Archive | September, 2021

A Time to Feast and a Time to Fast

29 Sep

I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Daniel 10:3

Daniel made the decision to fast because he had a vision about “a Great War”. This wasn’t an ordinary battle, it was spiritual warfare.

When trouble arises, the believer does not fight in the ordinary way. Yes, we get upset, we may even begin to worry, but we don’t lose control. We remember who is in control: God the Creator of Heaven and earth. (Genesis 1)

Many prefer to focus on diet when studying Chapter 1 of Daniel, however, the entire context should be examined because each time he fasted, there was trouble.

In addition to our opening scripture, Daniel had also fasted the first time he arrived in Babylon. He and many others were just captured and brought into a foreign country whose inhabitants did not fear God.

When told that he had to eat from the king’s table, (see Daniel 1:5), Daniel refused. One can only imagine the thoughts that crossed his mind: “Was the food on that table sacrificed to other gods?” Or, “I was just captured and taken from my homeland, how could I sit and feast?”

There is a time to eat and be merry and a time to pray and fast, and we are living in such a time. Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

How are we spending our time today? Are we seeking God? Do we have a deep sadness over what is happening in our world? (See Ezekiel 9:4)

We are living in a period where evil is called good and good is called evil, (see Isaiah 5:20). Children are continuing to be abused; people are hurting each other; Christians are persecuted and the list can continue. When we hurt people, we are really hurting Jesus. (See Acts 9:4)

So let’s examine ourselves and be mindful of the times in which we are living. Let’s not be caught by surprise because end-time events may not unfold in the way we anticipated. Fast and pray.

Following our Conscience

23 Sep

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

God is the one that has been taking care of us all these years. He is the one who supplies all our needs. (Philippians 4:19).

Therefore, if we’re being told, “If you don’t receive such and such, you won’t be able to work or participate in society”, shouldn’t there be an alarm sounding off in our heads? The alarm should remind us that we depend on God and God alone.

All through the years, God has used many ways to take care of our needs. These ways were obvious to us. They came through our jobs, subsidies, friends, families, etcétéra. We didn’t feel forced or felt the need to compromise and our conscience was never bothered.

But now, something is different. Before we had a choice. We ate food and took meds without knowing every ingredient that was found in them. We could’ve said ‘no’ or ‘yes’.

In the summer of 2021, I was placed on the list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. One day, I got a call from a doctor regarding another list. He said that he must be transparent and proceeded to inform me about kidneys from donors who had certain treatable infections. The doctor said, “in the 80s we would never offer such kidneys to our patients, but now we do because it has been proven that they can be treated successfully, and we have since done many of these types of transplants”.

I prayed about it, consulted with my husband, who was skeptical as I was, and I also spoke with other doctors. Finally, after weighing the pros and cons, I decided to trust God and go on that special list. Although I was told the waiting period was 10-12 years, I was called in about a month later for my transplant.

I am proud of how far we have come in medicine. I admire the dedication and ethics of my doctors. I appreciate the transparency and honesty that most exhibit. I went into the hospital and received exceptional service. All the nurses and doctors felt like family. They were kind and answered all my questions. I felt at home.

My conscience never bothered me. I felt comfortable and strongly believed that God was walking with me all through the process.

However, regarding the current push and coercion to receive a certain treatment, I’m not so sure. I have doubts. I don’t know enough about it and although I have a choice, it comes with a price: do it and you can participate in my society, or don’t and you will be excluded.

I asked my nurse if she knew the longterm risks of the treatment on people with kidney transplants, and she folded her arms and said, No.

For me, this situation is more complicated than getting a compromised kidney.

In Luke 18:8b, Jesus asks if He will find faith when He returns to this earth. Faith is depending fully on Him, it’s you alone with God. It is following one’s own conscience and trusting Him no matter what. It is not trusting in an income, a doctor or pharmacy, or a third-party handout when faced with persecution. More importantly, it is a personal decision with consequences.

I want to reiterate that we always have a choice no matter what. Will we choose the right master? Will we hold onto our faith until Jesus arrives? Or will fear and little faith cause us to compromise on what we believe?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Matthew 4:8-10)

God’s Peculiar People

17 Sep

“The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.” Daniel 4:17

God had turned His back on King Saul because he did not obey Him completely. When the prophet Samuel told him that the kingdom would be given to someone more deserving, he set his resentful eyes on David.

David was a humble shepherd boy who Saul had requested to play the harp in his presence. David’s playing seemed to soothe him and kept the demons away, but one day, King Saul started throwing javelins and spears at the unsuspecting David.

It is highly interesting that although God had taken his kingdom away, Saul was still acting as the king. Similarly, although David was anointed king, he did not reign until much later.

We are experiencing the same scenario. Our common enemy’s throne was taken away when Jesus rose again, yet, he is still allowed to rule for a time. But his reign is coming to an end soon and He is very angry. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

But let us return to the peculiarity of David. This humble young man had good reason to defend himself from Saul. After all, the acting king had attempted to kill him several times. Still, David refused to touch him. Here’s why:

He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 24:6

Our opening verse was directed to King Nebuchadnezzar because he had refused to humble himself before the Creator. God had to remind him that He was the one that put him in power.

As it clearly states, it is God who sets up kings. One version says the “vilest” of them, and David refused to hurt Saul who God had anointed, even though he had become a vile king.

Today, many are angry at what is happening. They wish evil on their leaders. But do these kinds of thoughts please the God who declared “Vengeance is mine, I shall repay”? (See Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19) Or should we be like David and allow God to determine their fate?

Since we have already won, we are not to fight like unbelievers. Our focus should not be on our enemies, rather it should be on reaching people for The Kingdom of God.

Also, when we walk blameless on this earth by loving our enemies and doing good to those who persecute us, the hope should be that they will see the love of Christ in us and seek Him. It is not God’s will that anyone lose out on eternal life. (See 2 Peter 3:9)

Does this mean that we should not speak out against injustices? Of course not! John the Baptist told King Herod he was wrong for taking his brother’s wife; the prophet Elijah stood up to King Ahab and his wicked queen, and Jesus stood up to religious leaders. We should stand with those who are hurting, whose voices are not being heard. The events of today have opened a way for us to show God’s love to a hurting world.

God knew everything that would unfold. He spoke of a ‘time of trouble’ that will unequal any that ever occurred on this earth. He has been holding evil back for a long time. However, He has ordered the angels to release the winds. (See Revelation 7:12)

When we begin to see this time as an opportunity to share the gospel, a deep joy should fill our hearts. We would become like Stephen looking up as he received his final blow; we will be like the apostles who rejoiced to be persecuted just as their Saviour Jesus was!

What a peculiar people we must seem to be to onlookers! But this is the way to eternal life.

Let us aim to walk in the Spirit because we are not to battle as unbelievers do. Besides, we must remember that the battle belongs to God.

Do Not Sell Your Birthright-Part 3

13 Sep

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” Luke 4:18

Esau willingly sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. He said, “Look, I am a about to die”… “What good is the birthright to me?” Genesis 25:32

Let’s look again at the significance of a birthright.

It is a responsibility. Once the father passes, the first born son assumes responsibility for the entire household. Not only is he expected to take care of his widowed mother, but he is to care for the women until they are married. Running a household takes sacrifice and selflessness. There is the financial obligation: Bills, food and other necessities.

It is interesting that Jacob, on the other hand, desired such a responsibility. I often wondered what was so special about this deceiver, but now I understand. Jacob went after the birthright on his own. There was no deceit here. He simply made his desire known, and his Brother Esau could have said, “No way!”.

Jacob’s request reveals that he wanted to take care of his vulnerable family. He was a man of integrity. He wasn’t only thinking of himself.

However, when he deceived his father Isaac, he was compelled by his mother. Back then, obeying one’s parents was paramount. Also, let’s remember that when she felt the unborn babies struggling in her womb, God told Rebecca,

The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

Isaac was about to die, so Rebecca thought she needed to act fast. Some might say she decided to help God, others, on the other hand, could argue that she simply had faith to carry out such a plan.

Now let us try to apply the above to what is happening right now.

First of all, a recent exchange with a very close friend inspired me to write a part three to “Don’t sell your birthright” immediately. This morning she woke up and heard the phrase , “Jesus is very angry with the Church of Laodicea…”, repeatedly. My friend had never heard of Laodicea. She asked her husband who told her it was a church mentioned in Revelation.

4 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:14-16

The church of Laodicea is a lazy church. It may be busy, but not doing what is required. It blends in with its surroundings when it should stand up and stand out. It also follows the wrong leader.

As soon as my friend shared the above experience with me, I remembered my desperate prayers for those people who are suffering all around the world because of various distressing circumstances.

These people are being ignored because they are expected to go against their liberty of conscience. Others have lost loved ones, are in poverty, or are suffering because of physical ailments that are being ignored or downplayed.

Where are the pastors? Where are the evangelists? What is God’s Church doing to help this group? Who is willing to take up responsibility for this household, for this birthright? Perhaps we, the common people must help them and follow the example of Jesus:

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

We have a vulnerable group of people who are being harassed. Many of them do not know Jesus, but they need help and hope. Yet, we are busy living our lives because we aren’t affected.

This has been on my heart! The harvest is plentiful. If we are too afraid to stand up for the cause of the needy and vulnerable, let us, at least, pray for workers to help them.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8,9

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.” Psalm 41:1

Let us seek God for His will. May we pray for courage to do it when we find out what it is. And finally, I want to remind us that those who are deceived, do not know that they are. The bible says that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. (Matthew 24:24)

“I will follow Thee, my Savior,
Wheresoe’er my lot may be;
Where Thou goest I will follow,
Yes, my Lord, I’ll follow Thee.” (1st verse from hymn by Steve Darmody)

God’s way is never the popular way.

Depending solely on God

4 Sep

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Most of us have some kind of security. We’re either working, receiving help from the government or family and friends. But imagine not having any kind of support at all. How would we handle this?

Years ago I read a book about a pastor who felt moved to go into the ministry of casting out demons. He wasn’t supported by any large church organization, he had no income. My admiration about his story wasn’t so much about the ministry, but about how God used people to supply his needs.

If his girls needed clothes, a basket of clothing would be found on the front porch; food came from those he helped. Sometimes his family would have to wait and hold on to their faith. I remember thinking, “I’d love to experience living like that. Fully dependent on God!”

The bible says there will come a time when we will have to solely depend on our God. But if we want to eat and support our families with no hassle, we’ll have to compromise on what we believe.

Though many are right now adamant that they will never yield to such pressure, time will show it is easier said than done.

This reminds me of the apostle Peter. He told Jesus he would never ever deny Him. In fact, he said he would die if necessary, but we know the story; he caved out of fear of imprisonment and possible death.

I am not saying that our present situation is that dreaded time, however, many feel forced to do something they don’t feel entirely comfortable about. Is it okay to compromise? Is it worth being let go of a job? This is up to each of us.

All I know is that the time is coming when the only One we will have to depend on is our Creator. Just like Elijah, we will have to trust God for everything.

When we are at our weakest with no power of our own, will we be brave and trust God, or will we give in? When we have nothing, will we lean on His strength or on others?

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:33

We are individuals, born with one power and that is choice. I want to emphasize that no matter the consequences we are faced with, we can always exercise that choice. It’s up to us.

Standing Alone Before God

4 Sep

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8,9

One of the many confusing elements about Christianity is how divided we seem to be. Within our religion we have many denominations and even within them there are further divisions. This has puzzled unbelievers preventing many to take us seriously.

Yet Jesus prayed specifically for unity among believers so that the ‘world’ would believe:

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17 20,21

This does not mean that everyone who calls themselves Christian will be united in Christ, only that remnant of believers who stand for the principles of their Creator. See Matthew 7:21

It is easy to stand strong with a large group, but how hard it is to stand alone! In these last days, the believer will feel like Elijah:

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19:2

But God reminded Elijah that he wasn’t the only one. During these times many are feeling like they are alone but many share their sentiments.

Standing alone is not easy, yet, this is going to be our experience in the last days. We will have to choose God in difficult circumstances and let our conscience be our guide. Jesus Said:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-la)36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36

Isn’t this happening now? Yes. I just read an article about a mother and father who went to court over inoculating their child in Quebec. This is not an isolated incident. The entire world seems to be polarized.

As our opening verse suggests, this is the time to be sober minded and alert. This is the time to resist the enemy and stand firm in our faith. We can no longer stand firm in a group. It’s time to think, reason and follow our own conscience before God.

It does not matter what our church think the seal of God is, if we don’t have the faith to stand alone in whatever we believe, we will be in trouble.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Revelation 14:4

Therefore, let us follow Jesus wherever he leads us. Let us be like brave Peter who obeyed and went to Cornelius despite the teachings of his church. (See Acts 10) Stand firm and follow The Lamb.