REST IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE
REST IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE31-Day devotional from Ninety-First Psalm and In ChristEdited by Rebekah M. Wilson
Copyright Š 2012 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
DAY ONEHe who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.Psalms 91:1
It is of great importance to note the condition on which Divine protection depends. The condition is that we dwell in the shelter of the Most High.
It is not enough to have "accepted Christ." Taking the four steps of salvation is not a ticket to the continual blessing of God. We must be dwelling in Christ right this minute if we expect to be protected by Him.
How do we dwell in Christ? By looking to Him at all times, for all decisions, under all circumstances. We must live in Him, talk to Him, think about Him, seek His guidance continually. Christ always must be uppermost in our mind.
We must be presenting our body a living sacrifice, setting our mind on things above, giving thanks for every blessing and letting our requests be made known to Him.
Dwelling in Christ is a way of life. In all our ways we must acknowledge Him. If we will keep on acknowledging Christ in the small things we will find that we do the same in great crises. It is in the "small" matters that we forget to acknowledge the Lord, and it in the small matters that we are tripped up.
"Will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." The days ahead in America are going to be tumultuous. There will be turmoil, people running here and there in their confusion. The individual who is dwelling in Christ will have rest. He is living in God's shadow. He does not fear death or whatever else the future holds for him.
He who has made Christ his dwelling will have rest, standing in trust in the days to come.DAY TWOI will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalms 91:2
God is our refuge. When the outside world grows dark and dangerous we run to God just as a child runs to his mother or father. We take refuge in Him.
God is our fortress. When the enemy approaches we go back to the fort. We are safe behind the impenetrable walls of the Lord. The forces of darkness have no power that can possibly breach those walls. No siege no matter how long maintained by the enemy can bring about surrender. We are safe in the Lord.
The Lord is our God, not pleasure, not money, not entertainment, not violence, not witchcraft, not our stomach, not popularity, not success, not our talent or education, nor any human being, but the Lord. We worship Him alone because He has removed our idols from us.
We trust in God because He remains faithful under all circumstances. There is much talk today about faith, and faith is important. When we have faith we have the victory and we can forge ahead.
Trust is different. Trust is our helpless dependence on God's absolute faithfulness. Sometimes we get pressed past the point of faith and all we have left is a blind trust that God somehow is up there and will pull us through. In our moment of weakness and defeat we are not able to express faith, but we can trust. We are not in happy victory, but we are trusting; and this helps us to throw off fear.
Have you been there? I have!
We trust in God because He remains faithful under all circumstances.DAY THREESurely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.Psalms 91:3
Satan is always setting snares to catch the believers. These are hidden along the paths where we usually walk.
If we are not in prayer, if we are living carelessly, if we are not abiding in Christ, we may suddenly find ourselves caught in the snare of temptation and sin. The Lord advised us to pray "Lead me not into temptation." But we thought this prayer was for those ungodly sinners somewhere. We did not realize we are just about to find ourselves in a situation where we cannot escape.
If we had been abiding in Christ as we were supposed to He would have kept us from getting caught.
Sometimes the Lord permits Satan to sift us, even when we have been praying and being careful. Then we experience pain and confusion. If our faith does not fail the Lord will bring us through in triumph. But we must never force ourselves out of God's prison, because to do so we have to break God's laws. We are to keep before the Lord, waiting patiently for Him. In due time He will deliver us.
If our faith does not fail, the Lord will bring us through in triumph and in His perfect time.DAY FOURSurely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. Psalms 91:3
"He will save you from the deadly pestilence." There are several major pestilences in America today, such as AIDS, other venereal diseases, cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes. I do not say these never afflict Christians for sometimes they do. Yet we have God's word that He will save us.
What do we do when we or a loved one come down with some dread disease? We pray, pray, pray, in the meanwhile pressing into God with all our strength. He always hears us.
Notice the following, for it presents an apparent contradiction:
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. (Luke 21:16-18NIV)
"They will put some of you to death." "Not a hair of your head will perish."
When we are abiding in God, He always saves us from the deadly pestilence and from every other harm. And yet sometimes Christians become ill and die. But the Scripture cannot be broken.
The answer to this seeming contradiction is that God does not regard our flesh as having eternal significance. "The flesh profits nothing," Jesus exclaimed.
God knows the number of hairs on our head. Let us say we burn to death in a fire. All of our hairs are burned up. Have they perished? No, not at all. Why? Because God will raise them in the resurrection.
So the Word holds true. When we are abiding in Him, God always saves us from genuine, lasting harm, just as He promised.
We need to get a more Heavenly look. We need to set our mind on things above.
We need to establish our treasures in Heaven!
When we are abiding in Him, He always saves us from lasting harm.DAY FIVEHe will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.Psalms 91:4
We are entering perilous times, an age of moral horrors. There are deep cultural divisions in our society, and not just along racial or religious lines. The problem has to do with values, with some favoring a licentious life style while others are more conservative in their viewpoint. So intense are the feelings being generated that civil war, perhaps on a relatively minor scale, is not an impossibility. Demagogues will use the passions to build a following by attempting to force the divisions into the channels of race or religion, creating stereotypes. The media will do the same for the sake of sensationalism in order to sell papers.
Also, because of the prevalence of sin, it is not unlikely that God soon will be visiting us with various catastrophes, such as earthquakes, famine, and economic collapse.
We Americans are not accustomed to war being fought on our soil, or the depths of privation suffered by other nations. But things may change rapidly. By the time this essay appears such dangers and distresses may already have taken place.
Then we believers in Christ are going to be very thankful for the covering of God's mighty protection, for the bulwarks He provides against the attacks of the enemy.
If there are dangers and distresses, Christ is with us and will provide and protect.DAY SIXYou will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,Psalms 91:5
Numerous American people are afflicted with fear, with anxiety, with depression. You would think with all the material blessings we enjoy we would be relatively free from fear. This is not the case.
Clinical anxiety and depression are not dismissed with "Just praise the Lord and have faith!" They are actual sicknesses for which various medicines have been developed.
It is not unusual for dedicated Christians to have emotional problems based in fear. Sometimes professional advice is very helpful and necessary. But again, a consistent trust in the Lord will eventually bring victory over fear.
The "arrow that flies by day" speaks of war. We in America have not experienced war on our land to the extent true of Germany, France, and England, for example. God has seen fit to protect and bless us.
But Christian values are often mocked and despised today by a sizable part of the population. As a result we are losing our strength and Divine protection. It may be true that we are going to be visited with war unless there is wholesale repentance, a turning to God and especially to righteous behavior.
If war should come we can remain free from fear if we are willing to abide in Christ. Of what are we to be afraid? If there is famine or danger, Christ is with us and will provide and protect. Should we or our loved ones be killed, we go to a much better place. So there is no basis for fear for the individual who loves the Lord and looks to Him continually.
A consistent trust in the Lord will eventually bring victory over fear.DAY SEVENNor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Psalms 91:6
The hospitals of America are filled with people suffering from dreadful diseases. How terrifying must be the diagnosis of AIDS, and yet God is still present for the person who will turn to Him. Numerous Americans pick up the telephone to hear that their biopsy, or the biopsy taken from one of their children, is positive. Terror strikes! The wage earner, concerned for the welfare of his family, awakens in the night with chest pains. Terror strikes!
But God's unchanging Word says we will not fear these. Only by maintaining a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ can we be delivered from the fear of the sickness that stalks in the darkness.
"The plague that destroys at midday." Of late in America we have had destructive hurricanes and floods. If we Christians do not repent of our wicked ways and turn to the Lord, praying every day for our nation, we may see many more such violent expressions of nature's fury. I think the blood of the aborted fetuses is crying to God from the ground. The result may be paralyzing floods, earthquakes, and fires that will affect more than some small geographic area.
Only by maintaining a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ can we be delivered from the fear.DAY EIGHTA thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.Psalms 91:7
The current preaching concerning protection from the disasters that appear to be at hand is that we have no need to fear because we will fly home to Heaven before any of this takes place. Thus the believers do not get down to business with God in many instances. Why should they? They won't be here!
Some teach that Christians from the first century have been expecting an any-moment rapture. (I do not believe unbiased scholarship bears this out.)
In any case, stop and think! For two thousand years, it is claimed, Christians have been expecting an any-moment rapture. But during that time how many Christians have been tortured and murdered because of their faith? Since this undoubtedly is true, would they not have been wise to be prepared just in case the rapture did not come in their lifetime? For two thousand years!
So it is today. Would it not be wise for us to preach that Christians should prepared themselves to stand in the evil day, just in case another thousand years transpires before the Lord returns?
"Yes, but we know He is coming very, very soon."
There is evidence in the Apostle Paul's writings that he thought the Lord was coming soon.
The Lord said, "Behold I come quickly." This was spoken two thousand years ago.
It also is a fact that major prophecies are yet to be fulfilled, such as the rise of Antichrist and the gathering of the nations against Jerusalem. These events will not happen overnight. They shall take place over a period of time prior to the coming of the Lord. Teaching to the contrary is based on speculations and emotions, not disciplined biblical exegesis; at least this has been my experience.
We must keep looking up and keep our eyes on Jesus.DAY NINE A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. Psalms 91:7
When the Dispensational screen is placed over the text of the New Testament it creates numerous inconsistencies that must be explained away with remarks such as: "that verse applies only to the Jews"; or "there are things we don't understand"; or "the people of Paul's time could read between the lines and understood his reference to mean other than what appears on the surface"; or, even more suspect, "the Greek term apostasia (revolt against authority) means 'falling away from the earth.'"
This sort of biased explanation would not be permitted with any cardinal doctrine of Christianity. Why is it tolerated with the blessed hope of the Church?
The Lord's protection is not withdrawal to Heaven, it is as it states: "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you." This is the scriptural comfort. The notion that prior to the rise of Antichrist we will be caught up to Heaven is not scriptural. There is not one verse in the Bible that states the purpose for the catching up of the saints at the appearing of the Lord is to protect them from harm. Not one! Not one verse!
I think the minister whose intention is to preach and teach the Word of God should consider ceasing to announce a pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers until he or she can find at least one verse that states clearly the purpose of the catching up of the believers is for the purpose of protecting them from harm.
Dear Lord, please micromanage my thoughts, words, and actions today, I pray in Jesus name. Amen.DAY TENYou will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.Psalms 91:8
We will not be hidden away in Heaven when destruction comes, unless we have died in the meantime. Rather we will be present on the earth where we can observe the punishment of the wicked.
Note the following:
The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. (Psalms 37:12,13)
Today in America we see what many of us perceive as the exalting of wicked people. When we behave righteously and suggest others should do the same, they become exceedingly angry. Those who do not fear the Lord rail against "those right-wing fundamentalists who are destroying the Republican party." It may be noted that this is a stereotype because there are many Americans who are not Christians who are righteous and have integrity.
Please observe carefully that the conflict, in the above verse, is not between those who are Christians and those who are not, but between the righteous and the wicked.
Many Christians are wicked. Many non-Christians are righteous and have integrity.
The wicked do not become too upset over our faith in the blood atonement or our talk about going to mansions in Heaven. Rather they "plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them" over issues of righteous behavior. For example, in past years we have had a president who lied to the country. Some of the people are concerned about this. But it appears many Americans seem to view lying as pardonable human frailty. There is a schism here and it is giving rise to violent passion.
Now notice, the Lord does not gnash back at the wicked and He does not want you or me to be gnashing back at them. The Lord laughs at the wicked because He knows their day of punishment is coming. He wants you and me to laugh with Him and realize the Lord is in control and the wicked shall be punished in due time.
If you find it impossible to laugh with the Lord, then pray until you can, until He lifts your anger and bitterness. The Lord does not honor or accept our fretting. Fretting leads only to sin. The wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
Be an Isaac and laugh at the wicked. They will need your help and prayers soon enough.DAY ELEVENIf you make the Most High your dwellingeven the LORD, who is my refuge.Psalms 91:9
All of the above help and deliverance depends on our abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ does not mean at some past time we have taken "the four steps of salvation." It means right now, this very minute, we are looking to Jesus for all we are saying, thinking, and doing. We actually are abiding in Christ, living in Christ as in an environment, holding all our decisions, worries, fears, hopes, dreads, and dreams before Him so we do not take one step out of His will. Only then can we claim the promises of the ninety-first Psalm.
David says, "even the Lord, who is my refuge." The Lord was David's hiding place. It also is true that the Spirit of Christ dwelled in David and was saying God the Father is Christ's dwelling place. The Lord Jesus always dwells in God and lives by the Life of God. So it must be true that we always dwell in Christ and live by the Life of Christ.
Abiding in Christ means this very minute, we are looking to Jesus for all we are saying, thinking, and doing.DAY TWELVEThen no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.Psalms 91:10
A similar promise is as follows:
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:7NIV)
In order to have such protection we must fulfill the conditions. It is not enough just to attend an Christian church. It is not enough to believe correct doctrine concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not enough to take the "four steps of salvation." It is not enough to be able to look back at a point in time and say "I accepted Christ" or "I was born again at that time."
Salvation is always "today." The Kingdom of God is as a seed. It is alive in us and growing if we are tending to it. But it is entirely possible for that seed to perish without bearing lasting fruit.
The Kingdom of God is not a ticket. We cannot be a Christian yesterday. We cannot be abiding in eternal life yesterday. Either our life is in Christ and drawing eternal Life from Him or else the forces of decay and death are moving in and we are approaching judgment and condemnation.
There is no message more needed in America today than the truth that yesterday's salvation is not at work today, unless we are abiding in Christ.
There are numerous verses in the New Testament that remind us of the need to be abiding in Christ moment by moment, and of the fatal consequences of living in the world while trusting in some past religious experience to insure our entrance into Heaven when we die.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39)DAY THIRTEENThen no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.Psalms 91:10
There are many warnings in the New Testament.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (II Peter 2:20NIV)
Yet the current preaching of sovereign, unconditional grace proceeds as though such exhortations did not exist. The Christian churches are not prospering today, in terms of growth in righteous, holy living, because the contemporary teaching in numerous instances is not scriptural. We have departed from the Word and the lampstand, the testimony, has been removed from us. We have been weakened spiritually and we do not realize it.
What can we do? We can return to the Scriptures and start teaching, verse by verse, what the texts state rather than our traditions. If the ministers in America would return to the Bible and preach and teach the inspired texts we soon would have the national repentance that is needed if the nation is to survive.
Yesterday's salvation is not at work today, unless we are abiding in Christ.DAY FOURTEENFor he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; Psalms 91:11
We do not know too much about the great multitude of angels that God has created. We do understand many of them rebelled and today we wrestle against themsome who apparently at one time were highly placed in the spiritual hierarchy.
Why do we have to wrestle against them? It is because they are in rebellion against Christ. They are losing their places of authority to Him and His saints. They stand against all we would do to obey and please Jesus Christ.
God's reaction to the rebellion of the angels has been to create man, and to place man on the highest throne. In fact, God is moving His throne from Heaven to the hearts of His obedient sons. From there He shall reign for eternity.
What then of the angels? The righteous angels have been made ministering spirits that God's sons may be enabled to overcome the rebellious angels and to take their places on the thrones formerly occupied by the rebels.
An angel strengthened Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Angels rejoice when a sinner repents and turns to God. Christ announces the name of each victorious saint in the Presence of God and His angels.
Now we find God commands His angel to guard those who are abiding in Christ, to guard them in all their ways. We do not see the angels but if we are performing God's will they watch over us with the greatest care no matter what we are doing. If they did not we soon would be destroyed.
God commands His angel to guard those who are abiding in Christ, to guard them in all their ways.DAY FIFTEENThey will lift you up in their hands, so you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalms 91:12
The angels of God guard us in all our ways so very carefully that we do not even trip over a stone. This statement is advising us that God attends to the smallest detail of our daily activities.
I think we are lifted up and delivered on many, many occasions of which we are not aware. This care and attention to detail is constant. The demons would soon make our life miserable and dangerous if we were not guarded with the greatest diligence.
Again, this promise is to those who are living at all times in communion with Jesus Christ, not typical American churchgoers who spend an hour or two in church on Sunday and then live in the flesh for the remainder of the hours of the week. Such are not disciples. They pass in America for Christians but by the Bible definition they are not Christians. They are not seeking Jesus Christ in every aspect of their life. Therefore the ninety-first Psalm does not apply to them.
God attends to the smallest detail of our daily activities.DAY SIXTEENYou will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Psalms 91:13
It is likely that no reader of these lines will ever tread on a lion, or a cobra, or a great lion, or a serpent. What, then, is being promised here?
The lion and serpent represent the power of Satan. The true Christian, the disciple of Jesus, is to have no fear of what Satan or his angels and demons can do.
While we never are to be presumptuous or careless in what we do, the idea of trampling on the great lion and the serpent speaks of more than protection. It portrays a boldness of action, possible when we are obeying God strictly in all we are doing. The verse is looking forward to the hour when Satan is crushed under the feet of the saints. But even today, as Jesus directs us, we can ride roughshod over all the power of darkness.
Do you remember how Dagon, the fish god of the Philistines, suffered when faced with God's Ark? So it is true that when the victorious Christian comes face to face with the works of Satan it is Satan who is destroyed.
We Pentecostal people are superstitious. We tend to peep and mutter concerning the forces of darkness rather than meeting them confidently, knowing from the Lord Jesus that He has given us authority and power over all of them.
Sometimes we make the mistake of rebuking demons or yelling at them. This not only is weak and fruitless but is interpreted by the demons as worship. They love attention.
We are not to rebuke the devil but resist the devil. We resist the devil by serving God and behaving righteously. Satan is terrified of the righteous and he flees in disarray.
Soon he returns and endeavors to deceive our mind. For he cannot possibly harm us unless he can persuade us to disobey God in some area. Satan has no power over us unless we are sinning. Then he can get past our protection even though we name the name of Jesus Christ.
Christianity can be one of two things in our life. It can be a religion we subscribe to, obeying its tenets just as the Muslims and Buddhists obey the tenets of their religion. In this case the ninety-first Psalm does not apply to us. Christianity has been, at least until recently, the prevailing religion in America.
Or, Christianity can be a daily experience with the living Lord Jesus Christ, in which we look to Him continually, trusting in Him for every aspect of our life. We are to present our body a living sacrifice, setting our mind on things above, carrying our cross behind Jesus, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord at all times. We slowly but surely are learning to live by His body and blood just as He live by the Life of the Father.
We are to abide in Him as He abides in the Father.
Which are you? Are you a member of the Christian religion? Or are you a branch from the true Vine, bearing the fruit of righteousness and praise that the nations can observe? Are you showing forth the light of your good works that people may glorify God, or does your religion consist mostly of attendance at church on Sunday while your personality remains basically unchanged?
Dagon, the fish god, fell before the Ark of the Covenant. Satan and his helpers will fall before you if you are being created the dwelling place of Christ.DAY SEVENTEEN"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name."Psalms 91:14
Loving the Lord and acknowledging His name are the conditions on which we are rescued and protected. To love the Lord and acknowledge His name do not always mean we are trying to convert people to the Christian faith.
To love the Lord is to invite Him into every area of our personality and behavior.
To acknowledge the Lord is to call on Him for assistance in every aspect of life, honoring Him and thanking Him continually for the help and wisdom He is giving us continually.
There is much evangelizing being carried on in the United States as ministers seek larger churches and followings. Sometimes such evangelizing is a proselyting to our religion more than anything else. However, it may be true that good has come from the desire for greater numbers.
I think if we will love the Lord fervently and acknowledge Him in all our ways we will win souls to the righteous Jesus, not just make another adherent to our religion. Whether or not this is true, it is a fact that the Christian testimony in America has been harmed by the behavior of some of the Christians. The American people are cynical and are turning to other religions to satisfy their hunger for God and the supernatural.
Nevertheless, our God is the one true God. Jesus Christ is alive and in charge of the universe. He will rescue and protect us if we will love and acknowledge Him continually.
To love the Lord is to invite Him into every area of our personality and behavior.DAY EIGHTEEN"He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him."Psalms 91:15
There is a tendency among American Christians to attempt to find a formula that will guarantee a successful marriage, a peaceful home life, health, peace, and happiness. We ought not to be looking for ways in which we can use the things of Christ to get what we want.
The Lord does not invite us to put our faith in faith but in Himself. We are to call upon Him constantly, giving thanks and letting our requests be made known to Him. Christ answers us, not as the metaphysical response to some formula we have managed to apply correctly but as a Person, a genuine living Person.
God is not a source of power we are to tap by applying religious principles. How many books are there in the Christian book stores that suggest this very thing?
God is a Person. Jesus Christ is a Person. God is our Father. Jesus Christ is our older Brother.
Christ did not come to earth to demonstrate spiritual principles that we are to imitate and thus receive miracle-working power. Christ came to earth to die as an atonement for the sin of the world. Then He rose from the dead in flesh and bone form. He is a Person!
Then He ascended, meanwhile giving the Holy Spirit to His beloved saints in the form of wisdom, knowledge, miracle power, healing virtue, and so forth, the purpose being to build them up in His image.
When a sufficient number have come to spiritual maturity He shall return with them and install His Kingdom on the earth. They are His Bride, His brothers, His very Body. They are absolutely one with Him. He is their life. He is the Vine and they are the branches. They are one in Him just as He is One in the Father. They follow Him wherever He goes.
To attempt to imitate Christ in order to gain power and wisdom that one can use for his own purposes (however clothed in religious terms) is to be the same as Satan: to want to be like God without becoming part of God. To approach the Christian salvation in this manner is to partake of the spirit of Antichrist and the False Prophet. This approach sells book and so it finds its way into the Christian book stores, which sometimes seem oblivious to the merit or lack of merit of the merchandise they are selling.
We are to call upon Him constantly, giving thanks and letting our requests be made known to Him.DAY NINETEEN"With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."Psalms 91:16
How long is a "long life"? A long life is a life long enough to be satisfactory.
Many older Christians are held here beyond their appointed time, I believe, because we are reluctant to let them go. Extraordinary medial procedures are adopted that keep them "alive" far past the time when they are really living here on earth.
Sometimes they are chained here by our prayers when actually God has plans for them in the spirit realm that will make them gloriously happy. Our desire to keep them here is understandable but is it selfish? We must ask ourselves this.
There ought to be a time when we are ten years of age or eighty at which we understand our work on earth has been completed, when we are a mature cob of corn in the ear, so to speak, ready to be put in God's barn to await the day of resurrection.
Are we so in love with this valley of the shadow of death in which we struggle to survive that we are willing to resist our entrance or the entrance of a loved one into a world of peace and joy?
God will satisfy us with as many years as necessary to fulfill our own need for ripening and to make the contribution assigned to us. He knows all our days and they already have been written.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15,16NIV)
Let's do our best for God while we are alive on earth. We will enter the next stage of our existence soon enough.
He knows all our days and they already have been written.DAY TWENTYThe LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,Nahum 1:7
God will show His salvation to those who are abiding in Him. His salvation is not as apparent as we might think. We have not seen it just because we have "accepted Christ."
Receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior is the beginning of the good fight of faith. It is the first step on the path to eternal life. Many forces arise to try to take our crown, to prevent us from bearing lasting fruit.
The gate is small that leads to life and the path is constricted and filled with obstacles. But if we persist, day after day, in seeking God we will find Him.
Everyone who asks shall receive.
Everyone who seeks shall find.
To him who knocks the door shall be opened.
For some of us there are many years of patiently bearing our cross behind Jesus. As we near the end of our pilgrimage He becomes ever more real and present. We cannot see what is ahead as clearly as we would prefer, but we have enough intimations of what it will be like to keep us going. There is a joy before us that makes it possible for us to bear our cross.
We know by faith that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And so we keep on plugging ahead, realizing that what we desire in our heart cannot be found in the present life.
God knows those who are His, and they have been commanded to depart from sin and lawlessness. They are as arrows hidden in His quiver, waiting for the attack upon the enemy.
If we persist, day after day, in seeking God we will find Him.DAY TWENTY-ONEThe angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.Psalms 34:7
There is an astounding amount of wickedness being practiced in the day in which we are living, at least in America. Abominations that have taken place each day are described in the newspaper. We scarcely can comprehend the depths of depravity to which people are falling, and yet we can say in our heart "There but for the grace of God go I."
With all of this God is laughing, because He is in control and knows the end of all wicked behavior. Let us not become angry or fretful but keep on laughing with God. Only then can we do the good in the world that we have been destined to accomplish.
There is no question that we are approaching days of moral depravity, social uproar, and possibly economic woes and even war. However, we are not ready to have our orderly existence disturbed. The American people are accustomed to supermarkets with well-stocked shelves. Most people have at least something to eat each day and a place to keep warm.
If real trouble does come to our land we shall see widespread crime and much selfishness as our spoiled citizens seek to keep from being denied what they want or need, even if they have to harm other folks in order to be satisfied themselves. We are not used to being deprived of the necessities of life.
The nation will be in dire need of people who can stand in confidence and reveal the faithfulness of God, who understand that death will bring those who are trusting in the Lord Jesus into a much better world.
Only the Christian people have a solid foundation on which to rest. Only the Christian people are the light of the world, and if they are all taken up with their own concerns the rest of the Americans will have no place to turn for help. The Christian ministry must begin to warn the believers of what is ahead and prepare them not only to survive themselves but to be aware of the wealth of spiritual provision they can access in order to help the frightened people around them.
If we persist, day after day, in seeking God we will find Him.DAY TWENTY-TWOAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3
From my point of view, if all the passages of the Bible were to be removed except one, I would choose the part about abiding in Christ to be the passage that is left. To abide in Christ for eternity is, or ought to be, our goal. I know there are many other critical aspects of redemption, such as the blood atonement. But it seems to me that most of these other aspects, or perhaps all of them, lead to our abiding in Christ.
When we are abiding in Christ we are with Him, just as He promised Where Jesus always is, is in the center of the Presence and will of the Father. This is where we also are to be at all times.
Being with Jesus where He is, is a major portion of our land of promise. It is not all of our land of promise, but it is a great and essential part.
There are so many enemies, forces, pressures, perplexities, temptations, distractions, that war against us incessantly, seeking to remove us from our place of rest in Christ. It is the fight of faith. By faith we resist everything that would pull us down from our high place in God.
Much experience is required before we are able to recognize these hostile forces and deal with them successfully. However, it is God's will that we, through Christ Jesus, overcome every adversary, emerging from the fray dwelling in untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
We can attain such total victory, you know.DAY TWENTY-THREEAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3
When I first got out of the Marine Corps, at the conclusion of World War Two, I went to Bible school. The Lord had called me to preach while stationed in Sasebo, Japan.
When I entered Bible school I was a happy believer. I had not been raised in church, and so I knew nothing of what took place among Christian church-people. I had been saved roughly three years, and all I knew was the fellowship of Christian marines. We met frequently in a Quonset hut in Hawaii, and later in a wooden Japanese barracks.
The students and teachers at the Bible school were good people, but I don't think they ever had heard that we can live in victory. The idea seemed to be that while we are in the world we are going to sin, and God understands this and asks us just to do the best we can. Then He will save us and bring us to Heaven by grace.
I don't know what is wrong with me, whether I am belligerent, or stubborn, or what. Audrey tells me I am a maverick.
Whatever the problem is, I could not settle for the idea that we are condemned to sin and must always go around with our head down, wishing we could do better, and hoping God is patient with us.
So I made my own covenant with God, and tried to live in peace with everyone else. I think God must have put faith in my heart (or pride, or something else) that it is possible to do God's will, even though we do have sin in us and are living on the earth.
I have made many mistakes over the subsequent 54 years, but have never given up on the idea that Jesus Christ has enough power to enable us to resist sin successfully.DAY TWENTY-FOURBecause he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18
There is no dark secret to remaining in the center of God's perfect will. All we have to do is abide in Christ. When sin comes against us, we go to the Throne of Grace for help. And we get victory every time we do this.
It is my understanding now, from the Book of Hebrews, that continuing in known sin is not permitted under the new covenant. The assumption is that when the Spirit of God points out any sin in our life, we then are to confess the sin and turn away from it. In the meanwhile, the blood atonement keeps our conscience absolutely clear before God.
Well, I did not understand the theology of the Book of Hebrews while I was in Bible school. I guess God felt like giving me a desire to please Him totally. (Perhaps it is a streak of perfectionism in me. Do you suppose?)
It really is a matter of abiding in Christ. Each day that we abide in Christ we are faced with a new battle; a new problem. And each day there is grace to overcome that problem. Some form of darkness faces us each day, and sufficient grace is given to us each day.
Let's say we are irritated by the personality of a fellow believer. He always has to be regarded as important. No matter where he is or what he is doing, he is on center stage. This is irritating, to say the least.
So we are faced with this darkness in his personality. What do we do? We go to Jesus immediately. Jesus does not want us to be irritated. He is not irritated and He doesn't want us to be irritated.
Jesus gives us compassion and understanding. We rise above this pettiness. We might be led to pray for the brother. In any case, we stay with the Lord until this irritation is completely gone. And it shall go! "Resist the devil and he shall flee from you."
All of us have strengths and all of us have weaknesses. The wise pastor accepts the strengths of people, and waits patiently as the Lord works with their weaknesses.
We must be patient with one another. Do you agree with that?DAY TWENTY-FIVEAnd we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.Hebrews 3:6
We are facing an age of physical and moral horrors. If we are to rest in the center of the Presence and will of God, we absolutely must gain victory over fretting about the evil we will be witnessing. If Satan cannot tear us down by seducing us into wicked actions, he will tear us down by provoking us to fret about the wickedness we are beholding in the world. We are not to fret about the evil! Not one time! And Christ will give us victory over this. Fretting is a form of saying God does not know what He is doing in the world. RememberGod can put a halt to evil any time He chooses to do so!
Jesus said if we would rest in His Person and will we would bear fruit. The fruit we bear is His image, just as humans produce their own image in their children.
When we continue to abide in Christ, His Personality comes forth in us a little bit at a time. Then it is carried over into those whom we are affecting. Thus the image of Christ is to be spread throughout the creation. "Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth with fruit."
Fretting is a form of saying God does not know what He is doing in the world. Do not fret!DAY TWENTY-SIXFor wherever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:28
When Christ appears, God will bring with Him those who fell asleep in Him.
What does it mean to live in Christ and to fall asleep (die) in Him? It means much, much more than merely professing to believe the facts of theology, or to attend church regularly. It helps to believe the facts of theology and to attend church regularly, but this is not what it means to be "in Christ."
To be "in Jesus" means to be living in Him just as you would live in a house. You are with Him at all times. He is in your thoughts continually. You do nothing without looking to Him for His directions.
You try continually in every way to please Him. You act no differently during the week than you do in church on Sunday morning. Jesus is your Life, your Strength, your Song, your Joy. It really is marriage, the deepest union possible.
Each time you turn aside from your sinful nature and follow the path of righteousness, you are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. Soon you are living by His body and blood. His body and blood are His Life, His Resurrection in you. When He appears, it is His body and blood that will raise you to Him.
This is the meaning of, "Where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered." The slain Lamb is the Carcass. The eagles are those who feed on the slain Lamb.
You are with Him at all times. You do nothing without looking to Him for His directions. DAY TWENTY-SEVEN Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Hebrews 12:1
No closer union with Jesus is possible, than that of living by His body and blood.
How many believers that you know are living in such union with Jesus? These are the ones who will return with Him, in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.
"But Brother Thompson, you are setting the standard too high! There won't be many people who will return with the Lord and be raised from the dead!"
Am I indeed setting the standard too high? Or is it possible that the standard in America is so low it is somewhere in the mud?
Think about the heroes of faith described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Have I set the standard too high for them?
Yet, he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than any of them, until they too are born again.
The truth is, we are in great deception in America. The Bible is the only reliable standard. I know you agree with that.
How high is the standard set by the Bible?DAY TWENTY-EIGHTTherefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Hebrews 12:1
Are we supposed to present our body a living sacrifice? How many believers in America have presented their body as a living sacrifice? Can it be said of us that we are "in Jesus" if we do not present our body a living sacrifice?
The Lord Jesus told us we could not be His disciple unless we turned away from the world, denied ourselves, took up our cross, and followed Him each day. How many believers in our county have turned away from he world, denied themselves, have taken up their cross and are following Jesus each day? How many in your church? Can it be said of us that we are "in Jesus" if we have not taken up our cross each day and followed Him? Can we be in Jesus if we are not a disciple?
Have you taken up your cross today?DAY TWENTY-NINEAnd he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Revelation 7:14
People are apt to judge truth by what they see around them. They compare themselves with their group, their country, their world. They do not often compare themselves with the saints of the Bible. Yet they fancy that they will be perfectly at home with people like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and the Apostle Paul.
We are in a backslidden state in America. I think God is going to have to do three things if there are going to be many believers in America who will return with the Lord.
God will have to pour out His Spirit on us.
God will have to raise up leaders who turn away from our dead traditions and
begin to preach what the Epistles declare.
God will have to send much tribulation on us, because we enter the Kingdom through tribulation.
I can't see any other way. The foolishness continues. The games are played in church. People are living in the flesh and talking about being carried up to Heaven to live in their ornate mansions. There is lack of integrity in the people, and especially in the ministry. The sign of success is crowds of people on Sunday morning, although no one knows if any of this multitude are actually growing in the ability to recognize good and evil and in the strength to embrace the good and renounce the evil.
We enter the Kingdom through much tribulation.DAY THIRTYLet us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40
We see signs of life as thousands of young people meet to pray and consecrate themselves to the Lord. But they will fall back into their old ways if we do not have scriptural doctrine that challenges them to grow into spiritual giants. "Grace-Heaven-rapture" is not going to produce spiritual giants of righteousness.
And so the play continues. But unless I am mistaken, we are going to find that God is not impressed with numbers of people. He will do what He has promised in His Word. The victorious saints will inherit everything. Those who led defeated lives will be dealt with in a variety of ways, some losing their talents; some beaten with lashes, many or few; some being driven from the Lord's Presence into the outer darkness.
God has mercy on the weak; not on the lazy, careless servants, but on the weak. He will work with the bruised reeds until they are strong in righteousness. But those who play games with God will be beaten at their own games. With the cunning, God shows Himself more cunning.
Let us, as many as who will, turn again to the Lord God. Let us turn away from the American way of death and seek the Lord. If we will confess our sins and turn away from them, seeking the Lord with our whole heart, He may yet spare our nation.
Let us turn and seek the Lord while He may be found.DAY THIRTY-ONETherefore, brothers, we have an obligationbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12,13
If things continue in America as they are; if Hollywood continues to spew out its filth; if the politicians keep catering to those who are blatantly sinning, murdering their offspring, committing acts of sexual perversion, you can be sure that the fires of judgment will not be long in coming to America.
The dead in Christ, and only the dead in Christ, will return with the Lord and be raised to stand once more on the earth in glorified form. Then they shall join the living saints and be caught up to meet the Lord of Hosts in the air. From there they will descend and put an end to sin on the earth.
You can be one of these if you wish; but you will have to seek the Lord with your whole heart that you might be found worthy to stand before Him in that Day.
If, however, you continue to live as most American Christians do, you will not be raised from the dead when the Lord appears.
We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
You will have to seek the Lord with your whole heart that you might be found worthy to stand before Him in that Day.