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“God, my strength, my stronghold, my safe retreat when trouble descends:” Jer 16:19 (MSG) Trouble descends as a storm from above. Rain can be gentle and refreshing or it can come down as a deluge leading to a flood. The former is refreshing producing growth and clears the pollen. While the latter overflows the banks and destroys everything in its path. It is evident that there will be times of trouble as there are times of refreshing. A troubled people will live in a troubled world. The environment is not determined by the righteous alone. We are in this world and not the environment that we will one day attain. Yet while we are here, we have a refuge. God is our strength and our safe retreat. We are guarded by our Master who is also our Savior. We are safe as we find shelter under the covering of His grace. He refreshes us and protects us from the apparent dangers as well as those unseen. As it descends, before it reaches us, we are protected even before the clouds gather and the forecast is given.

“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10 Those who trust in the living God labor with a goal in view that is different from the activities of others. There are luxuries not afforded the faithful for he must live his life with purpose. Every day must have a degree of significance that further sets him aside as God’s representative on the earth, maintaining the course leading to a destination. Kingdom business is his primary business. Now the world system will notice the difference but will not know how to interpret it. His strangeness will be repulsive to many who would much rather he be silent rather than to speak. His activity appears to run counter to values of his contemporaries. Yet he has fully embraced his call and end to suffer reproach because his life is not his own; he has been bought with a price. Therefore he trusts in the living God who is his constant companion to guide him through this maze of life to his eternal home. His life is a gift…

“So, when you pray in your private prayer language, don’t hoard the experience for yourself. Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy.” 1 Corinthians 14:13  (MSG) True love is never selfish. It takes pleasure in giving more than receiving. God has called us into deeper levels as our hearts are in sync with His own. Our thoughts and His thoughts become the same. Our passions and His passions align. Only then will our hearts soar beyond our intellect, or our abilities to articulate what is burning deeply within it. It is from the overflow of our hearts that a language that is not our own is given expression. Our prayers are in private and our language is privately expressed. Yet we are provoked by the Holy Spirit not to ascetic with the pleasures of our private devotions. Pray that we may be able to share with others what we have privately shared with God. God is able to unleash within us the abilities to give expression to what He imparts so that all may benefit from the Divine impartation.

“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:6 The language of the Spirit of God rings differently in the ears of unbelievers than it does in the ears of believers. Those who have rejected God have an affinity towards things pertaining to the flesh. Any other message seems not to have any relevancy to them for their hearts are drawn in an opposite direction. When the Holy Spirit enters into one’s heart He makes room for the truth. Only then can it become sensible and for passions to rise within him to embrace a level of teaching beyond what is commonly understood. What God has to say to us is uncommon to mankind therefore it requires more than mere common sense. In his natural state it is foolishness. But when the spirit of truth replaces the spirit of error, he will seek out teachers that will teach him things that he did not see because they cannot be seen without divine assistance.

“As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.”  (Matthew 24:32) One major sign of the return of Christ will be the renewed courage and strength among those who carry the testimony of the Lord. As it was in the days of the prophets and later the apostles, so shall it be among individuals who will stand for truth without compromise. They will be among a people who have relented to casual Christianity, but will not allow the pressures brought to bear against them to discourage them nor diminish their faith. There will be new life within the Church as both young and old will boldly face persecution if required, for righteousness sake. The sign will be an awakening spreading to the ends of the earth. The Kingdom of God will be their message, the cross will be their standard, and zeal of the Lord will totally consume them. Professor Martin Scharlemann of Concordia Seminary said, “As soon as the missionaries are no longer welcome to do their work and their host countries begin to expel them, look up.”

“Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom.” Jeremiah 17:17 Our confidence is only secured only when we place it entirely in the Hands of the Lord. Life is too uncertain and sudden terror may appear at times when preparation for it is impossible.  Many will wonder why we would place such confidence in a God that we cannot see. Scoffers will rise up thinking that our denial of self and worldly acclaim is but mere superstition. Yet we pray that nothing in us will surface in self-defense of preserving our reputation but offensive to our God. Even when we do not make sense to the world, we desire His wisdom to be our guide. All of the wisdom that comes from other sources is being judged.  Only God’s wisdom will stand. He is our hope in the day of testing.  He will take us through the storms of adversity victoriously!

“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Ex 12:2 The Passover changed Israel’s calendar by orders from God. What God does affects the measure of everything. Our calendar reflects the birth of Jesus Christ and His death. B.C.  expressing before Christ and A.D., anno Domini, the year of our Lord signifying His death, burial, and resurrection. He made an indelible mark for all humanity. Even those who despise Him or deny Him cannot ignore Him. Eternity invaded time through the coming of our Lord and time would never be the same. God became one of us to completely identify with us, then to die for us. As vast as the universes are and heaven is, He chose this planet and chose us to be with Him forever! When we remember the day of our conversion we recall our new birthday. Life began anew for we became a new specifies of humanity enabled to give expression to the love of God with a will to please Him. Life may be the same around us, but for us who are being saved, we have a new beginning!

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” Phil 3:10 There is continuing aspects of Jesus Christ made available to us. Our spiritual hunger to fully identify with Him qualifies us to know what was unknown. We have come to know that He is our Savior and Lord through His Word. We believe on Him and apply faith in all of His promises. Yet the more we know of Him a fire is ignited within our hearts to experience Him. To share with Him in His experience of life is the grandest endeavor one could ever attain. The evidence that we know Him is that we recognize that there is much more to be known than what we have come to know. The height and depth of His love is to be explored throughout our lifetime. Oh the joy of knowing that it is Christ working in us and the sufficiency is not of us! We have been raised in newness of life. Now each experience whether it be painful or pleasurable, is ordered by our Master for a purpose far greater than any at this…

“After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:” John 21:1-2 He makes Himself known in ways that are familiar to each person. He once came in human flesh and fully identified with the human experience, yet honoring the Father by not yielding to the temptation of sin. After He was raised from the dead, He continued to show Himself again to His disciples. In His resurrected state He is still in touch with all things pertaining to us. They were fishermen before their encounter with Jesus. Now that He had been crucified, they returned to their former professions. Their lack of success was challenged by His question, “Children, have you any food?” They had toiled all night to no avail. Jesus then gave them instructions that they could either follow or ignore. But when they cast their nets on the other side of the boat, they could not contain all that was in their nets. The resurrected Christ makes His presence known again among His disciples. He is the same Jesus but now raised in newness of life as the first-born of many brethren. It is…

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6 He is absent from the place to which He had been carried. His lifeless body lay in a tomb without the strength to either participate or resist. There He  was carried and placed by others. But on Resurrection Sunday, the grave was robbed of its victory. The empty tomb served as a witness that He was no longer there. His was not the result of being carried away, for many are absent because they have been carried away by something or someone. “He is risen, as He said.” His Word was confirmed by action. His promise was fulfilled thus giving even greater validity to all that He ever said. The evidence was presented, thus allowing every skeptic and naysayer to see with their own eyes His power to defy death, hell, and the grave. The angel invited them to come inside and see the very place that He once laid. Where a body once laid, an empty tomb reminds us  of our own destinies. As we are in Christ Jesus, we too shall be made alive by the same…