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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A Critical Sign of the Last Days

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt


If you have ever gone to any professional sporting events, they are fun and exciting but not easy to get into or cheap. Finding parking can be a challenge and represent a significant walk and expense—maybe twenty dollars or more just to park. The game tickets can cost fifty to hundreds of dollars. You may be paying six to eight bucks for a hot dog. To do something like this as a family event may cost you hundreds of dollars. I am not saying any of this is bad. To the contrary, these events can be a lot of fun. I've watched the Vikings play and heard the roar of the cheering and excited crowds. That’s why these stadiums are packed out despite the cost and energy it takes to participate in them. Even during the recent years of recession, the stadiums were packed at prices that I never would have believed could be sustained.

Every day that passes we approach the second coming of Jesus Christ. We are now in what many if not most Christian leaders call, The Last Days. How long are the last days? That’s hard to speculate. The Bible teaches that God is patient for mankind to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Yes, He is patient, but there will come a day when that time of patience ends just as it did when the door of Noah's Ark was closed. The Bible has a lot to say about those days. In 2 Timothy 3:1 (NLT) it says: “You should also know this…that in the last days there will be very difficult times.” The Greek Word difficult means perilous—many devastating events occurring in the earth. But it means even more. It means that what is going on—the evil and lack of living for God will reduce the strength of people to resist evil. It means that the increase of the evil of the day will diminish not only unbelievers but believers strength to withstand the temptations that lead them to violate God's word and instruction for living. It then describes what many will become like in these last days—descriptions that are horrifying. One of those description says, “People will be… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

I am not equating anything regarding these sporting events as bad. What I am asking is this: Is there the same excitement to know the God of creation and the Savior of mankind? People make excuses for why they can’t come to church yet they go to extraordinary efforts and expense to make time for the things that represent pleasure in their life. That is a sign of diminishing strength. They say they don’t have money—except maybe token gifts of change to give to God or good works—and yet they’ll spend enormous amounts of money on their pleasures. That is a sign of diminishing strength. Jesus predicted that. He said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” People put their time, effort, and money into what they value. They don’t have time to pray or read their Bible or engage in something that lifts their heart toward God in the morning, but they will expend time and money to pick up a newspaper, watch a morning talk show, connect to the Internet and social media, and make a quick stop at Starbucks.

I say none of this to condemn. None of these things are inherently bad or evil. The Bible says that “God richly gives us all things to enjoy.” But even though He doesn't mind if we have things and enjoy them, He doesn't want things to have us—to dominate our thinking and pleasures only to diminish and supplant our craving and love for Him and His plans.

Can we return to our knees? Can we honestly open our heart to God? Can we ask Him to strengthen us to live for Him and have evidence of it in our life? Things are okay when and only when our focus is God and His plan for us is the center of our life. If we return to our knees with sincerity, openness, and repentance if necessary, then He can refresh our love and impart His strength and a renewed focus to live for Him.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV) “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well"

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
 


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