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“God, my strength, my stronghold, my safe retreat when trouble descends:” (Jeremiah 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 clearing the pollen. The latter overflows the river banks and destroys everything in its path. It is evident that there will be times of trouble as there are times of tranquility. A troubled people will live in a troubled world. The environment is not determined by the righteous alone. We are in today’s 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 known dangers as well as those unseen. As danger descends, before it reaches us, we are protected even before the clouds gather and the forecast is given. 

“Blow the trumpet…. Sound the alarm!” (Joel 2:1) The whole world is currently hearing a singular sound. When the unexpected happens and shakes the entire planet earth, fera, doubts and questions grip peoples’  hearts. The insecurities were not created by the crisis, but more people became aware of them when the unexpected happens. What about the future, if there is to be a future? How widespread is this dilemma and are there other occurring tragedies to follow after this one? This pandemic, the coronavirus, has required the entire population of the planet to be quarantined. It is as if all the world has been placed on house arrest. When motion is restricted the economy suffers loss. When the economy suffers loss, necessities that sustain life are in limited supply. Where there is limited supply the demand is greater, crime increases. Safety and security are compromised, leaving people vulnerable to every vice known to man.   The alarm has been sounded. The prophetic Word of God is being fulfilled. The prophet Joel further says, “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand!”  The quality of character is being exposed…

“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” (1Corinthians 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 be 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. 

“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 the 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.” 

“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 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. B.C. means before the birth of Christ and A.D. (Anno Domini), the year of our Lord), begins with His birth (starting with 1 (not 0)). 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 universe and heaven are, 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 when we were enabled to give expression to the love of God with a willingness to please Him. Life may be the same around us, but for us who are being saved, we have a new beginning! 

“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…

“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” (1Corinthians 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 imbedded 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 as…

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1Timothy 1:15).  What Christ did on the cross by dying in order that men may live is amplified through our witness. His voice is raised through the lives of us who understand that we brought nothing that would qualify us to do what is now being done. The worst of sinners now stand with a testimony of victory because the Lord alone has graced us to live on the other side of our prior sins. We should never forget from which we came. We can then appreciate the distance God’s mercy and grace needed to reach down and arrest our violent attempts at self-destruction. For it to be said that we were at our worst when we thought of ourselves as being at our best is an understatement. He shows us the worst in us that He might bring forth the best in us. Sinners at their worst may find in Jesus Christ a House of Refuge. If we, being in the state we were once in could be saved, then He is able to…

“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13).  What men say cannot change the nature of a person or a thing. It has to do with recognizing and agreeing with the truth. Those who know Him merely by reputation can only repeat what they have heard and never share their truest knowledge of Him. Those who see Him from afar and can only see His silhouette may describe it with accuracy without ever knowing those special features that give expression to His passion. Only those who have answered the call to come to Him; to come close enough to see His face will be able to share with others the intimate things that would ignite a fire within the hearts of others to know what they may otherwise would have never known. What they say is not as important as what you say. Jesus Christ came to be known, but not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The resurrected Christ invites us to come closer and see the nail wounds in His hands that His love may be known through…

“He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5:23 NKJV).  “Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end” (Proverbs 5:23 MSG).  A warning to the wise is the anecdote to his falling away and divorcing himself from his wisdom. Disciples are to exercise disciplines in order to safeguard areas that would otherwise be vulnerable to the enemy. He is seeking to influence those who have taken pride in their stance as being invincible thus allowing their guards to be down. Death is the price paid for our redemption. Since we are alive to Christ and dead to the world, Satan’s ploy is to attempt to resurrect things that once dominated and controlled our lives. Daily decisions have far-reaching and severe consequences. Nothing is done in isolation from a path leading to a destination. And nothing is done that does not follow a pattern of living modeled by a master. Our death in Jesus Christ produced life with a purpose. We are being led to triumph over all the works of darkness. Our thoughts must be directed towards the eternal unless…