3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. – 2 Peter 3:1-4 NLT
We are to be in the world, but “not of this world”. While it is true that we need to be cognizant of the things going on around us everyday, we should not allow those things to weight us down. With all the bad news we are subjected to everyday, how do we avoid negative thinking? We do what Peter suggested here, we refresh our memories of all of God’s promises and how He has never failed or gone back on His word. When satan tempted Jesus, Jesus rebuked him with the Word of God. We must be so grounded in the Word, that we do the same thing. We must remember that even Jesus said He did not know when the end would come.
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!—Mark 13:32,33 (NLT)
Yes, there are those that mock and say “Oh, I have heard that for years and Jesus still hasn’t come back.” While that statement is true today, it may not be true tomorrow. We do not need to waste our time trying to figure out when Jesus will come back. We have plenty to do while we wait. We must be on guard against the wiles of the devil and we must stay alert! Do not be deceived, Jesus will come back at the appointed time. We just need to stay ready.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. — Eph. 6:11 NLT
Every day we are involved in spiritual warfare. This warfare will not be won by flesh and blood because our enemy is not flesh and blood. The enemy may very well come to us dressed in human form and looking beautiful enough to entice us into fighting the battle on his terms and his territory. We cannot and must not allow him to do that. The battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s and we must allow Him to fight the battle through us and for us. Evil rulers, spirits, and authorities in the unseen world are stronger than we are. But they are no match for the One who lives in us. Do not fear the enemy unless you are not prepared to meet the enemy. Be prepared at all times.
God has prepared the armor for us to wear when we are in battle and the battle rages 24/7. There is never a second when we are not engaged in spiritual warfare. The devil never rests, so we must always be on alert. Our belt is the truth of the Gospel and our breastplate is the righteousness of God. Our feet are shod with the peace of God, faith is our shield, salvation is our helmet, and the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Immerse all this armor in prayer without ceasing and we will be well able to resist the enemy and able to stand firm in any battle.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
10 “I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’. — Acts 22:10 NLT
Saul used to sit at the feet of Gamaliel learning about the Old Testament and the Jewish traditions and laws. He became very zealous in defending the Jewish customs even to the point of putting Christians to death. I think we can be very sure that in those times, he never considered the fact that Jesus was training him for a specific purpose. It probably never crossed his mind that he would be the missionary of the ages and the man responsible for writing most of the New Testament. The transition from Saul to Paul took over three years. Our salvation experience was probably not as dramatic as that of Paul. Nevertheless, it is just as necessary as that of Paul for the spread of the Gospel and the increase in the Kingdom of God. Let each of us look at our lives and experiences. What do those things tell us about what God has trained us to do to add to His Kingdom here on earth? We cannot come to the conclusion that we are trained to do God’s bidding, that would devalue the work of Jesus on the Cross and our value to God. Every person God has called to salvation has a part to play in the Kingdom here on earth. Ask God to show you what that part is and then, giddy-up go.
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” — Acts 8:30 NLT
When the persecutions of the Christians started in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Philip had been preaching and teaching about Jesus in Samaria. When Peter and John arrived, an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to go south along the road to Gaza. On his way, he met an eunuch from Ethiopia. This eunuch had been to Jerusalem to worship. He was reading aloud from a scroll of the Old Testament. This particular scroll contained the book of Isaiah. Since he had been to worship in Jerusalem and was in possession of a Biblical scroll and reading it aloud, we can safely assume two things. He was familiar with the Jewish religion and he was searching for something. So God had been preparing the heart of this eunuch to receive the Good News for some time. I think we can safely assume that God had big plans for this eunuch when he returned to Ethiopia, but whether God had big plans for the eunuch or just wanted to save the eunuch is not the point. The point is that God’s plans for Philip and the eunuch intersected at this point. The eunuch was seeking understanding of the Scriptures and God sent a man to him who could explain those Scriptures. Every day, our live intersect with other lives. This was, is and will always be God’s plan for spreading the Good News. Are we prepared to instantly obey? Are we prepared to explain God’s plan of salvation to those whose paths we cross? If not, why not spend some time today preparing to do just that? There is a heavenly reason that you are where you are today. It didn’t just happen. Look around you, there are lost people that you have been sent to speak to. God has prepared their hearts to hear and He has given you the words of life to speak to them, therefore speak.
12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the palace gate, but Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. — Esther 6:12 NLT
We are familiar with the story of Esther and how God exalted her to the position of queen in a most unlikely situation. Besides Esther, there are three other people God had positioned strategically for this particular time. God needed a man with the the authority to make things happen so He had positioned Xerxes as king. He needed a villain, He chose Haman for this role. Haman was the perfect villain for this time, he hated Mordecai and all of the Jews. God needed a hero, someone who would refuse to bow to the villain and with the backbone to stand up for God’s people. He chose Mordecai who had a little known history with the king. In the past, he had warned the king about a plot to kill the king and for this he had never been rewarded (at least not in earthly ways). Mordecai was also a man of compassion. We know this because he had taken his cousin, Hadassah, also known as Esther and raised her as his own daughter after his uncle died. God had prepared and positioned each of these people to carry out His plan to free His people and destroy the enemy. God is preparing each of us to do the same thing today. Are we ready and willing to do our part when all the people involved come together? If not, how do we get ready?
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT
9 As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. — 1 Samuel 10:9 NLT
After Moses and Joshua had died, God raised up Judges in Israel. The Israelis would turn away from God and God would allow the enemies of Israel to be successful in battle against the them When they wept and repented, God would raise up a judge to deliver them and to govern over them for a time. Each time this happened, God had someone prepared to be the judge for the next few years. Samuel was the last of the judges. This was because the Israelis wanted a king over them, so they would be like the nations around them. By asking God for an earthly king, they were rejecting God as their king. Through Samuel, God warned them of the negative things that would happen if they chose an earthly king. Still, that is what the people wanted and that is what God gave them. He chose Saul to be their king. Before Saul could take his position as king, God gave him a new heart and filled him with His Spirit. God never chooses any of us to do something for Him and His Kingdom without the proper preparations. If we are not already prepared, He will prepare us and give us everything we need to do His bidding. When we feel a special call from God, we may very well feel completely unprepared to complete the task. But, we can be assured that by the time God puts His plan for us into action, He will have prepared us to do the job better than anyone else could possibly do it. God chooses ordinary people and turns them into His extraordinary servants. All He wants or expects from us is our willingness and obedience, He will do the rest.
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. — Eph. 2:10 NLT
23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. — Mark 8:23-25 NLT
John tells us that if all the miracles that Jesus did were written down, all the books in the world would not be enough to hold them (John 21:25). What we read about is a sampling of the things He accomplished while He walked the earth as one of us. Those samples are given to show us not only His great love and mercy toward us but, also to show us that He uses all kinds of methods and people to demonstrate that love. Sometimes the healings were immediate, sometimes they were a process. Some required only a touch of the hem of His garment, others required a word and others a word and a touch from Him. He has the authority to answer our requests in any way or time frame He chooses. But know this, He always answers. Just because the answer wasn’t what we wanted to hear or did not come in the expected time does not mean that He didn’t hear and answer. Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. Paul could have said that God didn’t answer his prayer, but after the third time, Paul accepted “No” as the answer. God’s answers can be compared to a trafiic light, green is “go”, yellow is “go slow” and red is “no”. We always want the green light, but when we have the red light, it gives others the opportunity to move. We must wait our turn. When we see the yellow light, we know that there is danger in proceeding, so we must be careful and prepare to wait, but be prepared to go when God gives us the green light. (Isaiah 40:31) The old saying that hindsight is 20-20 is true. When we look back over our lives, we can see clearly that God’s answer was the correct answer. The times we refused that answer is the times we experienced our troubles and sorrows.
42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. — Luke 22:42, 43 NLT
As we read about all the miracles that Jesus performed while He was here on earth we sometimes forget and need to be reminded that He, like us, was fully human. He did all of His works as a man, not as God. He even told us that He could do nothing in and of Himself but that He could only do the works of the Father.(John 5:19). We are told by the writer of Hebrews that even though Jesus was the Son of God, He still offered prayers and pleadings to the One who could rescue Him from death (Hebrews 5:8). Jesus knew and understood His mission because He had been in on the planning session that occurred before the foundations of the earth were laid. But in the flesh, He was not looking forward to the experience of being separated from His Father for the first and only time in His life. Separated because when He took our sins upon Himself, the Father could not look at Him or comfort Him in any way. While Jesus was in the flesh as a man, God sent Moses and Elijah to talk with Him about His death on the Cross (Mount of Transfiguration, Luke 9:31). As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen Him. What we need to realize is that God does the same thing for us. If we listen carefully and heed His words, we will find that there is nothing that happens to us that He has not carefully prepared us to bear.
Jesus lived every day knowing the cruel death that awaited Him on the cross. Yet, He set His face toward Jerusalem and never turned back. Do we live every day prepared to die for what we know is true? If we do, then we can die prepared to live forever and that knowledge should remove any fear of death that we have.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.—Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV
Since we don’t actually see the angels and the demons surrounding us, it is hard for us to stay aware of the continuous battle going on around us everyday. But there are several examples of this in the Scriptures. The example in Daniel 10 involves at least two demonic princes and two angelic princes.
20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.–Daniel 10:20, 21 NIV
Just as Daniel was not physically involved in the battle, neither are we. Our battlefield is our mind. That is why our armor is not physical armor, it is invisible things that protect our thought patterns from being overwhelmed by evil. These weapons are truth, righteousness, readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. For us to be fully dressed in the armor God has provided for us takes time. It is not a piece of clothing that you can just throw in the corner and then grab when bad times come. It takes hours and hours of prayer, Bible study and meditation to get fully dressed. satan knows where the holes in our armor are. We must pray daily for the Holy Spirit to show us the holes and then spend whatever time it takes in prayer and Scripture study to mend those holes. While we reside in this old piece of decaying flesh, we will never be able to fill all the holes. That is why God has His angels encamped around us.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.—Psalm 34:7 NIV