Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bible Promises for the Time of Trouble

The following study was prepared by Glenn Coon back in 1966, with a few minor edits. It can be found in the final section of Glenn's book "The ABC's of Bible Prayer".
Jeremiah 30:7 speaks about the time of trouble that is coming, it refers to it as "the time of Jacob's trouble;" and it says of God's people, "(they) shall be saved out of it." Isn't that wonderful? God makes this promise to each of us. Let us keep that in mind as we share some of these promises now. This will be discussed again under point eleven, but I mention it at the outset to help us realize that provision has been made for each of us to come through this time, safely.
How was Jacob saved out of his time of trouble? Jacob represents God's people, and so it is important to know how he was saved out of his time of trouble. His time of trouble represents a similar experience to that which Gods people will go through; this makes it doubly important for us to understand Jacob's experience. This brings us to point one:
I. Jacob claimed a promise of God.
Jacob was on his way back home, with his family and all that he had acquired. He had heard that Esau was on his way to meet him accompanied by 400 soldiers. Imagine the fear that Jacob had. Here were all his little ones, his cattle and servants; not a single soldier in his group. Coming toward him was his brother, whom he had wronged and cheated, with an army of trained soldiers. In his agony and fear, he begins to talk to God about it.
Notice his words in Genesis 32:9, "And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:"
Jacob [essentially] says to God [we're paraphrasing],
"Lord, You promised me that You would look after me. You told me to go home and promised that You would deal well with me. I'm not worthy of the least of Your blessings, I know that. But my brother is coming with four hundred soldiers, and I'm terribly afraid. I'm scared, Lord.... but You told me I'd make it home...."
Can't you see him agonize with God and place before his God the promise that was made to him by a God that does not lie, nor go back on a promise? This is just what Jacob did, and he had a wonderful promise to claim.
We, too, are on the home-stretch. Our heavenly home is almost in sight. God says that those who do what Jacob did, will make it home! I want to make it home, don't you? God gave Jacob a promise, and this same promise is ours: "I'll be with you and you will make it home safely," is the promise that we, too, can claim. I don't know of anything I want more than to walk through those pearly gates into that city and see my heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, my Elder Brother, my guardian angel and all my friends, and know I'm home at last! Provision has been made; the promise has been given to make this dream a reality. The Bible tells us that if we are Christ's then we are of the seed of Abraham. Jacob claimed the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac; we have the right to do the same. We, too, can say, "Lord, You have promised to see me home safely...." and know He will do it, because He did it for Jacob.
Notice with me this same promise phrased just a little differently. And in this promise we can know that God is speaking directly to you and to me. I John 2:25 says: "And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life."
I remember, as though it were yesterday, the first time I opened my Bible and put my finger on that promise. I put my name where it says, "us", and it read, "And this is the promise he hath promised [Glenn Coon], even eternal life." [You can insert your name in there too as well].
God has given us this promise and He wants us to take Him at His Word, doesn't He? He most surely does. Abraham, we're told, believed God, and it (the fact that he believed) was counted unto him for righteousness. It is not about how sinful we are, but rather how good God is. It is this God, the One who loves each of us, that says, “I’ll see you home.”
We have all been impressed, at one time or another, with the fact that during the time of trouble we will not be able to buy or sell. Revelation 13 describes that time. It says plainly in verse 17, "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast" This will be a terrible time! But the Bible has a promise for us that will take care of things for that time. It is found in Isaiah 33:16, "He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."
Then Isaiah says that we will see the King in His beauty! This is a double promise. It assures us again that we will make it home, and also that we will be given bread and water. Although the rivers and water ways will be turned to blood - God wants us to think of Him and remember that our bread and water will be sure.
That doesn't fill me with fear, does it you? Why no, we can look forward to that time without any trace of fear. I will be out there in the rocks, perhaps, but the Rock that will go with me will be Jesus. With Him by my side, I need never fear. He has promised to take care of me and supply me with the essentials of life - and all of this at a time when the world of ungodly men and women will be thirsty and hungry! No, this picture is not one of fear as far as I'm concerned. The only thing I've got to fear is sin, for this separates me from my Protector and Savior.
II. When the seven last plagues come, the saints will have a place to hide.
Psalms 91:1-4, 10 "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust ...Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”
III. Hiding in Jesus we will be delivered.
Let's do what the wise man suggests in Proverbs 22:3, "A prudent (wise) man forseeth the evil and hideth himself...." He does something about it. He doesn't emphasize the fear, but rather seeks refuge in a safe place. We have been provided with this place and the place is Jesus. We can hide in Him.
Notice: Daniel 12:1 "....and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
IV. We can have the assurance that our names are written in the book of heaven.
Notice with me several verses of scripture. John 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
By taking advantage of the provisions offered, we have our name written in the book of life. This is recorded in Revelation 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels." There it is! Our names are in the book of life, and we can claim the promise of Daniel 12:1. God says He will not blot out our name out of this book if we are overcomers.
V. Beholding Jesus and what He's doing, we become overcomers. Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “And thou shaIt remember all the way which the Lord thy God Ied thee.... "
God is bigger than the devil. I know He is, because God put the devil out of heaven. I know that Christ is bigger than the devil because in Matthew 4 the devil came to Jesus with his strongest temptations, and Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan....". When one reads the gospels, we find that every time Christ met the devil there was a conflict and each time Jesus won.
Let us follow the counsel of II Corinthians 3:18 and behold the face of our lovely Jesus and become changed into His Image, what do you say? As we dwell on the attributes of Christ, we'll become like Him and in Him we can conquer the devil and meet his temptations victoriously.
Oh, that we might remember that, "By beholding we become changed." Paul admonishes us, "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 think on these things." Philippians 4:8.
Here are the things that we are to think on. These are the positive traits of character that we want growing in our lives, isn't that right? Why, yes.
My favorite author has a priceless gem suggested for us in the book Education, page 297:
"When once the gaze is fixed upon Him, life finds its center."
Here Christ is plainly shown to be the center of a life that is in balance. When the gaze is removed from Christ, we become unbalanced Christians (thus we backslide). Now how can we avoid falling into this trap of the devil? How can we grow to be like Jesus (rather than become like a trouble maker)?
Here's the promise. It's found in I John 3: 1-3.
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
Isn't this what we ought to be feeding on? Isn't this the promise that should be the inspiration of our souls? Isn't Jesus the One who should be the center of our thoughts?
When someone says, "Say, by the way, did you hear what the devil did this week?" you can say, "No, but have you heard what the Lord did this week?"
We need to talk more about what the Lord is doing. This is what those, whose names are in the Lord's book, will be doing (testifying of what the Lord is doing).
Notice Malachi 3:16, 17.
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before the Lord for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
What a promise for the time of trouble! Isn't this marvelous? God says, if you will talk of me and think of me, I'll spare you in the time of trouble. I will look after you, is the promise of God. When we're thinking of Christ and talking about Him, it is virtually impossible to be talking about the erring members of the church. It is impossible to be finding fault with a brother or sister in the family or in the faith. We can be centered on only one side at one time; it's either Christ-centered, or Satan-centered.
VI. The Bible indicates clearly that as we near the end, the Lord is going to slowly, but surely withdraw His Spirit from the world. Genesis 6:3 says, "My spirit shall not always strive with man..." But in the face of this, we need not fear. The Lord has given us sufficient evidence of His power for that time, too. In Luke 11:13, the Lord has said that if we ask, believe and claim the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we shall receive it - as a gift from our heavenly Father. Many people are afraid of the Holy Spirit. They don't understand what it means to have Him in the heart. What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit in the heart?
Notice Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,". Don't you want joy and peace during the time of trouble? Isn't that the most priceless gift for a time when people will be devoid of these qualities, their souls dry and barren and full of pain and anguish.
When Jesus is not in the heart, it's hard to get along with our loved ones, and these eternal things seem insipid. Jesus makes the difference. At a time when the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth, we can be assured that He will give us a great measure of it, if we truly seek Him, and if we really want Him. It will be revealed, whether or not we have the Spirit by whether or not there is love in the home.
VII. Jesus says, in Matthew 24 that just before He comes, it will be like the days of Noah. [“Every intent of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5]. Do you know of those who enjoy talking about and dwelling on the sins of the present day? People who enjoy talking about the sex perverts and the sins of the flesh and those things that are shameful - this is a special breed of people. Their saliva flows in double strength at a time when these things are discussed. The world is terrible, alright. We live in a very wicked age. But are we justified in talking about it and making this the center of our thoughts? What would this thinking do for us? "As he thinketh in his heart," says the wise man, "so is he." Proverbs 23:7.
How much better it would be to center our thoughts on this promise:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers (parents) to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers (parents), lest I come (if I didn't do it) and smite the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5, 6.
The Lord says He will do this for us (reconcile our families). Things will be so bad that if He didn't do this for us, He just couldn't stand it any longer and He would have to destroy the earth before it was time to do it; before the world had run its course. A mighty revolution is promised. Revolutions that will make the home, "Home, Sweet Home". Homes that are looking forward to Jesus' Coming, will major in sweet homes. Tell your husband that you love him. Tell your wife that you love her. Tell your children that you love them! Make home a happy place.
When we keep the words of the Lord in our hearts and teach them to our children, we are promised days, "as the days of heaven upon the earth." [Deuteronomy 11:18-21]. What a promise to take with us as we approach the time of trouble.
VIII. What about these children of ours that are out of the ark of safety? How many there are that have a real burden for the children who have left the church. Here is a promise that you can claim: "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jeremiah 24:7
God doesn't want us to whine about our children who are out of the fold. No, we can ask God for help, believe that He is giving it to us and saving our children, and return thanks that He has done it.
Notice the words of Jeremiah 31:16, 17.
"Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border."
You can put a dance in the eyes and a song in the heart and claim this promise, believing that the Lord is working our His purpose for our loved ones. He has promised to do it. Let us claim and believe Him.
IX. Do you want to be guided into this kind of an experience? You don't have to sit and wish for it. Here is a promise by which you can have it and have it now. We don't have to wait for a time in the distant future; it is ours to have now.
Notice: Isaiah 42:16 "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do for them, and not forsake them."
Isn't this a wonderful promise for guidance and light as we enter the dark days that lie ahead? How wonderful God is to us!
X. And now let's look back again at the promise we have for the time of trouble
Jeremiah 30:7 "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it."
Here it is! God's word that we will be saved out of the terrible time of trouble that lies just ahead. Surely, it will come. It will be terrible! It will be the worst kind of existence this world has ever known. We had better believe it - because God says it will be just that kind of a time. But we can live in the assurance, that, if our hearts are right with God now, and we continue to have fellowship with Him each day, when that time comes, we will be saved out of it. Let us anchor our hopes and vision in God's promise.
XI. Now we turn to Hebrews chapter six. In this chapter, the writer of Hebrews says under inspiration, that God made a promise to Abraham and backed it up with an oath. This arrangement constitutes an immutable structure of truth. It is impossible for God to lie. This, according to Paul's letter, gives us hope and an anchor.
There are some rough waters ahead over which we must sail. But come what may; let the waters get rough - we have a promise and an anchor! What more can we ask for? God Himself has promised us safety and victory.
Notice the promise found in Isaiah 43:2 "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:..."
Isn't that plain? Isn't that satisfying? There are a total of 3,573 promises, or clusters of promises in which we can find hope and confidence as we approach the time of trouble so that we need not fear and lose heart. These form an anchor that will hold us secure in the most tempestuous storms. Our destination is the sea of glass. This is the final wharf the Lord has planned. He has promised to be the Captain of our ship, if we will allow Him the privilege. There we will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. What a chorus that will be. And the wonderful thing about it is that each of us can be a part of that large throng.

"We're sailing home, we're sailing home;
Oh, won't you come on board; our Pilot is the Lord.
We're sailing home, we're sailing home
To the new Jerusalem."
It is my prayer that I shall be there and have the privilege of meeting you there too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Overcoming the Church's Greatest Weakness

“None are to be hindered from bearing the message of present truth to the world. Let the workers receive their directions from God. When the Holy Spirit impresses a believer to do a certain work for God, leave the matter to him and the Lord.” SpM 435

Depending upon men has been the great weakness of the church. Men have dishonored God by failing to appreciate His sufficiency, by coveting the influence of men. Thus Israel became weak. The people wanted to be like the other nations of the world, and they asked for a king. They desired to be guided by human power which they could see, rather than by the divine, invisible power that till then had led and guided them, and had given them victory in battle. They made their own choice, and the result was seen in the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the nation.
Kress Collection 57

Some of our conferences are weak in Christian experience because their leading men—and the people have followed their example—have sought for the approval of man with far greater anxiety than for the approval of God. They have looked to man for help and counsel more than to God. They have made men their burden-bearers, and have accepted human wisdom just when and where they should have depended upon God. And too often those of whom they sought counsel needed help themselves; for their souls were not right with God.
Gospel Workers 1915, p. 414 [Gospel Workers 1892, p. 234]

“[Satan] works to restrict religious liberty and to bring into the religious world a species of slavery. Organizations, institutions,unless kept by the power of God,will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men;” Testimonies for the Church vol. 7, p. 180

“Some of our leading men are inclined to indulge the spirit manifested by the apostle John when he said: “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us.” Organization and discipline are essential, but there is now very great danger of a departure from the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. What we need is less dependence upon mere form and ceremony, and far more of the power of true godliness. If their life and character are exemplary, let all work who will, in any capacity. Although they may not conform exactly to your methods, not a word should be spoken to condemn or discourage them. When the Pharisees desired Jesus to silence the children who sang His praise, the Saviour said: “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Prophecy must be fulfilled. So in these days, the work must be done. There are many departments of labor; let everyone act a part as best he can. The man with one talent is not to bury that in the earth. God has given to every man his work according to his ability. Those to whom larger trusts and capabilities have been committed should not endeavor to silence others who are less able or experienced. Men with one talent may reach a class that those with two or five talents cannot approach. Great and small alike are chosen vessels to bear the water of life to thirsting souls. Let not those who preach the word lay their hands upon the humblest worker and say: “You must labor in this channel or not work at all.” Hands off, brethren. Let everyone work in his own sphere, with his own armor on, doing whatever he can do in his humble way. Strengthen his hands in the work. This is no time for pharisaism to control. Let God work through whom He will. The message must go. ” Testimonies for the Church vol. 5, p. 461

None should consent to be mere machines, run by another man’s mind. God has given us ability, to think and to act, and it is by acting with carefulness, looking to Him for wisdom that you will become capable of bearing burdens. Stand in your God-given personality. Be no other person’s shadow. Expect that the Lord will work in and by and through you. The Ministry of Healing, p. 498

There is greater encouragement for us in the least blessing we ourselves receive from God than in all the accounts we can read of the faith and experience of others. The soul that responds to the grace of God shall be like a watered garden. His health shall spring forth speedily; his light shall rise in obscurity, and the glory of the Lord shall be seen upon him.” The Ministry of Healing, p. 100

We are prone to look to our fellow men for sympathy and uplifting, instead of looking to Jesus. In His mercy and faithfulness God often permits those in whom we place confidence to fail us, in order that we may learn the folly of trusting in man and making flesh our arm. 

Let us trust fully, humbly, unselfishly in God. He knows the sorrows that we feel to the depths of our being, but which we cannot express. When all things seem dark and unexplainable, remember the words of Christ, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” John 13:7.
 The Ministry of Healing, p. 486

Instead of constantly requiring sympathy, seek to impart it. Let the burden of your own weakness and sorrow and pain be cast upon the compassionate Saviour. Open your heart to His love, and let it flow out to others. Remember that all have trials hard to bear, temptations hard to resist, and you may do something to lighten these burdens. Express gratitude for the blessings you have; show appreciation of the attentions you receive. Keep the heart full of the precious promises of God, that you may bring forth from this treasure, words that will be a comfort and strength to others. This will surround you with an atmosphere that will be helpful and uplifting. Let it be your aim to bless those around you, and you will find ways of being helpful, both to the members of your own family and to others.

If those who are suffering from ill-health would forget self in their interest for others; if they would fulfill the Lord's command to minister to those more needy than themselves, they would realize the truthfulness of the prophetic promise, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily." Isaiah 58:8
Ministry of Healing, 256-258