Prayerfully Watching the Signs of the Times

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“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).

Did you know that there are 22 signs of the time when Jesus will return to earth? You can find them in Matthew 24-25. Jesus is not wordy in what He tells us, but with precision He carefully picks what He shares. Isn’t it quite amazing that He spent two whole chapters telling us about the end times? It was a monumental teaching.

The last generation won’t pass away until these signs have taken place. Some of them have taken place before, but in the generation when Jesus returns to earth, every one of these signs will be happening. This is biblical information that we must know, study, and observe because God is warning us in advance. We must be aware of the season and take this seriously. Studying the end times will be an anchor in our lives and will help us to know how to maneuver through difficult days. We must be prepared and not let our hearts get discouraged as the days grow darker, but seek to understand what Jesus is saying.

Let’s look at the Parable of the Fig Tree in Matthew 24:32-34, because in his teaching Jesus is shifting to a pastoral exhortation on how to live and respond in the end times. A parable is an illustration or story that sheds light on the spiritual truth so that it is easy to grasp. The word “learn” is in this parable three times and means to be intentional. We must set our heart towards understanding the end times because it takes a determined effort.

We must learn watchfulness. When the branch is tender with leaves you know it is summer. These are time indicators so we can know what is coming. If we think about a thunderstorm, the dark clouds show us that we must be watchful because it is approaching. If we don’t run inside, we will get wet.

My grandfather did not take heed when a thunderstorm approached his Minnesota farm one warm summer evening. He was out on his tractor with his two sons when a terrible thunderstorm hit their land. A bolt of lightning suddenly struck him causing everyone to fly off the tractor. That bolt of lightning took his life when my father was only a young boy at the age of 13. It was sudden and swift. There was no longer time to run inside. Earlier there was the need to take heed and be watchful regarding those dark clouds, but my grandfather continued working and took his chances that all would be ok. But it wasn’t, and my father grew up until the age of 94 without a father.

Mt. 24:5-31, show us through the signs of the times that the day of the Lord is near and that we must take this seriously. We can’t be out in a thunderstorm when things suddenly change. We see in this parable important indicators of His coming, so that we can prepare in advance. Every calamity in biblical history was prophesized ahead of time. Look at the Flood, Egypt, the fall of Israel, and the others.

God is giving us insight into the generation when the Lord returns. He is warning us that the coming of the Lord is near, and is exhorting us to watch because we don’t know the hour. The Father only exclusively knows the day and the hour. He is reasserting the importance of the signs to be a predictor of his coming. We must prayerfully watch for the signs. The increasing of these 22 signs that have been promised for over 2000 years clearly point to the season of His return.

We can compare this with the days of Noah when people are drinking and having a good time. There was rebellion. We must realize two important truths. The world will not recognize these prophetic signs of the times, and they will be apathetic and live as they always lived. But remember Noah and how the flood suddenly came. Judgment was swift. God prophesizes for ages about it, but the fulfillment was sudden. It will happen quickly, just like the strike of lightning was for my grandfather.

Like in Noah’s day, many today are more concerned about the world, but we are not to let our hearts be weighed down by all its’ cares. It’s a snare to catch us by surprise if we are not prepared.

“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:38).

How to Apply the Parable of the Fig Tree

God wants us to prepare our hearts. Here are some ways we can prayerfully watch:

  • Learn from the parable of the fig tree and Matthew 24-25 – Know that these 22 signs will take place in the generation the Lord returns.
  • When you see the storm clouds approaching, seek to understand and line up your heart with God’s truth.
  • Watch for the signs of the times in a spirit of prayer and reverence.
  • Take heart and set to diligently study all the Scriptures about the end times.
  • Be careful of the seriousness of deception in the end times.
  • Know that these are times that God has ordained for the fulfillment of His purposes on earth.
  • Know that this will be a special time for God’s people and that the beauty of Jesus will be revealed in a glorious way.
  • Seek to keep your heart at peace.

Let’s realize that in the darkest of hours, those who are prepared will shine brightly. Studying about the end times has helped me to understand, prepare my heart, and live above the storm. Let’s be prepared by carefully studying, prayerfully watching, and radically living for eternity. Let’s set our minds and hearts on things above.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
http://www.intercessorsarise.org

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Healing Our Wounded Hearts

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

I doubt if very many of God’s people wake up in the morning with the amazing thought, “I am made in God’s image!” Instead quite the opposite often occurs—many feel down about themselves with feelings of insecurity, insignificance, and a lack of self worth. If we want the freedom to pray wholeheartedly, we must understand some of the things that are hindering our wholeheartedness in prayer. When there is negative traffic in our hearts, we are distracted in prayer. We are consumed with our own needs. We are not free to fully serve God in every area of life, especially in prayer.

How did we get into such a difficult place?

Let’s look back to creation and the garden where it all started. Yes, we are made in God’s image. The very origin of relationship was the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were in perfect relationship—they were in perfect harmony, with perfect communication and respect. And they said, “Let us create man in our own image.”

God’s original intention for our world was that our needs would be met through our family, society, and creation. Our parents are supposed to represent God’s character. Children are to know they are loved, cared for, and provided for in every way. They are to be secure in who they are (identity), who they will be (destiny), and in their relationships (belonging). Even in society our relationships and government should be characterized by love, unselfishness, wisdom, mutual respect, and appreciation. There should not be injustice, greed, and abuse.

Unfortunately this is not true. We see the breakdown of society and the family in every dimension of life. Many of us are appalled by what is happening with human trafficking, murder within families, school shootings, and the rise of immorality and pornography worldwide. The nearly 300 young girls recently kidnapped from their Nigerian school by terrorists, many who are probably being sold into human trafficking, has shocked the world. Over 9000 girls are kidnapped annually in sub-sahara Africa!

This is not what God desires. In creation everything should work together in harmony under His Lordship. Can you imagine our world with no disease, no abuse, and no disasters? This is how God made the earth and what He wanted.

But man rebelled and everything changed. Our world went completely out of control, and what once was a perfect world is now one in complete disarray because of sin.

The fall brought serious disruption to everything—the family, society, and all of creation. The result was woundedness—we now have broken relationships, fragmented nations, and decay and disorder everywhere. I once heard it said, “Be kind to everyone for everyone is going through some kind of battle.” The truth is that everyone struggles because we live in a fallen world.

Many people hop from one job to another, from one marriage to another, or from one church to another, hoping to find fulfillment and completeness. The truth is that we won’t be fully satisfied until Heaven. We are made for something so far greater than what earth can offer. We are made for eternity, and God has set it in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Imagine a secure and perfect world without sin. If we felt secure we would have a greater ability to withstand difficulty in life. It would be far easier to make long-term friendships and have good relationships with parents and authority figures. We would be able to trust on a far deeper level. We would have a good self-esteem with a positive and hopeful belief system about ourselves, our family, and about society.

But the problem is that many, if not most of us, feel very insecure in a broken and wounded world. Our basic human needs are often unmet, and there is a huge increase of fear all around the world.

Our Basic Human Needs

We all have the same basic human needs. These needs are God-given. They are the need for:

  • A sense of worth – We need a sense of identity and self-esteem. Everyone is worth loving and has intrinsic value. We are made in God’s image.So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
  • A sense of significance – We all need meaning and purpose in our life. We need to feel that we matter and our contribution is valued. God has promised us an abundant life.“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10a).
  • A sense of belonging and security – We need to know we are loved and accepted. We need a family. God has said that we are His children. We belong in His family.“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Unmet needs lead to wounds, and these wounds become apparent in our relationships. When our needs are unmet, there is a lack of security, a lack of significance, and a lack of self-worth. When we are insecure we can have a sense of rejection, a sense of not belonging, and of feeling unloved and insecure. When we lack significance, we can doubt our purpose and meaning. If we lack personal self-worth, we can have self-doubt, self-rejection, and self-hated.

Look around your world. How many feel this way in their secret heart? Why is there so much violence in families and society?

The Wounded Spirit

“A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness but a wounded spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14)

Our unmet needs lead to wounds. A child who is not cherished, fed, and affirmed will have wounds. The spirit is impacted by neglect, rejection, and maltreatment. Having a wounded spirit leads to physical illness and disease, and emotional and personality disorders. Wounds lead to isolation, a sense of rejection, abandonment, or violation. This can lead to the conclusion, “There must be something wrong with me.”

What is the answer to our broken hearts? Who can heal our deepest wounds?

Jesus Came to Heal the Wounded Heart

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

God is the answer through Jesus. His love has become visible through Christ. God gives us a purpose for living, a job to do (Gen. 1:28, Jn. 15:16). We are sons and daughters with God being our Father. We are a chosen race and a royal priesthood. We belong to God and are made in His image (Genesis 1:26). We are accepted by God and are not condemned (Romans 8:33,34). God demonstrates a heart of compassion and a desire to restore us. Jesus has come to give us an abundant life (John 10:10).

We can come to God and ask Him to heal our wounded hearts. Take time to be still before God and let Him touch your heart. Put on some soft worship music and let Him speak to you. Tell God about any wounds in your heart. With pen and paper beside you, write down anything that comes to mind. Here are some things you can do that will help facilitate God’s healing in your heart:

  • Face your pain with Jesus and bring it to the cross – You can transfer your pain to Jesus. He went through everything on the cross and he understands all your hurts (Isaiah 53:4).
  • Forgive those who have hurt you – Healing always involves forgiveness. Forgive and ask God to forgive you for any way you have hurt others. Receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
  • Know and meditate on God’s Word – God’s truth sets us free (John 8:32).
  • Develop a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit – He will teach you the truth about your life and about others. The Holy Spirit helps us to deal with our past and our unmet needs (John 14:16, 26).
  • Ask God for a revelation of His heart – Listen to His voice. He may speak through a verse, a word, or a picture. When you get a revelation of His heart for you, everything changes (John 10:27).
  • Make a new commitment to seek intimacy with God – Discover your redeemer in a deeper way (Meditate on Psalm 42).

Be encouraged because God is in the process of healing our wounded hearts. We have so much to live for and all eternity is before us. In God and through Jesus we have worth and identity, significance and purpose, and security and acceptance. We can be wholehearted in prayer. We are children of God and in His family. Our God wants to heal our wounded hearts!

This video will bless you – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGFBYuCdQ-8

“There is nothing that transforms our hearts and satisfies us more than when the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us.” Mike Bickle

Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff
deb@intercessorsarise.org