Today’s headlines tell of wars and famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados, kidnappings, missile launches, and terrorist attacks. Are these the harbingers the Bible tells us would signal the end times and Christ’s ready return, or are they simply our heightened awareness — through 21st century technology — of the death, destruction, and evil that always have been with us since mankind first rebelled against God … and so many in the world continue to do even today?
“So always be ready, because you don’t know the day or the hour the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 25:13 (NCV)
“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:17 (NKJV)
WE WATCHED WITH GREAT INTEREST as the artist, brightly clad in a clown’s outfit, carefully painted the little girl’s eager face.
When the artist finished, the girl was sporting a unicorn character, complete with a horn painted on her forehead from her nose to her hairline and two horns above her eyes.
This was Independence Day at the City Park, and the locals — many wearing festive July 4th hats, shirts, and pants — were gathered to celebrate the country’s birthday.
For this moment, on this day, time stood still. No thoughts of the evil that plagues our world. No hint this day in this locale of devastating storms, no violence or angry shouts, no disturbances of any kind. No fender benders in the parking lot. No shoving or pushing in line.
At the City Park, for one day, Americans of varied sizes, backgrounds, occupations, education levels, skills and talents, political views and dreams and hopes, assembled to watch their youngsters pet donkeys, rabbits, and goats, slide down giant blowup sliding boards, and carry colorful balloons twisted to resemble dachshunds and swords.
Missing was any sense of judgment, of end-of-world prophecy, of punishment and reward, of Heaven and Hell. That’s the stuff of Sundays, and this was a Thursday.
THOSE WHO READ GOD’S WORD know that Jesus Christ will return to the earth, bringing His saints with Him to begin a 1,000-year reign, known as the Millennium.
The Bible says that will be a time of peace on the earth before the ending battle of Armageddon and the beginning of Eternity, when God will unveil the New Heavens and the New Earth.
While many of us understandably are eager to see our Savior return and usher in this new world, Jesus told us during His earthly ministry that it was not for us to know the hour or day when He will return.
We are to live in eager anticipation for His return; meanwhile, we are to be prepared for two things: to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and to share the Gospel with others.
SO, WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE of today’s troubling headlines and what they portend for our future? And what about those around us who seem oblivious to the warning signs?
Are we living in a time warp? We read about end times prophecies and gather in worship with fellow believers. In those moments, all of the Bible’s teachings seem so relevant and comforting.
Yet, when we leave the friendly fellowship circles with hugs and prayers for one another’s wellbeing, we re-engage a world no more concerned about God’s warnings than were the scoffers who watched Noah labor for a century to build an ark, or those whose sinful passions engulfed Sodom and Gomorrah right up until the time God rained sulfur on their towns.
IT SEEMS SO UNREAL. We want to reach those around us with the message of hope, yet they’re so mired in the here-and-now, they can’t see the future. As long as their kids are happy and the bills are paid, they’re content with life.
Now, beneath the surface, they could be raging with all kinds of emotions, from anger to sadness to hopelessness to depression to betrayal to fear to … whatever … but the screen they put up hides all of that and, moreover, blocks out the message that Jesus offers to each of us.
How do we penetrate that screen? How do we tell them that the Christ Child who came to offer salvation will return a victorious King of kings and Lord of lords to execute judgment on the world and remove His saints to Paradise?
In the world of City Park, with the vendors and rock music, with happy children and amusements, it all sounds so surreal, so otherworldly, so irrelevant to what they care about.
The message dies on our tongues, unable to reach receptive ears.
WE ARE LEFT WHERE WE STARTED, utterly, totally, and completely dependent on the Holy Spirit … to provide willing hearts to listen, perfect opportunities to speak, and obedient servants to share.
Jesus knew this would happen to us.
He left us with words of comfort for just these moments. We’re to abide in Him and let Him abide in us.
Here they are:
“Abide in Me, and I in You. … Apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4a-5b (NASB)
O Lord, our Heavenly Father. Sometimes, we just feel so overwhelmed with the task of carrying the Gospel to a broken, unbelieving, cynical world; yet, when we place our trust in You, we labor not with our strength and wisdom but with Yours. We pray for grace and mercy as Your Spirit prepares us for the good work to be done on behalf of the Kingdom, not for our glory, O Lord, but for Yours. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN
Questions for Personal Meditation and Small Group Discussion
- Do you believe you are *ready* to provide an oral witness for your faith when the opportunity arises? Do you pray that the Lord will use you to advance the Gospel? Do you look for those opportunities to arise?
- Have you *practiced* giving a brief (30 seconds to 1 minute) personal testimony that describes your life before Christ, how you received the Holy Spirit, and ways His grace has changed your life? Are you ready to answer any follow-up questions you might be asked.
- Do you accept that all believers – not just pastors, teachers, evangelists, and missionaries – are called by Jesus to tell others about their faith? Is this something you would rather not do? Can you pray for opportunities to share and the wisdom to share effectively? If not, what holds you back? Can you pray about that?
Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? If so, please indicate in the Comment field. God bless!