Summary: Message one about dealing with understanding what is to come if the end times come in our lifetime.
Standing Firm in the End Times (Part 1)
March 15, 2009
Me: I’ve never been a person who seeks out hard times or rough situations. I’ve had a lot of them, but it’s been those times where I’ve felt God’s presence and His strengthening to help me move on and do what I needed to do.
One example of this was when my wife and I lived in Florida. I had taken a job as the assistant manager of a Christian bookstore.
Four months into that job I was fired. It’s safe to admit that now that I’ve been here almost 9 years, right? Okay. That was about 18 years ago, by the way. I’ve had a good bit of success in jobs since then, and that was the only time I’ve been fired.
Anyway, I remember holding my little daughter, Dani, on my chest as I laid on our couch, tears going down my face and wondering how I was going to provide for my family.
While I was laying there, though, God spoke to my heart, and I knew that He loved me and wanted to care for me, if I would just let Him.
I knew everything would be okay, and the next day I was looking for a job, with the goal of having something concrete within a week.
God gave me the fortitude I needed at the time. It was still tough after that. We had to go on food stamps, Medicaid, and the job I found made me work 12+ hour days with little or no break, even for meals. It was not good, and when we found we could move back home to Brookings we jumped at it.
Coming home without a job presents its own challenges. But I determined, that with the help of God, I would have a job within a week. As it turned out, I had one that very afternoon we returned home.
One of the reasons I could do these things was because I knew that God would take care of me.
I could stand firm in the face of hardship because God was with me and I knew I could count on Him to help me fulfill my Scriptural obligation to provide for my family.
We: We rarely look forward to hard times, I think.
I’m not talking about looking for challenges – that’s a natural thing. I’m talking about looking for opportunities to suffer.
Jesus says we’re going to suffer, if we’re serious about living for Him in a world that hates Him.
Can we stand firm in the midst of that? Can we trust God to help us face these times?
I believe we can, and over these next two messages I hope to show you that we can lean on God to help us meet the hard times, whether it’s the rough and tumble life we happen to live in now, or it’s the harsh atmosphere of the end times, should they come our way in our lifetimes.
God: We’re continuing to work our way through the gospel of Matthew, and we’ve just started chapter 24, where Jesus begins to describe what He calls the birthing pains indicating the coming of the end times.
He’s not saying that these things mean the end times are upon us, but that they are coming, just as when labor pains start for a woman, you know the baby is coming, although you don’t know just when the baby will arrive.
We’re picking it up in verse 9 and reading through verse 14.
Matthew 24:9-14 (p. 701) –
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Five indications of what is to come:
Again, we’re not saying that seeing these things means that the end is upon us, but rather that the end is coming.
We simply don’t know the date and hour, and I’m willing to take Jesus’ word on the idea that we don’t need to know.
What we do need to know is that this stuff is coming so we can be ready for it, okay?
The first indication that the end is coming is…
* Increase of persecution. (v. 9)
People will be arrested, tortured, and even put to death for their faith in Christ.