This time of year is difficult for me - maybe for you too. I function so much better in the sunshine-bright, long-growing days of spring and summer,. These short days of darkness tend to feel gloomy and isolated. Perhaps those feelings are accentuated this year by the spiritual darkness that is pressing in on us. But yesterday I came upon a Scripture that felt to me like a huge burst of LIGHT and hope! I want to share it with you.
Let me preface it by sharing something I heard Pastor Marty Gale teach about a year ago. He was asked why we believers in Messiah Yeshua are not experiencing the kind of supernatural, angelic assistance and power of God that we see in the Bible, in the days of the early Church. His response bore witness in my spirit and I have held onto it. He said he believed that the persecution of the believers in those days was so intense and so unbearable that God, in His mercy, sent supernatural help to those who desperately needed it. The message of the Gospel was fresh and new and those who carried this great treasure were being tested by the fire and the fury of the enemy. Almighty God made certain that the message of salvation in Yeshua/Jesus would not be stamped out! He sent an earthquake and angels to rescue Peter from the prison. On the day we call Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak in other languages that they did not know, and flames of fire, in the shape of the Hebrew letter shin (which stands for El Shaddai) appeared over their heads! Even in Old Testament times we see great signs and God's powerful assistance to those who were under fierce persecution, such as Daniel in the lion's den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the intense, flesh-melting fire. He was with these people who did not deny Him and held tightly to their faith, no matter the cost. Pastor Marty's point was that we are headed into such a time of persecution again, and El Shaddai will again cause His Holy Spirit to powerfully assist and deliver those who do not deny the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
So, I have held onto that hope, and then yesterday the Lord quickened this Scripture to me, which absolutely confirmed this thought. 1 Peter 1:3-9: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Is this not a thrilling word, delivering so much light and hope to your soul? As the Lord clearly states, through Peter, His apostle, there is an inheritance kept in heaven for YOU who are shielded by God's power until our Messiah and Lord, Yeshua/Jesus is revealed again IN THE LAST TIME! And He reminds us that we can rejoice in this thought even though we are really ARE (and will be) suffering all kinds of trials - for the purpose of proving our faith. This is the season we are in right now, I believe. Although there are believers in China and Syria, in Russia and in Nigeria, and all over the world, who have already suffered unspeakable torture and trials of persecution for their faith - and yes, even death - we in America are just now beginning to see the small sparks of persecution. We are hearing on the news the formidable chants of "First the Saturday people and then the Sunday people" from those who hold to Islamic jihad. It is coming, my friends. Even in America, it is coming. That's the pressing of the darkness that we feel. But I believe this powerful Word from the Lord strengthens us and renews our hope that when we are sorely tested in our faith, in the violent days ahead, fueled by the enemy's fury against believers in God and His Son, Jesus, we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit and the assistance of the angels. Psalm 91:1-2, 9-12:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
May our trials, our grief and our suffering result in praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed! Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Kelly Ferrari Mills