For many months, I searched and studied the Scriptures, pleading with the Lord to give me a message of hope and encouragement for these hard times. My spirit cried out, “Lord, please speak a word to my heart for Your children, for You alone have the words of eternal life. Only You can speak a word of comfort to us in such times.”
The Holy Spirit answered my prayer, speaking the following to my heart:
“I am going to give you a single promise from my Word. And if you will commit your very life to it, this word will keep you through any and all perilous times.”
EMBRACE THE TRUTH
Beloved, I know if we will especially embrace this one verse, fully believing it, it will be a daily power-source of faith. Here is the promise the Spirit showed me:
“YOUR FATHER KNOWETH WHAT THINGS YE HAVE NEED OF, BEFORE YE ASK HIM” (Matthew 6:8).
In Luke 12, Jesus enumerates the things He says our heavenly Father knows we need. In short, those needs are: food, drink and clothing.
“Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. . . . If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Luke 12:22, 28).
I must ask you: As the storm rages, are you going to the Lord in prayer? If you are, then you’re gaining strength, because your mind is becoming fixed on your heavenly Father’s love. In His presence, He continually reveals His power to you and encourages you that you will make it through.
It is not God’s will that any of His children face the coming perilous times with paralyzing fear; in fact, biblical prophecy and warnings should not frighten us. Jesus’ heart on the matter is stated very plainly:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”(John 14:27).
WARNING US IN LOVE
Jesus prophesied of world events to come that sounded frightful. He spoke of wars, pestilence, earthquakes in various places. And He warned His hearers: “You are going to be afflicted, and some of you will even be killed. Iniquity will abound. False prophets and messiahs shall arise, deceiving many” (see Matthew 24:3 through 41).
Later in Matthew, Jesus explains that He forewarned of these catastrophic events so that we would believe in Him when we saw them coming to pass.
HE IS LORD OVER ALL
Jesus wasn’t trying to put a burden of fear on us. Rather, He simply doesn’t want us to be surprised when we are hit by awful storms. He doesn’t want our faith to be shipwrecked when we suddenly face incredible suffering. And most of all, He wants us to believe there is a Lord over all these awful things, a Father who is loving enough to warn us about them and keep us through them all.
Scripture makes it clear that we are to heed every prophetic message delivered by godly men and confirmed in Scripture. We are to gather all the knowledge we can about the oncoming storms so that we can prepare our hearts for whatever we will face.
But we are not to let fear or anxiety consume our thinking or take hold of our hearts. Darkness is certainly coming and judgment is at our very door. But as God’s people, we cannot allow any cloud of darkness to hide the great light of His promises of love and mercy toward His people.
DON’T LET SATAN STEAL YOUR HOPE
We must be well informed by God’s Word and His prophets, but we are not to dwell on prophetic knowledge so much that it takes over our lives. The devil would love for this to happen. He knows he can’t get us to doubt the Lord’s Word concerning judgment, so he will attempt to take us to another extreme and drive us to a fearful obsession with perilous times.
Simply put, Satan wants to rob us of all hope by consuming us with foreboding thoughts. But we cannot figure out the future through being totally preoccupied with it. In reality, we can get bogged down in fear and obsessing about frightful events.
FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS
The apostle Paul reassures us with this instruction:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,think on these things” (Philippians 4:8, my emphasis).
In other words: “You have heard all the warnings. Now, take heed to what God’s Word reveals and to what His watchmen are saying. And, finally, fix your thoughts on Jesus and His goodness.”
For years, I have been faithfully warning of a soon-to-come worldwide economic holocaust. Even now, we are seeing this coming to pass around the globe. I have warned that Christians are going to suffer, that there will be great loss and hardship, and already this is happening. Multitudes of precious saints all over the word are enduring great financial and mental stress.
As awful as these things are, none of them should be the focus of our energies and ministry. Rather, we must continue proclaiming the love of God the Father and the tender mercy of our Savior.
I know the American lifestyle — indeed, the lifestyles of those in every prosperous nation — are about to change permanently. I know everything is reeling and shaking. But when I get up in the morning, I don’t worry, “What are we going to eat? What are we going to wear? What about heat, light, security?” Jesus warned us not to do that.
I rest in my Father’s love. The fact is, I know that I am not God and He alone is in control of all these things. I simply do what the prophet Isaiah did: He put his mind to rest by fully trusting in his Lord.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
Isaiah the prophet declared this truth to believers in every age — and God cannot lie!
“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus’” (Luke 1:30-31, ESV).
God’s favor literally caused a circumstantial change in Mary’s life — a 180-degree turn. According to the Bible, she conceived. When God’s favor is on your life, He does not just say, “Things are going to work out; just try to think happy thoughts.” No, God changes your world; He turns things upside down.
A BIRTHING OF SOMETHING NEW
Mary conceived! When you receive God’s favor, He will cause a conception, a birthing of something new in your life. There are needs in your life, a cry in your soul. And as you come to God and receive His favor, blessings will be poured out upon you, and your life will be changed.
Mary understood this and she began to sing:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48).
THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT
I love this phrase, “For behold, from now on.” From now on something will be different — and I want you to hold on to that. I want you to own that truth in your soul, in your spirit, and in your mind today.
“From now on” a transition is taking place in you. You are going from living for your own wants and desires to a life that is absolutely surrendered to Him, realizing that you cannot do anything in your own pride. Determine that you will trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.
A family in our church has a powerful testimony. The father had been abused, violated and beaten by a religious figure when he was young and he had burned with hatred for religion his entire adult life.
When he lost his job a few years ago, his wife started receiving aid from several services we offer to the families of our city. Later at Christmas, she became a volunteer, and then she made friends, and little by little, began attending church regularly.
I WILL NEVER SET FOOT IN A CHURCH AGAIN
A year later, when she was again volunteering during the Christmas distribution event, her husband warned her, “Feel free to go, but I will not pick you up! I will never set foot in a church again!”
At the end of her last day of volunteering, she called her husband and said, “Sweetheart, I’m so tired. Please come pick me up at the church.” For whatever reason, he reluctantly agreed. More than an hour later, she still hadn’t seen him so she started to be concerned for his welfare. Looking around the church, she found him in the sanctuary carrying a box of food!
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Well, I decided to come in and see all this for myself. They needed help so I’m going to stay for a little while longer, if you don’t mind.”
HE LOWERED HIS HEAD AND SOBBED
Two hours later, the couple got into their car in the church parking lot after seeing hundreds of families—the poorest of the poor—arriving at the church and receiving their baskets and gifts. The husband could no longer contain himself and lowered his head to the steering wheel and sobbed. His wife had never seen him like this.
Years of abuse at the hands of “religious” men who represented God streamed down his cheeks in those tears. He finally was able to say to his wife, “When I was a little boy, I loved to hear people talk about Jesus, and I wanted to help others like He did.”
This year their entire family volunteered at Christmas. They have become living stones, living epistles of His grace, read by all men, by the supernatural power of faith.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon a prepared people who “were all with one accord [of one mind]” (Acts 2:1). So, what does it mean that the people were of one mind? Simply put, mercy was flowing through them. Let me explain.
Consider those who were on the scene at Pentecost, people we revere today as church fathers. Some of these men had sinned grievously against the Lord and against their brethren. They all had to be forgiven and their sins covered, or the church never would have moved forward with the work the Spirit was about to do.
Consider Peter. He had blasphemed horribly, wounding Jesus as well as the other disciples. That church body forgave Peter, and they covered him so his past would never be held against him. Consider also James and John, the “Sons of Thunder.” They too had sinned grievously, offending their fellow disciples when they professed to be greater than the rest. They also were forgiven and covered.
In truth, anyone present that day might have said, “Hold it, Peter. Who made you the leader here? You denied Christ.” No one did that, because their hearts had been prepared through mercy. And they were ready to receive the Spirit when He came in the great outpouring at Pentecost.
ISSUES OF THE HEART
Beloved, this is why in Peter’s epistles his focus is on the issues of the heart. He knew firsthand all these things had to be cast out and forgiven, lest the Spirit’s work be hindered by any flesh. The same is true for Christ’s church today, we who are to receive His mighty harvest rain.
Will we hinder that work of the Spirit by failing to forgive? Or will we be prepared by allowing mercy to flow through us to others?