Take Courage

With persecution of Christians increasing in the world, including in the good ole USA which was founded on religious freedom, we have to remember that the main thing is still the main thing: God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Regardless of how many God haters rise into power, God is still in control of our individual lives. Our fears and anxiety will only add to the stress and ill health caused by their persecution.

If we learn to enter God’s rest now, while we still have our freedoms, it will enable us to better traverse the unknown treatment, loss and deprivation which we may face in the future.

God reminds us that we are actually blessed when we are persecuted for His sake. We take courage from the example set by lives such as Paul and the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 5:10-12).

We rejoice, because although we may face scarcity now, we are storing up rewards in heaven for eternity. This concept allows us to rejoice and continue to serve as the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:12-15).

God uses us to preserve the lives and to light the path of those around us and to lead them to Him. When they see His love, peace and joy in our life, regardless of circumstances, they too will honor our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to take the focus off our self and to share Your love with those who are also suffering all around us. Remind us that the endurance of Christ fills our soul, because He abides within us. Any persecution is light and momentary when compared to the glory You prepared for us in Heaven.

As Your righteous ones, we live by faith and You preserve our soul, so there is no need for us to shrink back in fear but to continue to show Your love even to our persecutors (Hebrews 10:32-39).

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of those who are elected as our officials, how much power terrorists gain in the world or how many laws are passed against us expressing our faith with words, buildings, external crosses or religious trappings, nothing can separate us from the eternal rest and love of God dwelling within us. – Romans 8:35-39; Proverbs 21:1

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The Name of the Lord – His Chosen Nation

God loves Israel, regardless of their behavior toward Him, because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He continually calls Israel to return to Him, to exalt His name and to keep His Word (Psalm 69:35-36).

He never abandoned Israel, even when she was not a nation, because it pleases Him to make them a nation for His great name’s sake (Isaiah 12:22). This increases our faith in God’s faithfulness.

God redeemed Israel continually through the generations to make a name for Himself, as He did great and mighty things for them. He even divided the waters before them (2 Samuel 7:23, 26).

He restored part of the Promised Land to Israel over and over through their history; and again in 1948, after the great persecution and judgement He sent on them because of their unbelief (2 Kings 21:4, 23:27).

He formerly scattered them among the nations of the earth, as He prophesied that He would; but now He calls them back to Himself for His own name’s sake (Nehemiah 1:9; Jeremiah 3:17).

People wonder how God can turn to the Gentiles and shut up His Kingdom to Israel for 2000 years; but He gave Israel 4,000 years to turn their hearts to Him.

Even now, many Jews return to God and find completion through Jesus Christ. For His name’s sake, He will use the Great Tribulation to give them yet another chance to take refuge in His name (Jeremiah 23:6, 33:9, 50:34; Micah 5:4; Zephaniah 3:9,12; 13:9).

Some people are blinded to God’s true character and provision by Satan’s lies and they curse Him, because they see only the trials, which come on us on this earth (Revelation 16:9).

Yet, people from every tribe, tongue and nation of the earth come before Him to worship His name and glorify Him, because of the blessings God pours out on His people (Revelations 15:4).

Prayer:
Father God, you are jealous over your people who glory in Your holy name (Exodus 34:14). Our heart is glad continually over Your provision for us in our life on this earth (1 Chronicles 16:10). We boast in You so that the humble will hear about Your provision in our life and come to You (Psalm 34:2).

There is salvation in no other name or means than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). As the perfect Lamb, He is the only way, truth and life (John 14:6). Whatever we ask in Your name, in order to perform the works You created us to do for Your glory, You will supply (John 14:13). There is no God like You, and we exalt Your name, which is great in power and might (Jeremiah 10:6).

Thought for the Day:
Jesus, the true King of Israel, is most highly exalted; and God bestowed on Him the name, which is above every other name; so that at His name, everyone who is in Heaven, on the earth and even under the earth will bow their knee to Him. – Philippians 2:9-11

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The Name of the Lord – Our Refuge

Faith in Jesus’ name will strengthen us; and the faith which comes through Him, often gives us perfect health through Him; so that Jesus may be magnified (Acts 3:16, 4:10, 4:30, 19:17 James 5:14).

God justly remembers the work and love we show in His name as we minister to one another (Hebrews 6:10). We give thanks and praise to His name, and exalt His name as He delivers us (1 Chronicles 16:35; Nehemiah 9:5).

We praise His name as we assemble, and to the ends of the earth, and as we pay our vows forever and ever (Psalm 22:22, 30:4, 38:10; 61:8). Even the oppressed and needy praise and give thanks to His great, lovely, and awesome name (Psalm 74:21, 99:3, 106:47, 135:3).

His is the only name, which we exalt and worship (Psalm 148:13). We praise His name with dancing and with instruments because of all the good things He does for us (Ps 149:3; Jeremiah 33:9; Joel 2:26). The fruit of our lips continually gives thanks to and boasts in His name (Hebrews 13:15; Psalm 44:8).

God releases our soul from its prison here on earth, so that we may give thanks to His name (Psalm 142:7). Therefore, we exalt His name forever for His wonderful works, and His perfect plans, which He faithfully fulfills (Isaiah 12:4, 25:1).

Even in trials and persecution, we praise the name of the Lord (Ephesians 5:20; Psalm 74:21). Whatever we do in word and deed, we do it all in His name and for the glory of His name (Colossians 3:17).

Prayer:
Father God, all the earth will one day worship You with the glory, which is due to Your name (Psalm 66:4). There is no god like You, and we eagerly await the revelation of Your appearing, because You are the desire of our soul (Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 26:8). We love and take refuge in Your name and sing for joy because of Your shelter throughout our life (Psalm 5:11).

We cling to You and hold fast to Your promises and ways as we enjoy Your deliverance (Deuteronomy 10:20; Psalm 5:11, 9:10). Thank You for securely setting us high upon the Rock of Christ, because we experience the magnitude of Your name (Psalm 91:14).

Thought for the Day:
Due to God’s marvelous works, let us continually offer words of praise, even if it is a sacrifice for our soul to use our last ounce of strength to do it. – Hebrews 13:15

Aging Gracefully

Getting old is difficult. Energy, bodily organ functions, and attention span all diminish; while aches and pains, pill intake and doctor bills all increase. We get discouraged, lose self-esteem and feel useless in so many areas.

Eventually, we even have to cut back on our energy outgo; limiting our activities to one major event a day. Many are required to give up the keys to the car, join a geriatrics exercise program and get more sleep with less productivity.

God knew, before we were born, that we would grow old  (Ephesians 2:10). He has plans for us, which includes this time in our life (Jeremiah 29:11). We do not need to confine our self to the rocking chair on the front porch – although that is fun sometimes too.

We just change our focus and keep a positive attitude. We keep walking in the Spirit and continue to fulfill the will of God for each moment of our life. We exchange youthful ministries for the equally as important ministry of prayer and mentoring (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Titus 2:4).

Sitting at Jesus’ feet, we worship Him by singing and praying the scripture. We lift up the needs of our fellow Saints and family members, the church’s pastor and staff and the ministry leaders and volunteers, the world and its leaders, the persecuted church and the unreached people groups.

Another way to minister is by writing a blog, emailing, fellowshipping on social media and private messages and texts. This way, we can communicate and minister all over the country and the world.

God teaches us to set boundaries around our time; to take a day off; to enjoy time in nature, at the pool or walking on trails each day; to play with our pets; to write letters and books and to make cards to brighten someone’s day; to bake a pie or a dozen cookies to share with the neighborhood kids after school – all in His name and all for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Prayer:
Father God, when we are drained, worn and weary from life, we are still Yours with a unique calling on our life. Remind us that until our dying breath, You call us to seek You and to walk in Your perfect plan for us by Your Spirit. We surrender all to You and worship You with all of our thoughts, words and deeds.

Remind us that the girl checking us out at the grocery, the waitress, the retail clerk, the person next to us on the bus or airplane, the librarian, etc. all need us to recognize them as a person too, and to tell them that You and we really care about them. Let Your light shine in us so brightly that everyone will see our good works and give You the glory (Matthew 5:16).

Thought for the Day:
God uses us in so many ways, regardless of our age, energy level, health issues and physical limitations, to share His wisdom, ways and wonders with those He brings into our life.

The End-Time Church

The End-time Church

Many in the last days Church are hardworking and never grow weary of serving the Lord in every way we can (Revelation 2:2-3). We have a passion for working for Christ, but we often forsake our quiet times with God, in order to fill our time with religious activities. We work in ministry for our own fulfillment, rather than for the love of God in obedience to His direction (Ephesians 2:10).

Like the Church of Ephesus, the modern church has forsaken our first love (Revelation 2:4). Like the Church of Laodicea, the Spirit left and we function in our human energy and effort. We do not even recognize that we are spiritually poor, lame, wretched, naked and pitiful (Revelation 3:17). We look at numbers to gauge our success rather than changed lives.

Others of us are hearers of the Word, but not doers. We do not serve in any ministry. We attend conventions, buy books and sermons, and follow the most popular preachers, but we fail to obey the Lord (James 1:22; John 14:15, 23). We are ever learning, but never walking in the Truth (2 Timothy 3:7). We have a personal relationship with Christ, but not a heart full of love for Him (John 14:21, 23; 1 Corinthians 16:22).
God warns us of judgment for our disobedience and immorality, and He calls us to repentance (Revelation 2:5). Jesus promises that if we heed His Word, we will overcome the deception and lusts of this life. He is preparing a place for authentic Believers to eat from the tree of life and to dwell for eternity in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 21-22).

Prayer:
Father God, the blessed assurance that we enjoy as Believers is that Christ lives within us (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3-4). Remind us not to fall under Satan’s deception to crave the world or to minister through our own abilities. Make us defenders of Your Word, so that we do not compromise our love of Your truth. Help us to persevere in persecution and not to grow weary of following Your Spirit’s guidance every moment of every day (Revelation 2:2-3).

Thought for the Day:
The light of our modern church went out, and we do not know it.
– John 8:12; Matthew 5:14

The Glory of the Lord

God tarries His coming, not because He is slow to keep His promises to us, but because of His patience to allow everyone the chance to repent and believe (2 Peter 3:9, 13). As we draw close to God, His glory fills our life. We allow His glory within us to reflect to the world around us, as His Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God’s glory appeared in the pillar of fire and the cloud, which protected the Israelites in their desert wanderings, as well as the consuming fire on the mountain and on Moses’ face when he descended from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 16:10; 24:17; 33:22). God’s glory within us also allows us to face trials with victory and faith.

God’s glory within us is more precious that the finest gold, and is the result of a life spent reading His Word, obeying His Spirit and giving Him all praise, glory and honor until we see Him face to face (1 Peter 1:6-7). God’s glory fills the life, which has faith in His faithfulness, rather than bitterness over the past and fear of the unknown future (Isaiah 6:3, 40:5).

When we finally see Jesus, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him in His glory (1 John 3:2). In our Heavenly residence, we will live in our immortal body and enjoy the benefits, which Adam and Eve had in the garden, and which Jesus had after His resurrection. The rewards God has in store for us are everlasting and glorious, and we will finally attain to the fullness of Christ.

Prayer:
Father God, we pray that we will decrease, so that You can increase within our mortal body even now. We want to reflect Your glory as it increases within us. Remind us to surrender all of our cares to You, because You care about us, as well as everything, which pertains to us on this earth (1 Peter 5:7). Even in the face of persecution, strengthen us from within and keep us in the palm of Your hand (John 10:28). Thank You for giving us Your glorious new life through Your Son’s sacrificial death and resurrection.

Thought for the Day:
At the coming of Christ, the whole earth will be filled with His glory.
– Psalm 72:19

Yielding to God’s Spirit

As human beings, we are programmed to preserve our life. It is a foreign concept to allow any harm to come to our body or soul – our mind, will and emotions. We fight to the death to preserve our autonomy and the control over our own life. We spend our lifetime combating people and forces, which attempt to harm us in any way. Dying daily is not something we readily embrace (Matthew 16:24; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

However, once we yield to the power of the God’s Spirit within us, we do not struggle with the world, the flesh or the devil. We realize that God is going to protect us and care for us through any issue in life. God may lead us into a catastrophe, such as Paul’s shipwreck, or into temptation like Jesus in the wilderness, or into torment like Paul in prison. Yet, we can rejoice in our tribulation, because His Spirit is leading us (Romans 5:3, 8:14).

We humbly follow God’s Spirit, even if we know persecution awaits us. We have the confidence that God always opens a way for us (Romans 8:28). Even through the raging rivers, which attempt to thwart our spiritual progress, we eventually cross on dry ground (Nahum 1:3; Isaiah 43:6). Jesus puts all of His enemies under our feet, including Satan and His minions (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25).

We no longer fear Satan or march to the beat of his drum, because we are free indeed (John 8:36). We view our afflictions as new adventures in growing in Christ. Jesus did nothing on this earth without following our Father’s direction. We are also children of God and co-heirs with Christ of the Kingdom of God (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17). We only succeed in this life as we truly follow His example, and live and move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28).

Prayer:
Father God, we have a problem with loving our flesh more than we love You (Ephesians 5:29). Teach us to nourish and cherish our relationship with You more than we cater to our own desires. Remind us of Your faithfulness and allow us walk in Your ways regardless of the trials or the temptations, which we face in our life. Help us to yield these issues to You, our Savior and our King, who lives within us with all power and might.

Thought for the Day:
We triumph over Satan and our flesh by the blood of the Lamb and our evidence that Christ reigns in us, because we do not love this life, even when faced with death. – Revelation 12:11