4 Keys to Prepare Our Hearts for the Coming Days

Charlene S Hughes

As a believer, if you pay much attention at all to current events in recent years, it is 4keyseasy to see that the world we live in is rapidly changing. Every day it seems, there is another headline about Christians being martyred, children being abducted and sold into sex trafficking, racial riots, celebrities changing their gender, and others. It is as if we are living in the days of Isaiah 60:2, See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,…” It can be hard, at times, to stay focused on the Lord and His promises as we watch so many sliding deeper and deeper into depravity. 

Even the Church is becoming more divided over basic biblical truths such as the institution of marriage, denying the reality of sin, hell, and eternal judgment, and claiming that all are already saved without the need for repentance. Certainly, all…

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4 Keys to Prepare Our Hearts for the Coming Days

As a believer, if you pay much attention at all to current events in recent years, it is 4keyseasy to see that the world we live in is rapidly changing. Every day it seems, there is another headline about Christians being martyred, children being abducted and sold into sex trafficking, racial riots, celebrities changing their gender, and others. It is as if we are living in the days of Isaiah 60:2, See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,…” It can be hard, at times, to stay focused on the Lord and His promises as we watch so many sliding deeper and deeper into depravity. 

Even the Church is becoming more divided over basic biblical truths such as the institution of marriage, denying the reality of sin, hell, and eternal judgment, and claiming that all are already saved without the need for repentance. Certainly, all is not lost, nor is the Church doomed to fail, but we must be aware of the signs of the times in which we live. In fact, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for being unable to discern the signs of the times unfolding before their eyes, saying, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matt. 16:3b)

The danger in not being familiar with the signs of the times we live in is that we will be unprepared to face the difficulties, and take advantage of the opportunities that the signs are foretelling, when the time of their fulfillment comes. We could possibly be among those Jesus prophesied would fall away (Matt. 24:10-11). Many people, including believers, choose to turn a blind eye and not think about what could happen. Others give in to fear and self-preservation by stockpiling food, water and other material goods, hoping to somehow avoid any coming crisis. Still others are counting on being raptured away before the real troubles begin. Do any of these choices reflect the nature of Jesus?

I believe the best thing we can do to prepare ourselves for increasing difficulties is to spend time preparing our hearts. By that I mean, spending both quality and quantity time in the Lord’s presence, meditating upon His Word. The more we do this, the greater our faith will become, enabling us to stand no matter what comes against us. We also need to seek inner healing and deliverance in order to recapture any legal ground the enemy has to attack, torment, and deceive us. It also helps break lies we’ve believed about God, ourselves, and others so we can have healthier relationships. We need to be a part of a life-giving community, whether traditional church or small group, with people we know and trust. We are called a body because we need each other. We need to spend time in worship and prayer, not just at weekly meetings, but in our homes every day. Worship and prayer help us refocus on how big and awesome our God is, taking our focus off of our situations or the latest world crisis. Whatever we focus on grows.

I’m sure there are other ways, but these are a great place to start preparing your heart. Each of these require time, and time is short. We can’t afford to put off or wait until we feel like it to begin this critical preparation. Step out in faith, and trust the Lord to meet you and help you; it will be worth it!        

How to Thrive, Not Just Survive in the Wilderness

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. – Hosea 2:14

Have you ever been in a wilderness season in your walk with God? Maybe you’re in one wildernessnow. If you haven’t, chances are really good that you will. Not just once, but possibly several times. How do I know? Well, I’ve been through a few myself. And if you’ve read much of the Bible, you’ll notice most everyone God ever used had their own unique time in the wilderness, even Jesus. In fact, the wilderness is a common theme; the word is used over 270 times in the Old Testament alone.

The term can refer to a natural area of uninhabited land or pasture. The Hebrew word used literally means, a region suitable for pasturing sheep or cattle; an uncultivated place; not a barren desert. When used figuratively, it often depicts a place of barrenness and dryness, with little to no life or activity. Many times in Scripture it was a place of encounter with God, as seen in Hosea 2:14.

The Israelites encountered God as a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire in their wilderness wanderings. Moses encountered Him in the burning bush. David discovered God as his refuge during his years of running from Saul, hiding out in a cave. The Shulamite maiden encountered Him as a Bridegroom. There are many others as well.

So what does this mean for you and me? Why does God repeat this pattern so many times in Scripture? What are His purposes for these wilderness seasons in our lives? I’ve come up with at least 8 reasons God allows these times in our journey, based on Deuteronomy 8:2-9:

  • Reveals the hidden things in our hearts that hinder our relationship. (v. 2)
  • A time of testing our obedience to Him. (v. 2)
  • Humbles us, causing us to depend upon Him more fully. (v. 3)
  • Produces greater spiritual hunger. (v. 3)
  • We learn to hear His voice more clearly. (v. 3)
  • Proves His faithfulness to us. (v. 3-4)
  • Can be a form of discipline. (v. 5)
  • Preparation for a season of blessing. (v. 7-9)

Learning to understand God’s ways and purposes doesn’t always make these seasons easier, but we can learn to embrace them by His grace, when we realize the good that He wants to accomplish in our lives. I believe we can discover how to thrive in the wilderness, not just simply survive. How should we respond in order to do this? Here are a few suggestions that might help:

  1. Rather than run from the issues in our heart and soul, seek help and healing to get free. The more we are healed, the greater our intimacy with God can become.
  2. Seek His grace daily in areas you struggle to obey. Ask for help and prayer from those you trust.
  3. Humble yourself; trust Him to do what you cannot do. Let His strength come forth as you embrace your weakness.
  4. Make spending regular time with Him a priority. Increase that time as much as possible.
  5. Meditation in the Scripture is a great way to learn to hear His voice. Ask mature friends and leaders to help you if you struggle with this.
  6. Develop a daily attitude of gratitude. God deserves our gratitude, worship, and praise. Remember, grumbling and complaining cost some of Israel their promised land!
  7. Submit to His discipline. Repent, confess your sins to God and to trusted friends. Remember, He disciplines those He loves.
  8. Commit to continue this process when the season changes. Israel is one example of how quickly we can forget God during times of blessing and favor.

As we learn to embrace God’s ways rather than resist them, we can accelerate our spiritual growth. We can thrive, not just survive, in the wilderness.

What has God taught you in the wilderness seasons? I would love to hear your comments!