How can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" ~Romans 10:14-15, Isaiah 52:7
This is my watercolor painting of the Chapel of Ease at St. Helena Island, South Carolina. In times before the automobile, there were many remote locations where people lived who could not regularly travel to the main parish church. The chapel of ease was the outstretched arm of the larger church, a beautiful picture of an outreach ministry to share the Good News. This building, constructed between 1742 and 1747 and destroyed by forest fire in 1886, may be in ruins, but hopefully the Gospel lives on in the lives of the descendants who attended here.
Enjoy this music:
For more information on this historic place:
The Lord Is In His Holy Temple
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
"Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"
The Lord is in His holy temple;
the Lord's throne is in heaven;
His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
but His soul hates the one who loves violence.
Let Him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind
shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
He loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold His face.
Make no mistake, the enemy never rests. He lives to create chaos and to silence God's people. At times it can be so intense that we can wonder if God can hear us crying out to Him. The uproar around us is so loud, yet there is His still small voice. He wants us to make the effort to listen, even amidst all of the madness. That is the rest, His rest.
It is okay to think, "what in the world is happening?" We do need to keep watch so that we can know how to pray, but how can we stay calm and focused? Jesus slept in a boat as a storm raged. His disciples panicked and cried in fear that they would drown. Jesus said, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:23-27) Easier said than done, right? We do need reminders that He is sovereign.
We should expect our faith to be tested from time to time and should not be surprised when wicked people are..... wicked. It seems like our participation is never enough, and it isn't and shouldn't be because it's God's work. He is the way maker. We show faith by our participation and even if we die trying, then we dine with Him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The enemy calls evil good and good evil, so if we are to hate evil we should be familiar with the Word's definition of good vs. evil. As opposed to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, wickedness consists of sexual immorality, (any sexual act outside a God ordained marriage between one man and one woman), open pride and arrogance in expressing it, worshiping other gods, seeking counsel from familiar spirits (fortune telling, horoscopes, tarot cards, astral projection, drugs, etc.), hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, murder (killing of innocent - abortion, revenge, etc.), slander, selfishness (putting personal feelings and desires first), drunkenness, carousing, holding strong opinions that are contrary to God's Word, promoting and teaching others that any or all of these activities are acceptable and good.
One simply cannot follow Christ and continually live this way. (Galatians 5:19-21) One must repent.
When wickedness is dealt with reasonably, quickly and thoroughly, physical fighting and wars can be avoided, but when it is ignored and tolerated, the enemy grows large and angry. Unfortunately, this seems to be the worldly situation we are close to now. So what do we do? Pray for our leaders and for our enemies. Stand firm in truth and in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Continue practicing the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (being courageous, strong, humble, and confident in the Lord), and self control, (Galatians 5:22-26), persevere (James 1:12), protect (1 Corinthians 13).
Remember heroes of the faith such as Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Ruth, Samuel, David, Daniel, Esther, Mary & Joseph, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, Priscilla & Aquila. Also look at historical figures such as Polycarp, John Huss, Joan of Arc, William Tyndale, Tzar Nicholas of Russia and family, Corrie Ten Boom, C. S. Lewis, Catherine Booth, Thomas Jefferson, Fanny Crosby, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Paul Revere, Harriet Tubman, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rosa Parks, Asa Bibi, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther, Sophie Scholl, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mercy Otis Warren, Isaac Newton, Amy Charmichael, Rifqa Bary, Galileo Galilei, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward, Bilquis Sheikh, etc. Whether you agree or not with their sincerity of faith, they were used by God for His good purposes for what they are each most known and recognized for. I would encourage study and research, many of whom have biographies.
Recommended reading (books I've read): God's Generals- books by Robert Liardon, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary, Bonhoeffer - Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Mataxes
An encouraging word in the video below:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. ~Psalm 46:1
We think of Martin Luther as a great reformer, Bible translator, political leader, fiery preacher, and theologian. But he was also a musician, having been born in an area of Germany known for it's music. There in his little Thuringian village, young Martin grew up listening to his mother sing. He joined a boys choir that sang at weddings and funerals. He became proficient with the flute (recorder), and his volcanic emotions often erupted in song.
When the protestant reformation began, Luther determined to restore worship to the German Church. He worked with skilled musicians to create new music for Christians, to be sung in the vernacular. He helped revive congregational singing and wrote a number of hymns.
Often he "borrowed" popular secular melodies for his hymns, though occasionally a tune brought criticism and he was "compelled to let the devil have it back again" because it was too closely associated with bars and taverns.
In the forward of a book, Luther once wrote: "Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, and spirits.... A person who... does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God ... does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs."
Luther's most famous hymn is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott," --- "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Based on Psalm 46, it reflects Luther's awareness of our intense struggle with Satan. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song, saying to his associate, "Come, Philipp, let us sing the 46th Psalm."
This is a difficult hymn to translate because the original German is so vivid. At least 80 English versions are available. The most popular in America was done by Frederic Henry Hodge, but an older version appeared in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book of 1868:
A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty Shield and Weapon;
He helps us free from every need, That hath us now o'ertaken.
The British version of "A Mighty Fortress" is Thomas Carlyle's translation:
A safe stronghold our God is still, A trusty shield and weapon;
He'll help us clear from all the ill, That hath us now o'ertaken.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not His equal.
Did we in our own strength confide Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side, The Man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Saboath His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear for God hath willed, His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also,
The body they may kill; God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.
Special thanks to Robert J Morgan for another wonderful excerpt from Then Sings My Soul: 250 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories. Also enjoy the following links:
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God - Matt Boswell
The "high church" version is always uplifting: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
As we get closer to Christ's return, we should consider all of the possibilities of players and scenarios, regardless of our personal End Times theology. Preparation means to beware, to avoid being deceived by an ever persistent enemy. Keep watch, Beloved ones, and do not fear. It's a long video, but worth the watch: Revelation: The Bride, the Beast & Babylon