Are you tired of trouble?
The war in Ukraine still rages. Gas prices are still high. Many businesses and medical facilities are relaxing mask requirements, yet some tenaciously insist on the importance of mask wearing. And then there’s the personal conflicts, trouble, and tensions happening in all our lives that don’t get reported on the nightly news.
Desire to get back to normal wars with the dreadful waiting for the other foot to drop. For something else to happen. Trouble comes in threes, right? We could so easily feel the despair of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet that it’s time “to “take arms against a sea of troubles.” Hamlet’s initial option of dealing with the conflict of his life was the broadsword of suicide but instead, he chose to go on a bent of vengeance. I don’t recommend either choice and neither would Jesus. Instead, Jesus invites us to look at the bigger picture of why trouble and conflict happen and what will be the final outcome of what we see happening in our world.
So what do we do?
With no apology, I’d like to share my notes from a sermon my husband preached several weeks ago when he filled in for Pastor Jesse. His text was Matthew 24 where Jesus predicts coming events: the fall of Jerusalem and the end times. While wars and pandemics have happened throughout history, P.C. said, this is the first time it’s happened in our lifetime. Let’s admit the truth: it was scary and disruptive and in some respects, it still is.
Does this mean the end of time is near? Or can we expect that life will always hold these moments of crisis? Jesus said, yes, expect these times, but He also told us what we can do about it—what we should be doing. Here is P.C.’s outline:
Keep your head on straight.
Don’t chase after every thread of bad news, drawing knee-jerk conclusions. Mt 24:4 warns, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
Don’t go to the other extreme either. Jesus wants us to watch for the warning signs and be ready for Him when the end of time comes. I remember a story the pastor of my childhood told. Three subordinates of Satan got together to discuss how to deceive believers to keep them from spreading the gospel message.
“Let’s tell them there’s no Heaven,” one said.
“They’ll never buy that one. That’s their hope,” said the second one. “Let’s convince them there’s no Hell.”
“I’ve got a better idea,” said the third demon. “Let’s tell them: There’s no hurry.”
We don’t know when Jesus will return. But Jesus’s words in Matthew 24 and Revelations tells us that evil and violence will continue to increase and world crises will escalate the closer time comes for Jesus to come back. We need to be on guard that our set of current events doesn’t drag us off track from believing in Christ.
Keep your heart in the right place.
The Bible warns that many will turn away from their faith and “the love of many will grow cold (Mt 24:9-13).” Do you find yourself distracted and sucked into the arguments and fear about what is happening to our world? Oh, my friend, don’t let it. Dig in your heels and grit your teeth. Determine now to not let world issues pull you from your faith and confidence in Jesus.
Remember, “Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).” It’s easy to slowly fade away from our faith, not even aware of the corrosion happening in our life. That’s why the New Testament writers said so often, “Be on your guard (1 Corinthians 16:13)” or “Keep watch (Mt 24:42).”
I challenge you. Have the courage to do a self-check. Have the events of the last year challenged your faith? How have you slipped in your dedication to Jesus? Have you succumbed to doubting God’s promises? In what ways have you caved to worldly habits and perspectives instead of standing firm on biblical principles? Take today to get back on track with your faith.
Keep your feet on the pavement.
This was my favorite point. In my lifetime, I’ve seen people predict that the time of Jesus’s return is near. But they do nothing more than talk about it. My friends! If Jesus is coming back soon, we’ve got mega work to do.
Imagine if you got a phone call that your persnickety Aunt Mabel will arrive at your house in ten minutes. Wouldn’t you go into a frenzied rush to clean up your house? What if someone important was coming to your home? Wouldn’t you call your sister or neighbor to tell them or even invite them over?
Mt 24:14 says the gospel will be preached to the whole world before the end comes. We’ve got work to do. Many have never heard about Jesus but many more have heard but don’t yet believe. Let’s use this time of turmoil to share the hope and peace of the gospel message with everyone God leads us to reach.
I have this quote penned on the side of my notes from P.C.’s sermon: “We are not analysts of evil but advancers of the Gospel message.” Let’s stand firm despite what we hear and keep sharing God’s message of love.
One last thought from Jesus: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) No matter how soon Jesus comes back or we go to him, we never need to be afraid of what is happening in our world. God has already written the last chapter and He will overcome all the evil and violence the evil one has thrown at us. We can be confident He will get us through our current mess.
Has the last two years been tough on you? How has it distracted you from your love for God and your confidence in Him? Let’s you and I spend some time catching up with our Lord and rekindle our love for Him.