist arrest, for he knew this was the reason why he was put on this earth, to die for our sins, yet this did not mean he kept silent in the whole process. He used this as an opportunity to give testimony to who he is, and to defend what he did and said.

What Hypocrisy! (vv. 28-32)

Then they *led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

Do you see the hypocrisy in all of this? The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the Pharisees hated Jesus. They were jealous of him. They refused to believe he was the Son of God, the Christ, their Messiah and Lord. They closed their ears to the truth. They opposed him at every turn, and they tried frequently to trip him up, hoping to discredit him. While they were good at appearing righteous on the outside, though, inside they were full of wickedness. And, now here they were getting ready to put a righteous and innocent man to death, and yet they were concerned about being ceremonially clean (not defiled), so that they might take part in the celebration of the Passover, which was, in fact, a precursor to Jesus’ blood sacrifice for us on the cross for our sins so that we might be liberated from slavery to sin and so we might be partakers of God’s heavenly kingdom.

What is Truth? (vv. 33-38)

Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”

If we have not already been brought before those in authority to give an account for who we are (in Christ), and for why we do what we do, one day this may take place in our lives, if we live long enough. And, we will need the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to speak the words God would have us to say as a testimony to him, to his saving grace, and to his gospel of grace. And, we should not be afraid of those who can kill our bodies, but who cannot kill our souls, but we should pray that we would speak boldly in Jesus’ name in sharing the reason for the hope that is within us.

There are a lot of people now, in both the world of politics and in the Christian world who are coming against the true gospel, as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles. And, they are coming against Christ’s servants and messengers, too, because they tell people the truth of what Jesus taught. These people are pushing for tolerance of all faiths and of all lifestyles, and thus they object to a gospel which warns of divine judgment, which confronts sin in sinful humans, which calls for repentance and obedience to Christ, and to his Word, and yet promises hope and healing for the penitent. They are, thus, pushing a gospel which is comprised of “good deeds” only, but that doesn’t teach Jesus as the only way to God, or repentance and obedience to Christ as required for eternal life with God in heaven.

Yet, Jesus (his Word) told us that these things would take place. The Bible says we are destined for afflictions, persecutions, and hardships, and even some of us for captivity and for martyrdom. We were born into this world not just to be saved from our sins, and to live for our Lord, but also to suffer for the sake of his name, to share his gospel with the world around us, and to be hated, persecuted, mistreated and, perhaps, even to die for our faith.

Jesus did not die for our sins just so we could escape hell and just so we could have the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return (See: Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

These are some of the things we must teach, because there are many liars and deceivers who are giving people a false hope of security with God in heaven based on half-truths (lies). Yet, when we teach these things, we must be ready to be hated and persecuted, in return, for there are many enemies of the cross of Christ who do not want us telling people the truth. And, yet, we must not fear their threats, but we must honor Christ our Lord.

Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

A Heart Rejoicing

Thursday, May 4, 2017, 5:55 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 16 (quoting select vv. ESV).

Remember He Told Us (vv. 1-4)

“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that as he was hated, so they also would be hated by the world, meaning even by the worldly church, for it was the leaders in the temple of God who were Jesus’ fiercest opponents. And, they were the ones who put him to death on a cross. And we, too, will be hated if we are truly following the Lord Jesus, committed to him and to his Word (to truth), separate from the world of sin, and walking in His ways.

Yet, Jesus told his followers these truths, not to instill fear in their hearts, but to keep them from stumbling when the reality of what he had just told them finally came to fruition. For, opposition and persecution are not for the fainthearted. We have to be spiritually prepared to endure such a time as this. We must be certain of what we believe, standing on the truth, not compromising the gospel of our salvation, and be walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, or we won’t be prepared to stand when real persecution comes, which it has for many, and which it will for even more.

We, who stand on the Word of God, who do not compromise with the world, and who hold to the gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, are presently on the firing line, even in America. For some time now, many pastors of local congregations, or those thinking of church planting, have been being trained in the ways of the world in how to grow their churches (businesses) through human marketing schemes and techniques. Many of them are being taught how to manipulate, lie, trick, and use gimmicks to draw in large numbers of people from the world into the meetings of the “church.” So, they are also being taught how to target certain people groups and how to discourage participation from those with “strong convictions.”

Basically, for those of us with such “strong convictions,” which come from God and from his Word of Truth, we are outcasts in many of today’s modern churches, which are being run just like businesses. And, some of us have already experienced being pushed out, forced out, or encouraged to “go someplace else” where we will be a “better fit” because we “don’t fit” within the framework of their human goals and objectives, i.e. with what their marketing books are teaching them they must do to grow their churches. And, I know, because my husband and I went through the training, because we were church planters, and because we tried many of these churches, so we learned first-hand how this is being played out in today’s modern church.

And, the hour is now upon us, in the world, where many are being killed for their faith in Christ, and by many of those who call themselves Christians, too. If you have followed the speeches of Obama, the Pope, and even some by Trump, and by many who call themselves ministers of the gospel, you will learn that their goal is to convince the Christian world to deny their Lord, to reject his gospel, and to adopt a false grace gospel and a false Jesus in their place. They want us all, across the globe, to join hands and hearts in singing “Kumbaya.” They want us all to put aside all which divides us as a people, which includes the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it. And, they want us to accept that all religions are viable, and that the gospel is nothing more than just doing “good deeds,” and that we should all be tolerant of everyone who is different from us, including being accepting of evil.

Grief Turned to Joy (vv. 20-22)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

For those who were followers of Jesus, when he walked this earth, it was a sad moment for them when he was crucified on a cross, a glad moment for them when he was resurrected from the dead, but then another sad time when he left them to return to the Father, but then a glad moment when he sent them the Holy Spirit to indwell, to comfort, to encourage and to empower them. And, it will even be the happiest of moments one day when he returns for us, his bride, and we will all be with him forever. Amen!

Here he encouraged them with these words, that even though they would weep, for a time, because of his death, their grief would be turned to joy when he was resurrected from the dead. Yet, his death had to take place in order that we might be saved from slavery to sin and be set free to walk in his righteousness and holiness. He had to die that we might have life, like a woman in labor must go through terrible pain in order that her child might have life. And, like the new mom is consoled in her pain by the birth of her child, so they would be consoled when they saw Jesus alive once more.

During this hour, which is now upon us, we will weep and lament, not just over the suffering of God’s holy people, but also over all the evil and wickedness and deception that is in the world. We will weep, too, for the deceived, and for those who have strayed from their pure devotion to Christ, and for the unsaved. And, we will pray for revival, and for hearts to be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).

While we are weeping, though, the world will rejoice, yet not in the joy of the Lord, but in their own revelries and debaucheries. And, this is happening today. So many people think of life as mainly about being entertained continually, and so that is how they live their lives, for their own pleasure and enjoyment, and not for the pleasure of God. The sad reality is that many who call themselves Christians live just like this, too, so that it is barely distinguishable between the world and the church anymore.

Yet, the pain and suffering, and the weeping and grieving which we go through in this life has and will have its rewards. If we grieve and pray over people’s sins, and over the suffering of the saints of God, and we share with them the love, mercy, grace, righteousness and justice of Jesus Christ, we have the hope that many of them will one day turn their hearts to Jesus, or that they will return to their first love, their Lord, with pure devotion and with hearts that are true. There is always hope, and in that we can rejoice, that there will be fruit in people’s lives for our labors in the Lord. Amen! And, of course, we have the hope that one day Jesus will return for us and we will be with him forever, and our crying and pain will be no more.

Take Courage (vv. 31-33)

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

In this context, Jesus was speaking of how, when he was to be arrested, that his followers would scatter, and they would leave him alone. Many today, who claim to be followers of Jesus, are also deserting him and are denying him by how they live their lives day in and day out, without much regard for him at all. Yet, as more and more of us separate from the world of sin, and we grow closer to our Lord, and in our commitments to stand on the Word of Truth, and to walk in his holiness, we, too, will be deserted (abandoned), and people will deny their relationships with us, and they may even betray us into the hands of those who will persecute and kill us. And, our betrayers may even be our own leaders, our friends or even family.

Yet, even if we are abandoned and betrayed by those who are supposed to love, protect and care for us, we are not alone, for our God will never leave us or forsake us. Amen! In addition to this, he is all powerful and he is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, so nothing is going to happen to us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, to purify, strengthen, and mature us in our walks of faith, and to get us ready for his return and for the consummation of our marriage to him. So, even though we have, and will have even more so tribulation in this world, we can take courage, because our Lord has overcome the world. Amen!

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
George Matheson / Albert L. Peace

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.