Part 2 ~ Experiencing Peace in Times of Uncertainty

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Question #2: How is it provided?

When we examine John chapters 14-17, we find two specific ways Jesus provides this peace, first through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Consider the following verses:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:25, 26).

“But when the Helper [Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

“Helper” refers to someone who has been called to come alongside to help and plead the cause of someone else. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit did in the lives of the apostles as He continually provided them with wisdom, guidance and strength. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that it was for their advantage that He leaves them and sends the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7). How could it be an advantage for the disciples that Jesus would leave them? What could be more spiritually advantageous than literally walking and talking with Jesus? The advantage is that this would force the disciples to step out of their comfort zone and begin to trust God in a deeper way and experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

My sister and brother-n-law recently had to go through the tough transition of seeing their only son leave for the Navy. With tears in their eyes and wanting him to stay home, they knew that this was part of the process of watching their son grow up. Knowing that they had raised him to love the Lord, the sadness of seeing him go also brought with it the joy and confidence that God would continue to work in his life in a deeper and more powerful way.

As seen in the lives of the disciples and my nephew, sometimes the only way to grow is to step out of our comfort zones and encounter the uncertainties of life with faith and trust. Thankfully, we do not have to do this in our own strength, because we have the active presence of the Holy Spirit who right now can strengthen and empower us to boldly live for Jesus Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 3:16, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”

The second way Jesus’ provides His peace is through the fellowship (unity) of believers. As Christians, we are not designed to live as islands unto ourselves. Instead, we are called to live out our faith within the community of other brothers and sisters in Christ. Before Jesus faced his arrest, trial, and crucifixion He specifically prayed for the unity of all believers.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20, 21).

Unity within the body of Christ occurs both on a doctrinal level (what we believe) and on a practical level (how we live out our faith). It is on this practical level where – when we go through uncertain and difficult times – it is our function as a body to encourage and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

I have several friends with whom I meet on a monthly basis to pray. Facing the uncertainty of my daughter’s situation with her back, my wife’s job and health benefits, and my father-in-law’s need of a liver transplant, the members of this prayer group have provided me with strength and encouragement. They have been a source of peace in my life, as I have been for them when they have faced times of uncertainty. 

In America, we currently face major problems divided, not unified. As a result, this has produced the fruit of hostility and not of peace. In contrast, as the body of Christ, Jesus wants us to face our life problems unified, so we may experience the peace that comes through the support and love of each other. As believers in Jesus Christ, may we be unified during this time of uncertainty so we can be instruments of hope and peace to a world desperately needing it. 

Question #3: How can I experience this peace?

If you want to experience the peace of Jesus right now, the very first thing you must do is repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit will dwell within you and begin to produce the fruit of His Spirit in your life – one of which is peace (Galatians 5:22, 23).

Secondly, you must place your trust in God and not your circumstances. This act of trust will require you to yield your will to God’s will. Jesus provides the best example of this as He prepared for His death. While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed the following, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). In the agony of what Jesus was about to experience He surrendered His will so that He could fulfill the will of His Father. This same attitude is what we need to display when we face times of uncertainty. We need to trust God and yield to His will, even when it does not line up with what we want. Happily, we have the confidence that we are surrendering ourselves over to a sovereign God who is not only in control of every detail of our lives, but truly has our best interests at heart.

Closing Challenge

In this time of uncertainty, we should be more than just striving to have peace for ourselves but also to be used by God to bring hope to others. I recently read an article that discussed how previous pandemics in history caused major shifts in the world. Two of these impacted the Roman Empire in the 2nd century and 3rd century A.D. causing a major shift in the Empire’s worldview. According to the author, these pandemics had a mortality rate of about 25-30% of the empire’s population. At this time the empire was pagan; the majority of people worshipped multiple gods. Christianity was less than 1% of the population. The response of the Pagans and Christians to these pandemics was starkly different. The Pagans opted to live in self-isolation with the goal of self-preservation, while the Christians sought opportunities to minister to the sick and hopeless. This response by the Christians, along with several other factors, effected the Roman empire so dramatically that the author concludes by saying, “in roughly a span of a century, an essentially pagan empire found itself well on its way to becoming a majority Christian one.”

While we need to use wisdom during this pandemic, especially those of us who have underlying health risks, let us not waste the opportunity God has provided for us at this time in history! In a world overcome with uncertainty and fear, may we be living testimonies of the HOPE and PEACE that comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Experiencing Peace in Times of Uncertainty

By BJ Rudge, Ph. D.

We all experience times of uncertainty; moments that raise many questions and concerns about what we should do and how things will work out. Currently, my wife and I are working through a time of uncertainty. My daughter Samantha, age 7, was recently diagnosed with a back condition which required a specialist. Upon learning she will need additional testing, my wife and are filled with more questions: What will the tests show? What type of treatment will be needed (therapy, surgery)? Will this be a long-term problem? Other questions regard uncertainties of my wife possibly losing her job as a dialysis nurse and our family health insurance, as well as my father-in-law, in need of a liver transplant: When will he get a liver? Who will provide it? How long can he live without one?

Even as we experience personal uncertainty, our nation faces the uncertainties surrounding Covid and the upcoming election. Many are overwhelmed with questions and concerns: When will this pandemic end? Will there be another spike in the virus? Will there be a food shortage? Do masks really help? Should I go out in public settings? Will I lose my job? Who will win the next election? How will this election impact my life, my family, America, the world? Will we continue to see riots and violence?

So to, Jesus’ disciples experienced times of uncertainty. For about 3 years, the disciples had served at the side of Jesus where they were direct recipients of His daily teachings and eyewitnesses to His miraculous power. Now, they were confronted with the uncertainty that Jesus was going to leave them, and with the uncertainty of the implications to follow. Just as it would be today, we find in John chapters 14-17 that this prompted many questions.

“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

“Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22)

“What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” (John 16:17, 18)

In response to all of their questions, Jesus asserted the following: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32, 33).

In light of these words by Jesus, we are going to address three specific questions about the peace that Jesus offered His disciples, and which is available to us right now.

Question #1: What is this peace?

The peace that Jesus gives does not come from this world. Instead of trying to find it by looking to others (politicians, celebrities, etc.) or looking within, the peace Jesus provides can only be found by looking to Him. As Jesus states in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

The idea of peace the world promotes is a life without conflict and difficulty. While this sounds great, there are problems with a worldly approach to peace. The first is, it is circumstantial. In other words, it is a peace that solely depends upon your circumstances/conditions.

Because it is circumstantial, a worldly approach to peace is temporary. Certainly, we all have moments when life goes well and we don’t face any direct conflicts or challenges. But we also know that this peace is short-lived because as Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble.” In other words, we are all going to face tribulation, conflicts, and difficulties. In fact, the Greek word Jesus used for tribulation in John 16:33 means to be pressured or squeezed to the point you feel confined with no way to escape! This is exactly how many feel right now with the current pandemic and upcoming election; squeezed with no way to escape as these uncertain times have robbed us of peace, individually, and collectively as a country (and the world).

But while the peace of this world depends upon life’s circumstances, the peace that Jesus provides transcends our circumstances. We do not have to wait for circumstances to change.

The first way Jesus’ peace impacts our lives is by producing courage. Amidst their questions and fear, Jesus told the disciples to “take heart” (John 16:33). In the Greek this literally means to take courage and be of good cheer. This is a courage or confidence that rests not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances, but in the God we serve. Consider Joshua who faced uncertainty as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. As he took on this momentous task, God provided him with the following instructions:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).

As this passage points out, the key for Joshua’s courage did not rest in his own ability but in the fact that He served a faithful God who would be with Him. This is why Joshua was told to meditate upon God’s law, so he would not only have a proper understanding on what to do but a proper understanding of the One (God) who called him to do it.

The removal of anxiety and fear is the second way Jesus’ peace impacts our lives. As Paul sat in a prison for preaching the Gospel, he wrote these powerful words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).

Despite his circumstances and the uncertain outcome, Paul still had the peace of God, a peace that Paul reminds all believers will guard us from being controlled by anxiety, doubt and fear.

In the next blog we will answer how Jesus provides this peace.

The Vortex

by Marvin J. Rosenthal

Jesus is coming again. The implications of that event are staggering and incomprehensible. The wisest and noblest of men cannot fully fathom the impact the return of the Son of God will make on this planet and universe. At His presence, transgressors will be judged, faithfulness rewarded, and righteousness established on earth. The return of Christ will be the vortex of human history. Everyone and everything will be drawn into His direct, controlling force. Heaven and earth, demons and angels, the righteous and unrighteous, time and eternity, life and death – all will be under the dominion of the conquering King when He returns to bring an end to the rebellious epoch of humanity and personally establish a Golden Age.

The Audacity of God

by Bill Rudge

One day every person on this planet is going to have an unexpected interruption.

It doesn’t matter whether you are sleeping, watching a spellbinding movie, celebrating a birthday, at a concert, on vacation, competing in a sports event, at school or work, in the middle of surgery, driving a car or flying in a plane, attending a wedding or funeral ….

It doesn’t matter whether you are ready and willing or not. When it happens, it happens! You have no control over when it occurs or the power to thwart it. From that point on everything in every person’s life will be dramatically altered – never to be the same. To some it will be a shock and an offense (the audacity of God interrupting my “party”) while to others it will be a welcome and blessed event.

Are you ready for Jesus return?

Meditate On This

by Jim Weikal

And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass (Revelation 15:2).

During the brutal time of the Tribulation, many people will accept a false political leader (the beast), worship a false deity (his image), and procure food, clothing, and shelter by participating in an electronically controlled economic system (the number 666).

But there will be those who are victorious over these demonic systems because of the “blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her [Babylon], my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Rev. 18:4-5).

The Greek verb translated “piled up” means “to glue” or “to stick together.” These vile sins are stuck together, one on top of the other, until they reach heaven itself.

Contrast the sins of those connected with Babylon, to your sins. We know that no believer is without sin (1 John 1:10). But when we do sin, “we have an advocate with the Father.” An “advocate” is defined as one who assists another or pleads the cause of another (1 John 2:1).

So meditate on this: Jesus Christ is your advocate! Because the righteous One is the payment for your sins, your sins do not pile up. You can go to God and confess your sins to a faithful mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6) and He will “cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Your sins do not “stick together” like the unrepentant sinners of Babylon. Your sins have been forgiven since you received Christ as your savior. And “no one is able to snatch [you] out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

Jim Weikal is a Biblical instructor at Bill Rudge Ministries.

Israel’s Future

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the prophetic keys to God’s plan before He returns is the restoration of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37:21). Through prophets such as Ezekiel, God foretold a day when He would gather the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth and bring them back to the land He had promised them. The fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1948 when Israel became a nation, and continues to this day as more Jews return to the Promised Land.

In biblical times Israel sought assistance from other nations for protection against an impeding enemy. For instance, as the Syrians threatened Israel, King Ahaz called upon the help of Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:7). Later, King Hoshea would try and break his alliance with Assyria as he sought the protection of So, king of Egypt. This decision ultimately led to the northern tribes being conquered and exiled from the land by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17).

In the present, Israel has looked to America as its source of help and protection. However, a new political regime could quickly change the relationship between America and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech of several years ago, before a joint session of the United States Congress, accurately noted that Israel may have to stand alone. Their position will ultimately force Israel to recognize that her only true source of protection is God Himself. The following words by the prophet Isaiah should be a reminder to Israel of the dangers that arise when trust is placed in man:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD (Isaiah 31:1).

At the end of his speech Netanyahu quoted the following words by Moses, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them” (Deuteronomy 31:6). It is unfortunate he did not quote the remainder of the verse, because it reminds both Israel and America where this courage comes from: “for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

While many trials and tribulations lay ahead for Israel, God will one day change the hearts of the Jewish people and bring them to a full understanding of their Messiah:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10).

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

by Bill Rudge

Illustration by Pat Marvenko Smith of RevelationIllustrated.com.
Used with permission.

Revelation 6:1-8 foretells Jesus opening the seven seals of a scroll at the beginning of the Tribulation period. With the opening of the first four seals, four horses of different colors with riders who are given various powers over the earth come forth. (This parallels the “beginning of birth pains” foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24).

The rider on the white horse represents the Antichrist who conquers a world in chaos, with a bloodless seizure of power, ushering in a supposedly unequaled time of global peace and prosperity. He will amass great power, deceive the nations, blaspheme God, and eventually demand to be worshiped. A real, potential, or embellished global crisis – perhaps a pandemic – will enable the Antichrist to establish a one-world system by appearing to be the world’s savior. The earth’s inhabitants will follow him, deceived by his false (but short-lived) peace plan for this New World Order.

When the second rider on a red horse goes forth, peace is taken from the earth as violent slaughter and bloodshed ensue. Large numbers of people will slay one another as Antichrist’s illusory peace morphs into worldwide war and massacre.

Third, comes a rider on a black horse holding a pair of scales in his hand. Worldwide warfare and violence will destroy much of the food supply causing shortages and famine. Inflation, poverty, hunger, rationing and food lines will follow. The Antichrist, and his cohort, the False Prophet, will:

cause all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16,17).

The fourth rider goes forth on a pale horse. This cadaverous ashen color symbolizes the name of the rider – Death – with Hades following him. According to Revelation 6:8:

Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Currently, 25 percent of the people of the earth, would be more than 1.9 billion people. Plagues will follow that will kill one-third of the remaining population
(Revelation 9:18).

Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:4-8 parallel the prophecy of these four horsemen of the apocalypse:

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Brian C. Thomas stated in the September/ October, 2020 Lamplighter magazine:

One of the signs He [Jesus] mentioned was that nation will rise against nation (Matthew 24:7). In the original Greek, this is written ethnos against ethnos which is where we get the word “ethnicity.” In other words, our Lord said that ethnicity against ethnicity would be a sign of His Second Coming.

In that same journal (8/20) Mike Gendron writes:

Students of Bible prophecy are not surprised by events that have been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because the Lord Jesus Christ gave us signs to watch for that would precede His Second Coming, and one of those many signs that we are seeing today is “pestilence” (Luke 21:11). It is true that we have seen devastating plagues and pestilences throughout history, but none of them have had the far-reaching global impact of COVID-19. Could it be that our sovereign Lord is giving a merciful warning of a more devastating pestilence that awaits those who do not seek Him as their Savior and refuge?

When Jesus opens the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), additional judgments commence (trumpet and bowl) in intensifying waves, bringing many to repentance and purifying this earth of its defilement and corruption in preparation for Christ’s Millennial reign. Then the “birth pains” will give way to the birth of God’s Kingdom, thereby literally fulfilling Revelation 11:15:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.

As has been said by other prophetic writers: Listen closely, you can almost hear the hoofbeats of the four horses of the apocalypse.