Summary: Paul’s advice on how to respond to the signs of the times. 1- Avoid the ungodly 2- Expect the evil 3- Keep the faith
INTRO.- Matthew 24:3-7 “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ’I am the Christ, ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”
ILL.- When Westinghouse first proposed to stop a huge railroad train with air brakes he was not taken seriously. People thought he was crazy and they dismissed his claim. They said it never would happen. But it did!
ILL.- When a man by the name of Edwards first proposed that disease could be prevented through vaccination, most people were skeptical. They said it would never happen. But it did and the smallpox scourge was eliminated.
ILL.- When Alexander Graham Bell suggested that communication over great distances could occur by means of a telephone, people said it would never happen!
ILL.- When Robert Goddard began his pioneer work with rockets he said that man would someday land on the moon. Nobody believed him.
Brothers and sisters, many people in our world do not believe that this world will ever come to an end, but Jesus said it would! Do we dare bet against Him?
Most Christian people are concerned about the signs of the times. They are absolutely convinced because of certain things happening in our world that the return of Christ and the end of the world is near. Indeed, many things, many strange, weird, wild, and evil things are happening in our world.
ILL- Hurricane Charley swept across Florida on Aug. 13, killing 27 people and causing an estimated $7.4 billion in insured damage to homes, businesses and personal possessions.
ILL.- Hurricane Frances completed its two-day assault on Florida, leaving storm-weary residents Tuesday, Sept. 7th, with flooding, frayed nerves and long lines for everyday items such as gas, ice and water. At least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm in Florida and Georgia.
About 3 million people had no power in Florida and more than 40,000 more were without electricity in Georgia because of winds that downed trees, limbs and power lines. It is estimated that the damage from Frances could be as much as $10 billion.
Now Hurricane Ivan. Over 50 deaths in the US. Blackouts in many states. People devastated. What next? What else?
ILL.- The Sudanese famine. May 24, 2004 The situation in Sudan was grim. About a million people had been displaced and the threat of mass starvation was real.
ILL.- The war in Iraq. A total of over 1000 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq in March 2003. Over 7,000 other Americans have been wounded. Of those who have died, 97 percent were men; two dozen were women.
ILL.- 9/11/2001 USA. Over 3,000 lives lost in the worst terrorist attack in US history. A day we will never forget.
ILL.- Russian terrorism, Sept. 1, 2004, first day of school year. 1200 people took hostage, mostly children. Around 400 lives were lost.
Don’t all of these strange things point to something? If nothing else they peak loudly that we live in a very messed up, out of kilter, and volatile world. But there is more. Listen.
II Tim. 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
The apostle Paul said that even more things, evil things would happen in the last days before the return of Christ and the end of the world. Basically, he said that people would become very ungodly, even denying God and His power.
Some of the people that Paul wrote about sounds like they could even be church people. “Having a form of godliness but deny its power.”
ILL.- A Baptist preacher friend of mine in southern Illinois wrote me one time about his church. He wrote: “The lack of commitment in the 21st century evangelical church is at an epidemic level. Even with what we are doing, there is an absence of commitment. Our staff does most of the work. I am fortunate to have a good staff. I have 37 deacons and only 2 of them made deacons meeting last night. That is discouraging. We are trying to organize into ministry teams, and get a Baptist Men’s group organized to dovetail with the deacons’ ministry teams, and it is like pulling eye teeth. Our finances sound good, but for a church that averages over 360 in worship we are a long way from where we should be. The minister of music gets discouraged in the summer, because the 35-voice choir doesn’t show up for practice or Sundays. I had 12 in choir Sunday morning. That is pitiful.”