World conditions are intensifying. As we look around we see news flashes of violence, disasters, doom, gloom and despair. Others and ourselves are being bombarded with sickness, tragic family or friend loss, financial stress, and mental pressures. We feel like we are living in a battle zone that's never ending.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1 "But know this that in the last days perilous times will come." Listen up children of God, we are living in the final days, before Jesus returns. We are facing dangerous, unpredictable, high risk times. Some of you may be asking, how can we persevere?
Let me reassure you that there are conquering strategies for every believer. The basis to being an overcomer is found in the Bible. This is a time we can not afford to live with the notion that everything will resolve itself and settle down. The devil knows that his time is nearly ending and he's unleashing all that he has to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) This is the moment that we, born again, spirit filled, sword wielding Christians rise up to the occasion. Fear, dread and defeat will try to overpower you. Don't let it! Ps. 138:7 says, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revived me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies. And Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever..."
Peace, comfort and victory comes from trusting in the Lord. He IS the 'All Sufficient, El Shadday'! Experiencing His sustaining strength requires that we must run to Him first in all situations! We have to make His Word the place we go for security, assurance, and direction! Then no evil will conquer us nor any disease come near. The following scripture is one that is our anchor for safety in troubled times. It's time to realize that His deliverance will come in our time of need, when we trust, believe and rely upon Who He is! The problem with most people, is that they don't call upon the Lord in the midst of difficulty. It's much easier to try to figure it out on our own or depend on another method to alleviate our distress. Let this scripture resonate within your heart and spirit becoming the stability for faith in God's safety and deliverance!
Ps. 91 Those who live in the shelter of the Most HighThis I declare about the
In the next few weeks we will be talking about how to live, be skilled, and persevere during perilous times! It's time to arise from lethargy, put on the armor of God, engage active faith, fight the good fight of faith, lay aside fear, discouragement and defeat to become the victor in Christ you are called to be! If you need prayer of agreement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are here for you!
At this very moment, people we know and even some we don't, are facing serious adversities. Family's have lost loved ones, marriages are under attack, there's financial despair for others, and some are facing job stress. Not only are there personal attacks, but our world is suffering from wars, weather related calamities, and multiple difficult issues, too numerous to list.
I know people that could verbalize Paul's words from 2 Cor. 4. "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way]........ we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out......; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven).......; we are struck down to the ground...;" The only difference is, Paul had a response to the problems, "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped crushed; we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out destroyed;" He realized that the Greater One lived IN him. Paul was assured that the Lord was standing with him and was giving him strength. (2 Tim. 4:17) This gave him the ability to press on through.
In 2 Timothy in chapter 3, Paul said, "But know this, in the last days perilous times will come:" Yes we will face risky, harmful, dangerous periods of time. This is just a fact! So how does one handle these events in their life? What can we do to be victorious overcomers? How can we endure through all the hardships? We need the strength of God to get past the circumstances with which we face. Trying to do it in our own flesh causes fatigue, depressions, oppression, fear, and stress. Here are some spiritual exercises you can do that will strengthen your faith and encourage you to remain steadfast IN faith!
1) James 1:2-3 "My brethren, count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." A great example of counting it all joy, is when Paul and Silas were imprisoned in the deepest darkest dungeon. Although they were chained and in pain from their beating, they expressed joy by singing praises to God! What did they have to be joyful about, you ask? They saw past their situation in the Spirit, knowing they served a big God, who would deliver them. The facts didn't define their attitude, but their attitude established different facts...deliverance! Their praises opened their shackles and set them free. It's time we praised the Lord to loose us from the chains of despair! Put on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.
2) Proverbs 2:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways (course of life) acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." Putting down our feelings about our problem is hard, because emotions are prominent. Taking time in the middle of the adversity to pray and focus on the promise of God's Word, will give direction and peace. In Joshua we read, that keeping the Word of God in our heart, in our mind and upon our lips, assists us in being a doer. Therefore, we will be successful and make wise decisions. Take any fear, worry or doubt cast it down, and be persuaded that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above anything you could ask or imagine!
3) Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat it's fruit." Most of us are guilty of declaring our problems, complaining and stating defeat. We condemn ourselves before God can work in our behalf. On the one hand we send forth faith in a prayer, and negate it by confessing doom and gloom. To experience the presence of His power over our circumstance, we must first believe! Test what you believe by gauging what's coming out of your mouth. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Repent for not submitting to God and resisting the devil. Then, make a conscience effort to practice agreeing with His Word verbally! Your confession will remind you of the action of faith necessary for affirming your faith!
Remember, that no matter the dilemma we're facing, the Word of God and prayer opens the door for God to work, and Praise will keep the door open. Don't measure what you believe by what you're experiencing. Heb. 10:35-36 "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise."
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
If you've ever gone through, or are going through, a hard time and wondered how to break free from it, this message is for you! We've known a lot of people that have experienced hardships of all kinds. We have also undergone these 'storms', but however intense the trial, with the grace of God we overcame! Praise God for Psalm 34:19 "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all." If anyone thinks he is impervious to tribulations, he is wrong. Jesus said in John 16:33 "...in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
These so called 'storms' are all a part of life, which sometimes come from our disobedience to the Lord. A good example is Jonah in the Bible. (Jonah 1-4) His disobedience caused him to undergo 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale. God had instructed him to go preach to the people in Nineveh. But Jonah didn't want to. Have you ever had God tell you to do something that you didn't want to do? Maybe it was because you didn't want to see God do His miracle power for someone you were upset with. It could be you were just wanting your own way. What ever the reason for disobedience, it brings a harsher intolerable condition, thus Jonah in the belly of the whale. So how do we escape from this type of 'storm'? Repentance! Asking for forgiveness and compliance with His instruction will bring you deliverance. It's the only way!
Other types of 'storms' come because we are obeying the Lord. Yes, often times the devil will cause tumultuous times because you obey God! Looking at Matthew 8:23-27 Here's a story where Jesus and His disciples got into the ship to cross the sea of Galilee. Although great (mega, intense, fierce, one scholar used hurricane proportions) winds arose and waves began overtaking the ship, Jesus fell asleep. Perhaps the 'storm' you encountered was so severe and overpowering that it caused you much fear. You may have felt that Jesus was sleeping during this drastic moment. And it seemed like there was no way out. But just like in verse 26, Jesus arose and rebuked the storm, we also need to rise up in our situation and rebuke the 'storm'. In Luke 10:19, Jesus gave us power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over ALL the power of the enemy. When we are obeying the Lord in our call, we have the right to exercise authority in Jesus Name! After that comes peace and calm.
Perhaps a 'storm' has arisen during a time you've been under the authority of a person on assignment. This could be when your at work, in school, or involved in a church. You may have tried to express a leading from the Lord regarding a matter, but they wouldn't listen. It was afterwards that all chaos broke loose, just the way the Lord showed you. Yet, now you're stuck in the mess because authority wouldn't pay attention. This same type of thing happened to Paul, the apostle, when he was on his way to Rome. Being held prisoner by authorities, he tried to tell them not to sail, because the Lord revealed to him pending disasters. (Acts 27) So how can we get out of the storm? First thing, is perseverance! We must remain steadfast in faith, in love and in the Word. Secondly, pray for all those involved, especially the leadership. God will intervene and save you and those connected.
Whatever type of 'storm' you battle, know this, there is a way of escape. Recognize that in the midst of every attack there's something to gain and victory is yours. Rom. 8:28 "We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." Discern the storm you're facing with the Word of God and discover your way to victory to escape from the storm!
Looking around at our country and the world we see many disturbing situations. Whether we are faced with governmental circumstances, disasters that are weather related or our own personal difficulties, they are prevalent in our society. When they are so prominent it's difficult to be comforted and easy to become fearful.
In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come". "Perilous Times": dangerous, treacherous, risky, all define perilous! A favorite minister of ours, Rick Renner, described this verse in this way, "perilous times - carries the idea of a person, place, action or thing that is filled with high risk." He actually said the greek expressed here is: "You emphatically must know, what I am about to tell you! In the last part of the last days, in the very end of the age, hurtful, harmful, dangerous, unpredictable, uncontrollable, high risk periods of time will come." We are, most definitely experiencing this now.
So, what can we do, you ask? Here's some helpful steps we can take:
1) Do Not fear! It says, 'Fear Not', 365 times in the Bible. Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
2) Trust the Lord! Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
3) Pray! 1 Timothy 2:1-2 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
4) Take your authority! (Yes we believe in the authority of the believer) Jesus said in Luke 10:19 "Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Jesus also said, "Most assuredly, I say to you he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." John 14:12
Indeed, we live in very troubled times. I suppose if one would look deeply into the scriptures one would find that there were troubled times in every generation. The extent of that trouble is only magnified in the eyes of the beholder.
We can be encouraged by looking at the heros of faith throughout the Word of God and find that although they were hard pressed on every side, they were not crushed; although they were perplexed, they did not despair; even though they were persecuted they were not forsaken; some were struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Consequently, we shouldn't be discouraged - if Paul can call his afflictions 'light' and realize they are short lived, we too can gain strength and inspiration from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
If in the midst of everything, realize this, Nothing can separate you from the love of God; No difficulty, not danger, no abuse, not so much as insufficiency, no vulnerability, not high risk or even death. We must remember that even in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ, who loved us. (Rom. 8:35)
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."