Preparing For The Tribulation
preached year 2008
Today we want to continue looking at the tribulation and the last days. If you haven’t listened to the sermon tape that I did on Thursday entitled “Leave Behind, Left Behind,” you may want to do that because this builds on that message of looking at the tribulation. I don’t know about you, but after looking at that and examining it I can only walk away with a sense of weakness and helplessness as far as how can anyone endure that and remain faithful in light of what is coming? So today’s sermon title is Preparing for the Tribulation. The first thing we have to realize is that to be fearful of facing the tribulation, to be fearful of what’s coming is a sin. Proverbs 3:25 says:
Proverbs 3:25 – Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
When we begin to fear these things and we begin to look at these things and that fear begins to settle in, what we’re really telling the Lord is that we don’t believe He can give us grace or strength in order to endure those times. And so there is some flesh that we need to die to and there’s something that’s causing us not to be able to rise up and to have faith and to say that our God lives and that He is powerful and that He can strengthen us. There’s something in our flesh that doesn’t want to endure those things or to go through those things and that’s where the fear comes from.
“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that over takes the wicked.” When I was on the radio and talking about the tribulation and going through these things, I was in a debate actually on what was going on and the guy said from the opposition, “Well, if we have to go through all these things and witness some of the judgment that’s coming on the wicked, that isn’t very good news.” And yet we are not to fear what they are going to go through and what they will participate in. We are to have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked.
Proverbs 3:26 – for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.
And so we want to see today how we can begin to build ourselves up in the Lord in order that the Lord might be our confidence in order that we might face the tribulation with faith and with confidence. And more importantly I want us to come out of our own selves, so maybe we might feel that we’re strong enough or that we might have the faith or the grace to endure. But there will be a lot of other people who won’t have that faith or that grace, they were not taught to be prepared. There will be a lot of people that you will meet that will need to be strengthened and refreshed as they begin to go through the tribulation time. Just like Corrie Ten Boom and others in the concentration camps who endured what the Nazi’s did to them became a source of light to those around them. We’re not talking about just getting our lives together and getting just enough faith for us to be able to endure, but to have enough for ourselves and then turn in love to other people and strengthen those people that are being led away to death in order to make them strong.
Let’s go to 1 Thessalonians 4:16 because these are to be encouraging words. And I want to kind of set up again and talk just for a moment about the fact that we are going to go through the tribulation and many object to even the concept. They’re stating that if we go through the tribulation how can that possibly be good news? In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we looked at it thoroughly on Thursday but it says:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
It’s true that the word rapture is not in scripture but the definition of it is there in verse 17 that we will be with the Lord forever. And then verse 18 says:
1 Thessalonians 4:18 – Therefore encourage each other with these words.
As I begin to talk with other people about the fact that we will go through the tribulation, and I read through the scripture, the defense back to saying that we will be raptured out before the tribulation is verse 18, that we’re to encourage one another with these words. That it can’t be very encouraging if we have to go through the whole tribulation, if we have to endure all those things. So obviously what Paul was saying to encourage us is that we will not have to go through it. Of course, a part of that theology is that there will be a set of Christians that will develop out of the tribulation who were not raptured out. So we have to back up and take a look. There’s a thought for a moment that says, “Okay, we’re to encourage each other that we get to leave,” but how self-serving a doctrine that is. Because if it’s true that all of the seasoned and the mature Christians that know and love the Lord are raptured out, what is left for those that are still here that will become Christians? Who’s going to teach them? Who’s going to teach them how to endure the cross for Jesus Christ? Who’s going to make them strong? So it’s very self-serving to say, “Oh, I get out of all the turmoil and I get out of all the pain,” and they can watch the video tapes I leave behind or listen to the sermon tapes and let them just kind of fend for themselves and learn to become mature Christians. With what? In a matter of a couple of years? In order to face the anti-Christ. We will indeed be here. Some of us will be here through the tribulation to strengthen other people.
Daniel 11:33 – Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.
And so the will be the wise that will still be here on earth. There will still be Christians that are mature in Jesus Christ that will be able to teach others to instruct them even as we’re falling and even as we’re being plundered and even as we’re being captured.
Let’s go Genesis 7:17 because just before I went on the radio this lady gets on the phone and she says, “Can I ask you a question?”
Well, first let me back up as you’re turning to Genesis 7:17 she goes, “So you’re going to take the devil’s advocate part by talking about post-rapture or after the tribulation?”
I said, “That’s right.”
She goes, “Do you really believe that?”
So I said, “Yes.”
She goes, “Well then let me ask you a question.” She goes, “You know in Genesis it says that Noah was taken out of the flood and all those kinds of things and he was basically raptured out of the situation.”
And so I made the obvious point, “No, he wasn’t raptured out, he was in the whole thing. The rain was coming down on the ark, the waters were coming up from below. He was in the middle of that tribulation and all he did was rise above the problems, but he was never delivered from it.”
And she said, “Oh.”
Genesis 7:17 – For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.
If we are safe within the ark of the covenant, if we are safe within God’s arms, the more that the water rises and the more that the rain comes down and the more the flood of wickedness comes across the earth, the more the ark will be lifted up and the more we will become closer and closer with the Lord. If we have that basis of a relationship with God, if we are safe in that ark, in that covenant of relationship with God no matter what flood waters come, no matter what wickedness comes it will just lift us higher and higher toward the Lord. And so let us prepare ourselves. Verse 18 says:
Genesis 7:18-19 – The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.
And so here is Noah in the middle of the ark and the water is rising high above the mountains of the earth and it goes higher and higher. And as he is lifted higher and higher he becomes closer and closer to the Lord. Verse 20:
Genesis 7:20 – The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.
There’s coming a time when wickedness will flood the earth. When what is vile, what is corrupt, what is wicked will be honored and glorified and allowed to flourish without any hindrance. When those who love God and those that belong to Jesus Christ will be permitted to be conquered and plundered and burned and taken by the sword. That time is coming when a flood will happen. But those who know their God and those who are safe within the ark will rise above all those things and no matter what wickedness does and no matter how it comes to get us it will always work for the good because all things work for the good for those who love the Lord. Verse 21 says:
Genesis 7:21 – Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
Remember Jesus Christ said unless those days have been cut short no one would be left alive. That’s how strong wickedness will sweep upon the world. Men will seek to kill each other and destroy each other. Unless God shortened the days there would be no one left.
Genesis 7:22-23 – Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
And so we’re talking today about how to build our ark and how to be safe within that covenant of God and how to bring other people in who want to prepare themselves to meet the living God. So what was the secret of Noah’s success, to put it in a worldly term? What was it that allowed Noah to be safe? Let’s go to Genesis 7:4, let’s back up a little bit. Because what allowed Noah to be safe in the ark as the flood came? What will allow us to be safe today? And verse 4 says:
Genesis 7:4 – Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.
And what was it that gave Noah that safety and security? Verse 5 says:
Genesis 7:5 – And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
It is obedience to the Holy Spirit. God only gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. I know the current theology is that God just gives the Holy Spirit because He gives the Holy Spirit. And anyone who wants to claim it, it will be there. But that is not what the scripture declares. And that’s not the kind of grace that He offers us and He didn’t come to Noah and say, “If you want to build the ark, fine, if you don’t feel like doing it, that’s fine too. I’ll just save you by grace and you don’t have to do anything to participate in that grace. That no matter what you do when the flood waters come if the ark isn’t there, no problem, I’ll just save you and your family, your lifestyle, everything will be fine, you’ll just be here with Me.” In order for Noah to be safe, in order for him to be rescued, in order for him to save his family he had to build an ark. He had to separate himself from the activities and the things of this world to make sure that the ark was being built. He had to be a man separated unto God not building his home or his life here but fully living every day fully prepared for the flood waters to come.
So we’re going to look at how we too, are to build that ark that will not only save ourselves but other people around us. And the reason I keep saying not just ourselves, I want us to get away from this selfish kind of faith that’s out there today where everybody is just worried about their own personal salvation and cares nothing about their brother or sister next to them and whether they’re really going to be saved or not.
Let’s go to Hebrews 1:6 because we’re going to have to do the same thing Noah did, we’re going to have to build on things we cannot see right now. We can debate all day long on whether it’s pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib or pre-post-trib or whatever it is that we might want to do. We can have five different speakers here with fifteen different graphs and fourteen things to outline for us to do. We can confuse ourselves thoroughly but the bottom line is when all is said and done we have to back up for a moment and say, “Are we building an ark? And are we safe within that ark?”
You know they asked me while I was debating, they said, “Is this really an important issue? Is this just a matter of some interpretation of scripture, is it really doctrinally significant?”
And then I explained, of course, that the scriptures say, “Watch your life and your doctrine closely.” A man whose doctrine is faulty, his life will be faulty.
The other debater that was on the other side said, “Yeah, I suppose it is important.”
You see with the pre-trib kind of theology it’s not too important one way or the other, you get to be out of the problem no matter what. Hebrews 11:6 says:
Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
We have to see what is ahead. We have to take Jesus at His word. We have to know whether it is pre-trib or post-trib and then we have to act upon that with full heart one way or another. “Because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” You have to leave here today believing what God is going to tell us about the post-trib and begin to act upon that and to seek Him and to believe that He will reward you if you cry out to Him. There is no room for self-pity. There’s no room to listen to a sermon that talks about the fact that we have to go through all the tribulation and then to walk out of there with our heads down and all of us in our self-pity saying, “Who can endure this? Who can make it?” It is a matter of believing that if I come before God and I ask Him what is true and I begin to build that ark. He will reward those who earnestly seek Him. It is a time for rich faith—not for self-pity.
And then it goes on to say in verse 7, who is our first example? Who is it that Hebrews points us to? It points us back to Noah.
Hebrews 11:7 – By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen.” Jesus Christ has warned us of things that are coming with the tribulation. That was the whole purpose and one of the purposes of Revelation to tell us things that are coming in the future. We have been warned just as Noah had been warned of things that will be taking place and things that will be happening and we are to build our ark right now. We are to build that relationship with God so that we can rise above all the problems that will come because of the tribulation.
Verse 7, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear . . .”—he didn’t build just to save his own life. He didn’t build it to save his family. Noah didn’t go to Focus on the Family seminars and learn that I need to build my family and put it together and so we’ll build this ark and I’ll have a nice little life until what? The waters come. “In holy fear” because God said this is what’s happening and this is the tribulation that will come. And this is the turmoil that will take place. This is the deluge that will come upon the world. In holy fear, it says, he built an ark to save his family. He wasn’t just concerned about his own little life and who he is but to save those around him. In a selfless kind of love he was building out of holy fear to serve God.
“By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” By us preparing for the tribulation to come we are condemning the world. Our faith is rising up and saying and declaring to people, our lives are standing up and saying, “This is what’s true. This is what’s righteous. This is how we build. We know what is coming,” and so you condemn men who ignore God’s warnings.
In Matthew 24:24 Jesus tells us that He has warned us and He’s given us the warning about what is to come. We don’t have time to read through it all today but in Matthew 24:24, He says:
Matthew 24:24 – For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.
It says powerful miracles that it would deceive those who know God. Now verse 25 Jesus says this:
Matthew 24:25 – See, I have told you ahead of time.
We have been warned as Noah was warned. We are being told ahead of time what to look for and what to prepare for. We don’t have time to read everything that will happen before, we did that on Thursday, but we’ve been warned as to what is going to take place. So how then do we prepare ourselves for what is coming? We’re not going to ignore what God said in holy fear. We’re going to listen to what He has to say and then set out to prepare ourselves and our family and those around us in order to face what is coming.
Let’s go to Proverbs 24 and begin to see what we can do.
Number one: The first thing you need to do is to see right now—today—where you falter. Number one, see where you falter. Proverbs 24:10 and I want us to meditate upon this scripture and do this during the week especially. Verse 10 says:
Proverbs 24:10 – If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!
“If you falter in times of trouble just look for a noble excuse to get you out of the situation.” That’s not what it says. “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” Right now things are safe, things are easy, our Christianity is comfortable, find out now where are you faltering? Where can you not keep your life together? Where is the sin that creeps up? Where does the flesh come up alive? Where is it causing us problems? Now is the time to look for those things and to dig and to crucify those things as if we were within the tribulation. If you falter over doctrine you need to deal with it now. If you look at things in scripture and you say, “I don’t like the way Jesus Christ said those things,” or “I don’t like the way that it comes against my flesh,” then you wrestle with them now because there will soon come a false Christ and false prophets doing miracles to reassure you that your false doctrine is true. And so you deal with things now that are not comfortable to look at. And things that are not acceptable to your flesh. If you falter over money, if you have not learned to hate and despise it, now is the time to learn, to ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to hate and despise money because there’ll come a time when the anti-Christ will demand all of your money and you will not receive any money back from him unless you’re willing to take the mark of the beast. If you falter in times of trouble, how little strength you really have. And God will not buy our excuses, He will not buy our whining, He will not give us some reason to get out of it. He will say, “You have little strength because My grace was there, My Holy Spirit was preparing you. The word was there, you could have built an ark. You could have been ready.”
It would have done Noah very little good to build three-quarters of the ark and for the flood to come in and tell God, “Well, I just couldn’t finish it. I have an excuse here.” He still would have drowned the same. If you falter over your family then you need to find out and get before the Lord and find out how to deal with those things. If you falter over your life, if there’s parts you don’t want to surrender or give up, now is the time to do it. If there’s those areas of where you just sit down and you take life easy and you get comfortable and you put the cross down and those begin to take over, what’s going to happen when you face a concentration camp? Or when they come in to take you away? Or when you lose all the comforts of your life? Now is the time to look and to see where we falter.
You remember Daniel 11:35? It says:
Daniel 11:35 – Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
If this is what we’ve been told about Him, if this is what we’ve been warned about, if even the wise who know the message of the cross, who have tasted of the message of the cross, stumble during the last days, how much more now should we be preparing ourselves and seeing what causes us problems now and putting it to death and being transformed? Of asking the Lord to so change us that we can sing through and march through whatever difficulties He brings.
And that brings me to point number two: you’re going to have to learn to sing. Look at Psalm 59:16. Number two: You’re going to have to learn to sing. Psalms 59:16 David turns to God and he says:
Psalm 59:16 – But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
We’re not to wallow and pout, we’re not to complain about how miserable things are or how helpless our Christianity is. We are to sing of His strength, we are to speak of it in the morning. We are to glory in His power and His strength and how He can give us grace. “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” We need to learn to sing now. When we face troubles and we face difficulties right now if we whine and complain now when things are easy and safe what’s going to happen when we’re in a camp or when we’re pressed up against the corner? Or when the flood of wickedness is sweeping over the world. If we cannot sing of His strength now we will not sing when the time is needed. If we can’t sing of His love now we will not be able to sing of it when we need it most. And in verse 17 he goes on to say:
Psalm 59:17 – O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
It is those who can sing of His love who are out of their self-pity and their life and their concerns and who they are that will be given the grace to sing through the tribulation. That’s why there is no room for any complaining or whining of the fact that we have to go through the tribulation and we have to face these hardships. We need to learn to sing. We need to learn to rise above these things.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16. If there is one commandment we need to learn concerning the tribulation it starts in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. It says:
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – Be joyful always;
“I will sing of Your strength,” David says, “and I will sing of Your love and I will sing of Your praise.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Be joyful always.” When they come in the door and they begin to haul away your goods, be joyful always. When they come in the door and they’ve taken your goods and they take your family you’re to be joyful always. And when they come and they begin to take your life and they put you in a camp somewhere and you go into captivity, it is to be joyful always. And when they take your head and they put it on the block and they want to chop it off it is to be joyful always. It is to sing continually of His love, to learn to be so dead to flesh that we can be joyful always. And verse 17 gives us the key to pray continually.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray continually;
And so now when things are comfortable, when you’re free to pray and when you’re free to sing and when you’re free to be joyful, when things come against your life that cause you to complain and to whine where you are not joyful then you need to repent now because there’ll come a time when you will need that joy and you will need that oil, and you will need to be able to turn to other people who need to be encouraged, who need to know about Jesus Christ and you will need to teach them and to say to them, “You know you need to be joyful always.”
And they’ll go, “Why should I be joyful always?”
And you should be able to begin to speak and never shut up until you enter those gates. You should be able to speak of all the reasons of why to be joyful—why you should be joyful in the Lord. It goes on to say in verse 18 to even be more clear.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
“ive thanks in all circumstances.” When they come and they take away your things you give thanks in those circumstances. You begin to praise God and say, “Thank you, Lord. I’m so tired of these computers and these things and this life and this boat and this car and this house, I’ll help them carry it out.” “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” And when they come to take your life you say, “I give thanks in all circumstances, I long to be rid of this life.” In everything and in every way we are to be a joyful people. We are to sing of His love and we are to learn to sing of Him. Verse 19 tells us:
1 Thessalonians 5:19 – Do not put out the Spirit’s fire;
All we’re talking about here is the Spirit of God’s fire, of love for Him. The work of the Holy Spirit comes to us when difficulties come and the Holy Spirit tries to whisper in our ears and to say, “Sing.” And the Holy Spirit tries to come to us and to give us faith when things aren’t going our way and when we face battles and tries to get us to say, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” To see God working good in every situation, everything that is proper and holy, and to see Him glorify His name.
This has been one of the hardest scriptures for me to learn in my life. I was a natural born pessimist. I could see the worst side in everything and I was even correct. Only now I’m learning I wasn’t correct. I just saw this side, I did not see His face. And I know now that He works good in all circumstances and in all ways. We are to be joyful always; give thanks in all circumstances. We’ll see more of this in a moment. Look at Hebrews 13:12. It points us back to Jesus and it says:
Hebrews 13:12 – And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
Daniel tells us that those who are wise will instruct many. God is going to call us outside the camp. He’s going to call us outside these doors. He’s going to call us outside the church. He’s going to call us outside our life in order to sanctify others, in order to strengthen. There are brothers and sisters out there that need to be strengthened, that need to know the good news. And when the flood of evil comes in and when all of that is taking away their life we’re able to stand up and say, “There is more to it than what you see.” There is a God who glorifies His name. There is a God of love. And when evil and blastings are flowing and when the anti-Christ is standing up and saying that God is evil and that cross thing is wicked and He’s a vile God and He’s wicked and all those things, we can stand up and we can say in the face of all opposition: No, He is holy and He is true and he is loving. “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” We are called to participate in His sufferings and some of us will be honored to do so. Verse 13 says:
Hebrews 13:13 – Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
This is a choice. God will not force anyone to suffer for His name’s sake. It says let us go outside to Him. If you want to be with Jesus Christ then go outside the camp. He’s outside the door, He’s there. Yes, He lets us come together here and to fellowship but it’s outside the camp, it’s outside the security of our own home. That’s where Jesus Christ seeks to meet us. And that’s where we are to praise His name and to sing of His love and to talk about things even when they go bad as if God were a good God because that’s who He is.
Hebrews 13:14 – For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
What gives us joy? What gives us this kind of hope? Because this world is passing away we can’t wait for it to be completed, to be done away with, that we might be with Him. Verse 15:
Hebrews 13:15 – Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Let us rise up and begin to what? To joyfully sing of His name, to talk of His glory and who He is.
Number three: You need to prepare to stand alone. Let’s go to Daniel 11:34. You need to prepare to stand alone. Check for the small things in your life. You know that when somebody leaves I’ve yet to see somebody else not leave. When somebody over here stops following the cross and picking up the cross and goes off to please themselves it always affects a few other people here and there. When Satan fell from glory, when he fell from heaven, he took a third of the angels with him. You need to prepare yourselves to stand alone. In Daniel 11:34 it talks about the end days and the last times and it says:
Daniel 11:34 – When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.
When they fall, when the wise fall, they will receive a little help. And many, many who are not sincere will join them. You will at first have a whole host of people gather around Christians and you’ll have these multitudes of people saying that they want God. And you’ll have people that you will think are your brothers and sisters. You’ll have some that you hope they’ll become your brothers and sisters. You have others that you will think they are strong brothers and sisters but many who are not sincere, who do not have a sincere love for God will join you. And then when the flood and the tide and the persecution and the heat begins to be turned up, those who find it too difficult will begin to leave. And so right now when there are people who leave around you, when they decide the message of the cross is too tough, how does it make you feel? Deep inside is there an empty side in your stomach that kind of hopes you can be there with them? Are you sorry to see them go in the sense of it just tugs at you and pulls at you or are you able to be crucified to all men in order that you will follow God no matter what other people do?
Look at Mark 13:11. In short, how well do you rebound when somebody else leaves? There was a time in my life when there was a brother that I loved dearly that I had known for many years that decided the cross was too heavy. And when he left I was more devastated in myself than I thought possible. Instead of denying the fact that it affected me I went in before the Lord and said, “Lord, this affected me. I need a pure, solid love for You so that no matter who leaves, no matter who they might be, that it would never cause me to falter in my love for You.” That doesn’t mean that I didn’t hurt for that brother or that I didn’t feel the pain. Jesus felt the pain when Judas betrayed Him, but it will not stop me from serving my God and loving my God no matter what may be around me. Mark 13:11:
Mark 13:11 – Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
There is a rich promise to claim. That when you go in and you stand before all of these people and you have to give an account, He will give you strength and He will give you grace and words at the time.
There’s a story of a saint being drug in before the Nazis. There’s a large auditorium with hundreds and hundreds of Nazis there where he’s going to stand trial. And he begins to feel pretty weak-kneed as he began to march in. And the guards are walking down this long hallway and you can imagine how quiet it is and you can hear his footsteps. And his heart was beating and he was feeling weak and he began to hear this voice speaking. And the guard was saying, “Blessed is he who takes refuge in the name of the Lord.” And the guard just began to repeat it over and over ever so quietly. He could never see the face of this guard but it began to give him strength and it began to give him grace and he stood before this multitude of Nazis and he gave glory to God. And he said he could see the guard standing in the back of the room but he could never see his face. God will give us strength and He will give us grace but you have to be prepared to stand alone. Verse 12 says:
Mark 13:12 – Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
They won’t just betray, but to the death. You will have a brother come in and turn you in and will make sure that you are put to death. A brother is somebody that you love, whether it be a brother in the church or a brother in the family, whatever you want to call it, it is people that love one another. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child.” Such will be the flood of wickedness and deception and the lies out there that a father will go in and he will say, “There is my child. I give him to you to put to death because he lives a lie.” “Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” Your own child will rebel and come and turn you in and think they’re doing some type of good thing or fulfilling their duty.
Mark 13:13 – All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And in verse 13 it says “all men.” You have to be prepared to stand alone. You know man is kind of a group creature. When one person leaves people tend to follow, especially toward wickedness. What are you going to do when you’re within a crowd and you can’t stand against the crowd that you’re talking to? Or you’re sitting down with somebody at lunch and you know you need to declare the truth as to who they are and where they’re headed and where they’re going. And you’re just one on one there in a safe restaurant but you can’t speak the words and you can’t find the courage there. What are you going to do in verse 13 when all men hate you? What are you going to do when men come against you and a few people oppose you even now and you begin to be weak-kneed and you begin to falter and you’re not too sure about this message? What are you going to do when all men hate you and their false prophets and their false Christs doing miraculous things out there to demonstrate that what you live is a lie? We’re fast approaching in verse 13:
Mark 13:13 – All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Noah was saved because of his holy fear and obedience to God and only those who stand firm until the end, Jesus says, will be saved. Look for the small ways you cower in now. Look for the small ways that when you say something bold or somebody else says something bold you cringe and your flesh checks it. Or you try to soften or buffer the way the Holy Spirit wants you to speak. Look for the areas where you know you should say something to somebody but you just can’t say it unless somebody props you up and tells you to do it and all the words are there. Look for all the things that you rely upon in order to look and appear courageous because there will come a time when you won’t have any of those things. It will be a matter of a relationship between you and the Lord. “All men will hate you because of me.”
Number four: All outward things will be taken. Look at John 6:63. We know that from the anti-Christ all relationships will come to an end. All outward things that we enjoy will be taken. Family will be taken. All of our money will be taken and all the goods that we have will be taken. Everything that we have, everything that we understand, everything that we participate in, all of the joys, the things that we like to do, our routine, our life, everything, the smallest of comforts will be removed from us and most importantly our religious props will be taken. Your Oswald Chamber Devotional Guide will be taken. The cassette sermon tapes that you listen to will be taken. The Bible that you now have in your lap will be taken and hidden from you. All outward fleshly things that build you up and strengthen you and hold you tight, all those video series that inspire you and give you the goose bumps, all of those things will be taken. And in John 6:63 it says:
John 6:63 – The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
We need to be a people participating in this power and this passage today because there’ll come a time when all of these outward things will be removed from us and it will come down to how much of the Holy Spirit lives in you. And so I ask you, how long could you live without reading your Bible? How long could you live without your little quiet devotional walks out in the country or the sermon tapes you listen to? Or going and reading all the saints in the books of the old and the past and how strong they were? How could you live if it was just you and the Holy Spirit? I’m not telling you those books are evil. I’m not even telling you the Bible you read is evil. What I am telling you is all those things will be stripped away and the flesh counts for nothing. And God wants you to be fully reliant upon Him.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. The question to ask yourself is, “How much of the new life lives in me?” Not “How much do you read about the new life?” Not “How much do you watch of the new life in terms of videos and Christian novels and all of those things?” but “How much of the new life actually lives within you?” Let us be built up in the Holy Spirit, scripture says. Let us be strong in the faith, the Lord tells us.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 1:8 because this will be the passage for the tribulation.
2 Corinthians 1:8 – We do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
“Far beyond our ability.” When I look squarely at the tribulation and I look at everything that is coming I say, “I do not have the ability to endure such a thing.” I do not have human resistance. I’m not trained to resist all the tortures of men or to deny my flesh all the way. I don’t have that kind of ability. And God will bring His people through the tribulation. He’ll take them through the fire in order that verse 9 might be a reality for them. Paul says:
2 Corinthians 1:9 – Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
You will feel the sentence of death when they come and take your things. You will feel the sentence of death when they take the life around you. “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened—” God allowed this to happen. This was permitted, this was of His will. This was of divine love because love is calling us into a relationship with Him. “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Quit trying to live the Christian life. Quit trying to build yourself up. Quit trying to make yourself strong and let Him do the work in you. He calls us out of the boat to walk on water that we might say with Peter, “Help me, I’m beginning to sink.” He puts us in situations where we cannot do it in order that He might glorify His powers through us. God is teaching Paul to rely on God and fully upon God and not on the arm of the flesh. God will teach you not to rely upon your Bible but upon the living truth, upon Jesus Christ. God will teach you not to rely upon the commentaries and the devotionals and the things that you listen to you, but upon Him who gives you life. He is trying to draw us into that kind of relationship with Him where He is everything and He is all. And so every time the tribulation comes our way and every time something hard comes our way it is Him pushing the waters underneath us to rise us up toward Him. Verse 10 says:
2 Corinthians 1:10 – He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
He has delivered us, he is singing His praises. He is talking of confidence in God. He is saying, “My God lives and I can trust Him.” “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.” He sings not only of the victory that he has been given now but of the victory that he will be given. But how little faith most of us have. We begin to have a problem and all we can see is the problem and we hope to have enough faith to get over this problem. But Paul was saying, “I was delivered from this problem here and any problem that is coming up I will be delivered from that also.” And any problem that God allows is so that we might rely fully upon Him, that flesh might be crucified, that I might be in a relationship with the loving God.
“On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” And so as you look at the tribulation set your hope fully upon God and you say to God, “You will deliver me and You will be my confidence and You will be my strength. And I will sing of Your praises now before I even get there. And I will set my hope fully upon who You are and what You are able to do.” There is no cause for fear. There is no cause for alarm. There is need to be crucified so that we might be dead to all things.
Number five: You must know the words of life. John 6:65. Each person must come within their own heart and be assured of one fact: that the message of the cross is the power of life. If you’re not sure on that one point you will not stand on any points. Because the contest that is coming will be between the anti-Christ and the cross of Christ. John 6:65 says:
John 6:65 – He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
Ask the Father to enable you. And when John 6:66 which is equal to the mark of the beast, 6:66 says:
John 6:66 – From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
We must be enabled, we must rely upon His grace. God must find a people willing to humble themselves and to give up everything that He might fill them with grace. And He will enable you. We must believe that God will what? Reward those who earnestly seek Him. If you come here before the Lord and you say, “God, work this grace and give me Your mercy and fill me with Your Holy Spirit and make me strong enough for the times that are coming,” He will reward and He will strengthen and He will work the grace. He lives and He is powerful. Verse 67 says:
John 6:67 – “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
How severe the pressure will be. God will come and the tribulation is just one big question. The tribulation is the question of do you want to leave, too? Now verse 68 tells us what we must be assured of, we must have what they have. Because they’re just going to begin to experience what Jesus is talking about. They’re going to see the cross and have to go through it all. In verse 68 it says:
John 6:68 – Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
This is not an attitude of whining. I’ve had a lot of people I’ve preached the cross to over the years and they’ll say, “Where else can I go?” And they’re not saying it from a position of joy. And they’re not saying it from a position of freedom. They’re saying it because they know this is the truth. They know this is the only way they’ll get to heaven. And they know that if they do not accept this message they’ll go to hell. So they’re saying, “Well, where else can I go? I’m boxed in, there’s nowhere else to go.” In other words, I’ll marry Jesus Christ simply because I have to marry Him. But Peter is saying, “Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. You have life within You. It is You that gives freedom. It is You that gives power. You are the living God.” Verse 69:
John 6:69 – We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.
You must be convinced that the message of the cross is absolute truth. You must know, you must experience, it must be yours, you must find freedom from that cross. You must be able to say, “My flesh was alive here and the cross crucified me here and I have the resurrected life here.” You must have evidence with all kinds of sins in your life and all areas of your flesh so that you are being crucified unto a resurrected life. Because the anti-Christ is going to come and false Christs are going to come and they are going to say to you, “You don’t need the cross to be holy. You can be self-disciplined, you can be holy, you can do all of these powerful things, but you don’t need the cross for it.” “We believe and we know that you are the Holy One of God.” Do you believe and know that the message of the cross is life? Do you speak of the message of the cross as joy? When you talk about the message of the cross does your face light up? When you talk about the message of the cross or being crucified to the flesh does your heart leap for joy? When you begin to share with other people, when you begin to tell them about the message of the cross are you saying it from a position of joy? Are you telling them that you have good news, the freedom from which they can be delivered from their sins? We’re not talking lip service of knowing the cross. But knowing Him who is holy.
Number six: How well do you walk the promises of God? Let’s go to 2 Peter 1:1. How well do you walk the promises or walk in the promises? Simon writes to us, Peter writes to us to declare that Jesus has the words of life and he says this:
2 Peter 1:1-2 – Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
You see the joy with which he speaks? You hear the love from his lips. Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Verse 3 says:
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
We don’t need therapists, we don’t need counselors, we don’t need props, we don’t need outward things, we need the promises of God. Because the promises of God give us the divine nature of God. I don’t have to store up supplies to survive the tribulation, I don’t have to gather guns to survive the tribulation, I have to gather up promises. And I have to walk in those promises and that’s what I feed upon and that’s what gives me strength. That is where faith is made active and alive. Verse 4:
2 Peter 1:4 – Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them—” through the promises of God. Not through earthly means, not through Bible study, not through all these outward things but through what? The promises of God that you might participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. And so when evil desires well up within me, how do I conquer that evil desire? By a promise of God. That’s supposed to be what confession of sin is about. That if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us from all sin. It’s not supposed to be a whining board. It’s not supposed to be a therapy session where we all get in circles and talk about how miserable we are and then we each go around the room confessing our sins. It’s supposed to be grabbing the promise of God. It’s supposed to be that when a temptation comes in my life and that when pressure comes over here and when I feel a sin over here I go, “Okay, here’s a promise to deal with that particular sin. Here is where the grace is necessary.” And then when I see them beginning to march against my life and evil coming in to land I have a scripture, I have a promise in mind that I can use to participate in the divine nature and to escape the corruption caused by evil desires in the world.
How well now do you walk within the promises of God when things are easy? It should be about a half of one. But we keep looking for promises, we keep examining, we highlight here, we do this here, we underline it there. What about just one? How about just claiming one fully and with a complete heart and marching in that? Then when the anti-Christ comes and the tribulation comes then you can use fifty promises. Or you can give ten to somebody else and keep one to yourself.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, I’ll give you a promise to start the tribulation with. 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us a promise and the promise is this, that God will not let anything come against us which will be too difficult for us to bear. That every problem, every turmoil, everyone who comes against you, any evil that is permitted has passed through the will of His hands and He looks at your nature and He looks at who you are and He considers who you are and where your faith is and where everything is at and He says, “Okay, I can go this far.” And because of His goodness, He can go no further.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” You’ve not been singled out, you’re no one special. Don’t get into all the self-pity of going, “Oh, woe is me. I have it worse than everybody else.” Or, “I wish I had their set of temptations over there because mine are a lot worse than what they have to go through.” Knock it off! The temptations are common to man and they come against us all. And God is faithful—there’s your first promise—God is faithful. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” And so though all of hell is let loose and though the tribulation is in full force and though you’re right there at four years into the tribulation you can claim the promise that God will not let anything come against you beyond that which you can bear.
Now, it doesn’t say what you want, but what you can bear. It goes on to say, “but when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” It doesn’t say He’ll remove you out of it. Does it? So often we come in before God and we’re being tempted on something and we go in and wrestle and say, “Well, I prayed about it. I confessed it but it’s still there.” He didn’t say He was going to remove it right then. There’s a reason why He leaves us there. He says, “That you can stand up under it.” That is, you feel the weight of the temptation.
The first time that Satan tried to tempt Jesus Christ it didn’t say that Satan left right then, did it? Jesus Christ was continually given grace to stand up under the pressure of the evil one. So it is the amount of pressure God will permit. He will not necessarily deliver you out from under it immediately. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Now look at verse 14:
1 Corinthians 10:14 – Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
I read that passage because when it comes to the issue of the tribulation and dealing with temptation let us not try to form Jesus Christ into something that He is not. He is clear about what the tribulation will be. He is clear about our need to wrestle with sin. He is clear about the need to suffer in our body in order to be done with sin. He is clear about all those things and He is also clear about His promises.
And so number seven: Jesus tells us how to prepare ourselves. Let’s go to Luke 21:24. Number seven, Jesus tells us how to prepare ourselves. It says:
Luke 21:24 – They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Now verse 25 says:
Luke 21:25 – There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.
Now verse 26 tells us that so much will this be happening that men will faint from terror, an apprehension for what is coming on the world for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
Luke 21:26-27 – Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Like I told the man on the radio I said, “Your rapture is way too quiet—bodies just quietly disappear. I see no heavenly bodies shaking and men grabbing themselves in terror and fainting.” Now verse 28 tells us what to do.
Luke 21:28 – When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
When these things begin to take place, obviously we’re still here, but “when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your head, because redemption is drawing near.” You see, when we begin to see the heavenly bodies shaken, when we begin to see the anti-Christ—look if it needs three and a half years, he walks into the temple, he declares himself to be God and it’s an abomination that causes desolation, what should we be doing as Christians? We should be throwing a party. We should be saying, “Praise God! Let’s bring it on, let’s get this thing over with. It’s about time to go home. What took him so long to get here?”
“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” You will soon be in glory with Him. Encourage one another with these words. The problem is we know that we can’t lift up our heads because we’re not clean. The problem is we know that we can’t stand up because we haven’t been doing what we should be doing. We will be like the rest of the world hiding in rocks and caves and holes in the ground because of the splendor and the glory of the Lord shining everywhere. We want to be ready. We want to be able to stand up and we want to be able to look up. We want to be clean and at peace with Him knowing that we will be with Him. Verse 29 Jesus tells us an example of how to get ready.
Luke 21:29 – He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees.”
On your way home today look at all the trees around you. And if there aren’t enough examples there drive up into the mountains and begin to look at all those trees.
Luke 21:30 – When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.
There’s no use hiding our head in the sand. It’s close at hand. Verse 31:
Luke 21:31 – Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
When you see the tribulation and the anti-Christ and the heavenly bodies being shaken, when everything is getting into its place, Jesus Christ is about ready to come on the scene. Verse 32:
Luke 21:32-33 – I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Now here’s what Jesus Christ tells us to do in order to get ready in Luke 21:34:
Luke 21:34 – Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
Jesus says, “Be careful.” So the first thing to do is to go home today and to sit down and to think, “Okay, I need to carefully take a long, hard, serious look at my walk with the Lord.” “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation.” Dissipation is just a filling up of time with things that you like to do. That when the time is done and the day is over with and you go to bed you just piddled the day doing the things that you liked to do. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation.” You know how it is when you’ve indulged yourself the whole day. It might be small things, it might be a cup of tea, it might be out shopping, I don’t know what. But by the time that it is all said and done at the end of the day if you’ve indulged self do you feel like praying at the end of the day? Our hearts become weighed down. We become attached to the world. And when your heart is weighed down you can’t stand up. When your heart is weighed down you can’t look up. Because you’re attached to things of this world. It might be small, insignificant things in your own mind, but they hold you down.
The drunkenness and the anxieties of life, just the drunkenness of life of indulging in the world and the fun and the excess and the games and the shopping and the pleasure and the going here, you’re just kind of intoxicated with the world. And when a man is intoxicated he can’t stand. And when a man is intoxicated he can’t look up. And our hearts become weighed down because we’re just actively pursuing the things of the world. Whether it be of work or whether it be of home, we are just hooked into the world and we can’t seem to become sober. You see as we go to work we know what’s coming don’t we? So we’re very sober about our actions and our conduct and our conversation and what we do with our time. We’re not drunk in the things of the world just going through the day, just kind of numb to what’s going on around us. We’re fully aware of what that person’s going through that works next to us. We’re fully conscious of the needs of Jesus Christ, we’re not drunk, we’re not inebriated, we’re not out of sync with what the needs of Jesus Christ were. We’re not just in our own little comfortable world.
Be careful that your hearts aren’t weighed down with your own little concerns and the drunkenness of life. Be careful that your hearts are not weighed down by the anxieties of life. Comments of like “Well, it just has to get done,” you’re weighing yourself down. “If I don’t do it, who else is going to do it?” It’s weighing your heart down. There is only one thing that is needful and one thing that is important—getting ready to meet the living God. Verse 35 says:
Luke 21:35 – For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
There’s a flood coming and they’re going to destruction because why? They’re busy with dissipation, drunkenness and anxiety. Verse 36 says:
Luke 21:36 – Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
“Be always on the watch,” and pray continually, is what he’s saying. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen. Begin to pray now. When you can’t think of anything else to pray then pray that and pray, “God, may I escape everything that is about to come this way? May I be totally freed from this world?” “And pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” We must throw out this cheap Christianity that is being preached. Because with the Christianity that is being told out there today there is no need to pray that you can stand before the Son of Man. According to them your ticket is punched, you’re able to stand, you’ll be there no matter what you do so why bother to really pray about it? There is a flood of wickedness coming over the world. There is a test coming like there has never been a test before and we do well to pray right now that we can escape and that we can stand.
But we pray with faith. And we pray with confidence. And we know that if we earnestly seek Him, we know that if we ask Him to escape, He will give us the grace. And we know that if we ask God and we come with faith and we say, “Oh Lord, enable me to stand before You,” He will enable us. That is what faith is about.
Number eight, and our last point, is you just need to discipline yourself. Let’s go to 2 Timothy 1:6. I want to end with some very basic things. Because we can get all flowery and talkative about these things but you know what it comes down to? It comes down to some every day basic things of disciplining your life.
2 Timothy 1:6 – 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.
Well how do we fan into flame the Holy Spirit? Because you see I’m going to list some very specific things here in a moment and the excuse usually is, “Well, I don’t walk under self-effort in these things.” Or, “I don’t want to fall under legalism when it comes to these things.” This is how you fan the flame of the Holy Spirit and if you begin to do these things He will show you what the self-effort is. Just do that. Now look at verse 7:
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
The Holy Spirit enables a man to not be afraid. He is not afraid of his sins. He is not afraid of hell. He is not afraid of his neighbor, he’s not afraid of anybody. God has not given us a spirit of timidity that we must hide in the corner and be terrified about the things that are coming. That’s not the kind of spirit He has given us. He has given us a spirit of power that we know that we’re on the side that will win. We know that He will guard our steps and He will do the work. He’s given us a spirit of love and of self-discipline. He has given us a heart that is really concerned about those around us. That as we built the ark we hope our family is very large. And He’s given us the spirit to be self-disciplined. You know how far you can go if you just show a little bit of self-discipline? How much the Holy Spirit will really be able to work?
Look at Mark 8:34. Again God has given us the power of a changed life. All excuses must be crucified. You get in before the prayer closet and you say, “God, I do this over here and here’s my excuse. Please crucify both.” In Mark 8:34 it says:
Mark 8:34 – Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Jesus Christ is willing to tell the crowd and the disciples the same thing. Many times He would tell the disciples secret things, but the crowds He would tell them this very clearly. This is evident in and of itself. And He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” We tend to ignore the deny self. I’ll tell you the category this falls under. People will often say to me—when I tell them certain things that maybe they need to change in their life or order things in their life—“Well, did you hear that from the living God?” And it’s evidential things, things they should know. And my response usually is, “When you go into Wal-Mart today to go shopping and God doesn’t tell you to steal, is it okay to steal?” There are just certain things that we are supposed to do to align our lives, to get ourselves to a place where the Holy Spirit can do its work. There should be that list of things that says, “I will deny myself in these things and I will move in a certain way.” In other words, let’s say that you begin to feel the urge to pout. And self wants to begin to pout that this is just too hard a message and it’s just too difficult to live. The solution is not some big devotional study guide or to fast and to pray or to do all these large things. It’s just denial of self. Here is self that wants to pout so you turn to self and you say, “Self, you’re not going to pout.” And so you begin to praise God. You put it in motion to do that which you should do. You deny yourself here and you act on the good that you should over here.
We would fan into flame the Holy Spirit then, we would have the gift of God alive with us more if we would take those every day things that we know are self-evident and just begin to deny ourselves; that when our flesh wants to rest we deny ourselves and work. I know that I told most of you that when I moved here and I began to get busy, really busy again, there were times I literally had to turn to my flesh and say, “You will work and you will focus and you’re not going to get out of this.” And then when we want to work and we’re all full of anxiety then we force ourselves to rest. Some of you need to take a hint on that one. Or you’ll go put yourself in a closet somewhere and lock the door and you sit down and you say, “You’re going to rest, self.” You just begin the process of denying self because let me tell you it’s going to go a long way. The anti-Christ is going to come along and your life is going to be torture, and you’ll be able to say to yourself, “No problem, I’ve been doing that all along, so what’s changed?” Or maybe you just want to chill a little bit? Instead you fan into flames and begin to work.
You know those areas—don’t even complicate this a little bit. “Well, I don’t know if it’s flesh, I don’t know if it’s Spirit.” I’m talking about those every day things where you know that your flesh is demanding that you do something here and you’re just going to tell yourself no and do the proper thing. For flesh may be becoming greedy with this money so you deny yourself and you say no and you give. How complicated can some of this be? God will give you grace, and He will give you mercy, and He will build you up to hear the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you talk too much. You tell yourself in a few words to shut up so you can hear the Holy Spirit.
If your room is messy then you clean it up. You order your life, you do as Paul says, you go into strict training. I know for some of you to clean your room you’d think you’d be beating your body and making it your slave. But it’s a minor thing. If you can’t clean your room what are going to do in your prison cell? Order your life, structure it, deny yourself. Look at the day and say, “This is the day and this is what I want to do and I’ll deny myself on these things and I’ll do instead what is holy.” And when you’re hungry and you’re ready for dinner you deny yourself and wait on the Lord’s timing. You begin in all things to deny yourself and to pick up a cross and to follow Him. Pretty basic things.
We’ll read 2 Timothy 1:6 again and we’ll end with that.
2 Timothy 1:6 – 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.
Fan it into flame by the denial of self.
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
The next time you’re sitting at a table with someone and you’re tempted to be afraid, open your mouth and say it anyway. Your voice might quake and you might quiver and your knees might be shaking, many a times I’ve been there. Somebody calls me on the phone and I can’t hardly even clear my throat to get it out. But you open your mouth, you say it anyway, and you speak. You deny self. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power.” The grace will come and the power will be there. When you have thoughts to be depressed or to be in self-pity just begin to deny that and He will eventually work the victory. He will eventually do the work. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” If you don’t feel like loving somebody put your arm around them and love them. Begin to deny yourself.
Let’s go ahead and pray.
Father, transform our thinking and may we not listen to the serpent’s lies that will tell us, Father, that if we do not do these things we will not die. And more than that, Father, we want to be with You. We want to be in a place, Father, where only what is pure and lovely and good and holy is. Work within us and crucify and burn out, Father, the wickedness that dwells and works within. Father, we pray that we’ll be able to stand before the Son of Man. And we pray, Father, that we’ll be able to escape what is coming. Come quickly, oh Lord. Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.