IS OUR SUFFERING POINTLESS?

Perhaps the greatest test of whether we believe the following Scripture is to identify the very worst things that have happened to us and reflect on whether we believe that God has or will use them for our good.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. Romans 8:28

Invariably, if you have lived long enough so that enough time has passed since some of those “worst things” happened to you, then you’ll almost certainly find that God has used those circumstances to stop you from relying on your own efforts, grieving the Holy Spirit in the process and quenching His work in your life.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Jesus made it possible for God. our Father to send the third person of the Trinity to indwell our Spirit. As Jesus Himself said to His disciples, it is far better I go so the Father can send the Holy Spirit to be your counsellor, comforter, and teacher. If you let Him, He will direct your every step. Until you truly die to self and say to the Holy Spirit, not my will but your will be done this day and every day you truly cannot live the Christian life. The fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and self-control will not be evident in your life nor the gifts of the Spirit available for ministry, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, gift of prophecy, gift of faith, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues. I would venture to say that until you realise the Holy Spirit’s presence and submit to Him, God will continue to bring painful experiences into your life. When you finally realise the immensity of the gift God has provided you will rejoice that God has brought those painful experiences into your life so that you eventually came to experience His wonderful truth. Experiences labeled as the worst things that ever happened to you become some of the best from an eternal perspective. That’s because God uses the painful, difficult experiences of life for our ultimate eternal good.

How is this possible? Because God is both loving and sovereign. Our experiences provide persuasive proof that while evil and suffering are not good, God can use them to accomplish immeasurable good. This knowledge should give us great confidence that even when we don’t immediately see any redemptive meaning in our suffering, God can see it—and one day we will too. Therefore, we need not run from suffering or lose hope if God doesn’t remove it. We can trust that God has a purpose for whatever He permits.

CONTROLLING OUR THOUGHTS

Since we cannot bear righteous fruit without God’s Spirit, how can we take captive thoughts that are unwholesome?

The Apostle Paul said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians10:5. So how do we demolish such thoughts when they enter our minds? Again, without God’s Spirit, we have no hope of reforming our own thoughts.

Paul said that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4

So, until we’re set free from the clutch of Satan and his minions, we remain blind, even though we think we can see. Only by trusting in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit do we have the power to resist the Devil, and only then will he flee from us. David had a way of resisting evil thoughts and then having those thoughts bear sin. He wrote:

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Along with the Spirit of God, we have the Word of God to help us avoid such evil thoughts, and only then are we able to “not sin against” God.

CHRISTIANS LIVING IN THE “LAST DAYS”

Christians in the “last days” will operate as Paul did, as described in the Book of Acts, with Holy Spirit-inspired perception and insight. Moreover, the church will also be like the church as described in the Book of Acts and in countries facing persecution now.

Perception and insight

Take the example of Paul’s actions during a physical storm. Paul was just one of the many prisoners on a prison ship headed for Rome. Before setting sail, Paul told the crew, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also” (Acts 27:10). He spoke with clear foresight. Leaders that are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading will learn how to face tough realities head-on without fear.

Courage and confidence

Paul addressed the terrified passengers. “I urge you to keep up your courage because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul… God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” (Acts 27:22–24).

Paul’s confidence in the chaos came because a word from God infused him with courage and confidence. Chaos can rob us of confidence. Yet, when the wind threatens, we can receive a word from God and lead through the storm.

Clarity and decisiveness

After being blown completely off course, the crew of the prison ship finally neared land. Some planned to save their own lives and leave the prisoners to die. But Paul discerned this and said, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31).

Paul acted with Spirit-inspired clarity and decisiveness. As he stepped forward with a voice demanding respect, even the captain and jailers who were supposed to be his authority listened to and obeyed his authority.

Future chaos will demand that “last days” Christians learn to speak with clarity and decisiveness as they are led by the Holy Spirit.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.Romans 8:14

Adapted from Generation Z: Born for the Storm by Dr. Billy Wilson.

WHEN GOD’S DISCIPLES GO MIRACLES FOLLOW

Missionaries working with Southern Baptist Convention (IMB) reported baptisms were up 81% from 2019 to 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available), and salvation testimonies continue to pour in.

The increases are particularly significant in a denomination where many cite missions as their reason for joining and staying.

Typical Testimony: A 53-year-old Thai man with chest pain went to see an IMB medical missionary outside Bangkok. The man collapsed in the clinic and regained consciousness only after the IMB missionary, a physician, performed emergency medical procedures.

As they waited for an ambulance, the man prayed to receive Christ, prompting the doctor to ask, “When did you start to become interested in God ’s story?”

National IMB missionary preaching to Thai congregation

The man pointed to the place on the floor where he collapsed and said, “Right there. Before that, I had never been interested at all. But when I collapsed, I heard God call my name three times, and I knew he was warning me.”

That wasn’t an isolated incident, according to IMB reports. The evangelistic surge, missiologists say, is attributable to the fact we are there (obedient to God’s call), the pandemic, and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Several years ago under David Platt, IMB transferred ministries from missionaries to national partners.

“We have seen the Holy Spirit working across the globe in mighty ways,” said Wilson Geisler, IMB director of global research. One missionary team “saw the first believers among an incredibly tough-to-reach people group.” Another “saw more people coming to faith in 2020 than in the previous three years combined.

Jesus promised that in the last days before His return the GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS, the only good news in a time of tribulation will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Do you want to be part of the team proclaiming the GOOD NEWS? You can be like David (“I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” Acts 13:22), just obey the indwelling Holy Spirit.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.Matthew 24: 14

KNOWING GOD’S WILL

Some things are crystal clear

When it comes to knowing God’s will, His Word makes many things clear. For example, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love others as we love ourselves. We are to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. 

We are to worship God and be holy and set apart for His glory. We are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to do good deeds, witness to others, and make disciples. 

However, there are many circumstances in life in which the Bible does not give specific instruction. For instance, the Bible doesn’t say who to marry or where to work. When there is no instruction regarding God’s will on a specific topic, the Bible provides principles that will always lead you in the right direction.

If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you

God directs us to make “wise” decisions that correspond with His Word. Disobedience leads to disappointment. Before making an important decision, ask, “Is God truly guiding me?” If you’re not sure, then wait. And always remember: If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you, and your spiritual vision will be very cloudy.

Three keys: Pray, stay, obey 

One of the best ways to know if God is truly guiding you is to pray, stay, and obey — pray for direction, stay in His Word, and obey His principles. J.I. Packer has said, “God is more likely to direct me through wise teaching than through inner voices.” Packer isn’t discounting the work of the Holy Spirit, but he is cautioning against “inner voice”

Satan, the world, and our flesh all work against us. God’s leading calms your heart, but the flesh wants to rush. God leads, but Satan pushes. God calms, but the flesh obsesses. God encourages, the world discourages. God reassures, but the world frightens. God enlightens, Satan confuses. God convicts, Satan condemns.

The need to pray, stay, and obey is absolutely vital when it comes to knowing God’s will — partial obedience is the same as disobedience. Obeying the Word leads us in the right direction. Truth conquers deception and exposes sin; it prevents danger instead of leading us into danger.

Hearing but not doing

Often, we follow the wrong voice because we live in deception. We hear but do not do. 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Worshiping God and applying the Word saturates our spiritual lives just like a slowly dripping water source renews a dying bush. A plant that was once dead, barren, and unfruitful can once again be alive, active, and fruitful as the result of being watered. You too can hear God’s voice and regain lost ground by allowing the Word of God to saturate your heart and mind. 

Satan’s ultimate plan is to distance us from God, and “to kill, steal, and destroy”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

The NKJV Study Bible offers these five points regarding how the enemy plants thoughts in our minds: 

1. Doubt: Makes you question God and His goodness. 
2. Discouragement: Makes you look at your problems rather than God. 
3. Diversion: Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that we want them more than the right things. 
4. Defeat: Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try. 
5. Delay: Makes you put off doing something God wants you to do so that it never gets done.

The slippery slope of sin 

As noted earlier, sin is deceptive — it blinds our spiritual eyes and leads us away from God. It deceives us into a false sense of security while justifying poor choices. Sin excuses wrong behavior and prevents us from fulfilling the will of God, but obedience redirects us and brings clarity and joy to our lives.

Imagine how encouraging it will be when you saturate your mind with God’s Word on a daily basis and remove many of the distractions and discouragements of life. Begin today.

Hearing a familiar voice 

If you’re searching for God, I encourage you to look to the One who has the answers and surrender your life to Him. No matter what you have done or have experienced you can turn to Christ and get on the right track:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be savedRomans 10:9

Once you know the Good Shepherd, then you will hear His voice and know His will. Jesus said,

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27

One famous quote captures it well: “A true measure of a person is not who they were, but who they will become.” It’s all about Who you know!

 adapted from Christian Post article Feb. 20th, 2022 “How to hear God’s voice to know His will” by Pastor Shane Idleman

BE PREPARED: “LAST DAYS” SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS INTENSE

Jesus tells us that in the “last days” before He returns to rule and reign there will be false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are under the power of Satan and we know he disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11-15

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4::11-13

We need to recognise that the true battle is in the heavenly places and it is against the spiritual forces of evil which is why we are told to put on the full armour of God daily. Are you being obedient to your Lord and Saviour?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,Ephesians 6:14-18

Our job with the lost is to preach the Good News as directed by the Holy Spirit knowing they cannot understand the word of God without the Spirit of God.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

We are also called to love them, pray for them, and return good for evil but also to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives. The Holy Spirit may prompt you to use one of the nine Holy Spirit gifts that He expects us to operate in. He distributes them according to His will.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Hebrews 2:4

BEING OBEDIENT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT PROMPTINGS

Faithwire screenshot
Tim talks about the importance of being obedient to the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit

Tim Halfin, a regional director for a pharmacy in Magnolia, Texas, is giving God all the glory after he miraculously found a little boy who had been lost in the woods for three days.

Halfin, who is a Christian, explained to Faithwire he was sitting in a Bible study on Friday when he learned about 3-year-old Christopher Ramirez, who went missing two days earlier after he chased a dog into the woods.

During our prayer for this little boy,” he said, “the Holy Spirit just popped in me, ‘Tomorrow morning, you’ll go look for him,’ and I did. There’s been a few times in my life that the Holy Spirit has really spoken to me and I’ve obeyed and, of course, the outcome is always great.

Christopher had been missing since around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Local law enforcement officials, community members, and the little boy’s mother had been searching for the toddler to no avail. Halfin joined the search just before noon Saturday.

As he was looking, Halfin recalled hearing noises in the woods, though he wasn’t sure if it was Christopher. He nevertheless called sheriff’s deputies, who arrived on ATVs, clearly discouraged by the lack of success they’d had in finding the lost little boy.

It wasn’t too long after that Halfin found Christopher, who had shed all his clothing, even his shoes. He had no protection whatsoever.

GMA/YouTube sceenshot

When I saw him, it was immediately, ‘Praise God! This is answered prayer!’” Halfin said, adding that the look on the child’s face when he picked him up was, “I’ve been waiting for you, where have you been?”

“I think God had been protecting this little boy all along,” he continued. “I think Jesus had been talking to him for three nights and now going on four days.”

As a believer, Halfin said he always knew God could perform miracles; he’d read about them all throughout Scripture. But now he has been part of one.

Tim went on to say there is “no explanation” for the rescue, noting he believes God performed three miracles for Christopher.

No. 1, he was protected against all these elements. There are a lot of predators in those wood, wild animals.

No. 2, he would survive for as long as he did without water.

No. 3, he would be found really miles away from where they were even looking for him.

Halfin said, “My prayer is for those who don’t see this as a miracle, that they would come to know Jesus and then they would know that it only had to be a miracle.”

At the centre of the story, Halfin said, is God. He told Faithwire he’s “regretful” so many have focused on him in the story, saying the miraculous outcome for Christopher is truly about “what the Lord has done here.”

The little boy’s mother, Araceli Nunez, is a “strong woman of faith,” Halfin said.

“She knew from the beginning that God was gonna bring her son back to her,” he added. “In between that point, there was a lot of prayers lifted up … and then, at the end, the Lord led me to him and just answered everybody’s prayer right there.”

THE POSTSCRIPT TO ALL PRAYERS

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:42-44

This is the most challenging prayer of all. Here we have Jesus asking His Heavenly Father to remove the coming experience of suffering and death on The Cross. Thank goodness Jesus added the postscript, “not My will but Your will be done” otherwise all of us would be consigned to Hell on Judgement Day.

When the German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart would pray he would qualify whatever he brought before God with the following words. “Lord, give me nothing but what you will and do Lord whatever and however you will in every way”.

I was reluctant to quote Eckhart as much of what he had to say has been picked up and misquoted by New Age thinkers but this quote is Biblical.

According to Eckhart therefore, none of our prayers can insist that God give us this virtue, or this thing, or this way of life but rather “Lord give me nothing but your will, and do Lord whatever and however in every way..”

We truly have learnt how to live the Christian life when we come to the knowledge that we are not in control and that God is working out His plans and purposes on His earth. Moreover, in the Bible, His written Word, He has given us a history of His world from its beginning and with prophecy, what He is doing now and will do right up to its end. Our prayers need to get in step with what He is doing on this earth, particularly in our sphere of influence. All prayers need to have the postscript “Not my will but yours be done” and probably our greatest prayer is a simple “Thank You“.

SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

This Scripture tells us we need to let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions so that we can view the world through God’s eyes and live our life according to His principles. May this be true particularly in the area of our finances but may it be true in every area of our life.

Even the money we work hard to earn ultimately comes from God. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Knowing that it all belongs to God should convince us to welcome God into our financial lives! We have the opportunity to walk with God, even in this sector of life knowing that He will use it wisely and it will bear much fruit that will have eternal value.

We need not be concerned about provision for our family if we are truly seeking first the kingdom of God.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

God is the source of all good things—our provider. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalms 24:1).

How important it is during this time of testing that God has sent with Covid19 to hold to these truths of God. There is no doubt that if you have “all joy and peace in believing” people around you that are fearful will want what you have. Opportunities are opening up for me to talk about the scriptures particularly “end times” prophecies, as I have never had before, particularly with my non believing family members.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7

The persecution that Christians are experiencing now will escalate in the years ahead. Scripture reveals Christians will be refined during the time of tribulation that precedes the Rapture but will also be used mightily by the Holy Spirit at this time. It is time to start living with an eternal focus knowing Jesus prophesied return is near.

What role will Jesus assign to you during His Millennial reign?

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:4-6

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10

The Second Resurrection and Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.Revelation 20:11

OUR JOB AND KNOWING IT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Jesus tells us that in the “last days” before He returns to rule and reign there will be false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are under the power of Satan and we know he disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11-15

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4::11-13

We need to recognise that the true battle is in the heavenly places and it is against the spiritual forces of evil which is why we are told to put on the full armour of God daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,Ephesians 6:14-18

Our job with the lost is preach the Good News as directed by the Holy Spirit knowing they cannot understand the word of God without the Spirit of God

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

We are also called to love them, pray for them and return good for evil but also to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives. The Holy Spirit may prompt you to use one of the nine Holy Spirit gifts that He expects us to operate in. He distributes them according to His will.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Hebrews 2:4