Romans 8:16-17 says:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.”
As we continue in patience and perseverance amidst our trials and adversities, our faith in God, even during the persecutions and tribulations which we endure, enables us to give thanks and give praise to Jesus Christ, our gracious Lord and Saviour, our good and true Shepherd. Even in these end-times, we can give thanks for His glory in our lives; for His victory in our circumstances and for the continued advancement of His Kingdom in us, and through us, and around us! As children of God, our journey with the Father continuously reveals to us His truth and glory which set us free from worldly captivity; for it is by His Holy indwelling, that we are strengthened. It is the living and abiding Word of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit, which guides us and leads us to the will of God, and from one season to the next and into the times of the future, and into our hope and destiny in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord calls us to continuous courage and boldness; He calls us to persevere, and when we do, His presence will go with us. He also calls us to consistent conduct in our walk with Him; in faith, in spirit and in truth. When we do, by His grace, He will lead us on from strength to strength; from breakthrough to breakthrough, from victory to victory and from glory to glory in His name!
I believe that every faithful and abiding believer in the family of God has a great testimony: a testimony about how lives have been changed and transformed because of God’s glorious faithfulness, unfailing love, grace and mercy; a testimony of His healings, deliverance, protection and blessings towards us, His people. In Second Timothy 1:6-9, Paul wrote to Timothy as he was reminded of his faith in God saying:
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
Yes, let us give our highest honour and praise; let us give all glory and all thanks to our wonderful Lord God Almighty!
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The wonderful blessings of our holy and righteous God are for all believers who willingly surrender and yield to God. They are for those who honour Him with reverence and unreserved obedience, they are for those who listen when He speaks, and who carry out His instructions, when He calls. The Lord says in John 10:2-4,
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
The Bible teaches us that effective communication stems from our relationship with God: that is, putting Him first in all things, at all times, as we constantly sacrifice ourselves and our time, to worship Him, to earnestly seek Him in prayer, to read and abide in His Word, to interpret and apply His messages and instructions for our lives, with God given wisdom and understanding.
During prayer, the Lord spoke to me through Second Thessalonians. I encourage you to meditate on the Word of God from both First and Second Thessalonians, (both short letters) and to earnestly seek Him for wisdom, understanding and discernment. Personally, I find it comforting and encouraging to receive the revelation and the truth of Christ’s return . Indeed, we all need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s return, by praying for God to strengthen us, and by living wisely and staying right with Him; for the Lord will return soon to judge all people. Just as judgement of God works to perfect believers (v5), so it works to repay the wicked. Vindication and retribution are to be exercised by God and not man. As Paul says in Romans 12:19-21,
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Yes, there will be great suffering and trouble ahead, but evil will not prevail! Paul however, cautioned that even as we suffer and experience hardship and persecution in our lives (as he says in Second Thessalonians), it is extremely important that we clearly understand that certain events must occur first, before Christ, our Lord returns. It was because of a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching on the second coming of Christ, and erroneous and false teaching regarding “the day of the Lord,” that Paul was prompted to write his Second Epistle, several weeks after First Thessalonians was written.
As believers and members of the family of God, we need to be aware of the enemy’s escalating deception. We need to know and remember that our God is a God of order, not of confusion. It is therefore crucial, that we have a strong and sure relationship with God, so that we both know, and can recognise, His voice and His truth. As Paul said in Second Thessalonians 2:1-4,
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”
We need to stand firm in unwavering faith on God’s truth and on His second coming! Our sovereign God is definitely in control and will always be. Believers should regard the Lord’s return with joy and hope and not in terror or fear. However, Paul warns that we need to be cautious and be on guard against all forms of deception; whether they are false teachings or false doctrines; pretences of new, divine revelations; or misinterpretations of Scripture. He added that “rebellion comes first,” and describes people falling away, possibly referring to military, political, spiritual or religious rebellion. There will be great apostasy and the revelation of the rise of the Man of Sin, the Anti-Christ, (also described as the man of lawlessness, son of perdition, and as the son of destruction) who will blasphemously declare himself as God, and move into the rebuilt third Temple of worship in Jerusalem, in defiance of God. He is one who wields supernatural power and the ability to perform deceptive signs and wonders, but all of a Satanic nature.
The mystery of such lawlessness was already at work during Paul’s day. However, there is a restraining power. Though not clearly identified by the apostle, a restraining power controls the Man of Sin in such a way as to keep him from interfering with God’s consummation of the course of human events through the Second Coming of Christ (Second Thessalonians 2:6-7). Modern eschatology argues that during the first three and one half years of the Tribulation, the Man of Sin maintains relations with Israel (Daniel 9:27) and for the last three and a half years, there is great tribulation under his reign (Revelation 13:1-8), culminating with the Day of the Lord.
Fellow believers, we all need to pray for the Church and the evangelistic ministries to be fruitful and that they be kept safe from those who oppose them. We need to understand and beware of the counterfeit nature of Satanic signs and wonders. According to Second Thessalonians 2:9-12, these Satanic powers will deceive those who reject the truth.
I pray we all answer the call for continual submission to the work of the Holy Spirit, in continued steadfastness and faith. In times such as these, we need to practice sensitivity in our fellowshipping with true disciples of God, and recognise the importance of obeying God’s Word.
The Holy Spirit assures us of our inheritance. Let us proclaim the promise of God in Second Corinthians 1:20-22,
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Amen and Amen!