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“God, my strength, my stronghold, my safe retreat when trouble descends.” Jeremiah 16:19 (MSG) God does more than provide strength thus leaving us with the responsibility of knowing how to apply the pressure where most needed. He is our strength, upholding us when we are in our most weakened state, and warding off the enemies lurking around to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. As long as we maintain our focus on Jesus, He will fight our battles. And He upholds us with the right hand of His righteousness. When we enter into battle alone, we are prey to be devoured by one more force and shrewdness with experience in deceiving the self-confident. But when we humbly submit to the Lord, we are in the safest place we could possibly be. Trouble may bear down upon us as a storm that is out of control. Yet our God is our refuge in the time of trouble. God is my strength and security, and my sanctuary. I praise Him as my weapon of war, and worship Him as my place of rest.

“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success.” Eccl 10:10 The energy and strength exerted by the man who tries to figure things out on his own is constantly exerted. Yet the results are minimal because it is only mind challenging matter. The mind cannot achieve all that is believed when the axe is dull. But when God sharpens the edge, His Spirit begins to work and the prayer on earth is answered from heaven. God sharpens our axe in order to allow us to work with wisdom guiding us along the way. The Eternal God uses His faculties seeing the end before the beginning. He knows what it takes beforehand for the children of God to accomplish His will. We have a sharper cutting edge when we pray continually and do not lean to our own understanding. Then when His Word is spoken, it is sensible because the heart has been prepared to make room for the truth. Each moment must count with eternity in view. The wise seeks after wisdom and more is given to him. But the fool thinks that he has already…

“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.”

“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, and empty tomb reminds us of our own destinies. As we are in Christ Jesus, we too shall be made alive by the same Spirit…

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 The question is how can something be foolish to some but so necessary to others? There are some who believe more in their abilities and strength rather than the strength that is ours through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We were once without strength, dead in trespasses and sins, but Christ died for us. Now as we believe on Him and in His Name, the power of God works within us to the saving of our souls. Both categories have to do with one’s future state of being. On one hand, there are those who are perishing, and on the other hand, there are those who are being saved. The seed of destruction is embedded in the hearts of those who do not believe as it was in us all. Jesus died for sinners before they recognized their need for redemption. Those who reject His offer are perishing. But those who are being saved are in the process of living. The body of sin will perish, but just…

 “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (13) And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.’” Matthew 21:12-17 When Jesus arrived at the seat of both religious and political power, He confronted religious authorities as being “a den of thieves.” When Jerusalem was robbed of an environment conducive for spiritual renewal, their leaders were indicted by Jesus as thieves. Religious leaders were using their followers as merchandise to be traded for profit, and their souls were both hungry and lost. An atmosphere of greed reproduces after its own kind. It spreads like a contagious disease thus hindering those who would otherwise listen.  They would rather gravitate in the direction of their instructions. Jesus did not approach the civic leaders first. He confronted religious leaders for their perverse ways. The house erected with the intent of worship must first become a house of prayer. If the priorities are misaligned, the activities will be dishonorable….

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 The path to victory leads into the heat of the battle. There the soldier must defend his honor and stand against the onslaught of opposing forces. There would be no retreat from that position. It is either do or die. The fainthearted would rather avoid such definite lines of battle. It would be easier to be on both sides rather than to outwardly declare war against a foe that threatens one’s security and all others that would follow. Too much is at stake at defeat. The loss of life and limb, or even the shame to admit that there was not enough strength to carry on. Such are the challenges facing the follower of Christ. He has been positioned by God before us as our Captain. His priority is to lead us to victory after victory. Yet not by bloodshed, but rather by fumigating the environment with the sweet smell of His knowledge, thus eliminating the stench of ignorance that pervaded before the engagement of war began. The enemy is won over…

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10 The progression that takes place in the life of a Christ-follower begins with the call. He calls us to Himself. Then we can be conformed to the image of His Son. It is only when we answer the initial call will we qualify to experience what is produced in us as the result of being drawn close to Him. His eternal glory is the finished product of His grace. God looks at the end from the beginning. But the path requires suffering even though it is only for a little while in contrast to the glory that shall be revealed in us. We are matured to see things from His perspective, thus established in the faith not wavering because of various trials. Each challenge provides strength for future challenges as we develop a greater resistance to the evil one. Finally we are settled as not to be moved by whatever may come our way. A steadfast faith remains constant and undisturbed in a fixed position in relation to…

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:17 Consistency always appears to be the problem when there are so many things that have a beginning, but fall apart over time. Words often fade and their meanings are altered by those who feel differently when circumstances shift in a different direction. Who is able to keep his word when his word is based on conditions that are uncertain? The only way to be certain about life and things pertaining to it, one must know what comes before and what will come after a commitment is made, a value is embraced, or message is believed. (He, Jesus) is before all that exists. All things have their origin in Him, and He will be after all things have come to an end. But between what precedes and what follows are our lives and our conditions. We can trust His knowledge and His strength to guide and protect us into the future. He gives meaning to life because all things are considered from eternity past to eternity future.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 A new commandment is given because a new power is made known. It is a power that existed in eternity but now is being revealed in time through Jesus Christ. He makes known to humanity a selfless love with the power to transform lives. It begins with the willingness to receive the love of Jesus Christ. He loved us first, but that love does us no good unless we first receive it. Allowing ourselves to be loved by the Lord is the first step. Then we are empowered to love one another as we are loved. It is a matter of allowing His love to flow through us along with His strength to do so. Those who are loved can be released from the bondage of self and Satan. They experience the presence of the Lord when we are instruments in His hands fulfilling the Lord’s command.