Matthew 24:13-14 (MSG)
Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.
A young lady who grew up with our daughter is getting married today. We have had the pleasure of watching her grow up. It seems like only yesterday it was prom pictures in princess dresses now today she will don her wedding gown. My daughter flew in to be part of her friend’s special day, so we stopped by a store that she was registered in to choose a gift together. Once inside the store, the gift quickly chosen, she bee lined for the shoe department while I went to choose a card. Greeting cards can be addicting reading each one looking for the perfect sentiment. There had to be hundreds of cards for this special day. I found one that said, “Finally!” and picked it up. The happy coupled dated for seven years becoming engaged two years ago. It seemed appropriate. Inside the card it read, “Always in love! Now it’s official.” The wheels in my head began turning and I looked at the cover with two bows ties on it and realized that this was not for them. My, oh my, how the world has changed.
My grandparents have been with the Lord for many years now, but I wonder what their thoughts would be if they returned for just one day to see how the world has changed in such a short time. The price of gasoline alone would probably send grandpa right back to Heaven. I wish I could say that they would find a place more in love with Jesus but that is not the case. It is clear that our nation is moving away from God and pushing Him out of the schools, courts, and the country. Being a Christian has become a shameful thing for many who hide it from the world practicing only in secret in their home and among comfortable congregations. Private business owners cannot express their values or they will be slapped with giant lawsuits and immediately shutdown. Those who discuss their faith at work risk dismissal. Even pastors cannot live by their convictions risking prosecution now. What do we do in a world that is quickly rejecting its foundational beliefs? What if one day being a Christian is a “hate crime”? Well friends, welcome to the end times.
Matthew 24:3-12 (MSG)
Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming. They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.”
Jesus told us that this would happen in His Conversation with his disciples on the Mount of Olives that day. Matthew 24:3-14 talks about the days we live in now. There are many people stepping forward saying, “I am Christ.” Oh you don’t think so, well Christ lives in people and there are a whole lot of folks claiming to be they “Way, Truth and Life.” Calling Christ what He is not. Nation is fighting nation. Check. Famines. Check. Earthquakes. Check. “Everyone hating you because you carry My Name.” Yes, check. “Everyone at each other’s throat. Everyone hating each other.” Just because you are not personally affected by tragedy, trauma or trouble does not lessen the reality. I am not even discuss lying preachers who teach one thing but live another. Finally, the overwhelming spread of evil. As a believer who really wants to live with a pure heart and mind, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to watch television, go to the movies, listen to the radio or engage with this world apart from the influence of evil and sinful behavior. It all boils down to this…love that has grown cold and ineffective. The Light of His Love is flickering as men and women are required to choose between loving God or living in this world. We are living in the end times. Just because you don’t like it, don’t want to talk about it, or choose not to believe it does not change the truth. We must be ready for this new season which will be the most difficult of all.
Matthew 22:18-22 (MSG)
Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece. “This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?” They said, “Caesar.”
“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
When I read the card in the store, it took me by surprise. I know some people who would have put it back on the shelf put down all the other items that they intended on purchasing never donning the doors every again. I know others who would buy it as a celebration of love and acceptance in our community. Then there are those who just put it back and pick the one the one they want and go about their business. I have prayed about it and thought a lot about such details in my life. I choose not to post on my social media accounts about such things because the argument does not benefit the relationships I have. As I studied this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit drop this passage in my spirit. This is what I see – the current of Christianity is not changed in the courtroom or church – it is a change in our culture that happens in everyday lives.
Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG)
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
It all comes down to these two things – first we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all of our body. Second, we must love others as we do ourselves. There are some who believe they are doing others a favor by pointing out the sin in their life. But consider this, why do you think they are fighting so hard to justify choices in their life? Why is sin so heavily promoted and upheld by others? They know what’s wrong – they just don’t know how to fix it! On the other hand, Christians look at sin on different levels when God does not. If you don’t sin, feel free to go throw the Book at others but if you are like me who heavily relies on the Grace of God and His Unconditional Love then we have too much going on in our own life to judge another person. Besides that is not what we have been instructed by Jesus Christ to do.
When love becomes our passion, the world may not change but people in it will.
I Corinthians 13:12-13 (MSG)
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
I love you must take on new meaning if you want to see people fall in love with Jesus. We must become more lovable. I did not say complacent about sin or compliant with culture but we must learn to be so secure in the Love of God that we can love those who don’t love us back rather than fighting for truth and justice. It is not our battle. It belongs to the Lord. It is driven by a force much greater than I. But the One who lives in me is greater than even he is. Jesus lives inside of me. I am an overcomer. I do not have to fight to secure my position but live for righteousness sake. The more I study the more I pray the closer I get to Jesus the less I deserve Him. The more humbled I am that He loves me for me even though I know all the rotten things that I have done but He still said, “Yes!” To stand for the Lord is a confident position built on faith, hope and love. These are not aggressive or combative terms but of total trust and dependency on God.
I have a very close friend who I consider one of my very best friends. She does not believe in God. She adamantly refuses to go to church. When I first met her – she and her partner were not married and did not feel like they needed to be. She told me her beliefs early on in our relationship and I shared mine. She walked through the horrible time we had with our son’s illness. She is dependable, loving and giving above and beyond. In many ways, she is more of a believer than some that I know. She just refuses to call on God. Now I could have argued religion or even tried to cram Jesus down her throat and our relationship never would have grown to the level it is now. We had lunch together as co-workers every day. One day she looked at me out of the blue and said that I was the only Christian in her life that she could tolerate and even like. How sad is that? She has many relatives who are “Christians” and judged her for the last ten years never really getting to know her but based on the fact that she is a single mom living with her partner who clearly needed Jesus. Newsflash! WE ALL NEED JESUS every single day in every single moment. Well, we have been friends for more than four years now. She and her partner just got married! How exciting! I asked, “Why?” She couldn’t tell me just that they felt it in their hearts. It is all about our heart. God looks at our heart. God can turn someone’s heart around in an instant. He does it by putting us in place to love them. No matter where they come from, who they are, how they live, or even what they look like. Love changes our culture from within.
We cannot let our fear motivate us to fight the world because we are scared of failure. The world is passing away and there is nothing we can do to change that. A lack of confident hope and weak faith makes people try to save the world rather than focusing on enduring until the end. They don’t want this life to end because they are uncertain of what is to come. Read the end of the Book. We must live so desperately dependent on God’s Love that it spills forth into the world capturing the hearts of as many broken people who just like us need Him more and more.
Colossians 2:6-10 (MSG)
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.
Love. Love is the answer. Real love. True love. Jesus kind of love. God is love. If we do not find a way to become conduits of His Unfailing Love and Overflowing Grace our family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers and yes even our enemies are going to die without knowing Jesus. It is easier to fight for what we think is right than to humbly accept all that Christ is to satisfy our heart and mind so we put our expectation in Jesus rather than the world we live in and people we associate with. Don’t let this world drag you off into endless arguments. We don’t know the whole story but we know how it ends. Those who make it to the end will be saved. We must become desperately in love with others as Christ desperately loves us so much that we are willing to lay down our life, pride and need to be right to love them more. We know the Truth.
Everything I need is found in Jesus Christ. My life must be rooted and ground in faith anchored by hope in the Power of His Love to change the hearts of others. We must think about our interactions and decide the point of these conversations. Jesus said it ought to be about love. We decide from there…
Micah 6:8 (MSG)
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.