Preparing For Persecution

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…. 2 Timothy 3:12

The persecution and martyrdom of Christian believers was Saul’s main focus before his encounter with Jesus and transformation to the Apostle Paul. And who would know about persecution better than Paul? He was a prisoner while writing five of the books [letters] of the Bible. From studying, we know that Paul did not fear death because of his belief and hope in the resurrection of the dead in Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Despite witnessing Paul’s strength, his protégé, young Timothy, was fearful of imprisonment and persecution. Timothy’s fear prompted Paul to write the letter of 2nd Timothy. Although the Apostle was a nurturing spiritual mentor, he reprimanded Timothy’s lack of faith in God during times of persecution.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.…2 Timothy 1:7-8

Of all the emotions God has given humanity, God never gave us the spirit of fear, especially the fear of death. Having a spirit of fear differs from the “Fear of Reverence for God, the “Fight or Flight” response of the Autonomic Nervous system, or from the “Stranger Danger” that babies experience. Living in fear of trials, tribulations, persecution, and death cancels out our proclamation of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:16-18

Were you aware that the only disciple that died from a natural death was the apostle John? They boiled him in oil, but Jesus had grand plans for John. John did not die! When the persecutors witnessed the power of God, they exiled John to the Isle of Patmos where he wrote Revelation. Revelation is filled with spiritual symbolism so deep that many individuals ignore the book or only read a few verses. It takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to understand the Revelation prophecies. The books of John were written by the apostle John who also wrote the gospel of John and the book of Revelation.

John’s separation reveals that we need to stop wasting time on people, places, and things that cannot help us grow spiritually. We have to step back and fully assess our priorities. 2 Timothy 3 tells us of the Perilous Times and Perilous People of the last days. Refer to Genesis chapters 5-10 for an account of the flood and the destruction of all living things. The reason: Now, the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. Genesis 6:11. If God gave John a vision of the New Heaven and New Earth, imagine the anointing and the spiritual gifts you can receive with total commitment to Christ.

Lack of knowledge of the scriptures, intermittent prayers, and trust in our own abilities leaves us with hidden fear. We can live a life of pretense, but God knows our fears safely tucked away, that are unknown to others. Half-committed to follow Jesus places us in a valley of indecision. Not fully prepared to give up our willful desires or put our complete faith and trust in God, we only acknowledge a higher power by word of mouth. The human effort of daily studying, praying, faith, trust, and obedience must be a priority on our every day agendas.

Without God, humanity is powerless against the agents of evil. Yes, Satan is the father of fear. I watched a video of a Christian woman in Afghanistan who proclaimed, “We will not throw away our Bibles! We will die for Jesus Christ!” For citizens of the United States of America, persecution is not political, it is biblical prophecy. Search the scriptures. Our time is coming. Get out of the valley of indecision! Strengthen your relationship with God while you have time. Jesus is coming!

“But if it doesn’t please you to worship the LORD, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
Bible Readings: 2 Timothy 3

Prayer: God, we ask you to forgive our sins. We realize that our fear exists because our relationship with you is based on words. As we seek knowledge through the study of the scriptures, we ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment. Thank you for your grace and mercies. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Pursuing Excellence?

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

It is in humility that we serve an Excellent, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God. Still, God is not haughty. He lovingly extends unmerited grace and mercy to ungrateful humanity every day. After pre-planning the sacrifice of Jesus, His only Son, one would think that believers would reverence God in awe. Because Jesus serves as our Heavenly Intercessor–yes, our prayers are sent to Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27), we should possess a humble and contrite spirit striving for a deeper relationship with our Father-God Creator. Sadly, we are glorifying our sinful selves.

We have become over-confident in our spiritual growth. Many believers have elevated their status [a by-product of pride] and have changed their names to include titles such as “prophets, apostles, intercessors, healers,” etc. In fact, false teachers are twisting the scriptures and spreading false teachings that humans can “manifest” and “prophesy” the future [prosperity, childless couples having children, physical healing, you will have a husband or wife] of other believers. Do you know why we are readily accepting lies? Just like Eve, we desire what God has not given to us.

Right now, some believers are upset with the content you are reading. Either you believe that humanity can achieve spiritual excellence, or we were given the “Omni’s” that only God possesses. What is causing the breakdown? In studying the scriptures, we fail to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and give  knowledge, and wisdom. Without guidance, we interpret God’s Word according to our limited insight. Yet, there is another category of believers who worship their Pastors and believe what is being preached from the pulpit, even if it is not biblical. We are unaware that it is not Sola scriptura because we lack the desire to be students–diligently studying the Bible under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Our desire is to be the teacher.

Hierarchy of Created Beings

You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5

God Appointed our Dominion:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26.

God has given us dominion over animals. We do not have the power to manifest blessings or prophesy future events over other individuals.

Spiritual Gifts

In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, we learn of the diversity of spiritual gifts given through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3. Before we make the determination that the presenting person is of God, the Apostle Paul also warns us: 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their actions.…2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Yes, many false teachers are collecting large sums of money to cast out demons or break the spells of witchcraft. It is hard to believe that believers are being deceived to the point that they are paying for “miracles.”

“One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a spirit of divination, who earned a large income for her masters by fortune-telling.” Acts 16:16.

How do we know who is anointed by God or who is a false prophet? Tune your ears to the words they are speaking. If you hear the word “I” too many times then they are projecting their own abilities. Have you heard only their opinions? If they are truly anointed by the Holy Spirit then every word from their mouth will glorify God. Scriptures will be utilized and the location of said scriptures from the Bible will readily be given to the congregation. 

What is the root of the problem? Why are saints of the Most-High God so easily deceived by Satan? Why are so many being lured into the webs of deception? Self-reliance!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

Satan knows that his time is limited. Self-elevation, greed, the love of money, and the desire to possess material things that we can show off to others have us slipping further away from God and at risk of losing our reward of eternal life.

Rely on the power of God!

Daily surrender of our hearts, praying to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, and diligent study of the Bible gives us the ability to put on the whole armor, Ephesians 6:10-20. We need spiritual reinforcement in our walk with God. Many do not enjoy praying, studying, and worship God. But we must acknowledge and accept our human limitations. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Humanity Cannot Achieve Excellence

For we all have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper], And all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags; We all wither and decay like a leaf, And our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing], like the wind, takes us away [carrying us far from God’s favor, toward destruction]. Isaiah 64:6 Amplified Bible

The Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31. Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Romans 6:2. Sanctification–growing spiritually is a life-long journey. Surrender to God requires daily commitment. 

Human Effort: Yes, we lament over our sinful natures. It is so easy to sin. Humbly acknowledging our sinful nature drives us to confess and repent of our sins. Our daily pursuit is to live righteously by placing our faith and trust in God. Salvation is 1:1 with Jesus Christ. We have help from our Teacher 24/7. Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit before studying the scriptures. God always reveals the truth, then it is up to us to accept it. We will not be able to blame anyone else for our loss of eternal life. 

Divine Intervention: God has not left us to fend for ourselves. It is Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary that provides the redemption [forgiveness] of our sins. The Holy Spirit empowers us to discern and stand firm against evil. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6. Yes, it is the power of the Trinity that will give us the strength to be faithful until the day Jesus comes again. He which testifies these things say, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20. Hallelujah!

Prayer: God, we thank you for the ability to gain wisdom, knowledge, and revelation of Your truth. We ask You to guard us against the deceptions of spiritual wickedness. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Blinded By the God of This Age

Today’s Devotional–Experiencing GOD Day-by-Day–by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby

Blinded by the God of This Age

Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 2 Corinthians 4:4

When you are blinded, you cannot see things as they really are, even though others around you see them clearly.  You cannot experience the full reality of all that is around you. You may feel you are experiencing all that there is to life, yet you may be unaware that you are missing what God desires for you.  You may even be in danger because of your blindness and not know it.

Paul warned that the “god of this age” can blind you to the reality of Jesus Christ.  Christ’s presence can make a significant difference in your life.  However, if Satan convinces you to doubt that Christ can do what He promised, he will have blinded you to the reality of what your life is really like and to what it could become.  Others may see what your unbelief causes you to miss, but you will be unaware of it.  Your life may be steadily moving toward disaster, but you will be oblivious to it.

Christ comes to you as light (John 1:4, 5, 9).  He illuminates your sin so that you see its ugliness and destructiveness.  He reveals Himself so that you can appreciate the glory of His person and the marvelous riches He brings.  His presence lights your path so that you can see impending danger. Don’t let the god of this age distort your spiritual vision.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that everything is as it should be when, in fact, you are missing out on so much that God wants to do in your life.  Ask Christ to illuminate your life and let you clearly see your spiritual condition.

Prayer: God, we ask forgiveness for thinking, acting, and living as if you are not the Creator of all humanity. We have put many things above you. Thank you for the gifts of grace and mercy. Give us the strength we need to always praise you and have a spirit of gratitude. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. 2021 Copyright Sonya Johnson