Summary: We have no way of knowing just when "the last days" will be. But the Apostle Paul does have something to say about how we should be living as we face our "last days," whenever that may be. (PowerPoints Available - #338)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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TEXT: Romans 13:8-14
A. As some of you know, I spent most of the last two weeks stuck at home with a sore throat & a chest cold. Feeling as miserable as I did, & with extra time on my hands, I suppose it was only natural that I began to think back upon some events of the past.
For example, it was just 20 years ago that Ethel's father passed away, & we had to travel to Dallas.
ILL. Now why do I mention this? Well, it was because when we got to Dallas we found that the local TV stations & newspapers were all reporting what to them was a major news story - the swarming of a Taiwanese cult into a Dallas suburb.
Nearly 200 cult members had already moved into this neighborhood, & more were arriving almost every day. Newspaper & TV reporters interviewed cult members & reported that they seemed to be a peaceful but somewhat strange group. Only a few local residents had any concerns about them. But the cult did have some rather curious practices & beliefs.
Each cult member wore a pointy-top hat, saying that it was through the point of the hat that they receive messages from God above. They also believed in reincarnation, & the leader of the cult introduced his son & another boy, saying that in a previous life one had been Jesus & the other, Buddha.
But the reason they were receiving so much attention in Dallas was because they also believed that on a certain day that spring, this world as we know it would suddenly end as God dramatically comes to earth, descending right there in that neighborhood. And they all wanted to be there to welcome His coming!
ILL. But they weren't the only ones talking about the end of the world. In fact, one TV channel dedicated 10 whole hours of prime time to programs about the "last days", highlighting ancient prophecies, the location & meaning of Armageddon, & possible ways by which the earth might be destroyed.
I watched that for a while, & then switched channels, only to discover that another channel was featuring programs about Nostradamus & his predictions concerning the end of the world.
If you remember, as the beginning of the new millennium approached, we were bombarded with articles & TV programs warning about preparing for the chaos that was sure to come. And we are still hearing those kinds of warnings!
B. Now Jesus said that "no man knows the day & hour" which God has chosen. So we have no way of knowing just when "the last days" will be.
But as I read my Bible & look at the world around me, it seems that there are things going on today in society, in governments around the world, & even in some churches, that indicate something is getting ready to happen. We cannot continue the way we're going without something happening as a result.
We just don't know when! But the Apostle Paul does have something to say about how we should be living as we face our "last days", whenever that may be.
APPL. Now, I can't control what the rest of the world does, but I can control my own life. In Romans 13:8-14 the Apostle Paul mentions 3 things that as Christians we must be doing.
I. EXHIBIT GENUINE LOVE
A. The first one is to exhibit genuine love to those around us. Vs. 8 says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another..."
1. I will never be able to pay the debt of love that I owe to my parents. They provided me with a good home, & brought me up in an atmosphere of love & faithfulness. They taught me the essential values of life, & modeled them for me in their own lives. I owe them more than I'll ever be able to calculate.
2. I owe a debt of love to my wife. We share something really special. We met when she was still in high school. We attended Dallas Christian College together. We fell in love & got married & we had children.
We went through some rough times, & also some good times together. We experienced becoming grandparents & then great-grandparents. And now we're getting old together. That's really special, & I owe her a debt of love that I'll never be able to pay.
3. I owe you a debt of love, too. Eight & 1/2 years ago you asked me to become your preacher, & I've tried to be faithful in serving God & you. And God has blessed our time together.