Taking to heart and acting on Christ’s warnings. by Charles Pretlow 04/23/2018
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).
What Type of Strength?
What type of strength are we to pray for that will allow us to escape the difficult troubles now coming upon America and the world? When we start praying for strength, what must we understand concerning how God’s strengthens his children to endure, survive and stand when Christ appears?
Simply, it is strength of faith in Christ and obedience to his words. This strength of faith is not magically downloaded by one or two prayers hastily presented before God. In Romans 12:1 the Apostle Paul exhorts us to present our bodies, (all of life’s cares, passions, and ambitions) as a living sacrifice to God. This translates into giving God permission to do whatever it takes to get us ready and strong in the Lord Christ Jesus.
In the book of James, we are instructed: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
How many are willing to give God permission to try their faith to become strong in the Lord? That he may try us and discipline us to the point that our walk with Christ is in perfection of faith. Complete in obedience to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and that we lack nothing in this life, even in times of severe trouble.
Trails of faith are not fun, and we are not to walk around setting ourselves up for abuse and trouble. They will come when you least expect them and are meant to strengthen us in faith, trust, and obedience. In trials we learn to rely not on ourselves, but on God who will save us from the mouth of lion. Few understand the way through a trial is trust, obedience, and endurance. That means we are not to cower in the corner and become frozen in hysteria and push the panic button.
When God delivers us through a trail, it is when every avenue of own ingenuity and strength is exhausted. And that is when our prayers become serious, desperate and humble.
All the great stories of Scripture; David, Daniel, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, Moses and Israel trapped between the Red Sea and the Pharaoh’s army—all past men and women of faith, stood their ground and proved God mighty and merciful—a deliverer for those who trust and obey.
Study Hebrews chapter eleven and see how all those before us looked towards what we now have in our personal Savior and Lord Christ Jesus. How dare we neglect such a great salvation and walk in error, messing up our relationship with the living God by putting our faith in nothing else but Christ.
In James we are encouraged to count it all joy in a trial, which does not mean that we pretend fear and anxious feelings away by conjuring up a false bravado. Rather, we take ownership of those “lack of peace” feelings and come before the Lord asking him to show us why we so easily melted in fear and unbelief.
We must learn that standing firm in a trial (even if we feel like fleeing) works to our benefit. Many struggle in a trial, fretting, complaining, acting out fear, and jumping on a false deliverance and not waiting for Christ to open the door of escape. Those who practice a “self-survival Christian walk” never learn and are in constant turmoil.
Eventually, God will abandon them to their own false walk as a Christian. It is for discipline that we must endure, “If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children” (Hebrews 12:8).
Learn to take advantage of your trials, and you will understand why James states that being steadfast will a, “full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
It is a Matter of Heart
If our hearts fail us in a trial, then we have issues of heart that are weighing us down. Love of this world, the pleasures of this life, fear of dying, relationship idolatry, bitter resentment and so forth are issues of heart that we must have healed and cleansed. If the cares of this life cling to us, then we must learn how to die to those inner hidden reefs of unbelief and wounds to our spirit that drive our passions of the flesh. These issues are what push our own self-deliverance schemes into action.
Most Christians are not drunkards of wine; however, masses of deceived believers are drunk on the blessings from God in this life. Relationships, events, work, ministry, children, grandchildren, vacations, a new car, dining out, and most of these cares are related to the love of money.
Christians use God’s blessings on earth to suppress their unbelieving issues of heart. We often become sentimental and romanticize our past blessings and develop a lust for potential future blessings. Worried about being comfortable in this life, we become blind to the world and its perverse culture.
The world and a backslidden Church constantly spews defiling spiritual toxins, lulling us into apathy. All this is amplified by the many false teachers with their doctrines of men and demons that easily confuse and sift us, attempting to destroy our faith in Christ.
False teachings rule in our hearts because we have never allowed the Lord to show himself in our trials, where we become grounded in God’s written word, building all of life upon all of Christ’s words.
Christ’s harder teachings are glossed over or ignored leaving our hearts naïve and vulnerable to the wiles of the devil, and his imposters in leadership. False teachers give us permission to stay in love with this world. In this dark hour most Christians hate true servants who warn to flee the cares of this life and walk in purity of heart.
Most Christians cling to the cares of this life and refuse to walk away from the love of this world. The coming persecution and Great Tribulation will force deceived believers to give up the love of this world and become rapture ready, not looking back on this life whatsoever!
Lot and his wife should have walked away from Sodom long before angels of the Lord had to be dispatched to rescue them. Even then, Scripture states that Lot lingered and had to be drug out by the arm by his angelic guests. Of course, we know the story of Lot’s wife, how she looked back and was judged for her disobedience.
Have you ever wondered why she looked back despite the command? Was it her sentimental fondness of the good times in a vile culture, or her unbelief that questioned God’s promised judgment upon the wicked? As believers in these last moments of this age, we better understand why Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Study Luke 17:22-37.
Last days Christians must learn to stop worrying about what’s in their wallet and deal with what’s in their heart. The message from heavenly angels in this hours is: “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Indeed, it is a matter of heart in developing an enduring faith or lack thereof. We must allow our hearts to be full of God’s love and grace to persevere and trust Christ in the coming troubles.
What’s hidden in your heart can sabotage strength and your victory. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Trials help us examine our faith. Enduring trials victoriously will develop strength of faith to guide and glide us through the coming storms, because Christ will be formed in us. It is Christ alone that is our strength. He is to be to us like Noah’s Ark, to ride in Him above the last days tribulations—safe and secure in His everlasting arms.
Copyright © 2018 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved