The Tribulation

I believe all Christians should be prepared for tribulation. It could be “the” tribulation or “a” tribulation. It really does not matter at all. We follow and trust Christ no matter what. When “Babylon” requires allegiance, we refuse to give our allegiance to anyone other than Christ. During the time of the Maccabees, Jews refused the “mark” of eating pork and were beaten and killed. Christians in China during the Cultural Revolution refused the “mark” of reverencing Chairman Mao and were beaten and killed.

I wrote the base pages on this site in 2009. The blog posts start from that time and then stop at 2012 and begin again 2020. The pages, parts 1 – 5, are about living through The Tribulation, but the same biblical principles apply no matter the type of tribulation. Throughout history, Christians have been martyred for following Christ. Paul talks about sharing in Christ’s suffering.

Read through the five parts and think through the Scripture. Read through the posts and be encouraged. I’ve turned off comments, but I have opened a Facebook page if you want to discuss. This isn’t about knowing what’s going to happen. We don’t need to know the details. We need to know Him. Know your Good Father. Spend time with Him and get to know Him through His Word.

If you want more teaching, I have hundreds of Bible lessons.

The Trial is for Deliverance (cont.)

I wrote a post called The Trial Is the Deliverance. It talks about how God trials and tribulations for our deliverance. Here are some more Scriptures where the trial was for deliverance.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up, bound. Their fiery trial didn’t harm them, but it unbound them!

Jeremiah was in prison when Nebuchadnezzar overthrew Israel and drove the Israelites into captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar releases Jeremiah into the care of the governor who will be staying and ruling in Israel. Then Jeremiah is released to go where he wishes (Jer. 40:4). God used the trial of the Babylonian invasion for Jeremiah’s deliverance. And Jeremiah is spared the Babylonian captivity.

Joseph is delivered from slavery through the long trial of prison.

Elisha had to lose his master to receive his double anointing and move into ministry.

Paul is blinded by the light so that he could walk in the light.

God used Paul being arrested and locked in the armory as a means of deliverance from the Jews who wanted to kill him (Acts 23).

John is exiled to Patmos, but God uses that place to reveal Christ and the greatest vision recorded in the Bible.

There is nothing Satan can do to a believer that doesn’t result in God’s good, God’s blessing, God’s victory, God’s glory, and God’s kind intentions and good pleasure being carried out.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good…

Romans 8:28

The Illusion of Safety or The Illusion of Danger

The last lesson I wrote was called The Peace that Surpasses Understanding. It was about God providing peace if there’s a situation but how we tend to worry when there’s nothing to worry about. Now, I don’t want to contradict myself here. That’s not my point. My point is that I don’t want you to fear and worry. But I wanted to point out in relation to that previous post as to how way more people die from household accidents compared to car accidents. I just had a perception that it’s more dangerous for him to drive than to be at home. My thoughts about it made it seem more dangerous to me.

But stats have NOTHING to do with God’s ability to protect us. Psalms 91 declares that thousands may die all around us but it’s not going to touch us. It talks about pestilence, plague, arrows, and destruction, and how we don’t need to fear any of it if we dwell in the secret place, that place of rest of abiding in Christ, knowing you’re in Him and He’s in you and neither of you are going anywhere.

If you are hidden in Christ, how could evil touch you? When troubles do come your way, you know it’s from the Lord and so it’s good. It’s for your good and His glory. We want God’s good will done in our lives. We want Him working out the kind intention of His will in our lives.

We try so hard to protect ourselves from the harm that God says won’t come our way. We end up like the fellow in this verse:

“In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion— only to meet a bear. Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house— and he’s bitten by a snake.” (Amos 5:19 NLT)

               No matter how much we think we can control our lives, we can’t. But more, we shouldn’t want to! If God’s good and perfect will is that a trouble come your way for your good and His glory, wouldn’t you want that? Running from it, trying to protect yourself from His will being accomplish, will just have you ending up with a snakebite.

               The safest place to be is in God’s will. Running from it, trying to protect ourselves from perceived dangers, is claiming God can’t protect us or not trusting that He will. It’s not believing that His will is good and perfect, that He knows best.

Peace that Surpasses Understanding

When my oldest was going to get his driver’s license, I thought to myself, “How does anyone let their teenage just walk out the door and drive away?” When he got his license, I hurried him out the door so he’d be on time and then forgot he was out.

What happened? God gave me the peace that surpasses understanding when I needed it. Why didn’t I have it before at the times those thoughts would invade? I didn’t need it then. I was safe at home. He was safe at home. There was nothing needing peace about.

Worrying about something that isn’t going on doesn’t need special peace. It needs trusting God. It needs taking our thoughts captive. It needs thinking on good things, what is excellent, worthy of praise, pure, true…It wasn’t true that he was in any trouble at the moment. He was sitting down in his computer chair.

We’re given the commands. “Don’t be anxious about anything…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Now, I do believe that command was spoken softly, not in any harsh way, like how Jesus spoke to Martha when she was “troubled by so many things.” There’s just one thing that matters.

We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus. That’s the only way we should be working on being “present,” looking to Him and following Him as He leads us through our day, the way He kept His eyes on His Father and did what He saw the Father doing.

The prayer for the times of troubling are to give our cares to the Lord with thanksgiving. “Thank you, Lord, that you are in control and have good plans and watching over us and always caring for us. Thank you that we can always trust those things are true.” And when we’re just worrying ourselves when nothing is going on, our prayer can be something like Psalm 25:17, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; deliver me out of all my distresses.”

Turning to Him is the answer each way. Looking to Him for deliverance and salvation is the answer each way. Thinking about Him because He is good is the answer each way.

Just As You Are

When we say come to God just as you are, that you are welcome and accepted just as you are, that doesn’t mean all we have, are, do, identify, etc. are welcome and accepted in God’s presence. It’s that we, ourselves, are.

“Come just as you are” means you don’t have to change to be welcomed and accepted. No amount of self-help betterment is going to make you more accepted and welcome. It would leave you in the SAME state.

Come just as you are, accepted just as you are, welcomed just as you are, means birthday-suit you. You come to God with nothing to offer. You strip away anything you might think you have to offer. Good works? Filthy rags. You strip away your identities, diagnoses, money, degrees, relationships, plans for the future, all that happened in the past. It’s all left at the foot of the cross.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return.” (Job 1:21) When we’re born again, we’re naked. We have no identity or relationship other than our new life in Christ. Then we let Him build our new life from there.  

Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

               When we say that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, it’s not that goodness and mercy tail along, as if they are chasing us and never catch up. We live a life of God’s goodness and mercy all the time.

               When it says it follows us, it means that we can look back, and what we see behind us is a trail of goodness and mercy. Every moment that could have been a memory of suffering is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy. Everything that could be a memory of trial and struggle is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy.

               Our lives should be a story of God’s goodness and mercy because every moment of suffering, of trial, of tribulation is an opportunity for a miracle, an opportunity for deliverance, an opportunity for God’s goodness and mercy to shine brighter than the world around you.

Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

Don’t be afraid; just believe.

Mark 5:36

Jairus’ daughter was sick. He goes to Jesus for help. Jesus starts to go with him and gets interrupted. Then people come and tell him that his daughter has died, to let it go. It’s over.

Jesus’ response? “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Don’t be afraid. Afraid? Afraid of what? Is fear what you would describe Jairus as feeling when he heard that his daughter had died? Grief? Shock? Fear? We might say, “I’m afraid it’s true.” Fear? It’s not how I would describe it. I’m trying to place it. Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? What happens to our family?

Fear is defined by the dictionary as the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is a belief. It’s a belief that something is bigger than God. It’s a belief that something is more true, more real than God.

We can’t believe in God and believe in fear. They are contrary beliefs.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the first expression of sin in them was fear. They were afraid and hid. They used to love God and go to Him. Now they were afraid of Him and ran and hid from Him. They ate the forbidden fruit. They took in Satan’s lies instead of feasting on God’s true word, our bread of life. We need to live by it. A life lived by the Word is a life free from fear. Where there is fear, there is a lack of either knowing or believing the truth.

Wisdom of the World

My last blog post (see here) was how our methods are actually Satan’s schemes. What are these schemes? They are basically distractions that keep us from seeking God, from following Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to because we already know what to do!

We get the Christian book which makes us feel like we’re doing it God’s way because there are verses in there in a few places. Then we imitate man instead of imitating Christ. But, it’s just wisdom of the world.

That’s his scheme, to get us to follow the wisdom of this world instead of the wisdom of God. Of course, the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God (1 Cor. 3:19). And we’re foolish to follow it. We make ourselves out to be fools when we do.

Can I tell you about a couple times that I played the fool?

When I married, I wanted to be the best wife. So, I read “the book.” I did what they told me to do.

When I had kids, I wanted to be the best mom. So, I read “the book.” I did what they told me to do.

What’s the problem with following Christian advice?

It’s a BIG problem. It was IDOLATRY.

I was following after man instead of following after God.

Thankfully, the Lord pulled me out of my idolatry, though it was painful all around. He redeemed it as only He can.

Yes, there is a wisdom of this world that is outright ungodly, but the more insidious wisdom of the world is what comes from those who call themselves The Church, who call themselves by the name of Christ. They say they speak for Him.

By the way, this idea of wisdom and especially method is what kills churches, ministries, and organizations. There were also organizations like YWAM that started out by following the Holy Spirit. There’s a story in YWAM’s history about the first group that did a drama to share Christ. It was a success! Guess what EVERY SINGLE YWAM team does now? A drama! To maybe no success at all. Okay, I don’t know if every team does it, but during my fourteen years overseas as a missionary, every YWAM team that came through did a wordless drama that had no impact.

Why do they do it? It’s wisdom to share with a wordless drama since they don’t know the language. It’s a way to communicate. They’ve seen it be really effective at times. Of course, it’s all denying the leading of the Spirit and the power of God to overcome any obstacle.

You may grow your church by following man’s method of coffee bars and loud music, but you won’t grow the Body of Christ, which is your actual mission.

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. Anytime we’re attempting to follow after another’s steps to success, we need to recognize the temptation to idolatry and refuse to follow anyone but Christ alone. We need to not be lazy and spend the time seeking Him, and we need to trust Him enough to wait on Him.

You can’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you are living by man’s book, and not God’s.

Methods

I have told people to throw away their Christian how-to books: those books on parenting, on marriage, on leading a small group, on having a prayer ministry, on having quiet times, on being in business, on missions, any of it, all of it.

What’s the problem?

Imitating what those authors did is following man, not God.

God does something great in someone’s life or ministry and they write a book and people try to copy their success. The problem is that it wasn’t their success. It was God’s.

While we’re all hopefully on the same path of wanting to be transformed into the image of Christ, He’s working out different things in our different lives and at different times and in different ways. We don’t get to play God and decide how He’s going to do it.

And like with all sin, it comes down to that – playing God. It’s the sin of the garden and it’s what is still with us today, this wanting to be in charge, take control. Of course, if we were God, we’d know what to do and wouldn’t have to copy someone else, but we ignore that part and try to take what we see as someone else’s success and apply it to ourselves. We try to make it happen.

It won’t succeed. If you do happen to have some outward appearance of success, it isn’t real success because it’s not what God chose for you. It will likely cause trouble down the road.

I’ve known that methods are the enemy of life in Christ. Now I know why.

There’s a Greek word methodos which is found in just two verses. The word is not translated method in either, but it is a root of our word method. How is it translated? Schemes. Both verses talk about the devil’s schemes to get us.

So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and from by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Eph. 4:14

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Eph. 6:11

Satan’s schemes, our methods.

Following methods means we haven’t sought God and aren’t willing to seek His ways or wait on Him. It means we can’t trust Him to pull through, so we have to make it happen ourselves. That’s what we’re really doing, even while we convince ourselves we are doing it “God’s way” by following the how-to guide with a few verses tucked in there.

You have to choose who you are going to follow. Are you going to follow man? Or are you going to submit to being led by the Spirit? Only one will lead you where you want to be heading.

Worst Case Scenario

Here’s what I see as America’s worst-case scenario.

America misses the tribulation.

How could that be a bad thing? Tribulation is a gift from God. Paul preached, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22 ESV) Tribulations are part of our refining process, shining us up so that we are ready to be received as the spotless bride. Our adornment as the bride of Christ is our righteous acts (Rev. 19:8). That’s where our beauty comes from. Tribulation is the fire that burns away what’s not of God so that only truth and righteousness remain. Missing the tribulation would mean God was done with America. What a fearful thought.

It reminds me of this parable. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’And he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’” (Luke 13:7-9 NASB 1995)

In America there was something called the First Great Awakening, a religious revival. It was happening around 1750. The Second Great Awakening was happening around 1800. Guess when the Third Great Awakening was happening. It was around the 1850s. Do you see the pattern? There was another revival around 1900. What was happening around 1950? Another revival? You bet. Then comes 2000….crickets.

What happens after that? 2001…ring a bell? How about September 11, 2001?

We missed the revival and instead got a warning. There was hope that it would spark a revival, but it didn’t come. We went all in on terrorists instead of going all in on God. Christians whooped and cheered for the death of Osama Bin Laden instead of weeping over another lost soul.

And what if America has lost her chance? What if her window of revival has closed? What if an end-times billion-soul revival takes place and America misses it? What if Roe vs. Wade is overturned and there is a resurgence of some semblance of conservative Christian values, and it’s mistaken for revival when it’s just a distraction that keeps people from real transformation?

Of course, there are believers in America who are ready to go through tribulation for the sake of the call of Christ. Their persecution will come from the unsaved church. And in this worse-case end-times scenario, America is completely destroyed as part of Babylon the Great and the lukewarm with her, while the faithful few are celebrating at their wedding feast.