THE HOLY SPIRIT SUSTAINS US THROUGH TRIALS AND TRIBULATION

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

Coptic Christian martyrs for Christ

While this life is fraught with many trials and tribulations, the sufferings we experience are to be counted as incomparable with the glories to come. We groan, we wail, we suffer—yet with much hope as we persevere to the end, waiting for the redemption of all creation, and even our bodies. Yet in this, the tension that all mankind faces come to the forefront, and the reason for this is simple: we must wait. This anticipation for glory builds more and more anticipation the longer we must endure this life. This anticipation for glory sustains us and brings forth one major reason why we persevere: we hope in the age to come rather than in this broken and fallen age.

Paul says, that in the same way, this hope for glorification sustains us, the Spirit sustains us, for He knows precisely how to intercede on our behalf before the Father.

Where words and utterances fail us in our prayers, the Spirit transforms them into prayers that match the will of God. The very purpose of the Spirit’s intercession is not so we can feel good about His work in doing so, though we should have much joy in this fact. Rather, the Spirit’s work in transforming our failed prayers likewise culminates in us reaching the finish line, where we are ushered into the presence of our Triune Lord for all eternity. In other words, the Spirit’s work of intercession on our behalf is part and parcel of our endurance; we endure not only for the hope of the age to come but specifically because part of the Spirit’s work is to bring about endurance in us.

Here then is where we find our particular reference that God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And what is that purpose? Paul says, the “good” that God is working all things together for, is explicit.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Human suffering has a purpose that culminates in glory. To make that ever clearer: the purpose of our trials and sufferings is to bring us to final redemption, where we see God face to face, free from the pain, devastation, and destruction caused by the curse of sin, our adversary Satan, and death itself.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39

God sees to it, from eternity past to eternity future, that those who love God, that is, those who are in Christ, will one day be glorified, first to assist Jesus in His Millennial reign on this earth and then, after the White Throne judgement, to be ushered into a world free from the Fall and its effects. All of our groaning, all of our longing, all of our deferred hope for what is to come, shall be satisfied in the fullness and richness of God’s saving love through Christ.

Adapted from an article by Jason Gilbert “God Works All Things for Good” August 23, 2022, http://www.patheos.com

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS LIVE IN THESE LAST DAYS?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.Philippians 1:21 Can we say as Paul did, “to live is Christ“? We can only do it if we know the presence of the Holy Spirit within. When we have experienced His presence and leading. For me. speaking and especially singing in tongues confirms the presence of the Holy Spirit within my spirit. The more we experience His presence the less likely we are to quench His work in our lives and grieve Him. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Christian martyrs

What about suffering for Jesus Christ, even rejoicing in our suffering for Him? Once again we can only do this “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.Philippians 1:29

We will need to know the presence of the Holy Spirit and trust Him implicitly in the soon coming prophesied “end times” because Jesus warns us that there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.Matthew 24:21-25

HOW TO COPE WITH PERSECUTION IN THE DAYS AHEAD

Josef Tson: What His Suffering for Christ in Communist Romania Taught Him, and Can Teach Us

This article by Randy Alcorn www. patheos.com July 21, 2022 is very applicable to the “end times ” persecution that is unfolding in our time.

I opened the Scriptures with Josef in 1988, with a group of theologians discussing eternal rewards. Twenty years later, writing my book If God Is Good, I remembered his stories and insights and called him again, in order to share his insights with others. Josef explained to me how the belief that God doesn’t want His people to suffer once corrupted the Romanian church. In the interests of self-preservation, he said, they failed to speak out against injustice, tyranny, and the idolatry of turning men into gods. He recalls joining the crowd on the streets and crying, “Glory to Stalin.”

God convicted Josef. As a pastor, he refused to glorify communist leaders and started to speak out boldly for Christ. Interrogators threatened him with death every day for six months. Finally he told them, “Your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. My preaching will speak ten times louder after you kill me.”

Josef said, “During the time I was expecting to be crushed by the Romanian secret police interrogators, God became more real to me than ever before or after in my life. It is difficult to put into words the experience I had with God at that time. It was like a rapture into sweet and total communion with the Beloved. God’s test for me then became the pathway to a special knowledge of the reality of God.”

21 Coptic Christians beheaded by Isis in Tripoli, Libya

Finally, in 1981, the Romanian government exiled him. After facing much evil and nearly being martyred in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Josef told me, “This world, with all its evil, is God’s deliberately chosen environment for people to grow in their characters. The character and trustworthiness we form here, we take with us there, to Heaven. Romans and 1 Peter 3:19 make clear that suffering is a grace from God. It is a grace given us now to prepare us for living forever.”

He also told me he believed that 95 percent of Christians pass the test of adver­sity, while 95 percent fail the test of prosperity.

In the West, with our conspicuous prosperity and ease, Christianity’s popularity continues to shrink. In Africa, Asia, and South America, with much greater adversity and suffering, it continues to grow.

Josef Tson believes, “The gospel will never be spread without someone suffering.” He said our first question in suffering should not be, “Why?” but, “God, what do you want to do in the world through my suffering?”

Josef continues, “God achieves great things in the world through the one who accepts His way of suffering and self-sacrifice. In the end, however, it turns out that the greatest things are achieved in the sufferer himself. The one who sacrificially expects to be a blessing for others discovers that, in the final analysis, he is the one who has harvested the greatest blessings.”

Suffering can help us know God and prepare us to trade a shallow life not worth keeping for a deeper life we’ll never lose.

When interrogators worked Josef into exhaustion for ten hours a day, one of his persecutors made a strange statement: “Pastor Tson, when I interrogate people I am used to feeling their hatred for me. But you do not hate me. It has become a delight for me to be with you.”

Jesus saw our suffering as an opportunity to share the gospel, do you?

Jesus said to them, nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you, they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.Luke 21: 10-19

Josef viewed his suffering as God’s means to accomplish God’s purpose. He told of guards coming to Christ while beating Christian prisoners, then confessing their faith and being imprisoned and tortured themselves. As a result, the gospel his persecutors tried to dismiss touched them instead.

TORBEN – GAOLED FOR CHRIST

DEMONS ARE COMING OUT! – SICK ARE HEALED! – AND I’VE NOW BAPTIZED THE FIRST ONE HERE IN JAIL! – UPDATE – SEVENTEENTH DAY IN BAKERS DETENTION CENTER BY TORBEN SONDERGAARD OF THE LAST REFORMATION – JULY 18TH –

What a life! It is like living the book of Acts with everything that is happening! Eighteen days ago, I got detained by the FBI and Homeland Security because they had heard falsely that I had been smuggling weapons from Mexico to America. After being put in handcuffs and full chains, I spent one day in Orange Jail, and then I was transported to Bakers Detention Center, spending ten life-transforming days in isolation. Read more about that in my last post, or see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz_9JxEaUHU

UPDATE FROM BAKERS JAIL TORBEN SONDERGAARD, FOUNDER OF THE LAST REFORMATION JULY 14, 2022 – “YOU WILL BE HERE FOR MANY MONTHS AND THEN GET DEPORTED OUT OF AMERICA” – FIRST MEETING IN JAIL BEAUTIFUL UNFORGETTABLE EVENING!!

I was then moved to an open bay, and the first day was very, very hard. But now I’m seeing why I am here. God has sent me here to help “Apollos” with what was missing in his life like we read here in the book of Acts 18:24-26, “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Here we read how Aquila and Priscilla met Apollos who was preaching but with what was lacking in his faith. He only knew about the baptism of John, but they stepped in and helped, and he got baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, and he grew a lot and became a very strong disciple of Christ.

I was sent HERE for “Apollos”, which I will call him here. “Apollos” repented here in jail, and has been having meetings in a cell with 4-6 people. He loves Jesus, and he’s been sharing what he knows, but there were many things lacking in his life. He had not yet gotten baptized into Christ or received the Holy Spirit, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with him these last days, teaching the way more clearly, and what was lacking.

Two days ago, he got baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and it was a really special, unforgettable moment! He confessed all his sins to me, things he had never said to anyone before, but he knew God had sent me here to him (which he often says to me, “God sent you for me! God sent you for me!”) therefore he trusted me enough to confess everything, even though he had just met me.

When I baptized him, it was with a cup of water over his face, as we don’t have any other opportunity to do anything in here, and he has been here for years, and he don’t know when he will come out. The Holy Spirit came over him and he spoke in tongues for the first time. It was really a beautiful moment! I will never forget this. We were praising God together in our cell, with water all over the floor. It was a big cup of water and it was full. “Baptism” is normally with full immersion, but when we don’t have any other things to do like this, I’m sure God can use what we have.

The day before, I prayed for his sister over the phone. She had, for many months, a very loud ringing in her ears 24/7, and it was very hard for her. The Holy Spirit came over her powerfully there over the telephone when I prayed, and she got set free and healed over the phone. She was crying, and when he spoke with her afterwards he was also crying, so God is really moving in him and his family.

“Apollos” is just CHANGED, and it’s so beautiful! Yesterday we had a gathering in my cell, and there were nine people there. I was preaching the Gospel, and “Apollos” was translating, since many here don’t understand English. I shared about my life and what God has done in my life, and then I shared the Gospel very radically with no compromise, using chess pieces. We train people in our school how to share the Gospel using cups, and we call it “Cups and Cookies,” and we also have something called the Gospel Cards. See the link here: https://youtu.be/sNme1cRSODI

But now I’ve found another good way, using pieces in a chess game, and it’s actually really, really powerful! So, I was sharing the Gospel, and then I prayed for several people who got healed. “Apollos” was one of them! For many years, he’d had a problem with his back. I also prayed for the young man I’ve been working with. The other night, he had a demon come into him in the night time when he was laying in bed. He woke up and was suddenly paralyzed. He couldn’t move anything in his body. He could not say anything in the beginning and he felt a demonic presence all over the room. In the end, he was able to say, “Jesus,” and it slowly disappeared. Yes, there are MANY demons in here. I prayed for him, and the Holy Spirit came, and he fell down between the toilet and the wall, and there on the jail floor, from up above the toilet seat, I cast out a demon from him, and everyone was in shock, not having seen anything like this before.

We ended up praying and prophesying over several of the people who were there, and it was just a beautiful moment! It was like being out in the freedom doing the work of our Father. I totally forgot at the moment where I was. I was truly FREE, and I was just serving my Lord Jesus Christ, and it was beautiful, and I was truly THANKFUL for God sending me here and allowing me to experience this!

In the next days, we will sit down with them, one by one, and I already know there are more now who are getting ready to follow Christ. God sent me here for “Apollos” and the men here, and when I’m gone, “Apollos” can continue the work that has started here. I’ve spent many hours with him the last few days, disciplining him and teaching him the way, and he has grown a lot! He is ready. He was already ready. He just needed someone to disciple him!

Yes, there are MANY beautiful things I can testify to that God has been doing here the last days, in my life, and in other people’s lives, over the last days and weeks. But I also feel that the time has come to an end, that I have done what I needed to do here; I HOPE so. I know I could be wrong, but I truly hope that the time has come that I can come out of this place. My lawyer is right now working on a bond so I can come out soon, and I cannot tell you how much I’m praying and hoping that this would work, that God would open a door so I’m able to come out soon! I truly miss my wife incredibly much, and my girls, and my family and friends.

So much has happened, and I would, in many ways, not have been the same without all that has happened in the last eighteen days, even though it has been one of the hardest times in my life. But God has truly been working in my life. He has truly pruned me as a branch in Him so that I can bear even more fruit (John 15). He has taken me aside for me to slow down and spend many hours with Him and in His Word. All these things I will take with me when I leave this place. Yes, I am not the same as I was eighteen days ago, and I have no intention to let it go or to let any of what I’ve experienced here be wasted! I pray that the pruning which has happened in my life will bear much fruit, as He says in His Word!

Make me proud, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ with EVERYTHING He has given you! REMEMBER, this earth and everything in it will one day soon disappear, but those who do the will of the Father will receive the reward and live forever and ever!

Please pray for the people in here and for “Apollos”. Pray that the work will keep growing to more and more people. Pray for my lawyer, judges, and all of those who are working on the bond and asylum. Please pray that I will soon be free to see my family again. Please pray for churches out there that in so many ways is lacking this life Jesus has for them, and the true Gospel!

God bless you all!

Torben Sondergaard,
Prisoner for our Lord and Savior, but FREE in Christ!

SUFFERING FOR THE GLORY OF CHRIST

If you embrace suffering for the glory of Christ you are unstoppable and will bear abundant fruit in this life and receive great rewards in the next.

We are fast approaching the time of Jesus’ second coming when He has warned us that persecution of Christians will escalate. It is therefore important that we build our relationship with the Holy Spirit. He is our counsellor, teacher and comforter. He will guide our every step if we ask Him. With the coming persecution in mind, it is a good time to reflect on the following Scriptures on suffering.

The latter half of Lamentations chapter 3 shows the purpose behind the book’s graphic depictions of sorrow and suffering. It is to produce hope in the God whose compassion isnew every morning and whose faithfulness is great even to a people who have been condemned for their own unfaithfulness.

Jesus presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3

Peter explains in (1 Peter) how Christians should respond when they suffer because of their belief in Jesus. Called the “apostle of hope,” Peter’s primary message is to trust the Lord, live obediently no matter what your circumstances, and keep your hope fixed on God’s ultimate promise of deliverance. Suffering is to be expected, but it is temporary and yields great blessings for those who remain steadfast.

Paul’s opponents were trying to undermine his work, claiming that his suffering proved he was not a true apostle. Paul responds that his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ’s strength rather than his own (2 Corinthians 11:23-31).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 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 2 Timothy 1:8-9

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.2 Timothy 4:5

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,Colossians 1:24

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-4

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.Romans 8:18-19

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord, is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.James 5:8-10

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:8-10

This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you, they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives. Luke:21:13-17

ARE YOU PREPARED TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST?

“Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16)

Paul understood up front at the start of his ministry that suffering came with the assignment.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)

Now well into his ministry, Paul understood that there was a knowledge of God and intimacy with him that can only be obtained by, “participation in his sufferings.” It is difficult to comprehend, but true, that those who have not suffered with Yeshua are missing out on intimate knowledge of our Lord. Obviously, we don’t go out looking to suffer for Jesus, but it is obvious that we should not try and avoid suffering for Him, if we do, we will miss out on an intimacy with Yeshua that brings us closer to Him and makes us more like Him.

This understanding is crucial as we draw closer to the last seven years before Jesus return, the 70th week of Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy. It is a time of tribulation, escalating to great tribulation as Jesus opens the seven seals on The Scroll.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” Matthew 24:9-10

Just as Jesus refines the Jewish remnant in the last days as described in Zechariah.

And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, “This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ” Zechariah 13:8-9

Likewise, Jesus will use tribulation, even great tribulation in the last six years prior to The Rapture to produce a meek and humble people that will trust Him implicitly. Sadly, as shown there will be a great falling away in the church, apostasy, Jesus also says, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24

With the trumpet blast at the seventh seal, The Rapture takes place and simultaneously when The Scroll is opened God’s Wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.