Summary: As we draw near to the beginning of a New Year let us examine our hearts. Purify your heart or else it may become petrified.
Purified or Petrified
By Pastor Jim May
(I was given a large piece of petrified wood on a recent visit to New Mexico. I used this petrified wood as my sermon basis.)
We are in the very last days of 2007. In just a few days the New Year will ring in at midnight with all of the blessings and troubles that it will bring.
The Spirit impressed upon me to think about just how close we are to the coming of the Lord. We are closer now, than we have ever been, and just as I believe that Jesus could still come in 2007, I believe that we may never see the coming of 2009 except we see it on the portals of Glory.
This world is in darkness like it has never seen before. Surely Matthew 24 is coming to pass before our very eyes.
Matthew 24:5-8, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Though Jesus was speaking prophetically to the disciples about the events of the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans and the eventual martyrdom of the disciples, he was also speaking of a distant time to come, when history would repeat itself. We are in that distant time. There are wars on every hand – not only nation against nation, but ethnic divisions are at war, race wars rage in attempt to annihilate one another, the kingdoms of the world are warring as well, the oil kingdoms, drug kingdoms, financial kingdoms and others are constantly fighting for power and control. Famines plague much of the African Continent, pestilences of diseases run rampant, earthquakes are occurring with greater frequency and magnitude all the time. And yet Jesus says that these are but the beginning of sorrows. The world is headed for a time when the troubles we see today will be miniscule by comparison.
The period called the Tribulation lies straight ahead and there is no turning back. The time of Jacob’s Trouble looms just over the horizon and we are approaching that horizon very quickly.
I think that it is appropriate that we enter into each New Year at the stroke of midnight, for the world itself is in utter spiritual darkness. As each day of the year passes, mankind goes deeper into that darkness, and at the last second of this year, the world will be at its lowest spiritual point and darkest hour of the year. Mankind welcomes the New Year with a renewed hope and resolutions to make changes to better himself. But he is powerless to change. Sin has this world wrapped in unbreakable chains, locked away in the prison of darkness, and sealed to an eternal doom. Though the New Year enters with a bang, a celebration and a hope of a better tomorrow, all of those hopes, dreams and celebrations are soon shattered when we realize that something is changing, but never for the better. With every tick of the clock, sin abounds more and more. With every tick of the clock, we march one step closer to judgment.
Just as surely as the world is headed for judgment, so is the church; the people of God. Let us not forget what lies ahead either. Though we may truly look ahead to the coming New Year with a greater reason to hope than the world, we must ever be on guard to make sure that our hearts are right with the Lord. It’s so easy to slip into a state of lethargy, a place of comfort, and there to sit so long that we begin to lose our edge and allow the things of the world to creep into our lives.
Hebrews 2:1-3, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"
We have been studying the Book of James in the past few months and one of the passages that we studied says this:
James 4:8, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."