What has happened to our culture? We are witnessing a rapid decline in all spheres of society, as the visible church becomes culturally relevant, and we are no longer salt and light. It shakes our confidence as one well known Christian leader after another either falls away from the Truth or does not contend for it. Our political system has become so unethical and unprincipled even professed Christians are having affairs and taking bribes. This is also true of businesses that are not rooted in fair business practices or are themselves deceived from within by embezzlement. Then there is the realization that even our monetary system is nearing collapse. Our current state of affairs are disturbing and bleak, however, our faith should not be in man or man’s systems. Our faith should stand on the solid rock of Christ alone.

Are things going to get worse? Yes.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful and unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” 2 Timothy 3:1-4 “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3: 12&13.
So, what are we to do?
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
We must stay in God’s Word and understand the trials that we will encounter.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14
The evil one is patiently waiting for us to become disillusioned and take our eyes off Jesus.
“Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

“By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help. And many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.” Daniel 11:32-35

“Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.” Daniel 12:10

God is very clearly warning us of the adversity that we must go through, but at the same time encouraging us to stand firm and not to fear.

“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, but He will save you.’” Isaiah 35:3&4

“’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:10-13

’Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from you Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.’” Matthew 10:28-31

We need to be like Jeremiah. The Lord very firmly instructed him:
“Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them.” Jer 1:17

Beloved, we desperately need to “Gird Up Our Loins!” Taking up our cross everyday and following Jesus is hard work. The old familiar hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a source of great comfort and determination:

I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, The world behind me the cross before me, No turning back, no turning back. Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow, Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow, Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow, No turning back, no turning back…

Are we prepared to follow Jesus, alone? If everyone we know holds onto the world and abandons the cross will we still follow Jesus? Lord, with your help we say, “Yes!"

Our Father in heaven loves us, no matter what happens!
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus or Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Do not be disillusioned. God has graciously forewarned us about the distress, trials and hardships to come. He has given us the Scriptures to guide and direct us and even if we lose the Bible we can memorize His Word and hide it in our hearts. “Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119 10&11
Finally, our Savior tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Taking courage in the precious name of Jesus,

Charisse Graves

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