Have you ever thought about how you are going to stand in the last days when the antichrist comes into the earth, and not turn away from your confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah? “What would I do in the face of the antichrist – torture, starvation, and ultimately death?” This is a question that most believers have asked themselves or have thought on at least once in their life.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:18-23 (NKJV)
How can any believer really be sure that he or she will remain in relationship with the Lord? What is it about the believers we read about in the word of God that caused them to be able to resist the temptation to denounce Christ, even in the slightest way, when they were confronted with death, torture, starvation, exile, and the like? Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; what caused Him to be able to continue in the will of God in the face of certain death? I’ll give you a hint…it’s not because Jesus is God.
Faith in the Lord has something to do with these Biblical example’s ability to stand, and there is more…
The key is their personalized, individual, LOVE for the Lord. They loved the Lord/Father in a real way; in a way that was just as real and tangible as, if not more so, than the love that they had for a spouse, parent, family member, friend, etc. Their love for the Heavenly Father/Lord Jesus/Holy Spirit was so real it eclipsed everything and was more important to uphold than anything else; including their own life.
Think on this for a moment…can you truly trust the Lord-to put your life in His hands-without loving Him?
Look at Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37. Both verses are one and the same.
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
- ” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Be pleased with Him, have deep love for Him, be satisfied with His presence in your life and His decisions for you. Desire Him, like Him, be fond of Him, and love Him dearly. You may be wondering, “Why include “like Him”?” Have you ever had a family member that you “loved” because they’re family and that’s what you do with family; but, you don’t like them as a person? In other words, you tolerate them because you have to, but if they weren’t related to you you’d likely never hang out with them again. A mind-set of duty can only take one so far, but genuine love will make one stick closer than a brother. Genuine, deep love for the Lord must be developed. It’s not automatic, just as it is not automatic with the human people in our lives. We must move from faith to faith in our love towards Him. And, just as a sense of duty/indebtedness toward the Lord can only take us so far; likewise the sense of euphoria that comes as a result of a recent victory or miraculous event soon dwindles and fades as well. The children of Israel, throughout the Holy Scriptures, were frequently rescued, saved, fed, delivered, clothed, watered, protected, guided, and healed by miraculous workings of the power of God through the Holy Spirit; and, despite momentary cheers, frequently returned to murmuring, complaining, and rejecting God. We love our brothers and sisters – Israel and are thankful for their example so we can avoid the same mistakes (1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 10:6-12).
It is only genuine love for the Lord, which will stand in the time of testing, trials, challenges, and even persecution during our time on earth. The apostle Paul writes to this exact point in Romans 8:35; 37-39 (CJB)…
Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah (Christ)? Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Poverty? Danger? War? No, in all these things we are superconquerors, through the One who has loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers, neither what exists nor what is coming, neither powers above nor powers below, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which comes to us through the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), our Lord.
Three times the love of God is mentioned in these preceding Scriptures. Often when we read these verses we think of the love God has towards us, and we don’t consider that Paul is also referring to our love towards God. We are only made capable of love towards our Heavenly Father through coming into relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:5). There is no other way that we could be able to do it! We should also understand that love is reciprocal. Love is meant to be given and received. We return to Him what He has already given to us. He loves us with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength; and He loves us as Himself (1 John 4:19; John 17:23). Let us reason together for a moment…if God’s love for anyone – whether reciprocated or not – alone was enough to cause them to endure hard times then no one would ever go to hell. We know people choose to refuse Christ every day and die in their sin, others fall away, and some remain in close fellowship with Him (John 8:24; 2 Peter 3:17; 2 John 1:9). We know Christ loves everyone equally and died for all so everyone would have the same opportunity to come into an everlasting relationship with the Lord God Almighty (John 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 10:11-13). So we understand there is more to it…God’s love toward us must not only be displayed or returned from us back to Him; it must also be strengthened, increased, and grown over time.
Just as Jesus told us to have the faith of God (Mark 11:22); we are also to have, stand, walk, be immersed, and permeated in the love of God.
Each individual is responsible for growing their own, individual, real love for God in these last days. I am responsible for growing my own love towards the Lord, and you are responsible for growing your own love towards the Lord. No one else can do it for us. Look at the what the Bible states within the accounts concerning David, Joshua, Moses, Hananiah (also known as Shadrach), Mishael (also known as Meshach), Azariah (also known as Abed-Nego), Daniel, Joseph (Jacob’s son), the apostle Paul, and the Captain of all things to the Church – the Lord Jesus Christ; these are living examples for us today (Matthew 22:32).
Begin to confess your love for the Lord out loud as you go about your day. Tell Him what you think of Him and that you love Him. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). As you hear, “I love You, Lord” coming from your own mouth, little seeds of faith will be planted in your inward being. You’re inward being will begin to become persuaded of your love for the Lord, and your actions will begin to follow/reflect the love you have on the inside for the Lord (John 14:21; 1 John 5:3). Soon those seeds will become trees with deep roots. Over time the trees will begin to bear fruit. Roots are what cause a tree to stand no matter how the wind blows. Growing deep love for the Lord will cause you to stand in these last days – times of trials and hard testing. We love you. God bless you!
We bless our brothers and sisters – Israel and pray for them daily. It is not easy being an example for others. We are thankful to the Lord for them, and continue to pray for their salvation.
As the end of 2019 drew near, we began to ask the Lord what He wanted to say about the coming year. The Holy Spirit said this, “Let the sweet fragrance of the True and Living God permeate your homes and your lives forevermore.” This word from the Lord turned over and over in our hearts and spirits. There were two areas the Lord specifically described to us as He explained to us what He means. The first area the Holy Spirit highlighted is fragrance and the second is time. The Lord said to us, “Let the sweet fragrance of the True and Living God permeate your homes and your lives…”
Think about a very desirable fragrance or aroma for a moment. It will most likely trigger your senses; causing you to remember a particular scent, where it came from, where it resided or where it could be found, and who is associated with the fragrance. While we were sitting before the Lord, reflecting and discussing this in our own lives; I was reminded of my childhood. When my parents wanted to freshen up the house, they would burn incense…oil-based and musky. The smoke from the incense filled the rooms of the house so the entirety of the home was consumed by, permeated, or contained the aroma into every fiber of every material. Curtains, pillows, and fabrics were saturated by the aroma. So much so, that long after the incense ceased to burn, any item taken from our home still carried the fragrance with it.
We have a friend who loves to use [essential] oils on her skin as part of her care regiment. Friends and family recognize her fragrance. We know where and when she’s been for a visit, or who has been to her house; even long after she’s left or someone has visited her home. Now we love our friend, so the fragrance is not bothersome or offensive. As we continued to reflect on what the Lord was saying to us, we remembered the Lord…How welcomed He is in our home; and how much we love His presence – so much so, we never want Him to go. The Lord showed us a home so filled with His presence that He is a permanent fixture there. Where everyone that enters immediately knows, senses, and feels His presence there.
For Christians / Believers, we should allow the fragrance of Christ to permeate through every aspect of our life and being; including our homes. This is what the Lord desires to do in each and everyone…invite Him in and let Him do this in you. The more time we spend standing in God’s presence, the fragrant aroma of Him will become part of us; filling our very being. So much so, the fragrant aroma of Christ comes from within, and others are then able to know Him and His presence everywhere we would go. Just look at what the apostle Paul declares to us in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (CJB)…
But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know Him! For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah.
What is the fragrance of the Messiah? Living out life standing in God’s presence in perfect union with Him – just as Jesus did everywhere He was sent during His time as a Man on earth (John 8:42). By completely submitting every aspect of our lives to the Lord (Ezekiel 20:41), and following the example set before us in Jesus, we are presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice; which is our reasonable service of worship (Romans 12:1) and is an acceptable and soothing, fragrant aroma to God.
Now concerning the second area, the Lord spoke to us about, the area of Time: He [the Lord] used the word, forevermore; in discussing letting the sweet fragrance of the True and Living God permeate your home and lives. God could have said, “this year”, “this season”, “2020”, you name it (any of which we would have expected to hear). He could have used any word He wanted to signify this statement is for a particular “season” or for a specific period of time who’s ending is definite. However, the Lord chose to remove limits or boundaries; signifying instead, the eternal nature of His decree. We often look at a new year as a time to start something new or make a change for the better. It is an admirable desire to be sure, but many times the change is temporary. The Lord desires our continual pursuit of Him to maintain an uninterrupted relationship with the Most High God. The mind-set He spoke to us of was forever, not a momentary resolution.
The Lord is not limited by the confines of a new year’s beginning and an old year’s end. After all, the Jewish New Year is celebrated during a completely different time of year than what we celebrate around the world. Newness of life exists in the Messiah. He has appointed time, and the timing of things, according to His plan; which He set firmly in place since the beginning (Isaiah 46:10; Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Whether you are just beginning or entering into your relationship with Christ, or if you already live out your life and relationship with the Lord in this manner, we encourage you to respond and reciprocate His love (1 John 5:3) and press on into a deeper relationship with Him (Philippians 3:12-15; Hosea 6:2-3; Hebrews 6:1). As Scripture states in Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
What a wonderful time of year! Christmas is a time for celebration, singing, rejoicing, and expressing how important the relationships we have are to us. The value of each relationship is not only expressed by the gift(s) we give to friends and family far away; But, the value we place on each relationship is displayed and felt through our words and actions. In the same way, our Heavenly Father displays and reminds us of His love for us and how much He both desires and cherishes His relationship with each one of us. He (The Lord, our Heavenly Father) displayed His love for us when He sent His Son (Jesus) for us, and even told us what He was going to do long before it happened; to lift up our spirits by giving us hope or encouragement. Look at the Words the Lord spoke through Isaiah:
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
This is the reason for the season… Jesus our Lord and Savior has been born to us (Luke 2:11-20). A time dedicated to remembering God’s fulfillment of His promises to us in our lives, and for reflection on our relationship with Him. He (God, our Heavenly Father) has done and continues to accomplish, all He’s said He will do (Isaiah 55:11).
Jesus, also, accomplished all that His Heavenly Father purposed for Him to accomplish. The answer to how Jesus was able to accomplish the Lord’s Will is contained within the last sentence in Isaiah 9:7 (NASB); The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. Not a passion, enthusiasm, or devotion that is associated with selfish ambition or described in Scripture as fleshly desires; as the fleshly type of zeal will never produce results that are just and righteous. In order to have the God kind of results, the perfect in every way (complete and lacking nothing) results that we desire to experience, our zeal must be in alignment with the Lord of hosts.
The Son of God (Jesus) lived every moment of His time on earth consumed by the zeal of the Lord and for His Father’s House (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17); eagerly desiring to do, or bring to pass, all the Heavenly Father had commanded Him only as the Father commanded Jesus (John 5:30; John 6:38). He (Jesus) only did the things that were pleasing to the Father (John 8:28-29). In fact, Jesus was so determined or driven by His desire to live the life God wanted His Son (Jesus the Christ) to live, accomplishing all of His Heavenly Father’s will (also known as obedience) that He wouldn’t allow periods of what we would consider uncomfortable or disagreeable circumstances prevent Him from completing everything He was commanded. The delight, motivator, encouragement, and focus of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is to do His Father’s will (Psalm 40:8; John 4:34); promptly and completely.
As our pattern and example, set in Jesus, we should have this same consuming desire…The zeal of the Lord. Ensuring we are diligently checking our heart to ensure it is aligned with His will and commandments for our life. This exact example is provided in Scripture through two special servants of the Lord, in Elijah (1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14) and David (Psalm 119:139; Psalm 119:137-144 for a greater contextual overview). Not that these two servants of God were more special than anyone else, as these were men with no distinguishable difference than us (James 5:17) the Lord holds everyone to the same standard (Romans 2:9-11; Colossians 3:25); however, acknowledging Elijah and David had a significant role and calling on their lives. They examined themselves to make sure they measured up to the standard set by the Lord…The standard set forth for us in Jesus Christ.
In all things, The Word of God tells us to see how we measure up with Christ- examine ourselves (with the aid of the Holy Spirit) to see if are we living our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him. (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:13; Romans 8:28-30; Philippians 2:5-18). Being obedient to our Heavenly Father at all cost(s); accomplishing everything He commands us with zeal (Ezra 7:23). During the 2019 Christmas Season and before the new year, utilize every opportunity to reflect on your relationship(s), both, with God and His people; and to renew your zeal in Him.