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Can you feel the storm brewing?

Are you sensing the coming economic and spiritual storm? Is God strongly prompting you to get things right with Him? So many of our friends and fellow believers are being nudged to prepare for some dark days ahead. The pandemic has caused incredible financial difficulties in most countries. The fact that lockdowns and restrictions to businesses are continuing indefinitely do not bode well for any future economic turnaround. Churches have been closed and many remain closed. The ones that are open have multiple restrictions enforced. Rioters and looters, worldwide, show no sign of surrendering their rebellion. Many, myself included, believe we are heading into a new situation in North America. One that includes chaos, spiritual darkness and financial difficulties. One that many followers of Christ in other countries around the world are all too familiar with.

Though the future doesn’t look rosy and bright in all facets, it is no cause to fear or stress. Our GOD is still on the throne! He has and will always take care of His own! Psalm 91 is a powerful word He has given us to stand on, despite whatever is going on around us!

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

 If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.

 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

We can’t count on a lot of certainties when it comes to this world we live in but we can ALWAYS count on the one who holds it in His hand! If we stay close to Him, He will guide us through whatever is to come. His Spirit will prompt us to do that which He wants us to do to prepare. Myself and many others have felt nudged to simplify our lives. To try and get out of debts that have the ability to strangle us financially. To purchase those things we may need should the economy take a bad turn, things that will help sustain our families and others God may put in our path. To gather and pray with other believers to intercede for the lost. To support our brothers and sisters in Christ that have been displaced by church closures and most of all to stay close to Christ as the day of His appearance draws close!

Though things can look dismal, we are truly living in exciting times! We may well be the generation that sees the appearance of Jesus when He calls His church home to be with Him forever! Stay close to Him, study the Word of God, share the gospel and let your light shine in this world of darkness!

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  SO ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER WITH THESE WORDS. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Blessings!

No Time Like the Present

There is such tension in the world today. We are seeing various forms of social media censoring things that just a few years ago would never have been censored. Main stream media are not reporting the news as it is actually happening but rather in the slant of what suits their current agenda. We see a decline in religious freedoms taking place. People in many places are still not allowed to attend church. If they can attend, they can’t sing due to the mask restrictions. More Christians, worldwide, are dying for their faith than ever before. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. (John 15:20) Things are becoming increasingly uncomfortable and there is no sign things will get better.

Having said all this, does that mean we should throw up our hands and crawl into our basements and retire? NO!! Absolutely not! God has called us to occupy until Jesus appears for His church. We are not to stay silent. We are to share the gospel, speak out against evil, defend the orphans and the widows and live each day as if it is our last! Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Those that are afraid to engage in our culture by sharing the truth need to grow a backbone. The days of quietly letting others speak up with the gospel are over. It is the responsibility of each and everyone of us. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. (Proverbs 29:25)

Our time here is short. We must use it wisely to further the Kingdom and help others escape the coming wrath. A wrath that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy! Too many Christians are sitting back and waiting for things to return to normal before they go about the Father’s business. Things will likely never return to the normal we once knew.

If you are struggling with fear of sharing the gospel, ask God for courage. Ask Him for wisdom in knowing how and when to share. Don’t waste another day simply living for yourself and your comfort! Time is short. Live so as not to be ashamed when He appears to take us home!

Heart & Obedience aka Be like Nehemiah!

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah | Coram Deo ~

I have been rereading the book of Nehemiah and it is such a wonderful book for so many reasons. One of my biggest take aways from it is that we should all have a heart for the people around us. It should grieve us to know that there are so many people lacking faith in Christ and direction when we have the answer.

Nehemiah 1 In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  Then I said,

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,  listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!  We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.  But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’

 “The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.  O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.

Nehemiah was obedient to the call on his life. He listened to God and obeyed, despite the fact he had to be brave in asking for permission. His heart ached when he saw how his people were suffering and needed direction and when he heard about the state of the wall.

I suggest you read or reread the book of Nehemiah this week. It is a book that illustrates how one person’s obedience and faithfulness to God can make a huge difference in the lives of many. Your obedience or disobedience will always have an impact on those around you.

My prayer today is that we too will be like Nehemiah. We will obey the calling God has put on our lives and follow through, despite how difficult it may be, despite opposition or grumblings. The spiritual health of others may be dependent on it! Stay the course!

Nehemiah 6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates.  So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.

But I realized they were plotting to harm me,  so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

 Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.  The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand,  and this is what it said:

“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king.  He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’

“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”

 I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”

 They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.

 Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”

 But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!”  I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.

So on October  the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun.  When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

 During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah.  For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah.  They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.

Blessings!

He has equipped us for every situation!

As I have mentioned in previous posts in the past, I like to read my Bible front to back. Other than when I am studying a particular topic, I like to read from Genesis to Revelation in order it has been placed.  I am once again back in one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of Acts. When I go through this book I like to take it slow and savor every word and chapter. If you haven’t done so recently, I highly recommend that you reread the complete book of Acts!

Yesterday I was reading Acts 4 and was so encouraged. The Apostles and all those present in the Upper Room had been filled with the Holy Spirit. No more would Peter be afraid to admit to being a follower of Christ as he had previous to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit provided all they needed to be able to complete the work that Christ had called them to do. With the experience at Pentecost, God had  equipped His children to continue to share the good news with the rest of the world, Jews and Gentiles! He also equipped them to cast out demons and heal the sick in the name of Christ.

Just prior to chapter 4, the Apostles, now filled with the Spirit,  had just healed a man in the name of Jesus, who was about fourty years of age. This man had been lame right from birth. Because of the miracle, many became followers of Christ! Because of the miracle there was also a new threat of persecution. The Jewish rulers, elders and teachers were not happy to have Peter and John healing the sick and teaching about Jesus, whom they had crucified. They wanted them jailed and silenced.  I couldn’t help but think of all my brothers and sisters in Christ, worldwide, who are now going through the same thing. They are being threatened with prison or death if they continue to follow Christ and share the gospel with others.

When I read the following verses I was so encouraged and blessed! When faced with the threat of persecution or death, the Holy Spirit will provide the boldness and faith any true follower of Christ will need!

Acts 4:8-31 NIV Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected,which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord  and against his anointed one.’

27 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. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 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.

I have often wondered, Lord, how exactly should we be praying when faced with opposition for our faith or for those who are enduring persecution. At times I have prayed for deliverance  from the situation, I have prayed for the Lord to provide courage to endure,  I have prayed for safety  and I have prayed for God to intervene and stop the persecutors. However, after reading this chapter this time around I feel encouraged to now  pray as Peter and John prayed.  “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!”  Every follower of Christ is blessed with the gifting of the Holy Spirit! We too can call on the Lord for great boldness and signs and wonders through Christ!

God does not want us to walk in fear and trepidation when faced with opposition or persecution but wants us to call on Him in every situation and to use every situation to further His Kingdom!  I am believing, just as Peter and John did, that God will hear me and give me great boldness when I cry out to Him when i am faced with opposition for my faith.  I am also believing that when I intercede on behalf of my brothers and sisters suffering for the faith  that God will give them great boldness! It is the same Spirit in us that raised Christ from the dead! He will provide the power His church needs to stand and be bold. The Holy Spirit is as important in the life of the church today as He was on the day of Pentecost!

Lord, You have not left us without providing all we need. You have given us the Holy Spirit to equip us for every good work that You want us to fulfill! You have given us the Holy Spirit for signs and wonders! You have given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us! Thank You for His presence in our lives! Remind us to allow Holy Spirit to move through us and teach us all things! Give us a hunger for Your Word and keep us close to You as we fulfill all that You have called each of us to do.

In the beautiful name of Jesus, Amen.