OUR TIMES and OUR RESPONSE
As I write this post we are faced with some significant difficulties - crime and violence are on the rise in our nation, financial challenges are before us, and geopolitical tensions are escalating with the war in Ukraine. There is no question that we are living in the last days. But while we know the times that we are in there still must be a biblical response from those of us who are born again blood-washed believers. Let's read what Jesus says concerning the end time: "And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-8)."
Jesus explains that:
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Without venturing into the rest of the signs He gave in Matthew 24 it appears that we are edging closer to the Lord's return. But the key is not in what's happening but how we respond. We know that the world is unraveling but we as believers must maintain our composure during turbulent times, we must act like, better yet, we must know Who holds our tomorrow. It is clear that trouble, adversity, and the fears of our day are all around us. So we must develop practical skills to manage difficult moments.
Before we establish some core principles for handling our adversities, let us first recognize the sources of adversity and challenge.
The Sources of Adversity
We must understand a basic and fundamental truth - nothing happens without a reason. There is a reason for trouble or adversity happening in your life. Let us evaluate the six reasons that trouble comes:
Human Error. We make errors – ignorantly or intentionally. Sometimes we think we can do something wrong and get away with it. – Joshua 7:1
Rebellious Choices. Adversity and challenge can be the by-product of someone's rebellion against the purpose of God. the prophet Jonah was being sent to Nineveh but he decided to head to Tarshish - so the sailors, investors, and the end-users lost goods and services because he rebelled against God's instruction (Jonah 1:1-9).
Satanic Attack. Satanic spirits or demonic spirits attack you in order to make you bitter, angry, frustrated, or even sick in the body. Remember the Parable of the Sower - those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (Luke 8:12).
The Challenge of the Times. Because I live in the world, I can be temporarily affected by what is happening in the world around me. There are times when good, praying, tithing men and women face adversity and the challenge of the times. But even in times of challenge, I have the assurance that God will deliver me out of all my troubles (Psalm 34:4).
The Call of God. Because of the Call of God on your life, you will need to endure some trouble in your life. The Lord uses adversity and challenge to develop us. In the book of Hebrews, we learn that Jesus' suffering He learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8).
Prophetic Fulfillment. When the Lord has established an unconditional prophetic declaration over a person, a time, or a nation there is nothing that can stop it. Trouble and adversity is an assignment to produce the will of God. Even in our example with Jonah God sent word that Nineveh would be destroyed - while they received a reprieve 200 years later the city would be destroyed.
The season that we are currently in is not the end but it is a time of adversity. So how do we handle these difficult moments.
How to Handle the Difficult Moments
In order to handle the challenge of our day and the coming prophetic challenges that will arise we need tangible practices that will give us the grace, we need to endure and overcome. Below are the seven steps to endure and overcome your time od challenge and adversity:
Feed your Faith. If you are going to endure difficult moments you will need to feed your faith. Psalm 37:3 "Trust in the Lord, and do good. Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness (Psalm 37:3 NKJV)." Read the Word, study the Word, and rehearse the Word of God daily. Trust in the promises of God - remember there are over 7000 promises made by God to man.
Pray for the Wisdom. If any man lack wisdom let him ask God (James 1:5). Ask God for wisdom and the understanding of what to do and how to manage the moment that you are in. Jesus said "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist (Luke 21:15)"
Cultivate a vision beyond my trouble. Vision is the ability to see beyond where you are. Proverbs 29:18 says "Without a vision the people perish." Where there is no ability to see beyond your current pain you will suffer sitting still. Even Jesus understood that vision was necessary and He is our example: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”
Connect to people of faith who will encourage me in my trouble. Having the right people in your life will determine your measure of endurance and your coming out. “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12).” We all need the support of people of like faith in difficult times, don't draw away from the church or fellowship be strengthened by it.
Choose to declare my breakthrough in the midst of adversity. You are what you believe and what you say. You can minimize your storm by adjusting your words and believing what you say. Instead of 'it's getting worse' start thanking God for good things happening. Start making faith-full decrees and stop letting bitterness and fear govern your heart and your words. “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways (Job 22:28).” Read what Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith (Mark 11:23-24).”
Refuse to let adversity affect your self-esteem by using your self-talk. But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:31-33)." The Children of Israel allowed their self-perception to affect their ability to take the land of Jericho. Learn to speak life to yourself even when the challenge is bigger than you. remember it's not confidence in your ability - it's confidence in God's ability aka Godfidence.
Choose victorious behavior based on the word of God instead of my feelings. Our emotions are tools for us to use to express the condition of our soul. But our emotions should not govern our behavior. It takes spiritual discipline not be led by our emotion and to be led by the Spirit of God but it the teaching of the Word (Romans 8:4). When our emotions are leading us we are soulish and are not being led by the Spirit of God. The Bible teaches us that, “we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).”
Choose to praise God for progressive results. Learn the importance of praise in moments of distress. Praise is both therapeutic and supernatural. The greek word therapón, the root of the word therapy in English, means 'to adore (God), or (especially) to relieve (of disease) -- cure, heal, worship'. So when we praise God we are promoting our emotional healing. Supernaturally praise breaks the power of the enemy. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).
How we respond to the trouble that is around us will ultimately determine the longevity of our trouble as well as the outcome. Let people see your faith in difficult moments. Let them see how big your God is. Yes, we are in the latter days, but for us, these are the better days, not the bitter days - for the harvest is now, and your breakthrough is now.