This is probably one of those devotionals that some will look at the subject and anticipate being bored while others may read on with curiosity or even excitement. It is nonetheless a subject applicable to the day we live in and one that deserves thought and meditation. Everyone knows how time is an important commodity and every second of our life is valuable , yet most of us will spend some of those valuable moments on trivial, meaningless tasks. I encourage you to treat the subject of this devotional as necessary and meaningful. If you only have a moment or two now and the intention is to quickly read through it and lay it down, you may want to consider laying it down now and finding a few extra moments at a later time. The subject I am going to address is the last days, meaning , the final days on earth that are approaching just before the appearing of Christ , better known as the rapture of the church. It is impossible to cover this subject in much depth in one devotional , so I will simply address key, pertinent issues and scriptures. I will not attempt to share facts in much depth such as Perry Stone or Jack Van Impe , but will provide enough information to bring to relevance that we live in the last days and how we as believers are to live. Allow Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you to a deeper understanding. Again, for that to take place, you cannot hurry through , but allow time for Holy Spirit to do His work.
Jesus personally addressed the issues of the last days in Matthew Chapter 24 and in Luke Chapter 21. It is obvious that what Jesus said is relevant because he is Jesus and He is the One that will be returning to take believers from this earth to our eternal destination. He advised us before He ascended to the Father to not be so concerned about when He will return, but be filled with Holy Spirit and live as His witnesses. In Matthew Chapter 24 He advised us to just be ready. So we occupy until He comes with the understanding that He is the One that made the blessed hope of His reappearing possible. He is the One that became a man, sacrificed His life on the cross for us, was dead then arose from the tomb, is now at the right hand of the Father and will return at the Fathers perfectly timed command.
So here are some scriptures, Old and New Testament, that pertain to the last days. You need to get your Bible , find a comfortable place and read these scriptures and meditate on what is taking place.
Daniel 12:4 – KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED – Think for a moment how knowledge has increased in the communication, transportation and medical fields alone in the last few decades.
Hosea 4:3 – MASS ANIMAL DEATHS – There have been millions of fish deaths in lakes and rivers since 2010 and cases of mass amounts of birds dropping from the sky in huge numbers.
Luke 21: 25, 26 NATURAL DISASTERS – You can research this yourself by finding your favorite internet search engine and you will find the increase of natural disasters right up until May 2014 has been staggering.
Matthew 24:7 – INCREASE OF EARTHQUAKES – More than 2800 earthquakes occur every month on this planet, many with major damage.
Matthew 24:7 – FAMINES – Thousands die every day of starvation. It is an issue in virtually every country on earth.
Matthew 24:37 – VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL IMMORALITY – These issues are on the rise worldwide in the cities and rural areas, on distant shores and right in our own neighborhood.
Matthew 24:12 – INCREASE OF SIN – A general indication of the last days, nevertheless a notable one. I am astounded at the increase of lawlessness in my lifetime alone. The obvious indicators are found in the entertainment industry that reveal the decline of the morals of mankind.
1st Timothy 4:1 – RISE IN SPIRITUALISM – People in our world today are looking for spiritual answers and have an innate desire to soothe their troubled soul , thus they yield to doctrines contrary to the standard of the Word of God. They yield to lies rather than truth.
Matthew 24:4,5,11 – FALSE DOCTRINES – We think of false teachers as those who teach obvious beliefs contrary to the Word, but there is a subtle movement in our day within the church to add man’s thoughts and opinions to the simplicity of the gospel which is misleading to those in the church. It is under the title of Christianity while they teach to be saved is Christ plus something else.
2nd Timothy 4:2-4 – A FALLING AWAY OF BELIEVERS – The enemy is after the true believers. He will do whatever is necessary to steer individuals from the Truth.
Matthew 24:14 – THE GOSPEL REACHING THE WORLD – It wasn’t long ago this seemed impossible. There were third world countries that we thought could never be reached. Now with the technology and transportation of our day it is not only possible , but taking place now.
2nd Timothy 3:1-5 , 4:3,4 – LIST OF CHARACTER TRAITS IN PEOPLE – People will : Love only themselves, love their money, be boastful and proud, scoff at God, be disobedient to parents, be ungrateful, consider nothing sacred, be unloving and unforgiving, slander others, have no self control, be cruel, hate what is good, will betray friends, live recklessly, be puffed up with pride, love life’s pleasures rather than love God, act religious yet reject the power that makes them godly, will prey on gullible people, will no longer listen to sound wholesome teaching, will look for teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, will reject truth and chase after myths. As the psalmist often said, selah, pause and calmly think of that.
So all the signs are there. These are the last days. What are some instructions to believers and how we should respond to these signs? Paul gave advise to Timothy on how to respond to those with the character traits found in the scripture above. He advised to run away from them. Well, that sounds rude and harsh doesn’t it? Paul also said in 1st Corinthians 15:33, ” Do not be deceived and misled. Evil associations corrupt good morals and character.” For our own protection we must guard against those with the character traits listed above especially if they are not showing any legitimate fruit of godly change. The end of 1st Timothy 2:22 confirms that we are to be in harmony with those who “call upon the Lord with a pure heart. ”
Paul adds at the beginning of that same verse to “aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good , right living in conformity to the will of God in thought , word and deed) , aim at and pursue faith, love and peace (harmony with others ). ” Many times believers’ pursuits will change from godly to ungodly because of fellowship with weak and immature believers who have no desire to grow in the faith. The most obvious characteristic of this is negativity and complaining. This is the same quality that was in the children of Israel who died in the wilderness and never set foot in the promised land. Joshua and Caleb did not fellowship with them and they receive their promised land with a new generation of believers. Do not allow any negativity to enter into your heart because these are the last days and time is short. It is not enough to think we are righteous or think we are men and women of faith. We must pursue righteousness and faith. Pursue a deeper relationship with Christ as if your life depended on it , because it does.
There are some who would ask how we are to witness to the unbeliever if we are not allowed to associate with them. Our witness is to be with compassion , but without compromise to the truth. If we are compromising truth we are not witnessing and we are not operating in the genuine love of Christ. Paul instructed us in 2nd Timothy 3:14 to remain faithful to Christ and what we know is truth. Verses 23 and 24 add that we are not to get caught up in the striving of the world , but stay in gentleness and meekness. It is not that we cannot be around unbelievers , but we must not be yoked with them. We have to understand that we do not save them and we cannot transform their life. Verse 25 states that it is God that brings the spirit of man to repentance. We are simply to bear witness of Christ and be witnesses of Christ without entering into agreement with their ungodly ways. The fact that Holy Spirit is the One Who convinces man of sin is a good thing because He knows all things and He knows how to bring a person to the place of repentance. It is a choice each individual must make on their own. It is our responsibility to be witnesses. It is Holy Spirit’s responsibility to convince of sin. It is every individuals choice to choose Christ.
The book of Jude also gives us wisdom in our witness to unbelievers. Verses 20 and 21 instruct us to first “build ourselves up in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost and to keep ourselves in the love of God.” We will not be effective witnesses for Christ without having our own faith strong through prayer and the love of God. This will also keep us sensitive to Holy Spirit when witnessing. Verse 22 explains that we should show compassion on some who waver and doubt ,then verse 23 says there are others that will be saved by fear. That word fear does not necessarily mean preaching hell fire and brimstone, but it does mean to sound an alarm. Holy Spirit knows the heart of every man so we are simply to be witnesses by living for Christ, have love and compassion for the sinner and be sensitive to Holy Spirit in our words and deeds.
And finally I will address briefly the subject of fear in the last days. Jesus said in Luke 21:26 that “men’s hearts would fail them for fear” in the last days. That need not be the case for believers in Christ. When Jesus first spoke to John in Revelation Chapter 1 the detailed prophecy of the last days He told him, “Fear not. I Am the first and the last. I Am He that liveth and was dead and behold I Am alive forevermore. Amen.” Jesus has already conquered death , hell and the grave and He lives, thus we need not fear the future. When you make Him Lord of your life, He is Lord of your past , present and future. In the midst of all the signs Paul was speaking to Timothy would take place in the last days he said these words , “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knows those who are His.” What a confident , comforting word that is for us ! When uncertainty and fear would attempt to cling to us in these last days we can rest assured in the fact that God knows us and our Foundation is Jesus Christ Himself. I shall not be, I shall not be moved. When the rain comes and the winds of adversity blow , know your house is built upon the Rock. This will allow you not just to survive in these last days, but be victorious.
Knowing I am His, Pastor Wes