We’re Not in Heaven Yet: Part One

It was dark outside. My dog, a small Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, trembled as the sounds of thunder and pounding rain shook the house and lightning flashed across the sky from our windows. Little Toby was afraid, and I did all I could to help him settle down.

As silly as it might sound, I decided to pray out loud over Toby and our family, that he would settle down and would not be afraid in general of the storm. I felt Jesus’ Presence in the room—yet, it continued to thunder and rain, and there was no end in sight to the lightning. My dog continued to whine and shake.

Jesus’ Presence in the room changed how my heart and mind viewed the situation; but it continued to storm. Isn’t this how so much of our lives go? I prayed for relief and peace, but it did not change the outside circumstances. My dog continued to freak out, and everything felt dark and scary. Jesus decided not to stop the storm around us, nor did He choose to stop the fear my pup felt. Yet, Christ was there.

And it brought a profound, somewhat sad truth to my heart: We are not in heaven yet. Let me explain what I mean. Many Christians today live and act as if we are in heaven—sometimes accusing those going through the pain and brokenness of living on this earth of “not having enough faith.” As if the suffering we go through as we live here on earth will all go away if we name it and claim it, and it is out fault for not naming and claiming our way out of any sad situation.

I’m sorry, friends, but this is just not true. Jesus did not promise us that if we believe enough in Him, all our pain will go away. In fact, He promised somewhat the opposite of this. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world(John 16:33 KJV). Jesus told us, in quite a straightforward manner, that we will have trouble in this life! He did not promise health, wealth and smiles 24/7. But He promised us something much more precious: His Presence.promise

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5, KJV).

I am not saying that we should not pray for healing, breakthrough, relief, peace, or miracles. Jesus tells us that if we pray anything in Jesus’ Name, we will receive it—as long as it is in accordance with His Will (John 14:13, John 16:24; you can find an amazing article on this here). I am not trying to be the bearer of any bad news— I am only trying to tell the truth of the matter, and perhaps encourage those who still have not seen the answer to their desperate cries for help to Christ. For many of us, the storm has not stopped; it sometimes gets even worse, and our prayers feel like they have hit the ceiling. I believe it is here that Christ wants to comfort and encourage us. “Just trust me,” He says to those who praying, watching, and waiting. “I will use even this to bring about my glory and your good.presence

Read Part 2 of this blog post here.


Do you know Jesus?

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, NIV)

In our entire lives, one thing never changes: Christ’s steadfast love. Learn more about Jesus and His amazing, never-changing Love for you, here.


Please pray for…

Those who are going through incredibly rough storms, including the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu.
– Those who do not know Christ and His steadfast, never-ending Love. May we be lights to guide them to Him.
– All those suffering because of Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen.

Thank you for your prayers!

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We’re Not in Heaven Yet: Part Two

In this last post, I was ruminating on the fact that we are not in heaven yet—and that pain, trial, and desperation are not necessarily proof of our sin or failure.

Thinking on this, I thought of another deep truth: Not only will we experience pain in this sin-filled, broken world; but Christ can use even the most broken of situations to bring about His glory.pain

I thought of this as I was listening to a sermon by the late pastor Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He brought up the story of Esther, the Biblical account of a Hebrew woman becoming queen of a pagan nation, saving the exiled Israelites from genocide. God had elevated Esther through the sinful actions of King Xerxes I, the removal of Queen Vashti from queenship, and many other somewhat human, sinful details. Reading Esther 1, it becomes clear that King Xerxes I is not a Godly man whatsoever, and the land in which they live is a difficult land to be Godly in.

Yet, it is on this stage that Christ brings Esther much favor in King Xerxes I’s eyes—all “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). God worked even through human sin and selfishness to preserve His People—and He does the same thing today.today

This is in no way a reason to increase in sinning. In the words of Paul the Apostle, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Romans 6:1-2, KJV). It is just to say that Christ is Sovereign over the details of our lives, and is our Redeemer, turning the worst of situations into the ultimate good.

Many of you may need to hear this, today. Do you feel disqualified for being used by God because of your past and present struggles with sin? Are you looking at your own desperate situation, staring at empty hands and wondering how anything could be brought out of such a difficult place? Even worse, do you feel as though your lack of belief in naming and claiming things, as is done in the “Prosperity Gospel,” is the reason for your pain?good

Let this comfort and encourage you today, friend: 1) You are not in heaven yet, and the trials of this life are promised; 2) God is using even the most broken parts of your life to bring about your good and His glory; and 3) He has promised you His near Presence and Help within even the wildest of storms. He Loves you, and is determined to finish what He started in you (Philippians 1:6)!


Do you know Jesus?

As cliche as it sounds, God knew you before you were even formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Jesus has created you wonderfully (Psalm 139:14), and has a plan for your life that only you can live out! To learn more about this Jesus and His plan for your life, click here.


Please pray for…

  • The Chibok girls, and their soon release.
  • Leah Sharibu’s soon release.
  • The Nigerian military.
  • All those who feel as if Christ could never accept or save them because of their sin.
  • Those who are backslidden, that they would come to know Christ.

Psalm 126: Bring Back Our Girls

Yesterday, I was reading Psalm 126. I found it to be incredibly similar to the cries of so many hearts right now for the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu when reading the footnotes of the Psalm. What those footnotes say are in the brackets so that one can see its alternate meaning.

Please continue today to pray for the soon return of Chibok’s girls, as well as Leah Sharibu. Thank you. ❤

“1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion [brought back the captives to Zion],
we were like those who dreamed.[b] [restored to health.]
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord, [bring back our captives, Lord,]
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow;
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.”

PSALM 126 NEW

Rest for the Weary: Praying for Nigeria’s Soldiers

Have you ever just felt discouraged and exhausted?

More deeply than from just a big day at work, or an annoying detail of your day… a deep, profound discouragement, an exhaustion that is not far from both rage and hopelessness?

It was reported on August 15th that Nigerian soldiers are protesting against the heads of the Nigerian military and government, claiming that they have been treated with disrespect and cruelty. The Nigerian military has treated many of its soldiers as if they were not people with loved ones and lives. News24 reports a soldier saying, “We should not have been here for more than a year but this is our fourth year and still they are asking us to move to Marte… We need some rest, we are war-weary and need to see our families.”new1

 

While things have seemingly gotten better in neighboring countries like Cameroon, Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen continue to fight the Nigerian military without relief. These men, women, and children—as well as people like them– need rest, in the truest sense of the word. It is a peace and rest only Jesus Christ can give. Please pray with me for these people; that Christ would show them who He is, that they would be born-again and saved, and that they would find real rest in Him alone. After all, Jesus says, “’All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’” (Matthew 11:27-28, NIV).

rest


Do you know Jesus?

Religion weighs a person down. Jesus sets people free. Learn more about who Jesus is, what He has done, and why it should matter to you personally here.


“Dear Jesus,
Thank You for the many men and women who have taken up fighting for their countries, especially in Nigeria. Father, we pray that You would bring these weary soldiers to Yourself, would save them, and would comfort and strengthen them. Please give them favor and morale to fight and win against Boko Haram, and any hostile Fulani Herdsmen there are.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

New Normals: Living In Oppression

Hi friends,

Long time no post. I needed some time to get back to what really matters when it comes to the Chibok girls, Boko Haram, and everything in this blog: prayer. For the girls, for Leah Sharibu, and for Nigeria as a whole.

But I’m back. And as I read through news articles about how Boko Haram has stolen, killed, and destroyed the fish market, leaving fishermen in danger of being killed or having to pay Boko Haram high prices1, it reminds me of two things: What the enemy wants to do in our lives, and how to live life in what can sometimes be “a new normal”; moreso, how Christ wants to lead our lives to a “new normal.”

Before Boko Haram became so prevalent, fish were a huge staple in Northern Nigerian cuisine. Now, people have resorted to eating lizards and even cats for their share of animal protein. Boko Haram has come in, wanted to steal the country’s strength, as well as oppress, kill, and destroy any sense of freedom and dignity Northern Nigeria, and Nigeria as a whole, has had.

Yet, we must continue to live, even under the most oppressive of regimes. Even in the most stressful and desperate of circumstances.

Sometimes evens in life hit us like a bus. We want to give up. Crawl in to bed and never wake up again.

And sometimes, that is needed for a period of time, to process and grieve. But it cannot be forever. I’m not claiming I know when that time is; everyone grieves and processes things differently.

LIVE

But there comes a time when we must continue to live. Where we must continue to keep on, through a new and daunting “normal” way of life. A way of life that, if we allow Christ in, can become “new” through Him: abundant and teeming real life (John 10:10). After all, Jesus never, ever changes (Hebrews 13:8).

CHANGES

There is still much to be done. When thinking about this blog, all I can help but do is say that I will post as faithfully as possible, however and whenever the Spirit leads me to. As I look at what seems to be a never-ending struggle in Nigeria, I am reminded of how desperately needed our prayers are for the church—and all people in Nigeria. How desperately they need a “new normal,” one without the terror of Boko Haram.

 

As people suffer oppression on every side, let’s pray that Christ would deliver them—and that He would lead and guide them through the ever-changing “new normal” they have been pushed into. He alone will be truly faithful.

 

1 http://saharareporters.com/2018/08/11/revealed-boko-haram-charges-fishermen-n10000-access-borno-waters


Do you know Jesus?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV)

Are you struggling to find a foundation to place your life upon? That is, a firm foundation that gives you peace, purpose, direction, most of all, a way to be saved after this life comes to a close?

One praise and worship song sings, “I will build my life upon [Jesus’] Love; it is a firm foundation.” To learn more about who this Jesus is, and why He and His Love is THE ONLY firm foundation there is, click here.


Please pray for…

  • Those in Northern Nigeria who are struggling. Pray that they would seek Jesus, and that He would hear their cries and help heal their land and lives.
  • Those currently being persecuted in Nigeria for their faith in Christ.
  • Leah Sharibu, who is still under Boko Haram captivity for not deserting her faith in Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your prayers!!!

Take a Moment to Write a Note of Encouragement to those in Nigeria!

Hi everyone,

I wanted to stop in quickly to let you know about an amazing little opportunity to write notes directly to those in Nigeria. Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is offering this service to encourage and comfort those in Nigeria facing extreme persecution from Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen.

It doesn’t take too long– write one today!

With Love,

Annalee of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY