The phrase “But now” caught my heart recently while reading and studding the scriptures regarding our journey ahead. It seemed to always indicate by the Holy Spirit a transition or change in the moment, the hour, the day or the season. What usually followed it were new instructions, directions, expectations or warnings. Here is one clear example of a change in season:
Luke 22:35 - And He said to them, “ When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.”
Luke 22:36 - And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.
I have come to realize with new sensitivity the need to hear the Holy Spirit’s “But now” even though I may have read it a hundred times in the past. In our journey ahead we will need clear discernment to understand what is being communicated to us from Heavens throne through the Word of God and one another as never before.
Last Exit Before Toll
If we are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ and what is happening around us on this “Expressway of Life” we will miss the warning road signs, such as: “bridge out ahead”, “last exit before toll”, etc. We will have to pay a costly price if we do not hear His voice and follow through in obedience to prepare, especially in this “last days”.
One of the big safety factors is staying together. It is important we watch for these road signs, especially with the speed of the life style we are living in today. Here is a good indicator of our spiritual well being:
Heb. 10:25 - not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
IF WE DO NOT SEE THE “DAY DRAWING NEAR” CHANCES ARE YOU WILL NOT BE “READY FOR THE LORD’S COMING”!
Critical questions: What do we see? What road are we on? Only you can truly answer these questions and must be answered before time runs out.
Here is where many of us are today:
Jer. 2:18 - But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of the Nile? Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the Euphrates?
A Combination for a Safe Journey Ahead
Let’s look at an example we can use as a combination for a safe journey ahead with other believers and see where we are in our own walks:
1 3 12 50 120
1 – Represents our One on One relationship with the Lord
3 – The few close relationships we have in spiritual intimacy
12 – The small group working relationships, such as a home group
50 – Occasional special meetings where we are fed (Saturday Service, etc.)
120 – Sunday services where there is a gathering of the saints to worship and be fed or special Conferences.
If we are among the 1 and 120 group only, I believe we will be at great risk in the troubled waters ahead. The above is not meant to be a rigid formula, but an example of a safety net we will need in any dangers we may face in the future that would cause us to stumble. If we are in a rut it is not easy to get out of the rut that we are in. We need the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of one- another to help us stay vitally connected. We will desperately need one another in the season ahead.
The Season is Changing
In light of this it is an important hour to stay in vibrant fellowship, and in the Word heeding Heavenly dreams and visions received in the body of Christ. I believe these manifestations will intensify in frequency and clarity with increased urgency the closer we get to the Lords Second Coming. As the season changes in this way the enemy of our souls will also become shrewder trying to affect our walk in the Spirit. However, we are called to be “shrewd as serpents”.
I believe this scripture is becoming more and more relevant in these “last days”:
Matt. 10:16 - “ Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be *shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
*Shrewd - astute, sharp, smart, perceptive, cleaver
The following scripture highlights the fact that the sons of light seem to lack shrewdness, especially in working together for a common gain:
Luke 16:8 - “And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.
Shrewd as a Serpent
It seems the body of Christ is more familiar and adapt at being “innocent as a dove” than being “shrewd as a serpent”. I would like to share some insights from my experience regarding serpents while living on the farm during my early childhood. Most of my exposure to these snakes was not of the poisonous kind, but I still had a very healthy respect for them when I encountered them.
One of the traits I notched was that they knew how to be still and blend into the background when necessary and let you walk by without bringing attention to them selves. However, if you were close to them and a threat they would often immediately take a defensive stance by curling up as if they were ready to strike even though they were harmless.
Shrewdness has an element of preparedness and some times bluff or trickery to it. You do not always know what will be its next move. We see this through out nature. It was not easy to catch a snake unaware and it seemed to have an escape route that had sufficient cover, which did not leave them vulnerable.
Way of Escape
God always leaves us a way of escape in times of temptation. Many times the way of escape involves a process and not just an immediate turning away in order to be completely free. Resisting the enemy in the midst of suffering is an age-old conflict and will increase until the Lord comes because he knows his time is short. We all face the common enemy of being separated from the body of Christ.
1Cor. 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1Pet. 5:9 - But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
James 4:7 - Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Resisting and fleeing is often not enough, but we must pursue the alternative or we will easily turn back to the temptation. For example when we flee bad company we need to peruse good company:
1Tim. 6:11 - but flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Do not grow weary:
Heb. 12:3 - For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Rev. 2:3 - and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
Gal. 6:9 - Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
A Matter of the Heart
Luke 21:34 - “ Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;
Luke 16:13 - “ No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve God and wealth.”
James 5:7 - Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
James 5:8 - "You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for:
The Coming of the Lord is Near."
By jj Lutz