Are You an End Times Soldier?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

There are times in life when we’re given unsettling news or information.

Such information can leave us bewildered or worried. We may wish the news was different or would reverse course. To deal with it, we might hide our head in the sand hoping “it” goes away. For some of us, receiving unsettling news may momentarily jolt us, then sobers us up very quickly and steers us into a new mindset. It is often better to have the news so we can respond accordingly rather than being left in the dark and blindsided. It’s even better when despite the unsettling news, the outcome is good if you’ve made the right decision.

In this way, God’s Word has prepared His People for things to come in these last days. In fact, as someone said, “The Bible is more up-to-date than tomorrow’s newspaper.” So true. He has also given us our focus, mission and marching orders. In our daily commune with Him, He gives us our instructions. God is training and raising up soldiers in His Army to endure to the end.

Many of us have prayed for God’s will to be done in this perishing world — for Him to render justice to injustice; for Him to remove the corrupt and replace with the godly; that people would no longer place their confidence in idols but be wholly dependent upon Him, to soften hardened hearts to receive truth, and to fully mature and unify the Body of Christ.

We should reject any notion that this process will be neatly packaged with a pretty red bow. God is destabilizing everything to expose, dismantle and remove. He is using the situations as instruments to draw hearts to Him. This destabilization must run its course. But do not be afraid.

End Times

We’ll move in greater confidence when we break off our long-held love affair with traditional systems and institutions, expecting deliverance from them. God Almighty is our assured Deliverer.

Things will continue to destabilize with “great distress” as never seen before (Matthew 24:21). As described in Matthew 24, these are birth pains — the outcomes of a wicked and sin-wracked world, a world at enmity with God their Creator. God will not allow wickedness to go unchecked. This earth is passing away. God will create a new heaven and a new earth as told to us in Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1. We are to look toward a new heaven and new earth where righteousness and God’s Kingdom will reign. He is making all things new.

Revelation 21-5

Dear victorious saint and soldier, I encourage you to run your race in obedience; to obediently and courageously walk out your calling amid whatever storms are brewing. Though the waters will be choppy, God is with you! He will get you to shore. May we have a heart for reaching the lost and desire to see this last harvest come to Christ.

We have wonderfully Good News to share with the world! That is the mission. God is extending His forever family — not failed institutions and systems. God has always been in the business of reconciling us back in right relationship with Him. Gratefully, as soldiers in His Army, we’ve been invited to co-labor with Him in this great mission field and ministry of reconciliation as Christ’s Ambassadors as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

If you are indeed an end times soldier, patiently encourage growth with our brothers and sisters who are yet to mature into this disposition. Encourage them in faith and truth. The weak and the strong both belong to God. May we be purveyors of hope or as a dear brother in Christ says, “be hope dealers” to those who are unsteady in these times. We should expect to grow spiritually as we graduate to new levels in our calling. May our hope, joy, a deepening love for others, peace and steadiness be considered the normal disposition of God’s People in times of increasing instability— rather than a carnal default of worry.

John 16-33 mountains

Our God and Captain, King Jesus, has already overcome the world (John 16:33)! Jesus defeated Satan. In Jesus, our victory is already won and we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). May we live like we know this.

As things appear chaotic, remain mission-focused, not distracted by the peripheral or extraneous. Keep watch, be ready and keep your eye on Our trusted Captain to lead you ever so faithfully. Follow Him so closely that your focus will not allow you to become double-minded, causing you to be caught off guard and deceived. Our Lord’s return will be joyful for us who belong to Him but very dreadful for those who do not as they’ve chosen the world as their portion instead of Him. May we be found fit to be partakers of our reward and inheritance.

Though our world is in perpetual unrest, we can remain in constant rest through our relationship and confidence in Christ Jesus. With this disposition, you will indeed be an end times saint and soldier.

Love and God bless you,

Nicole

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Grateful in the Wait

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Does it seem like everyone is being blessed except you? You’ve been faithful, obedient to what God asks, yet some of your requests presented to Him appear delayed with no Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). Living in a “microwave generation,” we want everything NOW.

Like you, I am waiting on God for some answers also. As I wait, I have asked, “Lord, where are you at on this? When are you going to release me from this situation?” Silence.

I write this message to minister to you and me. How can we remain grateful and joyful in the wait and not become depressed about requests God hasn’t yet answered? Here are five tips:

    1. Time is a Trainer. For those of us who’ve journeyed with the Lord for a while, we’ve come to learn that time is a trainer. Time develops our faith and trust in God and His holy Word. We’ve learned that He is not bound by time and therefore, can’t be rushed by our anxiousness. Time trains us to shed attitudes and behaviors that are not of Him so we can be more in alignment with His will. Time trains us to develop our muscle and weight in character, integrity, credibility, competency, perseverance, love, patience, and other traits that can’t be acquired overnight. Time trains us to victoriously run the race, equipped to address life’s opportunities and challenges. I’ve experienced this development in my journey and review it with joy!

Grateful in waiting 1

2. God Prepares a Place for Prepared People. As stated in tip #1, time is a great agent to develop character traits and skills necessary for us to move into and occupy that next level. Would you want to enter that role without the necessary preparation and refinement? Not if you want to operate in a spirit of excellence. As God prepares you to occupy that new level, He is also lining up the people, provision and resources to sustain you in your new role. God is excellent and will not do things half-baked. Allow Him to properly prepare you to step into your prepared position.

3. Remain Faithful and Avoid the Shortcuts. As we wait, we’re subject to complaining and may consider other options. Satan will present you with shortcuts that promise to deliver quicker answers and rewards rather than waiting on God. Don’t take the bait. The enemy’s counterfeit offers have convinced many to accept and adapt to less than fulfilling plans and outcomes. Remain faithful in what God has asked you to do. Remain grateful for how He is preparing you in the process. You won’t be disappointed when the promotion comes.

4. Suffering: God’s Instrument to Mature and Propel Us into Our Destiny. From challenging employers, to dwindling resources, illness or persecution, our perfection will not begin until we undergo affliction. God will use suffering and trials as instruments to spiritually mature us to become more like Christ and to propel us into our destiny. Suffering produces qualities within us that would otherwise remain dormant. We must expect it, go through it and not consider it strange. “Great spirituality came out of the suffering of Paul, Stephen and others. So it will be with God’s People today. These are the authentic outcomes of the Christian faith,” says Hakim Hazim, author and co-founder of Christian think tank Freedom Squared.

5. No Good Thing Will He Withhold. Satan will try to convince you that “God has forgotten about you.” This is a lie. Psalm 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” God delights in blessing you! “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11)

God’s ETA is always on time, never late. He is not limited by our circumstances or rushed by our anxiousness. Remain grateful and joyful in the wait. He will exceed your expectations and greatest imaginations (Ephesians 3:20).

God bless you,

Nicole

(Article originally published on November 21, 2014 on GospelToday.com. Site no longer exists.)

Battered, Burned and Still Held Together: Visiting the Museum of the Bible

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Living in Washington, D.C. as I have for the past 12 years, I never want to take for granted the ease of access I have to visit our national treasures, monuments and museums —treasures that people travel thousands of miles to see and cross off their bucket lists.

With life and addressing other priorities, I had not yet had opportunity to visit the Museum of the Bible which opened this past November 2017. I truly desired to and finally did so this past July 4th weekend.

Upon clearing security and entering the museum, not to be irreverent but I felt like a kid in a candy store! You encounter families and individuals who are just as excited as you to learn about the Bible’s global impact and influence. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” greets you on the marble wall before beginning your tour. Throughout the museum’s six floors of exploration and admiration, you will see how this Psalm held true in the quotes given by abolitionists, ministers, members of Congress and government and other influentials who share how the Word of God shaped their lives, decisions and work.

Museum of the Bible introduction

I took great joy in reading about God’s people positioned throughout time who spoke His Word boldly and unabashedly to stir hearts and spirits. There were times in America’s and the world’s history–times of George Whitfield, an American Anglican priest in the 1740s during America’s “Great Awakening–and Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher in the mid-1800s–where people would crowd streets, churches and theaters, pressing their way to hear the Gospel, thirsty to receive the Good News. They were receptive to a word of encouragement, instruction or rebuke–to be awoken from their slumber of indifference. No candy-coated messages that so proliferate today to comfortably keep people in a spiritual slumber of indifference. As Whitfield said, “I love those that thunder out the word…the Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out if it.” (1739). Reading these words excited me and reminded me of another passionate “preacher”/abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who pulled no punches when writing his book Real Christianity, whereupon he called for Christians to forgo cultural Christianity and truly pursue authentic faith. I wrote about it here.

During my three-hour visit (you will need more time than this; I plan to return to finish), I saw several captivating exhibits: a pile of blackened, still-held-together bibles burned by those who rejected the truth. Many scrolls–some in pristine condition, and others tattered and worn to pieces by weathering and water – were written in various languages telling of His Word. Hundreds of bibles passed down through the generations with clasps and jeweled covers or worn leather, still held together. I imagined the journey each of these precious books traveled to reach us today. I imagined what storms those books endured and how those words of hope sustained its readers in their times of trial.

Museum of the Bible bible

I could go on! However, I will keep this post brief as I do not want to spoil your visit! I hope you are able to visit the Museum of the Bible–it is a “must do” for your bucket list.

What I can say for certain: the Word of God is sure and it endures. I looked at those burned, blackened, worn bibles, still holding together, through it all. People reading those words likely felt beat up by life, beat up like the book that was yet giving them life and holding them together. In every situation we encounter, God’s Word will indeed serve as a “lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” if we seek and trust Him.

Even in these present troubling times, and in times before, and in trials to come, you can rest assured: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8

Love and blessings,

Nicole

View more photos from my Museum of the Bible visit published on our Voices Against the Grain Facebook page (posted July 9, 2018). To visit the Museum of the Bible, view their website to order your timed tickets. General adult admission/requested donation is $15 and $10 for children ages 12 and under.