Summary: A call to intensity due to the fact we’re living in the last days.
AM Sermon preached at Syria Christian Church January 16, 2005
The Last Days: Be Devoted to One Another Various scriptures...
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Imagine---it’s New Year’s Eve and your standing with thousands of others at Times Square. It’s one minute to the New Year. 30 seconds... The ball begins to drop and the crowd shouts----10-9-8-7
Wait--- let’s change that----let’s say you’re standing on a beach in Florida---you’re as close as the public is allowed to get to a Nasa Launch pad. You’ve been waiting a few hours. But now it’s only moments away from a blast off----you see the smoke and steam rise from the base of the rocket. You hear computerized warnings sounding the countdown "8-7-6-5"
No---hold it, imagine instead you’re among the lucky ones to be in the March Madness crowd at the NCAA championship game. You’re team’s ahead by 7 points. You shout with the crowd as the final seconds tick off the clock "5-4-3"
It seems to me that we when we first realize we’re facing a countdown, when we know there’s only so much time on the clock before some event’s going to take place we start off with great excitement and enthusiasm---we’re like the team that enters the field or comes running onto the court crashing through a large hoop held by some cheerleaders---we’re gun ho and ready to go---and the crowd’s with us whooping and hollering at the start of the game-----but then about the middle of the second quarter the crowd begins to mellow out and the team seems to lose some of its intensity---nevertheless the clock moves on---soon it’s the final minutes of the last quarter and the energy begins to resurge through the players and spectators---adrenaline begins to build, hearts beat faster and much greater effort is put forth because the awareness that time’s running out is so clear to everyone.
I’ve kind of felt that something like that has been happening in my own heart and life these last few weeks. The announcement was made that Lori and I would be moving. It was an intensely emotional time for us. We had given a little more than 60 days notice. That first week was kind of crazy. Then things kind of settled down and we entered into something of a lull. Now I’m again beginning to feel the squeeze as my awareness that I have only two weeks remaining has set in. But God has been using even this to speak to my heart about my personal ministry and the ministry of His people. I feel as if God’s been saying to me---that intensity you had at the first about your moving which dwindled down but has now returned---is the kind of intensity I want from you and my people all the time. Church, ministry, evangelism these things are not games----they are matters of life and death, matters which require on going intensity. We’re not talking trophies, we’re talking eternities.
And so this morning like a coach who’s very clock conscious and who’s trying to get his team to step it up a notch so victory can be theirs I want to remind you all----keep your head in the game and stay focused because we’ve living in the last days. The clock on this world is running out.
The Bible makes this clear. The last period buzzer was sounded with the first appearance of Jesus Christ. [SCRIPTURE SLIDE] Hebrews 9:26 says that Jesus "appeared at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself." [BLANK SLIDE] This fact we’re in the last days of the earth was announced by Peter on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples in Jerusalem. Remember reading what happened that day. There was the sound of a mighty wind. Something appearing to be tongues of fire settled over the disciples. Suddenly the disciples were speaking in all different types of foreign languages. Scoffers and skeptics tried to write the miracle off saying the disciples were drunk but Peter stood up and testified.... [SCRIPTURE SLIDE] Acts 2 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 "’In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people...." [BLANK SLIDE]
We’re in the last days people---sometimes we forget or grow complacent and all the while the clock is still winding down. I wonder how many of you know that the spread of evolutionary teaching was not only predicted by the Apostle Peter but is also a sign that the end of all things is near? In 2 Peter 3 beginning at verse 3 we read.... [SCRIPTURE SLIDES] 3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this ’coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed..." [BLANK SLIDE] Tell me what are the teachings of evolution if they’re not a deliberate forgetting or laying aside of the fact God is the creator? And folks even the tragedy which came upon Tsunami has the markings of an end time event. In Luke 21 there’s recorded for us a conversation between Jesus and his closest followers about Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world. Here’s some of that conversation... [SCRIPTURE SLIDES] 8 He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ’I am he,’ and, ’The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." 10 Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven." [BLANK SLIDE] I can’t tell you all the reasons God allowed that terrible earthquake that took so many lives. But I will say I’m convinced that God took no pleasure in letting it happen. God took no pleasure in allowing the flood waters to sweep away those people in Tsunami who refused to believe in Him in life only to stand before Him in death. And know this---God took no pleasure in watching the deaths of innocent children. [SCRIPTURE SLIDE] In Ezekiel 18:32 God exclaims "I take no pleasure in the death of anyone..." [BLANK SLIDE] One more thing about that earthquake---I believe God wants the church to see it as a wake up call. Through it He’s saying "Hey church have you forgotten you’re living in the last days? Look at the clock!"