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The love of many…

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Of all of the different things that Jesus taught his followers while he was here on earth, one that holds significant interest to most Christians today is his teachings on what we now call the “End Times”.

Literally thousands of books have been written by men and women who claim to have unique insight into these teachings, and little wonder because it seems there is an insatiable appetite for all things related to the ‘end of day’s as we know them. Major Christian publishing companies consider these books to be “cash cows” because they sell so well, hence the market saturation of these books.

There are so many books written that they have to be categorized into sub sections such as:

Prophecy

Armageddon

Revelation                       

Coming of the Lord

Tribulation, and many more.

I must admit that while I have read a few of them, I am not a fan of these books for the simple fact that all of them are largely nothing more than the authors own private interpretation of The BOOK. Far too many of them propose theories and ideas that are completely contrary to what the Bible says, and while I enjoy the learning process I cannot go along with teachings that ultimately place less emphasis on God’s word than the author’s opinions.

With that said, I draw your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter 24. This particular chapter is one that most students of prophecy and all things “End Times” recognize as one of the most important of all.

The first seven verses of this chapter find Jesus revealing several things that will be taking place upon the earth prior to his return. He actually refers to these things as “the beginning of sorrows”. It is what Jesus says next that causes people so much anxiety and fear because this is where it gets personal. Read along with me from Matthew 24: 9-13.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

We must ask ourselves who is this “you” that Jesus said will be delivered up to tribulation and killed? We know that Jesus was speaking specifically to his disciples about these matters, so we can easily make the case that it was the disciples who were to be delivered up and killed. History in fact reveals that all of the disciples except John died a martyrs death, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus.

Yet we must also realize that God’s word is eternal, making it applicable for every generation and period of history. Indeed, history shows us that there have been many attempts to purge the world of Christianity. Wars, Inquisitions, laws, etc have all been used over the past two thousand years to try and eliminate Christianity from the earth.

Today, this trend continues at an alarming rate. According to Open Doors USA ,in just the last year* there have been:

  • Over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
  • 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
  • 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

So we see that when Jesus said “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you“,his words are just as applicable today as they were that day when He spoke them to his disciples. What is so problematic about this persecution of the church is that in America we have so far managed to escape the wrath that is being felt by our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and this has left us disinterested at best.

This, however, is about to change. While it is true that we are not facing the prospect of being beheaded or our churches burned to the ground(YET), persecution of Christians in America is alive and well. For those who believe that persecution will never happen here, or that it is some far off generation that will have to deal with it, consider the following:

There is increasing intolerance of traditional Christian values in this country. Those that hold to traditional Biblical values are now seen as bigots, racists, and close-minded.

Let a conservative Christian politician be nominated for a Federal Court position and watch how the nominee’s Christian values are called into question, as if his or hers values would somehow prevent them from rendering a proper verdict.

If you dare to refuse to bake a cake or issue a marriage license for same-sex marriages, you better be prepared to spend your life’s savings on attorney fees.

In addition to the ridicule and hatred that Christian college students face on campus today, a move is underway to remove a college’s accreditation unless they conform to a more secularist ideology. And let us not forget the schools that have banned the pre-game prayer before a Friday night football game.

Aside from the obvious ‘because Jesus said it would’, why are we as a nation headed in this downward trend?

The answer is found in the text from Matthew 24 that I included above.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.

The love of many is growing cold. What happens when love grows cold? We see the answer on the news every night. Another mass shooting. An increase in the suicide rate. The rise of injustice. An ever increasing number of innocent children gunned down. Perversion and child pornography at an all time high.

All of these and so many more are a direct result of hearts grown cold. No feeling for their fellow man. Total indifference to the plight of the unfortunate. Hearts so cold that walking past the homeless draws not an ounce of compassion. No concern for the millions who do not have enough to eat.

This is love grown cold.

Ice cold.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Much, much worse.

Jesus said that ‘he that endured to the end would be saved‘. We must be doing what we can to present Jesus to a cold and indifferent world because He is their only hope.

My prayer is that every Christian takes this seriously and act upon it.

Ron

 

 

 

* 2019 World Watch List reporting period, November 1, 2017-October 31, 2018

 

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I was listening to someone today sing a song when they mentioned that it wouldn’t matter to them if they lost everything as long as they had Jesus. I thought that was a noble thing to say,and I really do hope they meant it.

I hope all of us would feel this way,especially since an ever increasing number of Christians are experiencing exactly that across this world.

For me the song made me stop and think hard about that particular statement. Would it matter to me if I lost everything except Jesus? My honest answer is yes,it would matter a great deal to me.

Shocked? Disappointed? You shouldn’t be, because if you’re anything at all like the average American,you love stuff as much as I do. And if I can go one step further while I’m being honest, I am learning that I love stuff far more than I should.

I do not fancy myself a Biblical scholar,and while I have studied the Word for close to forty years now,it is increasingly evident that I must have slept through this part from the Apostle Paul:

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The King James Version translate those verses to say that Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself.Using these two verses as a measuring stick,it is apparent that I have a ways to go.How about you?

I love also that as great a man of God that Paul was,he still remained humble before the Lord. Though he had reached that place of contentment that so many of us struggle to attain,he had this to say regarding his position in Christ:

But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:12-15‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Amazing isn’t it,what happens to a man who holds nothing back,but completely gives his life to God.He had it all at one time, respect of his peers,wealth and prestige beyond his fellow teachers.It was only after Jesus met him on a dusty road that he began to realize that he possessed nothing of real value.

If you’ve ever bragged on your own abilities,ever thought that you were smarter or knew best,or even once thought yourself just a little superior to those around you,just remember this man named Paul.A man that was taken up to the third heaven and heard things that are not lawful for  man to hear.A man that wrote most of the New Testament.

His boast was in the cross of the Master.All that the world could offer him meant nothing because he had died to the pride of life and the lust of the flesh. What mattered to this man of God was seeing the lost repent and come to Jesus.

Oh God,let this be MY prayer from this day forward.

If you have a few moments,give this song a listen. You won’t be disappointed.