Thursday, February 9, 2012

End of Days: The Four Specifics

Note: My good friend John George inspired me with a letter I received from him a while back. Two of his paragraphs was the inspiration for this devotional. For the past few weeks, we've been ministering on end time events that are happening now. We've talked about international affairs and national affairs. This devotional has to with each of us internally and our walk in these lasts days.

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3

Let me encourage you! God has great things in store for you! He has a plan and a purpose for you to fulfill! He has set you apart for such a time as this. He has good in mind for you! His Word tells us that He does. All of that is so true, but so is how YOU live your life.

Your spiritual life is vital in the days and times in which we live now. It’s important to take note of how we deal with circumstances, relationships, and our flesh, especially in the days and times in which we live. We need to get a hold of our mind and our thought life. The Bible tells us to cast down wrong thinking that’s not in line with what the Word of God tells us. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV) Please note that it is up to us to do the casting down. That’s a discipline that WE MUST DO!

We live in a day where people get angry if it’s not “all about them”. The world’s way of thinking today will cry out in anger, “Don’t judge me!” But you know that same attitude has gotten into the lives of believers too! The ways of the world can creep in. Sometimes, without realizing where we are, we will not judge ourselves. No self-control, no self-evaluation, and no heart-check. We must ask ourselves, could we stand before Him and say that what’s in our heart reminds us of Him?

We live in a day and time where offenses rule the day. We live in a time where emotions and feelings rule the day, instead of spiritual truth that is unfailing. We live in a day where people will not submit to the authority of the Word. We live in a day where people seek out things that please their fancy. We truly live in a day where the love of God that was shed abroad in our hearts is growing cold among believers. Like James said, “…these things ought NOT be, brethren.” (James 3:10) We must remember that pride will always make excuses, but humility makes adjustments!

In Matthew 24, Jesus shares some very clear facts about the last days. Jesus told us to learn the parable of the fig tree. Notice what He said in these verses. After all, it is, and should be, what HE said that counts, right?

Matthew 24:32-34, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Jesus told us to learn this parable. This parable figuratively is talking about Israel. The “fig tree” is a representative of Israel. We ought to be watching Israel. Jesus said while it is still young and begins to produce… pay attention because summer is near! That means that harvest is very close. Israel, as a nation, is a powerhouse of production. Being only 62 years old, it is a powerhouse economically, in technology, in agriculture, and so much more. Many great things that you and I enjoy had their invention in Israel. The Fig Tree is producing in great measure. Harvest is close.

In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Verse 3). The disciples, according to scripture, were “privately asking”. Jesus then got very direct and specific about His answer in verses 4 through 14 about the end of the age. There are Four Specifics, spoken to BELIEVERS, that Jesus warned us about in those verses. As believers, let us consider them.

1. Let No Man Deceive You.
Matthew 24:4, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” The Bible warns us about being people with ears that are easily tickled. 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” People don’t like to be wrong. None us do. When you go just to get your ears tickled instead of being a DOER of the Word, you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere, with no paddle, and absolutely no anchors. You will find yourself adrift in the sea of a spiritually shallow life.

2. You Will Hear Of Wars And Rumors Of Wars. (Matthew 24:6)
There’s been a whole lot going on in the earth since Israel became a nation. A whole lot. Many wars and civil wars. Unrest. No peace. The Middle East itself is a hotbed of war and terrorism. Today, as I write this, the Middle East has become more intense than ever before. Pay attention that you are living for Him and doing the things He has called you to do. This is not the practice run of your life; this is the real deal.

3. Many Will Be Offended, Betray & Hate One Another. (Matthew 24:10)
Second Timothy 3:2 tells us that people will be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God. When you are more into YOU, you’ll slander, attack and betray to get YOUR way or to make your case. It’s not in the name of Jesus that you do this in… it’s in the name of your flesh. There are so many who are offended and walking out of love in our circles today simply because they didn’t get their way. Jesus was talking about believers here. Just because something is said to you that doesn’t set too well with you, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Advancement without character will always lead to ruin. Faithfulness will be lacking in these last days. Check your heart.

The Bible tells us that the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. We need to check our hearts. Have self-control. Have character. Be godly! Godliness is profitable in this life and in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). The harvest is plentiful but the laborers ARE FEW! Why? Because of number three here! The offended, the betrayers, and the haters. Are you yielding to the Love of God shed in your heart? Or are you yielding your flesh? There are few laborers because our lives are warning signs to this world that is lost. You may be the only Bible someone will ever read. You may be the only Jesus they will ever see. Live for Him, show Him to be true in you! The world as a whole has not rejected Jesus; they have rejected our example of Him.

Lastly, and this is a kicker too!

4. Iniquity Will Abound And Love Will Grow Cold Among Believers. (Matthew 24:12)
Over the years I have seen so many fall into sin. They secretly delve into sin and then wipe their mouth as if nothing is wrong. I have seen others become very cold toward other believers, engaging in strife and backbiting, and opening the door for all kinds of trouble. If you yield to those things, it’s as if you just open up the door to your home with a sign in your yard that says, “take all that I have!” That’s what the enemy will do too! The Bible says, “Neither give place to the devil,” Ephesians 4:27. If you are in sin and walking out of that love walk, you’ll open up the door to things you won’t see with the eyes of your flesh.

We ought to consider those things that Jesus said. We are living in an exciting time. Yes we are! But we need to be sharp and living for Him. We need to be diligent about being that doer and not just a hearer only. The times in which we live may be difficult at moments but Jesus said, “As we endure, stand firm under pressure, in our faith, we will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.

Let me encourage you as we close here. Hebrews 10:25 says to forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Be in church. Be involved. Serve. Reach out and touch others. Do the things that move you forward and upward in your growth in God. Don’t allow the circumstances and cares of life to get you down. Stand firm under pressure, and endure. Keep a handle on your flesh. Again, God has great things in store for you. He has a plan and a destiny for you to fulfill. Don’t allow the things that the enemy throws at you to pull you away from your walk with God. Jump in and let’s run for Jesus’ glory in these last days. Let’s bring in that harvest! Let’s be ON FIRE for God in these last days! Amen!

Prayer: Father I thank You that I am Your child. I choose to live daily for you. I choose to crucify my flesh and put it under subjection to Your Word. I will live my life Godly in service to You until I see You face to face! Amen.