The events of the past week have been saddening. It began with the terror attacks in Orlando, and the responses to the attacks just added to the misery. Instead of the country coming together and dealing with the real threats we face as a nation, people went right away into camps. And the offensive statements and accusations that have come out of those various camps have made me cringe. Civility is gone, compassion for the victims and their families no longer exists, their agendas drive the camps; meanwhile we are becoming a nation of individual ideologies. Is that really what we have been called to do? Is that the witness we want to display to the world? Someone once said there is nothing new under the sun. This is not the only time in history there has been conflicting and tension between various camps.
We are living in the last days. Jesus is coming back. He has given us some instructions on how to live in a crumbling world and how to survive tough times.
In Matthew 24 you will find a blueprint to prepare for the difficult times ahead
- KEEP YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT
Listen to Jesus’ words:
(v. 4) “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
What’s Jesus saying? He’s saying “Don’t believe everything you hear. Don’t be easily lead astray.” Since the dawn of the internet. I am convinced more than ever people will fall for anything. How many times have you fallen for the web hoax of this celebrity has died? Or this is my favorite “I need to get this money out of Africa, send me your banking information and I will split the money with you.” Some people will believe anything they hear.
You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, you can’t believe everything you see on the news, and you can’t believe everything someone says in the name of religion. Jesus says, “Don’t be deceived; don’t believe everything you hear.” When we’re going through difficult times, we’ve got to keep our heads on straight, and we’ve got to keep a firm grip on the truth. How do you do that? You’ve got to know the Bible, and you’ve got to look at things through the eyes of God’s truth.
- KEEP YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Listen to what Jesus said…
(v. 9) “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
(v. 12-13) “The love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Do you see that Jesus has equated standing firm with love?
Guard your heart. Don’t let your commitment and love for God grow cold. Too often we understand “standing firm” only with doctrinal purity, a bold faith, or uncompromising steadiness in our walk with God, and all these are key. I don’t want to minimize the importance of any of these things, but we must always remember that as far as God is concerned, Love is central to all of these
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” (Matthew 22:37)
And the second greatest commandment is…
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
About these two commandments, Jesus said…
“All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40)
This is why Paul said…
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love; I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1,3)
What was missing so often this last week in response to the terrorist attack was love. When we retreat to our individual camps and start throwing our opinions around, retreat to our talking points, love gets lost.
The gospel needs to be proclaimed that Jesus Christ came into the world and died on the cross for your sins so that you can have life in him. No matter how dark this world becomes, no matter how hard Satan tries to tear us apart and separate us into camps, nothing can change the truth nor the power of this message. Trials, tribulations, and terrorists are temporary; God’s promises are eternal. Even when you’re going through the fire, you’ve got to keep your feet firmly grounded on the strength and power of God’s promise.
The Bible never promises that we will have a comfortable life. The truth is Jesus said that the rain would fall on the just and unjust, and Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy…
Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Keep your heart in the right place: don’t let anything take you away from loving God and loving others. And keep your feet on the pavement: don’t stop doing the work that God has called you to do. This will get you through your most difficult days. This will help you outlast the darkness.